This date in History: House of Stewart ascends the Scottish throne.


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On this date. In History, February 22, 1371: David II, King of Scots died and was succeed by his nephew as Robert II, King of Scots, first monarch of the House of Stewart (Stuart).

David II (March 5, 1324 – February 1371) was King of Scots from 1329 until his death, and the last male of the House of Bruce. Although David spent long periods in exile or captivity, he managed to resist English attempts to annex the Scottish kingdom, and left the monarchy in a strong position for his nephew.


David II was the elder and only surviving son of Robert I of Scotland and his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh. He was born on March 5, 1324 at Dunfermline Abbey, Fife. His mother died in 1327. In accordance with the Treaty of Northampton’s terms, David II was married on July 17, 1328 to Joan of the Tower, daughter of Edward II of England and Isabella of France, at Berwick-upon-Tweed. They had no issue.

David II died unexpectedly and at the height of his power in Edinburgh Castle on February 22, 1371. He was buried in Holyrood Abbey. At the time of his death, he was planning to marry his mistress, Agnes Dunbar(niece of Agnes Randolph, also known as “Black Agnes of Dunbar”). He left no children and was succeeded by his nephew, Robert II, the son of David’s half-sister Marjorie Bruce. He was the last male of the House of Bruce.


Robert II (March 2, 1316 – April 19, 1390) reigned as King of Scots from 1371 to his death as the first monarch of the House of Stewart. He was the son of Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland and of Marjorie Bruce, daughter of the Scottish king Robert the Bruce by his first wife Isabella of Mar.

Edward Bruce, younger brother of Robert the Bruce, was named heir to the throne but he died without legitimate children on December 3, 1318 in a battle near Dundalk in Ireland. Marjorie by this time had died in a riding accident – probably in 1317. Parliament decreed her infant son, Robert Stewart, as heir presumptive, but this lapsed on March 5, 1324 on the birth of a son, David, to King Robert and his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh. Robert Stewart inherited the title of High Steward of Scotland on his father’s death on April 9, 1326, and a Parliament held in July 1326 confirmed the young Steward as heir should Prince David die without a successor. In 1329 King Robert I died and the six-year-old David succeeded to the throne with Sir Thomas Randolph, Earl of Morayappointed Guardian of Scotland.

David was buried at Holyrood Abbey almost immediately but an armed protest by William, Earl of Douglas delayed Robert II’s coronation until March 26, 1371. The reasons for the incident remain unclear but may have involved a dispute regarding Robert’s right of succession, or may have been directed against George Dunbar, Earl of March and the southern Justiciar, Robert Erskine. It was resolved by Robert giving his daughter Isabella in marriage to Douglas’s son, James and with Douglas replacing Erskine as Justiciar south of the Forth. Robert’s accession did affect some others who held offices from David II. In particular, George Dunbar’s brother John Dunbar, the Lord of Fife who lost his claim on Fife and Sir Robert Erskine’s son, Sir Thomas Erskine who lost control of Edinburgh Castle.


This date in History: Coronation of King Edward VI of England & Ireland.


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Edward VI (October 12, 1537 – July 6, 1553) was King of England and Ireland from January 28, 1547 until his death. He was crowned on February 20 at the age of nine. Edward VI was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, and England’s first monarch to be raised as a Protestant. During his reign, the realm was governed by a Regency Council because he never reached his majority. The Council was first led by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1547–1549), and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick, from 1551 Duke of Northumberland.


Henry VIII died, aged 55 at the Palace of Whitehall on January 28, 1547 after a reign of ~ 37 years, 281 days. The Lord Chancellor, Thomas Wriothesley, announced Henry’s death to parliament on January 31 and general proclamations of Edward’s succession were ordered. The new king was taken to the Tower of London, where he was welcomed with “great shot of ordnance in all places there about, as well out of the Tower as out of the ships.” The following day, the nobles of the realm made their obeisance to Edward at the Tower, and Seymour was announced as Protector. Henry VIII was buried at Windsor on February 16, in the same tomb as Jane Seymour, as he had wished. Edward VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey four days later on Sunday February 20.

The ceremonies were shortened, because of the “tedious length of the same which should weary and be hurtsome peradventure to the King’s majesty, being yet of tender age”, and also because the Reformation had rendered some of them inappropriate.


On the eve of the coronation, Edward progressed on horseback from the Tower to the Palace of Westminster through thronging crowds and pageants, many based on the pageants for a previous boy king, Henry VI.

