The Tudor Society
The Tudor Society
  • The Physical Decline of Henry VIII by Sarah Bryson

    When Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509 he was just shy of his 18th birthday. He was tall, robust, handsome and athletic. Yet when the infamous King died on 28th January 1547 he weighed about 178kg and had a waist measurement of 52 inches and a chest measurement of about 53 inches. So how did this decline in Henry VIII’s physical appearance happen?

    As a young man, Henry VIII was considered to be the most handsome prince in Europe. He was tall, standing at six foot two which was taller than the average man of the time. He was broad of shoulder, with strong muscular arms and legs, and had striking red/gold hair. It is said that rather than looking like his father, he resembled his grandfather the late Edward IV. In the armoury of the Tower of London is a suit of armour that Henry wore in 1514. The king’s measurements show that he had a waist of 35 inches and a chest of 42 inches, confirming that Henry was a well-proportioned, well-built young man.

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  • 20 October 1536 – The Surrender of Pontefract Castle

    On the night of the 19th October 1536, Thomas Maunsell, Robert Aske and the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace threatened an assault on Pontefract Castle and its owner, Lord Darcy. By 8 o’clock on the morning of the 20th October, the castle had surrendered to the rebels and its inhabitants – which included the likes of Lord Darcy, Sir William Gascoigne, Sir Robert Constable, Edmund Lee, Archbishop of York, and Thomas Magnus, Archdeacon of the East Riding – had sworn the rebel oath.

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  • This week in history 19 – 25 October

    On this day in history events for week 19-25 October.

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  • Tudor Money Quiz

    Have fun testing your knowledge with this quiz on Tudor money.

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  • Sleeping in Tudor Times

    In this week’s Claire Chats, I talk about the advice given to Tudor people about sleeping and I look at what they actually slept on.

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  • 16 October 1555 – The Burnings of Bishops Ridley and Latimer

    he burnings of two of the Oxford martyrs: Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, and Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London took place on this day in 1555, in the reign of the Catholic Mary I. The two men, along with Thomas Cranmer, who was burnt at the stake on the 21st March 1556, are known as the Oxford Martyrs and their lives and deaths are commemorated in Oxford by Martyrs’ Memorial, a stone monument just outside Balliol College and near to the execution site, which was completed in 1843. A cross of stones set into the road in Broad Street marks the site of their burnings.

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  • Holbein at the Tudor Court Radio Programme

    Thank you to our resident art expert Melanie Taylor for letting me know about this radio programme which aired today on the BBC Radio 4 programme “In our Time”.

    Blurb: Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and work of Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) during his two extended stays in England, when he worked at the Tudor Court and became the King’s painter.

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  • Henry VII and St Armel

    Thank you so much to Tudor Society member Ceri Creffield for telling me about an article that has been published as part of Wales Online’s Welsh History Month – Welsh History Month: St Armel, the refugee saint who protected the king.

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  • Transcript from Susan Fern’s Live Chat

    Here is the transcript of the session for those who weren’t able to make it live to Susan Fern’s chatroom session.

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  • Making a book – the old way

    A fascinating video showing how a book is made using a printing press and traditional methods. It makes you appreciate how easy it is to get books these days!

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  • The Christening of Edward VI

    EdwardVIHolbeinToday, author Sarah Bryson shares with us an article on Edward VI's christening.

    In early 1537, Queen Jane Seymour, Henry VIII's third wife, became pregnant. Henry ordered refurbished suites at Hampton Court Palace for his Queen and also a set of new suites for the longed-for son that he believed Jane would bring him. Astoundingly, Henry only gave his builders five months to add these huge rooms and additions to Hampton Court! Hundreds of men were hired for these magnificent additions and as well as being paid overtime Henry VIII also ordered candles so the men could work at night.
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  • 14 October 1586 – Trial of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in history, 14th October 1586, the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, began at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire. Historian John Guy, author of My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots, has written a brilliant chapter on Mary’s downfall, “Nemesis”, and I have him to thank for the information in this article.

    Mary Queen of Scots had, at first, refused to appear before Elizabeth I’s commission, but had been told by William Cecil that the trial would take place with or without her. She appeared in front of the commission at 9am, dressed in a black velvet gown and a white cambric cap and veil. Mary then protested against the commission, arguing that the court was not legitimate and arguing against the fact that she was not allowed legal defence and was not able to call any witnesses. Mary was also not permitted to examine any of the documents being used against her. Her protests were in vain and the prosecution went ahead and opened the trial with an account of the Babington Plot, arguing that Mary knew of the plot, had given it her approval, agreed with it and had promised to help. Mary protested her innocence:

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  • Introducing the 2 Day Unlimited Pass

    We’re pleased to announce the Tudor Society 2 day unlimited pass!

    For just $6, you can now try out the Tudor Society for two days. The 2 day unlimited pass gives you full access to the Tudor Society website meaning that you can view the latest content and also the archives, which include Tudor Life magazine, our expert talks, Claire Chats videos, our weekly quizzes, resources and more. It’s perfect for those wanting to see what the Tudor Society is all about before joining.

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  • This week in history 12 – 18 October

    On this day in history events for 12-18 October.

