Saturday, January 31, 2009

Question from Joan - Affixing jewels to clothes

One more jewelry question. Any ideas how pearls and jewels were affixed to the clothes of the time? I'm looking at the wedding portrait of Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor. She has numerous pearls especially on her sleeves.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Question from Elizabeth M. - England's Forgotten Queens series

Does anyone know about the Tempus publishers series of England's Forgotten Queens? I have two books in the series--one on Elizabeth Wydeville and the other on Anne Neville. I think there was supposed to be one on Mathilda forthcoming. Does anyone know if there are any other titles coming out in the near future?

[Ed. note - I've corresponded with someone at Tempus, so I'll see what I can find out. I thought I would go ahead and post in case anyone was interested or had a quicker answer for Elizabeth.]

Question from Liz - "Kingdom" vs. "Queendom"

THis may be a dumb question, but when Elizabeth I was ruling, wouldn't the "kingdom" be known as a "queendom"? After all, the realm was being ruled by a queen, not a king.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Question from Nikki - Tomb effigies

who decided what the effegies on tombs would look like? elizabeth, victoria, etc. (henry vii was a grand exception, i'm more interested in the others.)

Question from JP - Tudor connection to 19th century sculptor

Is there any connection between the Tudors of Britain and the 19th century Romanian artist(sculptor) G.Tudor,who also studied in Florence(Italy) and Munich(Germany)?

Question from Tom - Location for daily business of the realm

I am writing a novel of historical fiction about Elizabeth I, Walsingham and the Tudor period. We know that the queen owned and lived in several castles, but where was most of the "business of the kingdom" conducted.

Today, we have specific locations such as the West Wing of the White House, where the American president conducts the actual management of the country, or Whitehall in England where the modern prime minister performs similar tasks.

Where would the queen's ministers such as secretary of state Walsingham and other members of the Privy council write orders, hold meetings, etc. Was it several places, or one did one location contain most of the meetings?

This is very hard to determine from most historical references. Since the queen was the official head of state, wherever the royal person was, so was the government. But the "business end" of the government had to be conducted somewhere, and these seems hard to determine. The home offices of individual ministers is also known, but where did they usually meet in the late sixteenth century?


Tom Rodgers

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Question from Joan - Necklace-wearing practices

I have a question about the jewelery (specifically the necklaces) worn by Henry's queens and other women of the Tudor era. Quite often you see the "chain" part of the necklace but whatever pendant might be at the end of the chain seems to be tucked inside the bodice of the gown. Would that have some significance-perhaps a locket or cross being worn "close to the heart"? Also, sometimes on the outside of the bodice at the level where you would expect the pendant to be there is a broach. Is this actually a broach or is there an opening in the gown where the pendant of the necklace is passed through?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Question from Gervase - Anne's miscarriage

I do not know if a topic that was on in the series The Tudors is factual but I would like to know if the last baby that Anne miscarried was a boy,and, was it disfigured?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Question from Diane - French royal tombs at St. Denis

I've been trying to get information on the desecration of the French royal tombs at St. Denis during the French Revolution. Since so many members of the sixteenth century royal family had close relations with the Tudors I was hoping someone could recommend a good book or other source. As everyone knows, most biographies end with the death of the subject and don't describe what may have happened to the person's body afterward. I came across one story that said the mob kicked the head of Louis XII (Mary of Suffolk's first husband) around the church like a football...

I'd appreciate any recommendations. Thanks!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Question from Kathy - Questions for Alison Weir for event Feb. 7

Does anyone have any questions for Alison Weir? I have my ticket for Smithsonian seminar on Elizabeth I and Katherine Swynford on February 7. There is supposed to be a book signing at the end of the seminar, and I have gotten talking to authors at signings down to an art. No guarantees, of course, but I will try my best to ask her questions if there are any.

