Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Historical Flavour of The Week: Henrietta-Maria of France-Happy Birthday too!

This is one feisty lady with a streak of stubbornness, determination, unswerving loyalty to theCatholic religion and undying love and faithfulness to her husband Charles I of England.


Henrietta Maria was born 400 years ago today. Her illustrious ancestry makes it that she was the daughter of the Great Bourbon King, Henri IV and Marie De Medici- no ordinary- quiet- lifestyle personalities either…

Born the youngest child in her family, she barely knew her father the Great King; he was assassinated before she even turned one. Henrietta Maria would grow up to be a very charming bright-eyed princess with a case of strong personality to spice things up.

She met Charles I after he had declined to marry the Infanta of Spain. Although he immediately took a liking to her, it took a while for the two to become compatible- to say the least. Henrietta was quite argumentative and could not do without her grand entourage that she hauled over from France to be by her side. To make matters more difficult for the King of England, his pretty Queen was a Catholic with a zest for conversion as her ultimate goal.

Their life together decidedly got better when the Duke of Buckingham, Charles greatest friend and confidant, died; leaving the King to rely and confide solely in his wife. She had finally earned her right as confidante and closest ally to the King. The King also managed to convince her that ridding herself from her French staff and followers would be beneficial to get their marriage back on the right track. When all that was cleared up, things finally settled and from that point on the two were inseparable in both love and royal business.

The marriage produced six children. The firstborn, Charles II was different from the rest. Henrietta considered him to be very ugly, too tall, but irresistibly charming with the distinguishing advantage of being born with a grand and definite kingly allure. Her last child would be her favourite; Henrietta –Anne, or Minette, as she was often called (read about her here).

Henrietta Maria dedicated much of her time helping the King with his business, and of course, a lot of the country’s turmoil had to do with Royalty and religion. The Puritans, whom Henrietta Maria hated because of their rigidity, fervor, and ugly ‘roundheads’ as she called them, had much to do with the doomed fate of the English King.

No sooner were they separated due to the aggressive and fast-paced circumstances, Charles was imprisoned and then soon after beheaded. By that time Henrietta had already fled, as agreed by both to be the best solution. She was in France when she heard about the tragedy. This was a devastating blow she would never get over from.

During her time in France, Henrietta managed to care for her baby, Minette while she raised money to help re-install the monarchy through Charles II, her son. All the while, being a fervent believer and promoter of the Catholic faith, Henrietta also founded a convent, where she later lived.

Henrietta Maria of France, Queen Consort of England, Scotland and Ireland was mother to two kings: Charles II and James II. She was also grandmother to Mary II, William III and Anne of Great Britain.

I just finished reading a Jean Plaidy book on her: Myself My Enemy, which was fabulous to say the least. If you wish,
you can read my review here.

Interesting Tid-Bits:
I was so interested to learn that the state of Maryland was named after her by her husband. Also named after her is Cape Henrietta Maria in Northern Ontario, where James Bay and Hudson Bay meet.
Another, but very tainting and not so pleasant fact: there was a slave ship carrying slaves to the US that sank in the Key West named after her as well.

Sources:
British Civil Wars, Britannica,

36 comments:

Matterhorn said...

Sad story. Still, in the end I think this family was luckier than the French royal family.

lilly said...

What a captivating story! Thanks so much Lucy for posting it. It definitely sparked my interest in this woman.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

dolleygurl said...

I think she has a very fascinating story and she was smart to get out of England during all that uprising about her husband. I can't wait to read something about her.

lizzy J said...

I too have not read anything on her I seem to have skipped it over instead going to her son Charles II. I do want to get into her and read about her life. What a good post Lucy! I enjoyed it very much.

John Tyrrell said...

What an interesting and sad story. I think her religion and interference in matters of state probably contributed to her husband's downfall. Just as well perhaps that she did not live to see the final fall of the House of Stuart.

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Wonderful post! I have a book by Rosalind Marshall about her that my friend's mother published. I find her fascinating, particularly that she and Charles did not get on at first.

Mirella Sichirollo Patzer said...

She's definitely a fascinating woman. Thanks for sharing the biography and the book review. I'll definitely need to put this one on my book shelf.

Mirella

Arleigh said...

Great article Lucy! I didn't know Maryland was named after her!

Leslie Carroll said...

I've read a lot about Henrietta Maria's children, and even about her husband, but I knew very little about her -- so I thank you for this wonderful post, Lucy! All I really knew about her was that she was very religious and very strict, and that she did not at all approve of James's marriage to Anne Hyde.

Christine Trent said...

As a Maryland resident, I confirm and applaud your recognition of my state being named after Henrietta Maria. Most people assume that it was named either after (1) the Virgin Mary or (2) Queen Mary Tudor.

As an interesting side note, the Jamestown settlement in Virginia (1607) was started as a purely capitalist venture. Unfortunately, they initially forgot to bring along women with them, so combined with devastating disease, they were very nearly decimated. Oops.

The nearby 1634 settlement in St. Mary's County (named for the Virgin Mary), Maryland, was established for religious freedom. They remembered to bring women. Fortunately, both states eventually thrived enough to become part of our 13 original colonies.

St. Mary's, Maryland, is also home to Margaret Brent, a 17th century women's rights activist, who served as her own lawyer in court and battled for women's property rights. She was astounding for her time.

We're knee-deep in 400 years of American history in Maryland, and I love it! :)

Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

What an interesting lady! I, too, only knew that she was very religious and very strict, as the mother of Charles and Minette. I had no idea that Maryland was named after her...good stuff!! And Christine, I also loved reading your comment above, how funny (but unfortunate) that they forgot to bring the lassies overseas! Just goes to prove--yet again--that we women are WAY smarter than men! :)

Amy @ Passages to the Past said...

Great post Lucy! I really enjoyed Myself, My Enemy too! Although, I don't think there is one Plaidy that I didn't like! That's so funny that she thought Charles II was ugly - wasn't he quite the ladies man?

Jenny Girl said...

Excellent post Lucy. I learned quite a bit today. Thank you!

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