The Tudor Society
The Tudor Society
  • Bessie Blount and Henry Fitzroy

    In this week’s video, author Sarah Bryson talks about Henry VIII’s mistress, Elizabeth (Bessie) Blount and the son she had by the king, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset.

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  • William Carey

    In this month’s look at the men of Henry VIII’s court, I want to explore the life of William Carey, courtier, a member of the king’s privy chamber, and an esquire of the body. William Carey is most famously known for being the husband of Mary Boleyn, older sister of Anne Boleyn. However, he was more than just a husband; he was a man on the rise and distant cousin to the King.

    There is little known about William Carey’s early life. He appears to be the second son of Thomas Carey from Chilton Foliat, Wiltshire, and his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert Spencer of Ashbury, Devon. The family had strong Lancastrian ties as William’s grandfather, Sir William Carey of Cockington, Devon, on his father’s side, was a Lancastrian supporter and soldier who was beheaded at Tewkesbury in 1471. William’s grandmother on his mother’s side was Eleanor Beaufort, daughter and coheir of Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. The Duke of Somerset was a staunch Lancastrian supporter and right-hand man of King Henry VI. It was rumoured that Somerset even had an affair with the King’s mother, Catherine Valois, who was also the grandmother of King Henry VII! Through his mother’s side, William Carey was a distant cousin of King Henry VIII.

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  • 28 January – Henry VII, Henry VIII and Edward VI

    This day in history involves Henry VII, Henry VIII and Edward VI; grandfather, father and son. For it was on this day in 1457 that Henry VII was born, this day in 1547 that Henry VIII died, and this day in 1547 that Edward VI became king. What a day in history.

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  • 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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  • Ten of the Best Henry VIII Locations to Visit with Children in 2017 and a Book Giveaway!

    A big welcome to historian Amy Licence who is joining us today to kick off her book tour for her children’s book All About Henry VIII. It’s a wonderful book, as are the others in the series, and you can enter the giveaway to win a copy of this book by leaving a comment before midnight on 27th January 2017. Simply comment below this post saying which historical place linked to Henry VIII you’d like to visit and why. One comment will be picked at random and the winner contacted.

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  • 1510 – Henry VIII’s first joust as king

    On 12th January 1510, eighteen-year-old Henry VIII jousted for the first time as king at a private joust at Richmond Park. He’d become king following the death of his father, Henry VII, on 21st April 1509.

    Henry and his good friend William Compton attended the joust on 12th January in disguise, but this led to panic when one of the disguised knights was seriously injured in the joust and a man who knew that the king was taking part cried out “God save the king!”

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  • Reminder – Live Chat on 6 January

    Just a quick reminder that historian Gareth Russell will be joining us in the chatroom tomorrow to discuss Henry VIII as a military leader. This follows on from the chat we had last month when Gareth was experiencing technical problems.

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  • Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who’s the Most Renaissance of Them All? Part III: Henry VIII of England

    This is Part III of a four-part series, 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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  • 30 December 1546 – Henry VIII signs his will

    On 30th December 1546, Henry VIII signed his last will and testament, authorising changes he’d instructed William Paget to make on his behalf on 26th December 1546.

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  • 6 January 2017 – Live chat with Gareth Russell

    If you joined December’s live chat on Henry VIII as a military leader with Gareth Russell then you’ll know that Gareth’s wifi kept dropping out. Gareth has very kindly offered to do another live chat on 6th January at 11pm UK time – hurrah!

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  • Transcript of Gareth Russell Live Chat

    Even though Gareth was battling wifi issue, we still managed to have an enlightening chat about Henry VIII as a military leader. Thank you so much to everyone who attended.

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  • Live Chat with Gareth Russell – 16 December

    Historian and Tudor Life Magazine editor Gareth Russell will be joining us in the chatroom for a live chat at 11pm UK time on Friday 16th December.

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  • 3 December 1536 – A king’s pardon for the Pilgrimage of Grace rebels

    henry-viii-and-pilgrimageOn this day in history, 3rd December 1536, a proclamation was made to the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace offering them a pardon. It read:

    "Proclamation of the King's pardon to the rebels of the different districts, viz. : That those of Yorkshire, with the city of York, Kingston upon Hull, Marshland, Holdenshire, Hexham, Beverley, Holderness, &c., on their submission to Charles duke of Suffolk, president of the council and lieutenant general in Lincolnshire, at Lincoln or elsewhere that he may appoint, shall have free pardons granted to them under the Great Seal without further bill or warrant or paying anything for the Great Seal. Richmond, 3 Dec., 28 Henry VIII."

