The Tudor Society
  • Lesley Smith portrays Anne Boleyn – 30th May, Leek, UK

    A photo of Lesley Smith as Anne Boleyn

    I’ve been lucky enough to see historian and actress play Mary, Queen of Scots, at Tutbury Castle, where Lesley is custodian, so I’m very disappointed that I can’t make this event. I know she’ll do a terrific job portraying Anne Boleyn in her last 45 minutes on earth.

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 26 March

    A portrait of John Dee

    On this day in Tudor history, 26th March, the Vestments Controversy of Elizabeth I’s reign was started; Sir Robert Carey arrived at Holyrood to inform King James VI of Scotland that he was now King of England; and John Dee, astrologer, mathematician, alchemist, antiquary, spy, philosopher, geographer and adviser to Elizabeth I, died..

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 25 March

    An engraving of St Margaret Clitherow and a painting of the Annunciation

    On this day in Tudor history, 25th March, Lady Day was celebrated and the calendar new year began, and Catholic martyr Margaret Clitherow, the Pearl of York, was pressed to death for harbouring Catholic priests…

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  • Holy Week and Easter

    A Palm Sunday procession

    Yesterday, Palm Sunday, was the start of Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter Sunday, or Resurrection Sunday, which, of course, commemorates the resurrection of Christ.

    It was an important time in Tudor England, as it still is in many countries and communities today. You can find out more about how Easter was celebrated in Tudor times

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 24 March

    A portrait of Elizabeth I

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th March, judge and Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir James Dyer, died; Queen Elizabeth I died at Richmond Palace; and Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick, died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 23 March

    Portraits of Anne Boleyn, Catherine of Aragon and a young Mary I

    On this day in Tudor history, 23rd March, while the pope proclaimed Catherine of Aragon to be England’s true queen and Mary the heir to the throne, Parliament declared Anne Boleyn to be the rightful queen and her daughter, Elizabeth, the heir; Waltham Abbey was dissolved; and soldier, MP and diplomat Sir Henry Unton died…

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  • Mary Howard’s Lucky Escape: A Tudor Tale of Fortunate Refusal

    Thumbnail for my video showing a photo of me with portraits of Thomas Seymour and Mary Howard

    Following the death of her husband, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, Mary Howard’s father, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, put forward the idea that his daughter should marry the up and coming Thomas Seymour, but Mary wasn’t keen. In hindsight she had a rather lucky escape.

    Let me tell you more…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 22 March

    A sketch of Katherine Willoughby by Holbein

    On this day in Tudor history, 22nd March, patroness of Reform Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, was born; Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, replaced the out of favour Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, as lieutenant general in Calais; and gunner and mathematician William Bourne was buried…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 21 March

    An engraving of the burning of Archbishop Cranmer and a portrait of him

    On this day in Tudor history, 21st March, Puritan Sir John Leveson, a man who helped put down Essex’s Rebellion, was born; Archbishop Cranmer was burnt at the stake in Oxford for heresy; and a dying Elizabeth I took to her bed…

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  • Two not-to-be-missed talks in April by J Stephan Edwards in London

    Many followers of the Tudor Society will have read articles by J Stephan Edwards as he regularly contributed to the Tudor Life Magazine. We are happy to announce that Stephan will be talking at two prestigious lectures at the Society of Antiquaries of London on Thursday, 4th April. Both are free and open to the public, but you must register if you want to attend:

    Searching for a Portrait of Jane Grey Dudley, England’s ‘Nine-Days Queen’ of 1553
    Thursday, 4th April
    Society of Antiquaries of London

    This extensively illustrated lecture examines some of the better-known ersatz images and uncovers the likely or actual identity of many of the sitters depicted. Particular attention will be devoted to an image formerly in the collections of the American financier John Pierpont Morgan and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art with identification until the 1950s as a portrait of Jane Grey by François Clouet. That image, known as the Berry Hill Portrait owing to having last been held by Berry Hill Galleries of New York, vanished into an unknown private collection in 1961. But the portrait briefly re-emerged at auction in November 2021 with an initial identification as Mary, Queen of Scots. The evidence is regrettably inconclusive for definitively identifying the sitter, however. The candidates are limited to just two royal women, however. The most likely identification, in my opinion, is Jane’s younger sister Katherine Grey as she appeared circa 1558-1561, during which time she was heir-presumptive to Queen Elizabeth I. But it is also quite possible that the portrait is the first ad vivum portrait of Elizabeth herself following her accession and can be dated very narrowly to late 1558 or very early 1559. In the absence of definitive evidence, I will argue that the portrait should properly be labeled, pending discovery of definitive evidence to resolve the difference, as “Unknown lady circa 1558-1562, likely either Katherine Grey or Elizabeth Tudor.

