Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm Moving!!!

Ok, I'm not exactly moving, The Tudor Blog is moving.
For 2011 I have decided to venture out to a new address and make this blog a far more dynamic site.

Please join me at my new digs:

The new site is a work in progress, so I will keep this one live for a little while too.
C'mon over and let me know what you think of the new place.
(Sitewarming gifts are welcome ;-)

Hilarious History Lessons

Browsing The Washington Post this morning, I found an article on a hilarious You Tube Channel that uses music to teach history lessons. The History Teachers' Channel uses a combination of songs from old and new artists and video clips from famous movies on the topics cut together with live action video of actors singing a song parody. It’s pretty funny, although some desperately need to be redone and made modern.

Click here to see hits like

* The French Revolution set to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance
* Cleopatra taught to Fergalicious
* The Black Death is done with Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani

The bummer is that the Tudor videos are all older with songs that kids today will NOT know.

* Anne Boleyn is put to “Girl” by the Beatles (and very hokey with the dancing girl in an odd headdress.)
* Henry VIII is set to an ABBA song I’ve never heard
* Elizabeth I is done with She’s Not There by The Zombies
* Mary Queen of Scots to Jenny from the Block by JLo

They’re entertaining, but I do think they should update them because kids will be more interested and learn better if it’s music they can relate to!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cook Like a Tudor

Stuffed swans, blackbirds baked in a pie or roasted haunch of venison all would have had a place on Henry VIII's royal menu around this time of year, with special culinary variations for Christmas and New Year.

Now you can see exactly what the Tudors ate at the recently restored kitchens in Hampton Court Palace. The historic royal palace is offering free online cooking lessons, recipes, and historical tidbits about the 500-year-old cuisine.

Three of Henry’s favorite dishes are featured: ryschewys close and fryez (sweet and spicy Christmas dumplings), tarte owt of Lente (a rich cheese pie) and fylettys en galentyne (roast pork in caramelized onion gravy). Chef Robin Mitchener is the video guide to the Tudor palette.

If you're lucky enough to live in or be visiting London, Hampton Court Palace is offering in-person Tudor cooking demonstrations until Jan. 2. Visitors can watch chefs at work on the king’s Christmas feast. The demonstrations are included in the palace's general admission, which is about $24 per adult at the door.

Tons of Tudor Entertainment in 2011!

On the heels of the news that BBC America plans to air all four seasons of Showtime's "The Tudors" beginning January 2011, the BBC is also releasing their definitive Tudor collection on DVD in April.

(From the BBC press release)
"The Shadow of The Tower - BBC's Tudors Collection" combines the three most highly-praised, historically authentic mini-series ever produced about the great Tudor monarchs in one collectible set. From the heyday of BBC drama, these three tour-de-force dramas are meticulously researched and brilliantly acted, together winning 6 Emmy awards and 8 BAFTAs.

In The Shadow of the Tower, James Maxwell (The Portrait of a Lady) plays Henry VII, the first of the Tudor monarchs, who took over the throne after Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485; Keith Michell received an Emmy and a BAFTA for his masterful portrayal of England's infamously fickle king in The Six Wives of Henry VIII; and double-Oscar winner Glenda Jackson turns in one of the most remarkable performances in television history, transforming herself into England's Virgin Queen in Elizabeth R. All 25 episodes of these three breathtaking dramas are included in this 12-disc collection, the definitive screen portrait of England's Tudor dynasty.

The BBC Tudors Collection comes out April 12th. Along with the three minis mentioned above, the set also includes "The Other Boleyn Girl" (BBC's version with Natascha McElhone). You can pre-order it on Amazon for $111.99.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Don't Have Showtime? You're in Luck!

I was JUST thinking last night that we should hear of The Tudors coming to cable TV channels soon. It has been almost a year since season 4 aired on Showtime and sure enough, I received this on my reader this morning:

'Tudors' Reign Again On BBC America: Net Acquires Basic-Cable Rights To Showtime's Period Drama

Henry VIII, or at least Jonathan Rhys-Meyers' portrayal of him, will return to TV as BBC America has acquired the basic-cable rights to the former Showtime original drama series.

BBC America scored the right to all four seasons of the Showtime series from CBS Television Distribution. Deal terms for the 38-episode series, which will bow on Jan. 16, were not disclosed. The Tudors concluded its original run on Showtime, with a pair of Emmy scepters in hand, last spring.

BBC America will begin its re-air reign with an all-day marathon of the series on Jan. 16, when it will air the first two seasons, beginning at 9 a.m. (ET/PT). From there, the network, proffering a first look at the show to non-premium TV subscribers, will air the remaining installments on Tuesdays at 10 p.m., starting on Jan. 18.

The Tudors, an Ireland Canada Co-Production, was a presentation of Showtime in association with Peace Arch Entertainment and Take 5 Productions.

Shot in Ireland and created by English screenwriter, Michael Hirst (Elizabeth, Camelot), The Tudors also stars Jeremy Northam (Gosford Park) as Thomas More, Henry Cavill (Tristan & Isolde) as Charles Brandon, and Natalie Dormer (Casanova) as Anne Boleyn, as it covers the political, prurient and marital turbulence that marked Henry VIII's nearly 40-year reign over England in the 16th century.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I Stand Corrected, Kind of...

One of my most redeeming qualities is my ability to admit when I am wrong.

In this post about Alison Weir's book The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn I stated that "I knew I wouldn't like this book."
As it turns out, I liked this book very much.

Admittedly, I need to read it a second time in order to fully understand some of Weir's assertions about whether or not Anne was guilty of "some" crimes which may have lead to her enemies getting a foothold in the case against her. I have been having a good conversation with a reader named Sarah about Weir's meaning and I am open to the idea that I misunderstood what Weir was driving at.

But this post is about the second half of this book. I LOVED it. What Alison Weir was able to do, unlike other historians or biographers, was to capture Anne's possible feelings and moods in her final hours of this life. I attribute this to the author being a woman. Although it has been almost 5 years since I read Eric Ives' book The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, I recall vividly that it felt very forensic at times. That's not to say that it's a bad thing to present her life in that manner, but it was incredibly refreshing to read someone's take on everything from her possible emotions about her impending doom to the potential for pain and lingering thoughts at the time of beheading.

I also enjoyed the final chapter of the book where Weir recounts some of the legends and ghost stories surrounding Anne Boleyn.

All in all, a good read and different enough from all the others to make it worthy of your bookshelf or a place in your eReader's memory.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Tudors Christmas

Stuck at work in the US today I thought I'd share a favorite view of Tudor Christmas, courtesy of The Tudors on Showtime...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On December 16, 1485, Katherine of Aragon was born near Madrid, Spain.

