Sunday Short Takes

Just two stories this week, but they’re good ones!

* New 3D representation of Richard III’s spine – Researchers have made a 3-D computer reconstruction of Richard III’s spine from CT images. You can see the reconstruction and move it with your mouse at the link above. They also have a link to the research paper published in Lancet, which has been made freely available but you will have to register to download it.

And the other story this week:

* The Mary Rose Museum celebrates its First Birthday! – The museum had an amazing first year including a boatload (if you’ll pardon the pun) of awards. Congratulations to everyone involved – hopefully I’ll get to see it myself in the next few years!

The Mary Rose museum

Visitors view the hull of the Mary Rose

Upcoming Books and Exhibitions for June 2014

Book news

One book that has already been released in the UK is now out in the US:

John Ashdown-Hill’s book on George, Duke of Clarence will be out on June 1 in the US.

Leanda de Lisle’s Tudor: The Family Story will be out in paperback in the UK on June 5. I don’t have the US paperback release info at the moment, but I’ll update when I find out more.

And similarly, Chris Skidmore’s Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors will be out in paperback in the UK that same day.

And for new releases, just one this month, and I’m not really sure what the status of it is. I have been tracking Queens Regnant for a while and I have that it is due out on June 1 in the US and UK, but other information has been a bit hard to find. I’ll go ahead and put links below and try to keep tabs on any additional information.

New exhibit

The Society of Antiquaries is holding a free exhibition of some of the Society’s paintings including rare 15th and 16th century portraits of medieval and Tudor monarchs. It opens June 30th and runs through August 1st.

Continuing events, exhibitions, and displays

* Raglan Castle, childhood home of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII), will have a Tudor Weekend on May 31 and June 1.

* If you missed out on In Fine Style when it was at Buckingham Palace, you can catch it now at the Palace of Holyroodhouse from March 14 to July 20.

* Hans Holbein Re-made: Copies and versions of portraits from the Tudor court, went on display at the National Portrait Gallery on March 4th and will be up through August 31.

* The Royal Shakespeare Company moved their plays of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies to London to run from May 1 to September 6.

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

Sunday Short Takes

Sorry for the lack of round-ups lately, but here are a few links from the past couple of weeks:

* The Wonder of Birds: Norwich Castle showcases Holbein portraitA “mysterious” painting has returned to Norfolk for the first time in more than 20 years as part of an exhibition spanning more than 4,000 years.

* Want to buy Hampton Court? No, not that one, the other one – The 15th century castle could be yours if you have £12,000,000 to spare

And three interesting articles from History Today:

* A Matter of JudgementAn inherent tension between the past and the present becomes explicit when we make our assessments of historical figures, argues Suzannah Lipscomb.

* The Dreaded Sweat: the Other Medieval EpidemicMost people have heard of the Black Death, which obliterated 60% of Europe’s population during the mid-14th century. Yet there was another medieval epidemic that took many thousands of lives, known as the English sweating sickness.

* Into Battle Over BosworthChris Skidmore praises Colin Richmond’s 1985 article, which offered a new theory, later confirmed, about the true location of one of the most famous battles in English history.

Guest Post and Book Give away: Amy Licence on Elizabeth of York

I’m delighted to be the final stop on Amy Licence’s Virtual Book Tour and to present an excerpt from her book Elizabeth of York and host a give-away for a copy of the book! Amy is the author of several books on the Wars of the Roses and Tudor period including In Bed With the Tudors and Richard III: The Road to Leicester among others. Check out Amy’s author site for more information on all of her books.

If you wish to be entered in the drawing for the book, click over to the form and leave your email address: “Elizabeth of York” book give-away (The contest will be closed on Sunday May 18 at noon US central daylight time.) [Update: the drawing is now closed.]

Married Life

England now rejoice, for joyous may thou be
To see thy King so flowering in dignity.

