The Tudor Society
  • 20 May – A cardinal’s hat for a headless man

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th May 1535, Pope Paul III made John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, Cardinal-Priest of San Vitale, and arranged to have his cardinal’s hat sent to him.

    The pope hoped that this would save Fisher, who was imprisoned at the time, from further punishment, but it made the king even more determined to behead Bishop Fisher. Oh dear!

    Find out more about what happened in today’s talk.

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  • 19 May – A dispensation for Henry VIII to marry wife number 3

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th May 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn was executed within the confines of the Tower of London.

    It must have been an incredibly hard day for the queen’s friend, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Not only did he have a visit from a friend regarding a terrifying vision, in the early hours… Not only did he have to cope with the idea of his friend and patron being beheaded, but he had to issue a dispensation for the king to marry again!

    Find out more in today’s talk.

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  • 18 May – Rebel William Thomas comes to a bad end

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th May 1554, in the reign of Queen Mary I, scholar and administrator, William Thomas, was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn for his alleged involvement in Wyatt’s Rebellion. It was said that he even wanted the queen assassinated.

    But William Thomas was far more than a rebel, he was also the author of the first he first Italian dictionary and book of grammar to be published in English.

    Find out more about him and his rather bad end in today’s talk.

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  • 17 May – Anthony Bacon, a Tudor spy

    On this day in Tudor history, 17th May 1601, Anthony Bacon was buried in St Olave’s, London.

    You might have heard of Francis Bacon, but his brother, Anthony Bacon, was rather interesting too!

    Who was Anthony Bacon?

    Well, he was a spy, providing intelligence for the likes of William Cecil, Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. Find out more in today’s talk

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  • The Fall of Anne Boleyn Wordsearch

    As we’re coming up to the anniversary of Queen Anne Boleyn’s anniversary, on 19th May, I thought I’d test you on your knowledge of those involved in her fall.

    Get those little grey cells working with this fun wordsearch. Warning: the words can go in any direction!

    Simply click on the link or image below to open and print out.

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  • 16 May – The real “John Blackthorne” of Shōgun

    On this day in history, 16th May 1620, navigator William Adams died in Hirado, Japan. Adams is thought to be the first Englishman to have reached Japan (arriving there in 1600) and was the inspiration for the character of John Blackthorne in the famous novel Shōgun.

    How did William Adams end up in Japan and why did he stay there when he had a family in England?

    Find out more about this interesting Tudor navigator in today’s talk.

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  • 15 May – Two noblemen tried for treason

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th May 1537, Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy, and his cousin, John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford, were tried for treason at Westminster after being implicated in the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion.

    Both men may have been sympathetic to the rebel cause, but there was no actual evidence that they conspired against the king. Poor men!

    Find out more about them and how they ended up being branded rebels, and what happened next, in today’s talk.

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  • Shakespeare’s Globe

    I’m sure that, like me, you’re missing Philippa’s wonderful roving reporter virtual tours of Tudor-related places – sob! Obviously, Philippa isn’t able to get out and visit anywhere at the moment, so I thought I’d dig out some of the photos that I took when I visited Shakespeare’s Globe back in 2018, actually with Philippa on the Discover the Tudors tour. Enjoy!

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  • 14 May – Henry VIII’s leg problems

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th May 1538, the French ambassador, Louis de Perreau, Sieur de Castillon, wrote a dispatch regarding King Henry VIII having been dangerously ill due to a problem with one of his legs.

    Henry VIII was plagued with problems from his legs, leg ulcers, from at least 1528 right up until his death. But what do we know about his problems and what are the theories regarding the cause?

    Find out in today’s talk.

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  • John Cabot (1451-1498)

    John Cabot was born in 1451 and was the son of Julio Caboto and his wife Mattea, both of whom were Italian. Little is known of his early life; however, we know that John was granted Venetian citizenship on 28th March 1476, which granted him the right to trade and engage in maritime activities. His business activities have been traced in Venetian archives between the years 1482 and 1485; however, we do not know where he acquired his merchant or navigational training. In April 1493, while Cabot was in Valencia, Columbus passed through the city on his way to Barcelona, leaving historians with the belief that the two men met and that it was Columbus who inspired Cabot to become a transatlantic voyager. Indeed, a Spanish diplomat described Cabot as another Columbus, seeking people to aid him in his journey of discovery. At this time, Bristol was renowned for having an interest in transatlantic voyages, and it was said that the city was involved in Atlantic exploration from 1480. With this in mind, in or around 1495, John Cabot moved to Bristol.

