Did Gertrude Courtenay Accuse Anne Boleyn of Witchcraft? by Sylvia Barbara Soberton

Guest article by Sylvia Barbara Soberton

During the years of Anne Boleyn’s rise to power, Gertrude and her husband remained loyal to Queen Katharine of Aragon. In 1527, Henry VIII decided that, at forty-two, Queen Katharine was too old to bear children, and so he sought an annulment. What he initially believed would take about a year to accomplish actually took six long years. During this time, Katharine’s popularity grew while Anne became a figure of scandal.

Perceived as a home-wrecker, especially by women, Anne was often accused of seducing the King. Chronicler Edward Hall wrote that the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting and other household servants spoke unfavourably about Anne “and said that she so enticed the King, and brought him in such amours, that only for her sake and occasion he would be divorced from his Queen”.[1]

“Unlawful love”

Gertrude and her husband, together with their close friends the Pole family (that included Margaret, Countess of Salisbury) privately sneered at Anne Boleyn’s rapid elevation. They believed the King had decided to divorce their “good Queen Katharine” because he was was “[ca]tched yn the snare off unlawfull love with the lady Ane”[2], implying that Anne used love magic. The comment about “unlawful love” carried witchcraft connotations. Provoking someone to “unlawful love” was among the tricks imputed to women using witchcraft to “snare” their lovers and fell under the category of love magic. It was not punishable during Anne’s lifetime, but it would become a felony under the 1542 Witchcraft Act.[3]

Although Anne was never charged with witchcraft, an air of scandal surrounded her relationship with the King, and some commentators suggested that Henry VIII was “charmed by potions or otherwise”, so Gertrude and her faction were not alone in spreading gossip linking Anne with witchcraft.[4]

Apart from insinuating that she used witchcraft, in their view Anne was also “a harlot and a heretic”, and her eventual marriage to the King was “unlawful”.[5] Anne was disparaged as a “harlot” because she was romantically involved with a married man and a “heretic” because her religious views were leaning towards the newly developing evangelical movement.

“Seduced by sortileges and charms”

In 1536, shortly after Anne Boleyn miscarried a son, Gertrude informed the Imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys that she and her husband:

“[…] had heard from the lips of one of the principal courtiers that this King had said to one of them in great secrecy, and as if in confession, that he had been seduced and forced into this second marriage by means of sortileges and charms, and that, owing to that, he held it as null. God (he said) had well shown his displeasure at it by denying him male children. He, therefore, considered that he could take a third wife, which he said he wished much to do.”[6]

There are two versions of Chapuys’s despatch, one in the Letters and Papers and another one in the Spanish Calendar of State Papers. The version in the Calendar of State Papers is the one cited above, whereas the Letters and Papers translation uses the word “witchcraft” instead of “sortileges and charms”.[7]

If proven, allegations of witchcraft could result in the dissolution of a marriage. The most recent example in living memory was the accusation of witchcraft with special emphasis on love magic levelled against Henry VIII’s grandmother Elizabeth Grey, née Woodville. The clandestine nature of Edward IV’s marriage led Richard III’s Parliament to claim in 1483 that the wedding had been procured “by sorcery and witchcraft, committed by the said Elizabeth and her mother, Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford”.[8] According to the act, witchcraft committed by Elizabeth and Jacquetta was “the common opinion of the people and the public voice, and the fame is through all this land”.[9] In the end, it was not witchcraft that invalidated Elizabeth Woodville’s marriage to Edward IV: it was the King’s alleged pre-contract with another woman. Henry VIII had clearly looked into what legal basis had been used in 1483 to annul Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville; his comment about being seduced with witchcraft clearly implies so, as well as the fact that he tried to use Anne’s earlier pre-contract with Henry Percy.

Whether Henry VIII truly said that he believed Anne Boleyn seduced him by witchcraft is impossible to prove. It is likely that Gertrude spread the rumour to tarnish Anne’s reputation. In any case, even if Henry VIII wanted to accuse Anne of witchcraft, it was not an offence punishable by death until 1542, when a statute was passed making it a felony “to practise, or cause to be practised, conjuration, witchcraft, enchantment or sorcery […] to provoke any person to unlawful love”.[10] The King would come up with something much more malicious to get rid of his wife.


