The Tudor Society


  • The coronation of Mary of Guise

    Thank you to Heather R. Darsie for this article on Mary of Guise (Marie de Guise), who was crowned Queen Consort of Scotland on this day in 1540.

    Mary of Guise was born on 22 November 1515 to Claude of Lorraine, the Duke of Guise, and Antoinette of Bourbon. She was the eldest of twelve children. Mary was first made a wife in 1534 at the age of eighteen when she married the Duke of Longueville. She had two sons with her first husband, the second of whom died young. The Duke of Longueville passed away in 1537 when Mary was only twenty-one. She was then courted by both Henry VIII of England and James V of Scotland.

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  • The Scots Queen Surrenders: An Overview of the Battle of Carberry Hill 1567 by Heather R. Darsie

    By 15 June 1567, twenty-four-year-old Mary Stuart had been Queen of Scotland for almost her entire life; never knew her father, James V, because he died when she was six days old; was Queen Consort, then Queen, of France for less than seventeen months; had lost her mother in July 1560; was about to celebrate her son and heir’s first birthday on 19 June, and was married to her third husband. Mary’s first husband, King Francis II of France, died three days before Mary’s eighteenth birthday in 1560. Mary’s mother was dead for roughly five months when her first husband died. She married her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, when she was twenty-two. Mary gave birth to her only surviving child, James VI, during her marriage to Darnley. Darnley died, likely murdered, less than two years after the marriage, and Mary married her third husband, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. Bothwell may have had a hand in the death of Mary’s second husband and there is speculation as to whether Mary indeed wanted to marry Bothwell or whether she was coerced into the marriage.

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  • Queen Elizabeth I: A Timewatch Guide

    Just to let you know that this programme is on at 9pm on Wednesday (10th February) on the UK’s BBC Four channel. Here’s the blurb:

    “Vanessa Collingridge examines the life of Elizabeth Tudor, with particular interest in how documentary television and the BBC has examined her legacy….”

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  • Bloody Queens: Elizabeth and Mary

    If you’re in the UK or have access to the UK’s BBC2 then make sure that you catch this programme on BBC2 today (1st February 2016) at 9pm. Here’s the blurb from the BBC:

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  • Mary I’s Coronation Part 2 – Knights of the Bath

    On 29th September 1553, Michaelmas or the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, Mary I created fifteen1 Knights of the Bath as part of her coronation celebrations.

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  • Linda Porter Talk – 3 Tudor Queens

    Our December talk is by Linda Porter, author of “Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary, Queen of Scots”. In this talk, Linda looks at the lives of three queens of England – Katherine Parr, Mary I and Mary, Queen of Scots.

    The live chat will be on Monday 15th December at 7:30pm UK Time (That’s 2:30pm Eastern time/11:30am Pacific time/8:30pm Central European Time).

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  • Elizabeth I Primary Sources

    Links to primary sources for Elizabeth I and her reign.

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  • May 7 – An English assault on Leith

    On this day in Tudor history, 7th May 1560, in the reign of Elizabeth I, English troops charged the wall of Leith at the siege of Leith.

    In 1548, during the War of the Rough Wooing, which had broken out over Scotland’s refusal to marry Mary Queen of Scots off to Edward VI, Scotland had invited French troops to protect the port of Leith. They set up a garrison and were still there 12 years later. Protestant reformers turned to England to help them remove these French Catholics.

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  • February 19 – An imprisoned Margaret Douglas is informed of Darnley’s murder

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th February 1567, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was informed of the murder of her son, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley.

    Darnley had been murdered nine days earlier at Kirk o’ Field, Edinburgh, in the Royal Mile, just a few hundred yards from Holyrood House where his wife, Mary Queen of Scots, and baby son, the future James VI/I, were staying.

