The Tudor Society


  • Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan and Lorraine, Lady of Tortona

    christina_of_denmark_duchess_of_milanThank you to Heather R. Darsie for writing this article on Christina of Denmark...

    Christina Oldenburg, born a Princess of Denmark and Norway, entered the world in November of 1521 or 1522. Being the daughter of Isabella of Austria, Christina was the niece of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Her father was King Christian II of Denmark and Norway. Christian II was deposed in January 1523, when the infant Christina was still quite small, and the family fled to the Netherlands. At that time, the Netherlands were under the regency of her maternal great-aunt, Margaret of Austria. Christina would never return to the country of her birth.

    Christina was married twice. First, in 1533, she was wed to Francesco II Sforza, Duke of Milan, by proxy. She went to live in Milan in 1534. As part of the marriage contract, if Francesco died without any heirs, the Duchy of Milan would become part of the Holy Roman Empire. Francesco died in October of 1535, and the Duchy of Milan was indeed incorporated into the vast territories of the Holy Roman Empire. Another condition of the marriage contract was that should she become a widow, Christina would retain her rights to the city of Tortona for the rest of her life.

    By 1537, Christina had assumed the title of Lady of Tortona. In mourning, Christina returned to the Low Countries, which were now under the regency of her maternal aunt, Mary of Hungary. Mary was sister to both Christina’s mother Isabella and Christina’s uncle, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Christina briefly visited her elder sister Dorothea in Innsbruck on the former’s way to Brussels. Once at the court of her aunt, a suitable husband was sought for Christina.

    Christina, not unlike her sister Dorothea, had many possible suitors. Going back to when Christina remained as a widow in the ducal palace in Milan, her first proposed suitor was Louis of Piedmont, heir to the throne of Savoy. Louis died before the marriage could take place. It was next suggested by Pope Paul III that Christina marry her foster son, who was also the great-nephew of the Pope. A French husband was proposed for Christina, too. There had been a long dispute over who held the rights to the Duchy of Milan, and France sought to solidify its claim through the marriage of Christina to the Duke of Angoulême. Charles V and the French king were unable to agree on terms regarding the fate of the Duchy of Milan, so this marriage came to naught.

    Moving forward to Christina’s return to Brussels, she was famously painted by Hans Holbein the Younger in early 1538. Dressed in mourning clothes, Holbein had been sent by Henry VIII of England to capture Christina’s likeness while Henry’s ambassador floated the idea of marriage. Christina is reported to have responded, “If I had two heads, one should be at the King of England’s disposal.” It should be noted that Christina was a great-niece of Henry’s first wife, Katharine of Aragon. Mary of Hungary objected to the proposal and Henry was forced to abandon his suit in early 1539.

    After that, Anna von Kleve, better known as Anne of Cleves, almost became sisters-in-law with Christina when Anna’s brother Wilhelm proposed marriage to Christina. Due to a dispute over territory which Wilhelm recently inherited, Charles V turned away Wilhelm’s proposal. Christina went on to marry Anna’s ex-fiancé, Francis, Duke of Bar, in July 1541. Sadly, this marriage put an end to a possible love-match which Christina would have enjoyed with René de Chalon, Prince of Orange. Her sister Dorothea supported the relationship, but ultimately, Christina had to marry Francis.

    As Duchess-Consort of Lorraine, Christina enjoyed a reportedly happy marriage and gave birth to a son in February 1543. She had two daughters later, one of whom was named after her sister Dorothea. By June of 1545, Christina was widowed again. She became regent for her young son, but there was opposition from her brother-in-law. After mediation by her uncle, Charles V, it was agreed that Christina would be the main regent, but share the regency with her brother-in-law.

    Christina never remarried, though she received more proposals. During wars with France in 1552, her son was taken by the French king and Christina’s regency was ended. Christina did not see her son again until 1558. In the meantime, she remained in Brussels. Christina did travel to England in April 1555 to Mary I’s court, returning to the Netherlands in May of 1555. After reunifying with her son, Christina served as his advisor and was again appointed regent when he travelled to France.

