Sunday Short Takes

It should be no surprise that there was a lot of news last week coinciding with the premiere of “Wolf Hall”! I’ve just a made a few selections from a bunch of articles that came across my path.

* Adapting Wolf Hall for TV: how I played historical guessing game – Catherine Fletcher writes about being a historical advisor on “Wolf Hall”.

* Seductress or Scholar – The Real Anne Boleyn – Leanda De Lisle writes about Henry VIII’s second Queen for Newsweek

* Where to find the best Tudor sights in EnglandAs the dramatisation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall begins its run on BBC Two, historian Suzannah Lipscomb reveals her favourite Tudor homes and palaces around the country

* Tudor timeline: 10 momentous datesIt was one of the most transformative periods in English history, but which dates in the Tudor calendar had the greatest impact? Historian Lauren Mackay maps out the top 10

* Rare Tudor hat finds new home at Hampton Court PalaceHat linked to Henry VIII acquired by charity Historic Royal Palaces in Hampton Court’s 500th anniversary year

And finally…

A fascinating look into the recreation of a Book of Hours for “Wolf Hall” by professional calligrapher Patricia Lovett:

It makes me want to dig out my old calligraphy supplies and start doing it again! (Like I really have time to start doing another hobby, even if it was one I used to do. Sheeesh.)

Happy New Year!

Yeah, I’m a little late getting this posted, but at least it’s still January!

Last year I wrote about the various goals that I had for 2014, both personal and for the site. I did okay on some, terrible on others, but I’m going to set goals for myself again in 2015 and hopefully keep a little better account of them. (You can read more about my personal goals for last year and what I have in store for 2015 over on my personal blog.)

On the Shakespeare Challenge, I only made it through one third of the plays, but I did manage to read all of the sonnets. A little trivia – if you read a sonnet a day starting on January 1 and in a non-leap year, you’ll finish them on June 3. I’m planning to continue this challenge and read another third this year and next, so I’ll have read all by the end of 2016. I originally started the challenge in honor of the Bard’s 450th birthday, but this way I’ll finish them by the 400th anniversary of his death.

On the rest of last year’s goals: I totally failed. I didn’t manage to post one single book review. So, this year I’m going to make another attempt at that. I’m going to aim for six reviews, although they may cover more than one book in each review since I have a few that would work nicely as pairs. I did manage to do a few behind-the-scenes things on my to-do list, but I didn’t get to any of the really big ones I was aiming for. So I’ll keep working on those as well.

One other thing to note for this year – by one way of counting (more on that in a minute) this is the 20th anniversary of this site. The reason I say “by one way of counting” is that the site has gone through several iterations, and this is the 20th anniversary of the first one. I think the first page about my Tudor History interests that I put on my personal website actually dates from late 1994, but I know that it was going strong by mid-1995 since that was when I started thinking about splitting it off into its own thing and when I started my current job full-time (and yes, I’m getting a 20 year plaque for that this year). It didn’t actually end up it’s own site until July 1997 (after the Elizabeth I pages were previously on GeoCities – remember that?? – in 1996, I think). So 2017 would be another 20 years milestone. This year is also the 15th anniversary of the site at domain, which I originally bought on July 9, 2000. I’ll probably do a full post on the history of the site later in the year and bore everyone with more details than anyone could possibly want.

Best wishes for 2015 everyone!

Picture of the Week #316

Heraldic panel from 1518, Swabia, Germany. The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo August 2006.

This is one of a pair of panels (the other will be posted in a couple of weeks) celebrating the marriage of Barbara von Zimmern and Wilhelm von Weitingen, representing the union of two well-established families of the area.

Sunday Short Takes

Here’s what caught my eye in the past week or so!

* How Thomas Wolsey made Hampton Court fit for a king

* Lucy Worsley: the fuss over Prince George was nothing compared to the uproar over Henry VIII’s son

* The Dublin King with John Ashdown-Hill – Interview with the author at Nerdalicious

* A Collection of Christmas Cokentryce!@TudorCook did a Storify of the three cokentryce cooked up at the Hampton Court Kitchens over the holidays

* Brave New Worlds: The Shakespearean Moons of Uranus – Podcast from the Folger Shakespeare Library (and includes a mention of McDonald Observatory, part of the department where I work!)

Upcoming Books, Events, and Exhibitions for January 2015


As far as I know there was only one book from December that I missed, the paperback release of David Loades’ Catherine Howard: The Adulterous Wife of Henry VIII.

And I only have one new US release – Pirate Nation: Elizabeth I and Her Royal Sea Rovers by David Childs was released last fall in the UK and will be out January 15 in the US.

