The Tudor Society
  • Do you need to wear gloves when handling old manuscripts and books?

    Thank you so much to Tudor Society member Mary for asking this question. Mary’s full question was “I’ve often wondered why certain old texts/manuscripts are only handled with gloved hands, while others are not. Can someone explain?”

    This is something I can explain as I researched it a couple of years ago because I had comments when I shared a video of a historian touching a medieval manuscript without gloves. Those who viewed it were horrified, but archives’ policies have changed and it’s all for the best, to keep these precious manuscripts safe from harm so that they can be enjoyed by many more generations to come.

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  • This week in history 26 February – 4 March

    26th February:

    1548 – Birth of courtier George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon, son of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, and his wife, Anne. George was the grandson of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn.
    1552 – Executions of conspirators Sir Thomas Arundell, Sir Michael Stanhope, Sir Miles Partridge and Sir Ralph Fane. Arundell and Stanhope were beheaded on Tower Hill, while Partridge and Fane were hanged. They were condemned as traitors after being accused of conspiring with Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, against John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.
    1564 – Christopher Marlowe, poet, translator and playwright, was baptised at St George’s Canterbury. Marlowe was the second child of John Marlowe, shoemaker, and his wife, Katherine. Marlowe’s works included “Tamburlaine”, “Dr Faustus”, “The Jew of Malta” and “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love”. Click here to see a Claire Chats video on Christopher Marlowe.
    1608 – Death of John Still, Bishop of Bath and Wells, in the palace at Wells. He was buried in Wells Cathedral.
    1619 – Death of Edmund Bunny, clergyman, preacher and theological writer, at Cawood, Yorkshire. He was buried in York Minster. His works included “The Whole Summe of Christian Religion” (1576), “A Book of Christian Exercise, Appertaining to Resolution” (1584) and “A Briefe Answer, unto those Idle and Frivolous Quarrels of R.P.” (1589), a response to Jesuit Robert Person.

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  • Live chat transcript – Natalie Grueninger – The early life of Anne Boleyn

    Thanks to all who came to our live chat with Natalie Grueninger over the weekend. We had a great time discussing the early life of Anne Boleyn including things like her birth date.

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  • March 2018 – Tudor Life – The Howards

    Here is the full version of our 68-page March edition of Tudor Life Magazine. This month we have articles about the Howard family, a family who were very influential and who even produced two queens.

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  • Margaret and Mary Tudor Quiz

    King Henry VII had two surviving daughters, Margaret and Mary, but how much do you know about these Tudor women? Grab a drink and snack, make yourself comfortable and let’s get that brain working! Good luck!

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  • Henry Grey’s head

    As today is the anniversary of the execution of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk and father of Lady Jane Grey, I thought I’d talk about his execution and a mummified head discovered in the 19th century that is said to be the duke’s.

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  • Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk (1517-1554)

    Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, by Johannes Corvus

    Henry Grey was born on 17th January 1517 at Bradgate in Leicestershire. He was the eldest son of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset, and the marquess’s second wife, Margaret Wotton, who was the widow of William Medley. Henry’s father was the grandson of Sir John Grey of Groby, Leicestershire, and Elizabeth Woodville, who went on to marry King Edward IV.

    After his father’s death in 1530, thirteen-year-old Henry became Marquess of Dorset and also the ward of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and a close friend of King Henry VIII. Henry had been betrothed to Katherine Fitzalan, daughter of the Earl of Arundel, but in May 1533 Henry married Frances Brandon, daughter of Suffolk by his first wife, Mary Tudor, Queen of France. Frances’ mother died in June 1533 and her father went on to marry his other ward, Katherine Willoughby, in September 1533. Suffolk supported Henry and Frances financially until Henry reached his majority. The couple went on to have five children, but the first two, a son and daughter, died in infancy. Their eldest surviving daughter, Jane, the future Lady Jane Grey or Queen Jane, was born in 1537, followed by Katherine in 1540 and Mary in 1545.

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  • 21 February 1590 – The death of Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick

    Today is the anniversary of the death of Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, Master of the Ordnance, Privy Councillor and fourth son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, at Bedford House on the Strand in 1590. He was laid to rest in the Beauchamp Chapel of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick. You can read more about Ambrose in my bio of him – Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick.

    I have a real fondness for the Dudley family and was very moved when I visited the tombs of Ambrose, his brother Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and Robert’s wife, Lettice, and Robert’s little boy, Robert Dudley, Lord Denbigh, “the noble imp” as his tomb says.

    Here are some photos I took at the church in Warwick. By the way, the crowns are earls’ coronets rather than royal crowns.

