Bessie Blount Mistress to Henry VIII Author:Elizabeth Norton This first-ever biography of Henry VIII's most important mistress will be of interest to anyone fascinated in the wives and times of the Tudor King. — More beautiful than Anne Boleyn or any of Henry's other wives or concubines, Elizabeth Blount's beauty and other charms ensured that she turned heads, winning a place at... more » court as one of Catherine of Aragon's ladies. Her affair with Henry lasted five years (longer than most of Henry's marriages) and in 1519, she bore him a son, Henry Fitzroy, the only acknowledged illegitimate child of Henry VIII. As a mark of the child's importance, Cardinal Wolsey was appointed his guardian and godfather, and he was eventually created Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Richmond and Somerset in recognition of his unique status as Henry's only surviving son.
Soon after the birth of her son, Bessie Blount was supplanted as Royal Mistress by Mary Boleyn, but her importance rests on the vital proof it gave Henry that he could father a healthy son, and through Henry Fitzroy, Bessie remained a prominent figure at court, even after his death in 1536. Sidelined by historians until now, Bessie and the son she had by the king are one of the great 'what ifs' of English history. If Jane Seymour had not produced a male heir and Bessie's son had not died young, aged 17, it is entirely possible that Henry Fitzroy could have followed his father as King Henry IX and Bessie would have been propelled to the status of mother of the king.« less