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  • Eleanor Brandon, Countess of Cumberland

    In my article on Margaret Clifford, Countess of Derby, I noted that Margaret has been neglected by historians and novelists alike. Both Margaret and her mother Eleanor Brandon, Countess of Cumberland, have been marginalised in both fiction and non-fiction, especially when compared with other royal women of the period such as Lady Jane Grey and her sisters, Lady Margaret Douglas and, of course, Henry VIII’s six wives. The academic and popular fascination with the Grey family is explicable in view of their dynastic importance during the reigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth I; during Edward’s reign, Jane Grey was named heiress to the throne and would have reigned as queen of England had it not been for the extraordinary success of Mary Tudor’s coup in the summer of 1553. Jane’s sister Katherine was widely regarded as a viable successor to Elizabeth I, which enraged and unnerved the Tudor queen. After clandestinely marrying Edward Seymour, Katherine was incarcerated in the Tower of London, her marriage declared invalid and her children deemed to be illegitimate. More recently, Lady Margaret Douglas has attracted the interest of historians and novelists; as the mother-in-law of Mary Queen of Scots and the grandmother of James I of Scotland, this interest is perhaps not surprising.

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  • 10 February 1567 – Lord Darnley is murdered

    On this day in history, the 10th February 1567, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was murdered at Kirk o’ Field, Edinburgh, in the Royal Mile, just a few hundred yards from Holyrood House where his wife, Mary Queen of Scots, and baby son, the future James VI/I, were staying.

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  • 9 March 1566 – Murder of David Rizzio

    On this day in history, 9th March 1566, David Rizzio (Riccio), the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, was stabbed to death in front of a heavily pregnant Queen Mary.

    But who was David Rizzio and what led to his murder?

    John Guy, historian and author of the excellent “My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots”, describes David Rizzio as a “young Piedmontese valet and musician, who had arrived in the suite of the ambassador of the Duke of Savoy and stayed on as a bass in Mary’s choir”. Mary obviously took a liking to Rizzio because in late 1564 she chose him to replace her confidential secretary and decipherer, Augustine Raulet, who was a Guise retainer and the only person who Mary had trusted with a key to the box containing her personal papers. Raulet, for some reason, had lost her trust.

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  • 10 February 1567 – The Murder of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

    On this day in history, the 10th February 1567, Lord Darnley was murdered at Kirk o’ Field, Edinburgh, in the Royal Mile, just a few hundred yards from Holyrood House where his wife, Mary Queen of Scots, and baby son, the future James VI/I, were staying.

    Henry, Lord Darnley, had been lodging at Kirk o’ Field while convalescing after contracting either syphilis or smallpox. What he didn’t know was that while he had been recovering his enemies had been filling the cellars of the house with gunpowder.

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  • April 30 – Sir John Puckering

    Sir John Puckering, holding the Lord Keeper's Purse embroidered with the royal arms of Queen Elizabeth I.

    On this day in Tudor history, 30th April 1596, Elizabethan lawyer, administrator and Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir John Puckering, died from apoplexy, a stroke, at the age of fifty-two. He was buried at Westminster Abbey in St Paul’s Chapel.

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  • April 15 – Sir John Scudamore

    On this day in history, 15th April 1623, Sir John Scudamore was buried at his home, Holme Lacy, following his death the previous day.

    Scudamore served Elizabeth I as standard-bearer of the gentleman pensioners and his second wife, Mary Shelton, was related to the queen and was one of her ladies of the privy chamber.

    Here are some facts about Sir John Scudamore:

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  • Interview with Toni Mount, author of The Colour of Bone, a medieval murder mystery

    Toni Mount holding her book "The Colour of Bone"

    Thank you to author and historian Toni Mount for stopping by the Tudor Society on the book/blog tour for her new book, “The Colour of Bone”, the eleventh novel in the Seb Foxley medieval murder mystery series.

    Toni has answered some interview questions…

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  • An Extract from “Tudor England: A History”

    Lucy Wooding is the Langford fellow and tutor in history at Lincoln College, Oxford. She is an expert on Reformation England and its politics, religion, and culture and the author of Henry VIII. She has asked us to share this section from her book "Tudor England: A History".

