Prince Arthur: The Tudor King who Never Was – Review

Sean Cunninghamthe king that never was

Amberley Publishing

Publication: 15th July, 2016

I have had the honour to read the new book by Sean Cunningham about the son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York that we rarely hear about; Prince Arthur, the intended heir to the crown.

When the name Tudor is mentioned, I dare say that it isn’t the name “Arthur” that pops up in the head of most people, but rather those of either his father, the Henry who won the Battle of Bosworth and became “the seventh” or – and probably the most likely candidate – one thinks of Arthurs younger brother, Henry, who should never have been king but still became maybe the most famous and infamous king throughout British history as Henry VIII.

But in between the two Henry´s, father and son, was the firstborn: Prince Arthur, the Tudor King who never was, which is exactly the title of Sean Cunningham´s book about the nearly forgotten son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.

He was born in September 1486, and would live for only 15 years, dying after falling ill in the damp caste of Ludlow, only months after his marriage to the Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon who would later be his brother´s first wife of six, whereby Henry not only took the throne which should have been Arthur´s, but also his queen.

Sean Cunningham travels through these 15 years, exploring the hopes of Arthur´s father when the boy was born, Arthur was a name the came with expectations, taken as it was from the mythical Arthur, and speculate how England might have evolved differently if this firstborn son would have been allowed by the powers that be to live to an old age and have children of his own to inherit the crown.

Arthur was not only a son to Henry, he was the anchor that tied him down to the English throne that up until then could be lost just as easily as he had won it, through conquest. With an heir, that also was the grandson of Edward IV, his claim was strengthened.

Prince Arthur – the Tudor King who never was is an expose of the years leading up to a reign that never took place, and the result of which we can only piece together from the ambitions Henry VII drew up, and from which one can see the contours of maybe a different kind of monarch than his younger brother came to be. And Sean Cunningham does a good job.

He also recounts the point where Arthur´s ghost return to the English court he never was head of, when the doubts of whether or not Arthur´s marriage to Katherine was ever consummated, a doubt which was highlighted in the process which is known as Henry´s great matter, his strife for annulment of the years he had spent with his Spanish queen.

We also meet Henry himself in relation to the brother he barely knew, as Arthur at a young age moved to his own household at the castle where he far too early met his death.

But most importantly, and unlike in many other books, here Arthur becomes an individual of his own, built on an extensive research a work rarely done previously by historians who has had a tendency to view Arthur as nothing more than a parenthesis between the two Henrys.

The book is important, and well worth the read both for those who are completely unfamiliar with this part of Tudor history, which in other respects is so accessible and for those who has made the acquaintance of Arthur before.

 

The Tudor Brandons by Sarah-Beth Watkins – review

Mary_Tudor_and_Charles_BrandonChronos Books

Today is the anniversary of the marriage that originally didn´t go down very well with Henry VIII; that of his sister Mary and who must be called his best friend, Charles Brandon.

I thought this would be the appropriate day to review a book that will be out in a bookstore – or online shop – near you in June: The Tudor Brandons by Sarah-Beth Watkins

When I was first asked to review this book, I have to admit that the question “what more can there possibly be to know about Charles Brandon for anyone who has read a fair bit about Henry VIII and his relationship to this man.

A fair bit, it turns out.

Not least was I ignorant about Charles Brandon´s illustrious grandfather and father, I had no idea, for example that Henry Tudor´s standard bearer at the Battle of Bosworth, the man killed by Richard III himself, was in fact Charles Brandon´s father. But he was.

Truth be told, I would have liked to read more about the two older Brandon´s, but with any luck there will in time be books about them as well.

Another thing that I didn´t know that in spite of chivalric values, Charles Brandon was220px-Charles_Brandon,_1st_Duke_of_Suffolk a bit of an…. a-hole.

But short re-cap. Charles Brandon basically grew up with Henry VIII, raising to fame but not as much fortune as he most likely would have wanted after the ascension of Henry VIII in 1509.

Mary was Henry´s younger sister, for a short while queen of France through her marriage to the more than 30 year older and sickly king Louis XII. Lucky for her, probably, the marriage didn´t last long and her loving brother sent his best friend and trusted companion Charles Brandon to escort her back from France, which he did, but not before he and Mary was married.

There was a problem here, you didn´t just marry the king´s sister and French queen dowager on a whim, and you most certainly didn´t do it without the king´s consent.