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  • William Shakespeare’s grave at Holy Trinity Church

    Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon

    As Philippa and I are visiting Holy Trinity Church, the resting place of William Shakespeare and members of his family, as part of the Discover the Tudors tour in September, I dug out the talk I did on it for the Tudor Society a couple of years ago. New members might not have had a chance to see it as the archives are huge, so here’s the version Tim has just edited up for the tour. I hope you enjoy it.

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  • Eleanor Brandon, Countess of Cumberland

    In my article on Margaret Clifford, Countess of Derby, I noted that Margaret has been neglected by historians and novelists alike. Both Margaret and her mother Eleanor Brandon, Countess of Cumberland, have been marginalised in both fiction and non-fiction, especially when compared with other royal women of the period such as Lady Jane Grey and her sisters, Lady Margaret Douglas and, of course, Henry VIII’s six wives. The academic and popular fascination with the Grey family is explicable in view of their dynastic importance during the reigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth I; during Edward’s reign, Jane Grey was named heiress to the throne and would have reigned as queen of England had it not been for the extraordinary success of Mary Tudor’s coup in the summer of 1553. Jane’s sister Katherine was widely regarded as a viable successor to Elizabeth I, which enraged and unnerved the Tudor queen. After clandestinely marrying Edward Seymour, Katherine was incarcerated in the Tower of London, her marriage declared invalid and her children deemed to be illegitimate. More recently, Lady Margaret Douglas has attracted the interest of historians and novelists; as the mother-in-law of Mary Queen of Scots and the grandmother of James I of Scotland, this interest is perhaps not surprising.

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  • 19 February 1547 – The coronation procession of King Edward VI

    On Saturday 19th February 1547, King Edward VI rode from the Tower of London to Westminster in preparation for his coronation the next day. Chronicler and Windsor Herald Charles Wriothesley recorded:

    “The nynetenth daie of Februarie the Kinges Majestie rode from the Towre to Westminster through the cittie of London, which was rychly hanged with riche cloathes and divers pageantes, the conduites running wyne, the craftes standing in their raills, and the aldermen, the lord major riding in a crymosin velvett gowne with a rych collar of goulde, with a mase in his hand, afore the King; and, when his Majestie came where the aldermen stode, the Recorder made a proposition to his Majestie, and after the Chamberlaine gave his Majestie a purse of cloath of gould for a present from the cittie, which he thanckfullie tooke.”

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  • This week in history 19 – 25 February

    19th February:

    1473 – Birth of Nicholas Copernicus, the Renaissance mathematician and astronomer, in Thorn, in the province of Royal Prussia, Poland. Copernicus is known for his theory of heliocentric cosmology, or the idea that the sun was stationary in the centre of the universe and that the earth revolved around it.
    1547 – King Edward VI rode from the Tower of London to Westminster in preparation for his coronation the next day. Click here to read more.
    1546 – William Cavendish was appointed Treasurer of the Privy Chamber. He later claimed that he had paid £1000 for the position.
    1567 – The imprisoned Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was informed of the murder of her son, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, by William Cecil’s wife, Mildred, and Lady William Howard. The Spanish ambassador recorded that Margaret’s grief was such “that it was necessary for the Queen to send her doctors to her”.
    1592 – The Rose Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse, was opened in London on Bankside.
    1598 – Death of Jasper Heywood, Jesuit and poet, in Naples. Heywood had been deported to France in January 1585, after being imprisoned in the Tower of London for treason, and was then summoned to Rome. He never returned to England.
    1601 – Death of Thomas Fanshawe, at Warwick Lane. He was buried in the south aisle of Ware church in Hertfordshire. Fanshawe was an Exchequer official during Elizabeth I’s reign.

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  • Mary I True or False Quiz

    As today is Queen Mary I’s birthday, I thought we’d celebrate by testing ourselves on our Mary I knowledge. Grab your favourite beverage and enjoy this fun little quiz!

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  • Was Catherine Howard guilty of treason?

    As this week has been the anniversary of the execution of Catherine Howard, I thought I’d look at the bill of attainder against her and also whether she was guilty of high treason.

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  • Sir William Compton (c.1482-1528)

    Sir William Compton was an ambitious royal servant and a close friend of the king, yet he has been rather neglected and there is little information available on him.

    William Compton was born in around 1482 and was the only son of Edward Compton of Compton in Warwickshire and his wife, Joan, daughter of Walter Aylworth. He was around 11 years of age when he became the ward of Henry VII following his father’s death in 1493. Henry VII made him a page of Henry, Duke of York, the future Henry VIII. Compton was around nine years older than the king’s son, but they became close friends, and when Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509, the young king kept Compton close by appointing him a gentleman of the king’s privy chamber. Compton was made the new king’s groom of the stool. This position made Compton one of Henry VIII’s most intimate and trusted servants, and meant that he controlled access to the king.

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  • Was Elizabeth I really an awful person?

