This post may seem a little odd.
But, as you know, I LOVE medieval history. And I’ve just been looking into that age old question of Henry VIII’s heirs. And why he had so few. And this leads me to some gynaecological musings….
Now, bearing in mind, still births, infant deaths and miscarriages were extremely common in the medieval period, but given the plush conditions, good food, etc., of royalty, you would expect this to be less of a problem.
Henry’s problems are widely known.
But Catherine of Aragon’s sister’s, bar Juana, had difficulties with pregnancies as well. Catherine also had a false pregnancy.
On Henry’s side, his sister Margaret lost 5 children before about the age of 18 months with James IV. Mary lost her two sons with Suffolk in infancy. Henry’s grandmother Margaret Beufort only ever had one child and no more pregnancies.
Henry’s mother, Elizabeth of York, died in childbirth, and lost several children.
Margaret’s daughter in law, Mary of Guise, only managed to have one child with James V before he died, and never remarried, so we’ll never know. But his daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, had one surviving child, and at least one miscarriage, perhaps two.
Henry’s daughter, Mary, had two false pregnancies.
Going back further, Edward I lost many of his children in childbirth. Henry I only had one surviving legitimate child, Empress Matilda.
But strangely enough, Elizabeth of York’s mother, Elizabeth Woodville, had, I think, 9 surviving children, and her mother Jacquetta of Luxembourg, had around 14 children.
It’s weird. There was definitely something hinky going on.
Forward into the future, Charles II never had any legitimate children.
Maybe if it happens again, we’ll end up with an Australian on the throne….