Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Tudors Season 4: As Fat As Henry Gets...

Well, my friends, here it is...
a preview photo of Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII circa 1543 when he marries Kateryn Parr, played by Joely Richardson.

Looks like this is as fat and old as Henry VIII will get for us in The Tudors.
I've stated many times that it doesn't bother me much that they went with a man who does not resemble (portraits of) Henry VIII in the least. It was easy for me to look past the lack of resemblance and imagine instead the spirit and attitude - especially in Henry's youth.

However, I'm struggling a little more with it as they try age him. I will reserve judgement until I see season 4 and experience JRM's portrayal, but going by this photo, I am not counting on sharing the producers' vision.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Tudors Replay

Some very exciting programming news (for American subscribers) from Showtime...

Just after the first of the year, Showtime plans to prepare for the new upcoming season of The Tudors as it has done every year, by replaying last season first. Since April will mark the fourth and final season of the series, Showtime plans to replay the entire series, beginning with Season 1 starting on January 3, 2010!!! We will be able to watch everything start to finish.

That's right, we get to watch Michael Hirst's intense portrayal of Henry's love affair with Anne Boleyn and Natalie Dormer's brilliant portrayal of the doomed queen of the thousand days, all over again.

(Okay, I own the DVDs and watch it all the time... but there's something about flipping through channels and stumbling upon it!)

And so it begins...

A Christmas Walk with Anne Boleyn

Fancy a walk after that big Christmas dinner? For the first time ever, the gardens at Hever Castle will be open for two days between Christmas and the New Year. You can take a winter walk at Hever - the Kentish childhood home of Anne Boleyn - on Bank Holiday Monday or Tuesday, December 29.

See the picturesque castle, grounds and 38-acre lake as it is in the winter time and place a New Year’s wish upon the Wishing Tree in the formal gardens.

The first part of the castle, the gatehouse and walled bailey, was built in 1270. In the early 1500s the Bullen family bought the castle and built a Tudor dwelling within its walls where Anne would spend her formative years before captivating King Henry VIII and setting England in a roar.

After enjoying the scenery, you can warm up in the Moat Restaurant, with a hot seasonal meal and homemade cakes.

Log on to for more details.

**Photo of Hever taken May 26, 2009 by Kristian Gamble - do NOT use without permission.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On December 16, 1485
Katherine of Aragon was born in Madrid, Spain, the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile.

Katherine was married by proxy to Arthur, Prince of Wales, (son of Henry VII) at the age of 13. By the age of 15, she was a widow in a foreign country where she didn't speak the language.

Not wanting to lose her dowry, Henry VII kept her captive in England for seven years until his death in 1509. By the age of 23, she was married to Arthur's brother, Henry VIII and crowned Queen of England.

Katherine was pregnant many times but she and Henry had only one surviving child: the future Queen Mary I. Not comfortable leaving his dynasty to a girl, after 24 years of marriage, Henry had their marriage annulled in order to marry Anne Boleyn. The drama of losing so many children and then the love of her husband, combined with the fight to hold onto Henry and the crown ruined Katherine's health and looks.

She would die at age 50, broken and alone at Kimbolton Castle, having been separated from her daughter for more than four years.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tudor Art

Due to my schoolwork I have been neglecting my posts here at The Tudor Blog. I have tried to squeeze in as much reading on English history as possible -- mostly at night, in bed, after my studies.

But research and commentary has fallen by the wayside for now.

The only thing I have done is to sketch a few of the more recognizable portraits of the Tudor era (or just after). I will post a few of these sketches here and welcome your feedback!

My first sketch: Anne Boleyn.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Tudors: It's a WRAP!

The Showtime series The Tudors has just wrapped filming of the fourth and final season in Ireland.

I have very mixed feelings on the subject after my disappointment in season three... but in general, I am sad it is over. I also have very high hopes for season four, with the execution of Catherine Howard, Joely Richardson as Kateryn Parr and finally, the death of Henry VIII.

The huge project that was The Tudors was a very big event every year for the past four in Ireland. In honor of that, there is an excellent special feature on the IFTN (Irish Film & Television Network) website.
I'm VERY proud of Tudors' creator and writer Michael Hirst for FINALLY hitting back at Historian David Starkey for his non-stop criticism of himself and the show! Go Michael!!!
Check it out here!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Everyone Loves Wolf Hall

The accolades continue to roll in for Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
This one - so perfectly worded - from iconic American musician Roseanne Cash:

Just when I thought I couldn't absorb or enjoy one more thing about the court of Henry VIII, a book arrives that makes everything else seem like amateur hour. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is written in such an elegant and natural voice, so well-researched and rich in detail that it's an exciting excursion to a time and a story that I thought I already knew well.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On November 12, 1555, During the reign of Mary I, Parliament re-establishes Catholicism as the Church of England - in an ironic twist - on the very day that devout Catholic, Steven Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor, dies.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Book Review: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

So much has already been written about Hilary Mantel's biography of Thomas Cromwell that I can hardly find something new to add.

If you enjoy reading historical fiction or anything about Tudor England, you will surely enjoy this book.

However, something must also be mentioned about the writing itself. The first thing that struck me about Wolf Hall was how very funny it was. Mantel has imagined Cromwell as a sardonic, witty, funny man who banters as easily with kings as he does with base born boys whom he takes into his home to educate in accounting or counter-intelligence. I especially enjoyed his conversations with Cardinal Wolsey.

Like so many authors, I do think there are pages on which Mantel was slightly too wordy in her descriptions... (I find myself thinking, Ok, I get it) but overall, Wolf Hall is incredibly entertaining and fully deserved the Man Booker Prize it won.

I am so looking forward to the sequel!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Tudors: Season 4 Premiere... with a FAT Henry???

Just got my press release from Showtime...

The Tudors Season Four will premier on Sunday night April 11th.
Looking forward to seeing the fall of Kitty Howard and Joely Richardson as Kateryn Parr. Here's a peek at Joely arriving on set in Ireland...

Gossip Columnist Liz Smith recently wrote a piece for Variety that claims that Jonathan Rhys Meyers has agreed to allow make-up artists on set to properly age him.

