Well, folks, this is the last you’ll hear of Henry from us.* That’s right. It’s our final post of what has been our most popular week of scandal-blogging ever! So before we get down to business, thanks for all of the love this week. We really appreciate it.
The story of H.8 is not complete without a brief discussion of his extramarital affairs. Because what is a king without a couple of slutty mistresses and a few royal bastards, AM I RIGHT?! So far we’ve discussed Henry’s 6 wives and those story are jam-packed with inappropriateness and those relationships were church-approved! So imagine what kind of historical shenanigans we’re talking about when the lays weren’t even kosher. We’re not going to cover all of the porker’s affairs, mostly just the ones with wiki pages, as per usual. Enjoy.
Jane Popincourt, similar to Mary Boleyn, liked to dabble in ding-dongs on both sides of the channel. She was a highly respected and well-educated royal tutor employed by Henry VII and later Henry VIII to wear low-cut bodices and teach the princesses Mary and Margaret (H8’s sisters) to speak and write Francais. During a battle in 1513 between the English and the French, the English captured a bunch of French nobles including the Duke of Longueville. He was around court for a while, negotiating the marriage of Princess Mary to the King of France (who Mary Boleyn was probably boning at the time — did I do that math right?) Probably pretty excited to have a young French guy around who she could speak with in her native tongue (and do other things with using her tongue), she started an affair with the duke and sort of kind of killed any chances she had of getting married. That’s probably why in 1514 after the Duke had returned to the homeland, it was NBD when Henry VIII was like, “Hey, come teach me how to French Kiss,” she was like, “All right. Whatevs.” So she had a brief affair with Henry in 1514, but she really wanted to go home. So somebody pulled some strings and got her assigned to be a maid of honor to Princess Mary who was going to become the Queen of France. But the king saw her name on the list, stood up, threw his beret on the floor and was like, “That slut?! No fucking way.” She didn’t get to go back to France until 1516 at which point most people think that she and the duke rekindled their love-flame. LHB
After he gave ol’ Jane the heave-HO (see what I did?!?), Henry started banging Bessie Blount. And he didn’t stop for EIGHT YEARS. Well I mean he probably stopped for meals and to sleep, but these two were pretty much going at it all the time. Bessie was one of Katherine of Aragon’s ladies in waiting, further proving that although she was beautiful and holy and lovely, Katherine was really a dumb bitch when it came to choosing her maids. Bessie was a certified hottie and she was discreet. Now I’m no Jamie Escalante, but let’s do a little math. If we’ve learned anything this week, it’s that physical attractiveness + the mental capacity to know when to keep your mouth fucking shut = Henry’s ideal slampiece. And in 1519, she bore him a son named Henry FitzRoy, proving that the king’s love juice could indeed produce a li’l man baby. And that subsequently, something had to be terribly wrong with Katherine of Aragon and/or her uterus. Little illegitimate Henry was the only bastard child that the King publicly recognized. And he had a LOT of those. Soon after she gave birth though, Henry came in chewing on his blue bubblegum cigar and said, “Thanks for the times, bitch, but we’re done here,” and then he went and found Mary Boleyn (see below) and the rest is 100% factual history. Bessie Blount wasultimately Henry’s longest-tenured strumpet – eight years was a long fucking time for him. Longer than most of his marriages. She was also probably the most well-known; there was a popular saying “Bless ‘ee, Bessie Blount,” following Henry FitzRoy’s birth, because people were so pleased that she proved the King could father a son. Further demonstrating that poor Katherine of Aragon was really getting shit on for a long, long time. MRG
Elizabeth Carew was either banging Henry or his BFF Charles Brandon or both in 1514. It was really a prolific year for royal fornication. She was a pal of Bessie Blount’s, which is probably why her relationship with Henry didn’t last all that long. And her brother was that terrifying man with the eyepatch on The Tudors who killed a lot of people and whose nickname was “The Vicar of Hell,” Sir Francis Bryan. She knew Henry because she and her husband were part of the King’s inner circle for a long, long time. Although there’s no concrete evidence that they had an affair, he did give her a lot of land and “beautiful diamonds and pearls and innumerable jewels.” I mean yeah, it’s not evidence per se, but this guy wasn’t into that “it’s better to give than to receive” bullshit. He was definitely receiving something. Probably fellatio. MRG