    The same proclamation was also made in "Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, York, city of York, bishopric of Durham, &c., and in the parts north of Lancaster, on their submission to Henry earl of Cumberland".

    Henry VIII had also consented to the rebels' demand for a free Parliament to be held at York. The rebellion dispersed, but a further rebellion led by Sir Francis Bigod broke out in Yorkshire. Robert Aske tried to prevent it but Bigod went ahead. Bigod’s Rebellion failed and Bigod was arrested. Robert Aske and other men involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion – such as Lord Darcy, Thomas Percy and Robert Constable – were arrested, convicted of treason and executed.

    You can read more about the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion in the following articles:

    Notes and Sources

    • Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, xi. 1235.
  • December Expert – Gareth Russell – Henry VIII as a military leader

    Gareth Russell discusses the successes and failures of Henry VIII as a military leader, leading to some interesting and damning conclusions.

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  • 24 November 1542 – the Battle of Solway Moss

    Thank you to Heather R. Darsie, our regular Tudor Society contributor, for today’s article. Over to Heather…

    Happy Thanksgiving to our American members! Today also marks the 474th anniversary of the Battle of Solway Moss, a border skirmish that took place on the English side of the border with Scotland on 24th November 1542. This was the last of a series of such battles that arose from a falling-out between Henry VIII of England and his nephew, James V of Scotland.

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  • Windsor Castle and St George’s Chapel

    Sarah Bryson talks about some of the history of Windsor Castle, and shares what it was like to see Charles Brandon’s Garter Place in St Georges Chapel.

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  • Henry VIII – Defender of the Faith

    On 11th October 1521, Pope Leo X conferred upon King Henry VIII the title of Fidei Defensor, “Defender of the Faith”.

    Letters and Papers contains a record of “Wolsey’s speech on presenting the bull for the title of Defender of the Faith”:

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  • Henry VIII e-book now available

    The second book in our series of Tudor Monarchs e-books is now available for Tudor Society members to download.

    Articles from a wide variety of authors and historians take us through the fascinating life and times of Henry VIII.

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  • Queen Jane or Lady Jane Grey

    In today’s Claire Chats video I discuss whether Lady Jane Grey should actually be called Queen Jane.

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  • The Mary Rose – Behind the scenes

    As part of this month’s Mary Rose feature, with our guest speaker Philip Roberts (author of “The Mary Rose in a Nutshell), we have this wonderful video showing some behind-the-scenes footage of the ship and its treasure trove of finds.

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  • Expert Talk – The Mary Rose – Philip Roberts

    Expert Talk for July – Philip Roberts talks about the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship.

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  • 7 June 1520 – The Field of the Cloth of Gold meeting begins

    This day in history, 7th June 1520, was the first day of the historic meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I of France. It took place between the English stronghold of Guînes and the French town of Ardres, on a piece of land referred to as the Field of Cloth of Gold.

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  • 21 April 1509 – The death of Henry VII and the accession of Henry VIII

    On this day in history, 21st April 1509, fifty-two-year-old King Henry VII died at Richmond Palace, passing the throne on to his seventeen-year-old son Henry, who became King Henry VIII.

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  • Expert Talk – Thomas More by Stephanie Mann

    Stephanie Mann on Thomas More

    This month’s amazing Expert Talk is by Stephanie Mann, author of “Supremacy and Survival”. Her topic, one which is clearly close to her heart, is Thomas More, a fascinating man who it turns out we really don’t know as much about as we should.

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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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  • Tudor stained glass depicting a young Henry VIII is restored

    After a huge restoration project, Tudor stained glass windows are being reinstalled at The Vyne in Hampshire, a property that Henry VIII visited several times. In one of the stained glass panels “a slim and beardless young Henry VIII kneels meekly in prayer near his beloved wife Catherine of Aragon and his sister Margaret.”

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  • God’s Kingdom Awaits: The Death of Henry VIII by Beth von Staats

    As today is the anniversary of the death of King Henry VIII in 1547, Beth von Staats, Tudor Life magazine contributor and author of Thomas Cranmer in a Nutshell, has written a very moving piece of fiction about Henry VIII’s final days from the viewpoint of Thomas Cranmer. I do hope you enjoy it.

    It is time for the Lord to act; they have frustrated Your law. ~~~ Psalm 119:126

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  • 18 January 1510 – Henry VIII dresses up

    On 18th January 1510, Henry VIII and twelve of his men disguised themselves as outlaws, or Robin Hood and his merry men, and surprised Queen Catherine and her ladies. Chronicler Edward Hall records this event:

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  • Expert Talk: Kyra Kramer on Henry VIII’s Health

    This month we are happy to have Kyra Kramer as our expert speaker. In this talk Kyra discusses the various illnesses and maladies which affected Henry VIII during his life.

