Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Who Wore it Best? Bess Throckmorton or Jane Seymour

Here we see a light sage green gown, with fine, yet simple, beading around the neckline. Jane Seymour ("The Tudors") is seen wearing it with a large embroidered collar, while Bess wears a lovely lace under-dress. Both reveal an embroidered matching sleeve, complete with lace ruffling around the wrist.

What think ye? The Lady-in-Waiting, or the Queen?
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Original "Cone of Shame."

It has been decreed that my poor puppy wear the "Cone of Shame" due to getting fixed recently. It reminded me of something from Tudor England...perhaps the Cone of Shame's forerunner. What think ye?

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Artifact Monday: Archer's Bracer

This week's item comes from the British Museum, and dates between 1475-1525. According to the item entry:
"This archer's bracer is made of cuir bouilli (boiled leather). It is stamped with a crowned Tudor rose, oak leaves and acorns and the inscription 'ihc helpe' ('Jesus help'). Bracers were worn on the forearm, and had two uses. The first was to protect the forearm from the bowstring, and the other was to keep any loose sleeve material out of the path of the string. Bracers could be made of any hard material, such as ivory or horn, but were usually made of leather. The leather is softened in water, stretched over a mould of the required shape, and then heated until dry: it dries to a harder finish if it is dipped into boiling oil. Bracers are fastened around the forearm by a buckle at the end of Y-shaped leather straps rivetted to the bracer. The original rivet holes can be seen on this example.The engraved coat of arms, inscription and the punched background decoration on this bracer were originally gilded and coloured. Bracers recovered from the wreck of the Mary Rose, King Henry VIII's flagship, which sank in 1545, have similar decoration. The heraldic badges or coats of arms might indicate in whose service the archer was fighting. The English medieval longbowman developed a fearsome reputation, and English armies gained many victories due to their superior archery skills."
Read more about this fascinating item here.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Photo Friday: Great Watching Chamber Window, Hampton Court

This a detailed view of the Great Window in the Great Watching Chamber at Hampton Court Palace. The stained glass shows Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey, as well as various coats of arms and religious imagery.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Supersizers Go...Elizabethan

Many of my British readers have probably seen this before. But, if you are like me and stuck in the colonies, you may not have. Here's a fabulously entertaining show on food throughout history. This particular episode focuses on Elizabethan food. Not only are the meals recreated according to Elizabethan recipes, but the hosts live as Elizabethans for a week!

Here's Part 1. There are 6 Parts, so be sure to watch them all.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fashion or Flop? Albrecht Dürer

Here we see a self portrait of artist Albrecht Dürer, dating from about 1498. The artists wears a bright white undershirt, trimmed in gold. His over suit is a grayer colored material, trimmed in black. He wears a matching cap and white gloves. He finishes off his ensemble with a brown cloak tied with a black and white intertwined rope.

What think ye? Fashion or Flop?
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Belated Artifact Monday: The Boleyn Cup

 This cup once belonged to Queen Anne Boleyn. The church that currently holds the cup, St. John the Baptist in Cirencester, states that it was given by the Queen to Dr. Richard Masters, a physician, who cared for the Princess Elizabeth. He later, in 1561, gave the cup to the church. It is silver gilt adorned with Anne's Royal Falcon. It was once part of her large collection of gold and silver plate.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Photo Friday: Detail of the Anne Boleyn Gate

This gate is one of two main gates at Hampton Court Palace. It derives its name from the interwoven HA's in the ceiling of the underpass. There has been a lot of debate as to the originality of the HA's, which are thought to represent Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn (thus giving the gate its name). Many historians, however, attribute it to the Victorian renovations of the palace, thus not originally Tudor. However, it was a common practice for Henry to entwine his initials with his wives', many examples of which can still be seen through England.
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Don't Spoil It," Jane Seymour

I was re-watching a season 3 episode of The Tudors the other night and was re-struck by a scene I had forgotten about. Henry and Jane, his new wife, had just finished an evening of passion. They are cuddling (who would have thought Henry a cuddler) and enjoying pillow talk. Jane, however, thought this might be a good time to ask Henry to restore the Abbeys. Henry, having already told her previously not to meddle in his affairs replied, "Do you remember what happened to the late Queen? I love you more than her, more even than Katherine. Don't spoil it."

