Sunday, 23 February 2014

A Mother's Obsession

While researching the years of Charles II’s exile, I was always aware that that the widowed Queen Henrietta Maria had attempted to convert her two youngest children to Catholicism. Henriette Anne, raised in France from babyhood, was an obvious candidate, but Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Cambridge, her third son with King Charles I, proved far more difficult to persuade.  I didn’t know just how persistent she was until I read Eva Scott’s detailed  account of her intimidation which continued for over a year.

Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester 1640-1660
Born on 8th July 1640 at Oatlands Palace near Weybridge, and sometimes known as Henry of Oatland, he was two years old when the English Civil War forced his parents and elder siblings to escape London for Hampton Court. He and his five-year-old sister Elizabeth were left behind in St James Palace, then subsequently moved by Parliament to the White Tower in the Tower of London. As their captivity progressed, they were moved to more comfortable lodgings in Chelsea, St James Palace and Syon House.
Whilst at Syon, their father was held at Hampton Court Palace under house arrest in 1647, where he permitted visits from Henry and Elizabeth. They also spent his last evening at Windsor Castle before his execution, where Charles I exhorted his youngest son not to allow himself to be crowned king.
After their father’s execution, the children were stripped of their titles and Henry was treated as the son of a private gentleman, addressed as ‘Master Harry Stuart.'  Royalist propaganda said Cromwell joked with Henry that he would apprentice him to a cobbler or brewer. The eight-year-old prince was said to have responded that it would be better for Parliament to make some of his dead father’s estates over to him than apprentice him out like a slave. Cromwell replied: ‘Boy, you must be an apprentice, for all your father’s revenues will not make half satisfaction for the wrong he has done the kingdom.’
That Henry should be placed on the throne as a limited, constitutional monarch was also considered, as Cromwell felt Henry was young enough not to have been "corrupted" by the Catholic and absolutist views of his parents. However, the Rump Parliament opted instead for the establishment of a Republican Commonwealth.

Lady Dorothy Percy, Countess Leicester who 
was kind to Elizabeth and Henry
Henry and Elizabeth were sent to Penshurst, Kent under the care of the Robert Sydney, 2nd Earl of Leicester and his Countess, where they were apparently happy and treated well. When rumours began of a new uprising by their brother Charles in 1650, the children were moved to Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, a far less comfortable residence. Princess Elizabeth, at fourteen, always sickly with rickets and probably in the last stages of tuberculosis, died there after only a month, leaving Henry alone in the care of Captain Anthony Mildmay, a man of little compassion.

Rumours circulated that Elizabeth had been poisoned, so in January 1653, when he was almost thirteen, Henry was granted a pass to travel to his sister Mary of Orange in Holland, together with four servants and his tutor, Robert Lovel.  Mildmay refused to let him go and confined him in his own lodgings, until Henry appealed to the Council to enforce the order, saying;

‘he refused to accommodate me with a bed or blanket, or any utensil to carry on shipboard, but doth now lock his doors upon me, denying me liberty to walk about the castle, or to enjoy that liberty which you have alwaies granted me.’

Mildmay was overruled, the pass re-issued and with £500 from Cromwell, Henry sailed from Cowes to Dunkirk in mid-February. He was received at Antwerp by Lady Anne Hyde, the wife of Charles’ Chancellor, where Thomas Howard, one of Mary of Orange’s gentlemen waited to conduct him to Holland.
Princess Mary met her brother at Delft, and became immediately devoted to this sad boy who still grieved for his sister Elizabeth. Enchanted by Henry’s handsome looks and bright intelligence, she petitioned Charles for permission to let him stay with her permanently.
 
Teylingen Castle
During the next two months, Henrietta Maria wrote pleading letters to her daughter insisting Henry be sent to her in Paris, which Charles confirmed. Mary was convinced her mother and Queen Anne of France, had 'Papist designs’ upon her brother and resisted. Secretary Nicholas shared her fears, but neither of them could ignore the King's command, so in mid-April, Mary and Henry parted 'with great passion of sorrow.'  
At The Palais Royal, Hyde wrote to Rochester:   ‘The sweete Duke of Gloucester arrived here on Wednesday last, and is in truth the fynest youth and of the most manly understanding that I have ever known.'
Known as ‘le petit cavalier,’ Henry was spoiled in Paris by the exiled court, including his cousin Prince Rupert, who arrived after an abortive period as a sailor in the Mediterranean.  Henrietta Maria demanded Henry submit to her wish he become a Catholic, but this proud boy, who had not seen his mother since he was a toddler, rebelled fiercely and expressed a wish to be allowed to return to Holland and his sister Mary.
The Dutch States-General had negotiated a new treaty with the English Parliament, a condition of which they agreed not to give protection to their enemies – i.e the Royal Stuarts. This made Henry's return to Holland doubtful, even if Charles could have arranged it. Henry had no money of his own and Charles could not support him financially.
Charles tried to reason with his mother, writing to her from Cologne, where he had been forced to go by the political situation in France. He explained that as a Catholic, Henry would never become king, or be allowed back into England. The queen’s response was that ‘England was finished’ and the only hope for Henry was marriage to a Catholic European princess. The situation wasn’t helped by the fact that the French Court increased Henrietta Maria’s pension by two thousand livres for Henry’s support.
Reports reached a horrified Charles in Cologne – that Henry was as indolent as Charles himself, and could not be induced to study or to write letters, and that he mixed with undesirable ‘French gallants,' who encouraged him to bad behaviour.
Charles sent the Marquis of Ormonde to Paris in order to assess the situation and, if necessary, rescue the Prince from his mother’s clutches. Charles had already failed to have his sister Henrietta raised as a Protestant due being unable to support her. The French royal family had already insisted Henrietta Maria dismiss all her non-Catholic attendants; an order the dowager queen relished in following to the letter and which enabled her to rid herself of some of her son’s friends.
Charles wrote to Henry from Cologne on 10th November 1654