    Thank you to Tudor Society member Denis for asking the question “Was Elizabeth I as awful a person as Philippa Gregory paints her in her novel The Last Tudor?” I haven’t read the novel, so can’t share any views, but I know that Philippa Gregory used Leanda de Lisle’s book The Sisters Who Would be Queen for research so I asked Leanda. Leanda said:

    “Elizabeth I had good reason to be frightened of the Grey sisters as her possible heirs. She had already seen the eldest, Jane, supplant her in the line of succession and was very frightened that a married Katherine – with a son – could replace her on the throne. She had far less reason to fear Mary Grey, but her harsh treatment of Thomas Keyes sent a message to all – do not cross the queen on the matter of marriage to members of the royal family. If you read my Tudor: The Family Story, you will discover that the Grey sisters and Mary, Queen of Scots were not the only heirs she imprisoned, and it also explains the importance of these issues throughout the story of the dynasty.”

    Thank you to Tudor Society member Denis for asking the question “Was Elizabeth I as awful a person as Philippa Gregory paints her in her novel The Last Tudor?” I haven’t read the novel, so can’t share any views, but I know that Philippa Gregory used Leanda de Lisle’s book The Sisters Who Would be Queen for research so I asked Leanda. Leanda said:

    “Elizabeth I had good reason to be frightened of the Grey sisters as her possible heirs. She had already seen the eldest, Jane, supplant her in the line of succession and was very frightened that a married Katherine – with a son – could replace her on the throne. She had far less reason to fear Mary Grey…

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  • 12 February 1554 – Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley are executed

    On this day in history, 12th February 1554, Lord Guildford Dudley, son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, was executed on Tower Hill. Not long after, Guildford’s wife, Queen Jane, or Lady Jane Grey as she is more commonly known, great-granddaughter of King Henry VII, was executed at the Tower of London.

    You can find out more about Jane and Guildford’s executions in the following articles:

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  • This week in history 12 – 18 February

    12th February:

    1554 – Executions of Lady Jane Grey and her husband Lord Guildford Dudley for treason. They were buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London.
    1567 – Death of Sir Thomas White, founder of St John’s College, Oxford, and former Lord Mayor of London, at his property in Size Lane, London. He was buried in St John’s College Chapel.
    1584 – Executions of five Catholic priests, including James Fenn. They were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Fenn was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929.
    1590 – Death of Blanche Parry, chief Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber, at the age of eighty-two. She was buried in St Margaret’s, Westminster, with funeral rites which were usually reserved for a baroness. She has a monument in St Margaret’s and also one in Bacton Church, her home village in Herefordshire, which bears an inscription of twenty-eight lines of verse recording Blanche’s service to her beloved Queen.
    1611 – Probable date of death of Sir Henry Lee, Queen’s Champion from c.1580 to November 1590. He was buried at Quarrendon in Buckinghamshire.

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  • Lady Jane Grey or Queen Jane Quiz

    As tomorrow is the anniversary of the execution of Queen Jane, or Lady Jane Grey as she’s more commonly known,
    we thought we’d mark the occasion by making Jane the subject of our Sunday quiz.

    Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin. Good luck!

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  • Catherine of Aragon’s Pregnancies Part 2: 1513 – 1518

    Today, I am concluding my examination of Catherine of Aragon’s pregnancies and what evidence we have for them from the primary sources.

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  • Mary, Queen of Scots – In my end is my beginning

    On this day in history, 8th February 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots, daughter of James V, King of Scotland, and Marie de Guise, was executed in the great hall of Fotheringhay Castle after having been found guilty of treason.

    We have lots of resources (talks, articles etc.) here on the Tudor Society website on Mary, Queen of Scots, and here are links to them:

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  • A bench belonging to Catherine of Aragon? – by John Roberts

    Discovering new artefacts from Henry VIII’s era, and so far away from England, sounds highly unlikely, but I am an ex-Brit living on the west coast of Canada, and I think I may have found the ‘holy grail’ of pre-Elizabethan furniture.

    I am a retiree, and in December 2016 I was looking for historical items for my daughter, Melanie, who had recently purchased a two-piece upright cupboard with 1703 among the carvings.

    My latest find, a highly ornate wood-panelled bench, or settle (we’ll settle on the bench word from now on!), was at a weekly auction in Victoria, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. It was described as 19th century, and I was the winning bidder at a hammer price of $725 Canadian (415 GBP).

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  • Secret Lives Exposed: If Walls Could Talk – 1 March 2018, London

    The international water charity Just a Drop emailed me about this event taking place on 1st March 2018 at the Royal Geographical Society in London. It’s called “Secret Lives Exposed: If Walls Could Talk” and it sounds like a wonderful event. If you go then please do let us know what it was like.