    You can get the book at THIS LINK

    As the tensions of the later sixteenth century, both religious and polit­ical, became more acute, Tudor drama itself became more sophisticated, and more heavily freighted with meaning. Elizabethan plays might have a dangerously polemical edge, or a blunt propaganda purpose. Where fifteenth-century plays had often conveyed a religious message, later Tudor drama continued to explore moral dilemmas, albeit with a level of self-conscious wariness that earlier dramas had lacked. Solely religious plays became a thing of the past in the fraught confessional climate of the 1580s and 1590s, but drama became, if anything, more pervasive1. Plays, or ‘playings’, took place at Court, in private households, in the universities and Inns of Court, in taverns and inns, in the market square or through the streets of a city on May Day or to celebrate midsummer. By the end of the sixteenth century, there were also commercial theatrical spaces akin to the modern theatre; the first of these was built by James Burbage in Shoreditch in 1576, and called simply the Theatre2. South of the river, Philip Henslowe built the Rose on Bankside in 1587, and it was joined in 1595 by the Swan and in 1599 by the Globe. Yet even in the age of Shakespeare, theatre still belonged as much in the street or the household as upon a stage.

    Drama was not just a source of entertainment or moral commentary: it was proactive in the shaping of affairs and attitudes. In an age when insti­tutions were still flimsy, and politics were intensely personal, power could be confirmed or qualified through magnificence and display. The common­wealth, or state, was something imagined, but still it elicited an emotional investment given immediacy through symbolism3. Each display of power required a response, and each enactment of authority called for an answer, so drama was also a site for negotiation and the exchange of ideas in this ‘theatre state’4. Royal processions, progresses and tournaments encapsu­lated important transactions between ruler and ruled; in council meetings, parliaments and royal audiences, confrontations were enacted in which policy was shaped by participants on both sides. Deaths on the scaffold required the speeches of those about to die to reinforce codes of honour and obedience, while subtle alterations to the formulaic expressions of penitence and obedience might equally convey protestations of innocence, or even defiance. The drive for religious conformity made martyrs of many whose extraordinary commitment led them willingly to play their parts in a terrible drama of death. In their sufferings could be seen either the moral might of a government staunchly opposing heresy, or conversely, a testi­mony to religious truth serving as a powerful reproach to a persecutory regime; it was for the audience to choose.

    This was an age in which men and women often found it easiest to express their own identity by acting a part. Elizabeth I in her lifetime was cast by both herself and others in roles as various as the Old Testament heroine Deborah or the goddess Diana; as the mythical King Arthur or the historical Emperor Constantine. When she famously remarked to William Lambarde, keeper of the Tower, ‘know ye not I am Richard II?’, she was acknowledging her own questionable reputation as ruler in her twilight years; she was also signalling the broader principle that political meaning could be readily conveyed by mimesis5. Badgered by parliament to execute Mary Queen of Scots, she reminded them of the dangers of public scrutiny: ‘Princes, you know, stand upon stages so that their actions are viewed and beheld of all men; and I am sure my doings will come to the scanning of many fine wits, not only within the realm, but in foreign coun­tries.’6 Henry VII, in just a single royal progress in 1486, had been vari­ously depicted as Solomon, Noah, Jason, Isaac, Jacob, David, Scipio and Arthur – legendary figures, invoked at a time of dangerous political insta­bility, when the sanction of past rulers, generals and prophets was badly needed.7


