Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth Tudor was born on Sept. 7, 1533 to Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. Anne was the second wife of the Tudor monarch. Henry had spent many years trying to divorce his first wife to marry Anne in order to produce a son and heir. It is no surprise that Elizabeth's birth was greeted with a less excited attitude by the King. However, he was determined to insure her legitimacy and the validity of his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth was titled Princess and christened in a grand ceremony. 

Elizabeth was given her own household at Hatfield House. Even after the demise of her mother in 1536, Elizabeth remained at the sunny palace. However, she was stripped of her title Princess and declared a bastard, just like her elder half sister Mary. 

Elizabeth had a great talent with languages and became fluent in French, Latin, Italian, Spanish, Greek, and was of course fluent in English. She also had a great talent for music, much like her father.

In 1540, Henry married his fifth wife, Katheryn Howard. She was a cousin to Anne Boleyn, and very young (about 18-20 years old). She was kind to Elizabeth and the two became close. It is no surprise that Elizabeth was scarred by her step-mother's demise in 1541. It was said that Elizabeth told her close friend Robert Dudley "I shall never marry" after Katheryn Howard was executed.

Henry VIII's sixth wife, Catherine Parr, did the most to reconcile the King with his daughters. Both Mary and Elizabeth were restored to the succession before their father's death. With his death in 1547, Elizabeth joined Catherine Parr's household. There were rumors that an affair began with she and Catherine's new husband, Thomas Seymour. This is doubtful, however, though Seymour's conduct was not proper towards a teenage girl (such as entering her room while she was in bed, hugging and tickling her often). Seymour was arrested in 1549 and executed for treason. Elizabeth, when questioned about the affair, refused to say anything.

In 1553, Elizabeth's half brother Edward VI died and a struggle for the throne ensued between his "heir" Jane Grey and his sister Mary. Elizabeth remained in the background, but joined her sister Mary for her triumphant entrance into London.
Elizabeth did not remain in favor long. Mary I faced uprisings and discontent among her people because of her marriage to Prince Phillip of Spain. Elizabeth was held in the Tower of London for a time, and then kept close to Mary during the last stages of her "pregnancy." When it became clear she was not pregnant, everyone assumed Elizabeth would succeed to the throne.
Mary died on Nov. 17, 1558, and Elizabeth was declared Queen. She was crowned at Westminster Abbey on Jan. 15, 1559. 

Almost immediately, the question of Elizabeth's marriage came up. It was key she produced an heir, for her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots was Catholic and next in line for the throne. She posed a real threat, claiming to be the true Queen of England, and raised doubts about Elizabeth's legitimacy.
Elizabeth never married, but had many suitors and "favorites." Two of the most famous of these were Robert Dudley and Robert Devereux. Dudley and Elizabeth had been close friends since childhood. Though the two fell in love, Elizabeth refused to marry him. After his death, Elizabeth took an interest in his stepson, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. Though the Queen gave him much wealthy and good military positions, the young Earl was irresponsible and strong willed. After he deserted his post in Ireland, he was placed under house arrest. He attempted to start a rebellion, but failed and was arrested and beheaded.

Elizabeth faced many hard decision during her reign. Perhaps one of the most difficult was the Mary, Queen of Scots affair. After Mary was forced to abdicate the throne in favor of her son, she fled Scotland to England in hopes of gaining support from her cousin, Elizabeth. However, Elizabeth placed Mary under house arrest to keep her from falling into the hands of the French who she feared would invade England and place Mary on the throne.

After a plot was uncovered by Elizabeth's advisors, Mary was brought to trial for treason against the Queen. Apparently Mary had been plotting in the murder of Elizabeth in order for her to gain the throne. After much anxiety, Elizabeth signed the death warrant and Mary was executed in 1587.
Mary's execution brought a new crisis for Elizabeth; the invasion of the Spanish Armada. The Spanish sent a massive invasion force to England, however after a great storm and an attack by English fire ships, the armada was defeated.

In 1603, Elizabeth finally succumbed to depression and ill health. She died on March 23, 1603. Though it is unsure if she named him her successor or not, James VI of Scotland, Elizabeth's cousin, became King of England and Scotland. Elizabeth was buried at Westminster Abbey beside her half sister Mary I.

