Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Question from Joan - If you could visit Tudor England...

Hopefully this isn't too silly but I have a bit of a "fantasy" question. If you were able to travel back in time to the Tudor era which people, incidents, or places would you most like to see?

24 comments:

Lara said...

This is always a fun question to me. I put it in a poll I ran on the website a year or so ago and here were the results (granted, the events were chosen by me and others just voted):

If you could go back in time and witness just one of the following events, which would it be?

The Battle of Bosworth Field - 14 votes, 6.6%

The wedding of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII - 43 votes, 20.2%

The Field of Cloth of Gold - 54 votes, 25.5%

The coronation of Elizabeth I - 77 votes, 36.2%

The defeat of the Spanish Armada - 25 votes, 11.7%

Elizabeth M. said...

I would love to meet Anne Boleyn. She is my favorite historical personage. She must have been a truly remarkable woman, to have held Henry's intense interest for so long. He broke with the Catholic church to marry her. She was highly intelligent and enlightened. We owe much to her for her promoting the then-modern proposal of Tyndale and other "heretics" of printing the Bible in English. She was stylish and witty, with a fiery personality. She knew what she wanted and she was not afraid to go after it. In many ways, she was a woman way ahead of her time. She was the mother of England's greatest monarch. She was also brave and dignified, as those who witnessed her at her trial and execution, even those who had no love for her, admitted. I would love to see what Henry saw. What was it that made her so irresistible to him, and so vilified by others? In short, I would love to put flesh and life into the historical sketches we have of this remarkable woman.

Tracey said...

Be a 'woman on the street' when Anne Boleyn was executed...as long as I could remember to keep my opinions to myself :)

Be a 'lady of the court', and a member of the party, during the fabulous Kenilworth extravaganza the Earl of Leicester hosted for Bessie One.

Marie Burton said...

The people I would have loved to know are Lady Jane Grey, Bess of Hardwick and hope that I would be friends with Elizabeth and Cecil!

Being a Texan with no hope for a visit to the UK, any place in the UK would be a treat to visit. Obviously would love a tour of castles etc and the Tower of London and try to get a grip on the overwhelming sense of history in most of those places.

As far as events go,their Twelve Days of Christmas parties sound like a lot of fun!

PhD Historian said...

I'm going to go in a totally opposite direction. As a historian, I want to learn more about the under-represented people of the era. We've had lots of discussion on this site regarding various groups about whom historians know so very little: children, women, those at the bottom of the socio-economic scale. I would want to visit with them, perhaps in a rural village or small town, to get a better idea of what life was actually like for the 99% of people who are nameless and faceless in the historical record.

Jenna said...

I would have like to meet Thomas More and Charles Brandon, and have a long, long conversation with them. They seem to be the closest friends to King Henry VIII and of course, both good men.

Of the wives, I would like to meet Katherine of Aragon and Katherine Parr because they both seemed to be very good women and very caring and loving people.

Mindy said...

I would love to see Elizabeth and Anne Boleyn. They were facinating women, fighting for rights at a time when women had no rights at all.

Anonymous said...

If I went back to Tudor England I would probably do something stupid like beg Henry VII not to send Arthur and Catherne to Ludlow because his son Mr.KillingMachine will become King.


Which is VERY VERY bad because Henry killed a lot of people, a freaking Saint among them!

kb said...

I'd want to be in unusual places - like in Penelope Devereux's carriage when she went to visit Essex at the start of his abortive rebellion. She may have been smuggling people and documents in and out. I would love to know for sure.

I would have liked to meet Lettice Knollys Devereux and hang out with her right before her wedding to Leicester.

I would have liked to be under house arrest with Elizabeth during Mary's reign and learn if she was ever in contact with Thomas Wyatt.

Times and places like that...I play this fantasy all the time....

Diane said...

I think I would want to see what all the Tudors looked like.

Anne's Fan said...

I would have love to have meet the brave and courageous Anne Boleyn and her magnificent daughter - Elizabeth I Fie on you Henry

Anne's Fan said...

Without a doubt it would be Anne Boleyn and her daughter - the spectacular Elizabeth I.

Kathy said...

Well, really, I'd like to meet all of them and see everything.

Realistically though, the two people I would most want to meet would be Charles Brandon because he fascinates me, and Christopher Marlowe, because I did my English M.A. thesis on him, and I have an incredibly long list of questions I would like to ask him.

Places I would most like to see: 1. Greenwich during Henry VIII's time. I'd like to go to a banquet and a tournament there. 2. a Shakespeare play at the Globe, preferably one of the tragedies, and afterwards have a few pints at the Mermaid Tavern.

kate said...

I have to agree with Phd Historian and Kathy: I'd be hanging out with the groundlings and seeing what their lives were like. If the tavern scenes from 1 Henry IV are any indication, they had a lot of fun.

Kathy, the first chapter of my dissertation is on Marlowe; I am quite a fan. Im dying to know what questions you would ask him. One of my first would be, "Are you 'on her majesty's secret service,' so to speak?"

Lilly said...