Henry VII has a reputation for austerity. Writing in 1622, Francis Bacon claimed that ‘for his pleasures, there is no news of them’. The popular stereotype prevails of the thin-faced, careworn king poring over his account books, looking sidelong out of later portraits with his thin lips, suspicious eyes and grasping hands. This enduring image makes it difficult to imagine him dancing, laughing or jousting like his colourful son, Henry VIII. But Bacon was wrong; plenty of evidence exists to suggest that, although Henry was careful with money, especially at the end of his reign, the life Elizabeth would have known with him was one of pleasure and patronage. She would have known a very different man, more in line with Leland’s ‘king so flowering in dignity’. Their court was filled with musicians, poets and actors and Henry spent lavishly on a programme of building to create and modernise a number of pleasure palaces and retreats for his family to enjoy. This rumoured austerity has also been extended to his marriage. Bacon again asserts the king was ‘no very indulgent husband’ due to his aversion to the house of York, while the pro- Ricardian, Horace Walpole, writing in the 1760s, felt able to state with certainty that ‘Henry was a tyrannic husband and ungrateful master’. Even some of the king’s contemporaries formed this opinion, with the Spanish envoy writing in 1498, that Elizabeth, a ‘very noble woman’,5 was kept in subjection by her mother-in-law, while some modern historians assert this was a deliberate policy on Henry’s behalf to keep his wife from meddling in politics as her mother supposedly had.

To what extent is this a true reflection of their marriage? Although cultural expectations of marital ideals survive, it is impossible now to disentangle and apply the ingredients of what constituted a ‘happy’ marriage in the late fifteenth century in any realistic sense. We simply do not know how Elizabeth and Henry felt. Nor can we assume their emotions were constant; no doubt, as with all marriages, they experienced their own version of ‘for better or for worse’. Although the Ballad of Lady Bessie describes the pair as ‘lovers’ during the reign of Richard III, this is far from the truth; actually, they had probably not met, or else met years ago as children. Like most fifteenth-century couples, they did not commit their emotions to paper and their actions were open to interpretation from those who saw them only from the outside. Their status created an almost impenetrable distance and obstacle to interpretation, then and now. However, Privy Purse accounts make clear that Elizabeth certainly enjoyed considerable pleasures and benefits from her union. Small pieces of evidence suggest that the couple were far from estranged and while it is anachronistic to expect such a union to be a love match, the royal marriage contained many companionate elements and appears, on balance, to have been mutually beneficial. ‘Love’, by the varying definitions of any era, was not considered an essential requirement for success. Of course there is more to a ‘happy’ marriage than material continuity and security; the pursuit of the question as to whether the queen was ‘happy’ fails to take account of the specific circumstances of her rank and the formation of the union. The expectation and definition of a ‘happy’ marriage would vary between couples and over the duration of the match. On a personal level, its subjectivity is dependent on the individual, often unspoken, expectations of any man and any woman across time. Even to ask the question of whether Elizabeth of York’s marriage was a ‘happy’ one is misleading, yet the issue must be addressed due to the persistence of claims made to the contrary.

Gradually Elizabeth would have become aware of the character of the man she had married. Little personal glimpses of Henry emerge from the accounts of others: in 1488 the Spanish ambassador noted his habits: ‘the king, according to his usual manner, took his bonnet off his head, and said the most flattering things’ and later thought the ‘speech of the king was like precious jewels’. The ambassadors also observed Elizabeth herself at this time who, once again, did not disappoint in terms of courtly expectation: ‘we also went at an unexpected hour to the queen, whom we found with two and thirty companions of angelical appearance, and all we saw there seemed very magnificent, and in splendid style, as was suitable for the occasion’. In 1497, the Milanese envoy was shown into Henry’s presence as he stood absolutely still behind a chair of cloth of gold and found him ‘wonderful’, in a ‘most rich’ collar of rows of pearls and gems. He judged the king to be ‘cautious and reflects deeply all his proceedings’, ‘hard of credence’ and suspicious of unsubstantiated news.8 The pair were not thrust into close proximity at once; Henry’s early absence in the north was essential to consolidate his rule and establish peace in the realm; the new king must see and be seen. The list of his travels that year is exhaustive: March saw him in Ware, Royston, Canterbury, Peterborough, Stamford and Ely, while in April he was at Lincoln, Nottingham, York and Doncaster, allowing for a few days’ travel between. From September onwards, though, his presence in Winchester was increasingly noted as he awaited Arthur’s birth: he was in the city and presumably with Elizabeth, from the first to the sixth of the month, again for ten days at the end, on 4 October and between the 13th and 24th, coinciding with his son’s arrival.

