Wednesday, June 29, 2011

If Henry VIII had a Facebook....

It might look something like this.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Heir and a Spare

Arthur, Prince of Wales and Henry, Duke of York 

On June 28, 1491, Prince Henry Tudor was born. He was the second son, and spare, of King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth of York. His elder brother Arthur was 5 years his senior. Arthur was everything a Tudor prince should be. He had the name of a great King, he symbolized the joining of the Houses of York and Lancaster, and he was smart, charming, and obedient to his overbearing father. When he was 6years old, he was made regent of England while his father went off to fight the French. He did such an exceptional job that he was made Prince of Wales and sent to govern Wales.
Baby Henry, before the excess turkey legs.

While Arthur was more docile, Henry proved to be a bit of a wild child. As the second son, Henry was considered less important. He was born at Greenwich Palace, a "getaway" for the Queens of England, not an official Royal residence. In her book of hours, Margaret Beaufort, the child's paternal grandmother, does not record his birth when it actually happened (only when he becomes the Prince of Wales several years later), and then gets the date wrong!

Being the second son, Henry was raised in the "nursery palace" at Elton alongside his sisters. Though well educated, he was taught as if he were to go into clerical life in the Church (can you imagine Henry as a Cardinal?). This might explain his inclination to argue Church doctrine years later...

David Starkey believes his mother, Elizabeth, was his first tutor. Growing up alongside his mother and sisters was certainly influential in Henry's life. Perhaps it explains his need for love in marriage, and his great appetite for women when he was older. It certainly was unusual for monarchs of Europe, who grew up much as Arthur did.

Unlike Henry, Arthur was sent away at age 6 to be educated to be King. He rarely saw his parents or siblings, and grew up in a large household of tutors, noblemen men, and their sons.

Young Prince Arthur
Arthur, being the heir and eldest, married in 1501, wedding the Spanish Princess Catherine of Aragon. Henry was not to wed is her was to go into the Church (Henry not marrying? Imagine that!) The wedding was a huge spectacle, much like royal weddings today. The royal couple were young and stunning, however it was Henry who stole the show, dancing the night away in high courtly fashion...well, until he removed his shirt.

Tragedy was quick to follow, however. With the unexpected death of Arthur in 1502, Henry was suddenly thrust into the spot light.

After his brother's death, his mother quickly followed. The death of Henry's mother was a life changing event for him. He had been very close to her. After the birth of a daughter who died a few days later, Elizabeth fell ill and died of puerperal fever (child bed fever). This was what killed Jane Seymour years later, which explains part of the reason why Henry honored her so much after her death.

With his brother's death, Henry's father became obsessive about protecting his only son (which explains a lot about Henry in his later years with his need to have an heir and a spare, as well as his obsessive protection of Prince Edward). Henry's room was attached to Henry VII's, and only accessible through the King's bedchamber. He was not allowed to joust or participate in the fun (and dangerous) sports of the day, and wasn't allowed to marry Catherine of Aragon whom Henry seemed to be very fond of. I think Henry probably resented his father for many of these things. Upon his father's death, Henry did the opposite of what his father decreed, marrying Catherine of Aragon and jousting, sword fighting, and anything else dangerous he hadn't have been allowed to do before.

Henry VII finally died in 1509, at which point Prince Henry was named King of England. He was crowned King in June 1509.

It can certainly be said that history would have been radically different if Arthur had lived and reigned instead of Henry. However, knowing Henry's personality I feel he would have still made a name for himself, whether he was king or not. Pin It

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fashion or Flop? - Sir George Clifford

Between the blog and facebook, we decided that Margaret Tudor's earthy ensemble, complete with pet monkey, was a fashion do.

This week, we will be judging Sir George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland. Clifford was titled "The Queen's Champion." We must judge if his armor befits such a title.

Sir George is seen here in his best Tournament Armor, covered with a white, blue, and gold overcoat, topped with a matching plumed hat.