I, like many others here, would like to see what everyone really looked like. However, unlike most here, I'd want to see Jane Seymour's childhood home, Wulfhall, and witness the first time Henry VIII would have met her (presumably, for it's not certain that he spent a hunting trip there in which he would have run into her). I'd also want to see if Anne Boleyn really did lose her sanity toward the end, and if Jane Seymour felt any guilt about her ascension to queen-hood (although it is known that Jane is not recorded as ever being seen feeling guilty, which is strange for her famously pious nature, it is possible that she felt guilty yet was good at hiding it). In addition to those events above, I'd also want to see the effects of the Grace Pilgrimage on the Catholics firsthand (with no malicious intent, mind you, merely interest). It would be interesting to see what the destruction of places of worship (so vital in those days) would have done to the morale of the peasantry and middle class as a whole.

Kathy said...

kate, there is really no doubt at all that Marlowe was engaged in espionage activities from the time he was at Cambridge. I would want to know exactly how he got involved in it and what he did.

And, of course, how did this lead to his death? The theory I am most interested in is that he was killed by agents of Essex who had been trying unsuccessfully to use Marlowe to get to Raleigh, a friend of Marlowe and a bitter enemy of Essex. I'm not totally convinced of the theory yet, but I am intrigued by it. I would love to know what Marlowe had to say about the matter.

What is your disseration about?

Jenna said...

What a great, fun blog this is.

I think that I would also have liked to have been a guest at King Henry and Queen Katherine of Aragon's wedding, to have attended Anne Boleyn's coronation (from what I have read she spared no expense and went all out for the best of the best) and to attend a night at a court banquet.

Tamise said...

I agree with Diane. It would be wonderful to see what they actually looked like. Especially Lady Jane Grey and then we would know how accurate the NPG memorial is or if the Teerlinc miniature is correct!

Would also like to see the wedding of Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon.

kate said...

Kathy,

I have never heard the Essex theory about Marlowe's death; how very interesting! Where did you read it?

And, yes, I too would like more specifics on just Marlowe was doing...

My diss is looks at the uses of geographic and cartographic language in English drama, mainly its use in constructing both individual and national identity. For Marlowe, I looked at both parts of Tamburlaine and Dido, Queen of Carthage. What did your thesis focus on?

Just thought of something else to "visit" in the past: exactly what happened to the princes in the tower?

Ciara said...

I would like to have met John Dee to see if he was actually a magician/alchemist, to discern for myself if he was sane, and what exactly his duties to Elizabeth included. I would also have liked to have met Shakespeare, so that I could know his real identity, whether or not his was this lord or that.

Places I would like to have seen would have to be rural Scotland during the time Mary Stuart was in Elizabeth's custody. I would like to know how they felt about this, and if the common people even held loyalty to a woman who had spent most of her life in France.

Marilyn R said...

Further to my earlier question on Henry VII's accent - I would like to hear the actual voices of the main characters of the period.I imagine that Elizabeth I would have a very clear and down-to-earth sort of voice, as played by Glenda Jackson in the 1970's, but who knows, she could have had more plummy tones, like Margaret Thatcher....

I would also like to see some of the famous properties as they were then.There was outrage in some quarters when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 2000 decorated his house with the sort of wallpapers/coverings around at the time, but I have to admit, that even though it was a bit of a shock at first, I do rather like it now. The link below has pictures of the rooms and a description of what Stratford would have been like then.
www.bbc.co.uk/.../shakespeare-s-birthplace.shtml

Kathy said...

Kate,

The Essex theory was proposed by Charles Nicholl in The Reckoning. Basically he says Essex was trying to use Marlowe against Raleigh, his sworn enemy. Marlowe wasn't falling for it and refused to do or say anything against Raleigh. The meeting at Deptford was called as a last-ditch effort to get Marlowe's cooperation. Though the meeting was presumably planned by Ingram Frizer, it was really Skeres, a known agent in Essex's employee who was running it. The other man at the meeting, Poley, was an agent Cecil, whom Marlowe had worked for previously.

Nicholl thinks they tried hard to persuade Marlowe to turn against Raleigh, but he wouldn't and was finally killed because he knew too much about them and what was going on and it wasn't safe (to them) to leave him alive.

It's really a compelling theory, especially when Nicholl points out how many of the people involved in this worked for Essex. He does stop short of accusing Essex himself of orchestrating the killing.

BTW, my thesis focused on bringing out various aspects of religious beliefs and their interactions through the minor characters in Marlowe's plays.

kate said...

Kathy,

I kept meaning to read the Reckoning but never got around to it; too bogged down by literary criticism articles. I think your endorsement will encourage me to move that up on the to-do list.

Your very intriguing thesis topic brings up another "wish I could visit" thought: how did various people react to foreign (to them) characters and figures they would have seen on stage and in London? For example, how was the character Shylock received? Was he seen as sympathetic? Villainous? Both? The text itself allows a few interpretations but how was he staged?
In addition, how about the Moroccan diplomatic entourage? We have a few written reactions but it would have been interesting to see the reaction in the playhouse and on the street to these very different people and beliefs--and to see how they were then portrayed on the stage.

Joan said...

Thank you everyone- it was great to read your responses.

I was hoping Foose might comment as well .......?