Monday, 23 November 2020

The Tragic Death of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury



A 19th century rendition of the execution of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury in May 1541.

The 67-year-old Margaret was beheaded in the Tower of London due to Henry VIII's hatred of her family. Her son Reginald (later Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Mary) had written a book denouncing England's break from the Church in Rome.

Henry retaliated by accusing Margaret and members of her family of high treason. Her other son Baron Montagu was executed, and Margaret afterwards.

Contrary to popular belief, she was not chased around the scaffold as this print here shows. Still, she was dispatched by a 'wretched and blundering youth who literally hacked her head and shoulders to pieces in the most pitiful manner', it was reported.


Margaret Pole (by the 'Cast Shadow Master Painter', probably Lucas Horenbout)

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Some Tudor Humor

Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan


Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan (by Jacopo da Trezzo, 1533)


After the death of Jane Seymour in 1537, Henry VIII hoped to have the lovely Christina as his 4th wife, and he had Hans Holbein paint a portrait of her.

Although Christina said that she would obey her uncle the Emperor Charles V if he would have her marry Henry VIII, privately, she was reluctant. She shuddered how ‘her great-aunt (Katherine of Aragon) was poisoned, that the second (Anne Boleyn) was innocently put to death, and the third (Jane Seymour) lost for lack of keeping in her childbed'.

‘If she had two heads', Christina allegedly commented, ‘one of them would be at His Majesty’s disposal'.


Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan (by Hans Holbein, 1538)


The marriage negotiations eventually came to nothing, and the King married Anne of Cleves instead.

Later in life, Christina visited England during in the reign of Queen Mary (who could have been her step-daughter). The Queen's husband, Philip of Spain, supposedly paid too much attention to the still-beautiful Christina, arousing Mary's jealousy. When Christina finally left her court, Mary was said to be quite relieved.


Saturday, 21 November 2020

The Tomb of Anne of Cleves


  The Tomb Monument of Anne of Cleves


Of Henry VIII's six wives, only Anne of Cleves was honored with a burial in Westminster Abbey when she died in 1557. She was given pride of place by her stepdaughter Queen Mary in the sanctuary by the High Altar.

However, her tomb often goes unnoticed due to its modest appearance.

In her book, The Wives of Henry VIII, Antonia Fraser mentions that at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the viewing platform where the Queen Mother and Prince Charles sat was built directly above Anne's monument.


Anne of Cleves (by Barthel de Bruyn)
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (Anne's tomb is behind)

Monday, 9 November 2020

'Ladybird' Books

If you're British, and of a certain age, you'll probably remember these 'Ladybird' books. 

Here are my historical ones.