The Tudor Society
  • 31 May – Henry VIII’s annulment and a special Blackfriars court

    On this day in Tudor history, 31st May 1529, a special legatine court opened at Blackfriars in London. The court’s purpose was to hear the case for an annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and it was presided over by papal legate Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.

    Find out about the context of this court, what happened at the court and what happened next in today’s talk.

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  • Tudor Catherines Crossword Puzzle

    Catherine (or Katherine) was a very popular name during the Tudor period, many parents perhaps honouring Queen Catherine of Aragon by naming their daughters after her, but how much do you know about the prominent Catherines of this period?

    Test your knowledge with this fun crossword puzzle. Have fun!

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

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  • 30 May – Knights of the Bath for Anne Boleyn’s coronation

    On this day in Tudor history, on the night of 30th/31st May 1533, as part of the celebrations for Queen Anne Boleyn’s coronation, which was scheduled for 1st June, eighteen men were created Knights of the Bath.

    What did this mean? What happened in this night-long ceremony?

    Find out in today’s talk.

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  • 29 May – John Penry and his scandalous writings

    On this day in Tudor history, 29th May 1593, Welsh religious controversialist, and a man regarded by Welsh historians as the pioneer of Welsh nonconformity, John Penry was hanged at St Thomas-a-Watering in Surrey.

    John Penry was linked to the Martin Marprelate tracts and the resulting Marprelate Controversy, not for writing them, but for helping to run the secret press that printed them.

    Find out more about Penry, his life and his work, and his involvement with these tracts, and how appealing to William Cecil didn’t save him from the hangman’s noose, in today’s talk.

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  • Executions as entertainment

    In last week’s Claire Chats talk, I looked at executions and the way that they were stage-managed and how victims stuck to a set format for their execution speeches and wanted to make a good end.

    In today’s Claire Chats, I look at why executions were public and how they ended up being entertainment for the people.

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  • Transcript of live chat with Julian Humphrys

    Thanks to all who came to the chatroom to join us for the live chat with Julian Humphrys where we talked about the siege of Malta. Here is the transcript for those members who couldn’t get to the chat. See you next time?

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  • May 28 – The Spanish Armada sets sail

    On this day in Tudor history, 28th May 1588, the Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon in Portugal bound for the Spanish Netherlands.

    With the Pope’s blessing, King Philip II was going to invade England and depose the heretic, Queen Elizabeth I. The stop at the Netherlands was simply to pick up the Spanish forces there.

    What happened next and why did the Spanish Armada fail?

    Find out all about the Spanish Armada and how England was victorious in today’s talk.

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  • 27 May – Margaret Pole’s botched execution

    On this day in Tudor history, 27th May 1541, the frail sixty-seven-year-old Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was executed at the Tower of London.

    The former governess of Princess Mary had an awful end because the usual executioner was away from London, and one account has led to stories of her tormented ghost reliving her final moments at the Tower.

    Find out why Margaret Pole was executed and what happened in today’s talk.

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  • Gertrude Courtenay, Marchioness of Exeter (d.1558)

    Gertrude Courtenay was the daughter of William Blount, 4th Baron Mountjoy, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Say. Little is known about the early life of Gertrude, but we do know that she married Henry Courtenay, Earl of Devon, in 1519.

    As Henry Courtenay was the first cousin of Henry VIII, Gertrude had married well and as such had a high place in court, attending the queen at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520. In 1525, her husband was created the Marquess of Exeter, making Gertrude a marchioness. Gertrude gave birth to a son named Edward in 1526, but her other son, Henry, died in infancy. When Henry VIII decided to divorce Katherine of Aragon, Gertrude’s husband signed the petition to the Pope asking him to grant an annulment. However, although supportive of the divorce, Exeter and Gertrude felt sympathy for Katherine and opposed the new evangelical ideas of Cromwell and Cranmer. As such, Gertrude became embroiled with Elizabeth Barton, the Holy Maid of Kent. Barton predicted the death of the king should he marry Anne, and such ideas were treasonous. Gertrude involved herself with Elizabeth Barton and travelled in secret to meet her and brought her to the Courtenay house in Surrey. When Barton was arrested for treason, Gertrude was cited in the investigation and wrote to Henry VIII to assure him of her loyalty, feigning ignorance of Barton’s treason.

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  • June 2020 – Tudor Life – The Poor

    This month’s magazine is all about the Tudor poor, and it’s 82 pages long packed with great articles!