Here's the scene if you would like to watch:

My first instinct? Some love, Henry. Then, as any good history major, I began comparing it to history. In real life, Henry and Jane did disagree about the dissolution of the monasteries, as well as the fate of those involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace. What really happened?

According to the French Ambassador, something far more dramatic. When the fate of the monasteries was revealed, Queen Jane "threw herself on her knees before her husband and 'begged him to restore the abbeys'" before the court. Henry retorted her, telling her to get up. He quickly reminded her that he had warned her several times not to meddle in his affairs. He then, much as Henry did in the video above, made a pointed allusion to "'the late Queen.'" Apparently, this frightened poor Jane enough to shut her up.

The Tudors, ShoTime. No copyright infringement intended!
Antonia Fraser, The Wives of Henry VIII.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fashion or Flop? Isabelle de Valois

Here Isabelle de Valois models a lovely redish-orange silk gown intricately embroidered with gold thread, over a white silk petticoat. The top of the gown is modestly adorned with a ruby and pearl netting and topped with a high collar of lace ruffles.  She wears an elaborate ruby and pearl headpiece which scandalously shows a bit of her dark brown hair.

What think ye? Is it Fashion or Flop?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Love" Letters of the Tudors

I though I would do something special today to celebrate Valentines Day. I have brought together a few letters from various Tudors. Though not all of the following are "love" letters per se, each one of them shows strong feeling and, often times, love of the writer to the receiver.

Several love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn exist. Here is one I find intriguing:
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 and also I am right well comforted, insomuch that my Book maketh substantially for my Matter, in writing where of I have spent above IIII Hours this Day, which caused me now to write the shorter Letter to you at this Tyme, because some Payne in my Head. 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. 

Source: Love Letters of Henry VIII (Book)

Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII, 1526.
It belongs only to the august mind of a great king, to whom Nature has given a heart full of generosity towards the sex, to repay by favors so extraordinary an artless and short conversation with a girl. Inexhaustible as is the treasury of your majesty's bounties, I pray you to consider that it cannot be sufficient to your generosity; for, if you recompense so slight a conversation by gifts so great, what will you be able to do for those who are ready to consecrate their entire obedience to your desires? How great soever may be the bounties I have received, the joy that I feel in being loved by a king whom I adore, and to whom I would with pleasure make a sacrifice of my heart, if fortune had rendered it worthy of being offered to him, will ever be infinitely greater. 
The warrant of maid of honor to the queen induces me to think that your majesty has some regard for me, since it gives me means of seeing you oftener, and of assuring you by my own lips (which I shall do on the first opportunity) that I am, 
Your majesty's very obliged and very obedient servant, without any reserve,  
Anne Bulen.

Source: Love Letters of Henry VIII (Book)

Katherine of Aragon's last letter to Henry VIII, 1536.

My most dear lord, king and husband, 
The hour of my death now drawing on, the tender love I owe you forceth me, my case being such, to commend myself to you, and to put you in remembrance with a few words of the health and safeguard of your soul which you ought to prefer before all worldly matters, and before the care and pampering of your body, for the which you have cast me into many calamities and yourself into many troubles. For my part, I pardon you everything, and I wish to devoutly pray God that He will pardon you also. For the rest, I commend unto you our daughter Mary, beseeching you to be a good father unto her, as I have heretofore desired. I entreat you also, on behalf of my maids, to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants I solicit the wages due them, and a year more, lest they be unprovided for. Lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things.  
Katharine the Quene.

