Chivalry, Victorian Style

When Knighthood was in Flower is yet another book I found at an AAUW book sale in Roanoke.



I saw the spine, and because I’m a sucker for chivalry, knights, and kings and queens, I picked it up.


The title page sealed the deal though.  While the spine is beautiful with its gilt Tudor rose, and the cover is interesting enough, it’s the title page that sold me on this one.

Title Page


I had just come back from England, and was really into the whole ‘Tudors’ show.  My friends and I would get together once a week, make fajitas, and watch the latest episode in the first season of the Tudors.


The Tudors, Season 1. Photo courtesy of Showtime.

The Tudors, Season 1. Photo courtesy of Showtime.

I was imagining Henry Cavill, who plays Charles Brandon in the show (and is very nice to look at), set in the Tudor backdrop, with a prettier Mary Tudor at his side, but with all the Victorian flair expected of a book published in 1898.

The real story between Charles and Mary is rather sweet, but before I get into that, a little about the author.  Edwin Caskoden, from whom the story is told, is in fact, a pseudonym for Charles Major (1856-1913).  With When Knighthood was in Flower, Charles Major prompted an entire sub-sect of historical fiction involving Kings and Queens.  It was the ninth best selling novel in 1900.


I’m not entirely sure how accurate the novel is, since, of course, I haven’t read it yet.  History tells us that Henry VIII, Princess Mary, and Charles Brandon grew up together, even though Charles was not of noble birth.  Henry bestowed titles upon him because of the loyal support provided by the Brandon family throughout the years.  The same year Henry gave Charles the title of the Duke of Suffolk, he forged an alliance with France, packing off Mary to marry King Louis XII, 30 years her senior.  Mary agreed, but only if she could marry for love if the King died.  Henry granted her wish, just to make her go peacefully, but, as the story goes, not before Mary told him her love of Charles Brandon.  When the King Louis XII died 82 days later, Charles Brandon was sent over the channel to retrieve Mary.  Knowing of Mary’s love of Charles, and Charles supposed love for Mary, Henry gave Charles specific instructions to treat Louis’ widow formally.  Upon Charles’ arrival, Mary supposedly stated something along the lines of, ‘I’m going to be forced into another loveless marriage; let’s get married!’ (Ok, so she didn’t really say that, but it’s what she said in my head.)


Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon

Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon


And so they were secretly married in France.  Without the King’s consent.  And as we know, Henry was a little crazy, so I can only imagine his anger upon their return.  But their ‘love’ won out; Henry pardoned them, and they lived, I guess in blissful matrimony, until she died in 1533.  Charles then married his son’s fourteen year old betrothed only a few short months after Mary’s death.  Maybe it wasn’t love after all?


Further Reading:

Colley, Rupert. ‘A Tudor Romance: Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon.’ History in an Hour. 17 November 2010. Weblog. 26 August 2013

Hanson, Marilee.  ‘Cloth of Gold and Cloth of Frieze: Charles Brandon and Princess Mary Tudor.’ Tudor England. 1997. Web. 26 August 2013

Proper Introductions: When Knighthood was in Flower.’ Lanier’s Books. 25 October 2010. Weblog. 24 August 2013



Filed under 1890s, Books

2 responses to “Chivalry, Victorian Style

  1. The book seems to be in great shape — no wonder you couldn’t resist.
    Aren’t the costumes on the show simply beautiful?

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