Bessie Blount by Elizabeth Norton

Elizabeth Blount, known as Bessie, was Henry VIII’s mistress and mother of his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. She is a subject of Elizabeth Norton’s meticulously researched biography Bessie Blount: The King’s Mistress kindly sent to me by Amberley Publishing.

What do we know about Bessie Blount? There is no surviving portrait of Bessie; the long-haired beauty that decorates the book’s cover is Anna Meyer, a young daughter of the former mayor of Basel. No one seems to have noted what Bessie looked like, or if they did no description survives.

As Elizabeth Norton points out on the first page, her book is a reconstruction of a life rather than a full biography because Bessie left so little behind her. There is, however a surprising amount of information on Bessie’s whereabouts and her family.

I really enjoyed reading about the early stages of Bessie’s relationship with Henry VIII and her later life. Chapters dedicated to Henry VIII’s son by Bessie, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, are very interesting and full of details. One particular chapter, “Mother of the King’s daughter?”, is especially interesting. In this chapter Elizabeth Norton argues that Elizabeth Tailboys was not the daughter of Bessie’s future husband Gilbert Tailboys as previously thought, but the second illegitimate child of the King. Born between April and June 1520, a year after her brother Henry Fitzroy, who was acknowledged as the King’s son, Elizabeth Tailboys’s financial interests were secured by Henry VIII in her later life. Norton’s meticulous research convinced me.

Bessie Blount by Elizabeth Norton is a great book and deserves to be read and appreciated. I give it 5 stars.


  1. Jane
    Oct 15, 2013

    I always wanted to learn more about Bessie and her son, Henry Fitzroy! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Sylwia
      Oct 18, 2013

      It’s worth reading this book. Thanks for commenting, Jane :-)

  2. Stefanie
    Oct 19, 2013

    it’s a shame we don’t know more about her

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