The Tudor Society
  • Livechat transcript – Seamus O’Caellaigh – Henry VIII’s Health

    Thank you to the wonderful group of people we had in our live chat on Friday night. Seamus answered lots of questions about Henry VIII and his health, and also let us know some of the remedies that he had personally tried.
    Congratulations also to the winner of a copy of Seamus’ book Pustules, Pestilence and Pain.

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  • This week in history 30 April – 6 May

    1532 – James Bainham, lawyer and Protestant martyr, was burned at Smithfield.
    1536 – Scottish theologian Alexander Alesius witnessed an argument between Queen Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, and at 11 o’clock that night, the King and Queen’s upcoming visit to Calais was cancelled and arrangements made for the King to journey alone a week later. Also 30th April, court musician and member of the Boleyn circle, Mark Smeaton, was taken to Thomas Cromwell’s house in Stepney and interrogated. Within twenty-four hours, he had confessed to making love three times to the Queen.
    1544 – Death of Thomas Audley, Baron Audley of Walden and Lord Chancellor, at his home in Aldgate, London. Audley was Cromwell’s right-hand man in 1536, during the fall of Anne Boleyn, and became even more important after Cromwell’s fall.
    1547 – Sir Anthony Denny was made Henry VIII’s Groom of the Stool.
    1563 – Death of Henry Stafford, 10th Baron Stafford, at Caus Castle, Shropshire. Stafford was the only legitimate son of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and his wife, Eleanor, daughter of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland.
    1595 – Death of Thomas Bedwell, mathematician, engineer and keeper of the ordnance store at the Tower of London. He was buried at the Tower, in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula. Bedwell’s engineering projects included him supervising the building of Dover harbour, giving advice on the fortification of Portsmouth and working on the River Thames’ defences at Tilbury and Gravesend in 1588, at the time of the Spanish Armada.
    1596 – Death of Sir John Puckering, administrator and Speaker of the House of Commons, from apoplexy. Puckering’s other offices included Serjeant-at-Law, Recorder of Warwick, Privy Councillor and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. In 1587, he was involved in the trial of Elizabeth I’s secretary William Davison, appearing for the Crown. He was buried at Westminster Abbey, in St Paul’s Chapel.
    1596 – Death of Thomas Bickley, Bishop of Chichester, at the bishop’s palace in Aldingbourne. He was buried in his cathedral.

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  • Tudor Thomases Wordsearch

    Oh well, I can’t tie this into the royal baby news! But one name that was popular in Tudor times was Thomas. There were a lot of Tudor Thomases and this wordsearch is about some of them. Test your knowledge of Tudor Thomases with this fun wordsearch. Good luck and have fun!

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  • May 2018 – Tudor Life -Elizabeth I’s Last Years

    What a treat we have for members this month! Here’s the full version of our massive 96-page May edition of Tudor Life Magazine. This month we’re focusing on the last years of Elizabeth I’s life.

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  • Touching for the King’s Evil

    In this week’s Claire Chats video talk, I look at the practice of touching for the king’s evil, including how and when it started, what it involved and when it stopped. It’s a fascinating subject and I enjoyed researching it.

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  • Put Out the Lights – a Tudor-themed play on in May in Ipswich

    The Red Rose Chain theatre company have just let me know about their latest Tudor-themed play, Put Out the Lights, which is being performed at the Avenue Theatre in Ipswich, UK, from 8-27 May 2018. I thoroughly enjoyed Joanna Carrick’s play “Fallen in Love” and this one is also written by her, and sounds wonderful. Here are all the details:

    1538. Ipswich is a dangerous place of dark secrets and new whisperings. A preacher is dragged from his pulpit, arrested for protestant heresy, while Cromwell sends agents to dismantle the Town’s beloved Catholic Shrine and burn the statue of Our Lady. Trying to make sense of it all are Alice Driver, an ordinary Suffolk woman with an unshakable belief and her two best friends – the well-meaning Edward and loose cannon Alexander. A tragic love story, where beliefs, convictions and divided loyalties threaten to tear their world apart.

