Thursday 31 December 2020




The latest issue of 'Tudor Life' is out, with Lust as its theme.

It's over 80 pages long, and includes my article Lusty Sons (about Henry VIII's desperate pursuit of a male heir).
Check out a sample copy here:

To learn more about 'The Tudor Society':



Monday 21 December 2020

Professors and Defenders of the True Catholic Faith

 Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I as 'Professors and Defenders of the True Catholic Faith'. Painted in 1597 by an unknown artist. From The Art Institute of Chicago.

'Catholic' here does not refer to the Roman Catholic religion, but rather as the term 'universal' - in this case, the Protestant faith as practiced in England in the reign of Elizabeth. Hence, Mary Tudor has been excluded.

Although Henry VIII never considered himself a Protestant, he is shown here as a Reformer of the English Church.

Sunday 20 December 2020

Hampton Court by Tram

 Travel posters by artist Fred Taylor (1929). From The Art Institute of Chicago.





Saturday 19 December 2020

King Charles I - Before and After

Sorry to stray from the Tudors, but this contrast is just so interesting. 

Charles Stuart as Prince (by Peter Oliver) and Charles Stuart as King (by John Hoskins).





Wednesday 16 December 2020

The Funeral Effigy of Anne of Denmark

Though not from the Tudor era, this is most interesting!

The effigy of Anne of Denmark (wife of King James I) at Westminster Abbey.

At Anne's funeral in 1619, this effigy of her (and the now missing rest of it) would have been fully dressed and crowned, and laid recumbent on top of her coffin for all to see.

Effigy of Anne of Denmark at Westminster Abbey
Anne of Denmark (by John de Critz)

Monday 14 December 2020

The End of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex


The death warrant of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex.

In 1601, he led a failed rebellion against Queen Elizabeth to displace his enemies at court. Although he was a great favorite of hers, Elizabeth did not hesitate to sign the warrant as shown by her bold signature at the top.

The fatal document states that 'our pleasure is to have the head of the said Robert Earl of Essex cut off at the Green within our Tower of London'.

Their relationship was later romanticized, as in the 1939 film The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (based on Maxwell Anderson's play Elizabeth the Queen) starring Bette Davis and Errol Flynn.



Friday 11 December 2020

A Stained Glass of Queen Mary and King Philip

Stained glass window of Queen Mary of England and her husband King Philip of Spain. And the original drawing for it.

From St. John's Church (Sint Janskerk) in Gouda in the Low Countries.



Monday 7 December 2020

December 2020 issue of 'Tudor Life'


The latest issue of Tudor Life is out, with 'Make Good Cheer Who Wishes' as its theme.

It's over 80 pages long, and includes my article 'The Marriages of Mary Queen of Scots'.

Check out a sample copy here:

More info:

Wednesday 2 December 2020

The Coinage of Queen Jane?


Cary Elwes and Helena Bonham Carter in Lady Jane


In the 1986 film Lady Jane (starring Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes), when the teenage Lady Jane Grey is unexpectedly proclaimed Queen of England, she and her husband Guilford Dudley really shake things up! 

Being socially woke, they make new laws to help the needy, they give away the treasury to the poor, and they reform the currency. For years, coinage in England had been debased to near worthlessness. Jane and Guilford mint a new shilling as a symbol of righting old wrongs, and as a testament of their love for one another.

Historically, the real Jane was not a 'proto-socialist feminist, a strange amalgam of Robin Hood and Beatrice Webb', as one historian described her,* nor was she in love with Guilford. During Jane's brief reign of nine days, the two bickered over whether Guilford should be made King or not; Jane refused.

And as for the reformed shilling, there was none of course.

However, two examples of coins with Jane as Queen appeared in the mid 19th century. They were quickly exposed as fakes, and the work of one Edward Emery, who had also made other counterfeits. Still, Emery's forgeries can fetch good prices on today's collectors' market.



 Forged Queen Jane coins by Edward Emery, circa 1840


Although you can't get your hands on a piece of actual history, you can get a piece of movie history. The shilling (no relation to Emery's work) as seen in 'Lady Jane' can actually be purchased as a movie prop:


* 'Lady Jane Grey in Film' by Carole Levin in Tudors and Stuarts on Film - Historical Perspectives (edited by Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman), New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, p. 82.



Thursday 26 November 2020

Everyone loves the Tudors!

 Even my teddy bear! 🧸

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.