Welcome to Tudor Cast, a podcast dedicated to Tudor History.
Hello, and welcome to Tudor Cast for January 2008. 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.
Yet another Tudor item went up for auction recently, but this time it wasn’t a portrait, it was a lock of Katherine Parr’s hair. It had been expected to fetch a couple hundred pounds, but ended up selling for over 2,000. The buyer was Charles Hudson, who lives on the estate of Wyke Manor, which was given to Katherine Parr by Henry VIII. The hair itself appears to be light blonde now, but has probably faded from Katherine’s original hair color, which seems to have been auburn. While I was searching around to see if fading like that was common, I found a letter to the science journal Nature regarding a similar discoloration of a lock of Jane Austen’s hair, so it seems entirely plausible that a similar thing occurred to Parr’s clipping.
The Royal Mint has issued a commemorative £5 coin to celebrate this year’s 450th anniversary of Elizabeth I’s succession to the throne. You can see the coin and its presentation folder, and of course order a coin for yourself, at the Royal Mint website, www.royalmint.com
Two historic ships, The Cutty Sark and Henry VIII’s ship The Mary Rose, have both received grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The money for the 19th century tea clipper, The Cutty Sark will be to continue the restoration effort and repair the additional damage from last year’s fire. The Mary Rose’s money will be used to build a new museum around the wreck, which has been undergoing preservation since it was raised in the 1980s. Currently only about 6% of the approximately 19,000 items recovered from the ship are on display, but the new museum will allow them to have about 70% of the items available for viewing.
And finally, in entertainment news, Showtime announced that the second season of “The Tudors” will start on March 30. Also, “Elizabeth The Golden Age” received both BAFTA and Oscar nominations, which were announced this month.
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
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.
On January 6, 1540, Henry VIII took his fourth bride, Anne of Cleves.
Anne was born on September 22, 1515, to John III, Duke of Cleves and his wife Maria. Anne had an older sister, Sybilla, a younger brother, William, and a younger sister, Amelia. Like all of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne could claim descent from Edward I of England. Anne was initially betrothed to Francois, the heir of the Duke of Lorraine, and the arrangements were on-again and off-again from 1527 to 1538. Meanwhile, Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, died in October 1537 and the search was started for a new Queen.
England’s break with the Church of Rome left it potentially vulnerable to aggression from the Holy Roman Empire and France. Since France and the Empire had a long history of aggression against one another, England generally didn’t have to worry, but in 1539, they signed a peace treaty and the Pope re-affirmed the excommunication of Henry VIII. In this climate, Henry sought a new bride from Cleves, which had also rejected papal authority and could be a potential ally against the combined Catholic forces of France and the Empire.
In March, the negotiations began for a match between Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves, probably at the urging of Thomas Cromwell and in the summer of that year, Hans Holbein painted his famous portrait of Anne, which now hangs in the Louvre in Paris. Although the question of how true to life this portrait was has been a matter of speculation in the following centuries, apparently Anne’s beauty was praised by her contemporaries.
In October 1539 the negotiations for Henry and Anne’s marriage were complete and in late November she left Cleves for England. Anne made the crossing to England on December 27th and then reached Rochester on December 31st. On January 1, Anne and Henry met for the first time, with Henry in disguise, following a Renaissance custom. Henry’s reaction to the first sight of his bride-to-be, is said to have been “I like her not”. The wedding was set to occur just a few days later, but questions of whether or not Anne’s previous contract with the son of the Duke of Lorraine had been dissolved arose, possibly as a way for Henry to get out of the union. Anne agreed to sign a sworn statement that she was not bound by the contract and could legally marry Henry, so the couple were married on January 6, the Feast of Epiphany at Greenwich by Thomas Cranmer.
Anne’s career has Henry’s Queen was short. With the peace between France and the Holy Roman Empire dissolving, England’s relations with Cleves weren’t as important. Henry was also not pleased with his new wife, had been unable to consummate the marriage and one of Anne’s attendants had caught Henry’s eye the girl who would become England’s next Queen, Kathryn Howard.