The young king He laughed at a Spanish tightrope walker who “tumbled and played many pretty toys” outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

At the coronation service, Cranmer affirmed the royal supremacy and called Edward a second Josiah, urging him to continue the reformation of the Church of England, “the tyranny of the Bishops of Rome banished from your subjects, and images removed”. After the service, Edward presided at a banquet in Westminster Hall, where, he recalled in his Chronicle, he dined with his crown on his head.

Edward VI’s reign would be short. After five years on the throne Edward VI died at the age of 15 at Greenwich Palace at 8pm on July 6, 1553. According to John Foxe’s legendary account of his death, his last words were: “I am faint; Lord have mercy upon me, and take my spirit”. He was buried in the Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey on August 8, 1553, with reformed rites performed by Thomas Cranmer. The cause of Edward VI’s death is not certain. As with many royal deaths in the 16th century, rumours of poisoning abounded, but no evidence has been found to support these.

Birth of Queen Mary I of England and Ireland, February 18, 1516.


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On this date in History. February 18, 1516, birth of Queen Mary I of England and Ireland.


Mary I (February 18, 1516 – November 17, 1558) was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. She is best known for her aggressive attempt to reverse the English Reformation, which had begun during the reign of her father, Henry VIII. The executions that marked her pursuit of the restoration of Roman Catholicism in England and Ireland led to her denunciation as “Bloody Mary” by her Protestant opponents.

Mary was the only child of Henry VIII by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to survive to adulthood. Her younger half-brother Edward VI (son of Henry and Jane Seymour) succeeded their father in 1547 at the age of nine. When Edward became mortally ill in 1553, he attempted to remove Mary from the line of succession because he supposed (accurately) that she would reverse the Protestant reforms that had begun during his reign. On his death, leading politicians tried to proclaim Lady Jane Grey as queen. Mary assembled a force in East Anglia and deposed Jane, who was ultimately beheaded. Mary was—excluding the disputed reigns of Jane and the Empress Matilda—the first queen regnant of England.

When Mary ascended the throne after the death of her brother Edward VI, she was proclaimed under the same official style as Henry VIII and Edward VI: “Mary, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England and of Ireland on Earth Supreme Head”. The title Supreme Head of the Church was repugnant to Mary’s Catholicism, and she omitted it by Christmas 1553.

In 1554, Mary married the future King Felipe II of Spain, becoming queen consort of Habsburg Spain on his accession in 1556. Both Mary and Felipe were descended from legitimate children of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, by his first two wives, a relationship which was used to portray Felipe as an English king. Mary descended from the Duke of Lancaster by all three of his wives, Blanche of Lancaster, Constance of Castile, and Katherine Swynford. On her mother’s side Felipe and Mary were first cousins once removed.


Under the English common law doctrine of jure uxoris, the property and titles belonging to a woman became her husband’s upon marriage, and it was feared that any man she married would thereby become King of England in fact and in name. While Mary’s grandparents, Fernando II-V and Isabella I of Castile and Aragon (Spain’s) had retained sovereignty of their own realms during their marriage, there was no precedent to follow in England. Under the terms of Queen Mary’s Marriage Act, Felipe was to be styled “King of England”, all official documents (including Acts of Parliament) were to be dated with both their names, and Parliament was to be called under the joint authority of the couple, for Mary’s lifetime only.

England would not be obliged to provide military support to Felipe father in any war, and Felipe could not act without his wife’s consent or appoint foreigners to office in England.Felipe was unhappy at the conditions imposed, but he was ready to agree for the sake of securing the marriage. He had no amorous feelings toward Mary and sought the marriage for its political and strategic gains; Philip’s aide Ruy Gómez de Silva wrote to a correspondent in Brussels, “the marriage was concluded for no fleshly consideration, but in order to remedy the disorders of this kingdom and to preserve the Low Countries.”

Under Mary’s marriage treaty with Felipe, the official joint style reflected not only Mary’s but also Felipe’s dominions and claims: “Philip and Mary, by the grace of God, King and Queen of England, France, Naples, Jerusalem, and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, Princes of Spain and Sicily, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Milan, Burgundy and Brabant, Counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tyrol”. This style, which had been in use since 1554, was replaced when Philip inherited the Spanish Crown in 1556 with “Philip and Mary, by the Grace of God King and Queen of England, Spain, France, both the Sicilies, Jerusalem and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Burgundy, Milan and Brabant, Counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tyrol”.


During her five-year reign, Mary had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian persecutions. After Mary’s death in 1558, her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed by her younger half-sister and successor Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn, at the beginning of the 45-year Elizabethan Era.


Death of George, Duke of Clarence. February 18, 1478.