Question from Steve - Birthrate and christening of non-biological children

In a earlier series of posts from September - October 2008 on Tudor contraception, it was stated that "...women in 16th century England had an average of 4.2 kids."; "...high rate of maternal mortality associated directly with childbirth. In other words, a significant number of women died young while giving birth, obviously ending their reproductive years early and lowering the average. Of those who survived repeatedly giving birth, their reproductive years seem to have ended earlier than they do for modern women. Menopause appears to have occurred as early as age 40 or less. (And menarche, or first period, seems also to have occurred later than it does today, perhaps as late as age 15-16 for Tudor women.)"

There was a couple in Warleggan, Cornwall, named James Parker (Gentleman) and Katherine Buller Parker (daughter of Sir Richard Buller of Shillingham). According to Warleggan & St Stephens parish registers and an account written by one of their sons in 1673, they apparently had 21 children, born between 1618 and 1644. Katherine was born 1600, and died 1686. She thus was having children almost every year from age 18 to age 44.

I came across this couple while doing genealogy research. One of their sons was a Richard, born 1630, who went to Virginia at about age 15, and worked as a surgeon, if the identification is correct. Richard's granddaughter married the son of a Quaker immigrant.

21 children strikes me as hard to believe, given the average rate of 4.2 children. It also seems odd that Katherine would be having children at age 44. Neither of those things are impossible, but it makes me wonder whether perhaps something else is going on here.

I see two possibilities:

A) There were two couples in the Warleggan area, both named James and Katherine Parker (the parish registers don't give Katherine's maiden name, as far as I am aware);

B) James and Katherine were christening children born to servants in their household, or adopting the children of poor women.

I have been hoping that a direct male descendant of Richard Parker the immigrant would do Y-DNA testing to see if there is a match with the Parkers of Browsholme in Yorkshire, whence came James Parker of Warleggan. So far, though, that doesn't seem to have happened.

I would appreciate opinions on any or all of this, specifically, on the question of whether James and Katherine could have been christening children who were not their biological offspring. Was such a practice common or even permissible in England at this period?

Question from Maureen - Evidence for the birth date of Anne Boleyn and early education

There have been arguments ad nauseum about the birth year of Anne Boleyn. I'm a member of the "1499 to 1502" faction because an earlier date is better substantiated: her appointment as maid of honor in 1514, her handwriting that year (, and remarks by her contemporaries that she was about "20 years old" when she returned to England from France in 1522.

The 1507 faction always presents arguments that she "could" have written a long and nearly flawlessly written letter in adult handwriting in her second language when she was seven years old, that Henry VIII "would" have preferred someone younger, and that Margaret of Austria's remark in a letter that Anne conducted herself well for someone her age (without mentioning what that age was), substantiates a 1507 birth year, presumably because age seven is "young", whereas age 11 is not. Not good enough for me.

When you bring up the handwriting and the fact that you won't find a modern 7-year-old who can write that well, the primary argument is that Anne Boleyn was very smart.

I'm a member of Mensa, and I could not write that well at age seven. I conducted an informal poll of other Mensans on the Mensa forum, and they couldn't either. So, even if Anne were a genius, it's unlikely that she had the mechanical ability to write like an adult at age seven.

The second most common argument always that the Tudors taught their children more strenuously than we do today. I can't comment on that because I simply don't know. I've never found anything on the subject of Tudor tutoring methods.

So, I would like to present a challenge. Has any Tudor historian ever attempted to replicate the teaching methods employed by the Tudors to produce a "super child" who could write a long letter with nearly flawless penmanship (spelling wasn't standardized in French in those days, so that wouldn't count) in her second language at age seven? Do they know what those teaching methods were?

If these methods were so effective, why are educators not employing them now?

If they replicate those methods, and researchers can consistently produce genius children just from using Tudor teaching methods - or even use those methods on children who have been identified as "geniuses" before the experiment and produce results similar to Anne's letter in 1514 - it would provide substance to the arguments for a 1507 birth year.

And if they cannot, that might settle the argument once and for all.

