Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Thomas Audley

1stLordAudley.jpgBorn in Essex in 1488 as the son of George Audley, Thomas Audley was to make his way into the very inner circle of Henry VIII's government. After finishing his law education he became a Justice of the Peace in Essex around 1521. This seemed to have sparked his career in politics for just two years later he represented Essex in Parliament. From here on his career kept rolling.

Cardinal Wolsey took him into his household and in the late autumn 1529 he was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster - that same year he also assumed the title of Speaker of the House of Commons which meant that it was him who held this position when Henry VIII finally broke from Rome. Being a true courtier he soon saw where the wind - or rather the King's will - was blowing and made sure to be on the right side. This meant that he would soon become a key figure in the attacks on the catholic clergy in England as well as one of the minds behind the Act of Succession. For this he was rewarded with no only a knighthood but also the coveted position of Lord Keeper of the Great Seal - it is no surprise that he also supported Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn. However, Thomas Audley had a habit of changing his colours and could easily adapt to whatever the King's will might be disregarding moral standards - something that would keep his head on his shoulders. That is why it is not surprising that he just a few years later he played a great part in the executions of Thomas More and Bishop Fisher as well as the trial and consequent execution of Anne Boleyn - he was actually present during her execution.

It was also Thomas Audley's hands who drew up the first suggestion for the new Act of Succession before he aided in the death sentences of the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace. Then another title was bestowed on him in 1538 when he became Baron Audley of Walden and acted as Lord Steward in three more trials of nobles that would lead to executions. He married twice: first to Christina Barnardiston and second to Elizabeth Grey. It is believed that he was a supporter of the reformation but - of course - still managed to pass Henry VIII's Six Articles of Faith. "Knight of the Garter" was his next title and he would be made one in 1540 shortly before he arranged the attainder that brought about the downfall of Thomas Cromwell. By this time time was running out for Thomas Audley and he must have known. He resigned the Great Seal on 21 April 1544 and died just nine days later.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Regal Impression

Though it is the hair that is the focus of this photo shoot than I think the clothes deserves a second look as well. The hair is done by Errol Douglas while Thea Lewis has been in charge of the styling. This collection features quite a lot of the Tudor styles and favourites including the ruff, lush velvet and brocading.

The Beret

The Beret or the "flat-cap" was a favoured type of hat by both men and women during the Tudor times. Normally an expensive fabric would have been used to make this hat such as velvet or silk and preferable in a lush colour or in simple black. They could also be lined with either silk or satin but it was not absolutely necessary. However some sort of decoration was an absolute must whether it was a plume, a brooch or even colourful feathers.
The entire style of the Beret is made to fall to one side but in Europe it was not worn tipped to one side. Henry VIII was fond of this style and has been painted wearing a Beret several times - he would often choose to have it decorated with precious stones.

The Beret was only to be worn by the highest classes of society but there was another coarser version (the Statue Cap) available for the commoners. One of the manufacturers of these Berets was Thomas Bell who made a name for himself through this trade and became the Mayor of Gloucestershire. Here are some examples of the Tudor Beret:

                                 Charles Brandon
A young Henry VIII wearing a beret
decorated with golden jewellery
An etching of Lady Richmond

Catherine Parr appears to wear a Beret on top
of her bejewelled hood
Like father, like son - Edward VI wearing a Beret
in the same style as Henry VIII

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Wolsey, Wolsey

The fable creature (bottom photo) is holding a banner with Thomas Wolsey's coat of arms when he was Archbishop of York. The left part of the banner is the coat of arms of the archbishopric of York while the right is Wolsey's personal emblem. Notice that the banner has been crowned with a Cardinal's hat - a very obvious reference to his appointment from the Pope. It should be said, however, that the Cardinal's hat is not a part of the actual emblem but is a part of that of the Christ Church.

File:Wolsey banner.jpgCardinal Wolsey's personal coat of arms is now that of the Christ Church which he founded. Like the one beneath it is crowned with a Cardinal's hat though a black one. Wolsey was born in Suffolk and as such he has symbols belonging to the nobles of that shire. The silver cross is from the Uffolk Earls of Suffolk while the four blue leopards from both the Dukes of Suffolk and the de la Pole Earls. Notice the Tudor rose topping all this as a reference to Henry VIII and his house of Tudor. The red lion is the chosen emblem of Pope Leo X who was Wolsey's patron. The two black birds are derived from Thomas à Becket's coat of arms.

It can be found on all the buildings that Wolsey created and I am sure that if you search Hampton Court Palace you will find at least one example of this coat of arms as a reminder of the palace's original builder.

Final Resting Places

Unlike many other family dynasties the Tudors and their courtiers are not all buried in the same cathedral. Instead their graves are scattered all over Britain so if you are ever in England and want to pay your respect to someone in particular then here is where they are buried.

Henry VII
Westminster Abbey, London

Elizabeth of York
Westminster Abbey, London

Margaret Beaufort
Westminster Abbey, London

Arthur, Prince of Wales
Worcester Cathedral, Worcester

Mary Tudor
St. Mary Churchyard, Bury St. Edmunds

Margaret Tudor
Perth Abbey, Perth

Henry VIII
St. Georges Chapel, Windsor

Catherine of Aragon
Peterborough Cathedral, Peterborough

Anne Boleyn
Chapel of Saint Peter-ad-Vincula, Tower of London

Jane Seymour
St. Georges Chapel, Windsor

Anne of Cleves
Westminster Abbey, London

Katherine Howard
Chapel of Saint Peter-ad-Vincula, Tower of London

Catherine Parr
St. Mary's Chapel, Sudeley Castle

Edward VI
Westminster Abbey, London

Mary I
Westminster Abbey, London

Elizabeth I
Westminster Abbey, London


Thomas Wolsey
Leicester Abbey, Leicester

Thomas More
All Saints Churchyard, Chelsea

Thomas Cromwell
Chapel of Saint Peter-ad-Vincula, Tower of London

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury
Chapel of Saint Peter-ad-Vincula, Tower of London

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
St. Michael the Archangel, Framlingham

Lady Jane Grey
Chapel of Saint Peter-ad-Vincula, Tower of London

Mary, Queen of Scots
Westminster Abbey, London

Thomas Boleyn
St. Peter Churchyard, Hever

George Boleyn
Chapel of Saint Peter-ad-Vincula, Tower of London

Mary Boleyn
Believed to be St. Peter Churchyard

Edward Seymour
Chapel of Saint Peter-ad-Vincula, Tower of London

Thomas Seymour
Chapel of Saint Peter-ad-Vincula, Tower of London

Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham
Austin Friars Churchyard, London

Thomas Culpepper
St. Sepulchre without Newgate Churchyard, London

Robert Dudley
St. Mary Churchyard, Warwick

Dr. John Dee
St. Mary the Virgin Churchyard, Mortlake

more will be added...

