Part Seven - Jeunesse Dorée - The Expulsion of Henry's Minions, the hangers on
Henry VIII, the Reign
Henry’s Hoorahs Humbled and Expelled from Court – Young Tudor King Chastised – Maximilian Dies – Henry VIII Becomes Father to a Son
Sir Nicholas Carew
In the autumn of 1518, Henry fashioned some ostentatious new posts in the royal household: Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber. He bestowed this title upon some of his young jousting, falconry and gambling friends: Francis Bryan, Nicholas Carew, William Coffin, Edward Neville, Henry Norris, and Arthur Pole.
In his Chronicle, Edward Hall explains they were a rabble-rousing bunch who upset the French:
‘During time at the French court Nicholas Carew, Francis Bryan and divers others of the young gentlemen of England, they with the French king rode daily disguised through Paris throwing eggs stones and other foolish trifles at the people which light demeanour of a king was much discommended and jested at. When these young gentlemen came again to England, they were all French in eating, drinking and apparel, yea, and in French vices and brags so that all the estates of England were by them laughed at.’
Nine months after the formation of his club for gilded youths, the twenty-eight-year-old king was hauled before his councillors and upbraided over the poor behaviour of those ‘young men in his privy chamber’, of whom it was said, ‘not regarding his estate nor degree, were so familiar and homely with him, and played such light touches with him that they forget themselves. Which things although the king of his gentle nature suffered and not rebuked nor reproved the kings counsel thought it not mete to be suffered for the king’s honour.’
The councillors demanded that Henry redress these enormities and lightness, and ‘the king answered that he had chosen those of his counsel, both for the maintenance of his honour, and for the defence of all things that might blemish the same: wherefore if they saw any about him misuse themselves he committed it to their reformation’.
Most of his associates, however, were dismissed from court, which ‘sorely grieved the hearts of these young men’.
Wolsey exercised control over king and country, but even he, now, needed Henry to at least look like a sovereign, because the last of the three most powerful of Christendom’s rulers – the last of the medieval stalwarts – had died by 1519. All three of them were gone in the space of four years: King Louis of France in January 1515, King Ferdinand in January 1516 and now, in January 1519, Maximilian, Henry now had rival rulers of his own age in Francis of France and Charles of Spain, and someway, somehow, sometime he would need to hold his own with them.
On 15 June 1519, Henry’s mistress Elizabeth (Bessie) Blount gave birth to a boy named Henry Fitzroy. He was probably born at the priory of St Laurence, Blackmore, near Ingatestone in Essex. His godfather was Thomas Wolsey.