Saturday, 18 May 2013

Horrible Histories - the Tudors!

I love Horrible Histories and of course their Tudor-songs. Originally made for educational purposes (for children) it still sticks to the facts which makes them so great:

The Tudors' Song:

Mary Tudor Song:

Queen for Nine Days:

The Six Wives of Henry VIII:

A Tudor Feast

These four videos were created by BBC about the Tudor feasts! So if you ever wondered how Henry VIII went from being "the handsomest prince in Christendom" to the fat, old man we remember him as just take a look.

Part 1:

Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

The Chapel

The Chapel at Hampton Court Palace has witnessed many important events during the Tudor time. Among other things, it was here that Archbishop Cranmer secretly handed Henry VIII a letter containing all the details of Katherine Howard's affairs. Prince Edward was baptized here shortly after his birth in 1537.

It was Cardinal Wolsey who had the Chapel extended to its current size. The extraordinary ceiling was added during the reign of Henry VIII in 1535. There are clear signs that the ceiling was built by a Tudor monarch. At the very top of the walls the red and white rose of the house of Tudor has been carved out as well as Margaret Beaufort's portcullis which Henry had chosen to take over after his grandmother's death. The large window of stained glass are rich on symbols: Henry VIII's patron saint - Saint Henry the Emperor - is joined by Saint Catherine, Saint Thomas Becket and Saint Anne. The royal family itself is also featured - Henry VIII, his wife and Cardinal Wolsey are kneeling in prayer. It was originally created for Wolsey by Erhard Schön of Nürnberg but he fell from favour before he could enjoy it. The monarch and his family would sit in the Royal Pew above the rest of the congregation.
It is strange that this church was not stripped of its rich décor during the Reformation.

One of the large stained glass windows (it might just be
Cardinal Wolsey at the top and Henry VIII in the middle)

Friday, 17 May 2013

Cardinal Wolsey's Apartments

Despite that it was Cardinal Wolsey who turned Hampton Court Palace from a mansion to a palace there is just one room that remains as it was when he occupied it: Wolsey's Closet. This was one of the Cardinal's private rooms. Religious paintings of an unknown painter depicts "The Last Supper", "the Passion of Our Lord", "the Scourging at the Pillar", "the Carrying of the Cross" and "the Resurrection" - all very appropriate for a Cardinal but some sources claim that it was Henry VIII who commissioned them. The ceiling is extremely elaborately done with ornaments of Tudor roses and the feathers of the Prince of Wales. A rather large open fireplace guaranteed that the Cardinal would not be cold.
Next to Wolsey's Closet there is a small room which is thought to have been the Cardinal's wardrobe.

Detail of the ornaments on the ceilings 

Prince Edward's Lodgings

The rooms made for Prince Edward are some of the only parts that survived as it was when the long-longed for heir occupied the rooms; but sadly it was badly tarnished by a fire and now nothing remains of the original décor. It was completed in 1537 when Henry VIII decided to make entirely new rooms for Prince Edward; the rooms closed the Chapel Courtyard which had hitherto been opened. It was here that Edward would spent his early childhood surrounded by countless servants making sure that the precious heir would never be in want of anything. He had been christened in the chapel of Hampton Court Palace and  his chambers were never far from the chapel.

Façade of Prince Edward's lodgings 

King's Presence Chamber

The King's Presence Chamber was only available to those who held the highest ranks and the King's favour. The dark wooden walls are covered in detailed tapestry - a part of Henry VIII's massive collection. One of the tapestries depicts the legend of St. George on horseback trampling over a dragon. Another depicts the "12 Labours of Hercules". Today, a crimson canopy hangs as the focus-point of the room - it is the original canopy from the time when William III occupied Hampton Court Palace; it still has the silver and golden embroideries at the centre to form a coat-of-arms. A portrait of William III is widely believed to be painted by James Hamilton who worked for James I during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Royal Pew

Cardinal Wolsey constructed the Royal Pew in the mid 1520's. At the back of the royal chapel a balcony marks a royal pew which was divided into two sections: one for Henry VIII and one for the Queen - whoever that might be at the time. It was from this location that the monarchs would attend religious services; Henry VIII sat here while Katherine Howard ran screaming down the Haunted Gallery, but the King was not moved by her shrieks.