    Also in 1559, Christina’s father, King Christian II, finally passed away. Her elder sister Dorothea then made a claim to the throne of Denmark and Norway. Dorothea was childless. Christina eventually convinced Dorothea to abandon her claim in favour of Christina’s son. Nothing ever came to Dorothea, Christina, or Christina’s son from this claim.

    Christina returned to her dower city of Tortona in 1578, where she lived and ruled until her death in 1590.

    Heather R. Darsie lives in the United States with her family and three parrots. She works in the legal field, with a focus on children. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in German Languages and Literature, then a Juris Doctorate in American jurisprudence, and studied abroad in Costa Rica and France. Heather has always loved history. She first became acquainted with Elizabeth I when she was in middle school and chose to write a book report about her. Since then, she has always held an interest in the Renaissance and its numerous enigmatic citizens, with particular focus on the history of England and Italy. She is currently working on a book on the heraldry of Tudor women and is also researching Anne of Cleves.

    Sources & Suggested Reading

    Picture: Painting of Christina by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1538, National Gallery.

  • Dorothea of Denmark and Norway

    Thank you to our regular contributor, Heather R. Darsie, for introducing us to this interesting 16th century woman.

    Dorothea Oldenburg, Princess of Denmark and Norway,1 was born to King Christian II of Denmark and Norway, and Isabella of Austria on 10 November 1520. Isabella of Austria was younger sister to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and a niece of Katherine of Aragon. Dorothea was a niece of Charles V.

    Dorothea’s father, Christian II, was forced to abdicate his throne on 20 January 1523. Thereafter, Dorothea and her family, including her better-known little sister Christina of Denmark, fled to the Netherlands. Three-year-old Dorothea’s great-aunt, Margaret of Austria, was serving as Regent of the Netherlands; Margaret served in this capacity from 1507 to 1515, and again from 1519 until 1530. Margaret was pro-English.

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  • Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who’s the Most Renaissance of Them All? Part I: James IV of Scotland

    This is Part I of a four-part series by Heather R. Darsie, which seeks to look at what were considered the attributes of a Renaissance prince, and who of our four princes embodied the ideals of the Renaissance best.

    What were some of those themes?

    The idea of a Renaissance man stood for a person who strove to embrace knowledge and develop himself. This included concepts such as the arts, knowledge, physical achievements, and social ideals. More plainly and for a prince, this could include cultivating a court known for patronising artists, musicians, and the like; establishing educational institutions, a good degree of physical fortitude, and things such as chivalric love or engaging in acts of charity.

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  • The Beginning of a Dynasty: The Coronation of Henry VII

    Thank you to our regular contributor, Heather R.Darsie, for writing this article on the coronation of Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty.

    On 30 October 1485, Henry VII’s coronation was held, and he became the first Tudor monarch. The date of 30 October was chosen in part because he wished to be crowned king before the next sitting of Parliament, which took place on 7 November. By having his coronation before the next sitting of Parliament, which was the first to take place after the Battle of Bosworth, Henry would not need Parliament to declare him the rightful king. There are not any contemporary descriptions of the coronation, but there are several items that show the careful and shrewd character which the 28-year-old Henry employed to make certain his claim to England was sound. All that is really known is that Henry’s coronation took place at Westminster Abbey.

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  • Expert live chats timetable – 28 October Open Day

    live_chat_melanieHere is a reminder of our expert live-chats programme for today's Tudor Society Open Day. Just head on over to the at the following times to get asking your questions and discussing these Tudor people and topics. We hope you enjoy it and a big thank you to all of these historians and authors.

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  • Henry VIII’s Lost Sister: Elizabeth Tudor

    A big welcome to historian Elizabeth Norton who joins us today with a guest article as part of the virtual book tour for her newly released book The Lives of Tudor Women.