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On this day date in History: February 18, 1478, the execution of George, 1st Duke of Clarence in the Bowyer Tower of the Tower of London. The Duke of Clarence was executed for treason on the orders of his brother Edward IV. He was 28 years old. Tradition states that George was executed by being drowned in a barrel of Malmsey wine – a method of execution chose by George himself. Both his surviving children – Edward Earl of Warwick, and Lady Margaret Pole – were later executed by the Tudors.


George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, 1st Earl of Salisbury, 1st Earl of Warwick KG (October 21, 1449 – February 18, 1478) was the third surviving son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the brother of English Kings Edward IV and Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle between rival factions of the Plantagenets (House of Anjou) known as the Wars of the Roses. Though a member of the House of York (a cadet branch of the House of Anjou Plantagenet) he switched sides to support the Lancastrians, (House of Lancaster) before reverting to the Yorkists.

In 1477 Clarence was again a suitor for the hand of Mary, who had just become duchess of Burgundy. Edward objected to the match, and Clarence, left the court. The arrest and committal to the Tower of London of one of Clarence’s retainers, an Oxford astronomer named Dr John Stacey, led to his confession under torture that he had “imagined and compassed” the death of the King, and used the black arts to accomplish this. He implicated one Thomas Burdett, and one Thomas Blake, a chaplain at Stacey’s college (Merton College, Oxford). All three were tried for treason, convicted, and condemned to be drawn to Tyburn and hanged. Blake was saved at the eleventh hour by a plea for his life from James Goldwell, Bishop of Norwich, but the other two were put to death as ordered.

This was a clear warning to Clarence, which he chose to ignore. He appointed Dr John Goddard to burst into Parliament and regale the House with Burdett and Stacey’s declarations of innocence that they had made before their deaths. Goddard was a very unwise choice, as he was an ex-Lancastrian who had expounded Henry VI’s claim to the throne. Edward summoned Clarence to Windsor, severely upbraided him, accused him of treason, and ordered his immediate arrest and confinement.

Clarence was imprisoned in the Tower of London and put on trial for treason against his brother Edward IV. Clarence was not present – Edward himself prosecuted his brother, and demanded that Parliament pass a Bill of Attainder against his brother, declaring that he was guilty of “unnatural, loathly treasons” which were aggravated by the fact that Clarence was his brother, who, if anyone did, owed him loyalty and love. Following his conviction, he was “privately executed” at the Tower on 18 February 1478, by tradition in the Bowyer Tower, and soon after the event, the rumour gained ground that he had been drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine.

Clarence married his wife Isabel Neville in Calais, at that time controlled by England, on July 11, 1469. Together they had four children:

* Anne of York (c. 17 April 1470), born and died in a ship off Calais.
* Margaret, 8th Countess of Salisbury (August 14, 1473 – May 27, 1541); married Sir Richard Pole; executed by Henry VIII.
* Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick (February 25, 1475 – November 28, 1499); the last legitimate Plantagenet heir of the direct male line; executed by Henry VII on grounds of attempting to escape from the Tower of London.
* Richard of York (October 6, 1476 – January 1, 1477); born at Tewkesbury Abbey, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire; died at Warwick Castle, Warwick, Warwickshire, where he was buried.

Birth of Friedrich-Wilhelm The Great Elctor of Brandenburg-Prussia.


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On this date in History: February 16, 1620. Birth of Friedrich-Wilhelm the Great Elector, Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia.

Friedrich-Wilhelm (February 16, 1620 – April 1688) was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia, thus ruler of Brandenburg-Prussia, from 1640 until his death in 1688. A member of the House of Hohenzollern, he is popularly known as “the Great Elector” because of his military and political achievements. Friedrich-Wilhelm was a staunch pillar of the Calvinist faith, associated with the rising commercial class. He saw the importance of trade and promoted it vigorously. His shrewd domestic reforms gave Prussia a strong position in the post-Treaty of Westphalia 1648 German Holy Roman Empire along with political order of north-central Europe, setting Prussia up for elevation from duchy to kingdom, achieved under his son and successor, Elector Friedrich III of Brandenburg who became Friedrich I, King in Prussia in 1701.


Elector Friedrich-Wilhelm was born in Berlin to Georg-Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg, and Elisabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate of the Rhine. His inheritance consisted of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, the Duchy of Cleves, the County of Mark, and the Duchy of Prussia.

