The Tudor Society
  • Mary, Queen of Scots, from the primary sources

    In the live chat last Saturday I mentioned how I’d been lucky enough to hear historian John Guy, author of My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots, talk about Mary, Queen of Scots, a few years ago on the Anne Boleyn Files Executed Queens Tour and that I’d try and dig my notes out to share with you.

    [Read More...]
  • Happy International Women’s Day!

    It was my son that reminded me that it’s International Women’s Day today because where he lives, in Russia, it is a public holiday and a day that celebrates women. I hope he spoils his wife today!

    International Women’s Day is about celebrating “the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women” and each year has a different theme. This year’s campaign theme is “#BeBoldForChange” and the International Women’s Day website explains that “For International Women’s Day 2017, we’re asking you to #BeBoldForChange. Call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world – a more inclusive, gender equal world.”

    [Read More...]
  • Nicholas Carew

    Nicholas Carew

    The fourth article in Sarah Bryson's series on prominent Tudor courtiers...

    In today's article, I will be exploring the life of Nicholas Carew, Master of the Horse and close friend of King Henry VIII. Carew's life was one of prosperity moving from one advantageous position to another until suddenly and unexpectedly his king turned upon him. Carew would prove that not even being a close friend to the king could save you from the executioner's block.

    While the exact date of Nicholas Carew’s birth is unknown, it is believed that he was born by 1496 to Sir Richard Carew of Beddington. There is no information regarding Carew’s childhood, however, during his teenage years, he made his first appearance at court, and in May 1511 he was made a groom of the privy chamber. In 1513 he was associated with his father in a grant from the crown for the office of Lieutenant of Calais Castle. After the death of his father, Carew surrendered the association with Lieutenant of Calais yet continued to receive an annuity from Calais of around £100. Despite protests from other courtiers, this annuity continued until 1524 when Carew was granted lands of equal value.

    In the autumn of 1513, Henry VIII decided to invade France with an army of 30, 000 men, which included Carew. The English army took the city of Therouanne in Artois without a great deal of difficulty and then went on to besiege Tournai. Nicholas’s father led the artillery at Tournai and for his efforts at Therouanne Nicholas received “a coat of rivet” from the king.

    The following year, Carew married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Bryan of Ashridge, vice-chamberlain to Queen Katherine of Aragon. The couple were granted the lands of Wallington, Carshalton, Beddington, Woodmansterne, Woodcote, and Mitcham, in Surrey upon their marriage. Nicholas and Elizabeth had one son, Francis, and four daughters, Elizabeth, Mary, Anne, and Isabel.

    By 1515, Nicholas was recorded as being a squire to Henry VIII and one of the king’s cupbearers, being granted 30 marks per year. Sometime between 1515 and 7th July 1517, Nicholas was knighted. On the 7th of July 1517, Nicholas was recorded as a knight who attended the ambassadors of the future Charles V, at a banquet. On 18th December, Carew was also recorded as a knight when he was appointed keeper of the manor of Pleasaunce in East Greenwich, and of the accompanying park. In addition to being knighted, in 1518 Carew had the distinction of being appointed a gentleman of the privy chamber.

    Nicholas Carew appears to have been a close friend of Henry VIII, both men similar in age, strong and athletic. They also shared common interests including a love of hunting and jousting. Carew was frequently mentioned in the lists of men participating in jousting events during Henry VIII’s early reign. One such example was on 17th July 1517 when Carew distinguished himself in the jousts in which Henry VIII also participated. After the jousts, Carew entered the lists, and three men carried out a lance nine inches in diameter and twelve feet long! Carew carried the huge lance three-quarters of the way down the lists to the amazement of the crowd!

    Sometime between 1514 and 1518, Carew was banished from court. The reason and exact length of the banishment are unknown. By 1519, he had returned. However, in that same year, Carew and a number of men were banished from court partially due to their familiarity and influence upon the king and also in an attempt to save funds. Carew’s punishment was to be appointed as Lieutenant of Rysbank Tower, the tower that guarded the entrance to Calais harbour. Carew’s banishment was short; within six months he was back at court attending festivities. On 19th October 1520, Carew relinquished his post at Calais and in return was granted a pension of £100. A month later he gave up the annuity of 30 marks as the king’s cupbearer.

