Catherine of Aragon’s First Meeting with the Tudors

The following is an exclusive extract from Catherine of Aragon, An Intimate Life of Henry VIII’s True Wife by Amy Licence, available now by Amberley Publishing.

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By Amy Licence

The man that Catherine met on the evening of November 6, 1501, was approaching forty-five and had been on the English throne for sixteen years. He was described extensively by the Italian Humanist Polydore Vergil, who first came to England in 1502, just short months after Catherine’s arrival, and was welcomed at court, with ample opportunity to observe the King at this time in his life. Henry was above average height, with a slender but strong, well-built body. Vergil judged him to be “remarkably attractive” in appearance “and his face was cheerful, especially when speaking,” his eyes were “small and blue,” his complexion sallow and, by this age, his hair was grey, turning white, and his teeth “few, poor and blackish.” Two years earlier, his clothing had been described by Trevisa, another foreign visitor, who was impressed that “his Majesty wore a violet-coloured gown, lined with cloth of gold, and a collar of many jewels, and on his cap was a large diamond and a most beautiful pearl.”

Vergil also commented at length on Henry’s character, finding his “spirit distinguished, wise and prudent, his mind was brave and resolute and never, even at moments of the greatest danger, deserted him.” He had a good memory and was shrewd and prudent, so that “no one dared to get the better of him through deceit or guile” and knew well how to maintain his royal majesty “in every time and place.” No doubt he made Catherine fell welcome, as Vergil claimed him to be “attentive to his visitors an easy of access,” adding that “his hospitality was splendidly generous (and) he was fond of having foreigners at his court and he freely conferred favours on them.” Vergil was also critical of Henry’s harsh judgement of transgressors and his avarice, but these would only become relevant to Catherine in the coming years.

Henry was delighted with what he saw, although communication proved a little difficult. He hurried away to bring Arthur to her side and, finally, after years of correspondence, planning and anticipation, the young pair stood face to face. It was not how Catherine had imagined it, thinking she would first see her husband at the altar, dressed in her wedding finery, lifting her veil when the vows had been exchanged. Into the room came a boy who did not look unlike his father, with a long, thin face and dark eyes, sensitive mouth and fashionably cut dark hair, if his portrait of around 1499 is to be believed. In that, he poses with a white rose between his fingers, dressed in a gown of cloth of gold lined with fur, over a red doublet with gold edging, a jewelled pendant of black stones set in gold and a black hat and jewel, from which hang three pearls. Painted in oil with gold leaf on a wooden panel, it is the only surviving portrait painted during the boy’s lifetime, the closest impression of what Catherine saw at Dogmersfield.

An altarpiece depicting Henry’s family which was painted a couple of years after Arthur’s death, shows a youth with a somewhat generic face, the copy of his father’s long dark hair and eyes, wide mouth and strong nose. Other contemporary images, in a Guild Book of Ordinances and at prayer in a window at Great Malvern Priory, are similarly general and lacking in personal detail, even touched up in later years. A final image of Arthur from the 1520s depicts a more mature face, with strong nose and small mouth, the sitter wearing a gold chain of office and a red hat with a pilgrim badge, his empty right hand open before him, where the previous portrait had held a flower.

From these three images, it seems likely that the fifteen-year-old Arthur was dark in colouring, with a longish, slender face and nose, thin lips and a sensitive expression; a young king-in-waiting, wearing his learning and legacy as visibly as the marks of his status. There are definite facial similarities with a 1509 portrait of Arthur’s younger brother Henry, the future Henry VIII, about the eyes and mouth, with the boys having the same blunt, straight-cut bobbed dark hair under a black hat of Arthur’s 1499 portrait and the red gown with brown fur shown in the 1520 work. One key difference is the flower held between Henry’s fingers, which is red rather than white, emphasising his Lancastrian roots. There is no evidence to suggest that Arthur was in anything other than good health, or that his health during childhood had been poor: he was a tall, slender boy who elicited nothing but compliments from his contemporaries.

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Amy Licence is an historian of women’s lives in the medieval and early modern period, from Queens to commoners. Her particular interest lies in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, in gender relations, Queenship and identity, rites of passage, pilgrimage, female orthodoxy and rebellion, superstition, magic, fertility and childbirth. She is also interested in Modernism, specifically Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, Picasso and Post-Impressionism.

Amy has written for The Guardian, The TLS, The New Statesman, BBC History, The English Review, The Huffington Post, The London Magazine and other places. She has been interviewed regularly for BBC radio, including Woman’s Hour, and made her TV debut in “The Real White Queen and her Rivals” documentary, for BBC2, in 2013. She also writes literary fiction and has been shortlisted twice for the Asham Award.

Her website can be found at amylicence.weebly.com and her new book can be found at the following Amazon link;

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Catherine-Aragon-Intimate-Henry-VIIIs/dp/1445656701/ref=la_B008GEGNV2_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479806880&sr=1-2

 

William Brandon; Henry VII’s Standard Bearer

By Sarah Bryson

On the 22nd of August 1485 King Richard III met his death at the Battle of Bosworth field. With his death ended the rule of the Plantagenet Kings. Yet only a short time earlier in the battle anotherman had died by the very lance of Richard III. His name was Sir William Brandon and it would be his son, almost thirty years later that would become King Henry VIII’s most beloved and closest friend.

When Sir William Brandon died it is reported that he was close to Henry Tudor, proudly holding Henry standard high. Richard III charged at Henry’s standard bearer with his lance, the lance piercing through Brandon and breaking in half. History records that William Brandon ‘hevyd on high’ Henry Tudor’s standard, ‘and vamisyd it, tyll with deathe’s dent he was tryken downe’. William Brandon drew his last breath fighting for Henry Tudor to become King. Little would he know the great legacy that his death left his one-year- old son Charles Brandon the future Duke of Suffolk.

There appear to be very few facts related to William Brandon. His father was Sir William Brandon of Wangford and Southwark (b. approx. 1425 d. 1491). William Brandon Snr rose from relative security under the service of John de Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. Before the Duke died in 1476 he granted Sir William a seat in the local Parliament and also the marriage to Elizabeth Wingfield (d. 28th April 1497). William had a long list of accomplishments including becoming Marshal of the King’s Bench, Burgess (M.P) for Shoreham, Knight for the Shire of Suffolk and Collector of Customs at Kings Lynn and Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. William Brandon was also present at the battle of Tewkesbury. The battle of Tewkesbury was one of the most decisive battles in English history where Prince Edward, Henry VI’s son, was killed and the Lancastrian forces, of which William was a part of, were decisively defeated. Despite their loss William Brandon was knighted for his efforts. William must have been able to come to terms with the Lancastrian loss as he was present at the coronation of Richard III, brother of Yorkist King Edward V.

