The Princes in the Tower – how it started

It can´t possibly have slipped anyone’s attention that – for a man dead more than 500 years – Richard III is getting an enormous amount of attention. The reason for this is of course that the date of his re-interment is drawing closer, the finish one might presume of the in deed fascinating discovery of the long lost king in a car park just over three years ago (September 2012).DelarocheKingEdward

For me personally it has brought to mind one of the great mysteries in history, an event that he has been blamed for over the centuries; the disappearance of the boys Edward of York, the heir of Edward IV and his younger brother Richard on Shrewsbury in the Tower in the summer of 1483.

It all started of course, when Edward IV died in April that same year. To most people, it would have been obvious that the 12-year-old Edward should enter the throne as Edward V. His father, the late king, had proclaimed his youngest brother, Richard of Gloucester, as Lord Protector during the young kings minority.

This triggered a number of events, not least that the dowager queen Elizabeth sought, once again, sanctuary in Westminster Abbey together with her children, except Edward, who had his own household in Ludlow Castle, supervised by his uncle Anthony Woodville.

Gloucester had little love for the Woodville’s, who were seen as having too much power due to the queen, and he decided to take charge of the young king as he made his way to London for his coronation.

As the party made their way to London, the duke of Gloucester intercepted them in Northampton,

Edward V (1470-1483), King of England, c1900, Wood engravingThe young king was sent ahead to Stony Stratford, while Woodville, Richard Grey – Elizabeth Woodville´s son by her first husband -, Gloucester and the duke of Buckingham stayed on in Northampton. The following day Woodville and Grey were arrested just outside Stony Stratford, accused of conspiring to murder Gloucester, something for which there exist little to no evidence. If the Woodville´s had indeed been planning to murder Richard, there is reason to believe that they would had taken greater precautions when approaching London, neither is there reason to think that they would have allowed young king Edward to ride ahead without them.

What did happen, how ever, was that both Anthony Woodville and Richard Grey were executed at Pontefract Castle on the 26th of June. The opinion varies in regards to if they got a trial or not. The Croyland Chronicles claim they didn´t while the contemporary historian John Rous claim they did, with the Earl of Northumberland acting as judge.

Personally I wouldn´t trust John Rous too much, as he is known for praising Richard III as the good lord while he was on the throne, only to literally paint him as a monster during the reign of Henry VII. That tells me that he would be of the opinion he was told to be.

The next step of Richard, after whisking Edward of to the Tower of London, allegedly to await his coronation there, as a long line of kings before him, was to have the children of his brother, Edward IV, declared illegitimate, this of course including the heir to the throne.

The reason for this should have been an alleged plight-troth – a betrothal in modern words – to a Lady Eleanore Butler two years previous to his hasty marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. Robert Stillington, bishop of Bath and Wells, who also claimed to be the one performing the ceremony, made the allegation. It should be known that Stillington had spoken out against Edward in other matters already in the 1470´s and may have had his own reason and gain to discredit the dead king and his offspring.

The theory have how ever been accepted as true by Ricardians, not least George Buck, 16th century historian who claimed that he5919643abb1b7c18921633f4e7f0c700 had seen the original document which was later conveniently lost. Other historians discard the theory, not least due to the fact that Eleanor Butler herself didn´t say a word at the time of Edward´s marriage to Elizabeth, or in the following years.

Even so, Richard issued a Titulus Regius in 1484, when Edward V and his brother had already been gone from public eye for almost six months. In the document, it was also claimed that Elizabeth Woodville and her mother, Jacquetta of Luxemburg, had used witchcraft to bring about the marriage, which made Elizabeth queen of England.


I will leave it at this for now, but of course I´ll be back to speculate about what happened to the boys. 😉




Interview with Claire Ridgway – Founder of The Anne Boleyn Files

As previously announced, Under Tudorrosen, which will be renamned Under The Tudor Rose, is changing the language of communication, and to inaugurate this, we start with and interview with Claire Ridgway, founder of The Anne Boleyn Files.

Claire Ridgway started out in education and freelance writing before she started the increasingly popular blog The Anne Boleyn Files that is dedicated to spreading information and debunking myths about this the second queen of Henry VIII.   Over the years Claire has released a number of successful and well received books, which will be listed below the interview, as well as founded The Tudor Association.

Claire September 2014When, and how, did your interest for Anne Boleyn start?

