The Tudor Society
  • 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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  • 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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  • A fantastic view of an Elizabethan House – and some art news!

    Our lovely friend, Aidan Meller (who many will know as the anchorman at MadeGlobal’s September author event, or from articles in the early days of the Tudor Society) has shared a wonderful video with us about his business in Oxford.

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  • Jean wins a copy of Leanda de Lisle’s book!

    We’ve been running a photo competition for our full members to win a signed copy of Leanda de Lisle’s book “Tudor: The Family Story”, and we’re proud to announce that Jean is the winner, with her wonderful Tudor dress and Tudor Society Pin Badge!

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  • Jane Seymour resources

    A portrait of Jane Seymour by Hans Holbein the Younger

    As today is the anniversary of the death of Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII, on 24th October 1537, I thought I would share some links to further resources on Jane here at the Tudor Society.

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  • This week in history 23 – 29 October

    On this day in history…

    23rd October:

    1545 – Death of Sir Humphrey Wingfield, lawyer, Speaker of the House of Commons (1533-36) and patron of humanist education, at Ipswich.
    1556 – Death of Sir John Gresham, brother of Sir Richard Gresham and Lord Mayor of London (1547). He was buried in the church of St Michael Bassishaw.
    1570 – Burial of John Hopkins, poet, psalmodist and Church of England clergyman, at Great Waldingfield. Churchman and historian John Bale described Hopkins as “not the least significant of British poets of our time”. Hopkins’ psalms were included in the 1562 “The whole booke of Psalmes, collected into Englysh metre by T. Starnhold, J. Hopkins & others”

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  • Transcript of Live chat with Nathen Amin

    We had an excellent chat with Nathen Amin in the chatroom at the end of last week. Lots of questions were asked, and lots answered. Thank you to those who came, and congratulations to Dawn as the winner of Nathen’s book, “The House of Beaufort”. Here is the transcript for those who missed the chat.

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  • Edward Seymour and Anne Stanhope Quiz

    How much do you know about Edward Seymour, brother of Queen Jane Seymour and Lord Protector in Edward VI’s reign,
    and his second wife, Anne Stanhope? Grab your favourite beverage, make yourself comfortable and get those little grey cells working with this little quiz – good luck!

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  • Thomas Seymour: A sexual predator?

    In today’s Claire Chats, Claire considers the primary source evidence for Thomas Seymour’s behaviour with Elizabeth, the future Elizabeth I, between 1547 and 1549.

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  • Tudor Society Pin Badge Competition Closing Soon!

    Just a reminder that our Tudor Society pin badge competition closes at the end of tomorrow, 20th October 2017. We’ve received lots of photos (thank you!) but if you’ve haven’t sent in your photo then do it now!

    Send us your Pin Badge photo!

    If you want the chance to win a signed copy of Leanda de Lisle’s fantastic book Tudor: The Family Story then all you have to do is send us a photo of yourself with your Tudor Society pin badge. Use some creativity and have some fun with what’s in the photo – show us your addiction to the Tudors, show us your most prized Tudor item along with yourself and your badge, wear your Tudor costume, show us other pin badges you’ve collected, take it at a Tudor place… whatever you want as long as it shows your pin badge! We’ll choose the best one.

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  • Sir Philip Sidney

    On this day in history, 17th October 1586, Sir Philip Sidney, the famous Elizabethan poet, courtier and soldier, died as a result of an injury sustained at the Battle of Zutphen in the Netherlands. He was just thirty-one years old. His body was returned to England and laid to rest on the 16th February 1587 in St Paul’s Cathedral.

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  • This week in history 16 – 22 October

    On this day in history…

    16th October:

    1532 – While Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII were lodged in Calais, the Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Derby and a group of gentleman met with “the great mayster of Fraunce” Anne, duc de Montmorency, and his men at the English Pale, six miles outside of Calais. This meeting was to plan where Henry VIII would meet Francis I.
    1555 – The burnings of two of the Oxford martyrs: Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, and Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London. Click here to read more.
    1573 – Death of Thomas Davies, Bishop of St Asaph, at Abergele in Denbighshire.
    1594 – Death of Cardinal William Allen at his home in the via Monserrato, Rome, while in exile. He was buried in Rome, in the English College’s Church.

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  • Quiz – Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII

    Anne of Cleves was the fourth wife of King Henry VIII, but how much do you actually know about her? Test your knowledge and have some fun with our Sunday quiz on Anne – good luck!

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  • Smallpox

    In today’s Claire Chats video talk, Claire looks at the disease smallpox, which Tudor people like Henry VIII, Margaret Tudor, Edward VI and Elizabeth I suffered from. What was it? Where did it come from? What were its symptoms and how was it treated?

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  • Amy Robsart – What do we really know about her by Christine Hartweg

    Thank you to Christine Hartweg, author of Amy Robsart: A Life and its End for writing this guest article on Amy Robsart, wife of Robert Dudley, for us today.

    Who was Amy Robsart? And what do we really know about her? And why?