Source: English History

Katheryn Howard to Thomas Culpepper
Master Culpepper, I heartily recommend me unto you, praying you to send me word how that you do. It was showed me that you were sick, the which thing troubled me very much till such time that I hear from you, praying you to send me word how that you do, for I never longed so much for thing as I do to see you and to speak with you, the which I trust shall be shortly now. The which doth comfort me very much when I think of it, and whne I think again that you shall depart from me again it makes my heart to die, to think what fortune I have that I cannot be always in your company. Yet my trust is always in you that you will be as you have promised me, and in that hope I trust upon still, praying you then that you will come when my Lady Rochford is here, for then I shall be best at leiseure to be at your commandment, thanking you for that you have promised me to be so good unto that poor fellow my man, which is one of the griefs that I do feel to depart from him, for then I do know no one that I dare trust to send to you, and therefore I pray you take him to be with you that I may sometime hear from you. One thing I pray you, to give me a horse for my man, for I have much ado to get one, and therefore I pray send me one by him, and in so doing I am as I said afore; and thus I take my leave of you, trusting to see you shortly again, and I would you was with me now that you might see what pain I take in writing to you, 

Yours as long as life endures,

Source: Tudor History (thanks Lara!)

Catherine Parr to Henry VIII, 1544.

Although the distance of time and account of days neither is long nor many of your majesty's absence, yet the want of your presence, so much desired and beloved by me, maketh me that I cannot quietly pleasure in anything until I hear from your majesty. The time, therefore, seemeth to me very long, with a great desire to know how your highness hath done since your departing hence, whose prosperity and health I prefer and desire more than mine own. And whereas I know your majesty's absence is never without great need, yet love and affection compel me to desire your presence. 
Again, the same zeal and affection force me to be best content with that which is your will and pleasure. Thus love maketh me in all things to set apart mine own convenience and pleasure, and to embrace most joyfully his will and pleasure whom I love. God, the knower of secrets, can judge these words not to be written only with ink, but most truly impressed on the heart. Much more I omit, lest it be thought I go about to praise myself, or crave a thank; which thing to do I mind nothing less, but a plain, simple relation of the love and zeal I bear your majesty, proceeding from the abundance of the heart. Wherein I must confess I desire no commendation, having such just occasion to do the same. 
I make like account with your majesty as I do with God for his benefits and gifts heaped upon me daily, acknowledging myself a great debtor to him, not being able to recompense the least of his benefits; in which state I am certain and sure to die, yet I hope in His gracious acceptation of my goodwill. Even such confidence have I in your majesty's gentleness, knowing myself never to have done my duty as were requisite and meet for such a noble prince, at whose hands I have found and received so much love and goodness, that with words I cannot express it. Lest I should be too tedious to your majesty, I finish this my scribbled letter, committing you to the governance of the Lord with long and prosperous life here, and after this life to enjoy the kingdom of his elect. 
From Greenwich, by your majesty's humble and obedient servant,  
Katharine the Queen.

Source: English History

Elizabeth I letter to Eric XIV of Sweden. Though not a "love" letter, it shows her feelings towards him.
25 Feb 1560

