The Tudor Society
  • Witchcraft in Tudor times

    With it being Hallowtide, I’m seeing lots of photos of people dressed up as witches for costume parties and trick or treating, so I used this as inspiration for this talk.

    I always find it fascinating how in the Tudor period, a world that was run by religion, people were also incredibly superstitious and put their trust in charms, amulets, weird remedies, and astrology, things that are seen as counter-religion today.

    In today’s talk, I explain just how these topics were integrated in Tudor life, and the different attitudes towards what was seen as white magic versus witchcraft, and how so many people, mainly women, came to lose their lives in the 16th and 17th centuries accused of witchcraft.

    [Read More...]
  • Halloween and Hallowtide

    Today, the 31st October, is All Hallows Eve, more commonly known as Halloween. It is the first day of Hallowtide, which also includes the Feast of All Hallows, also known as All Saints’ Day, which is celebrated on 1st November, and the Feast of All Souls, which is celebrated on 2nd November.

    In today’s talk, I explain the origins of Hallowtide and how Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day were celebrated in medieval and Tudor England.

    [Read More...]
  • 31 October – Martin Luther and his 95 Theses

    On this day in Tudor history, 31st October 1517, Reformer, priest and professor of theology Martin Luther is said to have posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, although all we know for definite is that he posted them to Bishop of Brandenburg and the Archbishop of Mainz.

    The proper title of his work was the “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, and he was protesting against the sale of indulgences by the papacy, as well as other points. His actions on this day had a huge impact on Europe and were the catalyst of the European Reformation.

    Find out more about Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and what happened next in today’s video.

    [Read More...]
  • 30 October – Henry VII is crowned king

    On this day in Tudor history, 30th October 1485, Henry Tudor, 2nd Earl of Richmond and son of Lady Margaret Beaufort and the late Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, was crowned King Henry VII at Westminster Abbey in London.

    Henry VII had of course become king following the defeat of King Richard III’s forces, and the death of Richard, at the Battle of Bosworth Field in August 1485.

    Find out about his coronation celebrations and his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort’s reaction to Henry’s coronation in today’s talk:

    [Read More...]
  • November 2019 – Tudor Life – Tudor Scandals

    Here's the full 72 page version of your monthly magazine: November's Tudor Life magazine, packed with articles about Tudor Scandals...

    This month the magazine contains:

    • The death of Amy Robsart by Sarah-Beth Watkins
    • Thomas Seymour and the Young Elizabeth I by Claire Ridgway
    • Gayle Hulme Expert Speaker on The Places of Mary, Queen of Scots
    • The Boleyns: A Family Scandal by Roland Hui
    • Popular Tudor Figures a quiz by Catherine Brooks
    • The Scandals of the Tudors: Reign by Reign by Gareth Russell
    • Sir John Gates, Tudor Courtier by Susan Abernethy
    • Special events at The Mary Rose
    • The Burial of Queen Jane Seymour by Elizabeth Jane Timms
    • Sons of Scandal by Gareth Russell
    • Tudor Life Editor’s Picks: books on Tudor Scandal
    • Tudor Society Members’ Bulletin by Tim Ridgway
    • Pastimes in Good Company: Part II by Tony Mount
    • Devices and Desires/Boleyn Gold book reviews by Charlie Fenton
    • Thinking about writing by Wendy J. Dunn
    • Helping others to enjoy history an interview with Beth von Staats
    • Cibos Venerem Incitantes: Tudor aphrodisiacs by Rioghnach O’Geraghty
    • November’s On this day by Claire Ridgway

    [Read More...]

  • 29 October – “Strike, man, strike” – The end of Sir Walter Ralegh

    On this day in history, 29th October 1618, in the reign of King James I, Elizabethan courtier, explorer, author and soldier, Sir Walter Ralegh (Raleigh, Rawley, Ralagh, Rawleigh) was executed in the Old Palace Yard at Westminster Palace.

    Ralegh had led an eventful life. He’d been a favourite of Elizabeth I – except when he secretly married her lady, Bess Throckmorton – but had been imprisoned in the Tower of London on several occasions, he’d been accused of atheism at one point, had sailed to America and tried to establish a colony, he was knighted for his service in Ireland, and he was a poet too!

    Find out all about Sir Walter Ralegh’s colourful life in today’s talk.

    [Read More...]
  • 28 October – Knights of the Garter, bear baiting and wrestling

    This day in Tudor history, Monday 28th October 1532, the Feast of St Simon and St Jude, was the last full day of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s time with King Francis I of France in Calais, and it was time to celebrate the kings’ friendship.

    New Knights of the Garter were elected, bear-baiting was watched and then there was a wrestling match between French and English men, but who would win? Find out what happened in today’s talk. I also explain the Feast of St Simon and St Jude.