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  • 24 April 1558 – The marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Dauphin of France

    On this day in history, 24th April 1558, Mary, Queen of Scots, married Francis, the Dauphin of France, at Notre Dame in Paris. Mary was fifteen, and Francis was fourteen.

    In his book The Book of the Ladies (Illustrious Dames), Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme, wrote of their marriage:

    “This lady and princess pleased France so much that King Henri was urged to give her in alliance to the dauphin, his beloved son, who, for his part, was madly in love with her. The marriage was therefore solemnly celebrated in the great church and the palace of Paris; where we saw this queen appear more beauteous than a goddess from the skies, whether in the morning, going to her espousals in noble majesty, or leading, after dinner, at the ball, or advancing in the evening with modest steps to offer and perform her vows to Hymen; so that the voice of all as one man resounded and proclaimed throughout the Court and the great city that happy a hundredfold was he, the prince, thus joined to such a princess; and even if Scotland were a thing of price its queen out-valued it; for had she neither crown nor sceptre, her person and her glorious beauty were worth a kingdom; therefore, being a queen, she brought to France and to her husband a double fortune.

    This was what the world went saying of her; and for this reason she was called queen-dauphine and her husband the king-dauphin, they living together in great love and pleasant concord.”

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  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare and RIP

    As you probably already know, the 23rd April is the traditional date for celebrating the birth of William Shakespeare, playwright, poet and actor. We don’t know his actual birthdate, as it was not recorded, but we know that he was baptised on 26th April 1564 and baptisms usually took place within a few days of birth. St George’s Day seems a good day to celebrate the Bard’s birthday.

    23rd April is also, sadly, the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. He died on 23rd April 1616 and was laid to rest in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church, in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon

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  • This week in history 23 – 29 April

    1500 – Birth of Alexander Ales (Alesius, Aless), Scottish theologian and reformer, at Edinburgh. His mother was Christina Bigholm, and his actual surname seems to have been Alan or Allane. He changed his name when he went into exile, choosing “Alesius”, meaning “bird”, or in this case, “exile”.
    1512 – Birth of Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel, son of William Fitzalan, 11th Earl of Arundel, and Anne (née Percy), daughter of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland. At his baptism, Henry VIII stood as his godfather. He served Henry VIII as Deputy of Calais, Privy Councillor and Lord Chamberlain.
    1536 – Sir Nicholas Carew was elected to the Order of the Garter at the annual chapter meeting at Greenwich, rather than George Boleyn, brother of Queen Anne Boleyn.
    1564 – Traditional birthdate of William Shakespeare, the Bard. It is not known on what date Shakespeare was actually born but he was baptised at Stratford-upon-Avon on 26th April 1564, and baptism usually took place around three days after birth.
    William Shakespeare also died on this day in 1616. He was buried at the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, in the chancel.
    23 April, St George’s Day, was the traditional day for announcing new appointments to the Order of the Garter, the highest order of chivalry in England.

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  • Henry VII: True or False?

    Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of King Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty, on 21st April 1509. To commemorate this anniversary, I thought it would be fitting to test you on your knowledge of this Tudor king. Just how much do you know about Henry VII? Find out with this fun true or false quiz. Good luck!

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  • 21 April 1509 – The king is dead! Long live the king!

    On this day in history, 21st April 1509, King Henry VIII died at Richmond Palace. He had ruled since defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth on 22nd August 1485 and was aged fifty-two when he died. He was succeeded by his seventeen-year-old only surviving son, Henry, who became King Henry VIII.

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  • Execution methods – From boiling to pressing

    Following on from last week’s Claire Chats video talk on hanging, drawing and quartering, this week I’m looking at other methods of execution used in England, and also Scotland, during the Tudor period. Brutal times!

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  • 17 April 1554 – Sir Nicholas Throckmorton’s acquittal and an arrested jury

    On this day in history, 17th April 1554, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton was tried for treason for his alleged involvement in Wyatt’s Rebellion, the rebellion led against Mary I by Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger in early 1554. The indictment against him accused him of being “a principal, deviser, procurer and contriver of the late Rebellion” and said that “Wyatt was but his minister”, but he was acquitted. According to Stanford Lehmberg, his Oxford Dictionary of National Biography biographer, “Throckmorton gave a bravura display of eloquence and learning to run rings round his accusers” and “poured ridicule on the prosecutors’ attempts to find him guilty by association, and repeatedly caught them out on points of law”. The jury acquitted him but the jurors were arrested straight after the trial and Throckmorton remained in prison until January 1555.

