The Tudor Society
  • Sir Martin Frobisher (d. 1594)

    On this day in history, 31st May 1578, Sir Martin Frobisher set sail with his fleet from Harwich, England, to Frobisher Bay, Canada. By 31st August 1578, Frobisher and his men had mined 1370 tons of ore, which was loaded onto the ships to take back to England. Unfortunately, no gold or other precious metal was found in the ore.

    But who was Sir Martin Frobisher?

    Sir Martin Frobisher was a privateer, explorer and naval commander who was born around 1535. He was born in Altofts, near Normanton, West Yorkshire, and was the son of Bernard Frobisher and Margaret Yorke. After his mother’s death he was sent to live with Sir John Yorke, a relative of his mother’s, in London. Yorke was a merchant adventurer.

    Frobisher took part in a voyage to Guinea in 1553 which Yorke had invested in and which was led by Thomas Wyndham. He acted as assistant to John Beryn, Yorke’s factor. A fever wiped out over two-thirds of the crew, including Wyndham, but Beryn and Frobisher survived. In 1554, Frobisher took part in a voyage to Guinea led by John Lok and ended up being taken into custody by the Portuguese and being held by them for 2-3 years.

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  • Margaret Beaufort 1443-1509

    A portrait of Lady Margaret Beaufort

    Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, mother of King Henry VII and grandmother of King Henry VIII, was born at Bletsoe Castle in Bedfordshire on 31st May 1443. She was the daughter of Margaret Beauchamp of Bletsoe and John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, grandson of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and his mistress (and eventual wife) Katherine Swynford.

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  • Webinars – Reading old documents: Introduction to Medieval and Tudor palaeography

    Thank you to historian Conor Byrne for letting me know about this series of free webinars from the National Archives. Unfortunately, we’ve missed part 1 but part 2 is on Monday 5th June at 6pm BST and part 3 is on Wednesday 28th June at 6pm BST.

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  • Christopher Marlowe

    On this day in history, 30th May 1593, the playwright and poet, Christopher Marlowe, was stabbed to death at a house in Deptford Strand, near London, in what has been described as a “tavern brawl”. However, he was killed in a private room of a house, not a tavern, and some believe that he was assassinated.

    You can find out more about Marlowe in my Claire Chats video talk on him…

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  • Elizabeth I book now available to members

    Just to let you know that the final book in our Tudor Monarchs e-book series is now available to download!

    It’s over 260 pages long and is jam-packed with information on Queen Elizabeth I, a queen who has gone down in history as Gloriana, the Virgin Queen and Good Queen Bess.

    All six of our Tudor Monarchs series e-books are available to download as PDF files, kindle books and epubs free of charge to Tudor Society members. Go to our Tudor Monarchs books page now to download.

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  • This week in history 29 May – 4 June

    On this day in history…

    29th May:

    1500 – Death of Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York, at Cawood Castle, Yorkshire. He was buried in York Minster.
    1533 – Anne Boleyn’s coronation pageantry began with a river procession.
    1542 – Death of Sir Thomas Neville, lawyer and Speaker of the House of Commons, county commissioner in Kent, Surrey, Sussex, and Middlesex, and Knight of St John. He was the fifth son of George Neville, 2nd Baron Bergavenny. Neville was buried in Mereworth church in Kent.
    1546 – Murder of David Beaton, Cardinal and Archbishop of St Andrews, at the castle in St Andrews. He was killed by a small group of Fife lairds. One motive was their outrage at the recent trial and execution of Protestant preacher George Wishart at St Andrews.
    1555 – Birth of George Carew, Earl of Totnes, soldier, administrator and Lord President of Munster. He was a member of James I’s Privy Council and his council of war. He was also a friend of Sir Walter Ralegh, and pleaded unsuccessfully for his life.
    1593 – Hanging of religious controversialist John Penry at St Thomas-a-Watering in Surrey. Penry had been found guilty of “publishing scandalous writings against the church” after having been linked to the “Marprelate religious tracts.”
    1623 – Burial of Francis Anthony, alchemist and physician, in the church of St Bartholomew-the-Great.

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  • Transcript of live chat with Michelle Enzinas

    Thank you for all those who attended the live chat with Michelle Enzinas on Friday night. We had a wonderful time, and learned a lot of things we didn’t know before, always a good thing! Here is the transcript of the event:

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  • June 2017 Tudor Life Magazine – Anne of Cleves

    The full edition of our giant 62-page June edition of Tudor Life Magazine. It’s a fantastic look into Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.

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  • 1541 Quiz

    As it has been the anniversary of the execution of Margaret Pole, this week, I thought it would be interesting to pick the year 1541 and to write a quiz about the events of that year. How much do you know about this year in Henry VIII’s reign? Grab a coffee and/or your breakfast and let’s get started. Good luck!

