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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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  • 19 November – Lord John Grey and how he escaped the axeman

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th November 1564, Lord John Grey, youngest son of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset, died.

    He’s not the Lord John Grey of the wonderful Outlander series, but he is just as interesting.

    In Mary I’s reign, he was involved in a rebellion with his brothers, Lord Thomas Grey and Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, but unlike them was not executed.

    How did Lord John Grey escape execution? And why did he get into trouble again in Elizabeth I’s reign.

    Find out all about this Tudor lord in today’s talk.

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  • 6 April – Edward Seymour, the serial secret husband

    On this day in history, 6th April 1621, in the Stuart period, Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford, died at Netley in Hampshire. He was aged around 81 at his death.

    Now, Hertford is known for his secret marriage to Lady Katherine Grey, sister of Lady Jane Grey, and their conjugal visits in the Tower of London, but Hertford had a thing for secret marriage and married twice more, all in secret. And then his son and grandson also had secret marriages!

    Find out more in today’s talk.

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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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  • Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey: Heirs to the last Tudor – Talk by Leanda de Lisle

    Thank you to Leanda de Lisle, Byland Media and the Ryedale Book Festival for this video of Leanda’s recent talk, given at the Ryedale Book Festival. Accompanying Leanda are Chris Parsons, trumpet, and Nicholas Brooksbank, art advisor.

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  • The Last Tudor and The Sisters Who Would Be Queen

    “The battle for the throne isn’t over yet” is the tagline of Philippa Gregory’s latest Tudor novel, “The Last Tudor”. Released yesterday, this novel focuses on the Grey sisters: Jane, Katherine and Mary, who, of course, had claims to the throne through their grandmother Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VII.

    The lives of these three young women were explored in one of my all-time favourite history books, “The Sisters Who Would Be Queen” by Leanda de Lisle. It is a wonderful book. It’s meticulously researched and highly readable, a winning combination, and deserves pride of place on every Tudor history lover’s bookshelf. Philippa Gregory’s novel is actually inspired by Leanda’s research so I’m looking forward to reading this novel. To celebrate the release of Philippa’s novel, Leanda has kindly shared the following excerpt from “The Sisters Who Would Be Queen” with us today:

    “On 10 October 1562, when Elizabeth was at Hampton Court, she had begun to feel unwell, with aches and pains in her head and back. She had decided to have a bath and take a short walk to shake it off. When she returned to her chambers, however, she became feverish. A physician was called. To Elizabeth’s irritation he diagnosed the potentially deadly Small Pox. Since there were as yet no blisters, she refused to accept the diagnosis, but sickness and diarrhoea followed and she became delirious. By 16 October the Queen could no longer speak. On the 17th she was unconscious.

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  • Lady Katherine Grey

    25th August 1540 is the date traditionally given for the birth of Lady Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford, daughter of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and his wife, Frances (née Brandon), at Bradgate Park. Katherine was one of the sisters of Lady Jane Grey and was the wife of Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford.

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