The Tudor Society
  • April 2020 – Tudor Life – The Lancasters

    Here’s the full version of your monthly magazine: all about the house of Lancaster. The magazine is a whopping 80 pages long and it’s chock full of top articles as normal.

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  • Tudor Life April 2020 Taster

    The April edition (number 68!!!) of Tudor Life focuses on the Lancasters, and it’s great to learn all about this house. The magazine is a whopping 80 pages long and it’s chock full of top articles as normal.

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  • 31 March – John Donne, the bell tolls for thee

    On this day in history, 31st March 1631, the Tudor and Stuart metaphysical poet, satirist, lawyer and clergyman John Donne died.

    Donne had an amazing career, going on voyages, serving as a royal chaplain and diplomat, and writing sermons, songs, satires and poetry, including an erotic poem, “The Flea”.

    Find out more about John Donne and hear some of his work in today’s talk.

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  • 30 March – Thomas Cranmer and his protestation

    On this day in Tudor history, 30th March 1533, at the Passion Sunday service, Thomas Cranmer, Archdeacon of Taunton, was consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury.

    His consecration was not like those of others before him, however, because as well as making the usual oath promising to be faithful to the papacy and to denounce heretics, he also made a protestation to show that his oath would not conflict with his loyalty to King Henry VIII and his commitment to reforming the church. Hmmmm…. complicated.

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  • 29 March – Children encourage John Laurence at his sad end

    On this day in Tudor history, 29th March 1555, in the reign of Queen Mary I, Protestant and former Dominican priest, John Laurence, was burned at the stake for heresy in Colchester.

    At his burning, young children encouraged him with their prayers.

    Find out more about his John Laurence’s sad end in today’s talk.

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  • Transcript of livechat with Tracy Borman – Henry VIII’s men

    What a wonderful live chat we had last night with Tracy Borman. We were chatting about Henry VIII and his men.

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  • True or false: Myth or history

    Let’s put the troubles of this workd to one side for a few minutes and have some fun with Tudor history.

    This week’s quiz is a true or false quiz on Tudor myths, rumours and scandals. What was actually true? See if you know with this fun quiz.

    Good luck!

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  • Teasel’s Tudor Trivia – What did Tudor children wear? – Part 1 – Tudor babies

    You might remember that Teasel and I did a talk on Tudor diapers (nappies) a few weeks ago and that we promised to follow that up with a talk on what Tudor babies and children wore. Well, here you go!

    In today’s edition of Teasel’s Tudor Trivia, Teasel and I share our research on how Tudor mothers would dress their babies. Next time, we’ll be looking at what Tudor toddlers and children wore.

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  • 28 March – The amazing Raphael

    This day in history, 28th March 1483, is one of the dates out forward as the birthdate of Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, or Raphael as he is known, the Italian Renaissance artist and architect.

    Did you know that Henry VII owned a piece of art by Raphael and that Henry VIII admired his work?

    Find out a bit more about Raphael and see some of his beautiful works of art in today’s talk.

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  • 27 March – Arrangements are made for Prince Arthur to marry Catherine of Aragon

    On this day in Tudor history, 27th March 1489, the Treaty of Medina del Campo was signed between England and Spain. One part of it was the arrangement of the marriage between Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Catherine (or Catalina) of Aragon. It was signed by Spain on this day and ratified in 1490 by Henry VII.

    Find out more about this treaty and the betrothal and marriages (yes, plural!) of Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, and Catherine of Aragon in today’s talk.

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  • Tudor Memoirs and Diaries

    Samuel Pepys’ diary has been very useful to historians because it gives a first hand account of the Restoration, the Second Anglo-Dutch War, the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London, so at the moment I’m keeping a daily diary for future historians to use as a source on the Coronavirus. Who knows if anyone will ever read it, but keeping it is also keeping me sane.

    It made me think about the memoirs and diaries from the Tudor period, and just how useful they are at giving us an insight into the lives of Tudor people.