The Marian Persecutions

"The Marian Persecutions" were the series of religious persecutions that took place after Mary I had become Queen of England. The persecutions began in January 1555 when Mary I had turned England's religion back to Catholicism - both the Council and the Parliament sanctioned the persecutions though some of their members went into exile. Still the the infamous laws of heresy and papal authority were issued and they were to cause many people the most painful death imaginable.

However, the persecutions were not popular with the Spanish Charles V despite the general believe that it was Mary's Spanish marriage that had brought about the religious intolerance; Charles V had experienced himself how unpopular persecutions were (I wonder why) and perhaps he was worried that it would jeopardize Mary's throne. But as it happened Mary's husband, Philip of Spain, did not share this hesitation. There were three groups besides the Queen herself that worked the great machinery of the counter-revolution (according to a Spanish account):

  • The Papal group - headed by Reginald Pole - whose loyalty was firmly placed with the Holy Father in Rome
  • English Romanists who were angry about how Henry VIII had treated the Catholics during the Reformation and therefore harboured a special grudge against the reformers
  • King Consort Philip and the Spaniards who had accompanied him to England. They needed to strike down as much as the reformist power as possible to strengthen Philip's personal authority 

Since that the persecutions did not take off before after Mary and Philip's marriage it would seem that it was the Spanish entourage of the King Consort who had sparked the beginning of the persecutions. Though the English Romanists were the most eager to persecute Protestants they could not do so without the consent of their monarch and her husband.

Stephen Gardiner was the main architect behind the string of religious fear that was about to hit England again. Like Mary, he had remained an ardent Catholic through the Reformation and definitely had an interest in turning the country back to what he saw as "the one and true faith".
One of the great "villains" in the Marian Persecutions were Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London. He had been reinstalled into his office at Mary's ascending to the throne. The reason for why he has stood out among all those who either sanctioned or carried out the persecutions is the disturbingly high number of people who were sent to the stake by him. One third of all the victims of the Marian Persecutions (that is about 100 people!) were burned within Edmund Bonner's diocese which meant that he had had to at least know about the arrests and at worst had eagerly taken part of them. In Foxe's "Acts and Monuments" he damns "Bloody Bonner" - not "Bloody Mary" - and tells of one interrogation performed by Bonner himself against a man named Tomkins. Tomkins refused to recant anything which in the end brought Bonner to the point of rage where he grapped Tomkins' hand and held it over a candle till the skin began to blister. The Spanish Ambassador also mentions this story so there is probably truth to the matter.

Mary herself also had her reasons for wanting to restore Catholicism to England though they might be of a more personal nature. It is not difficult to believe that Mary connected Catholicism with her mother and the happy period before the Reformation - perhaps she sought to regain some of that happiness. Some has said that the persecutions were not the work of Mary 1 herself but that of the people surrounding her and perhaps that is the case. It is also possible that Mary's believe that a wife should be obedient towards her husband in everything can have caused her to support him. Personally, I think that Mary was not just a strong woman but also a very determined and intelligent one who ardently believed that her people would be saved by returning to Catholicism but that she chose the completely wrong way to go about this - and that this decision was influenced by those around her. In December of 1554 (before the Spanish marriage that is) she stated this to her Council:
None may be burnt without some of the Council's presence and good sermons at the same.
According to British Express the Marian Persecutions differ from every other series of persecutions in England's history because it had no political background. Instead it was all about religious beliefs and not really an attempt to strengthen Mary's position as Queen. Also, the Marian Persecutions are by far the ones that feature the horrible death of being burned alive at the stake - it had never happened as frequently nor would again than during this time which just added to the terror. It should also be remembered that though Mary I is generally stated to have had about 300 (288 to be exact) people killed during her reign this is "just" during the persecutions - this number does NOT count the ones executed after the Wyatt Rebellion for example which counted for another 200. The fact that all these executions took place within two years (the persecutions ended in 1557) is most likely one of the main reasons for why this period is remembered as being so bloody.

Fifty of these 288 were burned at Smithfield in London. Whenever these executions took place the air is reported to have been so thick with the smell of burning flesh that most people could not go outside. A series of these executions were scheduled to take place on 17 November 1558 but they were interrupted in the very last moment by a messenger carrying the message: the Queen is dead. So, these Protestants saved their lives due to the fact that English law requires all death penalties signed by the monarch itself but that the execution is cancelled if the monarch dies before the sentence is carried out.

The executions of the Oxford Martyrs during the persecutions

BBC's list of the martyrs burned by Mary (link)

Friday, 13 September 2013

Henry VII & Elizabeth of York - a Happy Marriage?

Considering Henry VIII's "difficulties" in finding happiness in marriage it is worth to take a look at that of his parents. That Henry VII married Elizabeth of York to end the War of the Roses is a well-known fact but how did the two of them actually get along?

One of the best way to tell true affection is when you lose something. Henry VII was a very reserved man but there were two cases in particular were he could not hide his feelings: at the death of his son Arthur and that of his wife.
Arthur, Prince of Wales died in 1502 at Ludlow Castle. This threw both his parents into great mourning and it would seem that the couple relied on each other in this time of crisis. Henry is reported to have publicly shown great concern towards his Queen during this particular period. Elizabeth of York also attempted to help her husband through this. When Henry VII had gotten the news of Arthur's death he is said to have much struck by grief. Allegedly, Elizabeth tried to comfort her husband by reminding him that having only one son was no sign that their dynasty should not survive. After all he had been the only son of Margaret Beaufort but he had still survived to become King of England. And God had still left them with a very healthy son and two equally strong daughters.

When Elizabeth of York died in 1503 Henry was more inconsolable than ever. He is reported to have "privily departed to a solitary place and would no man should resort unto him". Elizabeth was given a magnificent funeral with no expense spared - considering Henry VII's great dislike of spending money on anything this is yet another sign of his affection for his Queen. Henry had her buried in the part of Westminster Abbey that he himself had had built (the Lady Chapel). In due time Henry would lie next to her again.
Despite having only one son and being now a widower Henry VII refused to marry again. Of course some inquiries were made including to the Dowager Queen of Naples but in the end Henry would not have Elizabeth replaced and he died a widower. Apparently, Elizabeth had been a calming factor on Henry's temper because after her death he grew more and more prone to depression and paranoia - something his surviving son, Henry VIII, would inherit.