    By 1518-1519, Carew had been appointed as sheriff of Surrey and Sussex. He also attended the Field of Cloth of Gold in June 1520, where Henry VIII met with the French king, Francis I, and participated in the jousting events for the English. Following the Field of the Cloth of Gold, Carew travelled with Henry VIII to Gravelines to meet Charles V.

    Carew’s prospects continued to rise when in 1521 he was granted the offices of Constable of Wallingford Castle and Steward of the honour of Wallingford and St. Walric, and land at Chiltern. In Christmas 1521 Carew had the high honour of being appointed as the king’s carver. On 18th July 1522, Carew was appointed as Master of the Horse, one of the three highest positions at court. He was also granted the manor of Brasted in Kent, which had formally belonged to the Duke of Buckingham, and the manor of Bletchingley in Surrey.

    Carew also proved to be a capable ambassador to Henry VIII. In late 1520, Carew was sent to Francis I to deliver papers and to persuade the French king not to invade Italy. Although the mission was not completely successful, Carew was granted £100 for his services. In 1527, Carew, Lord Lisle, Dr Taylor, Anthony Browne and Thomas Wriothesley were ordered to bestow the Order of the Garter on Francis I. In the same year, Carew's lands were assessed at around £400, a sizeable sum for the time.

    In 1529, Carew continued his ambassadorial duties when he, Dr Sampson and Dr Bennet were sent to Bologna to ratify the Treaty of Cambrai with Charles V. Carew was also tasked with seeking Charles V’s thoughts on Henry VIII’s “Great Matter”, that is the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. When Carew left Bologna on 8th February 1530, he was given a gold chain worth 2000 ducats by Charles V.

    In 1532, Carew returned to France to meet with Francis I and to organise a meeting between Henry VIII and Francis. Carew was reported as wishing he did not have to go. However, he was a dutiful servant and followed his king’s wishes. It is highly likely that Carew spoke with Francis I regarding his thoughts on Henry VIII’s “Great Matter” and the king’s possible marriage to Anne Boleyn.

    Francis I appeared to have highly favoured Carew as in 1533 and in 1534 he wrote to Henry VIII to ask him to bestow the Order of the Garter, the highest order of chivalry in England, on Carew. As no current positions were available in the order, Henry VIII promised to do so at the next available opening. In April 1536, it was commonly believed that George Boleyn, brother of Anne Boleyn, now second wife to Henry VIII, would receive the appointment to the Order of the Garter. However, on St. George’s day (23rd April) Sir Nicholas Carew was appointed. While a huge honour to Carew, such an appointment was a major blow to the Boleyns.

    Carew was no friend of the Boleyns. When Henry VIII’s fool spoke favourably of Queen Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII was outraged and banished his fool from court for a time. The fool sought refuge with Carew. Carew also aligned himself with Thomas Cromwell and spoke unfavourably of Anne Boleyn to the King. It is believed that Carew was one of the men coaching Jane Seymour on how to behave with the king, even providing Jane lodgings at his house at Beddington so that the king could visit her regularly.

    Carew was installed into the Order of the Garter on 21st May 1537, at the order’s feast. He also attended the christening of Henry VIII’s longed-for son and heir, Edward, in October 1537. However, in November 1538, the strings would start to unravel that would lead to Carew’s arrest and his execution.
    In November, Henry Pole, Baron Montague, and Henry Courtney, Marquis of Exeter, were arrested and taken to the Tower of London. They were charged with treason for corresponding with Cardinal Reginal Pole, Montague’s brother and an enemy of Henry VIII, and for wishing to see a change in the kingdom. Early the following year, Carew was arrested and then tried on 14th February 1539. At his trial, Carew was accused of corresponding with Montague and hiding Montague’s traitorous plans, as well as wishing for a change in the realm. The letters that passed between Carew and Montague were allegedly burned, and the evidence against Carew was flimsy at best. He was still sentenced to death.

    Memorial to Nicholas Carew at St Botolph's.

