The Tudor Society
The Tudor Society
  • Behind the scenes of the Tudor Society

    For today’s Claire Chats video, we thought it would be interesting for you to see behind the scenes of the Tudor Society.

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  • Alice Spencer, Countess of Derby (1559-1637)

    Alice was the youngest of eight daughters of Sir John Spencer (d.1586) and Katherine Kyston. She was born at Althorp, the seat of the Spencer family in Northamptonshire. Sir John was a prominent English gentleman, landowner, sheriff and Member of Parliament. John’s family would continue a dynasty that would grow throughout the seventeenth/eighteenth century as one of the country’s foremost aristocratic families. John’s motivation enabled the family to acquire great wealth through skilful land management and sheep farming, with all the Spencer daughters provided for in their marriages.

    Alice married twice, with her first husband being Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Strange, heir to the earldom of Derby. His mother was Margaret Clifford, Countess of Derby, a claimant to the English throne through her maternal grandmother, Mary Tudor, Queen of France and sister to the former king, Henry VIII. This placed Ferdinando in a precarious situation, as his existence would be viewed with suspicion by the queen. This sense of Queen Elizabeth’s anxiety is evident from her treatment of Lady Katherine Grey, who was placed under house arrest several times (sister of Lady Jane Grey, another potential claimant to the throne through Mary Tudor). Alice and Lord Strange had a reportedly affectionate marriage that produced three daughters: Anne, Frances and Elizabeth.

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  • July’s live chats – 20 and 27 July

    As usual, we have two live chats in the Tudor Society chatroom this month: an expert chat with Matthew Lewis, author of The Survival of the Princes in the Tower and several other history books, and an informal chat about Thomas Cromwell. Each chat will be an hour long and will take place in the Tudor Society chatroom at

    Our informal chat will take place on Friday 20th July. The topic up for debate is Henry VIII’s right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell. I thought it was apt to discuss this man in the month of the anniversary of his execution. Love him or hate him, he’s a fascinating man and I’m sure we’ll have lots to talk about!

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  • This week in history 9 – 15 July

    9th July:

    1539 – Execution of Sir Adrian Fortescue, courtier and landowner, on Tower Hill. He was condemned for treason by act of attainder, but it is not known what he had done to deserve this. He was beatified in 1895 as a martyr, but historian Richard Rex points out that he is unlikely to have opposed Henry VIII’s supremacy because he was a cousin of Anne Boleyn.
    1540 – It was declared that the marriage of King Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves was null and void, and that both parties were free to marry again. The couple had only been married six months.
    1553 – Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, preached at St Paul’s Cross denouncing Henry VIII’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, as bastards. The congregation were “sore annoyed with his words”.
    1553 – The Duke of Northumberland officially informed Lady Jane Grey of Edward VI’s death in front of the Council and nobles, going on to explain the terms of Edward’s will which named Lady Jane Grey as the heir to the throne. Lady Jane Grey accepted that she was Queen.
    1553 – Mary (future Mary I) wrote to the Privy Council stating her claim to the throne and demanding their allegiance. Click here to read more.
    While Mary was writing this letter, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, was informing his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, of Edward VI’s death and informing her that the King had nominated her as his successor. Jane collapsed weeping and declared “The crown is not my right and pleases me not. The Lady Mary is the rightful heir.” Northumberland and Jane’s parents then explained Edward’s wishes to the distressed Jane, and she accepted the crown as her duty.
    1575 (9th-27th) – Elizabeth I was entertained at Kenilworth Castle by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It was a special visit in that it lasted nineteen days and was the longest stay at a courtier’s house in any of her royal progresses.
    1586 – Death of Edward Sutton, 4th Baron Dudley, soldier and landowner, at Westminster. He was buried in St Margaret’s, Westminster. Sutton served as a soldier in Henry VIII’s reign in Ireland and Boulogne, and in Edward VI’s reign against the Scots. He was made a Knight of the Bath at Mary I’s coronation, and then given Lordship of Dudley Castle, where he entertained Elizabeth I in 1575.