[1] Edward Hall, Hall’s Chronicle, p. 759.

[2] Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 13 Part 2, n. 800.

[3] Sir William Searle Holdsworth, A History of English Law, p. 510-511.

[4] Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 5, n. 1114.

[5] Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 13 Part 2, n. 800.

[6] Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 5 Part 2, n. 13.

[7] Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10, n. 199.

[8] Titulus Regius http://www.richard111.com/titulus_regius.htm

[9] Ibid.

[10] Danby Pickering (ed.), The Statutes at Large, From the Thirty-Second Year of King Henry VIIII, to the Seventh Year of King Edward VI, p. 79.

The Forgotten Tudor Women

Bio: 

Sylvia Barbara Soberton is a writer and researcher specializing in the history of the Tudors. She debuted in 2015 with her bestselling book “The Forgotten Tudor Women: Mary Howard, Mary Shelton & Margaret Douglas”. Sylvia’s other best-sellers include “Golden Age Ladies: Women Who Shaped the courts of Henry VIII and Francis I”, “Great Ladies: The Forgotten Witnesses to the Lives of Tudor Queens”, “The Forgotten Tudor Women: Anne Seymour, Jane Dudley & Elisabeth Parr”,  “Medical Downfall of the Tudors: Sex, Reproduction & Succession” and others. You can find Sylvia on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter @SylviaBSo


Purchase:

The Forgotten Tudor Women: Gertrude Courtenay: Wife and Mother of the last Plantagenets

Kindle Paperback

Sylvia & her books

All Things Tudor: The Book Club

All Things Tudor is pleased to announce our new Book Club!

The first book for our book club is Medical Downfall Of The Tudors: Sex, Reproduction & Succession by Sylvia Barbara Soberton. It is available in multiple formats from multiple sellers.

Discussion will open on the fourth Friday of January which is January 28th, 2022 with the chats organized by Eileen Kontrovitz who will be assisted by Marie Blackburn. Eileen will be postings questions for readers in the All Things Tudor Facebook group, including book suggestions, frequency, dates of discussion openings and closings. The plan is to alternate between nonfiction and fiction.

Please take time to think about books that you have read or books that you want to read. Before you suggest a book check to see if it is still in print and available. Eileen is excited to be leading this book club and we all look forward meeting you all.

Join ALL THINGS TUDOR here.

Tell Them Of Battles, Kings, and Elephants

GUEST REVIEW by Terence Hawkins

TELL THEM OF BATTLES, KINGS, AND ELEPHANTS

MATHIAS ENARD

Despite its slender elegance, this book is more than equal to the enormous themes it takes up: east and west; labor and talent; male and female.  Its point of departure is an invitation in 1506 from Sultan Bayezid II to Michelangelo to design a bridge to span the Golden Horn in Constantinople.  Michaelangelo never accepted the commission or visited the city.  This novel imagines that he did.

The city had fallen to the Turks only fifty years before.  It’s divided by the Golden Horn, an inlet of the Bosphorus, whose banks constituted the end of Europe and the beginning of Asia. Bayezid  was eager to have his bridge designed by the best Italy had to offer.  First he offered the commission to Leonardo—whom Michelangelo describes as “that oaf who scorns sculpture.”  Da Vinci went so far as to build a model of his proposal.  The Sultan rejected it as impractical.  (It was ultimately built on a smaller scale in Norway in 2001.)  His offer to Michelangelo is sweetened by the observation that it will provide an opportunity to succeed where his older rival failed.

Powerful as his jealously may be, what drives Michelangelo to accept the job is that bane of all creatives, Renaissance and modern: money.  Pope Julius II, his patron and chief client, refused to pay him. Furious, he takes ship without papal permission and arrives in a Constantinople that overwhelms him with its beauty and sensuality.  And Michelangelo has neither.  His skin is leathery, his hands scarred; his muscles are those of a laborer.  He smells bad, “as bad as a barbarian or a slave from the north.”  But despite all this, Mesihi, a poet and secretary in the entourage of the Grand Vizier who has been assigned to Michelangelo as a guide to the city, develops a full-blown crush on him.

