The Tudor Society
  • Tudor Life January 2020 Taster

    January’s Tudor Life magazine is 76 pages long and is themed with information about the Grey family including, of course, Lady Jane Grey.

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  • January 2020 – Tudor Life – The Greys

    Here’s the full version of your monthly magazine: January’s Tudor Life magazine is 76 pages long and is themed with information about the Grey family.

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  • 31 December – The bishop who angered Elizabeth I

    On this day in Tudor history, 31st December 1559, Owen Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle, died while under house arrest in London. He was buried at St Dunstan-in-the-West on 6th January 1560.

    Oglethorpe is known for officiating at Queen Elizabeth I’s coronation in 1559, but also for infuriating the queen at Christmas 1558 by disobeying her instructions at Mass.

    What did Oglethorpe do?

    Find out about Owen Oglethorpe’s life and career, and how he upset the queen and ended his days under house arrest, in today’s talk.

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  • 30 December – Roger Ascham, Elizabeth I’s tutor

    On this day in Tudor history, 30th December 1568, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Roger Ascham, scholar and royal tutor, died. He was laid to rest in the St Stephen’s chapel of St Sepulchre without Newgate, London.

    Ascham served as tutor to Princess Elizabeth, the future Elizabeth I, and is also responsible for the idea that Lady Jane Grey had abusive parents.

    Find out more about Roger Ascham, his life and career, in today’s talk.

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  • 29 December – Japanese pirates

    On this day in history, 29th (or 30th) December 1605, in the reign of King James I, Elizabethan navigator and explorer, John Davis (also spelled Davys) died near Bintang, off the coast of Borneo.

    Davis died after being attacked by Japanese pirates. He was about 55 when he died.

    He is known for his voyages, for being the first Englishman to document a sighting of the Falkland Islands, for his 1594 “The Seaman’s Secrets” and 1595 “The World’s Hydrographical Description”, and for his invention, the Davis Quadrant, or the backstaff.

    Find out more about him, his final voyage and death, in today’s talk.

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  • Tudor people’s ages

    This week’s Claire Chats was about the ages that prominent people lived to in the Tudor period, so I was inspired to test you on this topic in this week’s quiz. I do hope you enjoy this bit of Tudor fun! Good luck!

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  • 28 December – Childermas or Holy Innocents’ Day

    Today, 28th December, is Childermas or Holy Innocents' Day, which was an important part of the Twelve Days of Christmas in Tudor times.

    In today's talk, Claire Ridgway, author of "On This Day in Tudor History", explains the origin of this feast day and how it was commemorated in the Tudor period.

    Also on this day in history:

    • 1510 – Birth of Sir Nicholas Bacon, lawyer, administrator and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal in Elizabeth I's reign. He was the second son of Robert Bacon, yeoman and sheep-reeve (chief shepherd), and his wife Isabel Cage, and he was the father of the famous philosopher, statesman, scientist and author, Sir Francis Bacon.
    • 1572 – Death of John Hales, member of Parliament, writer and administrator. He was buried in St Peter-le-Poer Church, Broad Street, London. Hales served as Clerk of the Hanaper, a Justice of the Peace and member of Parliament.
    • 1582 – Burial of goldsmith John Mabb at St Matthew Church, Friday Street, off Cheapside in London. Mabb was also Chamberlain of the City of London.
    • 1603 – Death of John Joscelin (Joscelyn), clergyman, antiquary and Old English scholar, at High Roding. He was buried at All Saints' Church, High Roding. Joscelin was Latin secretary to Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, and is known for his Old English-Latin dictionary and the work he did for Parker in discovering and publishing lost manuscripts.

    Today is Childermas (Children’s Mass) or Holy Innocents’ Day, which was part of the Twelve Days of Christmas celebrated in the Tudor period.
    I’m going to share with you an excerpt from the Tudor Society ebook Christmas in Tudor times to explain this feast day...

    This feast day commemorates the massacre of the baby boys which King Herod ordered in Bethlehem, in an attempt to kill the infant Jesus Christ. The innocent babies were seen by the Catholic Church as the very first martyrs.

    The 16th century Christmas carol, The Coventry Carol, which was sung on 28th December, referred to the massacre:

    “Herod the King, in his raging,
    Charged he hath this day;
    His men of might, in his own sight,
    All children young, to slay.”

    The story is told in Matthew Chapter 2 and here it is from William Tyndale’s New Testament:

    “When Jesus was born at Bethlehem in Jury, in the time of Herod the king. Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem saying: Where is he that is born King of the Jews? We have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king, had heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him, and he gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people, and asked of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him: at Bethlehem in Jury. For thus it is written by the prophet:
    And thou Bethlehem in the land of Jury, art not the least as concerning the princes of Juda. For out of thee shall come the captain that shall govern my people Israhel.
    Then Herod privily called the wise men, and diligently enquired of them, the time of the star that appeared. And sent them to Bethlehem saying: Go and search diligently for the child. And when ye have found him bring me word, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed, and lo the star which they saw in the east went before them, until it came and stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were marvellously glad. And went into the house, and found the child with Mary his mother, and kneeled down and worshipped him, and opened their treasures, and offered unto him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And after they were warned of God in a dream that they should not go again to Herod, they returned into their own country another way.
    When they were departed, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in dream saying: arise and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt, and abide there till I bring thee word. For Herod will seek the child to destroy him.
    Then he arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt, and was there unto the death of Herod, to fulfil that which was spoken of the Lord, by the prophet, which saith: out of Egypt have I called my son.
    Then Herod perceiving that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, as many as were two year old and under, according to the time which he had diligently searched out of the wise men. Then was fulfilled, that which was spoken by the prophet Jeremy, saying:
    On the hills was a voice heard, mourning, weeping, and great lamentation. Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they were not.”

