At the end of January, 1528, an 8 year old Henry FitzRoy, already duke of Richmond, wrote this lovely letter to Henry VIII, seeking his father’s favour, and asking for a new harness for his training in the skills of a knight.
By this point, Henry VIII’s Great Matter was underway, though aware the king’s young illegitimate son would have been of ‘The King’s Great Matter’ at this early stage is questionable. Sadly for us, he would have been far too well-schooled to mention the scandal, even if he had known. We can only imagine his thoughts and feelings about his father’s actions, the degradation of his half-sister Mary to the same status as himself, and the elevation of his new stepmother, Anne Boleyn.
The letter shows that young FitzRoy felt quite confident in his position as the king’s illegitimate, and only, son; the language of the letter is comparable to that of those written by Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward to their father. It hints, as do other sources, of a genuine connection between the father and son.
In most humble and loyal wise, I beseech your highness of your daily blessing. In like wise, praying the same to be advertised that I effectually give mine whole endeavor, mind, study and pleasure, to the diligent appliance of all such sciences and feats of learning as by my most loving counsellors I am daily advertised to stand with your most high and gracious pleasure. Therefore making most humble and loyal intercession unto the same to remember me, your most humble and loyal servant, with an harness for my exercise in armys according to my learning in Julius Cesar. Trusting in God as speedily and profitably to prosper in the same as your Grace shall perceive that I have done in all mine other learning. Whereof my right trusty and full entirely well beloved Mr. Magnus, director of my counsel, can make credible report. And thus the most glorious trinity have you my most dread and sovereign lord in this most gracious tuition.
At your Castle of Pontefract the last day of January. Your most loyal servant,
Top image:Portrait of Henry FitzRoy by Lucas Horenbout, c.1533-34