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  • Henry VIII: Fit, Fat, Fiction by Kyra Kramer

    Henry VIII, after Holbein

    Henry VIII, after Holbein

    I'm delighted to welcome Tudor Life magazine contributor and freelance academic Kyra Kramer to the Tudor Society today as part of the booktour for her latest book, Henry VIII's Health in a Nutshell. I hope you enjoy her article.

    MadeGlobal Publishing is giving away a paperback copy of Henry VIII's Health in a Nutshell to one lucky commenter here at the Tudor Society. Simply leave a comment on this post saying what you'd like to know for sure about Henry VIII's health. Leave your comment by midnight on 24th December. A winning comment will be picked at random and the lucky winner contacted via email after Christmas.

    Henry VIII was fat. Well, he was only fat during the last dozen or so years of his life, but most people have forgotten his 40 years of god-like athleticism because all the most iconic images of him show the "fat Henry" of popular imagination.

    Henry has become associated with fat. It is a rare documentary or book that does not bring up the fact that Henry eventually had a 54 inch waist. It's reputed that three men could fit in his doublet. People were so confused that the Henry depicted in The Tudors and Wolf Hall was thin that newspapers ran articles explaining that the king was only obese in his later years. Moreover, Henry's ill health is implied to be a manifestation of his weight, and therefore his sloth and gluttony, the end result of his failure to control himself. Henry's fat thus fits the cultural narrative of the kind of impulsive, self-serving man who would behead his wives and leave his church. Fat Henry is analogous with Tyrant Henry.

    With Henry's reputation for fat has come increased speculation that he had type II diabetes. Not only is he theorized to have had type II diabetes, this disease is becoming increasingly mentioned as the underpinning causal factor in Henry's ill health, from his ulcerous legs to his reproductive difficulties. Where syphilis once reigned supreme in the court of Henry-had-this, type II diabetes has arisen to usurp the position of illness most often ascribed to Henry VIII. Perhaps more people think Anne Boleyn had six fingers, but Henry the type II diabetic is definitely becoming a Tudor "known".

    In my latest book, Henry VIII's Health in a Nutshell, the king's weight is important in my examination of the theory that he had type II diabetes. Frankly, I think it is likely that Henry did develop this disease at the end of his life... but not in the way people believe and not as a factor in the majority of his ailments. The popularity of type II diabetes as a scapegoat for nearly all Henry's maladies is due more to the fact that the link between adipose tissue and this illness is wildly overestimated by the general public than it is to any valid data. As I explain in the book:

    This is probably a shock to most people, since the correlation is implied in almost every media report about type II diabetes or the ‘obesity’ epidemic, but in reality almost half of all type II diabetes sufferers are of normal weight and the large majority of obese people will never develop the disease. Type II diabetes occurs when the body can no longer process insulin correctly, and is a metabolic disease that can strike regardless of the patient's weight. Genetics and poverty, rather than weight or diet, seems to be the biggest factor in type II diabetes... being poor also doubles (or triples) your risk of type II diabetes, even when ALL other factors - including weight - are taken into account. Nevertheless, obesity and type II diabetes are so often studied together that general misinformation linking them remains strong even in the medical community. What can be correlated to both obesity and diabetes is a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting at work and then coming home and sitting some more (usually in front of the TV) "were both associated with significantly increased risk of diabetes in multivariate analyses adjusting for dietary and nondietary covariates"1. Basically, sitting down too much is a bigger risk to your health than almost anything else, including what you eat and what you weigh ... The king did not attain truly gargantuan proportions until after he was bedridden and unable to ride any longer... Henry's sedentary existence would have subsequently encouraged the development of type II diabetes, which would have caused attendant venous ulcers and depression which would have in turn made it harder for Henry to move or get exercise.2 Henry would thus have become trapped in a perpetual circle of worsened health until, wherein his ailments fed and sustained one another in a kind of ‘perfect storm’ that only ended with his death in January of 1547.3

    In sum, Henry probably gained weight and developed type II diabetes because he had become ill for some other cause or causes, rather than becoming ill and developing type II diabetes because of his obesity. As long as Henry was still active then his health would not have been adversely affected by his weight, even after he crossed the "severely obese" threshold of 35 BMI.