To get an even better idea of what his tournament armor looked like, see the surviving pieces below:

What think you? Fashion or Flop? Pin It

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tudor Tart: Elizabeth Vernon, Countess of Southampton

 Lady Elizabeth Vernon, daughter of Sir John Vernon and Elizabeth Devereux was a cheif Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth I in her later reign. After an illicit tryst, Elizabeth discover she was pregnant. Who was the baby's daddy? There are two theories:

1) The most obvious father is the man who stepped forward and illegally married Elizabeth without the Queen's permission: Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton.

Henry Wriothesley

When it was discovered that the two had wed and Elizabeth was with child, the Queen had both thrown in prison. Eventually the two were released and went on to have three more children. However, the Queen never really forgave them.

2) The other possible baby-daddy is none other than William Shakespeare. This theory was proposed by a German historian, Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, and is based on an apocryphal sonnet possibly written by William Shakespeare (though no one knows for sure). In the sonnet, "Shakespeare" finds himself caught in a love-triangle between a Dark Lady (Elizabeth) and a Fair Young Man (Southampton). Southampton was in fact a friend of the bard's as well as his literary patron. One may ask just how far his patronage exceeded...

Hammerschmidt-Hummel basis her theory not only on Shakespeare's possible authorship of the sonnet, but also on a previously unidentified portrait of the "Dark Lady," as actually being a portrait of Elizabeth. What do you think?

The real Elizabeth Vernon
The "Dark Lady"

Even at the time of the affair, the paternity of Elizabeth's child was in question. Southampton was in the process of going (and actually leaving on) a long voyage roughly nine months before the child was born. He returned and married Elizabeth 10 weeks before the child's birth.Will was around during that time and, according to the theory, comforted Elizabeth at the temporary loss of her lover.

The historian also states that Shakespeare's later theme of the "lost daughter" was a sign of his paternity of Elizabeth's daughter.

Elizabeth's daughter, Penelope
Whoever the father was, Elizabeth married Southampton. Of course, Shakespeare was already married, but even if he wasn't why would a Lady of Elizabeth's social standing give up the chance to marry an Earl to marry a Bard?

Now it is up to you to judge. Was Elizabeth marrying her love-child's father or did she marry some poor chump, proving herself to be a stuck-up Tudor Tart? Pin It

Friday, June 24, 2011

Roguish Rake - Robert Dudley

Since today is Robert Dudley's birthday, I felt it was a befitting gift to highlight him as the Tudor Tattler's first Roguish Rake.

Robert Dudley is one of the most popular figures of Elizabeth England, most because he was Elizabeth's great love (and possibly lover?). He pursued Elizabeth for years, trying to get her to marry him. Of course, the "Virgin" Queen resisted. Rather, she offered him friendship. He accepted, but this didn't stop him from finding..."friendship" elsewhere as well. 

Robert's illegitimate son Robert
There are several women who seem to revolve around Dudley. The first is Lady Douglas Sheffield. Their secret affair began around 1569 after the death of her husband. Douglas soon discovered she was pregnant. This posed a slight problem for Robert. He, at this point, still hoped to marry Elizabeth...however he was unwed and had no heir. He finally broke down and wrote the poor woman saying, "You must think it is some marvelous cause ... that forceth me thus to be cause almost of the ruin of mine own house ... my brother you see long married and not like to have children, it resteth so now in myself; and yet such occasions is there ... as if I should marry I am sure never to have [the Queen's] favour." He kindly offered to help find her another husband for propriety's sake (AND hide the affair from Elizabeth). Douglas was probably less than pleased with this reply.

She gave birth to a son and named him Robert Dudley (as if to say "'s totally your kid, jerk). Robert accepted paternity and aided financially in the raising of his son. Douglas eventually remarried and moved to Paris with her new husband. There she became fast friends with Catherine de Medici.

While pursuing Douglas, Robert also pursued her sister, Frances Howard. According to one courtier "There are two sisters now in the court that are very far in love with him, as they have long been; my Lady Sheffield and Frances Howard. They (of like striving who shall love him better) are at great wars together and the queen thinketh not well of them, and not the better of him."

