I thought it would be interesting to do some occasional posts on various images of or connected to Mary.
When most people think of Mary they frequently picture the notable portraits of her as queen – namely the wonderful Hans Eworth of Antonis Mor images. The very young Mary can often be overlooked, although admittedly we have few images of her as a preadolescent.
This image of Mary is from a marriage contract between herself and Henri, duc d'Orléans (second son of François I of France). Henri is depicted on the left and between himself and Mary is Hymenaeus, the God of marriage. The marriage contract was ratified on the 18th August 1527 and signified a peace treaty between Henry VIII and François. There had previously been discussion of a marriage between the widowed François and the eleven year old Mary, although it was decided that the eight year old Henri would be her prospective husband.
Mary had previously been betrothed to Henri’s elder brother, the dauphin of France (the heir to the French throne) although the match broke when Henry repudiated the peace treaty between England and France and betrothed Mary instead to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V (who was Katherine of Aragon’s nephew, hence Mary’s first cousin). After Charles subsequently abandoned Mary to marry Isabella of Portugal, Henry turned back to France and the treaty of Amiens was made.
Accompanying this newfound friendship between France and England was the exchange of honours. François installed Henry as a knight of the Order of St Michael in November 1527 and in the same month Henry made the French king a knight of the Garter. The statutes of the Order of the Garter that was presented to François can be seen to the left. At the bottom there is a woman holding together the Tudor rose and the French fleurs-de-lis, indicating the unity between the two kings. She is Concord and it has been suggested that she is representing Princess Mary, whose marriage to the French prince would cement the treaty.
Ultimately Mary and Henri did not marry – talk of the marriage dissolved with the alliance and when Mary’s status was attacked by father’s decision to annul his first marriage. The year in which Henry VIII officially annulled his marriage to Katherine of Aragon and Mary was subsequently illegitimatised marked Henri’s marriage to Catherine de’Medici. Both Henri and Mary would go on to be monarchs – Henri became his father’s heir in 1536 and ruled as Henri II (1547-1559). Despite the peaceful tone of the treaty that once promised Mary and Henri to each other, the pair would ultimately engage in conflict and it was to Henri that Mary lost Calais.
Charles Giry-Deloison, ‘A Diplomatic Revolution? Anglo-French Relations and the Treaties of 1527’, in David Starkey (ed.), Henry VIII: A European Court in England (London, 1991), pp. 77-87.
David Starkey, 'The Order of the Garter and St Michael', in David Starkey (ed.), Henry VIII: A European Court in England (London, 1991), pp. 94-99.