Sir William and Elizabeth Wingfield had three sons, Robert Brandon, William and the youngest Thomas. It has also been proposed that the couple also had several daughters two of those being Anne and Elizabeth although there is contradictory evidence to support this claim. William Brandon Junior was born around 1456.

There appears to be some scandal surrounding William Brandon Junior. In 1478 Sir John Paston wrote that:

‘yonge William Brandon is in warde and arestyd ffor thatt he scholde have fforce ravysshyd and swyvyd an olde jentylwoman , and yitt was nott therwith easysd, butt swyvyd hyr oldest dowtr, and than wolde have swyvyd the other sustr bothe; wherforr men sey ffowle off hym, and that he wolde ete the henne and alle hyr chekynnys; and som seye that the Kynge ententdyth to sitte upon hym, and men seye he is lyke to be hangyd, ffor he hathe weddyd a wedowe’

John Paston’s letter suggests that sometime during or before 1478 William Brandon forced himself upon an older woman and also made an attempt to have some sort of relationship with the woman’s daughters. In addition to this great offence, the letter claim’s that the King, Edward IV was not pleased by this news and that the punishment for such horrible crimes was to be hanged. It is interesting to note that despite the required punishment there does not seem to be any record of William Brandon serving time in prison or being punished accordingly. It could be that they were mere gossip or hearsay or that those that were alleging these crimes did not have enough power behind them to see Brandon fully punished. Whatever the case Brandon was not punished and he managed to return to King Edward IV’s good graces.

William had strong Lancastrian ties and supported Henry VI during the Wars of the Roses. However when Henry VI was defeated and eventually murdered and Edward IV came to the throne, the Brandons changed sides. They pledged their support to the new Yorkist King Edward IV, however upon his death his brother Richard III came to the throne and the Brandon’s loyalty quickly began to fade. William Brandon and his brother Thomas soon became dissatisfied with the new King and the shock deposition of the future Edward V and decided to join The Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion in 1483. The rebellion was led by Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and aimed to have Richard III removed from the throne and replaced by his nephew Edward, oldest son of Edward IV. However, rumours abound that Edward was dead and the plan was changed to replace Richard III with Henry Tudor. It was at this time that Henry made his first attempt to lay claim to the throne. He sailed with a small army from Brittany. However due to poor weather Henry and his men had to return. Without Henry Tudor’s men, Buckingham’s own army floundered and a bounty was put upon his head. He was eventually captured, convicted of treason and beheaded in Salisbury on the 2nd of November 1483.

Despite supporting the Duke of Buckingham and his failed rebellion both William and Thomas Brandon managed to remain in England, however by 1484 both became dissatisfied with Richard III once more and left England. The brothers headed to Brittany to join with Henry Tudor and support his claim to the throne. In the spring of 1484, King Richard III issued a general pardon to several men that had rebelled against him, one of those being William Brandon. It is unclear if this pardon was issued before or after William Brandon left to join forces with Henry Tudor. If it was indeed before William may not have trusted the King’s words after the failed rebellion and the execution of the Duke of Buckingham. If the pardon had been issued after William had left for Europe it may be that he had no knowledge of the pardon or if he had then he might have felt it simply too late as he had already hedged his lot with Henry Tudor. Whatever the reason for not accepting this pardon it was believed at this time William’s wife Elizabeth was pregnant with their son Charles.

Elizabeth Bruyn of South Ockendon was the daughter and co-heiress of Sir Henry Bruyn. Elizabeth was first married to Thomas Tyrell Esquire who had died in 1473. Sir Bruyn died in 1466 leaving Elizabeth a portion of her father’s wealth. Elizabeth and William Brandon married sometime between 1473 and 1476. Elizabeth survived the death of her husband William in 1485 and lived on until March 1493/4.

To William and Elizabeth Brandon Henry Tudor must have signified hope and a future. The Wars of the Roses had brought a great deal of upheaval to England and now leaving the country they placed all their hope in Henry Tudor and his campaign. Laying claim to the English throne was one thing but obtaining it was another. Throughout 1483/84 Henry and his ever-growing group of supporters relied heavily upon Duke Francis of Brittany for support and received payments from the Duke to help pay for their day to day upkeep. In September 1484 Henry Tudor threw himself upon the mercy of King Charles VII of France and begged him for support for his campaign. The King agreed and helped Henry and his supporters purchase resources and mercenaries for the campaign ahead.

The 1st of August 1485 was to be the day that Henry Tudor would finally leave France after fourteen years of exile in Brittany and France aiming to lay claim to the English throne. He set sail from Harfleur, France accompanied by approximately 2000 soldiers. The exact number of men is hard to estimate as different reports record different numbers. What is known is that this would be Henry’s greatest push to date and by his side would be William Brandon.

Landing on the 7th of August at Mill Bay six miles west of Milford Haven located along the Pembrokeshire coastline it is said that when he reached the coast Henry knelt down and kissed the sand reciting Psalm 43 ‘Judge me, O Lord and favour my cause’. He then made the sign of the cross.

At Mill Bay Henry was met by his half Uncle David Owen, the illegitimate son of Tudor Owen, Henry’s grandfather. Gathering his men Henry headed off to lay claim to the English throne. Their first stop was the village of Dale of which its castle surrendered easily. Henry and his men camped here and the future King made sure to remind his men not to get up to any trouble. The troops then moved on through Haverfordwest and Cardigan then northward to Llwyn Dafydd. After this, they claimed the garrison at Aberystwyth Castle and then turned to march inland. On August 13th, they reached Machynlleth and the next day they made a thirty-mile trek across rough terrain to Dolarddun. Following this the growing army headed to Long Mountain where Henry met with Rhys ap Thomas, an important man who carried a great deal of sway with the Welsh people. Rhys pledged his loyalty to Henry and brought approximately 2000 troops to Henry’s cause.

With his growing number of troops, Henry then headed to Shrewsbury. However the portcullises were closed and Henry and his men were not given permission to pass. The next day Henry sent a messenger to negotiate with those in charge at Shrewsbury and after a mysterious message from an outside source was sent to the head bailiff Henry and his men were allowed to pass through and a number of men from the town joined Henry’s forces.

From Shrewsbury Henry travelled through Shropshire and Staffordshire. It was here at Staffordshire that Sit Gilbert Talbot and a troop of about 500 men joined with Henry. The men marched to Stafford where Henry would meet Sir William Stanley, younger brother of Henry’s stepfather.

