Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset

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Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset (June 15, 1519June 18, 1536) was the son of Henry VIII and his teenaged mistress, Elizabeth Blount, the only bastard that Henry acknowledged. Fitzroy was created 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset on June 16, 1525.

Born in Blackmore, Essex, he was raised like a prince in a northern castle, as his father had a particular fondness for him, and took great interest in his upbringing. At one point, there was talk of making Fitzroy the king's heir, since Henry's wife, Catherine of Aragon, had borne no sons. There was even, incredibly, a plan to acquire a papal dispensation for Fitzroy to marry his half-sister Mary and thus unite the king's illegitimate son with his legitimate daughter. However, both these plans fell by the wayside when councillors pointed out that the people would probably not accept them.

Fitzroy married Mary Howard, the daughter of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, on November 28, 1533. He was on excellent terms with his brother-in-law, the poet Henry Howard. Although tradition has it that Anne Boleyn was hostile to the match it now seems that it was she who organised it -- pairing her young cousin Mary with the king's illegitimate son.

Fitzroy's promising career came to an abrupt end in 1536. For a time he had looked greatly unwell, and many courtiers now suspected that the young duke was suffering from the dreaded consumption (tuberculosis). In May, when Anne Boleyn was tried for treason (by none other than Norfolk), Henry allowed the judges to accuse her of attempting to poison Fitzroy. As with all the charges produced against her, evidence was lacking. Anne was executed on May 19, 1536, and despite the king's crocodile tears (he embraced Fitzroy, telling him that he was lucky to have escaped the "witch's" plans), the boy died of the consumption at St. James's Palace. At the time of his death, an act was going through Parliament to enable the King to nominate Fitzroy as heir. Norfolk gave orders that the body be wrapped in lead and taken in a closed cart for secret interment, but his servants put the body in a straw-filled wagon. The only mourners were two attendants who followed at a distance.

His father out-lived him by just over a decade, and was succeeded by his legitimate son, Edward VI, born shortly after Fitzroy's death.

Fitzroy in literature

In the fictional Blood series by Tanya Huff, Fitzroy became a vampire some time before his (faked) death, and moved to Toronto, where he lived through the 1990s.

In This Scepter'd Isle by Mercedes Lackey and Roberta Gellis, he is protected from assassination by an elf and finally goes to live in Elfhame Avalon after his (faked) death.


Preceded by:
The Duke of Norfolk
Lord High Admiral
1525–1536
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Southampton
Preceded by:
The Earl of Ossory
(Lord Deputy)
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
1529–1534
Succeeded by:
William Skeffington
(Lord Deputy)
Preceded by:
Viscount Rochford
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
1535
Succeeded by:
Sir Thomas Cheney

Template:End box

Preceded by:
New Creation
Duke of Richmond and Somerset Succeeded by:
Title extinct
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