Things You Can Do While in Coronavirus Lockdown


People are having to find new things to do to keep themselves occupied while the world is in lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve been a bit remiss on this blog recently through a combination of different things, but I have really been struggling to find things to keep me occupied – here is my list of some of the history-related things that are keeping me sane during this very difficult and unprecedented time.

  • Listening to history podcasts

There are a couple of really great history podcasts that I love, and I am getting my history fix from these, not all Tudor-related.

  1. Talking Tudors – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/talking-tudors/id1413504428

Natalie Grueninger talks with various people about different aspects of the Tudor period; there are currently 67 episodes covering everything from Anne Boleyn to Tudor Christmases, from Anne Clifford to the Golden Hinde.

2. Ten Minute Tudors – https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/10-minute-tudors-leanda-de-lisle/id1267848238

Leanda de Lisle discusses the Tudors and Stuarts in easily digestible 10-minute chunks from Henry VI to Charles I, the Gunpowder Plot to the role of royal consort. There are plenty of topics to find something of interest to everyone.

3. The History of England – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-history-of-england/id412308812

David Crowther podcasts from his shed, currently with 286 episodes covering a history of England from the Anglo-Saxons currently up to the accession of Elizabeth I, though further episodes are to come.

4. History Extra – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/history-extra-podcast/id256580326

This is a podcast linked to magazines like BBC History and History Revealed. It deals with historical topics from across time as well as different countries. If you’re going to find something to interest you, you’ll find it here.

Continue reading “Things You Can Do While in Coronavirus Lockdown”

Book Review – ‘A Phoenix Rising’ by Vivienne Brereton


Thanks to Vivienne for sending me a copy of this book to read!

Thomas Howard. Head of a sprawling, hot-blooded, sensual brood. Soldier, courtier, politician, a man of great personal charisma. A phoenix rising from the ashes. Will Thomas’s ambitions be realised? Or will the phoenix come crashing down again? Every Howard, male and female, renowned for their good looks and charm, is born to dazzle at court. Luring admirers, even royal ones … like bees to sweet nectar. Equally, each member is expected to restore the family to the very pinnacle of achievement. April 1509. Seventeen-year-old Henry VIII inherits the throne of England. But who sits on the thrones of France and Scotland? Uneasy bedfellows at best. Intrigue and danger stalk the corridors of the royal courts of Europe. Secrets and lies are concealed behind the ancient walls of castles in three lands. [Description from Goodreads]

Series – House of the Red Duke #1

It took me a few chapters to get into this book, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. The descriptions of the characters were really engaging and gave me a very different perspective of people that I had quite set perceptions about, like the Howard family. I was also quite intrigued by Tristan and Nicholas, and their pasts as they were revealed throughout the story. The relationship between the two was interesting as well because they seemed so similar, but really didn’t get on, like people who are too different. It was an intriguing dynamic.

I sometimes struggle with books written from the point of view of several characters, as this one is, but this one worked quite well because it had to be told from the points of view of different characters because it is spread across several countries – England, France and Scotland. The juxtaposition of the three countries was very interesting as they all had people reacting to the same or similar events in different ways depending on where they were and what they believed. It makes for a very intriguing read, though the amount of characters does sometimes throw you.

The addition of Tudor recipes was a nice touch, and demonstrated that the writer had really done her research. From a brief discussion with Vivienne about the book, it seems she has tried the recipes herself at home so it’s not just a theoretical recipe either! There were also nods to primary sources with sections based around these.

For my own personal point of view I really enjoyed the tantalising glimpses of Anne and Mary Boleyn as young girls, and Thomas Boleyn really just starting out on his career, knowing how important the family will become. It was also an interesting perception of Edmund Howard, son of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, as he would become the father of Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s ill-fated fifth wife. He doesn’t really get much page or screen time in fictional portrayals of the Tudors so it was nice just to get a small glimpse. I’m sure we’ll see more of him in later books as well.

I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series, so don’t wait too long, Vivienne!

Also published on my sister blog https://bookbloggerish.wordpress.com/

Discussion Questions – ‘The Boleyn Reckoning’ by Laura Anderson


  1. The Duke of Norfolk declares: “William is his father all over again – what he wants, he gets” (page 257). Do you agree with Lord Norfolk’s assessment? Why or why not?

Laura Anderson 'The Boleyn Reckoning'
Laura Anderson ‘The Boleyn Reckoning’

I think it becomes more so towards the end of the book as William suffers betrayal by his best friend and the woman he loves. He isn’t willing to give things up without a fight, so strikes out at those around him. Henry VIII wanted to marry Anne Boleyn and wouldn’t stop until he achieved that. He broke with Rome to achieve it, and changed the religion of the entire country, suppressing revolt and rebellion at home and abroad. William seems to have the same attitude towards Minuette, but doesn’t realise that she doesn’t share the same hopes. He kills people who disagree with him (George Boleyn and Princess Mary) and tries to gain foreign support for an unpopular match.