    The chronicle of Queen Jane, and of two years of Queen Mary, and especially of the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat gives the following account of what happened on that day:

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  • Was Anne Boleyn a mistress of Francis I?

    Thank you to Tudor Society member Lynne for asking this question: “When Anne Boleyn was a teenager in the court of Francis I, did she have a bit of a romance going on with the king?”

    I (Claire Ridgway) will answer this one as I have done in-depth research into Anne Boleyn’s life, including her time in France.

    Anne Boleyn left England in the spring or summer of 1512 to serve at the court of Margaret of Austria in Mechelen. In August 1514, Anne’s father, Thomas Boleyn, wrote to Margaret to inform her that Anne had been appointed to serve Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII. Mary was travelling to France to marry King Louis XII of France and Anne had been chosen as one of her maids of honour. It is not known when Anne arrived in France, whether it was in time for Mary’s marriage on 9th October or whether it wasn’t until her coronation in the November, but Anne served Mary from that time until Mary returned to England in the spring of 1515. Anne was retained by the new queen consort of France, Queen Claude, wife of Francis I, and served her until late 1521 when Anne was recalled to England in late 1521.

    So, Anne spent seven years in France, serving at the royal court, but was she linked to Francis I romantically during that time?

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  • Winner of our “Young and Damned and Fair” competition

    Congratulations to Mary, the winner of our competition to win a copy of Gareth Russell’s “Young and Damned and Fair”.

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  • This week in history 16 – 22 April

    16th April:

    1512 – The Mary Rose began her first tour of duty in the English Channel on the hunt for French warships.
    1521 – German Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, appeared in front of Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms. He had been summoned to the diet to either recant or reaffirm his religious views.
    1550 – Birth of Francis Anthony, alchemist, apothecary and physician. He was probably born in London and was the son of Derrick Anthony, a goldsmith. Anthony was imprisoned twice for practising as a physician without a licence, and is known for his aurum potabile (drinkable gold), made from gold and mercury, which he claimed had amazing curative powers. His works included Medicinae chymicae et veri potabilis auri assertio (1610).
    1570 – Baptism of Guy Fawkes, conspirator, at the Church of St Michael le Belfrey in York.
    1578 – Burial of Thomas Drant, Church of England clergyman and poet. He was part of the “Areopagus” intellectual circle at court, but also had an ecclesiastical career and was chaplain to Edmund Grindal, Bishop of London. He is known for his work on prosody (metre), and actually drew up some rules concerning it, which were mentioned by Edmund Spenser, Gabriel Harvey, Philip Sidney, Edward Dyer and Fulke Greville.
    1587 – Death of Anne Seymour (née Stanhope), Duchess of Somerset and wife of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector during part of Edward VI’s reign. Anne was a reformer and a literary patron. She died at Hanworth Place and was buried at Westminster Abbey.
    1595 – Death of Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby and literary patron. His sudden death caused rumours of poisoning and witchcraft, but nothing was ever proved. Stanley was patron of the Strange’s Men company of players, which probably included William Shakespeare, and he was also a patron of poets. It is thought that he also was a poet.

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  • April Tudor Events Crossword Puzzle

    How much do you know about the events that happened in the month of April during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs? Why not test your knowledge with this fun crossword. Good luck!

    Click on the link or the picture below to print out the crossword.

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  • 13 April 1534 – Sir Thomas More is summoned to Lambeth

    Sketch of Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger

    On this day in history, 13th April 1534, Sir Thomas More, Henry VIII’s former Lord Chancellor and good friend, was summoned to Lambeth to swear his allegiance to the Act of Succession. He refused to swear the oath and “thereupon was he delivered to the abbot of Westminster to be kept as a prisoner.”

