Spotlight: Mary Howard Fitzroy, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset


Name: Mary Howard / Mary Fitzroy

Title/s: Duchess of Richmond and Somerset / Countess of Nottingham

Birth / Death: 1519 – 7 December 1557

Spouse: Henry Fitzroy 1519-1536

Children: None

Parents: Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk 1473-1554 & Elizabeth Stafford 1497-1558

Siblings: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey 1516-1547 / Thomas Howard, 1st Viscount Howard 1520-1582 / Katherine Howard, Countess of Derby ?-1530 / Muriel Howard Continue reading “Spotlight: Mary Howard Fitzroy, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset”

Discussion Questions – ‘Secrets of the Tudor Court’ by Darcey Bonnette


Darcey Bonnette's 'Secrets of the Tudor Court' (2011).
Darcey Bonnette’s ‘Secrets of the Tudor Court’ (2011).

This book focuses on the life of Mary Howard, who married Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.

  1. Discuss how Mary’s character changes throughout the novel.

The main that Mary undergoes in the novel is her loss of innocence. At the beginning she truly believes in her father and in the king. The turning point in the relationship with her father is when she sees him beat her mother, and finds out about his relationship with Bess Holland. With the king, there are a lot of little things, but the major event is his actions against her cousin Anne Boleyn. Mary is still essentially innocent until her husband, Henry Fitzroy dies, and she realises that she has to become more forward and ruthless in order to live. Other events which contribute to her loss of innocence are her relationship with Cedric Dane, the executions of Katherine Howard and Henry Howard, and the actions of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford. Mary’s perception of loyalty also changes, as she realises that loyalty to the king should come first and foremost in order to survive, and loyalty to your family should come after. The examples of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard illustrate this. Self-preservation is also an important motivator for Mary, particularly in the case of the accusations against her brother and father. Her mother and Cedric Dane encourage this. Continue reading “Discussion Questions – ‘Secrets of the Tudor Court’ by Darcey Bonnette”

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