Naughty Robby.

Lettice Knollys
As if two sisters and a Queen weren't enough, Robert found time to pursue and marry Lettice Knollys. Lettice was the Queen's cousin, granddaughter of Mary Boleyn. While her hubby, Walter Devereaux, Earl of Essex, was out of town, Lettice and Robert began a secret affair. According to one eyewitness, "As the thing is publicly talked of in the streets, there can be no harm in my writing openly about the great enmity between the Earl of Leicester and the Earl of Essex, in consequence, it is said, of the fact that while Essex was in Ireland his wife had two children by Leicester. ... Great discord is expected in consequence." As if on que, Devereaux died in 1576, his last words bemoaning the "frailness of women."

After the proper mourning period (and the fact that she was probably with child), Lettice and Robert secretly married. I suppose Robert was tired of waiting on Elizabeth, and decided that since Lettice was pregnant anyway (not to mention a great beauty), he might as well get an heir out of the whole mess.

Young Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex
Elizabeth didn't care for her pretty cousin, especially when she got wind of her connection to Robert. She permanently banished her from court. Her great animosity toward the Countess didn't stop Elizabeth from making Lettice's son, Robert Devereaux, her favorite years later...though she did end up executing him...

I suppose if one were to ask Robert Dudley why so many women, he would probably say that there was only one woman for him; Elizabeth. But since he couldn't have her, he had to settle for other, less desirable women.

So, what do you think? Was Dudley a poor puppy to one of the greatest teases in history, or a true Roguish Rake? Pin It

Waity Katie - Catherine of Aragon

Young Catherine
On June 24th, 1509, Henry Tudor and Catherine of Aragon were crowned King and Queen of England. I'm sure on this day Catherine breathed a deep sigh of relief. Why is this? Well, she almost wasn't Queen of England.

In 1501, Catherine arrived in England and married the heir to the English throne. No, not Henry. His older brother Arthur. Yes, Henry wasn't actually suppose to be King either. A few months into their happy marriage, Arthur gets sick and dies. Catherine quickly goes from Queen-in-waiting, to widow-no-one-really-knows-what-to-do-with. Thus, Henry VII decided to do nothing. Nothing can't hurt, right?


Prince Arthur
Catherine was basically left penniless in a foreign land. She was forced to sell her jewelry and other valuable items to pay her servants. She begged Henry VII and her father, King Ferdinand, to help her. However, they were too busy fighting with each other to notice. Ferdinand wanted Catherine's dowry back. Henry VII didn't like this idea. He proposed to keep the dowry and let Catherine marry his new heir, Henry, Duke of York. The whole "brother marrying his brother's wife" thing required a dispensation from the Pope.

Prince Henry
In the mean time, Henry VII decided to weigh his options. Around this time, Catherine's mother, Queen Isabella died. Her death divided the Spanish Empire, thus Catherine wasn't as valuable of a bride as she had been upon her marriage to Arthur. At one point, probably after a nasty letter brawl with Ferdinand, Henry VII decided that Catherine shouldn't marry Prince Henry. He even had Henry sign a contract that he didn't want the marriage (I'm sure Henry would have liked an endorsed copy of this in the later divorce trial...).

Henry VII
Thus, poor Catherine was caught in the battle between father and father-in-law, alone, penniless, and probably a bit hungry. Though Catherine isn't my favorite Tudor by any means, I feel like she was in the right here. Henry VII could have handled this situation a little better.

Finally, in 1509 Henry VII croaked. Surprisingly, there was little mourning throughout the land...

The new king, Henry VIII, decided that Catherine was cute and nice, thus married her almost instantly. After several years of waiting, Catherine was finally Queen of England. No wonder she didn't want to give it up so easily... Pin It

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fashion or Flop? - Margaret Tudor

Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth of York, is seen here is a dark brown velvet dress with orange (maybe gold) underskirt and sleeves. Her bell-sleeves are some type of animal print (probably ermine, but I swear it looks like leopard). Carrying the jeweled neck chain (a fashion her mother so loved) from the late 1400's over to the early 1500's was daring! Her matching French Hood certainly completes this very earth-tone ensemble.