The happy couple was however forgiven, and the book The Tudor Brandons for the most part deals with the years Mary and Charles spent together, through ups and downs and fallings out with the most royal of brothers/brothers-in-law.

Sarah-Beth Watkins give a good and well researched account of the couple´s life through births and deaths of their children, through triumphant moments like their participation in the Field of Cloth of Gold and troublesome times such as the brewing war with France only a few years after the grand display itself.

marytudor-smIt also makes perfectly clear, in the event someone thought so, that Charles Brandon had a much more important part to play than just being a side-kick to the king, and how he on a number of occasions got firmly on the nerves of Cardinal Wolsey by putting his nose in diplomatic affairs where it didn´t belong, as well as his role in the sentencing of both Thomas More and Anne Boleyn

It also gives insight to the dealings with belated papal dispensations, annulments and legitimacy of the Brandon children at the very some time Henry was working his way through his great matter, at which point Mary herself didn´t have many years left to live and we get to follow Charles through his fourth and last marriage after Mary.

For the reader who has taken a particular interest in the reign of Henry VIII, much of the book will be familiar, but now from the angle of people close to him, with their joys and grievances. It´s a book very much worth reading, and I highly recommend it.

 

 

Lily´s Grammar

Latin was a fundamental part of the learning in any grammar school in the 16th century, and as the name of the school from the beginning indicate; Latin grammar in particular.

Any student who ever entered this kind of school would have encountered it; Lily´s Lily´s Grammar1Grammar, written by William Lily, the first headmaster of St. Paul´s school in London.

William Lily was born in or around 1468 in Odiham, Hampshire. No much is known about his childhood, and his parents remains, at least to me, anonymous, but at the age of 18 he entered the university of Oxford, allegedly Magdalen College, for studies of the arts. It has been suggested that he chose this college due to the fact that William Grocyn, scholar and supposedly godfather of William Lily, was the reader of divinity at Magdalen College at the time.

In 1488 Grocyn went to Italy to study Greek and Latin, and it may be that this too was an inspiration to William Lily, because after graduating for Oxford he went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and upon his travel back to England ended up in Rome, by way of Rhodos. In Rome he attended lectures by the Renaissance humanists Angelo Sabino, Giovanni Sulpizio da Veroli and the controversial, to say the least Guilio Pomponio Leto. From there he continued to Venice to attend further lectures, given by who is unclear.

Upon returning to England, he became one of the first scholars in Greek, together with William Grocyn and Thomas Linacre who founded the Department for Greek Studies at Oxford.

Among his friends, once back in England, could be found, apart from Grocyn and Linacre, Thomas More, Erasmus and John Colet.

William Lily is thought to have been the first to teach Greek in the city of London, first as a private teacher alongside the teaching of grammar. In 1510 John Colet, who was dean of St. Paul´s, founded St Paul´s School, and started searching for a headmaster of the school. His first choice for the position seems to have been Erasmus, who for some reason was not interested. The second choice was William Lily, who started at the school in 1512 and shaped the school into a model of classical studies.

Lily´s GrammarAt some point between his return to England and his acceptance of the position as the first headmaster of St Paul´s School, it is said that William Lily considered becoming a priest, but whether he decided against it because he met Agnes, or he had already chosen another career path when he met her, but marry Agnes he did, and during the 17 years their marriage lasted, they had 15 children together, of whom only two survived their father. Agnes herself died at the age of 37, probably in 1517.

But it isn´t primarily for his position as a pioneer for Greek learning that William Lily has come to be remembered. It is for his work “A short introduction to Grammar”, a school book in Latin which came to be in use all the way into the 19th century. The book was instigated by Colet and edited by Erasmus. After William Lily´s death parts were added, and the final result didn´t appear until 1540. In 1542 Henry VIII proclaimed it to be the only book on the subject to be used in grammar schools, and over the decades to follow, it was so widely used that it has a part of its own in four of the plays by William Shakespeare; The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing, Titus Andronicus and Henry IV Part I. The book was divided into two parts, the second one being “Brevissima Institutio seu ratio grammaces cognoscendae”, which is believed to have given Shakespeare himself maybe his first contact with poetry, as the book partly consist of the poem “Carmen de Moribus.

He also wrote prose in both Latin and Greek.

William Lily died in 1522, around the age of 54 years. The reason for his death is in some sources suggested to have been the plague, which seems to have taken his wife and several of his children, but others suggest that he died from an operation having gone wrong when trying to remove an inflamed boil.

