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TudorCast #12
May 2007


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

Hello, and welcome to Tudor Cast for May 2007, the first anniversary of Tudor Cast! 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.

Fairly short recap this month. First up is news that several Tudor portraits have made the crossing with some other famous paintings from the National Portrait Gallery in London and are current on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. Among the famous faces are the Ditchley Portrait of Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Tony Blair and J. K. Rowling.

“The Play of the Weather” by John Heywood is being staged in Hampton Court Palace nearly 500 years after it was first performed there for Henry VIII. The aim is to do a full-scale recreation in 2009 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Henry’s accession to the throne.

And one other piece of news, artist Willard Wigan, who creates amazing microscopic sculptures, has sold his collection to former British tennis star John Lloyd. The collection was insured for over £11,000,000. The Tudor connection to all this is that he is the artist that created the amazing sculpture of Henry VIII and his wives inside the eye of a needle. Pictures of the Henry and Wives art are in the articles that I linked to on the news blog, but I’ll also put a copy of the picture in the notes for this episode.

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

On the 27th of May 1541, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury was beheaded at the Tower of London. The grizzly execution of a 67-year-old woman was one of the more gruesome to take place in the Tower.

Margaret was born into the England of the Wars of the Roses and was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, one of Edward IV’s younger brothers. Margaret’s only surviving sibling was Edward, Earl of Warwick. In the first 12 years of Margaret’s life would come the death of Edward IV, the disappearance of his sons Edward V and Richard Duke of York, Richard III taking control of the crown and the Battle of Bosworth Field which brought Henry VII to the throne. After the Tudor family came to power, the remaining members of the House of York were systematically dealt with through marriage, imprisonment and eventually, execution. Margaret’s brother Edward, who was the next male Yorkist claimant to the throne, spent the remainder of his days in the Tower and was executed in 1499.

Henry VII arranged for Margaret to be married to Sir Richard Pole, whose mother was a half-sister to Henry’s own mother, Margaret Beaufort. Pole’s father was Geoffrey Pole, esquire, who may have been descended from the Welsh princes of Powys. Margaret bore Richard five surviving children – Henry, Arthur, Ursula, Reginald and Geoffrey. Margaret’s husband died in 1504, and Margaret’s income was severely reduced to the point that she sent her son Reginald to the Church, where he was to eventually become a cardinal and Archbishop of Canterbury. When Henry VIII became king in 1509 Margaret’s fortunes improved when she went to attend on Queen Catherine, whom she had also served in her short time as Princess of Wales before the death of Prince Arthur. In 1512 Margaret was granted the title of Countess of Salisbury in her own right, restoring her to a title that was previously held in her family. The restoration brought a good income from the Salisbury estates and lands, eventually making Margaret one of the wealthiest peers in England.

In the 1520s and 30s, Margaret’s relationship with the crown became strained because of Margaret’s support of Catherine of Aragon and the Princess Mary, as well as her sons’ relationship with the Duke of Buckingham, who was executed for treason. Margaret’s son Reginald spoke out against the Royal Supremacy – an act of treason, although from the safety of Italy. Some of the members of the family closer to the King’s wrath weren’t so lucky. Geoffrey Pole was arrested and Margaret was kept in custody, first at her interrogator William Fitzwilliam’s residence, but was later transferred to the Tower. In May 1539, an act of attainder was passed against her for aiding and abetting her sons Henry and Reginald and having ‘committed and perpetrated diverse and sundry other detestable and abominable treasons’. Although imprisoned in the Tower, Margaret was fairly well-appointed and even had new clothes made by the Queen’s tailor in March 1541. However, a rising in the north may have been the tipping point and at 7 o’clock in the morning on May 27th 1541, Margaret was executed. The story of the actual execution is rather horrible, although it has sometimes been falsely embellished with tales of the executioner chasing Margaret around with an axe. There wasn’t any chasing, but Margaret did have the misfortune to have an inexperienced axe man who was, according to the Calendar of State Papers, ‘a wretched and blundering youth … who literally hacked her head and shoulders to pieces in the most pitiful manner’. She was laid to rest, like many others executed before and after her, in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London. In 1886 she was beatified by Pope Leo XIII.

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And now for a page from the Tudor History glossary. This time it is “enclosure”. The topic of enclosures is a complex one, so I apologize in advance for the broad terms and over-simplification I’m going to do here. I’ll be the first to say that economic history is not a strong point for me!

Generally speaking, enclosures were the fencing or hedging off areas of land for private use that had once been available for common use. Sometimes the enclosing was done by general agreement between the landlord and the tenants who rented the land for farming and the community which used the land for common grazing. But sometimes the land was enclosed without consultation which was where the trouble and controversy of the practice arose. At its worst, enclosures forced tenant farmers off their land and removed the commons where a village would graze their animals, which sometimes caused entire villages to disappear. The practice was especially hard on the Midlands in counties such as Leicestershire and Warwickshire.

