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 lynn@StarboroughManor.co.uk. 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.