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  • 12 October 1537 – Birth of Edward VI

    At two o’clock in the morning on Friday 12th October 1537, St Edward’s Day, Jane Seymour finally gave birth to the future King Edward VI after a long and tiring thirty-hour labour. Henry VIII had a legitimate son and heir at long last!

    Chronicler Charles Wriothesley recorded the good news and the subsequent celebrations:

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  • 11 October 1549 – The Arrest of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector

    On this day in history, 11th October 1549, Edward Seymour, the Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector of the Realm and Governor of the King’s Person, was arrested and brought in front of Edward VI who summarised his charges as “ambition, vainglory, entering into rash wars in mine youth, negligent looking on Newhaven, enriching himself of my treasure, following his own opinion, and doing all by his own authority, etc.”

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  • Medieval and Tudor Education Quiz

    Test your knowledge on education and upbringing with this fun quiz.

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  • 10 October 1562 – Elizabeth I catches smallpox

    On 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, the cold developed into a violent fever, and it became clear that the young queen actually had smallpox. Just seven days later, it was feared that the Queen would die.

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  • Education in Tudor Times video Part 2

    In today’s Claire Chats, I talk about how children were taught to read in the medieval and Tudor periods.

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  • Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox

    Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was born on 8th October 1515. Margaret was the daughter of Margaret Tudor, Queen Dowager of Scotland and sister of Henry VIII, and Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. She was born at Harbottle Castle in Northumberland, home of Thomas, 2nd Lord Dacre, because her mother went into labour as she fled Scotland to go to Henry VIII’s court in London. Margaret was baptised on 9th October, but her mother was ill after the birth and wasn’t well enough to travel onward to London until spring 1516. Mother and baby stayed in England until June 1517, when Henry VIII sent his sister and niece back to Scotland.

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  • William Tyndale

    As today is the anniversary of the execution of reformer, scholar and Bible translator, William Tyndale, Sarah Bryson has written an article on this fascinating man.

    William Tyndale was born in Gloucestershire in 1494 to parents who worked in the cloth trade. Tyndale was born into a Catholic dominated England under the rule of Henry VII. He was brought up a strict and devout Catholic being taught the importance of mass and good works which would help him gain access to heaven. He would have participated in regular confession and penance and his daily life would have been dominated by Saints’ days and following the Catholic faith. The Bible that Tyndale would have known growing up would have been written in Latin, the holy language. Meanwhile the common people would have spoken English, a rough language which was not considered suitable for the holiness of the Church.

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  • William Tyndale Documentary

    A documentary on reformer, scholar and Bible translator, William Tyndale, who was executed on 6th October 1536.

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  • This week in history 5 – 11 October

    On this day in history events for 5 – 11 October.

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  • 4 October 1536 – The Lincolnshire Rising

    On Wednesday 4th October 1536, there was trouble in Horncastle, Lincolnshire. This was part of what we know as the Lincolnshire Rising which, in turn, was part of the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion.

    Dr Raynes, the chancellor of the Bishop of Lincoln, who was staying nearby at Bolingbroke, after having held a session of the commissionary’s court there, was dragged from his sickbed and taken to Horncastle. Francis Aidan Gasquet, the 19th century Benedictine monk and historical scholar, describes what happened next in his book “Henry VIII and the English Monasteries”:

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  • 15th and 16th century Explorers and Navigators Quiz

    How much do you know about 15th and 16th century explorers and navigators? Test your knowledge with this fun quiz.

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  • Expert Talk: Susan Fern on Bosworth’s Lost Commander

    Here’s this month’s expert talk, a wonderful description of the times just before the battle of Bosworth, when the houses of Lancaster and York were both trying to win the support of Rhys ap Thomas and Wales.

    Susan Fern, author of “The Man Who Killed Richard III: Rhys ap Thomas” takes us step by step through these turbulent times and helps us to understand who Rhys was, and why he was to change the course of history.

    This is PART ONE of a two part talk recorded exclusively for the Tudor Society. Susan will be joining us live in the chatroom on 14th October, 10pm UK time.

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  • Education in Tudor Times video Part 1

    In today’s Claire Chats I give an overview of education in the medieval and Tudor eras – what age it began, what it was like for boys and girls, who they were taught by, Tudor schools etc. I do hope you find it useful.

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  • Mary I’s Coronation Part 4 – The Coronation

    On Sunday 1st October 1553, Mary I was crowned queen at Westminster Abbey by Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester. She was the first crowned queen regnant of England.

    Here is a primary source account of the coronation ceremony from The chronicle of Queen Jane, and of two years of Queen Mary, and especially of the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat

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  • Mary I’s Coronation Part 3 – The Coronation Procession of Mary I

    On the afternoon of Saturday 30th September 1553, Queen Mary I left the Tower of London to process to Westminster, where she would spend the night at Whitehall preparing for her coronation at Westminster Abbey the following day.

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  • October 2015 – Culture Bite Festival, Hillingdon, London

    I’ve just had an email from Uxbridge Library to let me know that Hillingdon Borough, London, is holding a festival called Culture Bite next month and three of their events will be of great interest to members of the Tudor Society.

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