MARGARET BEAUFORT, THE UNKNOWN REGENT
Recently it came up on Mastermind that Margaret Beaufort was once Regent of England. This surprised me as I had not heard this fact stated before. Digging on the internet, it turns out it is indeed true. Henry VIII was not quite of age when he ascended the throne, although he was not far off, therefore grandmother Beaufort became Regent. According to one source, Margaret’s role was more ceremonial than anything else and young Henry’s council quickly busied themselves dismantling many of Henry VII’s policies. Empson and Dudley, a pair of unpopular ministers, were removed from their positions, soon to be executed.
Margaret’s activities concerning the Council were curtailed because, just after Henry’s Coronation on June 24, where Margaret had wept copious tears throughout the ceremony, she fell seriously ill. She had been unwell since the beginning of the year but apparently it was the eating of a cygnet, a young swan, that brought about her demise. Bedridden and ailing, Margaret was given ‘waters and powders’ but the doctors’ efforts to save the 66 year old Regent were all in vain and she died on 29 June 1509 ,with Bishop John Fisher in attendance.
Reginald Pole, George of Clarence’s grandson, stated that Margaret muttered on her deathbed that John Fisher must watch over Henry VIII with diligence, for she feared he would ‘turn his face from God‘.
Henry had his 18th birthday on June 28 1509; the very next day his grandmother was dead. (Henry’s feelings are not recorded on the matter. It must have been a horrible shock, or…)