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Episode 074: Edward, Mary, and France

Continuing our look at Tudor Monarchs, and how they related to France, this episode looks at Edward and Mary. Please remember that if you like this show, the best ways you can help keep it going are to leave a rating on iTunes, or become a patron on Patreon, for as little as $1/episode. Thanks!

Book Recommendations:



Please remember that if you like this show, the best ways you can help keep it going are to leave a rating on iTunes, or become a patron on Patreon, for as little as $1/episode. Thanks!

Hello and welcome to the Renaissance English History Podcast, a member of the Agora Podcast Network. I’m your host, Heather Teysko, and I’m a storyteller who makes history accessible because I believe it’s a pathway to understanding who we are, our place in the universe, and to getting in touch with our own humanity. This is episode 74, still doing this whole War with France thing, which we’ll be finishing up shortly. This episode I’m going to focus on the relationships of Edward and Mary with France. Neither of them reigned for very long, so even combined it’s going to be a shorter episode.

Before I get started, a few quick reminders. First, this particular episode was researched by the wonderful Paige, who has started doing some research for the show. I’m very grateful to have her help, and she’s awesome. Second, if you like this show, please leave a rating on iTunes. It’s such an important way you can help us. And third, remember to go to the website at Englandcast.com where I have started putting transcripts for each show, and you can sign up for the mailing list. For just a few more days you can get the Kickass Tudor Women ecource for free by signing up to the mailing list as well. So check that out at englandcast.com.

So let’s jump right into Edward VI. We’ve been talking about this relationship that England had with France, and how it was quite complicated. European foreign policy at this point was complicated, but with France it was even more so, thanks to the close relationships that the English and French nobility had. Only 60 years before Henry VII became king, you had another Henry who was named heir to the French throne, so it’s a close relationship, and like many close relationships, it can be pretty muddy.

We talked about how Henry VIII was constantly either going to war with France, or making a peace treaty, and also how his closeness in age to the French King, Francis, added another level of rivalry between the two kings. Henry died with just one son, Edward, who would become Edward VI when his father died in 1547. His mother had been Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour, who died only 2 weeks after he was born.

At the time of Henry’s death, there had been a lot of talk of Edward marrying the Scottish Queen, a woman we know as Mary Queen of Scots. She became Queen when her father died 6 days after she was born, and she was still a small child. Henry, who had already married his sister Margaret into Scotland, had a dream of uniting England and Scotland. Scotland had originally seemed interested, and agreed to the marriage. But Scotland had second thoughts, thanks to an ancient alliance, called the Auld Alliance, with the French, and they weren’t quite as keen. The suit to marry Mary was backed by a military invasion, and it became known as the Rough Wooing.  

Scotland is important here because Mary married the French Dauphin, and during this time Scottish and French policies are pretty similar – Mary’s mother was a French woman living in Scotland, so the two countries were inextricably linked.

The war with Scotland was supported by French troops fighting for the scots, so any war with Scotland also involved going to war with France.

The political landscape at the time saw religion as this cloud that hung over the countries. France was firmly Catholic, as we talked about before. But interestingly, Scotland was headed in the direction of becoming more Protestant and Calvinist. Still, with French marriages, the two countries were linked, and after the marriage betrothal between Mary and the Dauphin Francis, the French sent troops into Scotland, saying that the two countries were now one.

England won some battles in Scotland, and the relationship with France was failing quickly. Mary Queen of Scots left for France, where she would be raised.  King Henry II moved 10,000 more troops to Scotland in 1548, and the French also besieged the English hold of Boulogne, which Henry VIII had captured.

By 1550 England wanted peace, and sent a delegation to negotiate. But England’s position was weak, and they were nearly bankrupt after all of the fighting. In March 1550 they signed a treaty stating that France would pay England 400,000 crowns, and England gave Boulogne back. The French also agreed to remove the remaining troops in Scotland. So now we’ve got France and England being united.

They sealed this with a marriage treaty. Edward would marry Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry II, when she was 12 years old, and France would get a dowry of 200,000 crowns. In return, England would stay neutral in the religious wars on the continent of Europe.

This marriage never happened, because Edward died in 1553, and passed the throne to Lady Jane Grey, though of course that didn’t work out how he wanted it to since Mary Tudor, his older Catholic sister, rallied and fought for her rights, and was supported by the people.