In his early days among the Ottomans Michelangelo demonstrates a formidable work ethic.  He draws constantly in a notebook.  Talent is nothing without labor.  Elard envisions that images from Constaninople will find their way into Michalangelo’s subsequent work, that Mesihi will appear as Adam on the Sistine Chapel dome.  There is destruction as well.  Newly installed in a studio on the palace grounds, Michelangelo is shown Leonardo’s model bridge.  He smashes it to pieces.

Mesihi takes Michelangelo to a party at which an dancer from Andalusia is performing.  Just eighteen years before, the province had fallen to the King of Spain, marking the end of Muslim Spain.  The dancer is entirely androgynous, and the Florentine is entirely smitten, regardless of gender.   “If it’s a woman’s body, it’s perfect; if it’s a man’s body, Michelangelo would pay dearly to see the muscles of his thighs and calves stand out. . . .”   Elard manages to conceal the dancer’s sex even while undressing at a second meeting that Mesihi has contrived.  Finally we learn she is a woman, and that Michelangelo rejects her.  During a long night’s pillow talk reported at intervals through the book, she recounts the subjugation or dispersal of her people at Christian hands and whispers the phrase that gives the book its title: “You conquer people by telling them of battles, kings, elephants, and marvellous beings.”

Michelangelo soon learns that the Sultan is no more generous a master than the Pope and will not pay him until the work is far along.  Threats of excommunication or worse reach him from Italy.  Ultimately his departure from Constantinople is hastened by an incident in which Mesihi and the dancer are both involved.  To describe its nature and effect would be far too much of a spoiler.  

We know next to nothing of Michelangelo’s sexuality. It seems only to have been expressed in sonnets and madrigals addressed to a single, much younger man, late in the artist’s life.  Otherwise he appears to have been entirely chaste, disdaining love as much as food and drink, in which he indulged only out of necessity. Enard paints an artist entirely enslaved to his work, driven exclusively by the needs to get it done and get paid for doing it, drawn to the Andalusian not as an object of desire—he rejects her physically, after all– but an object of beauty.  Enard compares his reaction to the dancer with his first glimpse of Hagia Sophia, the great Byzantine cathedral recently converted into a mosque: “Every time he touches beauty, or approaches it, the artist shivers with happiness and suffering intermingled. . .”

The book is eloquently translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell.  At just over a hundred pages, it packs a wallop wholly disproportionate to its length.  Do yourself a favor and read it.

Purchase here

This is Terry’s fave pic of himself. You’ll have to ask him why – it’s a great story!

Terence Hawkins

Ideas drive all of Terence Hawkins’ work. His latest book, The Rage of Achilles, is an extensively revised and re-imagined edition of his first novel. In it, Homer’s epic heroes are no more glorious than the tired, scared grunts they command. Informed by Julian Jaynes’ theory of the bicameral mind, its gods are only the hallucinations of men and women desperate for direction in the collapsing society of the late Bronze Age. Hawkins’ realistic account of Homeric warfare has been described as “visceral,” and his prose “elegant and terse.”

In a Best Book of 2020 review, Kirkus called Hawkins’ short story collection Turing’s Graveyard “extraordinary stories that will make readers laugh, shiver, or perhaps both.” Booklist described it as “a beautiful reading experience” and compared it to the Twilight Zone.

In naming his second novel, American Neolithic, a Year’s Best, Kirkus described it as “a towering work of speculative fiction.” Its revised edition was compared to Orwell’s 1984 in Midwest Book Review.

Hawkins was the founding Director of the Yale Writers’ Conference, which he managed and developed from 2011 to 2015. In 2014, he started the Company of Writers, offering workshops and manuscript services to writers at all levels of experience. The Company has hosted seminars with Amy Bloom and Colum McCann, as well as a program on the intersection of literary and genre fiction with John Crowley and Louis Bayard.

