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TudorCast #19
December 2007


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

Hello, and welcome to Tudor Cast for December 2007. 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.

This was a pretty light month on news. Most of it was entertainment related, such as the announcement of the DVD releases of “The Tudors” first season and of “Elizabeth The Golden Age”, which I have links to on the blog, where you can pre-order through my Amazon affiliate store, if you’re so inclined.  Also, both the movie and the series received Golden Globe nominations.

One really interesting article that came up this month is the publication of the inventory of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The inventory, which has been transcribed and annotated from the original manuscript at the British Library, will be published in the English Heritage Historical Review, an annual journal which sells for £25 (about $50 US).

Here is the abstract, from the English Heritage site:

The Earl of Leicester’s Inventory of Kenilworth Castle, c.1578

Elizabeth Goldring

An inventory of about 1578, purchased in 1995 by the British Library, describes the contents of one of the greatest medieval and Elizabethan houses, then the principal seat of Elizabeth I’s favourite, Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, and the setting of the best-known and most ambitious of the revels which were staged on her famous progresses. Made within three years of this event, it offers an unusually rich insight into the material culture of the Elizabethan elite. It specifies weights, dimensions, materials, colour, decorative motifs and subject matter, in particular of about 50 paintings and more than 20 maps. It casts light on four major portraits of the queen and the earl of Leicester, including two (now lost) by the Italian mannerist Federico Zuccaro.

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 events that took place during this month.

On December 23, 1497 a fire swept through the palace of Sheen, shortly after the royal family had taken up residence there for Christmas. Henry VII took the opportunity to rebuild on the site and named his new Palace “Richmond”, after the earldom he held before becoming king.

The first royal associated with Sheen was Henry I who lived there in 1125. Sheen saw a lot of work in the reign of  Edward III, who died there in 1377. Richard II also undertook building at Sheen as a private retreat but ordered it destroyed after his first wife, Anne of Bohemia, died there in 1394. Under Henry V, work on three religious foundations and a new royal residence began at Sheen, which was finished by his son Henry VI. The new designs at Sheen provided more of a barrier between the King and his family from the rest of the court and gave the monarch a private area of his own.

The fire that destroyed most of the medieval building was described in the “Great Chronicle of London” as having began suddenly in the King’s lodging. The fire spread quickly and almost nothing could be saved, but, fortunately, no one was killed in the fire. Work on the new palace of Richmond on the site of the destroyed Manor of Sheen was done in two phases, with the first completed in 1501. The second phase was the house of the Friars Observant was founded to the south of the palace in 1502 on the site of the old palace of Byfleet. Orchards  and galleries were also planted around the palace and friary and were enclosed by galleries that were the first of their kind in England.

During Henry VII’s reign, some of the celebrations of Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon’s wedding were held at Richmond, and in 1503, Princess Margaret left on her journey north to Scotland from Richmond. In April 1509, Richmond’s builder, Henry VII, died at the Palace. Henry VIII stayed at Richmond mostly early in his reign before he took the great Hampton Court Palace, just down the river from Richmond, from Cardinal Wolsey. Wolsey occupied Richmond for a time and in 1540 the palace was given to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement from Henry VIII. The palace once again became Crown property in the reign of Mary I. When Elizabeth I became queen, she frequently used the palace, and died there on March 24, 1603.

During the reigns of the Stuart monarchs the palace was used often as a household for royal children. After Charles I’s execution the palace was sold and partly demolished. After the restoration of the monarchy, the remaining parts of the palace were used once again by the royal family. Plans had been made to rebuild the palace, but these ended with the abdication of James II. Small amounts of Richmond Palace still remain, even with some surviving Tudor brickwork, and are private residences.

The main sources for this section were Simon Thurley’s “Royal Palaces of Tudor England” and local history notes from the website of the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames.

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And now for a page from the Tudor History glossary. We’re up to “L” for limning.

Limning, in general, simply means to paint. But in the Tudor period, it most often referred to the art of painting miniatures. The art form began its popularity in the court of Henry VIII, with several surviving examples from Hans Holbein and Lucas Hornebolte. Rare among the artists of the Tudor and Elizabethan court was Levina Teerlinc, a woman artist whose father was a renowned manuscript illuminator from Bruges. The two painters probably most associated with miniatures of Elizabeth I and her court were Nicholas Hilliard and his pupil, Isaac Oliver.

Hilliard also wrote a manuscript entitled “A Treatise Concerning the Arte of Limning” around 1600 in which he described methods and practices for producing fine portrait miniatures. Hilliard stressed cleanliness in the workshop in both painting and the preparation of pigments. He also recommended wearing all silk apparel while painting which would shed the least amount of dust and lint. If you’d like to read Hilliard’s “Treatise”, it has been published a couple of times in the past few decades, so look for it at the library or bookstore.

