Charles Spencer talks about his love of history, his current project-Henry I and The White Ship, and the next thing.
What first attracted you to the period or periods you work in?
I gravitate to stories and people from the past who, I believe, have been wrongly lost to the shadows of History. Period is not such a driver for me – although my previous four books were from the Stuart dynasty. My latest work, The White Ship, harks back 900 years, and I have enjoyed tiptoeing into the Middle Ages.
Can you tell us a little more about how you research? Has the process changed over the years?
I read a lot on the period, then on the story, before taking notes. I start off with a rough idea of the number of chapters there might be, and I then have lever arch files, broken down into those chapters, and put my research into each section as I go. I used to write it all out with pen and ink, because I thought the contents went in deeper. But now I type it all up on my computer….
The common phrase is that history is written by the victors. Do you think this is true?
Official history may be written in that way, but all participants leave a footprint for later generations. I believe it’s the historian’s role to wade through it all, and get to the pertinent points for the reader. With a conflict such as the English Civil Wars – the subject of my three previous books – there is an enormous amount of propaganda from both the main sides, and from others.
Are there any historians who helped shaped your career? Similarly, can you recommend three history books which budding historians should read?
I loved reading Barry Coward’s The Stuart Age, at school. And he was guest examiner for the main history test at Eton. I got to meet him, and he further piqued my interest in his era. I would recommend Seeds of Change by Henry Hobhouse, The Face of Battle by John Keegan and Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas, because between them – they give a good basis for economic, warrior and social historical study.
If you could meet any figure from history, who would it be and why? Also, if you could witness any event throughout history, what would it be?
I would like to meet Henry I. Such an underappreciated monarch, he opportunistically bound together England and Normandy (as his father, the Conqueror, had managed to do), cleverly relied on merit rather than bloodline in his key men, and cannily set up the Exchequer, to see the Crown was getting all that was due to it. He had a fun side, with his court turning to learning and open enjoyment in the afternoons. He enjoyed life, while taking his duties as king-duke very seriously.
I would like to have witnessed the Restoration of Charles II. It seems that London has never seen celebrations like it, since. Relief at the end of the bloodiest war suffered in Britain, mixed with enormous hope for the future.
If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, either as a student or when you first started out as a writer, what would it be?
I wish I had done more work at Oxford. I am aware that that is not a very original sentence!
Can you tell us a little bit more about the project you are currently working on?
I am making inroads into a 20th century story that has intrigued me for a few years now. I’ve been jotting notes down for all that time. There are now more than 700 paragraphs of those notes, and I need to see if they work together.
SOLD OUT: Charles Spencer to appear at Chalke Valley History Festival on June 23.
The White Ship: Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I’s Dream
King Henry I was sailing for England in triumph after four years of fighting the French. Congregating with the king at the port of Barfleur on that freezing night was the cream of Anglo-Norman society, including the only legitimate heir to the throne. By 1120, Henry was the most formidable ruler in Europe with an enviable record on the battlefield, immense lands and wealth and unprecedented authority in his kingdoms. Everything he had worked for was finally achieved, and he was ready to hand it on to his beloved son, William Ætheling.
Henry I and his retinue set out first. The White Ship – considered the fastest afloat – would follow, carrying the young prince. Spoilt and arrogant, William had plied his comrades and crew with drink from the minute he stepped aboard. It was the middle of the night when the drunken helmsman rammed the ship into rocks. There would be only one survivor from the gilded roll call of passengers…
Charles Spencer evokes this tragic and brutal story of the Normans from Conquest to Anarchy. With the heir dead, a civil war of untold violence erupted, a game of thrones which saw families turn in on each other with English and Norman barons, rebellious Welsh princes and the Scottish king all playing a part in a bloody, desperate scrum for power.
Charles Spencer was educated at Eton College, and took a degree in Modern History at Magdalen College, University of Oxford. He then worked in 30 countries as a reporter for the American network NBC for a decade from 1986.
He is the author of seven History books, including the Sunday Times bestsellers Blenheim: Battle for Europe (shortlisted for History Book of the Year, at the 2005 National Book Awards), and Killers of the King (the second highest-selling History book in the UK, in 2014).