The tomb of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York

Book Theme: Jane Seymour

Plain Jane: a Novel of Jane Seymour by Laurien Gardner

Jane Seymour by Frances B. Clark

The Favoured Wife: a Novel of Henry VIII's Third Wife by Carolly Erickson (highly fictional)

Book Theme: Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon by Garrett Mattingly

Catherine of Aragon: the Spanish Queen of Henry VIII by Giles Tremlett

Catherine of Aragon by Alison Prince

The Spanish Bride: a Novel of Catherine of Aragon by Laurien Gardner

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

A Golden Sorrow: Humble and Loyal - Katherine of Aragon by Dixie Atkins

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Book Themes: Elizabeth I

The First Elizabeth by Carolly Erickson

Elizabeth the Great by Elizabeth Jenkins

The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age by Christopher Hibbert

The Life of Elizabeth by Alison Weir

Legacy by Susan Kay

Elizabeth: the Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey

Good Queen Bess: the Story of Elizabeth I of England by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema

Behind the Mask: the Life of Queen Elizabeth I by Jane Resh Thomas

Elizabeth I by Alison Plowden

Elizabeth I - The Outcast who became England's Queen by Simon Adams

The Public and Private Worlds of Elizabeth I by Susan Watkins and Mark Fiennes 

Book Theme: Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey - A Tudor Mystery by Eric Ives

Lady Jane Grey by Hester W. Chapman

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

Lady Jane Grey: Nine Days Queen by Alison Plowden

Coronation of Glory: the Story of Lady Jane Grey by Deborah Meroff

The Nine Days Queen - a Portrait of Lady Jane Grey by Mary M. Luke

The Sisters who Would be Queen: Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey - a Tudor Tragedy by Leanda de Lisle

Epping Forest

Not only was Epping Forest one of the many hunting forests for the royal Tudors it also had a special and tragic connection to Henry VIII. When Henry VIII was chasing Anne Boleyn they visited this forest together and probably went riding there together. They stayed at the hunting lodge Poteles once.

Henry VIII was especially fond of Waltham Abbey where he would stay whenever he went hunting in Waltham Forest. We know that he set out from Greenwich to Waltham Abbey with both Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn in May 1528. The next time Henry visited Waltham Abbey was in July 1529 but this time he was accompanied by Anne Boleyn alone - he also took her there on progress in 1532 during which they stayed for five days at the Abbey.

However, there is another more tragic connection to this doomed couple. In 1536 Henry VIII went to Epping Forest on May 19th. While he was staying here the sound of a canon being fired informed him that Anne Boleyn had been executed - the King was having his breakfast under the shade of a large tree. According to Moray's History of Essex the King cried out: "Away! Unkennel the dogs!" when he heard the bang.

Henry VIII hunting on the Morning of Anne Boleyn's Execution

Monday, 9 September 2013

Katherine Howard's Letter

Thanks to the National Archives UK the only surviving letter written by Katherine Howard is still beautifully exhibited. Katherine Howard was the least educated of Henry VIII's wives and she could barely write at all when she first arrived at court which is why this letter is written in such a nervous hand. This sole letter of hers to survive was directed to Thomas Culpepper and it reads:

This is the only surviving letter written by Katherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife.    The ill advised letter to Thomas Culpepper, a gentleman of the Privy Chamber and other reports of her infidelity led to Katherine's execution in 1542, less than six months after her marriage to Henry.    Date: 1541
Master Coulpeper,
I hertely recomend me unto youe praying you tosende me worde how that you doo. Yt was showed me that you wassike, the wyche thynge trobled me very muche tell suche tyme that Ihere from you praying you to send me worde how that you do.For I never longed so muche for [a] thynge as I do to se you andto speke wyth you, the wyche I trust shal be shortely now, thewyche dothe comforthe me verie much whan I thynk of ett andwan I thynke agan that you shall departe from me agayneytt makes my harte to dye to thynke what fortune I havethat I cannot be always yn your company. Y[e]t my trust ysallway in you that you wolbe as you have promysed meand in that hope I truste upon styll, prayng you than thatyou wyll com whan my lade Rochforthe ys here, for thenI shalbe beste at leaysoure to be at your commarendmant.Thaynkyng you for that you have promysed me to be sogood unto that pore felowe my man, whyche is on of thegrefes that I do felle to departe from hym for than I doknow noone that I dare truste to sende to you and therforI pray you take hym to be wyth you that I may sumtymhere from you one thynge. I pray you to gyve me a horsefor my man for I hyd muche a do to gat one andthefer I pray sende me one by hym and yn so doying Iam as I sade afor, and thus I take my leve of youtrusting to se you s[h]orttele agane and I wode you waswythe me now that yoo maitte se what pane I takeyn wryte[n]g to you.

Yours as long aslyffe endures
One thyng I had forgotten andthat hys to instruct my man to tare here wyt[h] me still, for hesas wat so mever you bed hym he wel do et and [...]

If you have any troubles reading it just message me and I will add the "translation" into modern language

Sunday, 8 September 2013

From the Lady in the Tower

This is reputedly a copy of Anne Boleyn's last letter to Henry VIII from her final days in the Tower of London which was found among the papers of Thomas Cromwell after his execution. It is currently stored by the British Library and I found it through this link.

First page
Second page

This is what the last letter said (quoting the link from above):

Sir, your Grace's displeasure, and my imprisonment are things so strange unto me, as what to write, or what to excuse, I am altogether ignorant; whereas you sent unto me (willing me to confess a truth, and so obtain your favour) by such a one, whom you know to be my ancient and professed enemy; I no sooner received the message by him, than I rightly conceived your meaning; and if, as you say, confessing truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all willingness and duty perform your command. But let not your Grace ever imagine that your poor wife will ever be brought to acknowledge a fault, where not so much as thought thereof proceeded. And to speak a truth, never Prince had wife more loyal in all duty, and in all true affection, than you have found in Anne Bullen, with which name and place could willingly have contented my self, as if God, and your Grace's pleasure had been so pleased. Neither did I at any time so far forge my self in my exaltation, or received Queenship, but that I always looked for such an alteration as now I find; for the ground of my preferment being on no surer foundation than your Grace's fancy, the least alteration, I knew, was fit and sufficient to draw that fancy to some other subject.
You have chosen me, from a low estate, to be your Queen and companion, far beyond my desert or desire. If then you found me worthy of such honour, good your Grace, let not any light fancy, or bad counsel of mine enemies, withdraw your Princely favour from me; neither let that stain, that unworthy stain of a disloyal heart towards your good Grace, ever cast so foul a blot on your most dutiful wife, and the infant Princess your daughter:
Try me, good King, but let me have a lawful trial, and let not my sworn enemies sit as my accusers and judges; yes, let me receive an open trial, for my truth shall fear no open shame; then shall you see, either mine Innocency cleared, your suspicion and conscience satisfied, the ignominy and slander of the world stopped, or my guilt openly declared. So that whatsoever God or you may determine of me, your Grace may be freed from an open censure; and mine offence being so lawfully proved, your Grace is at liberty, both before God and Man, not only to execute worthy punishment on me as an unlawful wife, but to follow your affection already settled on that party, for whose sake I am now as I am, whose name I could some good while since have pointed unto: Your Grace being not ignorant of my suspicion therein.
But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my death, but an infamous slander must bring you the enjoying of your desired happiness; then I desire of God, that he will pardon your great sin therein, and likewise mine enemies, the instruments thereof; that he will not call you to a strict account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me, at his general judgment seat, where both you and my self must shortly appear, and in whose judgment, I doubt not, (whatsover the world may think of me) mine innocence shall be openly known, and sufficiently cleared.
My last and only request shall be, that my self may only bear the burthen of your Grace's displeasure, and that it may not touch the innocent souls of those poor gentlemen, who (as I understand) are likewise in strait imprisonment for my sake. If ever I have found favour in your sight; if ever the name of Anne Bullen hath been pleasing to your ears, then let me obtain this request; and I will so leave to trouble your Grace any further, with mine earnest prayers to the Trinity to have your Grace in his good keeping, and to direct you in all your actions.

