The Tudors in Love

Why did Henry VIII marry 6 times?

Why did Elizabeth I’s courtiers hail her as a goddess come to earth?

Feast your eyes on the cover of The Tudors in Love: The Courtly Code Behind the Last Medieval Dynasty from bestselling historian Sarah Gristwood.

Alison Weir says, “The Tudors in Love is a masterclass in marshalling a vast canon of research into a riveting, pacy page-turner. Sarah takes us on a virtuoso romp through the loves and tropes of medieval and Tudor royalty, seen from the novel angle of courtly love.”

Coming September 2021. Pre-order info available soon!

Shared courtesy of the author.

Not Just The Tudors

Announcing Not Just the Tudors

All Things Tudor is happy to let you know about the latest podcast announcement from History Hit and renowned historian Suzannah Lipscomb….Not Just the Tudors


In the podcast Professor Suzannah Lipscomb talks about everything from the Aztecs to witches, Velázquez to Shakespeare, Mughal India to the Mayflower. Not, in other words, just the Tudors, but most definitely also the Tudors. Each episode Suzannah is joined by historians and experts to reveal incredible stories about one of the most fascinating periods in history.

Description

In Not Just the Tudors, Suzannah Lipscomb talks about everything from the Aztecs to witches, Velázquez to Shakespeare, Mughal India to the Mayflower. Not, in other words, just the Tudors, but most definitely also the Tudors!

In every episode, Suzannah is joined by historians and experts to delve into the incredible stories about one of history’s most fascinating periods. 

About Professor Suzannah Lipscomb

Suzannah Lipscomb is an historian, author, broadcaster, and award-winning professor of history at the University of Roehampton.

Subjects she has covered on TV include Elizabeth I, the Great Fire of London and witch hunts. Suzannah is a regular panelist on the BBC quiz show, Insert Name Here with Sue Perkins.

Suzannah presented the award-winning podcast series for Historic England, Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places and the podcast series History’s Lost Speeches for Audible.

She is author of The Voices of Nîmes: Women, Sex, and Marriage in Reformation LanguedocWitchcraftThe King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIIIA Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England, and 1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII. She writes a regular column for History Today, and her articles have appeared in The GuardianThe Daily TelegraphThe Sunday TelegraphThe TimesThe Daily MailBBC History Magazine, and the Times Literary Supplement.

History Hit

History Hit has been producing high quality podcasts for history fans for more than five years. During that time Dan Snow’s History Hit has become the UK’s most listened to podcast with more than 3.5 million downloads a month. Other shows include The Ancients and Warfare.

Release Schedule

Watch the Trailer here

First four eps drop on Thursday 29th April and then twice weekly.

The podcast is available here

https://play.acast.com/s/not-just-the-tudors 

and on all usual podcast platforms.

Enjoy!

Content shared courtesy of the History Hit team.

John of Gaunt

The Red Prince: The Life of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster 

TIMES AND SUNDAY TIMES BEST BOOK OF 2021 

The Red Prince announces Helen Carr as one of the most exciting new voices in narrative history.’ Dan Jones 

Son of Edward III, brother to the Black Prince, father to Henry IV and the sire of all the Tudors. Always close to the English throne, John of Gaunt left a complex legacy. Too rich, too powerful, too haughty… did he have his eye on his nephew’s throne? Why was he such a focus of hate in the Peasants’ Revolt? In examining the life of a pivotal medieval figure, Helen Carr paints a revealing portrait of a man who held the levers of power on the English and European stage, passionately upheld chivalric values, pressed for the Bible to be translated into English, patronised the arts, ran huge risks to pursue the woman he loved… and, according to Shakespeare, gave the most beautiful of all speeches on England.

Review

‘In Shakespeare’s Richard II, John of Gaunt gives the “this scepter’d isle… this England” speech. This vivid history brings to life his princely ambitions and passion.’ — The Times, Best Books of 2021 

‘Helen Carr has captured the drama of [John of Gaunt’s] life and the tensions inherent in it in a compelling portrait. In so doing, she reminds us of the contradictions of a period remote from our own, not just in time but in values and beliefs too… Carr has brought to life one of the major figures of medieval England.’ — Linda Porter, Literary Review 

‘ The Red Prince is not…just a book of battles and wars. Carr’s John of Gaunt is a man who loved as passionately as he fought… Carr’s sensitive use of contemporary sources paints a poignant deathbed scene… in The Red Prince it is the towering figure of John of Gaunt, a thoroughly European Englishman, who takes centre stage and it’s a stirring and memorable performance.’ — Leanda de Lisle, The Times 

‘Helen Carr is a really exciting new talent in the world of history writing, whose work strikes a perfect balance between lucidity and scholarship. Her debut, The Red Prince, is a beautifully nuanced portrait of an oft misunderstood man.’ — Rebecca Rideal, author of 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire 

‘Superb, gripping and fascinating, here is John of Gaunt and a cast of kings, killers and queens brought blazingly, sensitively and swashbucklingly to life. An outstanding debut.’ — Simon Sebag Montefiore 

‘A long overdue reappraisal of one of medieval England’s greatest but most enigmatic figures. The Red Prince announces Helen Carr as one of the most exciting new voices in narrative history.’ — Dan Jones, author of the Plantagenets and The Hollow Crown 

‘Helen Carr is one of the most exciting and talented young historians out there. She has a passion for medieval history which is infectious and is always energetic and engaging, whether on the printed page or the screen.’ — Dan Snow 

‘Deploying vivid and compelling prose alongside her considerable scholarship, Helen Carr fully succeeds in restoring John of Gaunt to his rightful place – in the first rank of medieval princes. This is an excellent book, that brings the fourteenth century back to life through a thoughtful parade of intriguing characters – none more fascinating than John of Gaunt himself.’ — Charles Spencer, bestselling author of Blenheim and Killers of the King 

‘John of Gaunt is a name to conjure with – an English duke who sought to become a king in Spain, a complicated, controversial man to whom, as ‘time-honour’d Lancaster’, Shakespeare gives one of his greatest speeches. Helen Carr puts him centre stage:The Red Prince is the rattling good story of a life lived on an epic scale, told with care, insight and humanity.’ — Helen Castor, author of She-Wolves and Joan of Arc 