During the Thirty Years’ War, Georg-Wilhelm strove to maintain, with a minimal army, a delicate balance between the Protestant and Catholic forces fighting throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Out of these unpromising beginnings Frederick William managed to rebuild his war-ravaged territories. In contrast to the religious disputes that disrupted the internal affairs of other European states, Brandenburg-Prussia benefited from the policy of religious tolerance adopted by Frederick William. With the help of French subsidies, he built up an army to defend the country. In the Second Northern War, he was forced to accept Swedish vassalage for the Duchy of Prussia according to the terms of the Treaty of Königsberg.

Friedrich-Wilhelm was a military commander of wide renown, and his standing army would later become the model for the Prussian Army. He is notable for his joint victory with Swedish forces at the Battle of Warsaw, which, according to Hajo Holborn, marked “the beginning of Prussian military history.” However, the Swedes turned on him at the behest of King Louis XIV and invaded Brandenburg. After marching 250 kilometers in 15 days back to Brandenburg, he caught the Swedes by surprise and managed to defeat them on the field at the Battle of Fehrbellin, destroying the myth of Swedish military invincibility. He later destroyed another Swedish army that invaded the Duchy of Prussia during the Great Sleigh Drive in 1678. He is noted for his use of broad directives and delegation of decision-making to his commanders, which would later become the basis for the German doctrine of Auftragstaktik, and he is noted for using rapid mobility to defeat his foes.

Domestic policies

Friedrich-Wilhelm is notable for raising an army of 40,000 soldiers by 1678, through the General War Commissariat presided over by Joachim Friedrich von Blumenthal. He was an advocate of mercantilism, monopolies, subsidies, tariffs, and internal improvements. Following Louis XIV’s revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Friedrich-Wilhelm encouraged skilled French and Walloon Huguenots to emigrate to Brandenburg-Prussia with the Edict of Potsdam, bolstering the country’s technical and industrial base. On Blumenthal’s advice he agreed to exempt the nobility from taxes and in return they agreed to dissolve the Estates-General. He also simplified travel in Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia by connecting riverways with canals, a system that was expanded by later Prussian architects, such as Georg Steenke; the system is still in use today.


On December 7, 1646 in The Hague, Friedrich-Wilhelm entered into a marriage, proposed by Blumenthal as a partial solution to the Jülich-Berg question, with Luise Henriette of Nassau (1627–1667), daughter of Frederick Henry of Orange-Nassau and Amalia of Solms-Braunfels and his 1st cousin once removed through Willem the Silent. Their children were as follows:

1. Wilhelm-Heinrich, Electoral Prince of Brandenburg (1648–1649)

2. Carl, Electoral Prince of Brandenburg (1655–1674)

3. Friedrich III-I of Prussia (1657–1713), his successor

4. Amalie (1656–1664)

5. Heinrich (1664–1664)

6. Ludwig (1666–1687), who married Ludwika Karolina Radziwiłł

On June 13, 1668 in Gröningen, Friedrich-Wilhelm married Sophie Dorothea of Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, daughter of Philipp, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and Sophie Hedwig of Saxe-Lauenburg. Their children were the following:

1. Philipp-Wilhelm (1669–1711)

2. Marie Amelie (1670–1739)

3. Albrecht-Friedrich (1672–1731)

4. Carl-Philipp (1673–1695)

5. Elisabeth Sofie (1674–1748)

6. Dorothea (1675–1676)

7. Christian Ludwig (1677–1734)

Accession of Ferdinand III as Holy Roman Emperor.


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Ferdinand III (July 13, 1608 – April 2, 1657) was Holy Roman Emperor from February 15, 1637 until his death, as well as King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria. He was the last emperor to have real power over the Holy Roman Empire.


Ferdinand was born in Graz, the eldest son of Emperor Ferdinand II of the House of Habsburg and his first wife, Maria Anna of Bavaria. Educated by the Jesuits, he became Archduke of Austria in 1621, King of Hungary in 1625, and King of Bohemia in 1627.

In 1627 Ferdinand enhanced his authority and set an important legal and military precedent by issuing a Revised Land Ordinance that deprived the Bohemian estates of their right to raise soldiers, reserving this power solely for the monarch.

Having been elected King of the Romans in 1636, he succeeded his father as Holy Roman Emperor in 1637. He hoped to make peace soon with France and Sweden, but the war dragged on, finally ending in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia (Treaty of Münster with France, Treaty of Osnabrück with Sweden), negotiated by his envoy Maximilian von und zu Trauttmansdorff, a diplomat who had been made a count in 1623 by his father Ferdinand II.

