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June 25, 1533 – Death of Mary Tudor Brandon

Sketch of Mary Tudor during her brief time as Queen of Francebrief
Sketch of Mary Tudor during her brief time as Queen of France (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve already written about Mary’s secret marriage to Brandon and touched upon their life together…but now I want to focus on the end of that life.

Mary was friends with Catherine of Aragon – and made it clear that that she was on Catherine’s side in Henry’s attempts to invalidate that marriage. She kinda got away with it – though when she went so far as to not attend Anne’s coronation, Henry and Anne were said to be furious. And although she told them she was sick, they didn’t quite believe her – attendance at the coronation had been politicized and those who stayed away (*cough* Thomas More) got into trouble. To add credence to Mary’s claim of sickness, her husband did attend, and played conspicuous roles. Also, Mary sent Henry a letter shortly before she died (we’re not sure exactly how shortly – the letter was filed in Letters and Papers on the day before her death, but it might well have been earlier…):

Has been very sick and ill at ease. Has been fain to send for Master Peter, the physician, but is rather worse than better. Trusts shortly to come to London with her husband. Is sure, if she tarries here, that she will never “asperre” the sickness. Will be glad to see the King, as she has been a great while out of his sight, and hopes not to be so long again.

Of course, given that she died, there was no question of lingering resentment (or retaliation – we are speaking of Henry, after all). The cause of death is not clear – we know she had a longstanding pain in her side. Different historians have suggested angina, tuberbulosis, and cancer.

The funeral was a lavish one: Mary was a Tudor and had been Queen of France, after all. A French delegation was sent to join the mourners, led by her daughter Frances, who gathered to inter her in Bury St. Edmunds Abbey. The funeral procession included 100 torch bearers, clergy carrying the cross, six horses pulling the hearse, other nobility and 100 of the Duke of Suffolk’s yeomen. (That is not where she lies today: in 1538, when the monastery was dissolved, Mary’s body was removed to nearby St. Mary’s Church, also in Bury St. Edmunds, where she can still be visited today.)


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June 25, 1533 – Death of Mary Tudor Brandon
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