Reveal: The Project

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

Sir Ralph and Mary Queen of Scots

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

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

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

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

Tomb of Sir Ralph Sadlier

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

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

DONATE TODAY to Sadlier Tombs Refurbishment Project!

Unidentified man by Hans Holbein, thought to be Ralph Sadlier

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

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

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

Dame Hilary Mantel

PATRONS

-DAME HILARY MANTEL, DBE FRSL

Author of the double Booker Prize winning Wolf Hall trilogy

-THE COUNTESS of VERULAM, CVO DL

Artist & former Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire 

-THE VISCOUNTESS TRENCHARD

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

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

DONATE

Sir Francis Bryan

Image courtesy of The Tudors

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

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

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

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

We have an equal supply of myths and documented information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was questioned but not arrested during the Boleyn investigations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCES:

Francis Meres, Palladis Tamia, 1598.

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

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

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

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

The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature: 1485-1603.

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

Alison Weir, Henry VIII and his Court, 2001.

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

*Portions originally published via Tudor Times

Tudor Christmas

A Tudor Christmas

by Ben Johnson

Long before the birth of Christ, midwinter had always been a time for merry making by the masses. The root of the midwinter rituals was the winter solstice – the shortest day – which falls on 21st December. After this date the days lengthened and the return of spring, the season of life, was eagerly anticipated. It was therefore a time to celebrate both the end of the autumn sowing and the fact that the ‘life giving’ sun had not deserted them. Bonfires were lit to help strengthen the ‘Unconquered Sun’.

For Christians the world over this period celebrates the story of the birth of Jesus, in a manger, in Bethlehem. The scriptures however make no mention as to the time of year yet alone the actual date of the nativity. Even our current calendar which supposedly calculates the years from the birth of Christ, was drawn up in the sixth century by Dionysius, an ‘innumerate’ Italian monk to correspond with a Roman Festival.

Detail from Holbein
Detail from the Oberried Altarpiece, ‘The Birth of Christ’
Hans Holbein c. 1520

Until the 4th century Christmas could be celebrated throughout Europe anywhere between early January through to late September. It was Pope Julius I who happened upon the bright idea of adopting 25th December as the actual date of the Nativity. The choice appears both logical and shrewd – blurring religion with existing feast days and celebrations. Any merrymaking could now be attributed to the birth of Christ rather than any ancient pagan ritual.

Tudor Christmas copyright Tudor Group

One such blurring may involve the Feast of Fools, presided over by the Lord of Misrule. The feast was an unruly event, involving much drinking, revelry and role reversal. The Lord of Misrule, normally a commoner with a reputation of knowing how to enjoy himself, was selected to direct the entertainment. The festival is thought to have originated from the benevolent Roman masters who allowed their servants to be the boss for a while.

The Church entered the act by allowing a choirboy, elected by his peers, to be a Bishop during the period starting with St. Nicholas Day (6th December) until Holy Innocents Day (28th December). Within the period the chosen boy, symbolising the lowliest authority, would dress in full Bishop’s regalia and conduct the Church services. Many of the great cathedrals adopted this custom including York, Winchester, Salisbury Canterbury and Westminster. Henry VIII abolished Boy Bishops however a few churches, including Hereford and Salisbury Cathedrals, continue the practice today.

The burning of the Yule Log is thought to derive from the midwinter ritual of the early Viking invaders, who built enormous bonfires to celebrate their festival of light. The word ‘Yule’ has existed in the English language for many centuries as an alternative term for Christmas.

Traditionally, a large log would be selected in the forest on Christmas Eve, decorated with ribbons, dragged home and laid upon the hearth. After lighting it was kept burning throughout the twelve days of Christmas. It was considered lucky to keep some of the charred remains to kindle the log of the following year.

Whether the word carol comes from the Latin caraula or the French carole, its original meaning is the same – a dance with a song. The dance element appears to have disappeared over the centuries but the song was used to convey stories, normally that of the Nativity. The earliest recorded published collection of carols is in 1521, by Wynken de Worde which includes the Boars Head Carol.

Carols flourished throughout Tudor times as a way to celebrate Christmas and to spread the story of the nativity. Celebrations came to an abrupt end however in the seventeenth century when the Puritans banned all festivities including Christmas. Surprisingly carols remained virtually extinct until the Victorians reinstated the concept of an ‘Olde English Christmas’ which included traditional gems such as While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night and The Holly and the Ivy as well as introducing a plethora of new hits – Away in a Manger, O Little Town of Bethlehem – to mention but a few.

The twelve days of Christmas would have been a most welcome break for the workers on the land, which in Tudor times would have been the majority of the people. All work, except for looking after the animals, would stop, restarting again on Plough Monday, the first Monday after Twelfth Night.

The ‘Twelfths’ had strict rules, one of which banned spinning, the prime occupation for women. Flowers were ceremonially placed upon and around the wheels to prevent their use.

During the Twelve Days, people would visit their neighbours sharing and enjoying the traditional ‘minced pye’. The pyes would have included thirteen ingredients, representing Christ and his apostles, typically dried fruits, spices and of course a little chopped mutton – in remembrance of the shepherds.

