Becoming Elizabeth Explained: Did Mary consider fleeing England?

With episode 8 of Becoming Elizabeth airing on Starz, the series that began with the death of Henry VIII has come to an end. Before turning my attention to the events of the final episode, I wanted to return to one of the major plots of episode 7: the suggestion that Mary Tudor should escape to Spain. But did Mary really consider fleeing England?

The short answer is: yes. However, not exactly as depicted… (Spoilers ahead)

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Becoming Elizabeth Explained: Robert Dudley and Elizabeth Tudor

*Spoilers for Episode 7*

Over the course of Becoming Elizabeth, we have seen a growing friendship between the Lady Elizabeth and Robert Dudley. In episode 7, it is proposed that Elizabeth be married to a Danish Prince. On her way to meet the delegation at court, she is intercepted by Robert Dudley who suggests they run away together. He declares his love for her and asks if she returns his feelings. She denies loving him and refuses to go with him. But did Robert Dudley ever really ask Elizabeth to run away with him?

A man dressed in a sixteenth century stands on a flight of stone steps. He has dark brown hair and a cut on the side of his face. He is looking intently a woman standing on the steps below him. Her back is to the camera, she is wearing a dark blue headdress trimmed with pearls.
Robert Dudley intercepts Lady Elizabeth, Becoming Elizabeth, Starz
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Becoming Elizabeth: A timeline

Watching Becoming Elizabeth, I think that most people (existing Tudor fans included) would be forgiven from coming away asking: but what are the timescales for these events? This is not a show that flashes up subtitles with the date and, with the exception of Katherine Parr’s pregnancy where we can guess the number of months, the pacing is unclear. It has also simplified some events (for example the 1549 rebellions), left lesser known individuals out and given their actions to the main cast, and moved some events around. So, if you are left wondering when the events occured, here is a select timeline of the period.

*In the interest of avoiding spoilers, the timeline currently covers only the events shown up to the end of episode 6. I will update it once the show has ended!

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Top Tudor Castles (and ice cream): Part 1

England is blessed with a large number of castles (both ruined and adapted for later use) many of which are of interest to fans of the Tudor period. It is also often possible to combine two of my favourite pasttimes – visiting historic sites and eating ice cream. In this series of posts, I am going to give you run down of my favourite castles with a connection to the Tudor period (and the opportunities for eating ice cream in the local area!). This first post mostly covers northern England/Midlands, further south to follow in part 2.

Norham Castle (Northumberland)

Why should I visit? One of the most important castles in the English/Scottish border area. Between the 12th and 16th centuries, the castle was beseiged at least 13 times. In the Tudor period, it was captured by King James IV of Scotland when he invaded England in 1513. Afterward the English victory at the battle of Flodden, the castle adapted for artillery but, in the 1590s, Elizabeth I refused to spend any more money on its upkeep and it soon feel into disrepair.

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Becoming Elizabeth explained: Was Elizabeth Tudor known as Princess Elizabeth

One thing I have noticed about the dialogue in Starz Becoming Elizabeth is the tendency to refer to Elizabeth as “Princess Elizabeth”, “princess”, “the princess” etc. It seem a logical choice – after all she is the daughter of a King – but is it accurate?

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Becoming Elizabeth Explained: Robert and Guildford Dudley

In episode 2 of Becoming Elizabeth, we were introduced to two young men – Robert Dudley (wearing a fetching pearl earring) and his brother, Guildford. Elizabeth is shown to already know the two brothers and she introduces them to Lady Jane Grey. Robert goes on to play an important role in episode 3 when he makes Elizabeth understand her own power as the daughter of a King, and shames her for humiliating Lady Jane. Both boys have an important role in episode 5 – they are with the King when Thomas Seymour comes to steal him away, culminating in Seymour attacking Robert – and, in episode 6, Robert goes with his father to deal with rebels in Norfolk. But who were Robert and Guildford?

*In addition to this post about Guildford and Robert, you can find my post about Robert and Elizabeth here!

Jamie Blackley and Alicia von Rittberg as Robert Dudley and Elizabeth (Starz, Becoming Elizabeth)
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Review: Becoming Elizabeth – episode 2

After receiving a generally positive response to episode 1, Becoming Elizabeth unleashed a whole load of online controversy with episode 2 (and prompted a direct response from a cast member to one review). Read on to find out more…

SPOILERS AHEAD!

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Review: Becoming Elizabeth – episode 1

Last weekend saw the premiere of episode 1 of the hotly anticipated Starz series “Becoming Elizabeth”. I tuned in with some trepidation as historical drama produced by this channel can be hit and miss – the scene in “The Spanish Princess” where a pregnant Catherine of Aragon rides into battle in full pregnancy army being a particularly egregious example. “Becoming Elizabeth” was therefore a pleasant surprise. So what were the good, bad and intriguing parts of this first episode?

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Becoming Elizabeth Explained: Lady Jane Grey’s claim to the throne

In the first episode of “Becoming Elizabeth”, the young Lady Jane Grey moves into the household of Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour because she is in the line of succession. When Elizabeth states that the line of succession is her brother Edward and his heirs, her sister Mary, and then herself, Jane clarifies that she means the ‘legitimate’ line of succession. She states that Mary and Elizabeth could still be found illegitimate, and that some people call Elizabeth a “bastard”.

So, what was Lady Jane’s claim to the throne?

Jane was the eldest daughter of Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset, and his wife, Lady Frances Grey. Frances Grey was the daughter of Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister, and Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. In his will of 1547, Henry VIII laid out the line of succession as Edward VI and his heirs, Mary and her heirs, Elizabeth and her heirs. He then stated that, after that, the crown would pass to the heirs of his niece, Lady Frances Grey.

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The mysterious disappearance of Viscount Lovell

“The Catte, the Ratte and Lovell our dogge rulyth all Englande under a hogge.”

In July 1484, William Collingbourne pinned a short poem to the door of St Paul’s Cathedral. In it, he lampooned Richard III and the three men seen as his principal advisors – Sir William Catesby, Sir Richard Ratcliffe and Francis Lovell.

Francis Lovell’s father had died in 1465 when he was around 9 years old. The young Lord Lovell was placed in the custody of Richard Neville, earl of Warwick. This overlapped with the final year that Richard, duke of Gloucester, spent in Warwick’s household and was likely the first time that the two men met. Warwick also arranged for his niece, Alice FitzHugh to marry Lovell, whilst Richard married Neville’s daughter, Anne. After Warwick’s death in 1471, Lovell’s wardship was granted to John de la Pole, duke of Suffolk.

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