Just a couple of incidents regarding enclosure in Tudor times - In 1489 and act was passed against conversion to pasture and the pulling down of houses out of fear that it would increase vagrancy and reduce grain production, but the act was not enforced.. One of the chief demands of Kett’s Rebellion in 1549 was for rich landlords to stop overstocking the common lands and to stop enclosing common lands for their own use, which was often to raise sheep for wool and mutton, which was quite profitable.

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I was planning to add in the Frequently Asked Questions segment in this month, but I ran into a snag in the question that I was researching for this month. I need an article that I’m going to need to actually go to the physical library for because it isn’t available electronically. Since I really wanted to get the podcast finished over the long weekend, I’m going to push the real debut of this section to the June podcast.

For this month, I’m going to take the opportunity to answer a question that has only recently become “frequently asked” by people watching “The Tudors” series on Showtime. I’ve already mentioned this particular topic on both the regular site  blog and the Question and Answer blog, but I figure it can’t hurt to put it in the podcast as well. For those of you who already know all this, I apologize for going over something kind of basic. But, I’ve been getting emails from people who were prompted to learn more about the real history of the Tudors after watching the series, so if any of you out there in podcast land are new to Tudor history, this is for you!

The topic we’re going to address is that of the sisters of Henry VIII. I’m just going to give the quick run-down of who they were, and who they weren’t with regards to the TV series. It is understandable that people who thought they knew about the basics of Henry’s sisters were confused when the character of Margaret Tudor was introduced in the series and was shuttled off to marry the aging King of Portugal, only to “speed him to his heavenly reward” and marry Charles Brandon on the trip home. My guess is that they decided to use Margaret’s name for what is basically the story of Henry’s younger sister Mary to avoid confusion with Henry’s daughter Mary. After I thought about it a bit, I realized what they should have done was name the sister Mary Rose, and that would have probably taken care of the potential confusion. But, they didn’t, so we’re left with the Margaret confusion.

The real Margaret Tudor was Henry VIII’s older sister and she married James IV of Scotland and was the mother of James V of Scotland, who was in turn the father of Mary Queen of Scots. Through Margaret’s second marriage, she had a daughter, Margaret Lennox, who was the mother of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Darnely married Mary Queen of Scots, who gave birth to their son, the future James VI of Scotland and James I of England.

Henry VIII’s younger sister Mary is the person whose basic story is portrayed with the name Margaret in “The Tudors” television series. Besides her name, the other main change that they made was having her marry the aging King of Portugal, rather than the King of France. My guess for why they did this is that they started the series in 1520, when Francis I was already the French king, so they couldn’t use his predecessor, Louis XII, who was the king that Mary actually wed. So they used the King of Portugal instead. Manuel I of Portugal died in 1521 at the age of 52 , so that might be who they were using, although I don’t recall them actually saying his name in the show. Manuel really did have a young royal bride late in his life, his third wife, Eleanor of the house of Hapsburg. Interestingly, after Manuel’s death from the plague (and not from being smothered by a pillow) Eleanor went on to be the second wife of Francis I of France.

Mary did actually marry Charles Brandon and they did briefly incur her brother’s wrath, but they were quickly forgiven since Mary was his favorite sister and Charles one of his best friends. Mary and Charles had at least three children, although only two who survived childhood – Frances and Eleanor. Frances Brandon married Henry Grey and was the mother of Ladies Jane, Catherine and Mary Grey and Eleanor was married to Henry Clifford, the Earl of Cumberland and had a daughter named Margaret.

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

This month we’re going to do a song, which I haven’t done in a while. This time it is Thomas Campion’s poem and song “When to her lute Corina sings”, performed here by La Primavera and available on their album “English Renaissance Music” from Magantune.com. I’ll post the poem in the show notes. I’m also going to post a link to a page at Luminarium.org which has an image of the 1601 sheet music for the song.

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And now for some closing comments…

The website that I would like to recommend this month is findagrave.com, which basically does what it says – helps you find famous graves. There are a variety of ways to search through the records, including name search, browsing by burial place, browsing by claim to fame and special pages for “born on this date” and “died on this date”. One nice feature of the site is a place for reader submitted photos of a lot of the famous graves. I was looking up where Thomas Boleyn was buried and found several pictures of his tomb and the church at Hever, which I somehow managed to miss when I visited there in 1998. I’ll have to add it to my ever-growing “wish list” for the next time I cross the pond. There is also a place to leave virtual flowers and a note on a person’s grave page. One other thing to note, there is also a non-famous grave search that folks might find helpful in genealogy research. So, have fun browsing and discovering on www.findagrave.com

I once again would like to thank everyone for the wonderfully kind feedback on the podcast. This podcast marks the first anniversary of TudorCast and it is great to know that people are listening to and enjoying the work I’ve been doing.

That’s it for this month!

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!