This week's Claire Chats video talk was inspired by an "ask the expert" question we received from Tudor Society member Elizabeth and her son Joseph. Elizabeth's full question was "My son was reading up on Edward VI and came across this story and wondered if it was true. I said that you would know! Simon Renard, the Imperial Ambassador, reported that Edward had plucked a falcon which he had kept in his private chamber and had torn it into 4 pieces saying as he did so that he likened himself to a falcon whom everyone plucked but that he would pluck them too and tear them into 4 parts. We wondered if this was a true story."
It's an interesting question and one I wanted to dig deeper into it.
Edward's speech to his bishops can be found at https://archive.org/stream/literaryremains00clubgoog#page/n259/mode/2up, bottom of page ccxxviii to top of page ccxxx.
Notes and Sources
- 'Spain: March 1551, 21-31', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 10, 1550-1552, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1914), pp. 248-250. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol10/pp248-250 [accessed 24 October 2017].
- ed. Nichols, John Gough (1857) Literary Remains of King Edward the Sixth: Edited from His Autograph Manuscripts, with historical notes, and a biographical memoir, Volume I, p. ccxxv. Read online at https://archive.org/stream/literaryremains00clubgoog#page/n255/mode/2up.
- Quitslund, Beth (2008) The Reformation in Rhyme: Sternhold, Hopkins and the English Metrical Psalter, 1547-1603, Routledge.
- Edward VI's Journal, in Literary Remains of King Edward the Sixth: Edited from His Autograph Manuscripts, with historical notes, and a biographical memoir, Volume 2, p. 309 - https://archive.org/stream/cu31924091758312#page/n115/mode/2up
- Hayward, Sir John The Life and Reign of Edward VI in A complete history of England : with the lives of all the kings and queens thereof; from the earliest account of time, to the death of His late Majesty King William III. Containing a faithful relation of all affairs of state, ecclesiastical and civil, Volume II - https://archive.org/stream/completehistoryo02kenn#page/314/mode/2up.
- Literary Remains, Volume I, p. 180, "Treatise against the Supremacy of the Pope", https://archive.org/stream/literaryremains00clubgoog#page/n575/mode/2up.
What a fascinating chat! Thank you Elizabeth and Joseph for a great question – and thank you Claire for your impeccable research (as always) and informative response.
Thanks, Mary, and, yes, it was a great question.
I’m looking at this through a 21st century prism, and I have no clue what it would be like to be a 13 year old Tudor king, but plucking and tearing apart a falcon, if true, is to me something an immature, sadistic boy having a temper tantrum would do. Intelligence does not always equate with maturity. If this story were true, I’d wonder if he got the blood-thirsty genes from his father. I’m a fan of Claire’s and have become a fan of the Tudor era, but have never been a fan of Henry VIII for several reasons. Sorry.
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