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  • 26 May – Henry VIII and Charles V meet

    On this day in Tudor history, 26th May 1520, in the lead-up to King Henry VIII’s meeting with Francis I of France at the Field of Cloth of Gold, the English king met with his nephew Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, at Dover Castle on the south coast of England.

    Find out more about this meeting and the rather lavish outfits worn by Henry VIII and his queen consort, Catherine of Aragon, in today’s talk.

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  • 25 May – A great shaking of the ground – a Tudor earthquake

    On this day in Tudor history, 25th May 1551, at around noon, Croydon and several Surrey villages, in the south of England, experienced a “great shaking of the ground”, in other words, an earthquake.

    In today’s talk, I share descriptions of this earthquake, as well as other Tudor earthquakes, such as the famous 1580 Dover Straits Earthquake, which caused fatalities and damage.

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  • 24 May – The Life of Anne Askew

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th May 1546, letters were sent from the Privy Council to the future Protestant martyr Anne Askew and her estranged husband Thomas Kyme.

    The couple were ordered to appear in front of the council within fourteen days. But why? What was going on? And what happened next.

    In today’s talk, I give an overview of the life of Anne Askew, who was famously racked illegally at the Tower of London prior to being burnt as a heretic.

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  • Which Tudor Thomas?

    Thomas was a very popular Tudor name and there were lots of famous Tudor Thomases and Thomases that served at the royal court.

    How well do you know your Tudor Thomases? Find out in today’s fun quiz. Good luck!

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  • 23 May – Elizabeth the prisoner, “Much suspected by me, Nothing proved can be”

    On this day in Tudor history, 23rd May 1554, Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, arrived at the Palace of Woodstock in Oxfordshire, where she was placed under house arrest.

    Elizabeth remained under house arrest there for just under a year, and she didn’t make it easy for her gaoler, Sir Henry Bedingfield, and neither did her servants.

    Find out why Elizabeth was under house arrest and what happened in today’s talk.

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  • 22 May – New Garter Knights

    On this day in Tudor history, 22nd May 1541, following their elections on St George’s Day, 23rd April 1541, Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford; Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey; Sir John Gage, and Sir Anthony Wingfield were all installed as Knights of the Garter.

    Who were these men and what was the Order of the Garter?

    I introduce these Garter Knights and explain the origins of the Order of the Garter, England’s oldest order of chivalry, in this video:

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  • Execution speeches and scaffold behaviour – making a good end

    This week we’ve had the anniversary of the execution of Queen Anne Boleyn and what not many people realise is that her speech was very similar to others given in the 16th century, it really wasn’t unique at all.

    In this week’s Claire Chats talk, I look at the ritual of death, both natural and by execution, and what was expected of an execution victim in their last minutes of life.

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  • 21 May – 81-year-old Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk

    On this day in Tudor history, 21st May 1524, in the reign of King Henry VIII, courtier, magnate and soldier, Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, died at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk. He was about 81 years of age when he died.

    Norfolk was the grandfather of Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, but there was far more to him than that. In today’s talk,I introduce a man who was still leading troops into battle in his seventies.

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  • Elizabeth Barton – The Holy Maid of Kent (1506-1534)

    An engraving of Elizabeth Barton swooning with a vision

    Little is known about the early life of Elizabeth Barton. We do not know anything about her childhood or her family; however, she probably received little to no formal education and was probably illiterate. She first enters the public eye aged 19, when she was working as a servant in the house of Thomas Cobb, the farm manager to Archbishop William Warham.

    While working as a servant, Barton became severely ill, during which time she claimed to receive divine inspiration. This ‘illness’ prevented Elizabeth from eating and drinking, and during her sickness, she began prophesying. She predicted that a sickly child would die, spoke about the ten commandments and the seven deadly sins, and saw visions of heaven. Her visions and prophecies began to gain traction in the local community. Eventually, the parish priest Richard Master travelled to Canterbury to inform Archbishop Warham of her seemingly holy abilities. Warham investigated Barton’s skills, and when questioned, she was found to be of a strong and orthodox faith. Following her interrogation, it is said that she predicted God would cure her illness in the village of Court-at-Street. In 1526, it was reported that she travelled there and was cured, in front of three thousand spectators. Barton also professed that it was divine will that she become a nun and that a monk named Father Bocking, who conducted her investigation, should be her spiritual advisor.

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  • 20 May – A cardinal’s hat for a headless man

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th May 1535, Pope Paul III made John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, Cardinal-Priest of San Vitale, and arranged to have his cardinal’s hat sent to him.