Although I am an acknowledged fan of Katherine's nemesis, Anne Boleyn, I fondly view Katherine of Aragon as the matriarch of the Tudor Era. She certainly came to represent the first fully-educated female royal consort of the time and was, in her way, a true Renaissance woman. She would prove a ruthless regent in a time of war and, in my opinion, be Henry VIII's most formidable foe.

The youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, Katherine was quite short in stature with long, golden, auburn hair, wide blue eyes, a round face, and a fair complexion. She was descended, on her maternal side, from the English royal houses of John of Gaunt and Edward III.

At an early age, she was considered a suitable wife for Arthur, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Henry VII of England and heir to the throne, due to her overwhelmingly prominent English ancestry inherited from her mother Queen Isabella I of Castile.

The couple met on November 4, 1501, at Dogmersfield in Hampshire and ten days later, they were married at St. Paul's Cathedral. A few months later, they both became ill, and Arthur died on April 2, 1502. Katherine recovered to find herself a widow.

Not wanting to return her dowry to her father, it was agreed she would marry Henry VII's second son, Henry, Duke of York, who was five years younger than she was. However, the death of her mother meant that Katherine's 'value' in the marriage market decreased and Henry VII kept procrastinating. She lived as a virtual prisoner at Durham House in London.

In order to marry Henry, Duke of York, they needed a dispensation from the pope. To obtain this, Katherine testified her marriage to Arthur was never consummated. This would later become the keystone in her fight to keep Henry from divorcing her to marry Anne Boleyn.

Katherine's second wedding took place on 11 June 1509, seven years after Prince Arthur's death, at Greenwich Church. She was 23 years of age. The new Henry VIII was just days short of his 18th birthday. They would be crowned together Sunday, June 24, 1509, by the Archbishop of Canterbury at a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

Of Katherine's six pregnancies, only Mary I, would live to adulthood to rule England.

After an (approximately) seven year battle to hold on to her marriage and remain Queen of England, Henry VIII had Archbishop Cranmer declare their union null and void and his marriage to Anne Boleyn valid. Katherine's daughter Mary was declared a bastard and removed from the succession.

Katherine died at Kimbolton Castle, on January 7, 1536, estranged from her husband and daughter. According to the chronicler Edward Hall, Anne Boleyn wore yellow for the mourning, which has been interpreted in various ways; Polydore Vergil interpreted this as an insult and celebration of her death. However, Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys reported that it was actually King Henry who decked himself in yellow, celebrating the news and making a great show of his and Anne's daughter, Elizabeth, to his courtiers. This was seen as distasteful and vulgar.

Rumors circulated that Katherine had been poisoned, as Anne had threatened to murder both Katherine and Mary on several occasions. The rumors were born after the discovery of a black growth on Katherine's heart during her embalming. Modern medical experts are in agreement that this was likely to have been cancer, something which was not understood at the time.

On the day of Katherine's funeral, Anne Boleyn miscarried the son that probably would have been her savior, as Henry was already courting Jane Seymour and tired of Anne.

Katherine was buried in Peterborough Cathedral with the ceremony due to a Dowager Princess of Wales, not a queen. Henry did not attend the funeral and refused to allow Mary to attend.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Tudor Podcast

I am thrilled to announce a new dimension to The Tudor Blog: The Tudor Podcast!

For so long now I have been looking at ways to set my blog apart from the other Tudor Blogs I so admire, like The Anne Boleyn Files. Claire does such a wonderful job on her blog and is so much more prolific than I am that I'm just trying to find a way to beef-up The Tudor Blog a bit!

There is another reason for the development of The Tudor Podcast: I am developing a podcast for my day job and this is the perfect way to research, practice, and perfect my podcasting techniques. I get to do all of this practice utilizing topics about which I am passionate and always interested.

As I am just embarking on this project, I'm not yet sure what the topic of me first podcast will be. But I will check my 16th century calendar (yes, I have one and I am developing it for this site too!) and choose a timely topic or subject.

I am VERY interested to know what you think and whether you are interested in a podcast on Tudor topics? Feel free to leave a comment and as always, thanks for visiting The Tudor Blog.


Friday, December 10, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On December 10, 1541, Sir Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham were executed at Tyburn for their sexual relationships with Queen Catherine Howard.

Dereham was a courtier, who had an affair with the very young Catherine Howard until she was made lady-in-waiting to Henry's fourth wife Anne of Cleves. After Catherine's marriage to the King, Dereham was made a secretary at Hampton Court, an appointment possibly engineered to silence him about Catherine's previous indiscretions.

Culpeper was reportedly exceedingly attractive. He was described as 'a beautiful youth' and he was a great favorite of the King's, which placed him in Catherine's life after she became queen consort.

Culpeper was most likely using the affair and her feelings for him as leverage to gain power and control over the queen herself. Catherine, for her part, was deeply in love.

When her past relationship with Dereham was brought to the attention of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, he reported it to the King in a letter, provoking an investigation which resulted in the arrests of Dereham, Thomas Culpeper and Queen Catherine herself.

Under interrogation, Dereham admitted a pre-marital relationship with Catherine, but claimed that they were never intimate after Catherine's marriage to the King and that he had been supplanted in her affections by Culpeper.

Dereham was given a traitor's death of being hanged, drawn, and quartered. Culpeper's sentence was commuted to beheading.

Queen Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Rochford were both subsequently executed on February 13, 1542.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On December 8, 1542, Mary Stuart was born at Linlithgow Palace, Linlithgow, Scotland to King James V of Scotland and his French second wife, Mary of Guise.
Six days later, her father would die, leaving her to rule Scotland. Mary's rule was a tumultuous one and would pass to her son through her abdication before she was finally sentenced to death by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bravo to the Rarely-Staged Henry VIII

My excitement and anticipation of seeing a production of Shakespeare's Henry VIII could easily have undermined my enjoyment of the actual play. Thankfully, the cast and crew at the Folger Theatre made that an impossibility.

I went to Southeast DC an hour early to peruse the Vivat Rex! exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library. This, I can report, was slightly disappointing after touring London and Kent last year. There were a few interesting pieces on display, but it was very small and limited and there was nothing as wonderful as what I saw at Hever, NPG, and Hampton Court Palace.

The play itself was staged in a very small, intimate room designed to (sort of) mimic the interior of Shakespeare's Globe. What set this apart from many of the plays I've seen was the stage design. It was so simple and yet so dramatic. Multiple metal screens with cut-outs, positioned in a zig-zag pattern along the sides of the stage, acted as halls of Tudor palaces, London alleys, prayer closets, and even the wings from which Henry would be haunted by those who he killed or let die.

