The Tudor Society
  • Tudor talks at Hampton Court Palace

    Jatinder Kailey from the Adult Learning team at Historic Royal Palaces has just let us know about a series of talks they’re holding as part of their season of evening talks at Hampton Court Palace on finding favour at court.

    “The Tudor royal court entertained a vast community of people who provided the engine of the monarchy. From mistresses to politicians and servant to nobleman, who held the positions of power? Join us this autumn as we explore how courtiers moved up and down the Tudor court hierarchy in a dangerous game of snakes and ladders. Did they succeed or fail?”

    There are 4 talks taking place in November:

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  • Why did everyone have red hair?

    Today’s Claire Chats video is inspired by an “ask the expert” question submitted by Tudor Society member Beth on red hair in Tudor times – thank you, Beth!

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  • 28 September 1599 – Robert Devereux upsets Elizabeth I

    On this day in history, 28th September 1599, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, strode into Queen Elizabeth I’s bedchamber unannounced and saw the Queen without her makeup or wig, without her “mask of youth”.

    Essex had been confirmed as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on 30th December 1598 and he left England on 27th March 1599, arriving in Dublin on 14 April. His campaign against the Irish was unsuccessful. Essex had assumed that he’d be able to defeat the Earl of Tyrone and his men quickly, but as things dragged on he became disillusioned with the situation. Exhaustion, disillusionment and a fear that his enemies at court were undermining him and influencing the queen against him, led to him giving up on the Irish situation, making a truce with the Irish rebel leader (against the qqueen’s wishes) and returning to England without the queen’s permission. This amounted to desertion and disobedience, something which Elizabeth I could not and would not tolerate

    Devereux rushed back to court at Nonsuch Palace to offer an explanation but ended up making things worse when he strode into the queen’s bedchamber unannounced while she was getting ready:

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  • October 2017 Tudor Life – Portraits, Artists & Actors

    Here is the full version of our 84-page October edition of Tudor Life Magazine. This month we focus on Portraits, Artists & Actors, along with some wonderful features about Tudor property and more…

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  • Stephen Borough

    Explorer, navigator and naval administrator Stephen Borough (Burrough) was born at Borough House, Northam Burrows, Northam in Devon, to Walter Borough and his wife Mary Dough on 25th September 1525.

    In his childhood, Borough was influenced by his uncle, the seaman John Borough, and probably helped him with his first measured coastal surveys of south Devon and Cornwall in 1538. His uncle taught him navigational skills, sailing skills, Spanish and Portuguese.

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  • This week in history 25 September – 1 October

    On this day in history…

    25th September:

    1513 – Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the Spanish explorer, reached the Pacific Ocean. He was the first European to have discovered the Pacific Ocean from the New World.
    1525 – Explorer, navigator and naval administrator Stephen Borough (Burrough) was born at Borough House, Northam Burrows, Northam in Devon, to Walter Borough and his wife Mary Dough.
    1534 – Death of Pope Clement VII in Rome from eating a death cap mushroom. He was laid to rest in Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
    1554 – Death of Richard Sampson, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, and former President of the Council of the Welsh Marches, at Eccleshall in Staffordshire. He was buried in the parish church at Eccleshall. Sampson had acted as the King’s Proctor at the fall of Anne Boleyn in 1536.
    1555 – The Peace of Augsburg, or Augsburg Settlement, was signed by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and the princes of the Schmalkaldic League at Augsburg.
    1558 – Gertrude Courtenay, Marchioness of Exeter, made her will. She died soon after and was buried in Wimborne Minster, Dorset. Gertrude was the mother of Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon, who was imprisoned for his part in Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554. Gertrude, herself, was imprisoned in 1538, and her husband was executed for treason.
    1584 – Death of Thomas Copley, Roman Catholic, in exile near Antwerp. He had served Elizabeth I as Commissioner of the Peace for Surrey, and she was godmother to his son, Henry, but he lost royal favour when he converted to Catholicism in 1563. He left England in 1570, being unable to accept royal supremacy and Elizabeth I’s religious measures.
    1586 – Mary, Queen of Scots was moved to Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, and Elizabeth finally backed down and agreed to the appointing of 36 commissioners to act as judges in her trial.
    1594 – Death of Gregory Fiennes, 10th Baron Dacre, at Chelsea. He was buried in Chelsea Old Church.
    1602 – Death of William Redman, Bishop of Norwich, at the Episcopal Palace. He was buried in the cathedral choir.