During the last period of the war, in 1644 Ferdinand III gave all rulers of German states the right to conduct their own foreign policy (ius belli ac pacis) – the emperor hoped to gain more allies in the negotiations with France and Sweden. This edict, however, contributed to the gradual erosion of the imperial authority in the Holy Roman Empire.
After 1648 the emperor was engaged in carrying out the terms of the treaty and ridding Germany of the foreign soldiery. In 1656 he sent an army into Italy to assist Spain in her struggle with France, and he had just concluded an alliance with Poland to check the aggressions of Carl X Gustav of Sweden when he died on April 2, 1657. He was succeeded as Holy Roman Emperor by his second surviving son, Leopold I (1640-1705).

Marriages and children

On February 20, 1631 Ferdinand III married his first wife Archduchess Maria Anna of Spain (1606–1646). She was the youngest daughter of Felipe III of Spain and Margaret of Austria. They were first cousins as Maria Anna’s mother was a sister of Ferdinand’s father. They were parents to six children:
* Ferdinand IV, King of the Romans (8 September 1633 – 9 July 1654)
* Maria Anna “Mariana”, Archduchess of Austria (22 December 1634 – 16 May 1696). Married her maternal uncle Felipe IV of Spain.
* Philip August, Archduke of Austria (15 July 1637 – 22 June 1639)
* Maximilian Thomas, Archduke of Austria (21 December 1638 – 29 June 1639)
* Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor (9 June 1640 – 5 May 1705)
* Maria, Archduchess of Austria (13 May 1646)

In 1648, Ferdinand III married his second wife, Archduchess Maria Leopoldine of Austria (1632–1649). She was a daughter of Leopold V, Archduke of Austria, and Claudia de’ Medici. They were first cousins as male-line grandchildren of Karl II, Archduke of Austria, and Maria Anna of Bavaria. They had a single son:
* Karl Josef, Archduke of Austria (7 August 1649 – 27 January 1664). He was Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights from 1662 to his death.

In 1651, Ferdinand III married his 3rd wife Eleonora Gonzaga (1630–1686). She was a daughter of Charles IV Gonzaga, Duke of Rethel. They were parents to four children:
* Theresia Maria Josefa, Archduchess of Austria (27 March 1652 – 26 July 1653)
* Eleonora Maria of Austria (21 May 1653 – 17 December 1697), who married first Michael Korybut Wiśniowiecki, King of Poland, and then Charles Léopold, Duke of Lorraine.
* Maria Anna Josepha of Austria (30 December 1654 – 4 April 1689), who married Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine.
* Ferdinand Josef Alois, Archduke of Austria (11 February 1657 – 16 June 1658)

HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark has died.


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HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark, The Prince Consort, has died at. at Fredensborg Palace on the evening of February 13, 2018.


Prince Henrik of Denmark (born Henri Marie Jean André de Laborde de Monpezat (June 11, 1934 – February 13, 2018)was the husband and consort of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

Henrik was born in the French commune of Talence to the old French family the Laborde de Monpezats. His family had spent many years in Vietnam, but left the country following the defeat of the French in the First Indochina War. After being educated in France, Henrik served in the French Army during Algerian War. Prior to his marriage with Margrethe, he worked in the diplomatic service. Henrik married Margrethe at the Church of Holmen on 10 June 1967 and became her consort when she succeeded her father, King Frederick IX, as monarch of Denmark on 14 January 1972.

He had two sons, Crown Prince Frederik (born 1968) and Prince Joachim(born 1969). He had eight grandchildren. Throughout his time as Prince consort, Henrik voiced his displeasure with fact that he never received the title of King.

The Queen and Prince Henrik had two children and eight grandchildren:

I. Crown Prince Frederik, born on 26 May 1968 at Rigshospitalet, with Crown Princess Mary:
* Prince Christian, born on 15 October 2005 at Rigshospitalet
* Princess Isabella, born on 21 April 2007 at Rigshospitalet
* Prince Vincent, born on 8 January 2011 at Rigshospitalet
* Princess Josephine, born on 8 January 2011 at Rigshospitalet

II. Prince Joachim, born on 7 June 1969 at Rigshospitalet, with Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg:
* Prince Nikolai, born on 28 August 1999 at Rigshospitalet
* Prince Felix, born on 22 July 2002 at Rigshospitalet
* Prince Joachim, with Princess Marie:
* Prince Henrik, born on 4 May 2009 at Rigshospitalet
* Princess Athena, born on 24 January 2012 at Rigshospitalet

On 13 February 2018, he was transferred from the Rigshospitalet to Fredensborg Palace, where the Danish Royal Court stated he wishes to spend the remaining days of his life. The Royal Court added that the condition of the Prince remains serious. On February 14, 2018, it was announced that Prince Henrik died peacefully in his sleep at Fredensborg Palace on the evening of February 13 surrounded by his wife and their two sons.