'Deare Brother, I have received yours without a date, in which you mention that Mr. Montague*** has endeavoured to pervert you in your religion. I do not doubt but you remember very well the commands I left with you concerning that point, and am confident you will observe them. Yett the letters that come from Paris say it is the Queen's purpose to do all she can to change your religion, which, if you herken to her, or to any one else in that matter, you must never thinke to see Englande or me againe, ……….

‘I have commanded this bearer, my Lord of Ormonde, to speake more at large to you upon this subject, therefore give him credit in all that he shall say to you as if it were from myself. And if you doe not consider what I say to you, remember the last words of your deade father, which were to be constant in your religion, and never to be shaken in it ; which, if you do not observe this, shall be the last time you will ever heare from your most affectionat brother, CHARLES R.'

When Ormonde arrived ‘late and weary’ at the Palais Royal, he was met by James Duke of York, summoned by a distraught Henry, who told him he had only been allowed to see his brother in the Queen's presence. Robert Lovel had been summarily dismissed and Henry packed off to the Abbey at Pontoise where Walter Montagu planned to have him turned over to the Jesuit College at Clermont for instruction and conversion.
Henrietta informed Ormonde that Lovel had left of his own volition – a blatant lie, and that she acted by the dictates of conscience. That she had not promised the King not to convert Henry, only that she would use no violence to do so.
Ormonde replied gravely that her treatment of Henry looked very like violence.
The next day, Ormonde visited Henry at Pontoise, where he found him upset and frightened but, resolute in his devotion to the Protestant religion. Ormonde started negotiations to have Henry removed from Paris altogether, despite the French court declaring they would not give the boy permission to leave.  Ormonde brought Henry back to the Palais Royale, where Cardinal Mazarin and Anne of Austria both urged Henry to obey his mother, rather than his dead father, claiming him kindly as ‘a child of France.’ A great deal of pressure to put onto a young boy, who, to his credit,  held out against them, refused to return to Pontoise and reported the conversation to Ormonde in writing:

‘My Lord, — I pray let the King know that the Queen of  France spoke to me last night about going to the Jesuits’ College, and obeying the Queen my mother in this, and that I ought to obey her. . . . Pray let him know that Mr. Lovel is very much troubled that (sic) so false a report as that of his complying with the Queen in making me a Papist'

Queen Henrietta Maria
Lord Jermyn warned Ormonde that the French Court would oppose Henry’s removal, but the Marquise was determined and a few days later obtained the queen’s permission for Henry to be taken to Cologne.
Henrietta Maria was nothing if not persistent, and before Henry’s departure, harangued him for over an hour in an effort to convince him to enter the Jesuits' College. When Henry stood firm, Henrietta fell into a rage, shouted at him to get out of her sight, he was no longer her son and that she never wanted to see him again.
Henry fled to James for sympathy, and on the following day, Henry tried to intercept the Queen on her way to Mass asking for her final blessing. She swept by her thirteen-year-old son without a look.
 ‘Where are you going, sir?' Montagu called after him when he stormed off.
 ‘To church!' Henry replied over his shoulder. He and James went straight to house of Sir Richard Browne where they attended Holy Communion according to Anglican rites.
After the service, Henry returned to the Palais Royal, hoping to see his little sister Henriette before the Queen's return from vespers. However, the nine-year-old Henriette was so torn between fear of her mother and love for her brother, she broke into passionate wailing.
So as not to distress Henriette further, Henry retreated to his own room to find it dismantled, the sheets removed from the bed, and his two horses turned out of the stables by the Queen's Comptroller.  Two English court members offered him shelter but Henry, not wishing to bring his mother’s wrath down on them refused.
Anne of Austria and her son, Philippe Duc d’Anjou showed no signs of giving up either. They summoned Henry and promised not to harass him any more if he would just agree to enter the Jesuit College, an interview that turned into a heated argument.
Before leaving Paris, Henry wrote humbly to his mother, begging her forgiveness and asked for her blessing before his departure - she refused to receive the letter.

