The Tudor Society
  • November Feast Days

    All Saints Day was the celebrated on 1st November every year. It was a feast day in honour of all the saints and martyrs and was established because there were not enough days in the year to commemorate the lives of all the saints. Pope Urban IV said of it: “Any negligence, omission and irreverence committed in the celebration of the saints’ feasts throughout the year is to be atoned for by the faithful, and thus due honor may still be offered these saints.”

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  • October Feast Days

    In the medieval period, wakes were held to mark the end of summer and to dedicate the local church. The feasting and partying could go on for days, so, in 1532, Henry VIII stamped down on this practice and ordered that the first Sunday in October was the day for local parish churches to hold their dedication service.

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  • September Feast Days

    The festival of ‘harvest home’ or ‘ingathering’ was, and still is, celebrated when the harvest was safely done. It was a thanksgiving for God’s help with the harvest and for the crop. It was essential to get the wheat and barley in before the autumn rains and cooler weather, otherwise the community could face starvation – wheat was needed for bread and barley was needed for ale. Professor Ronald Hutton explained the importance of the harvest in the TV series “Tudor Monastery Farm”. He explained that Bloody Flux, a disease common in the Tudor period, was actually caused by malnutrition because when the body was completely famished it suffered an intestinal haemorrhage. Famine was what happened when there was a bad harvest so people celebrated a good harvest and gave thanks for their farming success.

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  • August Feast Days

    This was an ancient Celtic festival and marked the start of the wheat harvest. After the first crops were safely brought in, the first loaves baked with the wheat from this harvest in each household would be taken to church and blessed as a thanksgiving for the harvest. This would be followed by a celebratory feast.

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  • July Feast Days

    The Visitation of the Virgin was a feast day commemorating the pregnant Virgin Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. This visit was recorded in the Book of Luke and Luke records how the baby in Elizabeth’s womb “leaped” when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting and that “Elizabeth herself was filled with the Holy Ghost; so that she cried out with a loud voice, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”

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  • June Feast Days

    This feast day commemorates the martyrdom of St Erasmus/St Elmo of Formia, Bishop of Formium in Italy. He was tortured and executed for being a Christian in the year 303. He is vemerated as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, saints whose intercession is believed to be particularly effective against disease.

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  • Summer Moveable Feast Days

    Rogationtide (from the Latin rogare: ‘to ask or beseech’) is the three days leading up to the Feast of the Ascension, which is celebrated forty days after Easter Sunday and which commemorates the Ascension of Christ into Heaven. It is celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter because of what it says in Acts 1 verse 3:

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  • May Feast Days

    1 May, or May Day, was seen as the first day of summer and had its roots in ancient celebrations of fertility. It was celebrated with special processions, plays and pantomimes, pageants, Morris dancing and the crowning of a May Queen. There would also be a Maypole, a tall wooden pole decorated with greenery and flowers and hung with ribbons. People would hold the ribbons and dance around the Maypole weaving the ribbons together in patterns.

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  • Easter

    How Easter was commemorated and celebrated in Tudor times.

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  • April Feast Days

    23rd April is the feast day of St George, who we know today as the patron saint of England. It is the traditional date given for his execution in 303 AD. St George was a Roman soldier who was imprisoned, tortured and beheaded for his Christian faith after he protested against the persecution of Christians.

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  • Mothering Sunday

    Mothering Sunday in the Tudor era.

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  • March Feast Days

    1st March is the feast day of St David (Dewi Sant), patron saint of Wales. According to Rhigyfarch’s Life of Saint David, David lived in the 6th century and founded religious centres including Glastonbury and Croyland. He then travelled to the Holy Land and was made archbishop at Jerusalem before travelling back to Wales and settling at Glyn Rhosyn (Rose Vale), or St David’s, in Pembrokeshire, Wales. There, he founded a monastery whose site is now marked by St David’s Cathedral.

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  • Lent

    Lent was, and is, the lead-up to Holy Week and it lasted six and a half weeks. In Tudor times, it was a period of fasting, a time when meat, eggs, cheese and sexual relations were forbidden. Prior to this fasting was a time of celebration, Shrovetide, which began on the seventh Sunday before Easter, a day known as Shrove Sunday. The word “Shrove” came from “shriving”, the confession of sins and the receiving of absolution for them.

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  • February Feast Days

    If you haven’t taken down your Christmas decorations yet then don’t worry, you’re just following the medieval and Tudor tradition of taking them down on Candlemas Eve. 1st February was the traditional day for removing the greenery, such as laurel, holly, ivy and rosemary, which had decorated homes over the Christmas period. However, Candlemas Eve really is your last chance to rid your home of decorations and please don’t leave them up otherwise you may just get invaded by goblins!

