The Tudor Society
  • October 31 – Martin Luther’s 95 Theses

    On this day in Tudor history, 31st October 1517, Martin Luther is said to have posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, although all we know for definite is that the Reformer, priest and professor of theology posted them to Bishop of Brandenburg and the Archbishop of Mainz.

    The full title of Luther’s work is the “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, and in it, Luther was protesting against the sale of indulgences by the papacy, as well as other points.

    Luther’s actions on 31st October 1517 had far-reaching consequences and were the catalyst of the European Reformation.

    Find out more about Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and what happened next…

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  • October 30 – Queen Elizabeth I punishes her former favourite

    On this day in Tudor history, 30th October 1600, Queen Elizabeth I punished her former favourite, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, by refusing to renew his monopoly on sweet wines. Elizabeth said that “an unruly horse must be abated of his provender, that he may be the easier and better managed.”

    Unfortunately, it drove the Earl of Essex to desperation and, ultimately, to a brutal end on the scaffold.

    Why? What was going on? How could the queen’s refusal to renew this monopoly lead to Essex’s undoing?

    Find out what was happened in 1600 and what happened next…

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  • October 29 – Sir Walter Ralegh is executed

    On this day in history, 29th October 1618, Sir Walter Ralegh (Raleigh, Rawley, Ralagh, Rawleigh) was executed in the Old Palace Yard at Westminster Palace.

    Although his execution took place in the reign of King James I, so in the Stuart period, Sir Walter Ralegh was a famous Elizabethan courtier, explorer, author and soldier.

    Ralegh had been a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, until he angered the queen by secretly marrying her lady, Bess Throckmorton, and he’d led an eventful life. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London on several occasions, he was accused of atheism at one point, and he had sailed to America and tried to establish a colony. He was also knighted for his service in Ireland, and he was a poet too!

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  • October 28 – Ivan the Terrible’s rather rude letter to Elizabeth I

    On this day in Tudor history, 28th October 1570, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Ivan IV of Russia wrote a rather rude letter to the English queen.

    Ivan IV, more commonly known as Ivan the Terrible, was upset with Elizabeth I’s reaction to his idea of a political alliance, an agreement to help each other if their lives were in danger, and wrote the letter while he was still angry.

    His rude letter must have angered Elizabeth, but unlike Ivan, she waited to reply until her anger had subsided.

    Find out what Ivan the Terrible and Elizabeth I wrote in their letters to each other, and how they came to be corresponding in the first place…

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  • October 27 – A talented Tudor lady who shot pistols, took tobacco, danced and lived life to the full

    On this day in Tudor history, 27th October 1561, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Herbert (née Sidney), Countess of Pembroke, writer and literary patron, was born at Tickenhall, near Bewdley in Worcestershire.

    Mary was the sister of poets Sir Philip Sidney and Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, but she was a talented lady in her own right.

    The Countess of Pembroke was a writer and literary patron, and, after the death of her husband, she had fun shooting pistols, flirting, taking tobacco and dancing. She lived life to the full.

    Find out more about Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, who was as beautiful as she was talented, and whose work was praised by men such as William Shakespeare…

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  • October 26 – Sir Thomas More takes his oath as Lord Chancellor

    On this day in Tudor history, 26th October 1529, Sir Thomas More was sworn in as King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor.

    Sir Thomas More replaced Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who had been charged with praemunire.

    More, who was described as “an upright and learned man”, could not have known that taking this office would lead to his undoing…

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  • October 25 – The Feast of Saints Crispin and Crispinian, a historic battle and a legend

    25th October was a feast day celebrated in the medieval and Tudor periods. It was the Feast of Saints Crispin and Crispinian, twins who were martyrs of the Early Church.

    Find out more about these saints, who were the patron saints of cobblers, how their feast day became linked to a historic battle, how their feast day was celebrated, and why these saints are linked to Faversham in Kent…

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  • October 24 – The Roanoke Colony: A Tudor mystery

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th October 1590, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the governor of the Roanoke Colony, John White, returned to England after failing to find the lost Roanoke colonists.

    The lost colonists included his daughter Ellinor (Elenora), his son-in-law Ananias Dare, and his granddaughter Virginia Dare.

    What happened to the Roanoke colonists and what did the word CROATOAN carved onto a post mean?

    Find out all about the lost Roanoke Colony and the theories regarding the disappearance of all 115 people, including the very latest research…

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  • Sunday fun – The Dissolution of the Monasteries Crossword Puzzle

    The Dissolution of the Monasteries in the reign of King Henry VIII wasn’t fun for those who lived in and depended on these religious institutions, but we can have some fun while testing our knowledge on this topic.

    Here’s a crossword puzzle from our archives…

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  • October 23 – Psalmodist John Hopkins

    On this day in Tudor history, 23rd October 1570, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, poet, psalmodist and Church of England clergyman John Hopkins was buried at Great Waldingfield in Suffolk.

