Were French hood worn without veils?

Back in 2015, I wrote a blog post about the decision to depict the female characters in Wolf Hall wearing French hoods with gauze veils in a variety of colours (with their hair visible below). The new Channel 5 drama Anne Boleyn throws up a new take on the French hood – the hood worn on a bare head without veil or cap.

All the surviving evidence shows that French hoods were worn with white linen caps and with (black) veils. The costumes for this production have clearly been designed to be visually striking and are perhaps best described as interpretations of Tudor dress rather than replicas. The decision for Anne and the ladies of the court to wear their French hoods much like oversized headbands should be seen in this light rather than as historically accurate.

If you want to read more about dress at Henry VIII’s court, I recommend:

Maria Hayward, Dress at the Court of Henry VIII and Rich Apparel (the former is full of photographs which does make it expensive so worth looking for a library copy)

The publications produced by The Tudor Tailor which include patterns to make your own garments (they also make YouTube video tutorials)

The Three Wives of Henry VIII

“Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, behind, survived.” It is a familiar rhyme, used to help remember the fates of the six women who married Henry VIII. So, why am I saying that he only had three wives? After all, he had six marriage ceremonies. The answer lies in the definition of an annulment which declared a marriage null and void, as if it had never happened, as opposed to a divorce which dissolves a valid marriage. Which of the women would Henry have considered to be his wife? Continue reading “The Three Wives of Henry VIII”

Lady Rochford – malicious or misunderstood?

In my post on Anne Boleyn’s family, I commented that I was interested to see how they were going to depict Jane, Lady Rochford’s involvement in Anne’s fall. In the end, they showed her talking to Cromwell after flirtatious chatter between Anne, Mark Smeaton, Francis Weston, Henry Norris and William Brereton gets out of hand. She then goes on to claim that her husband has committed adultery with his sister. Cromwell makes reference to Anne’s other ladies having talked after her arrest but we don’t see them. This is a departure from the book where Cromwell is shown talking to Elizabeth, countess of Worcester and Margaret Shelton before he talks to Jane Rochford.

Lady Rochford intrigues me as a character because of the contrast between her depiction in popular culture and the lack of evidence we really have about her. So, what do we know about her?  Continue reading “Lady Rochford – malicious or misunderstood?”

Wolf Hall Explained – Why did the Duke of Norfolk try his own niece?

One of the striking points of the trials of Anne and George Boleyn was the presence of the uncle, Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, on his raised seat presiding over them. Surely it could be construed as a conflict of interest? And did Norfolk want to be trying his relatives? Continue reading “Wolf Hall Explained – Why did the Duke of Norfolk try his own niece?”

Wolf Hall explained – Why no defence lawyers?

I have watched the final episode of Wolf Hall twice now and both times it has moved me to tears. I am familiar with numerous instances of executions ordered by Henry VIII to the extent that I had become matter of fact about them, feeling little emotion. Peter Kosminsky changed that with his powerful depiction of the interrogations, trials and executions that humanized this stories for me.

The episode also raised several questions for me that I wanted to explore and explain. In this first post looking at Anne’s fall, I want to ask whey there were no defence lawyers in sight? Continue reading “Wolf Hall explained – Why no defence lawyers?”

Wolf Hall Explained – Anne’s Accent

So, the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall began last week. It has received favourable reviews for its interpretation of the books and its dedication to historical accuracy but in places it can be hard going for those unfamiliar with the books and/or history. Over the next few weeks, I will be explaining some of the history behind the series starting with Anne Boleyn’s accent.

During the first episode Anne (Claire Foy) alternated between an English accent and an affected French accent – with a pronounced ”Cremuel” for Cromwell. Anne left England for the Netherlands in 1513, when she was about 12 years old, and joined the household of Margaret of Austria. From there she was moved to France to wait on Mary Tudor who married Louis XII of France in the autumn of 1514. The marriage was short-lived and Mary returned to England in spring 1515 after her the death of her husband. Anne remained in France and joined the household of Claude, the new Queen of France. It would be nearly seven years before she returned to England, in 1521. Her time in France had given her an exoticism and polish that was unusual at the English court. To observers, her manners appeared French, she had a taste for Renaissance art and favoured French fashions. Historians believe that she would have adopted a French accent when it suited her to emphasise her continental education and uniqueness.