Mary Tudor was born around March 1496 at Sheen (Richmond) Palace, one of eight children born to Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. She was the youngest of only three children to survive infancy.
Mary was thought to be one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe, and in her youth, she was taught French. Latin, Embroidery, Dance and Music, playing both the Clavichord and Lute.
Mary was to suffer heartache when her older brother Arthur, heir to the throne died at the age of fifteen in 1502, and then her mother Elizabeth of York died in 1503.
On 21 December 1507 Mary was betrothed to Charles, future Holy Roman Emperor, but this betrothal was called off in 1513.
As part of a peace treaty with France, Mary aged eighteen, became the third wife of the fifty-two year-old King Louis XII of France, and they were married on 9 October 1514 at Abbeville, France.
Although Louis XII had been married twice before, he had not produced a son and heir and it was hoped that this marriage could secure Louis an heir, however he died on 1 January 1515, less than three months after marrying.
Mary only consented to a marriage with Louis, on the understanding that her brother Henry VIII would agree that if she married again it would be to a man of her own choosing, but following Louis’ death she was unsure if this promise would be honoured.
Not wanting to be used as a pawn for political advantage, Mary married the man of her own choosing, although she married him in secret. Mary and Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk were married on 3 March 1515 in France.
Suffolk knew that by marrying Mary he had committed treason as he had not gained the king’s permission, he would therefore be imprisoned if he returned to England.
Although Henry VIII was angry with the marriage, his fondness for his sister and the intervention of Thomas Wolsey stopped action being taken against Suffolk, and the couple agreed to pay a large fine. They were then married again on 13 May 1515 at Greenwich Palace.
Mary was Suffolk’s third wife and their marriage produced four children, Suffolk’s two daughters from his second marriage were raised alongside them.
Although Mary was the Duchess of Suffolk, she was always known as the ‘French Queen’, and not as the Duchess of Suffolk.
Mary spent most of her time at Westhorpe Hall in Suffolk and this is where she died on 25 June 1533. She was buried at Bury St Edmund’s Abbey, then later moved to St Mary’s Church, Bury St Edmund’s.