The Tudor Society
The Tudor Society
  • November 21 – Frances Grey, mother of Lady Jane Grey

    On this day in Tudor history, 21st November 1559, Frances Grey (maiden name Brandon, other married name Stokes), Duchess of Suffolk and the mother of Queen Jane, or Lady Jane Grey, died at Richmond. She was laid to rest in St Edmund’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey, on the orders of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, and her second husband, Adrian Stokes, erected a tomb in her memory.

    Frances, daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Mary Tudor, Queen of France, has gone down in history as rather a harsh and abusive mother, but let me tell you a bit more about the woman who was once named in Edward VI’s “devise for the succession”.

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  • Join Elizabeth I for mulled wine and mince pies at Tutbury Church – 19 December 2019

    Yes, you read that right! You can enjoy mulled wine and mince pies with Queen Elizabeth I herself at Tutbury Church on 19th December 2019. Well, ok, it’s historian, actress and re-enactor Lesley Smith as Elizabeth, but you’ll feel like you’re with Gloriana herself!

    Here are the details:

    Mulled Wine and Mince Pies with Elizabeth I in Tutbury Church
    Thursday 19th December 2019
    7:30pm arrival for 8pm start
    £12.50 per person

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  • Christmas workshops at Acton Court

    If you can get to Acton Court in Gloucestershire, UK, why not enjoy one of their Christmas workshops?

    From Acton Court:

    Step back in time with Organic Blooms at Acton Court, create your own beautiful, natural Christmas wreath, garland or table decoration at one of our workshops.

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  • 20 November – Sir Christopher Hatton Elizabeth I’s mouton and lids

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th November 1591, Sir Christopher Hatton, Elizabeth I’s Lord Chancellor and favourite, died aged fifty-one. He was such a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I that he had a dazzling career and was constantly at her side.

    Find out more about Sir Christopher Hatton, his career and accomplishments, his patronage of learned men and explorers, and his special relationship with Elizabeth I, in today’s talk.

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  • 19 November – An important member of the Catholic underground dies

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th November 1587, Henry Vaux died of what was probably consumption at Great Ashby, the home of his sister, Eleanor Brooksby.

    Henry Vaux is a fascinating Tudor man. He started out as a precocious child and poet, and grew up to be an important member of the Catholic underground. He was a Catholic recusant and priest harbourer, helping Jesuit priests in the Protestant reign of Queen Elizabeth I, both financially and by giving them a roof over the heads.

    In today’s talk, I introduce Henry Vaux and what happened to him in Queen Elizabeth I’s reign.

    Book Recommendation: One of my very favourite history books is “God’s Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England” by Jessie Childs.

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  • 18 November – Cuthbert Tunstall, an imprisoned bishop

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th November 1559, eighty-five-year-old Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, died while in the custody of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth Palace.

    Cuthbert Tunstall had an amazing career which spanned the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I, and he was imprisoned in two of those monarchs’ reigns. In today’s talk, I give an overview of this bishop’s interesting life and career.

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  • 17 November – The queen is dead! Long live the queen!

    On this day in Tudor history, 17th November 1558, forty-two-year-old Queen Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, died at St James’s Palace in London. She passed the throne on to her twenty-five-year-old half-sister, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, who became Queen Elizabeth I.

    In today’s talk, I talk about the accession of Queen Elizabeth I and the traditional story of Elizabeth finding out that she was queen at Hatfield.

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  • Tudor Churchmen Wordsearch

    How much do you know about prominent churchmen of the Tudor period? Test your knowledge of these bishop, archbishops and those who served both Church and State, in this fun wordsearch.

    Good luck!

    Simply click on the link or image to open and print out. The words can read in any direction!

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  • 16 November – A strange Elizabethan Plot

    On this day in history, 16th November 1612, Elizabethan conspirator, William Stafford, died. He’s an interesting Tudor character because he had Plantagenet blood and also because he was allegedly the chief plotter in the Stafford Plot, a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, but he was only imprisoned for a short time and lived the rest of his life quietly in Norfolk, dying a natural death.

    How and why did William Stafford escape serious punishment for the Stafford Plot and what did Sir Francis Walsingham have to do with it all?

    Find out about William Stafford and the Stafford Plot in today’s talk.

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  • Medieval and Tudor Skincare

    In this week’s Claire Chats talk, I start a two-part series looking at skincare and cosmetics in the medieval and Tudor periods. It’s a fascinating subject when we are living at a time when lots of people are reverting to using natural remedies, storecupboard ingredients and herbs and spices for skincare and skin complaints.

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  • 15 November – The pope threatens Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th November 1532, a rather cross Pope Clement VII threatened King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn with excommunication.

