The Tudor Society
  • 20 October – Pontefract Castle surrenders, but all is not as it seems…

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th October 1536, Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy, owner of Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire, yielded his castle to the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace. However, all was not as it seemed, as Darcy and others on the castle were actually sympathetic to the rebel cause.

    Find out more about the situation at Pontefract Castle in October 1536, the letters Darcy wrote to King Henry VIII, and what happened on the night of 19th October and morning of 20th October, and why Darcy came to a sticky end, in today’s talk.

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  • Margaret Tudor Crossword Puzzle

    18th October was the anniversary of Margaret Tudor’s death in 1541, so I thought I’d pay tribute to this Queen of Scotland by testing your knowledge of her, her life and family.

    If you watched my video on Friday, then you should be able to answer quite a few of these!

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  • 19 October – Henry VIII gets tough on rebels

    By this day in Tudor history, the Pilgrimage of Grace Rebellion in the north of England was well underway, and King Henry VIII had come to the decision that tough action was needed to put it down.

    The king had refused to give in to the rebels’ demands and they had refused to go back to their homes, so on 19th October 1536, the king wrote to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby, with instructions on what to do. The letters do not make for easy reading. This was the king at his most brutal. Examples were to be made of people, after all, these people were traitors to the Crown.


    I give a recap of what the rebellion was about and then share Henry VIII’s letters.

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  • Nicholas Hilliard’s blue plaque in Exeter

    Thank you so much to Dr Elizabeth Goldring, author of Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist, for letting me know that a blue plaque was unveiled earlier this week in Exeter to mark the fact that the famous Elizabethan painter and miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard was born there circa 1547.

    Elizabeth was there to unveil it and you can find out more and see photos of it at…

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  • The Feast of St Luke the Evangelist

    Happy St Luke’s Day!

    Yes, today, 18th October, is the feast of St Luke the Evangelist, one of the four authors of the canonical Gospels of Jesus Christ and the author of the Acts of the Apostles. It is a feast day that would have been remembered in Tudor times.

    St Luke is the patron saint of artists, physicians and surgeons, brewers, notaries, students and butchers, and is often depicted in paintings with an ox or calf (sometimes winged) which are seen as symbols of sacrifice, referring to Christ’s sacrifice for mankind.

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  • 18 October – Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th October 1541, Margaret Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII and eldest daughter of King Henry VII, died of a stroke at Methven Castle, Perthshire, Scotland. She was laid to rest at the Carthusian Priory of St John in Perth, which was later destroyed.

    Margaret Tudor is a fascinating Tudor lady. She was sent to Scotland at 13 to marry King James IV, she was widowed, divorced and unhappily married, she fled to England at one point, and she was the mother of Lady Margaret Douglas, grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots AND Lord Darnley, and great-grandmother of King James VI of Scotland (King James I of England). What a life she had!

    Find out all about Margaret Tudor in today’s talk.

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  • Elizabeth I – The good, the bad and the ugly

    In this week's Claire Chats talk, I am continuing my series on the Tudor monarchs, and examining their reigns for "the good, the bad, the ugly", i.e. their achievements and the not-so-good stuff, by looking at the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled from 1558 to 1603.

    Now, I've already handled this topic, in regards to Elizabeth I, back in 2018, so below you will find my previous Claire Chats. But here's a bit about Elizabeth I from my book "Illustrated Kings and Queen of England":

    Elizabeth I was born on 7 September 1533 at Greenwich Palace. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn. Her mother was executed for alleged adultery and treason in May 1536 and within two months of her mother's death Parliament had confirmed that Elizabeth's parents' marriage was invalid and that Elizabeth was illegitimate.

    In 1547, following her father's death, Elizabeth moved in with her stepmother the Dowager Queen Catherine Parr, and her husband Thomas Seymour. There, she became involved in a scandal with Seymour, who would visit Elizabeth's chamber, dressed only in his night-gown, and proceed to tickle and stroke the teenaged girl. Eventually, Catherine arranged for Elizabeth to go and live with her good friends, Sir Anthony Denny and his wife at Cheshunt. Catherine died in September 1548, following the birth of her daughter, and Seymour was executed in March 1549 for allegedly plotting to control his nephew Edward VI and to remove his brother, Edward Seymour, Lord Protector, from power.