He was buried in the north churchyard of St Paul´s cathedral, destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666, and his name is among those of the memorial that can now be seen the cathedral.

Sources:

Luminarium Encyclopedia Project

 Repertorium Pomponianum

 Dictionary of National Biography – Joseph Hirst Lupton

 Linacre, Thomas – Dictionary of National Biography/Sidney Lee

 Shakespeare and his world/Lily´s Grammar – Prof Jonathan Bate, University of Warwick/Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Evil May Day 1517

As desperate people come to Europe in the hope of a life in peace, intolerant forces brew. Unfortunately the intolerance is nothing new, as the below text will show, even if the “foreigners” in 16th century London were mainly French, German and Dutch, but even during the 16th century there were voices raised against this intolerance, as the excerpt from Shakespeare´s play about Thomas More, that I have chosen to include in the spirit of the anniversary, as well as a sign that there will always be a voice of reason.

On this day in 1517 a riot, which has gone down in history as Evil May Day, broke out in London. Allegedly it was the reaction to an inflammatory speech held on Easter Tuesday by one Dr Bell at St. Paul´s cross where he had called for all Englishmen to “cherish and defend themselves and to “hurt and grieve aliens for the common weal”.

During the weeks following the hateful speech, there were several attacks on foreigners as well as a rumour saying that on May Day, the city would rebel and slay all aliens.

The rumours worried the mayor and aldermen and they announced a curfew on the night of April 30th. This did not help, or stop the riots, during the night towards May 1st around 1 000 men gathered in Cheapside, freeing prisoners already apprehended for having attacked foreigners in the previous weeks.

Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger_-_Sir_Thomas_More_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe mob proceeded to St. Martin Le Grand, an area north of St. Paul´s Cathedral where several foreign families lived. When arriving there they were confronted by the under-sheriff of London, Thomas More who attempted to calm them down and persuade them to return home, but his attempts to defuse the situation came to nothing when the frightened inhabitants of St. martin started throwing stones and hot water from their windows, something which led to an even more heated situation.

The mob started looting the homes of foreigners, but the riot was over by 3am that same day, and 300 men had been arrested. No one had been killed, and most of the rioters would eventually be pardoned, ironically after a plea to the king from Katherine of Aragon who herself was a foreigner.

However, 13 of the rioters were convicted of treason and executed on May 4th, and a few days later the broker John Lincoln – believed to have been the instigator of the hate speech held during Easter, in that he had persuaded Dr. Bell of “the dangers foreigners posed against those born in London – was executed as well.

Many years later, William Shakespeare would let Thomas More give a speech, partly written in Shakespeare´s own hand and as tragically current today as it would have been on that May Day 499 years ago.

 

Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise

Hath chid down all the majesty of England;

Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,

Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,

Plodding tooth ports and costs for transportation,

And that you sit as kings in your desires,

Authority quite silent by your brawl,

And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;

What had you got? I’ll tell you. You had taught

How insolence and strong hand should prevail,

How order should be quelled; and by this pattern

Not one of you should live an aged man,

For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,

With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,

Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes

Would feed on one another.

……You’ll put down strangers,

Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,

And lead the majesty of law in line,

To slip him like a hound. Say now the king

(As he is clement, if th’ offender mourn)

Should so much come to short of your great trespass

As but to banish you, whether would you go?

What country, by the nature of your error,

Should give you harbor? Go you to France or Flanders,

To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,

Nay, any where that not adheres to England,—

Why, you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased

To find a nation of such barbarous temper,

That, breaking out in hideous violence,

Would not afford you an abode on earth,

Whet their detested knives against your throats,

Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God

Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants

Were not all appropriate to your comforts,

But chartered unto them, what would you think

To be thus used? This is the strangers’ case;

And this your mountanish inhumanity.
Sources/copyright

Henry VIII – Lucy Wooding

Playshakespeare.com

Henry VIII – Jasper Ridley,

Marriage undone

The marriage between Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves was never a happy union. Already before the wedding itself took Anne_of_Cleves,_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Youngerplace, Henry aired his misgivings, stating that she did not in her looks correspond to the apparently flattering painting Hans Holbein had painted before the marriage negotiations took place.

It may very well be that their relationship got off on the wrong foot to begin with, when Henry in the tradition of courtly love showed up in disguise that Rochester where she was lodging on her way from Dover to London. Henry had obviously not kept track on the physical change he himself had undergone over the recent years, and when a big man, both in height and girth came over to Anne, attempting to kiss her, she did not react in a good way.