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  • Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

    Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, born on 14 August 1473, was the only surviving daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, and his wife, Isabel Neville. She was the niece of Edward IV and Richard III, and cousin of Elizabeth of York, Henry VII’s consort. Her brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, was executed by Henry VII in 1499 in response to a request forwarded by the Spanish monarchs during the marital negotiations between Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Katherine of Aragon, since they feared that Warwick’s presence would encourage rebellion against the Tudor dynasty.

    Perhaps in 1487, when she was fourteen, Margaret married Sir Richard Pole, a disparaging marital alliance from her perspective in view of her royal blood. Richard was later made an esquire of the body, chamberlain of North Wales, chamberlain of Chester and a member of the council in the Welsh Marches. In 1493, he was appointed chamberlain to the king’s son, Arthur, whose household was established at Ludlow that year. In 1499, he was elected to the Order of the Garter and participated at the proxy wedding of Arthur to Katherine. In 1504, Richard died, and Margaret was granted a generous loan to ensure that her husband’s funeral would be appropriately honourable. When not at court, she seems to have resided primarily at Warblington Castle and Bisham Manor. With Richard, she had five children: Henry, Arthur, Reginald, Geoffrey and Ursula.

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  • Tudor Art Books

    In this week’s Claire chats video, I talk about some of the art books I own and would recommend. Please do share in the comments below which books you would recommend to other Tudor Society members on art.

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  • Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years

    To commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of the great Renaissance artist, scientist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci, Bridgeman Images have brought together images from art collections around the world, including the Royal Collection’s 600 da Vinci drawings.

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  • 26 May 1520 – Henry VIII and Charles V meet at Dover Castle

    On 26th May 1520, King Henry VIII met with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, at Dover Castle on the south coast of England.

    Here is an account of this event from chronicler Edward Hall:

    “The king intending and perseveryng in purpose to mete with Frances the Frenche kyng, greate and riche provisions were made, wherfore the noble Kyng and the Quene with all the noble courte removed the twentie and one daie of May beyng on Mundaie, from their maner of Grenewyche towardes the Sea side, and so on the Fridaie beeyng the twentie and five daie of May, arrived at the citee of Canterbury, intendyng there to kepe his Pentecoste.

    Sone after whiche commyng to Cantorbury, tidynges wer brought that Charles Emperor electe, was on the sea, in sight of the coast of England, wherfore officers of the kyng were sent with great diligence to the Castle and toune of Dover to be there in a redines against the arrival of the Emperor.

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  • Ascension Day and Beating the Bounds

    Today is Ascension Day, or the Feast of the Ascension, which is celebrated forty days after Easter Sunday and which commemorates the Ascension of Christ into Heaven. You can find out more about it and how it was celebrated in medieval and Tudor times on our Summer Moveable Feasts page.

    One of the traditions associated with this time of year is “beating the bounds”. As I say on the feasts page: “In Medieval and Tudor times, this was the traditional time for “beating the bounds”. Parishioners would process around the boundaries of the Parish led by the clergy carrying crosses and banners, praying for farms and a good harvest. Not only did it bless the land, but it also reminded people of landmarks and the boundaries of the Parish. Landmarks were impressed upon children’s minds, in particular, by dangling them upside down at a landmark (a stream or a tree, for example) or beating them there, and then rewarding them with a treat.
    The tradition of beating the bounds is kept alive in many parishes in the UK today. One example is All Hallows by the Tower, the oldest church in the City of London”

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  • The Sphere of Light: The Anne Boleyn saga as never told before – 1 July 2017, Cambridge, UK

    Ann Henning Jocelyn, writer and director of “The Sphere of Light: The Anne Boleyn saga as never told before” has asked me to share this information about the play. If you can get to Cambridge in the UK then do go and see it and then let us know what it was like.

    Here are the details:

    To be presented as a rehearsed reading at the Howard Theatre, Downing College, Cambridge, on July 1st, 2017, at 4 PM and 8 PM.
    Tickets at £12/10 from Tel: 01223 300 085.

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  • Jane Seymour

    A portrait of Jane Seymour by Hans Holbein the Younger

    Jane Seymour was the eldest daughter of Sir John Seymour and his wife, Margery. She was probably born in around 1509 at Wulfhall in Wiltshire. By virtue of her mother, Jane could claim descent from Edward III, and her father’s family were descended from Guy de St Maur, who allegedly accompanied William the Conqueror to England in the eleventh century. Unlike Anne Boleyn, nothing is known of Jane’s childhood and adolescence. An unsubstantiated nineteenth-century tradition claimed that she resided at the French court as a maid of honour, but no contemporary evidence supports the notion. It is likely that Jane was educated in line with the expectations of the sixteenth-century gentry. Her needlework and embroidery were praised during her tenure as queen, and it is also plausible that she received music and dancing lessons, although there is nothing to suggest that she was praised at court for any particular skill in those pursuits. Her family were entirely traditional in their religious sympathies: it was only during the last years of Henry VIII’s reign that her brother Edward espoused the cause of radical reform.