Charles is also the 9th Earl Spencer, inheriting Althorp in 1992. He founded the Althorp Literary Festival. He has written for a number of UK and US publications including The Spectator, The Financial Times, and Vanity Fair.
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.
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 Languedoc, Witchcraft, The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII, A 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 Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Times, The Daily Mail, BBC History Magazine, and the Times Literary Supplement.
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.
The last Tudor monarch, Queen Elizabeth I, was the daughter
of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Her early life went from Princess to being
declared illegitimate after her mother was executed. At one point, her sister
Mary had her placed in The Tower on charges of treason. Elizabeth was never
expected to rule England, but she did. Many would say her reign is unmatched in
the history of England. She became Gloriana…Good Queen Bess…The Virgin Queen.
The years of 1558–1603 saw English art and high culture reach a zenith known as the English Renaissance. Elizabethan music experienced a shift in popularity from sacred to secular music and saw an increase in instrumental music. Professional musicians were employed by the Church of England, the nobility, and the rising middle-class. Elizabeth I loved music and was an accomplished musician, noted as played the lute, virginal, and gitterne-an early form of the guitar, along with various other instruments. She believed dancing was a great form of physical exercise and employed musicians to play for her. During her reign, it became a common practice to employee musicians. The interests of the queen were expected to be adopted by her subjects. All noblemen were expected to be proficient in playing the lute and young women in society were expected to be skilled in vocal or musical training as part of their education. Music printing led to a publishing market for those who received permission from the queen.
Even though England broke with the Roman Catholic Church in
1534, English did not become the official language of the Church of England
until the reign of Elizabeth’s stepbrother Edward VI. Queen Elizabeth
re-established the Church of England following the rule of Mary I, and
introduced measures of Catholic tolerance. The most famous composers for the
Anglican Church during Queen Elizabeth’s reign were Thomas Tallis and his
student William Byrd. Both composers were Catholics and produced vocal works in
both Latin and English.
Secular vocal works became wildly popular during the Elizabethan Era with the introduction of works from Italian musicians.The music of Italian madrigal composers inspired musicians who are now known as the English Madrigal School. Thomas Morley, a student of William Byrd’s, published collections of madrigals which included his compositions, and those of his contemporaries. The most famous of these is entitled The Triumphs of Oriana, which was made in honour of Queen Elizabeth.
Instrumental music was popular during the Elizabethan Era. The most popular solo instruments of the time were the virginal and the lute. The virginal was a variant of the harpsichord, and one of Elizabeth’s personal favorites. The lute was the most popular instrument of the era. Lutes could be played as solo instruments or as accompaniment for singers. Compositions of the latter variety were known as lute song. The most popular Elizabethan composer for the lute was John Dowland. Contemporary readers will recognize this name as Elvis Costello included a recording of Dowland’s song “Can she excuse my wrongs” as a bonus track on the 2006 re-release of his The Juliet Letters.
In October 2006, Sting, released an album featuring
Dowland’s songs titled Songs from the Labyrinth, in collaboration with Edin
Karamazov on lute and archlute. He states that he has been fascinated by the
music of John Dowland for over twenty five years. In order to give a feeling of
the tension and intrigues of life in late Elizabethan England, Sting recites
portions of a letter written by Dowland to Sir Robert Cecil in 1593.
Henry VIII’s grandmother and his father (Lady Margaret
Beaufort and King Henry VII) were devout Catholics, yet they were highly
superstitious. Both kept a retinue of soothsayers and diviners in their
employment, along with their physicians. They aimed to be of one accord with
the planets and signs from the heavens. Elizabeth I even chose the exact moment
of her coronation based on an astrology chart drawn by her physician John Dee.
The Tudors believed that “as above, so below”. If the royal humors were
balanced within the body, their body would be in tune with the heavenly realm.
We see how the love of music shaped the lives of three extremely influential
queens during the Tudor era. We may no longer believe that music is needed to
balance our ‘humours’ however the importance of music and dance, in all its
various forms, continues to shape contemporary society.
Originally published April 2016 by History.Net
Sources for Medicine, Magic and Music: The Healing Properties of Music Observed in the Lives of Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots & Elizabeth I, Parts 1-3.
Calendar of State Papers, Scotland, page 613.