I’ve always been interested in Henry VIII and his Six Wives after I did a project on them at the age of 11. I was bemused by the fact that he had so many wives and that he had two of them executed. In January 2009 I had a vivid dream about being a spectator at Anne Boleyn’s execution. I don’t remember the details but I do remember the feeling of dread and helplessness I felt knowing that an innocent woman was going to her death and there was nothing I could do about it. I woke up with the name ”Anne Boleyn Files” on the tip of my tongue and feeling that I wanted to research her life and keep a journal on my research by blogging.

Why her?

It was her I dreamt about but I’ve always found her the most fascinating of Henry’s wives because of the love story with such a tragic end. Henry moved heaven and earth to be with her and then ended up killing her. I also find her faith interesting because French reformers rather than Luther influenced her. I have found it really interesting reading the religious texts she read and getting an insight into what she believed.

Have you ever had that moment when goose bumps appear from something you found out?

I get goose bumps more from viewing letters; manuscripts etc. that historical people owned or wrote. When I was researching and writing the George Boleyn biography, I felt quite emotional reading George’s letters and seeing images of the manuscripts he prepared for Anne. I’ve also had goose bumps visiting Hever, eating in the castle dining room where the Boleyns ate, and visiting the Tower of London, seeing the falcon stone carving and paying my respects at Anne Boleyn’s memorial tile.

How has your view on Anne changed over the years?anne-boleyn

I was brought up believing that Anne was a Protestant, but that isn’t strictly true. She was evangelical, but she could not be called Protestant, so my views on her faith have changed.

You have a large number of followers, what do you think fascinates people about Anne Boleyn, and maybe the whole Tudor family?

They are larger than life characters and their stories are better than any soap opera. I think Anne appeals to so many people because of how people see her as a feisty and quite ”modern” woman. I wouldn’t call her a feminist, but her strength of character definitely appeals to people, she was very different to the usual submissive Tudor wife.

Her story is also a tragic one, going from an amazing passionate love to being framed and ending her life on the scaffold. She is also the mother of Elizabeth I, that iconic queen so many people love.

Lastly; the eternal question: was Anne set up by Cromwell, did she bring about her own downfall or had Henry simply had enough?

We’ll never know for sure but my own view is that Henry had decided that his second marriage was as cursed as his first and that he put his need for a son first. I believe that he ordered Cromwell to do what was necessary to get rid of Anne and that Cromwell had to do his job as the King’s faithful servant. I also think that the incest charge was down to Henry VIII, I think he wanted to completely blacken Anne’s name and to pay her and George back for humiliating him, for joking about his poetry and for discussing his sexual prowess. That charge seems to me very personal, it smacks of revenge.









Claire was also involved in the English translation and editing of Edmond Bapst’s 19th century French biography of George Boleyn and Henry Howard, now available as TWO GENTLEMAN POETS AT THE COURT OF HENRY VIII.


Under Tudorrosen byter språk

Har just tagit ett beslut. Från och med nästa post kommer Under Tudorrosen’s inlägg att vara på engelska, vilket känns mer logiskt ju mer jag tänker på det.

For anyone English speaking who may see this: from next post Under Tudorosen, or “Under the Tudor Rose” as the name will be, will be in English only.

Mary I

499 years ago today, a princess was born in the Royal Palace of Placentia in Greenwich (today a borough in Mary_I_of_Englandsouth east London). It was the princess that should have been a prince, the only surviving child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Mary.

There is no reason to suspect that the first 10 years of Mary´s life was anything but happy. Catherine gave her very much the same upbringing and education she would have received, had she been the much longed for prince and heir to the throne.

But to Henry, and most likely society at large, it was inconceivable that a woman should, or even could, be regent. 1529 it all turned around.

Henry embarked on his Great Matter to have the marriage to Catherine annulled. Mary was eventually declared illegitimate and separated from her mother for the rest of Catherine´s life.

Felipe_of_Spain_and_MariaTudorShe became sickly from the stress she experienced, such as constantly being subjected to attempts to force her to acknowledge her mother as something else than the rightful Queen as well as acknowledge her father as the head of the English church, something which was impossible to the devout catholic that was Mary. Her longing for children of her own is reputed, a fact that led her to happily look after her younger sister Elizabeth even though she loathed her mother Anne Boleyn.

1533, at the age of 37, Mary ascended the throne as Mary I of England. The following year she married Philip of Spain. One has to assume that it was to the great sorrow of Mary that the two never conceived any children, even though Mary on two occasions thought herself to be pregnant.

