I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how short this book was, that it managed to cram in so much detail. There are so many little details throughout the book that I didn’t expect. It’s a great introduction to the reign of Mary I, and especially her role in the Catholic Counter-Reformation in England in the 1550s. There is lots of detail about the Protestant martyrs of her reign who I didn’t really know much about to be honest, but I do now!
I especially enjoyed the introductory section about Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and the section about Thomas Cranmer’s recantation and execution. John Foxe’s book lists many of the people who were killed under Mary I as Protestant martyrs, and their beliefs and executions are covered in a surprising amount of detail. I haven’t yet got around to reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, just dipping in and out for assignments and blog posts, but this makes me want to spend more time with it.
This book focuses on the life of Mary Howard, who married Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.
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”
1510 – Luther is sent to Rome on monastic business and sees the corruption of the Church.
1517 – Luther posts his 95 theses on a church door in Wittenburg in Germany, formally beginning the Protestant Reformation in Europe:-
The disputation protests against clerical abuses like pluralism, absenteeism, baptism and the sale of indulgences (the idea that people could buy a place in heaven for their souls, and to forgive their sins).
1518 – Luther defends his beliefs in front of Augustinians, and refuses to recant. Frederick the Wise protects him from being handed over to Rome.
1519 – Luther debates papal infallibility and begins a New Testament sermon series.
“I have never had better opinions of woman than I had of her” – Thomas Cranmer
Anne Boleyn was an unpopular Queen. As Eric Ives said, she was ‘perhaps a figure to be more admired than liked’.[i] She has been portrayed in many different ways: through plays, portraits, biographies written through religious eyes and through the eyes of the man who loved her, and killed her.
With Anne Boleyn living her life largely in the public spotlight, there was a ‘calculated distance between the public persona and the inner self’.[ii] This in itself poses a problem as Anne did not want to show weakness in the face of her enemies so it is unlikely that the surviving contemporary evidence portrayed who Anne Boleyn really was; it more likely shows the face that she wanted the public to see – the Queen rather than the woman.
Stephen Greenblatt expands on this idea and says that there was a widespread idea in sixteenth century England that the self could be fashioned, but that it was constrained due to family, state and religious implications; these imposed a rigid and disciplined order on society as a whole.[iii] In reference to Anne Boleyn, state implications were particularly important, but also religious implications, as Anne was widely known as having reformist tendencies. Greenblatt’s arguments will be examined in this chapter. Continue reading “Undergraduate Dissertation Chapter – Portrayals of Anne Boleyn in Portraits and Literature”
“And thunder rolls about the throne” – Thomas Wyatt
Lacey Baldwin Smith said that ‘the closer the proximity to the crown, the greater the danger’, and this definitely proved true in the case of Anne Boleyn.[i] Anne was executed for adultery, incest and treason, ‘despising her marriage and entertaining malice against the King’.[ii] However, Henry VIII’s motives behind Anne’s execution remain unclear.
The reasons for Anne Boleyn’s fall from power can affect our view of her public image. Was her fall her own fault? Henry’s? Cromwell’s? These questions tend to be the focal point in the secondary literature, which questions, not only whose fault it was, but also the motives for bringing Anne down. Anne failed to give birth to a son and Henry had fallen in love with Jane Seymour. Did Cromwell see Anne as a threat so plotted to bring her down? Or was her fall the result of an accusation of misconduct by one of her ladies? All of these possible reasons will be discussed in this chapter. Continue reading “Undergraduate Dissertation Chapter – Anne Boleyn’s Fall From Power”