The Tudor Society
  • #OTD in Tudor history – 17 June

    Loch Leven Castle and a portrait of Mary Queen of Scots

    On this day in Tudor history, The Battle of Blackheath ended the Cornish Rebellion; Sir George Blage was lucky to die a natural death: and Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned at Loch Leven Castle after surrendering to the Protestant nobles…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 16 June

    A portrait of Henry VII and an engraving of Lambert Simnel

    On this day in Tudor history, 16th June, Henry VII was victorious at the Battle of Stoke Field; scholar, humanist and administrator Sir John Cheke was born; and Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, a man accused of being involved in the Overbury Scandal, died of gangrene…

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  • Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, Henry VIII’s illegitimate son

    Miniature of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, by Lucas Horenbout

    Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset was the acknowledged illegitimate son of Henry VIII by his mistress Elizabeth (Bessie) Blount. “Fitzroy” is a Norman-French surname meaning “son of the King” and was a name given to monarchs’ illegitimate sons.

    In 1519, Bessie had been sent by Cardinal Wolsey to reside at the prior’s house of the Priory of St Lawrence, in Blackmore, before her pregnancy became visible. It is not known when Bessie gave birth to Richmond, or when the child was christened. His birthdate is traditionally given as 15th June 1519, but Elizabeth Norton, historian and author of “Bessie Blount: Mistress to Henry VIII”, wonders if Richmond was actually born on 18th June because Cardinal Wolsey was with Henry VIII on that day and then although he was expected at Hampton Court Palace on 19th June he disappeared until 29th June. It was Wolsey who acted as Richmond’s godfather and who organised Bessie’s confinement, so it is reasonable to assume that he went to Blackmore. Also, as Norton points out, Henry VIII chose 18th June 1525 to elevate his son to the peerage and 18th June 1524 to award Bessie and her husband with a royal grant, so these events may well have tied in with the boy’s birthday.

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 15 June

    Portraits of Henry Fitzroy, Mary I and William Somer

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th June, Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, was born; members of the king’s council bullied and threatened Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, Mary; and court fool William Somer died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 14 June

    Portrait of a young Mary I, portrait of Sir Anthony Browne, and a photo of Sir Francis Bryan in Wolf Hall

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th June, Sir Anthony Browne and Sir Francis Brya, were interrogated regarding their alleged support of Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon; Catherine’s former confessor, William Peto, was made a cardinal; and Sir Christopher Danby, who’d been implicated in the Pilgrimage of Grace and had survived being a Catholic in Elizabeth I’s reign, died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 13 June

    Photo of Sudeley Castle and portraits of Catherine Parr and Thomas Seymour

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th June, George Neville, 3rd Baron Bergavenny, died; a pregnant Catherine Parr and her husband, Thomas Seymour, set off for Sudeley Castle; and actor William Knell died in a pub brawl…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 12 June

    Photo of the Tower of London and a portrait of Thomas Cromwell

    On this day in Tudor history, 12th June, Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, got cross with him, telling him to abandon his “wicked life”; Richard Rich interviewed an imprisoned Sir Thomas More; and a newly imprisoned Thomas Cromwell pleaded his innocence and begged for mercy…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 11 June

    Portraits of a young Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon

    On this day in Tudor history, 11th June, England’s new king, Henry VIII, married Catherine of Aragon; humanist and scholar Sir Anthony Cooke died; and the Feast of St Barnabas was celebrated…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 10 June

    Miniature of Thomas Cromwell, portrait of Francis, Duke of Anjou and Alençon, and painting of the Carthusian martyrs

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th June, two Carthusian monks died of starvation in prison; Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, was arrested; and Francis, Duke of Anjou and Alençon, former suitor of Elizabeth I and a man she dubbed her “Frog”, died in Paris…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 9 June

    Portrait of William Paget and the frontispiece of The Book of Common Prayer

    On this day in Tudor history, 9th June, William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon, died; the Book of Common Prayer was used in English churches for the first time; and diplomat and administrator William Paget, 1st Baron Paget, died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 8 June

    Portrait of Elizabeth Woodville

    On this day in Tudor history, Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of Edward IV and mother of the Princes in the Tower, died; and Henry VIII’s Parliament passed the Second Act of Succession, removing Elizabeth, as well as Mary, from the line of succession…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 7 June

    Painting of the Field of Cloth of Gold

    On this day in Tudor history, 7th June, the Field of Cloth of Gold meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I began; a water pageant was held in honour of Jane Seymour: and Elizabeth I’s former physician was hanged, drawn and quartered…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 6 June

    A portrait of Charles V and a frontispiece of the Book of Common Prayer

    On this day in Tudor history, 6th June, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V made a grand entry into London with Henry VIII; the Prayer Book rebels assembled at Bodmin; and musician and conspirator William Hunnis died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 5 June

