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TudorCast #22
March 2008


Welcome to Tudor Cast, a podcast dedicated to Tudor History.

Hello, and welcome to Tudor Cast for March 2008. I’m your host, Lara Eakins owner of tudorhistory.org and the TudorTalk email list at YahooGroups.

Let’s get started with a recap of some of the Tudor news since the last podcast.

To start out on a sad note, Paul Scofield, whom most Tudor fans will associate with his role as Sir Thomas More in “A Man for All Seasons”, passed away at the age of 86. Scofield won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as More.

Although it is slightly before our period, there is a new collection of stamps of the monarchs of the houses of York and Lancaster out from the Royal Mail, which some of you might be interested in purchasing.

I’ve posted a link to a new series of Tudor-related book reviews at Open Letters Monthly. The books reviewed so far are: “Henry VIII: Court, Church, and Conflict” By David Loades, “Edward VI: The Lost King of England” by Chris Skidmore and “Henry VIII’s Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey” By Jessie Childs

In entertainment news, congratulations to “Elizabeth The Golden Age” for picking up this year’s the Academy Award for best costume design. Also, the big screen version of “The Other Boleyn Girl” is out in several countries now. If you’d like to add your comments on it, there is an open thread on the news blog that has already seen quite a few contributions. I haven’t seen it yet myself, so I can’t really make any comments personally. I’ve also linked to an article that I and other Tudor fans were quoted in, talking about the current round of Tudor popularity.

Also, you can now see the second season premiere of “The Tudors” from Showtime on their website or at their podcast. You can go to the iTunes podcast directory and search on “tudors” and it will come up. They also have a YouTube channel with behind the scenes clips, and now, the season premiere as well.

And lastly, I’ve also posted some links on the blog to some funny Tudor-related You Tube videos, which some of you might get a kick out of.

For links to source articles for the news recap and other past Tudor news, please see the archives of the news blog at tudorhistory.org/blog

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And now for This Month in Tudor History, where I feature some well known and maybe not as well known Tudor history events that took place during this month.

On March 20th, 1549, Thomas Seymour, uncle to King Edward VI, was beheaded for treason.

Thomas Seymour was born around 1509 to Sir John Seymour and his wife Margery Wentworth, the fourth of six sons in a family that also included four daughters. John Seymour had property in Wiltshire and Somerset, including Wolf Hall and his wife Margery was descended from Edward III. The family would rise to prominence when one of the daughters, Jane, became the third Queen of Henry VIII and the mother of his long-sought-after male heir, Edward.

Thomas started his career in the service of Sir Francis Bryan by 1530, and after his sister’s marriage to the king in 1536 he was named a gentleman of the privy chamber and was given stewardship of manors and castles on the border between England and Wales, known as the Welsh Marches. Shortly after his sister gave birth to her son in October 1537, Thomas was knighted.

In 1538 Thomas was given lands seized by the Crown from the dissolution of the monasteries and was sent on several diplomatic missions. He also had military experience and was named an admiral of the English navy in 1544.

On two occasions a marriage was suggested between Thomas and Mary, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk and widow of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy, but the marriage never took place. Thomas himself seems to have preferred another lady, Katherine Parr, but their courtship was cut short when the king took her as his sixth queen.

Just a few days before Henry VIII’s death in January 1547, Thomas was named to the Privy Council. He was also named to assist the executors of the King’s will and left £200. With the old king’s death, Thomas was now uncle to the new king, Edward VI. Thomas’ older brother Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, became the Lord Protector for the king while he was a minor and was promoted to Duke of Somerset.

Shortly into the new reign Thomas was created Baron Seymour of Sudeley, named a Knight of the Garter and became Lord Admiral. In May or June, Thomas secretly married Katherine Parr, the widow of Henry VIII. In this time Thomas also began to secretly give his nephew, the king, small amounts of money because the boy was complaining that his other uncle, Edward Seymour (the Lord Protector), was not giving him enough personal spending money. Thomas’ reasons for this were probably primarily to get himself into his nephew’s favor, since most of Thomas’ actions in the last two years of his life seem to reflect his scheming and ambition to further his career.

