What happened to the wives of Henry VIII?

Almost every fan of Tudor history will be familiar with the “Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived” rhyme but it is not entirely accurate. Expanding on my blog post about Henry VIII’s three wives, I have made a video looking at what happened to Henry VIII’s wives and what the rhyme should really be!

Tomb: Thomas Boleyn earl of Wiltshire

Who was Thomas Boleyn?

For many people, Thomas Boleyn is famous as the father of Anne Boleyn. However, this is to do him a great injustice. Thomas’ parents had invested in his education and social advancement (securing Eliabeth Howard, daughter of the earl of Surrey, as Thomas’ wife) and, when Henry VIII became king in 1509, Thomas was one of the young king’s favoured companions. He was made a knight of the Order of the Bath on the occasion of the King’s coronation, and regularly appeared at court. He was charming, athletic, skilled in aristocratic pursuits such as hunting and hawking, and he was a talented linguist. This made him both an ideal courtier and well suited to diplomatic work. He travelled abroad on numerous diplomatic missions, including time spent as resident ambassador in France. It was due to his diplomacy that he was able to obtain places for his daughters, Anne and Mary, at the French royal court. When his daughters returned to the English court and caught the attention of Henry VIII, Thomas rose rapidly in royal favour becoming first Viscount Rochford and then Earl of Wiltshire and Earl of Ormond. Anne’s marriage to Henry lifted her family to giddy heights but, with her death, it was returned largely to obscurity. Her father and mother were not implicated in the alleged crimes of their children but her mother died two years later, in 1538. Thomas died on 12 March 1539. Mary Boleyn died in 1543 and the remaining Boleyns, siblings of Thomas, showed no desire or talent for excelling at the royal court.

If you want to know more about Thomas Boleyn, I can recommend reading Lauren Mackay’s book Among the Wolves of Court.

Where is he buried?

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A Brief History of the Mary Rose

Next Thursday (6th October) I am going to be speaking at the Mary Rose Anniversary lectures, talking about the Howard family and whether they were one of Tudor England’s most influential families. (see poster below).

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about the Mary Rose, last year I helped write a Brief History for the Tudors Dynasty podcast which you can listen to here.

7 things you should know about St George’s Chapel Windsor

Located within the Lower Ward of Windsor Castle, St George’s Chapel has become synonymous with royal weddings, baptisms, funerals and burials. It is here that Queen Elizabeth II will be laid to rest after her funeral at Westminster Abbey. However, the chapel has a far longer history that dates back to the 13th-century. What 7 things should you know about the history of St George’s Chapel?

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Review: Becoming Elizabeth – Series

Season 1 of Becoming Elizabeth has ended and, whilst it did not leave us with a complete cliffhanger, the ground has clearly been laid for a season 2. At the time of writing this, there does not seem to be any concrete confirmation of a second season but fingers crossed!

I have been writing a series of blog posts looking at questions arising from the series but now it is time for a short review of the series – the good and the bad… (spoilers ahead!)

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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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