For this week’s Femme Fatale Friday, I have decided to do a short post to discuss Bessie Blount. She was a famous royal mistress of Henry VIII during his marriage to Katherine of Aragon. Unlike his more famous mistress during that first marriage, she never had a chance to become Queen.
It is unlikely that she ever thought that she could displace Queen Katherine, even when she did something that Katherine never could. You see Bessie Blount’s true claim to fame at the court of Henry VIII is being the mother of his bastard son, Henry Fitzroy! So Bessie succeeded in bearing a son to Henry which is something neither Katherine nor his future wife Anne Boleyn would do.
The reason why she is so important to history is not just the fact that she bore Henry his first son to survive infancy. The truth is that the birth and survival of this son proved to Henry that he was able to have a male child. It would become the event that would lead to his one day leaving his long-suffering Queen Katherine for the young, beautiful, and intelligent Anne!
In this way, I view Bessie as an important figure who helped to push the history of England further. I see her as much more important to the tapestry of English history than most would give her credit for! I do want to clear up a misconception about Bessie’s life that is common due to the television show The Tudors. Many believe that Bessie’s son by Henry VIII died when he was only a young child, a victim of the sweating sickness. This is not true, as he lived until he was seventeen, only dying around the time of Anne Boleyn’s execution! He actually died only two months after her execution on July 23, 1536, likely of consumption. There is an interesting take on his death used by the Canadian television series Blood Ties. That series takes an alternate version of history where Henry Fitzroy did not die but instead became a vampire! This allowed him to be the male lead of the series.
Bessie was born sometime between 1498 and 1502 and died quietly in 1540. As for the rest of Bessie’s life, she had been married off by Henry in a respectable union after their affair ended. This was the best way an affair with a royal could end, simply petering out and then getting a respectable marriage to a nobleman afterward! In history, she is best remembered for being Henry Fitzroy’s mother. But she is also one of the few mistresses of Henry VIII to be given respect and to live out her life rather quietly after their affair ran its course!
I hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit about the life of Bessie Blount. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Bessie. I found the image on https://www.unofficialroyalty.com/elizabeth-bessie-blount-mistress-of-henry-viii-king-of-england/.
- Bessie Blount: Mistress of Henry VIII by Elizabeth Norton