    As Matthew says, Herod failed to kill Jesus, but many infants were killed and they are known as the Holy Innocents.

    In “A Tudor Christmas”, Alison Weir and Siobhan Clarke write that in Tudor times, adults fasted on this day and sometimes children were whipped as they lay in their bed first thing in the morning, as a reminder of the suffering of those massacred infants. After that, though, they were given free rein to enjoy themselves for the rest of the day. Another custom associated with the day in the medieval period, was, according to Wikipedia, “refraining where possible from work on the day of the week on which the feast of Innocents Day had fallen for the whole of the following year until the next Innocents Day.” I do like that idea.

    In Spain, where I live, Childermas is a bit like April Fools’ Day, and pranks, or bromas, are played on people. One Spanish website gave ideas for bromas which included substituting salt for sugar, changing the time on the clock while the victim is sleeping, sticking a coin to the road or pavement so people can’t pick it up, putting toothpaste on a person’s face while they sleep, scaring them by hiding behind a door and jumping out at them, any of the tricks that you’d use on April Fools really. We had no idea about this tradition in Spain until our local barman played a trick on us with our drinks one 28th December.

    Feel free to play pranks on your friends and family today and just explain that you’re marking Holy Innocents’ Day.

  • 27 December – Anne of Cleves arrives in England

    On this day in Tudor history, 27th December 1539, Anne of Cleves landed at Deal in Kent in preparation for her forthcoming marriage to King Henry VIII. Anne of Cleves would be King Henry VIII’s fourth wife.

    Find out more about her journey, the background to it, and what happened next, in today’s talk.

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  • Tudor people’s ages

    “How old were they when they died?” is the question that has been on Tim’s mind, so, in today’s Claire Chats, I share the ages at death of some prominent Tudor people.

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  • 26 December – Boxing Day and Henry VIII’s will

    In today’s talk, I explain how St Stephen’s Day was celebrated in Tudor times and why it’s known as Boxing Day, before moving on to today’s “on this day event”.

    On this day in Tudor history, 26th December 1546, an ill Henry VIII made some changes to his will in preparation for his nine-year-old son, Edward, inheriting the throne. I explain all…

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  • 25 December – Christmas Day and Lettice Knollys

    Merry Christmas! A very Happy Christmas to you and yours!

    In today’s talk, I explain how Tudor people would have celebrated Christmas, before moving on to today’s “on this day” event, the death of Lettice Blount (also known as Lettice Devereux, Lettice Dudley and Lettice Knollys). Not only did she serve Queen Elizabeth I as a gentlewoman of the privy chamber, she was also the queen’s first cousin once removed, and was nicknamed the “she-wolf” by her royal mistress. Find out more about Lettice Knollys in today’s talk.

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  • Teasel’s Tudor Trivia – 24 December – Christmas Eve and the Yule Log

    In today’s final edition of Teasel’s Tudor Trivia, Claire and Teasel share about one of the Christmas Eve traditions of the medieval and Tudor period, the Yule Log.

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  • 24 December – Mumpsimus and Sumpsimus

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th December 1545, Christmas Eve, King Henry VIII made his final speech to Parliament.

    The king was concerned about the religious divisions in his realm and so chastised the Lords and Commons for their disagreements, and also the clergy for provoking this discord.

    In today’s talk, I share some of the king’s compelling speech from that day in 1545.

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  • Teasel’s Tudor Trivia – 23 December – What meat did Tudors eat on Christmas Day?

    In today’s Teasel’s Tudor Trivia, Claire and Teasel the dog share what is eaten on Christmas Day in the Ridgway household and what meat the Tudors would have tucked into.

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  • 23 December – Nicholas Udall and the White Falcon

    On this day in Tudor history, 23rd December 1556, in the reign of Queen Mary I, Nicholas Udall (Yevedale), schoolmaster, cleric, humanist and playwright, was buried at St Margaret’s, Westminster.

    In today’s talk, I introduce this Tudor man and also share a ballad he wrote for Queen Anne Boleyn’s coronation celebrations in 1533. His ballad was about Anne Boleyn’s falcon badge and how it related to the queen.

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  • Teasel’s Tudor Trivia – 22 December – Beware of goblins!

    In today’s edition of Teasel’s Tudor Trivia, Claire and Teasel share with you how to avoid goblins in your household, and it’s all to do with your Christmas decorations. Please do heed this warning from poet Robert Herrick!