Hawkins grew up in a small town in southwestern Pennsylvania. His home county was the site of the original “Night of the Living Dead.” His grandfathers and several uncles were coal miners. He graduated from Yale, where he was publisher of the Yale Daily News. He lives in Connecticut.

The King At The Edge Of The World

THE KING AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

Arthur Phillips, Random House, 2020

Guest post by writer extraordinaire, Terence Hawkins

Arthur Phillips is an exceptionally sly writer.  His celebrated debut novel, Prague, is set in Budapest.  The joke is that all its characters, late-eighties expats, long to get out of Hungary and to the Czech capital, where the post-Soviet good times roll.

Though the same whimsy colors aspects of his latest book, The King at the Edge of the World, its tone and subject are darker.  It opens in 1591.  A Turkish doctor, the sweet-tempered and essentially innocent Mahmoud Ezzedine, has been tricked into joining an Ottoman embassy to London by a court functionary with designs on his wife.  After he saves an English courtier from a seizure in Elizabeth’s presence, he is given to the Queen as a present when the embassy departs, leaving him the only Muslim in Britain.    Miserable years at court are followed by even deeper agony in the wilds of Cumberland, where he has been assigned as physician-in-residence to the epileptic noble.  ButEa things get shockingly worse.  In 1601 he is recalled from exile by Sir Robert Cecil’s espionage service.   It tasks him  with resolving the question critical to the inheritance of the childless and dying Elizabeth’s throne: Is James VI of Scotland a true Protestant or a closet Catholic?  If the latter, he cannot be permitted to succeed her.

Thus poor Mahmoud finds himself in Edinburgh, the only place on Earth more dismal for him than Northern England.  Eager to finish his mission and cash in the return to Constantinople Cecil has dangled, he hits on a stratagem: only on his deathbed will a man tell the truth about his soul.  How he gets James to his, and plucks him back, would be telling too much.  Let’s just say that the Scots King’s regrettable hygiene is involved. But the resolution is far more clever than Prague’s switcheroo.

On the way to it, Phillips convincingly portrays England’s true place in the world of 1600: pretty much nowhere.  Mahmoud longs for the warmth and vibrancy of Constantinople, its colors brighter and smells sweeter than the “diseased air and gruesome streets” of Elizabethan London.  He finds the courtiers effeminate and asks whether they are eunuchs.  Most powerfully conveyed is a sense of the island’s insignificance; the Ottomans are the powerhouse of the Mediterranean, who would less than a hundred years later reach Vienna, while England was the last stop before a boundless freezing ocean.  There are, of course, bright spots—Mahmoud’s friendship with Tudor magus John Dee, for example—but by and large the image is of Britain as a backward place.

The plot is tight and the prose lush without excesses.  Read this for a view of Elizabeth’s England through very different eyes.

Purchase here:

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The Queen’s Spy

March 1584

As they stood up Tom could see a terrible incident being played out before the court. The key player, a man who unlike the courtiers was wearing plain garb in dark fustian and worsted fabrics, had been thrown face down on the floor. Whatever was being said to him was lost on Tom but he could tell by the Queen’s wild gestures, her hands balled into fists and her eyes flashing whilst she spoke through gritted teeth, that she was terrifyingly angry. The man had his head in his hands, congealed blood where his fingernails used to be and Tom could see his swollen face was bloodied and bruised. One of the guards hauled him to his feet and held him there as the man wobbled about as if his legs would give way. Tom felt his gut quiver in fright and for once he was relieved he couldn’t hear the screaming he imagined was happening, if the wincing from the other people around the room was anything to go by.

Finally, the Queen pointed to a door hidden in one corner of the room where the panelling had opened up to reveal a stone staircase beyond and the man was hauled off by his feet, his head dragging across the floor as if he were already a corpse. Tom caught a glimpse of the man being pulled away and down the stairs, the back of his head bouncing off every step as he disappeared from view. Hot acid bile clawed at the back of Tom’s throat. What on earth was he doing here? As he and Hugh were ushered forward it took everything he had not to vomit. As he knelt again, he could see specks of blood in front of him on the floor.