Is this dress Fashion or Flop? Pin It

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Off With His Head! - Bishop Fisher

On June 22, 1535, Catholic Bishop/Cardinal John Fisher was beheaded on Tower Hill for refusing to submit to Henry VIII as the head of the Church of England. Fisher had long been outspoken about Henry VIII's coup of the church, break with Rome, and divorce of Katherine of Aragon (whom he served as defense lawyer for at the divorce trial).

Thus, it came as no surprise that he quickly found himself imprisoned in the Tower. After word reached the Pope of Fisher's ill-treatment, he made him a Cardinal and quickly dispatched his Cardinal's hat to England.

Henry VIII, ever quick to spite the Pope, made sure Fisher had no head to wear his new hat upon. Henry was, however, kind enough to offer to send Fisher's head to meet his hat, just to save the Pope on postage.

Ironically, Fisher was executed on his namesake day, the Catholic Feast of Saint John the Baptist, who was also beheaded by a ruthless king whose marriage the executee had denounced. Wonder if Henry thought of that?
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Tudor Tart: Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford

Lady Jane Boleyn, nee Parker, was the daughter of Henry Parker, 10th Baron Morley and Alice St. John.

Though no confirmed portrait of Jane
survives, this one by Hans Holbien is
inscribed "The Lady Parker" and could
be Jane.
In 1524/25, Jane married George Boleyn, brother of Anne Boleyn. Though many claim the marriage was unhappy, there is little evidence for this. However, it was well known that George was extremely promiscuous, which could have caused quite a bit of trouble between the two.

Regardless of their happy or unhappy marriage, Jane played a role in George and Anne's quick fall and deaths. According to some contemporary sources and modern historians, it was Jane's testimony that Anne and George had a sexual relationship which helped convict both of incest and treason. She also implied that George had been the biological father of the deformed foetus Anne had miscarried early in 1536. There was no truth in her statements, according to the majority of contemporary witnesses as well as the trial itself. In fact, many placed wagers that George would walk free!

So why did she do it? According to contemporary sources, it was an act of malice against George due to the difficulty in their marriage from his affairs and possibly due to her jealousy of his close relationship with Anne.

Because of her supposed backstabbing nature and dramatic end, Jane Boleyn has been painted throughout history as an ugly, jealous woman. However, biographer Julia Fox disagrees.

On the matter of Jane's appearance, she points out that because Jane was chosen for quite a few pageants about court, she would have most likely been quite pretty.

As for the role in her husband and sister-in-law's downfall, Fox states
Jane Rochford found herself dragged into a maelstrom of intrigue, innuendo and speculation. For when Cromwell sent for Jane, he already had much of what he needed, not only to bring down Anne and her circle, but to make possible the King's marriage to Jane Seymour... The questions to Jane [Rochford] would have come thick and fast... Faced with such relentless, incessant questions, which she had no choice but to answer, Jane would have searched her memory for every tiny incident that occurred to her... [But] Jane had not been quick to tell tales, but she had buckled under the pressure of relentless questioning... And it was her weakness under interrogation that gave her future detractors - happy to find a scapegoat to exonerate the King from the heinous charge of callously killing his innocent wife - the ammunition to maintain that it was her evidence that had fooled Henry and destroyed Anne and George..."

After their deaths, Jane was absent from court due to the loss of her lands and income. She was eventually able to return to court and served Henry's later wives as a lady-in-waiting.

She quickly became a favorite of the young Katheryn Howard. Once Katheryn's affair with Culpepper was discovered (thanks to a letter found which she wrote him), she and Lady Rochford were detained. The letter mentioned Jane by name in aiding the young lovers, which led to her arrest.

After months of being interrogated in the Tower, Jane had a nervous breakdown as was declared insane. Henry VIII had a special law passed which allowed him to execute an insane person. On Feb. 13th, 1542, Jane followed Katheryn Howard to the scaffold and was beheaded. She was buried near Anne and George in St. Peter Ad Vincula within the Tower of London.