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  • July Tudor Events Crossword

    Test your knowledge of Tudor events, such as births, deaths, battles and burials, which took place in the month of July in the Tudor period with this fun crossword.

    Click on the link or the picture to open and print out. Enjoy!

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  • Thomas More’s Last Letter 1535

    As it is the anniversary of the execution of Sir Thomas More today and yesterday was the anniversary of the day that he wrote his very last letter, I thought I’d have a look at the letter and the people that More mentions in it. I hope you enjoy my talk.

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  • Frances Grey, Duchess of Suffolk (1517-1559)

    Frances (née Brandon) was the eldest daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and his third wife, Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and widow of Louis XII of France. It is worth examining Frances’s parents and their significance within Tudor society before moving onto her life. Her father was an extraordinary character: magnate, courtier, and soldier, he exemplified the ideal qualities associated with being a male sixteenth-century courtier. Having been a close confidant to Henry VIII throughout his childhood, Suffolk found military fame in 1512 as a result of his involvement with the Anglo-French war. This war led to a successful siege of the French town of Tournai, with the inhabitants essentially forced to surrender to the invasion of the English king. As a result, Henry passed the keys of the city to Suffolk as a result of his honour and bravery.

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  • This week in history 2 – 8 July

    2nd July:

    1489 – Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was born in Aslockton, Nottinghamshire, England. He was the son of Thomas Cranmer, and his wife Agnes (nee Hatfield). He served Henry VIII and Edward VI as Archbishop of Canterbury but was burnt at the stake for heresy by Mary I on 21 March 1556.
    1497 – Death of Sir William Haute, composer and cousin of Elizabeth Woodville. Haute was Sheriff of Kent at various times, as well as a Justice of the Peace and Commissioner. According to his biographer, Peter Fleming, he was also a patron of musicians, and a composer, composing carols and “polyphonic settings of the Benedicamus domino”.
    1536 – Thomas Cromwell formally appointed Lord Privy Seal in Thomas Boleyn’s place.
    1540 – Henry Fitzalan, the future 12th Earl of Arundel, appointed Deputy of Calais, replacing Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle.
    1557 – Baptism of Philip Howard, 13th Earl of Arundel, son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, and his wife Mary (née Fitzalan). He was baptised in the Chapel Royal at Whitehall Palace with Philip of Spain and Nicholas Heath, Archbishop of York, standing as godfathers and Elizabeth Howard, dowager Duchess of Norfolk, standing as godmother.
    1594 – Burial of Robert Scarlett (Old Scarlett), sexton at Peterborough Cathedral. A verse accompanying his portrait in the cathedral states that he buried Catherine of Aragon and Mary, Queen of Scots at the cathedral, but it is not known whether this is true.
    1610 – Burial of Richard Knolles, historian and translator, at St Mary’s Church, Sandwich. His works include “The Generall Historie of the Turkes” (1603), The “Six Bookes of a Commonweale” (1606), which was a translation of Jean Bodin’s “La république”, and a translation of Camden’s “Britannia”, which was not published.

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  • Thomas Cromwell Quiz

    Love him or hate him, Thomas Cromwell is a fascinating historical personality. Test your knowledge of Henry VIII’s right-hand man with this fun quiz. Good luck!

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  • Expert Talk – Matthew Lewis – The Survival of the Princes in the Tower

    This month we have a real treat – an expert talk by Matthew Lewis on the Princes in the Tower. We all have theories as to “who done it”, but maybe there is another explanation for their disappearance? In this 52 minute talk exclusively for the Tudor Society, Matthew Lewis looks into all the possible theories surrounding this fascinating moment in history…

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  • Live Chat Transcript – Lauren Browne – Mistresses on the Stage

    Thanks for all who attended the live chat with Lauren Browne. We had a lively time discussing lots of Tudor-y things! Here is the transcript of the chat for those who missed it…

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  • Advance news on 2019 Tudor history tours

    As you probably know, the Tudor Society now runs Tudor history tours in conjunction with British History Tours. This year, we ran the Anne Boleyn Experience Tour in May and are running the Discover the Tudors Tour in September. The Anne Boleyn Experience was a wonderful tour and I (Claire) can’t wait for the September tour, I’m counting the days!