From Stafford Henry and his men marched through Lichfield arriving at Tamworth on the 20th of August. The next day his men marched over the River Anker to Atherstone where Henry is reported to have had a secret meeting with his father in law. It was at this meeting that allegedly Thomas Stanley pledged his formal support for his stepson.

However the next day, on the 22nd of August Henry Tudor sent a message to his stepfather asking him to send his men to join Henry’s troops. To this Stanley replied that he needed to prepare his men and for now it would appear he was keeping his distance. Also on this day Henry chose to knight several men who had shown great loyalty to him throughout his time in exile. These men included Sir Richard Guildford, Sir John Jastoy, Sir John Sisley, Sir John Trenzy, Sir William Tyler, Sir Thomas Milborn and now Sir William Brandon.

At the Battle of Bosworth, it is estimated that Henry Tudor had an army of approximately five to eight thousand soldiers to King Richard III’s twelve to twenty thousand men. Thomas and William Stanley had a combined force of approximately six thousand men however neither brother had made a definitive move as to which side of the battle they would join. Richard III held the higher ground upon Ambion Hill while Henry and his men were on the lower ground next to marshes.

Henry Tudor appointed the Earl of Oxford to command his troops and lead the Vanguard. Behind the vanguard was Henry, flanked by Gilbert Talbot and Sir John Savage and the rest of his men. Close to Henry was Sir William Brandon. Brandon had been chosen to be Henry’s standard bearer, a great honour for a man who continued to display his loyalty.

A standard bearer is ‘one who bears a standard or banner’. It was Brandon’s duty to carry the flag that represented Henry and his troops. The standard that Henry chose was white and green representing the Tudor colours. Upon this was the red cross of St George, patron saint of England and soldiers and the red Dragon of Wales. Henry Tudor had strong ties with Wales through his grandfather Owen Tudor as well as his uncle Jasper Tudor. This identification with Wales and its people helped Henry to recruit many Welsh men and soldiers along his campaign towards London.

Upon King Richard’s side he ordered the Duke of Norfolk and Sir Robert Brackenburry to lead his vanguard. The rear guard was commanded by Richard III and compromised of his personal bodyguard and other soldiers. Behind him was the Earl of Northumberland and his men.

When the battle cry was called arrows fired and then Oxford’s men clashed with the Duke of Norfolk’s. Both sides then paused, perhaps to regain their breath and positions. Oxford formed his men into a wedge and charged forward. At this second charge Henry’s French troops joined the battle and joined the attack on Norfolk’s men. Soon Norfolk’s men were in trouble and many were killed including the Duke himself, others fled while some defected to Henry Tudor’s side.

Northumberland and his men did not move into the fight and it is believed that at some point the Earl decided to leave the battle without employing any of his men into the fray. Amongst the chaos some of his loyal supporters begged Richard III to flee but the King would be no coward. Oxford’s men had pushed forward leaving a gap. Seeing his gap Richard III saw an opportunity to get to the man who caused such a great threat to his throne and he and his men charged forward aiming to strike Henry Tudor down.

It was here that William Brandon met his death at the end of Richard III’s lance. The Battle of Bosworth is remembered for the tragic death of King Richard III and the rise of the Tudors. Sir William Brandon, standard bearer seems almost insignificant amongst a battle that changed the course of English history yet one must not forget his story. While little is known about his life he was fiercely loyal to a man he believed was the true King. He gave his life for Henry Tudor and it was his son Charles Brandon that would continue the Brandon legacy.

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Graham’s Turner’s Painting of William Brandon’s Death

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Sarah Bryson is a researcher, writer and educator who has a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with Honours. She currently works with children with disabilities. She is passionate about Tudor history and has a deep interest in Mary Boleyn, Charles Brandon, the reign of Henry VIII and the people of his court. She is the author of Mary Boleyn in a Nutshell, Charles Brandon: The King’s Man, and La Reine Blanche: Mary Tudor, A Life in Letters.

Visiting England in 2009 furthered her passion and when she returned home she started a website, queentohistory.com, and a Facebook page about Tudor history. Sarah lives in Australia, enjoys reading, writing and Tudor costume enactment.

Was Edward of Warwick a Threat to Henry Tudor?

By Samantha Wilcoxson

The young son of George of Clarence is not often mentioned, but, when he is, it is often as a pitiful aside in the drama of Perkin Warbeck. Opinions on Edward vary, some believing he was mentally disabled and others taking the same evidence to indicate that he was simply as uneducated and unsophisticated as anyone would be who had spent their formative years within the walls of the Tower of London. He was executed because he was seen as a threat to the Tudor throne, but was he?

Edward was executed in 1499 because he had allegedly conspired with Perkin Warbeck to escape the Tower. It is not farfetched to believe that Henry VII set the pair up by providing them with guards who were amiable to their goals and gave them false hope. Whether they really did plot or Henry wanted everyone to believe they did, both were put to death in order to clear the way for the marriage of Prince Arthur to Katherine of Aragon.

Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Katherine’s parents, clearly saw Edward as a threat based upon their insistence on his removal. Henry was undoubtedly reluctant to execute his wife’s cousin when she had already lost so many to the Wars of the Roses, but, in the end, he decided that the favorable match was worth the loss of one more Plantagenet son. Maybe Edward did present a greater threat than we often give him credit for.

Edward is often referred to as the son of George of Clarence, but let us not forget that his maternal ancestry is no less impressive. Isabel Neville was the daughter of the infamous Kingmaker, and the house of Neville had been powerful enough to sway the Wars of the Roses in whichever direction they chose to place themselves upon. Should Edward have determined to make a claim for himself, he had deep roots of family ties to call upon that Tudor would have been challenged to compete with.

It is for this reason that Edward was initially imprisoned, despite the fact that he was a child. Henry understood that if he allowed this young man to grow and thrive, making the most of these family connections, he would almost certainly become a threat. Henry had learned many lessons from watching the houses of Lancaster and York decimate each other. One of those lessons was to not allow a seemingly innocent threat to become stronger.

York had held Henry VI of Lancaster prisoner for years before they finally put him to death and spread the story that he had died of melancholy. Richard Neville of Warwick, Edward’s grandfather, had not been able to take that step with Edward of York, and the deposed king returned from exile to have his vengeance. Henry Tudor was not going to leave room for the possibility that Edward of Warwick would become one of these stories.

