The Royal Family have announced that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with her third child. As with her previous pregnancies, the Duke and Duchess were forced to announce the news earlier than they intended (when the Duchess required medical attention for hyperemesis gravidarum). As a result of legislation passed in 2013, regardless of whether the child is a girl or a boy, they will be fifth in line to the throne, potentially becoming the first member of the royal family directly affected by the change in the law. Already, the media is awash with speculation that, as the third child, there is little chance that they will ascend the throne, as it was when Princess Charlotte was born. This is something which is not quite as ‘unheard of’ as the media might think.
Throughout history the rich, especially royalty have used the medium of stained glass to promote their image. The relationship between monarch and stained glass is explored in depth in The King’s Glass: A Story of Tudor Power and Secret Art (2007) by Carola Hicks if you are interested in such things. It’s a genuinely interesting read about the secret messages woven into public stained glass to spread particular images of the monarch, propaganda almost. I, of course, am interested in the queens who rarely feature as much as their husbands in the public image. So I have collated this gallery of lovers for your viewing pleasure… Continue reading
I love The Tudors, I probably shouldn’t, but I really do. The history is so ridiculous and mashed together and I wonder why at various times they make up stuff when the actual history is far more interesting and dramatic, but the acting is good and the costumes are stunning. It would take far, far too long to take apart every instance of artistic licence in this highly dramatised series, but here are some examples of the outright fictionalised aspects.
Part of Anne Boleyn’s mystery is that we have so little evidence directly relating to Anne from which we can draw conclusions about what she was like as a person. Even though she became Queen of England what we don’t know about Anne Boleyn could fill volumes compared to the surprisingly little we do know. One of the major questions that often comes up regarding her was did she really love Henry VIII? Again, we cannot know (even if we had hundreds of surviving letters from her filled with declarations of her affection we probably still wouldn’t know). While a number of Henry’s letters to Anne have survived we are left to extrapolate what Anne’s potential response could be based on his next reply. Only one of Anne’s responses has survived, the contents of which date it to the late August or early September of 1526. Ironically, this is from almost a year before we have any of Henry’s letters which begin in May 1527 from when Anne removed herself from court and went to Hever Castle.
The Mistresses of Henry VIII attests that while the lives and personalities of Henry VIII and his six wives are well documented, Henry was involved in numerous affairs with women who have been largely forgotten by history. Hart’s book claims to ‘rescue’ these women from ‘obscurity’ relating the tales of Henry’s lesser known lady loves. How far she succeeds in this endeavor however, is debatable. Continue reading
It’s almost Halloween! Therefore break out the ghost stories! Yay!
Given that Henry VIII and his six wives are still immensely popular centuries after their deaths, it is hardly surprising that people still claim to have seen them, haunting various palaces and castles. Ghosts are thought to remain in places of importance, especially if a person died in particularly emotional, violent or neglectful circumstances which accounts for most of Henry VIII’s wives. It is something of a coincidence that Anne of Cleves, who lived a relatively peaceful, drama free life (divorce notwithstanding) and who died of natural causes at old age is apparently resting in peace with no ghostly sightings of her ever reported.
Of all the residences, Hampton Court Palace supposedly houses the most restless royals with apparent sightings of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard (not in the same room I might add). Most of the ghosts apparently move around together with Henry and Anne Boleyn appearing at Windsor, while yet another Anne Boleyn stalks a ‘repentant’ Jane Seymour at the latter’s home of Marwell Hall.
Recently I watched The Last Days of Anne Boleyn, part of the BBC Tudor season. It is a documentary but also a debate between historians and authors of historical fiction, trying to piece together what happened to cause Anne Boleyn’s downfall and the events of her last days. While looking at the hows, whys and whats of this event, those who appear never actually speak to each other. The result was interesting, though what was most fascinating to me was the utter relegation of Jane Seymour as a non entity during Anne’s fall from favour.