    The Tudor dynasty is bookended by two princesses named Elizabeth Tudor, who serve as the full-stops between which the lives of countless women were lived. The second Elizabeth Tudor, whose death brought the dynasty to an end in March 1603, is, of course, well known. But the other, who was born in 1492, is largely forgotten. As the playmate of his early childhood she is, however, Henry VIII’s lost sister.

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  • 14 October – 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings

    I know it’s not Tudor but today is the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 1066 so regular contributor Heather R. Darsie has written this factfile for us.

    Edward II – King of England. Known as the Confessor. Died childless; cousin of William the Bastard. In 1051 Edward promised William that William would inherit the throne upon Edward’s death. Edward, when close to death in early 1066, told Harold that Harold would inherit the throne from Edward.

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  • The Battle of Lepanto – 7 October 1571 by Heather R. Darsie

    In 1571, the Ottoman Turks were a proven naval force. Leading up to 1571, the Venetians had attempted to make peace with the Turks to end their expansion through the Mediterranean. Turkish ships would harry the Venetians and, through Barbary pirates, occasionally raid the coasts of France, Spain and Italy. Counter to that, the Christian Knights of St John of Jerusalem effectively behaved as pirates in their attacks and raids on Turkish ships and ports. The Turks eventually attacked and gained control over Rhodes, where the Knights had their base. In 1570, the Turks then turned their attention to Cyprus, a Grecian island in the Mediterranean controlled by the Venetians. After the Venetians refused to give up control of the island, the Turks invaded.

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  • This week in history 3 – 9 October

    On this day in Tudor history events for week 3 – 9th October.

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  • Her Brother’s Keeper: Marguerite of Navarre Rescues Francis I from the Emperor by Heather R. Darsie

    On 24 February 1525, the Battle of Pavia was fought as part of the Italian Wars that began in 1521 and ended in 1526. The French troops, led by King Francis I, fought against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s Imperial army, which was reinforced by Spanish troops. The battle lasted around four hours, with the French taking heavy casualties. Francis himself was taken captive and eventually forced to sign the Treaty of Madrid. It also decisively removed the French threat to Hapsburg Italy.

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  • This week in history 19 – 25 September

    On this day in Tudor history events for week 19th to 25th September.

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  • This week in history 29 August – 4 September

    On this day in history events for 29th August to 4th September.

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  • 27 August 1549: The Battle of Dussindale and the End of Kett’s Rebellion by Heather R. Darsie

    A portrait of John Dudley from the collection at Knole in Kent.

    July 1549. The almost twelve-year-old Edward VI had been King of England for two-and-a-half years. Landlords had begun enclosing the common lands, which prevented peasants from being able to have a place for their animals to graze. Several landlords had taken to raising sheep, as the English wool trade was growing quite prosperous. This, in concert with a host of other problems such as inflation and unemployment, led to unrest for the lower classes.

    After Edward Seymour, Lord Protector, had issued a proclamation on behalf of Edward VI that made enclosures illegal, several peasants tore down a fence that was raised in the town of Attleborough. On 6 July, the town of Wymondham was observing the illegal feast day for Thomas Beckett. Henry VIII had outlawed any such celebrations or commemorations of Thomas Becket back in 1538. After the festivities, some revellers got together and decided to dismantle some of the enclosures. This was the beginning of the Norfolk uprising and posed a significant threat to the Lord Protector’s government.

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  • My Peggy Nisbet Dolls Collection

    I quite often receive questions about the dolls I have on my bookcase and Margaret asked if I would do a Claire Chats video on them, explaining how/where I got them. So, here you go! My collection is all down to my dear friend Dawn Hatswell – thank you Dawn!

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  • This week in history 22 – 28 August

    On this day in history events for 21-28 August in the Tudor period.

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  • This week in history 15 – 21 August

    On this day in history events for week 15th to 21st August.

