The Tudor Society
The Tudor Society
  • Good Friday – It is finished

    Good Friday is, of course, the day in the Christian calendar that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Calvary, where he took on the sins of the world to restore man’s relationship with God.I did a talk last year on the medieval and Tudor traditions associated with Good Friday – click here to view that now – and today I want to simply focus on Christ’s crucifixion, the event that was at the root of all of these traditions.Following Christ’s condemnation for claiming to be King of the Jews, he was taken to Calvary and crucified. I’d like to share St John’s account of Christ’s crucifixion from William Tyndale’s 1534 New Testament:

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  • April 19 – Sir Francis Drake singes the King of Spain’s beard

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th April 1587, Sir Francis Drake “singed the King of Spain’s beard”, as he called it, by attacking the Spanish fleet in the harbour of Cadiz.

    Drake’s actions on that day and the following few days meant that King Philip had to postpone his plans for the Spanish Armada to attack England – phew!

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  • Resources for Historical Novelists, Re-enactors and Time Travellers!

    In my Claire Chats video today, I thought I’d share with you some of the resources that I’ve found useful in giving me an insight into Tudor life and the Tudor mindset, and I know these would be useful to novelists, re-enactors and anyone just wanting to try and understand Tudor people and how they lived.

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  • Maundy Thursday and the Last Supper

    Today is Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday and the day that commemorates the Last Supper, the final meal that Jesus Christ had with his disciples before his arrest – the origin of the Eucharist – and Jesus’ act of washing the feet of his disciples.

    It was a special day in medieval and Tudor times…

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  • April 18 – The death of John Foxe

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th April 1587, the famous martyrologist John Foxe died at the age of around seventy.

    In today’s video, I talk about this famous Tudor man and just how useful his work on Protestant martyrs is.

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  • 17 April – What happens when a jury doesn’t do what the Crown wants?

    What happens when a jury doesn’t find an alleged traitor guilty and, instead, acquits him? Well, the jurors get arrested and thrown into prison, of course!

    I explain exactly what happened on this day in Tudor history, 17th April 1554, in the case of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton. I also give details on how the jurors finally got released and what happened to Throckmorton. Don’t you just love Tudor justice?!

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  • 16 April – Guy Fawkes was baptised

    On this day in Tudor history, 16th April 1570, Gunpowder Plot conspirator Guy Fawkes was baptised in York.

    In today’s video, I talk about how the Gunpowder Plot has its origins in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and why these men were driven to try and blow up Westminster.

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  • 15 April – The beginning of the end for Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex

    You’d think that the appointment of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland might be something to be pleased about, but Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, who was sworn in as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on this day in 1599, was not at all happy. He didn’t want to be in Ireland!

    The earl’s time in Ireland was to be his undoing, as the arrogant earl decided to ignore the queen’s orders and do his own thing. Oh dear! Find out what happened in today’s video.

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  • A Palm Sunday Procession

    On Friday, I talked about Palm Sunday in my Claire Chats video and I promised that I would share with you photos of the Palm Sunday processions here. Well, I’ve gone one better, and actually recorded some video of the Palm Sunday procession in our nearest town, Tíjola, this morning. I do hope you enjoy it.

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  • 14 April – The death of the insane Earl of Bothwell, husband of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th April 1578, Mary, Queen of Scots’ third husband, James Hepburn, Duke of Orkney and 4th Earl of Bothwell, died at Dragsholm Castle in Denmark. He’d been held at the castle in appalling conditions and it was said that he’d gone insane.

    Find out more about the life of this earl who’d risen to be the husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, but who’d died in prison, far away from home, in today’s “on this day in Tudor history” video.

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  • Holy Week Wordsearch

    As we’re starting Holy Week today, I thought it was fitting to celebrate with a bit of Easter fun – a Holy Week Wordsearch. It’s not very hard, so shouldn’t take you long. Have fun!

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  • 13 April – Sir Thomas More gets into trouble

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th April 1534, Sir Thomas More got into a spot of bother, or rather a lot of bother, when he refused to swear his allegiance to the Act of Succession. This act of defiance, or rather of his conscience, would, of course, lead to More’s execution in 1535.

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  • Live chat reminders – 13 (tomorrow!) and 28 April

    Just a reminder about tomorrow’s informal live chat on the merry subject of death and burial in Tudor times! Sorry about the topic! Still, it will be interesting to talk about the rituals associated with death and to share resources and book recommendations. Please do come, if you are able to.

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  • 12 April – Queen Anne Boleyn makes an entrance with her sixty ladies

    On this day in Tudor history, 12th April 1533, Anne Boleyn made her very first public appearance as King Henry VIII’s official queen consort.

    Anne made quite an entrance! Accompanied by sixty ladies and “loaded with jewels”, she processed to Easter Eve mass at Greenwich Palace, setting tongues wagging.

    Hear an account of this event in today’s video.

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  • Palm Sunday traditions

    In this week’s Claire Chats, I talk about how Palm Sunday was commemorated in the medieval and Tudor periods, and how it is celebrated today where I live. I would love to hear how your community, church, or family mark this day, if they do.