For a while, this busy, energetic man may have seemed distant to his wife. Much of the time they spent together during this early stage would have been in the company of others, or restricted by protocol or the conditions of pregnancy. Kings and queens also had separate establishments within the same palaces; they might be under the same roof but their dining, living and sleeping quarters were individual to them. To come together and share a meal in private or spend the night together required a degree of foresight and planning; their lives were not so closely lived as those of modern couples. The Great Chronicle captures them in 1492, dining at the same stone table decorated with napery (linen) and lights, while being served separate messes or portions.9 This distance may either have helped or hindered their union but it meant Elizabeth had time to adjust to her role as wife. The question of her happiness or loneliness, the hints of the individual behind the royal front are almost impossible to capture: as a queen, Elizabeth would never have been alone. Surrounded by her ladies, with her devotion to religion and her children, as well as the bustle of court life and petitions from subjects, she was busy enough. This degree of physical distance between man and wife should not necessarily be taken as evidence of coldness or dislike; her increasing pregnancies and his wish to be with her during times of duress indicates that the couple did desire each other’s company. Such arrangements were part of the nature of kingship: Elizabeth had witnessed that in her own parents’ match.

Sunday Short Takes

Quick round-up again this week since I have been out showing the sun (safely!) to visitors to the Texas State History Museum all day. :)

* What Does History Mean to You? – Guest post on On the Tudor Trail from a teacher who needs help from Tudor History enthusiasts and historians. I’m not really in much of a position to help, but I can at least spread the word!

* Wolf Hall TV cast to include Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance – More casting updates on the TV adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

* No mod cons: Fitted kitchen? Chuck it. Bathroom suite? Swap it for a lead-lined tub. Meet the man whose DIY makeover took his home back 500 years – I don’t know that I would want to live in a home like this, but I would certainly love to stay a few days and nights to try it out!

And finally…

* Sir David Attenborough helps Bradgate Park campaign – (Warning – autoplay video at the link) The Leicester Rotary Club has launched a campaign to construct a visitor center for the park, which includes the ruins of Bradgate House, childhood home of Lady Jane Grey. You can find out more at the the Facebook page for the campaign.

Upcoming Books and Exhibitions for May 2014


One book of interest that I missed that came out in April is Richmond Park: From Medieval Pasture to Royal Park by Paul Rabbitts.

And Digging for Richard III: How Archaeology Found the King by Mike Pitts was originally listed to be released in early May in the UK but managed to sneak past me and was released in mid-April. The US version will be out in November with a slightly different title – Digging for Richard III: The Search for the Lost King.

And in just under the wire, Claire Ridgway of The Anne Boleyn Files and co-author Clare Cherry have released George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat.

And now for an actual May release: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and the World of Elizabethan Art by Elizabeth Goldring looks really interesting, but a little out of my price range! It is due out on May 19 in the US and May 31 in the UK.

New events and exhibits

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

* Raglan Castle, childhood home of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII), will have a Tudor Weekend on May 31 and June 1.

* And this isn’t technically new, but the Royal Shakespeare Company will be moving their plays of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies to London to run from May 1 to September 6.

Continuing exhibitions and displays

* Closing soon: Strange Beauty, an exhibition on painters of the German Renaissance (including Hans Holbein) opened at the National Gallery in London on February 19, 2014 and runs through May 11, 2014.

* If you missed out on In Fine Style when it was at Buckingham Palace, you can catch it now at the Palace of Holyroodhouse from March 14 to July 20.

* Hans Holbein Re-made: Copies and versions of portraits from the Tudor court, went on display at the National Portrait Gallery on March 4th and will be up through August 31.

Sunday Short Takes

A variety of links this week:

* Clippers and coiners in 16th-century England

* What happened to William Shakespeare’s theatres?In London, no purpose-built theatres survive from his day. Where did they all go?

