In 1519, Bessie Blount gave Henry VIII his first son. While the boy was not legitimate, Henry was thrilled and, in his opinion, vindicated (if he could have sons outside of his marriage, it *must* be all Catherine’s fault) so he showered the boy with honors. The infant boy was named Henry after his father, and given the surname FitzRoy (from the French “fils du roi,” meaning son of the King) to trumpet the parentage. In 1525, the boy was given his own residence in London (Durham House on the Strand) and created Duke of Richmond and Somerset. The choice of duchies was quite interesting. The Earldom of Richmond had been held by Henry VII, while the Dukedom of Somerset had been held by John Beaufort, father to Henry VII’s mother Margaret Beaufort – and himself a royal bastard who had been legitimized following his parents’ adultery and subsequent marriage. Many people believed that Henry was grooming the young boy to succeed him instead of Mary….
In January 1527, the seven-year-old Duke penned a letter thanking his father for a New Year’s gift. The letter is written in a childish hand, you can see from the photo the effort it took the young boy. He seems to have had a good relationship with his father, it is interesting to consider whether he might indeed have succeeded his father if Anne Boleyn had not appeared on the scene…
After most humble and most loyal request and petition had unto your grace for your daily blessing, please it the same, to be advertised, I have received your most honorable and goodly new years gift. And give unto your said grace most loyal thanks for the same, humbly beseeching your grace to accept and take this my letter penned with mine own hand for a poor token at this time. At your castle of pontefract, the 14th of January.
Your humble servant,
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