Others saw a child imprisoned in the Tower, but Henry saw the last hope of York neutralized. When rumors had spread in October 1485 that Henry had been a victim of the plague, men began to proclaim Edward king. During uprisings in the spring of 1486, men were heard calling out, ‘A Warwick, A Warwick!’ Tudor had not become king when so many other men had died by ignoring clues such as these. Few would hesitate to make Edward king if Henry died early in his reign without an heir.

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However, Edward was not executed at that time. Henry was content to keep him under lock and key where the boy could not become a rallying point. The king would soon discover that Edward’s physical presence was not required for his name to be utilized in the gathering of troops.

By the end of 1486, whispers of another uprising were heard, and Henry moved against the Warwick holdings. Warwick’s lands were restored to Edward’s grandmother, Anne Beauchamp, leaving Edward heir only to the Montague estates that would later be removed from him under the 1499 attainder.

When a boy who claimed to be Edward of Warwick was used to rally troops to Stoke in 1487, doubters were forced to concede that Henry’s suspicions had been well-placed. Yorkist John de la Pole certainly knew that Lambert Simnel was not the young earl, but he used him as a figurehead nonetheless. Whether de la Pole planned to stake his own claim to the crown or support the real Warwick is unknown since he died in that fateful battle.

Though he had not been involved in any way, Edward remained imprisoned. The power of his name was too much to allow him freedom. Did the boy, who would have been twelve when the Battle of Stoke occurred, have any idea what was happening in his name or any desire to press his claim to the throne?

Probably not, and Henry likely did not really think so either.

Warwick was purposefully kept not only imprisoned but undereducated. Henry had so successfully kept Edward separate from events of his early reign that he could consider reestablishing him in 1488, after what Henry would have likely seen as the last York rebellion had been safely and unequivocally put down. He did take the step of confirming Edward as Earl of Warwick in 1490, but did not go any further toward restoring the boy. Henry’s queen, Elizabeth, would never speak against her husband in public but it makes sense that she would have privately lobbied for Edward’s release.

Unfortunately for Edward, negotiations for the marriage of Henry’s heir also began about this time, and it quickly became clear that his freedom was not worth the trouble it would cause. Even if Edward had no treasonous ideas of his own – and we have no idea if he did – there would always be those to fight in his name and attempt to draw him into conspiracy and foreign powers who would doubt the strength of the Tudor claim with a York prince at large.

By the 1490s, another threat put the proverbial nail in Edward’s coffin. Initial news trickled in that another was claiming to be Edward of Warwick. The fact that Perkin Warbeck made his claim to the throne in the name of Richard, Duke of York, the younger of the Princes in the Tower, would not save Edward from the repercussions of his name being tied to treason once again. This pretender was able to gain support from many European leaders, some believing his claim to be Richard and others simply wishing to provide a thorn for Henry’s side, proving to Henry that he would never be able to set Edward free.

The fight to control or capture Warbeck continued for the remainder of Warwick’s life until the two were both residents of the Tower. Did Edward truly conspire with Warbeck to escape? Was he an innocent, blindly led to his own execution? We may never know, but we do know that in name, if not in deed, Edward of Warwick was a threat to Henry Tudor. With his death, the legitimate male line of the Plantagenets was extinguished.

Additional Reading:

Margaret Pole: Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 by Hazel Pierce

Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn

Elizabeth of York: A Queen and her World by Alison Weir

Last White Rose: The Secret Wars of the Tudors by Desmond Seward

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Samantha Wilcoxson is the author of the Plantagenet Embers series, which begins with Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York. The second novel features the sister of Edward of Warwick in Faithful Traitor: The Story of Margaret Pole. The trilogy will be complete with the release of Queen of Martyrs: The Story of Mary I in 2017.

You can connect with Samantha on her blog, Twitter, Goodreads, or Booklikes.

http://SamanthaWilcoxson.blogspot.co.uk

http://www.twitter.com/carpe_librum

http://www.goodreads.com/samanthajw

http://carpelibrum.booklikes.com

The Death of an Earl: An Extract from “Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower”

By Susan Higginbotham

While Richard Pole basked in royal favour and Margaret bore his children, the Earl of Warwick’s doom was fast approaching. Since the failure of the Lambert Simnel uprising, Warwick had been immured in the Tower. This was not necessarily meant to have been a permanent state of affairs, for in 1488, he had been allowed to witness a document in Warwickshire–perhaps a sign that Henry VII was considering his release. The next pretender, however, would soon put an end to even these feeble hopes for Warwick.

Who precisely ‘Perkin Warbeck’ was remains controversial, but he was most likely born in Tournai, France, to Jehan de Werbecque and Nicaise Farou. Working as a silk merchant, in 1491 Warbeck eventually landed in Cork in Ireland, where he caught the eye of diehard Yorkists who saw in him a likely pretender. This time, the role to be played was that of Richard, Duke of York, who with his older brother Edward V had disappeared during Richard III’s reign. Warbeck was briefly supported by the French, but then moved onto the more promising ground of Burgundy, where Edward IV and Richard III’s sister, Margaret, was the dowager duchess. Maximilian, King of the Romans, who was married to Margaret’s stepdaughter, backed an invasion of England in 1495, which failed, but James IV, the king of Scotland, lent his own backing to the pretender, even going so far to marry him in 1496 to his relative Lady Katherine Gordon, the daughter of George, Earl of Huntley. After another failed attack in 1497, Warbeck went into sanctuary at Beaulieu Abbey, but surrendered in exchange for his life.

Having confessed his imposture and undergone the humiliation of being paraded around London, the captive Warbeck joined Henry VII’s court, where he was kept under close surveillance and separated from his wife (who stayed with the queen), but otherwise treated rather well for a man who had tried to unseat a ruling king. In June 1498, however, Warbeck escaped from Westminster Palace. Within a few days, he was recaptured and sent to the Tower.

Meanwhile, another plot was brewing: this one involving Robert Cleymond, a servant of the imprisoned Earl of Warwick who in February 1498 had met with a John Fynche, a London haberdasher who told Cleymond of a prophesy involving the restoration of the earl, and a Thomas Astwode, who had been condemned to death for treason in 1495 but had been pardoned. In July 1498, soon after Perkin Warbeck was imprisoned in the Tower, John Williams, a servant of the Earl of Warwick, introduced Astwode to the young earl. Astwode promised the earl ‘to do you good and help to put you in your right’. Soon–according to the government–the imposter Perkin Warbeck was plotting with Cleymond, Astwode, and Warwick to topple King Henry from this throne.