Interestingly, other outlets picked-up this story and claim in their items that he will be fat in the final season. Nowhere in that interview does Jonathan or Liz state that Henry will be corpulent, or for that matter even the least bit pudgy!!!

In fact, here is the excerpt from Variety:

He will now appear as the older, more debauched Henry VIII. I am told that Jonathan has actually consented to "some aging." After all, he was, from the beginning, such an unlikely -- though brilliant -- choice for the role of the red-haired English monarch, and he got through most of this amazing series looking ravishing.

Look for the graying hair and prosthetic wrinkles, but don't expect Jonathan to pull a Tom Cruise... Here is a shot of JRM on set of season 4... a lil gray, but NOT fat!

However... they DO seem to be fattening the delicious Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk. Here's a photo posted on the TudorsWiki on

How Hilary Mantel wrote Wolf Hall

From the Wall Street Journal:

British novelist Hilary Mantel likes to write first thing in the morning, before she has uttered a word or had a sip of coffee. She usually jots down ideas and notes about her dreams. "I get very jangled if I can't do it," she says.

She's an obsessive note taker and always carries a notebook. Odd phrases, bits of dialogue and descriptions that come to her get tacked to a 7-foot-tall bulletin board in her kitchen; they remain there until Ms. Mantel finds a place for them in her narrative.

Ms. Mantel spent five years researching and writing the book, "Wolf Hall," her Booker Prize-winning Tudor drama set in the court of Henry VIII, out in the U.S. this month. The trickiest part was trying to match her version to the historical record. To avoid contradicting history, she created a card catalogue, organized alphabetically by character. Each card contained notes showing where a particular historical figure—such as protagonist Thomas Cromwell, Henry's adviser—was on relevant dates.

"You really need to know, where is the Duke of Suffolk at the moment? You can't have him in London if he's supposed to be somewhere else," she says.

One day, she was in a panic over how she would fit everything she needed to into the novel. She took a shower—her usual head-clearing ritual. "I burst out of the shower crying 'It's two books!'" says Ms. Mantel, who is writing a sequel that will end with Cromwell's beheading in 1540.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On October 24, 1537, Jane Seymour, third wife of King Henry VIII, died of puerperal (or childbed) fever. She was 29 years old and had just given Henry the one thing he wanted most in the world: a legitimate, living, male child, the future King Edward VI.

I find Jane Seymour to have been a fascinating creature -not in the same way I admire Anne Boleyn - but as one of the greatest contradictions in history.

She became a maid-of-honour in 1532 to Queen Katherine and then famously served Queen Anne Boleyn - putting her in the path of the king. The first report of Henry VIII's interest in Jane Seymour was in February 1536. Pale, blonde, quiet and malleable, Jane Seymour was everything that Anne was not.

She was not educated as highly as King Henry's previous wives, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. She could read and write a little but was much better at needlework and household management. Because of this, Jane expressed her opinions to Henry far less often and was not obstinate and argumentative like the ladies who came before her. However, when she did venture to talk to Henry about something, it was about his closing (and looting) of the religious houses and to request pardons for participants in the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion. At this, Henry is said to have reminded her of the fate her predecessor met with when she "meddled in his affairs."

After her death at Hampton Court Palace, Henry wore black for the next three months and did not remarry for three years, although marriage negotiations were tentatively started soon after her death. She was Henry's favourite wife because, historians have speculated, she gave birth to a male heir. When he died in 1547, Henry was buried beside her in St. George's Chapel at Windsor.

The reason I find her such a contradiction is because she has successfully retained the image of wholesome, sweet, complaisant queen these 500 years despite doing EXACTLY what Anne Boleyn did, only better! But it's Anne who is called the conniving concubine, the whore. There has always been extensive writing and talk about the Boleyns being grasping social-climbers, but the Seymours were NO BETTER! BOTH of Jane's brothers were eventually executed for treason after using her memory to build fortunes and careers.

As for sweet Jane herself, when Henry first offered his affections, she certainly didn't discourage him out of deference to her queen or respect for marriage vows. She learned from Anne that she didn't have to be JUST a mistress and that a lady-in-waiting could usurp a queen and she did just that. There is every evidence that she knew exactly what her relationship with Henry was doing to his marriage. Besides the realization dawning on Henry that Anne, like Katherine, would not provide him with a living son, Anne's jealousy of Jane was causing many a row between them.

This is not to say that Henry wouldn't have found a way to be rid of Anne had he not fallen for Jane. But without a woman waiting in the wings, would Henry have chosen execution? After all, the debacle with Katherine was still fresh in his mind and he didn't want to have to wait to marry Jane and get a male heir while he argued and went to court with Anne. What could be faster and less hassle than beheading a woman one day and getting engaged the next!?

Jane's kindness to the Lady Mary (Katherine's daughter) and the Lady Elizabeth (Anne's daughter) is the one area in which I can never fault her. Unlike Anne, Jane was a loving, devoted step-mother no matter whose child. She made Henry settle into a somewhat normal family life and give his daughters the attention they deserved. In this way, Jane was as advertised.

But I despise the notion (and written history) that Jane was a witless simp who happened to be in the right place at the right time. She didn't need a formal education to know that she had the power - and she used it. This reputedly innocent woman and her family certainly had a part in the downfall and death of Anne, yet somehow escaped the accusing eye of history.

I took this photo, to the right, just outside the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. The plaque combines Henry VIII's coat of arms with Jane Seymour's, held by angels under a crown with gold Tudor roses and Henry's motto across the bottom. Just above the motto and on either side of the shield are their initials "H" and "I" entwined in lovers' knots. Click on the photo to enlarge to see the initials. (The I is for Iana or Iohanna - Jane in Latin) There is also a plaque inside the chapel that claims Jane's heart was buried there.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Help Needed at Anne Boleyn's Birthplace

This is yet another one of those times that I wish I lived in the UK...

