The Tudor Society
  • 7 September 1533 – The birth of Elizabeth I

    At three o’clock in the afternoon of Sunday 7th September 1533, the eve of the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen Elizabeth I was born at Greenwich Palace.

    Elizabeth was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, and she came to the throne following the death of her older half-sister, Queen Mary I, on 17th November 1558. She reigned for over forty-four years, until her death on 24th March 1603, and her reign became known as a “golden age”. Elizabeth I has gone down in history as Good Queen Bess, the Virgin Queen and Gloriana.

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  • Elizabeth I and Ivan IV

    In this week’s Claire Chats video talk, Claire looks at the relationship between England and Russia in Elizabeth I’s reign, and specifically at some correspondence between Elizabeth I and Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible).

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  • Claire’s bookcase – Elizabeth I

    In today’s Claire Chats video talk, Claire goes through the books she has on Elizabeth I, her reign and prominent people in her reign.

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  • Elizabeth I’s Tilbury Speech on film

    Today is the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth I’s rousing speech to the troops at Tilbury Fort on 9th August 1588. While we don’t have Elizabeth I herself on film, it’s a speech that has featured in many movies and TV series. You can read the various versions we have of the original Tilbury speech in my article from 2015, but here are a few famous depictions of that day in 1588.

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  • 30 July 1553 – Elizabeth rides to greet Mary

    On this day in history, 30th July 1553, Mary I’s half-sister Elizabeth left her new home, Somerset House, to ride to Wanstead and greet Mary, who had been proclaimed queen on 19th July 1553 in place of Queen Jane.

    Elizabeth had been at her estate at Hatfield when she heard the news that Mary was queen and so had departed for London, entering the city on 29th July through Fleet Street. She had made her way to her new townhouse, or rather palace, Somerset House, a house just off The Strand, on the north bank of the River Thames.

    The contemporary source, “The chronicle of Queen Jane, and of two years of Queen Mary, and especially of the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat”, states:

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  • Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley and Kenilworth Castle

    This day in history, 9th July 1575, was the first day of a 19-day-long stay for Elizabeth I at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, home of her great friend, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

    This visit was significant as it was the longest stay at a courtier’s house in any of Elizabeth’s royal progresses, and Leicester went to extraordinary lengths to impress his friend and queen, probably as a last-ditch attempt to woo her and win her hand in marriage.

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  • Informal live chat on Elizabeth I – Saturday 22 April

    I know that many of you enjoy our informal live chat sessions where we all discuss a certain topic or person, so I thought I’d schedule one for Saturday 22nd April. The topic for this one is going to be Elizabeth I. I know that’s a very broad topic but I’m happy to schedule further more specific chats on aspects of her life and reign as follow-ups to this one. Let’s go broad this time.

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  • 24 March 1603 – The death of Gloriana

    On this day in history, the 24th March 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died at Richmond Palace aged 69, bringing the rule of the Tudor dynasty to an end. Elizabeth I had reigned for 44 years and 127 days and her reign was known as “The Golden Age”. She was the longest reigning Tudor monarch.

    It is said that the execution of her former favourite, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, on the 25th February 1601 had a huge impact on Elizabeth. She had already lost her great love Robert Dudley in 1588, her good friend Blanche Parry in 1590, and her friend and adviser William Cecil, Lord Burghley, in 1598. It seemed that all those she loved and depended on were dying and leaving her. Her grief, combined with a belief that she was losing her grip on her court and country, led to her becoming severely depressed.

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  • 18 March 1554 – Elizabeth is taken to the Tower

    On this day in history, 18th March 1554, Palm Sunday, the twenty-year-old Lady Elizabeth (future Elizabeth I) was taken to the Tower of London, the place where her mother had been imprisoned and where her mother and one of her stepmothers had been executed.

    We can only imagine the sheer terror she felt when Mary I’s council turned up at her doorstep on the 16th March 1554 to formally charge her with being involved in Wyatt’s Rebellion, the revolt which had taken place in January and February 1554 and which had been led by Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger. Elizabeth was told that Mary wanted her sister taken to the Tower for questioning and that she would be escorted there the next day.