‘Helen Carr tells the gripping story of John of Gaunt’s dramatic and controversial career, from the wars he waged across Europe to the political intrigue and rebellion he faced at home, and above all the way in which his life was marked by profound love, and loss. This is an engaging and moving portrait of one of the leading figures of the Hundred Years War.’ — Sophie Thérèse Ambler, author of The Song of Simon de Montfort

About the Author

Helen is a medieval historian, writer and documentary history producer. She has produced history documentaries for leading channels such as the BBC, CNN and Sky, and worked in radio for BBC Radio 4’s weekly programme In Our Time. Helen is a regular features writer for BBC History Magazine and has contributed to the New Statesman and History Extra. She is now studying for a PhD in medieval history and runs her own podcast, Hidden Histories, available on iTunes. Follow her on Twitter @HelenhCarr

Purchase

Amazon UK

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King and Collector

‘Packed with absorbing detail and brilliant insights … I was gripped from the first paragraph’ Alison Weir 

‘Beautifully written and impeccably researched … Exquisite’ Tracy Borman 

‘If you are visiting Tudor England, this book will be a sure guide to what to look at and how to look at it’. Hilary Mantel

This is a book about Tudor art – the stories within and around each artwork – and the story of Henry himself, as we follow his path from handsome prince to crippled tyrant.  The works reveal much about both his kingship and his insecurities. King and Collector tells this unique story of art and power, peeling back the layers of propaganda to show the true face of this most notorious of Tudor monarchs.

King & Collector is a sumptuous guide to the art of Henry VIII—with analysis of what his collection of paintings and artworks reveal about the man and his reign

No English king is as well-known to us as Henry VIII: famous for six marriages; for dissolving the monasteries and creating the Church of England; and for the ruthless destruction of those who stood in his way. But Henry was also an ardent patron of the arts whose tapestries and paintings, purchased in pursuit of glory and magnificence, adorned his lavish court and began the Royal Collection. In contrast to later royal collectors, this king was more interested in storytelling than art for its own sake, and all his commissions relate to one central tale: the glorification of Henry and his realm. His life can be seen through his art collection and the works tell us much about both his kingship and his insecurities. 

King and Collector by Linda Collins and Siobhan Clarke tells a unique story of art, power, and propaganda in Tudor England.

Purchase here

Amazon pre-order

Short Bios

Linda Collins is an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society and a member of the Association of Art Historians. Siobhan Clarke is a Guide Lecturer at Hampton Court Palace. Both authors worked for Historic Royal Palaces for 20 years and both appeared in PBS Television’s ‘Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace’. They have also written: The Tudors: The Crown, The Dynasty, The Golden Age.

Songbird

Songbird

Series: The Tudor Court, Book I

By Karen Heenan

Blurb

She has the voice of an angel…

But one false note could send her back to her old life of poverty.

After her father sells her to Henry VIII, ten-year-old Bess builds a new life as a royal minstrel, and earns the nickname “the king’s songbird.”

She comes of age in the dangerous Tudor court, where the stakes are always high, and where politics, heartbreak, and disease threaten everyone from the king to the lowliest musician.

Her world has only one constant: Tom, her first and dearest friend. But when Bess intrigues with Anne Boleyn and strains against the restrictions of life at court, will she discover that the biggest risk of all is listening to her own stubborn heart?

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Audio Buy Links:

Narrated by Jennifer Summerfield

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Author Bio

Karen Heenan

Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She fell in love with books and stories before she could read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams—which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing.

She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband, and is always hard at work on her next book.

Connect with Karen:

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A Note from the Author

The Life of a Minstrel at the Court of Henry VIII

He told me I was now a member of the King’s Music, a group of performers kept for court entertainments. It was a great privilege; the king was very particular about the musicians in his employ. Songbird, chapter 1

While minstrels were considered royal servants, they were a cut above the other servants who made the life comfortable for the inhabitants of the court. A minstrel provided both comfort and beauty, and in Henry’s court, beauty was at least as important as comfort.

Minstrels were provided with food, lodging, and clothing or livery, as were all court servants, but because they were also frequently in the royal presence, their attire was of better quality, and they were often costumed to take part in masques, or evening entertainments for the court.

Henry loved music, and before his brother’s death, he had been permitted only two. When he became Prince of Wales, and then king, he acquired musicians at a speed which would put jokes about his later wife-gathering to shame. The number of musicians in the royal household was generally sixty, but he was always willing to add more.

[Illustration #2] Some minstrels were specialized—playing the lute, harp, or virginals—but there were also general purpose entertainers, acquired each year at the Lenten schools of minstrelsy, who were also acrobats, storytellers, or who worked with animals. I did not cover this in Songbird because each time I tried, the research rabbit hole yawned wider, and I could see the story rapidly losing its shape.

In addition to minstrels, there were other types of musician at court. There were the choristers of the Chapel Royal—men and boys—who sang mass several times each day. There was another, smaller choir, who traveled with the king. There was the Music, the general minstrels, and then there were special musicians, imported (or occasionally lured away) from other countries and courts.

A core group of minstrels always traveled with the king, because he would not want to be caught without music. They went on progress with him, and, in 1520, when the king and most of his courtiers journeyed to France for the Field of Cloth of Gold, it would have been unspeakable to leave them home. Henry took every weapon in his arsenal to impress the French, and the quality of his musicians would have definitely been a point in his favor.

He also took the Chapel Royal choir, because they were made to do musical gymnastics with the French choir—for a final mass, the English choir sang with the French organist, and vice-versa, in one of those “it sounded like a good idea at the time” performances that no doubt had choristers on both sides muttering under their breath.

Songbird came about because I discovered that one of the ways Henry added to the choir and the Music was to buy children. These were most likely poor, musically talented children whose parents were more than happy (or as happy as you can be, surrendering a child, even to a promising future) to trade their child for security for the rest of their family. More than likely the children were boys, and destined for the choir, but in the case of Songbird, I made the child a girl, and Bess Llewelyn was born.

