Documentary Notes – British History’s Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley: the Wars of the Roses


  • Story of past open to interpretation 
  • Carefully edited and deceitful version of events 
  • Not just a version of what happened – more a tapestry of different stories woven together by whoever was in power at the time 
  • Wars of the Roses was invented by the Tudors to justify their power 
  • Immortalised by Shakespeare – darkest chapter in English history 
  • Lancaster and York locked in battle for the crown of England – kings deposed, innocent children murdered, cousin fought against cousin 
  • 1485 Richard III slain and Henry Tudor took the throne 
  • Henry VII’s victory hailed the ending of the Medieval period 
  • Line between fact and fiction often gets blurred 
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.
  • 1455 Stubbins in Lancashire scene of a legendary battle in the Wars of the Roses beginning with volleys of arrows but ran out of ammunition 
  • Lancastrians pelted the Yorkists with black pudding – local legend 
  • Yorkists pelted the Lancastrians with Yorkshire puddings – local legend 
  • Wars of the Roses in national memory 
  • History books – rivalry between Lancaster (red rose) and York (white rose) – bloody rivalry largely a creation of the Tudors 
  • 1461 bloodshed real in the middle of a snowstorm at Towton 
  • Lancastrians started out well but tide turned against them, chased by the Yorkists down the slope to a river and so a massacre began 
  • Blood stained the snow red, so location became known as the bloody meadow 
  • Shakespeare portrayed the battle as a bloody Armageddon – represented a country torn apart by war, nothing as bad in our history 
  • Somme 19,000 British soldiers killed on the first day, Towton 28,000 killed 
  • 20 years ago Bradford University revealed barbarity of fighting with remains of 43 men killed at Towton 
  • Head forced down into the spine, poleaxes – exceptional even for the Wars of the Roses 
  • Skirmishes, but real battles only around 8 in 30 years 
  • Not ravaged by all-out war – later myth 
  • Out of 32 years of wars, fighting on lasted a total of 13 weeks 

Continue reading “Documentary Notes – British History’s Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley: the Wars of the Roses”

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Henry VIII and his Six Wives – Suzannah Lipscomb & Dan Jones – Episode 2


Anne Boleyn Hever Castle Portrait
Anne Boleyn Hever Castle Portrait

Anne Boleyn was the most notorious mistress in English history

Intelligent, sophisticated, ambitious

Captivated Henry VIII

Together Henry and Anne destroyed Katherine of Aragon

Anne became too confident and paid for the crown with her life

1529 Henry VIII in love with Anne for 3 years

Was lady in waiting to Katherine of Aragon – tired of being mistress

Anne promised Henry a living son – the one thing Katherine had failed to give him – but she wouldn’t sleep with Henry until he left his wife

Katherine refused to step aside – loyal wife for 2 decades

Katherine wouldn’t give up Henry without a fight – Katherine asked Henry to allow marriage to be judged in public court

Katherine had chance to save marriage and crown

Katherine had been preparing for this her whole life – not to be crushed by any man

All or nothing

21 June 1529 great hall at Blackfriars priory – struggle made public

Henry and Katherine faced each other in the divorce court in front of public audience

Continue reading “Henry VIII and his Six Wives – Suzannah Lipscomb & Dan Jones – Episode 2”

The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England Part 1 ‘The Common People’


First Broadcast 31.05.2013

Ian Mortimer
Ian Mortimer

Ian Mortimer.

“Continual struggle to survive.”

Quarter of England was wild heaths, moors and forests – no roads, only paths. Dangerous.

Cottages were dark – no light, very basic. Earth floor, one fire always lit, very smoky, holes in walls.

Candles were expensive – most only had a few possessions, pots and pan, a bench, a basket, a straw mattress.

Hierarchical society = rigid class system ordained by God.

Yeoman employs workers and owns land. Husbander rents land. Labourers work on other people’s land.

Most people work on the land dawn until sunset.

Pay for a full day = 1 groat. Also equals 4p=4d. Chicken costs 4p a day to keep. Buys a small amount of ale a day, meat and fish for a week. Not enough to raise a family. Continue reading “The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England Part 1 ‘The Common People’”

‘William Tyndale: the Most Dangerous Man in Tudor England’ Documentary Notes


William Tyndale
William Tyndale

William Tyndale – executed 1536 by burning

Immeasurable, translation of the Bible fuelled a protestant reformation

One of the co-creators of the modern English language (with Shakespeare)

Written out of history = savage truths about people who dominated Tudor England like Henry VIII (hypocrite, bully, tyrant)

One of the greatest men in English history

Courageous pioneer who wanted to see the word of God accessible to everyone – seen as an act of revolution to rip apart the status quo

Burning of heretics and sympathisers

Hounded out of his own country and spent most of his adult life on the run

1494 Gloucestershire Tyndale born Continue reading “‘William Tyndale: the Most Dangerous Man in Tudor England’ Documentary Notes”

Historical Errors in ‘The Tudors’ Series One


Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII in 'The Tudors (2007-2010).
Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII in ‘The Tudors (2007-2010).