Most Serene Prince Our Very Dear Cousin,
      A letter truly yours both in the writing and sentiment was given us on 30 December by your very dear brother, the Duke of Finland. And while we perceive there from that the zeal and love of your mind towards us is not diminished, yet in part we are grieved that we cannot gratify your Serene Highness with the same kind of affection. And that indeed does not happen because we doubt in any way of your love and honour, but, as often we have testified both in words and writing, that we have never yet conceived a feeling of that kind of affection towards anyone. We therefore beg your Serene Highness again and again that you be pleased to set a limit to your love, that it advance not beyond the laws of friendship for the present nor disregard them in the future. And we in our turn shall take care that whatever can be required for the holy preservation of friendship between Princes we will always perform towards your Serene Highness. It seems strange for your Serene Highness to write that you understand from your brother and your ambassadors that we have entirely determined not to marry an absent husband; and that we shall give you no certain reply until we shall have seen your person.
      We certainly think that if God ever direct our hearts to consideration of marriage we shall never accept or choose any absent husband how powerful and wealthy a Prince soever. But that we are not to give you an answer until we have seen your person is so far from the thing itself that we never even considered such a thing. But I have always given both to your brother, who is certainly a most excellent prince and deservedly very dear to us, and also to your ambassador likewise the same answer with scarcely any variation of the words, that we do not conceive in our heart to take a husband, but highly commend this single life, and hope that your Serene Highness will no longer spend time in waiting for us.
God keep your Serene Highness for many years in good health and safety. From our Palace at Westminster, 25 February

Your Serene Highness' sister and cousin,
Source: Luminarium

Robert Dudley's Last Letter to Elizabeth I

I most humbly beseech your Majesty to pardon your poor old servant to be thus bold in sending to know how my gracious lady doth, and what ease of her late pain she finds, being the chiefest thing in the world I do pray for, for her to have good health and long life. For my own poor case, I continue still your medicine and find that [it] amends much better than any other thing that hath been given me. Thus hoping to find perfect cure at the bath, with the continuance of my wonted prayer for your Majesty's most happy preservation, I humbly kiss your foot. From your old lodging at Rycote, this Thursday morning, ready to take on my Journey, by Your Majesty's most faithful and obedient servant, 

R. Leicester 

Even as I had writ thus much, I received Your Majesty's token by Young Tracey.
Source: Elizabeth
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Artifact Monday: Queen Elizabeth's Virginal

This stunning piece of Venetian craftsmanship is said to have belonged to Queen Elizabeth, probably in the later part of her reign. It is currently held at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Please read more about it here. Though some place the instrument's creation around 1570, an inscription of 1594 was recently discovered during its preservation.

Regardless, it fits with the time of Elizabeth's reign. The Queen was known to be an accomplished musician (much like her father), and was often heard playing the virginal. The virginal (sometimes referred to as the virginals) was a table top forerunner to the piano. It is very similar to the harpsichord, though much smaller. It can get a bit confusing as the terms virginal and harpsichord were interchanged and used to represent specific types of instruments as well as an entire family of keyboard/string instruments.

This particular virginal was elaborately decorated in a ornamental scratched pattern in red and blue enamel on gold. Though the article at the V&A does not mention it, I find that the symbol in the center of the virginal headboard (pictured above) looks quite a bit like Anne Boleyn's royal falcon. What think ye?
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Everything Tudor: Three Years in the Making

Yummy cake! (

February 2nd marked the 3rd birthday of my site, Everything Tudor. Throughout its three years online, there has been a lot of change, growth, and, well, fun! I appreciate the huge amount of support I have received from my readers, many of whom have become good friends.

Though the actual date has passed, I want to celebrate this month with a huge giveaway! (More on this is a following post).

Some of the changes have been, personally, for the better. Though I love making Tudors replica jewelry, doing it on your own is quite a challenge. Thus, one big change I have made is to the Everything Tudor Store. I am now only offering the Anne Boleyn Signature Necklace. Profits will go to support some of the fabulous Tudor-related groups and charities. Read more about it here.

Another change is the main blog of the site. I used to run my site through Wordpress. After numerous problems, I have since switched to Blogger (a decision I have not regretted). During the switch, I unfortunately lost a lot of my main "Tudor Times" blog posts. Thus, I felt it was time to start something new. I, thus, created The Tudor Tattler. It is a fun blog, devoted to scandal, gossip, fashion, and of course history of the Tudor and Renaissance period.

The Tudor Book Blog, my original creation, is still around. I must admit, I have been slacking on updating it. However, I am happy to say that is going to change! I have a few goodies coming up soon, and promise to update it more regularly this year. I also have a backlog of archived articles I plan to get up (dating back to the start of the site). I hope to finish that this month.