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  • 11 April – The end of rebel Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger

    On this day in Tudor history, 11th April 1554, in the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I, Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger, son of poet and diplomat Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, was beheaded on Tower Hill after being found guilty of high treason.

    Wyatt had led a rebellion which sought to depose the queen and to replace her with her half-sister Elizabeth, but he refused to implicate Elizabeth in the plot. He went to his death asserting her innocence.

    Find out more about what happened and hear his final speech in today’s video.

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  • 10 April – The birth of King James V of Scotland

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th April 1512, Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots, eldest daughter of the late King Henry VII, and sister of King Henry VIII, gave birth to a boy who would become King James V of Scotland.

    Find out more about James V, his life and reign, and his relationship with his uncle, King Henry VIII, in today’s video

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  • 9 April – From Queen to Dowager Princess

    On this day in Tudor history, 9th April 1533, Catherine of Aragon, who’d been banished from the royal court, received a visit from a delegation of the king’s councillors. They were there to inform her that she was no longer queen.

    Catherine was a tough cookie, though. Even when she was threatened by the king, she did not submit, she carried on calling herself queen right until the end – good for her!

    Find out all about this visit, and their subsequent visit in July 1533, in today’s video.

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  • 8 April – A cat in priest’s clothing

    In today’s video, I talk about an act of rebellion in 1554, an act of defiance by someone opposed to Queen Mary I’s religious changes.

    It was on this day in Tudor history, 8th April 1554, that a cat dressed as a Catholic priest and holding a piece of paper to represent the communion wafer, was hanged at the gallows in Cheapside.

    Find out more about what happened, the meaning behind it, and Queen Mary I’s reaction to it, in my video.

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  • 7 April – Elizabeth Boleyn, mother of Queen Anne Boleyn, is laid to rest

    On this day in Tudor history, 7th April 1538, Elizabeth Boleyn, (née Howard), Countess of Wiltshire and Ormond, was laid to rest at St Mary’s Church, Lambeth.

    In today’s video, I give details on Elizabeth’s burial and her resting place, which is now a Garden Museum, and her ledger stone. You can also see my photos of the former church.

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  • Horrible Deaths Crossword

    The topic of this week’s Sunday fun is not very nice I’m afraid – sorry! It’s a crossword puzzle on horrible deaths and executions that happened in the Tudor period.

    Open and print out the crossword puzzle by clicking on the link below, or the image below, grab your favourite snack and drink, make yourself comfortable, and let’s get that brain working!

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  • 6 April – Sir Francis Walsingham: The Queen’s spymaster

    Today is the anniversary of the death of Sir Francis Walsingham on 6th April 1590. Walsingham had an amazing career, serving Elizabeth I as a diplomat, secretary, adviser and spymaster.

    Find out more about the man Elizabeth I called her “Moor” in today’s video.

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  • 5 April – A bishop’s cook gets into hot water

    Sorry about the tongue-in-cheek title, but the cook of Bishop Fisher’s household really did get into hot water on this day in 1531 when he was boiled to death for high treason at Smithfield.

    He was found guilty of high treason by an act of Parliament, but why? What happened and why did King Henry VIII take a personal interest in this case?

    Find out all about Richard Roose and the case of poisoning in today’s video

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  • The role of religion in daily life

    “The past is a foreign country”, so says the blurb for Ian Mortimer’s “Time Traveller’s Guide” series of books, and it’s so true. One of the things that people find it hard to understand, when looking at the lives of medieval and Tudor people, is the role of religion in their daily lives, just how central it was to everything.

    In this week’s Claire Chats talk, I go into this and attempt to give you a little more insight into the lives of these people.

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  • William Strachey and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”

    On this day in history, 4th April 1572, William Strachey, writer and historian of Virginia, was born. When I was researching for my book On This Day in Tudor History, I noticed that William Shakespeare was said to have used Strachey's account of the 1609 shipwreck of the Sea Venture as a source for his play “The Tempest”. This made me want to know more about Strachey and the shipwreck, plus his account of it.

    William Strachey was born in Saffron Walden, in Essex, on 4th April 1572, and was the son of William and Mary (née Cooke) Strachey. William was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, before he joined Gray's Inn in London. Strachey's biographer, Betty Wood, writes of how his interest in literature, brought him into contact with men like William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Thomas Campion. His sonnet "Upon Sejanus" was published in Ben Jonson's play "Sejanus His Fall" in 1605. Strachey was also a shareholder in the Children of the Revels, a troupe of boy-actors.

