The Tudor Society


  • Henry VIII’s six wives are as popular as ever – Conor Byrne

    Henry VIII’s six wives are as popular as ever. In the 2016 History Hot 100 recently compiled by BBC History Magazine, no less than four of the notorious Tudor king’s consorts featured. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, wife number two Anne Boleyn finished highest, at number 4. Katherine Parr came in at number 31, Katherine of Aragon at 36, and Anne of Cleves at 38.

    Tudormania, as coined by a Guardian article, is pervasive. The general public and historians alike cannot get enough of the Tudors. But our obsession with this colourful dynasty, by and large, centres on a handful of characters that dominate films, novels and articles. This confinement of our focus is starkly revealed in the Hot 100: the top Tudor figures are, unsurprisingly, Elizabeth I, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell.

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  • Desiderius Erasmus: An Exceptional Mind by Heather R. Darsie

    Erasmus: his name is synonymous with humanism, education and intelligence. Across Northern Europe several Erasmus programs exist at universities, so students may pursue their studies at multiple universities and in multiple languages. During his lifetime, Erasmus corresponded with such notable people as Sir Thomas More and John Colet. Erasmus assisted Hans Holbein in his quest to move to England, and advised Anne of Cleves’s father when he was writing religious tolerance laws.

    Desiderius Erasmus was born on 27 or 28 October 1466 or 1467* in Rotterdam, Netherlands. His exact date of birth is not known. The second son and an illegitimate child of his father, a priest, and mother, a physician’s daughter, Erasmus was sent to school at the age of five. In about 1484, when Erasmus was approximately eighteen years of age, his parents both died of plague. Erasmus’s three guardians sent Erasmus and his brother to a new, more conservative school run by the Brethren of the Common Life. There, Erasmus studied Latin and Christian theology.

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  • Happy 500th Birthday, Anna! by Heather R. Darsie

    Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum 500ten Geburtstag, Anna! Anna von Kleve, most widely known as Anne of Cleves or Henry VIII’s fourth wife, was born on either 201 or 22 September 1515. Anna was born in Düsseldorf, the second daughter out of four children. She lived at her father’s court until late 1539, when Anna moved to England to become Henry VIII’s fourth queen.

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  • March 6 – Lord Chancellor Thomas Wriothesley is accused of abusing his authority

    Miniature of Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, by Hans Holbein the Younger

    On this day in Tudor history, 6th March 1547, in the reign of King Edward VI, former Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII, Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, lost the Great Seal of his Lord Chancellorship and was confined to his home at Ely Place for abusing his authority.

    Wriothesley was found guilty of issuing a commission without the knowledge or permission of the other executors of Henry VIII’s will, but it was probably more to do with his opposition to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, becoming Lord Protector.

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  • February 10 – Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmorland

    Arms of Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmorland

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th February 1564, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmorland, died at Kelvedon in Essex.

    Neville was born in around 1524/1525 and was the eldest son of Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland, and his wife, Catherine Stafford. His maternal grandfather was Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.

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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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  • January 16 – Sir Anthony Denny

    On this day in Tudor history, 16th January 1501, in the reign of King Henry VII, Sir Anthony Denny was born at Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. He was the second son of Sir Edmund Denny, Baron of the Exchequer to Henry VIII, and his wife, Mary Troutbeck.

    The courtier and good friend of Henry VIII was educated at St Paul’s School, London, before moving on to St John’s College, Cambridge.

    Following employment in the service of Sir Francis Bryan, a man known as the Vicar of Hell, Denny joined King Henry VIII’s privy chamber in 1533 and was made a yeoman of the wardrobe in 1536.

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  • January 15 – Jane Dudley, Duchess of Northumberland

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th January 1555, in the reign of Queen Mary I, Jane Dudley, Duchess of Northumberland and wife of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, died in Chelsea, London.

    Forty-six-year-old Jane had outlived her husband, who was executed in 1553 after Mary I had successfully seized the throne from the couple’s daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey.

    Here are some facts about this Duchess of Northumberland…

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  • January 12 – William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham, Lord Admiral

    Painting of William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham, English School

    On 12th January 1573, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham, died at Hampton Court Palace.

    The diplomat, soldier and naval commander was buried at Reigate Church.

    Howard had served four Tudor monarchs: Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, and had been Lord Admiral and Lord Chamberlain of the Household. At one point, he was convicted of misprision of treason, but was fortunately pardoned.

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  • January 8 – Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland, and an interesting family story

    Photo of the ruins of Brougham Castle, Henry Clifford's home, and a picture of the earl's arms.

    On 8th January 1570, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland, died at his home, Brougham Castle. He was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Skipton.

    According to a family story, Clifford was so devastated at the death of his first wife, Lady Eleanor Brandon, that he could only be brought back from a certain death by suckling from a woman’s breasts!

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  • January 3 – John Clerk, Bishop of Bath and Wells

    Arms of the Bishop of Bath and Wells

    On this day in Tudor history, 3rd January 1541, in the reign of King Henry VIII, John Clerk, Bishop of Bath and Wells, died.

    Before becoming Bishop of Bath and Wells, Clerk had served as a chaplain to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and had been Archdeacon of Colchester, Dean of Windsor and Master of the Rolls.

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  • Tudor royal funerals

    People all over the world have tuned in to watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II today, a queen who reigned for over 70 years and who was descended from Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland, and, therefore, King Henry VII, as well as having Boleyn blood.