    [Read More...]
  • 27 October – Anne Boleyn makes an entrance

    On this day in Tudor history, Sunday 27th October 1532, Anne Boleyn, Marquess of Pembroke, made a dramatic entrance to the great banquet held by King Henry VIII in Calais in honour of King Francis I of France.

    I share details from contemporary sources regarding the banquet and the masque that followed. Anne Boleyn definitely knew how to make and entrance and the English ladies must have looked spectacular. You’ll recognise some of the names of Anne’s ladies and those present in Calais.

    [Read More...]
  • Autumn Feasts and Festivals Wordsearch

    This week’s Sunday puzzle is a wordsearch testing your knowledge of Autumn feasts and festivals, feast days celebrated by Tudor people in the months of September, October and November.

    Our Tudor Society Tudor Feast Days e-book should come in useful here, if you get stuck!

    [Read More...]
  • 26 October – Sir Thomas More is sworn in as Lord Chancellor

    On this day in Tudor history, 26th October 1529, Sir Thomas More took his oath as Lord Chancellor, replacing Cardinal Thomas Wolsey who was charged with praemunire.

    It was an important day for Sir Thomas More, who was described as “an upright and learned man”, but, little did he know that his loyal service to the king would lead to his undoing.

    Find out all about this day in 1529 in today’s talk.

    [Read More...]
  • The Feast of St Crispin and St Crispinian

    Happy St Crispin and St Crispinian Day!

    Yes, the 25th October marks the feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian, martyrs of the Early Church. These men were brothers, or perhaps twins, from a noble Roman family. It is said that they travelled to Soissons in France and that on their travels they supported themselves as cobblers while converting people to the Christian faith.

    [Read More...]
  • 25 October – Henry VIII, Francis I and a gift for Anne Boleyn

    On this day in Tudor history, 25th October 1532, Henry VIII returned to Calais following his visit to the French court at Boulogne, and he took the French king, Francis I, with him. But first, Francis I wanted to honour two English noblemen by making them Knights of the Order of St Michel.

    After that ceremony, the two kings travelled on to Calais, where they were greeted in a spectacular fashion, and Francis I sent Henry VIII’s sweetheart, Anne Boleyn, Marquess of Pembroke, a rather splendid gift.

    In today’s talk, I explain just what happened on this day in Boulogne and Calais, as well as giving details of the gift that Anne Boleyn received.

    [Read More...]
  • Books to put on your list

    Friends have been panicking me by saying that they’ve already started Christmas shopping – aaaggghhh! – and this inspired me to think about books that I would like for Christmas or that I’d recommend to other Tudor history lovers. I thought I’d talk about some of them in this week’s Claire Chats. These are just ones that I’ve enjoyed or that have piqued my interest, so please do add your recommendations or ones that you’re looking forward to receiving/buying as comments below. Thank you!

    [Read More...]
  • 24 October – The death of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th October 1537, Queen Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII, died at Hampton Court Palace twelve days after giving birth to a son who would grow up to be King Edward VI.

    In today’s talk, I share contemporary accounts of Jane Seymour’s illness and death, as well as details of how her remains were prepared for burial and where they were buried.

    [Read More...]
  • 23 October – John Hopkins, psalmodist and shepherd

    On this day in Tudor history, 23rd October 1570, John Hopkins, poet, psalmodist and Church of England clergyman, was buried at Great Waldingfield in Suffolk.

    You’ve probably never heard of John Hopkins, but his versions of the Psalms were “the best-known English verses” in the late 16th and 17th century because they were sung in church by every member of society.

    He was a clergyman and psalmodist, but also appears to have been a shepherd of sheep, as well as men! Find out more in today’s video.

    [Read More...]
  • 22 October – A Catholic baron who fled abroad

    On this day in Tudor history, 22nd October 1577, Henry Parker, 11th Baron Morley and Roman Catholic exile, died in Paris. Morley had fled abroad in 1570 after refusing to subscribe to Elizabeth I’s “Act of Uniformity” and after being implicated in the 1569 Rising of the North.

    Find out more about this Tudor man, who was the nephew of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, and his rather interesting family, with their connections to the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Gunpowder Plot, in today’s video.

    [Read More...]
  • 21 October – Henry VIII leaves Anne Boleyn behind in Calais

    On this day in Tudor history, 21st October 1532, King Henry VIII left his sweetheart, Anne Boleyn, behind in Calais while he travelled to Boulogne to spend a few days at the French court with Francis I.

    The kings were beautifully attired for their meeting and there was a bit of a bromance, with Henry calling Francis his “beloved brother” and Francis instructing his sons to be “loving always” to Henry. However, Anne Boleyn was disappointed with the situation and you can find out more in today’s talk.