Edward Gresham

Edward Gresham, practitioner of astrology, medicine and maker of magic was born on this day in 1565. He is known for his treatise Astrostereon and many believed his almanacs and ‘predictions’ foretold the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 – to the point that he was implicated in them. His astrological almanacs were published 1603-1607.

He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was also involved in courtly intrigues, one being the divorce of Robert Devereux, third Earl of Essex, another the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury. Gresham was an adherent of the heliocentric theory of the universe. He expressed this belief in his almanacs and writings. The complete account of Gresham’s astronomical beliefs can be found in his manuscript Astrostereon or the Discourse of the Falling of the Planet, 1603. 

There are several topics addressed in the Astrostereon. The treatise contains a set of well-articulated arguments in favor of a sun centered cosmos and solar system, which was a new philosophy. Gresham believed that planets are made of the same material as Earth and he was controversial in that his writings stated that his views of the earth and solar system didn’t oppose biblical teaching. 

As a scientist, the Astrostereon is a prime example of an Elizabethan mindset in that he attempted to reorganize the fundamentals of astrology to fit into their ‘new’ system of the universe. 

References:

Cambridge.org

Royal Society

Reveal: The Project

Ralph Sadler was born in Hackney, Middlesex, the elder son of Henry Sadler, a minor official. At approximately seven years of age, Sadler was placed in the household of Thomas Cromwell. He was an intelligent and resourceful child who was taught many skills-learning to read and write, becoming fluent in French, Latin and Greek, and given knowledge of the law. He eventually became a courtier and diplomat who served four Tudor monarchs: Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. 

Sir Ralph and Mary Queen of Scots

In April 1540, Sadler was made principal secretary to King Henry VIII. In the same year, he was knighted, made a privy councillor, and began more than 30 years of service. Sadler survived Cromwell’s fall from power and execution but during the power struggle following Cromwell’s death he was arrested and sent to the Tower for a time. He was able to clear himself and was released in a few days, returning to the council chamber. He played a leading role in the examination of Catherine Howard and her relatives in November 1541, regained the King’s trust and was knighted for his part in holding matters of state while the court went on a summer progress.

On the accession of Mary I to the throne, after the resolution of the succession crisis, Sadler lost most of his offices, including master of the great wardrobe, he was removed from the commissions of the peace and excluded from the Privy Council. For a short time in 1553 he was under house arrest. For the rest of Mary I’s reign he did not sit in any parliament, remaining in semi-retirement at Standon, Hertfordshire.

During the reign of Elizabeth I he was restored to favor and sent to Scotland in 1559 to arrange an alliance with the Scottish Protestants. He eventually became one of the architects of the Treaty of Edinburgh. In 1568 he was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. When Mary, Queen of Scots, fled to England, Sadler was unwillingly appointed to meet with Scottish commissioners, becoming a reluctant jailer of the Scottish Queen. From summer 1584 to spring 1585, Mary was housed at Wingfield Manor and Tutbury Castle, under Sadler’s charge. During that time, Elizabeth grew increasingly disturbed by the presence of Mary Stuart on English soil and Sadler was instructed to restrict her freedom, being required to post guards around the area where Mary was held. Eventually, Sadler sat on the council that sentenced Mary to death.

Sadler married Ellen Mitchell circa 1534. They had three sons and four daughters, one being Sir Thomas Sadler who was named for Cromwell. Sir Ralph died March 1587 and was rumored to be the wealthiest commoner in England. His aging tomb is in St. Mary’s Church, Standon Hertfordshire.

Tomb of Sir Ralph Sadlier

Sir Ralph Sadleir (1507-87), the great Tudor statesman and long-time resident of Standon, England asked to be buried ‘not with anie pompe after the worldly manner, but in such sorte as shall be seemlie and requisite for a Christian man’. His son, Sir Thomas, decided to ignore his wishes and commissioned elaborate, ornate tombs for his father and himself commissioned from the leading London workshops of the Tudor Era. The magnificent tombs of Sir Ralph Sadleir (1507-1587), his eldest son Thomas and the latter’s wife Gertrude are a part of the rich heritage of the Tudor Era.

Sir Ralph, described on his memorial as ‘’faithful to the state and beloved of his countrie’’, served Tudor monarchs as courtier, soldier and statesman. The passage of over 400 years has left the memorials in need of repair and refurbishment. Sadlier’s part in the acclaimed Wolf Hall trilogy by Hilary Mantel–in which he features prominently–has acted as a catalyst to get the needed repairs made.

DONATE TODAY to Sadlier Tombs Refurbishment Project!

Unidentified man by Hans Holbein, thought to be Ralph Sadlier

Nikolaus Pevsner, the noted twentieth century art historian and author of the Buildings of England series, wrote enthusiastically about the Sadleir tombs in the volume on Hertfordshire.

Patrons of this project include renowned author Hilary Mantel whose works include the acclaimed Wolf Hall trilogy tracing the life of Thomas Cromwell.  The first two books, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, both won the Man Booker Prize. The third, The Mirror and the Light, has been described by the Financial Times’ critic as ‘majestic and often breathtakingly poetic’.  A major character in all three is Rafe Sadler (Sir Ralph Sadleir) who grew up in Cromwell’s household and served Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I.

Ms. Mantel writes of him, ‘Ralph Sadleir was a great Tudor survivor whose story should be better known, and I am proud to have been able to play a part in introducing him to the reading public. What I would like to see is a full modern biography, surely overdue – but meanwhile I can think of no better project than to conserve his family monuments’

Dame Hilary Mantel

PATRONS

-DAME HILARY MANTEL, DBE FRSL

Author of the double Booker Prize winning Wolf Hall trilogy

-THE COUNTESS of VERULAM, CVO DL

Artist & former Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire 

-THE VISCOUNTESS TRENCHARD

Resides at Standon Lordship & is a former High Sheriff of Hertfordshire

These pictures show examples of the conservation, repair and refurbishment required.

DONATE

The Boy King

King Edward VI

by Jessica Brain

One of the most famous Kings of England, perhaps one that epitomises the Tudor period the most, was Henry VIII. His reign was dominated by the Reformation which shared the spotlight with his tumultuous and well-documented private life.

