• Burial in Tudor Times – Part 1: Shrouding

    In today’s Claire Chats video talk, I start a two-part series on burial in Tudor times and discuss how the remains of a commoner were prepared for burial. It’s an interesting topic. Next week, I will talk about the deaths of wealthier people, with real examples from the records, and also the subjects of embalming and heart and entrails burial.

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  • Thomas Hood (1556-1620)

    Thomas Hood, the mathematician and physician, was baptised on this day in history, 23rd June 1556, at St Leonard Eastcheap. It was usual for children to be baptised within a few days of birth so he was also born in June 1556. His father was merchant taylor Thomas Hood.

    Hood was educated at the Merchant Taylor’s School and then Trinity College, Cambridge, gaining his BA in c.1578 and his MA in 1581. In 1585, he was granted a licence to practise medicine by Cambridge University. In late 1588, he became Mathematical Lecturer to the City of London and he lectured on the subject until 1592. His biographer, H.K. Higton, writes of how “In the aftermath of the Spanish armada of 1588, concern for a greater knowledge of the mathematical sciences among military officers and naval commanders was voiced by members of the privy council” and that was the reason Hood was employed to lecture on mathematics.

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  • 22 June 1509 – Henry VIII creates 24 Knights of the Bath

    On either 22nd or 23rd June 1509, before his joint coronation with Queen Catherine of Aragon on 24th June, King Henry VIII created twenty-four Knights of the Bath at the Tower of London.

    Letters and Papers names the knights as “Richard (sic) Radclyff lord Fitzwater, the lord Scroop of Bolton, the lord Fitzhugh, the lord Mountjoye, the lord Dawbeney, the lord Brooke, Sir Henry Clyfford, Sir Maurice Berkeley, Sir Thomas Knyvet, Sir Andrew Wyndesore, Sir Thomas Parr, Sir Thomas Boleyne, Sir Richard Wentworth, Sir Henry Owtrede, Sir Francis Cheyny, Sir Henry Wyotte, Sir George Hastynges, Sir Thomas Metham, Sir Thomas Bedyngfeld, Sir John Shelton, Sir Giles Alyngton, Sir John Trevanyon, Sir William Crowmer, Sir John Heydon, Sir Godarde Oxenbrige and Sir Henry Sacheverell.”

    Who were these men?

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  • What is Mary Tudor holding in the portrait of her and Charles Brandon? Is it an artichoke?

    Thank you to Simon for asking the question “What is Mary Tudor holding in the portrait of her and Charles Brandon? Is it an artichoke?”. I knew just the right person to send this question to! I sent it to art historian and author, Roland Hui, who has actually written a very detailed article on this painting (link at bottom). Thank you Roland!

    The object in Mary Tudor’s right hand is an artichoke, which interestingly enough is shaped like a royal orb. It is uncertain why Mary is pictured with one, but as artichokes were grown in the south of France, it may have been used to allude to her as France’s former Queen. As well, it might have been meant as a symbol of love and fecundity. Artichokes were said to be sacred to Venus/Aphrodite, the Classical goddess of love and beauty.

    The staff emerging from the artichoke is a winged caduceus. This was the magical wand associated with the god Mercury/Hermes. There was an old legend that Mercury had come upon two battling snakes. To make peace between them, the god separated the two with a stick. The serpents then wrapped themselves around it. This uniting of opposites was a fitting representation of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon’s marriage – the merger of ‘cloth of gold’ and ‘cloth of frieze’ as the couple were described in an inscription on the Yarnborough version of the painting. However, to make the caduceus (and the artichoke) appear less ‘pagan’, the wand is also in the form of a Christian tau-shaped cross.

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  • 21 June 1553 – Lady Jane Grey is heir to the throne

    On 21st June 1553, letters patent were issued stating that King Edward VI’s heir was Lady Jane Grey, eldest daughter of the king’s cousin, Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk.

    Edward VI was dying, having been ill for a few months, and in the original draft of his “Devise for the Succession” he stipulated that the Crown would descend through the male heirs of Frances, Duchess of Suffolk, if Edward died childless. The problem was that there were no male heirs yet, so when Edward made a turn for the worse he decided to change the document to read: “To the Lady Fraunceses heirs males, if she have any such issue before my death to the Lady Jane and her heirs males.”

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  • Lettice Knollys

    Lettice Knollys was born on 8 November 1543 at Rotherfield Greys in Oxfordshire. She was the eldest of sixteen children born to Sir Francis Knollys and his wife, Katherine Carey. Lettice’s mother was the daughter of Mary Boleyn, meaning that Lettice was the great niece of Anne Boleyn. She was also a kinswoman of Elizabeth I. Francis and Katherine Knollys departed for the Continent in the mid-1550s to escape the religious persecution during Mary I’s reign, but it is possible that Lettice remained with Elizabeth Tudor at Hatfield. When Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558, Francis was appointed vice-chamberlain and Katherine, who was close to the queen, was appointed a lady of the bedchamber. Lettice, now in her teens, served as a gentlewoman of the privy chamber.

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  • Why did Henry VIII get so fat?

    Thank you to Ana for asking “Why did Henry VIII get so fat? Was he really obese because he ate too much? Or because he was ill?”. Here is Kyra Kramer’s answer:

    Henry was a man of large appetites, in so many ways. Until he was in his late 30s, he was an Adonis and Olympic-level athlete, and he ate to match the calorific needs of his muscular, 6’2″ body. Like many athletes, he continued to eat this way even when middle age slowed down his metabolism, meaning that while he still rode and jousted as much as ever, he was getting a bit thick in the middle. We’ve all, I believe, seen this happen to formerly strapping men. They call it the “dad jeans” phase in America; when men start wearing jeans a little bigger, a little looser, and with a little more room in the backside. They are by no means obese, but they are no longer the ab-showing gods of their youth.

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  • Informal live chat – 23 June – the Tudors on TV and in fiction

    If you’re like me, you drive your family and friends mad by shouting at the TV or muttering under your breath “well that didn’t really happen” when you’re watching a Tudor themed programme or movie, or you huff and puff your way through a Tudor novel. Is that you or do you have more patience?

    Whatever your level of tolerance, I’d like to invite you to join me on the Tudor Society chatroom this Friday (23rd June) for a one-hour-long informal chat about the Tudors on TV and in fiction. This is your chance to rant and rave, or simply talk about a programme/movie you’ve just seen or a novel you’ve just read. Feel free to share recommendations too. It’s informal, I’ll just be there ‘moderating’ and making sure everything runs smoothly.

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  • The forum

    A few months ago, we asked members to help us by completing a survey because we want to make this the best possible Tudor Society ever, the go-to place for information on Tudor history, but also a real community of Tudor history lovers.

    What was surprising in the survey results was that quite a few participants asked us to create a forum for discussing Tudor history. What’s surprising about that? Well, we’ve had a forum since we started! However, I do realise that there’s so much on the Tudor Society website that it’s easy to miss things. We’ve made it super easy to find though – there is a big “Go to the forum” arrow right there on the homepage when you’ve logged in (see the image below), or you can find it under the “contents” drop-down of the top menu bar.

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  • Server maintainance

    As part of our longstanding effort to keep the website fast and reliable, we wanted to let you know that the server hosting the Tudor Society is scheduled for routine maintenance on June 22 between 10pm and 12am ET.

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