Mary reinstated the catholic faith in England, and as a result of her hard persecutions of evangelicals and Protestants she has gone to history as Bloody Mary. She died on November 17th 1558 and was succeeded by her half sister Elizabeth.



A night at Hampton Court Palace

I år fyller Hampton Court Palace 500 år, något jag har för avsikt att återkomma till, och i början av året firades detta med bland annat ett återskapandet av dopet av Henriks hett efterlängade son Edward. Detta blev ett BBC-program med historikerna Lucy Worsley och David Starkey, vilket du nu kan se här:

George, duke of Clarence and relapse traitor

To sit in judgement over people who lived hundreds of years ago is risky, and no matter how much you want to, no researcher ofGeorge of Clarence amateur historian such as myself will ever hav access to the thoughts and moments which led to actions which thereafter live on and get discussed throughout history. It happened to Richard III and it happened to Henry VIII.

With this said I´m going to do exactly that – because it´s hard to see George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, as anything else than an unstable traitor. Placed in age between his brothers Edward (IV) and Richard (III), he constantly managed to in an outstanding way break the trust he was given.

He was born in Dublin in 1449 just as the conflict between his father, Richard of York and Henry VI was beginning. After Richard of York had been killed at Wakefielf 1460, he actively supported his brother´s claim to the crown, and after Edward ascended the throne he made George Duke of Clarence and Knight of the Garter 1461. It didn´t how ever, take long before there was disaffection between the brothers, and George went against the will of Edward and married Isabel Neville, the oldest daughter of Richard of Warwick, known as Warwick the Kingmaker.

When Warwick, in protest of the power that had ended up in the hands of the Woodville family – the family of the Queen – chose to rebel against Edward he had George by hiss ide. Only weeks after the wedding between George and Isabel, Warwick and Edward met on the battlefield of Edgecoat Moor on the 26th of July 1469. Warwick was victorious and in the following weeks he executed the father of the Queen as well as her son from a previous marriage.


During all of this, George of Clarence was under the impression that it was the intention of Warwick to elevate his son-in-law, George himself that is, to Kingship. It became evident however that this was not the case when Warwick in 1470 had his youngest daughter Anne married off to the son of Margaret of Anjou and Henry VI – Edward of Westminster – during their joint exile in France. George returned to his brothers side and was there at the battle of Barnet when Warwick was killed.

One could think that this would be the end of his treasonous behaviour, but George became more and more unpredictable over the years. After his wife´s death in what is now thought to have been either consumption or the consequences of childbirth, George had her lady-in-waiting, Ankarette Twynho summarily executed on the charge of having poisoned Isabel.

Being more and more mentally unstable, George continued to engage in plots and intended rebellions against Edward, and after having been warned of his behaviour a number of times he was finally placed it the Tower where he was executed on this day in 1478, at the age of 28. According to legend, he was drowned in a butt of Malmsey. In some versions he chose this way of dying because it was his favourite wine, in others because it was the favourite wine of the Queen, and he took pleasure in destroying it for her. Most likely, he was in reality garrotted. He is buried at Tewkesbury Abbey together with his wife Isabel Neville.

George of Clarence and Isabel Neville was survived by two small children, Edward and Margaret who were raised by their Anne Neville, their aunt and wife of Richard III until her death in 1485. Under the rule of Henry VII, Edward was imprisoned in the Tower and executed in 1499, at the age of 24. His sister lived on to become Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, who was executed under horrific forms 1541. But she will get a post of her own.

The Sunne in Splendour

This will be the first post in a new category; reviews of books dealing with the centuries, people and events my blog is concerned with. It will be both fiction and non-fiction.

The Sunne in Splendour is the novel form 1982 which aims to restore the, in all honesty – at least earlier – quite sorted reputation of Richard III, and the author takes on the challenge with enthusiasm for close 1 000 pages, and she does a predominantly very good job for which she should be commended.

The first, completely finished manuscript of the book got stolen from her car, after which she resolutely wrote the book again. It takes conviction to do such a thing.

Even though I – as one would have said if we had been at the end of the Wars of the Roses – ”hold for Tudor” (the battle of Bosworth is seen as the last battle of this civil war) I with, some reservations, like this book very much.

My first reservation is that while it is the job of an author of fiction to create the characters of the people she or he write about, I after a while find that I feel that she does to much out of the deep, presumed love between Richard and Anne. And this is slightly odd, because at first I find it endearing to the point where I almost fall in love with Richard myself. But after a while it, to me, becomes too much. Historically, there is no record what so ever of what their relation was like, other than the fact that they were married.

