Thursday, January 6, 2011

On This Day in Tudor History

On January 6, 1540, King Henry VIII married Anna of Cleves. The marriage was never consummated, and she was not crowned queen consort.

Hans Holbein the Younger was dispatched to paint portraits of Anne and her younger sister, Amalia, both of whom Henry was considering as his fourth wife. Henry required the artist to be as accurate as possible, not to flatter the sisters. Sir Thomas Cromwell pushed for the union and oversaw the negotiations.

Henry valued education and cultural sophistication in women, but Anne lacked these. She could read and write, but only in German. Anne was dark haired, with a rather swarthy complexion, appeared solemn by English standards, and looked old for her age. Holbein painted her with high forehead, heavy-lidded eyes and a pointed chin.

Henry was not pleased with his fiancee, railing that she was nothing that was described to him and that he "Likes her not!"

Henry urged Cromwell to find a legal way to avoid the marriage but, by this point, doing so was impossible without endangering the vital alliance with the Germans. Despite Henry's very vocal misgivings, the two were married on January 6, 1540 at the royal Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, London by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The couple's first night as husband and wife was not a happy one. Henry confided to Cromwell that he had not consummated the marriage, saying, "I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse".

Anna was commanded to leave the court on June 24th and the marriage was annulled on July 9, 1540 on the grounds of non-consummation and her pre-contract to Francis of Lorraine.

For not fighting the arrangement, Henry gave Anna a generous settlement which included the Palace at Richmond, Anne Boleyn's family home at Hever, and the title: "the King's Beloved Sister."

Save Queen Anne Boleyn! (the portrait)

While scanning my usual sources for Tudor news I stumbled upon a very upsetting update from the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The most famous painting of Queen Anne Boleyn (see below) is in extremely unstable condition and in desperate need of restoration. The Gallery has removed it from public display until it can be repaired. (See the NPG explanation below)

I barely took a moment to think about it before I clicked the link to donate to this restoration effort. Seeing that portrait in person on my visit in 2008 was an event I will never forget. There are so few (verified) physical representations of Anne left in this world, I couldn't live with myself if I didn't contribute to saving this important piece of history. If you are a fan of Anne, art, or just preserving history, I hope you'll contribute too.

From the NPG website:

Help support the conservation work on the portrait of Anne Boleyn

This important portrait of Anne Boleyn is in urgent need of conservation treatment. It is in a particularly vulnerable and unstable condition as a result of structural problems with the wooden panel. Vertical cracking has occurred across the picture causing minor paint loss where the wood has split (see the photograph taken in raking light below).

We need to act now as the damage is being caused by the long term effects of an unsuitable cradle (an applied wooden panel support) which must be removed. Therefore this important and much loved painting needs urgent conservation treatment to ensure it can be put back on public display.

The Gallery hopes to raise £4,000 for conservation work on this picture, and with your help we very much hope to be able to undertake this work in early 2011.

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.