Elizabeth Blount, commonly known and nicknamed as Bessie, was a lady-in waiting to Catherine of Aragon and mistress of King Henry VIII, and the mother of his longed-for son Henry FitzRoy. Bessie is first seen in the first episode of the series, "In Cold Blood", and we see very clearly that she is Henry's mistress. Announcing to Wolsey she is with child, and it is his Majesty's child, she gives birth nine months later and an excited Henry discovers he has a son. Bessie is played by Ruta Gedmintas, and appears in three episodes of Season One.
Season OneEditElizabeth Blount only appears in season 1. In the first episode of the series, we see Henry and Lady Blount having sex, which Henry refers to as "playing". Henry asks how Bessie's husband is, she replies her husband is extremely jealous and wants her sent to a nunnery. Later on in the episode, Bessie visits Cardinal Wolsey, announcing she is with child, and it is Henry's. Wolsey tells Bessie that she cannot tell anyone about it on pain of death. Thanking him, Bessie leaves the room.
Near the end of the second episode, Bessie goes into labour and gives birth to a son, who is named Henry Fitzroy. Henry publicly celebrates the birth of a son; however, his wife Catherine of Aragon is furious and hurt that Henry favors his bastard son over Mary, his legitimate daughter by Catherine. She swiftly dismisses Elizabeth from her entourage. In the fifth episode, Henry Fitzroy (by now a little boy) is named Duke of Richmond, and is sent away to his own establishment. Proud, but sad that her son has to live away from her, Elizabeth Blount tells her son to be thoughtful and kind to those around him, and makes him promise to behave himself. She promises to visit him as often as possible, but this does not happen, as Henry Fitzroy dies within a few weeks of the sweating sickness.
Elizabeth Blount is shown her son's body, and as she cries the camera snaps to Henry, who is alone and crying, devastated by his son's death. Elizabeth Blount then disappears from the show after this episode.
Elizabeth Blount was an extremely beautiful woman. She had long light brown hair and greeny blue eyes, and was an average height for a woman of Tudor times. Naturally, she caught Henry's eye and soon became his mistress despite the fact that she was married and he was too. Elizabeth had fair, beautiful skin with no flaws and often wore typical maiden clothes.
In the series, Elizabeth Blount's affair with Henry VIII is shown to be rather short. However, in reality, it was believed that she and Henry had a long, eight-year affair. In both the series and reality, Elizabeth Blount bore Henry a son. Lady Blount was born in 1502. It is believed she began her affair with the king in 1514, as a very young girl. A contemporary described 'that intire affection past betwixt them [Henry and Bessie], as at last she bore him a son.' At last' is an indication that Lord Herbert thought their relationship had been a long one. Elizabeth Blount's last recorded appearance at court was in October 1518. Bessie's son was probably born June 1519. King Henry often visited her and his son, Henry Fitzroy, at Jericho, Priory, Blackmore, Essex, very often, so often that it became a standing joke among the courtiers that the King had "gone to Jericho."
Elizabeth Blount also gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth Talboys, circa 1520. Some speculation also states that she too was Henry's child due to the favour he showed her. In around 1522, Henry stopped seeing Elizabeth, because, some historians believe, he had moved on to Mary Boleyn. He arranged her marriage to Gilbert Talboys, a baron, that same year. Gilbert was knighted in 1524, and in 1525 he was appointed Sherriff of Lincolnshire. Gilbert and Elizabeth had a son, George, who was followed by Robert and Elizabeth. In 1525, Gilbert and Elizabeth took up residence in Lincolnshire. They moved into the castle of South Kyme. The castle was built by Gilbert's ancestor, Gilbert de Umfraville. Gilbert Talboys died in 1530. In either 1533 or 1535, Bessie married a younger man who Lincolnshire lands adjoined hers- Edward Clinton, first Earl of Lincoln. The two had three daughters, Bridget, Katherine and Margaret. Bessie briefly returned to court as lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves, Henry's fourth wife, and was excused shortly before the Cleves' marriage dissolved. Bessie returned to her husband's states and died at the age of 38 from tuberculosis.
Gentility: She was the daughter of John Blount and Catherine Pershall.
Position: A maid of honor to Queen Catherine of Aragon, lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves.
Elizabeth Blount was a loving woman. She evidently adored her son Henry Fitzroy and was devastated by his death. However, Bessie was rather disloyal, being unfaithful to her husband with Henry and betraying the trust and friendship of her mistress, Queen Catherine of Aragon. She chose to sleep with the King and in the process caused her husband to want her sent to a nunnery. It was clear Bessie didn't love Henry, but they shared a mutual attraction to each other. Bessie Blount was so good at singing and dancing that she partnered the King in the Christmas mummery of the year 1514. Bessie was eloquent and gracious, and due to Henry's attraction to her, she would have possessed all the traits and features a lady of the court would have had to: beauty, grace and good manners. She was an easily endearing person and very feeling. In fact, the only thing that could probably argue against Bessie's endearing traits would be her infidelity, and she seemed perfectly happy making jokes about her husband while having sex with another man. However, as a maid, Bessie could not exactly say no to the King. Bessie was also chosen from five Blount sisters. "To be chosen out of five Blount sisters she must have possessed all the qualities that were expected of a lady at court-- beauty, grace and good manners. She must also have impressed twenty-nine year old Queen Katherine, who personally approved which ladies would serve her." Kelly Hart's The Mistresses of Henry VIII (2009).
- "My husband is extremely jealous. Wants me sent to a nunnery."
- "I am...with child. It is his Majesty's child."
- "Will you tell the King of my love for him?"
- "You must promise me to be a good boy, thoughtful and kind to those around you. And I promise I'll come and visit you as often as I can. I'm sure your new home will be very grand. I love you, my darling boy."