The Tudor Society
  • Henry VIII as a military leader: Myth, reality and legacy by Gareth Russell

    As today is the anniversary of Henry VIII’s return from France on 30th September 1544 after the English victory at the Siege of Boulogne, I thought I’d share this expert talk from our archives.

    Historian and author Gareth Russell discusses the successes and failures of Henry VIII as a military leader…

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  • September 30 – A triumphant Henry VIII returns to England from France

    On this day in Tudor history, 30th September 1544, fifty-three-year-old King Henry VIII returned to England from France.

    The king was returning in victory following the French surrender of Boulogne to him and his troops.

    Hear a contemporary account of what happened during the siege of Boulogne and how and why the French surrendered to Henry VIII…

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  • September 29 – An intimate moment between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley

    On this day in Tudor history, 29th September 1564, Michaelmas, Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite, Robert Dudley, was made Earl of Leicester and Baron Denbigh.

    Dudley was made earl in a ceremony in front of the Scottish ambassador, Sir James Melville, as the queen was granting him the earldom to make him a suitable potential bridegroom for Mary, Queen of Scots.

    There was a moment of intimacy during the proceedings – Elizabeth I tickled Robert Dudley’s neck!

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  • September 28 – Elizabeth I’s favourite sees the queen without her mask of youth

    On this day in Tudor history, 28th September 1599, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, Elizabeth I’s favourite, strode into the queen’s bedchamber unannounced. Elizabeth wasn’t ready to see people. She wasn’t made up and she wasn’t wearing her wig. She must have been furious with Essex.

    Why would Essex do such a thing?

    Find out why Robert Devereux needed to see his queen so urgently and how Elizabeth I reacted to his visit…

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  • September 27 – John de la Pole, first husband of Lady Margaret Beaufort

    On this day in history, 27th September 1442, in the reign of King Henry VI, John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk, was born.

    Why am I talking about a duke born in the Plantagenet period?

    Well, because he was the first husband of the Tudor matriarch, Lady Margaret Beaufort, and his son was involved in a rebellion against King Henry VII.

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  • September 26 – Sir Francis Drake returns with treasure and spices

    On this day in Tudor history, 26th September 1580, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, explorer Sir Francis Drake landed at the port of Plymouth.

    He was returning from his 3-year circumnavigation of the Globe and his ship, The Golden Hind, was laden with treasure and spices.

    Let me tell you about his circumnavigation of the Globe, what he brought back, and how the queen rewarded him for his efforts…

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  • Tudor Poisonings Crossword Puzzle

    As today is the anniversary of the death of Pope Clement VII in 1534, a death said by some to have been caused by poisoning, I thought I’d test your knowledge of Tudor poisonings with a fun crossword puzzle.

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  • September 25 – Stephen Borough, Tudor explorer

    On this day in Tudor history, 25th September 1525, in the reign of King Henry VIII, explorer, navigator and naval administrator Stephen Borough (Burrough) was born at Borough House, Northam Burrows, Northam, in Devon.

    Borough was an Arctic explorer who learnt his navigational skills from first his uncle and then Spanish pilots in Seville.

    Borough discovered Novaya Zemlya and the Viagatz Strait (Kara Strait), which was named the Burrough Strait until the late 1800s.

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  • September 24 – The executions of priest William Spenser and the man who harboured him

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th September 1589, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Roman Catholic priest, William Spenser, and layman Robert Hardesty were executed at York. Spenser was executed for being a priest, and Hardesty for sheltering him.

    In 1987, the two men were beatified as two of the Eighty-five Martyrs of England and Wales.

    Find out more about William Spenser and Robert Hardesty, and how they came to their awful ends…

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  • Heart burial in Tudor times

    I’ve received quite a few questions recently regarding the practice of heart burial in Tudor times, so I thought I’d share these talks on heart burial, and burial in general, from our archives…

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  • September 23 – Bishop John Jewel dies

    On this day in Tudor history, 23rd September 1571, John Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury, died at Monkton Farleigh Manor. He was laid to rest in Salisbury Cathedral.

    Forty-nine-year-old Jewel had been taken ill while preaching a sermon in Lacock, Wiltshire.

    Jewel’s life and career spanned the reigns of King Henry VIII, Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth I – a time of huge religious change. He was a clergyman, a Protestant exile, a theologian and bishop, and someone who spoke up for what he believed.

