The Tudor Society
  • ISIS v The West 1565 – Part 2: Dark Days – The Great Siege Begins by Derek Wilson

    The waters of the bay were littered with floating wooden crosses. To each was nailed the decapitated corpse of a warrior who had died trying to defend the island. This was the gruesome sight which presented itself to Malta’s citizens in the last days of June 1565. After a month-long siege the fortress of St. Elmo had been obliterated by Muslim artillery and its 1,500 surviving inhabitants had been butchered. The incident has a horribly familiar ring to it. We recognise the fanatical nihilism of terrorists who justify their own most inhuman impulses by reference to the creation of a worldwide Islamic state from which everything not in accord with Sharia law would have been purged.

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  • This week in history 29 June – 5 July

    A portrait of Lady Margaret Beaufort

    29 June

    Lady Margaret Beaufort

    Lady Margaret Beaufort

    1509 - Lady Margaret Beaufort, grandmother of Henry VIII and the matriarch of the Tudor dynasty, died on this day in 1509 at Cheyneygates, the Abbot of Westminster's house. Click here to find out more about Margaret.
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  • Henry VIII Quiz 2

    A quiz on King Henry VIII.

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  • 28 June 1461 – Coronation of Edward IV

    On Sunday 28th June 1461, Edward IV was crowned king at Westminster Abbey. Edward had been declared king after defeating the Lancastrian forces at the Battle of Towton in March 1461. Edward had made his triumphal state entry into London on Friday 26th June, riding from Lambeth to the Tower of London.

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  • The English Court Masque – Part 2

    Last week, I explained that the court masque that was part of the entertainments of Epiphany 1512 was a new type of entertainment and that it was the result of the merging of old English traditions with the new Italian fashion. In this week’s video, I talk about this Italian fashion and how it came about.

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  • July 2015 Tudor Life Magazine

    This month we have a wide range of articles under the broad theme “Vulnerability”. Tudor Life magazine is packed with articles by well known historians.

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  • 25 June 1533 – The death of Mary Tudor, Queen of France

    Mary Tudor, Queen of France, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.[/caption]Mary Tudor, Queen of France, was the younger sister of King Henry VIII. Born to King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth of York in 1496, Mary was one of eight children and one of only three to survive to adulthood. Tragedy struck Mary at just seven years of age when her older brother and heir to the throne, Arthur, died in 1502. Less than a year later, Mary’s mother Elizabeth of York died trying to give Henry VII another son. Then, when Mary was eight years old, her older sister Margaret, then fourteen, left England for Scotland to marry King James IV. Mary and her older brother Henry were the only two siblings left in England and it has been suggested that during this time, growing up together, they formed a close bond which survived until Mary’s death.

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  • 24 June – The Feast of St John the Baptist

    The Feast of St John the Baptist was one of the most important feast days of the medieval and Tudor calendar and coincided with Midsummer, the pagan celebration of the summer solstice.

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  • 23 June 1509 – Coronation procession of King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine of Aragon

    On Saturday 23rd June, Henry VIII and his wife Catherine of Aragon left the Tower of London and made their way through the streets of London to Westminster on their coronation procession.

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  • This week in history 22 – 28 June

    On this day in history events for 22-28 June.

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  • Envisioning the Tudor Woman – Call for submissions

    Kyra, Claire, Tim and I are making a final call for submissions to our essay collection “Envisioning the Tudor Woman”. The deadline for entries is 30 June and we’ll be putting together our shortlist soon after, so there’s still time.

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  • Transcript of Live Chat with Gareth Russell

    Here’s the transcript from the excellent live-chat session with Gareth Russell on Friday evening. Thanks all those who turned up and congratulations to Bill for winning a copy of “A History of the English Monarchy” by Gareth.

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  • The ‘seats’ and residences of Plantagenet and Tudor nobility

    How much do you know about the residences of Plantagenet and Tudor families? Test your knowledge with this fun quiz.

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  • The Casket Letters

    On 20th June 1567, a few days after Scottish rebels apprehended Mary, Queen of Scots, servants of James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, allegedly found a silver casket of eight letters, two marriage contracts (which apparently proved that Mary had agreed to marry Bothwell before his divorce) and twelve sonnets. The casket was found in the possession of James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell and third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots.