    Although Elizabeth supported her half-sister Mary when she claimed the throne in July 1553, she was taken to the Tower of London on 18 March 1554 after being charged with being involved in Wyatt's Rebellion . She was released on 19 May 1554 and placed under house arrest at Woodstock. In April 1555 she was summoned to court to attend Mary I who was, allegedly pregnant. After spending a few months with Mary, she was finally given permission to leave court for Hatfield, her own estate, on the 18th October 1555.

    Elizabeth inherited the throne from her childless half-sister on 17 November 1558. She ruled England for 44 years and made a huge difference to the country. England was in a depressing state when she inherited it from Mary I, yet when Elizabeth died England was a strong and prosperous country, a force to be reckoned with, and that is why her reign is known as “The Golden Age”. Her main achievements include defeating the Spanish Armada, following on from her father's work on the navy and turning England into a strong and dominant naval power, defending England from Scotland and actually turning the Scots into a permanent ally, increasing literacy in England, expanding England overseas by encouraging explorers like Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, and Sir John Hawkins to discover new places and form colonies, founding the Church of England as we know it today, raising the status of England abroad, surviving and defeating plots and uprisings against her, helping the poor by her poor laws, ruling England in her own right as Queen without a consort, and promoting the Arts – her love of arts led to theatres being built and great poets and playwrights like Shakespeare, Spenser and Marlow emerging.

    Elizabeth I died on 24 March 1603 and was buried at Westminster Abbey in the vault of her grandfather Henry VII. She was moved in 1606 to her present resting place, a tomb in the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey which she shares with her half-sister Mary I. King James I spent over £11,000 on Elizabeth I's lavish funeral and he also arranged for a white marble monument to be built. The tomb is inscribed with the words “Consorts both in throne and grave, here we rest two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in hope of our resurrection.”

    She is known as the Virgin Queen, Gloriana and Good Queen Bess.

    Here are the other Claire Chats talks in this series:

    Sources and Further Reading

  • 17 October 1560 – Walter Marsh

    On this day in history, 17th October 1560, Walter Marsh, spy and Protestant martyr, was baptised at St Stephen’s Church, Coleman Street, London.

    Marsh came to a sticky end, being burned to death in Rome’s Campo dei Fiori after having his tongue and hands cut off. Here is my Claire Chats talk on Walter Marsh:

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  • 17 October – Sir Philip Sidney, Tudor poet, courtier and soldier

    On this day in Tudor history, 17th October 1586, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the poet, courtier and soldier, Sir Philip Sidney, died as a result of an injury inflicted by the Spanish forces at the Battle of Zutphen in the Netherlands.

    Sir Philip Sidney is known for his literary works, which include “Astrophel and Stella”, which was inspired by his sweetheart, Lady Penelope Devereux, “The Arcadia” and “A Defense of Poetry.

    Sidney was lucky to escape the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris, but was shot in the thigh at the Battle of Zupthen and died twenty-six days later.

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  • 16 October – Oxford Martyrs Latimer and Ridley meet their ends

    Warning: John Foxe’s account is pretty horrible.

    On this day in Tudor history, 16th October 1555, in the reign of Queen Mary I, Protestants Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake in Oxford for heresy. Along with Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, they have become known as the Oxford Martyrs.

    In today’s talk, I give an overview of Latimer and Ridley’s careers, and then shares an account of their burnings from John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

    “Every eye shed tears at the afflicting sight of these sufferers, who were among the most distinguished persons of their time in dignity, piety, and public estimation.” John Foxe

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  • Our 2020 Calendar – available to order now!

    It’s that time of year again! Time to launch our Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society Calendar!

    This high-quality wall calendar measures 297mm (11¾ inches) by 425mm (16¾ inches), it is spiral bound at the top and is printed on thick 100# stock paper. Full colour throughout. 1 full page per month.