* BBC History Magazine’s May Issue features a cover article by Jessie Childs on Catholics under Elizabeth I

* Routledge is offering a limited free trial to English Historical Documents online through May 11. Try it here!

And finally:

* Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Stratford’s Guildhall is raising funds for conservation to open to the public for the first time. See Michael Wood’s short film about the schoolroom and guildhall in support of the project, which is embedded below.

Picture of the Week #277

Elizabethan garden at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C. Photo September 2006.

I had already used up the best of my photos from Stratford a while back, so I decided to use this photo from the Folger since I HAD to use something Shakespeare-related today. So, happy (probable) 450th birthday to the Bard!

And an update on my 2014 Shakespeare Challenge: I’m a little behind where I hoped to be at this point, having only read 8 of the plays so far. But I’m on track with the sonnets, which I’m doing one a day (today was no. 113). I’ll probably catch up some when I take a little time off work in May (I hope!).

Sunday Short Takes

Clearing out a miscellaneous back-log of things that I haven’t gotten around to posting over the past few weekends:

* William Shakespeare at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – The ODNB is making the Bard’s bio free to read all month in honor of the 450th anniversary of his birth on the 23rd.

* Richard III revamp at Bosworth Battlefield while Cathedral tomb plans get approval

* Hans Holbein – His twisted legacy – Interesting discussion of the new display at the National Portrait Gallery in London

* Podcast: A Hackney Exorcism – History Today talks Elizabethan exorcism with Jessie Childs

And finally…

I’m sure most of you have seen these, but just in case, I thought I would post a link:

* The George Boleyn Interviews – YouTube playlist of all nine parts of the discussion of George Boleyn with Claire Ridgway and Clare Cherry.

Guest Post and Give Away: Inside the Tudor Court by Lauren McKay

I’m delighted to be part of Lauren McKay’s virtual book tour for Inside the Tudor Court, a look at the court of Henry VIII and his six wives through the correspondence of Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys. Below you’ll find an excerpt from the book.

Amberley Books is giving away a free copy of the book at each stop on the tour, so if you would like to be entered in the drawing, click over to the contest form and leave your email address here:

“Inside the Tudor Court” book give-away

The contest will be closed at noon US CDT on Sunday April 13th and the winner will be contacted shortly after!

Update 04-13-14: The contest is now closed and the winner has been contacted. Thanks to all who entered!


Royal Rivals

It is true that in an indirect manner they have occasionally hinted at what they call Your Majesty’s ingratitude and ill-behaviour towards them, and I should certainly have replied, using the very same weapons, had I not thought it better to dissemble.
Chapuys, 1533

It had been six years since Henry had first had doubts about his first marriage, and five years since the divorce proceedings began. In that time Henry had lost friends, alliances had been forged and broken, embassies had come and gone, and an irrevocable breach had opened between England and Rome. However, all this ceased to matter for the days of Anne’s coronation celebrations.

For four days Henry and his court went wild. On 30 May Anne made her progression on the Thames from Greenwich Palace to the Tower of London, where she was greeted by her husband to the roaring fire of 1,000 guns. The next morning she at last made her way from the Tower to Westminster Abbey, dressed in coronation robes of ermine-trimmed purple velvet, and wearing a coronet of gold. For the next two days Henry celebrated with jousts, feasts and celebrations along the Thames. It had been an incredibly lavish affair; the Milanese ambassador predicted that it cost the city of London around 200,000 ducats. The French embassy, whom the Boleyns favoured, had pride of place in the procession, while the Imperial embassy was ignored. Chapuys’ description of the four days of festivities, including the coronation, have often been dismissed on the grounds that he avoided them. Yet the evidence suggests that he was present much of the time. Surely no ambassador could have resisted witnessing the spectacle, or would have risked their master’s wrath with second-hand information of such an important event. In fact, in a letter to de Granvelle he describes Anne’s progress from Greenwich to the Tower, and one of the evenings during the festivities on the Thames. Chapuys describes the coronation as ‘altogether a cold, poor, and most unpleasing sight to the great regret, annoyance, and disappointment not only of the common people but likewise of all the rest’. He was possibly playing down the spectacle for Charles’s sake, but he appears to have enjoyed some elements of the festivities, as he also reports that he was lavishly entertained at a banquet held on the German ambassador’s barge where, he wrote to de Granvelle, they drank a toast to the Emperor as the guns of the Tower fired. Thus Chapuys was actively participating in events.