His son and heir, young Edward, son of Jane Seymour looked set to be inheriting a disjointed and divided legacy from his father. King Henry VIII knew that before his death he needed to unite the different factions that were jostling for power, so that Edward’s inheritance would not be the continued infighting and factionalism that had dominated his reign.

King Henry VIII

Unfortunately, his pleas for unity were too late and on 28th January 1547 he passed away.

With Henry VIII’s infamous reign now over, Edward at the age of nine was now the new king.

Whilst Henry VIII was laid to rest at Windsor alongside Edward’s long since deceased mother, Jane Seymour, four days later Edward became Edward VI in a coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

The Archbishop Thomas Cranmer presided over the ceremony declaring Edward the leader of the Church of England, destined to continue the difficult and complex process of the Reformation.

With Edward now formally king however, his youth would mean that power would reside in a council that would, until he came of age, make the decisions.

Edward VI

Only a few months earlier, whilst Henry VIII was on his deathbed, a new will and testament had been produced, however such a document resulted in controversy and speculation as Henry’s signature was the work of a scribe rather than his own.

In this context the will would be easy to contest and remain under scrutiny as the men gathering around Henry saw fit to control the new young monarch Edward.

One of the principal characters who would rise to the occasion was Edward’s own uncle, Edward Seymour, the self-styled Duke of Somerset who would also serve as the Lord Protector until Edward was older.

Such an arrangement however, had not been agreed by Henry, who believed that a Protector held too much power and instead arranged for a “Council of Regency” to be appointed. Nevertheless, only days after Henry’s death, Edward Seymour was able to seize power, with thirteen out of the sixteen executors agreeing to his role as Protector for Edward VI.

Edward Seymour’s power grab was successful, his popularity and previous military successes held him in good stead and by March 1547, he had obtained letters patent from Edward VI giving him the right to appoint members to the Privy Council, a monarchical right which essentially gave him power.

With the power behind the throne held by Edward Seymour, what could be said of the figurehead, nine year old Edward?

Henry VIII, Jane Seymour (posthumous) and Edward

Born on 12th October 1537, he was the only legitimate son of Henry VIII, born to his third wife, Jane Seymour who sadly died only a few days after his birth.

Without his mother, he was placed in the care of Lady Margaret Bryan, whilst Henry doted on and invested in securing the future of his son and heir.

Edward was given comfort, a good education and luxury, trained in typical medieval kingship skills such as riding and fencing. He was also given a well-rounded education, learning both Latin and Greek by the age of five.

In terms of his personal relationships, Edward had become close to Henry VIII’s wife Catherine Parr and was influenced by her Protestant ideals. Meanwhile, he had grown close to his sisters, both Elizabeth and Mary, although Mary’s Catholicism would bring distance to their relationship later.

King Henry VIII, his children Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, and his jester Will Somers

The religious divide between Catholicism and Protestantism would permeate Edward’s short six year reign as despite his father’s break from Rome residual elements of Catholic worship still existed whilst the new Protestant doctrine was introduced.

Nevertheless, Edward was a devout Protestant and embraced it wholeheartedly.

Aside from the Reformation, Edward found his reign marred by continued conflict with both Scotland and France as well as economic issues.

Under the Lord Protector, the war which had pervaded Henry VIII’s reign would look set to continue, with the principal aim of implementing the Treaty of Greenwich which had been signed in 1543 with two main goals, establishing peace between Scotland and England as well as securing the marriage of Edward VI and Mary, Queen of Scots.

At the Battle of Pinkie in September 1547, held on the banks of the River Esk, the English forces would secure a blinding victory against the Scottish. It would be the last pitched battle between the two before the Union and became well-known thanks to an eyewitness account that was published.

Edward Seymour, Lord Protector

The defeat for the Scots became known as “Black Saturday” and resulted in the young Queen Mary being smuggled out of the country. She would be betrothed to the Dauphin of France. Edward Seymour saw fit to occupy large parts of Scotland.

His choices however would prove to be detrimental to the cause, as such an occupation weighed heavily on the Treasury finances. Moreover, such a victory ultimately drove the Scottish closer to England’s other enemy, France, and the next summer the French king, in support of Scotland sent around 6,000 troops and declared war on England.

Seymour’s foreign policy was close to collapsing, bringing unity and a sense of purpose to England’s enemies as well as draining the Treasury.

Meanwhile, another central goal during Edward VI’s time as monarch was the establishment and implementation of the Protestant church. This was pursued with a rigour and voracity by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer.

Cranmer’s Protestant ambitions were really beginning to take shape and by July 1547, established forms of Catholic worship were banned.

The enforced iconoclasm of the period resulted in a sweeping prohibition of typical Catholic idolatry such as bell ringing, stained glass windows, painting and decoration. Under the Act of Uniformity, these measures were legally enforceable and marked a swift and decisive move towards Protestantism.

Thomas Cranmer

Whilst England remained in a state of religious transition, social unrest began to breed, particularly with the publication of Cranmer’s ‘Book of Common Prayer’ which resulted in an uprising in the West Country. The Catholic defence even led to the city of Exeter being besieged whilst across the country in East Anglia, more social drama was unfolding in the form of land enclosures.

This was the beginning of the end for Edward Seymour, with peasants rising up in defiance of their landowners, resulting in the Kett’s Rebellion of 1549, whereby a group of rebels amounting to almost 20,000 stormed the city of Norwich.

Later that year, Somerset was visibly losing support from the council. Religious controversy, economic weakness and social discontent would ultimately bring an end to Edward Seymour’s autocratic governance.

In October 1549 a coup was initiated by John Dudley, the 2nd Earl of Warwick which resulted in the successful expulsion of Seymour from office.

With Seymour out of the way, Dudley now declared himself the Lord President of the Council and by the beginning of 1550 was the new man in central authority. Dudley, with a new title of the Duke of Northumberland dealt with the grievances spilling over from Seymour’s time, dealing with the conflicts with Scotland and France.

Edward VI

Meanwhile, what could be said of young King Edward VI?

By this point he was now fourteen years of age and showing clear signs of rapidly declining health. With no heirs and no prospect of him being able to produce heirs, his successor was destined to be his sister Mary.