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  • 26 March – Robert Carey and his eventful ride to King James

    On this day in history, late on 26th March 1603, two days after the death of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Robert Carey arrived at Holyrood in Edinburgh, Scotland, to inform King James VI that Queen Elizabeth I was dead and that James was now king.

    It took Carey just two days to get from London to Scotland, and he had an accident on the way, but it was all worth it. Find out about his journey and what happened in today’s “on this day in Tudor history” talk.

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  • 25 March – Margaret Clitherow, the Pearl of York, and her awful end

    On this day in Tudor history, 25th March 1586, Good Friday and also Lady Day, the Feast of the Annunciation, Catholic martyr Margaret Clitherow (née Middleton), known as “the Pearl of York”, was pressed to death at the toll-booth on Ouse Bridge in York, under 7 or 8 hundredweight. She was executed for harbouring Catholic priests.

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  • 24 March – Robert Rich and Penelope Devereux, an unhappy marriage

    On this day in history, 24th March1619, Robert Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick, Tudor nobleman and politician, died at his London home, Warwick House in Holborn. He was laid to rest at Felsted Church in Essex.

    Rich was an incredibly wealthy man and a good catch for Penelope Devereux, sister of the Earl of Essex, but their marriage was unhappy and she had an affair. Find out more about Rich and his marriage in today’s talk.

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  • 23 March – The last abbey is dissolved

    On this day in Tudor history, 23rd March 1540, Waltham Abbey, an Augustinian house in Essex, was surrendered to the Crown. It was the last abbey to be dissolved in Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell’s dissolution of the monasteries.

    Find out more about this historic abbey, its origins and what’s left today, and also who profited from its lands, in today’s talk.

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  • 22 March – William Bourne, his life and his submarine

    On this day in Tudor history, 22nd March 1582, gunner, mathematician and writer, William Bourne was buried at Gravesend in Kent.

    This popular author, who was able to explain technical matters for the common man in his books, was also a gunner, mathematician and inventor, yet he received no university education. He also drew plans for a submarine, although he never built it.

    Find out more about the fascinating William Bourne and his works in today’s talk.

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  • Tudor March Wordsearch

    Every day, I post “on this day in Tudor history” videos here on the Tudor Society. How much information have you actually taken in from them? Test your knowledge of March Tudor history events with this fun wordsearch, Be warned, words can go in any direction!

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

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  • 21 March – Elizabeth I takes to her bed

    On this day in Tudor history, 21st March 1603, a dying Queen Elizabeth I finally took to her bed.

    Elizabeth I had been queen since November 1558, but now she was dying. She had deep-rooted melancholy, couldn’t sleep and was refusing to eat. She spent her days lying on cushions in her withdrawing chamber. But on 21st March, she was finally persuaded to go to bed.

    Find out more about these last days in this talk.

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  • 20 March – St Cuthbert Mayne, an Elizabethan priest and martyr

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th March 1544, Cuthbert Mayne (Main/Maine) or St Cuthbert Mayne, Roman Catholic priest and martyr, was baptised in Youlston in North Devon.

    Cuthbert Mayne has gone down in history as the first seminary priest to be martyred. He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Launceston on 30th November 1577, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

    Let me tell you a bit more about this Elizabethan martyr.

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  • Tudor history from home

    Here in Spain, we’ve been on lockdown since Monday due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Now, I could use this as inspiration to talk about epidemics, the plague, influenza and sweating sickness in history, but I’m not. I’ll give you links to my talks on those, but I want to stop thinking about the nasty stuff.

    So, with so many people around the world in lockdown or self-isolating, I thought I’d give you some ideas for keeping occupied and getting your Tudor history fix.

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  • 19 March – Elizabeth Seymour, Lady Cromwell

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th March 1568, Elizabeth Seymour, Lady Cromwell, died. She was around fifty years old at her death.

    Elizabeth was the sister of a queen, and a lord protector, and two of her brothers were executed as traitors, but what else do we know about Elizabeth Seymour and how is she linked to the Cromwell family and a portrait once thought to be of Queen Catherine Howard?

    Find out more in today’s talk.

