Blog weirdness going on…

Howdy to anyone who still reads this blog on any kind of regular basis!

I received an email a couple of weeks ago mentioning that most of the text on the “About this blog” page was missing which should have been my first clue that some weirdness was afoot. And today I was working on the “Picture of the Week” post and searched on previous pics I’d used of Anne Hathaway’s cottage and noticed that half of the caption text was missing on some of the old posts. So then I started looking through the blog archives and noticed there were whole posts that had significant chunks of their content missing. My guess is that either the migration to the new host’s servers (done by the host, not me) or a WordPress update randomly nuked parts of old posts.

So now I’ll be going through all of the old posts and trying to fix them, which I can do thanks to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine! And as I’ve scanned back through the post archives, I realize that this is going to be a significant task so it’s going to take a while. Thanks for your patience!

First round of updates done!

You might notice that things look a little different here on the main blog! When I went to upgrade and migrate to the new server, I discovered that I couldn’t use my previous WordPress theme so it was a good time to search for a new one. I’m still playing around with things so don’t be surprised if things look a little different each time you visit over the next few days/weeks/months. Mostly I’m just happy that I got all of the old posts and comments over to the new blog since that was a little dicey for a while there!

Blog and server upgrades coming

Hello to any readers who stumble upon this before the upgrading starts! My webhost is going to be migrating to new servers over the month of June and I’m really hoping that it will solve some issues I’ve been having for a few years now. I haven’t really had the time to migrate to a new webhost so I just stuck it out. Part of the upgrade process may impact the blog part of the site, so I’m going to do some testing in their ‘sandbox’. BUT, before I can to that, I have to do some upgrades that may also muck things up before I can even get to the testing part. I’m trying to back everything up in every way I have available, but there is still a chance things will break. If something goes awry, check the Q&A blog and/or my personal blog since they are hosted on Blogger and won’t be affected by these issues.

Site updates!

Yes really! It took being in ‘stay at home’ mode for over two months during a worldwide pandemic to get time to do it, but I actually have been updating things on the main site. For several years now, most of the activity on the site has been here on this blog and on the Q&A blog, and even that has fallen from peak levels of a few years ago. A large part of that is that I went through a big job change about 4 years ago and it ate up more time and a LOT more of my energy. But with the pandemic, a lot of the most energy-consuming parts of my job are on hold since they deal with crowds of people and departmental visiting scholars and obviously none of those things are happening right now. Plus I get back all of the time driving to and from the office! (I am looking forward to getting back into the office eventually, but I’ve got to say that I really like the 3-second commute from my bedroom to my dining-room-turned-office!)

I have been wanting to consolidate and re-work some sections of the site for quite a while now and simplify the main page and I am finally making some progress on that. Some of this is to clear out some old and outdated things and to lay groundwork for an eventual whole site rework I want to do. I’m going to list all of the changes below more for my own future reference than anything else since I really doubt most people would find it interesting. 😀

* I’ve removed the “FAQ” section (and the link from the main page) and taken the info from those pages and incorporated them into a new “About This Site” page and the reworked “Contact Information” page. I’ve also incorporated the info on the old “Copyright, image use, and linking information page” into the “Contact Information” page. I’m going to be changing all of the links on the sidebars of pages to the new pages too.

* I removed some old and outdated information on the “Student Help” page, which has left it pretty barebones. I’ll either consolidate it into another page or fill it back out with updated info, but I’m still trying to decide which.

* I’ve gone through and updated the “Links” section and removed dead links. I’ve moved the “Elizabeth and Elizabethan England” links into the “People” links to consolidate stuff. I’ve also removed some links in a few categories that I’m no longer adding new links to (these are usually the ones that drew the most annoying, spammy link requests so good riddance!). I’m also working on the “Image Use Contacts” page and will add it to a few more places. I’ve removed some dead links but I still need to update it with some new contacts. The big problem with updating that page is that the “image use” page (if it exists at all) is one that tends to get moved around so the info on my page can quickly get out of date. So for now I’m just linking to main pages in most cases. I’ve also moved the “Movies and TV” page into the “Links” section and will eventually remove it from the main page.