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  • 13 May – A battle between Mary, Queen of Scots, and her half-brother

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th May 1568, the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, met those of her brother, the Regent Moray, at the Battle of Langside in Scotland.

    Mary, Queen of Scots was defeated soundly, but what happened and why was she fighting against the regent acting on behalf of her son, King James VI? What had led to this moment.

    I explain all in today’s talk.

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  • 12 May – A very obstinate friar

    On this day in Tudor history, 12th May 1538, a Franciscan friar obstinately refused to make a public recantation of his allegiance to Rome.

    Friar John Forest had been condemned for heresy and was meant to abjure his faith at St Paul’s Cross, but he decided not to. Find out more about what happened:

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  • 11 May – The doctor who saved a queen

    On this day in Tudor history, 11th May 1560, royal physician Dr Thomas Wendy, died at his home, the manor of Haslingfield, in Cambridgeshire.

    He attended three Tudor monarchs at their death and had a long and loyal service as a royal physician, but what interests Claire, in particular, is his role in saving Queen Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife, from a plot by Catholic conservatives in 1546.

    Find out more Dr Thomas Wendy, his life, career, and the plot in today’s talk.

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  • The Northeast Passage Voyage of 1553 – Crossword Puzzle

    Today’s Sunday puzzle is a crossword puzzle testing your knowledge of the 1553 voyage to discover a trade route via a Northeast passage.

    Don’t know anything about this? Well, you can view today’s “on this day in Tudor history” video or my Claire Chats talk on this

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  • May 10 – A search for the Northeast Passage finds Ivan the Terrible instead

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th May 1553, near the end of King Edward VI’s reign, the first expedition of the Company of Merchant Adventurers, left London in search of a Northeast passage for Asia.

    The voyage, with its fleet of three ships, was led by Richard Chancellor, Sebastian Cabot and Sir Hugh Willoughby. It failed in its aim, and Willoughby and his crew died, but Richard Chancellor was able to come to a very beneficial agreement with Ivan the Terrible.

    Find out more about the company, the voyage and the resulting trade agreement, and Muscovy Company, in today’s talk.

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  • 9 May – Colonist William Bradford

    On this day in history, in the Stuart period, 9th May 1657, William Bradford died. He is known as the founder of the Plymouth Colony in America and the writer of a chronicle of its early years: ““Of Plimmoth Plantation”.

    But how did a Yorkshire man of farming stock become a Puritan and a governor of a colony in North America? What led to him becoming a “pilgrim” and boarding The Mayflower?

    Find out in today’s talk.

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  • Fallen in Love – Live reading of Anne Boleyn play on 19 May

    I went to see the play, Fallen in Love, when it was performed on 19th May at the Tower of London a few years ago. It was brilliant. The story of Anne Boleyn’s fall is told by just two characters, Anne and George Boleyn, and it’s incredibly moving.

    This year, the Red Rose Chain are commemorating the anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s executuion with a live reading of the play. Here is the information they sent me…

    The year is 1536. The woman who changed the world forever by capturing the heart of a king faces trial with her brother for adultery, incest and treason.

    We are very excited to launch our new digital series for FALLEN IN LOVE, the critically acclaimed play by Joanna Carrick telling the story of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn.

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  • 8 May – Charles Wriothesley and his chronicle

    On this day in Tudor history, 8th May 1508, herald and chronicler Charles Wriothesley was born in London.

    Wriothesley’s chronicle is one of the major primary sources for King Henry VIII’s reign, so let me tell you more about its writer, Charles Wriothesley, Windsor Herald, and what heralds actually are.

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  • Tudor Letters

    In this week’s Claire Chats video, I talk about Tudor letters and share two of Elizabeth I’s letters, one from her youth and another from the last weeks of her life. Below my talk, you can find links to books of letters and archives where you can read Tudor letters. Enjoy!

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  • 7 May – The wife Bothwell divorced to marry Mary, Queen of Scots

    On 7th May 1567, eight days before James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, married Mary, Queen of Scots, the Catholic court granted him a divorce from his wife, Lady Jean Gordon.

