Sunday, 28 June 2015

Henry VIII was born on the 28th June 1491 at Greenwich Palace, the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Henry's older brother died in 1502 which left Henry as heir to the throne. On the death of his father on the 22nd April 1509, Henry VIII became king of England.

Henry was seen as a clever and active young man, he spoke three languages fluently, he was an excellent sportsman too. He played tennis, he wrestled, he like archery and bowling. Henry also enjoyed hunting, jousting and hawking.

Henry, of course is also famous for his dealings with women, there were six wives and assorted mistresses who accompanied him through life.

The kings story has kept us enthralled for many years, his exploits viewed on the big screen and on television many many times. Lets have a look a who has played him over the years.

My blog on Henry VIII in film can be found on my website at 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Anne Boleyn: Dangerous Talk Cost Loves


Dr Suzannah Lipscomb in her blog The Last Days of Anne Boleyn states

"the story of Anne Boleyn's downfall inspires extraordinarily passionate, opinionated disagreement. There's just the right amount of evidence to keep us guessing, enough to lead to great speculation and several almost sustainable theories, but ultimately not enough to nail any one entirely." 

Eventually, by sifting through all the evidence a number of theories come to the forefront, these are:

                                                     Anne was guilty. 
                                        Thomas Cromwell had it in for her.
                                           Henry wanted to get rid of Anne. 
                                       Talk and idle gossip within the court 

My blog continues on my website at

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

MiniHistoryBlogs: Gainsborough Pictures: The Gainsborough Lady

The Gainsborough Lady.

As a child I used to watch a film, always historical, on a Sunday afternoon with my mother, on occasions the beautiful Gainsborough Lady would make an appearance.
You can see her in the image and video below, isn't she elegant and beautiful?
The Gainsborough Lady, played by British actress Glennis Lorimer, was a lady dressed in a Georgian era period costume sitting in an ornate frame, turning and smiling. She is based on the famous portrait of Sarah Siddons by Thomas Gainsborough.
The music to this short film was written by Louis Levy and called Gainsborough Minuet.
This piece was the opening logo of Gainsborough Pictures, a British film company whose studio was based on the south bank of the Regent's Canal, in Shoreditch, London. Gainsborough Studios were active between 1924 and 1951. During the middle of the 1940's the studio produced a series of 'morally ambivalent costume melodramas' such as Fanny by Gaslight, Madonna and the Seven Moons and my favourtie The Wicked Lady staring Margaret Lockwood and James Mason.

They don't make them like that anymore do they?

Monday, 22 June 2015

MiniHistoryBlogs: The Royal Body

Have you ever looked at the portraits of our English monarchs and thought

Is that what they really looked like?

I know I do when I look at paintings such as Holbein's famous work on Henry VIII or Elizabeth I in the Armada portrait. In an article 'Elizabeth I’s Challenge to the Masculinity of the Royal Body' there is a quote
“Tudor portraits bear about as much resemblance to their subjects as elephants to prunes.”
The answer to the question then, is no.
The author of the article explains "Hans Holbein’s has the king posed to emphasize his power, authority, and resoluteness: legs spread and firmly planted, broad shoulders, one hand on his dagger, and a very visible codpiece larger, art historians have noted, than portraits of other men at the time. When the monarch is female, however, the situation is very different. The female body, being famously associated with inferior intelligence, emotional instability." the author goes on to say
"It’s no wonder then that Elizabeth I, felt the need to dissociate herself from that female body, as in her famous speech at Tilbury, to the troops about to fight the Spanish Armada"

For the rest of this interesting article click on the link.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

MiniHistoryBlogs: Letter Patent and the Devise for the Succession of King Edward VI

The letter patent was signed this day, the 21 June 1553, concerning the Devise for the Succession of King Edward VI

The Third Act of Succession passed by Henry VIII in 1544 declared his son Edward was to be succeeded by Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon and her children followed by Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Bolelyn and her children. 

In 1553 Edward was found to be suffering from Tuberculosis and was quite ill and it soon became apparent that the English Reformation would be at rick if the devoutly Catholic princess Mary should come to the throne. The Devise for the Succession was, as we see, drafted in case of, as Edward wrote

....... "lack of issue of my body" and for the succession of male heirs only, that is, through that of Jane Grey's mother Francis Grey, Jane or her sisters'. 

The Duke of Northumberland, John Dudley, may have persuaded Edward that it was in the countries interest to declare his daughter in law Lady Jane Grey as his heir. As you can see Edward has altered "L Janes heires masles" to "L Jane AND her heires masles".

It was signed by 102 of the important members of the court although many of them claimed that their hand was forced Northumberland.