    Why? Well, because Henry VIII had defied the pope’s instructions and previous threats, and gone his own way, setting aside Catherine of Aragon and living with Anne Boleyn. The pope was not impressed with this disobedient king.

    In today’s talk,I share excerpts of the pope’s letter, along with an explanation of the context and what happened next.

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  • 14 November – Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon get married (but not to each other!)

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th November and the Feast of St Erkenwald, there may have been two royal Tudor weddings. We know that Catherine of Aragon married Arthur, Prince of Wales, on 14th November 1501, but chronicler Edward Hall gives 14th November 1532 as the date of a secret wedding for King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Marquess of Pembroke, in Dover.

    Let me tell you all about the weddings of Catherine of Aragon and Arthur Tudor, and Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

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  • 13 November – Lady Jane Grey is tried for treason

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th November 1553, in the reign of Queen Mary I, the former queen Jane, or Lady Jane Grey, was tried for treason at Guildhall in London. She wasn’t the only one tried, her husband Lord Guildford Dudley, his brothers Ambrose and Henry Dudley, and Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, were also tried for treason for their parts in putting Jane on the throne.

    In today’s talk, I explain what happened at their trial and also what happened to these Tudor people after they were found guilty and condemned to death.

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  • 12 November – Queen Jane Seymour’s remains are moved to Windsor

    On this day in Tudor history, 12th November 1537, the corpse of Queen Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife, was transported by chariot in a procession from Hampton Court Palace to Windsor Castle, in preparation for burial. Jane Seymour’s heart and entrails had been buried in the chapel at Hampton Court Palace following her death on 24th October 1537.

    Queen Jane’s stepdaughter, the Lady Mary, acted as chief mourner for the proceedings.

    There was also a commemoration for Queen Jane in the city of London.

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  • 11 November – Queen Catherine Howard is moved to Syon House

    On this day in Tudor history, 11th November 1541, the feast of Martinmas, King Henry VIII’s council sent Archbishop Thomas Cranmer a letter containing instructions to move Queen Catherine Howard from Hampton Court Palace to Syon House, formerly Syon Abbey.

    In today’s talk, Claire Ridgway, founder of the Tudor Society, shares the instructions that Cranmer was given and what the queen was sent for her time at Syon. Claire also shares what else happened on this day in 1541, along with some trivia about the people in charge of Catherine’s household at Syon.

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  • Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565-1601)

    Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, after Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger

    Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, after Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger

    Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, was born on this day in history, 10th November 1565, at Netherwood, Herefordshire. To commemorate the birth of this man, one of Elizabeth I's favourites, I thought I'd share this mini biography of him, along with a few videos I did.

    Devereux was the eldest son of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, and Lettice Knollys, granddaughter of Mary Boleyn, and was a favourite of Elizabeth I. After his father's death in 1576, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, was made his guardian, and in 1578 his mother married his godfather, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

    Essex first caught the Queen's attention in 1584 when his stepfather, Leicester, brought him to court, and he was appointed Master of the Horse on his return to court after successful military service in the Netherlands with his stepfather. He was just twenty-one, and the Queen was fifty-three.

    Although Robert Devereux is often described as "the darling of Elizabeth's old age", having replaced his stepfather in Elizabeth's affections after Dudley's death in 1588, Alison Plowden says that "it would probably be more accurate to describe him as one of its greatest headaches". Although Essex was dashing and charming, he was rash, ambitious, arrogant, headstrong and used to getting his own way. Unlike Dudley, Essex did not know Elizabeth as only a childhood friend or sweetheart can, and he constantly underestimated her and attempted to bully her into submission.

    After a successful raid on Cadiz in 1596 during the war with Spain, Essex returned to England as a hero. His return to court caused the forming of two factions: the Devereux faction, who were seeking military profit and glory, and the opposing faction headed by Lord Burghley and his son, Robert Cecil, who were on the side of peace. Although Elizabeth loved flirting with the handsome Essex and doted on him, she sought to keep a balance between the factions, and would not always give her favourite what he wanted. This led to Essex sulking like a spoiled child, and to stormy rows between him and the Queen. Essex ignored the advice of friends like Francis Bacon, who warned him not to offend Elizabeth by seeking to be overly powerful, because he did not want to settle for 'just' being a servant like his stepfather. He wanted more. Wise counsel fell on deaf ears, and Elizabeth's attempts to tame wild-child Essex failed.

