Monday, February 21, 2011

Kate Middleton: Oldest Royal English Bride Ever?

Recently, I came across this article promising to deliver five facts about soon-to-be royal bride, Kate Middleton. The video interview and the text on this site declares that Kate Middleton will be the oldest royal bride ever at age 29.

Hmmm...this sounded fishy to me.

What defines a "royal bride" is not specifically stated. Therefore, I created my own search parameters to try and ascertain whether or not this is true. I examined the following:

**The period from William the Conqueror (1066) to Elizabeth Tudor (1558)

**The age at marriage of each royal bride in the direct line of succession during this period

**In the case of a disputed year of birth, I chose the year that most scholars today agree upon.

Here is what I found:

Royal Brides (Possibly) Older than Kate Middleton

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor's exact year of birth is uncertain. Her parents married in 1121, and scholars dispute whether her birth year was 1122 or 1124. The year 1122 has been more widely accepted because she was noted to be over 80 at her death in 1204, because contemporary chroniclers actually undershot her age by two years listing her birth date as 1120, and because the Aquitainian lords swore fealty to her on her fourteenth birthday in 1136. What is known for certain is that she was married to Henry II of England in 1152. This would have made her (possibly) 30 years old.

Joan of Navarre

Joan was the second wife of Henry IV of England (reign 1399-1413). Henry was first married to Mary de Bohun, but she died five years before he became king. Henry IV is credited with the overthrow of Richard II in 1399. He married Joan of Navarre in 1403. Based on the respective birth years of her children by her first marriage, Joan was probably born in 1370. This would have made her 33 when she married Henry. Although 1370 is a disputed birth year, her previous marriage to John V, Duke of Brittany in 1386 would have made her 16. The year 1370 would have to be nearly 4 years off to line up Joan's age with Kate Middleton. This is a pretty big spread--not unheard-of, but it is unlikely. In addition, that doesn't even take into account that she could have been older than 16 by a few years when she first married.

Anne Boleyn

There are two birth years for Anne--1501 and 1507. The most recent scholarship has tended to agree upon the earlier date. The main evidence is a letter Anne wrote and sent to her father from court in Belgium. The letter is dated between 1513 and 1514, and scholars strongly feel that the handwriting suggests an older girl at least in her teen years as author rather than a 6-7 year old child. If we accept 1501 as her birth year, when she married Henry VIII in 1533, she would have been 32 years old.

Katherine Parr

Although unknown, most recent scholarship points to a birth year of 1512 for Henry VIII's last queen. Given their marriage in 1543, she would have been 31 years old.

The Royal Bride OLDER Than Kate Middleton Is:

Mary Tudor (Mary I of England)

Unless the author of this piece of journalism cut out all of the female monarchs in English history wholesale, the claim that Kate Middleton is the oldest royal bride ever comes crashing irrevocably down when we consider the case of Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's oldest living daughter.

Mary I was the daughter of Henry VIII's first wife, Katherine of Aragon. She was born in 1516, and by all accounts, she had a very difficult life. She was bounced around on the royal marriage market throughout her early life. Candidates included Charles V the Holy Roman Emperor, King Francis I of France, and two of King Francis' sons. Not much came of any of this, in part because she was declared illegitimate and tossed out of the line of succession for most of her adult life. After her younger brother, Edward VI, died in 1553 and Lady Jane Grey's administration was overthrown, Mary I became Queen of England.

All that was left for Mary was to choose a husband. She picked Philip II of Spain, eleven years her junior. Mary married Philip in England at Winchester Cathedral in 1554.

Sorry, Kate, Mary I was 38 years, 6 months and 7 days old when she first married. This undoubtedly makes her the oldest royal English bride in this period with an absolutely certain birth date and year.

1 comment:

dive said...

The only thing I know about Kate Middleton is that she doesn't appear to have a top lip.