Has someone ever conducted this experiment, and if so, what was the conclusion? And if not, would someone be willing to try? Or to at least define and describe Tudor tutoring methods? I've never seen anything that went into detail about the precise methods they used when they taught their royal children, and I'd be interested in knowing what they find.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Question from Tom - Duties of The Groom of the Stool

I'm sorry if this question is somewhat inapropriate but I need the answer to put a long-running debate with my History teacher to bed. In all my tudor reading I have encountered 'the groom of the stool' a number of times. However; whenever I have read of the particular post there has been plenty of reference to 'emptying' and nothing whatsoever mentioned to do with 'wiping' (if you catch my drift). Is it the case that the groom's toiletary duties extended further than just emptying it when the king had finished?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Question from Gervase - Tudor death masks

I know they made a "death mask" of Elizabeth I, and I was wondering if anyone knows if Henry VIII,or Anne Boleyn, also had a "death mask" made of them or perhaps these masks were only accepted in the era of ElizabethI?

[Ed note: related thread from a few months ago pasted in below]

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Question from Diane - Elizabeth's signature

I've got some questions about the signature of Elizabeth I. Before she became Queen she would sign her name with a little square with looped corners and what could be a capital "P" following her name. This mark is similar to the "R" for Rex in the signatures of Henry VII and Henry VIII. Could it possibly mean Princeps (Princess)? She was an heir to the throne according to the will of her father and this could have been a statement of her rank and legitimacy.

And finally, did Elizabeth ever sign herself "the Quene" as all the other Tudor queens did (except probably her aunts, Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France)?

Update: Thanks to PhD Historian for sending a picture of the signature! I've posted it here:

Question from Alix - England and Russia in Elizabeth's reign

I remember reading in one of Alison Weir's books that one of Queen Elizabeth's ladies was apparently offered a hand in marriage by the Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible. I haven't read that book about Queen Elizabeth in a while, but I was wondering if anyone here knew if that marriage proposal actually happened.
Also, did England and Russia back then have any communication with each other? Ever since I heard about that marriage proposal, I've been wondering if England and Russia ever really communicated with each other in trade or anything.

[Ed note: The first part of this was addressed in the previous thread below:]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Question from Victoria - Regard for William Cecil

I know that Sir William Cecil was a great advisor to Elizabeth and she relied upon his wisdom. My question is how was he regarded by the noblemen since he seemed to have spies everywhere, and everyone was suspect to their loyalty of the Queen.

Question from Erin - Mary and Anne at the French Court

In Phillipa Gregory's novel,'The Other Boleyn Girl,' Anne Boleyn went to serve in the French court by herself and was not as close to Mary as it appears Robin Maxwell thought in her novel, 'Mademoiselle Boleyn.' I do understand that Ms. Gregory's is written from the other sister's point of view, but it gets so confusing with every author putting out different stories. So, my question for you, which one's right? Did Anne and Mary become closer after living several years together in the French court?
In fact, I have a couple more questions written down that I would like to ask you.
In Maxwell's novel, 'Mademoiselle Boleyn,' Mary and Anne are sent together to France to serve under Mary Tudor. Their father keeps them there and according to Maxwell, Anne and Mary were even in the presence of Leonardo Da Vinci. Is it so?
Robin Maxwell also sees that Mary Boleyn is Francois', the French King at the time, mistress for at least over a year. However, I thought that in, 'The Other Boleyn Girl,' Phillipa said that Mary lost her virginity to King Henry, since her first husband did not desire her.
I realize that these are questions more likely for the authors to answer, but some feedback from people that will actually respond to me would be fantastic- especially those of you coming across this site!
I am NOT doing this for a school project, but I am a ninth grader in Indiana. If you could just please give me some answers, or explanations, I would be forever grateful--oh, and sorry about making this so long!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Question from Elizabeth M. - Mary Boleyn's burial

I remember reading somewhere--can't remember exactly where--that although there is a death date for Mary Boleyn documented, there is no record of where she was interred? Does anyone know where she might be buried?

[Ed. note - This was already asked in the thread below but since it has been nearly three years I thought I would post it again in case anyone has new information.]

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Question from Sam (aka Merlin) - If Anne had died of the sweating sickness

What do you think would have happened if Anne Boleyn had succumbed to the sweating sickness and died? Would Henry have gone back to Katherine? I'd be interested in opinions..

