Who Was … Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury?


Thomas Cranmer was Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII and Edward VI, and briefly under Mary I, and was seen as a leader of the English Reformation. He was responsible for the Book of Common Prayer in 1549 and supported many reformers from England and abroad. Cranmer was arrested on the orders of Mary I for heresy, and initially recanted before dismissing his recantation and being burned alive in 1556.

Name: Thomas Cranmer

Title/s: Archbishop of Canterbury

Birth: 2 July 1489 in Aslockton, Nottinghamshire, England

Death: 21 March 1556 in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

Buried: Martyr’s Memorial, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

Spouse: None (unofficially, Margarete Hetzel 1511-1576)

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

Parents: Thomas Cranmer 1467-1501 & Agnes Hatfield 1469-1556

Siblings: Agnes Andrews 1491-1556

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 “Who Was … Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury?”

What were the Aims, Causes and Consequences of the Tudor Rebellions?


Lambert Simnel / Perkin Warbeck 1487-1499

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

The aims of the Simnel and Warbeck rebellions were to replace Henry VII on the English throne with what the people saw as the “true heir”.[1] Henry VII was a usurper, and the only Lancastrian claimant left since the death of Henry VI in 1471.

The cause of the Simnel and Warbeck rebellions was the fact that Henry VII was a usurper with no real claim to the throne. He had taken the throne from the Yorkist Richard III, who had usurped it from the rightful heir, the son of Edward IV – Edward V – and supposedly then had Edward and his younger brother, Richard, killed in the Tower of London. Henry’s claim to the throne came through his mother, Margaret Beaufort, who was descended from the illegitimate line of John of Gaunt and his mistress, Katherine Swynford. The Beaufort line had been legitimised but barred from succeeding to the throne.[2] The people of England weren’t entirely convinced that the Princes in the Tower were dead and, even if they were, the Earl of Warwick was another contender with a claim to the throne. Simnel pretended to be the Earl of Warwick, the son of Richard III’s elder brother, George Duke of Clarence.[3] Warbeck pretended to be Richard Duke of York, the younger of the Princes in the Tower.[4] Neither were entirely convincing. Continue reading “What were the Aims, Causes and Consequences of the Tudor Rebellions?”

Monarchs are often remembered for just one or two events and this paints them as either good or bad for the rest of history. Why do we do this and how do perceptions change if you examine their reigns in their entirety?


Monarchs seem to be remembered for perhaps one or two events or actions that then define them in English history. This doesn’t seem fair, as people have both good and bad inside them, and our actions are often dictated by the circumstances in which we live, and the events that take place around us. Most of our actions have good intentions when we start out, but it doesn’t always end that way. Monarchs who are seen as good have made mistakes, and monarchs who are seen as bad have also done good things. Here I will examine Richard III, King John, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

Late 16th Century portrait of Richard III, housed in the National Portrait Gallery.
Late 16th Century portrait of Richard III, housed in the National Portrait Gallery.

The most eponymous “bad” monarch is Richard III, most remembered for the mysterious disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, presumed murdered by Richard himself. What people don’t always remember is that the Princes were in fact his nephews, and Richard never showed any previous inclination to take the throne, unlike his brother George Duke of Clarence.[1] The Princes’ mother, Elizabeth Woodville, didn’t seem to hold Richard accountable for their deaths and she emerged from sanctuary, putting her daughters under Richard’s protection. Either that, or she was so ambitious that she didn’t care that her brother-in-law killed her sons, and just wanted some power for herself.[2] However, if this was true, she would be sadly disappointed. Richard did a lot of positive things during his reign – he strengthened the economy and ended the wars with France.[3] He also strengthened ties with the north of England, due to his marriage to Anne Neville, daughter of a northern magnate. The bad is always remembered above the good where applicable, especially where there is so much mystery surrounding an event, like the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower. Continue reading “Monarchs are often remembered for just one or two events and this paints them as either good or bad for the rest of history. Why do we do this and how do perceptions change if you examine their reigns in their entirety?”

Book Review – ‘A Brief History of the Tudor Age’ by Jasper Ridley


Jasper Ridley 'A Brief History of the Tudor Age'
Jasper Ridley ‘A Brief History of the Tudor Age’

Jasper Ridley, ‘A Brief History of the Tudor Age’ (London: Constable and Robinson, 2002), Paperback, ISBN 978-1-84119-471-4

Title: This book is not a history of the Tudor monarchs, like so many history books are, but the age as a whole. It includes chapters on the likes of fashion, law-enforcement and vagabonds, for example. However, it is brief, as the title also suggests.

Preface: Unusually, there is no preface as such to this book. However, it does include a very helpful chronology for those not as familiar with the period.

Citations: These aren’t brilliant, as notes aren’t made within the text to suggest where information came from. There aren’t footnotes or endnotes, either, just a list of sources used in each chapter, which means that you can’t follow up where Ridley got certain pieces of information from. You just have to trust that he’s telling the truth. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘A Brief History of the Tudor Age’ by Jasper Ridley”

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