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TudorCast #24
May 2009


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

Hello, and welcome to Tudor Cast for May 2009. 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 the news since the last podcast!

As part of the continuing celebrations of the anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne, Historic Royal Palaces has put Henry on Twitter. He has been tweeting about the events since his father’s death back in April and will post through to the events of his coronation in June. I’ll put a link to the Twitter profile in the show notes.

The British Library has started a blog and podcast in conjunction with their Henry VIII: Man and Monarch exhibition. There have already been some really interesting podcasts, including an hour-long talk by David Starkey. I’ll have links in the show notes.

At the end of April, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and more than 70 Yeoman of the Guard gathered at Westminster Abbey to honor the founder of the Guard, Henry VII, who of course died 500 years ago this year. The Queen placed flowers at the tomb of Henry VII and his Queen Elizabeth of York. In just a bit of royal trivia, the current Queen was also known as Elizabeth of York before her father took the throne after Edward VIII’s abdication.

The Elizabethan gardens at Kenilworth Castle re-opened at the beginning of May after several years of reconstruction. The new gardens are based on a detailed description of their appearance at the time of Elizabeth I’s famous visit in 1575.

Christ’s College, Cambridge has announced a program in honor of their founder Lady Margaret Beaufort, who died 500 years ago this June. The events will include talks, evensong and a banquet. Links for more information will be in the show notes.

The Vatican has commissioned a Venetian publisher to create a facsimile of Henry VIII’s petition for an annulment from Catherine of Aragon in 1530. Only 199 copies will be made and will be selling for approximately $68,000 US. Any profits from the sale will go towards conservation and restoration of other documents in the Vatican Secret Archives.

And finally, in entertainment news, it was announced that Joss Stone would be back as Anne of Cleves for the fourth and final season of Showtime’s “The Tudors”.

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 Tudor History events that took place during this month.

As I mentioned in last month’s podcast, we’re going to continue with the events from 500 years ago. On May 9, 1509, the body of Henry VII began its procession from Richmond to his final resting place in Westminster Abbey.

Continuing from last month, from Hall’s Chronicle:

The corpse of the dead monarch was brought out of the privy chamber into the Great Chamber where it rested for three days, on each of which a mitred bishop in full regalia sung dirges and masses over the body. From the great chamber it was brought to the hall where it also lay three days and then to the chapel, again for three days, in each place receiving the same ministrations by the clergy. And in each of these three places there was an ornate hearse, framed with banners, and nine mourners in constant attendance during the service. Black cloth hung everywhere and every day offerings were received. On Wednesday 9 May the corpse was laid in a carriage covered with black cloth-of-gold with gold cushions and drawn by five huge chargers covered in black velvet. Over the body, laid again on gold cushions, was an image of the late king dressed in his robes of state, wearing his crown and holding the ball and sceptre in his hands. The chariot itself was decorated with banners and pennants depicting his titles, dominions and pedigree. When the chariot had been prepared, the members of the king’s chapel choir and a large number of bishops led off the procession, praying all the while. Then followed his servants, dressed in black, and the chariot itself. Behind the chariot came nine mourners and on both sides were men carrying long and short funeral candles, six hundred in all. In this manner the procession left Richmond and arrived at St. George’s Field where all the priests, clerics and religious men from both the city of London and elsewhere joined the front of the cortege in front of the members of the king’s chapel choir.

The following day the body was transported to Westminster, Sir Edward Howard carrying the king’s banner on a charger covered in trappings bearing the arms of the late monarch.

In Westminster Abbey there was a curious hearse made of nine poles, all covered with candles which were lit at the approach of the corpse. Six lords removed the body from the carriage and laid it within the hearse, the effigy being placed on a cushion on a large gold pall-cloth.

The hearse had two sets of railings surrounding it. Inside the first sat the official mourners, inside the second stood knights bearing banners depicting the saints, and outside of these stood soldiers. When the mourners were seated, Garter King of Arms declaimed his official cry for the soul of the noble prince King Henry VII, late king of this realm. Then the choir began Placebo and sang dirges. These finished, the mourners returned to the palace, where rooms had been kept for them, and rested for the night.

The next day, three masses were solemnly sung by bishops and during the last of these the late king’s banner, charger, coat of arms, sword, shield and helmet were presented as offerings. At the end of the mass the mourners also offered rich pall-cloths made of cloth of gold. The body was then lowered into the earth while the choir sage Libera me and the lord treasurer, lord steward, lord chamberlain, treasurer and comptroller of the king’s household all broke their official staves and cast them into the grave. Then garter king of arms cried out in a loud voice: (in French) “Long live King Henry VIII, King of England and France and Lord of Ireland”. After which all the official mourners and all the others that had attended the funeral service went off to the palace where they had a great and sumptuous feast.

It is indeed truly remarkable to record the great lamentation amongst the king’s household and nobles at this death and the equally great joy expressed by those who had suffered under his iron rule. Yet the promise of the future, which showed itself in the young king, both healed and comforted the heavy hearts of those who had felt the loss of such a wise prince and at the same time cleansed all grudges and rancour from those gladdened by his death, whose joy was further increased by the granting of their pardons.

As was the custom at the time, Henry VIII did not attend his father’s funeral. I tried to find a list of names of who the official mourners were at Henry VII’s funeral, but I wasn’t able to. If anyone knows of a source, please leave a comment on the podcast blog.

The funeral sermon was preached by John Fisher Bishop of Rochester at St. Paul’s Cathedral before his burial in Westminster and was later printed at the behest of the late king’s mother Margaret Beaufort.

The Garter King of Arms mentioned in the account is a position that still exists and is the senior officer of the College of Arms. At Henry VII’s funeral, Sir Thomas Wriothesley held the position that he had gained in 1505. Sir Thomas’ son Charles was the Windsor Herald of Arms and was the author of Wriothesley’s “Chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors from AD 1485 to 1559”.

Henry VII left instructions in his will for the construction of the magnificent tomb seen today at the Abbey. The tomb’s effigies, along with that of his mother Margaret Beaufort who died just two months after her son, were created by the Italian sculptor Pietro Torrigiano, who also made the terra cotta bust of Henry VII now on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The wooden heads on the effigies from both Henry VII and Elizabeth of York’s funerals survive and are on display in the Westminster Abbey undercroft museum.

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And now some closing notes…

I want to thank everyone who left comments or sent email about how happy they were to see the podcast back! I was beyond flattered, so thanks again. It really does make me keep going to hear such nice things from everyone!

This month’s featured piece of music is “Rest Sweet Nymphs” composed by Francis Pilkington who was born in about 1565 and died in 1638. It is performed by La Primavera on their album “English Renaissance Music”. Logon to magnatune.com to listen to and purchase music from the artist that you heard featured in this podcast. I’ll have a link in to this album the show notes.

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.

Until next month, fare the well!