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TudorCast #1
May 2006


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

Hello, and welcome to Tudor Cast for May 2006. I’m your host, Lara Eakins owner of tudorhistory.org and the TudorTalk email list at YahooGroups. I had hoped to get the first full episode out during the first week of May, but it unfortunately ended up getting bumped a little.

So, let’s get started with a recap of some of the Tudor news through to the end of April 2006.

The new year started out with news of a possible portrait of Lady Jane Grey discovered in a house in London. To date there is no confirmed likeness of the  Nine Days Queen, although there have been contender images over the years, most famously the full-length painting in the National Portrait Gallery in London which is now thought to be Katherine Parr. There is a good amount of evidence in the favor of this new portrait, including dating of the wood panel to the 16th century and the inscription “Lady Jayne” on the painting which analysis suggests was not added later. The style of dress of the sitter fits with the mid-16th century fashions, and the face of the lady is comparable to a contemporary description of Jane Grey. Unfortunately the painting itself is not a photographic-like image like those of Holbein, but is of the more two-dimensional style. Christopher Foley, the art historian who first looked at the painting to evaluate the owner’s claims, suggests that it was a sixteenth century copy of a lost original. The portrait will now be studied by experts at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

In archaeological news, in January, workers uncovered the remains of the chapel of the old palace at Greenwich. This chapel was added to the medieval palace of Placentia by Henry VII. The palace was the birthplace of Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I and was the site of two of Henry VIII’s marriages.

Also in January, the Spanish ambassador visited Peterborough Cathedral and attended a service marking the 470th anniversary of the death of Catherine of Aragon.

There have also been several television programs on the Tudors, especially on Elizabeth I. “The Virgin Queen” starring Anne-Marie Duff ran on Masterpiece Theatre in the US late in 2005 and then aired in the UK in early 2006. Another mini-series on Elizabeth I, this one starring Helen Mirren also recently aired in both the US and UK.  Showtime also announced a new drama series called The Tudors which will likely air in early 2007. In film news, it was finally confirmed that Cate Blanchett will reprise her role as Elizabeth I in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, a sequel to the 1998 film Elizabeth, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.

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

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In this segment, I look at websites that explore aspects of Tudor, Elizabethan or Renaissance history in depth.

For this month, I’ve decided to highlight a site that deals with historical food and drink, which is a topic I love. The site is A Boke Gode Cookery at www.godecookery.com, and “good” is spelled G-O-D-E. There will also be a link in the show notes. The site is run by James L. Matterer and includes, among many other things, A Chaucerian Cookery, which is a study of the food that Chaucer mentions in his writings and recipes for an authentic 14th century feast. There is also a great gallery of period illustrations of food, food preparation, dining, brewing and many other topics. In our period of interest, there is a Renaissance cookery section, which has recipes and text from a 1545 cookbook. There is an extensive glossary, links to other sites, modern recipes for beginners, and the history, instructions for and pictures of that great historical cooking creation, the cockentrice! (a combination of a pig and a capon, for those who are curious!) So, if you’re looking for a full exploration of medieval and renaissance cooking, check it out.

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

May is a month with several important events in Tudor history. The one that most people will think of first is the execution of Anne Boleyn and the men associated with her downfall. But another event that occurred less than two weeks later was the marriage of Henry VIII to his third wife, Jane Seymour, on May 30th . The marriage with Jane had no legal complications, unlike the previous two. Catherine of Aragon had died in early 1536 and the marriage to Anne Boleyn had been annulled shortly before her execution. The only other potential barrier was the fact that Henry and Jane were distant cousins as both were descendent from Edward III. In the past this would have required a Papal dispensation, but in Henry’s new church, Thomas Cranmer (the Archbishop of Canterbury) had the authority. It’s interesting that Cranmer issued the dispensation on the day of Anne Boleyn’s execution and the next day, the 20th, Henry and Jane were formally betrothed. They were married in a private ceremony on the 30th at Whitehall Palace. Jane was never crowned, although there were plans for a coronation which had to be postponed due to an outbreak of plague. After that, Jane was pregnant, and the coronation was put off again (although it is interesting that Anne Boleyn was crowned when she was six months pregnant). Unfortunately for Jane, her difficut labor and illness following Edward’s birth took her life, so she would never be formally crowned Queen. From Henry’s point of view, Jane was the probaly perfect wife. She gave him his male heir without any questions of legitimacy, she doesn’t seem to have caused any great political stirs while she was Queen and then she died before Henry could get tired of her. Henry chose to be buried with her and she is the wife shown by his side in family portraits such as the Whitehall mural and the family portrait at Hampton Court Palace.

