The Tudor Society
The Tudor Society
  • 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.

  • The Tudors and ear piercing

    Thank you so much for Tudor Society member Lorna for inspiring today’s Claire Chats video. In today’s talk, I look at when ear piercing became fashionable in the Tudor period, the evidence we have on it and also ear piercing in men.

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  • 11 May 1532 – Henry VIII attacks the clergy

    On this day in history, 11th May 1532, King Henry VIII sent for the Speaker and a delegation from the Commons and accused the clergy of being “scarce our subjects”, attacking their oath to the Pope.

    Here is chronicler Edward Hall’s account of this:

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  • Dr Thomas Wendy – King’s physician

    On this day in history, 11th May 1560, Dr Thomas Wendy, physician to Henry VIII and Queen Catherine Parr, died at Haslingfield in Cambridgeshire. He was sixty-one years old at his death.

    Henry Machyn records in his diary that Dr Wendy was buried on 27th May at Cambridge:

    “The xxvij day of May was the obseque and fen[eral] of master docthur Wende, fessyssyon [physician] at Cambryge, a penon of armes and a cott armur, and vj dosen and d’ [half] of skochyons of armes, and a harold of armes master Somersett, and . . morners in blake, and he gayff mony gownes to pore men, and ther was a grett dolle, and thether resortyd xx m[iles] off vC. pepull and had grett plente of mett and drynke, boyth hosses [houses] and barnes and feldes, grett store as has bene [seen] for a men [mean] gentyllman, and gret mone mad [moan made].”

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  • 9 May 1509 – Henry VII’s remains taken to St Paul’s

    On this day in history, 9th May 1509, the remains of Henry VII, who had died at Richmond Palace on 21st April 1509, were taken to Old St Paul’s.

    Here’s an account by James Peller Malcolm (1767-1815) in Londinium redivivum:-

    “On the 9th of May, 1509, the body of Henry VII. was placed in a chariot, covered with black cloth of gold, which was drawn by five spirited horses, whose trappings were of black velvet, adorned with quishions of gold. The effigies of his Majesty lay upon the corpse, dressed in his regal habiliments. The carriage had suspended on it banners of arms, titles, and pedigrees. A number of prelates preceded the body, who were followed by the deceased king’s servants; after it were nine mourners. Six hundred men bearing torches surrounded the chariot.

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  • This week in history 8 -14 May

    On this day in history…

    8th May:
    1508 – Birth of Charles Wriothesley, herald and chronicler, in London. His chronicle is one of the major primary sources for Henry VIII’s reign. Charles came from a family of heralds; he was the younger son of Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Garter King of Arms, grandson of John Writhe, Garther King of Arms, and nephew of William Wriothesley, York Herald. Charles’ offices included Rouge Croix Pursuivant and Windsor Herald of Arms in Ordinary, but he did not go as far as his father and grandfather.
    1538 – Death of Edward Fox, Bishop of Hereford and diplomat. He was active in trying to secure the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and produced several books and polemics on Henry’s Great Matter, including Henricus octavus.

    [Read More...]
  • Two newly attributed to Hilliard portraits and a special exhibition

    Thank you so much to Waddeson Manor for sharing this news with us. There will be details and images in the June edition of Tudor Life magazine, but I wanted to alert you to this exciting news and give you advance warning of this special tour and exhibition at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire.

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  • Transcript from Gareth Russell’s Live Chat

    Thanks to all full members who joined us at the live chat with Gareth Russell at the end of April.

    Here is the transcript of the chat we had for those members who missed it:
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  • 1559 Act of Uniformity

    On this day in history, 8th May 1559, Queen Elizabeth I gave her approval to the Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy which had been passed by Parliament on the 29th April. The Act of Uniformity made Protestantism England’s official faith, established a form of worship which is still followed in English Parish churches today and showed the country that Elizabeth was bent on following a middle road where religion was concerned. The monarch was Head of the Church again, and still is today.