Reuben's portrait of Queen Anne of Austria
Not everyone shunned Henry. His brother James was unfailingly supportive, as were his exiled compatriots who flocked to congratulate him. Even among the French he was not without sympathisers. James's friend and the Prince of Condé’s adversary, Marshal Turenne, advised him to keep ‘a perfect union’ with his two brothers, and ‘detest all cabals' against the King's counsels. These included the lovely Duchesse de Chatillon, a love interest of Charles’ and, Cesar de Vendome, who openly condemned the whole affair, exclaiming ‘with admiration at the madness of it.'

Ormonde, meanwhile, had been forced to sell his ‘George’ ** to raise money for the journey to Cologne, and had to borrow an additional 500 livres from a merchant.
An overjoyed Henry finally escaped Paris in mid-December, but at Antwerp, he fell seriously ill with a high fever; thus much of Ormond’s borrowed money had to be spent on doctors. Charles despatched his own physician, Dr Fraser, but it was the end of January before Henry could resume his journey.
In the interim the Princess Mary appealed to Charles for a visit from her youngest brother, this request supported by her aunt, Rupert’s mother, the Queen of Bohemia, who protested:

'I am sure our Hoghens Moghens* will take no notice of it, if they be not asked the question, as they were for the King's coming to Breda.' 

Charles was willing to agree, but was anxious for Ormonde, who would certainly have been arrested in Holland. The loyal Ormonde was prepared to take the risk, but as it turned out Henry was conducted to Mary’s country estate at Teylingen by Nicholas Armorer in January 1654.
Princess Mary of Orange
At first, the States-General ignored Henry’s presence, but within weeks, rumours spread of Royalist activity in England combined with Henry’s behaviour, including:  

‘My Henry's royal airs, particularly his habit of mounting his horse at the foot of the staircase, rather than in the courtyard.’

The States asked Princess Mary to dismiss her brother: a message she ignored.  Charles, however summoned Henry to Cologne at the precise moment the States-General were debating Henry’s seizure or banishment.
For weeks the eyes of Europe had been fixed upon the struggle for possession of Prince Henry.  Several princes, including the Elector of Cologne declared against Charles and the Pope himself was offended. This was unfortunate, because Charles had recently reopened negotiations with the Papacy through the Nuncio at Cologne. Charles made overtures of peace to both Lord Jermyn and his mother, though the latter refused to answer Charles’ letter.
Henry joined Charles in Cologne, then subsequently joined the Spanish armies fighting at Dunkirk alongside his brothers. There he met the renegade French military commander the Prince of Condé, an agnostic and a leading defender of the Huguenots, who was leading the Spanish forces. Exiled from France after the Fronde, Condé invited Henry to live at Chantilly away from his mother and even suggesting he marry his niece. Henry distinguished himself in battle, gaining a reputation as one of Europe's foremost Protestant soldiers. When peace was declared between France and Spain, Henry lived at one of Condé's estates.
                                                                                                     
Henry returned with Charles II when he was restored to the English throne in May 1660 and took up residence at Whitehall. In September he contracted smallpox, dying on September 18th after his physicians predicted a full recovery. In his delirium, Henry called for his mother, but although Henrietta Maria was on a visit to the English court with Mary of Orange at the time, but she refused to see him. Henry was just twenty years old.
Three months later, the same epidemic also struck his sister Mary of Orange, who died on Christmas Eve Aged 29, and was also buried in Westminster Abbey.

Hyde described Henry as ‘in truth the finest youth and of the most manly understanding that I have ever known’. His death was considered a tragedy by Charles and his supporters, for until Charles married and produced legitimate offspring, James, who was suspected to have converted to Catholicism during his exile, was left as the heir to the throne, which didn’t please many of the English at all.

Henry was buried in the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey on 21st September 1660.


  *A corruption of the Dutch Hoogmogenheiden, 'High Mightinesses', the title of the States-General of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.
** The Order of The Garter thus named because they were presented on St George’s Day
*** Walter Montagu, a son of the Earl of Manchester and convert to the Roman Church was now director of Henrietta Maria’s household.

4 comments:

Sue Bursztynski said...

Poor boy! What a dreadful thing to have to go through and then, just as he got home, to die! And his mother wouldn't even see him...

sarah c said...

The only thing I can think of to explain his mother's behavior is that she was forced to endure a very rocky widowhood. That and being forced to be a poor relation in the nation of her birth may have clouded her thinking.Her nephew Louis XIV didn't let her starve of course but certainly her living standards weren't quite up to snuff for a French princess.

Alison Stuart said...

The sad fates of the three youngest Stuarts moves me between tears and anger. I hadn't followed Henry's trials and tribulations and the manic behaviour of his mother. Poor boy! Great post, Anita

Sally Johnson said...

Just to clarify a point which continually confuses me ... James Butler was the Irish Duke of Ormonde, and I think he is person you refer to here. Then there is Archibald Douglas, Scottish Earl of Angus and Ormond. Since the post has Ormond with and without the last 'e' I'd appreciate clarification.