The Tudor Society


  • Richard Edwards – Henry VIII’s illegitimate son?

    In today’s Claire Chats I look at Richard Edwards: who he was and how he has become linked to Henry VIII.

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  • Richard III’s Cortege Route is Announced

    leicester cathedralThe King Richard in Leicester website has just announced the details of Richard III's last journey, the route his cortege will take, from the University of Leicester to Leicester Cathedral next March. The details are as follows...

    On Sunday 22nd March 2015 - In the late morning, the hearse will leave the University of Leicester and go to Fenn Lane Farm, reputedly the site of King Richard’s death, and then on to the parish church of Dadlington, where some of those who died at the Battle of Bosworth are buried, and the parish church of Sutton Cheney, where Richard is said to have taken his final Mass on the eve of the battle. There will then be a short ceremony at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre in the early afternoon, led by the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester. The cortege will then make its way to Leicester, via Market Bosworth, Newbold Verdon and Desford, and enter the city via Bow Bridge, where it will be greeted by the City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, and the Lord Mayor, Councillor John Thomas.

    A horse-drawn hearse will then carry Richard III's remains from Bow Bridge to Leicester Cathedral where the hearse will be met by the Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester. Dr Richard Buckley, lead archaeologist of the dig carried out by the University of Leicester, will give the Ministry of Justice licence, which was granted to the University for the remains of the King, to the Dean of Leicester. The remains will then be taken into the cathedral and an evening service of Compline will take place and a sermon preached by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster.

    Richard III's remains will rest at the Cathedral until Thursday 26th March, when they will be buried at a special service.

    Information taken from

  • Richard III: The New Evidence Video

    A video answering the question “would Richard III’s spinal deformity have prevented him from leading the charge at the Battle of Bosworth?”

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  • Richard III’s Lavish Diet

    Isotope analysis of bone and tooth material from the remains of Richard III has revealed that the king enjoyed large amounts of wine along with freshwater fish, egret, swan, heron and crane.

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  • October 9 – The Pilgrimage of Grace rebels send their grievances to Henry VIII

    The Pilgrimage of Grace banner showing the Holy Wounds of Christ

    On this day in Tudor history, 9th October 1536, in the reign of King Henry VIII, the rebels of Horncastle, Lincoln, dispatched their petition of grievances to the king and also north into Yorkshire.

    These were the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion, an uprising in the north of England which was sparked off initially by trouble in Lincolnshire. This trouble, in turn, was caused by discontent over the dissolution of Louth Abbey, the government commissions in the area and rumours that these commissions would confiscate jewels and plate from churches and impose new taxes.

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  • May 15 – Henry VIII’s lack of sexual prowess is talked about in court!

    Richard Burton as Henry VIII in Anne of the Thousand Days

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th May 1536, the trials of Queen Anne Boleyn and her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, took place at the Tower of London.

    Unsurprisingly, they were both found guilty of committing incest and plotting to kill the king, and sentenced to death – see video below. But there was some humiliation for the king when George was handed a note about his sister talking to his wife, Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, about the king’s lack of sexual prowess.

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  • April 21 – The death of Henry VII and the accession of 17-year-old Henry VIII

    A portrait of an older Henry VII with a portrait of Henry VIII painted in 1509, the year of his accession

    On this day in Tudor history, 21st April 1509 fifty-two-year-old Henry VII died, leaving the throne to his seventeen-year-old son, also called Henry.

    Henry VII had ruled for over 23 years, since defeating King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

    The accession of Henry VIII, who was a good-looking and athletic young man of 6’3, was greeted with rejoicing. He seemed to be the ideal Renaissance Prince.

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  • Monday Martyr – William Peterson and William Richardson, Catholic martyrs

    Map of the Pale of Calais in the 15th century

    On 10th April 1540, priest Sir William Peterson, former commissary of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Calais, and William Richardson, priest of St Mary’s in Calais, were hanged, drawn and quartered in the marketplace at Calais for denying Henry VIII’s supremacy.

    In his article “Martyrdoms at Calais in 1540?”, Rev. L.E. Whatmore writes of how from 1525, Sir William Peterson was “the most important priest in Calais” because of his “double capacity” as “the Archbishop’s and the Cardinal’s representative” in Calais. 1532 saw the death of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was replaced by Thomas Cranmer. Peterson continued in his office under Cranmer and in September of that year was also appointed rector of Bonynges in the Calais Marches.