He turned his attention to the Queen. She was talking to Hugh but he caught the gist of what she was saying from the occasional word. Her mood seemed to have switched in an instant – all thoughts of the poor wretch dragged away just seconds earlier gone – as she exclaimed her delight for the vanilla flavouring which she’d never tasted before and insisted the two apothecaries sought out more. She got to her feet and turned towards Tom, her small dark eyes burning into his as if she could read everything tumbling through his mind; his thoughts and his fears laid bare before this diminutive woman who was the most powerful female in the world. His legs began to shake, her supremacy and confidence rolling from her in waves. Now they were closer he could see the pale face paint she wore was disguising a harsh pockmarked complexion and together with her hooked nose she was less attractive than the portrait he’d admired as he followed Hugh along the corridor a few minutes previously. 

‘I am told by my apothecary that you are responsible for bringing this new spice, vanilla, to my court.’ Tom had to watch her thin-lipped mouth carefully as she spoke. Thankfully she seemed to consider each word for a moment before she said it and he had little trouble understanding her. He bowed again from his waist, before standing up so he could watch her face once again. ‘And you can neither hear nor speak and yet understand what those around you say?’ Tom nodded, wondering what she was thinking and if his time at the palace was about to come to an end. He watched as she made her way back to her throne behind her, the weight of her gown almost swamping her tiny frame and preventing her from moving. 

Once she was perched on her throne and her skirts carefully arranged around her by a young girl with blond hair, dressed in a lovat green dress with simple ribbon decoration who’d spent the entire time stood silently to one side, the Queen addressed him once more. 
‘You intrigue me, Tom Lutton. You cannot hear and yet you are able to understand everything that I say. I have never come across someone like you before and I wonder if you may be of use to others at my court. And not just because you make a delicious bedtime drink.’ She looked over to Hugh. ‘You are both dismissed,’ she told him, before turning her attention to Tom and adding, ‘for the present.’

The Queen’s Spy 

By Clare Marchant

Blurb

1584: Elizabeth I rules England. But a dangerous plot is brewing in court, and Mary Queen of Scots will stop at nothing to take her cousin’s throne.

There’s only one thing standing in her way: Tom, the queen’s trusted apothecary, who makes the perfect silent spy…

2021: Travelling the globe in her campervan, Mathilde has never belonged anywhere. So when she receives news of an inheritance, she is shocked to discover she has a family in England.

Just like Mathilde, the medieval hall she inherits conceals secrets, and she quickly makes a haunting discovery. Can she unravel the truth about what happened there all those years ago? And will she finally find a place to call home?

Purchase Links:

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Amazon AU

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Waterstones

Kobo

iBooks

Audio

Author Bio:

Clare Marchant

Growing up in Surrey, Clare always dreamed of being a writer. Instead, she followed a career in IT, before moving to Norfolk for a quieter life and re-training as a jeweller.

Now writing full time, she lives with her husband and the youngest two of her six children. Weekends are spent exploring local castles and monastic ruins, or visiting the nearby coast.

Social Media Links:

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Fables: A Tudor Fairytale

Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn. Their love changed history.

Max King & Daisy Colston. Not so much.

They despise each other as they play the part of the fabled lovers in a film considered the-next-big-thing about the legendary Tudor affair.

A chance encounter at a New Orleans tarot shop could seal their destiny.

Some love stories last forever. Some are tragic.

Some just…need magic

Available now on the NEW Kindle Vella platform. Get the first three episodes FREE!

Kindle Vella is a fun reading experience launched by Amazon in early July. Much like Wattpad & Radish, it offers readers a taste of a story in a serial format. Look for a new chapter of Fables: A Tudor Fairytale to be launched weekly. In keeping with the ambience of the New Orleans setting of the story, I’ll be drawing a card from my tarot deck each week and basing each episode on that card. For instance, Chapter 3 is called The High Priestess; Chapter 4 – The Chariot.