Episode 1 “In Cold Blood”
Assassination of the Duke of Urbino – Henry VIII had no uncle at this time, and so the scene that was included was completely made up.
Charles Brandon and the daughter of the Duke of Buckingham – there is no evidence of Brandon having an affair with any daughter of Buckingham.
Richard Pace – Pace was never accused of spying and was never imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Thomas Tallis – there is no record of Tallis being at court until 1543, not as early as is portrayed in ‘The Tudors’.
Katherine of Aragon’s first son – in the television show, Katherine of Aragon says that he lived for four weeks, but it was actually seven and a half weeks.
Marriage of Bessie Blount – in the television show, Bessie Blount is already married during her affair with the king, but in reality she didn’t marry until 1522.
Thomas Boleyn’s family – Buckingham refers to Boleyn’s family as “old” but in reality his grandfather was Mayor of London, and before that the family was rather obscure. Boleyn only had noble connections because his wife was the sister of the Duke of Norfolk. Continue reading “Historical Errors in ‘The Tudors’ Series One”

‘Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty’ Part 2 – Henry III – 04/12/2014


 

Henry III funeral effergy in Westminster Abbey
Henry III funeral effergy in Westminster Abbey

Henry III and Simon de Montfort – “friendship that turned to hatred”
Led to civil war and changed monarchy forever
Henry III 1216-1272, came to the throne aged 9
1230 has been on the throne for fourteen years, but powers scaled back by Magna Carta, signed by his father, King John
Fourth Plantagenet king
Henry II was his grandfather – French lands lost by his father
Tough, warfare, politically savvy, justice, energy and appetite needed – Henry III lacks these qualities needed to be a king
Henry tried twice, but ended in expensive defeat
Barons stop lending him money, allowed to by Magna Carta; can’t raise taxes
Dreamer – big dreams like Westminster Abbey which he built
Henry not seen as a great king by his barons – not strong enough to take them on alone
Autumn 1230 Henry III first meets Simon de Montfort (minor French knight) who is a fanatic, backs belief with action
Henry sees a man with single-mindedness needed to achieve his dreams
So young when he takes the throne that others had always made his decisions for him – Henry drawn to de Montfort and vice versa Continue reading “‘Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty’ Part 2 – Henry III – 04/12/2014”

Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty Part 1 – Henry II – 27/11/2014


Henry II
Henry II

300 and more years they crushed all competition
Plantagenets = greatest dynasty of all time
Ambition, jealousy, hatred, revenge – forged England as a nation
Henry II 1154-1189
European superpower and betrayal within his own family
1153 England failing, Matilda lost to Stephen
Henry II was Matilda’s son, sails to England with an invasion force, crown rightfully his
Fiery temper, very ambitious
Within a year, Stephen dead and Henry crowned, but doesn’t speak English
Problems with barons raiding and looting – future depends on bringing barons to heel
Wigmore Castle – Hugh Mortimer last baron to hold out, Henry lays siege but doesn’t want to destroy
Mortimer folds and Henry gives him power

Formidable ally – Eleanor of Aquitaine is his wife, already have one son – political player in her own right
Plantagenet empire from Scotland to the Pyrenees – maintain control?
Use clerks to do his work, basis of the civil service, National Archives show basis of control Continue reading “Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty Part 1 – Henry II – 27/11/2014”

My notes from the first half of ‘Anne and Henry: the Lovers Who Changed History’


Suzannah Lipscomb, historian.
Suzannah Lipscomb, historian.

Hever Castle “vale between past and present has become thin”
Book of Hours – treasured possession, importance of faith – wrote in it “le temps viendra je Anne Boleyn” (the time will come I Anne Boleyn) Christ raised above the Earth, day of judgement? Destined for greatness?
Henry VIII – handsome sportsman, well-loved, kind, charismatic
Erasmus “gentle friendship”
Henry tormented by his lack of a male heir
February 18 1516 – Mary I born – women not fit to rule
Henry’s relationship with God, lack of a male heir judgement from God? Married his brother’s widow Leviticus 18:16 20:21 childless means no sons
Anne brought up in Netherlands and France – huge influence, educated, art of love?
Chateau de Blois lady-in-waiting to Queen Claude, fashionable, great architecture, arts, Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci, intellectualism, piety
Came of age, “native-born Frenchwoman” Continue reading “My notes from the first half of ‘Anne and Henry: the Lovers Who Changed History’”

Photos from The Tudors Seasons 1-4


 

Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn in 'The Tudors' (2008).
Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn in ‘The Tudors’ (2008).

Photos from The Tudors Seasons 1-4

There is a large selection of photos on my Facebook page today from The Tudors Seasons 1-4.

It stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII, Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon, Maria Doyle Kennedy as Katherine of Aragon, Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, Annabelle Wallis as Jane Seymour, Joss Stone as Anne of Cleves, Tamzin Merchant as Katherine Howard and Joely Richardson as Katherine Parr along with James Frain as Thomas Cromwell and Sam Neill as Thomas Wolsey.