Council Chamber

The Council Chamber was one of the very first rooms that Henry VIII added to Hampton Court Palace after he took over the palace. The room measures c. 4,8 (16 feet) metres in length and width and there are just about 3 metres (10 feet) to the ceiling. Because there are only three windows the room is not very well lit for most of the day - the only other source of light is the open fireplace. It was in this very room that many of the important decisions in Henry's reign were made.
The floor itself is colourful which was remarkably popular during the Tudors and has been decorated with a modernized Tudor rose. Today the room is hung with blue velvet and the King's throne is placed at the centre (of course) surrounded by a circle for the councillors.

Henry VIII's "throne"

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Striking Gentlemen

The Tudor age was filled with great lords who constantly watched over their rivals. But sometimes even the most sofisticated men of England turns to more "medieval" ways.
The Privy Counsil's members were appointed by the King and thus a seat on the council was a great honour. An honour that - according the Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey - should not befall those without the right ancestry. Henry Howard was immensely proud of his aristocratic roots and firmly believed that "lesser men" such as Edward and Thomas Seymour were not worthy of such an honour because they had merely been admitted to the King's inner circle due to the King's marriage to their sister.

Edward Seymour

In 1537 records show that Henry Howard had been arrested and imprisoned at Windsor for striking Edward Seymour! The incident took place at the royal residence of Hampton Court Palace and there were strict rules as to what was allowed; an violence in this manner - and between gentlemen - was certainly not allowed. The penalty was severe for the punishment and were it not for Thomas Cromwell's intereference, Henry Howard would have lost his right hand! This would have made a military career impossible which was one of the things that Henry wanted the most.

But, apparently, Edward Seymour was proud as well and determined not to be spoken against. His power grew steadily - especially after the death of Jane Seymour - and in 1546 the episode happened again. This time it was Edward Seymour who hit Bishop Gardiner in the face during a meeting of the Privy Council! Bishop Gardiner was a part of the staunch opposition to the Protestant Seymours and that had eventually resulted in yet another public outbreak amongst the greatest men in England.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The First Son To Live

This portrait depicts Henry Fitzroy, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII and his mistress Bessie Blount. The portrait was painted between 1533-34; Henry would die approximately three years after (if the portrait was painted in 1533). Henry would have been 14-15 years old when the portrait was painted. The portrait is painted with water-colours by Lucas Horenbout - the portrait itself is quite small measuring just about 44 millimetres in diameter. It belongs to the Royal Collection of the British royal family and has done ever since it was bought by none other than Queen Victoria. 

Magnificent Teal, Colourful Coral

This dress is probably one of the most recognisable dresses from "Elizabeth"(1998) and was designed by Alexandra Byrne. The dress is based on a regular Tudor-gown but there has been added a little extra to the dress in the shape of the large coral shawl. The shawl has been sewn onto the left shoulder and at the seam of the bodice and the skirt to make it fall in a graceful curve. At the left shoulder it has been fastened with a large rosette which has been pleated several times to create drapery.
Strangely enough the gown does not show off the petticoat but is completely closed at the front - probably to keep the focus on the bright-coloured shawl. At the back the skirt has been pleated onto the bodice as well to add volume.
The teal silk sleeves gives way to a wide opening of teal fabric with dark, slim lines. The sleeve that appears from underneath these layers are beige and is decorated with pink and green flowers. White fabric has been laid in under the bodice (at the neckline) - dark green stitches forms a floral pattern all across the neckline. 

The bodice is made of teal velvet while the skirt is entirely made of silk. As it can be seen in the top picture the sleeve opening is made of a completely different fabric than the main sleeves - it looks as if the striped fabric is sort of tulle.

Soft Lavender

A young princess Elizabeth is portrayed by Lalla Ward in "the Prince and the Pauper" from 1977. It is rare to see such a soft lavender that has an almost metallic shine at the bodice. The sleeves has not been brimmed up but still reveals voluminous sleeves from her chemise. The wrists has been adorned with jewels - most likely pearls to match the neckline. The petticoat is based on the same colour as the rest of the gown but has been decorated with golden streaks.
The princess is wearing a necklace but the pendant is hidden by the bodice. However, the stones appears to be amethysts since they match so perfectly with the gown's colour.