Your most Loyal and ever Faithful Wife, Anne Bullen
From my doleful prison in the Tower, this 6th of May.

Henry most likely destroyed the letter upon receiving it but Thomas Cromwell - who read it before delivering it to the King - must have thought it worth keeping.

The Elegy of Chidiock Tichborne

Chidiock Tichborne was one of the men chosen to assassinate Elizabeth I in the doomed Babington plot. On the eve of his execution, 19th September 1586, he wrote a final letter to his wife Agnes containing this poem.

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is past and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen and yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done. 

A Poet's Mistake

The man with the peculiar name of Chidiock Tichborne was a poet and a closet-Catholic at the court of Elizabeth I when he gambled all on the wrong board. He had faith in the Babington Plot to overthrow Elizabeth and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots and as such was a dead man walking when Elizabeth I's spymaster Walsingham discovered the plot - and Chidiock's partaking in it.

Chidiock was not able to flee the country when the discovery was made due to a leg injury which meant that he was basically awaiting his doom in London - and of course it came. On 14th August he was arrested and taken to Westminster Hall where he was found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death. What made it all even worse was that Chidiock himself had been chosen as one of six men who were to kill Elizabeth I - this quite ruled out any possibility of mercy.
The manner of execution was to be the standard procedure for Tudor traitors: hanging, drawing and quartering. Thus on 20th September 1586 Chidiock Tichborne was one of seven conspirators who were taken to St. Giles field where he suffered the long and painful death of an Elizabethan traitor at the age of 28 years old. However, he did manage to write a final letter to his wife containing a poem written on the last eve before his execution (I will upload a post about it in the Poetry section).

An execution of this sort was bloody enough on its own so the result of having seven men joining the same fate on just one day made Elizabeth I demand that the remaining condemned should be hanged until they were completely dead and in such a way avoid another terrible spectacle.

The Irish Net Tightens

Leonard Grey, Viscount Grane had been sent to Ireland by Henry VIII where he was to strike down "hostile clans" who opposed the English rule which he seemed to have done perfectly well. However, when Leonard Grey returned home to England in 1540 he was immediately redirected to the Tower of London as a prisoner charged with high treason. As it turned out Leonard was not the easiest person to work with which naturally brought him many enemies at court especially when he (while still in Ireland) completely stopped his correspondence with the council. During his five year absence these enemies - including a gentleman by the name of Ormond - had been working on his downfall and succeeded.

The charges Grey faced of high treason was founded on accusations that he had not indeed been working on stopping the uprisings but had formed close ties with many of the Irish clans as well as having directly aided them on their missions which included the destruction of churches and castles. According to the State Trials (1163-1820) bowed to pressure and thought it better to plead for the King's good graces and hope for the best. Apparently, Leonard had not learnt much of Henry VIII's character. The State Trials mentions that his "services did infinitely overbalance his faults" which is as close to saying "he was innocent" as possible. Consequently, Leonard Grey was beheaded on Tower Hill on 28th July 1541.

End of Edmund de la Pole

Edmund de la Pole did not have the safest upbringing thanks to his family. First, his brother John fought against Henry VII side by side with Richard III but changed allegiance when the battle was over and the victor was found - or so it seemed. John apparently had not given up all hopes of power and joined the short-lived rebellion of Simnel where he died in battle.

This now meant that the 15-year old Edmund de la Pole suddenly found himself the head of the York-family which - unfortunately for him - made him the greatest threat to Henry VII. For the time being Henry VII decided to leave Edmund with the Dukedom that his brother had possessed before he died as well as the title of Earl of Suffolk. In 1501 Edmund dared not stay any longer in England and fled to continental Europe - and then Edmund was stripped of his title as Duke. It seemed that Edmund himself had no intention of taking the throne by force either by an invasion or the threat of civil war. That it why Edmund de la Pole's road to the scaffold seems all the more remarkable and unfair.

Edmund (who was still abroad) went aboard a ship owned by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II which was heading for Spain. As it happens the weather does not always cooperate - something the Spanish Armada would later learn all too well - and the ship had to change course when a storm hit. This was disastrous news for Edmund because the destination was now the England he had fled - and Henry VII was waiting for him. Perhaps Edmund had managed to make friends with the Holy Roman Emperor because the Emperor refused to deliver Edmund to Henry unless he was assured that no harm whatsoever would become him. Henry VII promised so and to be fair he kept his promise. The problem was that Henry VII's health was declining and shortly afterwards he was dead. Sadly for Edmund de la Pole the new King Henry VIII was convinced that he had had no share in the promise and quickly arrested Edmund.

In 1513 Henry VIII signed the order for Edmund de la Pole's execution - the man himself was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Edmund de la Pole was beheaded sometime around April 30th within the Tower of London.

The Arrest and Execution of Cromwell

Ever since the disastrous and short-lived marriage of Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves, Cromwell's place in the royal favour seemed wavering and Henry VIII did nothing to settle matters. After having given Cromwell the cold shoulder he made him Earl of Essex in April 1540. But Cromwell was far from safe despite his newest elevation.

On Saturday 10th June 1540 Thomas Cromwell was in the middle of a Council meeting when he was suddenly interrupted at around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Every single one of his most powerful enemies watched when the Royal Guards marched into the room; Cromwell of course immediately understood what was happening and reputedly threw down his hat on the table - a sign of anger or one last frustrated gesture? To make the scene even more humiliating for the soon-to-be prisoner was that the Dukes of Norfolk and Southampton personally removed his chains of office from his shoulders before the Captain of the Royal Guard took hold of him. While he was leaving the room the other Council members began accusing him of treason. Thus Cromwell was escorted through Westminster and down to an awaiting barge ready to take him to the Tower of London.