    Queen Jane’s Proclamation of Accession of 1553 and Gendering of the English Monarchy
    Thursday, 4th April
    Society of Antiquaries of London

    Register Here -
    This lecture will analyze the text of the Proclamation of Accession of Queen Jane (Grey Dudley) through the lens of gender and relative to specific gender role expectations prevalent in England during the Tudor period. The document is effectively unique among English and British proclamations of accession in that it presents an argument for altering the line of succession in contravention of feudal custom related to the royal succession and of the Third Act for the Succession of 1543/4. The lecture will argue that the proclamation is a heavily gendered document that attempts, albeit cryptically, to persuade the populace of a necessity to preserve the English monarchy as gendered exclusively male.

  • #OTD in Tudor history – 20 March

    A portrait of Thomas Seymour

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th March, Catholic priest and martyr Cuthbert Mayne was baptised; Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley and Edward VI’s uncle, was executed for treason; and Mary Bassett, translator and granddaughter of Sir Thomas More, died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 19 March

    Portrait of a woman thought to be Elizabeth Seymour, Lady Cromwell, by Holbein

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th March, Arthur Brooke, who wrote the first version of the story of Romeo and Juliet in English, died in a shipwreck; Elizabeth Seymour, Lady Cromwell, died; and Henry VIII’s barber, Edmund harman, died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 18 March

    Portraits of Mary Tudor and a young Elizabeth I, and a photo of the Tower of London

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th March, Mary Tudor, Queen of France, was born; Lady Elizabeth (Elizabeth I) was arrested and taken to the Tower of London; and Sir Christopher Blount was executed for his part in the rebellion of his son-in-law, the Earl of Essex…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 17 March

    A portrait of a young Elizabeth I.

    On this day in Tudor history, 17th March, the Lady Elizabeth (Elizabeth I) delayed her arrest by writing her famous Tide Letter to her half-sister Mary I; theologian Alexander Alesius died in Edinburgh; and soldier and courtier William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, died at Hampton Court Palace…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 16 March

    A portrait of John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners

    On this day in Tudor history, 16th March, soldier, translator and diplomat John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners, died; priests Robert Dalby and John Amias were executed at York as traitors; and actor Richard Burbage was buried…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 15 March

    Portraits of William Warham and Henry VIII

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th March, Archbishop William Warham criticised Henry VIII in Parliament and was rewarded with foul language from the king; the Lady Mary (Mary I) publicly defied her half-brother Edward VI; and the imprisoned John Hooper was deprived of his bishopric…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 14 March

    A preparatory sketch of Sir John Russell by Holbein

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th March, judge Sir John Port, who is known for mumbling in a case, which had serious repercussions, died; Bishop Arthur Bulkeley, former chaplain to Charles Brandon and Thomas Cromwell, died; and Sir John Russell, Lord Privy Seal, died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 13 March

    portrait of Richard Burbage

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th March, Henry Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Essex, died after a horse-riding accident; Welshman Sir Gelly Meyrick was hanged, drawn and quartered after the rebellion of his master, the Earl of Essex, and Elizabethan actor Richard Burbage died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 12 March

    Thomas Boleyn's brass memorial and a photo of Thomas Boleyn from The Tudors series

    On this day in Tudor history, a Cistercian monk was hanged for his involvement in the Pilgrimage of Grace; Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond, and father of Queen Anne Boleyn, died at Hever Castle; and Catholic priest and martyr Christopher Bales was baptised…

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  • Bloody Mary Show – LIVE

    Bloody Mary: LIVE! is coming to various locations across the UK. You can find all dates at

    Looks like it might well be a very irreverent but fun show to enjoy!