Contemporary Highlight

Elizabeth's speech to her troops before the invasion of the Spanish Armada:

"My loving people, we have been persuaded by some, that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people.
Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even the dust.
I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realms: to which, rather than any dishonor should grow by me, I myself will take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.
I know already, by your forwardness, that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble and worthy subject; not doubting by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and by your valor in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people."

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Mary I

Mary was born on to Henry VIII and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. After many failed attempts and still births, Mary was the first and only child from the union to survive, thus she was the King's presumed heir. 

Mary was treated as if she were the heir, given a large household of her own and sometimes referred to as the "Princess of Wales." She was doted upon by her father and mother.

However, Henry wanted a son. In 1525 he fell in love with one of Katherine's maids-of-honor, Anne Boleyn. After several years of humiliating divorce court proceedings and the banishment of her mother, Henry broke with the Catholic Church and had parliament declare him Supreme Head of the Church of England. His marriage to Katherine was declared null and void, and Mary was declared a bastard.

With the birth of Elizabeth in 1533, Mary was forced to live in her little sister's household and address her as Princess, while accepting her own bastardy. She refused to do so until 1536, after the death of Anne Boleyn, when she finally gave up the fight. Her mother had been dead for over a year, and those who supported her were fearful of the King.

She began to slip more and more into danger. Her father denounced her for siding with her mother, and she Anne did not get along. Mary refused to address Anne as Queen, but simply as "Lady Marquess of Pembroke," or "My Father's Mistress or Whore."

After the fall of Anne Boleyn, Mary was forced to sign a decree acknowledging her illegitimate status. Once she had done so, Henry and his new queen Jane warmly welcomed Mary back to court.

After several unsuccessful relationships, her father finally married a woman who was able to be mother to all the King's children, Catherine Parr. The two had a good relationship, and Catherine was instrumental in convincing Henry to reinstate Mary and Elizabeth into the line of succession.

After her father and brother's deaths, a struggle for the throne ensued. Edward had named their cousin, Lady Jane Grey, as heir to the throne. Jane reigned for nine days before Mary entered London in triumph, the people pledging their allegiance to her as queen. Mary was crowned Queen of England on Oct. 1, 1553. Mary found herself in a difficult position. She only had a handful of council members she could trust.
Mary began negotiating marriage alliances. She turned to her mother's country of Spain and decided to marry Prince Philip. The people and the council were displeased with the choice and after a failed rebellion by the Duke of Suffolk, Mary had Jane Grey executed. She had become to dangerous to be kept alive, and Philip refused to come to England until domestic matters had been settled.
After the marriage, Mary had two phantom pregnancies. However, she never produced any children and Elizabeth, her younger half sister, was the heir presumptive.

Mary was determined to restore the old order to England. She had been raised a Catholic and had the memories of her mother as a strong Catholic woman. She attempted to restore the Catholic Church, though met much resistance. The Marian Persecutions of many protestant leaders gave Mary the nickname "Bloody Mary." 

Mary, who had always suffered ill health, died on Nov. 17, 1558. Elizabeth was declared Queen upon her half sister's death. She was buried in Westminster Abbey, despite her desire to be buried next to her mother at Peterborough Cathedral.

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Edward VI

Edward Tudor was born on October 12, 1537. He was the son of King Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour. The longed for heir was welcomed with 2000 gun salutes from the tower and countless pageants and celebrations. However, the celebrations were dimmed when his mother died on October 24 from an infection due to the prolonged birth (she was in labor for about 3 days).

Edward was quickly taken from court and placed in his own household headed by Margaret Bryan. He was educated under John Cheek and Richard Cox. When he was older, he joined his half sister Elizabeth's household.

In 1543, all three children joined their father for the Christmas celebrations. Henry restored Mary and Elizabeth to the succession. Much of this took place thanks to Catherine Parr, Henry's sixth wife. She became a loving step-mother to her children who no longer had their mothers...for one reason or the other. In the summer of that same year, Edward was betrothed to his cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, though no marriage ever took place.

In 1547 King Henry VIII died, leaving his nine year old son King of England. A Regentship had been set up in such a case. However, no Protector was named. The council was to be ruled by majority rule. Despite this, Edward's uncle Edward Seymour rose to power and became Lord Protector, ruling in his nephew's name with the council simply stamping their approval of his will.