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  • William Spenser and Robert Hardesty, Catholic martyrs

    On 24th September 1589, William Spenser, a Roman Catholic priest, and layman Robert Hardesty were executed at York. Spenser was executed for being a priest, and Hardesty for sheltering Spenser.

    In his book Acts of English martyrs, John Hungerford Pollen, writes that William Spenser was born in Gisburn in Yorkshire and that he was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, supported by his uncle William Horn. There he was a scholar and fellow, and graduated MA in 1580. Pollen states that he met Spenser at Oxford:

    “There I knew him for about eight years, always leading a most upright life, but suffering much at the hands of the heretics even before he left the university, because he was looked on as leaning somewhat towards the Catholic faith. They brought many charges against him, and he would argue against them, but never recklessly. From the time he was a boy his zeal for souls was marvellous, and he never neglected the first rudiments of faith taught him by his uncles, but acted up to them with zeal and constancy to the time of his death.”

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  • Crossword – Elizabeth I’s Favourites

    This week’s Sunday puzzler is a fun crossword. How much do you know about the courtiers who surrounded Queen Elizabeth I and who were her favourites? Test yourself with this crossword. Good luck!

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  • Collecting engravings and old books

    In this week’s Claire Chats video I share my collection of engravings of Tudor people and places – it’s my guilty pleasure!

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  • Happy birthday to Anne of Cleves

    As today is the anniversary of the birth of Anne of Cleves on 22nd September 1515, I thought it was fitting to share some links to Anne of Cleves resources here on the Tudor Society site and to also share some recommendations for further reading.

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  • 20 September 1486 – Birth of Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales

    On this day in history, 20th September 1486, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, was born at St Swithun’s Priory in Winchester. Arthur was the first child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York and he was born just eight months after his parents’ marriage.

    Elizabeth had travelled to Winchester to give birth because the city was believed to have been the capital of King Arthur’s Camelot and the site of his castle. Her husband the king believed that his firstborn son would be a hero like his namesake, legendary King Arthur, and that his reign would bring about a golden age in England.

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  • Coventry Martyrs Robert Glover and Cornelius Bungey

    The Coventry Martyrs' Monument

    On 19th September 1555, the Protestant martyrs, Robert Glover and Cornelius Bungey (Bongey), who are two of the twelve Coventry Martyrs, were burned at the stake at a site in Little Park Street, Coventry.

    Martyrologist John Foxe gives the date of their burnings as “about the 20th day” in his 1563 Acts and Monuments, but fellow martyrologist the Reverend Thomas Brice gives the date as the 19th in his A Compendious Regester of 1559 and Foxe actually used Brice’s Regester as a source. Brice’s work, which can be found in Volume IV of Edward Arber’s An English Garner is a register of those martyred between 4th February 1555 and 17th November 1558. The names and locations of those martyred are recorded in six-line doggerel stanzas with the date in the margin. Of Glover and Bungey, Brice simply writes:

    “September 19 When GLOVER and CORNELIUS
    Were fiercely brent at Coventry;”

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  • This week in history 18 – 24 September

    A miniature of Henry Brandon, 2nd Duke of Suffolk, by Hans Holbein the Younger.

    On this day…

    18th September:

    1501 – Birth of Henry Stafford, 10th Baron Stafford, at Penshurst in Kent. He was the son of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and his wife Eleanor (née Percy), daughter of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland. Henry married Ursula Pole, daughter of Sir Richard Pole and Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, in 1519, and the couple had around fourteen children. Stafford served Mary I as a Chamberlain of the Exchequer and Elizabeth I as a Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire.
    1535 – Birth of Henry Brandon, son of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and his wife Katherine (née Willoughby). Henry Brandon died on 14th July 1551, at the age of fifteen, from sweating sickness. His younger brother, Charles, survived him by just half an hour.
    1544 – Henry VIII rode triumphantly through the streets of Boulogne after the French surrendered, ending the Siege of Boulogne.
    1556 – Death of Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon, from a fever at Padua in Italy. He was buried there in the church of Sant’Antonio. Courtenay had been sent overseas after he was implicated in Wyatt’s Rebellion as a future husband and consort of Mary I’s half-sister, Elizabeth.
    1559 – The fifteen-year-old Francis II was crowned King of France at Rheims by the Cardinal of Lorraine, following the death of his father Henry II in July 1559 after a jousting accident. Mary, Queen of Scots was Francis’ consort.