In the end there was to be no trial for the ever hard-working Thomas Cromwell nor any chance for him to plead his case. On 29th June an Act of Attainder with Cromwell's name was drawn up and just like that he was found guilty in heresy and treason. It is interesting that Cromwell was not blamed for the terrible marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves (the marriage was not yet dissolved) nor how the King had chosen his policies. Instead Cromwell's main accusation was that of heresy, this accusation was the brainchild of the Catholic Duke of Norfolk and the embittered Catholic bishops that Cromwell had swiftly removed from their offices. Together, they managed to convince Henry VIII that Cromwell was not only spreading heretical messages himself but also openly supported heretics going as far as to even release them from prison and then taking care of their enemies. Also, Cromwell was condemned for corruption through the sale of licenses and pass-ports to people not approved of by the King. Lastly, Cromwell was accused of wishing to marry Lady Mary Tudor which would make him an immediate threat to the King's personal position because Cromwell would then have a claim on the throne through his wife.

While awaiting his fate within the Tower of London Cromwell wrote two letters to Henry VIII both fervently protesting his innocence. None was answered.
Then on 28th July 1540 Cromwell was taken from his cell to the Tower Green where he faced the scaffold. He was to be given a private execution but it can be safe to say that none of his previous enemies were there to watch the spectacle - they had all rushed off to watch the King marry Katherine Howard on the same day. It was his recently granted title that probably saved Cromwell from being either hanged, drawn and quartered or burned alive at the stake: as a nobleman he could be beheaded for treason. But no matter what Cromwell died an innocent man since no real evidence could be held against him besides what was openly planted by his enemies.

As Thomas Cromwell stood on the scaffold he apologised if he had ever displeased or defied God or the King. Interestingly enough he also mentioned that he would die in the Catholic faith - could this be an indication that he was threatened into saying so or perhaps even tortured? It has been suggested by Hall's Chronicle of Tudor England that the execution was made even more painful for Cromwell because his executioner failed to strike his head off with one blow but hacked away at his skull and shoulders until the head finally came off. Considering that inexperienced executioners was a very real part of Tudor England (as Mary, Queen of Scots would also come to now) this might actually be true. However, there is no evidence to support that Cromwell's enemies had made the executioner drunk before performing his duty. So, in the end this was how Thomas Cromwell met his fate. His head was boiled and placed on a spike on the London Bridge as was customary when dealing with traitors - as a last mockery his head was turned away from London city itself so that not even his now dead eyes could gaze upon the city.

Henry VIII would very soon afterwards come to regret this execution of what he called his "most faithful servant".

Cromwell's execution on "the Tudors"

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A Disturbing Found

On 23 February 1554 Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk was executed by an axeman on the order of Mary I. In 1851 (almost 300 years after his death) workmen were working in the Holy Trinity church in London when they discovered something that must have made them skip a heartbeat. In a vault the severed head of Henry Grey lay perfectly intact thanks to the thick sawdust - rich on tannin and from oak - that had been in the casket where the beheaded Lord's head fell for so long ago.
It is thought that the grieving widow of Henry Grey who had also lost her daughter just eleven days earlier had taken the head and quickly hidden it before it could be put on a spike on the London Bridge.

Henry Grey had actually bought the Holy Trinity church in the 1540's after Henry VIII had dissolved the monasteries so it is very likely that he was buried within the walls of his own property. The Holy Trinity church was completely destroyed during the German blitz during World War II. However, the head was not lost in the ruins. In 1899 the Holy Trinity church had been merged with another church, St. Botolph's-without-Aldgate and the head was transferred to this other church. Now it is placed somewhere within this church but its' exact location is unknown.

Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk

Henry Grey's Ghost

Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk and father to the doomed Lady Jane Grey has been seen at Astley Castle long after his death. Astley Castle was one of the Grey-family's private residences and it was here that Henry Grey fled to after the failed Wyatt's Rebellion. Here he hid in a tree until one of his servants gave his position away and he was dragged out and taken to the Tower. He was beheaded by Mary I in February 1554. Now his headless ghosts haunts the castle - holding its' head under one arm.

Astley Castle

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Elizabeth I at Windsor Castle

Elizabeth I's ghost is one of the many ghosts reportedly found at Windsor Castle. The legendary Queen appears in the Royal Library where she has been seen by several members of the English Royal Family. Edward VII once told his mistress that he had seen a ghost looking remarkably much like the portraits of Elizabeth I. George III (his madness put aside) once said that he had had a conversation with a woman who had told him that she was "married to England" - and wearing black. Whenever Elizabeth I appears at Windsor she always wears a black gown with equally black lace. Even George VI (Elizabeth II's father) said that he saw her just before the outbreak of the Second World War - perhaps she was returning to protect her country once again?

Her high heels echoes from the wooden floors as she makes her way through the library into an inner room. One of these sightings were reported by the Grenadier Lieutenant Glynn who was reading in the library when he heard that sound of high heels clacking on the floor. When he looked about he saw the manifestation of Elizabeth I and when she disappeared into the inner chamber (where there is just one entrance) he followed. However, when he entered the inner chamber she disappeared completely.  Also, her ghost has been seen at the window of Dean's Cloister - strangely enough Anne Boleyn has been seen standing in the window of that same cloister!

A Grieving Mother & a Neglected Child

Elizabeth Holby was the wife of Sir Thomas Holby and a close friend of Elizabeth I. Her ghost is said to haunt Bisham Abbey in Buckinghamshire where the couple once lived.

The tale goes that Elizabeth Holby had great ambitions for her children but was in despair to find that her youngest son, William, was a slow learner. She would often beat him if his studies did not meet her demands and one day Elizabeth Holby apparently found them to be not just poorly executed but also not finished at all. This provoked a specially severe beating and afterwards poor William was locked into the Abbey's tower until he had finished his studies. Shortly afterwards Elizabeth Holby was called back to court (perhaps Elizabeth I missed her) and she went right away. However, she forget to tell anyone that she had locked William in the tower...
Two days later she returned and wondered why her youngest son was not there to greet her. Soon it dawned on her and she hurried up to the tower where she found William dead. Elizabeth never forgave herself and mourned this slow witted child for the rest of her life - and beyond that.

Ever since Elizabeth Holby's death some 400 years ago her ghost has been said to appear on the ground of Bisham Abbey. She is always wearing mourning clothes for her dead child. Many of these sightings has reported that she is washing blood off of her hands. Admiral Vansittart - who lived here just before the 20th century - once wrote that he had seen the lady herself. The Admiral was in the Great Hall where Elizabeth Holby's portrait hangs when he felt that prickling feeling that tells you that you are being watched. He quickly turned around and just saw her before she disappeared. He then turned to the portrait to make sure that it was actually her and found the frame to be now empty!

It is not just the grieving mother who haunts the Bisham Abbey. Giving other strange little reports it would seem that William has never quite left either. Sometimes a flickering candle can be seen in the tower's window when there is no one around. Footsteps and a quiet sobbing also comes from within the house. This has all been reported by guests who stayed at the house.

