On International Women’s Day I thought I would give the lowdown on some of my favourite Tudor ladies – Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, Jane Grey and Elizabeth I. All were queen in one way or another, and were strong successful women in their own ways. Here I look at some of the highlights of their lives, and why I enjoy studying them so much.
Anne Boleyn seems to be a popular choice for people’s favourite wife of Henry VIII or favourite Tudor queen in general. But why? She is controversial, inspired great devotion alive and dead, and was (it is widely accepted) innocent of the crimes for which she was executed. However, Katherine Howard was also executed, and it isn’t sure that she was entirely guilty of that which she was accused of, but she doesn’t get the same kind of following or academic interest.
For me, what makes Anne Boleyn so interesting is that she was a woman, not quite out of her time, but looking to the future. She realised that women were capable of so much more than had been believed, and she had seen women take power and rule – namely Margaret of Austria – and women who enjoyed learning and bettered themselves – Marguerite of Navarre.
Anne has taught me to be myself and not to be afraid to show my intelligence as she did.
Continue reading “International Women’s Day – Favourite Tudor Women”
- What role do faith and religion play during the time period represented in The Last Tudor? What is the relationship between religion and politics, and how does this relationship affect the cultural climate of England? Is the country mostly united in their faith or divided? What impact does this have on the royals of England?
- After the Henrician Reformation, there was the mid-Tudor crisis, already with differences of faith across England.
- Edward VI was a devout Protestant as he had been raised, Mary I was a devout Catholic as her mother Katherine of Aragon had been, and Elizabeth I looked for a middle way in religion having seen the chaos of her brother’s and sister’s reigns.
- Edward VI altered his Device for the Succession to stop Mary I succeeding to the throne and returning the English church to Rome.
- Politics was based on religion – generally people who supported Edward VI and Jane Grey were protestant, and those who supported Mary I were Catholic, although Mary I did at first also attract the support of protestants as the real claimant to the throne by Henry VIII’s will.
- What is “the true religion” according to Lady Jane Grey? Why does Jane believe that she and her family do not need to earn their place in heaven as others do? Does her faith ultimately serve her well? Discuss.
- Jane Grey believes the true religion is protestant – each is influenced in religion in the way that they were raised.
- Protestants believe in pre-destination – that it is already decided whether you go to heaven or hell before you’re even born and you can’t influence that through good works.
- Good works leading to heaven is a Catholic doctrine.
- Jane Grey relies on her faith and it ultimately helps her to die, but she wouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place if she wasn’t staunchly Protestant.
- Edward VI settles the succession on Jane Grey because she is Protestant, rather than his Catholic half-sister Mary I.
Continue reading “Discussion Questions – ‘The Last Tudor’ by Philippa Gregory”