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  • March 13 – Actor Richard Burbage

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th March 1619, actor and star of Shakespeare’s Lord Chamberlain’s Men and the King’s Men, Richard Burbage, died aged fifty.

    Burbage performed with William Shakespeare and is named in Shakespeare’s will of 1616 as a “fellow”, meaning a close friend or colleague.

    Let me give you a few facts about this Elizabethan actor…

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  • March 8 – Richard Tracy, an outspoken reformer

    On this day in Tudor history, 8 March 1569, evangelical reformer and Member of Parliament Richard Tracy died at his manor in Stanway, Gloucestershire.

    Tracy was the cousin of Protestant martyr James Bainham and his works included the 1543 pamphlet on justification by faith: “Profe and Declaration of thys Proposition: Fayth only iustifieth”, which was dedicated to Henry VIII; the 1544 “‘A Supplycation to our most Soueraigne Lorde, Kynge Henry the Eyght” and “A Bryef and short Declaracyon made wherebye euery Chrysten Man may knowe what is a Sacrament”. In Elizabeth I’s reign, he served as a Commissioner of the Peace and Sheriff in Gloucestershire.

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  • January 19 – Diplomat Sir Edward Carne and Henry VIII’s fourth marriage

    Portraits of Henry VIII, Anne of Cleves, Mary I and Dom Luis of Portugal

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th January 1561, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Edward Carne died in Rome. He was about sixty-five years of age.

    The administrator and diplomat, who came from Glamorgan in Wales originally, carried out diplomatic missions for King Henry VIII, was a royal commissioner during the dissolution of the monasteries, negotiated for a fourth marriage for Henry VIII after the death of Jane Seymour, was Mary I’s English ambassador to Rome, and claimed descent from the Kings of Gwent! An interesting man.

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  • 28 June 1491 – The birth of King Henry VIII

    I thought I'd celebrate the anniversary of his birth on 28th June 1491 by sharing some of the Henry VIII resources we have here on the Tudor Society:

    Phew! That should keep you busy for a while!

  • May 10 – Henry VIII’s annulment is nearly done, Ivan the Terrible, and the suicide of John Clerk

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th May 1533, the Great Matter, Henry VIII’s quest for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, neared its conclusion.

    Find out what happened on this day in 1533, and what happened next…

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  • April 21 – The death of Henry VII and accession of Henry VIII, and the Philosopher’s Stone

    The king is dead! Long live the king!

    On this day in Tudor history, 21st April 1509, the founder of the Tudor dynasty, King Henry VII, died at Richmond Palace. He had ruled since 1485, when his forces defeated those of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth.

    Henry VII was succeeded by his seventeen-year-old son, Henry, who, it was said, did “not desire gold or gems or precious metals, but virtue, glory, immortality”!

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  • Remembering Richard Whiting – Glastonbury Abbey

    glastonbury abbey

    Glastonbury Abbey in Tudor times was a majestic powerhouse of monastic prayer. Learn all about Abbot Richard Whiting

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  • 12 June – Richard Rich, lawyer and torturer

    Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich, died on 12th June 1567. He's not one of my favourite Tudor men and you can find out why in this edition of #TudorHistoryShorts.

    Just what was his involvement in the cases of Sir Thomas More and Anne Askew?

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  • 10 May – Henry VIII’s first marriage is nearly annulled

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th May 1533, the Great Matter, Henry VIII’s quest for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, neared its conclusion.

    Find out what happened on this day in 1533, and what happened next…

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  • Richard Neville, 2nd Baron Latimer (1467-1530)

    Richard Neville was the son of Sir Henry Neville who died at Edgcote in July of 1469 and his wife Joan, daughter of John Bourchier, 1st Baron Berners. He is an interesting Tudor figure because he saw the beginning of the reign of Henry VII, being part of the War of the Roses and lived up until Henry VIII’s ‘Great Matter.’

    Richard Neville inherited his title and lands when just a baby in 1469, the principal seat being Snape Castle in Richmondshire, following his grandfather George Neville’s death. However, his great uncle, Thomas Bourchier, who was a cardinal and later Archbishop of Canterbury, purchased the wardship of Richard and his marriage in May 1470 for £1000. Still, Richard’s lands remained the property of the crown. Not much is known about the early life of Richard Neville, but we do know that he was knighted in January 1478.

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  • 2 October – Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister, sets sail for France

    On this day in Tudor history, 2nd October 1514, eighteen-year-old Mary Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII, set off from Dover to sail to France to marry fifty-two-year-old King Louis XII of France.

