Mary de Bohun

Psalter_of_Mary_de_Bohun_and_Henry_Bolingbroke_1380-85_Abigail

Mary de Bohun,

1st wife of King Henry IV

1369-1394

Born:

ca. 1369, daughter of Humphrey de Bohun, 11th Earl of Hereford, and Joan FitzAlan, heiress of Arundel

Married:

5 February 1381 Henry IV at Rochford Hall, Essex, or Arundel Castle

Crowned:

not crowned

Died:

4 July 1394, Peterborough Castle

Buried:

St. Mary in the Newarke, Leicester

hen Earl Humphrey de Bohun died in 1373, he left two little girls as very wealthy co-heiresses. Older daughter Eleanor, age 9, was married in 1374 to 19-year-old Thomas of Woodstock, a son of Edward III.

Younger daughter Mary, age 5, lived with Thomas and Eleanor. According to the chronicles, Thomas tried to persuade Mary to become a Poor Clare so that the full de Bohun inheritance would fall into the hands of her sister – and her sister’s husband!

Thomas’ schemes came to naught. In 1380, with Thomas out of the country, his older brother John of Gaunt swooped in, abducted 12-year-old Mary and married her to his own son, 14-year-old Henry Bolingbroke. Four years later, Mary was given her share of the de Bohun estate, although Thomas and Henry quarreled over the precise division of the estate until Thomas’ death in 1397.

In the upper levels of society, marriages were political and economic alliances between families. Very young brides and grooms were not unusual. Couples were, however, not encouraged to live together as husband and wife until a certain level of physical maturity was reached. Eleanor de Bohun, for instance, was married for seven years before giving birth to her first child at age 16.

Mary de Bohun and Henry seemed to have formed an immediate passionate attraction. Their first child was born in April 1382, only fourteen months after their marriage, when Mary was only about 13 years old. The child died at birth. Thereafter, the young people kept (or were kept) apart for several years. Their next child, Henry of Monmouth, the future Henry V, was born in the fall of 1387. More strong healthy children followed. Mary died in 1394, age 25, giving birth to her sixth child, Philippa.

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