The Tudor Society
  • August 25 – Mildred Cecil (née Cooke), Baroness Burghley

    On this day in Tudor history, 25th August 1526, in the reign of King Henry VIII, Mildred Cecil (née Cooke), Lady Burghley, was born.

    Mildred was the daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, a scholar and the man who became Edward VI’s tutor, and his wife, Anne Fitzwilliam. Cooke educated his daughter himself, at home, providing her with the classical education usually reserved for boys.

    Mildred is known not only for being the second wife of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley and Elizabeth I’s trusted minister, but for her humanist education, intelligence and fluency in Greek and Latin. Mildred also translated several works, including a Greek sermon by Basil the Great.

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  • June 11- Sir Anthony Cooke of Gidea Hall

    The Cooke Memorial, St Edward's Church, Romford

    On this day in Tudor history, 11th June 1576, seventy-year-old humanist and educator Sir Anthony Cooke of Gidea Hall in Essex died.

    Cooke, who served in Henry VIII’s bodyguard and privy chamber, is more known for his role in education. He educated his daughters, who included Mildred Cecil, Anne Bacon, Catherine Killigrew and Elizabeth Hoby, to a high standard, teaching them Latin and Greek, and probably also modern languages and Hebrew. They were all noted for their scholarship.

    Although Anthony Cooke doesn’t appear in the records as a formal royal tutor, it does appear that he was involved in the young king’s education, possibly in an advisory or guiding role.

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  • April 4 – William Strachey, a shipwreck and Mildred Cecil

    On this day in Tudor history, 4th April 1572, writer and historian William Strachey was born in Saffron Walden in Essex, England.

    Strachey’s account of the 1609 shipwreck of the Sea Venture in a hurricane was used as a source for William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.

    Find out more about Strachey, how he was marooned for a year, and why he died in poverty

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  • 4 April – Mildred Cecil, Lady Burghley – far beyond the race of womankind

    Today, I pay tribute to the amazing Mildred Cecil, Lady Burghley, on the anniversary of her death in 1589, by sharing some facts about her.

    Mildred was not only the wife of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, she was an accomplished and influential woman in her own right. A truly fascinating Tudor personality.

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  • Mildred Cecil (née Cooke), Lady Burghley (1526-1589)

    Mildred Cooke came from the influential Cooke family of Gidea Hall, Essex, a household renowned for its links with Renaissance humanism and reformist sympathies. Her father, Sir Anthony Cooke, was a royal tutor to King Edward VI; shaping the boy king’s interest in classical learning and Protestantism. Mildred’s sisters: Anne, Catherine and Elizabeth became renowned female scholars, with Anne famously translating from Latin John Jewel’s Apologie of the Anglican Church (1564). While the Cooke women were in the minority in terms of female education, (Thomas More’s daughter Margaret, and his wards, received humanist educations) their education did not mirror their male contemporaries. Sixteenth-century European scholars and clergyman dictated that women were naturally defective and immoral in comparison with virtuous, honourable men. However Humanist educators, such as Juan Luis Vives, understood the importance of educating women. He stressed that their curriculum should avoid ‘masculine’ studies such as mathematics, science and government. Rather, he recommended studying theological translations, languages and the moral philosophers of antiquity such as Plato and Cicero; topics that would not ‘corrupt’ the innate weakness of the female sex.

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