    Anyway, we have just finalised the details for our 2019 tours and are giving you an advance preview of them and also the chance to book on them before they are released to the general public on Sunday. The Anne Boleyn Experience 2018 sold out in just a few days so do act quickly if you want to secure your place. The tours we are running are The Anne Boleyn Experience in May 2019 and The Executed Queens Tour in July 2019. I am so very excited about these – more opportunities to get my Tudor fix! We already have bookings for next year’s tours from some of those who went on our May tour so people definitely enjoyed it, which is lovely to know.

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  • The Treatment of Mary Tudor (Mary I) Part 3

    In today’s Claire Chats video talk, I finish my series on the treatment Mary received at the hands of her father following the breakdown of her parents’ marriage. I examine what happened to Mary after the death of her mother in January 1536 and Anne Boleyn’s execution in May 1536.

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  • King Henry VIII

    Happy birthday to the man who has the honour of being both my favourite and least favourite king! I find him fascinating but also love to hate him.

    I thought I’d celebrate the anniversary of his birth on 28th June 1491 by sharing some of the Henry VIII resources we have here for members at the Tudor Society:

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  • July 2018 – Tudor Life – James VI & I

    In this month’s Tudor Life magazine we are focussing on James VI of Scotland who became the first king of Britain, James I. It’s an interesting view of the man who took over from Elizabeth I.

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  • July 2018 Tudor Life Taster

    In this month’s Tudor Life magazine we are focussing on James VI of Scotland who became the first king of Britain, James I. It’s an interesting view of the man who took over from Elizabeth I.

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  • This week in history 25 June – 1 July

    25th June:

    1503 – Catherine of Aragon was formally betrothed to Prince Henry, the future Henry VIII, and second son of Henry VII. She had been married to Arthur, Prince of Wales, Henry VII’s eldest son, but he died in 1501 after only six months of marriage.
    1533 – Death of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, the thirty-seven-year-old sister of Henry VIII and wife of his friend Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. She died at her home, Westhorpe Hall in Suffolk, and was buried at the local abbey in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. When the abbey was dissolved, however, her remains were moved to St Mary’s Church, Bury St Edmunds. Click here to read more.
    1539 – Baptism of courtier Gregory Fiennes, 10th Baron Dacre, the younger son of Thomas Fiennes, 9th Baron Dacre, and Mary, the daughter of George Neville, Baron Bergavenny.
    1601 – Death of Peregrine Bertie, 13th Baron Willoughby, Beck and Eresby, at Berwick upon Tweed. He died of a fever. Bertie was the only son of Richard Bertie and Katherine, Duchess of Suffolk, 12th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby and the well known Protestant patron. Bertie was a soldier, nobleman, ambassador, Governor of Berwick upon Tweed and Warden of the East March.

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  • Tudor history quiz: Did she or didn’t she?

    The Tudor Society weekly quiz this Sunday is a true or false quiz on some famous Tudor women. Test your knowledge with this fun little quiz – good luck!

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  • Princess Mary submits to her father, Henry VIII

    On 22nd June 1536, after two years of ill-treatment and bullying, Mary Tudor, the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, submitted to her father, accepting him as Supreme Head of the Church in England and accepting the invalidity of her parents’ marriage, and, therefore, her illegitimacy.

    Previously, Mary had been defiant in rejecting her demotion from Princess Mary to Lady Mary and in not accepting the annulment of her parents’ marriage or the terms of the 1534 First Act of Succession. However, plans for her escape to the Continent led to nothing and her friend and advisor, Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, feared that Mary would be martyred if she did not submit to the king. Chapuys advised her that she should “consent to her father’s wish” if she felt that she was in danger. He reassured her that this was the Emperor’s advice.