There of course was only one slight problem with such a prospect: she was a devout Catholic.

Suddenly, a chaotic scene presented itself at the prospect of newly reformed England having all of its policies reversed by a Catholic Queen.

Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland realised that simply disinheriting her on the grounds of illegitimacy would also result in Elizabeth facing the same fate although she was Protestant.

Instead Dudley made alternative arrangements in the form of Lady Jane Grey, the 15-year-old granddaughter of Henry VII’s daughter Mary. In a move of ever-increasing political ambition, he made sure to arrange an advantageous marriage for his son, Guildford Dudley who was to be married to Lady Jane, the future queen.

Lady Jane Grey

Edward VI was thus consulted on this new plan which he agreed to, naming Lady Jane Grey as his successor in a document called “My devise for the Succession”.

After some initial controversy, the document was signed by several members and passed on to parliament.

Edward in the meantime was deteriorating rapidly, summoning his sister Mary before he died. Nevertheless, Mary, sensing that this was a trap, chose to travel to her estates in East Anglia.

On 6th July 1553, at the age of fifteen King Edward VI died, leaving Lady Jane as his successor, a fate that would see her reign last for just nine days.

Edward VI, the boy king, a monarch with a famous and imposing father, was never able to attain real power as king. His reign was dominated by others, symptomatic of the power-plays and infighting dominating the court. Edward VI was a figurehead, nothing more, in a time of great change.

Published courtesy of Historic UK. Jessica Brain is a freelance writer specialising in history. Based in Kent and a lover of all things historical.

Sir Francis Bryan

Image courtesy of The Tudors

Sir Francis Bryan (or Bryant), an English poet and warrior, was born of a genteel family, educated at Oxford, and afterwards spent some time in travelling abroad.

Thus begins the entry for Sir Francis Bryan, a lifelong friend and companion to King Henry VIII, in General Biographical Dictionary, by Alexander Chalmers, 1812–1817.

Why is there a cloak of mystery around one of the most visual companions to King Henry VIII?

“No portrait survives so we know nothing of his appearance. Bryan was a typical Renaissance courtier, a poet and man of letters who was also to distinguish himself as a soldier, sailor and diplomat. His irresistible charm disguised an incorrigible intriguer who was two-faced, manipulative and promiscuous; once, on a trip to Calais, he demanded “a soft bed then a hard harlot”. He was full of pent-up energy; highly articulate and viciously witty. Observers were astonished at the familiarity he used towards the King, both in speaking his mind and telling jokes. Bryan was no creature of principle; by altering his loyalties and opinions to conform to the King’s changes of policy, he managed to remain in favour throughout the reign”

We have an equal supply of myths and documented information.

He was the son of Sir Thomas Bryan and Margaret Bourchier. Through his mother, he was a descendant of King Edward III, therefore giving him a royal Plantagenet pedigree.

We know he lost an eye in a joust. From that day he wore an eye patch. Did you know it is rumored that Alexander Dumas based the villain in The Three Musketeers on Sir Francis Bryan?

Sir Francis was a legendary carouser; known as one of the King’s minions. His behavior led Cardinal Wolsey to banish him from the Privy chamber. King Henry and Queen Anne saw to it that he was received back by 1528.

Oxford Historian, Susan Bridgen, writes of how he bedded a courtesan at the papal court to gain intelligence for King Henry VIII during the Great Matter of his divorce from Queen Katherine of Aragon.

His nickname, “the Vicar of Hell”, was given to him by Thomas Cromwell, due to the vindictiveness he displayed during the downfall of his own relative, Queen Anne Boleyn.

Sir Francis was a relative of both Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Jane Seymour. As commanded by King Henry, he delivered a message to Jane Seymour when Queen Anne was sentenced, and he told Jane once the execution was completed.

A celebrated poet during his lifetime, the only documented copy which has survived until today is “The proverbes of Salmon do playnly declare” found in “The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature: 1485-1603”.

He was questioned but not arrested during the Boleyn investigations.

It is rumored that the last words of King Henry VIII were, “Bryan all is lost.” This is based on family stories and I cannot find it documented.

At the time of his death, he was Lord Chief Justice of Ireland due to his marriage to Lady Joan Fitzgerald, widow of James Butler, the 9th Earl of Ormond. Their son, Francis Bryan II, served Queen Elizabeth I.

This is where the American legacy enters the picture. According to various family histories and the Register of Kentucky State Historical Society (4), the grandson of Sir Francis Bryan, William Smith Bryan, attempted to gain the throne of Ireland. Due to this, Oliver Cromwell deported him in 1650 as a troublesome subject. “He landed at Gloucester Beach, Virginia, and his twenty-one sons and grandsons settled Gloucester County.” An article in “The Thoroughbred Record” credits him with being among the first to bring thoroughbred horses to America.

It gets really interesting when the son of William Smith Bryan returned to Ireland in an attempt to regain the family estates. Long story short, it didn’t work. His two sons, William and Morgan, returned to Virginia.

This is where we will leave the details of this family story for another day. It should be noted that the daughter of Morgan Bryan, Rebecca, married an American frontiersman. That frontiersman is none other than the legendary, Daniel Boone.

So, we see how information may be lacking for the works and details of the life of Sir Francis Bryan. Would we be safe to assert that he had an eye for opportunity? (Pun intended.) He was known for his ability to survive, at a time when others could not be as adaptable. Now we see how his legacy lived on in the New World and played a part in shaping the character of a new country.

SOURCES:

Francis Meres, Palladis Tamia, 1598.

Henry VIII: The King and His Court, Ballantine Books, 2001.

J. le Grand, Histoire du Divorce de Henri VIII, 1688.

Michael Drayton, Heroicall Epistle of the Earl of Surrey to the Lady Geraldine, 1629.

Sidney L. Lee. “Sir Francis Bryan”. Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. VII. Leslie Stephen, ed. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1886. 150-52.

The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature: 1485-1603.

1812 Chalmers’ Biography / B / Sir Francis Bryan (?–1550) [vol. 7, p. 203]

Alison Weir, Henry VIII and his Court, 2001.