Gardeners, greeters and guides are needed as volunteers at one of Norfolk's most recognisable estates. Blickling Hall, near Aylsham, is looking to recruit between 20 and 30 helpers to run the mansion and grounds when the house reopens next year after the winter break. There are already more than 350 people giving their time for free at the National Trust property but thanks to the renewed interest in all things Tudor and Anne Boleyn, the estate needs more like 400. Blickling is believed to be the birthplace of Henry VIII's second wife.

They are looking for everything from house stewards, meet and greeters, book shop volunteers, RAF museum, restaurant, shop, even administration help. There are also jobs to be taken on the 5000 acres, from gardening to tree felling, and many volunteers will often adopt more than one role to keep the work varied.

Workers can decide for themselves how often they help out - whether for days at a time or just for a few hours - although they are asked to do a minimum of four hours a week or fortnight.

Blickling sees more than 110,000 visitors a year. Planning a visit? The house closes at the end of October until February, but the gardens are open throughout the year, as is the restaurant. Beginning next year, the grounds will be open seven days a week, with the house open five days a week.

The Vatican gets Revenge on Henry VIII!!!

And once again, a woman is at the center of the controversy between the Pope and the Church of England!

Following representations from English Anglicans alarmed by the prospect of women bishops, the Catholic Church has offered them the ultimate remedy. In an extraordinary move and with no forewarning, Pope Benedict XVI has created a structure that will allow conservative male clergy and their congregations to remain Anglican in all but name under female-free Vatican protection.

The details of the new structure have not yet been announced, but presumably the erstwhile Anglicans will be allowed to continue using Anglican worship services in Anglican-style parishes while being officially members of the Catholic Church. Pretty sneaky, huh?

For some time, married Anglican priests have been accepted by Rome while retaining their wives, but only on a case-by-case basis. (Ahem, Cardinal Wolsey, anyone?) Apart from their married status, they have had to forgo the culture of Anglicanism and embrace the fullness of Catholic polity. The new structure seems to offer conservatives the best of both worlds from their perspective.

This is not by any means the first split in the Anglican Church, a church created as a separate entity by Henry VIII in 1534 when an earlier Pope refused to give him permission to divorce Katherine of Aragon. There have been numerous others, caused by disputes over the relationship between church and state. But this one, just like the original split, can be attributed to women.

King Henry wanted his divorce so he could marry Anne Boleyn. Centuries later women bishops are fast becoming a reality for the worldwide Anglican Church. Twenty years after the first woman bishop was consecrated in the US, and 65 years after the first woman priest was ordained by the Bishop of Hong Kong, there are now 24 women bishops around the world, including two in Australia: Kay Goldsworthy in Perth and Bishop Barbara Darling in Melbourne.

A vociferous minority protests that women are not acceptable as leaders in the Anglican Church. This is ironic, given that a woman - Queen Elizabeth II - has been Supreme Governor of the Church of England for the past 57 years, and her ancestor Elizabeth I - Anne Boleyn's daughter - was the monarch who entrenched a reformed Church of England.

Despite these female leaders, some argue that a few verses in the Bible deny women authority over men; these verses were used for centuries to prevent women from having an equal role in society, not just in the church. (Other verses, including the example of Jesus himself, support the full equality of women.)

Those bishops and clergy who petitioned Rome for this indulgence are no doubt mostly conservative clergy who have longed for the security of the Catholic Church for aesthetic, theological and psychological reasons. They want to belong to what they see as the ''true'' church, but either their married state or their sentimental attachment to cultural Anglicanism has held them back. Such longings well pre-date the emergence of women clergy in the Anglican Church.

From the Roman perspective, it is a means of demonstrating to its own restive nuns and lay women that there is no hope of female equality in the foreseeable future. It may, however, lead to some heart-searching for Catholics concerned about the impact that priestly celibacy continues to have on their Church. How can it be unacceptable for home-grown clergy to marry but OK for the imports from Anglicanism?

It will be interesting to see how many Anglican clergy and laity actually go over to Rome and how long they stay. The Anglican Church has a much more democratic polity than the Catholic Church. Anglican vicars and parishes have a significant degree of autonomy and Anglicans have decision-making powers through diocesan and national synods. They participate in the election of their bishops. They help decide how church finances will be spent. Will they adjust easily to the complete obedience required by Papal autocracy? Again.

It's 1533 all over again...

Friday, October 9, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On October 9, 1514, Mary Tudor (sister of King Henry VIII) marries King Louis XII of France. This marriage set in motion several important relationships in Tudor History.

Mary Tudor, known as the most beautiful princess in Europe of the time, was very close to her brother, Henry, when they were children—he named his daughter and the warship, Mary Rose, in her honour.

Cardinal Wolsey negotiated a peace treaty with France, and at the age of 18, Mary was married 52-year-old King Louis XII at Abbeville.

Despite two previous marriages, the king had no living sons and sought to produce an heir; but Louis died less than three months after the wedding, reputedly worn out by his exertions in the bedchamber! Their union produced no children. Following Louis's death, King Francis I made attempts to arrange a second marriage for the beautiful widow. Mary was almost certainly already in love with Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. When her brother sent Brandon to bring her back to England, he made Brandon promise not to propose to her because he wanted to marry her off to his advantage again. It didn't work: the couple went against Henry's orders and married in secret. Although this is treason, Wolsey intervened on their behalf and got them off with a heavy fine.

Mary Tudor's first marriage also put into motion the famous French education of Anne Boleyn. Anne was sent to France to attend Mary as one of her Maids of Honor and stayed to serve at the court of King Francis and Queen Claude when the Dowager Queen returned to England.

It has often been stated that it was the charms learned in France with which Anne was able to beguile King Henry.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Award Winning New Book on the Tudors!

Not long ago, I'd read that publishing companies had to put an embargo on historical fiction involving the Tudors. With the success of Philippa Gregory, authors the world over flooded the market with their spin on Henry and his six wives. Despite the renewed interest in the Tudors, publishers felt that there just weren't enough interested readers to support the number of books being written.

Taking this into consideration, it is even more of an accomplishment that a book on the Tudors has just won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for fiction. The Man Booker Prize, first awarded in 1969, promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year and this year's prize went to Hilary Mantel for her novel "Wolf Hall."

