The Tudor Society
  • Good Friday

    Today is Good Friday, the day that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, so I’d like to share the Claire Chats video I made last year on how Good Friday was marked in Tudor times. I’m also reposting the information I shared with it.

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  • James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell

    James Hepburn, 1st Duke of Orkney, 4th Earl of Bothwell and the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, was the son of Patrick Hepburn, 3rd Earl of Bothwell and Lord High Admiral, known as the “Fair Earl”, and his wife Agnes Sinclair, daughter of Henry Sinclair, 3rd Lord Sinclair. In 1556, on his father’s death, James became 4th Earl of Bothwell and Lord High Admiral of Scotland.

    In 1559/1560 Bothwell visited Denmark on the way to France and met Anna Throndsen (Anne Thorssen). He is alleged to have seduced and even married Anne but deserted her. In 1566, he married Jean Gordon, second eldest daughter of George Gordon, Earl of Huntly, but the marriage was not a happy one, as Jean accused Bothwell of adultery with her maid and seamstress, Bessie Crawford. The marriage was annulled in May 1567 on the grounds of consanguinity. Eight days after the divorce, Bothwell married Mary, Queen of Scots.

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  • It’s Maundy Thursday today!

    Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, that final meal that Jesus Christ had with his disciples before his arrest.
    In Tudor times, on Maundy Thursday, the church was prepared for Easter with water and wine being used to wash the altars and it was traditional for people to go to confession. The three holy oils – the chrism oil, the oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick – were also blessed on this day.

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  • 11 April 1554 – Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger is executed

    On this day in history, 11th April 1554, Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger was beheaded and then his body quartered for treason, for leading Wyatt’s Rebellion against Queen Mary I.

    Wyatt had already shown his opposition to Mary when he supported Lady Jane Grey’s claim to the throne after the death of Edward VI – he escaped punishment that time – but he felt compelled to act when he found out about Mary I’s plans to marry King Philip II of Spain.

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  • Holy Week and Easter

    I often think that living in Spain, a Catholic country, brings me that bit closer to life in Tudor England because their religious calendar – with all of its feast days, fasting, religious processions etc. – is still followed in countries like Spain today and whole villages and towns join in.

    I realise that festivals like Holy Week and Easter are still celebrated or commemorated by Christians all over the world, but in countries like the UK Holy Week is no longer a week-long festival celebrated by everyone. Mostly, it’s time to have a holiday and exchange cards and Easter eggs. Here in Spain, there are processions on days like Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, in every town and village, however small. Everyone gets involved in “Semana Santa”. It’s a big deal! A huge deal! And so it was in Tudor times, where daily life was tied to the religious calendar.

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  • This week in history 10 – 16 April

    On this day, 10th April…

    1512 – James V, King of Scotland, was born at Linlithgow Palace. He was the fourth child of James IV and Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII. He was the only one of James and Margaret’s children to survive childhood, and so inherited the crown of Scotland when his father was killed at the Battle of Flodden, 9th September 1513.
    1550 – Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, was re-admitted into Edward VI’s council.
    1559 – Death of Sir Rice Mansel, soldier and administrator, at his home in Clerkenwell. He served Henry VIII as Vice-Admiral in 1542, in France and Scotland, and in 1544 as Knight-Marshal. He was also Chamberlain of Chester.
    1585 – Death of Pope Gregory XIII, the Pope known for his introduction of the Gregorian Calendar, in Rome. He was succeeded by Pope Sixtus V.

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  • Palm Sunday – the start of Holy Week

    Palm Sunday is the sixth Sunday of Lent and marks the start of Holy Week. It commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem on a donkey the week before the Resurrection. It is an event which features in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and here it is from John:

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  • Tudor History Quiz

    Today’s quiz is another general Tudor history quiz so grab a coffee and a snack and enjoy testing yourself on your Tudor knowledge with this fun quiz.

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  • Tudor Society needs your advice

    The Tudor Society needs members’ advice

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  • Updated April 2017 Tudor Life Magazine

    Thank you to those of you who spotted that there was an error in the layout of April’s Tudor Life magazine. Part of Conor Byrne’s article was hidden behind an image.