Bisham Abbey

Friday, 30 August 2013

Blue & Fur

As worn by Jonathan Rhys Meyer in "the Tudors" season 4 episode 4 when Henry VIII visits the North for the first time since the Pilgrimage of Grace. His striped doublet is both blue wool and purple satin. His breeches are of the same purple colour as the doublet but with terns instead. Above the doublet is Henry's signature fashion mark: a dark fur vest. And to top it all off a large golden chain changing between topazes and pearls.
Just at the tip of the neck a very small dark ruff peeps out which is probably a part of his shirt underneath (it can also be seen at the edge of the sleeves). Though it cannot be seen on this picture he is also wearing tall, black leather boots.

Anne's Green Damask

Joss Stone wears this on "the Tudors" (season 4 episode 3) when she is with Elizabeth at Hever Castle and they are surprised by Henry VIII. The sleeves and the bodice mainly consists of dark green velvet while the petticoat and the cut-throughs are of an olive green damask. The neckline has been decorated with pearls only interrupted to show of more of the precious damask. At the centre of the bodice a very large square brooch with a topaz at the centre has been pinned to the stiff bodice. Besides the topaz there are four small pearls at each corner and a drop pearl hanging from the brooch.

Henry & Jane's Pendant

Pendant designed by Holbein of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour's initialsThis might not be a piece of jewellery in itself but it is the sketch of a pendant by Holbein. It consists of the initials of Henry VIII (H) and Jane Seymour (I) - at the time there was no difference between a "J" and an "I". There are four gemstones set on the golden based pendant: two might be carnelians, one an emerald and one an onyx. Hanging from the pendant are three large pearls. From the drawing it seems that the pendant was supposed to be worn hanging from a ribbon rather than a metal chain.

Wyatt's Rebellion

Sir Thomas Wyatt was the "Wyatt" in question who began the rebellion alongside the Duke of Suffolk and Carew. It began in 1554 when the news of Mary I's intention to marry Philip of Spain had spread to the wide part of the population - and it was not a popular match. It was not so much the Spanish King who was the problem but rather the religious oppression he would bring with him; the English had just gotten used to a more liberal church and desperately wanted to prevent the Spanish Inquisition from sweeping through England.

The overall plan was to overthrow Mary and replace her with her half-sister Elizabeth who was then to marry Edward Courtenay whom Mary had already rejected as a husband (a bit slighted..?). In order for this plan to succeed the rebels would have to stage the rebellion at three key places: Kent, the Midlands and the West Country. Meanwhile a French fleet - who was fearing that a Spanish husband with Habsburg blood would pose to much of a threat - would take up the main part of the English Channel so that continental aid could not reach Mary. As with all rebellions all this was to take place without the Parliament's knowledge.

But then it went wrong. First of all the Parliament already knew that something was happening thanks to Simon Renard who was the Imperial Ambassador who contacted Stephen Gardiner. This would normally be reason enough to "cancel" a rebellion but the disaster was not over yet. It would seem that Wyatt had grossly misplaced his key locations for the rebellions. The West Country's population was mainly Catholic and as such would never have seen it as a problem that their Catholic Queen married a Catholic King. The loyalty that Mary had been promised at her coronation was still clear in the memories of the people of the Midlands who did not want to commit treason against their Queen. Consequently, the Duke of Suffolk found himself with only 140 men and in a very dangerous position.
Meanwhile, Stephen Gardiner had taken Edward Courtenay into interrogation. Because of his noble descent Courtenay would normally not be tortured but the protocols mentions that the interrogation was "robust" - perhaps an indicator that Gardiner disregarded Courtenay's privileges. Either way Courtenay soon began talking and told them everything he knew off.

It was only Thomas Wyatt himself who had had any sort of success with raising an army of 4000 men and now lead them towards London. The Duke of Norfolk was sent on behalf of Mary's government but the Duke had never expected 500 of his men to suddenly change their allegiance and join Wyatt! Wyatt failed to take advantage of this when he decided to wait before entering London - this meant that the city had plenty of time to secure itself. Ludgate was the gate that Wyatt had intended to cross to get to the heart of the city but it had been raised and he had to take his rebels through the narrow gates nearby. And this is where it all ended. Narrow streets are any soldier's nightmare because they leave you open to ambushes. This is was happened to Wyatt's troops and it would be the end of the rebellion.

What happened next?
Mary had been convinced that severe punishments would only help to estrange herself from her people so the punishments were surprisingly mild - for a Tudor, that is. It was about 90 people who were executed including Thomas Wyatt and the Duke of Suffolk. Others were simply let go. Prior to his execution Wyatt had been tortured in order to implicate Princess Elizabeth but he never caved in and as such no evidence could be found.
But there were two other nobles who could no longer count themselves save any more. Lady Jane Grey and her husband Guildford Dudley were both beheaded because it was considered too dangerous to have Lady Jane Grey as a figure whom people could support instead of Mary. So, despite having played no part in the rebellion Lady Jane Grey had to put her head on the block. The Wyatt Rebellion might have been put down but the displeasure of Mary's marriage was still widely felt by the population which would later add to Mary's rising unpopularity.

Thomas Wyatt

Claimed to be Wyatt's list of arms
Depiction of Wyatt's execution

Greenwich Palace

Built in 1477 Greenwich Palace is also known as the Palace of Placentia - a name given by Henry VIII which means "the Palace of Pleasure". It was first the property of Henry V who gave this little present to his brother, the Duke of Gloucester. In 1499 Henry VII was on the throne and had the palace expanded using no less than 600,000 red bricks - all produced in England of course. A favourite of the Tudors it was also known to be the most modern palace of its' time so of course the royal Tudors spent a lot of time here. By the time the Tudors inhabited the palace it was located quite a bit outside of London and close to the Thames because it was easier to travel by water than by the roads which were often muddy.

Henry VII added three large courtyards around 1500 and also had a hunting park of 200 acres. Henry VIII also added a tiltyard measuring 650 x 250 feet! Also, two octagonal towers overlooked the tiltyard making it perfect for great displays.

It was the birthplace of no less than four Tudors: Henry VIII, Edmund Tudor, Elizabeth I and Mary I. Henry VIII was baptised in the church of St. Alfege and Elizabeth I was baptised in the church of the Observant Friars which was just close by. But there is also a more sinister story concerning the Tudors and Greenwich. Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon as well as Anne of Cleves in the chapel. It was here that Anne Boleyn was staying when she was arrested and taken by barge to the Tower of London. Later on Anne Boleyn's death warrant was signed by Henry VIII here.

Henry VIII loved this palace nonetheless - apparently he never thought of the terror his previous wives had felt there - and made it his favourite residence until Whitehall and Hampton Court Palace became all the rage. But while he stayed there Henry had the place expanded again to accommodate his need of entertainment: a jousting area, a cock pit, tennis courts, kennels for his hunting dogs and stables. But that was not all. A new banqueting hall, forges and armoury was also added.

