The Tudor Society
  • May 26 – Barbara Sidney, Countess of Leicester

    Barbara Sidney with six of her children, painted c. 1596 by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger

    On this day in history, 26th May 1621, Barbara Sidney, Countess of Leicester, first wife of poet Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, was buried at Penshurst.

    Barbara was born in around 1559 and was the daughter of John Gamage of Coety Manor, Glamorgan,and his wife Gwenllian. After her father’s death in 1584, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, as master of the wards, her uncles Sir Walter Ralegh and Lord Howard of Effingham, and her guardian Sir Edward Stradling all got involved in trying to arrange a marriage match for her. She married Robert Sidney, son of Sir Henry Sidney, Lord President of the Council, and brother of the famous Elizabethan poet Sir Philip Sidney. Robert was also a gifted poet.

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  • July 13 – Some of Queen Jane’s councillors begin to feel uneasy

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th July 1553, while the queen’s father-in-law, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, was preparing to leave London to apprehend the late Henry VIII’s daughter, Mary, members of Queen Jane’s royal council were meeting with the imperial ambassadors.

    What was the meeting about?

    What was the news from East Anglia?

    And why were the queen’s councillors beginning to feel uneasy?

    Let me explain…

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  • 27 October – The birth of Mary Herbert and the dramatic entrance of Anne Boleyn

    On this day in Tudor history, 27th October 1561, Mary Herbert (née Sidney), Countess of Pembroke, writer and literary patron, was born at Tickenhall, near Bewdley in Worcestershire. She was the sister of the poets Sir Philip Sidney and Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, was a writer herself and an extremely talented lady, and she also lived life to the full.

    After her husband died, she had fun shooting pistols, flirting, taking tobacco and dancing. A fun lady!

    Find out more about this gifted Tudor woman, who was as beautiful as she was talented, and whose work was praised, and used, by men such as Shakespeare.

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  • 19 November – An important member of the Catholic underground dies

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th November 1587, Henry Vaux died of what was probably consumption at Great Ashby, the home of his sister, Eleanor Brooksby.

    Henry Vaux is a fascinating Tudor man. He started out as a precocious child and poet, and grew up to be an important member of the Catholic underground. He was a Catholic recusant and priest harbourer, helping Jesuit priests in the Protestant reign of Queen Elizabeth I, both financially and by giving them a roof over the heads.

    In today’s talk, I introduce Henry Vaux and what happened to him in Queen Elizabeth I’s reign.

    Book Recommendation: One of my very favourite history books is “God’s Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England” by Jessie Childs.

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  • 13 July – The overshadowed Robert Sidney

    On this day in Tudor history, 13th July 1626, Tudor poet and courtier, Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester, brother of Sir Philip Sidney, died at Penshurst Place, the family seat in Kent.

    Sir Philip Sidney is known as one of the great poet and scholars of the Tudor age, but his brother, Robert, was also a talented poet.

    In today’s talk, I talk about how historians discovered Robert’s work, as well as sharing one of his sonnets.

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  • Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester

    On this day in 1563, Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester, courtier, patron of the arts and poet, was born at Penshurst in Kent. Sidney was the second son of Sir Henry Sidney and his wife, Mary (née Dudley), daughter of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.

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  • Robert Sidney’s Poems

    Today marks the anniversary of the death of Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester, poet and courtier, in 1626.

    His notebook, which held a collection of poems and sonnets, and showed the revisions he made to them, was discovered in Warwick Castle’s library in the 1960s. It had a 19th century leather binding and researchers found that it had been acquired in 1848 after the library at Penshurst Place, Sidney’s home, had been broken up and sold. Although the poetry collection had been misattributed, scholar Peter Croft was able to identify Sidney’s handwriting and he went on to edit and publish Sidney’s poems with Oxford University Press. The British Library purchased the notebook at Sotheby’s in 1975 and it is now part of their collection, with reference Add. (Additional) MS 58435.

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