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TudorCast #7
December 2006


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

Hello, and welcome to Tudor Cast for December 2006. 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.

There wasn’t much news added to the news blog since the last podcast, so this is going to be a pretty short wrap-up.

The first item isn’t something strictly Tudor-related, but it does have an impact on books and articles that a lot of us read, and importantly, the illustrations that accompany them. The Victoria & Albert Museum announced that they are going to drop the charges for academics and scholars to use their digital images. This is a good development because some museums charge quite a bit for image use, even for just strictly academic work, and often scholars aren’t operating with a big budget. So, let’s hope some other galleries follow their example.

The next item is an update of sorts on the Tudors television mini-series due to air next year. PeaceArch entertainment has posted a trailer for the show, along with a brochure and more information about the series. You can find a link to it at the news blog.

And finally, the Museum of London has put on display two late fifteenth century altar panels that are thought to have been for a chapel at Westminster Abbey. They were commissioned by or for George Fascet the Abbot of Westminster at the end of the fifteenth century. The panels are rare examples of art that was typically lost or destroyed through the Dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII, the Reformation and other religious turmoil.

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 Medieval, Tudor, Elizabethan or Renaissance history in depth.

This month’s featured site is one that I’ve been following for many years, Drea Leed’s Elizabethan Costuming site, at elizabethancostume.net. The site is a combination of articles written by Ms. Leed herself and a collection of other costuming information on the web. If I remember correctly, the site started out mainly focusing on Elizabethan corsets, or that may be how I first came across it. There is a good section about the history of corsets, the proper material for an historical corset, but some modern equivalents as well. And of course there are instructions for drafting a pattern and making your own corset. And if you are interested in corsets in particular be sure to check out the page on the corset from Elizabeth I’s effigy at Westminster Abbey and the reconstruction of it. If undergarments are your thing, be sure to check out the Spanish farthingale pages too.

After you have you undergarments in order, you can find complete instructions on how to assemble a complete Elizabethan outfit from shift or smock, to stockings or hose, then the corset, the farthingale, maybe adding a bumroll, maybe adding a petticoat, or perhaps a kirtle and forepart, then a partlet and finally, the gown and sleeves. And if you are wondering what some of those things were that I mentioned in there, then you’ll have to go to Elizabethancostume.net and find out!

The also includes information on make-up, dress of different classes of society, links to many different galleries of 16th century portraiture, information on patterns (both commercial and how to make your own), sewing techniques, books and manuscripts, including dye recipes that I find fascinating, hats and headwear, colors and fabrics, the all-important accessorizing, such as ruffs, decorations with embroidery and links to sites with information on the fashions of other countries in the 16th century.

Even if you aren’t planning on creating your own fabulous Elizabethan gown, elizabethancostume.net is full of fun and fascinating information. And even if you weren’t originally intending to try your hand at costuming, you may want to after looking through the site!

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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.

December 1542 was a month of turmoil for Scotland. On December 8th, Marie de Guise, Queen to James V, gave birth to a daughter, Mary. Just six days later, the baby girl would become Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary was the third child born to the Scottish monarchs and she the only one to survive infancy. Mary’s two brothers, James and Robert, had both died in 1541 at very young ages. In the months before Mary’s birth, relations between England and Scotland had deteriorated and Henry VIII decided to invade Scotland in the autumn of 1542. The Scottish army was defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss in November and although King James wasn’t present at the battle, he took the news of the defeat hard. Shortly after the battle James fell ill and died at Falkland Palace at the age of 30, leaving his six-day-old daughter Mary the new Queen of Scotland. Marie de Guise’s marriage contract have her the right to return to France after James died, but she decided to remain in Scotland to protect the interests of the infant Queen.