    1. Thomas Betteridge and Greg Walker, ‘Introduction’, in Thomas Betteridge and Greg Walker (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama (Oxford, 2012), 4–8, 11.
    2. William Ingram, The Business of Playing: The beginnings of the adult professional theater in Elizabethan England (Ithaca, NY, 1992).
    3. Michael Walzer, ‘On the role of symbolism in political thought’, Political Science Quarterly 82 (1987), 194–95.
    4. For the conception of the ‘theatre state’, see Clifford Geertz, Negara: The theatre state in nineteenth-century Bali (Princeton, NJ, 1980), also Clifford Geertz, ‘Centers, kings and charisma: Reflections on the symbolics of power’, in Joseph Ben-David and Terry Nicholas Clark (eds), Culture and Its Creators: Essays in Honor of Edward Shils (Chicago, IL, 1977), and Clifford Geertz, ‘Politics past, politics present’, in Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected essays (second edition, New York, 2000), 327–41.
    5. Stephen Orgel, Spectacular Performances: Essays on theatre, imagery, books and selves in early modern England (Manchester, 2011), 7–35.
    6. Elizabeth I: Collected Works, 189.
    7. David Bevington, Tudor Drama and Politics (Cambridge, MA, 1968), 6; see also John C. Meagher, ‘The first progress of Henry VII’, Renaissance Drama 1 (1968), 45–73.
  • Sir Anthony Standen – Elizabethan Spy

    I first encountered Sir Anthony Standen while reading George Malcolm Thompson’s biography of Sir Francis Drake. “The time had come when Walsingham was no longer satisfied with news that came to him at second-hand, whether from Santa Cruz’s kitchen or from the Governor of Guernsey’s reports of the gossip on Breton ships or in Rouen taverns. He needed an accurate and detailed stream of information about the number of Philip’s ships, their tonnage, the sailors who would man them and the soldiers they would carry. Thanks above all to Standen, he got what he wanted.” Because my mother’s maiden name was Standen, I was immediately intrigued. Who was this man? Why hadn’t I heard of him before? Might he be an ancestor of mine?

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  • March 2022 – Tudor Murders

    Tudor Murders – what an interesting theme we have for you in this month’s magazine. Murder is always a gruesome but fascinating topic and this magazine doesn’t disappoint

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  • October 2021 – Tudor Noblewomen

    This month’s bumper-sized Tudor Life magazine is packed with articles about some of the interesting Tudor noblewomen.

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  • May 2021 – Tudor Life – Envy

    Were the Tudors an envious lot? Well, in this magazine you’ll soon find out…

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  • Elizabeth’s Mysterious Black Pearls

    In the Ermine Portrait, Elizabeth I is seen wearing a black pearl necklace. But how did this jewel from the Italian Medici family end up in the hands of the British Royal family? 

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  • International Women’s Day – unknown Tudor women

    Today it's not only International Women's Day, a day where we acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, but the whole of March we celebrate Women's History Month! A month in which we commemorate the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

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  • Welcome to Emma and Merel!

    A warm welcome to Emma and Merel who are joining the Tudor Society team today for a 5-month apprenticeship as part of their Journalism degree. We are thrilled to have them on board and you might remember them from the Mary, Queen of Scots video they produced for us back in 2019 – see below.

    Here are their bios…

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  • October 2020 – Tudor Life – Spies and Sedition

    In this month's magazine, we have gone undercover and have been searching for spies and sedition in the Tudor court... we definitely found some information worth of passing on to the queen... enjoy! [Read More...]

  • 20 September – Anthony Babington and the Babington Plot

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th September 1586, Anthony Babington, John Ballard, John Savage, Chidiock Tichborne and three other conspirators were executed near St Giles-in-the-Fields in London.

    They suffered full traitors’ deaths, being hanged, drawn and quartered, after being found guilty of treason for plotting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I in the famous Babington Plot, which sought to replace Elizabeth with Mary, Queen of Scots.

    Find out more about Anthony Babington, the Babington Plot, the men involved, how it was discovered, and how it led to Mary, Queen of Scots’ execution, in today’s talk.

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  • 24 June – Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth I’s favourite

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th June 1532, the feast of St John the Baptist, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and favourite of Elizabeth I, was born.

    Elizabeth I called Leicester her “eyes” and “sweet Robin” and there was gossip over their relationship, but there was far more to Robert Dudley than his closeness to the queen. Find out all about his life and career in today’s talk:

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  • Tudor History Challenge 4

    Hello, Claire here! I’m celebrating reaching 25,000 YouTube subscribers today by having a bit of fun at Tim’s expense, although I am allowing Henry VIII and William Shakespeare to help him a bit.

