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Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk


Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk

His Grace
The Duke of Suffolk
His Grace The Duke of Suffolk, detail of a double wedding portrait attributed to Jan Gossaert, c. 1516.
Lord President of the Council
In office
Monarch Henry VIII
Preceded by New office
Succeeded by The Lord St John
Lord Steward
In office
Monarch Henry VIII
Preceded by The Earl of Shrewsbury
Succeeded by The Lord St John
Personal details
Born c. 1484
Died 1545 (aged 60–61)
Guildford, Surrey, Kingdom of England
Resting place
Spouse(s) Margaret Mortimer
Anne Browne
Mary Tudor, Queen Dowager of France
Catherine Willoughby
Relations Sir William Brandon
Elizabeth Bruyn
Children Anne Brandon, Baroness Grey of Powis
Mary Brandon, Baroness Monteagle
Lord Henry Brandon
Frances, Duchess of Suffolk
Eleanor, Countess of Cumberland
Henry Brandon, Earl of Lincoln
Henry Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
Residence Westhorpe Hall, Suffolk
Occupation Courtier, Military commander
Styles of
Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
Reference style His Grace
Spoken style Your Grace
Informal style Charles or Brandon

Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, 1st Viscount Lisle, KG (c.1484 – 22 August 1545) was the son of Sir William Brandon and Elizabeth Bruyn. Through his third wife Mary Tudor he was brother-in-law to Henry VIII. His father was the standard-bearer of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond (later King Henry VII). Suffolk died of unknown causes at Guildford.


  • Biography 1
    • Marriage to Mary Tudor 1.1
  • Family 2
  • Fictional portrayals 3
  • Ancestry 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7


Charles Brandon was the second but only surviving son[1] of Sir William Brandon, Henry Tudor's standard-bearer at the Battle of Bosworth Field, where he was slain by Richard III. His mother, Elizabeth Bruyn (d. March 1494), was daughter and co-heiress of Sir Henry Bruyn (died 1461).[2][1]

Charles Brandon was brought up at the court of Henry VII. He is described by Dugdale as "a person comely of stature, high of courage and conformity of disposition to King Henry VIII, with whom he became a great favourite". Brandon held a succession of offices in the royal household, becoming Master of the Horse in 1513, and received many valuable grants of land. On 15 May 1513, he was created Viscount Lisle, having entered into a marriage contract with his ward, Elizabeth Grey, suo jure Viscountess Lisle. The contract was ended and the title was forfeited as a result of Brandon's marriage to Mary Tudor in 1515.

He distinguished himself at the sieges of Thérouanne and Tournai in the French campaign of 1513. One of the agents of Margaret of Savoy, governor of the Netherlands, writing from before Thérouanne, reminded her that Lord Lisle was a "second king" and advised her to write him a kind letter.

At this time, Henry VIII was secretly urging Margaret to marry Lisle, whom he created Duke of Suffolk, although he was careful to disclaim (on 4 March 1514) any complicity in the project to her father, Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.

After his marriage to Mary, Suffolk lived for some years in retirement, but he was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. In 1523 he was sent to Calais to command the English troops there. He invaded France in company with Floris d'Egmont, Count of Buren, who was at the head of the Flemish troops, and laid waste the north of France, but disbanded his troops at the approach of winter.[9]

After Wolsey's disgrace, Suffolk's influence increased daily. He was sent with Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, to demand the Great Seal from Wolsey; the same noblemen conveyed the news of Anne Boleyn's marriage to King Henry, after the divorce from Queen Catherine; and Suffolk acted as High Steward at the new queen's coronation. He was one of the commissioners appointed by Henry to dismiss Catherine's household, a task he found distasteful. [9]

His family had a residence on the west side of Borough High Street, London, for at least half a century prior to his building of Suffolk Place at the site.[10]

Suffolk supported Henry's ecclesiastical policy, receiving a large share of the lands after the Mary Tudor, Henry's sister, with Louis XII of France. He was accredited to negotiate various matters with Louis, and on Louis' death was sent to congratulate the new King, Francis I, and to negotiate Mary's return to England.

