the TUDOR TUTOR

Your cheeky guide to the dynasty

Royal Offspring, or Lack Thereof

How interesting and ironic that,  save Henry VII, none of the Tudor monarchs passed on their colorful genes to a new generation of drama queens and kings. But while this fact gets lots of press for the 16th-century clan, they were hardly alone in their infertility issues.

William II (1087-1100*) was childless. He was also unmarried, probably because women weren’t his thing. Richard I “The Lionheart” (1189-1199) had no children, nor did Richard II (1377-1399).

Lancastrian superstar Henry V (1413-1422) had only one child, a boy. Lucky for the king, that kid made it to adulthood in time to rule as Henry VI (1422-1461, then 1470-1471, long story). He, too, only had a son. Sadly, that son became the only heir apparent to the English throne to be killed on the battlefield.  Pre-Tudor king Richard III (1483-1485) had a single son who died as a tween.

Charles II (1660-1685) had no legitimate heirs but lent his DNA to about 12 illegimate children, via a slew of mistresses. James II (1685-1688) had 19 children with two wives, but couldn’t put any to good use as heirs because he was forced to high-tail his Catholic self into exile and make way for William and Mary (1689-1702), who also were childless. Their successor, Anne (1702-1714), endured 18 pregnancies but had only five live births. Only one lived past age two –but died nine years later.

Princess Charlotte, the only child of George IV (1820-1830), died in childbirth before she could succeed her father. George’s successor, William IV (1830-1837) kept his genetic code to himself.

On the flip side, royal rabbits include  William I “The Conqueror” (1066-1087) who had 10 children, Edward I (1272-1307) with 19 children, Edward III (1327-1377) with 13 children, Edward IV (1461-1483, including a break) with 10 children,  George II (1727-1760) with 10 children, and George III (1760-1820) with 15 children.

Even with “only” nine children, Victoria (1837-1901) was considered the Grandmother of Europe, once her kids started marrying into other royal families. Henry VIII would have killed for that kind of genealogical legacy. And as it turned out, that’s just what he did.    

[*Dates in parentheses represent reign and not birth/death.]

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1 Comment

  Gussiebuns wrote @

To be fair to Henry V, he died only a few months after his one and only child was born (and while he had been at war for several of those months as well) and therefore never had the opportunity to try to make more babies.


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