From then on, Henry stated that he was no longer interested in the marriage and put pressure on Thomas Cromwell that he should find a way to get out of the agreement, something which proved impossible as it would have aggravated the Germans.

This however opened up for the enemies of Cromwell to turn on him and air their discontent, and the Anne of Cleves business would be at least the spark that started the process which in the end led to the, on Henry´s part later much regretted, downfall of Cromwell.

Recent x-rays have revealed a longer nose under the top layer of paint. Now at St. John's College Oxford

Recent x-rays have revealed a longer nose under the top layer of paint.
Now at St. John’s College Oxford

The marriage between Henry and Anne was never consummated, according to him due to an unpleasant body odour on Anne´s part as well as her sagging breast to mention but a few of his complaints. Maybe it´s not too farfetched to speculate that there was maybe other problems which Henry took the opportunity to conceal by pointing out his wife´s unattractive features; if he indeed at this point had diabetes, which isn´t unlikely, it may have been that he also had difficulties to “perform”.

It seems that Anne didn´t quite know what to expect in the marital bed, as she told the Countess of Rutland what a kind husband Henry was, kissing her every evening before going to sleep and every morning before leaving her. The Countess pointed out to her that a bit more than that would be required to achieve the much wanted spare to the throne. This didn´t much matter though, because on June 24th 1540, less than six months after the wedding, Anne was informed that she should leave the court and two weeks later that the king was reconsidering the marriage. When Anne was approached about an annulment she agreed, and this went through on July 9th 1540.

Anne of Cleves received a most generous settlement which included Anne Boleyn´s presumed childhood home, Hever Castle and Richmond Palace. She also built a deep friendship with Henry, who referred to her as his most beloved sister. Anne stayed in England for the remainder of her life, but never remarried. That Henry did, however, only weeks after his marriage to Anne had been annulled, this time to Katherine Howard.

Sources:

The six wives of Henry VIII – Alison Weir

Anne of Cleves : Henry VIII’s discarded bride – Elizabeth Norton

The Field of Cloth of Gold

 

1491_Henry_VIIIToday marks the 495 year anniversary of the demonstration of glory known as the Field of Cloth of Gold taking place just outside of Calais between the 7th and 24th of June in 1520.

It was said to be an effort to strengthen the ties of friendship between Henry VIII and Francis I of France. Only two years earlier a non-aggression pact called the Treaty of London, with England, France and The Holy Roman Empire, the Papacy, Burgundy and Spain as signatories, where they undertook not only to not attack each other, but also to come to each other’s aid if one of them came under attack by another nation. But only a few years later, the treaty was at risk of falling apart, not least due to England siding with Spain in the latter’s conflict with France.

The meeting had originally been planned for 1519 but was at the time postponed, something that made Henry promise not to shave until he met the French king, a challenge that FrancisFrançois_1515 accepted, and which was interrupted only by the fact that Catherine of Aragon made it clear that she did not like her husband bearded. He succumbed to her demands to shave it off, and it was decided between the kings that their love for each other was to be found in their hearts and not in their beards.

There was someone who was deeply worried by this newfound “love”, and that was Charles V of Spain. In his anxious to have a meeting with Henry before Francis did, he met up with Henry in Dover just before Henry was to leave for France. There is an account of how the two kings embrace on the steps to Charles bedroom in the Dover Castle where he was staying during his visit, which maybe can be taken as a proof that Charles at least for the moment had little to fear from Henry´s meeting with the French king;

“the Emperor hearing the king to be come, came out of his chamber to meet with the king, and so met him on the stairs ere he could come up, where each embraced other right lovingly: then the king brought the Emperor to his chamber, whereas their communing was of gladness”.

The following the day Catherine of Aragon, Charles aunt, met up with the two in Canterbury.
After Charles had departed, the English court set sail for France in a logistic endeavour that in its planning was Thomas Wolsey´s doing. Henry VIII was accompanied by over 5 000 people on the journey. The party consisted of the highest nobility and a major part of the royal Court.

Basire_Embarkation_of_Henry_VIII

 

While the Field of Cloth of Gold aimed to achieve political results, there is no doubt the event itself was a big show off between the two monarchs, where they both hoped to outshine his counterpart.
A temporary palace was built just outside of Calais to house the English court, surrounded by tents for other the nobility and others in the retinue. Of course, these wasn´t any tents, they were made of cloth of gold, just like many of the other fabrics and clothes worn by the participants, and this is where the name of the meeting come from.

