The Tudor Society
The Tudor Society
  • Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

    Ben Jonson was a poet and a playwright, born on 11th June 1572, in the reign of Elizabeth I. Jonson was of Scottish descent and throughout his life maintained a great interest in Scotland and his ancestry. He was brought up by his recently widowed mother and had quite a poor upbringing. His father was a clergyman, and thus his wages would not have been substantial, nor would he have left a lot to his wife and son upon his death. When Jonson was still a young boy, his mother re-married, marrying a bricklayer, and they moved to Hartshorn not far from Charing Cross. The bricklayer in question is believed to have been Robert Brett, a man comfortable, if not overly wealthy, who had risen to become master of the Tyler and Bricklayers’ Company by 1609.

    Ben Jonson attended a small school near Hartshorn Lane, learning to read and write. At approximately the age of seven, he was sent off to Westminster School and studied under William Camden, the school’s second master. Jonson evidently had a positive experience learning under Camden, speaking of him as a ‘friend for ever.’ At Westminster, he learned the art of rhetoric and was educated in the Classics, learning to translate Greek and Latin into English. Furthermore, Camden also encouraged his pupils to create their own prose in English, something which would have a profound effect on young Ben Jonson.

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  • 18 February – The Ridolfi Plot against Elizabeth I

    On this day in history, 18th February 1612, Italian banker Roberto di Ridolfi died in Florence, Italy, aged 80.

    Amazingly, he died a natural death even though he’d been the brains behind the Ridolfi Plot, a plot to depose Queen Elizabeth I and to replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots, thereby restoring Catholicism in England.

    Find out more about Ridolfi and his famous plot in today’s talk:

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  • 17 February – Love at first sight for Mary, Queen of Scots?

    Well, ok, perhaps love at second or third sight!

    On this day in Tudor history, Saturday 17th February 1565, Mary, Queen of Scots, met and fell in love with Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, at Wemyss Castle in Scotland. Just over 7 months later, the couple got married.

    Find out more about the background of this meeting between Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley, Mary’s thoughts on Darnley, and what happened next, in today’s talk.

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  • 16 February – Sir William Stanley is executed

    On this day in Tudor history, 16th February 1495, Sir William Stanley, administrator and landowner, was executed for treason on Tower Hill.

    Stanley is, of course, remembered for his key role at the Battle of Bosworth Field in August 1485, when he and his brother chose to support Henry Tudor and brought their troops onto the battlefield at a critical stage. So how did Sir William Stanley go from being a loyal supporter of Henry VII to being executed for treason? Find out in today’s talk.

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  • Six Wives – True or False Quiz Part 1

    This week’s Sunday fun is a true or false quiz testing your knowledge on Henry VIII’s six wives. Part 1 focuses on Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour.

    Good luck!

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  • 15 February – Galileo, the Father of Modern Science

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th February 1564, the Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher, Galileo Galilei, was born in Pisa, Italy.

    Galileo was one of the central figures of the Scientific Revolution and has been referred to as “the Father of Modern Science”, “the Father of Modern Physics” and “the father of modern observational astronomy”, but what exactly did he do and how did he end up getting into trouble with the Inquisition?

    Find out in today’s talk.

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  • Teasel’s Tudor Trivia – Valentine’s Day

    Happy Valentine’s Day! Yes, it’s the day of love, and Teasel and Claire are here to tell you how medieval and Tudor people celebrated Valentine’s Day.

    Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? If so, please do share how you woo your loved one.

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  • 14 February – Being a royal favourite doesn’t save you

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th February 1539, Sir Nicholas Carew, a royal favourite for over 20 years, was tried for treason after being implicated in the Exeter Conspiracy. Spoilers – his trial didn’t go well.

    But how did a man who’d been in royal favour for so long come to such a sticky end? Find out in today’s talk.

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  • Tudor love stories

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Today, I’m celebrating the day of love with a Claire Chats talk on Tudor love stories. In a period when arranged marriages were the norm for the upper classes, there were still some examples of loving marriages and also star-crossed lovers.

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  • 13 February – Bess of Hardwick

    On this day in history, 13th February 1608, prominent Tudor noblewoman and one of the richest people in England, Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, more commonly known as Bess of Hardwick, died at her home at Hardwick.

    Bess of Hardwick is known for her building projects, which included Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall, her beautiful needlework and the fact that she and Shrewsbury were guardians of the captive Mary, Queen of Scots.

    Find out more about this fascinating Tudor lady in today’s talk.

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  • 12 February – Blanche Parry, a mother figure to Elizabeth I

    On this day in Tudor history, 12th February 1590, Blanche Parry, died at the age of 82. She had served Queen Elizabeth I loyally from Elizabeth’s birth in 1533,and had been a constant in the queen’s life.

    Find out more about this interesting lady and how she served her queen in today’s talk.

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  • 11 February – Success for George Boleyn

    On this day in Tudor history, 11 February 1531, the ecclesiastical assembly known as convocation granted King Henry VIII the title of “singular protector, supreme lord, and even, so far as the law of Christ allows, supreme head of the English church and clergy”.

    The person responsible for persuading convocation to grant the king this title was Anne Boleyn’s brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford. It was a big responsibility for the young diplomat and courtier.