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

December’s offering is an excerpt from a report from Andre Hurault, the French Ambassador about having a private audience with Elizabeth I on December 8, 1597. I’ll have a link to the page on the site with the full text.

A PRIVATE AUDIENCE WITH ELIZABETH I
DECEMBER 8, 1597

On the 8th of December I did not think to be given an audience for that day and was resolved to make my complaint; but about one hour after noon there came a gentleman from the Queen who said to me that her Majesty was much grieved that she had not given me audience sooner, and that she prayed me to come to her that very hour.

<snip>

He led me across a chamber of moderate size wherein were the guards of the Queen, and thence into the Presence Chamber, as they call it, in which all present, even though the Queen be absent, remain uncovered. He then conducted me to a place on one side, where there was a cushion made ready for me. I waited there some time, and the Lord Chamberlain, who has the charge of the Queen's household (not as maitre d'hotel, but to arrange audiences and to escort those who demand them and especially ambassadors), came to seek me where I was seated. He led me along a passage somewhat dark, into a chamber that they call the Privy Chamber, at the head of which was the Queen seated in a low chair, by herself, and withdrawn from all the Lords and Ladies that were present, they being in one place and she in another. After I had made her my reverence at the entry of the chamber, she rose and came five or six paces towards me, almost into the middle of the chamber. I kissed the fringe of her robe and she embraced me with both hands.

<snip>

She was strangely attired in a dress of silver cloth, white and crimson, or silver 'gauze', as they call it. This dress had slashed sleeves lined with red taffeta, and was girt about with other little sleeves that hung down to the ground, which she was for ever twisting and untwisting. She kept the front of her dress open, and one could see the whole of her bosom, and passing low, and often she would open the front of this robe with her hands as if she was too hot. The collar of the robe was very high, and the lining of the inner part all adorned with little pendants of rubies and pearls, very many, but quite small. She had also a chain of rubies and pearls about her neck. On her head she wore a garland of the same material and beneath it a great reddish-coloured wig, with a great number of spangles of gold and silver, and hanging down over her forehead some pearls, but of no great worth. On either side of her ears hung two great curls of hair, almost down to her shoulders and within the collar of her robe, spangled as the top of her head. Her bosom is somewhat wrinkled as well as one can see for the collar that she wears round her neck, but lower down her flesh is exceeding white and delicate, so far as one could see.

As for her face, it is and appears to be very aged. It is long and thin, and her teeth are very yellow and unequal, compared with what they were formerly, so they say, and on the left side less than on the right. Many of them are missing so that one cannot understand her easily when she speaks quickly. Her figure is fair and tall and graceful in whatever she does; so far as may be she keeps her dignity, yet humbly and graciously withal.

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And now for some closing comments…

First up is this month’s featured website, which is the site of the Museum of London. Like many of the other official royal and museum sites that I’ve featured in the podcasts, this site has a nice collection of photographs and exhibition pages for you to browse. While these sites don’t make up for a chance to visit the actual place, they are often the next best thing. Although it is past our period here, they currently have a microsite on the Great London Fire of 1666, which I’ve always found interesting. If you have a fast internet connection, check out Jonty’s tour of the museum. There are also some fun online games. I was playing with the Medieval Game of Life while writing this up and ended up the wife of a wealthy grocer and was tutored in French (which is kind of funny, since I took three years of French in high school!). Their address is www.museumoflondon.org.uk. Oh, and of course, they have an online shop too! Regular listeners will not be surprised that I mentioned that…  If you browse the shop, be sure to look for the plague rat puppet.

At the close of 2007, I’d like to take a moment and once again thank all of you who have written in and posted comments saying how much you’ve been enjoying the podcast. I’m kind of amazed at how many of you have stuck with it, especially since I keep promising various things that never get done. I really wanted to be able to do the Frequently Asked Questions segment this year, but the research was just getting too time consuming since I really wanted to carefully document things. I was also really hoping to get an enhanced version of the podcast out with chapter markings for the various sections, but that didn’t happen either. I can’t say for sure if either of those will come to be in 2008, but who knows. I was also trying really hard to move the podcasts to the beginning of the month as opposed to the end but that didn’t happen either (I think I made it to nearly the middle of a month once or twice, but that was it). That is something that I still hope to make happen, preferably in the first few months of the new year. January and February are already shaping up to be really busy for me.

So, here’s hoping everyone had a wonderful holiday season and has a great 2008!

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, and for 2008, fare the well!