    Things hadn’t gone to plan with the scheduled sailing, due to bad weather, and Mary encountered rough seas on her journey too.

    Find out about the arrangements for the journey, who was at Dover, Mary’s crossing to Boulogne, and what happened next, in today’s talk.

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  • 30 September – A victorious Henry VIII returns to England

    On this day in Tudor history, 30th September 1544, fifty-three-year-old King Henry VIII returned to England after his third invasion of France and the French surrender of Boulogne to him and his troops.

    Hear a contemporary account of what happened during the siege of Boulogne and how and why the French surrendered to Henry VIII, in today’s talk.

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  • 29 September – A papal legate arrives for Henry VIII’s annulment case

    On this day in Tudor history, 29th September 1528, the papal legate, Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio, landed at Dover on the Kent coast.

    Campeggio and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who had been appointed the pope’s vice-regent, were given the task of hearing Henry VIII’s case for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

    Find out more about what happened when next, what happened at the special legatine court, and how Henry ended up waiting for his annulment for a few more years, in today’s talk.

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  • 24 July – Richard Hesketh and his plot to depose Elizabeth I

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th July 1553, merchant and conspirator Richard Hesketh was born in Lancashire. Hesketh is known for the Hesketh Plot of 1593, when he urged Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, to lead a rebellion to claim the throne of England.

    But who was Richard Hesketh and why did he plot against Queen Elizabeth I? What happened to him and what happened to Ferdinando Stanley? And why did Stanley take bezoar stone and uncorn horn?

    Find out all about Hesketh, his background, his plot, and the aftermath in today’s talk.

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  • 14 July – Richard Taverner and his Bible

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th July 1575, evangelical reformer and translator, Richard Taverner, died at Woodeaton in Oxfordshire. He was laid to rest in the parish church at Woodeaton.

    Richard Taverner is mainly known for his Bible translation, “Taverner’s Bible”, but there is far more to him than that, including his time as Thomas Cromwell’s chief propagandist.

    Find out all about Richard Taverner’s life and career in today’s talk.

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  • 25 June – Prince Henry (Henry VIII) gets betrothed

    On this day in Tudor history, 25th June 1503, the nearly twelve-year-old Henry, Prince of Wales, eldest surviving son of King Henry VII, got betrothed to seventeen-year-old Catherine of Aragon at the Bishop of Salisbury’s palace in Fleet Street, London.

    But why did it take them until 1509 to get married? What happened?

    Find out about their betrothal and their subsequent break-up 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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  • 16 March – Richard Burbage, actor and friend of Shakespeare

    On this day in history, 16th March 1619, actor Richard Burbage was buried at St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch.

    Burbage was a famous actor in the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I, peforming for royalty and even being in King James’ company of players. Burbage was also a good friend of William Shakespeare, and the two men were involved in the building of the famous Globe Theatre.

    Find out more about Richard Burbage, his life and career, in today’s talk.

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  • 8 March – Henry VIII receives a leopard

    On this day in Tudor history, 8th March 1516, Sir John Wiltshire wrote to King Henry VIII from the English territory of Calais warning him that a couple of gifts were on their way to the king from the Duke of Ferrara. The gifts were a courser (a horse) and a "lebard" (a leopard or lion).

    Exotic animal gifts were all the rage in the medieval and Tudor period and were the reason why there was a royal menagerie at the Tower of London.

    Find out more about some of these animal gifts in today's talk.

    In my Questions about Anne Boleyn series, I’ve done a video on Did Anne Boleyn have any pets. Here it is:

    Also on this day in Tudor history, 8th March 1539, former royal favourite Sir Nicholas Carew was beheaded for treason at Tower Hill. Find out more about why he fell from grace in last year’s video:

    Also on this day in history:

    • 1495 – Birth of John of God (João Cidade) in Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal. He was one of Spain's leading religious figures and the order he created, the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God, still has bases around the world today.
    • 1542 – Burial of Geoffrey Blythe, clergyman, Treasurer of Lichfield, former Warden of King's Hall, Cambridge and former Archdeacon of Stafford. Blythe was one of the divines recorded by martyrologist John Foxe as preaching against Hugh Latimer at Cambridge. Blythe was buried at All Saints' Church in Cambridge.
    • 1569 – Death of Richard Tracy, evangelical reformer and cousin of Protestant martyr James Bainham, at his manor in Stanway, Gloucestershire. Tracy's works included “Profe and Declaration of thys Proposition: Fayth only iustifieth”, which was dedicated to Henry VIII, “‘A Supplycation to our most Soueraigne Lorde, Kynge Henry the Eyght” and “A Bryef and short Declaracyon made wherebye euery Chrysten Man may knowe what is a Sacrament”. In Elizabeth I's reign, he served as a Commissioner of the Peace and Sheriff in Gloucestershire.