I’d also like to mention one Tudor-related birthday in May, and that is of Margaret Beaufort, who was born on May 31st, 1443. Margaret was a descendent of Edward III through his son John of Gaunt and his third wife, Katherine Swynford, whose relationship and family I might feature in some future podcast, since I find them quite interesting. Margaret was the mother of Henry VII, whom she gave birth to when she was 13 years old. She married two more times before her death, and both husbands were important figures in the Wars of the Roses and the transistion into the Tudor period. I’ve been interested in Margaret for a few years now, so I’ll probably feature her more in the future.

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

I thought it would be appropriate, since this is the month of Anne Boleyn’s exection, to have the featured speech or letter this time to be on that topic. I’m actually going to have two short pieces this time.

The first piece is a letter that was written from Sir William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower of London to Thomas Cromwell on the day of Anne’s execution, May 19th, 1536.

 

QUEEN ANNE BOLEYN ON THE DAY OF HER EXECUTION
FRIDAY, MAY 19, 1536

This morning she sent for me, that I might be with her at such time as she received the good Lord, to the intent I should hear her speak as touching her innocency alway to be clear. And in the writing of this she sent for me, and at my coming she said, "Mr. Kingston, I hear I shall not die afore noon, and I am very sorry therefore, for I thought to be dead by this time and past my pain ". I told her it should be no pain, it was so little. And then she said, "I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck", and then put her hands about it, laughing heartily. I have seen many men and also women executed, and that they have been in great sorrow, and to my knowledge this lady has much joy in death. Sir, her almoner is continually with her, and had been since two o'clock after midnight.

The other piece is Anne Boleyn’s speech at her execution, as recorded by Edward Hall.

ANNE BOLEYN'S SPEECH AT HER EXECUTION
MAY 19, 1536, 8 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING

Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.

After being blindfolded and kneeling at the block, she repeated several times: To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesu receive my soul.

 

I’ve been asked in the past why Anne didn’t protest her innocence on the scaffold and why she was so conciliatory towards Henry in her speech. The answer, as I’ve gathered from various readings is that it was part of the custom of a dignified death to have a speech like Anne’s. And, if she had spoken out against Henry, it is possible that her family would have suffered for it.

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This segment will feature my comments on Tudor and Elizabethan programs, books or movies.

I was originally planning on putting in my review of the Helen Mirren “Elizabeth I” program, but I haven’t had a chance to write up a more complete reivew beyond my initial thoughts. Quickly though, I did really enjoy it and I thought both Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons were wonderful in their roles. I thought there was a nice attention to historical details too, such as the Whitehall mural of Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII and Jane Seymour visible in some of the long shots. I have to admit that I was more into the first half, with Robert Dudley, than the second part, because I’m such as sap that I lose interest in most fictional accounts of Elizabeth’s life after Dudley dies. So, there you have it! I’ll try add more in next month’s podcast.

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And now for some closing comments and some other extranious things!

Well, that’s it for the first full episode of TudorCast! I hope you’ve all enjoyed it. Like all things that I’ve done with the website, this took a little bit longer to get going that I had hoped. But, that’s what happens when you have too many interests and hobbies and try squeeze them all in to the hours that you aren’t working or trying to have a life beyond work! I find that during the week, I’m often so tired when I get home and get dinner made that I don’t really feel like doing much beyond vegging and watching TV and maybe doing a little cross-stitch, but that’s about it. Now that we’re in the summer, maybe things will slow down a little, but some how I doubt it.

In future podcasts, I’ll try to address any comments or questions about the podcast in this segment, but since this is the first one, I obviously don’t have any to respond to yet.

Remember, you can read a transcript of this episode, leave comments and see links mentioned in the episode at tudorhistory.org/podcast. I’ll also put up a complete listing of all the music in the episode. Until next time, fare the well!