The sad story of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Somerset….

Painting depicting the visit of Erasmus and Thomas More to the royal Tudor nursery at Eltham in the summer of 1499 painted by Frank Cadogan Cowper, 1910. From Left to Right: Margaret, queen consort of Scotland, aged 10, Edmund Tudor, Duke of Somerset in the arms of a nanny, Mary, Queen of France aged 3, Henry VIII, King of England then Duke of York aged 8. Absent Royal child was Arthur, Prince of Wales who was at Ludlow Castle at the time of the visit.
[No comment about the grim figure of Margaret Beaufort!]

I came upon the  following article in the course of trundling around on Google for royal mourning in the medieval period. It’s a very sad little story, no matter what our opinion of Henry VII. The specific fact that took me to it was that Henry wore “blue mourning robes” as he waited at Westminster Abbey for his baby’s coffin to arrive. It’s suggested Elizabeth of York may have been with him. Did she wear blue as well?

Until this I’d only found descriptions of black, sometimes white (but that seems to have been more on the Continent) being the colour for top-notch funerals in England. But then again, there are a number of illustrations where the royal body/effigy of the deceased is dressed in blue, it’s just that in England I hadn’t heard of the living mourners, even a king, wore anything other than black.

funeral procession of Philippe le Bel from BL Royal 20 C VII, g. 49

Oh, but one last thing on another subject…that portrait of the 3rd Duke of Buckingham is awful. It’s a likeness that pops up for his odious father as well.

Well, perhaps not. My friend Hooded Man has found the following alternative of the 3rd duke, which is an improvement.

But whichever portrait is more accurate, I think we can be sure that the duke portrayed was, um, plumpish, And the first portrait shows him as, well, a porker.



  1. Interesting. It jogged my memory that accounts stated when 12-year-old Edward V entered London with Buckingham and Gloucester on May 4, 1483, his uncles were in coarse black cloth, while he wore blue velvet. I wonder if that signified “royal mourning” worn in honour of his father.

    Liked by 1 person

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