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Whether the conspiracy was spontaneous or, as some have suggested, manufactured in part or entirely by the government to entrap Warbeck and Warwick, the young earl was ill-equipped for such intrigues. Several decades later, the chronicler Edward Hall would write that Warwick, ‘[b]eing kept in the Tower from his tender age, that is to say from his first year of the king to this fifteenth year, out of all company of men and sight of beasts, in so much that he could not discern a goose from a capon’. Quoted out of context, this statement has been taken by some to indicate that Warwick was mentally deficient from birth; yet Hall’s meaning simply seems to be that Edward, having been imprisoned since the beginning of Henry’s reign, was naive and unworldly. Having been a prisoner since childhood, he had never had the chance to exercise judgment.

Sir Simon Digby, the lieutenant of the Tower, learned of the plot in early August. The king and his council, informed of the plot, did nothing, allowing the case against the principals to build. On 12 November 1499, the king consulted his councilors, who agreed that Warwick and Warbeck had to die.

A common belief is that Warwick’s fate was sealed by the need to assure Ferdinand and Isabella, whose daughter, Katherine of Aragon, was pledged to marry Prince Arthur, that England was free of the threat of future civil war. As Hall, writing several decades later, stated, ‘The fame after his death sprang abroad, [that] Ferdinand king of Spain would never make full conclusion of the matrimony to be had between Prince Arthur and the lady Katherine his daughter nor send her into England as long as this earl lived. For he imagined that as long as any earl of Warwick lived, that England should never be cleansed or purged of civil war and privy sedition, so much was the name of Warwick in other regions had in fear and jealousy’. This may well have been the case, although the appearance in early 1499 of a second Warwick imposter, one Ralph Wilford, and astrological predictions of coming trouble played their role as well. In March 1499, Don Pedro De Ayala wrote to Ferdinand and Isabella of the prognostications, ‘Henry has aged so much during the last two weeks that he seems to be twenty years older’.

Following a trial on 16 November 1499, Perkin Warbeck was hanged at Tyburn on 23 November. Warwick, in turn, was brought to trial before John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and other lords at Westminster, as befit a peer of the realm, on 21 November. He confessed to the charges against him and was sentenced to the traitor’s death of hanging, drawing, and quartering. Such a sentence was usually reduced to a beheading (the preferred means of execution for a man of noble blood), and this held true in Warwick’s case. On 28 November, twenty-four-year-old Warwick was beheaded outside the Tower of London. The king paid for the interment of his head and body at Bisham Abbey, the resting place of his ancestors. Two months later, the Spanish ambassador, Rodrigo de Puebla, crowed that ‘not a doubtful drop of royal blood remains in this kingdom, except the true blood of the king and queen, and above all, that of the lord prince Arthur’.

Margaret, of course, remained in the kingdom, but as a female who had been married to a loyal subject, her own royal blood was of little concern. We can assume that she grieved for her brother, but no one recorded her reaction to his execution. How well she knew him is another question. She and her brother had lived apart for years, and we do not know whether they communicated after he was imprisoned. Later, Margaret would declare that her brother had neither ‘experience nor knowledge of the worldly policies nor of the laws of this realm’, which could indicate that Margaret had been in contact with her brother during his last years; alternatively, Margaret could simply be repeating what she had heard from others.

Whatever the depth of Margaret’s sorrow, there would soon be a welcome distraction: her son Reginald was born in March 1500 in Stourton Castle. The following year there would be a distraction on a national level: a royal wedding.

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Susan Higginbotham is a lawyer and lives in North Carolina, USA. She is the author of ‘The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family’ and five historical novels set in Lanacastrian and Tudor England. Her new book ‘Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower” by Amberley Publishing is available now.

Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke: Edward IV’s ‘Master Lock’

By David Santiuste

Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, was a prominent Yorkist during the Wars of the Roses. His service to King Edward IV of England brought him power, status and wealth. Herbert came from a family of Welsh gentry – not a great noble house – yet by the end of his life he was one of the foremost men in Edward’s realm. Nevertheless, as was the case for so many of his peers, his time in the sun was short; he was ultimately executed as a ‘traitor’, following his defeat in battle. This article provides a brief insight into his tumultuous career.

Early Years

Herbert was born in 1423 at Raglan in the Welsh Marches. He was a son of Sir William ap Thomas and his second wife, Gwladys, meaning that he was of Welsh descent on both sides. Herbert and his siblings were the first members of his family to adopt an English-style surname – we cannot be certain about the reasons for this choice – although his kinsmen had already established a proud record of service to the English kings. His father was a veteran of the Hundred Years War. His maternal grandfather, Dafydd Gam (‘the lame’) was also a celebrated warrior. Dafydd died fighting for Henry V at Agincourt, and he is traditionally regarded as the model for Shakespeare’s Fluellen.

With this background in mind, one might have predicted that Herbert would also seek fame and fortune in the French wars. By the late 1440s he had risen to become captain of Carentan, where he shared command with the formidable Matthew Gough (another Welsh veteran). His time in France must have provided valuable military experience, although by this point there were fewer opportunities to gain advancement or renown; the tide had long since turned in the favour of the French. In any case, Herbert’s service in France came to an abrupt end in 1450, when he was captured at the Battle of Formigny. He was ransomed, however, and swiftly returned home.

In the years that followed Herbert devoted himself to local affairs. He had inherited his father’s influence as well as his lands (the elder Sir William died in 1445), and he now began to assert himself more strongly in the south-east of Wales. Fifteenth-century Wales was a turbulent place, not least due to simmering Welsh resentment in the wake of Owain Glyndŵr’s revolt. In much of Wales, responsibility for maintaining law and order lay with the powerful marcher lords, but they often resided elsewhere. This meant the Marchers needed to find local men to whom they could delegate authority. Herbert earned the trust of several lords. By 1453 he was the Earl of Warwick’s sheriff of Glamorgan. He also developed strong ties with Richard, Duke of York, who held extensive estates in the Marches.

A fifteenth-century gentleman could achieve a great deal via service to magnates or the crown, but he also needed to maintain effective relations with his peers. It is probably within this context that we should seek to explain his marriage to Anne Devereux, a member of another local gentry family. Their wedding took place in 1449, shortly before Herbert’s last campaign in France. Their union cemented an alliance that would become increasingly important to both of the families involved.

Anne was reputedly a beautiful woman, but aristocratic marriages were only rarely driven by romantic passion. Nevertheless, Herbert does appear to have respected his wife – he appointed her, for instance, as an executor of his will – and there is some tantalising evidence which suggests he might have felt more. A fifteenth-century signet ring has been found near Raglan which bears the initials W and A, as well as the inscription ‘to yow feythfoull’. While the couple inevitably spent long periods apart, in time they would become parents to nine children (of whom several survived to be adults). It must be said that Herbert also fathered at least five illegitimate children, although his relationships with their mothers are thought to have been youthful affairs that predated his marriage to Anne.

