Today I am very pleased to be hosting a guest post by my dear friend CeCe, who has a massive interest in Charles Brandon and Tudor history.
Five years ago I began writing a novel, the person within my novel was a man who I have come to respect in the five years I have been writing it, although nowhere near completion of the novel- Charles Brandon. The most loyal member I feel around Tudor Court in the time of Henry VIII.
Charles Brandon is one of the main reasons I got into writing a Novel, although as a child I had always been enthralled by the Tudor’s from a young age it was my favourite History topic at school. I went on to taking it at A level and even took a course in it in University under a leading Tudor Professor who was taught what he knew by David Starkey. The Logical step was not to begin writing about it.
A good friend of mine is still wanting me to write a biography on Charles Brandon but the way my mind works I would end up changing some things in his life. I am much better at writing fiction.
As I was researching for my book I began to feel frustrated that there had not been one definitive biography for him so I began to allow my imagination to go a little wild. I will admit my first encounter with Charles Brandon was in The ShowTime show The Tudors with Henry Cavil as the man who brought the man to life.
However, the man above was very different to the man who was painted at the time. The portrait below is a painting of Charles Brandon with Mary, Dowager Queen of France and the King’s Sister, probably their wedding portrait.
Many people you ask about Charles Brandon will not be able to tell you much about the man who was a constant in King Henry VIII’s life from the time he was brought into service into his household as a boy, we know that he was living with his grandfather after his mother and father had died. Then placed into the court of Henry VII, we surmise that this is when he met Henry VIII and Mary (who would later come to be his wife his fifth out of six wives- and we say that Henry VIII was the womaniser). There were even rumours circulating that the Young Brandon was indeed the Bastard son of Henry VII and this was why Henry VIII kept him by his side, although I do not think this is correct there is no factual evidence of this and most of it was hearsay. It was also rumoured that he slept with the woman who gave Henry a son and began to make him think about the possibility that Henry was able to produce children, Bessie Blount.
The part about Charles Brandon that always makes me smile is the way he has been painted as keeping Henry VIII chaste and a virgin before he slept with his first wife Queen Katherine of Aragon. This is the man that many do not know about.
After picking up David Baldwin’s 2015 book on Katherine Willoughby, ‘Henry’s Last love’ I was hopeful that there would be something about Charles Brandon, I came across some very interesting accounts of the man.
Charles Wriosthely wrote at his death, ‘had been so valiant a captain in the king’s wars… to great damage to the kings enemies’
Ellis Gruffyd noted, ‘he was the flower of all the captains of the realm and had the necessary patience to control the soldiers’ (Balwin:2015:64)
I have read many a book with reference to Charles Brandon that depict him as someone who rode their luck, someone with no great talent and the only reason he managed to keep his head in the event of his marriage to the King’s sister was by Thomas Wolsey. Some have painted him as a weak man, somewhat dumb.
I think we need to have a relook of Brandon, I think we need to look at him as the man he was. He was the only member of the Council who managed to stay on the King’s good graces in more ways than one. He married the King sister and did not lose his head, although he was severely punished for it he still managed to stay on the council until his death. He was also someone who was a ‘New man’ the people who Henry did like to rise into favour with some success but he was also able to tear them down, prime examples, Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell. Charles, however I think was clever, he knew exactly how to control his friend’s temper that only someone who was trusted by the King could.
From the accounts above he was a solider someone who was at a lot of the most important moment’s in Tudor History, Field of Cloth and Gold, the Birth of the Royal children, God father to the future Edward VI. Charles Brandon was someone who in his years went from the athletic man who would win tourney’s on regular occasions often vying with the King to take the tournament. He was left devastated when he caused the King to be taken off his horse.
The goal in my plan and my eternal love affair with Charles Brandon is one day finish the novel- my problem is that I keep editing it every time I go back to it. And hopefully one day see a biography on Charles Brandon that I can pick up and not think this all the things I have read before. That finally the Man is coming to life and not the legend or the parts we have seen a thousand times.