In the same way that "A Man For All Seasons" told the Tudor story by looking at Sir Thomas More's life, "Wolf Hall" gives us yet another view of King Henry VIII's "Great Matter"; this time by focusing on Thomas Cromwell. The story takes us through Cromwell's humble upbringing, abuse at the hands of his father, his rise as Cardinal Wolsey's protege, and eventual stardom at court as King Henry VIII's right-hand man. Mantel does not take us through his fall, as the novel closes with the execution of Henry's prior right-hand man, Sir Thomas More.

I have not yet read "Wolf Hall," so I am not trying to give it a favorable review or a recommendation with this post. I do, however, look forward to reading the book after the positive review in the NY Times and now the Man Booker Prize. What's clear is that although the story may be worn a bit thin, Mantel has found an award-winning new way of telling it.

More good news for my fellow voracious Tudor readers: Hilary Mantel is currently working on the sequel. (Although it took her five years to write Wolf Hall - so we must be patient!)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On October 6, 1542, Sir Thomas Wyatt died around the age of 39.

Outlining Wyatt's fascinating life and career is a task to which I am not equal tonight. I will, however, state that it was my personal belief that although Thomas certainly seemed to have nursed a fairly intense crush on Anne Boleyn, I do not believe that were was ever more than a flirtation and that it was primarily one-sided. Despite it being one of my favorite and one of the sexiest scenes in episode one of Season 2 of The Tudors, I do not believe there was ever a physical relationship between Wyatt and Anne. But Wyatt's passion for her certainly inspired some amazing writing.

My favorite Wyatt poem, believed to be written about Anne Boleyn:


Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind!
But as for me, alas, I may no more;
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that furthest come behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow; I leave off therefore,
Since in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I, may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain,
There is written her fair neck round about,
"Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

On hiatus...

I have had a tragic death in my family, so I will be taking a little break from posting here at The Tudor Blog.

Monday, September 7, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On September 7, 1533, Queen Anne Boleyn gave birth to a daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth I, in Greenwich Palace in the Chamber of Virgins between three and four o'clock in the afternoon (much to the disappointment of her father, King Henry VIII).

Elizabeth was born a princess, but after the fall of her mother, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth was declared illegitimate and Anne was executed. Her brother, Edward VI, also cut her out of the succession. His will was set aside, and in 1558 Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister, Queen Mary I, during whose reign she had been imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.

Despite her father's disappointment in her gender, Elizabeth would go on to be one of the greatest British monarchs of all time... though she would be the last Tudor on the throne because she died childless.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

September 1, 1532, Lady Anne Boleyn is made Marquess of Pembroke in her own right.
Henry VIII's relationship with Anne Boleyn helped to solidify an alliance with France. Anne and Henry planned a meeting with the French king, Francis I, at Calais in winter 1532, in which Henry hoped to enlist the Francis's support for his intended marriage. In order to make it proper that Anne be welcomed at the French court on this visit, Henry endowed Anne with an appropriate rank. She was created Marquess of Pembroke, and became the most prestigious non-royal woman in the English realm. The Pembroke title was significant for the Tudor family because Henry's great-uncle, Jasper Tudor, had held the title of Earl of Pembroke; and Henry performed the investiture himself.
The investiture was also significant in not only what it endowed upon Anne, but why.
As Marquess of Pembroke, Anne was given a male style and was the only woman in English history to be given a male title. She was also given extensive lands which would bring her thousands of pounds per year, making her also the richest common lady in the realm. But it was the wording of the letters patent which made this investiture so interesting...

The title was not only given to Anne in her own right, but it would pass then to the heirs of her body. They purposely left out word "legitimate" when referring to her heirs. Henry VIII was quite obviously hedging his bets where his divorce from Katherine of Aragon was concerned! He was making sure that any children he got on Anne would inherit and be members of the peerage.

It is unclear (to me) as to whether Anne's title and lands were absorbed by the crown upon her marriage or forfeited to the crown upon her execution for treason.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I have been a naughty, naughty blogger!

I am in the final days before I return to school for the first time in 20 years in order to start a new career and I have spent most of my time preparing for class and enjoying the freedom of a social life!
I have also been finishing up reading the stash of Tudor books I purchased before I can no longer afford to read for pleasure.

I am happy to report that at least one wonderful thing happened during this downtime...

"The Tudors" and actress Natalie Dormer were nominated for several Gemini Awards by Canada's Cinema and Television Academy. While I would still prefer to have seen Natalie get the nod for awards here or in the UK, I am thrilled someone will acknowledge her incredible performance as Anne Boleyn in season two of The Tudors.
I still go back to my DVDs and replay her brilliant portrayal of Anne upon the miscarriage of her son (and likely savior) and then, of course, Anne's imprisonment and execution. It was this final episode - portraying her beheading - for which Natalie was nominated as Best Actress. (Ep. 2.10)

Among the series' other 10 nominations were the usual: writing, costumes, etc...

For all it's historical inaccuracies and faults, I still believe these few episodes of The Tudors to be the penultimate representation of Anne Boleyn's last days. And no one has moved me nearly as much in the role as Natalie Dormer.

Congratulations on the nominations and I will next celebrate your win!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On August 19, 1561, the 18-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, arrived in Leith, Scotland to assume throne after spending 13 years in France.
Mary was the only surviving legitimate child of King James V. She was six days old when her father died and made her Queen of Scotland. Her mother, Mary of Guise, assumed regency and her daughter was crowned nine months later. She was sent to France for her upbringing and prepared for marriage to the dauphin.
In 1558, she married Francis, Dauphin of France, who ascended the French throne as Francis II in 1559. However, Mary was not Queen of France for long; she was widowed on 5 December 1560.
After her husband's death, Mary returned to Scotland, arriving in Leith on 19 August 1561. Four years later, she married her first cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. In 1567, Darnley was found dead and it was rumored that Mary conspired with her next husband, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, in Darnley's murder.
Mary was imprisoned and forced to abdicate the throne in favour of her one-year-old son, James VI in June, 1567. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, Mary fled to England seeking protection from her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, whose kingdom she hoped to inherit. Elizabeth, however, ordered her arrest. Mary would continue to be a thorn in the protestant Queen Elizabeth's side because she was Catholic and a blood claimant to the throne of England. In 19 years of imprisonment in England, Mary never ceased to conspire with Catholics to depose Elizabeth and claim the English throne. It would be her undoing.
After a long period of custody in England, she was tried and executed for treason in 1587.