    [Read More...]
  • 20 October – Pontefract Castle surrenders, but all is not as it seems…

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th October 1536, Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy, owner of Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire, yielded his castle to the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace. However, all was not as it seemed, as Darcy and others on the castle were actually sympathetic to the rebel cause.

    Find out more about the situation at Pontefract Castle in October 1536, the letters Darcy wrote to King Henry VIII, and what happened on the night of 19th October and morning of 20th October, and why Darcy came to a sticky end, in today’s talk.

    [Read More...]
  • Margaret Tudor Crossword Puzzle

    18th October was the anniversary of Margaret Tudor’s death in 1541, so I thought I’d pay tribute to this Queen of Scotland by testing your knowledge of her, her life and family.

    If you watched my video on Friday, then you should be able to answer quite a few of these!

    [Read More...]
  • 19 October – Henry VIII gets tough on rebels

    By this day in Tudor history, the Pilgrimage of Grace Rebellion in the north of England was well underway, and King Henry VIII had come to the decision that tough action was needed to put it down.

    The king had refused to give in to the rebels’ demands and they had refused to go back to their homes, so on 19th October 1536, the king wrote to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby, with instructions on what to do. The letters do not make for easy reading. This was the king at his most brutal. Examples were to be made of people, after all, these people were traitors to the Crown.


    I give a recap of what the rebellion was about and then share Henry VIII’s letters.

    [Read More...]
  • Nicholas Hilliard’s blue plaque in Exeter

    Thank you so much to Dr Elizabeth Goldring, author of Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist, for letting me know that a blue plaque was unveiled earlier this week in Exeter to mark the fact that the famous Elizabethan painter and miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard was born there circa 1547.

    Elizabeth was there to unveil it and you can find out more and see photos of it at…

    [Read More...]
  • The Feast of St Luke the Evangelist

    Happy St Luke’s Day!

    Yes, today, 18th October, is the feast of St Luke the Evangelist, one of the four authors of the canonical Gospels of Jesus Christ and the author of the Acts of the Apostles. It is a feast day that would have been remembered in Tudor times.

    St Luke is the patron saint of artists, physicians and surgeons, brewers, notaries, students and butchers, and is often depicted in paintings with an ox or calf (sometimes winged) which are seen as symbols of sacrifice, referring to Christ’s sacrifice for mankind.

    [Read More...]
  • 18 October – Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th October 1541, Margaret Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII and eldest daughter of King Henry VII, died of a stroke at Methven Castle, Perthshire, Scotland. She was laid to rest at the Carthusian Priory of St John in Perth, which was later destroyed.

    Margaret Tudor is a fascinating Tudor lady. She was sent to Scotland at 13 to marry King James IV, she was widowed, divorced and unhappily married, she fled to England at one point, and she was the mother of Lady Margaret Douglas, grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots AND Lord Darnley, and great-grandmother of King James VI of Scotland (King James I of England). What a life she had!

    Find out all about Margaret Tudor in today’s talk.

    [Read More...]
  • Elizabeth I – The good, the bad and the ugly

    In this week's Claire Chats talk, I am continuing my series on the Tudor monarchs, and examining their reigns for "the good, the bad, the ugly", i.e. their achievements and the not-so-good stuff, by looking at the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled from 1558 to 1603.

    Now, I've already handled this topic, in regards to Elizabeth I, back in 2018, so below you will find my previous Claire Chats. But here's a bit about Elizabeth I from my book "Illustrated Kings and Queen of England":

    Elizabeth I was born on 7 September 1533 at Greenwich Palace. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn. Her mother was executed for alleged adultery and treason in May 1536 and within two months of her mother's death Parliament had confirmed that Elizabeth's parents' marriage was invalid and that Elizabeth was illegitimate.

    In 1547, following her father's death, Elizabeth moved in with her stepmother the Dowager Queen Catherine Parr, and her husband Thomas Seymour. There, she became involved in a scandal with Seymour, who would visit Elizabeth's chamber, dressed only in his night-gown, and proceed to tickle and stroke the teenaged girl. Eventually, Catherine arranged for Elizabeth to go and live with her good friends, Sir Anthony Denny and his wife at Cheshunt. Catherine died in September 1548, following the birth of her daughter, and Seymour was executed in March 1549 for allegedly plotting to control his nephew Edward VI and to remove his brother, Edward Seymour, Lord Protector, from power.

    Although Elizabeth supported her half-sister Mary when she claimed the throne in July 1553, she was taken to the Tower of London on 18 March 1554 after being charged with being involved in Wyatt's Rebellion . She was released on 19 May 1554 and placed under house arrest at Woodstock. In April 1555 she was summoned to court to attend Mary I who was, allegedly pregnant. After spending a few months with Mary, she was finally given permission to leave court for Hatfield, her own estate, on the 18th October 1555.