The prospect of 2012 is exciting for me. I have several sites I run, including Everything TudorMarie Antoinette: Queen of France, and a few other I have in the works. I have a lot planned for my sites in the coming year, and am so excited to be sharing it with all of you!

I cannot thank everyone enough for all their support. Please, be sure to enter the giveaway! (More on that soon!)
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Photo Friday: St. George's Chapel

St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

St. George's Chapel is the burial place of many monarchs and nobles related to Tudor England, including Henry VIII, his third wife Jane Seymour, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, Edward IV, and Elizabeth Wydville.
It is also the home of the Order of the Garter.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tudor Tart: Margaret Stanley, Countess of Derby

Portrait of a Lady, possibly Margaret
Margaret Stanley (née Clifford) was daughter of Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland and Eleanor Brandon (daughter of Mary Tudor, Queen of France). This put her next in line to the throne, after the Grey sisters. An attempt was made by Dudley to marry Margaret to his son, Guildford. However, Clifford refused to support Jane Grey as Queen, thus the marriage did not happen. Fittingly, Queen Mary gave Dudley's confiscated jewels and other riches to Margaret upon her wedding to Henry Stanley, heir to the Earl of Derby in 1555.

Because of the Lady Jane Grey scandal, Margaret concluded that the Grey sisters were unfit to rule, as was Elizabeth Tudor (since she was not Catholic). Thus, she was Mary's heir presumptive. However, the Stanley's were not held in high esteem by the people, thus had little backing.

Even when her husband became the Earl of Derby, the couple had financial troubles. Stanley consoled himself with his mistress, while Margaret dabbled in alchemy. This led to her consulting "wizards" which caused her to lose favor with Queen Elizabeth. She really got into trouble when she was accused of consulting a Dr. Randall to see how long Elizabeth would live, causing her to be banished from court, permanently. 

Tudor England: An Encyclopedia
Tudor Place

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Who Wore it Best? Robert Dudley or Mark Smeaton

Honestly, I think it comes down to who you like better, as they both attempting to pull off the unbuttoned, chest exposed, "I'm a rake" type look.
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Artifact Monday: A Shoe

Every Monday I will post an artifact to have survived from Tudor Times. I love artifacts, as they are a tangible links to the past. I especially love finding rare Tudor artifacts such as clothing, shoes, or jewelry as there are not many known to have survived to modern times.

This week's Artifact is (surprise, surprise) a shoe! This particular leather shoe was discovered on the ill-fated flag ship of Henry VIII's, the Mary Rose. Sadly, many men lost their lives when it sank. However, it has offered some of the best artifacts from Tudor times, aiding historians in piecing together how people from the time really lived.

This particular shoe most likely belonged to a sailor. Shoes, especially those belonging to "peasant" folk are a rare find. The reason? Shoes were expensive. The normal person would wear them until they fell apart. Thus, few intact shoes remain to the present day! This shoe is a rare and important find.

Read more about the Mary Rose and its artifacts here.
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fashion or Flop? Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk

Here, the Duke of Norfolk sports a dark velvet cloak, graciously trimmed in ermine, over a silken burnt orange tunic. He proudly wears his chain of estate, and tops off his look with a simple velvet hat. What think ye? Fashion or Flop?
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Photo Friday: Westminster Abbey

This image was taken during my trip to England in 2010.
Westminster Abbey has a long history of worship, coronations, and royal weddings. The present Abbey was built in 1245 by Henry III. Seventeen monarchs are buried here, including Elizabeth I, Mary I, Edward VI, Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, and Anne of Cleves (the only wife of Henry VIII to be buried in the Abbey). Westminster is a "Royal Peculiar" which means it is "a free chapel of the Sovereign, exempt from any ecclesiastical jurisdiction other than that of the Sovereign."