York or Lancaster?

As the 1450s progressed, local and national politics became increasingly fraught, as civil war loomed. It might be assumed that Herbert would have been an instinctive Yorkist, given his closeness to the Duke of York, but he also established connections with the Lancastrian court; he was knighted in 1452 by Henry VI, alongside the king’s half-brothers Edmund and Jasper Tudor. Even so, by 1454 Herbert had already aligned himself explicitly with York, stating that he was ‘no man’s man’ but the duke’s. It is possible that Herbert fought for York at the first Battle of St Albans, in 1455. In the following year he joined a group of Welsh gentlemen who resorted to further violent action on the duke’s behalf, seizing control of two important Welsh castles. Edmund Tudor was captured, contracted an illness (probably plague) and shortly afterwards died.

Herbert was outlawed by the royal authorities and briefly imprisoned, but he somehow obtained a pardon. For the rest of the 1450s he maintained a distance from York, as well as his allegiance to Henry VI. Herbert was conspicuous by his absence at the ‘Rout of Ludford’, in October 1459, when the Duke of York and his closest followers were driven into exile. It was also around this time that Herbert commissioned a splendid book, including Lydgate’s epic poem about the Trojan War, which was probably intended as a gift for Henry. (The beautiful illuminations include a depiction of Herbert and his wife kneeling before the king.) Nevertheless, when the Yorkist lords returned to England, and defeated the royal forces at Northampton (10 July 1460), he threw himself irrevocably behind the Yorkist cause.

The Duke of York was killed at the Battle of Wakefield (30 December 1460), but this, of course, was not the end of the matter. Leadership of the Yorkist faction now passed to his eldest son, Edward, Earl of March. At the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, on 3 February 1461, Edward defeated Jasper Tudor and announced himself as a great military commander. Herbert was at Edward’s side.

On 3 March the Yorkists were admitted to London, where Edward was acclaimed as England’s new ruler. On 29 March Herbert fought at the Battle of Towton, where the main Lancastrian army was destroyed. Now that his title was secure, the young king rewarded his supporters. Although we can only speculate about the strength of their personal relationship, it is clear that Edward already valued Herbert’s service. When Edward chose to confer important offices in South Wales upon Herbert, in preference to his chief ally the Earl of Warwick, this confirmed the Welshman’s status as a prominent member of the new regime. Herbert was ennobled after Edward’s coronation, which took place in late June, and in the following year he became a knight of the Garter.

Detail of a miniature of a king enthroned surrounded by courtiers with Sir William Herbert and his wife, Anne Devereux kneeling before him, wearing clothes decorated with their coats of arms. (British Library)
Detail of a miniature of a king enthroned surrounded by courtiers with Sir William Herbert and his wife, Anne Devereux kneeling before him, wearing clothes decorated with their coats of arms. (British Library)

The ‘Master Lock’

The Battle of Towton was a great victory for the Yorkists, but their opponents did not give up the struggle. The Lancastrian resistance was strongest in Northumberland, where King Henry’s supporters continued to hold important castles, but there was also resistance in Wales; this owed much to the efforts of Jasper Tudor, whose major role in the Wars of the Roses has only recently begun to be fully recognised. Edward IV completely delegated the direction of military affairs in Wales to Herbert, a charge he exercised with vigour.

Ably assisted by his younger brother Richard, Herbert gained a series of victories. Pembroke Castle quickly fell to the Yorkists, and Jasper’s nephew Henry, the future king, was captured. (Henry Tudor would go on to spend his formative years in Herbert’s household, and there were later plans for him to marry one of Herbert’s daughters.) In October 1461 Herbert defeated the elder Tudor at the Battle of Tŵt Hill, near Caernarfon, compelling him to seek refuge overseas.

By May 1462 only Harlech Castle remained in Lancastrian hands. Incredibly, Harlech’s garrison continued to defy the Yorkists for several more years, but when Jasper Tudor returned to Wales in 1468, with French support, Herbert responded with a determined and brutal campaign. Tudor was once again forced into exile, and Harlech finally surrendered on 14 August.

As a reward for his capture of Harlech, the last Lancastrian stronghold in the British Isles, Edward created Herbert Earl of Pembroke (a title previously held by Jasper Tudor). This was the pinnacle of Herbert’s career, although it must be seen as the culmination of a series of rewards. Assisted by a network of people who were tightly bound to him by ties of kinship and service, Herbert effectively ruled Wales on Edward’s behalf.

With greater responsibilities came greater wealth, and Herbert diverted vast sums into a spectacular building programme at Raglan. The castle’s best known feature remains its imposing great tower, which was constructed for Herbert’s father, but over the course of the 1460s there was a massive expansion of the site. There was an emphasis on comfort and luxury, as the workmen created well-appointed apartments that were flooded with light. The castle was set within an extensive managed landscape, including gardens, orchards, and a park well stocked with game. During Herbert’s lengthy absences it fell upon his wife to supervise the day-to-day running of the project; records suggest she played a vital role. By the end of the 1460s the Herberts had transformed Raglan into a palatial home.

The architects at Raglan incorporated the latest fashions from England and the Continent, but Herbert did keep sight of his roots. He offered hospitality to Welsh bards, following the ancient traditions of native lordship, and in return they celebrated his achievements. Recounting stories of Herbert’s martial exploits, Lewys Glyn Cothi described his ‘frame ablaze on prancing steed, and his eyes glistening like glowing embers’. It was the same man who gave Herbert his famous soubriquet: Edward IV’s ‘master lock’. But the bards’ support was not unconditional. Now that Herbert was undisputed master of Wales, Guto’r Glyn urged him to use his power for the benefit of the Welsh people; ‘and should England resent it, Wales will rally to your side!’

Herbert and ‘the Kingmaker’

Herbert’s activities were by no means restricted to Wales, however. He sometimes attended the English court, as a trusted member of Edward IV’s council. Yet as Herbert’s power continued to grow, he also made powerful enemies. The most significant of these was the Earl of Warwick, whose own relationship with the king was steadily deteriorating. Warwick’s ire was principally directed at the Woodvilles, the family of Edward’s queen, but there can be no doubt that he also resented the influence of Herbert – his former servant – whom he regarded as an upstart.