Love between Suffolk and the young Dowager Queen Mary had existed before her marriage, and Francis roundly charged him with an intention to marry her. Francis, perhaps in the hope of Queen Claude's death, had himself been one of her suitors in the first week of her widowhood, and Mary asserted that she had given him her confidence to avoid his importunities.

Francis and Henry both professed a friendly attitude towards the marriage of the lovers, but Suffolk had many political enemies, and Mary feared that she might again be sacrificed to political considerations. The truth was that Henry was anxious to obtain from Francis the gold plate and jewels which had been given or promised to the Queen by Louis in addition to the reimbursement of the expenses of her marriage with the King; and he practically made his acquiescence in Suffolk's suit dependent on his obtaining them. The pair cut short the difficulties by a private marriage on 5 March 1515. Suffolk announced this to Thomas Wolsey, who had been their fast friend.

Suffolk was saved from Henry's anger only by Wolsey, and the pair eventually agreed to pay to Henry £24,000 in yearly instalments of £1000, and the whole of Mary's dowry from Louis of £200,000, together with her plate and jewels. They were openly married at Greenwich Hall on 13 May. The Duke had been twice married already, to Margaret Neville (the widow of John Mortimer) and to Anne Browne, to whom he had been betrothed before his marriage with Margaret Mortimer. Anne Browne died in 1511, but Margaret Mortimer, from whom he had obtained a declaration of nullity on the ground of consanguinity, was still living. He secured in 1528 a bull from Pope Clement VII assuring the legitimacy of his marriage with Mary Tudor and of the daughters of Anne Browne, one of whom, Anne, was sent to the court of Margaret of Savoy.

Mary Tudor died on 25 June 1533, and in September of the same year Suffolk married his ward, 14-year-old Catherine Willoughby (1519–1580), suo jure Baroness Willoughby de Eresby. She had been betrothed to his son Henry Brandon, Earl of Lincoln, but the boy was too young to marry; Suffolk did not wish to risk losing Catherine's lands, so he married her himself.[11][12] By Catherine Willoughby he had two sons who showed great promise, Henry (1535–1551) and Charles (c. 1537–1551), Dukes of Suffolk. They died of the sweating sickness within an hour of each other.


Before 7 February 1507 he married Margaret Neville (born 1466), widow of Sir John Mortimer (d. before 12 November 1504),[13][14][15] and daughter of John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu, slain at the Battle of Barnet, by Isabel Ingaldesthorpe, daughter and heiress of Sir Edmund Ingaldsthorpe, by whom he had no issue. The marriage was declared void about 1507 by the Archdeaconry Court of London, and later by papal bull dated 12 May 1528.[13] Margaret (née Neville) subsequently married Robert Downes, gentleman.[5][16]

In early 1508 in a secret ceremony at Stepney, and later publicly at St Michael's, Cornhill,[5] he married Margaret Neville's niece, Anne Browne (d. 1511), daughter of Sir Anthony Browne, Standard Bearer of England 1485, by his first wife, Eleanor Ughtred,[17] the daughter of Sir Robert Ughtred (c. 1428 – c. 1487) of Kexby, North Yorkshire[18] and Katherine Eure, daughter of Sir William Eure of Stokesley, Yorkshire, by whom he had two daughters:[19]

  • Anne Brandon (1507–1557), who married firstly Edward Grey, 4th Baron Grey of Powis,[20] and after the dissolution of this union, Randal Harworth.
  • Mary Brandon (1510 – c. 1542), who married Thomas Stanley, 2nd Baron Monteagle.[20]

He contracted to marry Elizabeth Grey, 5th Baroness Lisle (1505–1519). He was thus created 1st Viscount Lisle of the third creation in 1513, but the contract was annulled, and he surrendered the title before 1519 or in 1523.