    Ultimately, it was his pride and his need for recognition and power that led to his undoing. In 1599, Essex became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, but his campaign against the Irish was unsuccessful. Essex constantly ignored the Queen's orders, acted contrary to her wishes and constantly worried about what the Cecil faction were getting up to back at court. His obsession with power led to him giving up on the Irish situation, making a truce with the Irish rebel leader (against the Queen's wishes) and returning to England without the Queen's permission. This amounted to desertion and disobedience, something which Elizabeth could not and would not tolerate. The situation was made worse on the 28th September 1599, by Essex striding into Elizabeth's bedchamber unannounced and seeing the Queen without her makeup or wig, without her "mask of youth". You can read more about this event in my article here.

    On the 29th September, Essex was interrogated before the Queen's Council for around 5 hours, and the Council concluded that his truce with the Irish rebels was indefensible, and that his return to England was a desertion of duty. Essex was then put under house arrest. In June 1600, Essex appeared before a special court and was punished by being deprived of his public office and being confined to his home. However, in August, he was granted his freedom, although his sweet wines monopoly, his one source of income, was not renewed.
    He may well have wormed his way back into the Queen's affections if he had apologised and appealed to the Queen for mercy - after all, she had a soft spot for him and was used to his impulsive behaviour - but Essex made the fatal mistake of trying to enlist the support of the Scottish king, James VI, against Cecil's faction at court, and planning a coup for March 1601 to force Elizabeth to summon Parliament and deal with Cecil and his faction. When, on the 7th February, Essex received a message from the Queen that he was to present himself before Council, he decided to move things forward and summoned three hundred followers, telling them that Cecil and Ralegh were planning to assassinate him, and that the rising should therefore take place the next day, instead of in March.

    Robert Devereux by Isaac Oliver

    Robert Devereux by Isaac Oliver

    On the 8th February 1601, Essex, his supporters and two hundred soldiers gathered at Essex House. Essex then marched into the city crying "For the Queen! For the Queen! The crown of England is sold to the Spaniard! A plot is laid for my life!" but London's citizens remained indoors instead of joining him on his march. As his supporters deserted him, Essex was forced to give up and return home, where he surrendered after Lord Admiral Nottingham threatened to blow up his house if he did not give himself up.

    On the 9th February, Elizabeth I told the French ambassador that the "shameless ingrate, had at last revealed what had long been in his mind". Her patience had been stretched beyond breaking point and she could no longer excuse her past favourite's behaviour. On the 13th February the full details of the coup planned by Essex were made public, and on the 17th February indictments were laid against Essex and his key supporters, including Henry Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton. Two days later, on the 19th February, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and his friend, Southampton, were tried at Westminster Hall by a jury of their peers. Both men were accused of high treason, found guilty and sentenced to death. Elizabeth I, in her mercy, commuted Southampton's sentence to life in prison and Essex's sentence of a traitor's death to death by beheading. On the 20th February, the Queen signed his death warrant.

    Essex was executed on Tower Green on the 25th February 1601.

    Taken from On this Day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway.

  • 10 November – Cats, pigeons and lions

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th November 1536 (some sources say 1537), Sir Henry Wyatt of Allington Castle, politician, courtier, Privy Councillor and father of poet Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, died.

    Sir Heny Wyatt was an important man, but rather than tell you about his career, Claire Ridgway, author of “On This Day in Tudor History”, thought she’d share with you two interesting stories concerning this Tudor man and cats, pigeons and a lion.

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  • Plots and rebellions in Elizabeth I’s reign Crossword Puzzle

    As yesterday was the anniversary of the beginning of the 1569 uprising against Elizabeth I, I thought I’d test your knowledge of plots and rebellions, and those involved, in Elizabeth I’s reign.

    Simply click on the link or image below to open the crossword puzzle and print out. Good luck!

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  • 9 November – A stillborn daughter for Queen Catherine of Aragon

    On this day in Tudor history, 9th November 1518, Queen Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s wife of nine years, gave birth prematurely to a stillborn daughter at Greenwich Palace.

    This was to be Catherine’s sixth and final pregnancy. She had tried her very best to give King Henry VIII what he wanted, a surviving son and heir, a Prince of Wales.

    In today’s talk, I explain what happened on this day in 1518 and what we know about Queen Catherine of Aragon’s pregnancies.

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  • 8 November – King Henry VIII praises one wife while trying to marry another!

    On this day in Tudor history, 8th November 1528, at Bridewell Palace, King Henry VIII made a rather strange public oration to “the nobility, judges and councillors and divers other persons” to explain his troubled conscience regarding the lawfulness of his marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

    In today’s talk, I share an extract from the king’s speech, in which he praises Catherine of Aragon to the hilt even though he’d proposed to another woman, Anne Boleyn. Find out all about this strange situation!

