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 C├Žsar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.'

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

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