The gown is topped with a beautiful French hood - once again it matches the gown. The hood is decorated with precious stones of a purple colour and golden embroideries. Notice the golden fabric just peeping put from under the hood.

Taupe and Gold

This gown was worn by Anne Stallybrass as Jane Seymour in "Henry VIII and His Six Wives" from 1970. The main colour of the gown is a light beige that has been used for most of the bodice, the outer part of the skirt and the sleeves. The most elaborate fabric is the very pale Bordeaux-ish colour embroidered with large amounts of gold thread. The kirtle has been adorned with golden beads to match the embroideries. The bodice has received its part of jewellery as well: a large brooch with three drop-pearls hanging from a golden base.
A ribbon (beige, with a different pattern) has been used to trim the dress at pretty much all the edges: the neckline, the shoulders and the skirt. The wavy white parts of the sleeves are also seen on the most famous painting of the actual Jane Seymour.
From a distance it looks as if the neckline has been topped with embroideries but at a closer look it is actually pearls and emeralds that has been used. The same precious stones has been used for the necklace and the pendant.

Catherine Parr's Bow Dress

Rosalie Crutchley depicts Henry VIII's last wife, Catherine Parr, in the movie "Henry VIII and His Six Wives" from 1970. This particular gown of hers is dominated by a moss-green fabric that could be wool. The interesting thing about this dress is the four bows on the bodice - bows were not a common accessory in the Tudor times and almost no surviving paintings features them. The bows are of the same green colour and has been sewn onto a yellow fabric. The sleeves are interesting; the same white wavy shapes appears in the most famous portrait of Jane Seymour. The sleeves are cream coloured with braidings and embroideries of a slightly darker tone
The edge of the gown's sleeve is decorated with a very wide brim of dark brown fur - a sign of wealth. The white chemise is visible at the hands and obviously at the neckline - the neckline of the bodice has been decorated with pearls. Notice the white strips of fabric between the bodice and the sleeves; normally a gown would be sewn together at this particular area which was sometimes "highlighted" by a contrasting colour. Furthermore, "Catherine" is wearing a silver cross pendant along with dark beads that is attached to the back of her neck.

"Catherine" is wearing a gable hood with its characteristic square shape - the frame has been decorated with the same sort of pearls that were used for the bodice. The rest of the hood has been made out of a dark brown fabric.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Golden Dove Blue

Vanessa Redgrave portrays Mary, Queen of Scots in the movie of the same name from 1971. It features the classic Elizabethan ruff coloured in a pale blue to match the gown. Similar laces are applied to the edge of the sleeves. The upper part of the bodice is lavishly embroidered with flowers and leaves of golden thread. The sleeves has been sewn in a manner that drapes the fabric and adds volume; the string that makes out the volume matches the golden colour of the embroideries.
The corset fits the traditional Elizabethan stiff corset that made the wearer's stomach unnaturally flat. The colour is an almost metallic dove blue.

Close-up of the upper part of the bodice

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Richard Rich, Baron Rich

Richard Rich was born in London but exactly when is unknown - sources placed Richard's age as 54 in 1551 which would place his birthday at 1497. His father was Richard Rich (Baron Rich was surely named after his father) and Joan Dingley. We know that he acted as a lawyer in 1516. At the time Cardinal Wolsey was enjoying great power at court which attracted many hopeful young men who wished to advance in the world. Richard was one of these men who wrote to the Cardinal to ask for his patronage. However, it was not Cardinal Wolsey but Thomas Audley who procured the a place as Member of Parliament for Richard in 1529.

Audley's friendship would prove valuable to Richard and in 1533 he was knighted and was given the title of Solicitor General under the service of Thomas Cromwell - this position would mean that Richard would be a part of the demolishing of the monasteries. Rich's legal education meant that he became involved with the trials of both Thomas More and Bishop Fisher - later Richard would also work for the downfall of Thomas Cromwell. It was Richard Rich who went to Kimbolton Castle where Catherine of Aragon had been exiled to. He was to make an inventory of all the ex-Queen's possessions as well as providing Henry VIII with legal advice as to how the King could claim her possessions.