There was mutual hostility. In October 1467 Herbert captured a Lancastrian messenger. When the messenger implicated Warwick in Lancastrian plots Herbert sensed a chance to destroy his great rival. He sent the prisoner to the king, along with a full account of the messenger’s allegations. On this occasion Edward chose to accept Warwick’s denials – which were probably sincere – and this led to a thaw in their relationship. Warwick returned to court, following a self-imposed exile in the north, and Herbert himself was publicly reconciled with Warwick. But tensions remained. Warwick continued to oppose Edward’s pro-Burgundian foreign policy (the former favoured an alliance with the French). We must assume that more personal issues were also unresolved.

In the summer of 1469 disturbances throughout the country convinced Warwick that the time was ripe for rebellion: he was now determined to put forward his own policies by force of arms. Warwick devised a two-pronged strategy. In the north, a prominent member of the earl’s affinity raised rebellion under the guise of ‘Robin of Redesdale’, an obscure figure associated with an earlier revolt.  But when Edward was lured northwards, calling for Herbert and the Earl of Devon to join him en route, Warwick was quietly preparing a rebellion in the south. The rebels included Edward’s own brother, George Duke of Clarence, who had grown dissatisfied with his position within the Yorkist regime. Herbert cannot have been aware of the full scale of the threat, but he quickly assembled his men and hurried to Edward’s aid.

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Raglan Castle

The Battle of Edgecote

On 9 July Edward reached Newark. Thinking he was to deal only with local disturbances, his progress northwards had been leisurely. By the following day, however, he became aware that the rebel army was no common rabble, and that ‘Robin’ had raised a vast host. Edward retreated southwards to Nottingham in the face of the rebels’ advance, where he presumably hoped to combine his forces with those of Herbert and Devon. But Robin outflanked the king, speeding south towards a rendezvous with Warwick and Clarence (who were now openly in arms to the south). This led to an encounter with Herbert’s own forces at Edgecote near Banbury.

By this time Herbert had already joined the Earl of Devon, but all of the sources agree that the Yorkist forces became separated, which meant that Herbert and his Welshmen were left to face the northern rebels alone. Why this division occurred is unclear. According to Warkworth’s Chronicle and Hearne’s Fragment, the Yorkist lords ‘fell to variance over lodgings’; the Tudor chronicler Edward Hall, perhaps attempting to enliven his sources, tells us that Herbert and Devon quarrelled over a woman at an inn. The work of Jean de Wavrin, a Burgundian chronicler, offers a more prosaic explanation; he believed that poor reconnaissance was to blame. Whatever the cause, the separation was crucial because Devon’s contingent is said to have included most of the Yorkist archers.

On the evening of 25 July the opposing armies – Herbert’s Welsh forces and the northern rebels – camped on either side of the River Cherwell. Next morning there was a struggle to secure the river crossing, in which the northerners were worsted. The bards may have coloured the Welsh exploits, but it seems clear there was fierce fighting. The northerners experienced heavy casualties. Of the nobility and gentry, Sir Henry Neville and Sir John Conyers’ son, also called John, were killed; Robert, Lord Ogle died later of his wounds.

The rebels’ morale was shaken, but late in the day the northerners were reinforced by an advance party from the Earl of Warwick’s army. Sir Geoffrey Gate and Sir William Parr persuaded the rebels to attack again. Now Herbert was outnumbered and his forces overwhelmed.

Herbert and his brother were both taken prisoner. On the following day they were taken to Northampton, where Warwick presided over their summary execution. The Welsh bards lamented Herbert’s death, which they saw as a national catastrophe. As Guto’r Glyn put it, ‘my nation is destroyed, now that the earl is slain’.

Bereft of Herbert’s support, Edward IV was taken by surprise and captured. Warwick’s triumph was short-lived, however, and Edward quickly regained power. Warwick later joined with the Lancastrians, but he was defeated and killed at the Battle of Barnet. A further Yorkist victory at Tewkesbury ensured that Edward’s title was never seriously challenged again. Herbert’s son, also called William, was therefore able to inherit his father’s title – at least for a time – although he never achieved his father’s influence. But through his granddaughter, Elizabeth, Herbert became the ancestor of the dukes of Beaufort: a noble dynasty that survives to this day.

Further Reading

Ian Dawson, ‘Anne Herbert: A Life in the Wars of the Roses’, The Historian (Spring 2014).

H.T. Evans, Wales and the Wars of the Roses (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1998, c. 1915).

R.A. Griffiths, ‘Wales and the Marches’, in The Fifteenth Century, ed. S.B. Chrimes et al (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1972).

D.H. Thomas, The Herberts of Raglan and the Battle of Edgecote 1469 (Enfield: Freezywater Publications, 1994).

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David Santiuste teaches history at the Centre for Open Learning, University of Edinburgh. He is the author of two books: Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses and The Hammer of the Scots. He is also the creator, with Rae Tan, of the website Reflections of the Yorkist Realm (yorkistrealm.com). You can follow him on Twitter @dbsantiuste.

You can view David’s Amazon Page here

NB: An earlier version of this article appeared in Hobilar, which is published by the Lance and Longbow Society.

The York Remnant Under Henry Tudor

By Samantha Wilcoxson

For those of us looking centuries back through history, it is easy to end the dynasty of the Plantagenets and begin that of the Tudors with a clean line drawn through 1485. The truth for those who survived the Wars of the Roses was much more complicated. Henry Tudor made clear with his decree that his reign began on the day before the Battle of Bosworth that he was not going to tolerate Yorkists who wished to continue the fight.

Those Yorkists were allowed to become faithful followers of the first Tudor king, however, and many took him up on that offer. Elizabeth of York may be the best example of this, choosing to marry and support Henry rather than press a claim of her own or that of a male relative. Many, most notably the children of Edward IV and their families, made similar decisions.

Not all of these converts stayed true to their Tudor king. John de la Pole was the first of his brothers to stand up to Henry. The son of Edward IV’s sister, Elizabeth, and once named Richard III’s heir, the eldest de la Pole son initially bowed to Henry Tudor and served him for two years before challenging him in the Battle of Stoke. Since de la Pole was killed in the fighting, it is impossible to know what his plans were had he been victorious. It is unlikely that he would have placed the crown on the head of Lambert Simnel, who had been held up as Edward of Warwick to rally the troops. Would he have taken it for himself or given it to the true son of George of Clarence, who was securely held in the Tower of London?