    Our 2020 calendar features photos of some of my very favourite Tudor places: Tutbury Castle, Windsor Castle, Sudeley Castle, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the Tower of London, Hever Castle, Hatfield Old Palace, Penshurst Place, Shakespeare’s Globe, Hampton Court Palace, London Charterhouse and Kenilworth Castle.

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  • 15 October – Edward VI’s christening and who was there

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th October 1537, Prince Edward ( future King Edward VI), son of King Henry VIII and his third wife, Queen Jane Seymour, was christened in a lavish ceremony in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. He was three days old.

    In today’s talk, I share details of Edward VI’s christening, including who played prominent roles, who stood as godparents and what gifts were given to little Prince Edward. Edward’s half-sisters, the future Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I were both there.

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  • Reminder – October’s Live Chats

    Just in case you missed the dates on the schedule, here’s a reminder about the dates and times of this month’s live chats. They will take place on 19th and 27th October.

    October’s informal live chat, which is on the topic of the Yorkists, is taking place on Saturday 19th October.

    Here are the times for the chat in different time zones:

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  • 14 October – The trial of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th October 1586, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, began at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire.

    Although Mary did not recognise the authority of the commission and had threatened not to attend, she had been informed that the trial would go ahead with or without her and so attended.

    Find out all about Mary’s trial, what she was charged with and the evidence that Sir Francis Walsingham had gathered in today’s talk.

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  • 13 October – The beginning of the end for Edward Seymour

    This day in Tudor history, 13th October 1549, was the beginning of the end for Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Edward VI’s uncle, for it was on this day that the king’s council abolished both his protectorate and his membership of the Council.

    Somerset had been left vulnerable by social unrest in the kingdom and when things got tense between him and John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, and his supporters, Somerset took action, action that would see him being branded a traitor.

    In today’s talk, I explain exactly what Protector Somerset did to provoke his downfall and what happened next.

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  • 13 October – Feast of St Edward the Confessor

    Today, 13th October, is the feast of St Edward the Confessor, the Anglo-Saxon king who reigned from 1042 to 1066 and who was canonised in 1161

    St Edward’s Day was the traditional day for the mayor of London to be chosen by the freemen at Guildhall.

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  • Queen Mary I and her reign quiz

    As Mary I was the topic of my Claire Chats talk this week, I thought it would be good to test your knowledge on this Tudor queen.

    How much do you know about Queen Mary I? Hopefully, you’ll be surprised by just how much you know!

    Grab your favourite snack and beverage, make yourself comfortable, and let’s begin… Good luck!

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  • 12 October – Jane Seymour gives birth to Edward VI

    On this day in Tudor history, 12th October 1537, the eve of the Feast of St Edward the Confessor, Queen Jane Seymour, third wife of King Henry VIII, gave birth to a baby who would become King Edward VI.

    Edward VI was born at Hampton Court Palace after a long and difficult labour. London celebrated the birth of England’s new prince, but, of course, happiness would soon turn to grief as Jane died on 24th October 1537.

    In today’s talk, I share contemporary sources of Edward VI’s birth and the subsequent celebrations, and also talk about the myth that Edward VI was born by caesarean (c-section).

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  • Remembering Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder

    Today is the anniversary of the death of Sir Thomas Wyatt. He died at Sherborne in Dorset on 11th October 1542. He had been complaining of severe headaches since 1539. Wyatt was just thirty-nine years old at his death, but his poetry is still enjoyed the world over, although the majority of his work was not published in his lifetime.

    To commemorate this anniversary, I thought I’d share with you some resources on Wyatt:

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  • 11 October – A procession and prayers for Queen Jane Seymour

    On this day in Tudor history, 11th October 1537, poor Jane Seymour was in labour with her first and only child, Edward VI.

    It was a long and difficult labour, and on 11th October, there was a solemn procession in the city of London to pray for her. After about thirty hours, Jane gave birth to a healthy baby boy, who would become King Edward VI.

    In today’s talk, I share contemporary sources about the procession and Jane’s labour.

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  • Mary I – The good, the bad and the ugly

    In this week’s Claire Chats talk, I am continuing my series on the Tudor monarchs, and examining their reigns for “the good, the bad, the ugly”, i.e. their achievements and the not-so-good stuff, by looking at the reign of Queen Mary I, who ruled from 1553 to 1558.