The ambassador is not the only observer to leave us with a negative account of the coronation; indeed, some critical accounts have been erroneously attributed to Chapuys. One in particular that has shaped our view of Anne’s appearance, and contributed to the myth that she was deformed, is a letter in the archives in Brussels.

It has often been attributed to Chapuys but its handwriting and style are entirely different from his and those of his secretaries. It says:

The crown became her [Anne] very ill, and a wart disfigured her very much. She wore a violet velvet mantle, with a high ruff of gold thread and pearls, which concealed a swelling she has, resembling goître.

This anonymous letter also claims that the French embassy were insulted in the streets as they passed, being called ‘whoreson’, ‘knave’ and ‘French dog’.

The letter is obviously written by someone vehemently opposed to Anne and the French, but it was not Chapuys.

Whatever the conflicting views of the coronation, this was Anne’s ultimate triumph; now she would have to deliver on her promise of a son and secure her reign.


Katherine was grief-stricken at the news of the coronation, and stubbornly refused to be called anything other than queen. Chapuys was quick to explain her actions, telling Charles that it was not out of arrogance or desire of vain glory that she insisted on the title. In fact, he confided, she would take greater glory in being called the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain than the greatest queen in the world, if she knew that she really had no claim to that title. Perhaps deep down the ambassador was painfully aware of how Katherine’s behaviour looked, but now was not the time to be publicly divided. He also refrained from making the point in his despatch that,
had Charles taken action months before, it was entirely possible that matters would not have reached this state – a fact that no doubt played on the ambassador’s mind.

The marriage and coronation had, however, spurred Charles into action, or at least his version of action. His council regrouped and issued the following bulletin:

the King having lived in undisputed marriage with the Queen for about 18 years, and having by her the Princess, who ought to succeed him, procured six years ago a commission from the Pope to cardinals Campeggio and York to proceed to a divorce, but the Queen appealed to Rome. The King, however, persisted in the case being tried out of Italy, in some place where he could appear in person. This point was debated, and finally the Consistory determined that the King’s excusator could not be admitted without a mandate. The Emperor has continually commended the matter to the Pope, by ambassadors and letters, and at their interview at Bologna. Briefs have been obtained to prevent the King from marrying, but he has nevertheless done so, and has forbidden Katharine to be called Queen.

Charles proposed several courses of action which are so ineffectual as to be comical:

1. The prosecution of justice.
2. Force.
3. Force, together with the said justice.

The suggestions were more or less what Chapuys had recommended to Charles several months earlier but were now too late. Henry was hardly likely to obey any demands, with the impending birth of an heir. Charles’s council agreed, adding that war was out of the question, especially as Henry had not acted violently against Katherine or Charles. Even if war were an option, they would have to wait for the Pope to pass sentence on the divorce. With such a council as this on her side, it is hardly surprising that Katherine relied so heavily on Chapuys. Despite Chapuys’ attempts to dampen Charles’s enthusiasm for badgering Henry to leave Anne, he was of course obliged to carry out his master’s wishes. Henry and his councillors had told him repeatedly in 1533 that the idea was impossible. Henry would, however, be generous and honourable if Katherine accepted the situation. If she did not, then Henry would punish her through Mary, which was now the ambassador’s greatest concern. The council made it perfectly clear that no further discussion would be tolerated.

Charles also considered taking Katherine out of England but was strongly urged against it; the council suggested that Henry might later feel remorse for leaving Katherine if he tired of Anne or began to fear his subjects. Such declarations show the council was very much in the dark when it came to English politics; they demonstrate how vital Chapuys was to Charles as an informant, and how Charles held Chapuys’ opinion above that of his own council in such matters.

