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Archive for Henry VII

See What They Did, There?


Today is one of my fave dates in Tudor history! The reason is in the graphic, above. But whenever I share it, there are, without fail, many people who read it a bit incorrectly and then get upset with me! Be sure to read it carefully. =)


And This is Why Britain Makes Fun of Us


I heard about this today and had to flip through the June 2014 issue of Glamour (the U.S. version) myself while I was at CVS, just to make sure it wasn’t altered online or anything.

And there it was, on page 110! So I even snapped my own pic of it to share with you.

Hey, Glamour, Henry VII is the king who fought Richard III.  Or perhaps you were just referring to an inability to keep certain monarchs straight.  In which case, there is simply no confusing Henry VIII with anyone else…you know, the break with Rome? The six wives? And is there anyone who even gave last year’s basic news a passing glance  but doesn’t know the deal with Richard III?

Maybe you could use a Tudor tutor? 😉


I Found A Usurper and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

Apparently I have too much time on my hands.

Have you been keeping up with the exciting developing story about the Richard III dig? There’s a video of the dig, released today, here. “We’ve got somebody here who’s the right sort of candidate to be Richard III…the spine had some quite significant curvature to it …also some evidence of trauma on the skull, consistent with someone who’d been killed in battle.”

Word is that there is “strong evidence” that the bones belong to the king whom Henry Tudor wiped out at the Battle of Bosworth Field in August 1485.  We shall see!

Winter King: Masterfully Crafted

I’ve a terrific new book you need to add to your queue, and I’ll bet you learn lots you hadn’t known before. That’s because the subject is the granddaddy of the Tudor dynasty, the financially-meticulous Henry VII. The Original Henry Tudor so often takes a backseat to his dramatic, indulgent, matrimonially-capricious son. Thomas Penn’s biography is going to change all that!

First, I’m obligated to mention that I received a complementary copy of Winter King from Simon and Schuster. So thank you very much, Simon and Schuster! That was lovely.

Winter King is 378 pages in length.  My attention span is too poor to stay riveted for long,  although I’m the same person who’s knocked out 800 pages of Harry Potter in under 24 hours. My selective ADD not withstanding, I found Winter King to be a perfect length for its subject.  It is divided into manageable chapters and never gets stagnant, partly because the events and people are rather thrilling and partly because the book is masterfully crafted. Thomas Penn takes a firm hold on your interest from the word go and keeps it until the bibliography.

Henry VII’s gravity is palpable straightaway. But while Penn opens doors we hadn’t cracked previously regarding the senior Tudor’s personality, the Welshman still remains as a whole behind his familiar veil of mystery.

I enjoyed the many social details, such as Henry VII’s telling his 2nd son of plans for the boy to marry Catherine of Aragon, widow of Henry’s oldest son and late heir. And it’s satisfying to see Margaret Beaufort pop up often, such as when her son (who, apparently, never stopped being her little boy) needs the post-medieval equivalent of chicken soup and a big hug.

If military history is more your speed, there is plenty of that too, naturally, given Henry VII’s reign and its challenges. Military history tends to be quite “Charlie Brown’s teacher” for me, but it’s especially necessary in early Tudor history so I just dealt with it!

Penn’s writing is saturated with such a sense of confidence and authority that the occasional lighthearted mention becomes that much more enjoyable. I’m thinking, for example, of the passage “Catherine [of Aragon] had been in England now for six years and was part of the furniture” and the Austin-Powers-esque description of Edward Belknap as Edmund Dudley’s “mini me.”

A few other small observations:

  • The Prince Arthur / Catherine of Aragon “did they or didn’t they?” question is prominently featured, as is Catherine’s sister Juana. After having read about Juana here, I am compelled to learn more about her so I see Sister Queens in my near future.
  • There’s an interesting and pertinent passage on Machiavelli’s well-known “better for a prince to be loved or feared” question.
  • Thomas Wriothesley’s accurate sketch of the king’s death scene is included in the illustrations.
  • Keep your eyes open for the amusing mention of Polydore Vergil’s “historian’s revenge” 😉

Do check out this video where Thomas Penn talks briefly about his book. Did I mention this is his first book?? I think you will find that as hard to believe as I do once you’ve read it. Enjoy!