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  • 8 February 1601 – Essex’s Rebellion

    On this day in history, Sunday 8th February 1601, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, his supporters and two hundred soldiers gathered at Essex House. Essex then marched into the city crying “For the Queen! For the Queen! The crown of England is sold to the Spaniard! A plot is laid for my life!”. However, the people ignored him and stayed indoors.

    Essex was forced to give up after his supporters deserted him, and he surrendered after Lord Admiral Nottingham threatened to blow up his house if he did not give himself up.

    Thomas Birch gives an account of the failed rebellion in his book…

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  • Elizabeth I Quiz

    How much do you know about Elizabeth I, Gloriana, the Virgin Queen, Good Queen Bess? Test your knowledge with this fun quiz. Good luck!

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  • 15 January 1559 – Elizabeth I’s coronation

    On 15th January 1559, a date chosen by her astrologer Dr John Dee, a triumphant Elizabeth Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, processed from Westminster Hall into Westminster Abbey to be crowned queen. She was just twenty-five years old, was the third child of Henry VIII to become monarch, and was the longest reigning of them, ruling England for over 44 years.

    Elizabeth’s coronation day began in Westminster Hall, which had been decorated with her father’s sumptuous tapestries and his collection of gold and gilt plate. Blue cloth had been laid from the Hall to the Abbey, and Elizabeth, wearing her crimson parliament robes, processed along this cloth, which was then torn to shreds by people as souvenirs.

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  • 14 January 1559 – Queen Elizabeth I’s coronation procession

    On 14th January 1559, the eve of her coronation, Queen Elizabeth I processed from the Tower of London to Westminster in a cloth of gold covered litter carried by two mules.

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  • Bacton Altar Cloth to go on display

    A few months ago I highlighted the news about the Bacton Altar Cloth, which is believed to have been cut from a gown once worn by Queen Elizabeth I. Well, it’s been back in the news because experts have concluded that “all the evidence points to it having once been a skirt worn by the Tudor queen, making it the only known survivor of her famously lavish wardrobe”. It is thought that it could be the skirt that matches the bodice worn by Elizabeth I in the Rainbow Portrait.

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  • 17 November 1558 – The death of Queen Mary I and accession of Queen Elizabeth I

    On the anniversary of Mary I’s death and her half-sister Elizabeth I’s accession, I’d like to share this piece with you from my book On this day in Tudor History.

    On 17th November 1558, Henry VIII’s eldest child, Queen Mary I, died. She was just forty-two-years-old.

    After Easter 1558, Mary I made her will because she believed that she was pregnant. The birth should have been imminent because Philip departed in July 1557, yet there is no mention in the records of preparations being made such as nursery staff being appointed, remarks on her changing body shape, preparations for confinement etc. The pregnancy was all in Mary’s mind.

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  • 18 October 1555 – Elizabeth is free to go to Hatfield

    hatfieldhouseoldpalaceOn this day in history, the 18th October 1555, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, finally received permission from her half-sister, Mary I, to leave court and travel to her own estate at Hatfield, rather than return to house arrest in Woodstock.

    Elizabeth, the future Elizabeth I, had been treated with suspicion by Mary and her council since Wyatt's Revolt in early 1554. David Starkey says of the Revolt: "The rebellion of 1554 - known from the leader of its most important sector as Wyatt's Revolt - brought Elizabeth to her nadir. It led to the most dangerous and difficult time of her life when she feared imminent execution or murder. She even expressed a preference as to how she should die: like her mother, by the sword, rather than by the axe."1
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  • 10 September – A royal christening and a battle

    On this day in history there were two important Tudor events: the christening of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn, in 1533 and the Battle of Pinkie between England and Scotland in 1547.

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  • 20 August 1588 – England gives thanks

    On 20th August 1588, a thanksgiving service was held at St Paul’s in London to give thanks to God for England’s victory over the Spanish Armada. The Armada had been defeated, obliterated in fact, yet the English fleet was left intact and only around 100 English men were lost in the skirmishes.

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  • 9 August 1588 – Elizabeth I rallies the troops at Tilbury Fort

    On 9th August 1588, Queen Elizabeth I appeared before her troops gathered at Tilbury Fort, on the Thames estuary in Essex, and gave her famous “Tilbury Speech”.