Also during this time, Thomas and his wife were the guardians of the king’s sister Elizabeth, who was in her early teens at the time. Even though he was married to the Dowager Queen, Thomas notoriously flirted with Elizabeth and eventually proposed marriage to her after Katherine’s death. As to what actually happened in the household that eventually led to Elizabeth being sent away, we cannot know for certain. What we do have records of though is Elizabeth’s governess, Kat Ashely’s testimony about Thomas Seymour’s actions with the Princess:

“He would come many mornings into the said Lady Elizabeth’s chamber, and if she were up, he would bid her good morrow and ask how she did, and strike her on the back or buttocks familiarly. And if she were in her bed he would put open the curtains and bid her good morrow, and make as though he would come at her: and she would go further in the bed, so that he could not come at her. And one morning he strove to have kissed her in her bed.”

And this is how Ashley described the time that Katherine Parr found them embracing: “One time, the Queen, suspecting the often access of the Admiral to the Lady Elizabeth’s Grace, came suddenly upon them, where they were all alone, he having her in his arms.”

Queen Katherine died shortly after giving birth to a daughter, named Mary, leaving Seymour free to wed again. By the way, the fate of Thomas and Katherine’s daughter is an often asked question. Most historians think that she died young, since after a point she disappears from the historical record.

Thomas Seymour’s downfall revolved around his plotting to replace his brother as Lord Protector, kidnap the King and marry Princess Elizabeth.  He was arrested on January 17th, 1549 and was examined several times. There is a record of the proceedings of the Privy Council that lead to Seymour’s arrest. I’ll spare you all the reading of the whole excerpt in “The Chronicles of the Tudor Kings”, but here is the last part:

“The protector and council, carefully weighing the great danger imminent and even at hand by these means to the person of the king’s majesty, and the great trouble, mischief and inconvenience which would thereby have ensued to the whole realm, have thought it in their most bounden duties to stop and prevent the same in time; and for that purpose, after good and mature deliberation, have decreed and ordered with one whole mind, consent and agreement, to commit the admiral to prison within the Tower of London, there to remain until further order be taken with him, as the case afterwards on more ample consultation shall require for the greatest safety of the king’s majesty and the realm.”

A bill of attainder was passed against him on the 5th of March and he was executed three weeks later on the 20th on Tower Hill. Although he was handsome and charming, Seymour was rash in his actions and that proved his downfall. I’m sure most of you have heard the quote attributed to Princess Elizabeth, probably apocryphal, that sums up Seymour very well, whether she actually said it or not: “Today died a man of much wit and very little judgment.”

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And now for a page from the Tudor History glossary.

This month will include 2 letters and three entries that are all architectural terms. I’ll have some pictures linked in the show notes too.

First up is the entry for “O” – for oriel window. An oriel window is one that projects out from the main wall. Sometimes they are in a rectangular shape, with the ends jutting out perpendicular to the wall. Other times the ends are angled with respect to the main wall. I’m posting a few photos of my own of some oriel windows at properties with Tudor and Elizabethan connections. Hampton Court has several, although I’ve only posted one. In addition I’ve posted one from Sudeley Castle and one of Shakespeare’s Birthplace house.

Next up are two entries for “P” – perpendicular style architecture and portcullis. The Perpendicular style was the last phase of the medieval Gothic style in England and emphasized the vertical line of structures. Among the developments in the period is elaborate fan vaulting on the ceilings. One example would be the Lady Chapel, also called Henry VII’s chapel, of Westminster Abbey. Perhaps the finest example of fan vaulting and the perpendicular style in general, is the chapel in King’s College, Cambridge. I don’t personally have any photos of the inside of either of these buildings, but I’ll put a link to the wikimedia gallery for fan vaults and you can see some excellent examples there.

