Mary fought the idea; Louis was 34 years older than her and rather unprepossessing in looks and manner. She made a bargain with her brother. If she would go unprotestingly to France to marry Louis, then she would be allowed to marry whom she chose if she should outlive him. Henry agreed but probably had his fingers crossed at the time. Mary was already smitten with Charles Brandon, Henry’s closest friend. Charles was not royal but the son of a man who had been rewarded for his loyalty to Henry VII at Bosworth Field. He was given more prestige by his friend Henry VIII,and awarded the Dukedom of Suffolk. Charles and Cardinal Wolsey were to be two of the most influential advisors to Henry.
So Mary and her entourage set off to France. Interestingly, her companions included the Boleyn sisters, Mary and Anne, as well as Charles Brandon. The wedding took place but three months later Louis was dead, some say worn out from his attempts to produce an heir. By French custom, Mary was placed in seclusion for six weeks to be sure she wasn’t carrying an heir to the French throne.
Then negotiations began to bring her back to England. Charles was one of the courtiers sent by Henry to accomplish this. Henry warned Charles that he was to bring Mary home without following his personal feelings, as Henry was well aware of the attraction between them.
Mary was afraid Henry would go back on his promise and arrange another marriage for her. She begged Charles to marry her before they returned home. “Marry me now or never marry me at all.” She threatened to go into a nunnery if he refused. She managed to convince him and they were wed secretly with the help of Francis I, successor to Louis VII. When they told Henry he was furious. Enemies of Charles clamoured for his head as it was treason to marry a royal without the consent of the King. Given time and the temperate urgings of Cardinal Wolsey, Henry’s anger subsided and he forgave them, but not without demanding a high financial penalty. They were married again in a public ceremony after their return home.
Charles remained Henry’s friend until his death. Henry named his first born daughter Mary, and Mary and Charles named their first son Henry, so their affection endured, although it cooled during the time of Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, a woman Mary detested.
Mary died in 1533 and was buried at Bury St. Edmonds, first at the Abbey and later, after the dissolution of the monasteries, she was moved to St. Mary’s Church.
Charles outlived her, marrying again rather quickly the fourteen year old Catherine Willoughby, originally betrothed to his son. He remained Henry’s closest friend. When he died in 1545 Henry gave him a lavish funeral, paying for it himself.