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.

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.


Catherine and Anne

Yet another one of those days where two events coincided, this time also in the same year.

On January 29th 1536 Catherine of Aragon was laid to rest in what is now known as Peterborough Abbey, at the time Catherine_of_Aragon_Portrait_at_Lambeth_PalacePeterborough Cathedral. To the very end of her life, Catherine refused to acknowledge anything else but that she was the rightful Queen of England, and she lived out the final years of her life in isolation and as an exile within the country, without even the possibility of ever seeing her daughter Mary. There are many who routinely refer to Henry as a cruel despot without putting events in their context, and while I normally find myself arguing against such casual judgement, I find the treatment of Catherine of Aragon to be one of his cruellest and most pointless acts.

Today, still, there are people putting down flowers at her grave.

Anneboleyn2This is also the day when Anne Boleyn lost a child, the son that most likely would have made her untouchable in the eyes of Henry. But instead this miscarriage was the beginning of her end.

Rumours were spread that the foetus was deformed, and from this accusations of witchcraft, incest with her brother George and extramarital with a number of men were derived. There are a number of theories of who was the instigator of Anne´s downfall, did Henry come to Thomas Cromwell and ask for an investigation of did Thomas Cromwell on his own launch and investigation and presented the evidence to Henry. The answer to this we will maybe never fully know, but while Henry wasn´t a monarch who took kindly to being told what to do, I personally am of the opinion that Thomas Cromwell both initiated the investigation and fabricated the evidence. Less than 5 months after her miscarriage, Anne was dead, beheaded by a French executioner at the Tower. She is now buried in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula within the Tower precinct.

Sources: The Lady in the Tower, the downfall of Anne Boleyn – Alision Weir

The Six Wives of Henry VIII –  Alison Weir






Birth, death and a new king

Fatigue and the lack of planning stop me from being quite as lengthy as I had in mind to be.

So I´ll settle for simply stating that today is the 558th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the House of Tudor,King_Henry_VII Henry VII at Pembroke Castle in Wales. As the only son of the, at the time, 13 year old Margaret Beaufort and her 13 year older husband Edmund Tudor, earl of Richmond and half-brother of Henry VI. At the time of Henry´s birth, his father had already been dead for three months, and young Henry became the ward of William Herbert when Edward IV had taken the crown and his uncle Jasper had fled abroad. Although Henry seem to have been well taken care of by the Herbert’s and his mother was allowed to regularly visit him, he would later in life state that he, from the age of five had been either a prisoner of a refugee. In 1471 he joined his uncle and the life in exile began, only to end with the Battle of Bosworth 14 years later.

But that´s not all. To the day 90 years after the birth of Henry Workshop_of_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Portrait_of_Henry_VIII_-_Google_Art_ProjectVII, his son and heir Henry VIII died after suffering from a detoriating health for the past 10 years. It´s far too easy to dismiss Henry as a tyrant who executed his wives and his friends, but for better or worse, he laid the foundation of the England that can be seen today.

He went from being ”the golden prince of Christendom” to being a maligned, suspicious man plagued by obesity and illness, There are many views and theories on Henry, complex and contradictory much like himself, and to quote Lucy Wooding description of him in her excellent book on Henry: ruthless tyrant or deceived husband, renaissance prince or pious reformer, peacemaker or warrior, musician, lover, scholar, husband, lord and monarch. All the sides were there. But time is catching up with him, and the portrayals that are made now give more justice to his multifaceted personality than has previously been the case.

Henry was buried at the chapel in Windsor along side his wife Jane Seymour, and was succeeded by their mutual son Edward VI.

The reign of Edward regime became a short one He was crowned on February 20th that same year at the age of nine. Portrait_of_Edward_VI_of_EnglandDuring his entire reign the power was in the hands of a regency council, which was to be in place until the young King reached his majority, something that never happened. The period was marred by financial problems and social unrest. Even though his father had made a break with Rome, he never broke with Catholicism; Protestantism was introduced into the English society during the reign of Edward. Personally I believe that if his reign had had the same time span as his fathers of his sister Elizabeth’s, Edward would have developed into a religious fanatic with persecution of Catholics to follow.

But this was not to happen. Edward fell ill at the age of 15, and when it became obvious that he wouldn´t get better again, he appointed his cousin Jane Grey and her male heirs as successors to the throne in order to curb his catholic sister Mary´s claim to the throne, an well as curbing the reintroduction of the catholic faith he anticipated would follow. Edward died on July 6th 1553.


The Winter King – Thomas Penn

Henry VIII – Lucy Wooding

The reign of Henry VIII – Edt, Diarmid MacCulloch