Friday, August 14, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On August 14, 1473, Lady Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury was born - the last legitimate member of the House of Plantagenet.
Lady Salisbury was Godmother and sponsor to King Henry VIII's daughter with Katherine of Aragon, Princess Mary, later Queen Mary I. She was also appointed Mary's Governess until Henry had Mary declared illegitimate and placed in Princess Elizabeth's household.
After Margaret's son, Reginald Cardinal Pole, published a treatise critical of Henry for leaving Katherine and marrying Anne Boleyn, the King systematically dismantled and executed the Poles while Reginald stayed safe over seas.
On My 28th, 1541, Lady Salisbury was executed on the Tower Green.
According to some accounts, Lady Salisbury, who was 67 years old, frail and ill, was dragged to the block, but refused to lay her head on it, having to be forced down. As she struggled, the inexperienced executioner's first blow made a gash in her shoulder rather than her neck. Ten additional blows were required to complete the execution. A less reputable account states that she leapt from the block after the first clumsy blow and ran, pursued by the executioner, being struck eleven times before she died. She was buried at the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula and beatified a martyr by the Catholic Church.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On August 8, 1503, Princess Margaret of England, eldest daughter of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, travels north and officially marries James IV of Scotland at Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh. Margaret had actually been considered queen consort since the Treaty of Perpetual Peace was signed and she was married by proxy in 1502.
The couple would have six children, although only one would live past infancy and become King James V. King James IV died at the hands of her brother's army at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, leaving Margaret as a pregnant Dowager Queen of Scots, Regent for her sons, and a not very seasoned or clever stateswoman. (She remarried quickly, removing her from power.) Margaret married Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus (known by his own kin as "witless") and by him had a daughter, Lady Margaret Douglas (future countess of Lennox and mother of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley - future husband of Mary, Queen of Scots). The pair had fled to England, but Angus soon abandoned his wife and returned to Scotland to live with his mistress. Margaret was able to obtain a divorce from the Pope, but was (ironically) heavily criticized by her brother, Henry VIII. Margaret moved on to husband number 3, Henry Stuart, Lord Methven and both became advisors to her son, King James V.
Despite being the elder sister of King Henry VIII, Margaret's children were originally eliminated from the line of succession to the throne of England by Henry VIII. However, when the Tudor Dynasty died with a childless Elizabeth I, the English throne passed through Margaret's heirs. Her great-grandson, James VI of Scotland, became James I of England, thus uniting the crowns of the two countries and conferring on Margaret something of a posthumous triumph.

Also on August 8, 1588, the Royal Navy of Queen Elizabeth I drove the Spanish Armada from the Strait of Dover in the Battle of Gravelines, forcing them to head home. Troops were still held at ready in case the Spanish army of the Duke of Parma might yet attempt to invade from Dunkirk.
On 8 August Old Style (18 August New Style), the Queen left her bodyguard before the fort at Tilbury and went among her subjects, with an escort of six men, in white with a silver cuirass and mounted on a grey gelding. She was flanked on horseback by her Lieutenant General the Earl of Leicester on the right, and on the left by the Earl of Essex, her Master of the Horse.

She gave to them what is probably her most famous speech:
"My loving people, we have been persuaded by some that we are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes for fear of treachery; but, I do assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear, I have always so behaved myself, that under God I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and goodwill of my subjects; and, therefore, I am come amongst you as you see at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of battle, to live or die amongst you all — to lay down for my God, and for my kingdoms, and for my people, my honour and my blood even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king — and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which, rather than any dishonour should grow by me, I myself will take up arms — I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness, you have deserved rewards and crowns, and, we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Antonia Fraser is a Funny Lady...

Biographer Antonia Fraser felt the need to respond to an item printed about her in the British tabloid Tatler. I hope you enjoy her explanations as much as I did, especially the one about Jane Seymour!

Tatler got it wrong about me and Marie Antoinette

I do not read Tatler. So it was left to my 13-year-old granddaughter to inform me that I had been placed at No 7 on Tatler's list of "most-invited" people. But I should like to clear something up which might otherwise lead to a period of social stagnation. I do not, as Tatler and Gold claimed, mourn Marie Antoinette for the whole of the first half of October: only on 16 October, the date of her execution. This year I shall be in deepest black, incidentally, at the Cheltenham festival, preparing to talk about Mary Queen of Scots. I mourn her on 8 February.

At least Oliver Cromwell was ritually executed after his death so there's no need for precise mourning. On the other hand, as his biographer, I feel I must pay tribute to him – after all, I have profited from him, as it were, so why should I not make some gesture of respect? The answer with Cromwell is 3 September: the day on which he died in 1658, but also termed by him his "most fortunate day". He won both the battles of Dunbar and Worcester on that date, and in my unsubstantiated opinion, delayed his death to fit in. The anniversary has been taken over by the second world war, so one could sneak into the Churchill Museum incarnating the war cabinet rooms and have a quick pious reflection.

Now to Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, among other decapitated women I have written about and annually commemorate: to save time, I suggest a day-long tour of the six tombs of the six wives of Henry VIII. You begin with the Tower of London for Boleyn and Katherine, first cousins and, respectively, second and fifth wives. On to St George's Chapel where poor old Jane Seymour lies beneath Henry VIII himself: we shall spare a thought for that predicament. On again to Sudeley Castle, near Cheltenham, where lies Catherine Parr. A swerve east to Peterborough and the marvellous tomb of Catherine of Aragon (although her age at death is given wrong). Lastly Westminster Abbey and the tomb of the fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, adjacent to the high altar.