Edward of Warwick is one of the most tragic stories of the York remnant under Henry Tudor. Only ten years old when Henry took power, he had already been branded the son of a traitor when Edward IV had George of Clarence executed for treason seven years earlier. As his cousins, who became known as the Princes in the Tower, discovered, being a young boy close to the throne was not necessarily an advantage. Edward spent Henry’s reign imprisoned for nothing besides his excess of royal blood before being executed in 1499 to clear the way for Catherine of Aragon and Arthur Tudor’s wedding.

The story of Edward’s sister is somewhat more encouraging. Margaret was married to Richard Pole early in Henry’s reign. His treatment of her seems to indicate mixed feelings. As the daughter of the one-time heir apparent of England, marriage to an ordinary knight was rather beneath Margaret. However, her father had also tainted the family with the scent of treason, and her family had been replaced upon England’s throne. Richard and Margaret were appointed to serve Arthur at Ludlow, demonstrating some amount of trust in the girl who had likely grown up expecting a different future. After the death of Prince Arthur and Queen Elizabeth, Margaret seems to have largely stayed out of Henry’s way as she grew her own family. It is after the rise of Henry VIII that Margaret’s story gets interesting.

Henry also had his wife’s many sisters to deal with. Cecily, the second oldest York princess, had her marriage to Ralph Scrope annulled so that she could be paired with Henry’s choice for her: loyal Lancastrian John Welles. Cecily was often at court to serve her sister and seems to have built a relationship with everyone’s favorite mother-in-law to villainize, Margaret Beaufort. Upon the death of Viscount Welles and the two children they had together, Cecily made a scandalous secret marriage in keeping with Woodville tradition. Henry was unforgiving, reducing her income by taking her lands. Cecily and her descendants fell into obscurity, living partially on support from Queen Elizabeth.

Little is known of sisters Anne and Bridget, neither of which left surviving children. Bridget was pledged early as a nun, while Anne was wed to Thomas Howard. These two quietly lived out their lives within the new regime.

The final York princess has a well-known history. Catherine married William Courtenay, and neither they nor their children seemed able to stay on the good side of the Tudors. William was imprisoned throughout much of Henry’s reign, only to die shortly after his merciful release by Henry VIII. Their son, Henry, would be wrapped up in the Exeter Conspiracy with their Pole cousins in 1538. The longest  surviving of Edward IV’s children, Catherine lived until 1527 but did not remarry.

The members of the fallen York dynasty could rise or be brought low during the reign of Henry Tudor. Their fate was largely dependent upon their willingness to bow to their new king or decision to press their own claim.

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Samantha Wilcoxson is an American writer and history enthusiast. Her 2015 novel, Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen, features Elizabeth of York and was selected as an Editors’ Choice by the Historical Novel Society. This novel is followed by the June release of Faithful Traitor, which carries on the story of the Plantagenet remnant in Tudor times with Margaret Pole. The Tudor England trilogy will be completed with the story of Queen Mary. Samantha has also published two middle grade novels, Over the Deep: A Titanic Adventure and No Such Thing as Perfect. Each of these are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format.

Samantha lives on a small lake in Michigan with her husband, three children, two dogs, and two cats. This crew provides plenty of good times and writing inspiration. When she is not reading or writing, Samantha enjoys traveling and learning about new places.

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Blog: http://samanthawilcoxson.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/carpe_librum

Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: (US) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013J4PX28

(UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Plantagenet-Princess-Tudor-Queen-Elizabeth-ebook/dp/B013J4PX28

Faithful Traitor: (US) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D04CTX8

(UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Faithful-Traitor-Story-Margaret-Pole-ebook/dp/B01D04CTX8

Why I Love the Tudors

By Mickey Mayhew

It’s easy to pinpoint when I begun to love the Tudors; surely I became a fan of the Tudors in school, and for years as a kid I carried around the ‘Ladybird Book of Henry VIII’ with me wherever I went. The blue and white colours of the cover appealed to my rather icy clinical aesthetic tastes, and the striking Holbein-riffed picture of Henry on the cover did the rest. Even though the child-friendly text skates neatly around issues of Anne Boleyn’s supposed incest and Jane Seymour’s tragic childbed death, the book still evokes a little smile of nostalgia for me, even now. I long ago lost that original copy – perhaps it’s buried under a mountain of old ‘Doctor Who’ paperbacks up in the loft – but I recently picked up a copy on Ebay and that now sits on my Tudor shelf alongside the countless Alison Weir and Antonia Fraser texts; oh, and a couple by yours truly, too.

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It’s also fairly easy to pinpoint why as well; surely I became a fan of the Tudors because of how utterly bizarre the whole thing was; six wives, who live and die in perfect symmetry – 1 & 4 divorced, then 2 & 5 beheaded, and 3 and 6 die in childbirth, albeit 6 dies after Henry’s done for. To this day that sort of coincidence still makes me wonder whether or not the whole thing is made-up? And I mean, also, virgin queens who lock rival young beautiful queens up in a tower for the rest of their lives?! A patriarchal monarch obsessed with begetting on the kingdom a boy-king, only for – wait for the massive irony – that boy king to be a weakling who dies in his teens, and the real ruling is done by his feisty half-sisters?!? If this was a fiction pitch they’d have slung it in the slush pile by now. And don’t even get me started on Mary Queen of Scots; blowing up a husband – allegedly – in the middle of Edinburgh?! Assassination plots with ciphered messages hidden in beer barrels?! Escaping from an island in the middle of a Scottish lock by swapping places with your lady-in-waiting and then shamming everyone into thinking it’s a May Day frolic?! Please.

It’s that sort of crazy mentality I tried to bring to mind when it came to creating a 2016 version of the ‘Ladybird Book of Henry VIII’; ‘I Love the Tudors’ is a slightly irreverent chronological romp through the entire 1485 – 1603 Tudor timeline, spouting as many of those bizarre and at times frankly fantastic facts as possible, all richly illustrated with some pictures I’m really rather proud of, including a fabulous x-ray mock-up of what Anne Boleyn’s alleged sixth finger might’ve looked like. I guess my greatest hope for the book is that out there somewhere it might one day inspire another frankly sceptical little schoolboy into thinking that actually yes, this stuff might be as far-fetched as your average late-70s ‘Doctor Who’ story, but look, it really was true!!

 

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Mickey Mayhew is a UK historical author and researcher living in London. You can find out more on his website – mickeymayhew.com – and also on Twitter @MickeyMayhew. His best-selling book ‘I Love the Tudors’ is available on Amazon and at all the usual Tudor haunts around the country; likewise for ‘The Little Book of Mary Queen of Scots’, only maybe moreso in Scotland for that one. He is also author of the urban fantasy novel ‘Jack and the Lad’.