  1. Elizabeth tells William that she can always be trusted to put England’s good before her own personal interests (page 367). Are her actions in England’s best interest? Do you agree with her assessment of her motives, or is she serving her own personal interests? Had William not murdered Robert Dudley and confined Elizabeth to the Tower, do you think she would still consider William’s death and her ascension to be in England’s best interest? What are Elizabeth’s defining characteristics that make her a more desirable monarch than William?

I think that Elizabeth knows how distracted William would be if he married Minuette, and she also understands, when Minuette and Dominic are married, what William’s emotions would be and how he would deal with the situation – I think that’s why she encourages them to flee. It is largely about the interests of the country, but I think that she also wants to do what is best for her friends. Elizabeth knows that, if William doesn’t have a son and heir, then she will succeed to the throne, and she knows that William’s revenge on Dominic and Minuette could ruin the country, so she does what she can to stem it. I think that Elizabeth began to see that William was becoming more like their father, and more unstable in the betrayal, so I think she did come to believe that her own accession was in England’s best interests. Her best characteristics are her patience and loyalty to those who are loyal to her, and her long-term friendships. She knows how to value people and the importance of valuing people. Continue reading “Discussion Questions – ‘The Boleyn Reckoning’ by Laura Anderson”

Spotlight: Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk


Name: Thomas Howard

Title/s: 3rd Duke of Norfolk / Earl of Surrey / Earl Marshal / Knight of the Garter

Birth / Death: 1473 – 25 August 1554

Spouse: Anne of York 1475-1511 / Elizabeth Stafford c.1497-1558

Children: Thomas Howard c.1496-1508 (by Anne of York) / Henry Howard Earl of Surrey c.1516-1547 / Mary Howard Duchess of Richmond 1519-1557 / Thomas Viscount Howard 1520-1582 / Muriel Howard (died young) / Katherine Howard ?-1530 (by Elizabeth Stafford)

Parents: Thomas Howard 2nd Duke of Norfolk 1443-1524 & Elizabeth Tilney c.1445-1497 Continue reading “Spotlight: Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk”

Discussion Questions – ‘Secrets of the Tudor Court’ by Darcey Bonnette


Darcey Bonnette's 'Secrets of the Tudor Court' (2011).
Darcey Bonnette’s ‘Secrets of the Tudor Court’ (2011).

This book focuses on the life of Mary Howard, who married Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.

  1. Discuss how Mary’s character changes throughout the novel.

The main that Mary undergoes in the novel is her loss of innocence. At the beginning she truly believes in her father and in the king. The turning point in the relationship with her father is when she sees him beat her mother, and finds out about his relationship with Bess Holland. With the king, there are a lot of little things, but the major event is his actions against her cousin Anne Boleyn. Mary is still essentially innocent until her husband, Henry Fitzroy dies, and she realises that she has to become more forward and ruthless in order to live. Other events which contribute to her loss of innocence are her relationship with Cedric Dane, the executions of Katherine Howard and Henry Howard, and the actions of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford. Mary’s perception of loyalty also changes, as she realises that loyalty to the king should come first and foremost in order to survive, and loyalty to your family should come after. The examples of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard illustrate this. Self-preservation is also an important motivator for Mary, particularly in the case of the accusations against her brother and father. Her mother and Cedric Dane encourage this. Continue reading “Discussion Questions – ‘Secrets of the Tudor Court’ by Darcey Bonnette”

Photos from my visit to Framlingham Castle and St Michael’s Church!


Photos from my visit to Framlingham Castle and St Michael’s Church!

If you click on the above link you can see photos from my visit to Framlingham Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, and also where Mary I gathered her forces to overthrow Jane Grey and the Duke of Northumberland in 1553.

There are also photos of St Michael’s Church, where the bodies of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk and his wife are buried, along with Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and his wife, and the two wives of the 4th Duke of Norfolk. Also entombed there is Henry Fitzroy, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.

Framlingham Castle, Suffolk.
Framlingham Castle, Suffolk.

The Fall of Thomas Cromwell 1540


Thomas Cromwell by Hans Holbein.
Thomas Cromwell by Hans Holbein.

So I’ve had several people saying that they want to read more about Thomas Cromwell. This is me obliging and trying to widen my field of knowledge (it can never hurt!), but bear in mind I don’t really know a lot about him, so you’re bound to disagree with things. Don’t be afraid to comment and pull me out on something! In this post, I intend to focus solely on his fall from power in 1540. (I apologise for the lack of page numbers for the Hutchinson text, but I’m using an e-book, so it doesn’t have page numbers).

Robert Hutchinson has written a biography of Thomas Cromwell, saying that his arrest was ‘as ruthless as it was sudden’.[i] Cromwell was only made Earl of Essex in April 1540 and at the beginning of June 1540 Henry VIII gave the command for his arrest. So, sudden, it definitely was. From this point of view, we can also see it as ruthless – how did Cromwell go in that short space of time from being Henry’s favourite minister and really high in royal favour, to being accused of undermining Henry’s intention for a religious settlement? Continue reading “The Fall of Thomas Cromwell 1540”