    Portrait of Robert Devereux

    On this day in Tudor history, 5th June, Catherine of Aragon’s lady and good friend, Maria de Salinas, married William, 10th Lord Willoughby of Eresby; Elizabeth I’s favourite, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, was charged with insubordination; and physician and naturalist Thomas Moffet died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 4 June

    A portrait of Robert Dudley and a sketch of Jane Seymour

    On this day in Tudor history, 4th June, Jane Seymour was proclaimed queen at Greenwich; Robert Dudley married Amy Robsart at Sheen with Edward VI in attendance; and the spire of St Paul’s Cathedral was struck by lightning…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 3 June

    Portraits of Thomas More and John Aylmer

    On this day in Tudor history, 3rd June, Sir Thomas More was interrogated in the Tower of London; bishops in England were ordered to preach in support of the royal supremacy; and John Aylmer, Bishop of London, died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 2 June

    portraits of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, and Jane Seymour

    On this day in Tudor history, 2nd June, Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, made her first appearance as queen; rebels including Sir Francis Bigod were executed in the aftermath of the Pilgrimage of Grace; and Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, was executed…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 1 June

    Photo of Westminster Abbey and portrait of Anne Boleyn

    On this day in Tudor history, 1st June, a heavily pregnant Queen Anne Boleyn was crowned queen at Westminster Abbey; and an inquest into the death of playwright Christopher Marlowe ruled that he had been stabbed in self-defence…

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  • The Amazing Queens Joust at Leeds Castle in Kent

    Leeds castle, in Kent, hosted a spectacular jousting tournament over the spring bank holiday. We sent historian Amanda Glover to visit the event and tell us all about it. Over to Amanda...

    The castle is always a beautiful backdrop for any event, but it was particularly fitting for the mediaeval drama.

    We were informed that this was the real thing, implying perhaps that some other jousting tournaments may be rather too staged managed. The English were competing against the French, and indeed the contest seemed real enough.

    Twice a day, for three days, the Knights in full armour mounted on beautifully caparisoned horses, charged at each other down the list, separated by the tilt -a wooden barrier which afforded some protection to horse and rider.

    The aim was to strike the opponent’s targe- a small shield attached to the breastplate or failing that to make contact with the knight him or herself, (yes- in the 21st century we have female jousters- the Knights of yore would be turning in their graves!) and to smash one’s lance in the process. The most points were awarded for a clean strike on the targe, breaking the lance low down its shaft, which indicated higher impact than merely splintering the top.

    Of course, modern health and safety regulations, not to mention common sense, precluded the knights from using the hugely heavy reinforced jousting armour of their forebears and the very stout lances which could on occasion unseat an unlucky opponent, or otherwise do some rather unpleasant damage.

    Despite this, it was still a colourful and skilful spectacle, and many a light-weight lance was splintered, with no nasty injuries to horse or rider.

    Although this was the main event, there was other entertainment on hand. This included a demonstration as to how to arm a knight-it is a complex process putting on all that steel, and there was a daily exhibition of foot combat.

    A 15th century encampment included some music makers, an armoury workshop, a kitchen and the odd gift shop selling mediaeval style belts, pilgrims’ badges and pottery, all the participants being suitably attired.

    The kitchen was of particular interest, with food being prepared just as it was all those centuries ago. We were given tastes of saffron bread and bread pudding, tasty treats that only the wealthy could have afforded in the 15th or 16th century. The price of saffron and dried exotic fruit made it out of the reach of the average peasant. Very crunchy authentic mediaeval gingerbread was for sale, and it was indeed a tasty treat.

    Then there were samples of hippocras, a delicious early form of mulled wine, made with all sorts of rare herbs and spices, which no self-respecting mediaeval banquet omitted from its menu.

    Combined with the castle itself, its beautiful grounds and its maze, it was well worth the day out.

  • #OTD in Tudor history – 31 May

    Portrait of Lady Margaret Beaufort

    On this day in Tudor history, 31st May, the matriarch of the Tudor dynasty, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was born; the Legatine Court, whose purpose was to hear Henry VIII’s case for an annulment of his first marriage, opened at Blackfriars; and Queen Anne Boleyn’s coronation procession took place…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 30 May

    Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, and a man thought to be Christopher Marlowe

    On this day in Tudor history, 18 men were created Knights of the Bath during Anne Boleyn’s coronation celebrations; Henry VIII married Jane Seymour at Whitehall; and playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe was stabbed to death…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 29 May

    A tract from the Marprelate Controversy

    On this day in Tudor history, 29th May, Queen Anne Boleyn’s coronation celebrations began with a huge river procession on the Thames, and religious controversialist John Penry was hanged after being linked to the Marprelate religious tracts…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 28 May

    Painting of the Spanish Armada and an engraving of the gallows at Tyburn

    On this day in Tudor history, 28th May, Archbishop Cranmer, proclaimed the validity of Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn; three Catholic priests were executed for a plot that may not have been real; and the Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon in Portugal bound for the Spanish Netherlands…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 27 May