Buchanan, George. Rerum Scoticarum Historia. Edinburgh,
Hawkins, Sir John, A General History of the Science and
Practice of Music, Volume 2. J. Alfred Novello, 1853.
Ives, Eric. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn. Blackwell
Page, Christopher. The Guitar in Tudor England: A Social and
Musical History. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Starkey, David. Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne.
Harper Perennial, 2007.
Weir, Alison. The Life of Elizabeth I. Ballantine Books,
Oxford University, Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera.
Special thanks to this site for allowing glimpses into the astrological charts
compiled by the Elizabethan astrologers/physicians, John Dee and Simon Forman.
“500 Years Later” by
CR Chalmers and EJ Chaloner, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Royal
Society of Medicine Press.
“King Henry VIII’s Medical World” by Dr. Elizabeth T Hurren,
Senior Lecturer History of Medicine at Oxford Brookes University.
Mary, Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart or Mary I of
Scotland, was Queen of Scotland from December 1542 to July 1567 and Queen
Consort of France from July 1559 until December 1560.
Mary was the daughter of King James V of Scotland and Marie
of Guise, a member of the House of Guise, which played a significant role in
16th-century French politics. Mary was the only surviving legitimate child of
King James V and she acceded to the throne when her father died. She was six
days old. She spent the majority of her childhood in France while Scotland was
ruled by regents along, and in 1558 she married the Dauphin of France. He
became King Francis II in 1559, and Mary was briefly Queen Consort, until his
death in December 1560. The young widow returned to Scotland, arriving in Leith
on August 19, 1561. Four years later, she married her first cousin, Henry
Stuart, Lord Darnley, but their union was unhappy. In February 1567, his
residence was destroyed by an explosion and Darnley was found murdered in the
James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, was thought to be the
master-mind behind Darnley’s death, however he was acquitted of the charge in
April 1567. Twelve days later he married Mary. It has always been a question as
to whether the marriage was one of force or whether she agreed or not. Another
theory is that she was in complete agreement with the marriage.
Following an uprising against the couple, Mary was
imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. On July 24, 1567, she was forced to abdicate
in favor of James, her one-year-old son by Darnley, her deceased husband. After
an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, she fled southwards seeking the
protection of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Mary had previously
claimed Elizabeth’s throne as her own and was considered the legitimate
sovereign of England by many English Catholics. Unsure of what to do with the
capricious Mary, and with many of her counselors perceiving her as a threat,
Elizabeth had her confined in manor houses in the interior of England. After
eighteen and a half years in custody, Mary was found guilty of plotting to assassinate
Elizabeth, and was subsequently beheaded.
Mary remains a controversial figure in history. There are a few things we know for certain. She was tall, citations note her height at 5’ 10” to six feet, her grandmother was King Henry VIII’s sister Margaret, she was the mother of James I and VI of England and Scotland, and she was considered beautiful in her own time and by our contemporary standards. As an old adage states, someone that beautiful has to be guilty, and Mary Stuart is quite possibly the best example of that statement in history. He married her handsome English cousin Henry, Lord Darnley, a reckless match which she later regretted.
She loved music and was skilled at playing both the lute and
viola. Two of her favorite activities were music and dancing, which was shunned
by the strict Protestant Calvinist beliefs of John Knox, the head of the
Scottish Kirk (Church). The powerful Scottish Lairds (Nobles) were increasingly
becoming members of the Scottish Kirk and frowned upon her practices as well. A
truce of sorts was reached in which Mary and her court could enjoy their
Catholic Masses in private. The young Queen and her entourage, known as the
Four Maries, were allowed to enjoy their masquerades and merry making within
the confines of the castles at the Queen’s state events. Knox felt that the
young queen, and her love of dance and music had turned the royal enclaves into
brothels, rather than places for honest women.
The turning point for in Mary Stuart’s life came with the
death of David Rizzio. He was an Italian courtier and musician, who rose to
become the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary’s husband, Lord
Darnley, is said to have been jealous of their friendship. Darnley joined in a
conspiracy of Protestant nobles, led by Patrick Ruthven, Lord Ruthven, to
murder him. This murder became the catalyst for the downfall of Darnley, and it
had serious consequences for Mary’s turbulent career.