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  • September 22 – Amy Robsart, wife of Robert Dudley, is buried

    On this day in Tudor history, 22nd September 1560, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Amy Dudley (née Robsart) was buried in the chancel of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford.

    Amy, who was married to Elizabeth I’s favourite, Robert Dudley, had been found dead at the foot of the stairs of the house she was renting. The coroner ruled her death as caused by “misfortune”.

    Amy was buried in a lavish ceremony at St Mary’s, a funeral which cost Robert Dudley over £2,000.

    Find out more about her burial, and who attended…

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  • September 21 – Henry Pendleton, a strong preacher but fickle man

    On this day in Tudor history, 21st September 1557, in the reign of Queen Mary I, theologian and chaplain Henry Pendleton was buried at St Stephen’s, Walbrook, London.

    Pendleton, who was a friend of Bishop Bonner, is known not only for his strong preaching, which led to him being shot at once, but also for his changing religious faith. Pendleton went from staunch Catholic to zealous Protestant back to staunch Catholic. He even took part in disputations with his former friends and saw them imprisoned and burnt.

    Find out more about Henry Pendleton, his life, career and changing religious beliefs…

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  • September 20 – The end of conspirator Anthony Babington

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th September 1586, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, conspirators Anthony Babington, John Ballard, John Savage, Chidiock Tichborne, and three others, were executed near St Giles-in-the-Fields in London.

    They were hanged, drawn and quartered after being found guilty of treason for the Babington Plot, which sought to assassinate Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.

    Find out more about Anthony Babington, the Babington Plot, the men involved, how it was discovered, and how it led to Mary, Queen of Scots’ execution…

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  • Tudor royal funerals

    People all over the world have tuned in to watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II today, a queen who reigned for over 70 years and who was descended from Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland, and, therefore, King Henry VII, as well as having Boleyn blood.

    The funeral procession and ceremony were full of tradition and ritual, and our Tudor ancestors would recognise much of it, so I thought I’d share with you some information on Tudor royal funerals.

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  • September 19 – Thomas Cavendish, a Tudor explorer

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th September 1560, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Thomas Cavendish was baptised at St Martin’s Church, Trimley St Martin in Suffolk.

    Explorer, navigator and privateer Thomas Cavendish is known for his imitation of Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe, which he undertook in 1586. He is also known for being the first Englishman to explore the island of St Helena, in the mid-Atlantic. Unfortunately, Cavendish also had a reputation as a spendthrift, and his final voyage was a failure.

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  • September 18 – The would-be king consort Edward Courtenay

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th September 1556, in the reign of Queen Mary I, Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon, died at Padua in Italy.

    Courtenay, who died from a fever, had been sent to the Continent after being implicated in Wyatt’s Rebellion. The 1554 rebellion sought to replace Queen Mary I with her half-sister, Elizabeth, who would marry Courtenay.

    Let me tell you more about Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, and how he was a prospective bridegroom for both of Henry VIII’s daughters…

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  • Royal Burials Quiz

    As it’s the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday 19th September, I thought that I’d test you on the burials of Tudor royals.

    Let’s get those little grey cells working!

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  • September 17 – The Earl of Rutland dies of plague

    On this day in Tudor history, 17th September 1563, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Manners, 2nd Earl of Rutland, died.

    The courtier and soldier died during an outbreak of the plague, which was rife in London that year and killed about 24% of London’s citizens.

    Manners had served King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I, so had a long and interesting career, which also saw him imprisoned at one point.

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  • September 16 – A third dose of sweating sickness kills John Colet

    On this day in Tudor history, 16th September 1519, in the reign of King Henry VIII, scholar, humanist, theologian, Dean of St Paul’s and founder of St Paul’s School John Colet died.

    Colet had suffered three attacks of sweating sickness between 1517 and 1519, and it was the third one that killed him.

    Humanists such as Erasmus were influenced by Colet’s work.

    Let me give you an overview of the life of John Colet…

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  • September 15 – Elizabeth I’s role in the Battle of Arques

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th September 1589, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, a battle was fought at Arques in France.

    The Battle of Arques was part of the final war of the French Wars of Religion, a series of conflicts in France from 1562-1598 between Catholics and Huguenots. It was a battle between the troops of the new French king, Henry IV, and the troops of the Catholic League led by Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne.