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  • Remembering Hieronymus Bosch, 500 Years Later by Heather R. Darsie

    On Wednesday 9 August 1516, a funeral mass was sung for the soul of Jeroen von Aeken. Better known by his artistic name of Hieronymus Bosch, he was 58 to 66 years old at death. Dying in the city of ’s-Hertogenbosch, located in the Brabant, Bosch may have passed on from pleurisy which was plaguing the city around that time and claimed the lives of his neighbour, a friend, and one of his cousins.

    Bosch was born between 1450 and 1457 into a family of painters; his great-grandfather, grandfather, and other relatives were all artists. Bosch likely completed his first works in the family’s studio, where they would sometimes collaborate on works. His paintings featured religious iconography mixed in with sometimes dreamy, sometimes nightmarish elements.

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  • This week in history 1 – 7 August

    Archbishop Matthew Parker by an unknown artist

    1 August

    EdwKelley1534 – Germain Gardiner wrote a tract against reformer and martyr John Frith entitled “A letter of a yonge gentylman named mayster German Gardynare, wherein men may se the demeanour and heresy of John Fryth late burned”.
    1545 – Birth of Andrew Melville, Scottish theologian and Principal of St Mary's College, St Andrews University, at Baldovy, Angus.
    1555 - Apothecary, alchemist and medium Sir Edward Kelley was born on this day in 1555 in Worcester. Click here to read about Kelley.
    1556 – Burning of Joan Waste, a blind woman, in Derby for heresy after she refused to recant her Protestant faith.
    1596 – Death of John Astley (Ashley), courtier, probably at Maidstone in Kent. He was buried there at All Saints' Church. Astley served Elizabeth I as a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, Master of the Jewel House and Treasurer of the Queen's Jewels and Plate. He was also married to Katherine Astley (née Champernowne), Elizabeth I's former governess and Chief Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber.
    1605 – Death of Sir Edmund Anderson, Judge and Chief Justice in Elizabeth I's reign, in London. He was buried in the parish church at Eyworth.

    2 August

    Edward Stafford

    Edward Stafford

    1514 – Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, was granted a licence to found a college at Thornbury.
    1521 – Cardinal Wolsey arrived in Calais to act as peacemaker and preside over a conference aiming to put an end to the fighting between France and the Empire.
    1553 – Elizabeth greeted her half-sister, the newly proclaimed Queen Mary I, in London.
    1555 – Burning of James Abbes, Protestant martyr, in Bury for heresy.
    1556 – Death of George Day, Bishop of Chichester. He was buried in Chichester Cathedral.
    1581 – Burning of Richard Atkins, Protestant martyr, before St Peter's in Rome. It is said that as he was taken to St Peter's, his back and breast were burned by men holding torches, and that his right hand was then cut off and his legs burned first to prolong his suffering.
    1589 – Death of Henry III of France after being stabbed in the abdomen by Jacques Clément, a fanatical Dominican friar, the day before. He was buried at the Basilica of Saint-Denis.
    1595 – The Battle of Cornwall. Spanish forces landed at Mount's Bay and the English militia fled, allowing the Spanish troops to move on and burn Penzance, Mousehole, Paul and Newlyn. Click here to read more.
    1596 – Burial of Thomas Whithorne, composer and autobiographer, at St Mary Abchurch, London. Whithorne was Chapel Master to Archbishop Matthew Parker.
    1601 – Death of George Eyste, author, town lecturer, preacher and Vicar. He died in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and was buried in his church, the Church of St Mary.
    1605 – Death of Vice Admiral Sir Richard Leveson in the Strand, London. He was buried in St Peter's Church, Wolverhampton.