During the two week long meeting which consisted of jousting, dining, negotiations and socialising; one evening Catherine dined with the French king while Henry dined with the French queen Claude; even no proof exist to confirm it, it is very possible that one of queen Claude´s ladies-in-waiting served as interpreter by the English and the French on some occasions; Anne Boleyn.

British_-_Field_of_the_Cloth_of_Gold_-_Google_Art_Project

The meeting took place on neutral ground and when the two kings met for the very first time, they rode towards each other from opposite sides of an open field, only to embrace when they met in the middle.
In the jousting the two kings fought together as “brothers” instead of against each other, but it seems like Henry was the more gifted one in that field. There exist a story of a wrestling match where Francis allegedly won over Henry, but oddly enough it seems the only contemporary source that exist is that of king Francis´s best friend.

It turned out in the end that from a political point of view, the joviality between the two monarchs wasn´t worth much. Only two years later, when conflict ensued between Francis and Charles V, Henry took the side of his wife´s nephew, Charles, and the hereditary animosity of between the respective crowns continued for the time being.

 

Sources:

Henry VIII – Lucy Wooding

Hall´s Chronicle

Anglo-French Relations under Henry VIII/Tudor England and its Neighbours – Glenn Richardson

Phoenix Rising – interview with author Hunter S Jones

Deb JonesThere are many of us who absolutely love historical fiction, and as May can undoubtedly be said to be Anne Boleyn´s month, at least among those of us who harbour a passion for the Tudor-era. Just in time for the memorial of a very sad day. The author Hunter S Jones has woven a story around the last hours;

“PHOENIX RISING is the last hour of Anne Boleyn as told from the descendant of the astrologer/physician of King Henry VIII. She uses the ‘star map’ used by her ancestress to reveal the stories hidden in that hour. Characters include King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Sir Francis Bryan, Thomas Cromwell, Ralph Sadler, Mary Tudor, Eustace Chapyus, Elizabeth Howard Boleyn, Elizabeth I and the Swordsman of Calais.”

On the day, the very anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s execution, you release your latest novel, Phoenix Rising, about her last hours in life. What led you to write this book?
–Thank you for asking, this is an excellent question. Tudor England is my passion. I love everything about it, the clothes, the stories, drama, intrigue, the beauty that offset the brutality…Tudor England was the theatre of life played until the very end. This era has all the good and bad that the human condition offers.
Anne Boleyn is an enigma. There are so many things we will never know for certain. I knew I wanted to do something so that she would die with hope, so that is woven throughout the storyline. I didn’t want to follow the rules of a traditional historical fiction story either. Even though I love reading them, I want a story that allowed us to glimpse inside the thought as of the main characters in Anne’s life at that one moment in time.

Do you feel that you “know” her better after having written this book than you did Before?
–Will anyone ever really know Anne Boleyn? I do believe that I understand her courage at the end of her life much phoenx risingbetter than before I wrote the story.

Has anything in your view of her changed during your work with the book?
–I admire her strength and spirit much more than before writing Phoenix Rising.

Is this a one-time occasion to write about a person living in the Tudor era, or have you gotten your appetite whetted, so to speak?
–Excellent question. I do not know the answer. This book took so much out of me emotionally. Can you imagine the interworking of a person’s mind before an execution? Once Phoenix Rising is launched, I’m going to take a while off and let my mind go free. You know, spend some time with family and friends and have some fun. There are a few stories in my head, but I’m in no hurry to write them. Not yet.

Many, many thanks for having me today! You can order Phoenix rising via this universal purchase link:
getBook.at/phoenix_rising
On 19 May the book is available worldwide via Amazon Kindle and in paperback.

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Deb Hunter writes fiction as Hunter Jones or Hunter S. Jones. Her best-selling poetic romance novel, September Ends, won awards for Best Independently Published Novel and Best Romance, based on its unique blending of poetry and prose.

The Fortune Series received best-selling status on Amazon in the Cultural Heritage and Historical Fiction categories. She has been published by H3O Eco mag, LuxeCrush, Chattanooga Times-Free Press, and is now a freelance contributor for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She has recently been accepted into the prestigious Rivendell Writers Colony. Her arts, music and culture blogs on ExpatsPost.com are filled with eclectic stories regarding music, writing, the arts and climate awareness.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband. She graduated without honors from a university in Nashville, Tennessee but with a degree in History.

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www.Facebook.com/HunterSJonesPR

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