Serious feasting would have been the reserve of royalty and the gentry. Turkey was first introduced into Britain in about 1523 with Henry VIII being one of the first people to eat it as part of the Christmas feast. The popularity of the bird grew quickly, and soon, each year, large flocks of turkeys could be seen walking to London from NorfolkSuffolk and Cambridgeshire on foot; a journey which they may have started as early as August.

A Tudor Christmas Pie was indeed a sight to behold but not one to be enjoyed by a vegetarian. The contents of this dish consisted of a Turkey stuffed with a goose stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a partridge stuffed with a pigeon. All of this was put in a pastry case, called a coffin and was served surrounded by jointed hare, small game birds and wild fowl. Small pies known as chewets had pinched tops, giving them the look of small cabbages or chouettes.

Pies for the Tudor Christmas table

And to wash it all down, a drink from the Wassail bowl. The word ‘Wassail’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Waes-hael’, meaning ‘be whole’ or ‘be of good health’. The bowl, a large wooden container holding as much as a gallon of punch made of hot-ale, sugar, spices and apples. This punch to be shared with friends and neighbours. A crust of bread was placed at the bottom of the Wassail bowl and offered to the most important person in the room – hence today’s toast as part of any drinking ceremony.

Shared courtesy of the author and Historic UK

The “Other” Tudors

The “Other” Tudors: Edward VI and Mary I

Mary I and Edward VI

King Henry V’s only son and eldest daughter grab fewer headlines than King Henry VIII or Queen Elizabeth I, but their actions helped shape the religious and political history of England and Europe. Edward VI was a zealous reformer dedicated to establishing strong Protestant doctrine in England. His first Book of Common Prayer promoted uniform worship throughout the country, and his second prayer book provided a model used in the Church of England for 400 years. His dedication to religious reform lasted until the end of his life when he tried to upend the law to prevent a Catholic from taking the throne.

But his Catholic half-sister Mary acted quickly and gathered supporters, staging the only successful revolt against central government in the 16th century. As the first crowned regnant Queen of England, she overcame centuries of preference for male rule. Her Parliament passed the Act for Regal Power, enshrining the power of queens and creating precedence for all the Queens to follow. She exerted every effort to undo Edward’s reform and return England to Catholicism. Join Royal Oak and historian and educator Carol Ann Lloyd to explore the lives of the often overlooked Tudor monarchs.

Thank you to our co-sponsor: The Union League Legacy Foundation

Thank you to our cultural co-sponsors: The Oxford & Cambridge Society of New England; The American Scottish Foundation 

Carol Ann Lloyd

Carol Ann Lloyd

Noted Speaker

Carol Ann Lloyd is a popular speaker who shares the stories of Shakespeare and English history. She is the former Manager of Visitor Education at Folger Shakespeare Library, where she gave workshops and tours about Shakespeare and Early Modern England. Carol Ann has presented programs at the Smithsonian, Folger Shakespeare Library, Agecroft Hall, and TEDx, among other venues. Ms. Lloyd is a member of the National Speakers Association

LIVE

Tuesday, November 17th at 6:00 pm (Eastern)

Online via Zoom Webinar

$15, members*; $20 non-members

Free to Heritage Circle members

Register for Live

After registering, you will receive an email with a link to the webinar.

Do We REALLY Know These Women?

One woman surprised her contemporaries by managing one of the most favorable annulment settlements of her time. She also remained in favor with her ex, was a fixture at his court, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The other is the most-married Queen of England, was held captive at Snape castle, and was the first English Queen to publish a book.

Who are they?

They are the wives who survived marriage to Henry VIII: Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr.


Join Royal Oak and historian and educator Carol Ann Lloyd to meet the only two wives of Henry VIII who had lives after their marriages to the King (technically, Katherine of Aragon lived after the annulment, but she claimed she was still married until she died).

We know these women as wives of Henry VIII, but there is much more to their story. They navigated the politics of 16th century court life, in England and abroad, to leave their mark on English history. Both women, in their own way, had a considerable impact not only on Henry VIII, but on his royal children as well.

Find registration and other information available on the website of speaker Carol Ann Lloyd (www.carolannlloyd.com/events) or the Royal Oak Foundation (www.royal-oak.org/events).

Carol Ann Lloyd

Carol Ann Lloyd is a popular speaker who shares the stories of Shakespeare and English history. She is the former Manager of Visitor Education at Folger Shakespeare Library, where she gave workshops and tours about Shakespeare and Early Modern England.Carol Ann has presented programs at the Smithsonian, Folger Shakespeare Library, Agecroft Hall, and TEDx, among other venues. Ms. Lloyd is a member of the National Speakers Association

The Age of Plunder

Book Review by Samantha Yorke

Henry VIII is one of the most famous monarchs to have ruled England.

Yet, what was life like for those that he ruled?

How were they impacted by the wars with France, his marital disasters and the religious Reformation that his chief ministers implemented?