Mary Boleyn is the subject of a super famous book which we’ve mentioned as least 4 times in this blog. She was Anne Boleyn’s older, more attractive and way sluttier sister. While being “educated” in France, she had an affair with the king (of France) who called her “the English Mare” (charming). When her family found out, they were like, “Ha ha. I don’t think so.” And shipped her ass to England faster than you can say “Ignorant Slut” and married her off to a courtier named William Carey. The guest of honor at their wedding was none other than the King (of England). I imagine that Henry and Mary eye-fucked through the whole ceremony/reception because shortly after, Mary was conveniently appointed a maid of honor to Katherine of Aragon, which required her presence at court. Coming out of his bang-fest with Bessie Blount, Henry started a 5-year-long affair with Mary that probably resulted in two offspring. Both kids had red hair, is all I’m saying. After her sister married her former lover (BURN), Mary met a man named William Stafford who was a commoner, one of Henry’s soldiers – not a stable-boy as Phillipa Gregory would have us believe. But they really did marry in secret, get pregnant, and then get themselves banished from court. They lived off by themselves in the countryside and had 2 kids together. All of Mary’s children ended up being influential players in the court of her niece, Queen Elizabeth I. Aside from being the sluttiest maid of “honor” on both sides of the English channel, bitch did pretty well for herself. She had affairs with two of the most powerful men in the world, she was the sister of the Queen, and after everything was said and done, she ended up married to the love of her life. Well done, Mary. But you’re still not as cool as your sister. LHB
Another of our wild explorers into the sexual jungle of the Tudor court was Anne Bassett, born to a noble family in 1521, she was pretty damn young when Henry first took interest in 1538. See Anne’s mom had been a persistent bitch and got her daughter a place in Jane Seymour’s court after seeing a shitload of quail as a gift. I kid you not, but then again, I’d swap some game bird for the possibility of my daughter becoming the next queen of England any day. She entered the foray right as Jane Seymour was about to go into confinement for her pregnancy. See, during the 16th century, it wasn’t considered kosher for husbands to nail their pregnant wives, since the baby might get messed up, or some science crap like that. Whatever. But Henry was so desperate for a son that he accepted those blue balls for I’m guessing approximately 2 weeks before his eye began to wander. Thus, Anne and her sweet barely-legal ass show up at a particularly opportune time for on the sly bangin’. She was a particularly notable mistress for ol’ Henry, considering that lots of his bros though they were in fact married in 1540 and 1542. Now if you’ve convinced the court that you’re the wife of the king, but are in fact only his biddy on the side, what does that say about you, Anne Bassett? That you were kind of a dumb bitch who could seize a joystick but not the day? God, what did you mother send all those quail for?? You had him right in the palm of your sticky little hand (IFYAKNOWWHATIMSAYINYEAHYADO), and you gave it up to some she-male from the continent?? It was a case put up or shut up with Anne Bassett, and seems like all she could do was put out. JAF
And finally, Catherine Willoughby, fourth wife of Charles Brandon, Henry’s bff, and bff to Catherine Parr, Henry’s sixth wife. Convoluted friendcest is the way we like it. Now, I’m just putting it our there right now, that even thought it’s been purported that Henry was spreading mad rumors about how he was gonna bag Catherine for his seventh wife, I legitimately doubt they ever had a physical relationship, considering many things including the afore mentioned social/marital ties, and the fact that Henry was about as capable of being a husband to the 20something Catherine as a beluga whale is to a housecat. They only ever met in the last years of his life, and I’m also betting that neither Brandon nor Parr were gonna stand for that shit. He may be king, but it was starting to get a little Grey Garden up in there, and Henry going about like it was the last days of Rome, so it very may well have been a waiting game until he died. Catherine Parr was certainly smart enough to not do anything at that point which would get her killed, and by all accounts Catherine Willoughby was not particularity enticed by whatever advances Henry made, considering he probably smelled real bad. The two Catherine remained good friends (Willoughby even took in Parr’s daughter after she was orphaned) and probably gossiped and giggled about how absolutely silly Henry was being as they painted their nails and watched Real Housewives. So no scandal here peeps, sorry! It must have mightily pissed Henry off, but he simply could not lay those bloated sausage fingers on this final slampiece. Oh well, you win some (approximately a bazillion), you lose some (approximately one). JAF
And so our week of Henry VIII has come to an end, and no one is more disappointed than us, because as you can probably tell from the lengthiness of the posts this week, we have very real and totally sincere boners for this renaissance king. Yeah, maybe he was sort of crazy and had a bit of a temper. But you could also just say that he was passionate. Right? And isn’t that an important quality in a king? Sure, he sort of bankrupted England, and led them on fruitless campaigns into France that ended in bloodshed, and sacked monasteries, and killed wives. But, doesn’t that just make the whole thing all the more exciting? I think most importantly what we’ve proved this week is that Henry has given us some pretty incredible stories. And you can’t fault him for that.
MRG, JAF, and LHB
*That was probably a lie.
Ah, the American presidents. What a minefield of scandal. There’s the whole Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemmings debacle, obviously JFK’s numerous affairs (which may or may not be the subject of a week’s worth of future posts – stay tuned), and dear Uncle Bill’s Oval Office shenanigans.
And then there’s Warren G. Harding, he of the strong eyebrows and mysterious mid-term death in 1923.