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  • 18 March – Elizabeth I is arrested

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th March 1554, Palm Sunday, the twenty-year-old Lady Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth I) was escorted by barge from her home at Whitehall Palace along the River Thames to the Tower of London, and imprisoned there.

    Elizabeth had been implicated in Wyatt's Rebellion, a rebellion that sought to depose Queen Mary I and put Elizabeth, the queen's half-sister, on the throne in her place.

    Where was Elizabeth imprisoned? What happened to her? Find out more about Elizabeth's arrest and her time in the Tower of London in today's talk.

    Also on this day in Tudor history, 18th March 1496, Henry VIII's beloved sister, Mary Tudor, Queen of France, was born at Richmond Palace. Find out all about her in last year’s video:

    Book recommendation: "Elizabeth: Apprenticeship" by David Starkey.

    Link to read "The Miraculous Preservation...." -

    May 19 – Elizabeth’s release from the Tower:

    Also on this day in history:

    • 1496 – Death of Thomas Burgh, Baron Burgh, soldier and administrator. He was buried in the chantry chapel he had built in Gainsborough Parish Church. Burgh had served as an Esquire of the Body, Master of the Horse and Privy Councillor to Edward IV, and also served Henry VII as Knight of the Body and Privy Councillor.
    • 1539 – Death of Sir Robert Wingfield, diplomat, probably in Calais. He was laid to rest in St Nicholas Church, Calais. Wingfield served both Henry VII and Henry VIII as a diplomat, and was appointed Lord Deputy of Calais in 1526.
    • 1601 – Execution of Sir Christopher Blount, soldier, secret agent and rebel, after his involvement in the rebellion of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. He was executed at the Tower of London for high treason and buried there. Blount corresponded with Thomas Morgan, an exiled agent of Mary, Queen of Scots, in Paris, but as he was the Earl of Leicester's Master of the Horse at the time, it appears that he was working as an agent for Leicester and Sir Francis Walsingham. Blount married Leicester's widow, Lettice (née Knollys) in the spring of 1589.


    On this day in Tudor history, 18th March 1554, Palm Sunday, the twenty-year-old Lady Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth I) was escorted by barge from her home at Whitehall Palace along the River Thames to the Tower of London, and imprisoned there.

    The previous day, two of her half-sister Queen Mary I's councillors, William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester, and Robert Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex, had arrived on Elizabeth’s doorstep to arrest her for her alleged involvement in the recent Wyatt’s Rebellion. If you heard my talk from 17th March last year, you’ll know that this is when Elizabeth wrote what historian David Starkey calls “the letter of her life”, the aptly named Tide Letter, so-called because as Elizabeth wrote this letter to the queen, the tide turned, making it impossible for Elizabeth to be taken to the Tower that day. Unfortunately, the letter only gave Elizabeth a day. The queen was determined for Elizabeth to be arrested and interrogated.

    John Foxe, in his Book of Martyrs, includes a tract called “The miraculous preservation of the Lady Elizabeth, now Queen of England, from extreme calamity and danger of life; in the time of Queen Mary, her sister”, and here is an excerpt regarding Elizabeth’s apprehension:

    “about nine of the clock, these two returned again, declaring that it was time for her Grace to depart. She answered, ‘If there be no remedy, I must be contented;’ willing the lords to go on before. Being come forth into the garden, she did cast her eyes towards the window, thinking to have seen the queen, which she could not: whereat she said, she marvelled much what the nobility of the realm meant, which in that sort would suffer her to be led into captivity, the Lord knew whither, for she did not. In the mean time, commandment was given in all London, that every one should keep the church, and carry their palms, while in the mean season she might be conveyed without all recourse of people into the Tower.
    After all this, she took her barge with the two foresaid lords, three of the queen's gentlewomen, and three of her own, her gentleman-usher, and two of her grooms, lying and hovering upon the water a certain space, for that they could not shoot the bridge, the bargemen being very unwilling to shoot the same so soon as they did, because of the danger thereof: for the stern of the boat struck upon the ground, the fall was so big, and the water was so shallow, that the boat being under the bridge, there staid again awhile. At landing she first stayed, and denied to land at those stairs where all traitors and offenders customably used to land, neither well could she, unless she should go over her shoes. The lords were gone out of the boat before, and asked why she came not. One of the lords went back again to her, and brought word she would not come. Then said one of the lords, which shall be nameless, that she should not choose: and because it did then rain, he offered to her his cloak, which she, putting it back with her hand with a good dash, refused. So she coming out, having one foot upon the stair, said, ‘Here landeth as true a subject, being prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs; and before thee, O God! I speak it, having no other friends but thee alone.’ To whom the same lord answered again, that if it were so, it was the better for her.