Download, like & review here.

Thank you & please enjoy!

Marbeck and the Double Dealer

England, 1600.

In the twilight years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign the nation is at war on two fronts, and fears of a Spanish invasion are never far away.

In this febrile atmosphere, spymaster Robert Cecil calls in Martin Marbeck – his best, if most undisciplined intelligencer – to unmask a double agent who is feeding secrets to the enemy. Marbeck has been under a cloud since a failed mission in Flanders, and is eager to be on the trail.

But the traitor – codename Mulberry – proves maddeningly elusive. Soon Marbeck must leave England for France and venture into the lion’s den, following a tortuous path that winds back to London. With the help of his fellow-agent, the unruly Joseph Gifford, a trap is laid to ensnare Mulberry – with deadly and unforeseen results.

The spy network has been compromised, which means all intelligence reports could be suspect, and the nation is in grave danger. Marbeck must use all his skills to confront the secret forces of the mighty Spanish empire, which pits him against the cleverest and most ruthless opponent he has ever faced.  [ENDS]

UK link to the book  www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B092JP1LSC

US link is www.amazon.com/dp/B092/dp/B092JP1LSC

BIO:

John Pilkington

Having given up trying to become a rock star after playing guitar in various bands, John Pilkington turned to writing and found his true vocation. His first works were radio plays, followed by stage plays and scripts for BBC television. But his venture into historical fiction proved crucial, and it continues to be his lifelong passion. He has published more than twenty books including seven in the Elizabethan-era Thomas the Falconer Mysteries series (now republished by Sharpe Books), four in the Marbeck spy series (Severn House) and two in a Restoration-era series featuring actress-turned-sleuth Betsy Brand (Joffe Books). His last series was the Justice Belstrang trilogy (Sharpe), set in the years 1616-1618. The Marbeck series is also republished in omnibus edition by Sharpe as Blade of Albion. 

Born in the north-west of England, he now lives in a quiet village on a tidal estuary in Devon with his partner Lisa, and has a son who is a musician and psychologist. When not at his desk he may be found walking by the river, doing a little carpentry, watching rugby or listening to music – and reading, of course. He is currently sifting ideas for his next project.  

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The Death of Hans Holbein

by Franny Moyle

What do we know of Holbein’s Death?

Leonardo da Vinci died in the Chateau de Clos Lucé, apparently in the arms of the French King, Francis I. However, the place and circumstances of Leonardo’s near contemporary Hans Holbein the Younger, beloved by Henry VIII, has eluded art historians. As Holbein’s most recent biographer, I found myself facing this puzzle and to my surprise, I discovered that a simple mistake has allowed crucial details about Holbein’s death, once in common currency, to vanish from history.

Hans Holbein spent the last decade of his life, from 1532 to 1543, living in London, painting the defining portraits of the Tudor court. A celebrity avant la lettre, he was honoured with the title of Henry VIII’s ‘King’s Painter’.

Records from 1541 locate Holbein paying taxes in the parish of St Andrew Undershaft, in Aldgate.  His will, dated two years later, cites his home in the same location. My research suggests the painter may have had a prestigious address there, shared by Sir Thomas Audley, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor

.

Hans Holbein the Younger, self portrait.

Audley has significant property interests in Aldgate. In 1533 he acquired Holy Trinity Priory there, and converted this former religious institution into a prestigious urban estate which became known as Cree-Church Mansion, so named after the nearby church St Katherine Cree. This gated community comprised not just Audley’s considerable dwelling, but leasehold residential properties, along with business premises. Audley enjoyed his London mansion until his death in 1544. Then, when the Fourth Duke of Norfolk married Audley’s daughter Margaret in 1558 the complex passed into his ownership and was called Duke’s Place thereafter.