So, what do you think? Was Jane an innocent bystander caught up in several bad situations, or a true Tudor Tart? Pin It

Monday, June 20, 2011

Failed Love: Anne Boleyn and Henry (No, not that Henry)

Despite her famous relationship with King Henry VIII, he was not the first Henry Anne loved. Rather, it was a shy boy named Henry Percy. Percy was heir to the rich Dukedom of Northumberland. He served at court in the household of Cardinal Wolsey, at this time Henry VIII’s most powerful adviser. Anne Boleyn, at this point, was only a Maid-of-Honor to Queen Katherine. Her father was involved at court, but not yet a power player.

According to George Cavendish, who also worked in Wolsey’s household, this is how the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry Percy unfolded:
I will tell you as best I can how the king’s love came about and what followed thereafter.  When this lady, Mistress Anne Boleyn, was very young she was sent to France to be a lady-in-waiting to the French queen.  When the queen died she was sent back to her father who arranged for her to become a lady-in-waiting to queen Catherine, wife of Henry.  Such was her success in this post, shown both by her exemplary behavior and excellent deportment that she quickly outshone all the others.  To such an extent, in fact, that the flames of desire began to burn secretly in the king’s breast, unknown to all, least of all to Anne herself.
At this time Lord Percy, the son and heir of the earl of Northumberland, was aide and secretary to Wolsey, the lord cardinal, and whenever the lord cardinal happened to be at court Lord Percy would pass the time in the queen’s quarters where he would dally with the ladies-in-waiting.  Of these, he was most familiar with mistress Anne Boleyn, to such an extent that a secret love grew up between them and they pledged that, in time, they intended to wed.  When knowledge of this reached the king’s ears he was greatly distraught.  Realizing that he could no longer hide his secret love, he revealed all to the lord cardinal and discussed with him ways of sundering the couple’s engagement to each other.
When the lord cardinal had left the court and returned to Westminster, he remembered Henry’s request and summoned Lord Percy to his presence, saying in front of us, his servants: ‘I am amazed at your foolishness in getting entangled, even engaged, to this silly girl at court – I mean Anne Boleyn.  Have you not considered your position?  After the death of your noble father you stand to inherit one of the greatest earldoms in the country.  It would thus have been more proper if you had sought the consent of your father in this affair and to have made his highness the king privy to it, requesting his royal blessing.  Had you done so, he was not only have welcomed your request but would, I can assure you, have promoted you to a position more suited to your noble estate.  And thence you might have gained the king’s favor by your conduct and wise council and and thus risen further still in his estimation.
‘But now look what you have done by your thoughtlessness.  You have not only offended your own father but also your sovereign and pledged yourself to someone whom neither would agree to be suitable.  And do not doubt that I shall send for your father and when he comes he will break off this engagement or disinherit you forever.  The king himself will make a complaint to your father and demand no less an action than I have suggested.  Indeed, I happen to know that the king has already promised this lady to someone else and that though she is not yet aware of it, the arrangements are already far advanced.  The king however, being a man of great prudence and diplomacy, is confident that, once she is aware of the situation, she will agree to the union gladly.’
‘Sir,’ said Lord Percy, weeping, ‘I knew nothing of the king’s involvement in all this, and I am sorry to have incurred his displeasure.  I considered myself to be of sufficient age and in a good enough situation to be able to take a wife of my own choosing and never doubted that my father would have accepted my decision.  And though she is just a simple maid and her father is only a knight, yet she is of very noble descent.  On her mother’s side she has Norfolk blood and on her father’s side she is a direct descendant of the earl of Ormond.  Why then, sir, should I query the suitability of the match when her pedigree is of equal worth to mine?  Thus I humbly beg your favor in this matter and ask you to beg the king to be benevolent concerning this issue of my engagement, which I cannot deny, still less break it off?’