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  • The Treatment of Mary Tudor (Mary I) Part 2

    In the second part of my series on the treatment that Mary, the future Mary I, received from her father following the breakdown of her parents’ marriage, I look at the years 1534 and 1535 and what happened to Mary after Parliament passed the First Act of Succession.

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  • 18 June 1546 – Anne Askew’s trial

    If you remember, back in May, I wrote about Henry VIII’s Privy Council sending letters on 24th May 1546 to reformer Anne Askew and her estranged husband, Thomas Kyme, ordering them to appear in front of the council within fourteen days. Well, on 18th June 1546*, Anne, Nicholas Shaxton (former Bishop of Salisbury), Nicholas White and John Hadlam were all found guilty of heresy at London’s Guildhall.

    Charles Wriothesley records that they “were this daie first indited of heresie and after arraygned on the same, and their confessed their heresies against the sacrament of the alter without any triall of a jurie, and so had judgment to be brent[burnt].” Although all four were condemned to death, Shaxton and White recanted their heretical beliefs and were spared. Shaxton visited Anne in prison and tried to persuade her to recant, but she would not and she said to him “that it had been good for him never to have been born”.

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  • Robert Recorde

    On this day in history, 18th June 1558, the will of Robert Recorde, the Welsh mathematician, physician and mint administrator, was proved. His date of death is not known, but he is thought to have died in mid-June 1558.

    Recorde is known for introducing the “equal to” sign, i.e. “=”. He published several mathematical works, including The Grounde of Artes, teachings the Worke and Practise, of Arithmeticke, both in whole numbers and fractions in 1543, which was the first book on Algebra published in England, and The Whetstone of Witte, whiche is the seconde parte of Arithmeteke: containing the extraction of rootes; the cossike practise, with the rule of equation; and the workes of Surde Nombers, in which he introduced the “=” sign.

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  • This week in history 18 – 24 June

    18th June:

    1529 – Opening of the Legatine Court at Blackfriars to hear the case for the proposed annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
    1546 – Anne Askew was arraigned at London’s Guildhall for heresy, along with Nicholas Shaxton, Nicholas White and John Hadlam (Adlams or Adams). She was sentenced to be burned at the stake.
    1558 – Proving of the will of Robert Recorde, Welsh mathematician and physician. His date of death is not known, but is thought to have been mid June 1558. He is known for introducing the “equal to” sign, i.e. “=”. He published several mathematical works.
    1588 – Death of Robert Crowley, Protestant printer, author, poet and Church of England clergyman. He was buried in the chancel of St Giles Cripplegate under the same stone as his great friend martyrologist, John Foxe.
    1592 – Death of Francis Wyndham, Judge, at the Committee House, St Peter Mancroft, Norwich. His trials included the treason trials of John Somerville and William Parry in the 1580s, and his legal knowledge led to him being approached for advice on Mary, Queen of Scots.
    1616 – Death of Thomas Bilson, Bishop of Winchester, at Westminster. He was buried at Westminster Abbey.

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  • Tudor History Quiz

    Test your knowledge of Tudor history with this week’s quiz. Grab your favourite beverage and a snack, make yourself comfortable and get your grain working with these general Tudor history quiz questions. Good luck!

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  • The treatment of Mary Tudor (Mary I) Part 1

    I have very mixed feelings about Mary I, but I have to say that there is much to admire about her. Not only did she rally support against Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554 and reign as the first official queen regnant; not only did she rally support for her claim to the throne in 1553, being prepared to give her life for it; but she also stood up to her father, King Henry VIII, and the bullies he got to do the king’s business, when she was just seventeen years old. She was a tough cookie.

    In today’s Claire Chats I talk about what happened to Mary from 1531 to 1534, what she went through.