The hanging, round chandelier doubled as a second stage above the primary action. The actors used the entire room and would walk through the audience or were staged among us to witness (such as the scene of Katherine and Henry's divorce hearing at Blackfriars').

The actors were wonderful and brought more emotion to Shakespeare's words than any I've seen before. Anthony Cochrane as Wolsey was excellent and Ian Merrill Peakes was a charismatic and attractive Henry VIII. Naomi Jacobson's changing accent was slightly distracting in her Queen Katherine. She seemed to teeter between English and Irish in an attempt to sound Spanish.

Although she had few lines, I loved Karen Peakes (Ian's real-life wife) as Anne Boleyn. Let's face it, in my mind she had huge shoes to fill. Peakes brought the perfect look and grace to Anne. She is now firmly the second best Anne I've ever seen, after Natalie Dormer.

The actor who stole the show was Louis Butelli as Henry's fool, Will Sommers. The director, Robert Richmond, chose Sommers as the portal through which the story would be told, he portrayed multiple characters, and brought out all of the humor Shakespeare is so famous for weaving through his plays. Every time he stepped out on stage, I knew something funny and interesting was about to happen.

Finally, I wanted to give props to Donna Langham Studio on the lovely costuming and Rodney Gordon, Ltd. for the well done millinery.

Thrilled and Excited!

It figures that I would pick a time and place other than 21st century America with which to be obsessed!

For the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII taking the throne, I spent two weeks exploring London and Kent and had the time of my life!

Because it is such a major undertaking for me to really explore Tudor England by visiting the places which intrigue me most, I am THRILLED when an exhibit opens in the US that allows me to partake in my passion for all things Tudor. And that is just what has come to the Folger Shakespeare Library.

The Library has brought the exhibit Vivat Rex! to Washington, DC in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession to the throne. This is the exhibit by the Grolier Club in NYC last year. (Ok, so we're a year late - who cares!?)

In addition, the Folger is running the Shakespeare play "Henry VIII" until November 28th. I am beyond excited to have tickets to the play today!!! It has garnered excellent reviews and I expect to be awed. Although the play closes soon, the Vivat Rex! exhibition runs until December 30th.
For tickets or more information, visit the Folger website.

I will promptly review the play and exhibition when I return home!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pick a View and Stick to it!

As any full-time or amateur historian will tell you, pinpointing the dates of events in Tudor history is a very frustrating proposition.

Besides the fact that we are missing simple information, like birth dates for many--especially women--born between 1480 and 1603, a great deal of information has been lost over the centuries to fires and other disasters. This is not even to mention the many during the reign of Elizabeth I (and later Victorians) who tried to vindicate those beloved by their sovereign or create history where they found none.

As I read Alison Weir's latest, The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, I am frustrated by the amount of speculation required to piece together events. To a degree, I suppose that historians are happy that there are such holes in story's fabric, as new speculations sell books.

I avoided this book at first, as other reviewers pointed out what I have now read for myself: Weir's conclusion is that Anne Boleyn--while perhaps not guilty of the laundry list of offenses on which she was indicted--was guilty of something, and thus made her own bed.

What was not stated by reviewers was that a chapter or two later, Weir writes the sentence, "In a word, Anne Boleyn was framed."

This is where I begin to be angry and confused by Tudor historians. I may not agree with your theory, but I can only respect it if you choose one and stick with it!
I am not a fan of those who publicize one stance to get me to buy a book, but then hedge their bets.

I have already decided to go back and read those chapters again. Perhaps it's me and I misunderstood her meaning.

It's funny, I knew I wouldn't like this book--but was way of on the reason why.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Date is Set for a National Celebration!

Prince William and Kate Middleton have announced that they will marry on Friday, April 29, at Westminster Abbey.

Prime Minister David Cameron said it would be "a happy and momentous occasion". It will be marked by a public holiday across the UK.

Westminster Abbey was the site of the weddings of the Queen and Queen Mother and the venue for Princess Diana's funeral in 1997.

The prince's private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, said the couple chose the Abbey for its "staggering beauty", 1,000-year royal history and its feeling of intimacy despite its size.

I'm so excited and my best friend and I are already making plans to be together to watch the wedding -- just like we did when William's parents married!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Drawing the Tudors

I posted my sketch of the most famous portrait of Anne Boleyn last week. This week, I give you Wife Number 3: Jane Seymour.
Jane was, in my opinion, the least attractive of Henry's wives. But I LOVED sketching her because her dress and jewels were so ornate and stunning. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

November 17, 1558 was monumental day in Tudor—and for that matter—English history.

It was on this day that Queen Mary I died at St. James Palace and her half sister, Elizabeth I, succeeded her to the throne, beginning the fashionable, creative, amazing Elizabethan Era in England. (think Shakespeare!)Against all odds, the daughter of Queen Anne Boleyn would become one of the greatest monarchs of all time.

Mary reigned only five years but left a legacy that would always be remembered as one of persecution and execution, leaving her with the sobriquet "Bloody Mary."

Elizabeth became queen at the age of 25, and upon hearing of her accession to the throne, she is reputed to have quoted the 118th Psalm's twenty-third line, in Latin: "A Dominum factum est illud, et est mirabile in oculis notris" - "It is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Kate & Wills Tudor Connection!

Paging through all the Prince William, Kate Middleton engagement coverage today, I stumbled upon an article that connects them to the Tudors!

I guess it shouldn't be that shocking considering the royal family is related to just about all the

royal families in European history. In fact, William and Kate are even related to each other. They are 12th cousins. Considerable separation for a royal couple.

The relative who connects the royal couple is actually a tyrant from the Elizabethan Era named Sir Thomas Leighton. According to the Daily Mail Online:

'In 1587 Leighton sailed to England to advise Sir Walter Raleigh on defence. In gratitude, the Queen gave him a knighthood, and her cousin Elizabeth Knollys' hand in marriage'

The article focuses on Leighton's terrible rule as governor of Guernsey, but take note of who he married: Elizabeth Knollys.

Elizabeth Knollys was the Queen's cousin, and a relation of Anne Boleyn through her sister. Elizabeth Knollys was the granddaughter of Mary Boleyn through her daughter, Catherine Carey. The other interesting thing is that Catherine Carey has, for many years, been the subject of speculation about her patern

ity. Catherine was conceived during the time that her mother, Mary, was Henry VIII's acknowledged mistress. Although the king never claimed paternity of Catherine or even her brother, Henry.