    Play along with us and see whether you can do better than Tim with these Tudor history questions (surely you can!). Get 1 point for each correct answer and question 16 is worth a possible 3 points. The questions are below, and then the answers below that, so please don’t look ahead! Good luck!

    I would just like to say a big thank you for following this channel. I feel so blessed to be able to talk Tudor with you.

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  • June’s live chats – 15 and 29 June

    Roland Hui

    Roland HuiTime is flying, don't you think? I can't believe that it's nearly June and time to share the dates for our June live chats.

    Our informal live chat is on the topic "Tudor Queens" and will take place in the Tudor Society chatroom on 15th June. The idea for these informal chats is for members to jump in and share their views, pose questions for other members, share book/TV recommendations etc. and to just enjoy talking Tudor.

    Here are the times for the chat in different time zones:

    • London, UK - Saturday 15 June at 11pm
    • Madrid, Spain - Sunday 16 June at 12am
    • New York, USA - Saturday 15 June at 6pm
    • Los Angeles, USA - Saturday 15 June at 3pm
    • Sydney, Australia - Sunday 16 June at 8am
    • Adelaide, Australia - Sunday 16 June at 7.30am

    Our expert speaker for June is Roland Hui, author of The Turbulent Crown: The Story of the Tudor Queens and The Mary Queen of Scots Colouring Book, and his topic is Queenship. His talk will go live here on the Tudor Society on 1st June and he will be joining us in the chatroom to answer your questions on his talk on 29th June. We will be giving away a book (your choice of The Turbulent Crown or the colouring book) to one lucky chat participant. The winner will be picked at random.

    Here are the times for the chat in different time zones:

    • London, UK - Saturday 29th June at 11pm
    • Madrid, Spain - Sunday 30th June at 12am
    • New York, USA - Saturday 29th June at 6pm
    • Los Angeles, USA - Saturday 29th June at 3pm
    • Sydney, Australia - Sunday 30th June at 8am
    • Adelaide, Australia - Sunday 30th June at 7.30am

    Both chat sessions will last for one hour, although please don't feel that you have to be there for the whole hour. They take place in the Tudor Society chatroom at

  • This week in history 16 – 22 April

    16th April:

    1512 – The Mary Rose began her first tour of duty in the English Channel on the hunt for French warships.
    1521 – German Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, appeared in front of Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms. He had been summoned to the diet to either recant or reaffirm his religious views.
    1550 – Birth of Francis Anthony, alchemist, apothecary and physician. He was probably born in London and was the son of Derrick Anthony, a goldsmith. Anthony was imprisoned twice for practising as a physician without a licence, and is known for his aurum potabile (drinkable gold), made from gold and mercury, which he claimed had amazing curative powers. His works included Medicinae chymicae et veri potabilis auri assertio (1610).
    1570 – Baptism of Guy Fawkes, conspirator, at the Church of St Michael le Belfrey in York.
    1578 – Burial of Thomas Drant, Church of England clergyman and poet. He was part of the “Areopagus” intellectual circle at court, but also had an ecclesiastical career and was chaplain to Edmund Grindal, Bishop of London. He is known for his work on prosody (metre), and actually drew up some rules concerning it, which were mentioned by Edmund Spenser, Gabriel Harvey, Philip Sidney, Edward Dyer and Fulke Greville.
    1587 – Death of Anne Seymour (née Stanhope), Duchess of Somerset and wife of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector during part of Edward VI’s reign. Anne was a reformer and a literary patron. She died at Hanworth Place and was buried at Westminster Abbey.
    1595 – Death of Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby and literary patron. His sudden death caused rumours of poisoning and witchcraft, but nothing was ever proved. Stanley was patron of the Strange’s Men company of players, which probably included William Shakespeare, and he was also a patron of poets. It is thought that he also was a poet.

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