The Tudor Society
  • Anne Boleyn and the Famine of 1527

    hank you to regular contributor Heather R. Darsie for this article on the famine of 1527 and how the common people may have seen it.

    In the Tudor period, life was very much governed by the church, and people in England generally, at least outwardly, were religious and God-fearing. Witchcraft was thought to exist, and God could express his pleasure or displeasure, or otherwise send signs through any number of mediums. Did God try to warn Henry VIII, or even Anne Boleyn, that their courtship was ultimately doomed? By 1527, it was no secret that Henry VIII harboured an affection for Anne Boleyn. In May of that year, Henry was explaining to Cardinal Wolsey why he felt he was living in sin by having married his deceased brother’s wife. Cardinal Wolsey had been made legatus a legere, putting him in the position of the most powerful religious figure in England. Henry relied on a passage from the Christian bible, namely Leviticus 20:21, which states, “And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.” Henry, of course, had his daughter Mary with Catherine, but no male heir and several stillbirths or infants who only lived for a few weeks. But this was not enough to ensure the Tudor dynasty.

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