    3 August

    John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford

    John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford

    1528 – Death of Hugh Inge, Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland, from sweating sickness in Dublin. He was buried in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.
    1548 – Birth of Sir Robert Houghton, judge, Treasurer (1599) and Sergeant-at-Law (1603), in Gunthorpe, Norfolk.
    1549 – Lord Russell marched his 1000 men from Honiton to Woodbury and set up camp for the night. He was heading towards Clyst St Mary and the rebels of the Prayer Book Rebellion.
    1553 - Mary, who had just been proclaimed Queen Mary I, rode with her half-sister, Elizabeth, from Wanstead to Aldgate to be greeted by the city as its new Queen.
    1557 - The body of forty-one year-old Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, was processed from her home, Chelsea Old Manor, where she had died on 16th July, to Westminster Abbey for burial.
    1558 – Burial of Thomas Alleyne, clergyman and benefactor, at St Nicholas Parish Church, Stevenage. Alleyne was known for his support of education, through his financing of schoolmasters and the free tuition he arranged for boys.
    1562 – Death of John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford, leading magnate in Essex and notorious rake, at Hedingham Castle in Essex.

    4 August

    William Cecil

    William Cecil

    1540 - Brother William Horne, laybrother of the London Charterhouse was hanged, disembowelled and quartered at Tyburn. He was the last of the Carthusian martyrs to be killed after eighteen members of the Carthusian order of monks based at the London Charterhouse were condemned to death in 1535 for refusing to accept King Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church.
    1549 – The Battle of Woodbury Common, part of the Prayer Book Rebellion. The battle took place at 4am and happened when the rebels, who had been defending Clyst St Mary, marched to Woodbury Mill where Lord Russell and his troops had camped for the night. The rebels were defeated. Click here to read more.
    1557 – Burial of Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, at Westminster Abbey.
    1560 – Baptism of Sir John Harington, courtier, translator and author, in the church of All Hallows, London Wall. His godparents were Elizabeth I and William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. In his “New Discourse of a Stale Subject, called the Metamorphosis of Ajax” (1596), Harington outlined his design for a flush toilet – a privy with a cistern and flush valve. The Ajax, as it was called, was eventually installed at Richmond Palace. See Sir John Harington's Flush Toilet.
    1566 – Death of Sir Martin Bowes, goldsmith, politician, Lord Mayor of London and Under- Treasurer of the Royal Mint in the Tower of London. He was buried at St Mary Woolnoth, Lombard Street, London.
    1578 – Death of soldier Thomas Stucley at the Battle of Alcazar. Stucley was fighting against the Moors, with King Sebastian of Portugal, when his legs were blown off by a cannon shot.
    1598 - William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, died at his home in London aged seventy-six. He was laid to rest at St Martin's Church, Stamford, in his home county of Lincolnshire.
    1612 – Death of Hugh Broughton, scholar, theologian and Hebraist, in Cheapside, London. He was buried at St Antholin's Church. Broughton spent the last twenty years of his life petitioning for a new translation of the Bible. His works included “A Concent of Scripture” (1588), “An Epistle to the learned Nobilitie of England, touching translating the Bible from the Original” (1597) and “An Advertisement of Corruption in our Handling of Religion” (1604).

    5 August

    1503 – Death of Sir Reynold (Reginald) Bray, administrator in the reign of Henry VII. He served the King as Chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Treasurer of England and Treasurer for war. Some say that he was an architect and designed Henry VII's Chapel in Westminster Abbey, St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, where he is buried, and Great Malvern Priory. He definitely funded their building.
    1532 – Death of Sir Nicholas Harvey, diplomat, at Ampthill, Bedfordshire. He was buried in Ampthill Church where his memorial brass can still be seen.
    1549 – The Battle of Clyst St Mary during the Prayer Book Rebellion. The Devonian and Cornish rebels were defeated by Lord Russell's troops, and around 900 prisoners were massacred later that day on Clyst Heath. Click here to read more.
    1551(5th or 6th August) – Death of Henry Holbeach, Bishop of Lincoln, at Nettleham.
    1600 – Deaths of John Ruthven, 3rd Earl of Gowrie, and his brother, Alexander Ruthven, Master of Ruthven, at Gowrie House near Perth. The brothers were killed as they tried to kidnap James VI. They were posthumously found guilty of treason on 15th November 1600 and their bodies hanged, drawn and quartered in Edinburgh.
    1601 – Burial of Henry Norris, 1st Baron Norris of Rycote, courtier, diplomat and son of Sir Henry Norris, one of the men executed for alleged adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn. Norris was buried at the chapel at Rycote in Oxfordshire.