    Portraits of Margaret Pole, Cardinal Pole and Jane Seymour

    On this day in Tudor history, 27th May, Cardinal Pole sent Henry VIII a copy of his work, and in it, he criticised the king’s annulment; there were celebrations for the ‘quickening’ of Queen Jane Seymour’s baby; and Cardinal Pole’s mother, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was executed…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 26 May

    Portraits of a young Mary I; Henry VIII, and Thomas Cromwell

    On this day in Tudor history, 26th May, Henry VIII and Charles V met at Dover Castle; Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, Mary, wrote to Cromwell asking him to intercede with her father on her behalf; and Barbara Sidney (née Gamage), Countess of Leicester, was buried at Penshurst…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 25 May

    A portrait of a woman believed to be Lady Jane Grey

    On this day in Tudor history, an earthquake shook Croydon and neighbouring villages, and Lady Jane Grey married Lord Guildford Dudley, son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, in a triple wedding at Durham Place…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 24 May

    A still of Anne Askew from The Tudors series, a portrait of Robert Cecil and an illustration of a monstrous child from a broadside ballad

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th May, Anne Askew and her husband were ordered to appear in front of the king’s council; a “monstrous child” was born in Chichester; and Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and Elizabeth I’s former Secretary of State, died…

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  • Witness Dramatic Clash of Lances as Leeds Castle Hosts The Queen’s Joust

    Leeds Castle will resound to the thunder of hooves and the clash of lances on shields over the May Bank Holiday weekend as it hosts The Queen’s Joust (25th – 27th May).

    Leeds Castle as it used to be!

    Travel back in time to a world of medieval knights and chivalry. Enjoy exhilarating displays of combat and action, elegant and exciting equestrianism, and medieval living and feasting.

    Competing over three days for the coveted Leeds Castle International Cup, a team of skilled fighters from France will battle against brave competitors from England.

    One of the stars of the English team is Emma Pearn. Emma saw her first jousting tournament when she was eight years old. She decided she wanted to become a jouster on that day. After years of training martial arts, fencing, and riding, she is now one of England's fiercest competitors.

    Gasp at the first crash of lances, cheer as your favourite knight gallops past, and watch as the combatants battle it out for the coveted cup, and for the honour and attention of the queen.

    Points will be accumulated across all three days, with the cup and prize of the queen being awarded to the highest scoring team. The tournament consists of four challenging events, each demonstrating strength and ability and, for the first-time, visitors can witness two jousts at 1pm and 3.30pm each day.

    In addition to the feats of strength and skill, all-day encampments offer a fascinating insight into 15th century trades and activities including blacksmithing forge, medieval food and drink, coin-minting, tailor’s workshop, weaving and spinning.

    This event is included with a Leeds Castle general admission ticket, best prices available in advance online.

    The daily programme of events

    Medieval Music & Dance - 10.30am, 2pm & 4.15pm
    Meet the Knights & Foot Combat - 11am
    The Joust - 1pm
    Arming the Knight - 2.30pm
    The Joust - 3.30pm

    How to get your tickets

    Online admission prices: Adult (16+) £31.50, Child £22.50, Family £74. For details and to book, visit . Leeds Castle, Broomfield, Maidstone ME17 1PL. T: 01622 765 400 E: [email protected].

    About Leeds Castle, Kent

    Leeds Castle is considered a national treasure, providing a window onto over nine hundred years of British history. It is a haven of tranquillity and offers a wealth of discovery and enjoyment for all ages.

    Situated five miles southeast of Maidstone in Kent, Leeds Castle’s rich and riveting history, including serving six of England’s medieval queens, to its elaborate transformation into a glamorous 1930s country house retreat for the influential and famous by Anglo-American heiress, Lady Olive Baillie, secures its place as one of the most visited historic attractions in Britain.

    The Castle and its estate is preserved and maintained by the Leeds Castle Foundation, a not-for-profit charity.

  • The Men Behind the Throne – Zoom Discussion on Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

    The Men Behind the Throne logo

    As part of my forthcoming event, The Men Behind the Throne: Tudor Statesmen, I’m running a zoom video discussion on Archbishop Thomas Cranmer this Sunday. I love doing these informal discussions as they’re a great way to get to know each other before the event and an hour of Tudor talk with like-minded people is bliss.

    There are still places left on The Men Behind the Throne, which is a completely online event and interactive too, and there’s an early bird discount until 31st May.

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 23 May

    Portraits of a young Elizabeth I, Henry VIII and Archbishop Cranmer

    On this day in Tudor history, 23rd May, Henry Grey was finally installed as a Knight of the Garter; Elizabeth (future Elizabeth I) arrived as Woodstock, where she was to be kept under house arrest; and Henry VIII’s first marriage was finally annulled…

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