And the other “P” term, portcullis, is one I chose because it’s one of my favorite pieces of a castle and it was used as a heraldic symbol. Henry VII incorporated the portcullis symbol on the exterior of his chapel at Westminster Abbey, in honor of his mother Margaret Beaufort. I’ll have a photo of this in the show notes. You will also see the symbol on the back of the British penny. As a defensive structure, the portcullis is a grate that can be lowered or raised at the entrance to a castle and is made of metal or wood, or combination of the two. Probably the most memorable part of the structure are the pointed spikes at the bottom.  I’ll post a photo of the portcullis of Bodiam castle in the show notes.

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Now it’s time for a segment where I feature a text from the Tudor period.

This month are two poems from Elizabeth I. The first is one is from Elizabeth’s time under house arrest at Woodstock in 1554-55. The poem was written down around 1600 by several visitors to Woodstock and was described as having been written on a window frame or a shutter.

O Fortune, they wresting, wavering state
Hath fraught with cares my troubled wit,
Whose witness this present prison late
Could bear, where once was joy flown quite.
Thou causedst the guilty to be loosed
From lands where innocents were enclosed,
And caused the guiltless to be reserved,
And freed those that death had well deserved.
But all herein can be naught wrought,
So God grant to my foes as they have thought.

Also from Woodstock, usually described as having been inscribed with a diamond on a window:

Much suspected by me,
Nothing proved can be.
Quod Elizabeth the prisoner.

The second poem comes from around 1571 and is thought to have been written as a reaction to Mary Queen of Scots’ coming to England after fleeing Scotland.

The doubt of future foes
Exiles my present joy
And wit me warns to shun such snares
As threatens mine annoy.

For falsehood now doth flow
And subjects’ faith doth ebb,
Which should not be if reason ruled
Or wisdom weaved the web.

But clouds of joys untried
Do cloak aspiring minds
Which turns to rage of late repent
By changèd course of winds.

The top of hope supposed
The root of rue shall be
And fruitless all their grafted guile,
As shortly you shall see.

Their dazzled eyes with pride,
Which great ambition blinds,
Shall be unsealed by worthy wights
Whose foresight falsehood finds.

The daughter of debate
That discord aye doth sow
Shall reap no more gain where former rule
Still peace hath taught me to know.

No foreign banished wight
Shall anchor in this port:
Our realm brooks no seditious sects –
Let them elsewhere resort.

My rusty sword through rest
Shall first his edge employ
To pull their tops who seek such change
Or gape for future joy.

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And now for some closing comments…

First up is this month’s featured website is the site for English Heritage at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/ The site has a variety of areas to explore including visiting information (which can be quite helpful for planning a trip when you’re on my side of the Atlantic), conservation and research. The site also has an a link to a project called Images of England which is a compilation of over 300,000 images of historic buildings in England. That site can be accessed directly at: http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/  They also have the PastScape project where you can search a database of English archaeological and architectural records. You can access this site directly at www.pastscape.org To try out the site I searched on Collyweston were Henry VII’s mother Margaret Beaufort had a manor house. What came up was a description of the remains of the house and property, links to publications from archaeological investigations, links to a modern map and aerial imagery of the area. If I ever get around to writing a novel on the early Tudors, this type of information is great for getting started with more detailed research. Like many of the sites I’ve featured, you can get lost looking through the various sections of the English Heritage website and end up losing a lot of time while you go off on side tangents.

There isn’t a whole lot more to add this month so… If you want to comment on this podcast, you can do so at tudorhistory.org/podcast or send me an email at lara@tudorhistory.org A transcript of this and previous podcasts are also available at the website as well as links to mp3s of all the episodes.

Logon to magnatune.com to listen to and purchase music from the artists that you heard featured in this podcast. I’ll have a complete rundown of which albums I used in the podcast notes.

Until next month fare the well!