    In 1602, he inherited his father's estate and lived off that until his money dwindled in 1605. In 1606, he obtained the position of secretary to Thomas Glover, the English ambassador to Constantinople, but he returned to England in 1607 after being dismissed. In 1609, he purchased two shares in the Virginia Company of London and in June 1609, he set sail for Virginia on the Sea Venture, which was captained by Christopher Newport. Unfortunately, a "terrible storme", i.e., a hurricane, caused the ship to run aground on an uninhabited island in the Bermudas, which Strachey described as "Devils illands" that were to be "feared and avoyded … above any other place in the world". Strachey and the ship's crew were stuck there for nearly a year. They were eventually able to construct two boats, Patience and Deliverance, which allowed them to continue their journey. Strachey wrote an account of the shipwreck and what Betty Wood describes as "the precarious state of the settlement at Jamestown" in a letter dated 15th July 1610, but it was suppressed by the Virginia Colony. It was eventually published in 1625 as "A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight; vpon, and from the Ilands of the Bermudas: his coming to Virginia, and the estate of that Colonie then, and after, vnder the gouernment of the Lord La Warre, Iuly 15. 1610" in Purchas his Pilgrimes, four-volume collection of travel narratives by Samuel Purchas.

    Strachey served as secretary of the Virginia Company and was asked by the company to write an official account of the colony, which he did, on his return to London in 1611. However, his "The Historie of Travaile Into Virginia Britannia", was critical of the colony, like his earlier account, and so was not published in his lifetime.

    Strachey also compiled a glossary of words used by the Powhatan people. You can read this at

    Strachey was married twice: to Frances Forster, and to a woman named Dorothy. He had two sons with Frances: William and Edmund.

    Strachey died in June 1621 and was laid to rest in St Giles' Church, Camberwell in Surrey, UK.

    Here are links to Strachey's accounts of Virginia so that you can read them for yourself:


    Picture: The shipwreck in Act I, Scene 1, of The Tempest, in a 1797 engraving by Benjamin Smith after a painting by George Romney.

  • Easter at the Mary Rose Museum: 6-22 April 2019

    Thank you to Ella Baker for sending me this information on Easter events at the Mary Rose Museum...

    Befriend the Tudor crew and Royalty at the Mary Rose
    Dates: 6 – 22nd April 2019
    Place: The Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

    Following the revelations about the racial and cultural diversity of the crew of the Mary Rose seen on Channel Four’s documentary Skeletons of the Mary Rose: The New Evidence, the Mary Rose Museum has planned an Easter jam-packed with events to celebrate.

    King Henry VIII himself will be gracing his favourite warship with his presence at various points in the holidays, bestowing guests with royal blessings or condemning them to death, depending on his will and whim. Visitors can join Henry VIII for a Royal Audience and listen to his first-hand account of the dramatic sinking of the Mary Rose.

    There has also been rumour that the King’s sixth and last long-suffering wife, Katherine Parr, will pay a visit (perhaps for some respite from caring for her ailing and gouty husband). Sir Charles Brandon will also be stopping by to admire his brother-in-law’s ship.

    The royals and visitors will also have a chance to admire The Many Faces of Tudor Britain, an exhibition that explores the latest scientific and genealogical findings into the crew of the Mary Rose, open until 31 December 2019.

    Children can pick up one of the museum’s complimentary activity sheets and find out who the men of the Mary Rose were and what they did on-board the ship.

    Dates and times of Henry VIII story telling:
    (Performances at 1pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm)

    • Saturday 6th – Tuesday 9th April
    • Thursday 11th – Monday 15th April
    • Thursday 18th – Monday 22nd April

    Dates of Katherine Parr and Charles Brandon:

    • Wednesday 10th April
    • Tuesday 16th April
    • Wednesday 17th April

    Tickets for The Mary Rose can be purchased from, or from The Mary Rose Visitor Centre or museum reception.

    Opening Hours:

    November – March – 10am-5pm (last entry 4:15pm)
    April – October – 10am – 5:30pm (last entry 4:45pm)
    24-26th December – Closed

  • 4 April – Mildred Cecil, Lady Burghley – far beyond the race of womankind

    Today, I pay tribute to the amazing Mildred Cecil, Lady Burghley, on the anniversary of her death in 1589, by sharing some facts about her.

    Mildred was not only the wife of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, she was an accomplished and influential woman in her own right. A truly fascinating Tudor personality.

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  • 3 April – The burial of Lady Margaret Douglas, “a lady of most pious character”

    On this day in Tudor history, Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, was buried in a lavish funeral at Westminster Abbey.

    Find out about her tomb, and her incredible lineage and links to royals, in today’s video.

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  • 2 April – Edward VI catches smallpox and measles

    On this day in Tudor history, 2nd April 1552, King Edward VI recorded in his diary “I fell sick of the measles and the smallpox”.

    What do we know about his illness and subsequent recovery? What was smallpox like and how was it treated? Did this bout of illness have any bearing on his future health?

    Find out, in today’s “on this day” video.

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  • April 1 – Henry VIII courts Jane Seymour

    On this day in Tudor history, 1st April 1536, the imperial ambassador passed on information he’d received from two separate sources to his master, Emperor Charles V. The news was regarding Henry VIII and his behaviour towards one of his wife’s ladies-in-waiting, a certain Jane Seymour.

    Find out exactly what happened, what Henry and Jane were up to, and how long this had been going on, in today’s video.

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