On this date in History: February 13, 1575, King Henri III of France is crowned at Reims


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Henri III (19 September 1551 – 2 August 1589; Alexandre Édouard de Valois of France) was King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1573 to 1575 and King of France from 1574 until his death in 1589. He was the last French monarch of the House of Valois.


Henry was born at the royal Château de Fontainebleau, the fourth son of King Henry II and Catherine de’ Medici and grandson of Francis I of France and Claude of France. His older brothers were Francis II of France, Charles IX of France, and Louis of Valois. He was made Duke of Angoulême and Duke of Orléans in 1560, then Duke of Anjou in 1566.

As the fourth son of King Henri II of France, he was not expected to inherit the French throne and thus was a good candidate for the vacant throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, where he was elected King/Grand Duke in 1573. During his brief rule, he signed the Henrician Articles into law, recognizing the Polish nobility’s right to freely elect their monarch. Aged 22, Henri abandoned Poland-Lithuania upon inheriting the French throne when his brother, Charles IX, died without issue.

France was at the time plagued by the Wars of Religion, and Henry’s authority was undermined by violent political parties funded by foreign powers: the Catholic League (supported by Spain), the Protestant Huguenots (supported by England and the Dutch) and the Malcontents, led by Henry’s own brother, the Duke of Alençon, which was a party of Catholic and Protestant aristocrats who jointly opposed the absolutist ambitions of the king. Henri III was himself a politique, arguing that a strong and religiously tolerant monarchy would save France from collapse.


Henri III was crowned at Reims on February 13, 1575 and the very next day he married Louise of Lorraine and I will have more to say on that tomorrow.

After the death of Henri’s younger brother Francis, Duke of Anjou, and when it became apparent that Henri would not produce an heir, the Wars of Religion developed into a succession crisis, the War of the Three Henrys. Henri III’s legitimate heir was his distant cousin Henri de Bourbon, King of Navarre, a Protestant. The Catholic League, led by Henri I, Duke of Guise, sought to exclude Protestants from the succession and championed the Catholic Charles, Cardinal of Bourbon, as Henri III’s heir.

In 1589, Jacques Clément, a Catholic fanatic, murdered Henri III. He was succeeded by the King of Navarre who, as Henri IV, assumed the throne of France after converting to Catholicism, as the first French king of the House of Bourbon.

On this date in History: February 13, 1660. Death of King Carl X Gustav and the accession of King Carl XI of Sweden.


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Carl X Gustav (Swedish: Karl X Gustav; 8 November 1622 – 13 February 1660), was King of Sweden from 1654 until his death. He was the son of John Casimir, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken-Kleeburg and Catherine of Sweden. After his father’s death he also succeeded him as Pfalzgraf. He was married to Hedwig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp, who bore his son and successor, Charles XI. Carl X Gustav was the second Wittelsbach king of Sweden after the childless king Christopher of Bavaria (1441–1448) and he was the first king of the Swedish Caroline era, which had its peak during the end of the reign of his son, Carl XI. He led Sweden during the Second Northern War, enlarging the Swedish Empire. By his predecessor Christina, he was considered de facto Duke of Eyland (Öland) before ascending to the Swedish throne.


His numbering as Charles X derives from a 16th-century invention. The Swedish king Carl IX (1604–1611) chose his numeral after studying a fictitious history of Sweden. This king was the fourth actual King Carl but has never been called Carl IV.

Soon after the estates opened on January 4, 1660, Carl X Gustav fell ill with symptoms of a cold. Ignoring his illness, he repeatedly went to inspect the Swedish forces near Gothenburg, and soon broke down with chills, headaches and dyspnoea. On January 15, court physician Johann Kösterarrived, and in medical error mistook Carl X Gustav’s pneumonia for scorbut and dyspepsia. Köster started a “cure” including the application of multiple enemata, laxatives, bloodletting and sneezing powder. While after three weeks the fever eventually was down and the coughing was better, the pneumonia had persisted and evolved into a sepsis by February 8.

On February 12, Carl X Gustav signed his testament: His son, Carl XI of Sweden, was still a minor, and Carl X Gustav appointed a minor regency consisting of six relatives and close friends. Carl X Gustav died the next day at the age of 37.


Charles X had one legitimate child by Hedwig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp: his successor Charles XI (1655–1697, reigned 1660–1697). By Märta Allertz he had an illegitimate son: Gustaf Carlson (1647–1708), who became Count of Börringe and Lindholmen Castle in Scania. He also had a number of other children, by different women, before his marriage.