* Removed some “Secondary Sources” in the “Texts and Documents” and added links to them on Google Books and the Internet Archive. I’ve left one that I couldn’t find on either of those sites, but if it shows up I’ll remove my version.

* Removed my old “Recommended Reading” list that was from a Tudor History class I took in college over 25 years ago.

* Updated the picture on the “Places” index page and removed the places that I have been intending to add but I haven’t yet. Those are still coming soon though! And I have SO MANY new photos to add from my trip in 2015. I also updated the title picture on the “Black and White Tudor Buildings” page to a new one of Palmer’s Farmhouse and updated the caption.

* I’ve finally cleaned up most of the “Topics” section. I’ve moved most of the stuff that’s going to the “Glossary” section and I removed some old, barebones stuff. I’m still working on the pages that need to go over to the “Who’s Who” section so those are still there for the time being.

* I’ve migrated the posts from the TudorCast blog into this blog, which you can access thought the “podcast” category on the sidebar. Even if I ever get around to podcasting again, I’ll just completely relaunch everything since my old stuff got so out of date.

I think that’s it for this round! Once I finish some more of the “housekeeping”, such as finishing the remaining behind the scenes tasks to get the site fully secure, I’ll move on to working on content. In particular, I’m probably going to be working on the “Places” section since I have so many more places to add that I’ve visited and lots of new photos to add for places that I’ve re-visited. Stay tuned for more!

Sunday Short Takes

News has been a little light lately, but here are a few things that caught my eye:

* A brief history of witches by Suzannah LipscombBetween 1482 and 1782, thousands of people across Europe were accused of witchcraft and subsequently executed. But why were so many innocent people suspected of such a crime, and what would they have experienced?

* Erasmus Manuscript Saved for the Nation – From The British Library: We are delighted to announce that the British Library has acquired a unique manuscript containing the earliest known translation into English of any work by the great humanist scholar and reformer, Desiderius Erasmus (d. 1536).

* Inside Henry V’s secret chapel at Westminster AbbeyA hidden chapel built for King Henry V is opening to the public for the first time to mark the 600th Anniversary of the battle of Agincourt. – Since today is the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, I thought I would include this.

And finally…

A new podcast focussing on the Tudors has launched (with over 30 episodes ready to go!) called Rude Tudors. As you can probably guess from the name, it’s not for the kiddos. And you might recognize a website that gets a mention in one of the later episodes. 🙂

Happy New Year!

Yeah, I’m a little late getting this posted, but at least it’s still January!

Last year I wrote about the various goals that I had for 2014, both personal and for the site. I did okay on some, terrible on others, but I’m going to set goals for myself again in 2015 and hopefully keep a little better account of them. (You can read more about my personal goals for last year and what I have in store for 2015 over on my personal blog.)

On the Shakespeare Challenge, I only made it through one third of the plays, but I did manage to read all of the sonnets. A little trivia – if you read a sonnet a day starting on January 1 and in a non-leap year, you’ll finish them on June 3. I’m planning to continue this challenge and read another third this year and next, so I’ll have read all by the end of 2016. I originally started the challenge in honor of the Bard’s 450th birthday, but this way I’ll finish them by the 400th anniversary of his death.

On the rest of last year’s goals: I totally failed. I didn’t manage to post one single book review. So, this year I’m going to make another attempt at that. I’m going to aim for six reviews, although they may cover more than one book in each review since I have a few that would work nicely as pairs. I did manage to do a few behind-the-scenes things on my to-do list, but I didn’t get to any of the really big ones I was aiming for. So I’ll keep working on those as well.