    His son-in-law, William Roper, recorded what happened that day in his book The Life of Sir Thomas More:

    “So fell it out, within a month, or thereabout, after the making of the Statute for the Oath of the Supremacy and Matrimony, that all the priests of London and Westminster, and no temporal men but he, were sent for to appear at Lambeth before the Bishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, and Secretary Cromwell, commissioners appointed there to tender the oath unto them. Then Sir Thomas More, as his accustomed manner was always ere he entered into any matter of importance, (as when he was first chosen of the king’s privy council, when he was sent ambassador, appointed Speaker of the parliament, made Lord Chancellor, or when he took any like weighty matter upon him) to go to church and be confessed, to hear mass, and be houseled; so did he likewise in the morning early the selfsame day that he was summoned to appear before the lords at Lambeth.

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  • Execution Methods – Hanging, drawing and quartering

    In this week’s Claire Chats video talk, I discuss the brutal penalty for the crime of high treason – hanging, drawing and quartering – and just what it entailed, as well as its history and famous people who suffered this awful end.

    Apologies for the rather graphic descriptions!

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  • Just 10 places left on our Discover the Tudors Tour!

    Tour manager Philippa Lacey Brewell has informed me that there are now just 10 places left on our September 2018 Discover the Tudors tour so do act quickly if you’d like to join us! You can click here to secure your place now and to find out more.

    9 days of talking Tudor, 12 stunning historical attractions to visit, accommodation in luxury 4-star hotels, two full-time tour leaders and three expert speakers – what more could you ask for?! I’m very excited about being one of the leaders and I’m looking forward to meeting some of you on it.

    The Discover the Tudors tour runs from 16-24 September 2018 and the attractions visited are:

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  • Helena Gorges (1548-1635)

    Helena, Lady Gorges, was born in Sweden in 1548 and was the daughter of Ulf Henriksson of Östergötland and his wife, Agneta Knuttson. Before her two marriages, she was known as Helena (Elin) Snakenborg, the surname coming from her mother’s family, who came from Mecklenburg. Helena’s father was a nobleman of the Bååt family and her mother descended from the earls of Orkney.

    In the mid 1560s, Helena was chosen to serve Princess Cecilia of Sweden, Margravine of Baden, daughter of King Gustav I (Gustav Vasa) of Sweden, as a maid of honour. In late 1564, Helena left Sweden to accompany her mistress on a voyage to England to the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Their journey took almost a year due to bad weather and the need to avoid travelling through certain countries. Shortly after her arrival in England, Helena fell in love with William Parr, Marquis of Northampton and brother of Catherine Parr (Henry VIII’s sixth wife). When Princess Cecilia left England in 1566, Helena remained in England and joined Elizabeth I’s household in around 1567. Helena served Elizabeth I as maid of honour and then gentlewoman of the privy chamber.

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  • This week in history 9 – 15 April

    9th April:

    1483 – Death of Edward IV at the Palace of Westminster. He was laid to rest in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 20th April. His cause of death is unknown. It may have been caused by a chill, but he was known for overindulging in food and drink, and that would not have helped his health.
    1533 – A delegation of the King’s councillors, headed by the Duke of Norfolk, visited Catherine of Aragon and informed her that Henry VIII was now married to Anne Boleyn. After they left, Catherine’s Chamberlain, Sir William Blount, 4th Baron Mountjoy, had to tell her that she had been demoted from Queen to Dowager Princess of Wales.
    1557 – Cardinal Reginald Pole’s legatine powers were revoked by Pope Paul IV.
    1582 – Death of Richard Bertie, evangelical, member of Parliament and second husband of Katherine Willoughby (other married name Brandon), Duchess of Suffolk, at Bourne. He had met Katherine when he became her Gentleman Usher. He was buried with Katherine, who died in 1580, at Spilsby.
    1590 – Funeral of Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick. He was laid to rest in the Beauchamp Chapel of St Mary’s Church, Warwick.
    1626 – Death of Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban, Lord Chancellor, politician and philosopher. It appears that Bacon died from inhaling nitre or opiates in a botched experiment.

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  • Quiz – Edward VI’s Regency Council

    In January 1547, King Henry VIII died and left his throne to his son and heir, Edward. Henry’s will made provisions for the nine-year-old King Edward VI to be helped by a regency council, but how much do you know about this council and what happened in early 1547? Test your knowledge with this fun quiz. Good luck!

