the TUDOR TUTOR

Your cheeky guide to the dynasty

Word of the Year

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May i suggest, for history lovers, this word for 2019: Perspective. You may have heard me say that we cannot, and should not, judge the past by present standards. This word says it all. Happy New Year!

 

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past / future

8CBD0214-8F02-4FFF-9622-530F180BDF61While my usual topic of conversation is history, today I would like to look forward, instead of backward.

In honour Of Earth Day, I would love to encourage you to do whatever you can to protect the future of our planet, in whatever way you are called. You may be the go-to neighbor for organising local clean-up events. Perhaps you ensure that your household is fastidious about recycling. You may be that coworker who is a terrific example to others, with your BPA-free reusable water bottle. Or maybe you have a passion for educating others on keeping our oceans clean for marine life!

As far as the past, English history is especially close to my heart (as you know!). My affinity for the Tudors is no secret. I also adore reading about anything that falls under “medieval,” Marie Antoinette, and the general history of the British monarchy.

When I set my sights on the future of our earth, my special love is protecting pollinators. And to narrow that down even more, I’m wild about raising native (solitary) bees. They are gentle (no stinging!), extremely effective pollinators, easy to raise, and – let’s be honest – they are absolutely adorable.

See that pic above? That’s one of my sweet little leafcutter bees from last summer, practically smiling for the camera! I’m currently working with my mason bees, lovely little cuties that will fly in mild spring temperatures to pollinate the fruit trees that pop up this time of year.

For more information on keeping these hard-working and darling critters, check out the website of Crown Bees. I get most of my materials from them and they have loads of good info.

Whatever you do to love and preserve our earth, keep doing it. Do it with fervor and with the generosity to encourage others. Many of us thrive on learning about our past, but we cannot ignore our future.

Oh, THERE it is.

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I’ve seen some reviews of my book that lament a lack of description for the illustrations. I’m just here to point out that the list of illustrations and their pages are directly across from the table of contents!

Must-Read: The King is Dead!

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As a Kindergarten teacher in this day and age, I truthfully cannot find an iota of time while school is in session to read anything that isn’t about phonemic awareness, differentiated instruction, or project-based learning. But Christmas break recently hit and, darn it, I was going to unwind with Suzannah Lipscomb‘s latest book if it was the last thing I did!

The first thing that grabs the reader is the lush cover and its unusual square shape. Visually, it’s a unique stunner. The calligraphy and illuminated manuscript detail, combined with rich colour and Tudor monarch portraits on the border, set a grand setting before the book is even opened.

The inner artwork is equally ambrosial, a mix of color portraits, manuscripts, maps, and pencil sketches by (or in the manner of) Hans Holbein.Can you tell I like my books to be aesthetically pleasing? But what good is a gorgeous tome if it isn’t a pleasurable and intriguing read? The King is Dead is that indeed.

I prefer a teaser-version for book reviews, so as not to spoil anything for the reader. In that way, I can tell you that Dr. Lipscomb guides us through the creation of Henry VIII’s will via his marriages and children, the religious activity of the time, the Acts of the Succession, and his advisors and executors. She explores and challenges popular notions on the will’s “intended meaning, its authenticity and validity, and the circumstances of its creation.”

Dr. Lipscomb’s tone is both professional and conversational, inspiring delight as well as confidence in her authority. There are 168 pre-appendix pages; it is a very manageable book which took me two nights to devour.

This history treasure can be found on Amazon.com here and Amazon.co.uk here. I know you will savor it as much as I have!

 

 

On Cursive Handwriting Education

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I shared the above photo I created on all my social media channels yesterday (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest), with the following caption:

“Learning cursive (joined-up writing or handwriting in the UK) is on the decline in the States, due to the implentation of the Common Core Standards in most states, as well as the erroneous belief that cursive writing is useless and antiquated in the modern world.

On the contrary: Research has shown that cursive writing improves brain development, hones fine motor skills, sharpens categorisation skills, and teaches the brain to integrate visual and tactile information.

Without cursive training, kids won’t be able to read historic documents (let alone communication from older relatives!), won’t be able to take notes efficiently, won’t even know the joy of enjoying a hand-written card. I teach my own kids cursive at home, and feel strongly that it should be implanted in the school curriculum once again.”

The feedback has been tremendous! I wanted to approach some concerns that came up, especially on the thread on my Facebook page and on pages where it has been shared, so here we go…

“Sure they can read historic documents…There are text versions.”

This is like saying “Why learn a foreign language when there’s Google Translate?”

“You mean historicAL.”

I mean both! This holds for historic documents such as the Declaration of Independence, and also for historical documents. For example, last weekend our family visited Culpeper, Virginia, which holds quite a bit of US Civil War era history. In the town’s museum, our 12-year-old daughter was able to read a 19th-century letter from a soldier to one of his relatives, describing the conditions in the area and events happening at the time.

“Reading historic documents just isn’t that important for most kids/people.”

That’s why I mentioned not being able to read communication from people who do write in cursive, not to mention the many other educational benefits listed in the original caption (above).

“It has nothing to do with Common Core.”

To restate the first paragraph of the original caption, “”Learning cursive (joined-up writing or handwriting in the UK) is on the decline in the States, due to the implentation of the Common Core Standards in most states, as well as the erroneous belief that cursive writing is useless and antiquated in the modern world.” While cursive writing may have been pushed aside in some places before Common Core came about (and yes, CC does not mention cursive at all: that’s precisely why it’s not considered a part of the CC curriculum), at least eight CC states to date have made cursive mandatory in schools, including California, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.