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  • 22 December – Bishop Fisher begs for a shirt

    On this day in Tudor history, 22nd December 1534, John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, who was a prisoner in the Tower of London, wrote to Thomas Cromwell.

    In his letter to Cromwell, the poor bishop begged him for a shirt, sheet, food and books, as well as asking him to intercede with King Henry VIII on his behalf.

    It is so sad that a man who had served the king so loyally in the past had come to this, and, of course, the king’s mercy would only stretch to commuting his method of execution to beheading.

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  • Tudor Christmas Food Crossword Puzzle

    As it’s the last Sunday before Christmas, we thought we’d test your knowledge of Tudor Christmas food. So, grab your favourite Christmas tipple, a mince pie or slice of Christmas cake, and have fun with this crossword puzzle. Good luck!

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  • 21 December – Jasper Tudor

    On this day in Tudor history, 21st December 1495, Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford and 1st Earl of Pembroke, died at his manor at Thornbury at the age of around sixty-four.

    Jasper Tudor was the uncle of Henry Tudor, a man who would become King Henry VII, and served as a mentor and advisor to him.

    Find out more about this interesting Tudor man in today’s talk.

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  • Teasel’s Tudor Trivia – 21 December – Tudor Ale

    Following on from yesterday’s video on Tudor Christmas drinks, Teasel and I talk about the staple drink of the medieval and Tudor periods, ale, and how it was made.

    We recommend the Tudor Monastery Farm series and accompanying book for more on this and life in Tudor times.

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  • Teasel’s Tudor Trivia – 20 December – Tudor Christmas Drinks

    In today’s edition of Teasel’s Tudor Trivia, Teasel and I talk about what kinds of drinks the Tudors would have enjoyed over the Twelve Days of Christmas: syllabub, mulled wine, buttered beere, Lambswool and hippocras.

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  • December 20 – Catherine Howard’s stepgrandmother begs forgiveness from the king

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th December 1541, a “very sickly” Agnes Tilney, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, begged King Henry VIII for forgiveness.

    The dowager duchess had been arrested and taken to the Tower accused of misprision of treason for hiding her stepgranddaughter Catherine Howard’s past relationship with Francis Dereham.

    In today’s talk, I share what the dowager duchess wrote to the king and also what happened to this sickly woman.

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  • The Tudor Christmas Pie

    It’s very nearly Christmas, so in today’s Claire Chats talk, I’m going to talk about the different meats that were eaten at Christmas in Tudor times, as well as explaining about the Tudor Christmas Pie.

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  • Teasel’s Tudor Trivia – 19 December – Pronouncing Tudor and British names

    British place names and surnames can be rather tricky and can catch you out if you’re not careful. For example, how do you pronounce Belvoir Castle or the name Cholmondeley? Teasel and I share some examples of some rather counter-intuitive pronunciations in today’s video.

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  • December 19 – A clash with a mob causes the death of an abbess

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th December 1576, Katherine Palmer, Abbess of Syon, died in Mechelen in Belgium. Her death came just over a month after she had confronted a mob that had broken into her monastery.

    Find out more about Abbess Katherine Palmer, how her order had ended up settling in Mechelen, and how her order is the only surviving pre-Reformation religious community in England today, in this talk.

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  • Teasel’s Tudor Trivia – 18 December – How to dye your hair red Tudor style

    OK, so this recipe is definitely NOT to be tried at home, but Teasel and Claire just wanted to share with you how Elizabethan courtiers paid tribute to their queen, Elizabeth I, Gloriana, by dyeing their hair and beards red. It may well have made them bald though!

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  • 18 December – Heretic John Philpott’s sad end

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th December 1555, John Philpott, former Archdeacon of Winchester, was burned at the stake for heresy at Smithfield.

    Philpott had done a lot in his 40 years, including studying in Italy, upsetting Bishop Gardiner, and supporting fellow Protestants from his prison cell, and he died a courageous death at Smithfield in the reign of Queen Mary I. Find out more about him in today’s talk from Claire Ridgway, founder of the Tudor Society.

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  • Teasel’s Tudor Trivia – 17 December – Geese are fish!

    In today’s edition of Teasel’s Tudor Trivia, Claire and Teasel the dog talk about how medieval and Tudor people cheated on fasting days.

    Obviously, times like Advent were fasting periods, but there’s only so much salted fish a person can take, so the Tudors got creative. Find out more about those cheating Tudors in today’s talk.

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  • 17 December – Henry VIII is excommunicated

    On this day in Tudor history, 17th December 1538, Pope Paul III announced the excommunication of King Henry VIII.

    Henry VIII had been threatened with excommunication several times, but his desecration of one of the holiest shrines in Europe was the final straw for the pope.

    Find out how Henry VIII, who had once been “Defender of the Faith”, had upset the Pope and what had been the final straw for the papacy in today’s talk.

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  • New – Christmas in Tudor Times e-book available

    We’ve just put the latest book in our exclusive members-only ebook series online, “Christmas in Tudor Times” which is available now. This book focuses on the festive period and the medieval and Tudor traditions associated with it. Perhaps you can incorporate some of them into your own celebrations.

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