    The magazine has been updated now and you can read it online or download it by going to the magazine page.

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  • Sir Francis Walsingham

    On this day in history, 6th April 1590, Elizabeth I’s principal secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham, died at around the age of fifty-eight. Although he had served the queen for many years, he died in debt, as he had underwritten the debts of Sir Philip Sidney, his son-in-law.

    Walsingham was an incredibly important man during Elizabeth I’s reign, being a statesman, private secretary, adviser, diplomat and spymaster, and he probably saved the queen’s life many times by uncovering various plots against her. Elizabeth called him her “Moor”.

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  • Expert Talk: Gareth Russell on Catherine Howard

    This month we have Gareth Russell, who is in the middle of a book tour of the USA as I write this post. He’s recorded us a wonderful talk about Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII.

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  • William Strachey 1572-1621

    On this day in history, 4th April 1572, the writer William Strachey was born in Saffron Walden in Essex, England. He was the son of William Strachey and Mary Cooke. He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and by 1605 had joined Gray’s Inn in London.

    Strachey married his first wife, Frances Forster, in 1595 and had two sons by her, William and Edmund. Frances had died by 1615 and William took a second wife, a widow called Dorothy.

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  • This week in history 3 – 9 April

    On this day in history…

    3rd April:

    1538 – Death of Elizabeth Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire and Ormond, wife of Thomas Boleyn and mother of Anne Boleyn. Click here to read more.
    1559 – The second session of Parliament, in Elizabeth I’s reign, met after the Easter break. Its purpose was to obtain parliamentary sanction for royal supremacy and Protestant settlement.
    1559 – The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, ending the Italian Wars, was signed between Henry II and Philip II of Spain. Click here to read more.
    1578 – Burial of Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox and daughter of Margaret Tudor and Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. She was buried in Henry VII’s Chapel of Westminster Abbey.

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  • Transcript of live chat with Wendy Dunn – Thomas Wyatt

    We had a wonderful chat with Wendy Dunn in the Chatroom on Friday, and it was very informative. We were discussing Thomas Wyatt and people had lots to say.

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  • An Overview of the Results of the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis 1559

    Thank you to regular contributor Heather R. Darsie for this article on the 1559 Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis.

    After sixty-five long years of war, the Habsburg and Valois families finally brought the Italian Wars to an end on 3 April 1559. The Italian Wars were fought over territory in Italy, particularly the duchy of Milan. In 1551 Henry II, King of France, carried on his father Francis’ battle with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, which came to be between Henry II and Philip II of Spain by 1559. The purpose of the treaty was to settle all territorial disputes. The peace ushered in at Cateau-Cambrésis would last the better part of one hundred and fifty years.

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  • General Tudor History Quiz

    Grab a coffee and your Sunday brunch and get those little grey cells working with this fun quiz on general Tudor history. Good luck!

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  • Urgent – Updated times for tonight’s live chat

    We’ve just been alerted to the fact that the US times given for the live chat were incorrect so here are the correct times – our apologies. We’ve emailed this out too.

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  • Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney

    In today’s Claire Chats video, Claire talks about Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney, and her loyalty and sacrifice in serving Queen Elizabeth I.

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  • 30 March – The burning of Bishop Robert Ferrar and the will of Queen Mary I

    There are two important “on this day in history” events for today and they’re both from the reign of Mary I.

    On 30th March 1555, Robert Ferrar, Bishop of St David’s, was burnt at the stake at Carmarthen. It is not known when Ferrar was born but he came from Midgley, in Halifax, and had found a living at St Oswald’s Augustinian priory in Yorkshire by the early 1520s. He studied at Cambridge and Oxford, graduation from Oxford BTh in 1533 and it was while he was at Oxford that he became involved in selling Protestant books, something for which he was imprisoned twice.

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  • April 2017 Tudor Life Taster

    Why not have a read through this online taster of this magazine which this month focuses on Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr, then join up…

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  • April 2017 Tudor Life Magazine

    The full edition of our 68-page April edition of Tudor Life Magazine. The theme this month is two of Henry VIII’s fascinating wives, Catherine Howard & Katherine Parr

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  • William Hunter, a nineteen-year-old martyr

    On 26th/27th March* 1555, nineteen-year-old William Hunter, a silk-weaver’s apprentice, was burned at the stake in Brentwood, Essex, for heresy.

