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Archive for Henry VIII

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? 😉


It’s Red Nose Day!


Today is Red Nose Day! It’s the 25th anniversary of this telethon and is put together by the people at Comic Relief, which looks to “”bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of poor and disadvantaged people, which we believe requires investing in work that addresses people’s immediate needs as well as tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice.”

You can upload a pic of yourself and add a red nose to it right here. Even Henry has his red nose on today!

Exhibition Halls and Historic Documents? Kids Love ‘Em!

I was planning on getting to the Folger Shakespeare Library’s “London: 1500-1700” exhibit sometime in September, once school had started back up and I was on one of my solo trips into the District. Alas, my kids (ages 10 and 9) wanted to do a D.C. day before school started back up and I figured I’d work in a stop at the Folger since we were starting out on Capitol Hill.

We grab a quick lunch at We, the Pizza because I cannot be on Capitol Hill without a stop there. Then we head a few blocks north and sit in the Folger’s Elizabethan gardens to finish up our handmade coconut sodas and enjoy the shade,  because it’s about 95 bloomin’ degrees and the sun’s brutal. Welcome to August in D.C., people.

My daughter has quite a good eye for photography so I like to let her go off with the camera and catch her shots. I thought this was a nicely-framed one of the knot garden as well as the side doors and balcony:

I am in front of the doors reading the bronze plaque which describes all the lovely plants in front of me. And it looks as though that might be Comedy and Tragedy over my head, getting a laugh at my expense? (By the way, for a closer look at any of the pics in this post, just click on them.)

So in we go to the exhibit, and I’m wondering how long these kids will last surrounded by all this veddy veddy old parchment and such. Surprisingly they are into it, checking display cases and reporting back with “Mom, there’s a Henry VIII document over here!” and “Here”s a drawing of Edward VI!” so perhaps I have done my job after all. Or perhaps they’ve just surrendered having having heard me start many of their days with “Hey, guess who was born today in 15-something??”

My daughter insists that I take a pic of this, mostly because it is so pretty:

This is the lease for 3 tenements and a wharf from St. Margaret’s Parish to Thomas Glover, a waterman, for a period of 50 years as long as he didn’t use it for brothel houses or that sort of unsavoury thing.

Nearby is the page from John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, showing the pope being suppressed by Henry VIII:

I’m quite excited to see this in person as I’ve seen it so many times in print of some sort. The book is, of course, a history of the Reformation from the Protestant viewpoint, if you can’t tell by the king’s planting his slippers all over the pope’s back.

Because I’m a handwriting nerd as well as a history nerd, I am loving this list of  “moneye payd for stuf” in the move of the Office of the Revels (read: fancy bits like tents and masks and other entertainment items, for use in royal celebrations and progresses) to Blackfriars. Henry VIII had appointed Sir Thomas Cawarden in charge of all this “stuf” in 1544. God only knows what this says but I thought it was dramatic and gorgeous:

Anne Askew’s own recounting of her first interrogation was published in 1546 as the book you see below.

The top begins “The First Examination of Anne Askew,  latelye mar-tyred in Smythfelde.” The left side says, “Psalms 116 / The verity of the Lord endured forever” and the right seems to be “Anne Askew stood fast by the verity of God to the end.”

Not to get too far off-track here, but I often ponder the popular view of Anne’s martyrdom versus the fate of Catherine of Aragon. Of course we can’t compare the outcomes of the two women’s lives. But more often than not, Anne is put on a pedestal for being “so brave and strong” whilst sticking to her faith, and Catherine is mocked for “being stubborn” in holding onto hers. I don’t take sides and I know there are exceptions, but this is what I hear and see primarily. But that’s a post for another day.

At one point my kids decide to step out of the exhibition hall and into the gift shop, then come rushing back to tell me about something I “have to see.” Well here it is:

Yep, stacking dolls of Henry and the Magnificent Six!

Now for the sweet finish to our Folger visit: On my previous visit, a docent told me that the Folger houses a wonderful portrait of Elizabeth I in their Founders’ Room. Sadly for me, there was a meeting going on in that room at the time I was there, so I couldn’t see it. I take a chance this time and we’re able to check it out! Feast your eyes:

This is the Plimpton “Sieve” portrait, by George Gower, dating from 1579.  (As I’m quite limited by my point-and-shoot and the lighting in the room, you will probably want to click  here for a zoomable digital image of the painting.) In the queen’s left hand is, yep, a sieve. It’s a reference to the Roman vestal virgin Tuccia who advertised her v-card by being able to carry water in a sieve.  I’ll bet Tim Tebow never thought of that approach.

Her coat of arms sits above her left shoulder and the globe sits above her right shoulder, with “I see everything and much is lacking” in Italian below it. I am loving her crown, though not so much the black and gold striped scarf hanging from it. In typical Gloriana fashion, the dress is bejeweled to the hilt and looks like it weighs about 100 pounds. All in all, a stately portrait for a lady who always had a statement to make!

(As soon as we walk into the room, my observant son immediately recognises the dress from the display case on the lower level of the Folger; it holds a replica that actress Michael Learned wore in the Folger’s production of “Elizabeth the Queen” in 2003.)

There are many other items in the exhibit, of course. I’ve shared with you some of the Tudor-era treasures but there are others from that period, as well as lots from the post-Tudor years until 1700. But I don’t want to give away the farm because I’m hoping you’ll be able to see the exhibit for yourself; it runs through 30 September.

* Special thanks to security guard (and crime fiction writer) Quintin Peterson for escorting us to the Founders’ Room to view the queen’s portrait, graciously answering all our questions, and giving us additional background on the Folger itself.

** Have you come along with me to the Folger’s “Vivat Rex” exhibit? You can do so here.

*** Why not take an 8-minute trip through Tudor D.C. with me on YouTube?

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. 😉

My Apologies to Holbein…


So I had a bit of fun this morning with the famous Henry VIII portrait, as you can see above. You’ll need to click on the image for the full effect. 😉

Okay, okay, back to work for me!