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  • The English Court Masque – Part 1

    In today’s Claire Chats video I talk about the English court masque and how it developed from a merging of old English traditions and a new Italian fashion.

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  • Elizabeth I’s Challenge to the Masculinity of the Royal Body by Susan Bordo

    Lacey Baldwin Smith has written that “Tudor portraits bear about as much resemblance to their subjects as elephants to prunes.” A slight exaggeration, maybe. But it is true that the historical accuracy of the depictions in Tudor portraits, particularly of royalty, was often at war with “symbolic iconizing”—the use of imagery to represent the person’s character, position or role.

    The symbolism could include inscriptions, emblems, mottos, relationships with other people, animals, or objects, and it could also be written into the body itself. A famous example is Hans Holbein’s sketch of Henry VIII—the painting itself was destroyed in a fire—with the king posed to emphasize his power, authority, and resoluteness: legs spread and firmly planted, broad shoulders, one hand on his dagger, and a very visible codpiece (larger, art historians have noted, than portraits of other men at the time.) His stance, as Suzanne Lipscomb points out, “mimics the stance of a man standing in full armour…sparking associations with martial glory.” Lipscomb also points out an interesting detail: in the draft sketch, Henry’s face is turned to a ¾ angle. But in the final painting, as we know from 16th century copies done within Henry’s lifetime, Holbein has Henry looking straight ahead, confronting the spectator with an unblinking stare that is still symbolic of masculinity today.

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  • 17 June 1497 – Battle of Blackheath

    The Battle of Blackheath, also known as the Battle of Deptford Bridge, was the battle which brought the Cornish Rebellion to an end. It was fought on 17th June 1497 and Henry VII’s forces were triumphant against the rebels.

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  • 16 June 1487 – The Battle of Stoke Field

    The Battle of Stoke field, which was fought on 16th June 1487, is known as the last battle between the Houses of York and Lancaster in the civil war we call the Wars of the Roses.

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  • Mummified bishop is a unique time capsule from the 17th century

    mummified bishopFrom a press release from Lunds Universitet...

    The mummified remains of Peder Winstrup are one of the best-preserved human bodies from the 1600s. Preliminary investigations reveal a sensational find: the internal organs are still in place.

    WATCH: Unique mummy undergoes medical investigations:

    “We can now observe that Winstrup’s mummy is one of the best-preserved bodies from Europe in the 1600s, with an information potential well in line with that offered by Ötzi the ice man or Egyptian mummies. His remains constitute a unique archive of medical history on the living conditions and health of people living in the 1600s”, says Per Karsten, director of the Historical Museum at Lund University.

    Peder Winstrup, a bishop and prominent historical figure in Scandinavia, was one of the founding fathers of Lund University. He died in 1679 and was buried in the famous cathedral in Lund a year later. The coffin, together with its contents, constitutes a unique time capsule from the year 1679 with a well-preserved body, textiles and plant material.

    Usually the internal organs would have been removed; in this case, however, the body was not embalmed in a traditional manner but simply dried out naturally. The good condition of the body seems to be the result of several factors in combination: constant air flow, the plant material in the coffin, a long period of illness resulting in the body becoming lean, death and burial during the winter months of December‒January and the general climate and temperature conditions in the cathedral.

    In December Peder Winstrup underwent a CT scan at the University hospital in Lund. The preliminary results show that the body is relatively well preserved and it was possible to identify most of the internal organs.

    The first results show dried fluid and mucus in the sinuses, indicating that Winstrup had been bedridden for a long period before he died. Calcifications in the lung could indicate both tuberculosis and pneumonia. Plaque was also found in the left coronary artery of the heart, the aorta and the carotid artery, indicating that the bishop suffered from atherosclerosis.

    “The gall bladder also has several gallstones, which could indicate a high consumption of fatty food”, says Caroline Ahlström Arcini, an osteologist working on the project.

    Peder Winstrup, who lived to the age of 74, also suffered from osteoarthritis in both the knee and hip joints. In addition, he had lost a number of teeth. Traces of caries were found in a couple of the remaining teeth, which would indicate that he had access to sugary foods.

    “His right shoulder was slightly higher than his left, due to an injury to a tendon in the shoulder. This would have limited Winstrup’s mobility, making it difficult for him to carry out simple everyday tasks such as putting on a shirt or combing his hair with the comb in his right hand”, says Caroline Ahlström Arcini.

