By now, maybe you know that I really took an interest in Bessie Blount after reading a book about her (see my "Favorite Books" tab). I think it's ironic, and a little sad for poor Queen Katherine, that King Henry impregnated his young mistress and that she bore him a son - the first son for the king, despite years and years of trying with his wife. Only one of Katherine's children made it past infancy, and it turned out to be Mary I (a girl). Bummer.
Because Bessie gave the king a son, no matter how unwelcome her pregnancy may have been, it proved to the king that all those years of failed sons from his wife were, indeed, NOT his fault! YAY for King Henry! Imagine how the birth of little Henry FitzRoy threw Katherine's world upside-down.
By the way, for those who don't know, the name "FitzRoy" means "son of the king," and is often used in children who are illegitimate. Sometimes, you will see the name written as "Fitzroy," but in many reliable sources, the "F" and "R" are both capitalized, to emphasize that the two words have been put together to form the meaning.
After the birth of Henry FitzRoy, Bessie's relationship with the King ended, and she was soon married off to her childhood friend, Gilbert Tailboys. While the two of them lived in the country, Henry Jr. was taken to his father's court - Henry VIII was ecstatic that he had fathered a son, and intended to give him all the royal luxuries he was born into. At age 6, he was given the titles "Earl of Nottingham" and "Duke of Richmond and Somerset." He was raised as a Prince, and his father took a great interest in his upbringing - fatherly pride at its finest.
At 14, little Henry (or Richmond, as he came to be known), married Lady Mary Howard. There is still no evidence of King Henry attempting to put his son in line for the throne, but I personally believe he would have at least considered it, as he seemed so happy to have a son at all. In any case, it wouldn't have mattered, because in July 1536, the little Duke was diagnosed with Consumption and deemed incurable.
Anyone who is familiar with Tuberculosis knows that it can be quite a gruesome disease, so I'll spare the details, but it is said that poor Henry was in some pain for a while before his death. He died at St. James' Palace and was placed in an ornate tomb in Framlingham Church, Suffolk.
Apologies for the sad posting, but I really do like Henry FitzRoy, as well as his mother. I hope you might have learned a little bit from this post and take some time to think about the fact that, if the young Duke had survived, and the King's other son, Edward, had never been born, Henry FitzRoy may have ascended the throne upon his father's death.
RIP Little Henry!