One other thing to note for this year – by one way of counting (more on that in a minute) this is the 20th anniversary of this site. The reason I say “by one way of counting” is that the site has gone through several iterations, and this is the 20th anniversary of the first one. I think the first page about my Tudor History interests that I put on my personal website actually dates from late 1994, but I know that it was going strong by mid-1995 since that was when I started thinking about splitting it off into its own thing and when I started my current job full-time (and yes, I’m getting a 20 year plaque for that this year). It didn’t actually end up it’s own site until July 1997 (after the Elizabeth I pages were previously on GeoCities – remember that?? – in 1996, I think). So 2017 would be another 20 years milestone. This year is also the 15th anniversary of the site at domain, which I originally bought on July 9, 2000. I’ll probably do a full post on the history of the site later in the year and bore everyone with more details than anyone could possibly want.

Best wishes for 2015 everyone!

Doing some updates

Depending on when you see this post, things might look a little – or a lot – different than normal. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been having some big problems behind the scenes with the blog and today it was so totally hosed I had to nuke everything and start fresh from a back-up file. However, the only back-up I could get to work is the one that preserved all the text, but not the theme design and layout. So I’m going to have to piece that back together. It might not end up looking exactly the same as before, but it should be close enough to be recognizable.

And if I can get that back to (mostly) normal, there will be a Sunday Short Takes later. And then a few glasses of wine… 🙂

Sunday Short Takes

I only had one news story this week but it’s a pretty important one so I wanted to mention it:

* King Richard lll to be reinterred in March 2015The date of the service in which Richard lll will be finally laid to rest will be Thursday 26th March 2015. This is one of three services which will remember the life and death of the only Monarch of England without a marked grave. The mortal remains of Richard lll will be received into the care of the Cathedral on the evening of 22nd March, will lie in repose for 3 days and will be reburied on the morning of Thursday 26th. The following days, Friday 27th and Saturday 28th March, will mark the end of the journey with the reveal of the tomb and a service to mark the completion of the reinterment, and events which will look to the future having laid the King to rest.

And I wanted to put up a note in case any of you have had trouble accessing the blog over the past week or so. WordPress is occasionally a little wonky on this site (which I’m pretty sure is an issue with my hosting provider and isn’t the fault of WordPress) and last week it was very slow or down completely on and off. My host did some upgrades too, which might have been part of that. I think everything is behaving normally again for site visitors but you may still experience some slowness or connection time outs. In those cases, just try again later and hopefully it will be back up. There seem to still be issues on the Dashboard site of things (where I write posts and approve comments, etc.) so I don’t think all of the bugs have been worked out yet. Fingers crossed that it gets sorted since it would be a bit of a pain to move the site!

Doing some upgrades today

Just wanted to warn everyone that I’m going to do some necessary upgrades on the WordPress theme today so things might look a little wonky while I’m working on it. I’ll update this post when I’m done, but if after I update you notice any weird behavior, please leave a comment or send me an email.

Update: Well, upgrading to the new theme seemed to break more things that it fixed, so I’ve gone back to the old one for now.

Frequently Asked Questions of 2013

Yes, it’s that time of year again – time to tally up the most popular topics of the questions that came in to the Questions and Answers Blog in the past year!

The number of questions declined a little from the previous year but not by much. For reasons that I’ve mentioned before, that’s not too surprising with the end of “The Tudors” and with the back-log of questions that have already been asked and answered. A few came in related to “The White Queen”, but not a whole lot.

The topics were pretty varied this past year. The highest number of questions were related to finding topics to research for college-level papers, in particular topics related to Tudor women. And, similar to previous years, people were looking for information on lesser-known figures of the court, etc. that they came across while doing family history research. There seems to be a little bit of an increase in architectural questions, which I love since that’s one of my big interests (that I still need to learn a lot about). A lot of the remaining questions were pretty specific topics, many asked by writers trying to get the details correct for their works in progress (which is great!), and some questions were just from good old-fashioned curiosity (which is great too!). And of course, the individual person named most often in questions was Anne Boleyn. Our fascination with her never fades!

