Spotlight – Thomas Seymour


Name: Thomas Seymour

Title/s: Baron Seymour of Sudeley

Birth / Death: c.1508 – 20 March 1549 (executed)

Spouse: Katherine Parr 1512-1548

Children: Mary Seymour 1548-?

Parents: Sir John Seymour 1474-1536 and Margery Wentworth 1478-1550

Siblings: John Seymour ?-1510 / Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset c.1500-1552 / Henry Seymour 1503-1578 / Anthony Seymour ?-1528 / Jane Seymour c.1509-1537 / Margery Seymour ?-1528 / Elizabeth Paulet Marchioness of Winchester 1518-1568 / Dorothy Leventhorpe 1515-1552

Noble Connections: His sister, Jane, became Queen of England as the third wife of Henry VIII, and through this marriage he was uncle to Edward VI. His brother, Edward, was Lord Protector during the minority of Edward VI, and he married the dowager queen, Katherine Parr. Continue reading “Spotlight – Thomas Seymour”

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Spotlight – Thomas Cranmer


Name: Thomas Cranmer

Title/s: Archbishop of Canterbury

Birth / Death: 2 July 1489 – 21 March 1556 (executed by burning)

Spouse: Margarete Hetzel 1511-1576

Children: Margaret Cranmer 1536-1568 / Thomas Cranmer 1538-1598

Parents: Thomas Cranmer and Agnes Hatfield

Siblings: None

Noble Connections: Cranmer was patronised by Anne Boleyn, Queen to Henry VIII. He was close to both Henry VIII and Edward VI, and was instrumental in allowing Jane Grey to take the throne in 1553. Continue reading “Spotlight – Thomas Cranmer”

Discussion Questions – ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel


  1. The novel starts off with a description of hawks soaring in the sky and swooping in to slaughter their prey. In the same manner, the novel closes off with an image of a fox attacking a hen coop. What is the significance of these animals and what do they symbolise?
'Bring Up the Bodies' by Hilary Mantel (2012).
‘Bring Up the Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel (2012).

Hawks tend to symbolise awareness, intelligence and a regal bearing. Possibly this is a sense of what is to come – the intelligent and ambitious Anne Boleyn losing awareness of her position as queen and what it relies on (Henry VIII’s love) and ending up being beheaded on the orders of her husband, the king. In the case of the fall of Anne Boleyn the fox represents Cromwell, and the hens are Anne and her faction who are brought down. However, this could also foreshadow what is to come for Cromwell when he becomes one of the hens, along with the rest of the reformist party, and they are attacked by the foxes (the conservative faction).

2. How has Cromwell’s upbringing influenced him to become the shrewd and ambitious man that he is? What is the significance of Cromwell refusing to adopt the coat of arms belonging to a noble Cromwell family even as he widens the chasm between his father and himself? How does Cromwell view family and how is it different from his own experience growing up?

I think the fact that Cromwell had such a difficult relationship with his father encourages him to get away and prove himself. He wants to be a better person than his father. I think this difficult relationship also enhances Cromwell’s ambition and desire for power – he wants to feel the power that he didn’t have when at the mercy of his father. Cromwell doesn’t want to be a part of the inherited nobility – his religious beliefs encourage the rise of self-made men, and promoting them on the basis of their abilities and not their wealth or title. I think Cromwell doesn’t want his own wife and children to experience the family life he had when he was younger – he tries very hard not to exhibit the same characteristics as his father did, and tries to create a happier home. Continue reading “Discussion Questions – ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel”

Discussion Questions – ‘Wolf Hall’ by Hilary Mantel


  1. What does Holbein’s portrait capture about Thomas Cromwell’s character that even Cromwell, himself, recognises? What kind of man is Cromwell? In the rapacious world of Wolf Hall, do you find him a sympathetic character, or not?
Thomas Cromwell by Hans Holbein.
Thomas Cromwell by Hans Holbein.

I think that Cromwell becomes more ambitious when he gets a taste of power. I think he likes to thwart those in power with his knowledge, like when Wolsey is demanded to give up the great seal. I think that Cromwell doesn’t come across as more sympathetic in ‘Wolf Hall’ than in other books featuring him, as we see the deaths of his wife and daughters, and the fall of his mentor in his own eyes, rather than the eyes of Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn. I think he is a very caring person with a ruthless streak in his religious beliefs. I think Holbein’s portrait captures Cromwell’s essence in not flaunting his rising position, but still showing his power with the books and papers around him. It’s very clever that it’s not explicit, but it still shows the reined-in power.

  1. What effect did Cromwell’s upbringing have on his character and his later views about the privileged society that permeates the court? How does he feel about the aristocracy and its insistence on ancient rights?

I think that Cromwell’s relationship with his father affects a lot of his thoughts and actions now he is an adult. He seems to be very fixed on not ending up like his father, and having a better relationship with his children than his father had with him. He wasn’t brought up to a privileged way of life, so he can see more clearly than those at court the importance of promoting people for their abilities rather than their wealth and titles. He believes that, in the future, self-made men will have an important role in running the country, more so than the old nobility who represent the medieval period that has now been left behind – men like him represent the future. Continue reading “Discussion Questions – ‘Wolf Hall’ by Hilary Mantel”

Notes from ‘The Last Days of Anne Boleyn’ from the BBC Tudor Season 23.05.2013


Anne Boleyn National Portrait Gallery.
Anne Boleyn National Portrait Gallery.