In May 1515 he married Mary Tudor, Queen Dowager of France (18 March 1496 – 25 June 1533), by whom he had two sons who died young, and two daughters:

On 7 September 1533 he married Catherine Willoughby, 12th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby (1 April 1520 – 19 September 1580), by whom he had two sons, both of whom died young of the sweating sickness:

After Brandon's death his widow married Richard Bertie.

He had a number of illegitimate children

  • Sir Charles Brandon; married Elizabeth Pigot, widow of Sir James Strangways.[20]
  • Frances Brandon; married firstly William Sandon, and secondly Andrew Bilsby.[20]
  • Mary Brandon; married Robert Ball of Scottow, Norfolk.[20]

Fictional portrayals

He is a character in the novel " the shadow of the pomegranate " by Jean Plaidy



  1. ^ Brandon's mother Elizabeth was a granddaughter of Sir Maurice Bruyn (d. 8 November 1466),[2] and [3] by Elizabeth Darcy (died c.1471),[3] daughter of Sir Robert Darcy of Maldon, Essex. Before her marriage to Sir William Brandon, Elizabeth (née Bruyn) had been the wife of Thomas Tyrrell (died c. 13 October 1473), esquire, son of Sir Thomas Tyrrell of Heron and Anne Marney.[4] After Sir William Brandon's death at Bosworth, Elizabeth (née Bruyn) married William Mallory, esquire.[5][3][6] Brandon had a brother, William, and two sisters, Anne, who married firstly Sir John Shilston, and secondly Sir Gawain Carew, and Elizabeth.[7][5][2][8]
  1. ^ Gunn 2004.
  2. ^ a b c Richardson II 2011, pp. 359-60.
  3. ^ a b c Richardson II 2011, p. 360.
  4. ^ Richardson I 2011, p. 14.
  5. ^ a b c d Richardson I 2011, p. 298.
  6. ^ Burke 1834, p. 205.
  7. ^ Gunn states that Elizabeth Brandon was Sir William Brandon's daughter by an unknown mistress, and that she married Nicholas Arrowsmith.
  8. ^ Gunn 1988, p. 46.
  9. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  10. ^
  11. ^ In a letter to Charles V, the Imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys wrote: 'On Sunday next the duke of Suffolk will be married to the daughter of a Spanish lady named lady Willoughby. She was promised to his son, but he is only ten years old...'
  12. ^ "...Lincoln was sickly [...] and Suffolk did not wish to gamble on his son's survival and risk losing Catherine's lands. So he married her himself." In: "Starkey, David (Hg): Rivals in Power: Lives and Letters of the Great Tudor Dynasties Macmillan, London 1990, p. 178
  13. ^ a b Cokayne 1953, p. 458.
  14. ^ , (London: Golding and Lawrence, 1878), p. 62The Picards or Pychards of Stradewy (now Tretower) Castle, and Scethrog, Brecknockshire Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  15. ^ : volume 4 (1924), pp. 289-297A History of the County of Worcester'Parishes: Martley with Hillhampton', Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  16. ^ Richardson II 2011, p. 455.
  17. ^ Cokayne states that Anne Browne was the daughter of Sir Anthony Browne by his second wife, Lucy Neville; Cokayne 1953, p. 459.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Richardson II 2011, pp. 225-6, 340.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Gunn 1988, p. 94.
  21. ^


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Further reading

  • (primarily on his wife, Mary Tudor)
  • (primarily on his wife, Catherine)
Political offices
Preceded by
New office
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
The Lord St John
Preceded by
The Earl of Shrewsbury
Lord Steward
Legal offices
Preceded by
The Marquess of Dorset
Justice in Eyre
South of the Trent

Succeeded by
The Lord St John
Peerage of England
New creation Duke of Suffolk
2nd creation
Succeeded by
Henry Brandon
Viscount Lisle
3rd creation
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