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  • Elizabeth I Armada Portrait

    In this week’s Claire Chats, I talk about the famous Elizabeth I Armada Portrait and the campaign to save the Tyrwhitt-Drake version of it.

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  • The Bacton Altar Cloth

    Claire talks about the Bacton Altar Cloth, a piece of fabric thought to have been cut from a gown belonging to Elizabeth I and presented to the church by Blanche Parry.

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  • April 2016 Tudor Life Magazine

    Packed with a wide range of articles about Tudor personalities like the Dudleys, Elizabeth of York, Mary I, Isabella of Spain and Henry Howard. There is part one of an insider’s guide to the Tower of London, a detailed article about Greenwich Palace and Wroxhall Abbey, an article about some bizarre Tudor foods and lots more! It’s our best magazine yet!

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  • Sorrow in the City: Reactions to the End of an Age by Heather R. Darsie

    “It is not my desire to live or to reign longer than my life and my reign shall be for your good,” said Elizabeth to her parliament in 1601. Upon one of the many times parliament questioned Elizabeth about her plan of succession, she stated, “I know I am but mortal and so therewhilst prepare myself for death, whensoever it shall please God to send it.” And send it, God eventually did.

    24 March, 1603. Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, England’s Gloriana and daughter of the great Henry VIII by the ill-fated Anne Boleyn, passed away peacefully in her sleep at Richmond Palace. She was 69 years old and had reigned for almost 45 years.

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  • Palm Sunday 1554 – A bad day for the Lady Elizabeth

    On Palm Sunday 1554 (which was 18 March that year), the twenty year old Elizabeth was taken to the Tower of London, the place where her mother had been imprisoned and where her mother and one of her stepmothers had been executed.

    We can only imagine the sheer terror she felt when Mary I’s council turned up at her doorstep on the 16th March to formally charge her with being involved in Wyatt’s Rebellion, the revolt which had taken place in January and February 1554. Elizabeth was told that Mary wanted her sister taken to the Tower for questioning and that she would be escorted there the next day.

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  • Expert Talk – Robin Maxwell and Christopher Gortner on Elizabeth and Dudley

    This month’s expert speakers (two!) are Robin Maxwell and Christopher Gortner, who I interviewed about relationship between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley. These two amazing historians and authors have quite different views about this fascinating relationship, and their knowledge is really worth sharing.

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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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  • 1 February 1587 – Elizabeth I signs the death warrant of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in history, 1st February 1587, Elizabeth I called her secretary, William Davison, to her and asked him to bring her Mary, Queen of Scots’s death warrant. She then signed it.

    Mary, Queen of Scots, had been tried in October 1586 for her involvement in the Babington Plot, a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. As the trial closed, Mary demanded that she should be heard in front of Parliament or the Queen, but she was fighting a losing battle. Sentence was delayed as long as possible, by order of Elizabeth, but on 25th October the commission reconvened and found Mary guilty. On 29th October, Parliament met to discuss Mary, the Babington Plot and her role in Lord Darnley’s murder, and it was decided that they should petition Elizabeth to execute Mary. This put Elizabeth in a difficult position as she did not want to be accused of regicide. On the 4th December, Mary was publicly proclaimed guilty.

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  • 26 January 1554 – Mary I warns Elizabeth of the danger of Wyatt’s Rebellion

    ary I became queen in 1553 and although the English people had been happy for her to become queen, some noblemen became worried about her plans to marry Philip II of Spain and the religious changes her reign was bringing. A group of men including Thomas Wyatt the Younger, Henry Grey (Duke of Suffolk and father of Lady Jane Grey), Sir Peter Carew, Sir Edward Rogers, Sir Edward Warner, Sir William Pickering, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, Sir James Croft, Sir George Harper, Nicholas Arnold, William Thomas and William Winter decided that a military coup might be the only way to prevent Mary’s marriage and planned a series of uprisings with the aim of deposing Mary I and replacing her with her half-sister Elizabeth, who would marry Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon.

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  • 14 January 1559 – Elizabeth I’s Coronation Procession

    On 14th January 1559, the eve of her coronation, Queen Elizabeth I processed from the Tower of London to Westminster in a cloth of gold covered litter carried by two mules.

    Here are the main parts and pageants of the procession from Fenchurch onwards:

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