Still, the Emperor appeared to have renewed vigour regarding the divorce. Prior to Anne’s coronation, Miguel Mai, Charles’s Imperial proctor in Rome, was replaced by Rodrigo Davalos, a man who would not shy away from direct and forceful language with the Pope. Davalos’s intent was to tell Clement, in no uncertain terms, that Charles was deeply displeased and offended by Clement’s inaction. On the Emperor’s orders, Davalos accompanied Don Fernando de Sylva, the Count of Cifuentes, and the Cardinal of Jaen, to speak directly with Clement. The Pope in turn solemnly assured the men that he would make a decision as soon as possible. Davalos wrote to Charles and Chapuys that he was skeptical of Clement’s promise, which Chapuys mirrored in his despatch to the Emperor, mordaciously adding that, if any verdict were to be given, it would be helpful if it arrived before Anne gave birth.

Charles also sought Chapuys’ advice about an alternative measure: enlisting Francis I to persuade Henry to leave Anne. Francis’s first wife, Claude, whom Anne once served, had died almost a decade before, and his second wife, Eleanor of Austria, was Charles’s sister and Katherine’s niece. Could Eleanor perhaps be persuaded by her brother to influence her husband? Charles’s ambassadors in France assured him that Francis had expressed great displeasure at Henry’s marriage to ‘the concubine’ and had endeavoured to dissuade him from it. Emboldened by this report, Charles wrote to his brother-in-law, Francis. However, Chapuys, when asked his opinion, was more realistic. He frankly advised Charles not to expect anything from Francis, reminding the Emperor that Anne and the French king were on very good terms and she had shown partiality to France; he doubted that Francis would risk damaging this relationship. The very fact that Anne had just received a gift from the French king of ‘a handsome and richly decorated litter with three mules and a harness’ suggested Charles was fighting a losing battle.

Charles had instructed Davalos to ‘consult on the best means of forcing the king of England to put away his concubine, and, if possible, getting his Holiness to deprive him of his kingdom’. Charles rightfully feared that Anne and Henry would care very little if the Pope issued such an edict, even if Clement declared their issue to be illegitimate. Henry had come too far now to cower before the Pope, especially if Anne gave him a son. Charles’s passion for the issue echoes Chapuys’ feelings months prior, but psychologically Chapuys had moved on, determined to salvage what he could to improve the terms of a settlement for Katherine and Mary. His blunt, unenthusiastic and even slightly bewildered responses to Charles show us just how far behind the Emperor truly was.


The powerful position held by Anne and her family helped maintain diplomatic ties to France, and Chapuys now felt more than ever that he must tread with absolute caution. He was careful not to petition to see Katherine, whose fury and grief at the coronation were extreme. Upon receiving instructions and letters from Charles to Katherine, Chapuys chose not to visit her, and instead translated the letters in cipher into Spanish, Latin and French. The ambassador feared that, if he did ask to see Katherine, he would ‘lose the little credit I seem to enjoy just now with them’. Chapuys was also concerned about being forced to demand that Katherine submit to Cranmer’s decision regarding her divorce, so removing himself from a potentially unpleasant situation was prudent.

Chapuys seems to have counselled Katherine to do nothing for the time being, despite her anger at Anne’s coronation, and to wait for the papal judgement before taking any action. Katherine preferred to battle Henry and Anne head on, but she took the ambassador’s advice and said nothing. Perhaps Katherine still feared the removal of the ambassador, which would explain her numerous letters to Charles and Chapuys commending the ambassador as ‘her only refuge for the direction of her affairs’.

Charles’s letter to his aunt spoke of his continued efforts to force Clement to give a verdict. This pleased the ambassador, as did Charles’s copy of his instructions to Davalos for his meeting with Clement. The ambassador effusively praised Charles, declaring,

The instructions for Your Majesty’s ambassadors at Rome being, as I said above, so beautifully drawn up, I might be excused adding any suggestions of my own, and thus making parade of my ignorance; yet in order the better to obey Your Majesty’s commands, which is the thing in this world I most desire.

However, the ambassador did tactfully admit that, as perfect as Charles’s instructions were, he had written to Davalos and Cifuentes, supplying a few suggestions. If Francis did, by some miracle, declare for Katherine, Chapuys suggested that, along with the papal sentence when it finally arrived, Charles’s other sister, Mary of Hungary, now Governor of the Netherlands, should send her own ambassadors to give weight to the decree.