Previous round-ups:
2012 questions
2011 questions
2010 questions
2009 questions
2008 questions

2014 Shakespeare challenge and other goals

Since news is still slow coming off the holidays, I figured this was a good chance to blog a little about my goals for 2014. I know several people who are ditching the ‘resolutions’ for the new year and instead doing distinct, quantitative goals. So, here are a couple that are relevant to this site that I’m posting about to help keep me accountable. 🙂

The first is to write 10 book reviews. Authors and publishers have been so generous in sending me books over the years and I’ve been terrible about writing reviews for them. I figure that even though some of these books have been out for a while, better late than never!

The second is a Shakespeare challenge, since this April will be the 450th anniversary of his birth. I’m going to read, watch, or listen to all of Shakespeare’s works. I’m doing a sonnet a day and I’ve already watched two different versions of Much Ado About Nothing – the 2011 David Tennant/Catherine Tate stage one via Digital Theatre and the 2012 film version directed by Joss Whedon. Both were delightful! (I’ve seen the 1993 Kenneth Branagh version many times, so I’ll probably watch it again just for the heck of it.) I have a feeling that I’ll do the majority as movies and audiobooks, but I do have them all on my iPad for reading too.

The third goal is to check a few more things off my lengthy to-do list for the site, but that will have to remain a more vague and nebulous goal for now.

I’ll probably do a monthly accounting of the Shakespeare challenge, and of course the book reviews be posted as I get them written (I have to admit that the reviews will probably be the hardest of all my goals to meet, but I’m going to try!). And if you’re curious about all of my goals for the year, I’ve posted about them on my personal website.

And, once again, Happy New Year!

August blog challenge kick-off post!

Natalie at On the Tudor Trail issued a challenge on her personal blog to write a post every day in August and I’ve decided to take up that challenge! I’m going to do a mix of her suggested schedule and my own posts (in part because I already do a regular Wednesday and mostly-regular Sunday post) and because I want to use this as an opportunity to write about a few other things that I’ve been meaning to post for a while. I’m hoping this challenge will give me the kick it the rear-end that I need!

If you want to join in the challenge (granted, the first day of the month is already over for a lot of you!) see Natalie’s challenge post here and join in the fun!

Sunday Short Takes

We seem to be into the slow news part of the summer, but a few things of interest did show up last week.

I also want to mention that I’ve been moving some files around and (hopefully) updating all the internal links to reflect the new locations, but if you find a broken link please let me know. And I’ve been making some changes to the front page – I’ve removed a few things and moved a few other things around. It’s still a work in progress as I’m trying to consolidate some of the sections as part of a cunning plan (yes, I’ve been re-watching Blackadder recently, why do you ask?) 😉

And now, on to the news!

* Suzannah Lipscomb did a short film for the Chalke Valley History Hub on Why the Tudors Matter:

* Family Tree: From Henry VII to James VI and I – Neat interactive of the old painting from History Today. Also mentioned on the page is an upcoming article about Margaret Douglas by Leanda de Lisle in the August issue.

And speaking of Leanda de Lisle, her husband Peter has updated and re-launched his European Heraldry site. As an example of the great graphics on the site, the arms of Henry VII are included below (click for a larger view).

Sunday Short Takes

Not nearly as many things this week, which is good because I’ve already spent too much time today checking links, adding graphics and social links to, and re-organizing the Links Directory section (which is hopefully in a more useful state now than when I started!)

* Historic glass windows go on display in Nonsuch Mansion

* Wolfson History Prizes (for books published in 2012) – Congrats to Susan Brigden for winning for her book Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest!

* Penry Williams obituary – His book Life in Tudor England was one of the first Tudor history books I ever bought

* A History of Classical Music – A series of posts with embedded Spotify playlists covering the history of classical music, starting with Medieval and Renaissance music. The link goes to the introductory post and they have up through late Renaissance right now. (Apologies to whomever I saw this link from – it was either on Twitter or a blog and I can’t remember now who it was. Sorry!)

Frequently Asked Questions of 2012

As we start another new year, it’s once again time for the round-up of questions that were submitted to the Questions and Answers Blog the over the course of the previous year.