Ironically enough it was at the jousting grounds of Greenwich that Henry VIII had his jousting accident that left him unconscious for two hours - he would never joust again. Elizabeth I spent most of her summers at Greenwich and it is allegedly where Walter Raleigh is said to have put his cape over a puddle for the Queen. When Mary Tudor had married Charles Brandon - without her brother's permission - the palace was were the marriage was solemnized and made public.

The sad thing is that Charles II had the Tudor parts torn down to built his own sumptuous palace.

The Palace of Placentia during Tudor Times
Greenwich during the Tudors

Anonymous painting of Greenwich Palace during the reign of Henry VIII. [Wiki]

Model of the palace during the Tudors


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Tudors and their Trees

It may seem odd but there actually are a few connections between the Tudors and different trees. Let's take a look at how they are connected...

Queen Elizabeth oak, Northiam, East Sussex, UK, you might think this 1,000 year old tree is just a tree but it's a very special tree! When Queen Elizabeth I journeyed to Rye on August 1573 she sat under this tree and ate a meal. She changed her shoes of green damask silk with a 2 5" heel and pointed toe and left them behind as a memento of her visit. They are still in existence and are shown on special occasions. They are kept at Brickwall a Jacobean House in the villageThis tree is known as "the Queen Elizabeth Oak" and is located in Northiam, Sussex. Elizabeth I stayed here on her way to Rye in 1573 and decided to eat her meal in the shade of the oak. When she was done she left her shoes behind. These green damask shoes - with a heel of 2,5 inch - still exits and are exhibited at Brickwall House. The little plaque next to the tree informs visitors of the oak's royal past.

And it was under an oak tree that Elizabeth first heard the news that she was now Queen of England. The actual tree is long gone but Queen Elizabeth II herself planted a new tree on the exact spot of the old one to honour the memory of her namesake. The new (and old) oak tree was placed at Hatfield House where Elizabeth had been under house arrest. The to-be Queen was either eating an apple or reading when courtiers suddenly rushed to her side and bowed down to her. She then dropped gracefully to her knees herself - having risen at the sight of the courtiers - and made her famous quotation in Latin: "This is the Lord's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes."

Another little tidbit is about Elizabeth's doomed mother Anne Boleyn. Her ghost is said to appear at her childhood home Hever Castle in Kent where she roams around a large oak (perhaps a family favourite?). As it happens this was one of the trees under which Henry VIII courted Anne before their tragic marriage. Legend has it that the couple even danced around the tree. Despite this link to Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII the tree is also known as "the Queen Elizabeth Oak" (the names have been ground for confusion)

Monday, 12 August 2013

Vengeance is Mine

Vengeance Is Mine: A Novel Of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, And Lady Rochford The Woman Who Helped Destroy Them Both  by Brandy Purdy
Brandy Purdy's "Vengeance is Mine - A Novel of Anne Boleyn, Katharine Howard and Lady Rochford - the woman who helped destroy them both" is about how Jane Parker (Boleyn) played a vital role in the downfall of the two Queens. The book is written from the point of view of Lady Rochford herself from her position as a prisoner in the Tower where she is haunted by the memory of the husband and sister-in-law she sent to their deaths.

Romantic Henry

Purse; crimson velvet; in the shape of a powder flask, with stiffened centre padded with horsehair; a drawstring pouch on each side and silver braid round edge.
This red velvet purse was given by Henry VIII to "Anne Bullyne". The purse is in the shape of a flask but its exact purpose is unknown. Its centre has been stiffened with horsehair.
Silver braiding adorns the edge of the purse and it is opened by a drawstring pouch. Perhaps it was used for coins?

Fashion is Status

Fashion has always been a mean to show off your status and the Tudor times were no different. The rules were many, complicated and oh yeah, enforced by law. Remember the Earl of Surrey who got beheaded for wearing his ancestors badge because Henry VIII thought it was provocative?
The Sumptuary Laws divides people into categories according to who could wear what. Remember that the King and Queen (as well as their children) could wear everything so they are not listed among the remaining titles. Those who are not listed were simply not allowed to wear whatever garment or fabric it might concern.
Take a look at these rules and step into the "Versailles"-ish Tudor fashion rules.


  • Cloth of gold and silver including gold/silver silk, satin and sables:

Exception: viscounts and barons are permitted to use these fabrics on their doublets and their coats - as long as the coat is sleeveless!

Dukes, Marquesses, Earls and their children as well as Barons and knights

  • Wool made in a foreign country
  • Crimson, scarlet and blue velvet

This one actually has a logical reason to it. In order to make sure that the English farmers would not loose money (causing inflation) it was forbidden to buy wool that was not English - or at least except if you are noble or royal. So actually this can be seen more as a strange way to keep employment in England than a restriction.

Sons of Barons, knights and men of a certain income

  • Velvet for a gown, coat or entire ensemble
  • Leopard's fur
  • Embroidery
  • "Pricking" of gold and silver - and never in silk
  • Taffeta, satin, damask and silk on the outer outfit 
Any man who makes a profit of at least a 100 pounds a year:
  • Furs from outside any of the crowns' lands
  • Velvet
The son (as long as it is an heir) or daughter of a knight, that son's wife and a man worth more than 200 pounds in goods
  • Silk in hoses, hats, girdle, bonnet, nightcaps, scabbards and shoes
And these were just the rules for the upper part of society! But since the other part is also the greatest there is no need to leave them out:

It was prohibited for any serving man (except those of noble birth) to wear fur. Nor were they allowed to use more than 2½ yards of fabric for their coats. The serving females were not allowed to use more than 3 yards of fabric on a long gown.

Finally servants, common labourers, shepherds and farmers worth less than 10 pounds a year are not allowed to wear cloth worth more than 2 shilling. And if you did so anyway? Three days in the stocks! 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

My Other Blogs

As you might have guessed I am a history nerd and of course I have more than one blog on history. These are my other blogs and I hope you will visit them and tell me what you think :)

This Is Versailles Madame:
Everything on the French court at Versailles and the people living there before the revolution - from Louis XIV to Louis XVI.

Link: www.thisisversaillesmadame.blogspot.com

The Kingdom of Denmark:
The world's oldest kingdom has a very rich and dramatic story with many colourful personalities - as a Dane I can only recommend it.

Link: www.thekingdomofdenmark.blogspot.com

Historical Myths and Rumours:
There are surprisingly many things about historical events and people that we believe to be true but actually is not - and the other way around.