    This daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon has gone down in history as “Bloody Mary”, but let’s have a more balanced view, let’s look at some of her achievements as well as the “ugly” of her time as queen.

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  • 10 October – Elizabeth I comes down with Smallpox

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th October 1562, twenty-nine-year-old Queen Elizabeth I was taken ill at Hampton Court Palace, with what was thought to be a bad cold. However, Elizabeth actually had smallpox.

    It was thought that the queen would die, so there was panic over the succession, and it was at this point that Elizabeth chose Robert Dudley as “protector of the kingdom”. However, Elizabeth I survived and went on to reign until her death in March 1603.

    Elizabeth was nursed by her good friend, Mary Sidney, who also came down with smallpox and was badly disfigured by it.

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  • 9 October – Mary Tudor and Louis XII get married

    On this day in Tudor history, 9th October 1514, eighteen-year-old Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and daughter of the late Henry VII, married fifty-two year-old King Louis XII of France at Abbeville in France.

    In today’s talk, I share contemporary accounts of Mary’s lavish entry into Abbeville on 8th October and the wedding on 9th October, including descriptions of Mary and her apparel.

    Of course, Mary wasn’t married to Louis for long as he died on 1st January 1515.

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  • Tudor Society 5 Year Anniversary Anthology

    It’s finally here! We’ve been working hard to put together the best articles from the last five years of Tudor Life magazine, articles from the top Tudor historians all in one anthology for you to enjoy.

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  • 8 October – Lady Margaret Douglas

    On this day in Tudor history, 8th October 1515, Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox and niece of King Henry VIII, was born at Harbottle Castle in Northumberland.

    Margaret Douglas was the daughter of Margaret Tudor, Queen Dowager of Scotland, and Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. She was born while her mother was travelling to Henry VIII’s court in London after feeling Scotland.

    Margaret was a fascinating lady, and in today’s talk, I share an extract from my book, giving an overview of this Tudor lady’s life.

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  • 7 October – The man who helped Robert Dudley propose to Elizabeth I

    On this day in Tudor history, 7th October 1577, author, poet, courtier and soldier George Gascoigne died in Stamford, Lincolnshire.

    Gascoigne was a gifted poet and was hired in 1575 by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to provide entertainment for Queen Elizabeth I’s visit to Leicester’s home, Kenilworth Castle. This was Leicester’s last ditch attempt at getting the queen to marry him and he hoped Gascoigne could help him.

    Find out all about Gascoigne’s masque, Zabeta, and what happened at Kenilworth, in today’s talk.

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  • Charles Brandon’s Marriage to Katherine Willoughby – Guest article by Tony Riches

    Charles Brandon, Tudor knight and best friend of King Henry VIII, is best known for secretly marrying Mary Tudor, the king’s sister – without Henry’s permission! Less well known is his last marriage, to Lady Katherine Willoughby.

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  • 6 October – The end of William Tyndale

    This day in Tudor history, 6th October 1536, is the traditional date given for the execution of William Tyndale, reformer, scholar and Bible translator.

    One of Tyndale’s works had helped King Henry VIII while another incurred the king’s wrath and led to Tyndale’s execution. Why? What happened?

    I explain what led to William Tyndale’s sad end in 1536, as well as sharing an account of his execution on that day.

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  • The King’s Beasts Wordsearch

    The King’s Beasts are statues of heraldic animals that stand on the bridge over the moat leading to the great gatehouse of Hampton Court Palace. There are ten in all, and they are copies of those carved to celebrate King Henry VIII’s marriage to his third wife, Jane Seymour in 1536. They represent the ancestry of Henry and Jane, and are…

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  • 5 October – A betrothal for Princess Mary (Mary I)

    On this day in Tudor history, 5th October 1518, two-year-old Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, became betrothed to François, the Dauphin of France, who was just a few months old.

    This betrothal was part of a treaty agreed between England and France, Henry VIII and Francis I.

    In today’s talk, I share details of what happened at the betrothal ceremony at Greenwich Palace, as well as explaining what else the treaty involved, and what happened to this betrothal in the end.

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