Rizzio, whose name appears in records as David Riccio di
Pancalieri in Piemonte went from Turin, Italy to the Court of the Duke of
Savoy, at Nice, France. Finding no opportunities for advancement there, he was
employed by the Count de Moretto in 1561, who was leading a diplomatic mission
to Scotland. Once in Scotland, Rizzio, found that there were no further
opportunities for him and he was dismissed from service. He ingratiated himself
with the Queen’s French musicians. James Melville, a personal friend of Rizzio,
said that “Her Majesty had three valets in her chamber, who sung three parts,
and wanted a bass to sing the fourth part”. Rizzio was considered an excellent
singer, which brought him to the attention of the Queen.
Having grown wealthy under her patronage, he became the secretary for relations with France in 1564, after the previous secretary of the post retired. This post attracted a quarterly salary of £20. Ambitious-seeing himself as all but a Secretary of State, Catholic and a foreigner, Rizzio was much too close to the Queen. Rumors swirled that Mary was having an affair with the Italian Fiddler, as some called him and that her child was possibly his.
Jealousy on the part of the vain and arrogant Lord Darnley
led to his murder in the Queen’s presence, in her supper chamber in the Palace
of Holyroodhouse after the royal guards were overpowered and the palace was
turned over to the control of the rebels. Commanded by Patrick Ruthven, they
demanded Rizzio be handed over. The Queen refused. Rizzio then hid behind Mary
but was seized and stabbed to death in the presence of the Queen. He was
stabbed 56 times on March 9, 1566 by Lord Darnley and his co-conspirators. The
Queen was seven months pregnant at the time of the murder.
After this violent struggle, Rizzio’s body was thrown down
the main staircase, stripped of its jewels and fine clothes. He was buried
within two hours in the cemetery of Holyrood. Records state that his body was
removed by the Queen’s orders and deposited in the sepulchre of the Kings of
Mary’s turbulent life continued. Lord Darnley was dead with a year, and a few years later the beautiful Scottish Queen escaped into England in hopes of being rescued from her own nobles by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. This ended badly as well, with her execution in 1587 on charges of high treason against her cousin. And it all began because she wanted a fourth musician in her chamber. It should be noted that her son was born heathy and although he was taken from her at an early age, he eventually become King James VI and I, the first Stewart King of Great Britain.
Next stop in Medicine, Magic and Music: The Healing Properties of Music observed in the Lives of Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots & Elizabeth I is a look into how music and the arts flourished in the reign of Elizabeth I.
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,
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.
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.
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,
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,
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.
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,
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,
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,
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,
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Brigitte Webster is a culinary historian with a teaching degree in history & cookery. Four years ago she finally followed her dream of sharing Tudor history with like-minded people and swapped the classroom for her home, which she spent sixteen years into turning into a private Tudor heaven. There she welcomes small groups to experience Tudor history through material culture and actual home-made Tudor food in an all authentic Tudor residence.
Brigitte has devoted the last four years to the re-creation of late medieval-circa 1700 recipes from England, France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain. Each re-created dish was photographed and given to visitors to taste. Some recipes had modern measurements and cooking instructions added.
When Brigitte began to share her re-creations on social media, she noticed that there was a genuine demand for recipes. People started asking for a cook book. Finally, popular Tudor Janet Wertman, author of The Seymour Saga who, while visiting Brigitte and experiencing her food, encouraged Brigitte to collate recipes into a book.
A Banquet at the Old Hall is a hardback, limited edition recipe collection by Brigitte and invites Tudor history fans to participate in 16th century cooking. Hopefully it will inspire readers to create the recipes and in doing so, connect with people from the past as well as Brigitte and family at the Old Hall! The book features 21 recipes, each one showing a picture of the finished dish, and also gives the reader an insight in what the banqueting course entailed. Some recipes have their original text displayed to help the reader appreciate the challenges in following an 16th century recipe which regularly assumes certain steps. Each modernized recipe also gives the details of the original source.
According to Brigitte, “With this book, it is hoped that even total beginners and not very keen cooks are tempted to re-create a little bit of Tudor history for the forthcoming festivities.”
Brigitte also offers Tudor cooking classes on days and weekends, and is always happy to give advice from a distance for those who get a bit stuck in the depth of Tudor recipes.