Register of Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 40, No. 132, pp. 318-322. C1974 KY State Historical Society, Frankfort, KY.

*Portions originally published via Tudor Times

Lovers Who Changed History: The Love Letters of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII

On turning over in my mind the contents of your last letters, I have put myself into great agony, not knowing how to interpret them, whether to my disadvantage, as you show in some places, or to my advantage, as I understand them in some others, beseeching you earnestly to let me know

expressly your whole mind as to the love between us two. It is absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been for above a whole year stricken with the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail of finding a place in your heart and affection, which last point has prevented me for some time past from calling you my mistress; because, if you only love me with an ordinary love, that name is not suitable for you, because it denotes a singular love, which is far from common. But if you please to do the office of a true loyal mistress and friend, and to give up yourself body and heart to me, who will be, and have been, your most loyal servant, (if your rigour does not forbid me) I promise you that not only the name shall be given you, but also that I will take you for my only mistress, casting off all others besides you out of my thoughts and affections, and serve you only. I beseech you to give an entire answer to this my rude letter, that I may know on what and how far I may depend. And if it does not please you to answer me in writing, appoint some place where I may have it by word of mouth, and I will go thither with all my heart. No more, for fear of tiring you. Written by the hand of him who would willingly remain yours,

H. R.

Though it is not fitting for a gentleman to take his lady in the place of a servant, yet, complying with your desire, I willingly grant it you, if thereby you can find yourself less uncomfortable in the place chosen by yourself, than you have been in that which I gave you, thanking you cordially that you are pleased still to have some remembrance of me. 6. n. A. 1 de A. o. na. v. e. z.

Henry R.

Although, my Mistress, it has not pleased you to remember the promise you made me when I was last with you — that is, to hear good news from you, and to have an answer to my last letter; yet it seems to me that it belongs to a true servant (seeing that otherwise he can know nothing) to inquire the health of his mistress, and to acquit myself of the duty of a true servant, I send you this letter, beseeching you to apprise me of your welfare, which I pray to God may continue as long as I desire mine own. And to cause you yet oftener to remember me, I send you, by the bearer of this, a buck killed late last night by my own hand, hoping that when you eat of it you may think of the hunter; and thus, for want of room, I must end my letter, written by the hand of your servant, who very often wishes for you instead of your brother.

H. R.

MY MISTRESS & FRIEND, my heart and I surrender ourselves into your hands, beseeching you to hold us commended to your favour, and that by absence your affection to us may not be lessened: for it were a great pity to increase our pain, of which absence produces enough and more than I could ever have thought could be felt, reminding us of a point in astronomy which is this: the longer the days are, the more distant is the sun, and nevertheless the hotter; so is it with our love, for by absence we are kept a distance from one another, and yet it retains its fervour, at least on my side; I hope the like on yours, assuring you that on my part the pain of absence is already too great for me; and when I think of the increase of that which I am forced to suffer, it would be almost intolerable, but for the firm hope I have of your unchangeable affection for me: and to remind you of this sometimes, and seeing that I cannot be personally present with you, I now send you the nearest thing I can to that, namely, my picture set in a bracelet, with the whole of the device, which you already know, wishing myself in their place, if it should please you. This is from the hand of your loyal servant and friend,

H. R.

For a present so beautiful that nothing could be more so (considering the whole of it), I thank you most cordially, not only on account of the fine diamond and the ship in which the solitary damsel is tossed about, but chiefly for the fine interpretation and the too humble submission which your goodness hath used towards me in this case; for I think it would be very difficult for me to find an occasion to deserve it, if I were not assisted by your great humanity and favour, which I have

always sought to seek, and will seek to preserve by all the kindness in my power, in which my hope has placed its unchangeable intention, which says, Aut illic, aut nullibi.

The demonstrations of your affection are such, the beautiful mottoes of the letter so cordially expressed, that they oblige me for ever to honour, love, and serve you sincerely, beseeching you to continue in the same firm and constant purpose, assuring you that, on my part, I will surpass it rather than make it reciprocal, if loyalty of heart and a desire to please you can accomplish this.

I beg, also, if at any time before this I have in any way offended you, that you would give me the same absolution that you ask, assuring you, that henceforward my heart shall be dedicated to you alone. I wish my person was so too. God can do it, if He pleases, to whom I pray every day for that end, hoping that at length my prayers will be heard. I wish the time may be short, but I shall think it long till we see one another.

Written by the hand of that secretary, who in heart, body, and will, is, Your loyal and most assured Servant,

TO MY MISTRESS. Because the time seems very long since I heard concerning your health and you, the great affection I have for you has induced me to send you this bearer, to be better informed of your health and pleasure, and because, since my parting from you, I have been told that the opinion in which I left you is totally changed, and that you would not come to court either with your mother, if you could, or in any other manner; which report, if true, I cannot sufficiently marvel at, because I am sure that I have since never done any thing to offend you, and it seems a very poor return for the great love which I bear you to keep me at a distance both from the speech and the person of the woman that I esteem most in the world: and if you love me with as much affection as I hope you do, I am sure that the distance of our two persons would be a little irksome to you, though this does not belong so much to the mistress as to the servant.

Consider well, my mistress, that absence from you grieves me sorely, hoping that it is not your will that it should be so; but if I knew for certain that you voluntarily desired it, I could do no other than mourn my ill-fortune, and by degrees abate my great folly. And so, for lack of time, I make an end of this rude letter, beseeching you to give credence to this bearer in all that he will tell you from me.

Written by the hand of your entire Servant,

H. R.

DARLING, these shall be only to advertise you that this bearer and his fellow be despatched with as many things to compass our matter, and to bring it to pass as our wits could imagine or devise; which brought to pass, as I trust, by their diligence, it shall be shortly, you and I shall have our desired end, which should be more to my heart’s ease, and more quietness to my mind, than any other thing in the world; as, with God’s grace, shortly I trust shall be proved, but not so soon as I would it were; yet I will ensure you that there shall be no time lost that may be won, and further can not be done; for ultra posse non est esse. Keep him not too long with you, but desire him, for your sake, to make the more speed; for the sooner we shall have word from him, the sooner shall our matter come to pass. And thus upon trust of your short repair to London, I make an end of my letter, my own sweet heart.