Evidence of Holbein’s professional association with Audley lies in the miniature he painted of the Chancellor’s wife, Elizabeth, probably in 1538. Londoners have long believed that Holbein lived and died on Audley’s property at Cree-Church Mansion. This was noted as late as 1827, in the History & Antiquities of London. When I checked old maps, although the majority of the Mansion complex fell into the parish of St Katherine Cree, its westernmost flank fell into the parish of St Andrew Undershaft. So Holbein could indeed have been a parishioner of the latter, and part of the Cree-Church Mansion community, were he a leaseholder in Berry St.

So why has recent scholarship ignored this? George Vertue, the 18th century engraver who copied Holbein’s work, believed Holbein died in Cree-Church Mansion. But Vertue referred to it as it was known in his day– Duke’s Place. The art historian Horace Walpole therefore dismissed Vertue’s claim, on the basis that Duke’s Place dated to 1558, after Holbein’s death, and noting Holbein’s association with the Third Duke – whom he portrayed – not the Fourth. In his Holbein biography of 1867, Ralph Wornum repeated Vertue’s claim, and demolished it with the same arguments. With considerable oversight both Walpole and Wornum failed to grasp that Holbein could have lived in Duke’s Place in its earlier incarnation, when it was known as Cree-Church Mansion. But Wornum’s word was apparently the last, and thus the fascinating connection between Holbein and Audley’s building became lost.

If one mystery is solved, another remains. Why is there no gravestone commemorating the great Holbein? The answer is the plague. Shortly after Henry VIII married his sixth wife Catherine Parr, in July 1543, London was stricken. Aldgate was the epicentre of the epidemic. Plague pits were dug because local churches could not cope with individual burials. On October 7th 1543 Holbein wrote his will. On 29th November it was executed. Whether Holbein succumbed to the pestilence or not (and surely he did?), any burial at this moment would have been communal.

The pit for those who died in Cree Church Mansion was at St Katherine Cree. So was it here Holbein was laid to rest in the late Autumn of 1543? Though no record of Holbein’s burial survives, once again supporting evidence emerges if one looks hard enough. In 1668 Mayor Payne Fisher made a catalogue of tombs and inscriptions in London’s churches. In St Katherine Cree he noted one to ‘Hans Holben’, most likely part of a wider list of the plague dead. Perhaps made in haste, much like the burials, this inscription simply wore away? Maybe it was removed during church renovations in 1878?

Holbein’s death lacks the romance of Leonardo’s. He did not live a long life, nor die in a French chateau. He certainly did not enjoy the company of a king in his final hours. Holbein died at forty six, in the midst of plague ridden London. But he was perhaps in an English mansion, with the King’s Lord Chancellor looking on.

Franny Moyle is the author of 

The King’s Painter: The Life and Times of Hans Holbein 

published by Head of Zeus.

Contents shared with special thanks to Aspects of History

Steve Veerapen, Writing, Scotland and Tudor History

Please welcome Steve Veerapen to All Things Tudor. Like most great relationships, we met on Twitter. He is from Glasgow, my husband’s home town, and it has been wonderful working with him. Recently, he took a few minutes to share insight into his fascinating career as a writer and historian.

What prompted you to choose to write about Mary Queen of Scots & Lord Darnley in your first book?

In my case, I was following the old strategy of ‘write what you know’. I’d been researching and teaching this period for years and it seemed fertile ground for trying fiction. Once I knew I wanted to write about Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley, the choice of characters dictated the period.

What is your approach to researching your novels? Has the process changed over the years?

A great question! My approach is generally to start with a setting or event and then narrow research down to books and articles which cover those days, weeks, or months in depth. I try to also dip into research material which covers lifestyles in the period more generally. I’ve always tried to approach researching fiction in the same way I approach nonfiction (though I can get away with more in the former!). Academic study really teaches you to narrow in when researching.

Which other historical novelists do you admire?

There are loads. My friend Marie Macpherson (who has worked wonders in bringing John Knox to life), E C Fremantle, Paul Walker, John Pilkington, Patricia Finney, Anna Castle. And of course my favourite author, Daphne du Maurier, was no mean historical novelist.

When first sketching out an idea for a novel, which comes first – the protagonist, plot or history?

