Of course, firstly I'd like to take a look at why people have an interest in this man. Is it because of Henry Cavill's gorgeous portrayal of him in the popular Showtime series? Is it because he appears to be one of the most notorious and sexy studs of the 1500's? Is it because he was a lifelong friend to Henry VIII, who seemed to dispose of other friends throughout his life as if they were used tissues?
No matter how you look at it, Charles Brandon was a resilient, fascinating figure - and he was cherished by both the women in his life, as well as by Henry himself, who was (as we know) a fickle friend.
Personally, I think this one fact might have something to do with it. How many women have an appreciation for Charles Brandon because of how he looks? Here's a rude awakening... This is our beloved Charles Brandon in The Tudors...
On a serious note, let's make a list of a few of the things that make Charles Brandon our favorite Tudor man - and by 'our,' I mean 'my readers'!' Everyone here knows my heart truly lies with Robert Dudley...
1. He kept Henry VIII's friendship throughout his life.
This is a really significant feature of Charles Brandon's life. He was almost 10 years older than Henry VIII - (his birthday was in 1484, while Henry's was 1491). He grew up at the court of Henry's father, King Henry VII and remained at court when the young king (and his friend) came to the throne, becoming Master of Horse in 1513. Throughout the first several years of Henry VIII's reign, Brandon received lands, titles, and gifts of favor by the king who loved him above all other courtiers. In 1515, he risked the king's wrath by secretly marrying his little sister, Princess Mary Tudor - and was forced from court for a time until the king forgave him. However, although Charles did something behind the king's back, he survived the error and retained his royal friendship. This was not the only time that Brandon was sent from court. During Henry VIII's courtship of Anne Boleyn, he was sent away for a short time because of his warnings against the Lady Anne. However, Charles was clearly allowed a bit more freedom with his king, because he never faced any serious consequences for angering the king. He died in 1545, still enjoying Henry's friendship. He is one of the only friends of the fickle king who survived the friendship, or who retained his grand titles and wealth.
In 1513, Charles Brandon was created Viscount Lisle, and was proclaimed 'a second king' by the governor of the Netherlands. But this was only the first of many honors that Brandon would receive during his life. He would also become Duke of Suffolk - his most prestigious title. When Cardinal Wolsey fell from favor, Charles Brandon's influence at court rose dramatically, and he was one of the men sent to collect the Great Seal of Wolsey's office. He acted as High Steward at Anne Boleyn's coronation, and he was one of the commissioners charged with the task of dismissing Queen Katherine's household. Because he supported Henry VIII's ecclesiastical policies, he received a great amount of the money and lands from the dissolved monasteries around the country. In 1544, one year before his death, he commanded the English army during the invasion of France. In all these things, he was Henry's right-hand man, never failing him, although his opinions at times were different than his king's.
3. He was a ladies' man.
This is one aspect of Brandon's life that is not so different from the TV show's portrayal. Charles Brandon was, in fact, married four times - his wives included Margaret Mortimer, Anne Browne, Mary Tudor, and Catherine Willoughby. Perhaps he was not quite as steamy as we saw in The Tudors - but he certainly liked women and was well-liked by them himself. During his life, he fathered eight legitimate children, and at least three illegitimate children - which tells us that he enjoyed entertaining mistresses as well as wives!
Whatever the reason if for your interest in Charles Brandon, I enjoy reading about him (and watching him in The Tudors.) Personally, I find anyone who enjoyed Henry VIII's friendship and respect for so long, a successful and impressive man. As we know, Henry was not an easy man to please - as many of his wives and friends discovered. Charles Brandon, however, was Henry's great friend until the end - sticking by his side, doing his royal duty to his sovereign, and proving himself to be a loyal, true friend. I'm interested now in your thoughts of Charles Brandon, so please let me know what you think!