    Hopkins’ versions of the Psalms were “the best-known English verses” in the late 16th and 17th century because they were sung in church by every member of society.

    Trivia: As well as being a clergyman and psalmodist, John Hopkins was also a shepherd!

    Find out more about this interesting Tudor man…

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  • October 22 – A baron dies in exile

    On this day in Tudor history, 22nd October 1577, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Parker, 11th Baron Morley, died in Paris.

    Morley was a Roman Catholic who had fled abroad in 1570 after refusing to subscribe to Elizabeth I’s “Act of Uniformity” and having been implicated in the 1569 Rising of the North.

    Find out more about Morley, who was the nephew of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, and his rather interesting family, with their connections to the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Gunpowder Plot…

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  • October 21 – Armed peasants accost a herald

    On this day in Tudor history, 21st October 1536, during the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion in the reign of King Henry VIII, a herald was accosted by some armed peasants.

    Lancaster Herald was on his way to Pontefract Castle when he met the peasants. When he got to the castle, he met with Robert Aske, leader of the rebels.

    The meeting didn’t go well for the herald. Aske would not allow him to complete his mission.

    What was going on? Who was Lancaster Herald? What was his mission?

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  • October 20 – Mary Arundell, Countess of Sussex and Arundel

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th October 1557 (or possibly 21st), in the reign of Queen Mary I, courtier Mary Arundell died at Bath Place in London.

    Mary is a very interesting Tudor lady. She served at least two of King Henry VIII’s wives, and she was a countess twice over, having been married to both the Earls of Sussex and Arundel.

    Mary Arundell has also been confused with two other Tudor ladies, and we don’t know whether the portrait you see in the thumbnail for the video is really her.

    Find out more about Mary Arundell’s life, court career and those of her husbands…

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  • October 19 – Isabella I of Castile marries Ferdinand II of Aragon

    On this day in history, 19th October 1469, eighteen-year-old Isabella I of Castile married seventeen-year-old Ferdinand II of Aragon.

    Their marriage may have happened outside of the Tudor period, and in Spain, but it had an impact on Europe and has links with the Tudors.

    The couple became the famous “Reyes Catolicos”, the Catholic monarchs, and brough together two powerful kingdoms, which comprised most of what is modern-day Spain. They were also the parents of Catherine of Aragon, who married Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, and, after his death, King Henry VIII.

    Let me tell you more about this powerful couple, their reigns and their legacy…

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  • October 18 – The death of Margaret Tudor

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th October 1541, Margaret Tudor died of a stroke at Methven Castle, Perthshire, Scotland. She was laid to rest at the Carthusian Priory of St John in Perth, which was later destroyed.

    Margaret Tudor was the sister of King Henry VIII and eldest daughter of King Henry VII. At the age of 13, she was sent to Scotland to marry the Scottish king, James IV.

    Margaret Tudor had an interesting life. She was widowed, divorced and unhappily married, and she fled to England at one point.

    Margaret was the mother of Lady Margaret Douglas, she was the grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots AND Lord Darnley, and she was the great-grandmother of King James VI of Scotland (King James I of England).

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  • Sir Anthony Standen – Elizabethan Spy

    I first encountered Sir Anthony Standen while reading George Malcolm Thompson’s biography of Sir Francis Drake. “The time had come when Walsingham was no longer satisfied with news that came to him at second-hand, whether from Santa Cruz’s kitchen or from the Governor of Guernsey’s reports of the gossip on Breton ships or in Rouen taverns. He needed an accurate and detailed stream of information about the number of Philip’s ships, their tonnage, the sailors who would man them and the soldiers they would carry. Thanks above all to Standen, he got what he wanted.” Because my mother’s maiden name was Standen, I was immediately intrigued. Who was this man? Why hadn’t I heard of him before? Might he be an ancestor of mine?

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  • October 17 – The death of Sir Philip Sidney

    On this day in Tudor history, 17th October 1586, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Philip Sidney died.

    The poet, courtier and soldier died as a result of an injury sustained fighting against Spain at the Battle of Zutphen in the Netherlands.

    Sir Philip Sidney is known for his literary works, which include “Astrophel and Stella”, “The Arcadia” and “A Defense of Poetry.

    Sidney was lucky to escape the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris, but was shot in the thigh at the Battle of Zutphen and died twenty-six days later.

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  • October 16 – The burnings of Latimer and Ridley

    On this day in Tudor history, 16th October 1555, in the reign of Queen Mary I, two of the Oxford Martyrs, Protestant bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, were burnt at the stake in Oxford for heresy.

    In the video below, I give an overview of Latimer and Ridley’s careers, and then share an account of their burnings from John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Warning: John Foxe’s account is pretty horrible.

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  • October 15 – Schoolteacher Richard Gwyn is executed

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th October 1584, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Richard Gwyn (Richard White) was hanged, drawn and quartered at Wrexham in Wales.

    The schoolteacher and poet was executed for high treason for his Catholic faith.