At the moment she is busy translating an exciting 16th century royal Austrian recipe collection into English and further recipe books are in the pipe line. For the autumn of 2020, YouTube Tudor cookery clips are planned.
The cook books are only available directly from Brigitte at firstname.lastname@example.org and retail at $50 plus shipping. Each book is signed and can include any message of your choice.
If you are interested in staying at the Old Hall for a Tudor cooking experience or a Tudor History vacation, you may get in touch via the website:
Please welcome Danegeld Historic Jewllery and the owner, George Easton to All Things Tudor. If this jewelry doesn’t tempt you, I don’t know…
The mission of Danegold is to accurately research and reproduce period metalwork. According to the owner, “I always try to make my pieces as close to the originals as possible using the techniques and materials of the time in question.”
Founded in 1997, Danegeld’s produce copies of historic metalwork focusing mainly on the dark age and medieval period. The products-jewelry and metalwork is available in all metals-from gold to pewter
They make replica jeweler from all periods of history but mainly the dark ages and medieval periods. “I am equally happy casting a bronze age axe in an open forge as i would be traditionally setting diamonds in a victorian necklace. I am a trained jeweller and have been working commercially in the trade for the last 16 years, producing jewellery and metalwork for collectors, film and TV production companies, museums and shops. I have a strong interest in history and a keen eye for detail, having trained in graphic design and illustration prior to my jewellery career i am happy to be able to combine them all together to produce fine pieces of jewellery.”
George’s resume is impressive. Twenty one years working with precious metals, fourteen of which have been spent running Danegeld.
In his own words, “I originally trained in illustration and design before specialising in jewellery. Combine this with my interest in history and you have a full research, design and production service. i have an extensive historical library and a passion for my subject. Since finishing my studies i have worked with several companies and most recently producing costume jewellery for designers and high street stores; Vivienne Westwood, Agent Provocateur, Paul Smith, Ted Baker, British Museum and others. I have also worked on pieces for the Harry Potter films, several of my own pieces have also featured on TV and Film. Most recently I have supplied pieces for Killing Eve, Victoria and Abdul and Good Omens. The designs on the website cover the 1st century to the 20th century. Almost all the pieces are copies of actual jewellery finds from museums and the remainder are designs of the time from wood or stone placed in a jewellery context. All of my pieces are hand made in my workshop in Sussex, they are either hand forged or cast. Cast pieces are mostly moulded from metal master models, however sometimes it’s more practical to carve the masters from wax. Commissions are always welcome, my interests and abilities cover every time period , so please don’t hesitate to ask for a quote on anything you may require, however out of period it may seem. “
You may contact him with any questions.
Please follow him on Facebook for all his latest news!
For over half the sixteenth century Scotland was ruled by children. In an age when the monarch’s will was the axis upon which political life turned and his or her authority was the source of all justice, periods without an adult ruler, known as royal minorities, were dangerous times indeed. Of course, six-day olds or four year olds did not actually control the country, but the question of who should rule on their behalf was a fraught one – and the person who answered it rarely satisfied everyone. Contemporaries said that Regents ‘bore the person of the monarch’ – that is, they were the monarch for the time. This total control over royal power made their rule potentially dangerous.
Because of a preference for appointing the adult heir to the throne as regent, usually, regents were men: six out of eight in the sixteenth century. However, female regents could be appointed in their husband’s will, or if a monarch was living abroad and needed to delegate their power during their absence. This is what happened in 1554: Mary, Queen of Scots was living in France and, since she was betrothed to the French heir to the throne, would be for the foreseeable future. Claiming that (aged just over eleven) she was now an adult, Mary ordered that James Hamilton, earl of Arran should give up the regency to her mother, Marie de Guise. Since the scheme was really masterminded by the powerful Henri II of France, the Scots had little choice but to agree.
Marie de Guise followed in the footsteps of other Stewart wives and mothers in the previous century, such as Joan Beaufort, mother of James II, and Mary of Gueldres, mother of James III. Between 1513 and 1514 Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII of England’s big sister and the widow of James IV, was regent for her son James V – she lost power when her remarriage meant she passed into the legal control of her new husband. But Marie de Guise was different: all these regents were only ever temporary rulers, who would give power when their child came of age. As Mary would remain in France with her husband, Marie de Guise was a new kind of regent, a permanent ruler on behalf of a perpetually absent monarch.