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  • Anne Boleyn

    Anne Boleyn was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, later Earl of Wiltshire, and Elizabeth Howard. She was the granddaughter of Thomas Howard, second Duke of Norfolk, and like all of Henry VIII’s wives, was descended from Edward I. Where Anne was born remains uncertain; traditionally Blickling Hall and Hever Castle, both of which were Boleyn properties, have been suggested, but a family tradition claimed that she was born in London, perhaps at Norfolk House, one of the seats of her mother’s family. Modern historians have usually assigned 1501 as the year of Anne’s birth, but two seventeenth-century texts nominated 1507. William Camden, the Elizabethan historian and herald, researched and wrote a life of Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth, in which, as Wyatt H. Herendeen notes, his ‘interpenetrating personal and professional lives were ‘authored’ by Elizabeth, while Burghley was his symbolic father.’ Entreating Camden to commence the project in the late 1590s, Burghley provided the historian with private papers as well as documents from the queen’s archives. This access, which included documents in Cotton’s library, ensured that Camden enjoyed ‘a privileged perspective’ on Elizabeth’s reign, as Herendeen contends. With the impressive resources available to him, it is questionable whether Elizabeth’s biographer would have erred in documenting her mother’s year of birth. Moreover, according to the memoirs of Jane Dormer, a favourite attendant of Mary I, Anne had not yet reached her twenty-ninth birthday when she was beheaded in 1536: an admission that supports a birth date of 1507.

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  • Bishop John Jewel

    John Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury and Apologist of the Church of England, was born on the 24th May 1522 in Berrynarbor, North Devon, one of ten children. He was educated by his maternal uncle, John Bellamy, Rector of Hampton, because he showed signs of intelligence. Jewel was a hardworking, conscientious and studious boy, and went on to study at Merton College, Oxford, where he studied under John Pankhurst (later the Bishop of Norwich), the man credited with introducing Jewel to reformist doctrines. In August 1539, Jewel transferred to Oxford’s Corpus Christi College, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1540, followed by a Masters in 1545 after being elected as a fellow in 1542. John and Angela Magee1 tell of how Jewel was “considered as a decided and open friend to the Protestant cause” (citing Charles Webb Le Bas, M.A.) and that proof of this is the fact that he received an annual payment of six pounds from a special fund collected by the nobility for the purpose of supporting scholars who professed Reformist doctrines.

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  • Katherine of Aragon

    Katherine of Aragon was born into the royal Spanish household on 16th December 1485, at the Archbishop’s Palace of Alcalá de Henares. She was the daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and his illustrious wife, Isabella I of Castile. Katherine’s parents were the Catholic powerhouses of Western Europe during the late fifteenth century, therefore during her youth, the young Spanish princess would have envisioned the grand future that awaited her, with an ambitious marriage into an equally powerful European royal household.

    At aged just three, her parents were in negotiations with the English king, Henry VII, for a suitable marriage to his son, Arthur. The Tudors had recently taken the throne after defeating the Yorkist Richard III at Bosworth in 1485, although their Lancastrian claimant to the throne was still vulnerable to usurpation. England required international support to ensure the legitimacy and security of their house. An Anglo-Spanish alliance would be vitally important for the country’s prosperity and position in European politics.

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  • This week in history 22 – 28 May

    On this day in history…

    22nd May:

    1490 – Death of Edmund Grey, 1st Earl of Kent.
    1537 – Edward Seymour, brother of Jane Seymour, was sworn in as a Privy Councillor.
    1538 – The burning of John Forest, Franciscan friar and martyr, at Smithfield for heresy, for his allegiance to Rome.
    1539 – Probable birthdate of Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and son of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset (the Edward mentioned above). Hertford was also the husband of Katherine Grey, sister of Lady Jane Grey.
    1570 – Death of John Best, Bishop of Carlisle. He was buried in Carlisle Cathedral.

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  • Quiz – Anne Boleyn’s Fall

    This week for our 144th quiz we’re commemorating the anniversary of Queen Anne Boleyn’s execution on this day in 1536 with questions about her fall.

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  • 19 May – St Dunstan’s Day

    Happy St Dunstan’s Day! Here is some information on this feast day taken from our Feast Days section:

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  • Primary sources for Anne Boleyn’s Fall 1536

    In today’s Claire Chats video, Claire talks about how you can access primary sources on Anne Boleyn’s fall in 1536 wherever you are in the world.

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  • Henry VII statue to be unveiled in Pembroke on 10 June 2017

    A date to put in your diary if you can get to Pembroke in Wales on 10th June!