    In 1559, the Imperial ambassador at Elizabeth I’s court wrote that Robert Dudley, Elizabeth’s great favourite, was “married to a beautiful wife” (but of course the ambassador had never seen her). We know for certain, on the other hand, that Amy Robsart was born on 7 June 1532 in Norfolk. Like her future husband, who was almost exactly the same age, she grew up in an “evangelical” (or Protestant) family. It is possible, even likely, that the marriage of Amy and Robert was a love match. They were married on 4 June 1550 in the presence of King Edward VI.

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  • Happy birthday to Edward VI!

    Happy 480th birthday to King Edward VI who was born on this day in history, 12th October 1537. To commemorate his birthday, here is a mini-biography of him plus links to further resources.

    Edward VI was born on 12 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace. He was the son of Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour, who died twelve days after giving birth to him, probably of puerperal fever. He was tutored by scholars such as John Cheke, Richard Cox, Roger Ascham and Jean Belmain, and it appears that he was an intelligent child. By the age of twelve he was undertaking work on religious issues and controversies and had written a treatise about the Pope being the Antichrist.

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  • Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder

    As today is the anniversary of the death of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, poet and diplomat, on 11th October 1542, I thought it would be good to share a mini-biography of him. This article is adapted from an article I wrote for the Anne Boleyn Files a few years ago and an extract from my book On This Day in Tudor History.

    Sir Thomas Wyatt was born in c.1503 at Allington Castle, Kent. He was the eldest son of Yorkshireman Sir Henry Wyatt and Anne Skinner, daughter of John Skinner of Reigate, a woman famed for her hospitality. Henry Wyatt was a skilled soldier and financier. During the Wars of the Roses, he had been a Lancastrian and it is possible that he was involved in the Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion against King Richard III. He was certainly imprisoned in Richard III’s reign and a family story tells of how he was saved from starvation during his imprisonment by a cat who brought him pigeons to eat. He was released on the accession of Henry VII, who rewarded him with many grants and titles. Henry Wyatt became a privy councillor under Henry VII and acted as an executor of the king’s will on his death in 1509. He went on to serve the new king, Henry VIII, and was made a Knight of the Bath at his coronation in June 1509.

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  • This week in history 9 – 15 October

    On this day in history…

    9th October:

    1514 – The eighteen-year-old Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII, married the fifty-two-year-old King Louis XII of France at Abbeville.
    1529 – A writ of praemunire was filed against Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the court of King’s Bench.
    1536 – Pilgrimage of Grace: The rebels of Horncastle, Lincoln, dispatched their petition of grievances to the King and also north into Yorkshire.
    1547 – Baptism of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. His actual birthdate is unknown.
    1573 – Death of Sir Thomas Wroth, courtier, politician and landowner. Wroth served Edward VI as a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and was with him when he died.
    1604 – Death of Sir William Peryam, Judge, at Little Fulford, near Credington in Devon. He was laid to rest at Holy Cross Church. Peryam was on the commissions at the trials of Mary, Queen of Scots, the Earl of Arundel, the Earl of Essex and Sir John Perrot, and served as Chief Baron of the Exchequer from 1593 until his death.

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  • Tudor monarchs – True or False?

    Today’s quiz is a true or false one so you’ve got pretty good odds at getting these questions right! Can you get 12/12? Good luck!

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  • George Gascoigne

    On this day in history, 7th October 1577, George Gascoigne, author, poet, courtier and soldier, died in Stamford, Lincolnshire. He was buried in Stamford, at St Mary’s Parish Church. He was in his early forties.

    Gascoigne is listed as one of the most important Tudor poets, along with the likes of Sir Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and Philip Sidney. His works included A Discourse of the Adventures of Master FJ, The Supposes, A Hundredth Sundry Flowres… and The Posies of George Gascoigne, Esquire. Gascoigne was also hired in 1575 by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to provide the entertainment for Elizabeth I’s visit to Kenilworth Castle.

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  • Tudor Cooking with Claire – A Tudor Fool

    Instead of my Claire Chats video this week I have made a “Tudor Cooking with Claire” video. One of my favourite desserts is trifle, so I was drawn to the recipes for “fools” in Tudor cookbooks.

    As I explain in the video, the recipe I use is a combination of Gervase Markham’s “A Norfolk Fool” and Peter Brears’ modern renditions of a Norfolk Fool and “Elizabeth Cromwell’s Fool. Here’s the recipe I used:

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  • October’s Live Chats – 14 and 20 October

    This month’s live chats will be taking place in the Tudor Society chatroom on Saturday 14th October and Friday 21st October.

    The first live chat, on 14th, will be our informal chat and the topic this month is the Shakespeare authorship question. Just be warned that the moderator (i.e. me, Claire) is from near Stratford-upon-Avon and loves the Bard; she might be slightly biased!

    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. The moderator is just there to check that it runs smoothly, and to join the debate too.

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  • 5 October 1549 – Protector Somerset issues a proclamation

    On this day in history, 5th October 1549, Edward Seymour, Protector Somerset, issued a proclamation for a general array of troops to gather at Hampton Court Palace for the defence of the realm, or rather the defence of the Lord Protector and his nephew, King Edward VI.

    This proclamation was due to tensions mounting between Somerset and John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, who had recently defeated Kett’s Rebellion in Norfolk and who was now known to be negotiating with Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, and Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. The imperial ambassador, François van der Delft, recorded what happened in a letter to the Emperor:

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