Mary’s relationship with France was longer, since she was much older, and could remember a time before England was Protestant. She is remembered as Queen for two things in popular culture – burning Protestants, and losing Calais. When she was only two years old, she was married to the Dauphin of France, who was the aforementioned Henri II, who would be sending troops later on.

After three years, the marriage contract was canceled, and Henri would go on to marry another formidable woman, Catherine de Medici. A few years later when England and France were negotiating another treaty, they revisited the idea of Mary marrying into France, this time to the French King Francis himself. The marriage proved unnecessary as Cardinal Wolsey was able to create the alliance without it.

Things took a downward turn for Mary in 1533 when she was declared illegitimate after Henry married Anne Boleyn. Mary refused to acknowledge Anne as Queen, and she remained estranged from her father, away from court. She started suffering from a variety of sicknesses, including problems with her menstrual cycle. Of course later on she would have several phantom pregnancies, so it seems like this had been a theme in her physical health.  

Mary was reconciled with her father after he married Jane Seymour, and she signed a document acknowledging her own illegitimacy, and her father as the head of the church. It wasn’t until 1544, while Henry was married to his final wife Catherine Parr, that Mary was restored to the succession in his will.

Mary had kept a close relationship with the Holy Roman Empire. Her mother had been Spanish, and at one point she was also betrothed into the Empire. Her close advisor after her estrangement was Eustace Chapuys, who was Spanish. So as soon as she became Queen, after her brother died, she immediately wanted to marry into Spain, marrying Prince Philip.

This was a clear signal that she was siding with the Empire, which was perpetually at war with France. Early on, Mary wanted to go to war with France and support Philip in his battles, but her council opposed it.

Mary experienced several rebellions during her reign, a few of which I talked about in last year’s Rebellions series. One that I hadn’t talked about related to her relationship with France, and this is Stafford’s Raid.

Thomas Stafford was a grandson of the Duke of Buckingham and the Countess of Salisbury, and was descended from royalty on both sides of his family. He was the nephew of Cardinal Reginald Pole, and he spent three years in Italy before traveling to Poland. Thomas had a list of personal grievances a mile long, and he began to become involved with people associated with Wyatt’s Rebellion early on in Mary’s reign. After a brief stint in prison, he fled to France in March 1554. By late 1556 Stafford was referring to himself as the heir to the English throne, and sought the support of King Henri in supporting an uprising to have him become King.

Henri already had Mary Queen of Scots at his court, and she actually had a much better claim to the throne, so the king never really considered Stafford’s ideas, but in January 1557 he did bring Stafford to Court. On April 23 Stafford was off the coast in Yorkshire with two ships, potentially supplied by Henri, and a few hundred supporters. He disguised himself and his men as peasants, and came to Scarborough on market day, overpowered the dozen men holding Scarborough castle, and tried to incite a new revolt, claiming that if people didn’t support him, all of England would be turned over to Prince Philip of Spain.

The English found out about the rebellion within a few hours, and retook the castle, and captured Stafford and his men. So it appeared that the French had given support to this claimant to the throne, and even if Henri himself didn’t believe in Stafford’s claim, he perhaps thought that it would annoy the English. Other modern historians claim that it was the English who staged the whole thing, making it look like it was the French, so that the English would be drawn into the Franco Spanish war on the side of Spain.

England did enter the war as Spain’s ally, and in 1558 lost Calais, the last English stronghold in France. It can’t be overstated how bad this was for Mary. Since the time of the Conquest England had been linked with France through lands, and at the height of the Hundred Year’s War England had most of France in its possession. The loss of Calais essentially put an end to over two hundred years of England getting more land in France, and English citizens of the Pale of Calais left, returning to England.

In England there was shock and disbelief at the loss of this final Continental territory. The story goes that a few months later Queen Mary, on her death bed, told her family: “When I am dead and cut open, they will find Philip and Calais inscribed on my heart.”

So that’s it for this week. The book recommendations this week are, Chris Skidmore’s Edward VI the Lost King of England, and Tudor Queenship, the Reigns of Mary and Elizabeth by Anna Whitelock and Alice Hunt. Links are on the website. Remember to go check out all the links, grab the free ecourse on Kickass Tudor Women, and sign up for the mailing list at Englandcast.com. I’ll be back next time finishing up this whole War with France bit on Elizabeth and France, and then we’re moving on to Crime and Punishment in Tudor England, so stay tuned for that!

Talk with you soon!