So, we know for sure that Kate and Wills are related to Anne Boleyn, but perhaps they are related to Henry VIII as well!

Below is the lineage of Kate and William back to the last Tudor monarch.

Another Generation of Girls Will Dream of Marrying a Prince and Want This Ring

I clearly remember waking at 4 in the morning Eastern Time to watch the royal wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer. I joined the many little girls dreaming of finding her prince, being dressed in a fairy tale gown, and marrying in grand style. I even bought a replica of Diana's spectacular sapphire and diamond engagement ring, when I was old enough to afford it.

Today, as William and Kate posed for reporters, photographers, and retold the story of their engagement--just as his parents did before--Kate showed-off that very same sapphire and diamond ring that Diana wore in 1981.

According to the BBC:

William has given Kate his mother's ring. He said:

"It's very special to me. As Kate's very special to me now, it was right to put the two together."

Speaking as they stood arm-in-arm before photographers, Prince William said giving Kate his mother Diana's distinctive sapphire and diamond engagement ring was "my way of making sure my mother didn't miss out on today and the excitement".

The couple will marry in the year that would have been William's parents' 30th anniversary.

A Piece of Modern History

Taking a break from 16th century history for a moment to report modern history being made. The moment we've been waiting for has arrived: Another royal wedding!

The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton.
The wedding will take place in the Spring or Summer of 2011, in London. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course.
Prince William and Miss Middleton became engaged in October during a private holiday in Kenya. Prince William has informed The Queen and other close members of his family. Prince William has also sought the permission of Miss Middleton’s father.

Following the marriage, the couple will live in north Wales, where Prince William will continue to serve with the Royal Air Force.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On November 15, 1515, Thomas Wolsey was made a cardinal in the Catholic Church.
When Henry VIII became king of England in 1509, Wolsey became the King's almoner. Wolsey's affairs prospered and by 1514 he had become the controlling figure in virtually all matters of state and was extremely powerful within the church
Wolsey would become the King's chief advisor, enjoying great freedom and often depicted as an alter rex (other king). Within the church, he became Archbishop of
York , the second most important seat in England, and then was made a cardinal in 1515, giving him precedence over even the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Wolsey always aspired to be pope, but was passed over. His downfall was his inability to help Henry divorce Katherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. The Boleyns—Anne in particular—are usually credited with his political and personal demise.
His main legacy is from his interest in architecture, in particular his spectacular home, Hampton Court Palace (pictured), which still stands today.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What REALLY Happened On This Day—November 14th—in Tudor History?

One of the more interesting claims to come out of the differing biographies and historical accounts of the Tudor Era is the possibility that Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn had more than one secret wedding ceremony and the anniversary of their ill-fated marriage is actually today, November 14, 1532.
Thanks to Elizabeth I's September 7, 1533 birthday, it's hard to dispute that Henry and Anne finally consummated their six-and-a-half-year relationship in November of 1532.
According to “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn,” Boleyn biographer Eric Ives claims Henry and Anne thought that he was sufficiently detached from Katherine of Aragon to finally have sexual relations. After all, Henry just had taken Anne on the state visit to Calais to treat with King Francis I and even he officially received her as the King of England's consort--a major coup. There are also theories (as portrayed on Showtime's The Tudors) that Henry and Anne finally slept together when their return home was delayed by storms and they remained in Calais a few days.
The idea that a 16th century king desperate for a male heir would risk any resulting child being declared illegitimate is the likely impetus for the idea that Henry and Anne would marry--perhaps in secret--as quickly as possibly after the consummation. That would mean a November ceremony or perhaps just a traditional, formal betrothal.
By January, 1553, it's clear that Anne believed herself to be pregnant and it is widely believed the couple underwent a more formal secret ceremony in front of only their closest confidents on January 25 in the turret over the entrance gate to Whitehall Palace, London. In fact, the wedding was kept so quiet that Eric Ives quotes Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial ambassador, as reporting, in March 1533, rumors that Henry would not marry Anne until Easter of that year, clearly in the dark about any earlier wedding.
According to Ives's research, Tudor chronicler, Edward Hall, was the one who wrote of the possible November ceremony, putting forward St. Erkenwald's Day (November 14, 1532) as the date.
“The king, after his return [from Calais] married privily the Lady Anne Bulleyn on Saint Erkenwald’s Day, which marriage was kept so secret that very few knew it, till she was great with child, at Easter after.”
Of course, this date meant that Elizabeth was conceived in marriage. Had the wedding been January 25, Elizabeth would have been blatantly illegitimate by any standards. There would be no defense of her bastardy.
Even Catholic apologist and Boleyn hater, Nicholas Sander, dates Henry and Anne’s marriage as the 14th November.
All of this is fairly convincing evidence of two ceremonies.
Henry VIII loved nothing more than the masque. He loved to fool people and make them believe what he wanted them to believe. It is entirely possible that he would hold a secret wedding ceremony and dissemble in public.
However, the January ceremony baffles me a bit because Henry HAD to realize that the date would put paternity of his child (and long-awaited male heir, in HIS mind) and the legitimacy in question. They clearly had to real witnesses to a November ceremony and perhaps thought they needed another ceremony--with witnesses--to make it official before Anne started showing?
Then again, there seems to be no end to the things that baffle me (and millions of others) about Anne and Henry.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Drawing the Tudors

Last year when I was unemployed and going to school I also started sketching again. I hadn't tried to sketch, draw, or paint anything in years and wasn't sure I could do it. But I was so inspired by the beautiful paintings, rich clothing, and fabulous jewels of the Tudor era that it was either sketch or dress-up in costume every day.

Since corsets, gowns, and French hoods are just not practical, I began reproducing some of Holbein (and others') most famous paintings. I'd posted one back in December -- my take on Anne Boleyn.

More to follow in the coming months.

On This Day in Tudor History

On November 12, 1555, Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester and long-time servant of three Tudor monarchs, died at the (approximate) age of 62.

Gardiner was an English Roman Catholic bishop and politician during the English Reformation period who served as Lord Chancellor during the reign of Queen Mary I of England.

Interestingly, Gardiner *may* have been a blood relation of Queen Mary I. His father is known to have been Sir William Gardner, a substantial cloth merchant of the town where he was born. His mother, Helen, was reputed to be an illegitimate daughter of Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford.