    His story is told in John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and you can read the chapter on Hunter online at, but here is brief overview…

    William Hunter was an apprentice to silk-weaver Thomas Taylor in London when Mary I came to the throne. After refusing to attend mass and receive communion at Easter 1554, he was threatened with being hauled before the Bishop of London.

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  • This week in history 27 March – 2 April

    On this day in history…

    27th March:

    1489 – The Treaty of Medina del Campo was signed between England and Spain. One part of it was the arrangement of the marriage between Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Catherine (or Catalina) of Aragon. It was signed by Spain on this day and ratified in 1490 by Henry VII.
    1539 – Burial of George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, at St Peter’s Church, Sheffield. He is known for his loyalty to the King during the Pilgrimage of Grace uprisings, which was seen as crucial to the failure of the rebellion. His offices under Henry VIII included Chamberlain of the Exchequer, Lieutenant of the Vanguard in the 1513 French campaign and Lieutenant-General in 1522 in the Scottish borders.
    1555 – Burning of William Hunter, Protestant martyr. Nineteen-year-old Hunter got into trouble when he was found reading the Bible in Brentwood Chapel.

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  • Tudor Buildings wordsearch

    I thought I’d do something different for this week’s quiz and create a wordsearch.

    Simply click on the link to enlarge and print out. Have fun!

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  • 25 March – Lady Day and the New Year

    In Tudor England, the New Year began 25th March, a day known as Lady Day or the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. It was a feast day commemorating the day that the Virgin Mary was first told by the Angel Gabriel that she was carrying Jesus. It is, of course, nine months before Christmas Day, the day in which Christ was born.

    Lady Day was the first day of the calendar year in England until 1752, when the first day of the year was changed to 1 January and the Gregorian Calendar replaced the Julian Calendar. Although the calendar year officially started on 25 March in Tudor times, New Year’s gifts were still given on 1 January, which came from the Roman tradition of New Year.

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  • Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare and Brooke

    In today’s Claire Chats video, I talk about Arthur Brooke and his work “The tragicall historye of Romeus and Juliet, written first in Italian by Bandell, and nowe in Englishe by Ar. Br.” which was used as a source by William Shakespeare for his play “Romeo and Juliet”.

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  • 24 March 1603 – The death of Gloriana

    On this day in history, the 24th March 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died at Richmond Palace aged 69, bringing the rule of the Tudor dynasty to an end. Elizabeth I had reigned for 44 years and 127 days and her reign was known as “The Golden Age”. She was the longest reigning Tudor monarch.

    It is said that the execution of her former favourite, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, on the 25th February 1601 had a huge impact on Elizabeth. She had already lost her great love Robert Dudley in 1588, her good friend Blanche Parry in 1590, and her friend and adviser William Cecil, Lord Burghley, in 1598. It seemed that all those she loved and depended on were dying and leaving her. Her grief, combined with a belief that she was losing her grip on her court and country, led to her becoming severely depressed.

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  • The Mary Rose needs your vote

    The Mary Rose Trust has just let me know that they have been shortlisted for a number of awards and would really appreciate it ifpeople who have enjoyed visiting the Mary Rose would help by voting for them.

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  • 23 March 1540 – The surrender of Waltham Abbey

    On this day in history, 23rd March 1540, Waltham Abbey was surrendered to the Crown. It was the last abbey to be dissolved in Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell’s dissolution of the monasteries.

    Here is the record from Letters and Papers:

    “Surrender of the monastery and all its possessions in cos. Essex, Midd., Herts, Camb., Line, Norf., Suff., Berks, Oxon, Bucks, Beds, Kent, Sussex, Surr., Soms., Dors., Hants., Wilts., and Glouc., and the city of London and elsewhere in England, Wales, and the marches thereof. 23 March, 31 Hen. VIII. Signed by Robert the abbot, and 17 others…

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