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The Tudor Society
  • July 18 – Katherine Ashley (Astley)

    Portrait of Kat Ashley

    On this day in Tudor history, 18th July 1565, Katherine Ashley, or Astley, close friend and loyal servant of Queen Elizabeth I, died in London.

    Katherine was the daughter of Sir Philip Champernowne of Modbury in Devon, and through him and her mother’s Carew family, was related to all the leading gentry in the West Country.

    She joined Princess Elizabeth’s household in 1536 and served as governess. She married courtier John Ashley in around 1545. Their marriage was childless.

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  • 5 February – Elizabeth under investigation

    On this day in Tudor history, 5th February 1549, in the reign of King Edward VI, fifteen-year-old Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth I, was summoned to appear before Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, who was keeping her under house arrest at Hatfield while the Crown investigated Thomas Seymour.

    Edward VI’s privy council were investigating whether Elizabeth was secretly plotting to marry Thomas Seymour, Edward VI’s uncle, helped by her servants, Katherine Ashley and Thomas Parry.

    Parry and Ashley had made confessions, but what had they said? And what would happen to them all?

    Find out in today’s talk.

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  • Katherine Ashley (Astley, née Champernowne)

    Portrait of Kat Ashley

    Katherine or ‘Kat’ Ashley (Astley, née Champernowne) is the purported daughter of Sir Phillip Champernowne, a wealthy landowner in Devon, and his wife, Katherine, daughter of Sir Edmund Carew. Although we do not know much regarding her early years, we do know that Kat received an education unlike that of her contemporary aristocratic women. For aristocratic women, their education centred on what would render them desirable for marriage and as such, learned dancing, sewing, embroidery and music in the place of reading and writing. As such, may aristocratic women were barely literate at all. Kat, however, received an education that was equal to that of a man, learning classical scholarship and developing an interest in humanism, her father being unusually committed to the education of his daughters. Kat’s humanist leanings and interests caught the eye of Thomas Cromwell, who suggested that she be appointed to the household of Princess Elizabeth. It is this appointment which would shape her life, and mark her as a historical figure worthy of note.

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