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  • April 2018 Live Chats – 13 and 27 April

    As usual, we have two live chats in the Tudor Society chatroom this month – an informal chat and an expert chat. They will both take place in the Tudor Society chatroom at and will last an hour each.

    Our informal chat will take place on 13th April and the topic is Lady Jane Grey (Queen Jane). We can all share our views on this Tudor queen, pose questions to each other, share book recommendations etc. – anything to do with Lady Jane Grey.

    Here are the times in different time zones:

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  • A favourite source for sources

    In this week’s Claire Chat’s video talk, I look at one of my very favourite sources for primary sources and old books, and show you how to use it.

    I hope you find it helpful!

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  • Sir Anthony Denny (1501-1549)

    Sir Anthony Denny was born in Cheshunt on 16th January 1501. He was the second son of Sir Edmund Denny and his second wife, Mary Troutbeck. Edmund was a Hertfordshire landowner who went on to become Baron of the Exchequer in the early years of Henry VIII’s reign.

    Anthony Denny educated at St Paul’s School in London and then at St John’s College, Cambridge. Among his contemporaries at St Paul’s were John Leland, William Paget and Thomas Wriothesley. Although he attended St John’s, there is no record of his graduation.

    Denny’s early public career began in the service of Sir Francis Bryan who was a favourite of King Henry VIII. Denny assisted Bryan on diplomatic missions to France. In the 1520s, he served the king in the royal household.

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  • Expert Talk – Treatments from the Tudor Court by Seamus O’Caellaigh

    This month’s expert is Seamus O’Caellaigh, author of “Pustules, Pestilence and Pain”. He’s speaking to us about the kinds of treatments that would have been used in the Tudor Court and setting them in reference to modern day treatments. Were these treatments helpful or downright dangerous?

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  • 2 April 1552 – Edward VI falls ill

    On this day in history, fourteen-year-old King Edward VI fell ill. His journal entry for 2nd April 1552 reads “I fell sike of the mesels [measles] and the small pokkes [smallpox]”, but he doesn’t mention it again in the entries for that month and he was still able to write entries.

    In a letter to his friend Barnaby Fitzpatrick written on 3 May 1552, Edward mentions his recent illness:

    “We have a little been troubled with the smallpox, which hath letted us to write hitherto; but now we have shaken that quite away.”

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  • This week in history 2 – 8 April

    2nd April:

    1502 – Arthur, Prince of Wales, son and heir of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, died at Ludlow Castle in the Welsh Marches. He was just fifteen years old, and had only been married to the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon for four and a half months.
    1536 – Anne Boleyn’s almoner, John Skip, preached a rather controversial sermon in front of the King. Skip spoke on the Old Testament story of King Ahasuerus “who was moved by a wicked minister to destroy the Jews” but Queen Esther stepped in with different advice and saved the Jews. In Skip’s sermon, Henry VIII was Ahasuerus, Anne Boleyn was Queen Esther and Thomas Cromwell, who had just introduced the “Act of Suppression of the Lesser Monasteries” into Parliament, was Haman, the “wicked minister”.
    1552 – The fourteen-year-old Edward VI fell ill with measles and smallpox. Fortunately, he survived. His biographer, Chris Skidmore, believes that it was this bout of illness which suppressed the King’s immune system and which led to him dying of consumption (tuberculosis) on the 6th July 1553.
    1559 – The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, ending the Italian Wars, was signed between Henry II of France and Elizabeth I of England.
    1568 – Death of Sir Ambrose Cave, member of Parliament, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Knight of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, at the Savoy. He was buried at Stanford after a funeral at the Savoy Chapel.
    1571 – Death of Richard Onslow, lawyer, Solicitor-General and Speaker of the House of Commons. He caught a fever in Shrewsbury, while visiting his uncle there.

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  • Easter Sunday Wordsearch

    Today is Easter Sunday – Happy Easter! He is risen! I hope you have a very special day. To celebrate this feast day, our Sunday puzzle is an Easter wordsearch. Just how much do you know about how the Easter story was commemorated in Tudor times? Test your knowledge with this fun wordsearch.

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