Edward VI was crowned on February 20th at Westminster Abbey. Though Edward Seymour held immense power, his defenses were shaken when his brother, Thomas Seymour, was executed on March 20, 1549 by order of the King. His brother was accused of embezzlement and attempting to kidnap the King in order to gain power. Though Thomas tried to protect his brother, he failed. He was now open to his enemies and after grave financial losses due to his war with Scotland, they closed in.

In a panic, Seymour took Edward to Windsor and fortified himself inside. The council ruled that he had no power to do so, but that his power came from them according to the late King's will. John Dudley, Earl of Warwick emerged as the new head of the council. Seymour was eventually executed in January of 1554.

Dudley, unlike Seymour, used the council, always assuring that he had majority support. Edward was little more than a puppet head, though the council did use his Protestant religious policy. Edward was England's first Protestant king.

At the end of 1552 Edward became very ill. He had a fever and cough that constantly grew worse. For the next six months of 1553, Edward continually lost his health. On July 6, 1553 Edward died at fifteen years old at Greenwich Palace. Though scholars still debate the cause of Edward's death, it is generally decided that her died of tuberculosis or bronchopneumonia. 

In his will he named his cousin Jane Grey his heir, passing over his two sisters. However, many of the people supported his sister Mary, Henry VIII's eldest daughter. Lady Jane was overthrown after only nine days in power. 

Edward was buried in a private funeral in Westminster Abbey where his sister, Queen Mary I, allowed it to be conducted using the new Protestant Book of Common Prayer.

Contemporary Highlight 
Exerpt from the journal of Edward VI in which he writes about the fall of Edward Seymour as Lord Protector
"...the protector began to treat by letters, sending Sir Philip Hoby, lately come from his embassy in Flanders to see his family, who brought on his return a very gentle letter to the protector which he delivered to him, another to me, another to my household, to declare his faults, ambition, vainglory, entering into rash wars in my youth, negligence about Newhaven, enriching himself from my treasure, following his own opinions, and doing all by his own authority etc., which letters were openly read, and immediately the lords came to Windsor, took him and brought him through Holborn to the Tower.  Afterwards I came to Hampton Court where they appointed by my consent six lords of the council to be attendant on me, at least two, and four knights...The lord protector, by his own agreement and submission, lost his protectorship, treasureship, marshalship, all his movables and nearly 2,000 pds of lands, by act of Parliament."

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Henry VIII

Henry Tudor was born on June 28, 1491 at Greenwich Palace, London to King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth of York. Henry was the second surviving son, with an older brother named Arthur, who was Prince of Wales. At age three, Henry was made Duke of York. In his early years, Henry was prepared for life in the Church, as his brother was expected to inherit the throne. However, in 1502, Arthur died suddenly of the mysterious sweating sickness, and Henry became heir to the throne.

With Arthur's sudden death, and Henry being the only remaining son, his father King Henry VII took every precaution to protect his son. Henry moved into new quarters near his father, where his chambers could only be accessed through his father's chambers. 

Henry was betrothed to Arthur's short term widow, Princess Katherine of Aragon. However, the two were kept apart and the marriage did not take place until after Henry VII's death in 1509. Many debate why Henry VII did not allow the marriage to take place. Some say it is because he was keeping his options open for a better marriage for his son, while others think it was because of disagreements with Katherine's father King Ferdinand of Spain.

Baby Henry
Henry VIII was a Renaissance Prince. He clothed himself in the finest fabrics and jewels, and expected those around him to do the same. He also thirst for war and glory against France, but, with the great persuasion of his ministers, chose peace. He met Francois I at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520 where a peace trety was signed. The summit was filled with excess and extravagance where both men gave costly jewels and other finery to each other in "brotherly love." However, no sooner was Henry back in France before the treaty was broken followed by war and several failed invasions of France.

In 1525, Henry fell in love with a young lady-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn. Unlike Henry's other amours, Anne refused to consummate the relationship, leaving Henry, for the first time in his life, rejected. This caused Henry's passion to burn even brighter. By this time, Katherine was unable to bear anymore children and had only left Henry with a daughter. Henry knew he must have a son, thus decided to annul his marriage and marry Anne Boleyn, who was young and could bear children.

A Young Henry
This began the long process of the King's "Great Matter." Henry appealed to the Pope, but recieved only delays and excuses for not ruling. The reason for this was that the Pope was under the thumb of Katherine's nephew, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Until the Pope was free, Henry could not hope to receive a "fair" ruling.