Carl XI (November 24, 1655  – April 5, 1697 was King of Sweden from 1660 until his death, in a period of Swedish history known as the Swedish Empire (1611–1718).

Charles was the only son of King Carl X Gustav of Sweden and Hedwig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp. His father died when he was five years old, so Charles was educated by his governors until his coronation at the age of seventeen. Soon after, he was forced out on military expeditions to secure the recently acquired dominions from Danish troops in the Scanian War. Having successfully fought off the Danes, he returned to Stockholm and engaged in correcting the country’s neglected political, financial and economic situation, managing to sustain peace during the remaining 20 years of his reign. Changes in finance, commerce, national maritime and land armaments, judicial procedure, church government and education emerged during this period. Carl XI was succeeded by his only son Carl XII, who made use of the well-trained army in battles throughout Europe.

On this date in History: February 13, 1542 Execution of Catherine Howard, 5th wife of King Henry VIII of England and Ireland.


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On this date in History: February 13, 1542 Execution of Catherine Howard, 5th wife of King Henry VIII of England and Ireland.

Catherine Howard (c. 1523 – February 13, 1542) was Queen of England from 1540 until 1541, as the fifth wife of Henry VIII. She (then 16 or 17) married him (then 49) on July 28, 1540, at Oatlands Palace, in Surrey, almost immediately after the annulment of his marriage to Anne of Cleves was arranged.


Catherine’s uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, found her a place at Court in the household of the King’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. As a young and attractive lady-in-waiting, Catherine quickly caught Henry’s eye. The King had displayed little interest in Anne from the beginning, but on Cromwell’s failure to find a new match for Henry, Norfolk saw an opportunity. The Howards may have sought to recreate the influence gained during Queen Anne’s reign. According to Nicholas Sander, the religiously conservative Howard family may have seen Catherine as a figurehead for their fight by expressed determination to restore Roman Catholicism to England. Catholic Bishop Stephen Gardiner entertained the couple at Winchester Palace with “feastings”.

As the King’s interest in Catherine grew, so did the house of Norfolk’s influence. Her youth, prettiness and vivacity were captivating for the middle-aged sovereign, who claimed he had never known “the like to any woman”. Within months of her arrival at court, Henry bestowed gifts of land and expensive cloth upon Catherine. Henry called her his ‘rose without a thorn’ and the ‘very jewel of womanhood’. The French ambassador, Charles de Marillac, thought her “delightful”. Holbein’s portrait showed a young auburn-haired girl with a characteristically hooked Howard nose; Catherine was said to have a “gentle, earnest face.”


King Henry and Catherine were married by Bishop Bonner of London at Oatlands Palace on 28 July 1540, the same day Cromwell was executed. The marriage was made public on 8 August, and prayers were said in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. Henry “indulged her every whim” thanks to her “caprice”. Catherine was young, joyous and carefree; Mannox had taught her to play the virginals. She was too young to take part in administrative matters of State. Nevertheless, every night Sir Thomas Heneage, Groom of the Stool, came to her chamber to report on the King’s well-being.


It was alleged that, in spring 1541, Catherine had already embarked upon a romance with Henry’s favourite male courtier, Thomas Culpeper, a young man who “had succeeded [him] in the Queen’s affections”, according to Dereham’s later testimony. Culpeper called Catherine “my little, sweet fool” in a love letter; she considered marrying him during her time as a maid-of-honour to Anne of Cleves. The couple’s meetings were arranged by one of Catherine’s older ladies-in-waiting, Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford (Lady Rochford), the widow of Catherine’s executed cousin, George Boleyn, Anne Boleyn’s brother.

During the autumn Northern Progress, a crisis began to loom over Catherine’s conduct. People who had witnessed her earlier indiscretions while still a ward at Lambeth contacted her for favours in return for their silence, and many of them were appointed to her royal household. The brother of Mary Lascelles, John Lascelles, tried to convince his sister to find a place within the Queen’s royal chamber, however, Mary refused stating she had witnessed the “light” ways of Queen Catherine while living together at Lambeth. After hearing this John Lascelles reported such news to Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, who then interrogated Lascelles’ sister and upon doing so became informed of Catherine’s previous illicit sexual relations while under the Duchess’ care.

Cranmer immediately took up the case to be made to topple his rivals—the Roman Catholic Norfolk family. Lady Rochford was interrogated, and from fear of being tortured, agreed to tell all. She told how she had watched for Catherine backstairs as Culpeper had made his escapes from the Queen’s room. During the investigation, a love letter written in the Queen’s distinctive handwriting was found in Culpeper’s chambers. This is the only letter of hers that still survives (other than her later confession).