    6 August

    Matthew Parker

    Matthew Parker

    1504 – Birth of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the parish of St Saviour, Norwich. Parker was the son of worsted weaver William Parker and his wife Alice Monings [Monins] from Kent.
    1514 – Marriage of Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and widow of James IV of Scotland, and Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, at Kinnoull in Perthshire.
    1549 – Battle of Clyst Heath during the Prayer Book Rebellion. Click here to read more.
    1623 – Death of Anne Hathaway, wife of William Shakespeare. Anne was buried next to her husband in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon.

    7 August

    Sir Robert Dudley

    Sir Robert Dudley

    1485 – Henry Tudor (future Henry VII) dropped anchor at Mill Bay, Milford Haven, Wales. When he reached the beach, it is said that he prayed “Judge me, O Lord, and favour my cause.”. He had returned from exile to claim the crown of England.1514 – Peace treaty signed between England and France, arranging the marriage of the widowed fifty-two year old Louis XII of France and the eighteen year-old Princess Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII.
    1541 – Death of Sir Richard Weston, courtier and father of Sir Francis Weston who was executed in 1536 for alleged adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn. Richard served Henry VII as Groom of the Chamber and Henry VIII as an Esquire of the Body, Governor of Guernsey and treasurer of Calais. He was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Guildford.
    1549 – The five year-old Mary, Queen of Scots set sail from Dumbarton, Scotland, for France. A marriage had been agreed between Mary and Francis, the Dauphin, so Mary was going to be brought up at the French court. Mary arrived at Saint-Pol-de-Léon, near Roscoff in Brittany, just over a week later.
    1574 - Sir Robert Dudley, mariner, cartographer and landowner, was born on this day in 1574 at Sheen House, Richmond. He was the illegitimate son of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and favourite of Elizabeth I, and his lover Lady Douglas Sheffield, daughter of William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham, and widow of John Sheffield, 2nd Baron Sheffield.
    1600 – Burial of Sir Thomas Lucy in the parish church at Charlecote, Warwickshire. Lucy was a magistrate and member of Parliament, but is best known for his links with William Shakespeare. Tradition has it that Shakespeare wrote a satirical ballad about Lucy, or he made a caricature of him in the character of Judge Shallow, as revenge after he was judged too harshly for poaching on Lucy's estate, Charlecote Park. There is no evidence to support this story.
    1613 – Death of Sir Thomas Fleming, Solicitor-General to Elizabeth I and James I, at Stoneham Park. He also served James I as Chief Justice of the King's Bench. He was buried at North Stoneham Church.

  • This week in history 25 – 31 July

    On this day in history events for week 25th July to 31st July.

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  • This week in history 11 – 17 July

    On this day in history events for 11 – 17th July.

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  • This week in history 4 – 10 July

    On this day in history events for 4th to 10th July.

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  • This week in history 20 – 26 June

    On this day in history events for 20-26 June.

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  • James I and VI: Tudor King by Heather R. Darsie

    19th June 2016 marks the 450th birthday of King James I and VI of England and Scotland. Unification between the two countries, though at times strained, was brought about by James ascending the throne of England in 1603. The unification was the result of one hundred years of Tudor politics.