Tired of waiting, Henry decided to listen to the advice of his new advisors, Thomas Cromwell and Archbishop of Canterbury, Cranmer. They urged him to break with the Catholic Church. They told the king of the corruption, epitomized in his inability to get a "fair" ruling from the Pope. If Henry were to break from the Catholic Church, he could become Head of the Church of England and have the power to decide the case himself. Henry liked this idea.

Between 1530-1534 , Henry was granted the title "Head of the Church of England" by Parliament, and England finally broke with Rome. Henry secretly married Anne, and she soon became pregnant. Archbishop Cranmer declared Henry's marriage to Katherine null and void, their daughter Mary a bastard, and his marriage to Anne Boleyn good. Katherine was banished to the Moor where she died in 1536, declaring herself the true Queen of England until her death. Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England in 1533 in a grand coronation.

Coronation of Henry and Katherine of Aragon
On Sept. 7, 1533, Anne gave birth to her and Henry's only child, Elizabeth. She was not the heir Henry had been promised. However, he upheld her as his heir in the 1534 Act of Succession. All must accept Henry as Head of the Church of England, and his marriage to Anne lawful. Though the people were unhappy, most complied with the new laws, swearing allegiance. However, some, like Sir Thomas More, could not break with the Catholic Church. Though More was a close friend and mentor, Henry had him executed in 1535.

Field of Cloth of Gold
Unable to give Henry the desired heir, Anne soon followed in 1536. Henry gave her the decency of a private execution by a master French swordsman, but became betrothed to her rival, Jane Seymour, the next day.

Henry was now 45 years old and no closer to gaining his desired heir. Henry embarked on his third marriage, this time to a quiet and submissive woman named Jane Seymour. A year later she bore him his longed for son, but died only 12 days after. Henry mourned her and saw her as his one, true wife, for she had given him a son.

Middle Aged Henry
Henry remained single for the next few years. He was in mourning for Jane, and had probably had enough of marriage (considering his first two). He had his heir and had no reason to rush into another union. However, Henry's world was far from perfect. The Pope was unhappy with Henry's break with Rome and was coaxing the other Catholic nations in Europe to invade England. Also, Henry remembered that he was a second son, and his dynasty would only be truely safe if he had "spare" heirs. Thus he decided to venture into the marriage market once more.

This time, however, Henry was not entering marriage because he was in love. The first three marriages had been one's of passion. This new marriage was purely for political gain. Listening to the advice of his minister, Thomas Cromwell, Henry entered into a marriage alliance with the Duke of Cleves, a powerful Protestant Kingdom.

Anne of Cleves, sister of the Duke, was sent to England in 1540. Henry was unimpressed upon her arrival, even calling Anne a "Flander's Mare." However, he went on with the marriage. SIn June of the same year, Henry had the marriage annulled on grounds of "non-consummation." Poor Anne was more than happy to relinquish her place as Henry's wife and was greatly rewarded with money and land. She was also given the title "The King's Good Sister."

Henry's Armor
The King was again in love, this time with a young girl named Kathryn Howard, niece of the Duke of Norfolk and cousin to Anne Boleyn. She and the King were married on July 28, 1540, the same day as Thomas Cromwell's execution. Henry had become displeased with his minister after the failed marriage with Cleves. His enemies jumped on the opportunity and Cromwell was arrested and later beheaded. 

No one was safe at the court of Henry VIII. In his old age, he suffered from gout and a reoccurring ulcer(s) on his leg from a jousting accident several years before. He was prone to violent mood swings and had become extremely obese because of lack of exercise due to his leg.

However, with his marriage to Kathryn Howard, the king seemed to have gained a new wind. He was feeling better, getting exercise, and looking better. His happiness was short lived. In Nov. of 1541, Thomas Cranmer brought the new Queen's secret conduct to the knowledge of the King. Kathryn had been carrying on an affair with a courtier, Thomas Culpepper, and had lied to the King about her pre-marital relationships with Henry Mannox and Francis Durham. When Henry found out, he had Kathryn arrested and tried. She was found guilty and beheaded on Feb. 13, 1541.