On December 7, in 1545, one of Mary Queen of Scots’ future husbands was born. Although it is not known for sure, traditionally the 7th of December is given as the birthday for Henry Stewart, usually known as Lord Darnley. Henry was born to Lady Margaret Douglas and her husband Matthew Stewart, the Earl of Lennox. Some of you may recall from a previous podcast that Margaret Douglas was the daughter of Margaret Tudor, the elder sister of Henry VIII, from her second marriage. Margaret’s first husband was of course James IV of Scotland, making her both the grandmother of Mary Queen of Scots and Henry, Lord Darnley.

On July 29, 1565, Mary Queen of Scots and Henry Lord Darnley were married at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. Their son James VI of Scotland also became King James I of England after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603.

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And now for a page from the Tudor History glossary.

This month we’re going to talk about the town of Calais. During the first half of the Tudor period, Calais was the last remaining English possession in France. Calais was and still is a port city located on the northwestern coast of France, about 20 miles from England. It is across from the English town of Dover at the Strait of Dover, which is the narrow stretch connecting the English Channel to the North Sea.

Calais became an English possession in 1347, when Edward III captured it during the Hundred Years War and the English rule was formalized in 1360 by the Treaty of Bretigny. The town and its surrounding area, known as the Pale of Calais, measured about 120 square miles and were heavily fortified against incursions from France. Calais served as an important port for English goods, particularly wool, entering the Continent. Calais eventually fell to the French in January 1558, in the reign of Mary I. Calais was formally lost in the reign of Elizabeth I under the Treaty of Troyes.

Although the last holdings in France were lost to the English crown in Mary’s reign, Elizabeth and all the following English monarchs continued to keep “France” in their title until it was formally given up by George III in 1801. The French symbol of the fleur-de-lis was also removed from the Royal Arms at this time.

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

Since this is the holiday season, I thought I would dig out a couple of Christmas related texts.

The first is the words of The Boar’s Head Carol. I will spare you my singing, but if you’d like to hear it sung, I first learned the carol from The Chieftains’ CD “The Bells of Dublin”, which is one of my favorite CDs for this time of year.

The custom of bringing in the Boar’s Head during Christmas dates back to at least medieval England, but probably has earlier origins and is still done to this day. The version I’m reading is from a book of Christmas carols published by Wynken de Worde in 1521. Please excuse my Latin pronunciation!

The boar's head in hand bear I

Bedecked with bays and rosemary

I pray you, my masters, be merry

Quot estis in convivio (so many as are in the feast)

CHORUS: Caput apri defero, Reddens laudes domino
(the boar's head I bring, giving praises to God)

The boar's head, as I understand,

Is the rarest dish in all this land,

Which thus bedecked with a gay garland

Let us servire cantico. (let us serve with a song)

CHORUS

Our steward hath provided this

In honor of the King of bliss

Which, on this day to be served is

In Reginensi atrio: (in the Queen's hall)


The second text is the first and twelfth stanzas from a poem called “A Christmas Carroll” written by George Wither. Wither was born in the reign of Elizabeth I, but the poem actually dates from later. Anyone who has poked around my website over the years might recognize the text from the annual web Christmas card I used to put on the site.

So, now is come our joyful'st feast;
Let every man be jolly.
Each room with Ivy-leaves is dress'd
And every post with holly.
Though some churls at our mirth repine,
Round your foreheads garlands twine,
Drown a sorrow in a cup of wine
And let us all be merry. 

Then wherefore in these merry days
Should we, I pray, be duller?
No; let us sing some roundelays
To make our mirth the fuller.
And, whilst thus inspir'd we sing,
Let all the streets with echoes ring;
Woods, and hills, and everything,
Bear witness we are merry. 

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And now for some closing comments…

I don’t have a lot to add this month, so I’d like to wish everyone Happy Holidays, no matter what you celebrate this time of year.

It’s been a pretty good year, so I can’t complain. I started this podcast back in May and I’ve received a lot of great messages of support from listeners, so I’m very pleased that I’ve actually got a few people out there listening and enjoying what I do.

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. All the music in this podcast are from Magnatune.com artists La Primavera and the Dufay Collective. Logon to magnatune.com to preview and purchase music from these and other artists.

Until next month, fare the well and Happy New Year!