The number of questions has continued to drop off, this time down to about 130. I still think that it is mostly due to the end of “The Tudors” and that people who are just now watching it can find a lot of their answers in the archives. I have to admit that the slower pace of incoming questions was a bit of a relief too since I had such a busy year!

Two main subjects came in as the most popular types of questions this year. The first were questions about primary sources (where to find some, specific questions on a source, etc.) which is awesome to see. The other, also pretty neat, were people looking for information on some less well-known Tudor-era figures that they had traced their ancestry to. (Which reminds me, once again, I need to find out more about my Norris ancestors from Norfolk from that time period. Could be something interesting in there!) Next up were Stuart’s questions to help his recreation of Henry VIII’s 1513 invasion of France. Be sure to check out his blog for lots of photos of the great work he’s been doing!

Of individual people, Elizabeth I and the wives of Henry VIII (with Anne Boleyn, as usual, leading the group) got the the most questions. Henry VIII got quite a few too, as well as lots of questions about other Tudor figures besides the wives and monarchs. Burials, tombs, and funeral practices were popular topics once again, although I think they are still down from previous years. Clothing, jewelry and portraits came up with some frequency again this year. Opinions on books and authors and ideas for papers or projects continued to be popular topics. Possible bastards of Henry VIII made an appearance again, but only a couple of questions this time (although there are continuing comments on the older posts). The rest were a variety of topics including architecture, wars, MPs, court customs and much more.

I’m looking forward to the questions that 2013 brings!

Previous round-ups:
2011 questions
2010 questions
2009 questions
2008 questions

Survey results!

The news was pretty light this week so in lieu of the Sunday Short Takes, here are the results of the survey that I put together as part of the give-away of “Anne of Holywood”. I’ve sent emails to the two randomly chosen winners, so if you entered the drawing, keep an eye on your email!

Question 1: Which Tudor monarch would you like to learn more about?

I wasn’t too surprised to see Henry VII lead this one, especially with more attention being paid to the earlier Tudors with the Richard III (potential) discovery and Thomas Penn’s “Winter King” being so successful this year.

Question 2: Which of Henry VIII’s wives would you like to learn more about?

I was a little surprised with this result, since I expected Anne of Cleves or Katherine Parr to lead (and they did come in second and third). I was a little surprised that Jane Seymour got so few votes since I know I could stand to learn more about her (but Anne of Cleves would have been my vote).

Question 4: If you could have preserved any of these places from total or partial destruction so that their Tudor-era versions still existed today, which would you choose?

I have to admit that Nonsuch running away with the vote here surprised me a bit. I personally would have voted for Richmond, but I can see where the interest in Nonsuch comes from.

Question 5: Have you ever seen a Shakespeare play performed live, or performed in one yourself?

Not much of a surprise here, although I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been an even larger percentage voting yes.

And here were the responses for the open-ended question “If you could choose one Tudor-era figure besides the monarchs and wives to learn more about, who would it be?”:

Not many surprises here either. The top vote getter – by a long shot – was Thomas Cromwell, which I would attribute to Hilary Mantel’s books.

The runners up were:
Jane Parker Boleyn
Charles Brandon
Thomas More
Mary Tudor Brandon.

The rest were:
John Dudley
Elizabeth of York
Catherine Willoughby
Frances Howard
Anne Askew
Arthur Tudor
Margaret Tudor
Thomas Culpepper
Francis Bryan
Robert Dudley
Margaret Pole
Elizabeth Blount
Walter Raleigh
Jasper Tudor
Bess of Hardwick
Allen Apsley
Mary Boleyn
Duke of Buckingham (I’m assuming Edward Stafford, the 3rd Duke)
Tudor women in general.

Thanks to everyone who participated! The main reason I did the survey was to choose winners for the drawing, but this gives me a good idea of how to approach my next round of updates after I finish the code updating I’m almost, finally, through with!

Traveling for work for a few days

I’ll be headed out to our observatory in west Texas for a few days and while I should have good internet access, I don’t think I’m going to have a whole lot of time to spend on the computer! So apologies in advance for any delays in approving blog comments and the lack of posts until early next week.