Despite widespread anxiety about women rulers, a dowager queen was a sound choice as regent for the simple reason that she loved her children. Shakespeare didn’t write Richard III in a vacuum and the fear that an ambitious uncle would take a leaf from Richard III’s book, kill his nephew and steal the crown, was frequently voiced. By contrast, it was assumed a mother would protect her children – and female regents manipulated that rhetoric to their own advantage, perhaps never more skilfully than Catherine de Medici, regent for her young son Charles IX of France.
However, Queen Mothers were not only defined by their gender. Their nationality posed problems for their candidacy as a regent. Catherine de Medici was Italian. Margaret Tudor was English, and Marie de Guise herself was French. Could a foreign-born woman really have Scotland’s interests at heart? For Marie de Guise, the mixture of gender and nationality combined with the extra-flammable ingredient of religious tension in a lethal cocktail which eventually caused her downfall.
Ironically, given that Marie would end her life as the hated face of French power in Scotland, in France she would have been regarded as slightly foreign. Her father, Claude, Duke of Guise, was one of the Princes Étrangers (stranger Princes) at the French court – this title denoted membership of an independent sovereign dynasty. They were descendants of the independent Dukes of Lorraine, whose lands would only be incorporated into France in the eighteenth century.
Marie arrived in Scotland in 1538 to marry James V – it was the second marriage for both of them. He had previously been married to Madeline, the sickly daughter of Francois I. Marie had in fact attended their marriage in Paris, accompanied by her first husband, Louis, duc de Longueville.
As Queen consort she brought considerable cultural capital to Scotland, corresponding with relatives in France to arrange for craftsmen to come over and remodel the royal palaces, and securing technical know-how for the Scottish mining projects. References to her ‘chariot’ suggest she may have been the owner of the first, or at least one of the first, carriages in Scotland. She also fulfilled her main job as Queen consort: to get pregnant and produce, preferably male, children, although sadly two boys she had in 1540 and 1541 lived only a short time.
In other words, Marie de Guise was a model Queen consort, but there is no evidence to suggest that she sought political influence. After James V died in 1542 no-one suggested that his widow should become regent: Marie de Guise’s job was to bring up the new Queen.
This poses an interesting question: how did Guise move from an apparently apolitical royal spouse in 1542 to becoming regent and ruling Scotland?
The process had begun by 1544 when she and a group of the nobility dissatisfied with the regent Arran, proposed a scheme that she should share power with him. Unsurprisingly, he rejected this and for a few months Marie de Guise tried to head up an alternative government. However, this failed – even the English, with whom the Scots were at war, were reluctant to negotiate with her. She and Arran made it up by the autumn and seem to have managed a working relationship of sorts until she took power in 1554.
Even when Guise was part of Arran’s regime, the fact she controlled a third of the crown lands posed problems for the regent. Crown revenues were reduced, and a rival source of patronage had the potential to eat away at his support. However, she enjoyed the trust of the King of France and in fighting the ongoing war against the English French support was crucial. This increased after 1548 when the Treaty of Haddington between France and Scotland promised French support for the war effort and arranged for Mary’s marriage to the Dauphin, Francois. This treaty meant that Mary would be absent from Scotland on a permanent basis and so created the circumstances which eventually developed into Guise becoming regent.
Many historians identify Marie de Guise’s visit to France from August 1550 until November 1551 as another key moment in her gradual ascent to the regency. Accompanied by many Scottish nobles, Guise certainly played a central role in French court life during this period and negotiated continued French support for Scotland. What is less clear, however, is whether these negotiations included discussion of the possibility that she herself would become regent, and, if so, whether Guise herself arrived in France ready to discuss this, or whether it emerged during the conversations.
Once she arrived back in Scotland, however, it was only the rapidly changing international situation in late 1553 which made the possibility of Guise becoming regent a reality. Mary Tudor’s accession to the throne of England meant the strengthening of France’s great rivals, the Hapsburgs, Mary Tudor’s maternal relations and the family from whom she sought a husband. Scotland needed to be bound more securely to France and following months of intense negotiations Arran agreed to resign the regency.