But what is at stake here is to make Richard seem as the most loving, considerate and endearing man that has ever lived. After a while it becomes a bit much.

Normally, this shouldn´t even be needed to point out, but the Richard of Sharon Kay Penman is a, in his private relations, fictional character. However, my view of the book has been tainted by the realisation that there exist a whole army of fans who view the book as absolute truth. And it really isn´t quite fair to lay the blame for this on Sharon Key Penman OR the book. Basically she did what an author is supposed to do; enchanted a vast number of her readers.

I read the book with mild interest to begin with and got captured somewhere around the 200th page. I continued reading enthusiasm for maybe 35o more pages. But at that point I was just over halfway through the book and I felt how my good will began to dwindle (that´s at least how I interpret my feeling of ”Aren´t we at Bosworth soon?”).

Personally I feel that too much time is spent at recounting Richards’s marital happiness. I also feel that Richard is too glorified. Even if he wasn´t a hunchbacked crippled madman with a withered arm (the Richard III of Shakespeare) which I don´t believe he was, I also don´t believe in the medieval king as a cuddly plush toy, regardless of who that king is.

I feel she reduces the outburst of rage on Richard´s side which ended with the execution of Will Hastings, trivialize his high-handed take over of his nephew Edward – who was supposed to be King – and explain the disappearance of that same Edward and his younger brother (the princes of the Tower) in a fuzzy way.

Sure, it is a novel. But it deals with actual historic events, and there will always be a crabby sod – like myself – who considers her- or him familiar with the events. So, do I think you should read it? Absolutely, why not?




Lady Jane Grey – The Nine Days Queen

When Edward VI got sick and it was obvious that he wasn´t going to survive, the discussion of who was going to be his Lady Jane Greyheir started. The obvious choice would have been his eldest sister Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon who had been restored to succession towards the end of Henry´s Life.

But while Henry´s break with Rome had more to do with Rome itself than with the catholic faith – Henry himself was never anything but catholic – his son by Jane Seymour had been raised to become a convinced protestant and it wasn´t conceivable to him or to the people around him to leave the throne to a devout catholic, which was exactly what Marys was.

The solution was Jane Grey – granddaughter of Henry´s sister Mary and his best friend Charles Brandon. She had received a humanist education, was very scholarly and was in correspondence with some of the most prominent European thinkers of the time. She was presented as an alternative heir to the throne by Edward´s own maternal uncle, Thomas Seymour, who was guardian of Lady Jane during his marriage to the dowager Queen, Katherine Parr, and allegedly even suggested Jane Grey as a wife of the young King.

634px-Edward_VI's_'devise_for_the_succession'Technically, Jane could have had a claim to the throne, but for reasons unknown, Henry had removed Frances – the mother of Jane Grey and daughter of Mary – from the line of succession.

Edward died on July 6th 1553, 16 years of age, and Jane, being the same age, found out three days later that she now was Queen of England. According to herself later on, and popular belief, Jane was strongly against being proclaimed Queen (this has been put into question by some latter day historians). Her opinion would however have mattered very little as she was under the authority of her father-in-law, John Dudley*, Duke of Northumberland and her parents.

Jane Grey only got to be Queen until July 19th and has because of this gone to history as the Nine Days Queen. It would become clear that Mary had a considerably greater support for her claim to the throne than Northumberland anticipated, and when he left London with armed force to met Mary and her forces at her manor at Hunsdon though640px-Lady_Jane_Grey_letter_as_Queen East Anglia, the parliament shifted their support and declared Mary Queen of England.

When she arrived in London on August 3rd it was to the sound of cheering citizens. Jane was apprehended and brought to the Tower, as were her husband Guildford Dudley, the son of Northumberland. Northumberland himself was executed as early as on August 22nd.

Jane pleaded to Mary for mercy, and for the longest time it looked, as she would actually get to keep her life, as Mary seemed sympathetic to the assurances on Jane´s part that she had simply been a tool in the hands of Northumberland. Mary was however in the middle of marriage negotiations with the future Philip II of Spain. Spain made it quite clear that it was out of the question for Philip to set foot on English soil as long as Jane Grey was alive. To Mary, it was far more important to marry and if possible produce an heir than it was to keep her word given to the child of her cousin.

Lady Jane Grey was beheaded on this day, February 12th 1554; the same year she would turn 17. She is buried at St. Peter ad Vincula within the Tower. Her husband was executed as well on this day.

