King Henry VIII's first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, failed to produce a son. In 1519 he had a brief affair with a Shropshire gentlewoman, Elizabeth Blount, after which she gave birth to Henry Fitzroy. He was the only illegitimate child whom the King ever acknowledged, and Cardinal Wolsey was one of the godparents. He was given a fitting education for a Renaissance prince, created Duke of Richmond and Somerset, and Earl of Nottingham, and made Lord Lieutenant of the North and Lord Admiral of England. It was said that his father intended to make him King of Ireland. Brought up in the same circles as his half sisters, the young Henry played an active role in the life of the court, entertaining ambassadors and attending Parliament. He was said to resemble his father, in looks and character.
It was thought that the King intended to marry him to his half-sister The Princess Mary, heiress of the crown and later Queen Mary. However, in 1533 he married the Duke of Norfolk's daughter, Lady Mary Howard. Soon after the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536 the King, who still had only two daughters and no legitimate male heir, planned to pass an Act of Parliament making him his rightful successor, but he died of consumption.
This report prepared by John Van der Kiste