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  • Tudor women quiz

    Grab your favourite beverage and snack, find a comfortable spot and test your knowledge of some of the prominent women of the Tudor court. Good luck!

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  • Marriage in Tudor times: brides marrying young

    In today’s Claire Chats, I talk about the age of brides in the medieval and Tudor periods and discuss the accusations of paedophilia that are often flung at Henry VIII, Charles Brandon and Edmund Tudor on social media.

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  • Sir William Kingston

    Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London, Knight of the Garter and comptroller of the King’s household, was born around 1476. His origins are unknown but historian Stanford Lehmberg believes that he was from a Gloucestershire family who were related to the barons Berkeley of Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, and also to Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. Kingston had a brother named George.

    In 1497, Kingston was appointed as a yeoman of the chamber to Henry VII and served in this position until 1509. In 1506, he became a Justice of the Peace for Gloucestershire. At Henry VII’s funeral in 1509, he served as a gentleman usher. In 1511 and 1512, he served in the army of Henry VIII and in September 1513 he fought at the Battle of Flodden against the Scots. He was knighted in October 1513.

    In 1514, Kingston was made a king’s sewer and a sheriff of Gloucestershire, and in 1519, Cardinal Wolsey chose him to be a knight of the body in the privy chamber following Wolsey’s purge of the privy chamber in the Eltham Ordinances. He continued to serve the king as keeper of the king’s jewels and plate and then as a carver in 1521.

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  • John Leland

    John Leland, the well-known Tudor poet and antiquary was born in London on 13th September, probably in 1503 although the actual year of his birth is unknown.

    Leland is known for his Latin poems and his antiquarian writings which included Assertio inclytissimi Arturii regis Britanniae, which he presented to Henry VIII; his New Year’s gift to Henry VIII, Antiquitates Britanniae; De uiris illustribus, a biographical encyclopedia of British writers; his travel notes, and his defence of the legends of King Arthur.

    He died on 18th April 1552 in the parish of St Michael le Querne, Cheapside, London, and was buried there. It was recorded in 1547 that Leland “fell besides his wits” and in 1551, his brother was granted custody of him and his possessions.

    His works can still be read today so I will share links for you to read them online. Be aware that some will be in the original Latin!

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  • September 2017 Live Chats – 22 and 30 September

    This month's live chats will be taking place in the Tudor Society chatroom on Friday 22nd September and Saturday 30th September.

    Informal Live Chat - 22 September

    September's informal live chat discussion is on Catherine of Aragon and the annulment of her marriage to Henry VIII. Questions, theories, viewpoints, book recommendations etc. on anything to do with this topic are welcome. Was Catherine right to fight for her marriage? Should she have taken the veil? What about Henry VIII - did he have a valid point? etc. etc. Let's enjoy discussing this topic.

    With our informal chats, we don't have an expert to 'grill', we just all bundle into the chatroom and have fun debating the topic for an hour. I (Claire) am usually the moderator, and will be for this one, and I'll just be there to check that it runs smoothly, and to join the debate too.

    Here are the times in different time zones:

    • London, UK - Friday 22 September at 10pm
    • Madrid, Spain - Friday 22 September at 11pm
    • New York, USA - Friday 22 September at 5pm
    • Los Angeles, USA - Friday 22 September at 2pm
    • Sydney, Australia - Saturday 23 September at 7am
    • Adelaide, Australia - Saturday 23 September at 6.30am

    Expert Live Chat - 30 September

    This month's expert speaker, historian and author Elizabeth Norton, is joining us in the chatroom on Saturday 30th September to answer your questions on her talk "The Live of Tudor Women". If you missed her talk then you can click here to view the video now. It's a wonderful talk.