Now for the new books for January!

First up is Mary McGrigor’s biography of Margaret Douglas – The Other Tudor Princess: Margaret Douglas, Henry VIII’s Niece which will be out January 5 in the UK and will be released in May in the US.

Next is The Dublin King: The True Story of Lambert Simnel and the Princes in the Tower by John Ashdown-Hill, out January 5 in the UK and in May in the US.

And finally, Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII by Sarah-Beth Watkins will be released at the end of the month in both the UK and US.


* Dressing Elizabeth: The Phoenix Portrait as Evidence of a Royal Wardrobe – January 29th at 7:00 p.m. at the National Portrait Gallery, Professor Maria Hayward will discuss the wardrobe and jewels of Elizabeth I

Continuing Exhibitions

* Treasures from the Royal Archives opened at Windsor Castle on May 17, 2014 and runs through January 25, 2015 and features some items from the Archives that have never been on display before.

* The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered display at the National Portrait Gallery opened September 12, 2014 and will run through March 1, 2015.


* Wolf Hall, the 6-part drama based on the books of Hilary Mantel’s award-winning books, will premiere in the UK on BBC Two in January and will air in April on PBS in the US. You can learn more about the series at the BBC Media Centre. There will also be several documentaries on BBC Two and BBC Four to accompany the series.

See the first trailer for Wolf Hall, embedded below:

Sunday Short Takes

Last one of 2014!

* Me, me, me … the Elizabethan earl who kept portrait painters busy for 30 yearsIf you can tell a person by their collection of paintings, what are we to make of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who commissioned more portraits of himself than any other courtier in Elizabethan England?

* 7 things you (probably) didn’t know about Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose

* National archives podcast with writer of the month: Tracy Borman on Thomas CromwellDr Tracy Borman, author, historian and broadcaster, discusses her biography of Thomas Cromwell.

* Hampton Court Palace recreates Edward VI christening for 500th anniversary celebrations – The recreation can be seen in an upcoming BBC documentary hosted by David Starkey January 10 on the BBC.

* Portraits of PowerThomas Penn and his colleagues have embarked on a project to publish a series of short biographies of England’s and, subsequently, Britain’s monarchs.

Sunday Short Takes

Image: British Library

Here are the stories that caught my eye this past week:

* The best history books of 2014 – Jessie Childs’ God’s Traitors is on this list and several other year end history book round-ups. I really need to get to reading it!

* ‘Crown jewels’ of English lute music go onlineHandwritten copies of scores by composers of English lute music have been digitised in a programme to make a precious legacy available to professional and amateur musicians around the world. – It might be time for me to dust off my music-reading skills, although I’m not sure how good these tunes would sound on clarinet or tin whistle.

* Tudor dining: a guide to food and status in the 16th century

* Henry VIII, the choir book and Alamire the spyA choral work given to King Henry VIII has gone in at number two in the classical album charts, surprising the musicians who performed it. The piece was created by a duplicitous scribe and double agent who duped the King of England. – The manuscript in this article is available here at the British Library’s Digitised Manuscripts site (the image at the top of this post is from the site)

* BBC Two and BBC Four to accompany TV broadcast of Wolf Hall with collection of new factual programmes taking viewers deeper into the Tudor world – While Wolf Hall will be making it across the pond here to the US (airing on PBS – check your local stations!), I doubt these programs will. (sigh)

* District council will consider emergency repairs to Henry VIII’s crumbling Tudor palace in Otford

Latest Richard III Research Results

As promised, here is my round-up of the latest news on Richard III!

First up, I wanted to point to this article about how to apply to attend the Richard III services and reinterment in March 2015. Information on the balloting process is here at the Leicester Cathedral website. If any of you get in, please let us know!

Now, on to the newest results!

If you want to read the peer-reviewed research paper that the results were published in, it is available here from Nature Communications. (I was able to access the full paper from home without my university login, so I expect that everyone should be able to read it.) And here is the official press release from the University of Leicester.

The BBC has a good summary of everything in this latest round of announcements.

And the University of Leicester has a great video summary:

The tl;dr version is that:

1) The DNA tests against a second all-female line of descent confirmed the initial tests (the mitochondrial DNA matched Richard III *and* Michael Ibsen, whose mtDNA was used in the first test).

2) Looking at some parts of the genome gave a probability that Richard III had blue eyes and blond hair (at least as a child, and it may have darkened as he got older)

3) The testing of the Y-chromosome along an all-male line did not match, revealing a false-paternity event

4) A statistical analysis of all of the accumulated evidence shows a 99.999% probability that the skeleton found in 2012 is indeed Richard III.