    Sir Nicholas Carew was beheaded on Tower Hill on 8th March 1539. Upon the scaffold it is reported that Carew “made a goodly confession, both of his folly and superstitious faith, giving God most hearty thanks that ever he came in the prison of the Tower, where he first savoured the life and sweetness of God’s most holy word, meaning the Bible in English.” (Bayley p. 377).

    Carew was buried in St Botolph without Aldgate. When his wife, Elizabeth, died in 1546, her remains were buried with Nicholas. On their deaths, the remains of their daughter Mary and Mary’s husband Sir Arthur Darcy were added to the tomb. As a traitor, Carew’s property and lands reverted to the crown, but an act of Parliament in 1554 granted Carew’s son, Francis, his father’s former property and lands.
    Sir Nicholas Carew was a loyal servant and friend of King Henry VIII. He served his king both at court and as an ambassador overseas, as well as participating in court festivities. He shared a love of jousting and hunting with the king and manoeuvred the ever-changing social order of the king’s court. Despite his close friendship with Henry VIII, Carew’s end came swiftly and suddenly, showing that even being a friend of Henry VIII could not save you from the executioner's block.

    Sarah's other "The King's Men" articles:


    • Bayley, J.W. (1825) The history and antiquities of the Tower of London: with memoirs of royal and distinguished persons, deduced from records, state-papers, and manuscripts, and from other original and authentic sources, T. Cadell, London.
    • Doran, Susan (2008) The Tudor Chronicles, Quercus Publishing, London.
    • Jokinen, Anniina 2010, Sir Nicholas Carew, Luminarium Encyclopaedia Project, viewed 10 February 2017,
    • Lehmberg, S (2007) Carew, Sir Nicholas (b. in or before 1496, d. 1539), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, viewed 18 February,
    • Richardson, Douglas (2011) Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, CreateSpace, USA.
    • Ridgway, Claire (2014) "23 April 1536 – Nicholas Carew, George Boleyn and the Order of the Garter", The Anne Boleyn Files, viewed 10 February 2017,
  • Bradgate Park commemorates Lady Jane Grey – 8-16 July 2017

    Thank you to Tamise Hills of the Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide for sharing this bit of news on Facebook.

    The Loughborough Echo have reported that Bradgate Park, which is the location of the ruins of Lady Jane Grey’s family home, is commemorating the short reign of Lady Jane Grey, or Queen Jane, with events including dusk tours, ghost walks, a talk and book signing with Alison Weir and a remembrance service at the Chapel.

    [Read More...]
  • Comets and composers

    7th March 1556 was one of the days on which the Great Comet, or the Comet of Charles V, was seen and recorded by Paul Fabricius, mathematician and physician at Emperor Charles V’s court.

    [Read More...]
  • Transcript of Mary, Queen of Scots live chat

    Here is the transcript of the lively discussion we had over the weekend about Mary, Queen of Scots. Thank you for all those who came as this turned out to be a very memorable discussion on such a fascinating character.

    [Read More...]
  • Juan Luis Vives

    On this day in history, 6th March 1492, Juan Luis Vives was born in Valencia, Spain.

    Juan Luis Vives was a scholar and humanist, and is known for being the friend and adviser of Catherine of Aragon, first wife of King Henry VIII, and the tutor of the couple’s daughter, the future Mary I. Catherine of Aragon commissioned him to write the treatise Education of a Christian Woman (Instruction of a christen woman) and he created the Satellitium animi, or Escort of the Soul, a study plan for the Princess Mary, which also included “spiritual mottoes and devices”. It was the forerunner of the 16th- and 17th-century emblem books, books which contained a number of emblematic images with an accompanying explanatory text.

    [Read More...]
  • This week in history 6 – 12 March

    On this day in history, 6th March…

    1492 – Birth of Juan Luis Vives, scholar, humanist and tutor of Mary I, in Valencia, Spain.
    1536 – Introduction into Parliament of the “Act for the Suppression (or Dissolution) of the Lesser Monasteries”. The act affected the “lesser monasteries”; those with fewer than twelve members and those worth less than £200 per year. They were to be dissolved, their heads pensioned off and their members to become secularized or moved to larger monasteries “where they may be compelled to live religiously for reformation of their lives”.
    1547 – Thomas Wriothesley lost the Great Seal of his Lord Chancellorship and was confined to his home at Ely Place for abusing his authority. He was found guilty of issuing a commission without the knowledge or permission of the other executors of Henry VIII’s will, but it was probably more to do with his opposition to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, becoming Lord Protector. He was later re-admitted to the Privy Council, a position he’d also lost at his fall.