After Edward's death in 1553 Jane Grey became queen for only nine day after which she, along with her husband, Guilford Dudley were tried for high treason in November 1553 and executed the following February. 

The Devise for the Succession can be seen below.

For a more in depth explanation of the succession document itself take a look at the following. 

MiniHistoryBlogs: Catherine of Aragon

21st June 1529, Catherine of Aragon, appears in front of Cardinal Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio at the Court at Blackfriars.

Testimonies were heard of both the King and Queen regarding the validity of their marriage, below is what the Catherine had to say. 

"Sir, I beseech you for all the love that hath been between us, and for the love of God, let me have justice and right. Take of me some pity and compassion, for I am a poor woman, and a stranger, born out of your dominion. I have here no assured friend and much less indifferent counsel. I flee to you, as to the head of justice within this realm. Alas, Sir, where have I offended you? Or what occasion have you of displeasure, that you intend to put me from you? I take God and all the world to witness that I have been to you a true, humble and obedient wife, ever comfortable to your will and pleasure."

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Mini History Blogs: Spanish Armada 8th August 1588

Threatened by a fleet of Spanish wars ships  at the beginning of August  Queen Elizabeth I delivered her most famous speech at Tilbury on the 8th August 1588.

An Armada, is the Spanish word for a battle fleet, in 1588 an armada of ships prepared to invade England, defeat its armies and depose Queen Elizabeth. 

The Spanish fleet consisted of around 
"130 ships, 8,000 sailors and 18,000 soldiers, 1,500 brass guns and 1,000 iron guns."

Spain at this time was one of the wealthiest and most powerful in the world. England in comparison was much weaker, both economically and militarily and being a Protestant nation on Elizabeth's accession the country lacked powerful allies. 

The story of Elizabeth's speech and how we came to be quoting it 427 years later is in my blog. Please click on the link. 

Mini History Blogs: Medieval Toys

You never really think of a medieval child as being a child for very long, do you?

By the time these innocents infants were twelve, most had been thrust into adulthood, girls like Margaret Beaufort were married at that age and in her case pregnant. Boys from the age of seven were sent to be pages in the homes of others and as for the children of the poor, well, they had their noses to the grind stone as soon as they could walk!
Did any of these children ever play with toys? Of course they must of done and below we can see proof of this in a bronze toy knight, made in Europe in the thirteenth or fourteenth century.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Battle of Stoke Field 16th June 1487

The Battle of Stoke Field 
16th June 1487. 

As you drive between Newark and Nottingham on the old A46, you will be forgiven if you take no notice of the fields that lay on your right, most heads will be turned towards Eden Hall, a local spa. You will no doubt be thinking of fluffy dressing gowns or a sneaky glass of wine instead of a bloody battle that was fought just across the road in 1487. Even a Wars of the Roses enthusiast like me, who has passed by on numerous occasions did not know of the major battle that took place there.
My blog looks at the battle, its after effects and local tales of blood red streams.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Mini History Blogs: Executions under Tudor Monarchs

I was discussing recently the execution of Protestants under Mary I reign, it was pointed out that there was as many Catholics were put to death in Elizabeth I reign too.
It is said approximately the same amount of Catholics died when Elizabeth was queen, but the difference is that they took place over her forty four year reign, and there were people of note such as Mary Queen of Scots, Anthony Babbington and Robert Devereux. Mary punished those who were not of the same religion as herself, where as Elizabeth executed those who plotted against her. Many Catholic held important positions throughout Elizabeth's kingdom and if these people were loyal to her and discreet, they were left alone.
I found this among my notes. The number of executions carried out by Henry VIII range from 57,000 to the 72,000.... so says Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles.... this takes into account the mass murder following the Catholic rising known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. Troops of Henry's son Edward VI massacred more than 5,500 Cornish Catholics after the Prayer Book Rebellion.

Mini History Blog: William the Conqueror Villain or hero...what do you think?

William the Conqueror has been described as ruthless, a hard man, a ferocious warrior, harsh ruler, driving administrator and man of vigorous principles. He was also said to have had a fearsome temper and the will power that enabled him to strengthened Edward the Confessor's legal system and create a feudal society in England.

Hero or Villain.....What do you think?

For more on this click on the link below.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Mini History Blogs: The Spider and Cardinal Wolsey

Did you know that the Tegenaria Parietina, a rare European spider, is known as the Cardinal Spider in England, this is because legend has it that Cardinal Wolsey was terrified by one at his home of Hampton Court. 

Here he is making sure there is not one sneaking up behind him.

The artist responsible for this painting is unknown, as is the date. This beautiful colourful work forms part of a collection belonging to Christ Church, University of Oxford. Christ Church, which Wolsey founded in 1524, was originally named Cardinal College.