    At her landing there was a great multitude of their servants and warders standing in their order. ‘What needed all this?’ said she. ‘It is the use,’ said some, ‘so to be, when any prisoner comes thither.’ ‘And if it be,’ quoth she, ‘for my cause, I beseech you that they may be dismissed.’ , Whereat the poor men kneeled down, and with one voice desired God to preserve her Grace; who the next day were released of their cold coats.
    After this, passing a little further, she sat down upon a cold stone, and there rested herself. To whom the lieutenant then being said, ‘Madam, you were best to come out of the rain; for you sit unwholesomely.’ She then replying, answered again, ‘It is better sitting here, than in a worse place; for God knoweth, I know not whither you will bring me.’ With that her gentleman-usher wept: she demanding of him what he meant so uncomfortably to use her, seeing she took him to be her comforter, and not to dismay her; especially for that she knew her truth to be such, that no man should have cause to weep for her. But forth she went into the prison.

    The doors were locked and bolted upon her, which did not a little discomfort and dismay her Grace: at what time she called to her gentlewoman for her book, desiring God not to suffer her to build her foundation upon the sands, but upon the rock, whereby all blasts of blustering weather should have no power against her. The doors being thus locked, and she close shut up, the lords had great conference how to keep ward and watch, every man declaring his own opinion in that behalf, agreeing straitly and circumspectly to keep her.”

    It’s a wonderfully descriptive account but we have to take it with a hefty pinch of salt though, for, as David Starkey points out, we know from other sources that Elizabeth was not taken through Traitors’ Gate, but instead was taken to Tower Wharf. The tract also goes on to state that Elizabeth was kept in a dungeon, and some books and websites state that she was imprisoned in the Bell Tower, but this just isn’t true. Elizabeth was confined in the royal palace in the inner ward of the Tower of London, the palace which had been renovated by her father, King Henry VIII, for her mother Anne Boleyn’s coronation in 1533. The royal apartments there served as Anne Boleyn’s prison in May 1536 and Elizabeth’s prison in 1554. So, not a cold, damp horrible dungeon or prison cell, and Elizabeth was attended by servants, BUT she was still a prisoner and was accused of being a traitor to the crown.

    On 23rd March 1554, Good Friday, Elizabeth was interrogated by the queen's council. Rebel leader Thomas Wyatt the Younger had refused to implicate Elizabeth in his plot during his interrogations, so the council were hoping that they could break Elizabeth and that she’d implicated herself. However, the princess kept her wits about her.

    At his execution on 11th April 1554, Wyatt gave a rousing speech proclaiming Elizabeth’s innocence. There was just no evidence against her. David Starkey writes of how Mary's council “bickered and debated” over what to do with Elizabeth and how Mary herself “dithered”. Mary may have seen Elizabeth as a threat, but Elizabeth was her half-sister and the daughter of Bluff King Hal. There may well have been trouble if Mary had executed her. Simon Renard, the imperial ambassador, recorded in a dispatch to the emperor that “even if there were evidence, they would not dare to proceed against her because her relative, the Admiral, has espoused her cause, and controls all the forces of England”. He was referring to William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham, who was Lord Admiral to Mary I but also Elizabeth’s uncle.