On All Saints’ Day, November 1, 1541, the King was to be found in the Chapel Royal, praying as usual for this “jewel of womanhood”. He received there a warrant of the queen’s arrest that described her crimes. On November 7, 1541, Archbishop Cranmer led a delegation of councillors to Winchester Palace, Southwark, to question her. Even the staunch Cranmer found Catherine’s frantic, incoherent state pitiable, saying, “I found her in such lamentation and heaviness as I never saw no creature, so that it would have pitied any man’s heart to have looked upon her.” He ordered the guards to remove any objects that she might use to commit suicide.

Imprisonment and death

Establishing the existence of a precontract between Catherine and Dereham would have had the effect of terminating Catherine’s royal union, but it also would have allowed Henry to annul their marriage and banish her from Court, in poverty and disgrace, without having to execute her. Yet still she steadfastly denied any precontract, maintaining that Dereham had raped her.

Catherine was stripped of her title as queen on November 23, 1541, and imprisoned in the new Syon Abbey, Middlesex, formerly a convent, where she remained throughout the winter of 1541. She was forced by a Privy Councillor to return Anne of Cleves’ ring that the King had given her; it was a symbol of her regal and lawful rights. The King would be at Hampton Court, but she would not see him again. Despite these actions taken against her, her marriage to Henry was never formally annulled.

Culpeper and Dereham were arraigned at Guildhall on December 1, 1541 for high treason. They were executed at Tyburn on 10 December 1541, Culpeper being beheaded and Dereham being hanged, drawn and quartered. According to custom, their heads were placed on spikes atop of London Bridge. Many of Catherine’s relatives were also detained in the Tower with the exception of her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, who had sufficiently distanced himself from the scandal by retreating to Kenninghall to write a grovelling letter of apology.

His son Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, the poet, remained a favourite of the King. The duke knew his family had fallen from grace, wrote an apology on December 14 to the King, excusing himself and laying all the blame on his niece and stepmother. All of the Howard prisoners were tried, found guilty of concealing treason, and sentenced to life imprisonment and forfeiture of goods. In time, they were released with their goods restored. The King sank into morbidity and indulged his appetite for food.

Catherine herself remained in limbo until Parliament introduced a bill of attainder on January 29, 1542, which was passed on February 7, 1542. The Royal Assent by Commission Act 1541 made it treason, and punishable by death, for a queen consort to fail to disclose her sexual history to the king within twenty days of their marriage, or to incite someone to commit adultery with her. This solved the matter of Catherine’s supposed precontract and made her unequivocally guilty.

When the Lords of the Council came for her, she panicked and screamed aloud, as they manhandled her into the waiting barge that would escort her to the Tower on Friday February 10, 1542, her flotilla passing under London Bridge where the heads of Culpeper and Dereham were impaled (and remained until 1546). Entering through the Traitors’ Gate she was led to her prison cell. The next day, the bill of attainder received Royal Assent, and Catherine’s execution was scheduled for 7:00 am on Monday, February 13, 1542. Arrangements for the execution were supervised by Sir John Gage in his role as Constable of the Tower.

The night before her execution, Catherine is believed to have spent many hours practising how to lay her head upon the block, which had been brought to her at her request. She died with relative composure, but looked pale and terrified; she required assistance to climb the scaffold. She made a speech describing her punishment as “worthy and just” and asked for mercy for her family and prayers for her soul. According to popular folklore, her final words were, “I die a Queen, but I would rather have died the wife of Culpeper”, however no eyewitness accounts support this. Instead, reporting that she stuck to traditional final words, asking for forgiveness for her sins and acknowledging that she deserved to die ‘a thousand deaths’ for betraying the king; who had always treated her so graciously. Catherine was beheaded with a single stroke of the executioner’s axe. She was about 18 or 19 years old.

Lady Rochford was executed immediately thereafter on Tower Green. Both their bodies were buried in an unmarked grave in the nearby chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, where the bodies of Catherine’s cousins Anne and George Boleyn also lay. Other cousins were also in the crowd, including the Earl of Surrey. King Henry did not attend. Catherine’s body was not one of those identified during restorations of the chapel during Queen Victoria’s reign. She is commemorated on a plaque on the west wall dedicated to all those who died in the Tower. Upon hearing news of Catherine’s execution, Francis I of France wrote a letter to Henry, regretting the “lewd and naughty [evil] behaviour of the Queen” and advising him that “the lightness of women cannot bend the honour of men”.