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Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset (15 June 151918 June 1536) was the son of King Henry VIII and his teenaged mistress, Elizabeth Blount, the only illegitimate offspring that Henry acknowledged. FitzRoy was created Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Richmond and Somerset on 16 June 1525.

Born in Blackmore, Essex he was raised like a prince in a northern castle, as his father had a particular fondness for him, and took great interest in his upbringing. At one point, there was talk of making Richmond the King's heir, since Henry's wife, Queen Catherine, had borne no sons. There was even, incredibly, a plan to acquire a papal dispensation for Richmond to marry his half-sister Mary and thus unite the King's illegitimate son with his legitimate daughter. However, both these plans fell by the wayside when councillors pointed out that the people would probably not accept them.

The Duke married Lady Mary Howard, only daughter of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, on 28 November 1533. He was on excellent terms with his brother-in-law, the poet Lord Surrey. Although tradition has it that Anne Boleyn was hostile to the match it now seems that it was she who organised it — pairing her young cousin Mary with the King's illegitimate son. Therefore, the Howard family could be even closer (in favour and family) to the King.

The Duke's promising career came to an abrupt end in 1536. For a time he had looked greatly unwell, and many courtiers now suspected that he was suffering from the dreaded consumption. In May, when Anne Boleyn was tried for treason (by none other than Norfolk), the King allowed the judges to accuse her of attempting to poison Richmond. As with all the charges produced against her, evidence was lacking. Anne was executed on 19 May 1536, and despite the King's crocodile tears (he embraced Richmond, telling him that he was lucky to have escaped the "witch's" plans), the boy died of consumption at St. James's Palace. At the time of his death, an Act was going through Parliament to enable the King to nominate him as heir. Norfolk gave orders that the body be wrapped in lead and taken in a closed cart for secret interment, but his servants put the body in a straw-filled wagon. The only mourners were two attendants who followed at a distance.

The Duke's ornate tomb is in Framlingham Church, Suffolk.

His father out-lived him by just over a decade, and was succeeded by his legitimate son, Prince Edward (who became Edward VI), born shortly after Richmond's death.

The Duke in literature Edit

In the fictional Blood series by Tanya Huff, Richmond became a vampire some time before his (faked) death, and moved to Toronto, where he lived through the 1990s. The television series Blood Ties (to be aired in 2007) brings the character into the 21st century.

In This Scepter'd Isle by Mercedes Lackey and Roberta Gellis, he is protected from assassination by an elf and finally goes to live in Elfhame Avalon after his (faked) death.

ReferencesEdit

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