Readers may feel that this is all mourning too far. But I repeat: since I have in a sense been lucky enough to benefit from the lives and deaths of these people, why should I not remember them? Otherwise it's a hard life, with only the parties to cheer one up.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On July 28, 1540, Thomas Cromwell was executed on charges of treason.
Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, served as King Henry VIII's chief minister from 1532 to 1540. Cromwell rose to such power because he was one of the strongest advocates of the English Reformation, the English Church's break with the papacy in Rome, something which was vital to King Henry in having his marriage to Katherine of Aragon annulled so he could marry Anne Boleyn.
Cromwell started his political career with the patronage of the Boleyn family and then, ironically, he was instrumental in the family's downfall and the execution of Queen Anne and her brother George.

Also on this day: Because Henry VIII liked nothing better than to get married the same day as a high profile execution (he was formally betrothed to Jane Seymour the day Anne Boleyn was beheaded), the King married his 5th wife, Catherine Howard, on this same day.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History: The End of a Dynasty

On this day, July 25, 1603, James VI of Scotland - son of Mary, Queen of Scots - was crowned James I, King of England and Ireland, officially bringing to an end the Tudor Dynasty and ushering the House of Stuart into the English monarchy. James VI & I celebrated his coronation with rich pageants although festivities had to be curtailed due to an outbreak of the plague in London.

Union of the Crowns
James's reign would be the first time England and Scotland were united under one monarch, although they remained separate states until the reign of Queen Anne in 1707.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Dream Vacation...

For those of you who didn't come to my blog via The Anne Boleyn Files, I want to redirect you there, as Claire is offering a special Anne Boleyn Tour next May and it promises to be an amazing week!

Ironically, it is the same tour I arranged for myself just this past May to observe the anniversary of Anne's execution and my own birthday visiting The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Hever. The major difference: they will do what I so desperately wanted to do, but couldn't, they will STAY at Hever Castle, the ancestral home of the Boleyn/Bullen family.

Space is EXTREMELY limited - only 30 places will be accepted.
If you would like more information or to book your space, go directly to The Anne Boleyn Experience.

On a personal note, I will be in school and most likely unable to afford the tour but trust me, I have done ALL the research and this is a one of a kind tour offer. There are NO Anne Boleyn-centric tours offered so if you are an Anne fan, this is a must!

**If you go on your own - as I did - and you're looking for a brilliant B&B experience just 3 miles from Hever, check out Starborough Manor in Marsh Green, Edenbridge. Call Lynn at (01732) 862152 or email her at Tell her Kris from the US sent you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kateryn Parr Cast!

Just when I stopped showing much Tudors love, they go and do something that makes me SO HAPPY!
Actress Joely Richardson has been cast as Kateryn Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife, for the fourth and final season of the Showtime series The Tudors. YES! Love, love, LOVE her! I forgave the whole 2 Jane Seymours debacle, didn't much mind Joss Stone as Anna of Cleves, but that Tamsin girl as Catherine Howard is just not right. I'm sorry, but after the parade of beauties in seasons 1 & 2, how could they cast a girl who is NOT at all attractive to play a notorious seductress?

They have completely redeemed themselves with the casting of Joely! Not only has she been fabulous in Nip/Tuck, but I loved her as Marie Antoinette in The Affair of the Necklace, opposite Mel Gibson in The Patriot and as an evil Nazi sympathizer in Shining Through. She can do period VERY well and she is a perfect age to go opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers... even if he isn't the right age or size for Henry in in the 1540's!

Fixing The Tudors?

About a week ago the Primetime Emmy Nominations were announced in Los Angeles. Now, I don't want to take anything away from the crew of the Showtime series The Tudors, so I will first congratulate them on these noms:

* Outstanding Art Direction For A Single-Camera Series
* Outstanding Casting For A Drama Series
* Outstanding Cinematography For A One Hour Series
* Outstanding Costumes For A Series
* Outstanding Hairstyling For A Single-Camera Series

I have made no secret of the fact that I was not at all satisfied with this past season of the Tudors (Season 3 in America). I am not at ALL surprised to see the lack of acting nods. This was not the finest hour for the show nor for the cast. I still believe many of them capable of delivering great performances, but this season's scripts just didn't deliver the juicy, clever story lines to which we have become accustomed.

To my great surprise, I was recently contacted about these opinions by those looking to make season 4 a greater success. Unfortunately, I cannot go into detail, as I signed a confidentiality agreement. I will say only that clearly, I am NOT alone in noticing the departure this past season and wishing for the Tudors we saw in seasons 1 & 2. (It can never be the same without the brilliant story involving Anne Boleyn and actress Natalie Dormer, but I have no doubt that writer Michael Hirst can recapture the magic!)

In my opinion, focusing too much on the Pilgrimage of Grace and other uprisings is alienating The Tudors' core audience: women. You cannot take a series for which you built a following of mainly women by focusing on a love triangle and shift it entirely to warfare and politics in season 3! It seems quite obvious to me, but we will have to see if Hirst & Co. have learned their lesson for season 4.

** On a side note, although I was - at first - understanding of the decision to not fatten Henry in the series, I have since changed my mind and believe it to be a BIG mistake.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

July 19, 1545, Henry VIII's Navy flagship The Mary Rose sank in the Solent Channel killing all but 35 of the crew on board.
During battle with the French the ship capsized due to a combination of poor design, open gun ports, bringing the ship about too quickly and bad luck. Other theories have stated the presence of Spanish mercenaries among the crew may have caused language communications problems in part leading to the gun ports being left open. Oddly, many sailors at that time could not swim: being superstitious, they regarded this as tempting fate!
On 11 October 1982 the wreck was lifted from the water by a team led by the Royal Engineers. Along with remains of around half the crew, a great number of artefacts were uncovered during excavation, including navigational and medical equipment, carpentry tools, guns, longbows, arrows with traces of copper-rich binding glue still remaining on the tips, cooking and eating utensils, lanterns, backgammon boards, playing dice, logs for the galley's ovens, and even a well-preserved shawm, a long lost predecessor of the oboe, from which a fully functioning model has since been replicated. These artefacts, and the wreck itself, are displayed at the Mary Rose museum located on the Royal Naval base in Portsmouth, England. The Mary Rose is the only 16th-century warship in the world to be recovered and put on display. The Mary Rose was likely named for Henry's sister - not his daughter as previously believed.

