HISTORY AU || Catherine of Valois

Catherine had little comfort besides her son when her stubborn English husband, the victorious Henry V, died in 1422 in France. She had tried to convince him to stay at least until after the birth of the child but he would not stopped. Now she was left all alone in what was still a foreign place to her with a son in infant bands named king of England and France. She wondered how this boy of hers would ever keep all this that was so hard won by his father. But there was no one to hear her worries as the regency council Henry had appointed took over the ruling of kingdom and she was pushed aside. Catherine came to the painful realisation that in some ways, her son belonged more to the whole of England than to her. She was no more than the French mother of an English king.

Catherine found unexpected solace in the person of Owen Tudor. He was a quiet Welshman who had distinguished himself at Agincourt and returned to England in Henry’s service. Of all the people that she was surrounded by at court, he was the single person that did not ignore her or patronise her. He treated her with sincere respect and did not look like he had something better to be doing when she spoke to him. In a way they were both very much foreigners in England, as there was no small bias against the Welsh and Catherine was still so very French. Their relationship quickly grew and Catherine appointed him Clerk of her Wardrobe to conceal how much time she was really spending with him.

Catherine’s ladies were not oblivious to the growing affair and they urged her to end it. Owen Tudor was a savage Welshman far below her station with no advantages to speak of. Their advice was blatantly ignored when Catherine did the unthinkable and asked for permission to marry him. Henry’s brother, Humphrey of Gloucester, denied it and a bill was passed in Parliament that stated a queen dowager could not marry without the granted consent of the king. It was 1428 and Henry VI was only 6 years old. Catherine settled in for a long wait. 

For the next several years Catherine did not have an unhappy life. Although excluded largely from the upbringing of her son, she was near him and knew that she would not get anything more than that from the greedy regency council. Owen remained in her household and once her ladies stopped begrudging her a little romance, Catherine found them less insufferable than she used to. Finally in 1437, Henry was declared of age and granted his mother the permission for which she had waited nearly a decade.

Catherine and Owen were quietly married and removed to the countryside away from the ever squabbling court. It hurt her deeply to abandon Henry to those wolves that called themselves his advisors; he had been raised to patronise her like every other Englishman and would not listen to her anyway. She and Owen eventually had four children, Edmund, Jasper, Owen, and Margaret. After the birth of Margaret in 1447, she became ill and died with Owen by her side.

Birth made her a French princess and marriage made her an English queen, but choice made her a Welshman’s wife. (x)

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