Sources: Westminster Abbey Official Site.
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Roguish Rake: Sir Francis Bryan

Sorry things have been quiet here lately. I've just gotten over a very nasty cold.

Since today, Feb. 2, is the anniversary of the death of Sir Francis Bryan, I thought it appropriate to name him this week's Roguish Rake.

No known portrait of Sir Francis Bryan exists. However,
here is an image of his portrayal in "The Tudors."

Born around 1492, Bryan was an intimate of King Henry VIII. The first mention of him at court comes from about 1513. He was an avid huntsman, which won him great favor with the King who promoted him throughout the early 1500's. He also enjoyed jousting, a great pastyme of the King and his gentlemen. However, Bryan had a slight accident in 1526, causing him to loose an eye. He wore an eye patch the rest of his life, which added to his roguish charm, I'm sure.

A young Nicholas Carew
Bryan was sent on numerous diplomatic missions, one of which took him to France. There he became close friends with Nicholas Carew, another intimate of the King. While in France, the men got into a bit of mischief. According to one chronicler, Carew, Bryan, and other boon gentlemen "roade disguysed through Paris, throwyng Egges, stones and other foolishe trifles at the people..." Another story claims that when arriving in Calais, Bryan demanded "a soft bed and a hard harlot." He was known as a rake, often enjoying the company of the ladies of the night. It was rumored that he was happy to aid the King in his extra marital affairs, possibly even offering his own sister, Elizabeth Carew. The tricky part? She was the wife of Nicholas Carew, good friend of both the King and Sir Francis Bryan...

Boyish sports aside, Bryan was an intelligent fellow. He translated several texts into English, as well as performed his state duties (egg throwing aside) admirably. He was charming and diplomatic, when the moment called for it.

Despite this, Cardinal Wolsey did not care for Bryan, Carew, and the other gentlemen of the King's Chamber who "were so familiar and homely with [the King], and plaied suche light touches with hym that they forgat themselves..." In 1519, Wolsey formed a coup d'etat of sorts, which removed many of these gentlemen from court. Bryan, however, remained with the King. It is no surprise that Bryan wanted to get even with Wolsey.

Bryan was a cousin of Anne Boleyn, so naturally supported her rise as Queen. Anne also hated Wolsey. Together, the cousins and other supporters were able to turn Henry against his "loyal servant." Bryan also supported Anne by testifying against Katherine of Aragon during the divorce trial.

He was one of Anne's great allies...that is until Henry VIII decided he didn't much care for her anymore.  Bryan had a talent for having the same opinion as the monarch. His quick change and great help in Anne's downfall caused Thomas Cromwell to coin Bryan's nickname as the "Vicar of Hell."

Luckily, Bryan has another cousin, Jane Seymour, whom he thought might make a good Queen. He helped "coach" Jane on how to act during her courtship with the King, and was the first to report to her of her former mistress's demise.

A young Mary Tudor
He certainly kept the King entertained with his wit and bold speech. One story of such entertainment occurred when Lady Mary was restored to the King's favor and returned to court. Henry apparently sent Bryan to test Mary's knowledge of the ways of the world. He had heard it said that his daughter knew "no foul of unclean speech." Sir Francis, whilst in conversation with Mary, let a foul word "slip." When Mary did not react, Sir Francis was surprised. It seemed what the King had heard was correct.

Due to his charm, wit, and willingness to always agree with the King, Bryan remained in Henry's good graces throughout his reign. When Henry died, Bryan remained an important figure at court, though not a favorite. He died suddenly on Feb. 2, 1550 of unknown causes.

What think ye? Did Bryan deserve the title the "Vicar of Hell?" Or was he simply a Roguish Rake who knew how to keep within the good graces of the King?

Sources Used:
M.H. Keen, Chivalry.
David Loades, The Tudor Court. 
Nicholas Sanders, Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism.
Alison Wier, Henry VIII: The King and His Court.
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