Link: www.historicalmythsandrumours.blogspot.com

Feel free to ask me questions or comment on any of my blogs, it is always nice to meet someone with the same interest as me

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Anne Boleyn's Gateway

It was Henry VIII who built what we now know as Anne Boleyn's Gateway. Of course, it was not named so at the time (seems unlikely that Henry would erase all trace of Anne but allow that name) but was given its name later on due to one beautiful, yet tragic detail: the surviving initials of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII intertwined with a so-called "lover's knots". These emblems were overlooked in 1536 when Henry had ordered all Anne's emblems replaced by Jane Seymour's.
The gateway itself lies between the Base Court and the Clock Court and was restored recently to its former glory. Henry (of course) put his own mark on the gateway in the shape of a large Tudor-rose in the very centre of the ceiling.

The Tudor-rose in the centre
Henry's unique clock hangs over the gateway

Close-up of one of the surviving lover's knots of Henry and Anne

Accurate Anne

Elvi Hale wore this gown as Anne of Cleves in the BBC production of "Six Wives of Henry VIII" from 1970. From the look of it BBC paid a lot of attention to getting the dress as historically correct as possible. And if you are wondering where on earth you have seen this dress before then take a look at the official portrait of the actual Anne of Cleves.
The rich red fabric is quite possibly velvet. It is mainly the amount of gold on the dress that indicates Anne's new status - notice the odd pattern at the edge of the sleeves, hanging from the waist and surrounding the bodice. The high waistline (we would call it an empire cut) was not used in England at this time which just added to the "strange" look that Anne is said to have portrayed. Also, it is very rare to see a noblewoman of this age wear a belt since it was not a part of the common attire. Another thing that sets the dress apart is the lace-work above the neckline that ends around the choker necklace. An Englishwoman would normally just have bare skin.
Besides the large amounts of brocaded golden fabric Anne also wears three necklaces: two heavy gold chains and a choker with a cross pendant. From underneath the heavy sleeves the frizzled chemise appears with its white fabric.
And then there is the hat. Unfortunately, I do not know much of German fashion during this particular time period so I will let it be up to your eyes to describe it.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Anne Boleyn's Six Fingers

One of the rumours that thrived at the Tudor court after 1536 was that the doomed Queen Anne Boleyn had had six fingers. To us that would be a deformity but nothing serious; however, at the time it was considered a sign of witchcraft. Since Anne had been convicted of witchcraft it was all too easy to make something out of an otherwise innocent physical flaw. Like every other rumour this needs to be checked into.

Nicholas Sander (or Saunders) is one of those names you cannot avoid when investigating this case. He wrote the book Schismatis Anglicani (The Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism) in which he delivers a description of Anne Boleyn's appearance:
She had a projecting tooth under the upper lip, and on her right hand, six fingers
This well-known portrait of
Anne certainly shows no
extra finger - but then again
it wouldn't
The source has to be considered. Nicholas Sanders is estimated to have been born around 1530 - six years before Anne's execution. Since he was only a child and not even a child of the nobility at that it is extremely unlikely that he ever actually saw the infamous Queen herself. Also, he was a Roman Catholic and as such it was in his interest to discredit one of the so far strongest faces of Protestantism which Anne Boleyn certainly was. Besides, Sander did not write this book until decades after Anne's death - that leaves him a lot of time to be influenced by resentful Catholics.
One other person who would certainly have jumped on the opportunity to trash Anne's name was the Spanish ambassador Eustace Chapuys. But he never mentions anything about either the Queen's fingers or her nails. It is hard to believe that a man who mainly referred to Anne Boleyn as "the concubine" or down-right "the whore" would miss out on the opportunity of using an extra finger to call her a witch.

George Wyatt (grandson of the Thomas Wyatt who adored Anne) wrote in 1605:

"There was found, indeed, upon the side of her nail upon one of her fingers, some little show of a nail, which yet was so small, by the report of those who have seen her, as the work-master seemed to leave it an occasion of greater grace to her hand, which, with the tip of one of her other fingers, might be and was usually by her hidden without any blemish to it"
Now, George Wyatt's book is mainly in defence of Anne and not meant as yet another attack on the long-gone Queen. This leads us to the more likely conclusion that there may have been a hint of another nail of one of her fingers but that is still far from a new finger. And having grown up in the aftermath of Anne's reign George is most likely to have heard the nasty rumours which must have influenced him despite his good-look of Anne.
And let's not forget the wonderful thing that is pure logic. Henry VIII was .. well, a vain man and it seems very strange that he should become so attached to a woman who had a such an obvious deformity. He certainly would not have married her! Actually it is doubtful that Anne would even had been a lady-in-waiting to the Queen with a sixth finger. After all, it was a dangerous time to have such imperfections.

Finally during the excavations within the Tower of London in 1876, Dr. Mouat found the body of a woman "between twenty-five and thirty years of age" who is widely believed to have been Anne Boleyn herself. If this true and that it actually is Anne herself then there is nothing to prove that an extra finger troubled Anne. According to Dr. Mouat's report the body had "well-shaped hands and feet" - no trace of a deformity.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Wedding of Mary I and Philip of Spain

Mary I had chosen to marry Philip of Spain despite the obvious resentment from both court and people. Their wedding took place on July 25 1554 within the Winchester Cathedral - it happened to be the celebration day for St. James, patron Saint of Spain. Mary was 37 at the time of her wedding while her bridegroom was ten years younger.

Mary had spent enormous amounts of time on her wedding dress which was in royal purple and gold; she had even had her soon-to-be husband's outfit sewn as while but his was in white and gold and embroidered. The cathedral itself was richly hung with cloth-of-gold and a scaffold had been erected in the middle (though for a more joyous occasion this time). Behing this stage two chairs had been produced: one for the bride and one for the bridegroom.
The prince entered first under a canopy with Spain's arms on it and then came the Queen accompanied by a large number of noblemen. Her train was carried by the Marquise of Winchester and the ceremonial sword by the Earl of Derby. The service was performed by the bishop of Winchester who was also Mary's Lord Chancellor. Besides him the bishops of London, Ely, Duresme, Chichester and Lincoln were present. It must have seem necessary to underline that Mary was not marrying a mere prince of Spain but also the King of Naples and Jerusalem because the bishop of Winchester held a short speech on the matter. Strangely enough it was Mary who sat on the right side during the ceremony and not her male counterpart - this was a clear signal that it was she who was the ruling monarch and not her Spanish co-regent.

The ceremony was said in both English and Latin (perhaps a compromise?) and then the Marquise of Winchester and the Earls of Pembroke, Bedford and Derby stepped forth to give away the Queen - after all she had no father to give her away and it was symbolically that the entire realm gave her away. After the ceremony the newly wedded couple attended Mass before the great altar. When the rings were securely placed and the treaty signed the congregation all rose and shouted out in happiness, beseeching God to give them joy through this union.

If you want to read a contemporary account of this mayor event (I used it for this post) then follow this link
This is a replica of Mary's wedding gown
Winchester Cathedral where the event took place