Written with the hand of him which desireth as much to be yours as you do to have him.

H. R.

MY LORD, in my most humblest wise that my heart can think, I desire you to pardon me that I am so bold to trouble you with my simple and rude writing, esteeming it to proceed from her that is much desirous to know that your grace does well, as I perceive by this bearer that you do, the which I pray God long to continue, as I am most bound to pray; for I do know the great pains and troubles that you have taken for me both day and night is never likely to be recompensed on my part, but alonely in loving you, next unto the king’s grace, above all creatures living. And I do not doubt but

the daily proofs of my deeds shall manifestly declare and affirm my writing to be true, and I do trust you do think the same.

My lord, I do assure you, I do long to hear from you news of the legate; for I do hope, as they come from you, they shall be very good; and I am sure you desire it as much as I, and more, an it were possible; as I know it is not: and thus remaining in a steadfast hope, I make an end of my letter.

Written with the hand of her that is most bound to be

Your humble Servant,

Anne Boleyn.

The writer of this letter would not cease, till she had caused me likewise to set my hand, desiring you, though it be short, to take it in good part. I ensure you that there is neither of us but greatly desireth to see you, and are joyous to hear that you have escaped this plague so well, trusting the fury thereof to be passed, especially with them that keepeth good diet, as I trust you do. The not hearing of the legate’s arrival in France causeth us somewhat to muse; notwithstanding, we trust, by your diligence and vigilancy (with the assistance of Almighty God), shortly to be eased out of that trouble. No more to you at this time, but that I pray God send you as good health and prosperity as the writer would.

By your loving Sovereign and Friend,

H. R.

There came to me suddenly in the night the most afflicting news that could have arrived. The first, to hear of the sickness of my mistress, whom I esteem more than all the world, and whose health I desire as I do my own, so that I would gladly bear half your illness to make you well. The second, from the fear that I have of being still longer harassed by my enemy, Absence, much longer, who has hitherto given me all possible uneasiness, and as far as I can judge is determined to spite me more because I pray God to rid me of this troublesome tormentor. The third, because the physician in whom I have most confidence, is absent at the very time when he might do me the greatest pleasure; for I should hope, by him and his means, to obtain one of my chief joys on earth — that is the care of my mistress — yet for want of him I send you my second, and hope that he will soon make you well. I shall then love him more than ever. I beseech you to be guided by his advice in your illness. In so doing I hope soon to see you again, which will be to me a greater comfort than all the precious jewels in the world.

Written by that secretary, who is, and for ever will be, your loyal and most assured Servant,

H. (A B) R.

The uneasiness my doubts about your health gave me, disturbed and alarmed me exceedingly, and I should not have had any quiet without hearing certain tidings. But now, since you have as yet felt nothing, I hope, and am assured that it will spare you, as I hope it is doing with us. For when we were at Walton, two ushers, two valets de chambres and your brother, master-treasurer, fell ill, but are now quite well; and since we have returned to our house at Hunsdon, we have been perfectly well, and have not, at present, one sick person, God be praised; and I think, if you would retire from Surrey, as we did, you would escape all danger. There is another thing that may comfort you, which is, that, in truth in this distemper few or no women have been taken ill, and what is more, no person of our court, and few elsewhere, have died of it. For which reason I beg you, my entirely beloved, not to frighten yourself nor be too uneasy at our absence; for wherever I am, I am yours, and yet we must sometimes submit to our misfortunes, for whoever will struggle against fate is generally but so much the farther from gaining his end: wherefore comfort yourself, and take courage and avoid the pestilence as much as you can, for I hope shortly to make you sing, la renvoyé. No more at present, from lack of time, but that I wish you in my arms, that I might a little dispel your unreasonable thoughts.

Written by the hand of him who is and alway will be yours,

Im- H. R. -mutable.

The cause of my writing at this time, good sweetheart, is only to understand of your good health and prosperity; whereof to know I would be as glad as in manner mine own, praying God that (an it be His pleasure) to send us shortly together, for I promise you I long for it. How be it, I trust it shall not be long to; and seeing my darling is absent, I can do no less than to send her some flesh, representing my name, which is hart flesh for Henry, prognosticating that hereafter, God willing, you may enjoy some of mine, which He pleased, I would were now.

As touching your sister’s matter, I have caused Walter Welze to write to my lord my mind therein, whereby I trust that Eve shall not have power to deceive Adam; for surely, whatsoever is said, it cannot so stand with his honour but that he must needs take her, his natural daughter, now in her extreme necessity.

No more to you at this time, mine own darling, but that with a wish I would we were together an evening.

With the hand of yours,

H. R.

Since your last letters, mine own darling, Walter Welshe, Master Browne, Thos. Care, Grion of Brearton, and John Coke, the apothecary, be fallen of the sweat in this house, and, thanked be God, all well recovered, so that as yet the plague is not fully ceased here, but I trust shortly it shall. By the mercy of God, the rest of us yet be well, and I trust shall pass it, either not to have it, or, at the least, as easily as the rest have done.

As touching the matter of Wilton, my lord cardinal hath had the nuns before him, and examined them, Mr. Bell being present; which hath certified me that, for a truth, she had confessed herself (which we would have had abbess) to have had two children by two sundry priests; and, further, since hath been kept by a servant of the Lord Broke that was, and that not long ago. Wherefore I would not, for all the gold in the world, clog your conscience nor mine to make her ruler of a house which is of so ungodly demeanour; nor, I trust, you would not that neither for brother nor sister, I should so destain mine honour or conscience. And, as touching the prioress, or Dame Eleanor’s eldest sister, though there is not any evident case proved against them, and that the prioress is so old that for many years she could not be as she was named; yet notwithstanding, to do you pleasure, I have done that neither of them shall have it, but that some other good and well-disposed woman shall have it, whereby the house shall be the better reformed (whereof I ensure you it had much need), and God much the better served.

As touching your abode at Hever, do therein as best shall like you, for you best know what air doth best with you; but I would it were come thereto (if it pleased God), that neither of us need care for that, for I ensure you I think it long. Suche is fallen sick of the sweat, and therefore I send you this bearer, because I think you long to hear tidings from us, as we do likewise from you.