  • Shakespeare’s Sisters: Four Women who wrote the Renaissance – Powerful talks

    Author Ramie Targoff is in the UK doing a series of talks…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 11 March

    A portrait of Pope Leo X and Giles Fletcher's work "The History of Russia"

    On this day in Tudor history, 11th March, Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici was proclaimed Pope Leo X, poet William Warner, “Our English Homer”, was buried, and poet, diplomat and MP Giles Fletcher the Elder died in London…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 10 March

    A photo of a re-enactor jousting and portraits of Henry VIII and William Paulet

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th March, John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford and a man who commanded Henry Tudor’s archers at the Battle of Bosworth, died; Henry VIII suffered a jousting accident jousting against his friend, Charles Brandon; and William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester and a man who served Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 9 March

    A painting of The Murder of David Rizzio by John Opie

    On this day in Tudor history, 9th March, Mary, Queen of Scots’ private secretary was assassinated in front of the pregnant queen, Mary’s mother-in-law, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, died, and Lady Frances Radcliffe, one of Elizabeth I’s ladies of the bedchamber, died…

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  • Catherine of Aragon’s Heartbreak: The Lost Babies of a Queen

    Thumbnail for my video on Catherine of Aragon's stillbirths showing Michel Sittow's Madonna and Child

    In my latest video, I unravel the heartbreaking saga of Catherine of Aragon’s relentless quest to provide Henry VIII with a male heir, which saw her experiencing six pregnancies between 1509 and 1518, and losing five children.

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 8 March

    A portrait of Sir Nicholas Carew

    On this day in Tudor history, 8th March, Henry VIII was sent a leopard as a gift, Sir Nicholas Carew was executed for treason for allegedly plotting with Cardinal Pole, and outspoken reformer Richard Tracy died…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 7 March

    A map of the Great Comet's course by Paul Fabricius, and portraits of Pope Clement VII and Henry VIII

    On this day in Tudor history, 7th March, the Pope threatened Henry VIII with excommunication of her married again, Germaine Gardiner and John Larke were executed for denying the royal supremacy, and the Great Comet was seen…

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  • #OTD in Tudor history – 6 March

    Portraits of Thomas Wriothesley and Juan Luis Vives

    On this day in Tudor history, 6th March, scholar and humanist Juan Luis Vives, a man who advised Catherine of Aragon on Mary I’s education, was born in Valencia, Spain; the Act for the Suppression of the Lesser Monasteries was introduced into Parliament; and Thomas Wriothesley got into trouble for allegedly abusing his authority…

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  • An evening with Alison Weir in East Grinstead

    Join The East Grinstead Bookshop for an evening with Alison Weir – from the comfort of your own sitting room – to celebrate the launch of ‘Mary I, Queen of Sorrows’ : A novel by Alison Weir.

    The East Grinstead Bookshop are very excited to announce the national launch of Dr Alison Weir’s new historical novel, Mary I, Queen of Sorrows, on Thursday 9 May, 7pm which be available as an on-line event, broadcast across the world. The event will be live-streamed from the historic Sackville College Almshouse, built in 1609 to solve the homeless problem in East Grinstead and still in use as an almshouse today.

    Dr Alison Weir is the bestselling female historian in the UK, with over three million copies of her fiction and non-fiction works sold to date. Even as a young girl Alison was fascinated by the Tudors, and has spent most of her life researching and writing about this period. This, her latest novel, is the third in the Tudor Rose series which fictionalises the lives of Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII and now Mary I.

    Mary was the daughter of Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII, a precocious young child with an able intellect and a talent for the harpsichord. Yet, as the first Queen Regnant of England she became a notorious terror, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of protestants and earning the accolade ‘Bloody Mary’. What happened?

    Independent Bookseller John Pye will be in conversation with Alison for an evening of lively debate and storytelling, looking at the life of Mary and celebrating the launch of ‘Queen of Sorrows’.

    “An exquisitely drawn, poignant portrayal of one of history’s most complex, maligned and fascinating figures. Told with all of Alison Weir's characteristic verve and eye for evocative period detail, this is a book that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. A must for Tudor fans everywhere.” (Author and Historian, Tracy Borman)

    Tickets may be purchased from

  • New online event – The Everyday Tudor Woman

    Logo for The Everyday Tudor Woman event

    In my latest six-day event, I will be joined by two other Tudor historians, Brigitte Webster and Bess Chilver, in delving into the life of the 16th century common woman and unveiling what it was really like to be a woman during the Tudor period.

    I’m so excited by this event because as interesting as it is to look at the lives of the Tudor queens and Henry VIII’s six wives, it’s wonderful to spend time looking at how the average woman lived.

    The event will run from 25th-30th April and will comprise video talks and live video Q&A sessions with the experts via zoom. The zooms are always brilliant, my favourite part! So much so, that we also have four zoom discussion calls leading up to the event, and the first one is this Sunday, 10th March!

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