    Our expert live chat sessions last for an hour and they are your chance to ask our experts questions about their talk, their research and/or their books.

    Here are the times in different time zones:

    • London, UK - Saturday 30 September at 10pm
    • Madrid, Spain - Saturday 30 September at 11pm
    • New York, USA - Saturday 30 at 5pm
    • Los Angeles, USA - Saturday 30 September at 2pm
    • Sydney, Australia - Sunday 1 October at 8am
    • Adelaide, Australia - Sunday 1 October at 7.30am

    You can find the chatroom at It's really easy to join in, you just go to the chatroom at the scheduled time and type your question or comment into the text box and click on "send", or feel free to lurk! They're always good fun.

  • The Trial of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

    On this day in history, Thursday 12th September 1555, in the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I, the trial of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, opened in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin at Oxford. Cranmer stood accused of heresy, being charged with two main offences, or doctrinal errors: repudiating papal authority and denying transubstantiation.

    Martyrologist John Foxe gives an account of Thomas Cranmer’s trial in his “Book of Martyrs”:

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  • 11 September 1561 – Mary, Queen of Scots, sets off on progress

    On this day in history, 11th September 1561, eighteen-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, began her first royal progress. It was to last until 29th September and was the first of nine royal progresses that Mary undertook before she fled to England in 1568.

    On this progress, Mary visited Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Stirling Castle, Kincardine Castle, Leslie Castle, Perth, Dundee, St Andrews, Cupar and Falkland Palace.

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  • Forthcoming Tudor Events

    Step back in time to the dramatic year of 1547, when the mighty armies of Scotland and England gave battle to determine who should marry the infant Queen of Scots. With fascinating living history encampments, hands-on activities for all the family, and spectacular battle recreations, this wonderful historical event is not to be missed. See the drama and excitement of Battle of Pinkie Cleugh come to life before your eyes, and discover more about this fascinating period of our history.

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  • This week in history 11 – 17 September

    A portrait of Heinrich Bullinger by Hans Asper

    On this day in history…

    11 September:

    1540 – Death of Thomas Kytson (Kitson) the Elder, merchant, Sheriff of London and builder of Hengrave Hall in Suffolk. He died at Hengrave and was buried in the church there.
    1561 – Mary, Queen of Scots began her first royal progress, visiting Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Stirling Castle, Kincardine Castle, Leslie Castle, Perth, Dundee, St Andrews, Cupar, Falkland Palace and Edinburgh, between the 11th and 29th September.
    1572 – Pope Gregory XIII ordered a joint commemoration for the defeat of the Ottoman troops by the Holy League at the Battle of Lepanto on 7th October 1571, and for the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of the Huguenots in France, in August 1572.
    1581 – Death of Barnaby Fitzpatrick, 2nd Baron of Upper Ossory, at Dublin, in the home of a surgeon, William Kelly. In his youth, Fitzpatrick had been friends with Prince Edward (future Edward VI) and had been educated with him. He went on to serve his friend, when he became king, as a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber.
    1605 – Death of Sir Thomas Tresham the Younger, Catholic recusant politician, at his home, Rushton Hall, in Northamptonshire. He was buried at St Peter’s Church, Rushton.
    1613 – Death of Sir John Brograve, lawyer. He was buried at St Mary’s Church, Braughing, Hertfordshire in the Brograve Chapel. Brograve was one of the leading lawyers in the House of Commons in Elizabeth I’s reign.
    1614 – Death of Sir Edward Phelips, Elizabeth I’s Sergeant-at-Law and Speaker of the House of Commons in James I’s reign. He died at Rolls House, London, and was buried at St Catherine’s Church, Montacute, Somerset.

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  • Ladies of the Tudor Court Quiz

    How much do you know about prominent Tudor ladies and those who served the Tudor queens?

    Test your knowledge with this fun little quiz. Good luck!

