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UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER QUOTES
DEFINING EPISODES | MEMORABLE SCENES
Elizabeth "Bessie" Blount as played by Ruta Gedmintas
| Born c. 1502 - Died c. 1540 |
Character's Backstory: One of only two acknowledged mistresses of King Henry VIII, Elizabeth Blount possibly began her affair with the king some time c. 1514, as a very young girl. It was recorded that she accompanied Henry as the lead in a Christmas mummery that year. Elizabeth may not have been the first pre-teen to be Henry VIII's mistress. Her friend Elizabeth Bryan was given a diamond necklace and a mink coat, as well as a husband--Nicholas Carewe. When Elizabeth Bryan gave birth to a son at the age of 12, she was called "the young wife". However, Bessie clearly wanted more than a diamond necklace or a husband, and made the King's attentions to her public. It did not take much skill to notice the hidden agenda. No doubt the situation was reported to the Queen, by ladies who did not fail to notice that Bessie Blount was also plumper and blooming. The Queen was so upset that she went into premature labour. Her tiny son died after a few days, and she never became pregnant again.
A contemporary described 'that intire affection past betwixt them [Henry and Bessie], as at last she bore him a son'. 'At last' is an indication that Lord Herbert thought their relationship has been a long term one. (source: Kelly Hart)
Bessie's last recorded appearance at court was October 1518.Cardinal Thomas Wolsey arranged for Bessie to live in Jericho Priory, Blackmore, Essex and her son was probably born June 1519. The King visited her and his baby son, Henry Fitzroy (meaning "son of the king") so often in 1519, that it become a standing joke with courtiers that the King had "gone to Jericho".
For a while Henry took an interest in the child, visiting him and his mother often at the Jericho Priory in Essex. Bessie also gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth Talboys circa 1520. There is some speculation that she too was Henry's child backed up by the favour that Henry showed to her. Around 1522, Henry stopped seeing Elizabeth because, as some historians believe, he moved on to Mary Boleyn. Henry treated his discarded mistress well. He arranged a marriage for her to Gilbert Talboys, a baron, in the same year. Gilbert was knighted in 1524, and in 1525 he was appointed Sheriff of Lincolnshire. They had a son, George, followed by Robert and Elizabeth. Elizabeth became Baroness Talboys after the early deaths of her brothers; she married twice, the second time to Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick.
In 1525, Elizabeth and Gilbert Talboys were ordered to take up residence in Lincolnshire. They moved into the castle of South Kyme. The castle had been built by Gilbert's ancestor, Gilbert de Umfraville, Earl of Angus, in the mid-14th century.
Gilbert Talboys died in 1530, and in 1533 or 1535 Bessie married a younger man whose Lincolnshire lands adjoined hers--Edward Clinton, 1st Earl of Lincoln. They had three daughters, Bridget, Katherine, and Margaret. She returned briefly to court as a lady-in-waiting to Henry's fourth wife Anne of Cleves, but was excused shortly before the Cleves marriage was dissolved. She returned to her husband's estates and died in her thirties. Her death occurred either in late 1539 or early 1540, and was apparently due to consumption or tuberculosis.
Gentility: Daughter of Sir John Blount and Catherine Pershall
Position: Maid of honor to Queen Katherine of Aragon, lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves
Personality Type: Was very bright, and so good at singing and dancing that she partnered the King in the "mummery" that was part of the Christmas celebrations of 1514. At that time, the Queen was still recovering from the loss of yet another new baby. Elizabeth "wan the King's harte" (won the King's heart) and her father was promoted to 'Esquire of the Body', which meant personal attendance on the King in his bedroom.
Signature Look: A known beauty (more beautiful than any of Henry's other wives or mistresses)
"young, talented and exquisitely beautiful " - D. Starkey
Endearing Trait(s): described as being “eloquent, gracious and beautiful” and “thought, for her rare ornaments of nature, and education, to be the beauty and mistress piece of her time”.
"To be chosen out of five Blount sisters she must have possessed all the qualities that were expected of a lady at court -- beauty, grace and good manners. She must also have impressed twenty-nine-year old Queen Katherine, who personally approved which ladies would serve her." ~ Kelly Hart's The Mistresses of Henry VIII (2009)
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She 'was thought, for her rare ornaments
of nature, and education to be the beauty
and mistress-piece of her time'.
~ Lord Herbert of Cherbury,
a 17th century biographer of Henry VIII,
having the benefit of sources that are now no longer extant.
In his work he mentioned the love affair between Bessie and Henry, commenting of their son Fitzroy that
‘the child, proving so equally like to both his parents, that he became the first emblem of their mutual affection’
"She seems to have been the mistress he [Henry] esteemed the most -- probably for the same reason that, as the years went by, Jane Seymour was elevated onto a higher and higher pedestal
in Henry's mind. Bessie gave him the only
present a sixteenth-century monarch
truly wanted -- a healthy son. And had this
son lived past his teenage years, there is a
substantial chance that he would have
become King Henry IX"
~ Kelly Hart The Mistresses of Henry VIII (2009)
See also LINKS:
Father: Sir John Blount
Mother: Catherine Pershall
Brother: George Blount of Kinlet, Sheriff of Shropshire
Brother: Henry Blount
Sister: Rosa Blount
Sister: Agnes Blount
Sister: Isabella Blount
Paternal grandfather: Sir Thomas Blount of Kinlet
Paternal grandmother: Ann Croft
Maternal grandfather: Sir Hugh of Knightly Peshall
Maternal grandmother: Isabella Stanley
Son by King Henry VIII
Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, Earl of Nottingham (15 June 1519 - 23 July 1536)
Children by Gilbert Talboys
Daughter: Elizabeth Talboys, Baroness Talboys (1520-1563)
Son: George Talboys, 2nd Baron Talboys of Kyme (1522-1540)
Son: Robert Talboys, 3rd Baron Talboys of Kyme (1523-1541)
Children by Edward Clinton
Daughter: Lady Bridget Clinton, Lady Dymoke (b.1536)
Daughter: Lady Katherine Clinton, Lady Burgh (1538-August 1621) married William, 2nd Baron Burgh; nephew of Sir Edward Burgh, first husband of Queen Catherine Parr.
Daughter: Lady Margaret Clinton, Baroness Willoughby of Parham, married kinsmen to Catherine Willoughby (Catherine Brandon) Charles Willoughby, 2nd Baron (b.1539)
Mistress to King Henry VIII (c. 1514 to 1517 -- 1519/20)
First Husband: Gilbert Talboys, 1st Baron Talboys of Kyme (1522 - early 1530s)
Second Husband: Lord Edward Clinton, 1st Earl of Lincoln (1533/35 - 1540)
Enemies / Friends
There were no political parties as such at this time, but there were political factions. Anne Boleyn and her family represented one, Jane Seymour and her brother another. Bessie's son, Henry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond, representated yet another faction. As such, one's 'friends' and 'enemies' were determined by the alliances made by each faction.
UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER QUOTES
DEFINING EPISODES | MEMORABLE SCENES
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Funeral Brass of Elizabeth Blount,
Lady Clinton (the only contemporary likeness)
Bessie's son had his court at Sheriff Hutton Castle (above now ruins) . Many men who would later becoming leading lights, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Edward Seymour and John Dudley were at Sheriff Hutton.
Gilbert & Bessie Tailboys left court for their estate in South Kyme Lincolnshire. South Kyme Castle is now only a ruin.