    Find out about Richard Gwyn’s life, how an attack by crows and kites made him steadfast in his faith, his arrest and downfall, his works, and the legends associated with his death…

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  • Talks about Jane Seymour

    A portrait of Jane Seymour by Hans Holbein the Younger

    As this week has been the anniversary of Jane Seymour giving birth to Edward VI. I thought I’d share with you these expert talks on Jane Seymour from the Tudor Society archives…

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  • October 14 – A man whose teeth saved him from death

    Yes, you read the title correctly! Today, I’m telling you about Tudor poet and diplomat Sir Thomas Chaloner the Elder, whose teeth did save him from death.

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th October 1565, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Thomas Chaloner the Elder died at his home in Clerkenwell, London. He was just forty-four years old.

    Chaloner had served four Tudor monarchs as a diplomat, but he also wrote English and Latin works.

    Find out more about Thomas Chaloner, his life, his career, and how his teeth saved him from death…

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  • October 13 – Mary I has secret meetings with men in disguise

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th October 1553, Queen Mary I wrote an interesting letter to Simon Renard, imperial ambassador.

    In the letter, the queen asked Renard to meet with her secretly. She’d asked him to do this before, and to come in disguise.

    But why? Why would Mary I want to meet with an imperial ambassador in secret? And why would she be putting more trust in the emperor and his ambassadors than her own council?

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  • October 12 – An MP is assassinated

    On this day in Tudor history, 12th October 1555, in the reign of Mary I, Lewis Owen, member of Parliament and administrator in Wales, was assassinated.

    Owen was murdered on Dugoed Mawddwy, a mountain pass, by a group of bandits as revenge for his campaign against them, which had led to around 80 hangings.

    Find out more about Lewis Owen, his life and what happened…

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  • October 11 – Prayers for Queen Jane Seymour for her difficult labour

    On this day in Tudor history, 11th October 1537, in the reign of King Henry VIII, London was praying for the king’s third wife, Queen Jane Seymour.

    Jane was in labour with her first and only child, and the labour was long and difficult. On 11th October 1537, there was a solemn procession in the city of London to pray for her. After about thirty hours, Jane gave birth to a healthy baby boy, who would become King Edward VI.

    Let me share some contemporary sources about the procession and Jane’s labour…

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  • October 10 – Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, is buried

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th October 1588, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the queen’s favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was buried.

    He was laid to rest in the Beauchamp Chapel of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, according to his instructions.

    Leicester’s funeral was well-attended and his widow, Lettice (née Knollys), a woman known by Elizabeth I as “the she-wolf”, erected a monument to “her best and dearest husband” in the chapel. The chapel is also the resting place of the couple’s young son, Robert, “the noble impe”, Lettice, and Leicester’s brother, Ambrose.

    Find out more about Leicester’s funeral and resting place, and see some photos of his tomb…

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  • Tudor Margarets Quiz

    Detail of Margaret Tudor's face from a portrait of her by Daniel Mystens

    This week’s Sunday fun is a quiz testing your knowledge of some Tudor Margarets.

    Good luck!

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  • October 9 – Miguel de Cervates, author of Don Quixote

    On this day in Tudor history, 9th October 1547, Miguel de Cervantes was baptised in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. His actual birthdate is unknown.

    Cervantes is, of course, the author of the famous classic “Don Quixote”, a book known as “the first modern novel”.

    Obviously, this event didn’t happen in Tudor England, but it did happen in the Tudor period, and Cervantes is known the world over.

    Let me share with you some Cervantes facts, which include him being held to ransom by pirates!

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  • October 8 – The birth of Lady Margaret Douglas, daughter of Margaret Tudor

    On this day in Tudor history, 8th October 1515, Margaret Tudor, Queen Dowager of Scotland and sister of King Henry VIII, gave birth at Harbottle Castle in Northumberland.

    The baby was a little girl, Margaret, and her father was Margaret Tudor’s second husband, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. Little Margaret was born while her mother was travelling to Henry VIII’s court in London after fleeing Scotland.

    Lady Margaret Douglas is a fascinating Tudor lady…

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  • October 7 – George Gascoigne, a man who helped Robert Dudley with a marriage proposal

    On this day in Tudor history, 7th October 1577, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, George Gascoigne died in Stamford, Lincolnshire.

    As well as being an author and soldier, Gascoigne was a gifted poet. He was hired by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in 1575 to provide entertainment for the queen’s visit to Leicester’s home, Kenilworth Castle. Leicester was going to make one final attempt to persuade the queen to marry him, and he hoped Gascoigne could help him.

    Find out all about Gascoigne’s masque, Zabeta, and what happened at Kenilworth…

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  • October 6 – Reformer and Bible translator William Tyndale is executed

    This day in Tudor history, 6th October 1536, is the traditional date given for the execution of reformer, scholar and Bible translator William Tyndale.

    One of Tyndale’s works had helped King Henry VIII while another incurred the king’s wrath and led to Tyndale’s execution.

    Why? What happened?

    Let me tell you…

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