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  • May Crossword Puzzle

    This week’s Sunday quiz is a May crossword puzzle, i.e. the clues are all to do with historical events that took place in the month of May. All the events appear somewhere on the site, in articles and “This week in history” posts, so get searching!

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  • The Coverdale Bible

    On this day in history, 6th May 1541, Henry VIII issued an injunction ordering “the Byble of the largest and greatest volume, to be had in every churche”. The Bible referred to was “The Great Bible” or “Coverdale Bible”, the first authorised Bible in English. It had been prepared by Miles Coverdale and was based on William Tyndale’s New Testament and Pentateuch, and then Coverdale’s own translations of the other books of the Bible.

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  • A contemporary image of Anne Boleyn

    This week’s Claire Chats video has been inspired by a debate that’s been happening online over an image from The Black Book of the Garter which Roland Hui believes to be of Anne Boleyn.

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  • Reading and Research by Stephanie A. Mann

    Stephanie Mann on Thomas More

    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.
    [Read More...]

  • Margaret of York

    Thank you to Heather R. Darsie, our regular contributor, for writing this article on Margaret of York (1446-1503).

    On 3 May 1446, Margaret of York, younger sister of the future Edward IV, was born. The fifth of seven children and the youngest daughter of Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, and his wife, Cecily Neville, Margaret of York began her life at Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire. Her youngest sibling and the youngest of the seven children, the future Richard III of England, was born at the same castle in 1452. Margaret lived an uneventful life until she was about nineteen years old, when the opportunity to become Duchess of Burgundy presented itself.

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  • Thomas Tusser

    On this day in history, 3rd May 1580, Thomas Tusser, poet, farmer and writer on agriculture, died at the age of sixty-five. He was buried at Manningtree in Essex.

    Tusser is known for his “A Hundreth Good Pointes of Husbandrie”, a poem recording the country year, and “Five Hundreth Points of Good Husbandry United to as many of Good Huswiferie”, an instructional poem on farming.

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  • 2 May 1550 – The burning of Joan Bocher, Joan of Kent

    We don’t usually associate religious persecution with the reign of Edward VI, but people did suffer in his reign.

    On this day in history, 2nd May 1550, Joan Bocher (Boucher, Butcher, Knel, Knell), an Anabaptist, was burnt at the stake at Smithfield. Bocher believed that Christ’s flesh was “not incarnate of the Virgin Mary” and so she was convicted of heresy and condemned to death.

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  • Rioghnach O’Geraghty will be at the Gumeracha Medieval Fair

    Come to the Gumeracha Medieval Fair and you can meet Rioghnach O’Geraghty

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  • William Camden’s works

    On this day in history, 2nd May 1551, William Camden, the Tudor historian, headmaster and herald, was born at the Old Bailey, London.

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  • This week in history 1 – 7 May

    On this day in history…

    1st May:
    1461 – Execution of James Butler, 1st Earl of Wiltshire and 5th Earl of Ormond, at Newcastle after being captured by the Yorkists.
    1508 – Birth of Sir William Cavendish, administrator. Cavendish was one of Cromwell’s main agents in the dissolution of the monasteries and was appointed Treasurer of the Chamber in February 1546.
    1517 – The Evil May Day Riot. A mob of young apprentices and labourers gathered at St Paul’s and then went on a rampage through the streets of London, causing damage to property and hurting those who stood in their way.

    [Read More...]
  • Maypoles and rioting

    1st May is May Day, a day to celebrate the start of summer and you can read more about how it was celebrated and see a video of Maypole dancing in my article “May Day”.

    However, it wasn’t always a day of fun and dancing, in 1517 there was a riot.

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  • Expert Talk – Michelle Enzinas on Henry Buttes

    This month we have a wonderful talk from Michelle Enzinas, author of the “Big Buttes Book”. In 1599 Henry Buttes wrote a slightly comical cookbook for the Bacon family, in order to raise funds for the construction of a church. In this talk, we learn all about the book, and also whether it was successful in the end!

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