    The battle wasn’t looking good for Henry IV, but then everything changed when troops sent by Elizabeth I arrived on the scene.

    Find out more about what led to this battle, what happened at the battle, and what happened next…

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  • September 14 – The death of Sir William Kingston, Anne Boleyn’s gaoler

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th September 1540, Sir William Kingston died at his home in Painswick in Gloucestershire.

    Sir William Kingston was a Knight of the Garter and comptroller of the king’s household during Henry VIII’s reign. He was also Constable of the Tower of London while Queen Anne Boleyn was imprisoned there in May 1536. His daily letters from the Tower to Thomas Cromwell in May 1536 are a wonderful resource for historians.

    Kingston had an impressive career serving Henry VIII and was rewarded for his loyal service.

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  • September 13 – The birth of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th September 1520, in the reign of King Henry VIII, William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, was born in Bourne in Lincolnshire.

    William Cecil was Queen Elizabeth I’s chief advisor and a man she called her “spirit”.

    Cecil is a fascinating man whose court career took him from serving King Edward VI to Queen Elizabeth I.

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  • September 12 – Archibald Campbell, 5th Earl of Argyll, dies suddenly

    On this day in Tudor history, 12th September 1573, Archibald Campbell, 5th Earl of Argyll, died suddenly at Barbreck.

    Argyll was a Protestant reformer, and leading politician in the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, and he’d got married just six weeks earlier.

    On the night he died, he showed no signs of illness before retiring to bed, so his death was very sudden.

    Argyll was the third most important noble in Scotland, the most important highland chief, and a founder of the Lords of the Congregation. He went from opposing Mary, Queen of Scots, to leading her troops in battle.

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  • Queen Elizabeth II Crossword Puzzle

    To mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on 8th September 2022, I thought I’d test your knowledge of this queen, who descended from Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII, and Mary Boleyn, sister of Queen Anne Boleyn.

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  • September 11 – An eventful royal progress for Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in Tudor history, 11th September 1561, Mary, Queen of Scots, set off on her first royal progress in Scotland.

    Eighteen-year-old Mary had been in Scotland for less than a month, having returned from France following her husband Francis II’s death. Now, she wanted to see her homeland and her people, and show the people their queen.

    This royal progress was to be an eventful one. It included a brush with death and a violent altercation!

    Let me tell you more…

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  • September 10 – The 1547 Battle of Pinkie Cleugh

    On this day in Tudor history, Saturday 10th September 1547, the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh took place in Edward VI’s reign.

    The battle, also known as the Battle of Pinkie, took place near Musselburgh, in Scotland, on the banks of the River Esk. Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, led the English forces and defeated the Scots, killing between 6,000 and 15,000 of them.

    It was a bloody battle, but it had started off well for the Scots.

    What happened?

    Let me share an eye-witness account of how the battle changed so dramatically…

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  • September 9 – Mary, Queen of Scots is crowned

    On this day in Tudor history, 9th September 1543, nine-month-old Mary, Queen of Scots, was crowned queen at the Chapel Royal of Stirling Castle.

    It was the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden and the death of Mary’s grandfather, King James IV of Scotland.

    Find out more about how Mary came to the throne, her coronation ceremony, in which Mary howled, and how she was already promised in marriage to Henry VIII’s son, the future Edward VI…

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  • The Death of Elizabeth II

    I was shocked and saddened by the news, yesterday, of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. It seems strange to be shocked when she was 96 years of age and her health had been declining in recent months, but I’m British and she’s the only monarch I’ve known. Her image is known the world over and when I lived in the UK, I saw her image and heraldry everywhere and on a daily basis. I can’t believe she’s gone and that there’s a new monarch, King Charles III.

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  • September 8 – The burial of John Shakespeare, father of William Shakespeare

    On this day in Tudor history, 8th September 1601, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, John Shakespeare, father of playwright William Shakespeare, was buried at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon.

    John Shakespeare was a glover and whittawer from Stratford, and he was also an important man in the town. He’d served as high bailiff, chief alderman and deputy bailiff, and had been given the right to educate his children at the local grammar school for free.

    He wasn’t just an upstanding member of the town, though, he also ran into trouble at times…

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