    Find out more about what happened in today’s talk.

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  • 10 February – Catherine Howard goes to the Tower

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th February 1542, Catherine Howard, King Henry VIII’s fifth wife, was escorted by barge from Syon House, where she’d been kept since November 1541, to the Tower of London in preparation for her execution.

    Sadly, the queen would have seen the heads of her former lover, Francis Dereham, and her sweetheart, Thomas Culpeper, as she made her way to the Tower – a reminder of her own fate.

    Find out more in today’s talk.

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  • 9 February – An awful end for a bishop

    Warning – Contains a description of a burning at the stake.

    On this day in history, 9th February 1555, Protestant John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester and Worcester, and former Cistercian monk, was burned at the stake for heresy in Gloucester.

    It was an awful execution due to green faggots being used, and John Foxe writes of there being three attempts over a period of 45 minutes. Awful, just awful.

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  • February Birthdays and Feast Days Crossword Puzzle

    Happy Sunday! I hope you’ve had a good week. This week’s Sunday puzzle is a crossword puzzle testing your knowledge of Tudor people born in the month of February, along with February feast days.

    Simply click on the link or image below to open and print out the puzzle.

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  • 8 February – The Queen’s favourite rebels

    On this day in Tudor history, 8th February 1601, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex and Queen Elizabeth I’s former favourite, did a rather foolish thing and raised a rebellion against the queen and her council.

    Spoilers: It didn’t go well and he ended up being executed as a traitor.

    Find out exactly what happened in today’s talk.

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  • 7 February – Sir Thomas More

    On this day in history, 7th February 1477 or 1478, Sir Thomas More, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, was born in London.

    More had once wanted to be a monk but ended up being one of the most well-known statesmen of the Tudor period. Unfortunately, Sir Thomas More came to a sticky end after refusing to sign the oath recognising Henry VIII as the supreme head of the church in England, and was executed in 1535 as a traitor.

    Find out all about More’s rise to power, how he fell, and what he told his son-in-law about the king, in today’s talk.

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  • Ludlow Castle – Roving Reporter

    This month, Philippa Brewell, our roving reporter, has been to Ludlow Castle in Shropshire. It’s an impressive Norman castle, now in ruins and it has a strong connection to the Tudors.

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  • 6 February – Thomas Cutwode and his dodgy works

    On this day in Tudor history, 6th February 1561, poet Tailboys Dymoke (pseudonym Thomas Cutwode) was baptised at Kyme in Lincolnshire.

    Dymoke, or Cutwode, is known for his allegorical poem, The Bumble Bee, a political satire which was apparently rather dodgy! He also got into trouble for writing a slanderous play and poem. An interesting man who liked to play with fire!

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  • 5 February – Elizabeth under investigation

    On this day in Tudor history, 5th February 1549, in the reign of King Edward VI, fifteen-year-old Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth I, was summoned to appear before Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, who was keeping her under house arrest at Hatfield while the Crown investigated Thomas Seymour.

    Edward VI’s privy council were investigating whether Elizabeth was secretly plotting to marry Thomas Seymour, Edward VI’s uncle, helped by her servants, Katherine Ashley and Thomas Parry.

    Parry and Ashley had made confessions, but what had they said? And what would happen to them all?

    Find out in today’s talk.

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  • 4 February – Mary Boleyn gets married

    On this day in Tudor history, Saturday 4th February 1520, Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn, got married to William Carey in the Chapel Royal at Greenwich Palace, in a service attended by King Henry VIII.

    Find out more about Mary Boleyn and William Carey in today’s talk.

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  • 3 February – Silken Thomas


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  • 2 February – Sir Francis Bryan, the Vicar of Hell

    On this day in Tudor history, 2nd February 1550, Sir Francis Bryan, died suddenly in Ireland. He was a rather colourful Tudor character, known as much for his drinking, gambling and all-round bad behaviour, as his diplomacy, royal favour and gift for poetry.

    Find out more about this one-eyed courtier and his nickname, “the vicar of hell”, in today’s talk.

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  • Tudor Literature Wordsearch

    As my Claire Chats talk on Friday was on the wonderful Tudor poet, Sir Thomas Wyatt, I thought I’d put together this wordsearch in celebration of Tudor literature. How much do you know about the literary giants of this period? Test your knowledge with this fun wordsearch. Warning: the words can go in any direction!

    Simply click on the link or image below to open and print out.

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  • 1 February – Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots’ death warrant

    On this day in Tudor history, 1st February 1587, Queen Elizabeth I called her secretary, William Davison, to her and asked him to bring her the death warrant of Mary, Queen of Scots. She then signed it. However, she didn’t want it to be sent to Fotheringhay, where Mary was held, until she said so. But it was sent.

    Elizabeth wanted someone else to take responsibility for Mary’s death, she even wanted her gaoler to assassinate her!

    Find out all about this, and how Mary DID end up being executed in February 1587, in today’s talk.

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  • Henry VII and Richard III, A deadly rivalry – Sean Cunningham – Expert Talk

    Dr Sean Cunningham joins us this month to discuss the two kings, Richard III and Henry VII and how they ended up being deadly rivals.

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