    There is scant evidence that Henry had type II diabetes before the last few years of his life. The arguments for Henry's type II diabetes diagnosis prior to the 1540s are his leg ulcers and his reproductive record. However, the leg ulcers were much more symptomatic of osteomyelitis in both duration and placement than they are of complications of type II diabetes. It wasn't until the king was sedentary that the kind of sore typical to type II diabetes -- venous ulcers on the lower leg -- appeared. Henry's reproductive record does not correspond to type II diabetes either:

    Miscarriage due to diabetes is typically linked to the mother having diabetes, not the father. Although superstructure defects in the sperm of male diabetics can increase the chances of a miscarriage in their partners, these miscarriages would occur early in the first trimester because the embryo would be nonviable. The more common side effect of diabetes is erectile dysfunction and low sperm count, which could explain the lack of pregnancies in his marriages to his fifth and sixth wives, but could not account for the frequent pregnancies and subsequent late-term miscarriages experienced by his first two queens.4

    Not only did Henry's body not axiomatically give him type II diabetes, it might have been a health advantage. Type II diabetes demonstrates what researchers call the "obesity paradox", in that rather than hurting the patient, excess adipose increases survival rates. As counterintuitive as it seems to the modern reader, overweight people with type II diabetes live longer than normal or underweight people diagnosed with the same illness. Henry's large body mass may have aided his longevity until he crossed the threshold of 30 BMI, or even higher according to some studies.

    *I'm aware my facts about weight and health are going to cause some people to blow a gasket. The idea that overweight people live longer than "normal" or "thin" people is causing some people – even those in the "evidence based" medical community - to become very upset. In fact, they get so upset they are even hostile to the research regardless of its statistical validity. This is caused by the cognitive dissonance of a paradigm violation. The paradigm we've grown up with is that fat=bad=shortened lifespan, whereas thin=good=lengthened lifespan. Doctors have grown up in that paradigm too, and it has been presented as an immutable "truth" for decades. People do NOT like having their paradigms shifted. They resist. Evidence that contradicts the "truth" is both suspect and rage-inducing. I've read entire papers discussing the oddity that fat people who don't diet live longer than yo-yo dieters, yet that paper ends with the discursive advice that fat people should go on a diet to get their weight under control or their health will suffer. This means that the internet is chockablock with articles trumpeting that the fact that overweight people live longer is a "lie". Nonetheless, the math bears witness; in metadata studies of obesity there is statistically significant proof that overweight people live longer and exercise is more important for health than being the "correct" weight.

    Do make sure you visit Kyra's other stops on her book tour to enjoy her excellent articles and to take part in the giveaways. Here's the schedule:

    Kyra KramerKyra Cornelius Kramer is a freelance academic with BS degrees in both biology and anthropology from the University of Kentucky, as well as a MA in medical anthropology from Southern Methodist University. She is the author of Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation of the Tyranny of Henry VIII, The Jezebel Effect: Why the Slut Shaming of Famous Queens Still Matters, and Henry VIII's Health in a Nutshell. Her essays on the agency of the Female Gothic heroine and women's bodies as feminist texts in the works of Jennifer Crusie have been published in peer-reviewed journals. She has also co-authored two works; one with Dr. Laura Vivanco on the way in which the bodies of romance heroes and heroines act as the sites of reinforcement of, and resistance to, enculturated sexualities and gender ideologies, and another with Dr. Catrina Banks Whitley on Henry VIII.

    Ms. Kramer lives in Bloomington, IN with her cute geeky husband, three amazing young daughters, and assorted small yappy dogs garnered from re-homing and rescues. When not working she reads voraciously, plays video games with her family, does cross-stitch, and invents excuses to procrastinate about doing routine house cleaning.

    You can read her blog at kyrackramer.com, or follow Kyra Cornelius Kramer on her Facebook page or Twitter.

    Notes and Sources

    1. Hu FB, Li TY, Colditz GA, Willett WC, and Manson JE. 2003. “Television Watching and Other Sedentary Behaviors in Relation to Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Women.” JAMA 289 (14): 1785–91. doi:10.1001/jama.289.14.1785.
    2. Hu, Frank B. 2003. “Sedentary Lifestyle and Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.” Lipids 38 (2): 103–8.; Katon, Wayne J., Carolyn Rutter, Greg Simon, Elizabeth H. B. Lin, Evette Ludman, Paul Ciechanowski, Leslie Kinder, Bessie Young, and Michael Von Korff. 2005. “The Association of Comorbid Depression With Mortality in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetes Care 28 (11): 2668–72. doi:10.2337/diacare.28.11.2668.
    3. Kramer, Kyra (2015) Henry VIII's Health in a Nutshell, MadeGlobal Publishing.
    4. Ibid.