Gardiner's abilities attracted the notice of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who made him his secretary. In 1527 he and Sir Thomas More were named commissioners of England in arranging a treaty with the French ambassadors for the support of an army in Italy against Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

That year he accompanied Wolsey on his important diplomatic mission to France. Henry VIII was, at this time, anxious to cement his alliance with King Francis I, and gain support for his plans to divorce Katherine of Aragon. In the course of his progress through France, Wolsey received orders from Henry to send back his secretary, Gardiner, for fresh instructions. Wolsey was obliged to reply that he positively could not spare Gardiner as he was the only instrument he had in advancing the king's "Great Matter." The next year, Wolsey sent Gardiner and Edward Foxe, provost of King's College, Cambridge, to Italy to promote the same business with the pope. Pope Clement VII, who had been recently imprisoned in Castel Sant'Angelo by mutinous soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire, had managed to escape to Orvieto and was fearful of offending Charles V. Clement refused to issue a definitive ruling concerning Henry's annulment.

Gardiner's pleading was unsuccessful and he returned home where Wolsey and the pope's legate, Cardinal Campeggio, began the infamous trial at Black Friars.

Under King Edward VI, he completely opposed the policy of the dominant party both in ecclesiastical and in civil matters. Of course he objected to the religious changes in England, both on principle and on the ground of their being moved during the king's minority. His remonstrances resulted in his being imprisoned in the Fleet, and the visitation of his diocese was held during his imprisonment. Though soon released, he was soon called before the council, and, refusing to give them satisfaction on some points, was thrown into the Tower of London, where he remained for the rest of the reign, a period of over five years.

On Queen Mary I's entry into London, Gardiner and other Catholics were set free. Gardiner was restored to his Bishopric and appointed Lord Chancellor, and he placed the crown on the queen's head at her coronation. He also opened her first parliament and for some time was her leading councillor. He was now also called upon, in old age, to undo not a little of the work in which he had been instrumental in his earlier years — to demonstrate the legitimacy of the queen's birth and the legality of her mother's marriage, to restore the old religion, and to recant his own words touching the royal supremacy.

As chancellor he had the onerous task of negotiating the queen's marriage treaty with Philip II of Spain, for which he shared a general repugnance. Shortly after this, he became ill and died quickly. He lies buried in his own cathedral at Winchester, where his effigy is still to be seen.

Gardiner is played by Terence Rigby in the 1998 film Elizabeth, where he is portrayed as a villainous bishop who took part in the Ridolfi plot and who vehemently opposed Elizabeth I's Act of Uniformity. For the record: this is quite inaccurate, as Gardiner had died before Elizabeth ascended the throne.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Tudors' Jewelry Maker on Ideeli

The jewelry maker who replicated some of the jewelry from the Showtime series The Tudors for retail (and I believe even made some pieces used on the show) is a featured brand this week on Ideeli. Sorelli has quite a few pieces that work with modern fashion and with your Renaissance/Tudor-centric costumes.

For those who don't know, Ideeli is a pretty cool little online sale site that keeps things fresh by only selling a small lot from a particular brand for a very limited time. They sell out VERY quickly... so if interested, I suggest going there now!

Check it out at

The Sorelli pieces just went on sale this morning (Nov. 10, Eastern Standard Time, USA).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History:

On October 24, 1537, Jane Seymour, third wife of King Henry VIII, died. She died of puerperal fever less than two weeks after the birth of Henry's long-awaited only son.

Jane Seymour was the daughter of Sir John Seymour of Wiltshire and Margery Wentworth. Through her maternal grandfather, she was a descendant of King Edward III of England and the Percy family. Because of this, she and King Henry VIII were fifth cousins three times removed. She was also second cousin to her predecessor, Anne Boleyn, sharing a great-grandmother, Elizabeth Cheney. Her exact birth date is debated; usually given as 1509 but it has been noted that at her funeral, 29 women walked in succession. Since it was customary for the attendant company to mark every year of the deceased's life in numbers, this implies she was born in 1508.

She was not as highly educated 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. Jane's needlework was reported to be beautiful and elaborate; some of her work survived up to 1652, when it is recorded to have been given to the Seymour family.

She became a maid-of-honour in 1532 to Queen Catherine, but Jane may have served Catherine as early as 1527. Ironically, Jane went on to serve Queen Anne Boleyn.

Jane Seymour was noted to be pale, blonde and had blue eyes. It is said that she also had a turkey neck, the exact opposite of Anne Boleyn's dark hair and olive skin (and personality). According to Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, Jane was of middling stature and very pale; he also commented that she was not of much beauty. However, John Russell stated that Jane was "the fairest of all the King's wives." Polydore Vergil commented that she was "a woman of the utmost charm in both character and appearance."

The first report of Henry VIII's interest in Jane Seymour was in February 1536.

King Henry VIII was betrothed to Jane on the May 20, 1536, ONE day after Anne Boleyn's execution, and married her ten days later. She was publicly proclaimed as queen consort on June 4. She was never crowned, due to a plague in London where the coronation was to take place. Henry was also reluctant to crown Jane before she had fulfilled her duty as a queen consort by bearing him a son and a male heir.

In early 1537, Jane finally did just that. During her pregnancy, she developed a craving for quail, which Henry ordered for her from Calais and Flanders. She went into confinement in September 1537 and in October she gave birth to the coveted male heir, the future King Edward VI of England on October 12, 1537 at Hampton Court Palace.

After the christening, it had become clear that Jane Seymour was seriously ill. Her labor had been difficult, lasting two days and three nights, probably because the baby was not well positioned. Rumours circulated that she died following an emergency Caesarean section, after Henry ordered the baby to be cut from her to prevent a stillbirth, but caesarean births on live mothers were not possible at that time.

According to Edward's biographer, Jennifer Loach, Jane Seymour's death may have been due to an infection from a retained placenta. According to Allison Weir, death could have also been caused by puerperal fever due to a bacterial infection contracted during the birth or a tear in her perineum which became infected.

Jane Seymour died at Hampton Court.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On October 16, 1555, under Queen Mary I, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake he was burnt at the stake, becoming one of the three Oxford Martyrs of Anglicanism and the U.S. Episcopal Church.
Latimer was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, Bishop of Worcester before the Reformation, and later chaplain to Henry VIII's son, King Edward VI. He also served as chaplain to Katherine Duchess of Suffolk until Edward VI's sister, Mary I, came to the throne, he was tried for his beliefs and teachings in Oxford and imprisoned. Ridley was also an English Bishop of London who was tried for his teachings and his support of Lady Jane Grey.

They were both burned at the stake outside Balliol College, Oxford.

