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* Routledge is offering a limited free trial to English Historical Documents online through May 11.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 MaryQueenofScots.net 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.

Sunday Short Takes

Another quick round-up this week!

* Tudors in America: how England’s New World colonies came into beingWhile the Spanish were obsessed by central and southern America, England’s Tudor monarchs paid little attention to the New World. As David Childs reveals, it was by pure chance that England’s American colonies came into being.

* Henry III, a Shakespearean KingRobert Knecht revisits an article marking 400 years since the assassination of Henry III of France and asks why the last Valois king has attracted so little attention from English-speaking historians.

* Britain’s Digital ReformationThere are striking parallels between state survelliance in the Tudor age and today.

* Beware the Foul Fiend: An Exorcism in Elizabethan LondonJessie Childs recounts the chilling story of an exorcism performed in an Elizabethan household in Hackney. (The full article is available with a subscription but I thought some of you might have one or access through a university library like I do.)

Sunday Short Takes

Quick run-down this week as I get back to enjoying my last few hours of spring break:

* Seminal portrait of Queen Elizabeth I on display at the Museum of ReadingPainting commissioned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, as part of a pair of portraits depicts the Queen wearing a white satin jewel-encrusted doublet

* Is this the bed which launched the Tudors?Dumped in a hotel car park this four poster could be where Henry VIII was conceived and is worth £20 million. More about the bed and how you can see it is posted at the Auckland Castle website.

* Tudor Calendar Photography Competition 2014 – A chance to have a photo featured in the Anne Boleyn Files 2015 Calendar!

And finally…

* The King’s mansion: Inside the stunning £5.5million priory owned by Henry VIII – Another in a long list of properties I would jump at if I had the money!

Doing some upgrades today

Just wanted to warn everyone that I’m going to do some necessary upgrades on the WordPress theme today so things might look a little wonky while I’m working on it. I’ll update this post when I’m done, but if after I update you notice any weird behavior, please leave a comment or send me an email.

Update: Well, upgrading to the new theme seemed to break more things that it fixed, so I’ve gone back to the old one for now.

Sunday Short Takes

Quick and dirty round-up this week – I’ve worked the past two Saturdays and I’m completely knackered after yesterday in particular (working this, for those interested) and in general.

* March 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine out now – featuring a cover article on Chapuys and the Six Wives of Henry VIII by Lauren Mackay

* Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn: Suzannah Lipscomb dispels myths about the lovers who changed history

* The Lovers Who Changed History – Related to above, a post from the British Library Manuscripts Blog about Anne Boleyn’s Book of Hours

* TannerRitchie and the Scottish Record Society announce new agreement

* York’s ‘royal’ museums to get massive makeoversMonk Bar will play host to The Richard III Experience, while Micklegate Bar will become home to The Henry VII Experience.

Upcoming Books, Events, and Exhibitions for March 2014


Just a couple of books this month!

First up is God’s Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England by Jessie Childs, author of the award-winning Henry VIII’s Last Victim: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Her new work is due out on March 6 in the UK and April 22 in the US. I have an advance copy sitting here right next to me – although it should be of no surprise that it is part of a huge to-read pile so who knows when I will get to it!

And the other new release this month is Nathen Amin’s Tudor Wales: A Guide. I’m looking forward to picking this one up! I’ve visited quite a few places in Wales with ties to Tudor history but I’m sure there are many more left to explore. The book is due out on March 13 in the UK and at some point in March in the US.

New(ish) Exhibition opening this month

I say “newish” because this is an exhibition that has already been held in London and is now opening in Edinburgh. So, 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!

Continuing events and exhibitions

* Just a few days left! West Country to World’s End: the South West in the Tudor Age at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Gallery in Exeter opened October 26, 2013 and runs through March 2, 2014.

* The Royal Shakespeare Company’s plays based on Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies opened on December 11th and 19th respectively and will run through March 29, 2014. They are both being staged at the Swan Theatre of the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon. Click the links on each title for information on tickets, rehearsal photos, and more.

* The Museum of London has a new 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.