“You’ve misspelled ‘handwriting;’ there’s no ‘u’ in it.”

Oh my goodness, enough of this. The flow between my w and r may render the distinction fuzzy. However, rest assured that I know how to spell it and that the w is the letter that’s there.

ALSO!…

*There are some fantastic articles to be found, making the case for cursive. Check out the following articles:

What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades – The New York Times

5 Reasons Cursive Writing Should Be Taught in School – Concordia Online

Brain Research and Cursive Writing – David Sortino

* While, as an educator, I much prefer manipulatives to digital educational enhancements, I don’t mind sharing these apps which can add to a child’s learning of cursive writing: Cursive Writing Wizard by L’escapadou, Intro to Cursive by Montessorium, Cursive Writing by Horizon Business Inc, and Zaner-Bloser Handwriting by Zaner-Bloser Inc.

* To see wonderful examples of Tudor signatures, please see this board on my Pinterest page.

Off to the Palace!

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On Monday, 19th August, I finally was able to return to my beloved Hampton Court Palace during the tail end of my trip to London! So I thought I’d share some of that day with you. (Click on any photo to enlarge it.) Off we go!

We arrived 20 minutes before opening on a Monday, so it was blissfully peaceful as we entered and for about the first hour or so. I’m someone who moves heaven and earth to do things on off times, and the payoff is great. Before the main gate opened, we meandered around the main courtyard, where the recreation of the Tudor wine fountain sits. There are also concrete recreations of ye olde partyers enjoying some wine or having a bit of a lie-down…

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as well as feeling quite ill from the festivities.

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Interesting! We took some photos of the courtyard and the exterior and then went directly to the Young Henry VIII exhibit. One room holds the gorgeous painting of The Field of the Cloth of Gold, and it is here that I recognized our friends and activities from the main courtyard:

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So that explains it! This exhibit also introduces us to Young, Fit Henry and his Regal and Polished Queen, Catherine of Aragon. One of the most striking visual elements of this exhibit is a York/Lancaster family tree that adorns one wall:

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But I don’t want to give away the entire exhibit for you … Go and see it!

No trip to Hampton Court is complete without time spent in the impressive Great Hall, bedecked with antlers and tapestries…

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and impressive stained glass and fan-vaulting…

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And look, there’s Anne Boleyn wafting by a tapestry!

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The palace is buzzing with costumed actors, who really lend to the atmosphere of the place.  Henry and Wife #2 were kind enough to pose for a photo before continuing with their hallway bickering:

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No photos are allowed in the gorgeous Chapel Royal, so this photographic tour now moves to the Secrets of the Bedchamber exhibit. No photos allowed inside this exhibit either, but here’s one from the entrance, reflecting the awesome Queen’s Staircase (and the photographer!)

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Now into the gardens on this gorgeous day we go…

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and a peek at the Tudor kitchens

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Then a gander at the ceiling in Anne Boleyn’s Gateway, where the intricate design holds the pesky entwined “A” and “H” that got away from Henry VIII’s efforts to destroy any reminders of his saucy second wife:

"AH"s at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock

“AH”s at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock

"AH" close up

“AH” close up

before heading back to Waterloo Station and grabbing a quick lunch from Marks and Spencer Simply Food to nosh on back in the City, with this lovely view:

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(Hint: Lady Diana Spencer was here in a very poufy dress!)

Finally, another Tudor-y part to my day as Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb was kind enough to carve some time out of her day to meet me for coffee. Not only is she a brilliant historian, she is a super-nice person to chat with! (You’re following her on Twitter, aren’t you?)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this sojourn, and keep your eyes peeled for additional posts about this recent trip to My Favourite City!

Weirfore Art Thou, Footnotes?

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Ever read one of Alison Weir’s nonfiction books on Tudor history and, though you enjoy the information, you simply cannot track where it comes from? Many of Weir’s popular works do not include the footnotes and other citations that most nonfiction books do and this has been a source of contention for me as well as others.

On a recent related Facebook page thread, Weir kindly took some time out to explain the deal to me and my followers, and gave me permission to repost the info, as it is a common concern for history fans. Take it away, Alison! …

“Regarding source notes, I must say that my publishers would not allow me to include source notes in my early books – they were then regarded as inappropriate in so-called popular history books. When that editor retired, I insisted that they should be included. Would you believe I then had people complaining that they were a distraction?

“I was told to indicate in the text where the sources came from, but that takes up a lot of text, and you cannot do it in every case. It was not a good decision, and I was unhappy about it, but the world of publishing was very different then, and a new author doesn’t have much clout.

“Since 1998 I have included notes and references in all my books, and I am now rewriting The Six Wives of Henry VIII and restoring all the notes and references, which I still have. But because of my editor’s rule, I did not compile lists of references for the other early books, and my huge files of research notes were discarded in the course of several house moves, which is something I have had cause to regret. I owe a lot to my first editor, but I have been blamed personally for the lack of references when in fact it was something beyond my control. After she retired, I insisted that they be included in the future, and my present editor supported me.”

I thought it would be a good idea to present this, for the record, and I thank Alison again for her participation and time!