Spotlight: Bessie Blount / Elizabeth Blount


Name: Elizabeth Blount / Bessie Blount / Elizabeth Tailboys / Elizabeth Clinton

Title/s: Baroness Tailboys / Countess of Lincoln

Birth / Death: c.1498-1502 – 1539/1540

Spouse: Gilbert Tailboys. 1st Baron Tailboys 1497-1530 / Edward Clinton, 1st Earl of Lincoln 1512-1585

Children: Henry Fitzroy 1519-1536 (illegitimate, by Henry VIII) / Elizabeth Dudley, Countess of Warwick 1520-1563 / George Tailboys, 2nd Baron Tailboys 1523-1540 / Robert Tailboys, 3rd Baron Tailboys 1523-1541 (by Gilbert Tailboys) / Bridget Dymoke 1536-? / Katherine Burgh, Baroness Burgh 1538-1621 / Margaret Willoughby, Baroness Willoughby 1539-? (by Edward Clinton)

Parents: John Blount & Catherine Pershall

Siblings: None

Noble Connections: She was the longest-serving mistress of Henry VIII, about seven or eight years, and gave him an illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. Her father had served the royal family for many years, but was generally unremarkable.

Events of their Lifetime: Death of Henry VII and accession of Henry VIII 1509, marriage of Henry VIII to Katherine of Aragon 1509, birth of Mary I 1516, the king’s secret matter and the break with Rome 1520s/1530s, Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn and the birth of Elizabeth I 1533, executions of Thomas More 1535 and Anne Boleyn 1536, Henry VIII’s marriage to Jane Seymour 1536, birth of Edward VI 1537.

Controversy: It is unknown why Bessie Blount managed to keep Henry’s attentions for so long – the affair only ended with her pregnancy. Unlike Anne Boleyn, she definitely wasn’t holding out for marriage, so what held him? It was also suggested that her son, Henry Fitzroy, was to be named the king’s heir, in lieu of him having any sons.

Works of Fiction:
Haeger, Diane, The Queen’s Rival (2012)

Portrayals on Screen:
Ruta Gedmintas, The Tudors, 2007, 3 episodes

Further Reading:
Duncan, J., ‘Henry Fitzroy and Henry VIII’s Scruple of Conscience’, Renaissance News, 16 (1963)
Hart, Kelly, The Mistresses of Henry VIII (2009)
Jones, Philippa, The Other Tudors: Henry VIII’s Mistresses and Bastards (2009)
Murphy, B., Bastard Prince: Henry VIII’s Lost Son (2001)
Norton, Elizabeth, Bessie Blount: the Story of Henry VIII’s Long-time Mistress (2011)

Portraits:

Elizabeth Blount Funeral Brass
Elizabeth Blount Funeral Brass
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