    Back in 1503, Henry VII arranged for his eldest daughter, Margaret Tudor, to marry James IV of Scotland. Margaret during the course of the marriage gave birth to the future James V in 1512. Fighting between Scotland and England resumed. In 1523, Henry VIII attempted to unite the thrones of Scotland and England by offering his daughter, Princess Mary, as a bride for James V. This proposal was rejected. Moving forward several years, James V married the French Mary of Guise in 1538. Henry VIII had lost his third wife in October 1537 and was seeking a new bride. James V beat his uncle, Henry VIII, who was also trying to marry Mary of Guise. In 1541, James V’s mother and Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret Tudor, passed away; this effectively ended the nearly thirty-year truce between Scotland and England. A war broke out, which saw the death of James V due to illness and depression of the current state of war in December 1542.

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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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  • Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

    Thomas Howard was the eldest son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and of Elizabeth Tilney. He was the brother of Elizabeth Boleyn (née Howard) and Edmund Howard so was uncle to Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Howard’s father and grandfather had fought on Richard III’s side at the Battle of Bosworth but Howard was able to work his way back into royal favour by fighting for the Crown against both the Cornish rebels and the Scots in 1497. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1510, was created Earl of Surrey in 1514 and succeeded his father as Duke of Norfolk in 1524. In September 1514 he was prominent in leading the English army in defeating the Scots at the Battle of Flodden.

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  • The Sack of Rome by Heather R. Darsie

    6 May 1527. Pope Clement VII had been sitting on St. Peter’s Chair since 19 November 1523. An illegitimate member of the Medici clan, he was raised by his uncle Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as Lorenzo the Magnificent. His cousin was Pope Leo X, second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and another Medici. Clement VII was originally trained for military service but showed a great interest in serving the clergy. Though it was traditional for illegitimate sons to be blocked from holding a bishopric, Clement VII’s cousin Leo X elevated him anyway, setting the stage for Clement VII to eventually become pope. Unfortunately, Clement VII proved to be an ineffective statesman and was caught between the powerful leaders of France, the Holy Roman Empire, and England: Francis I, Charles V and Henry VIII, respectively. This being caught between a rock and a hard place would set the stage for Rome to be overrun and defiled.

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  • Thomas Wriothesley by Sarah Bryson

    Thomas Wriothesley (pronounced Riz-lee) was a prominent member of the court during the reign of King Henry VIII and his son King Edward VI. Born on 21 December 1505, Thomas was the first child and oldest son of William Wriothesley and Agnes, daughter of James Drayton. The couple went on to have three more children, daughters Elizabeth and Anne born in 1507 and 1508 respectively and a second son, Edward born in 1509.

    Wriothesley was educated at St Paul’s School, London before he went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge in around 1522. One of his teachers was the famous Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, who would play a large role in the religious discussions of Henry VIII’s later years. His fellow students reported that Wriothesley was intelligent, had integrity of mind and was very handsome.

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  • Il Politico: Niccolò Machiavelli by Heather R. Darsie

    On 3 May 1469, Bartolomea and Bernardo welcomed their first son, Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, in Florence, Italy. By the time of Machiavelli’s birth, Florence was the cultural capital of the Tuscan region and is today regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Starting in 1434, the famed Medici family had come to control Florence. Machiavelli would seek to serve the powerful Medici family and write his most famous work, The Prince, in an attempt to convince them to employ him.

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  • This week in history 25 April – 1 May

    On this day in history events for 25 April to 1 May.

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  • It is Not in the Stars to Hold Our Destiny, but in Ourselves by Heather R. Darsie

    Around 23 April 1564, a great mind was born in a small English market town. Such an immortal mind was baptised on 26 April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. With inauspicious beginnings as the third of six children born, first to survive infancy, to a leather merchant and landed heiress, William Shakespeare would go on to lead the life of an intellectual lion, whose roar can still be heard throughout the world today.

    Shakespeare’s first poems, “The Rape of Lucrece” and “Venus and Adonis” were dedicated to his patron, Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, in the early 1590s. Beginning around 1594, Shakespeare joined a theatrical company known as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, with the name changing to the King’s Men upon the accession of James I in 1603. Shakespeare is credited with writing more than 154 sonnets and 37 plays.

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