The deaths of Latimer, Ridley and later Thomas Cranmer — now known as the Oxford Martyrs — are commemorated in Oxford by the Victorian Martyrs' Memorial which is located near the actual execution site. The Latimer room in Clare College, Cambridge is named after him.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Something New...

Trying some new looks for my blog. I'm teaching myself Adobe Illustrator and experimenting with some designs I've had in my head.

If you don't mind, please take a moment and let me know what you think of the headers (the title of the blog) as they change.

The one above is the first new style.

Thanks for your help and for stopping by!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On October 14, 1586, Mary Queen of Scots was put on trial for treason after being implicated in the Babington Plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I by her own letters, which Sir Francis Walsingham had arranged to come straight to himself.

From the letters Walsingham intercepted it was clear that Mary had sanctioned the attempted assassination of Elizabeth, despite her denials and spirited defense. Her case also rested on the fact that she was denied the opportunity to review the evidence or her papers that had been removed from her, that she had been denied access to legal counsel, and that she had never been an English subject and thus could not be convicted of treason.

The extent to which the plot was created by Sir Francis Walsingham and his English Secret Services remains open to conjecture. However, this was not the only time Mary was implicated in treasonable offenses.

Mary was ultimately convicted of treason and sentenced to beheading.
Although Mary was found guilty and sentenced to death, Queen Elizabeth hesitated to order the execution of her own cousin and an anointed queen. She was fearful of the consequences, especially if Mary's son, James of Scotland, took revenge by forming an alliance with Catholic powers, France and Spain, and invaded England.

Elizabeth did eventually sign the death warrant. The privy council, having been summoned by Lord Burghley without Elizabeth's knowledge, decided to carry out the sentence before she could change her mind.

When the news of the execution reached Elizabeth she was furious. She took it out on the privy councillor to whom she gave the warrant, saying he had disobeyed her instructions not to part with the warrant. The secretary was arrested and thrown into the Tower. He was later released, after paying a heavy fine, but his career was ruined.
It was Mary Queen of Scots' execution that is often remembered for its gory and theatrical events. First, the executioners and her two servants helped remove a black outer gown, two petticoats, and her corset to reveal a deep red chemise — the color of martyrdom in the Catholic Church.

Biographer Antonia Fraser writes that it took two strikes to decapitate Mary: The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head, at which point the Queen's lips moved. (Her servants reported they thought she had whispered the words "Sweet Jesus.") The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew that the executioner severed by using the axe as a saw.

Afterward, the executioner held her head aloft and declared, "God save the Queen." At that moment, the auburn tresses in his hand came apart and the head fell to the ground, revealing that Mary had had very short, grey hair.

Another well-known execution story was about one of the queens small dogs, which is said to have been hiding among her skirts, unseen by the spectators. Following the beheading, the white dog refused to be parted from its owner and was covered in blood. It was finally taken away by her ladies-in-waiting and washed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On Sale Now: Henry VIII's final days on the throne

The fourth and final season of the amazing Showtime series The Tudors is on sale today.

This season saw the continuation of Henry's dalliance with young Catherine Howard and even his ill-advised marriage to the teenager. His discovery of her past and on-going indescretions, and of course, her beheading alongside Jane Rochford, that sneaky, strange harpy. We see Henry settle into old age with Kateryn Parr (Joely Richardson), gain a minimal amount of weight, see his BFF Charles Brandon age and die, and eventually walk into the sunset himself. (Michael Hirst opted out of showing his death)
Michael Hirst again takes some liberties with history, but nothing as unforgivable as one composite sister for Henry. (or season 3!)
Actually, I rather liked the imagined affair with Anne of Cleves and Mary's sweet first crush.

Now, I don't want anyone overseas to accidentally read a spoiler -- so I will warn you that you may want to skip the next sentence!
Of course, my favorite part of season four was the return of Henry's dead, put-upon wives! The ghosts of Katherine, Jane, and of course Anne were fantastic! I loved imagining Henry being haunted by Anne and seeing her in Elizabeth.

All-in-all, I couldn't possibly love it as much as seasons one and two, but season four was a pleasant way to wrap up the series and worth my Amazon pre-order.

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On This Day in Tudor History

On October 12, 1537, Edward VI was born to Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour. Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first ruler who was raised as a Protestant.

Edward became King of England and Ireland on 28 January 1547 and was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The realm was governed by a Regency Council, because he never reached maturity. The Council was led by his uncle, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick, who later became Duke of Northumberland.

Edward's reign was marked by economic problems and social unrest that, in 1549, erupted into riot and rebellion. It was during Edward's reign that Protestantism was established for the first time in England with reforms that included the abolition of clerical celibacy, celebration of mass and other services in English. The architect of these reforms was Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose Book of Common Prayer is still used today.

Edward fell ill in January 1553, and when he realized it was terminal, he and his Council drew up a "Devise for the Succession" to prevent the country being returned to Catholicism. Edward named his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, as his heir and excluded his half sisters, Mary and Elizabeth. However, this was disputed following Edward's death and Jane was only queen for nine days before Edward's half-sister, Mary, was proclaimed Queen. She proceeded to reverse many of Edward's Protestant reforms and turn England Catholic again.

Edward became ill in January 1553 with a fever and cough that gradually worsened. He made his final appearance in public on July 1, when he showed himself at his window in Greenwich Palace, horrifying those who saw him by his "thin and wasted" condition.

Edward died at the age of 15 at Greenwich Palace on July 6, 1553. He was buried in Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey on August 8, 1553, with reformed rites performed by Thomas Cranmer. At the same time, Queen Mary attended a mass for his soul in the Tower, where Jane Grey was, by then, a prisoner.

The cause of Edward VI's death is not certain. As with many royal deaths in the 16th century, rumours of poisoning abounded, but no evidence has been found to support these. The Duke of Northumberland, whose unpopularity was underlined by the events that followed Edward's death, was widely believed to have ordered the imagined poisoning. The surgeon who opened Edward's chest after his death found that "the disease whereof his majesty died was the disease of the lungs". The Venetian ambassador reported that Edward had died of consumption—in other words, tuberculosis—a diagnosis accepted by many historians.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On October 9, 1514, Mary Tudor--sister of King Henry VIII--married King Louis XII of France.

Known in her youth as one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe, Mary was betrothed in December 1507 to Charles of Castile, nephew of Katherine of Aragon -- twice Mary's sister-in-law. However, changes in the political alliances of the European powers meant this wedding did not take place. Instead, Cardinal Wolsey negotiated a peace treaty with France, and at the age of 18, Mary married its 52-year-old king at Abbeville. One of her Maids of Honour who attended her during life in France was Anne Boleyn.

