Sunday, 10 February 2013

A Scandal of Playfulness?

A scandal that occurred after Henry VIII's death is still a source of debate. A juicy rumour of the Dowager Queen, her husband and the King's daughter is bound to be a source of interest - then and now. So let's take a look at a typical Tudor rumour:

When Catherine Parr had married Thomas Seymour (another scandal!) she invited the Lady Elizabeth to stay with her and her new husband at Sudeley Castle. Lady Elizabeth - and her ill-fated cousin Lady Jane Grey - accepted the invitation. But soon things got out of hands in the peaceful household. Allegedly, Thomas Seymour would engage in inappropriate games with the young princess Elizabeth which involved him tickling the princess - something that was not socially acceptable in a respectable relationship. But to make the scandal even more interesting the rumours has it that Catherine Parr herself joined in!
Apparently it was more than Catherine would accept when she supposedly found her husband embracing the Lady Elizabeth who was consequently sent to another household to stop the whole thing.

But is it true?

Probably not. One always has to consider the source and in this case it is "Kat" Ashley - Elizabeth's governess. Though she would be considered a reasonable witness in normal circumstances, she is not that reliable in this case. The situation was that Kat Ashley was imprisoned in the Tower when she told the story and had been threatened with torture - enough to make anyone lie. Except for her, there is nobody who has ever claimed that the incident took place. So it is reasonable to assume that the poor governess (otherwise completely loyal to Elizabeth) only told the story to spare herself the horrors of the torture chamber. Nevertheless, the story must have caused quite a scandal at the time. 

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