    [Read More...]
  • The Howard Family Quiz

    The Howards were an ancient and important family, but how much do you know about them? Test yourself with this fun quiz.

    [Read More...]
  • Two great books

    In this week’s Claire Chats, I share two books that I’ve been sent…

    [Read More...]
  • Expert Talk – Wendy J. Dunn on Thomas Wyatt, The Elder

    The expert speaker for March is Wendy J. Dunn, author of “Dear Heart, How Like You This?”, “The Light in the Labyrinth” and “Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters (Katherine of Aragon Story)”. In this month’s expert talk, Wendy goes into detail about the fascinating Tudor character, Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Elder.

    [Read More...]
  • The Madness of Juana of Castile

    Thank you to regular contributor Heather R. Darsie for this article on Juana of Castile who has gone down in history as “Juana la loca”.

    Juana of Castile, known as Juana la Loca or Joanna the Mad, was the elder sister of Catherine of Aragon and sister-in-law to Henry VIII of England. Juana married Philip the Handsome in 1496, when she was 16. She went on to have six children with her husband, including Charles, who later became the Holy Roman Emperor. Juana was an intelligent young woman and, like her sisters, received a considerable education for the time-period. It was reported that Juana could speak the three main languages of the Iberian Peninsula, along with Latin and French.

    [Read More...]
  • Anne Askew by Roland Hui

    Today we have a guest post from Roland Hui as part of his book tour for his debut book “The Turbulent Crown: The Story of the Tudor Queens”.

    MadeGlobal Publishing is giving away a copy of Roland’s book at each stop and all you need to do at this stop is to leave a comment below saying which queen or queen consort you feel had the most turbulent life. Leave your comment before midnight on 8th March 2017. One comment will be picked at random and the person contacted for their details.

    Over to Roland…

    When Henry VIII married Katharine Parr in 1543, the general opinion was that the King had chosen most wisely. Unlike his previous wife, Katheryn Howard, this Katharine was no young lady with a sordid past, but a mature, sensible widow. The new Queen was also known for her piety.

    [Read More...]
  • Transcript of our live chat with Lauren

    We had a wonderful live chat with historian Lauren Browne on Saturday night. It was all about the reputations of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Eleanor of Castile in the Tudor period.

    [Read More...]
  • Mary, Queen of Scots – live chat on Saturday 4 March

    We’re holding one of our informal live chats on the chatroom this Saturday. Regular contributor Heather R. Darsie will be moderating and you can ask her questions or simply pose questions for debate and discussion. Heather thought it would be nice to talk about Mary’s life after her return from France, but we can stray to her earlier life if you like. We can also discuss books, theories about her… whatever you like, it’s an informal chat.

    [Read More...]
  • Thomas Campion (1567-1620)

    On this day in 1620, Thomas Campion, the famous Tudor and Stuart physician, poet and musician, died. He was laid to rest on the same day he died at St Dunstan-in-the-West, Fleet Street, London.

    Campion was born in 1567 and was the son of John Campion, cursitor to the chancery court, and Lucy Searle. His father died when he was nine, so he was brought up by two stepfathers. Campion was educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and he was admitted to Gray’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Court in London, in April 1586.

    [Read More...]
  • Ash Wednesday and St David’s Day

    Today is both Ash Wednesday and St David’s Day!

    Ash Wednesday was the first day of Lent and was a day of penitence. Before the Reformation banned the practice, priests would bless ashes, which were traditionally made from burning the previous year’s Palm Sunday ‘palms’, mix them with holy water and then mark the congregation’s foreheads with the sign of the cross in ash. As the priest did this, he would say “Remember, man, that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.”

    [Read More...]
  • No products in the cart.