Mary was described by the Venetian ambassador as "a paradise—tall, slender, grey-eyed, possessing an extreme pallor". She wore her glorious silken red-gold hair flowing loose to her waist. Despite two previous marriages, the king had no living sons and sought to produce an heir; but Louis died less than three months after he married Mary, rumored to be worn out by his exertions in the bedchamber. Their union produced no children.

Following Louis's death, the new King Francis I made attempts to arrange a second marriage for the beautiful widow. However, Mary had been unhappy with her marriage of state to Louis, and wanted to marry for love. She happened to be in love with her brother's best friend, Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk.

Henry knew of his sister's feelings, but wanted any future marriage to be to his
advantage. When he sent Brandon to bring Mary back to England in late January 1515, he made the Duke promise that he would not propose to her. However, the couple married in secret in France on 3 March 1515. Technically this was treason, as Brandon had married a Royal Princess without Henry's consent. The King was outraged, and the Privy Council urged that Brandon should be imprisoned or executed. Because of the intervention of Cardinal Wolsey, and Henry's affection for both his sister and Brandon, the couple were let off with a heavy fine. They were officially married on 13 May 1515 at Greenwich Palace.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On October 6, 1542, Sir Thomas Wyatt died at the home of a friend. Wyatt was a 16th-century English lyrical poet credited with introducing the sonnet into English.

Born at Allington Castle, near Maidstone in Kent, his father, Henry Wyatt, had been one of Henry VII's Privy Councillors and remained a trusted adviser when Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509. In his turn, Thomas Wyatt followed his father to court after his education at St John's College, Cambridge.

Wyatt was over six feet tall and reportedly, both handsome and physically strong. Wyatt was not only a poet, but also an ambassador in the service of Henry VIII. He first entered Henry's service in 1516 as 'Sewer Extraordinary', and the same year he began studying at St John's College of the University of Cambridge.

He married Elizabeth Brooke (1503–1560), in 1521, and a year later she gave birth to a son, Thomas Wyatt, the younger, who led Wyatt's rebellion many years after his father's death. In 1524 Henry VIII assigned Wyatt to be an Ambassador at home and abroad, and some time soon after, Wyatt separated from his wife on grounds of adultery.

He accompanied Sir John Russell to Rome to help petition Pope Clement VII to annul the marriage of Henry VIII to his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, an embassy whose goal was to make Henry free to marry Anne Boleyn. A fascinating mission if you believe, as I do, that Wyatt fell in love with Anne years before.

Many legends and conjectures have grown up around the notion that the young, unhappily married Wyatt fell in love with a young Anne Boleyn in the early-to-mid 1520s. His grandson (who penned a biography of Anne Boleyn many years after her death) wrote that the moment Thomas Wyatt had seen "this new beauty" on her return from France in winter 1522 he had fallen in love with her. According to various gossips they were lovers. Allegedly, Wyatt was Anne's suitor, even though he was married. When she attracted King Henry VIII's attentions sometime around 1525, Wyatt was the last of Anne's other suitors to be ousted by the king. According to Wyatt's grandson, after an argument over her during a game of bowls with the King, Wyatt was sent on, or himself requested, a diplomatic mission to Italy.

Wyatt's translation from Petrarch, "Whoso list to hunt," may refer to these early encounters with Anne Boleyn. Wyatt was at Calais when she and King Henry made their only foreign sojourn together (only a short time before they were married in secret). His poem "Sometime I fled the fire" may refer to this voyage.

In January 1533, Anne Boleyn is said to have told Wyatt, in front of other courtiers, that she had a 'furious hankering for apples' and that the King thought she might be pregnant. This was how the court discovered that Henry and Anne were already married. Wyatt would go on to serve as Chief Ewer (a distinguished serving role) at her Coronation. One poem of Wyatt's that certainly refers to Boleyn, after her demise, is "After great storms the calm returns;" its refrain, "the most happy," was one of her official mottoes.

In May 1536, Wyatt was imprisoned in the Tower of London along with five other men accused of committing adultery with Anne Boleyn -- including her brother.
Unlike the others, however, Wyatt was released from the Tower later that year, thanks to his friendship or his father's friendship with Thomas Cromwell, and he returned to his duties.

During his stay in the Tower he may have witnessed not only the execution of Anne Boleyn (May 19, 1536) from his cell window but also the executions of the five men.
Wyatt also wrote a poem inspired by the downfall and executions of all involved.

Wyatt fell ill and died in October 1542 around the age of 39, while staying with his friend Sir John Horsey at Clifton Maybank House in Dorset. He is buried in nearby Sherborne Abbey.


Long after Thomas Wyatt's death, his only son, Thomas Wyatt the younger, led a thwarted rebellion against Henry's daughter, Queen Mary I, for which he was executed. The rebellion's aim was to set the Protestant-minded Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn, on the throne. His sister Margaret Wyatt was the mother of Henry Lee of Ditchley, from whom descend the Lee's of Virginia, including Robert E. Lee. Thomas Wyatt's great grandson was Virginia Governor Francis Wyatt.

None of Wyatt's poems were published during his lifetime—the first book to feature his verse was printed fifteen years after his death.

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 Cæsar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.'

[Noli me tangere = "touch me not." ]

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On September 22, 1515, Anna von Jülich-Kleve-Berg was born in Germany. She is better known as Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry VIII of England and Queen of England from 6 January 1540 to 9 July 1540.

The marriage was never consummated, and she was never crowned queen consort. Following the annulment of their marriage, Anne was given a generous settlement by the king, and thereafter referred to as the "King's Beloved Sister."

Henry was convinced to make the match with Anne by his chancellor, Thomas Cromwell. It would prove to be Cromwell's undoing.

Anne's divorce settlement included Richmond Palace and Hever Castle -- home of Henry's former in-laws, the Boleyns. Her name and initials can still be seen throughout the house, such as on a fire screen in a sitting room.

Anne was invited to court often and had a close relationship with Henry's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. In 1553, Anne was present at Mary I's coronation at Westminster. As the new Queen was a strict Catholic, Anne converted her religion for the second time, now becoming a Roman Catholic.

Anne's health began to fail in 1557, so Mary allowed her to live at Chelsea Old Manor, where Henry's widow Catherine Parr, lived after her remarriage. Here, in the middle of July 1557, Anne dictated her last will. In it, she mentions her brother, sister and sister-in-law, as well as the future Queen Elizabeth, the Duchess of Norfolk and the Countess of Arundel. She left money to her servants and asked Mary and Elizabeth to employ them in their households.

