The Lasting Legacy of the Tudor Dynasty: Why are they still so fascinating?


Henry VII

Henry VII 1505 at the National Portrait Gallery.
Henry VII 1505 at the National Portrait Gallery.

Henry VII is a rather obscure figure, and is probably the Tudor I know the least about. In my opinion, Henry VII is most remembered for ending the Wars of the Roses and birthing the Tudor dynasty. However, he was quite a remarkable man; he put down countless rebellions (Lambert Simnel, Perkin Warbeck and the White Rose to name a few) and held the throne for twenty-four years. What isn’t so admirable about Henry VII is that he didn’t give much fatherly attention to his children, Arthur, Margaret, Henry and Mary, but suffocated them with rules. I know this was almost usual but even by monarchs’ standards, Henry VII was cold. Henry VII’s actions regarding Arthur Tudor and Katherine of Aragon led directly to Henry VIII’s Great Matter and the Break with Rome. If Henry VII had allowed Katherine to return home after Arthur’s death, Henry VIII might never have married her, and it’s possible that England would have remained faithful to Rome. That is the main interest of Henry VII’s reign – the what ifs. Continue reading “The Lasting Legacy of the Tudor Dynasty: Why are they still so fascinating?”

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The Portraits of the Wives of Henry VIII


Katherine of Aragon

Katherine of Aragon c. 1502 by Michael Sittow.
Katherine of Aragon c. 1502 by Michael Sittow.

Katherine of Aragon in later life by Lucas Hornebolte.
Katherine of Aragon in later life by Lucas Hornebolte.

 

Katherine of Aragon in later life, miniature attributed to Lucas Hornebolte.
Katherine of Aragon in later life, miniature attributed to Lucas Hornebolte.

The portraits of Katherine of Aragon all vary hugely. The first one was painted after the death of Arthur, Prince of Wales, during Katherine’s widowhood. She would have been about sixteen, and the auburn hair is clear in the painting, unlike the dark hair she is often seen to have. She is wearing a cumbersome hood, and is dressed in black, typical for mourning. Her gaze is focused down, rather than at the painter.

The second painting is probably supposed to be Katherine as Henry VIII’s wife and Queen of England. She still wears the cumbersome Spanish hood, but her hair is covered with a veil and the hood is pulled further forward. Her dress is red and gold and it is decorated with more jewels than the first one. Her body seems to be bigger, and has lost some of the childish beauty of the 1502 one. The constant pregnancies and miscarriages did this to her. Continue reading “The Portraits of the Wives of Henry VIII”

The Other Boleyn Girl – My Opinion


The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Today I’m going to give you my opinion on the film of The Other Boleyn Girl starring Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn, Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn, and Eric Bana as Henry VIII. It also co-stars Benedict Cumberbatch as William Carey, Ana Torrent as Katherine of Aragon, Jim Sturgess as George Boleyn and Eddie Redmayne as William Stafford, among others.

I don’t think the film version lived up to the novel. The novel was a lot more detailed, and the characters seemed to be entirely different from novel to film. I wish the film had focused more on Mary Boleyn and her relationship with William Stafford, and how that affected her view of the court, and her children. The film seemed to tail off after Anne became involved with Henry VIII, but there was a lot more in the novel after that point, which wasn’t seen in the film. I think that this let it down as a lot of Mary’s lesser-known story (what happened when she left the court after her secret marriage to Stafford) was eft out, and this was the bit that most intrigued readers in the first place when the novel was published. I haven’t seen the earlier TV film of the novel, so I don’t know how that differs, but when I eventually get around to watching it, I will review it here. Continue reading “The Other Boleyn Girl – My Opinion”

Do I Think Henry VIII Deserves his Reputation as a Tyrant?


Henry VIII by Hans Holbein 1540
Henry VIII by Hans Holbein 1540

The short answer is no, I do not think Henry VIII deserves his reputation as a tyrant, at least not fully. Henry VIII was a victim of the court in which he lived. He was constantly manipulated; by his wives, particularly Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, his ministers like Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell, and even the clergy like Stephen Gardiner and Thomas Cranmer. Rarely any of the decisions he made were actually his own.[i] Although Henry VIII was in part manipulated, at least in his early years, he did gain some measure of control over the affairs of his country and himself later on in his life. This began with the issue of his lack of a male heir and divorce from his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. It was enhanced by his changing religious beliefs to enable him to get a divorce, and it was certainly developed in his quest to choose his own wife and to marry for love. Only two of his wives came from diplomatic pressure, his first and fourth (Anne of Cleves). The other five were born and bred in England, and whom he married for personal choice rather than diplomatic pressure.[ii] Continue reading “Do I Think Henry VIII Deserves his Reputation as a Tyrant?”

Ten Famous Mothers and Daughters

Ten Famous Mothers and Daughters

Three guesses who is at number one!

Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I.


Ten Famous Mothers and Daughters

Three guesses who is at number one!

Anne Boleyn Hever Castle Portrait
Anne Boleyn Hever Castle Portrait

 

Elizabeth I Darnley Portrait 1575
Elizabeth I Darnley Portrait 1575

Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I.

Hi Everyone!


Why did I start this blog and what do I want to achieve?

I started this blog because I wanted to share my love of the Tudors with as many people as possible. History is often seen as a boring subject, but I want to engage people with history, and hopefully make others more interested in it. History courses at colleges and universities often don’t have enough pupils on them, considering that history can make you think differently about the present, and hopefully change the future. If I can make just one more person interested in the Tudors, or in history in general then I’ll have achieved something.

What is my particular interest?

I’m particularly interested in the wives of Henry VIII. Anne Boleyn is my speciality, but I’m also really interested in the lives of Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard, though there is a shortage of sources on them. However, I’m also interested in the fiction side of things – TV shows like ‘The Tudors’ and books like ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by Philippa Gregory and ‘The Tudor Wife’ by Emily Purdy and ‘Murder Most Royal’ by Jean Plaidy. I will blog about these, as well as facts, and how these fiction versions compare to the historical record.

Qualifications and interest?

I have a BA (Hons) degree in History, with my dissertation entitled ‘What do Contemporary Sources Reveal about Anne Boleyn’s Public Image?’ from 2012. I also have an MA in History from 2013, with a thesis entitled ‘The Many Faces of Anne Boleyn: Perceptions in History, Literature and Film’. I am currently applying for PhDs with a working title for my thesis of ‘Female Consorts: an Analysis of Film and Literature in History from Elizabeth Woodville to Katherine Parr 1464-1547’.

If you have any questions, please ask.