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The Tudor Society
  • A murdered French duke, Margaret Douglas’s bad news, a Tudor countess, and Lady Katherine Grey

    In this second part of “This week in Tudor history” for the week beginning 15th February, I talk about how the death of a French duke led to an awful massacre, and how the imprisoned Margaret Douglas heard of her son’s murder, as well as introducing a countess who served all six of Henry VIII’s wives and who was close to his daughter Mary, and a noblewoman who managed to give birth twice while imprisoned in the Tower of London.

    18th February 1563 – Francis, Duke of Guise, was wounded by a Huguenot assassin at the Siege of Orléans. He died a few days later and his death was a factor in the 1572 St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

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  • Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford

    Lady Katherine Grey was born as the second surviving daughter of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and his wife, Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk. Born at Bradgate Park in Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire, Katherine was the offspring of an aspiring and preeminent Tudor family with ambitions at the royal court. Katherine’s maternal grandparents were Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and Mary Tudor, the youngest surviving sister of King Henry VIII; this gave Katherine, and her two siblings, Jane and Mary, a claim to the English throne through their grandmother. Known popularly as the younger sister of Lady Jane Grey, the tragic young queen who was sentenced to death by the Catholic Queen Mary I, Katherine has become a fashionable topic of discussion in the academic and popular history world. Historians such as Leanda de Lisle have revaluated her life to reveal an equally as resilient and tragic figure to her sister Jane; indeed, Lady Katherine’s short life witnessed a number of tumultuous and unexpected events. This article intends to put forward a condensed examination of her life, which will include: her marriage, imprisonment, claim to the throne and downfall.

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  • Was Elizabeth I really an awful person?

    Thank you to Tudor Society member Denis for asking the question “Was Elizabeth I as awful a person as Philippa Gregory paints her in her novel The Last Tudor?” I haven’t read the novel, so can’t share any views, but I know that Philippa Gregory used Leanda de Lisle’s book The Sisters Who Would be Queen for research so I asked Leanda. Leanda said:

    “Elizabeth I had good reason to be frightened of the Grey sisters as her possible heirs. She had already seen the eldest, Jane, supplant her in the line of succession and was very frightened that a married Katherine – with a son – could replace her on the throne. She had far less reason to fear Mary Grey, but her harsh treatment of Thomas Keyes sent a message to all – do not cross the queen on the matter of marriage to members of the royal family. If you read my Tudor: The Family Story, you will discover that the Grey sisters and Mary, Queen of Scots were not the only heirs she imprisoned, and it also explains the importance of these issues throughout the story of the dynasty.”

    Thank you to Tudor Society member Denis for asking the question “Was Elizabeth I as awful a person as Philippa Gregory paints her in her novel The Last Tudor?” I haven’t read the novel, so can’t share any views, but I know that Philippa Gregory used Leanda de Lisle’s book The Sisters Who Would be Queen for research so I asked Leanda. Leanda said:

    “Elizabeth I had good reason to be frightened of the Grey sisters as her possible heirs. She had already seen the eldest, Jane, supplant her in the line of succession and was very frightened that a married Katherine – with a son – could replace her on the throne. She had far less reason to fear Mary Grey…

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