Anne died at Chelsea Old Manor on 16 July 1557, a few weeks before her forty-second birthday. The cause of her death was most likely cancer. She is buried in Westminster Abbey, on the opposite side of Edward the Confessor's shrine and slightly above eye level for a person of average height.

She is the only wife of Henry VIII to be buried in the Abbey and also has the distinction of being the last of Henry VIII's wives to die. She outlived Catherine Parr by 9 years.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On September 5, 1548, queen Catherine (Kateryn) Parr died of puerperal fever at the age of 35.

Following the death of King Henry VIII on 28 January 1547, Catherine was given an allowance of ₤7,000 per year, befitting her station. Henry had further ordered, after his death, though a queen dowager, she be given the respect of a Queen of England, as if he was still alive.

Catherine was able to marry her old love, Lord Seymour of Sudeley (Sir Thomas Seymour). As they married within six months of the old king's death, they had to obtain King Edward VI's permission for the match. When their union became public knowledge, it caused a small scandal. Catherine became pregnant by Seymour at age thirty-five. This pregnancy was a surprise as Catherine had not conceived a child during her first three marriages (however, two of her husbands had been much older than she).

Catherine gave birth to her only child — a daughter, Mary Seymour, named after her stepdaughter, Queen Mary I of England — on 30 August 1548, and died only six days later, on 5 September 1548, at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, from what is thought to be puerperal fever or puerperal sepsis, also called childbed fever. Coincidentally, this was also the illness that killed Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour. It was not uncommon, due to the lack of hygiene around childbirth.

Catherine's widower, Lord Seymour of Sudeley, was beheaded for treason less than a year later, and the infant Mary was taken to live with the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk, a close friend of Catherine. After a year and a half, Mary's property was restored to her by an Act of Parliament, easing the burden of the infant's household on the duchess. The last recorded mention of Mary Seymour is on her second birthday, and although stories circulated that she eventually married and had children, most historians believe she died as a child.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fantastic LA Times Interview With Joan Bergin--Costume Designer for The Tudors

Emmy-nominated costume designer on dressing characters with success...

In recognition of the part clothes play, more than 75 outfits from contemporary shows, including some that are nominated this year for Emmys in costume design, are on display at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising's museum and galleries in downtown Los Angeles. The free exhibit, which opened July 27 and runs through Sept. 4.

Joan Bergin, "The Tudors"

Bergin won Emmys for the series in 2007 and 2008 and received Irish Film & Television Academy awards in 2008 and 2009 as well. Her museum-quality costumes were featured in a Macy's display in New York City on St. Patrick's Day. Bergin has contributed to movies including "My Left Foot," "In the Name of the Father" and "The Prestige." She is currently working on the Starz Network production of "Camelot," starring Eva Green and Joseph Fiennes.

Image: How many costumes did you create for the show?

JB: I kind of lost count! My workshop was actually quite small, but across the series we made about 500 costumes and rented and modified countless others.... The amount of clothes — when I look at it now, I laugh. The relevant note is that I drape onto a form like old-style couture with a goodly degree of skill. Every detail, from cloth to braid to button. The workshop [staff] tease me.... I should just put [cloth, etc.] on the actors, pins and all, without having to make it up.

Image: Which character did you design the most for?

Bergin: Anne Boleyn. Showtime let the show take its natural course. For example, Anne came as a young girl who had studied a bit of the court but was no princess. I was able to slowly build her to become this magnificent creature.

Image: The characters don't physically age much as time progresses. The costumes are key in portraying this progression. How did you plan this out?

Bergin: I'm a great believer in research. Especially the social history around these people — it can be quite arrogant to make decisions for them. I figured, as Henry ransacked more and more churches and monasteries, he spent a lot of it on his own back and the clothes at court. I made them more opulent. As a character came more into the king's favor, they would dress better. Not unlike nowadays, as if someone were in a rising corporate position.

Image: What a sexy set! Which male and female character was your favorite to dress?

Bergin: Well, one of the things about Jonathan Rhys-Meyers [Henry] is that he is a natural clothes horse. He was very interested in the costumes. If he hadn't liked what I was doing it would have been agonizing. He really enjoyed the fittings and contributed. With women, it was Anne and Catherine Parr. We did magnificent jewelry for her [Anne's] coronation scene that cost an absolute fortune. We had a bodyguard on set!

Image: But both Henry Cavill [Charles Brandon] and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers are gorgeous. Did you have a favorite?

Bergin: Let's just say I always like things complex and difficult, and Henry [Rhys-Meyers] was more … complex.

Image: The jewelry was extraordinary. Did you create that?

Bergin: I have a lovely story — I got a letter from a company in Philadelphia called Sorrelli, huge fans of the show, who sent six pieces that were perfect for the costumes. The next two years they supplied "The Tudors" with most of the jewelry. They even have "The Tudors" collection on their website ( There was also an Italian vendor, Autore, who lent us a $40,000 pearl necklace that was used for the decapitation of Anne.

Image: Is it true that you were inspired by modern clothing for the Tudor look?

Bergin: Yes. "The Tudors" is a strange blend of trying to be as authentic as possible but with a twist. I wanted people to look at it and say, "Look how sexy and foxy," rather than, "Oh! Who would wear that?" Balenciaga corsets and the Degas ballerinas inspired me. I also went to an auction and bought a trunk filled with fabrics collected by a woman from her travels all over the world. One of Catherine Parr's dresses was made with a 100-year-old obi.

Image: What was it like winning your first Emmy?

Bergin: "The Tudors" was a show I originally did not want to do because I didn't know how it could be done. I thought, "How on Earth could you do this?" And so when my name was called out, I was like one of those footballers and went, "Yes!" My friends claimed I knocked them down. I was shocked at how delighted I was. You often lack the security about what you're doing, and it was like being reaffirmed.

Madonna is Obsessed--Just Like Me!

Madonna is celebrating her 52nd birthday with a King and Queen-themed fancy dress party Monday night.

And, rather than going as moody old battleaxe Queen Victoria, she's chosen to dress as Anne Boleyn.

The Mirror reports: "Rocco and Madonna have birthdays just days apart so Madge thought it would be nice to really treat the youngster to an unforgettable party. The plan is to have a wholesome daytime activity and party, with Rocco's chums invited, followed by an alcohol-free dinner, with jelly, dairy-free ice cream and gluten-free brownies.


The Queen of Pop has an obsession with the monarchy at the moment, and is clearly a fan of Anne and The Tudors. She is currently directing a biopic based on the life of Wallis Simpson with our favorite Anne Boleyn actress, Natalie Dormer, as a young Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.