    The funeral procession and ceremony were full of tradition and ritual, and our Tudor ancestors would recognise much of it, so I thought I’d share with you some information on Tudor royal funerals.

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  • All about Tudor Medicine and Health

    As today is the anniversary of physician and paediatrician Thomas Phaer making his will on 12th August 1560, and he was known for some rather interesting remedies – find out about him here – I thought I’d share the July 2019 edition of Tudor Life magazine which focused on Tudor Medicine and Health…

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  • July 16 – The birth of Frances Brandon

    On this day in Tudor history, 16th July 1517, the feast of St Francis, in the reign of King Henry VIII. Frances Brandon was born.

    Frances was King Henry VIII’s niece.

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  • April 28 – Elizabeth I’s funeral, Sir Anthony Browne and an executed priest

    On this day in Tudor history, 28th April 1603, Queen Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in a lavish funeral.

    Find out more about her funeral…

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  • 22 November – Explorer Sir Martin Frobisher dies of gangrene and Sir William Butts dies from malaria

    On this day in Tudor history, 22nd November 1594, naval commander, privateer and explorer, Sir Martin Frobisher, died at Plymouth. He died of gangrene after having been shot in the thigh during hand-to-hand combat during a siege.

    Frobisher is best known for his three voyages in search of the Northwest Passage and his naval service during the 1588 Spanish Armada, for which he was knighted.

    Find out all about the life and career of this Tudor explorer in this talk…

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  • Hans Holbein’s Portrait of Queen Catherine Howard? by Roland Hui

    A big thank you to our resident art historian, Roland Hui, for this excellent article on a Tudor miniature by Hans Holbein the Younger which is causing controversy at the moment.

    Over to Roland…

    In an essay on the portraiture of Henry VIII’s six wives, art historian Brett Dolman offered the depressing, but sobering, opinion that pictures of one of them, Catherine Howard, may not even exist:

    “Catherine left no documentary proof that her portrait was ever painted during her lifetime, and perhaps, we are searching for the impossible.”…

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  • 16 July – Frances Brandon

    On this day in Tudor history, 16th July 1517, the feast of St Francis, Frances Brandon was born. She was King Henry VIII's niece.

    Find out a bit more about Frances Brandon in this edition of #TudorHistoryShorts... [Read More...]

  • 9 July – Elizabeth I visits Robert Dudley’s castle

    On this day in Tudor history, 9th July 1575, Queen Elizabeth I visited Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, home of her favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Her stay would be a long one, 19 days!

    Find out a bit more about her stay at Kenilworth Castle in this edition of #TudorHistoryShorts…

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  • M T

    That was so awesome, thank you. Very interesting. I am fascinated by both Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves. Thanks again for showing us around there.

  • Lyndell

    I had been looking forward to this talk/video and was not disappointed, enjoying it very much. Owen – Whilst your first reasons for loving Hever Castle was Anne Boleyn and your early introduction by your parents, how great it is that you now work at Hever Castle. I am a huge fan of Tudor history and of Anne of Cleves. Todays video – including your outstanding knowledge and passionate commentary about Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves and so much more – was pure Magic!

  • 20 June – Murder or Suicide?

    On this day in Tudor history, the night of 20th/21st June 1585, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland, died at the Tower of London.

    Was his death murder or suicide? And if it was murder, why?

    Find out more…

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  • Artists in the Spotlight – Sharon

    This week we are putting the spotlight on Sharon from Pennsylvania in the U.S. She is 64 years old and and makes stunning oil paintings from the Tudors.

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  • 28 April – 82-year-old priest executed in Scotland

    In this latest #TudorHistoryShorts video, I talk about eighty-two-year-old priest Walter Mylne, who sadly lost his life on 28th April 1558.

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  • A Tudor Funeral

    Sadly, Prince Philip passed away on the 9th of April 2021 at the age of 99. On Saturday the 17th of April the funeral will be held at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Nowadays, a royal funeral is no longer for the family alone, all the world can watch it online. This was very different for the Tudors. What were their funeral traditions?

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  • These Tudors Are Your Favourites

    A couple of weeks ago we asked our Instagram followers to vote on their favourite Tudor Monarch and wife of Henry VIII. We combined the votes with the most searched questions on Google and the country in which they are most popular. Here are the results!

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  • Artists in the Spotlight – Erica

    In today's artists in the spotlight we would like to share Erica's wonderfully detailed clay figures. She is 15 years old and is from England. Because of the talent she has, we asked her about her passion and the process of making art.

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  • This week in Tudor History – 18-24 January – Part 1

    Part 1 of “This week in Tudor History” covers Tudor history events from 18th to 21st January.

    Find out all about these Tudor events…

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  • This week in Tudor History – 11 – 17 January – Part 1

    This week, I thought I’d split the week into two, so this video covers Tudor history events that took place on 11th, 12th and 13th January – the execution of a printer, the death of a baron, soldier and naval commander, the death of a godson of Henry VIII…

    Below, you’ll also find videos from previous years that cover these dates.

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  • 27 December – Katherine Killigrew, “the Muses friend, and saint of Heav’n”

    On this day in Tudor history, 27th December 1583, scholar and Puritan Katherine Killigrew died after giving birth to a stillborn child.

    Katherine was the daughter of renowned humanist and scholar, Sir Anthony Cooke, and was known for her ability at writing poetry and her knowledge of languages, including Hebrew, Latin and Greek. She was a very accomplished Tudor lady.

    Find out more about Katherine, and hear the epitaphs that were written in her honour, in today’s talk.

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