Tomb of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour
Henry returned to his old ways, suffering from obesity, lack of exercise, and his reoccurring ulcers. By the end of 1541, the last remaining monasteries were dissolved. In Henry entered into another union in 1543 with a widow, Catherine Parr. She was far more radical in her religious views than Henry, and was almost arrested, but pleaded with Henry shortly before and was saved. Catherine Parr was kind to all of Henry's children. She convinced Henry to return Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession, which he did with the Third Succession Act of 1543.

As Henry grew older, his health worsened and more and more people fell under his wrath. However, on Jan. 28, 1547, Henry VIII died at the age of 55. He was buried next to his third wife, Jane Seymour, at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Henry was survived by three children: his heir Edward (VI), Mary (later the I), and Elizabeth (later the I).

Contemporary Highlight

Excerpt from a Love Letter of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn

"Mine own sweetheart, these shall be to advertise you of the great loneliness that I find here since your departing, for I ensure you methinketh the time longer since your departing now last than I was wont to do a whole fortnight:  I think your kindness and my fervents of love causeth it, for otherwise I would not have thought it possible that for so little a while it should have grieved me, but now that I am coming toward you methinketh my pains been half released....  Wishing myself (specially an evening) in my sweetheart's arms, whose pretty dukkys I trust shortly to kiss.  Written with the hand of him that was, is, and shall be yours by his will.

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Henry VII

Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke Castle, Wales in 1457. He was the only child of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond and Lady Margaret Beaufort. His father died when he was still just and infant, and spent much of his life with his uncle, Jasper Tudor.

Henry lived the majority of his life in a time of terrible turmoil for England. This time was clouded by a long a terrible civil war known as The War of the Roses. The royal court was divided into two factions, the House of Lancaster (Red Rose) and the House of York (White Rose). Young Henry was a member of the House of Lancaster, and was forced to flee England when Edward IV (a Yorkist) took the throne in 1461 where he stayed for 14 years.

During Henry Tudor's exile, Edward IV was over thrown and eventually died. Edward's brother Richard, who had remained loyal during his brother's reign gaining large estates, the title Duke of Gloucester and Governor of the North. However, upon his brother's death his young nephew Edward V took the throne.

Richard took control and had Edward's guardian arrested and later executed. He then took his two young nephews and placed them in the Tower of London "for their protection" where they eventually disappeared. Richard declared Edward V illegitimate and declared himself King and became Richard III. He was crowned in Westminster Abbey on July 6, 1483.

In the meantime, Margaret Beaufort was promoting her son, Henry Tudor, as an alternative to the highly unpopular Richard III.

Henry Tudor returned to England with French and Scottish forces, as well as the support of the Woodvilles (Edward IV's in-laws) and his uncle Jasper Tudor. He and his forces defeated Richard III's forces at the Battle of Bosworth on Aug. 22, 1485. Richard III was killed and Henry Tudor was the victor, becoming King of England, joining the two Houses by his marriage to Elizabeth of York, Edward IV's eldest daughter. The Wars of the Roses was officially ended.

Henry VII took care of his enemies quickly, declaring them traitors for fighting against him at Bosworth. He then set down to the business of reconstructing a country ravaged by years of civil war.

He had no interest in foreign war, thus kept peace (and saved money) by not going to war with France. He married his eldest daughter Margaret to James IV of Scotland, thus keeping peace through diplomatic means rather than conquest.

Henry made several trade agreements and increased England's wealth substantially. He also formed an alliance with Spain, marrying his son and heir Arthur to the Princess Katherine of Aragon, daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. This alliance was good for Henry in two main ways: 1) he gained the prestige of a good marriage for his son, thus further legitimizing his house and insuring future peace, 2) he gained her dowry, a substantial sum and useful for the debt the country was in because of the civil war.

However, tragedy struck in 1502 with the death of his heir, Prince Arthur of Wales. In 1503, his wife Elizabeth of York died in childbirth. From the contemporary sources, it seems Henry was genuinely in love with his wife and was never suspected of taking a mistress.

By his death in 1509, Henry had created stability in England and filled the treasury, leaving his son Henry Tudor on a secure throne. However, Henry veered from his father's "safe politics" by going to war with France shortly after his ascension to the throne, and married Katherine of Aragon (though it is debated if the marriage was Henry VII's last wish or not, or simply what Henry VIII said).

Contemporary Highlight

The Death Mask of Henry VII

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