Mary’s enemies would later claim that she subverted the ceremony which appointed her regent by wearing the crown which belonged to her daughter – and that to make matters worse it was the French king’s representative who placed it on her head. Her arch-rival John Knox remarked that seeing Marie crowned in this way was ‘as seemly a sight (if men had eyes) as to place a saddle on the back of an unruly cow’. But, there is no corroborative evidence for this story and the only authors who mention it were not in Edinburgh when Guise became regent. It’s far more likely that this was either a fabrication or a wilful manipulation of the fact that the crown was moved from in front of Arran to Guise to symbolise the transfer of power. This story was designed to signal Guise’s dangerous ambition and so that she was dangerously unsuitable to rule.
Nevertheless, for the six years of her regency, she took her duties as regent seriously. For example, she held numerous justice ayres – peripatetic justice courts which moved around Scotland – this was particularly significant because dispensing justice was understood to be one of the key aspects of being a good ruler.
Even so, by 1555 the reality of an absentee Queen and a French regent who appointed French advisers to key posts was beginning to bite home. Parliament passed an act complaining that many Scots had been ‘speiking aganis the quenis grace [Marie de Guise] and sawing evill brute anent [spreading evil rumours about] the Maist Christin King of Frances subjectis send in this realme for the commoun weill’ and laying down heavy penalties for those who opposed it. In October 1557 the nobility refused Guise’s orders to invade England – they claimed that this was not in the best interests of Scotland, but only an attempt to please the French. John Knox reported that Guise was furious, but other evidence shows she and the nobility did manage to rebuild relations and remained on friendly terms for another year. When they did desert her, and explained to the public in Scotland and potential allies abroad why they were resisting their lawfully appointed regent, the nobles cited their religious concerns but, more importantly, their fear of French rule overturning Scottish laws and an eventual French conquest of Scotland. Was there any truth in this? Marie always denied it. However, she had appointed trusted French officials to major roles in Scotland. She also at times viewed Scotland as a country which needed to be changed, and once wrote to her brother ‘God knows…what a life I lead. It is no small matter to bring a young nation to a state of perfection’.
From September 1558 onwards the growing Protestant party in Scotland became increasingly vocal. But it was only in May 1559 when this spilled over into violent rebellion against the regent – and even after this, it took many months of temporary compromise for key nobles to desert Guise. John Knox’s History of the Reformation in Scotland is one of the most important sources we have for this period. However, the fact he was absent from Scotland for much of Guise’s regency, combined with his obvious self-interest in the events he discussed, also makes it one of the most problematic. His attitude to Marie de Guise can only be described as venomous. For instance, he claimed that Marie de Guise persuaded the reformers to agree to Mary’s marriage to the Dauphin. Once they had agreed, she ‘began to spew furthe and disclose the latent venom of her dowble harte’. When the Archbishop of St Andrews executed the reformer Walter Milne, Knox said that Guise ‘as a woman born to dissemble and deceave’ was so persuasive in claiming that she had no foreknowledge of the execution that the Protestants, ‘suspecting nothing that the Queen consented to the foirnamed murder’ continued to seek out her support.
Knox’s need to justify the rebellion which he encouraged against Marie de Guise lead him to portray her as a dangerous villain, a French, Catholic, Woman, driven by ambition, which led her to bribe, deceive and corrupt those she encountered. It’s impossible to know which of these concerns prompted her subjects to rise against her in rebellion, but, it’s clear that by 1559 the exercise of power had transformed this once conforming Queen consort into a very dangerous woman indeed.
Amy Blakeway is a lecturer in History at the University of Kent. She is interested in the power and politics of sixteenth-century Scotland and the author of ‘Regency in Sixteenth-Century Scotland’. She currently lives in Canterbury but comes to Edinburgh whenever she can.
Article courtesy of the Dangerous Women Project, University of Edinburgh. Please contact Dr Ben Fletcher-Watson with any questions.
Attractive, wealthy and influential, Katherine Willoughby is one of the most unusual ladies of the Tudor court. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Katherine knows all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and his son Edward.
When her father dies, Katherine becomes the ward of Tudor knight, Sir Charles Brandon. Her Spanish mother, Maria de Salinas, is Queen Catherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting, so it is a challenging time for them all when King Henry marries the enigmatic Anne Boleyn.