    With no evidence of treachery, Elizabeth was granted more freedom and, although still a prisoner, was permitted to walk in the palace's privy garden. The story in “The Miraculous Preservation” of a boy, the son of an officer of the Tower, bringing flowers to Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s fellow prisoner, Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, trying to communicate with her through this boy, is actually true as it is confirmed in a report by Simon Renard, who reported to the emperor, “ It is proved that Courtenay has sent a child of five, the son of one of the soldiers in the Tower, to present his commendations to Elizabeth.” The Earl of Devon was, of course, the man that the rebels had apparently wanted Elizabeth to marry when they put her on the throne after deposing Mary I. Elizabeth was also permitted to walk in the great gallery and this extra freedom must have given Elizabeth hope that Mary was going to release her and spare her life.

    Elizabeth must have been stricken with fear though on 4th Mary when Sir Henry Bedingfield, Constable of the Tower of London, was ordered to raise a hundred troops. Were these men for crowd control at her execution. Fortunately for Elizabeth, the queen decided to release her into house arrest, and on 19th May 1554, the anniversary of her mother’s execution, Elizabeth was released from the Tower.

  • Informal live chat – 21 March – The Tudors on TV

    Apologies for the short notice, but things are a bit chaotic with the lockdown here in Spain. This month’s informal live chat will be taking place this Saturday, 21st March, and the topic is The Tudors on TV and in film. We’ll be discussing TV programmes, movies, documentaries, adaptations of Tudor novels etc. and do feel free to share recommendations or pose questions to other members.

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  • 17 March – Alexander Alesius and his terrifying vision of Anne Boleyn

    On this day in Tudor history, 17th March 1565, Scottish theologian and Reformer Alexander Alesius (also known as Ales, Aless), died in either Leipzig or Edinburgh.

    Alesius wrote a huge number of theological works, was friends with reformers Philip Melancthon and Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, but had a row with the Bishop of London at one point.

    Let me tell you a bit more about Alexander Alesius and also a terrifying vision or nightmare he experience in the early hours of 19th May 1536, the day of Queen Anne Boleyn’s execution.

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  • 16 March – Richard Burbage, actor and friend of Shakespeare

    On this day in history, 16th March 1619, actor Richard Burbage was buried at St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch.

    Burbage was a famous actor in the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I, peforming for royalty and even being in King James’ company of players. Burbage was also a good friend of William Shakespeare, and the two men were involved in the building of the famous Globe Theatre.

    Find out more about Richard Burbage, his life and career, in today’s talk.

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  • 15 March – Henry VIII uses foul language!

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th March 1532, King Henry VIII used what was described as “foul language” to William Warham, Archbishop of Canterburyt. Henry VIII also threatened the poor man, and it is amazing that Warham kept his head as the king was furious.

    What happened? Find out what Warham did to upset the king in today’s talk.

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  • Tudor Nobles and Titles Quiz

    Following on from this week’s Claire Chats talk on Tudor society, its hierarchy, the different classes, and the nobility in Tudor times, I thought I’d get your little grey cells working with a fun quiz on the topic. Good luck!

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  • 14 March – A man who served 4 monarchs and kept his head

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th March 1555, courtier, envoy and landowner, Sir John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford, died at his London residence on the Strand aged around 70.

    Russell was an important Tudor man who served four Tudor monarchs – Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I – AND he managed to keep his head, dying a natural death at a good age.

    Find out more about this Earl of Bedford, his life, his rise and his career at the royal court, in today’s talk.

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  • 13 March – A young horse causes the death of an old earl

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th March 1540, sixty-eight-year-old Henry Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Essex, died after suffering a broken neck in a horse-riding accident. Chronicler Charles Wriothesley recorded: “the Earl of Essex, riding a young horse, by misfortune cast him and brake his neck at his place in Essex, which was great pity.”

    Henry Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Essex, was related to the royal family and served both Henry VII and Henry VIII. Find out more about this Tudor man in today’s talk.

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  • Tudor Nobility

    I’ve received a few questions recently about the structure of society and how the nobility worked in Tudor times, so I thought I’d do this Claire Chats talk on the topic.

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