The two letters published on this post is, first from the top, the declaration of Edward VI where he declare Jane as his heir and the second is a letter written by Jane Grey, signed with ”Jane the Quene”

*In the event the surname Dudley seems familiar, it´s no coincidence. The Duke of Northumberland had several sons, and one of those would later on enter the stage as Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, with a very special role to play in the life of Elizabeth I.


The Sisters who would be Queen; Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey – Leanda de Lisle

Lady Jane Grey – A Tudor Mystery – Eric Ives

John Dudley Duke of Northumberland 1504–1553 – David Loades


Elizabeth of York

I have written about her quite recently, in relation to the anniversary of her wedding to Henry VII, but she is well worth mentioning again. Not least because it was today she was born, 11/2, 1466 as the oldest child of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.

It was also today she died, the 11/2 1503, as the wife and queen of the first Tudor-regent, as the mother of the future Henry VIII and grandmother of Elizabeth I.

Contrary to what is sometimes said, that she loved her uncle Richard III and continued to do so for the rest of her life, there are credible sources stating that she and Henry VII had a happy marriage.

May she rest in peace.


In my end is my beginning


The quote in the headline in attributed to Marias Stuart, queen of the Scots, who on the 8th of February met her death through beheading at Fotheringhay Castle, sentenced for conspiring to murder her the cousin of her father as well as regent of England, Elizabeth I. As the only surviving child of James V of Scotland – son of Margaret Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII – and Mary of Guise, Mary became queen at the tender age of 6 days and Scotland came to be ruled by a council of regency, not least since Mary Stuart from the age of 5 lived in France where she had been married to the dauphin, one day to become Francis II. She returned to Scotland in 1561 after only a short time on the French throne as Francis died in 1560, only a year after being crowned king.

The execution of Mary, which took place on this day 428 years ago, is connected to her claim to the English throne as a successor to the childless Elizabeth I. to the chagrin of Elizabeth, Mary shortly after her return from France, had married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (I will return to this at some point), an arrogant and self-absorbed man who also was her cousin through the half-sister of her father, Margaret Douglas. Together they had the son James, who in other words was of blood royal though both parents, which almost made his claim to the throne stronger than that of Elizabeth. Mary demanded that James should be named heir to the English throne, but Elizabeth was of the opinion that as soon as she named an heir, her days would be counted, not least due to the strong support enjoyed by Mary from the English Catholics.

Mary, who can´t, even with an endless amount of good will, be said to have been a good monarch, fled toTrial_of_Mary,_Queen_of_Scots_-_Documents_relating_to_Mary,_Queen_of_Scots_(1586),_f.569__-_BL_Add_MS_48027 England after a number of very strange decisions and events which included the murder of Lord Darnley, where she hoped to enjoy the protection and support of Elizabeth. This, however, was not to happen and Mary instead found herself under house arrest for the next 19 years, during which Mary committed herself to one conspiracy after another directed against Elizabeth. What was finally to become her undoing was the so called Babington plot which entailed a Spanish invasion led by Elizabeth´s former brother in-law, Philip II. It has to be said that Elizabeth over the years had had an enormous forbearance with a number of attempts to overthrow her, in which Mary more as a rule than an exception had been involved, but now it had to end.

Mary was arrested August 11th and was sentenced to death on October 25th based on evidence gathered by the master spy of Elizabeth, Sir Francis Walsingham. On February 8th she was finally beheaded in the Great Hall of Fotheringhay Castle. It took several blows with the axe to separate her head from her body, and it´s said that her small lap dog had hidden under her skirts during the execution where it was found soaked in blood and had to be thoroughly bathed to remove the blood. When the executioner lifted up Mary´s severed head, the long auburn locks were revealed as a wig, and the now 44 year old Mary turned out to have very short, completely grey hair.



When Elizabeth was informed of the execution of Mary, she claimed that she had been misunderstood, and that her intention had never been to take Mary´s life. Maybe the reminder of her own mother death was too strong, as well as the knowledge that if some queens could be executed, so could they all. That if find the quote to be an appropriate headline for this post is because that she was right of sorts. When Elizabeth passed away on the 24th of March 1603, Mary´s son, James VI of Scotland, took the throne as James I of England.


Mary, Queen of Scots and the murder of Lord Darnley – Alison Weir

Mary, Queen of Scots – Antonia Fraser

Calendar of State papers, 1587