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  • Recent and forthcoming Tudor history books

    In this week’s Claire Chats I share details on a new book I’ve just received in the post and look at some of the Tudor-linked history books that have just been released or are due out soon. Quite a few of these are going on my Christmas list!

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  • 7 September 1533 – The marriage of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Catherine Willoughby

    On this day in history, 7th September 1533, the same day that Queen Elizabeth I was born, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, married Catherine Willoughby.

    This was the duke’s fourth marriage. He was about forty-nine years old and Catherine was just fourteen. She was the daughter of William Willoughby, 11th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, and his wife, Lady Maria de Salinas, a woman who had come over from Spain with Catherine of Aragon in 1501 as one of her ladies. Suffolk had acquired the wardship of Catherine Willoughby in 1529 and had originally intended to marry her to his son, Henry, 1st Earl of Lincoln. However, following the death of his third wife, Mary Tudor, Queen of France, it appears that Suffolk took a liking to his ward, or rather the money and lands that he would gain by marrying her. Their marriage took place less than three months after Mary’s death.

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  • 7 September 1533 – The birth of Elizabeth I

    At three o’clock in the afternoon of Sunday 7th September 1533, the eve of the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen Elizabeth I was born at Greenwich Palace.

    Elizabeth was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, and she came to the throne following the death of her older half-sister, Queen Mary I, on 17th November 1558. She reigned for over forty-four years, until her death on 24th March 1603, and her reign became known as a “golden age”. Elizabeth I has gone down in history as Good Queen Bess, the Virgin Queen and Gloriana.

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  • Elizabeth Somerset, Countess of Worcester, one of Anne Boleyn’s ladies

    Born around 1502 in Bechworth, Surrey, Elizabeth was the daughter of Lucy Neville and Sir Anthony Browne; with the latter serving as standard-bearer to Henry VII and occupying the post of Lieutenant of Calais.

    Little is known of Elizabeth’s early life, however, her family did have connections to the royal court. Her father was a trusted courtier, and in 1508 her sister Anne married Sir Charles Brandon, one of the future King Henry VIII’s closest friends.

    During the 1520s Elizabeth was of marriageable age, and in around 1526 she was matched with Henry Somerset, the second Earl of Worcester. This was an elevated match as her father was neither royal nor noble, however, his descendants were members of parliament. Somerset’s first wife, Lady Margaret Courtney, granddaughter of Yorkist queen Elizabeth Woodville, had died without issue. Elizabeth and Henry married before 1527 and would go on to produce nine children, with many living into adulthood.

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  • Tudor Pin Badge Competition

    Hello to all full society members!

    Well, we’ve had an incredibly busy time packaging up all the pin badges for full members, and we’ve sent them all out now… they should be arriving in your post box any day now!

    We thought we’d have a little fun, with a fantastic prize to give away too!

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  • This week in history 4 – 10 September

    On this day in history…

    4th September:

    1504 – Birth of Antoine de Noailles, soldier and French diplomat at the English court in Mary I’s reign, at Château de la Fage.
    1539 – William, Duke of Cleves, signed the marriage treaty promising his sister, Anne of Cleves, in marriage to King Henry VIII. The Duke then sent the treaty to England, where it was ratified and concluded by early October.
    1550 – Death of Sir Thomas Paston, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber in the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI.
    1588 – Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester died at his lodge at Cornbury, near Woodstock in Oxfordshire.
    He had been ill for some time with a recurring stomach ailment, and so had decided to travel to Buxton to take the waters, but he died on the way.
    1590 – Death of Sir James Croft, Lord Deputy of Ireland, member of Parliament and conspirator. Croft was one of the leaders of Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554, but although he was sentenced to death for treason, he was eventually released and pardoned. He served Elizabeth I as Comptroller of the Household, but was imprisoned briefly in her reign for negotiating with the Duke of Parma without permission. Croft was buried at Westminster Abbey, in the Chapel of St John the Evangelist.

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  • Elizabethan Theatre Wordsearch

    This week’s puzzle to get those little grey cells working is a wordsearch. Not only do you have to find the words (and they can be in any direction – ha ha!) but you have to solve the clues first. This wordsearch tests your knowledge of the Elizabethan Theatre. Good luck!

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