Framed? By whom? What reason?
Weir “Anne burst upon [the English court] with a certain brilliance.”
Gregory “sexiest girl at court.”
Mantel = too detached and intelligent to stake everything on love – did Anne ever love Henry?
Lipscomb “Anne as a usurper.”
Starkey = “Anne changes all the rules” but Henry is a failure without a son.
Mantel = Henry thinks of annulling his second marriage due to lack of consent.
Gregory – malformed foetus. Adultery, incest or witchcraft – Mantel disagrees, sees above as Catholic propaganda.
Mantel – Jane was Anne’s opposite.
Starkey – Jane was plain “she doesn’t really exist.”
Lipscomb – Henry didn’t want to annul his marriage, he saw Jane as a mistress.
Walker = Anne wasn’t like Katherine and was involved in politics – John Skip sermon “wonderful satirical sermon.”
Mantel – Cromwell was Henry’s first minister “clever as a bucket of snakes.” Continue reading “Notes from ‘The Last Days of Anne Boleyn’ from the BBC Tudor Season 23.05.2013”

Spotlight: Anne Boleyn


Name: Anne Boleyn / Anne Bullen.

Title/s: Lady Anne Rochford, Lady Marquess of Pembroke, Queen of England.

Birth / Death: 1501? – 19 May 1536.

Spouse: Henry VIII of England 1592 – 1547.

Children: Elizabeth I of England 1533 – 1603.

Parents: Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde 1477 – 1539 & Elizabeth Howard 1480 – 1538.

Siblings: Mary Stafford c.1499-1543 / Thomas Boleyn c.1500 / Henry Boleyn c.1502 / George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford c.1504-1536

Noble Connections: Her uncle, Thomas Howard, was the Duke of Norfolk; her cousin, Henry Howard, was the Earl of Surrey; her father was the Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde; her brother was Viscount Rochford; her sister-in-law, Jane Parker, was the daughter of Baron Morley.

Continue reading “Spotlight: Anne Boleyn”

Personal Tudor 20 Questions


1. Favourite Tudor Monarch: Elizabeth I

2. Favourite Tudor Consort: Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn National Portrait Gallery.
Anne Boleyn National Portrait Gallery.

3. Most intriguing Tudor personality: Jane Grey

4. Favourite Tudor marriage: Prince Arthur and Katherine of Aragon

5. I want to learn more about: Catherine Carey and Katherine Grey

6. Aspect of the Tudors least interested in: Military and naval

7. Least favourite Tudor personality: Thomas Seymour

8. Least favourite Tudor Monarch: Edward VI

9. Favourite Tudor place: Hampton Court Palace Continue reading “Personal Tudor 20 Questions”

My Masters Thesis


My Masters Thesis

A small snippet of what I’ve been working on lately, and why I haven’t updated much – my Masters thesis!

Review – ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel


'Bring Up the Bodies' by Hilary Mantel (2012).
‘Bring Up the Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel (2012).

I finally finished reading Hilary Mantel’s (relatively) new book Bring Up the Bodies and this is my review.

Generally, I thought it was engaging and well-written. However, I was a little disappointed. I don’t know if that’s just because it was so hyped up, and then it won the Man Booker Prize, but I just felt that it was a bit slow to get into the story. I preferred Bring Up the Bodies to Wolf Hall, however, partly because it was more ‘my’ period – the fall of Anne Boleyn, but also because it looked at more outside Cromwell’s own life, and it examined opinion and perception., which is a huge part of my own research.

Genre/s: Historical Fiction / Romance / Drama.

Setting: London (UK) – Greenwich, Tower of London, Austin Friars, Whitehall Continue reading “Review – ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel”

Hilary Mantel on Anne Boleyn


http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/11/hilary-mantel-on-anne-boleyn

Hilary Mantel wins the Man Booker Prize for the second time!
Hilary Mantel wins the Man Booker Prize for the second time!

You might have realised by my previous posts, my love for Hilary Mantel, who has written an article on Anne Boleyn. This are only snippets with my opinions underneath. To read the full article, click on the link above. The tagline of Hilary Mantel’s article on Anne Boleyn:-

“We argue over her, we admire and revile her – we constantly reinvent her. Henry VIII’s second wife is one of the most controversial women in English history”

Mantel is very right – there has never been anyone in English history who has prompted quite so much argument as Henry VIII’s second wife. We admire her deeply for everything she’s done and everything she’s been through, and the way she handled her death. She has been reviled, but that is a less likely outcome than admiration. She is reinvented by different historians in different areas of her life – guilty or innocent, Catholic or Protestant, whore or not. She is controversial because of the lack of evidence and sources on her, and the imagination that goes into fictional adaptations of her. Continue reading “Hilary Mantel on Anne Boleyn”