A few comments from me –

First, these are very exciting results and once again reminded me how much I love it when science and history can work together for a better understanding of our past. That said, I was pretty annoyed that most of the articles in the press focussed on the ‘false-paternity event’ and ran with a whole lot of misleading or down-right wrong headlines – often questioning whether or not Elizabeth II is the rightful Queen (ugh!). The Y-chromosome result was very interesting, don’t get me wrong! But since we don’t even know for sure where the false-paternity event occurred it’s just another historical mystery. There were 19 possible places where the event occurred and the odds favor it happening in the 15 steps that aren’t related to the succession to the throne. And even if it did happen in a place that impacted the Tudors (another popular target in the unfortunate headlines, and related to the current Queen since she is a direct descendant of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York), Henry VII claimed the throne by right of conquest. And even that wouldn’t really impact the current Queen’s claim to the throne since there are many other factors, primarily the Act of Settlement in 1701. I know I shouldn’t be surprised at sensationalist headlines meant to get clicks and sell papers, but it is still so frustrating to see so much misinformation out there, especially when it threatens to overshadow some very exciting results (including the Y-chromosome finding). Okay, rant over. :)

Previous Richard III news round-ups:

* September 2012

* February 2013

* February 2013 round 2

Sunday Short Takes

Of course, the big story this week was the newest round of results and discoveries from the continued testing of the skeleton of Richard III. I’ll recap all of that in a separate post since there is a lot of interesting information to talk about.

From the other news of the week:

* Tudors at sea: 8 ways to survive a voyage

* Rare 17th century map of Manchester found in John Rylands Library goes on show

* Tanner Ritchie Publishing is holding its annual holiday sale, a great time to grab some downloads of primary sources.

* A Code of Conduct for Historians – a thought-provoking article from Suzannah Lipscomb for History Today

* Death at St Paul’sRichard Dale investigates the mysterious death of Richard Hunne in Lollards Tower at Old St Paul’s, one of the most notorious episodes of the English Reformation. You can learn more in an interview with the author on the History Today podcast: Murder in the Cathedral

Upcoming Books and Exhibitions for December 2014


Once again I have to start out with things that I missed from previous months!

Pirate Nation: Elizabeth I and Her Royal Sea Rovers by David Childs was released in late October in the UK and will be out early in 2015 in the US.

A new biography (maybe the first?) of Sir Henry Lee is out in the UK and is still listed as pre-order for the US (although the release date is listed as October, so I don’t know what’s happening there). Unfortunately it looks like this is a limited printing so it is “academically priced” and is quite expensive. That’s what libraries are for!

Two recent releases on Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour were released in paperback last month:

Another entry in the “possible Christmas present for people you want to bring into the Tudor history obsession” category, Richard Rex’s Tudors: The Illustrated History, out now in both the UK and US:

And Terry Breverton’s Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Tudors but were Afraid to Ask was released in the UK back in October and will be out on December 19 in the US in print.

Tracy Borman’s biography of Thomas Cromwell that was released back in September in the UK is now out at the beginning of December in the US (moved up from a January release, it appears):

Continuing Exhibitions

* Treasures from the Royal Archives opened at Windsor Castle on May 17, 2014 and runs through January 25, 2015 and features some items from the Archives that have never been on display before.

* The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered display at the National Portrait Gallery opened September 12, 2014 and will run through March 1, 2015.

Sunday Short Takes

Wax figures of Henry VIII and his wives up for auction. Photo: BBC.

Sorry for the lack of news round-ups this month, I’ve been trying to cram too much catch-up stuff into the weekends lately! So here’s several weeks’ worth of stories that caught my eye:

* Madame Tussauds figures and five shops to be auctioned – Anyone want to buy wax figures of Henry VIII *and* all the wives? If I had the money (and space to put them) I’d be tempted to buy them just get the costumes. I love that dress on the Anne Boleyn figure!

* Richard III reburial fundraising appeal startsThe diocese of Leicester said it had raised £1.9m of the £2.5m cost and set a £50,000 target for the public appeal.

* Shakespeare Folio found in French libraryLibrarian and Medieval literature expert Rémy Cordonnier has discovered a rare and valuable William Shakespeare First Folio.

* Horrible Histories author reveals 10 ways to die in Elizabethan England

* Catherine of Aragon divorce letter to be auctioned in Paris

* Couple build amazing new Tudor home from scratch – learning Elizabethan carpentry, roofing and plumbing – Be sure to check out the full photo gallery!

And just for fun:

* Super Flemish – I want to make all of those dresses!