    Thank you to Nathen Amin for sharing this news on his Henry Tudor Society Facebook page. Nathen wrote:

    “A statue commemorating the birth and life of Henry Tudor will be proudly unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of Pembrokeshire at 2pm on Saturday 10th June on Mill Bridge, Pembroke, in the shadow of Pembroke Castle where the first Tudor king was born in 1457.

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  • Roland Hui on the Tudor Society

    Roland Hui

    We would like to introduce you to some of these wonderful contributors. Today, we say hello to Roland Hui.

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  • Dominic Pearce’s current research

    Dominic Pearce

    Continuing our series of looking into what the historians who write for the Tudor Society are researching at the moment, we have Dominic Pearce, the author of “Henrietta Maria”.

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  • This week in history 15 – 21 May

    On this day in history…

    15th May:

    1464 – Execution of Henry Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, immediately after the Battle of Hexham. He was buried in Hexham Abbey.
    1536 – Trials of Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn in the King’s Hall at the Tower of London. They were both found guilty and sentenced to death.
    1537 – Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy, and his cousin, John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford, were tried for treason at Westminster after being implicated in the Pilgrimage of Grace. “Letters and Papers” recorded the verdict as guilty and the sentence was “Judgment as usual in cases of high treason. Execution to be at Tyburn.” They were actually beheaded.

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  • Tudor History Quiz – 14 May

    Grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable and exercise those little grey cells with a quiz on one of your favourite subjects. This week’s quiz is a general Tudor history quiz and we hope you enjoy it. Good luck!

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  • 13 May 1515 – The marriage of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk

    On this day in history, Sunday 13th May 1515, Mary Tudor, dowager queen of France and sister of King Henry VIII, married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, at Greenwich Palace, following their secret marriage in France. They were married in the presence of the king, Queen Catherine and the court.

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  • A Tudor gem that made me dance by Janet Wertman

    We have many historians as members of the Tudor Society, and we thought it would be interesting to ask them what they are researching or working on at the moment, and whether they've come across anything of interest from the Tudor Period. Janet Wertman has responded with this wonderful Tudor gem... over to Janet!

    What are you researching or working on at the moment? Can you share something of interest about the Tudor period?

    Your timing is perfect! I just stumbled upon a gem that made me dance.

    First, a bit of context.

    It will come as no surprise to anyone reading this that the Tudor world is full of wild parallels. Catherine of Aragon spending seven years at the start of her life (relatively) waiting for Henry to marry her, then seven years at the end of her life waiting for him to return to her. The fates of Henry’s wives (divorced-beheaded-died/divorced-beheaded-survived) intertwined with their “types” (foreign princess-Howard family-basic English). Cromwell’s downfall stemming from invented charges and using the Act of Attainder he had popularized. Just to name a few.

    I found one I had never noticed before.

    I am deep into the first draft of The Path to Somerset, the sequel to Jane the Quene that charts Edward Seymour’s rise to power after her death (during what I lovingly refer to as Henry’s “crazy years”). It is turning out to be far darker than I expected – at least the way the story is revealing itself to me – and I have to say, I am having a blast.

    Last week, I sank the Mary Rose (single handedly!). Gardiner was watching the battle with Henry from the shore in Portsmouth, they were right there as the pride of the country foundered (I use two points of view in a book; for Somerset I chose Edward and Gardiner/Protagonist and Antagonist – and Edward was off in Scotland at the time so Gardiner got to be the filter for the event). The scene was intense as it took them through the emotional devastation, the possibility of losing to the French, the fear that God had turned his face from them. But there was something about it that seemed just too pat, too predictable. I wanted a twist.

    I got a great one....

    Tell us about this "wild parallel"?

    The night before the planned French attack, Francis went to dine on his own flagship, the Carraquon, to send off his fleet. Being a king, he brought his own food and chef. The poor man was used to the royal kitchens, not the cramped quarters of a ship’s galley. He was careless with the galley fires, which is not something to do when you’re that close to so much gunpowder. The fire spread quickly and Francis and his family barely made it off the ship before it blew up spectacularly. They had to delay the attack a couple of days to create a new flagship…

    That detail changed everything. It allowed me to start the scene with English arrogance and overconfidence. After all, they had the Great Harry and the Mary Rose, the finest warships in the world, and hundreds of cannon whose fine construction was the envy of their enemies. And, of course, they smugly saw the hand of God in the destruction of the Carraquon– a sign that the Almighty was firmly on the English side. Playing up that attitude made the sudden reversal in the tragedy of the Mary Rose all that more poignant and terrible. It also gave my scene the oomph I was after …

    Janet Wertman is the author of Jane the Quene (The Seymour Saga), a fantastic novel about a fascinating Tudor queen.