Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fashion or Flop? - Philip II of Spain

Philip of Spain, husband of Mary I, sports a breast plate of black and gold armor over an expertly woven chain mail shirt. His pants are true Tudor breeches with gold embroidery (not too great for the battle field I would imagine) as well as thigh high boots (Scandalous, Philip. Scandalous).

What think you? Fashion or flop on the Spaniard's part?
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Friday, July 15, 2011

Tudor Tart - Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York
 Elizabeth of York is probably best known as the mother of Henry VIII, and bride of Henry VII. She was born the daughter of Elizabeth Wydville (the "common" bride) and King Edward IV. Her younger brothers, Edward and Richard, are the mysterious Princes in the Tower.

After her father's death, Elizabeth went into sanctuary with her mother. Her brothers disappeared and her uncle, Richard III was crowned King of England. Elizabeth was declared illegitimate by Richard. However, this didn't stop him from inviting her to court, as well as the rumors that he intended to marry her upon his sick wife's death. Some even speculated that he was poisoning his wife to marry Elizabeth, who, like her mother, was said to be charming and beautiful.

However, when Richard's wife finally died there were no wedding bells. Rather, the trumpet of war was sounded as Henry Tudor invaded England. He defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned King of England. Rather, it was he that married Elizabeth of York, the closest living person to the throne.

Richard III
 Why, do you ask, would I suggest Elizabeth of York as a Tudor Tart? I suggest it because of the young girl's relationship with her uncle, Richard III and later relationship with Henry VII. The Battle of Bosworth not only decided who would be King of England, but most likely who would marry Elizabeth. As said before, Richard was rumored to be courting his young niece. How true is this though?

The only real evidence of Richard planning a wedding for Elizabeth comes not from England, but from Portugal. The royal records there suggest negotiations for Richard to marry a Portuguese Princess, and Elizabeth to marry a Portuguese Prince. Richard also had Elizabeth (along with her missing brothers) declared illegitimate.

When Henry VII gained power, he had the ruling reversed, then married her. Elizabeth was much closer to the throne than Henry. Because of this, Henry stated he was ruling not by birthright, but by the fact that he conquered England. Thus, he didn't have to share power with his royal wife as joint rulers.

But what about Elizabeth's feelings in the whole matter? Many novels portray her as being in love with her uncle, and terrified of Henry VII. Sadly, no authentic records of her feelings survive. She did join Richard in court and seemed to be happy. Her mother, however, was not. She and Richard had never gotten along. He, like many in England, did not see her rank as befitting that of a Queen (she was a lowly Lord's daughter who, like Anne Boleyn years later, said "no" to a king's sexual advances...which resulted in marriage). Many saw her as a cunning witch, including Richard.

Young Henry VII
 She began scheming behind Richard's back with Margaret Beaufort (Henry VII's mother). The two decided that if Henry invaded England and took the crown, he would marry Elizabeth. Elizabeth did end up marrying him, but of course, there are no records of her reaction. The marriage, whether Elizabeth wanted it or not, was a successful one. The couple had several children together and seemed happy. Henry seemed to have genuienly loved Elizabeth and did not remarry after she died from a part-partum infection.

Now that the few sparse facts have been provided, what do you think? Was Elizabeth of York, like so many women of her time, a political pawn? Or, in true Tudor Tart fashion, the young lover of Richard and the unwilling bride of Henry VII? Pin It

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fashion or Flop? - Mary, Queen of Scots

Last week we took a look at Sir George Clifford, dressed in his best armor. Though the reviews were mixed, we decided it was a fashion flop. Sorry, Sir George.

Today, we shall examine the garment worn by the infamous Queen of Scots. Thought to be very beautiful in her youth, Mary gave her cousin Elizabeth I a run for her money for the throne of England, ending with Mary having her pretty little head cut off.

Despite lacking some common sense, Mary had a great fashion sense. What think you? Is this black garment with gold embroidery and a white damask underskirt, topped with an ornate pearl headdress, fitting for a Queen of Fashion?

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Off With Their Head! - Sir Thomas More

After years of being Henry VIII's good friend and star gazing buddy, Sir Thomas More decided to speak out against one of the King's decisions; Marry Anne Boleyn and break with the Catholic Church of Rome. More, you see, was a staunch Catholic (maybe even a bit radical...). Henry was annoyed that his most loyal subject refused to accept his title as Head of the Church of England. Thus, More was jailed, tried, and executed. At his execution, More, always the jokster, said, "I pray you, I pray you, Mr Lieutenant, see me safe up and for my coming down, I can shift for myself." Once upon the scaffold, More, as if to up-one on Henry, said, "I die the King's good servant, but God's first." With that, More was quickly dispatched.

Many scholars think, through Henry's own words, that there were only two death's he regreted in his reign; Thomas Cromwell's (who go stuff done) and Sir Thomas More's. Maybe you should have thought that through a little better, Henry... Pin It

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rougish Rake - Sir Philip Sydney

Philip Sidney
 Sir Philip Sidney was a popular poet during Elizabeth's later reign. He was born in 1554 to Sit Henry Sidney and Lady Mary Dudley. He was the nephew of Robert Dudley, favorite of Queen Elizabeth  I.

In 1572, he traveled to France as part of the embassy to negotiate a marriage between Elizabeth I and the Duc D'Alençon. Upon his return, Sidney quarrelled with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Sidney opposed the French marriage while de Vere championed it. Sidney, ever passionate, challenged de Vere to a duel. Elizabeth strictly forbade. Sidney, feathers still ruffled, wrote a long letter to the Queen detailing his opinion on the matter. The Queen was displeased and Sidney sulked away from court.

During his absence from court, Sidney focused on his poetry. Being a poet, Sidney was apt at expressing love. In the 1580's he wrote a series of sonnets devoted to Penelope Devereux. They two would have been married, but her father died in 1576. Thus, the marriage feel through. Penelope Devereux was quickly married off, against her will, to Lord Rich.

Frances Walsingham
Returning to the Queen's good graces, Sidney was knighted in 1583. Sidney had another arrangement to marry Anne Cecil, daughter of Sir William Cecil . However, this too feel through and she was, interestingly, married to de Vere, Sidney's mortal enemy. In 1583, he finally married. The blushing bride was Frances, the much younger daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham (and later the wife of Robert Devereaux, Elizabeth's executed favorite).

Passion ever fueling his decisions, Sidney became keenly militant Protestant. In the 1570s, he had attempted to organize a united Protestant effort against the Roman Catholic Church and Spain, however he received little support. Finally, the Queen gave Sidney and outlet for his pent up aggression: an appointed as governor of Flushing in the Netherlands. He served under his uncle, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He, or course, urged action. He finally got it whe he participated in the Battle of Zutphen. As with any romanticized historical novel, Sidney was fatally shot in the thigh and died at the age of 31.

Sidney's Funeral Procession
His image was sensationally played up. One story abounded that while lying wounded he gave his water-bottle to another wounded soldier, saying, "Thy necessity is yet greater than mine." Through the Astrophel, Sidney came to represent the"flower of English manhood."

What do you think? Was Sidney a tragic figure who deserved the title "Flower of English Manhood?" Or was he a hot headed, impulsive lover who deserves the title Roguish Rake? Pin It