Following Anne’s dramatic downfall, Katherine marries Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen. After the short reign of young Catherine Howard, and the death of Jane Seymour, Katherine and Brandon are chosen to welcome Anna of Cleves as she arrives in England.
When the royal marriage is annulled, Katherine’s good friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king’s sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform. Katherine’s young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince Edward, and become his friends, but when Edward dies his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen. Katherine’s Protestant faith puts her family in great danger – from which there seems no escape.
Katherine’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Tony Riches is a full-time UK author
of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and
is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the
early Tudors. Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: Owen – Book One Of The
Tudor Trilogy, Jasper – Book Two Of The Tudor Trilogy, Henry – Book Three Of
The Tudor Trilogy, Mary – Tudor Princess and Brandon – Tudor Knight. For more information about Tony’s
books please visit his website tonyriches.com and his blog, The
Writing Desk and find
him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches
Although I was born
within sight of Pembroke Castle, I only began to study its history when I
returned to the area as a full-time author. I found several accounts of the
life of Henry Tudor, (who later became King Henry VII and began the Tudor
Dynasty) but there were no novels that brought the truth of his to life.
The idea for the Tudor Trilogy occurred to me when I realised Henry Tudor could be born in book one, ‘come of age’ in book two, and rule England in book three, so there would be plenty of scope to explore his life and times.
I started with a year
of research, as I like my novels to be as historically accurate as possible.
There are many ways to approach historical fiction, including imaginative
‘alternative histories’, but I feel the role of the historical fiction novelist
is to fill in the gaps with a plausible narrative – and explore how people
might have reacted to often quite dramatic events. (I’ve also found actual history
has more amazing stories than anything I could dream up.)
The first book of the Tudor trilogy was my fourth novel, so I had a good idea about the structure, and it had a ‘natural’ and dramatic end point (not wishing to give anything away for non-Tudor aficionados). In book one, OWEN, a Welsh servant of Queen Catherine of Valois, the lonely widow of King Henry V, falls in love with her and they marry in secret. Their eldest son Edmund Tudor marries the heiress Lady Margaret Beaufort, and fathers a child with her to secure her inheritance. Unfortunately, Lady Margaret is barely thirteen years old and the birth of her son, Henry, nearly kills her. When her husband dies mysteriously without even seeing his son, his younger brother Jasper Tudor swears to protect them.
This all takes place
during the Wars of the Roses and in book two of the trilogy, JASPER, Owen’s son
Jasper Tudor and young Henry flee to exile in Brittany and plan to return and
make Henry King of England. In the
meantime, King Richard III has taken the throne and has a powerful army of
thousands – while Jasper and Henry have nothing. Even the clothes they wear are
paid for by the Duke of Brittany. So how can they possibly invade England and
defeat King Richard at the Battle of Bosworth?
In the final book of
the trilogy, HENRY, I explore how Henry Tudor brought peace to England by
marrying the beautiful daughter of his enemy, King Edward IV. I also wanted to help
readers understand how their son, who became King Henry VIII, became such a
tyrant and transformed the history of England forever.
Towards the end of final book of the trilogy I began researching the lives of Henry Tudor’s daughters, Mary and Margaret, and became fascinated by Mary Tudor’s story. I realised how she’s often confused with Queen Mary Tudor, and that there was a ‘sequel’ to be written which continued the story of Mary’s time as Queen of France and marriage to Charles Brandon. This was published as MARY- Tudor Princess, and followed with the same story from Brandon’s point of view.
My newest Tudor novel,
which will be out before Christmas, concludes what has now become a series of
six books with the story of Brandon’s last wife, Lady Katherine Willoughby,
which will be published as KATHERINE – Tudor Duchess. Katherine was fascinating
to research as she knew each of King Henry VIII’s six wives, as well as his
children Mary, Elizabeth and Edward. Best of all, KATHERINE takes me to the
start of the reign of the last Tudor, Queen Elizabeth I – and the start of my
new Elizabethan series.
About the Author
Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and
non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK, with
his wife and enjoys sailing and kayaking in his spare time. For more
information about Tony’s books, podcasts and audiobooks please visit his website
www.tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.