    Who was Jean Gordon? Why did Bothwell divorce her? And what happened to Jean afterwards?

    Find out more about Bothwell and Jean’s marriage, and about Jean’s life, in today’s talk.

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  • Expert answer – Are the letters of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn authentic?

    As it’s the anniversary of the “Lady in the Tower” letter today, a letter said to have been written by Queen Anne Boleyn on 6th May 1536, I thought I’d answer this question from member Real Tudor Lady:

    “What is your opinion on the authenticity of the last letter of Queen Katherine of Aragon to Henry VIII, and the last letter of Anne Boleyn, ‘The Lady in the Tower ” letter, to Henry VIII? Are they both fake or real?”

    The letter said to be from Catherine of Aragon was written in her final days, in January 1536, and reads…

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  • 6 May – Sir James Tyrell, alleged killer of the Princes in the Tower

    On this day in Tudor history, 6th May 1502, in the reign of King Henry VII, Sir James Tyrell, former royal councillor, was executed for treason due to his links to a known traitor.

    But it’s not for his time as a trusted councillor, or for his links to a claimant to the throne that he is known, but for his alleged involvement in the murders of the Princes in the Tower.

    Find out more in today’s talk.

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  • 5 May – Can’t kill him for heresy, let’s try treason…

    On this day in Tudor history, 5th May 1543, religious radical, Adam Damplip, also known as George Bucker, was hanged, drawn and quartered in Calais, which was an English territory at the time.

    Although it was his heretical preaching that had got him into trouble, he couldn’t be executed as a heretic, so he was condemned as a traitor instead – clever, but nasty!

    Let me explain more in today’s talk.

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  • 4 May – A pitiful and strange spectacle

    On this day in Tudor history, 4th May 1535, in the reign of King Henry VIII, three Carthusian monks, a Bridgettine monk and a parish priest were executed at Tyburn.

    They were executed for refusing to accept the King as the Supreme Head of the Church and “for writing and giving counsel against the King”, and had to suffer a full traitor’s death, one after the other.

    Find out more about them and also London Charterhouse, home to the Carthusian order, in today’s talk.

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  • 3 May – A man who served 3 monarchs and kept his head

    On this day in Tudor history, 3rd May 1568, courtier, member of Parliament, and privy councillor, Sir Edward Rogers, died.

    Rogers had a long and successful royal career, serving three of the Tudor monarchs, and he managed to keep his head too.

    Find out more about him, and how he even survived being implicated in rebellion and opposing Mary I, in today’s talk.

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  • Tudor Fiction Quiz

    It’s wonderful that Tudor history inspires novelists the way it does, and it’s wonderful to meet our favourite historical characters in novels that bring them and their world to life, but how much do you know about historical novelists and their works?

    Test yourself with this week’s fun quiz…

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  • 2 May – Celestial flesh leads to a burning

    On this day in history, 2nd May 1550, Anabaptist Joan Bocher, was burnt to death at Smithfield for her belief in Christ’s celestial flesh.

    How did a Protestant end up being executed in Edward VI’s reign and what did she mean by Christ having celestial flesh?

    Find out more about Joan Bocher, or Joan of Kent, her beliefs and her links to Protestant martyr Anne Askew, in today’s talk.

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  • 1 May – A hot-tempered Tudor courtier

    On this day in Tudor history, 1st May 1551, in the reign of King Edward VI, Norfolk landowner and Member of Parliament, Sir Edmund Knyvet, died.

    Knyvet had an interesting court career, being helped by his Howard connections, but he was known for his rather hot temper, which nearly led to him losing his right hand.

    Find out more about hot-tempered Sir Edmun Knyvet in today’s talk.

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  • Tudor series and documentaries

    This lockdown is definitely easier when you immerse yourself in Tudor history, and so much better for you than raiding the fridge and cupboards!

    A few weeks ago, I shared some suggestions for Tudor movies and I thought it would also be good to share some recommendations for documentaries and non-fiction series. Please feel free to add your recommendations in the comments.

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  • The Great Siege of Malta

    This month’s expert is Julian Humphrys from The Battlefields Trust and Heritage Tours. Julian has an amazing ability to bring battles to life. This talk is about the Siege of Malta, a battle whose effects were felt right across Europe, including Elizabethan England.

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