    Here are the details…

    “Secret Lives Exposed: If Walls Could Talk”
    with novelist Sarah Dunant and historians Bettany Hughes and Suzannah Lipscomb
    The Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR
    1 March 2018, 7:30 – 9:00pm, doors open at 7:00pm
    Price: adults £20, students £15

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  • Sir Thomas More (1477/8 – 1535)

    Sir Thomas More is thought to have been born on 7th February 1477 or 1478 n Milk Street, London, and he was the son of Sir John More, lawyer and judge on the King’s Bench, and Agnes Graunger, daughter of Thomas Graunger, a Merchant of the Staple of Calais and an Alderman of London.

    More joined the household of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, before studying Latin and logic at the University of Oxford. He then studied law in London. It was while he was a student that he met and became friends with men like William Lilye, John Colet and Erasmus.

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  • Tailboys Dymoke or Thomas Cutwode (1561 – c.1602/3)

    On 6th February 1561, poet Tailboys Dymoke (pseudonym Thomas Cutwode) was baptised at Kyme in Lincolnshire. He was the son of Sir Robert Dymoke, and his wife, Bridget (née Clinton).

    Dymoke is known for his allegorical poem, Caltha poetarum, or, “The Bumble Bee”, which he published in 1599 under the name of Thomas Cutwode, “cut wood” being the English translation of Dymoke’s first name, the French “taille-bois”. The poem comprises 187 seven-line stanzas, so is rather long

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  • February Live Chats – 16th and 24th February

    As usual, we have two live chats this month: an informal chat and an expert live chat. Both will take place in our chatroom at

    Our informal live chat is on Queen Mary I. This type of live chat is an opportunity for our members to share their views on the topic, pose questions, share book recommendations and to get to know each other. I (Claire) act as moderator, just to keep an eye on things. They’re always good fun and everyone, from newbie to historian, is welcome. No question is a stupid one after all!

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  • This week in history 5 – 11 February

    5th February:

    1537 – Birth of diplomat Sir Henry Brooke, son of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham, and his wife Anne Bray. Anne Bray was a lady in waiting to Anne Boleyn, and there is controversy over whether she was the “Nan Cobham” who was one of the Queen’s accusers in 1536. In Elizabeth I’s reign, Brooke was made a gentleman pensioner and carried out embassies to Spain, the Low Countries and France for her. In October 1579, Elizabeth appointed him as her resident ambassador in France, until he was replaced by Sir Edward Stafford in 1583.
    1556 – Treaty of Vaucelles between Philip II of Spain and Henry II of France. By the terms of this treaty, Henry II had to relinquish Franche-Comté to Philip, but the treaty was quickly broken.
    1557 – Death of Sir William Portman, Judge and Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 1555. He was buried at St Dunstan-in-the-West, Fleet Street, London.
    1576 – Henry of Navarre, the future Henry IV of France, abjured Catholicism at Tours, rejoining the Protestant forces, following his escape from Paris on 3rd February.
    1605 – Death of Sir Edward Stafford, son of Sir William Stafford (Mary Boleyn’s second husband) and his second wife Dorothy Stafford. Edward was an MP and diplomat, and there is controversy over his “spying” activities during the Armada and exactly how much information he passed to Mendoza. He was buried in St Margaret’s, Westminster.

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  • Tudor February Events Crossword

    February is jam-packed with Tudor “on this day in history” events but how much do you know about the births, deaths, rebellions and other events that took place in this month?

    Grab your favourite beverage while you print out this crossword and let’s get those little grey cells working! Good luck and enjoy!

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  • Catherine of Aragon’s Pregnancies Part 1: 1509 – 1511

    As this week was the anniversary of Queen Catherine of Aragon giving birth to a still-born daughter in 1510, I thought I’d look at the primary source accounts we have of Catherine’s pregnancies.

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  • The White King: Charles I, Traitor, Murderer, Martyr – A review

    I don’t really do book reviews anymore, I leave them to Tudor Society book reviewer Charlie Fenton, but when one of your favourite historians asks you if you’d like a review copy of their next book then you just don’t say no, do you?! Saying no would be rather silly.

    Let me start by saying that I haven’t studied Charles I and the English Civil War since History A’ Level and that’s quite a long time ago now [cough, cough, splutter, splutter]. I hadn’t read a book on his reign since then, so my ideas about Charles I were rather dated, to say the least. I knew that the traditional view of Charles as weak and stupid was probably an unfair one so I was looking forward to reading Leanda de Lisle’s take on this man, particularly as her book on the Grey sisters, “The Sisters Who Would Be Queen”, is one of my all-time favourite history books. If anyone was going to challenge the myths, peel back the layers of propaganda and bad history, and reveal the real man then I was sure it was going to be Leanda.

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