    An unexpected discovery that emerged from the CT scan was a four- or five-month old foetus, well hidden in the coffin under Winstrup’s feet. Nobody knows who put the foetus there.

    “You can only speculate as to whether it was one of Winstrup’s next of kin, or whether someone else took the opportunity while preparing the coffin. But we hope to be able to clarify any kinship through a DNA test”, says Per Karsten.

    The next step will be investigations into the textiles in the coffin, as well as further study of the body. Tissue samples from the internal organs are to be removed, among other things. In addition, the extensive plant material in the coffin will be investigated.

  • Help with reading old documents

    I just wanted to share with you some resources from the National Archives for those of you using primary sources for your research. Reading and interpreting old documents can be a challenge in many different ways, so here are some resources you should find useful.

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  • Live chat this Friday evening with Gareth Russell

    Gareth Russell Expert TalkHello!

    Just a quick message to say that we've managed to fit Gareth Russell in for a live chat session THIS FRIDAY at 11:30pm UK time (6:30pm Eastern Daylight, 3:30pm Pacific Daylight). He'll be answering your questions on his excellent talk about "The Importance of Christianity".

    You can see his talk here:

    And on Friday we'll be in the Chatroom here:

    I hope to see you there - Gareth is an excellent historian and is incredibly knowledgeable about the Tudor period.

    Derek Wilson said that he was "Delighted by Gareth’s talk. What he shared so needs saying."

    See you on Friday!

    Tim Ridgway & The Tudor Society.

  • Court Fools – William Somer and Jane the Fool

    William Somer (Sommers) served as Henry VIII’s fool from June 1535 and just a month later got into trouble with the King. In July 1535, Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial ambassador, recorded that Henry VIII was so angry with Somer that he nearly killed him:

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  • This week in history 15 – 21 June

    On this day in history events for 15 – 21 June.

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  • Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset

    Miniature of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, by Lucas Horenbout

    Henry Fitzroy was the illegitimate child of Henry VIII, the second Tudor monarch, with his mistress Elizabeth Blount. In 1512, when Henry VIII was approximately twenty-one years of age a beautiful young woman came to court. Her name was Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount and at that time she had no idea the future that lay ahead of her. While the Blounts were not members of nobility, they were members of the gentry who through opportunity, connections and talent had earned a place at court. It is believed that it was William Blount, Lord Mountjoy, Queen Katherine of Aragon’s chamberlain, who acquired a place at court for Elizabeth Blount. Sometime between 1513 – 1514, Bessie became a maid of honour to the Queen. As a maid of honour, Bessie would have had to have been beautiful and well-mannered, with all the accomplishments suitable for a young lady of the time. She’d need to be able to play a musical instrument, to sing and dance, to sew and embroider, to know her place and, most importantly, be devout to the Catholic faith. It is reported that Bessie was a very talented singer and dancer, and it may have been these talents which attracted the young Henry VIII.

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  • Medieval and Tudor Armour and Weapons Quiz

    Test your knowledge of the weapons and armour used in the medieval and Tudor periods with this fun quiz – Good luck!

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  • Congratulations to John Ashdown-Hill on his MBE

    On behalf of all the members of the Tudor Society, I would just like to offer our sincere and warm congratulations to historian John Ashdown-Hill who has been awarded an MBE for services to Historical Research and the Exhumation and Identification of Richard III.

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  • The Procession and Pageants for the wedding of Catherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur

    In today’s Claire Chats, I look at an event from Henry VII’s reign, the marriage of Catherine of Aragon and Arthur, Prince of Wales, and the pageantry involved in Catherine’s procession through London.

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  • Henry VIII and the Carthusian Monks

    Between May 1535 and August 1540 eighteen monks from the Carthusian order were put to death for the same crime, for refusing to accept King Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church.

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  • Cover reveal July 2015 Tudor Life Magazine

    Cover July 2015 Tudor Life

    Here’s the cover for the forthcoming Tudor Life magazine. The theme for this magazine is loosely “Vulnerability” and covers an interesting range of topics as always. Thanks to all the contributors for this magazine.

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  • This week in history 8 – 14 June

    On this day in history events for 8 – 14 June.

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