Protagonist and broad plot usually come had in hand (sometimes one or the other skipping ahead) and history last. Once I know what’s going to happen and to whom, I fit it into specific historical contexts.

Do you have a daily routine as a writer?

I don’t have a daily routine per se, but when I have a book on the go, I tend to write every day for a few hours. Each book seems to bring its own routine!

If you could choose to meet any historical figure from your period, who would it be and why?

I think it would have to be Mary Queen of Scots. I’d love to find out exactly what she knew of her husband’s murder (and what she really looked like – for the same reason, I’d love to get a glimpse of Anne Boleyn!).

Find Steven’s works here:

UK

US

About Steven Veerapen

Steven Veerapen was born in Glasgow and raised in Paisley. Pursuing an interest in the sixteenth century, he was awarded a first-class Honours degree in English, focussing his dissertation on representations of Henry VIII’s six wives. He then received a Masters in Renaissance studies, and a Ph.D. investigating Elizabethan slander.

He writes historical fiction set in the early modern period, covering the reigns of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James VI and I; additionally, he has written nonfiction studies of Mary Queen of Scots’ relationship with her brother; Elizabeth I and her last favourite, the Earl of Essex; and an academic study of slander and sedition in the reign of Elizabeth.

He has also published a variety of academic articles in literary and historical journals and magazines and teaches English literature at the University of Strathclyde. Steven remains fascinated by the glamour and ghastliness of life in the 1500s and 1600s, and has a penchant for myths, mysteries and murders in an age in which the law was as slippery as those who defied it.

Steven’s latest work is The Queen’s Gold: A Christopher Marlowe Spy Thriller

England, 1585.

The Sparrowhawk, one of Drake’s lost treasure ships, is found wrecked in Devon. Rumours spread through England of its booty, including a mysterious treasure: El Sol Dorado.

Thomas Lewgar, the resentful roommate of aspiring playwright Christopher Marlowe, hears of the rumours. He discovers, too, that the boastful Marlowe is engaged in a web of espionage.

Intrigued and repelled by the irreverent Marlowe, Lewgar joins the poet in seeking the lost treasure. If they can find it, they will be richly rewarded by queen and court.

But they are not the only ones hunting the prize.

A crooked courtier, Henry Howton, has also heard the rumours. In the secret employ of the Spanish, he hopes to find the treasure himself – and he will stop at nothing to get his hands on it.

Racing their Spanish-backed enemy and his dangerous associates, Lewgar and Marlowe must discover the strange history of the ghostly wreck. Their journey will lead them into the rotting carcass of the Sparrowhawk, into the presence of sea-dogs Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh, and through the ravaged home of spiritualist Dr John Dee.

Betrayal, falsehood, and deceit lie in wait.

Can they discover the lost treasure and unravel the mystery of El Sol Dorada before the Spanish?

Praise for Steven Veerapen:

A Dangerous Trade

‘A slow-burn character driven spy story that grips like a thumbscrew tightened by twist after twist towards the end – Le Carre transported to the 1560’s. Brilliant work, based in impressively wide research and the kind of competition that I and a good number of others could well do without!’ Peter Tonkin, author of The Ides

The Abbey Close (Book One of the Simon Danforth Mysteries)

‘The author balances gimlet-eyed research with narrative drive and clever reveals… Danforth is a strong yet torn central character… I look forward to reading the second book in the series.’ Richard Foreman, author of The First Crusade series

Blood Feud: Mary Queen of Scots and The Earl of Moray

‘Much-needed analysis of a sinister sibling rivalry.’ Marie Macpherson

Elizabeth and Essex: Power, Passion and Politics

‘A sensitive and lively account of one of the most politically significant relationships of the Elizabethan age.’ Lisa Hopkins

Assassination

‘Both a crime and spy thriller.’ Richard Foreman, author of The First Crusade series

‘From its tense beginning to satisfying end, Steven Veerapen skilfully weaves historical fact into a gripping tale, making a superb contribution to 17th century fiction.’ John Pilkington, author of The Ruffler’s Child

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