“Our first-born is the greatest ass, the greatest liar, the greatest canaille, and the greatest beast in the whole world and we heartily wish he was out of it.”
Whew, tell us how you really feel about your son, George II! Two hundred years post-Tudor, the Hanoverians were famous for poor father-son relations, but George II’s feelings toward his son (who died before he could become George III, so it went to his own boy) were probably the most extreme. Victoria’s male successors weren’t about to win any father-son awards, either. And although Henry VIII was very proud of his intelligent and talented children, we see how he used the girls in a genetic shuffleboard when it came to the succession, and famously obsessed over the XY chromosome.
Under the crown, children were primarily potential heirs and/or devices to marry into other royal families. Most royals did not have hands-on parenting experience either, as their kids were raised by nannies, and even breastfed via a wet-nurse. No attachment parenting for them! (And I suspect no “mommy wars,” either.)
Regardless of norms in royal parenting, it’s a good weekend* to hail those women who carried and gave birth to some of the biggest names in history. Let’s have a roll call of prominent Tudor moms…
- Lady Margaret Beaufort (mom to Henry VII)
- Elizabeth of York (mom to Henry VIII)
- Catherine of Aragon (mom to Mary I)
- Anne Boleyn (mom to Elizabeth I)
- Jane Seymour (mom to Edward VI)
- Mary de Guise (mom to Mary Queen of Scots)
- Lady Francis Brandon (mom to Lady Jane Grey)
These moms may not have received macaroni necklaces made with sticky fingers, but I suppose “look at me, Mom, I’m the ruler of the whole country” had a certain caché.
(* Mother’s Day is this Sunday, 9 May, in the U.S. Mothering Sunday in the U.K. is celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent; this year that date was 14 March.)