• Harry Potter – A History of Magic

    It seems rather apt to be sharing about this programme on Halloween!

    “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” aired on BBC 2 on Saturday night, 28th October. Why on earth am I sharing about this programme on the Tudor Society, you may be wondering, well, J.K. Rowling didn’t just draw on her vivid imagination for her Harry Potter series of books, she drew on history too. Here’s what the BBC Media Centre said about this programme:

    “Narrated by Imelda Staunton, this is a playful and thrilling adventure through the real life legends, beliefs and folklore that fired JK Rowling’s imagination. In the run up to the major exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, Rowling ventures behind the scenes of the British Library, revealing the real life counterparts to her fantastical world. From shrieking mandrakes and Elizabethan invisibility spells; to the mystery of the ancient oracle bones of the lost Shang dynasty and the real life search for the Philosopher’s Stone, it’s the start of a journey that takes us to some of the most magical places in the land. There, we’ll encounter wonderful characters whose belief in magic has never waned – from the folk at the beguiling Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, Cornwall, to a pair of real life wizarding wandmakers who’ve honed their craft in England’s ancient woodland.”

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  • Reformation 500 – The 500th anniversary of the Reformation

    Today, 31st October 2017, is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. German Reformer Philipp Melancthon recorded that “Luther, burning with passion and just devoutness, posted the Ninety-Five Theses at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany at All Saints Eve, October 31”, and Luther sent a copy of The Ninety-Five Theses (proper title: Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences) to Albert, Archbishop of Mainz, and the Bishop of Brandenburg along with a letter protesting against the sale of indulgences.

    Martin Luther’s 95 Theses had a major impact. The resulting controversy over Luther’s letter and his Theses is seen as the beginning of the Reformation, the schism from the Catholic Church and the start of Protestantism.

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  • This week in history 30 October – 5 November

    On this day in history…

    30th October:

    1485 – The founder of the Tudor dynasty, Henry Tudor, was crowned King Henry VII at Westminster Abbey. Click here for more.
    The Tudor chronicler, Raphael Holinshed, recorded:
    “…with great pompe he rowed unto Westminster, & there the thirtith daie of October he was with all ceremonies accustomed, anointed, & crowned king, by the whole assent as well of the commons as of the nobilitie, & called Henrie the seaventh of that name…”
    His biographer, Thomas Penn, describes how this was the occasion that Henry was united with his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, whom he’d not seen for fourteen years. Margaret was said to have “wept marvellously”.
    Henry Tudor had claimed the crown of England after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field on the 22nd August 1485, and had actually been unofficially crowned with Richard’s crown on the battlefield that day.

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  • Sunday fun

    Today’s bit of Sunday fun is a wordsearch puzzle on the feast days of October. You’ll know the answers to these if you’ve read our Tudor Feast Days book and if you get stuck then you can check in the book or visit our October Feast Days page. Good luck!

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  • November 2017 Tudor Life – Ladies-in-waiting

    Here is the full version of our 80-page November edition of Tudor Life Magazine. This month we focus on Tudor Ladies-in-waiting and our expert contributors have really enjoyed writing about their favourite women…

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  • November 2017 Tudor Life Taster

    Enjoy this sample of our 80-page November edition of Tudor Life Magazine. This month we focus on Tudor Ladies-in-waiting and our expert contributors have really enjoyed writing about their favourite women…

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  • Mary Herbert (née Sidney), Countess of Pembroke

    Mary Herbert (née Sidney), Countess of Pembroke, writer and literary patron, was born on 27th October 1561 at Tickenhall, near Bewdley in Worcestershire. She was the third daughter of Sir Henry Sidney and his wife, Mary (née Dudley), daughter of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and she was the sister of the poets Sir Philip Sidney and Robert Sidney (later Earl of Leicester).

    Mary’s parents were loyal servants of the Crown. Edward VI had died in Mary’s father’s arms and Mary’s mother had nursed Elizabeth I through smallpox, and been badly disfigured as a result of contracting the disease. Mary was also the niece of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth I’s favourite, and Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick.

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  • Did Edward VI really pluck and kill a falcon?

    This week’s Claire Chats video talk was inspired by an “ask the expert” question we received from Tudor Society member Elizabeth and her son Joseph. Elizabeth’s full question was “My son was reading up on Edward VI and came across this story and wondered if it was true. I said that you would know! Simon Renard, the Imperial Ambassador, reported that Edward had plucked a falcon which he had kept in his private chamber and had torn it into 4 pieces saying as he did so that he likened himself to a falcon whom everyone plucked but that he would pluck them too and tear them into 4 parts. We wondered if this was a true story.”

    It’s an interesting question and one I wanted to dig deeper into it.

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  • What did Elizabeth I really look like?

    Thank you to Tudor Life regular contributor, Rioghnach, for asking this question:

    “Claire’s most recent chat on the subject of smallpox during the Tudor era has piqued my curiosity.
    Elizabeth’s portraits always make her skin look flawless. Obviously, this was not the case, but I can understand why her painters used tact and diplomacy in their works. Does anyone actually know for certain, what Elizabeth actually looked like under the layers of white lead etc?”

    Although there are many portraits of Elizabeth I painted in her lifetime, it is impossible to use them as evidence of what the queen really looked like, particularly towards the end of her reign, because portraits of a monarch at this time were not meant to be accurate representations, they were propaganda.

    Elizabeth was twenty-five when she came to the throne in November 1558 and she ruled until March 1603, when she was sixty-nine, but let’s have a look at some of the portraits painted late in her reign, when she covered her greying and thinning hair with wigs and used layers of ceruse to make her “mask of youth”.

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  • The Feast of Saints Crispin and Crispinian

    In Tudor England, 25th October marked the feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian who were brothers (some say twins) and who were martyrs of the Early Church, being beheaded on 25 October 285 or 286 during the reign of Diocletian. Following the victory of England over France on 25 October 1415, at the Battle of Agincourt, the day became a celebration of that event too. Celebrations included bonfires, revelry and the crowning of a King Crispin.

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