On July 19, 1553, Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII, replaced Lady Jane Grey as Queen of England. This day was, therefore, day 9 in the reign of "The Nine Days Queen" and the official date from which the reign of Queen Mary I is dated.
After being on the run from the machinations of the Duke of Northumberland, John Dudley, Mary had found sufficient support to ride into London in a triumphal procession. Parliament then declared Mary the rightful queen and denounced and revoked Jane's proclamation as having been coerced. Mary imprisoned Jane and her husband in the Gentleman Gaoler's apartments at the Tower of London, although their lives were initially spared. The Duke of Northumberland was executed on 21 August 1553.

Friday, July 17, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On July 17, 1586, the Babington Plot to kill Queen Elizabeth I and replace her on the throne with the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots was foiled by Sir Frances Walsingham and his spy network. It was on this date that Mary wrote the letter that would seal her fate.

Walsingham had long pleaded with Elizabeth to try her cousin Mary for treason and put her to death - to no avail. Elizabeth would not be moved to execute a fellow queen of royal blood. So when he intercepted a letter Mary wrote to young Anthony Babington concerning the plot to rescue her and assassinate Elizabeth, Walsingham used this opportunity to forge additions to the letter which would be certain to seal the fates of both Babington and Mary.

Queen Mary went on trial at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire and denied her part in the plot, but her correspondence was the evidence although many believed correctly that some of it had been forged. Mary was sentenced to death. Elizabeth finally signed her cousin's death warrant, and in February 1587, in front of 300 witnesses, Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed by beheading.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

July 12, 1543, Henry VIII married his sixth and final wife: Kateryn Parr at Hampton Court Palace. Kateryn was Henry's queen consort upon his death in January 1547.

As Queen, Kateryn was partially responsible for reconciling Henry with his daughters from his first two marriages, who would later become Queens Regnant, Mary and Elizabeth. She also developed a good relationship with Henry's son Edward, King Edward VI, and Lady Jane Grey, The "Nine Days Queen," lived with Princess Elizabeth and Dowager Queen Kateryn at Chelsea.

Kateryn Parr (the wife who "survived" in the famous mnemonic) only outlived Henry VIII by a year and a half, dying of childbed fever after giving birth to her daughter, Mary, by fourth husband, Thomas Seymour.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

King Henry Back to Work after Bender...

Jonathan Rhys Meyers was back to work this week on the set of his Showtime hit, The Tudors, after being arrested for causing a drunken brawl in Charles de Gaulle Airport last month.

Filming of the fourth and final season of The Tudors continued in County Wicklow, Ireland with Meyers sporting grey streaks in his hair and beard to portray the aging Henry VIII (although still a tenth of his real size!).

Meyers has a September court date to answer for his behavior and threats that he would "kill" the airport staff.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

July 10, 1553, Lady Jane Grey was placed on the throne as queen of England and Ireland. She was to reign only nine days.

Jane did not wish to claim the crown after the death of her cousin Edward VI on July 6. She was used as an instrument by John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, and her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk, in order to circumvent Henry VIII's will and seize power. Lady Jane had a reputation as one of the most learned women of her day. She is sometimes reckoned the first Queen regnant of England.

Jane was given a private execution on the Tower Green (as fitting for one of the royal blood) on February 12, 1554. Lady Jane Grey's claimed rule of less than two weeks in July 1553 is the shortest rule of England in the history of the country. Popular history sometimes refers to Lady Jane as "The Nine Days' Queen"

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On July 6, 1533, Sir Thomas More was executed.

More was an English lawyer, author, and statesman who in his lifetime gained a reputation as a leading Renaissance humanist scholar, and occupied many public offices, including Lord Chancellor (1529–1532). More coined the word "utopia", a name he gave to the ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in his book, Utopia, published in 1516.
A longtime friend, mentor and advisor to King Henry VIII, More resigned as Lord Chancellor and quarreled with Henry over the latter's annulment from Queen Katherine of Aragon and break with the see of Rome.

The last straw for Henry came in 1533, when More refused to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn as the Queen of England. Technically, this was not an act of treason as More had written to Henry acknowledging Anne's queenship and expressing his desire for the king's happiness and the new queen's health. His refusal to attend was widely interpreted as a snub against Anne.

More was tried and sentenced to death when he was asked and refused to sign the Act of Supremacy that declared King Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church of England. More was beheaded on a scaffold erected on Tower Hill, London, just outside the Tower of London in 1535.

Sir Thomas More was canonized by Pope Pius XI in the Roman Catholic Church in 1935.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

On This Day in Tudor History:

On June 28th, 1491 Henry Tudor was born at Greenwich Palace, the second son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. As such, Henry was never supposed to take the throne, but was destined for a life in the church until the death of his older brother and heir to the Tudor Dynasty, Arthur, in 1502. Henry succeeded his father to the throne in 1509 as Henry VIII.

This is Henry's 518th birthday.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"The Tudors" Star Arrested...Again

Amidst all of the tragic news about celebrity today, one story concerning a star of The Tudors seemed to sneak through unnoticed...