The Age of Plunder does not dwell upon the lives of political and religious leaders such as Wolsey, Cromwell and Cranmer, but instead provides a vivid depiction of Tudor England from the perspective of those who tended the crops, sat at the looms and worked in the mines.

“The scholarship is as sound, the sympathy as warm and the judgments as pugnacious as ever.” New Statesman

“This is a provocative and stimulating book, packed with statistical information, but saved from indigestibility by well-chosen and unusual examples drawn from the author’s vast knowledge of local history.” The Agricultural History Review

In this book W. G. Hoskins reveals how inhabitants of early sixteenth century England were witnesses to the greatest act of plunder since the Norman Conquest, but this time by the native governing class.

The Age of Plunder by W.G. Hoskins is a look at the economic state of the Henrican world of Tudor England. Unlike most books written about this monarch, it focuses on the lives the people in his kingdom. The stories of how Henry’s decisions effected his realm will catch your attention. The divide between privilege and poverty was obscene. The book is somewhat long, dry and academic and is aimed for a scholarly reader. If you are looking for a book about his wives and his court, this is not for you. However, if you want a book centered upon day-to-day life in the world of Henry VIII, and how his economy set the stage for his daughter Elizabeth I, eventually Great Britain and the ascent of the British Empire – the sociology of the era – then this book is for you. It is a book that can be utilised for reference and scholastic purposes, and for that reasons I rate it four stars.

~~~~~

Special thanks to Net Galley and the publish for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

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Available for purchase on Amazon:

US

UK

On The Tudor Trail

This just in from Natalie Grueninger and On The Tudor Trail…

Over two exciting months, Natalie Grueninger will host weekly discussions on her podcast, Talking Tudors, with a number of leading experts & Boleyn historians. The rich array of topics will cover everything from Boleyn supporters at Henry VIII’s court to Thomas Cromwell’s role in Anne Boleyn’s downfall. Listeners will gain a fresh perspective on one of the most prominent and misunderstood families of the Tudor era, and come face to face with the people behind the famous family name.

In addition to the weekly episodes, there will also be giveaways and guest
posts by some amazing historians/novelists: Tracy Borman, Adrienne
Dillard, Wendy J. Dunn, Andy Demsky and Tamsin Lewis. As well as the
podcasts and guest articles, illustrator Kathryn Holeman will present two
fun Tudor drawing tutorials. But wait, there’s more… The brilliant
Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, will answer your questions about Anne Boleyn!

For more information visit:

On The Tudor Trail

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Katheryn Howard, The Scandalous Queen

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Katheryn Howard, The Scandalous Queen: Review by Samantha Yorke

From the publisher: Bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir tells the tragic story of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, a nineteen-year-old beauty with a hidden past, in this fifth novel in the sweeping Six Tudor Queens series.

In the spring of 1540, Henry VIII, desperate to be rid of his queen, Anna of Kleve, first sets eyes on the enchanting Katheryn Howard. Although the king is now an ailing forty-nine-year-old measuring fifty-four inches around his waist, his amorous gaze lights upon the pretty teenager. Seated near him intentionally by her ambitious Catholic family, Katheryn readily succumbs to the courtship.

Henry is besotted with his bride. He tells the world she is a rose without a thorn, and extols her beauty and her virtue. Katherine delights in the pleasures of being queen and the power she has to do good to others. She comes to love the ailing, obese king and tolerate his nightly attentions. If she can bear him a son, her triumph will be complete. But Katheryn has a past of which Henry knows nothing, and which comes back increasingly to haunt her–even as she courts danger yet again.

*****

There can be little doubt that Alison Weir has made an indelible mark on the public’s fascination with Tudor History. I was hesitant to take this ARC copy at first because I generally find the author’s fiction to be difficult to read. However, there are many good points to be taken from this fictional story of Katheryn Howard.

The book begins are the death of Katheryn Howard’s mother. From there we are taken on the journey of her short, tragic life. Ms. Weir shows us a young girl who is overlooked and passed first from relative to relative, then from man to man, all the while she merely yearns for a home and a place to be loved and belong.

She catches the eye of King Henry VIII. The reader will feel the anxiety that the young queen experiences, afraid that her past lovers will come to light. We share her joy as the King spoils her and she finally appears to delight in being cherished and adored.

Then, just as quickly as she ascended, Katheryn Howard is doomed by the shadows and whispers of her past. Weir vividly paints a sympathetic, doomed young girl trapped and caged in the trappings that she has grown to love as she finally felt secure in the world the King created for her.

Weaving a novel length story about a life that we know so little takes a great amount of skill and talent.

This book is not as long as most of Ms. Weir’s fiction, which will be a bonus for some readers who may find her rambling, extensive stories tedious. The book opens with brief family trees of the Tudors, Howards, Culpepers, and Derehams-which is impressive. Her devoted following will love this book, and I believe she will garner new appreciation for the sheer volume of research she did on the life and story of this poor pawn in the machinations of a tyrannical king. This is also an ideal book to get lost in for a few days. Due to these factors, I’m giving the book four stars.

*****

Special thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair review. Release date is May 12, 2020.

You may purchase the book here.

KH