Written with the hand de votre seul,

H. R.

The approach of the time for which I have so long waited rejoices me so much, that it seems almost to have come already. However, the entire accomplishment cannot be till the two persons meet, which meeting is more desired by me than anything in this world; for what joy can be greater upon earth than to have the company of her who is dearest to me, knowing likewise that she does the same on her part, the thought of which gives me the greatest pleasure.

Judge what an effect the presence of that person must have on me, whose absence has grieved my heart more than either words or writing can express, and which nothing can cure, but that begging you, my mistress, to tell your father from me, that I desire him to hasten the time appointed by two days, that he may be at court before the old term, or, at farthest, on the day prefixed; for otherwise I shall think he will not do the lover’s turn, as he said he would, nor answer my expectation.

No more at present for lack of time, hoping shortly that by word of mouth I shall tell you the rest of the sufferings endured by me from your absence.

Written by the hand of the secretary, who wishes himself at this moment privately with you, and who is, and always will be,

Your loyal and most assured Servant,

H. no other A B seek R.

DARLING, I heartily recommend me to you, ascertaining you that I am not a little perplexed with such things as your brother shall on my part declare unto you, to whom I pray you give full credence, for it were too long to write. In my last letters I writ to you that I trusted shortly to see you, which is better known at London than with any that is about me, whereof I not a little marvel; but lack of discreet handling must needs be the cause thereof. No more to you at this time, but that I trust shortly our meetings shall not depend upon other men’s light handlings, but upon our own.

Written with the hand of him that longeth to be yours.

H. R.

MINE own SWEETHEART, this shall be to advertise you of the great elengeness that I find here since your departing; for, I ensure you methinketh the time longer since your departing now last, than I was wont to do a whole fortnight. I think your kindness and my fervency of love causeth it; for, otherwise, I would not have thought it possible that for so little a while it should have grieved me. But now that I am coming towards you, methinketh my pains be half removed; and also I am right well comforted in so much that my book maketh substantially for my matter; in looking whereof I have spent above four hours this day, which causeth me now to write the shorter letter to you at this time, because of some pain in my head; wishing myself (especially an evening) in my sweetheart’s arms, whose pretty dukkys I trust shortly to kiss.

Written by the hand of him that was, is, and shall be yours by his own will,

H. R.

DARLING, Though I have scant leisure, yet, remembering my promise, I thought it convenient to certify you briefly in what case our affairs stand. As touching a lodging for you, we have got one by my lord cardinal’s means, the like whereof could not have been found hereabouts for all causes, as this bearer shall more show you. As touching our other affairs, I assure you there can be no more done, nor more diligence used, nor all manner of dangers better both foreseen and provided for, so that I trust it shall be hereafter to both our comforts, the specialities whereof were both too long to be written, and hardly by messenger to be declared. Wherefore, till you repair hither, I keep something in store, trusting it shall not be long to; for I have caused my lord, your father, to make his provisions with speed; and thus for lack of time, darling, I make an end of my letter, written with the hand of him which I would were yours.

H. R.

The reasonable request of your last letter, with the pleasure also that I take to know them true, causeth me to send you these news. The legate which we most desire arrived at Paris on Sunday or Monday last past, so that I trust by the next Monday to hear of his arrival at Calais: and then I trust within a while after to enjoy that which I have so long longed for, to God’s pleasure and our both comforts.

No more to you at this present, mine own darling, for lack of time, but that I would you were in mine arms, or I in yours, for I think it long since I kissed you.

Written after the killing of a hart, at eleven of the clock, minding, with God’s grace, to-morrow, mightily timely, to kill another, by the hand which, I trust, shortly shall be yours.

Henry R.

To inform you what joy it is to me to understand of your conformableness with reason, and of the suppressing of your inutile and vain thoughts with the bridle of reason. I assure you all the good in this world could not counterpoise for my satisfaction the knowledge and certainty thereof, wherefore, good sweetheart, continue the same, not only in this, but in all your doings hereafter; for thereby shall come, both to you and me, the greatest quietness that may be in this world.

The cause why the bearer stays so long, is the business I have had to dress up gear for you; and which I trust, ere long to cause you occupy: then I trust to occupy yours, which shall be recompense enough to me for all my pains and labour.

The unfeigned sickness of this well-willing legate doth somewhat retard his access to your person; but I trust verily, when God shall send him health, he will with diligence recompense his demur. For I know well where he hath said (touching the saying and bruit that he is thought imperial) that it shall be well known in this matter that he is not imperial; and thus, for lack of time, sweetheart, farewell.

Written with the hand which fain would be yours, and so is the heart.

R. H.

________________

NOTES:

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written July, 1527. “Aut illic, aut nullibi.” Either there, ornowhere.

The signature means “H. seeks no other (heart). R.”

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. This letter was written in July, 1527.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written February, 1528. “Ultra posse non est esse.” One can’t do more than the possible.

Anne Boleyn to Cardinal Wolsey. MS. Cott. Vitellius, B. xii. f. 4. Written June 11, 1528. Printed by Ellis as from Katherine of Arragon. There is another letter from Anne to Wolsey, thanking him for a present. It is very similar to this, and is found in MS. Cott. Otho. c. x. f. 218 (printed in Burnet, i, 104, and in Ellis, Original Letters, vol. i).

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written June 16, 1528.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. This letter was written June 20. “It.” The sweating sickness. This is the 1528 epidemic.

“Your brother.” George Boleyn, afterwards Viscount Rochford, executed 1536 on a charge of incest.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written about June 22, 1528. “Welze” is the same person as “Welshe” on p. xxx.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written July 6 (?), 1528. “Suche” is probably Zouch.

“Destain.” Stain.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written July 20, 1528.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written July 21, 1528.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written August, 1528. “Elengeness.” Loneliness, misery.

“My book.” On the unlawfulness of his marriage with Katherine.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written August 20, 1528.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written September 16, 1528. Campeggio actually arrived at Calais on Monday, September 14.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written at the end of October, 1528.

___

Originally published via Medium.com – All Things Tudor