This work for Henry VIII paid off and on April 19 1536 he was made Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations. Of course there was a material up-side as well. The former priory of Leighs was transferred into Richard's possession as well as hundreds of manors in Essex. Richard was a catholic; something he would continue to be during the reigns of the Protestant Edward VI and Elizabeth I. The infamous trial of Anne Askew was closely tied to Richard as well. Along with Chancellor Wriothesley, Richard personally turned the wheels of the rack used to torture Anne Askew.

Richard remained a faithful servant to Henry VIII and would become the first Baron Rich following his contribution to the will of Henry VIII. In March 1547 he became Chancellor. Richard knew where the reins of power would lay after the death of Henry VIII and soon proclaimed his support of Edward Seymour as Lord Protector. He would assist Edward in the prosecution of Thomas Seymour and the strict politics of the Lord Protector. But when the situation became grave in 1549 Richard left court for Warwick. He would see the fall of yet another great man when he presided over Edward Seymour's trial in the last month of 1551 - a month later Richard resigned as Chancellor.
Despite his official resignation of the title of Chancellor Richard still possessed power at court. Being a catholic he gained the favour of Mary I for whom he would aid in the prosecution of Protestants. Richard had a talent for surviving and even remained at a powerful position during Elizabeth I. On June 12 1567, Richard Rich died.

A Rising Maiden

Catherine Parr's badge depicts a young, crowned maiden rising from the core of a Tudor rose. The maiden is a symbol of youth and a innocence; the crown is of course to show Catherine's regal status. The loose hair was only used for weddings and by unmarried young ladies.
Unlike many of her predecessors as the wife of Henry VIII, Catherine looked to her family history for inspiration: the Parr family's crest consisted of a maiden.

The Atifet

The Atifet was a hat style for women during the Tudors; its design was mainly based on the French hood. it was not in fashion until the last half of the 16th century; probably because the French hood had just been introduced in the 1520's. They are characterized by their heart-shaped style instead of the "even" curve that dominates the French hood. Mary, Queen of Scots preferred this romantic style above all others and would often wear white atifets. It was common to add laces or pearls to the bonnets.

                       Another portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots wearing a
white atifet

Serious and Regal

Maria Doyle Kennedy portrays Catherine of Aragon in "the Tudors" wearing this gorgeous dark gown. Personally, I think this is the most beautiful dress worn by "Catherine" in the entire show. The main fabric of the gown is of a lush black velvet. The bodice and the petticoat are beautifully embroidered with a silver/grey thread adorned with bright pearls.
Close-up of the embroideries
It is hard to see in most shots of the episode but the sleeves beneath the velvet is closely ruffled to the wrist.
The neckline has not been decorated with jewels or a different fabric but the magnificent jewels of gold, onyx and rubies makes up for that in every way.

Close-up of the ruffled wrist

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Who was responsible for the boiling of Richard Roose?

Richard Roose was the cook of Bishop John Fisher and became the first victim of a change in the law that now made it legal to boil people alive as a capital punishment. Bishop John Fisher had had guests who died after eating a soup prepared at the Bishop's house - the Bishop himself survived.

Immediately the cook was pointed out as guilty of poisoning. Henry VIII changed the law (as he would do on other circumstances) and hereby sentenced Richard Roose to a horrible execution: he was to be boiled alive. On April 15, 1532 Richard Roose was taken to Smithfield where he was boiled alive in a large cauldron in front of a large crowd. His execution is estimated to have lasted for two entire hours.

Rumours circled at court that it was not the cook who had poisoned the soup but someone else far closer to the crown itself. The courtiers were quick to name Anne Boleyn and her fraction as the real poisoners. It would seem logical that the Boleyns wanted to assassinate Bishop Fisher due to his refusal to acknowledge Anne as Queen - however the Bishop would be beheaded not long after. But was it true?

The answer must be no. There was - and still is - no evidence that either Anne or anyone in her fraction had bribed the cook to poison the Bishop. But the rumour remained, lurking in the background; it was one of the many rumours that aimed at demeaning Anne Boleyn and make her look like .. well, a witch. Henry VIII certainly never believed it and he was even said to have cruelly exclaimed: "I cooked the cook!" as a joke to his courtiers. It is still unknown who actually poisoned the Bishop and his guests - it would seem strange that the cook should poison his master when he does not appear to gain anything from it.