    Elizabeth inherited the throne from her childless half-sister on 17 November 1558. She ruled England for 44 years and made a huge difference to the country. England was in a depressing state when she inherited it from Mary I, yet when Elizabeth died England was a strong and prosperous country, a force to be reckoned with, and that is why her reign is known as “The Golden Age”. Her main achievements include defeating the Spanish Armada, following on from her father's work on the navy and turning England into a strong and dominant naval power, defending England from Scotland and actually turning the Scots into a permanent ally, increasing literacy in England, expanding England overseas by encouraging explorers like Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, and Sir John Hawkins to discover new places and form colonies, founding the Church of England as we know it today, raising the status of England abroad, surviving and defeating plots and uprisings against her, helping the poor by her poor laws, ruling England in her own right as Queen without a consort, and promoting the Arts – her love of arts led to theatres being built and great poets and playwrights like Shakespeare, Spenser and Marlow emerging.

    Elizabeth I died on 24 March 1603 and was buried at Westminster Abbey in the vault of her grandfather Henry VII. She was moved in 1606 to her present resting place, a tomb in the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey which she shares with her half-sister Mary I. King James I spent over £11,000 on Elizabeth I's lavish funeral and he also arranged for a white marble monument to be built. The tomb is inscribed with the words “Consorts both in throne and grave, here we rest two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in hope of our resurrection.”

    She is known as the Virgin Queen, Gloriana and Good Queen Bess.

    Here are the other Claire Chats talks in this series:

    Sources and Further Reading

  • 17 October 1560 – Walter Marsh

    On this day in history, 17th October 1560, Walter Marsh, spy and Protestant martyr, was baptised at St Stephen’s Church, Coleman Street, London.

    Marsh came to a sticky end, being burned to death in Rome’s Campo dei Fiori after having his tongue and hands cut off. Here is my Claire Chats talk on Walter Marsh:

    [Read More...]
  • 17 October – Sir Philip Sidney, Tudor poet, courtier and soldier

    On this day in Tudor history, 17th October 1586, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the poet, courtier and soldier, Sir Philip Sidney, died as a result of an injury inflicted by the Spanish forces at the Battle of Zutphen in the Netherlands.

    Sir Philip Sidney is known for his literary works, which include “Astrophel and Stella”, which was inspired by his sweetheart, Lady Penelope Devereux, “The Arcadia” and “A Defense of Poetry.

    Sidney was lucky to escape the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris, but was shot in the thigh at the Battle of Zupthen and died twenty-six days later.

    [Read More...]
  • 16 October – Oxford Martyrs Latimer and Ridley meet their ends

    Warning: John Foxe’s account is pretty horrible.

    On this day in Tudor history, 16th October 1555, in the reign of Queen Mary I, Protestants Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake in Oxford for heresy. Along with Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, they have become known as the Oxford Martyrs.

    In today’s talk, I give an overview of Latimer and Ridley’s careers, and then shares an account of their burnings from John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

    “Every eye shed tears at the afflicting sight of these sufferers, who were among the most distinguished persons of their time in dignity, piety, and public estimation.” John Foxe

    [Read More...]
  • Our 2020 Calendar – available to order now!

    It’s that time of year again! Time to launch our Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society Calendar!

    This high-quality wall calendar measures 297mm (11¾ inches) by 425mm (16¾ inches), it is spiral bound at the top and is printed on thick 100# stock paper. Full colour throughout. 1 full page per month.

    Our 2020 calendar features photos of some of my very favourite Tudor places: Tutbury Castle, Windsor Castle, Sudeley Castle, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the Tower of London, Hever Castle, Hatfield Old Palace, Penshurst Place, Shakespeare’s Globe, Hampton Court Palace, London Charterhouse and Kenilworth Castle.

    [Read More...]
  • 15 October – Edward VI’s christening and who was there

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th October 1537, Prince Edward ( future King Edward VI), son of King Henry VIII and his third wife, Queen Jane Seymour, was christened in a lavish ceremony in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. He was three days old.

    In today’s talk, I share details of Edward VI’s christening, including who played prominent roles, who stood as godparents and what gifts were given to little Prince Edward. Edward’s half-sisters, the future Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I were both there.

    [Read More...]
  • Reminder – October’s Live Chats

    Just in case you missed the dates on the schedule, here’s a reminder about the dates and times of this month’s live chats. They will take place on 19th and 27th October.

    October’s informal live chat, which is on the topic of the Yorkists, is taking place on Saturday 19th October.

    Here are the times for the chat in different time zones:

    [Read More...]