Henry sought an annulment, based on the question of whether or not their union had truly been legal due to the questions of the pre-contract with the heir of Lorraine and the fact that the marriage had not been consummated. Their marriage was dissolved on July 9 and the annulment was confirmed by Parliament on the 12th. Anne accepted the new title of “The King’s Sister” and received a generous settlement. On a personal note, I’ve always felt that Anne of Cleves got the best deal of all of Henry’s wives… she got money, manors, kept her head and outlived him by 10 years. Unfortunately the man who helped to arrange the marriage, Thomas Cromwell, was not so lucky. He was arrested on charges of treason and beheaded less than three weeks after the annulment.
Anne visited court on a few occasions and dined with the King and his new bride, Kathryn Howard. After Kathryn’s arrest and execution, Anne apparently hoped that Henry would marry her again, but of course, he took another lady as his wife instead, Katherine Parr. Before his death, Henry granted Anne of Cleves the manor of Hever Castle, the former home of his first wife named Anne Anne Boleyn.
After Henry’s death, Anne tried to return home to Cleves, but never actually did. In the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I, Anne did not enjoy the financial security she had under their father. Her last recorded public appearance was at the coronation of Mary I in 1553, where she rode in a carriage with Princess Elizabeth.
Anne of Cleves died at the manor of Chelsea on July 16, 1557. Unlike Henry VIII or any of his other wives, Anne was buried in Westminster Abbey. Her tomb is near the shrine of Edward the Confessor, adjacent to Henry VII’s chapel where most of the Tudors are buried, including all three of Anne’s stepchildren, King Edward VI, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I.
And now for a page from the Tudor History glossary.
Still working our way through the alphabet, we’re up to M, for Masque. The masque was a popular form of Renaissance court entertainment that included music, dancing and often elaborate costumes and stages. The masques were often performed to celebrate an event, such as a distinguished visitor to court, a wedding or the birth of a child. The themes were often taken from Classical sources, such as Greek mythology. Masques were private entertainments, but larger, outdoor productions existed as “pageants”, which were often performed during the public celebrations for coronations and marriages of the monarchs.
In England the masque drew on earlier mummery traditions and ‘disguisings’ and were also influenced by masques from Italy and France. Early in the 16th century the masques were more simple than what they evolved into in Elizabethan and Stuart times, but were still impressive events. Torchbearers would provide the light for the procession and help create the illusion that the masked figures entering the hall were strangers. The masked performers would make speeches or perform short dramas, then there would be singing and dancing. At the end of the night the masks would be removed. In Henry VIII’s court, the king himself sometimes participated as a masked figure.
In Elizabeth’s reign, the masques increased in complexity. They were often performed for the Queen during her progresses through the countryside and the famous entertainment at Kenilworth by Robert Dudley also included masques.
The playwright Ben Johnson and the designer Inigo Jones raised the masque to its highest level in Stuart times. It is from this time that we have the most evidence for the designs of sets and costumes. The death of the elaborate masque and other courtly entertainments came in the English Civil War and the disapproval of English Puritans. When the monarchy was restored, court entertainments returned, but not to the same level they had achieved before the war.
Now it’s time for a segment where I feature a text from the Tudor period.
This month is another excerpt from “The Chronicles of the Tudor Kings”, one of my favorite sources. This selection is related to the entry for “This Month in Tudor History” and is the description of Anne of Cleves’ arrival in England at the end of 1539 and her procession to and arrival at Greenwich for her marriage.
And now for some closing comments…
First up is this month’s featured website. I seem to be stuck in a bit of a rut, because I’m highlighting another site for a museum. This time it is the Museum of Garden History, which is in Lambeth, London, across the river from the Houses of Parliament. I’m a big fan of gardens, so I wish I had known about this museum before my last trip to England, but it will definitely be on my list of places to visit in the future. The museum is next to Lambeth Palace, which for centuries has been the London residence for the Archbishop of Canterbury. The building that the museum is hosed in was the parish church for the area until it was deconsecrated in 1972 and was re-built in Victorian times from the older 14th building. The website has snippets of the history of gardening in England from Roman times to the present, pictures of their displays, some 360 panorama images and lists of events and activities at the museum. The website address is https://www.museumgardenhistory.org/
I don’t have a whole lot to add this month, so I would just like to again wish everyone a “happy new year” and extend my wishes for 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 email@example.com 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!