    On this day in Tudor history, 8th March 1516, Sir John Wiltshire wrote to King Henry VIII from the English territory of Calais.
    Now, it’s not an important letter, it’s just one I came across during my research and that I found interesting. In the letter, Wiltshire is giving the king advance warning of some gifts that are on their way to England and it’s the gifts that interest me. Wiltshire writes:
    “A gentleman of the Duke of Ferrara is coming with presents to Henry, a dark grey courser of Naples, and a ‘lebard,’ a marvellous dangerous beast to keep. "The keeper saith a will kill a buck or doe or roe and an hare, which is a marvellous thing if it be so.”
    I assume that the lebard is actually a leopard. A courser was a type of horse that was fast and strong, and had good endurance. They were often used by knights in battle.

    Although the letter appears in the archives for Henry VIII’s reign 1516. This gift is mentioned in the Venetian Archives for the year 1515. There are two mentions:
    “announced the arrival in London on the 18th March of an ambassador from the Marquis of Ferrara, by name Hironimo de Strozi; and in the said Duke's name he presented the King with a horse, said to be very handsome, and a live leopard. According to report, the King was much pleased with this present.”
    Then, the second mention:
    “Exhibited letters from his Duke Don Alfonso, announcing the return of the envoy sent by him to England with a horse and a live [leopard]. The envoy was much favoured by the King, who reciprocated the presents.”
    King Henry VIII seemed to like his horse and leopard!

    Antonio Frizzi, in his History of Ferrara, gave more details on these gifts, describing the horse as having gold trappings and stating that as well as the horse and the leopard, the duke sent three trained falcons.

    Why send a leopard? You might ask. Well, animals gifts, particularly exotic ones, were all the rage, and the duke obviously wanted to impress. The Tower of London’s website states that there was a royal menagerie at the Tower to house these animals gifts from the 1200s to 1835. It was started when Henry III was sent what was described as three leopards, but which might actually have been lions, in 1235 by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. In 1252, the King of Norway sent a polar bear and in 1255 the King of France sent an elephant. Lions at the Tower gave their name to the Lion Tower, which is no longer standing. By the way, the polar bear was able to fish and swim in the River Thames, with a chain securing it, of course.

    Fast-forward to the Tudors, and as well as marmosets and monkeys being kept as pets by wealthy Tudors, including Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII and Edward VI, visitors to the menagerie at the Tower in the 1540s recorded seeing lions, leopards, an eagle and a lynx, all belonging to the royal family. In 1592, a visitor saw six lions and lionesses, and “a lean, ugly wolf” kept by the queen. In 1598, there were three lionesses, a lion, a tiger, a lynx, a wolf, a porcupine and an eagle. Henry VII gave his wife, Elizabeth of York, a lion as a gift. I wonder what she thought of it.
    In 1826, 150 of the menagerie’s animals were rehomed at Regent’s Park, founding London Zoo, and the rest were rehomed when the menagerie closed in 1835.

  • 5 January – Richard Willes – A quirky Tudor man

    On this day in Tudor history, 5th January 1546, in the reign of King Henry VIII, geographer and poet, Richard Willes, was born in Pulham, Dorset.

    Richard Willes has been described as “One of the quirkier figures in the literary history not only of the college but of the Elizabethan period as a whole”, and he certainly was an interesting Tudor man. Find out about his literary accomplishments, and what exactly made him so “quirky”, in today’s talk.

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  • 8 November – King Henry VIII praises one wife while trying to marry another!

    On this day in Tudor history, 8th November 1528, at Bridewell Palace, King Henry VIII made a rather strange public oration to “the nobility, judges and councillors and divers other persons” to explain his troubled conscience regarding the lawfulness of his marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

    In today’s talk, I share an extract from the king’s speech, in which he praises Catherine of Aragon to the hilt even though he’d proposed to another woman, Anne Boleyn. Find out all about this strange situation!

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  • 24 October – The death of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th October 1537, Queen Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII, died at Hampton Court Palace twelve days after giving birth to a son who would grow up to be King Edward VI.

    In today’s talk, I share contemporary accounts of Jane Seymour’s illness and death, as well as details of how her remains were prepared for burial and where they were buried.

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