    The pope hoped that this would save Fisher, who was imprisoned at the time, from further punishment, but it made the king even more determined to behead Bishop Fisher. Oh dear!

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

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  • 19 May – A dispensation for Henry VIII to marry wife number 3

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th May 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn was executed within the confines of the Tower of London.

    It must have been an incredibly hard day for the queen’s friend, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Not only did he have a visit from a friend regarding a terrifying vision, in the early hours… Not only did he have to cope with the idea of his friend and patron being beheaded, but he had to issue a dispensation for the king to marry again!

    Find out more in today’s talk.

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  • 18 May – Rebel William Thomas comes to a bad end

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th May 1554, in the reign of Queen Mary I, scholar and administrator, William Thomas, was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn for his alleged involvement in Wyatt’s Rebellion. It was said that he even wanted the queen assassinated.

    But William Thomas was far more than a rebel, he was also the author of the first he first Italian dictionary and book of grammar to be published in English.

    Find out more about him and his rather bad end in today’s talk.

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  • 17 May – Anthony Bacon, a Tudor spy

    On this day in Tudor history, 17th May 1601, Anthony Bacon was buried in St Olave’s, London.

    You might have heard of Francis Bacon, but his brother, Anthony Bacon, was rather interesting too!

    Who was Anthony Bacon?

    Well, he was a spy, providing intelligence for the likes of William Cecil, Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. Find out more in today’s talk

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  • The Fall of Anne Boleyn Wordsearch

    As we’re coming up to the anniversary of Queen Anne Boleyn’s anniversary, on 19th May, I thought I’d test you on your knowledge of those involved in her fall.

    Get those little grey cells working 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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  • 16 May – The real “John Blackthorne” of Shōgun

    On this day in history, 16th May 1620, navigator William Adams died in Hirado, Japan. Adams is thought to be the first Englishman to have reached Japan (arriving there in 1600) and was the inspiration for the character of John Blackthorne in the famous novel Shōgun.

    How did William Adams end up in Japan and why did he stay there when he had a family in England?

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

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  • 15 May – Two noblemen tried for treason

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th May 1537, Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy, and his cousin, John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford, were tried for treason at Westminster after being implicated in the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion.

    Both men may have been sympathetic to the rebel cause, but there was no actual evidence that they conspired against the king. Poor men!

    Find out more about them and how they ended up being branded rebels, and what happened next, in today’s talk.

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  • Shakespeare’s Globe

    I’m sure that, like me, you’re missing Philippa’s wonderful roving reporter virtual tours of Tudor-related places – sob! Obviously, Philippa isn’t able to get out and visit anywhere at the moment, so I thought I’d dig out some of the photos that I took when I visited Shakespeare’s Globe back in 2018, actually with Philippa on the Discover the Tudors tour. Enjoy!

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  • 14 May – Henry VIII’s leg problems

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th May 1538, the French ambassador, Louis de Perreau, Sieur de Castillon, wrote a dispatch regarding King Henry VIII having been dangerously ill due to a problem with one of his legs.

    Henry VIII was plagued with problems from his legs, leg ulcers, from at least 1528 right up until his death. But what do we know about his problems and what are the theories regarding the cause?

    Find out in today’s talk.

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  • John Cabot (1451-1498)

    John Cabot was born in 1451 and was the son of Julio Caboto and his wife Mattea, both of whom were Italian. Little is known of his early life; however, we know that John was granted Venetian citizenship on 28th March 1476, which granted him the right to trade and engage in maritime activities. His business activities have been traced in Venetian archives between the years 1482 and 1485; however, we do not know where he acquired his merchant or navigational training. In April 1493, while Cabot was in Valencia, Columbus passed through the city on his way to Barcelona, leaving historians with the belief that the two men met and that it was Columbus who inspired Cabot to become a transatlantic voyager. Indeed, a Spanish diplomat described Cabot as another Columbus, seeking people to aid him in his journey of discovery. At this time, Bristol was renowned for having an interest in transatlantic voyages, and it was said that the city was involved in Atlantic exploration from 1480. With this in mind, in or around 1495, John Cabot moved to Bristol.

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  • 13 May – A battle between Mary, Queen of Scots, and her half-brother

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th May 1568, the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, met those of her brother, the Regent Moray, at the Battle of Langside in Scotland.

    Mary, Queen of Scots was defeated soundly, but what happened and why was she fighting against the regent acting on behalf of her son, King James VI? What had led to this moment.

    I explain all in today’s talk.

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