The “I”s Have It

It is quite often I see Henry VIII described as Henry VII, and vice versa. Heck, when I’m not paying attention and I haven’t yet had my coffee, I’ve been known to do this myself. Don’t let this happen to you!  Usually it’s just a nasty typo, but sometimes people do confuse these boys.

You already know this, but to recap:

Henry VII: Father of the Tudor Dynasty (and usurper, to Ricardians), hailed from Wales, reigned from 1485-1509, father of  this Henry —>

Henry VIII: Son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Famous for being massive, having 6 wives, having some of them killed, father to other iconic English monarch Elizabeth I, among others.

In short, watch your “I”s!

The Throne is Empty; Get in Line

Tomorrow is a wild and crazy date in Tudor history — On 28 January 1457, Henry VII was born and on 28 January 1547, Henry VIII died. Two kings in a row, father and son, same date, birth for one, death for the other, two transposed numbers at the end. Wicked!

The popular rumour (and you know how I feel about those) is that Henry VIII’s last words were “Monks! Monks! Monks!” But in reality Henry was speechless at the end of his life, although he did give Archbishop Cranmer’s hand a little squeeze when the Archbishop asked the king for a sign that he trusted in the Lord.

The only people around him in his last days were the Archbishop and the men from his Privy Council and Privy Chamber. He’d called for his last wife, Catherine Parr, a few days earlier but that was her final goodbye.  The king was 55 years old at the time of his death.

I wanted to share with you the opening credits of the series finale of “The Tudors” for a few reasons. First, it is just beautifully done, as was the entire series. You can’t deny the aesthetics of that show, no matter if you think there were too many inaccuracies, too much nudity, not enough nudity! or whatever your reasons may be.  

Also, you’ve got to love the Curtain Call of the Dead at the very end. The series actually did this with every episode, the final flashes of the opening credits being those we’d lost up until that point in the story. For the finale, we start with an extended shot of Katherine Howard and her girls, marvelling out the window at a snowfall, and then flash by the rest of the dearly departed favourites: Thomas Cromwell, Catherine of Aragon, Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, and Cardinal Wolsey. (Jane Seymour is earlier in the credits.)

The most poignant touches, however, are the shots of  Charles Brandon (who was actually dead by then, but nevermind), Princess Mary, Edward Seymour, and Catherine Parr standing beside The Empty Throne.  If you watched the series, you know that the throne motif in the opening set the tone for Henry’s place in life for that season.

For Season One, he’s in control, young, hot, doing the flashing-eyes thing, flanked by admirers and accepting reassuring touches from his loyal queen, Catherine of Aragon. For Season Two, he’s all eyes-flashing again but taking The Touch from Anne Boleyn this time round. My personal favourite is for Season Three, where he does the standing-up “surprised to see you” bit that reminds me so much of Christopher Walken’s “The Continental” skit on Saturday Night Live. “Come! Sit and have some sham-PAHN-yah!”

This weekend, you may want to raise a glass of sham-PAHN-yah yourself, first for Henry VII who started this whole big shebang, and second for Henry VIII. He may have left England with a mess to clean up after his death, but his life, loves, and legacy were so complex as to inspire books, movies, songs, documentaries, blogs, Facebook pages, and  similar gates to immortality. 😉

The King Next Door

When compared to his drama-addled successors, Henry VII seems to be the Stable One in the Tudor family, doesn’t he?  The man who grabbed the crown from Richard III in a heated battle and began one of the most iconic dynasties in English royal history looks quite subdued in light of the way the rest of the House of Tudor history played out.

I wanted to share with you the description of Henry VII as a family man which Francis Bacon wrote in his biography The Historie of the Raine of King Henry the Seventh (1622):

“Towards his Queene hee was nothing Vxorious nor scarce Indulgent; but Companiable, and Respective, and without Jealousie. Towards his children hee was full of Paternall Affection, Carefull of their Education, aspiring to their High Advancement, regular to see that they should not want of any due Honour and Respect, but not greatly willing to cast any Popular Lustre upon them.”  

I find it so interesting to delve into the character and reign of this man, probably because he is [sadly] such an afterthought. It’s worth mentioning that there is a new book out devoted to Henry VII; check it out!