‘See, gentlemen,’ said the lord cardinal to us, ‘what nonsense there is in this willful boy’s head!  I though that when you heard me explain the king’s involvement in this business you would have relented in your suit and have submitted yourself to the king’s will, allowing his highness to decide on the matter as he thinks fit.’
‘Sir, and so I would,’ said Lord Percy, ‘but in this matter I have gone so far that I am no longer able to renounce my commitment in full conscience.’
‘What?’ said the cardinal, ‘Do you think that the king and I do not know what to do in such a serious matter as this?  One thing’s for sure, I can see no point in your making any further pleas in this case.’
‘Very well,’ said Lord Percy, ‘if it please you, I will submit myself completely to the king’s will in this matter and will release my conscience from the heavy burden of the engagement.’
‘So be it, then,’ said the cardinal, ‘I will send for your father in the north, and he, the king and I will take whatever measure for the annulment of this hasty folly the king thinks necessary.  And in the meantime, I order you – and in the king’s name command you – not to see her again if you intend to avoid the full wrath of his majesty.’  Having said this, he got up and went off to his study.
Then the earl of Northumberland was sent for, who, learning of the request being at the king’s command, made great speed to court.  his first port of call after leaving the north was to lord cardinal, by whom he was briefed about the cause of his hasty summons and with whom he spent a considerable time in secret discussions.  After their long talk, the cardinal ordered some wine and after they had drunk together the meeting broke up and the earl left.
As he was leaving, he sat down on a bench that the servants used and called his son Lord Percy to him, saying, in our presence: ‘Son, you have always been a proud, presumptuous, headstrong wastrel.  And you have so proved yourself once more.  What possible joy, comfort, pleasure or solace could I ever receive from you who have so misconducted yourself without discretion and in such secrecy.  With no regard for your own father, nor for your sovereign to whom all honest and loyal subjects give faithful and humble obedience, nor even for your own noble estate, you have ill-advisedly become engaged to this girl and thereby incurred the king’s displeasure – an action intolerable in any of his subjects!
‘If it wasn’t for the wisdom of the king and his benevolence towards your empty-headedness and willful stupidity, his wrath would have been sufficient to cast me and all my family for generations to come into abject poverty and desolation.  But by the supreme goodness of his grace and the worthy lord cardinal, I have been excused your transgression – they have decided to pity your stupidity rather than blame it – and have presented me with a command concerning you and your future conduct.
‘I pray to God that this may serve as sufficient warning to you to conduct yourself with more care hereafter, for I can assure you that, if you do not amend your ways, you will be the last earl of Northumberland if I have anything to do with it.  You do nothing but waste and consume everything that all your ancestors have built up and cherished with great honor.  But in the name of the good and gracious king, I intend – God willing – so to arrange my succession that you will benefit from it but little.  For I have no intention, I can assure you, of making you my heir.  I have, after all, praise be to God, a wide choice of sons who will, I am sure, prove themselves worthier than you and abler to conduct themselves as true nobles should.  And from these I will choose the best as my successor.
‘Now gentlemen,’ he said to us servants, ‘it may so happen that when I am dead you will see these things that I have spoken of to my son prove to be the case.  Yet in the meantime, I would be grateful if you could be his friends and tell him when he strays from the path or is at fault.’  And with that he took his leave of us and said to his son: ‘Go on your way and serve the lord cardinal, your master, and make sure you carry out your duty.’  And thus he departed and went down through the hall and out to his barge.
After much debate and consultation about lord Percy’s case it was finally decided that his engagement to Anne Boleyn should be dissolved and that he should instead marry one of the earl of Shrewsbury’s daughters, Mary Talbot, which he later did.
Percy’s marriage was an unhappy one. In 1532, his wife accused him of a precontract with Anne Boleyn. Not only did this nullify their marriage, but also Anne and King Henry’s marriage. However, Percy denied the accusation under oath, and the affair was temporarily forgotten. In 1536, Henry Percy sat in the jury that condemned Anne to death for treason. Many say he was so devastated when the verdict of death was read that he fainted. Pin It