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  • January Feast Days

    In medieval and Tudor times, the calendar year actually began on 25th March, Lady Day, but confusingly (for us anyway!) the Roman tradition of New Year was celebrated on 1st January. This was a time for the nobility and monarch to exchange gifts. The king would get dressed in his chamber and then wait for one of his consort’s servants to bring in the gift from the queen. He would then accept gifts from other courtiers and the queen would do the same in her chamber. This gift giving was an ideal opportunity for a courtier to try and win favour from the monarch or to impress the monarch with a lavish gift.

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  • Tudor Haircare

    In today’s Claire Chats, Claire, who is having a rather bad hair day, talks about how medieval and Tudor people kept their hair clean and what they used to colour their hair.

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  • Live Chat – Conor Byrne, 17 June

    Conor Byrne
    Conor Byrne

    Conor Byrne

    The Tudor Society is happy to announce that Conor Byrne, this month's Expert Speaker, will be in the chatroom on Friday 17 June at 11pm BST (6pm EDT, 3pm PDT, 8am Saturday in Melbourne).

    Conor will be discussing the Grey sisters, and he's an amazing resource on such interesting Tudor characters

    Here's a countdown timer for the event:

    Hope we see you there!

  • 7 June 1520 – The Field of the Cloth of Gold meeting begins

    This day in history, 7th June 1520, was the first day of the historic meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I of France. It took place between the English stronghold of Guînes and the French town of Ardres, on a piece of land referred to as the Field of Cloth of Gold.

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  • This week in history 6 – 12 June

    On this day in history events for week 6th June to 12th June.

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  • Elizabeth I Armada Portrait Quiz

    As there is currently a campaign to save one version of this painting, and there’s been a recent Claire Chats video on it, plus an 11-page report by Melanie V. Taylor, I thought it would be fun to test your knowledge of it. Good luck!

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  • June Expert – Conor Byrne – The Grey Sisters

    Conor Byrne

    conor_byrne_authorEnjoy this month's expert talk from Conor Byrne, author of "Katherine Howard", where he discusses his findings on the "infamous" Grey sisters. They've been immortalised in fiction, but do you really know about them?

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  • The Importance of the Tyrwhitt Drake Armada Portrait by Melanie V Taylor

    Tudor Society art historian Melanie V. Taylor has written a very detailed article on the Tyrwhitt Drake Armada Portrait that has been in the news recently due to the campaign that has been launched to save it and to put it on public display at Greenwich. Please do consider helping the campaign to save this piece of history, it would be so sad if it ended up leaving the UK or being hidden in a private collection somewhere.

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  • My Lady of Middlesex’s Syllabub

    For today’s Claire Chats I’m sharing a “Tudor Cooking with Claire” video that I have just done. In it, I make “My Lady of Middlesex’s Syllabub” recipe from the book The closet of Sir Kenelm Digby, knight, opened. It’s a really simple dessert and you can tell your guests that it’s an authentic Tudor recipe.

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  • Bargain History Books

    I’ve mentioned Postscript Books before in videos, but I thought I’d write a post just highlighting them as a great resource for bargain history books. Thank you to Tudor Life contributor Olga Hughes for recommending them to me, what a find!

    Postscript Books are a mailorder bookseller based in Devon, in the UK, and who offer books at up to 75% off publishers’ prices. They can offer these discounts because the books are publishers’ overstocks or remainders. By the way, I’m not affiliated to them in any way, I’m just a happy customer!

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  • 1 June 1533 – Queen Anne Boleyn’s coronation

    Today is the 483rd anniversary of the coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII. What was interesting about her coronation is that she was crowned with the crown of St Edward, a crown usually reserved for crowning the reigning monarch, so her coronation was quite a statement. Whether the use of the crown was to do with Anne’s status or to do with her unborn child, who was, of course, expected to be a prince, it is still an interesting fact.

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  • This week in history 30 May – 5 June

    On this day in history events for 30 May to 5 June.

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  • Who was Jane Seymour? by Sarah Bryson

    On 30th May 1536, King Henry VIII married his third wife, Jane Seymour, in the Queen’s Closet at Whitehall; a mere eleven days after the execution of his second wife Anne Boleyn.

    Jane Seymour first arrived at court in the late 1520s/early 1530s and attended both of Henry VIII’s previous wives, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, as a lady-in-waiting. However, it does not appear that the King’s eye turned to Jane until early 1536.

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  • Which historian?

    A fun quiz on Tudor historians and authors – good luck!

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  • June Tudor Life Magazine Taster

    Tudor Life June 2016 is packed with 94 pages of Tudor fiction … why not join the society to read more?

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  • June 2016 Tudor Life Magazine

    Cover June 2016 Tudor Life

    May’s magazine is a celebration of the arrival of Summer … let the merriment begin!

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