Jonathan Rhys Meyers fell off the wagon again and was arrested after attacking several people at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. The 31-year-old, who plays King Henry VIII in The Tudors, was allegedly drunk when he launched the assault in front of astonished onlookers.
"He was like a man possessed," said a witness. "He'd been drinking heavily while waiting for a flight home from France. He got into an argument with bar staff who refused to serve him any more. There was some pushing and shoving, and when a waiter intervened he was punched full in the face.
"There were further attacks on other airport employees. Rhys Meyers was shouting things like 'I'll kill you all' at the top of his voice.
"Everyone recognised him as the guy who plays Henry VIII. When the police turned up he was handcuffed and pushed on to the ground.
"He was insulting the police and saying he could buy himself out of any problems, even throwing money on the ground so as to prove how much he was worth."
The assault took place in Le Quotidien bar in terminal 2F at Charles de Gaulle airport on Saturday afternoon.
A spokesman for Paris police said Rhys Meyers was held for three hours so as to "sober up".
He was then bailed to appear before magistrates on charges of "willful violence, outrage, hitting and threatening death."
Rhys Meyers was previously arrested for being drunk and disorderly at Dublin airport in November 2007, and then went into a rehabilatation centre. He reportedly entered rehab again in 2009.
A spokesman for Rhys Meyers said he had no comment.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On this day in Tudor History:

June 24, 1509 Henry Tudor was crowned King Henry VIII of England, France and Lord of Ireland while his new wife, Catherine of Aragon was crowned queen consort at Westminster Abbey. Henry was the second Tudor monarch in the dynasty, which reigned until his daughter, Elizabeth I's death in 1603.

In a modern twist, the Historic Royal Palaces "Tweeted" as Henry VIII throughout the day yesterday, giving observations from each point in his coronation.
The celebrations and observances of the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession continue throughout the rest of the year.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tower of London Slideshow

I traveled to England last month and I'm finally getting around to organizing the photos. Here's a slideshow from the Tower of London...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hampton Court Palace Slideshow

Slideshow of my visit to Hampton Court Palace in May 2009...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Celebration of Henry VIII's Accession takes to the Thames

Actors representing Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon boarded the royal shallop 'Jubilant' at the Tower of London to travel to Hampton Court Palace in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Henry's accession to the throne. The journey upstream took them past the scene of Henry VIII's actual coronation and banquet at Westminster 500 years ago. The 'Jubilant' was built in 2002 (thus the Elizabeth Rex II flags). The Thames River Pageant lasted 4.5 hours.

Hever Castle and Kent Slideshow

Slideshow of my visit to Hever Castle and scenes from my stay in Kent...

Understanding Queen Elizabeth I

One of the reasons I feel so drawn to Anne Boleyn is because I understand her. I get her. I read biography after biography and always come to the same conclusion: had I lived in 16th century England or France, I would have been a lot like her. Yes, faults and all. (On a silly note, I have long suspected that Anne was a Gemini although we have no record of her birthdate. Recently, I read one book that confirmed that she must have been born in late May, early June.) I don't mean for this to be some sort of tribute to me, but I have often been complemented on attributes with which Anne is credited. I have long been praised for my wit, charm, cleverness and my best friend would certainly say my self-confidence and fearlessness. Hell, I made a career out of all of that in radio and TV!
I am in no way "beautiful" but I am attractive. Yes, even though I do not see myself as beautiful, I can still be quite vain. I am not above flirting to get what I want and that has sometimes led to trouble.
On an even more negative side, I have certainly had my moments of haughtiness and many have suffered my quick temper over the years. Sadly, my first reaction to stress or a grave situation can often be panic or irrational behavior. But it passes quickly. All of this adds up to understanding Anne's behavior and reactions to her life. I can see myself in her. Which is funny considering how often she is explained as an enigma or seeming to be very contrary.

Prior to learning about Anne, I had long been a fan of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth I. This is the perfect person with whom to contrast my feelings about Anne. I do not understand this woman very well at all. That's not to say that I don't "know" very much about her. I have read almost as much about Elizabeth as I have about her mother, Anne but I do not get that sense of "understanding" when I read about her decisions, comments and exploits. There are a variety of events in Elizabeth's life I do not quite understand, but none more than her attitude (or lack of) toward her tragic mother and her barbaric father.

It is often reported that Elizabeth made mention of her mother, Anne Boleyn, only once or maybe twice in her lifetime. She wore a locket ring which had her initial "E" outside and portraits of her mother and herself inside facing each other but she never discussed her nor did she ever reveal any true feelings on her mother's execution when she was only three years old. Granted, she wouldn't have much memory to draw upon but surely she deeply felt the loss?
Perhaps she spoke to close friends but they never betrayed her confidence? But even this I doubt because there are no stories of it and I think that would have been quite noteworthy.
Indeed, what's noteworthy is the lack of any stories. And this I just cannot fathom. My mother was the most imperfect soul whom I still love and miss more than words can describe. Despite her faults, I would defend her to my death.

Did no one ever ask her about her mother? Did she lash out at them or simply not reply at all?
By contrast, there is the intense respect and admiration Elizabeth always showed for her father, Henry VIII - the very man who had her mother killed!? It baffles me!

As Elizabeth grew up, she was often in the company of people who liked her mother - although they probably didn't admit this openly. Did no one try to communicate to Elizabeth her mother's deep love for her? How was this received?

Upon her accession to the throne, Mary I, daughter of Henry and Katherine of Aragon, went back and had her parents marriage validated and her bastardy erased. Elizabeth made no such moves, despite her exact same status. There is speculation by historians that Elizabeth did not follow in Mary's footsteps because this would have put into question her legitimacy and claim to the throne. Understandable - to an extent.

Wasn't her claim and legitimacy already questionable with the validation of Mary's parents' marriage? There were already many other "legitimate" claimants to the throne, couldn't she have helped her cause by validating her parents' marriage? Most of all, why didn't she have her mother's Act of Attainder reversed or thrown out?

Elizabeth - it is written - concerned herself only with the future, not with the past. Again, this is where we differ dramatically because my past colors my present and future, irrevocably. In her present and future were men whom she loved. Here again, we appear to have something in common: our desire to never marry and be treated badly by a man. But I simply can't relate to Elizabeth's suffering traitorous, vainglorious fools like the Earl of Essex. Robert Dudley, I'll give her because they shared so much from childhood. But Essex was just a glory-hound who loved nothing about her but her crown. It is said she had such vanity that she would entertains affection and attention from such fools as long as they showed devotion. Well, I can tell you that I may like the attention for a short time, but they would be out of my sight the moment they behaved the way the did toward her!!!

I will continue to read and research Elizabeth and I have the utmost respect for her work as Queen of England but like her sister Mary, I may never understand this woman as I feel I understand Anne.