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  • Telling the time in Tudor times

    Thank you to my village's clock tower bells for inspiring this week's Claire Chats talk!

    The full scene isn't available now (grrr!), but in it, Elizabeth puts on the watch and then spills her wine when she turns her wrist to look at the time. She was not amused!

    Further reading

  • The Anne Boleyn Collection III available for pre-order

    Claire here! As you have probably noticed, Anne Boleyn is my very favourite historical character. Now, I know that she doesn’t interest you all, but the latest in my collection of articles, The Anne Boleyn Collection III, which is available for pre-order right now, also covers some other historical topics.

    Here’s the blurb:

    Claire Ridgway, best-selling author and creator of the Anne Boleyn Files website, celebrates the 10th anniversary of her site with this collection of articles on Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, and Tudor history.

    Written in Claire’s easy-going style, but with an emphasis on good history and sound research, The Anne Boleyn Collection III is perfect reading for Tudor history lovers everywhere. Myths, popular misconceptions and inaccuracies, are all challenged by Claire using contemporary evidence.

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  • Richard III and his supporters are attainted – 7 November 1485

    On this day in 1485, just over two months after King Henry VII’s forces had defeated those of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, Henry VII’s first parliament attainted Richard and his supporters.

    Here is an account from Rapahel Holinshed’s chronicle. I have altered the spelling to make it easier to read:

    “For the establishing of all things, as well touching the preservation of his own estate, as the commendable administration of justice and preferment of the common wealth of his realme, he called his high court of parliament at Westminster the seventh day of November, wherein was attainted Richard late duke of Gloucester, calling and naming himself by usurpation, king Richard the third.

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  • 7 November – Queen Catherine Howard confesses

    On this day in Tudor history, Monday 7th November 1541, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, visited Catherine Howard, fifth wife of King Henry VIII, in her chambers at Hampton Court Palace.

    Catherine had been confined to her chambers and Archbishop Cranmer’s job was to get the now hysterical queen to talk, to confess. He visited her a few times over a period of 24 hours and finally got a confession from her. But what did Catherine have to say?

    Find out all about Catherine Howard’s confessions, and there were several, in today’s talk.

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  • 6 November – Henry VIII abandons Catherine Howard

    On this day in Tudor history, Sunday 6th November 1541, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, was abandoned by her husband the king at Hampton Court Palace. She would never see him again.

    On the same day, Queen Catherine was visited by a delegation of king’s council members and informed of allegations made against her.

    What exactly happened on this day in 1541 and what has this to do with Hampton Court Palace’s ‘Haunted Gallery’? Find out in today’s talk.

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  • 5 November – Mary Tudor is crowned Queen of France

    On this day in Tudor history, Sunday 5th November 1514, eighteen-year-old Mary Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII and daughter of the late King Henry VII, was crowned Queen of France at Saint-Denis.

    Mary had become Queen of France on her marriage to King Louis XII on 9th October 1514.

    In today’s talk, I share what we know of Mary Tudor’s coronation from the contemporary sources.

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  • November’s live chats – 9 and 29 November 2019

    We have two live chats in the Tudor Society chatroom this month, as usual. The first is our informal live chat on Tudor scandals, which will take place on Saturday 9th November, and the second is our expert live chat with Gayle Hulme on Mary, Queen of Scots, which will take place on Friday 29th November.

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  • Live chat transcript – Lauren Johnson – Henry VI

    Thank you so much to everyone who attended our October expert live chat with historian Lauren Johnson, and a big thank you to Lauren for being so giving of her time. It was a wonderful hour.

    If you missed it, you can catch up with this transcript:

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  • 4 November – The arrest of Cardinal Wolsey

    On this day in Tudor history, 4th November 1530, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII’s former Lord Chancellor, was arrested at his home of Cawood Castle in Yorkshire.

    Wolsey was accused of high treason, but why? And what happened when his former servant, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, arrived with orders to arrest him?

    I explain all in today’s talk, including how Wolsey ‘cheated’ the axeman.

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  • 3 November – Sir John Perrot, Henry VIII’s illegitimate son?

    On this day in Tudor history, 3rd November 1592, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, privy councillor and former Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir John Perrot, died at the Tower of London. He’d been imprisoned there since March 1591.

    Perrot is a fascinating Tudor man who survived being a Protestant and protecting ‘heretics’ in Mary I’s reign, and who was saved six times from serious punishment by Queen Elizabeth I’s intercession. Some people believe that this favour, and a few other factors, point to him being King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son.

    Find out more about Sir John Perrot, his life and the arguments for and against him being Henry VIII’s son in today’s talk.

    [Read More...]
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