Harding sort of epitomizes the frivolity of the American 1920s, in that he used malapropisms (“Return to Normalcy” was his 1920 campaign slogan. “Return to Normality” would have been correct. But he was only running for President, so you know, no biggie.), openly served and consumed bathtub gin in the White House during the Prohibition, and showered his friends with gifts, perks, and Cabinet positions. Also, his middle name was Gamaliel, which wasn’t even an unfortunate family name or anything. It has nothing to do with his personality or actions, I just think it’s weird.
Ultimately, he’s remembered by critics as sort of a terrible President who oversaw lots of labor strikes and administrative scandals. And he was remembered by at least two sassy ladies as a terrible sugar daddy.
That’s right, Warren had two known mistresses, one of which was probably delusional. Let’s begin there, shall we?
Nan Britton (who after some Googling, I learned was apparently a character in an episode of Boardwalk Empire. Who knew?) grew up in Marion, Ohio, which was Harding’s hometown. He was a friend of her father’s, and she developed a little crush/unhealthy obsession for him. You know what, no – the bitch was a stalker. When she was 16, she used to wait outside of the newspaper office where he worked every day, hoping to bump into him on his walk home. To his wife.
Anyway, apparently the teenage creeping worked. Mr. Britton talked to Harding about the situation, prompting Harding to talk to young Nan. And by talk to I mean bone. He was also having an affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips at this time, but more on that later.
Nan and Warren did their thing (each other) for a little while, then she graduated high school and moved to New York to become a secretary (the loftiest of female ambitions), and things fizzled. But after Harding died in ’23, she wrote what a lot of people consider the first kiss-and-tell book, aptly titled The President’s Daughter. Aptly titled in that girlfriend claimed WGH knocked her up, and that he had promised to support her and young Elizabeth before he died. Convenient? Sure. DNA testing wasn’t an option yet, so who knows. But the remaining Hardings, specifically Warren’s wifey, Florence, weren’t having any of that.
As for the book, I’d love to get my paws on it. Nan claims that she was Harding’s mistress before and during his presidency, and there’s apparently a famous passage in which they do it in a closet in the executive office. If this is true and if Nan was still alive, she’d get a big high-five from me. Because bitch was BOLD.
But she wasn’t nearly as bold as Carrie Fulton Phillips. She’s the only woman to successfully blackmail the President of the United States, and she was also sort of crazy. Both fantastic character traits.
Carrie moved to Marion, that star-crossed hamlet, when she married the owner of a dry-goods business there and she and her husband rose through the proverbial ranks until Carrie became pretty tight with Mrs. Harding. Girlfriends were so close that they decided to hit Europe together with their husbands, and all those Parisian nights must have gotten to Warren and Carrie, because pretty soon they were getting fancy all over the continent.
After they got back to Marion, Mr. Phillips and Mrs. Harding got wind of the naughtiness afoot and decided it was best that the Phillipses skip back over the pond, this time to Germany. Where Carrie became obsessed with German culture, maybe probably inappropriately. In roughly 1918, Harding was running for Senate and this little conflict called the First World War was a-brewing, so everyone headed back stateside. And those two crazy kids picked right back up where they left off, irreparably damaging two marriages! Can’t fight a love like that.
In 1920, when Harding won the Republican presidential nom, he told some VIPs about his ‘delicate’ situation, and that oops, Carrie felt passionately about the German cause in the war, and that ooops, Carrie had hundreds of love letters, and that oooops, many of them were written on Senate stationery.
Hoping to quietly resolve a potentially disastrous situation, said VIPs said “Hey Phillipses, remember Europe? Wasn’t it great? Want to maybe go back to there? On us?” To which dear Carrie said, “Aw HELL no,” and like a mob boss in the back of a New Jersey Italian restauarant, she dictated her terms. She would keep quiet if:
a. The Republican Party paid for a long, exotic-ass trip to Asia and the Pacific.
b. They also paid her a tidy annual sum for her silence for the rest of her life.
Girlfriend worked that negotiation, and the GOP paid up.
But her brilliance waned when she continued to support the Germans during World War II. Yikes. The government kept tabs on her for a while after that. And then she sort of went crazy. She had A LOT of German Shepherds (we’re talking Animal Hoarders status), and she used to walk them wearing only her finest mink coat. So you know, things didn’t really end so well for her.
But she did hand over those Senate-stationery letters, and after much legal action, it was ruled that they would be opened on the 100th anniversary of Harding’s death. So mark August 2, 2023 in your iCal. You heard it here first: shit’s getting real.
So what is it about Warren Harding? Did they have to be crazy to fall in love with him? Or was it loving him that made them crazy? The world will never know (except maybe in 2023).
Personal conclusion: Nan and Carrie couldn’t resist the raw sexual power of the eyebrows. Either that or the last name was pretty indicative of what old Warren was packin.