Henry had a penchant for cajoling Chapuys into making Katherine see reason. In late June the ambassador was called before the Privy Council. He faced a larger group of men than usual, which was no doubt designed to intimidate him. However, they included Cromwell, Cranmer, Gardiner et al. – men with whom he had sparred before and knew well.

They announced that Henry had always found in the Imperial ambassador ‘a very strong, praiseworthy, and complete inclination towards the maintenance of peace and friendship between the Empire and England, and also towards the transaction of business amicably’.

Henry was confident that Chapuys was ‘a prudent, discreet, and experienced councillor’ and, as such, he must surely understand that Henry had now married a legitimate wife, crowned her queen, and as there could only be one queen in the realm Katherine must relinquish the title. Henry would be guided by Chapuys on how to treat Katherine from now on, especially regarding the allowance he gave her.

The ambassador appeared to be unmoved, thanking the king for his good opinion. His next words would have no doubt caused irritation among the council: they, Chapuys reasoned, must know that Henry’s marriage and Cranmer’s sentence had no effect on Katherine’s case. Taking advantage of the situation and their undivided attention, he felt he should ‘make a slight remark or two’.

As Henry had acknowledged that Katherine had been once his legitimate wife and queen, thus Mary was a legitimate child, there was no reason for Katherine to relinquish the title. He then tried a different tactic, not one which Katherine would have approved of, appealing to their male sensibilities. Women in general, he stated, were fond and proud of such titles, and ‘she ought to retain it as a consolation and comfort in her misfortunes, were it for no other reason than to preserve the rank she once had’.

Chapuys was even able to use Henry’s own sister, Mary, as an example. It was well known that Mary, who had been married to King Francis’s father for mere months, still insisted on being called Queen of France, despite the fact that she had remarried. It was an argument the men could not dispute, and the ambassador reminded the council that Henry had first declared that his divorce sprung from a crisis of conscience. Once more he used Henry’s words as a weapon; Henry had once declared that he would not for anything in this world have taken another wife. If Henry truly cared for Katherine, which such a scruple indicated, then he could not in good conscience take away her title, or do anything to make her life uncomfortable. Surely Henry was not the sort of man to punish his ex-wife. ‘The Queen did not build towers, castles, or fortresses with it [her allowance], or raise armies against him; the whole was spent paying the gentlemen of her household and in providing marriage portions for her gentlewomen, a custom which the King himself was bound to observe.’

When asked how Katherine should be treated Chapuys used an historical analogy: ‘Indeed one might answer such a question as the King had asked, in the words of King Porus of India to Alexander the Great, when he became his prisoner: “Basilice siue regaliter”, which was as much as he could ask from a prince.’

The men could only praise Chapuys’ zeal for peace.

Upcoming Books and Exhibitions for April 2014


Catching up on book releases the slipped past me in the last few months:

Robert Stedall’s second volume on Mary Queen of Scots, Survival of the Crown was released in February in both the UK and UK. Check out his website for more information on both the books and the history!

Next is The Third Plantagenet: George, Duke of Clarence, Richard III’s Brother by John Ashdown-Hill. It is out in hardback in the UK and on Kindle in the US, but won’t but out in print in the US until June (where the link below goes).

And finally, I mentioned in last month’s round-up that Jessie Childs’ God’s Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England would be out in April in the US, but now it looks like it won’t be until September. Sorry!

New Display

* Hans Holbein Re-made: Copies and versions of portraits from the Tudor court, went on display at the National Portrait Gallery on March 4th and will be up through August 31.

Continuing exhibitions

* Closing this month: The Museum of London’s exhibition on the Cheapside Hoard, a collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewels that were found in a cellar in 1912. The exhibition opened October 11, 2013 and runs through April 27, 2014.

* Strange Beauty, an exhibition on painters of the German Renaissance (including Hans Holbein) opened at the National Gallery in London on February 19, 2014 and runs through May 11, 2014.

* If you missed out on In Fine Style when it was at Buckingham Palace, you can catch it now at the Palace of Holyroodhouse from March 14 to July 20.