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  • Mildred Cecil (née Cooke), Lady Burghley (1526-1589)

    Mildred Cooke came from the influential Cooke family of Gidea Hall, Essex, a household renowned for its links with Renaissance humanism and reformist sympathies. Her father, Sir Anthony Cooke, was a royal tutor to King Edward VI; shaping the boy king’s interest in classical learning and Protestantism. Mildred’s sisters: Anne, Catherine and Elizabeth became renowned female scholars, with Anne famously translating from Latin John Jewel’s Apologie of the Anglican Church (1564). While the Cooke women were in the minority in terms of female education, (Thomas More’s daughter Margaret, and his wards, received humanist educations) their education did not mirror their male contemporaries. Sixteenth-century European scholars and clergyman dictated that women were naturally defective and immoral in comparison with virtuous, honourable men. However Humanist educators, such as Juan Luis Vives, understood the importance of educating women. He stressed that their curriculum should avoid ‘masculine’ studies such as mathematics, science and government. Rather, he recommended studying theological translations, languages and the moral philosophers of antiquity such as Plato and Cicero; topics that would not ‘corrupt’ the innate weakness of the female sex.

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  • This week in history 11 – 17 June

    11th June:

    1456 – Birth of Anne Neville, Queen Consort of Richard III, at Warwick Castle. Anne was the daughter of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick and 6th Earl of Salisbury, known as the Kingmaker, and his wife, Anne Beauchamp.
    1488 – Death of James III of Scotland, at Sauchieburn, or “the field of Stirling”. It is not known whether he died in battle or after the battle.
    1509 – Marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon at Greenwich Palace .
    1540 – Birth of Barnabe Googe, translator and poet. Googe is known as one of the earliest English pastoral poets.
    1544 – Bishops ordered by Henry VIII to ensure that the new litany was “in our native englysshe tonge”.
    1560 – Death of Marie de Guise (Mary of Guise), former consort of James V and regent of Scotland, at Edinburgh Castle. Her body lay in a lead coffin at the castle, in St Margaret’s Chapel, until March 1561 when it was taken back to France. Marie was buried in the convent of St Pierre at Rheims.
    1576 – Death of Sir Anthony Cooke, humanist and educator. Cooke educated his daughters to a high standard, teaching them Latin and Greek, and probably also modern languages and Hebrew. He was appointed royal tutor to Edward VI, but it is not known whether he actually tutored the King. It may have been more of a guiding role. He was buried at Romford, and his effigy can be seen at St Edward’s Church there.

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  • Tudor Edwards Crossword

    Edward was a very popular name in Tudor times! Test your knowledge of Tudor Edwards with this fun crossword puzzle – good luck!

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  • Coronations, monarchs and consorts – Clearing up some misunderstandings

    In today’s Claire Chats video, I clear up a few misunderstanding that seem prevalent on social media regarding coronations, the numbering of monarchs, queens regnant versus queens consort, what makes a monarch and a few other issues to do with coronations and monarchy.

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  • Honor Grenville, Viscountess Lisle (c.1493-1566)

    Honor Grenville was born around c.1493-95; the daughter of Sir Thomas Grenville and his wife, Isabella Gilbert. Thomas was of Cornish origin, from the parish of Stowe in Kilkhampton, Cornwall. Honor was first married to Sir John Basset (1462-1528) of Umberleigh in the Parish of Atherington in Devon. The marriage was fairly ideal for the daughter of a gentry family. Her father was a well-respected Lord of the Manor of Stowe and Bideford in Devon. Additionally, he was a renowned Lancastrian supporter during the Wars of the Roses period, appointed one of the Esquires of the Body to Henry VII. Honor’s husband was Sherriff of Devon in the years 1497, 1517 and 1522, respectively and an important figure in West country politics. The couple produced seven surviving children, who entered a variety of careers. These children shall be explored later in the article.

    While the marriage was ideal in terms of production of children, Honor’s second marriage would propel her into more discernible society. Her husband, John Basset, died in 1528, with Honor soon after marrying Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, thus becoming Lady Lisle. Her husband was later given the office of Lord Deputy of Calais. Most significantly about Arthur was his lineage, being the illegitimate son of King Edward IV and therefore having Plantagenet blood. He was the half-brother of Queen Elizabeth of York and uncle of the current king of this period, Henry VIII – an uneasy connection.

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