[Ed. note - the sweating sickness outbreak that caused Anne to be quarantined at Hever was in the summer of 1528]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Question from Sara - Amy Robsart Dudley's death

So for an A level assighnment, i've decided to look at the death of Amy Dudley/Robsart and who would have the motivation to murder her.

The options being: Elizebeth, Cecil, or Robert

I've got good basic knowledge. But i'm struggling to find quotes from historians stating there views. Just odd words that i can use to infer their beliefs on the topic.

Please help? I've been looking for 2 months, and haven't found anything.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Question from Olivia - Fiction book recommendations

i am in 8th grade and i have seriously been obsessed with Tudor England for a long time (long time for a 13 year old, anyway)
and i really enjoy reading as much about the tudors and any english royal house in general.
although i do enjoy the straight information books, i love more than anything the ficton ones
like "Innocent Traitor" by Alison Weir, and "the Lady Elizabeth" also by Alison Weir
but i've been having a real problem finding books like that lately
does anyone have any suggestions as to what books like those i could find that are availible in the US? thank you!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Question from Andrew - Jobs of the rich and poor

Hello, my 9 year old son has a homework assigment to portray the differences between rich & poor employment during the Tudor period. We live in a very small country with no research libraries. We have not had any luck finding information on jobs via the web. Any suggestions? thanks!

[Ed. note - there was a little about the 'rich' jobs in the thread below]

Question from Mike - Nicolas Udall

This is in reference to the question on homosexuals in the Tudor era. I may be wrong but, I had read somewhere about a man by the name of Nicolas Udall (the spelling maybe wrong) a cleric I believe, who was also charged under the "Buggery Act". Is there anyone familiar with this gentleman?

Question from Diane - Memorials to Catherine or Mary in Spain

Are there any memorials to Catherine of Aragon and/or Mary I in Spain?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Question from Gervase - Homosexuals in Tudor England

Does anyone know if during the reign of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I if any men or women were known homosexuals, and if so, how were they treated? Were they banished or allowed to remain active within the social activities without being made an example of prejudice?

[Ed. note - This was mostly covered in the thread below, but I don't think Gervase has been getting my direct emails about it, so I decided to go ahead and post it. Plus, this way any who wants to make additional comments can do so.]

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Question from Amber - Interview on Anne Boleyn for senior project

My name is Amber I am 17 and I'm a senior in high school. In order for me to graduate, I'm required to give a "Senior Project". This past summer I visited England (which I visited Hampton Court), and that was the start of my fascination with Tudor History. I then realized that I wanted to do my project on Anne Boleyn. I read "The Other Boleyn Girl." and watched the movie too. I've done a little research just to familiarize myself with her life. For my senior project, I need an Interview... I wanted to post a few questions for my interview on here in hopes that someone would be so generous to assist me with them. If you do answer them, I will need your name, it's required for recording my interview. If you would like to personally send your answers, my email address is – I must not fail to mention, my interview MUST be handed in on the 16th of March.

[Note from Lara - I've decided not to post all the interview questions here, so if you are interested in helping Amber out please contact her directly (her email address is in the question above). Also, if you volunteer, please post something in the comments so everyone will know. Thanks!

PS: Thanks to Amber for emailing two *months* before the project is due... most often I get these types of things about a *week* before they are due!]

Question from Elizabeth M. - Boleyn-Wyatt family connection

How was Anne Boleyn related to the poet Thomas Wyatt? I have read they were cousins.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Question from Nikki - Mary as Princess of Wales

I am reading "bloody mary" by carolly erickson. she states that princess mary became "princess of wales," the first girl to beknown by that title, officially. the footnote says "lord ferrers, steward of mary's welsh household, referred to her council as "the prince's council. L.P. IV:i:ii, 830."

i had no idea she was princess of wales?

Question from Mary Ann - Catherine of Aragon's tomb

Why does Catherine of Aragon's tomb at Peterborough Cathedral say "Katharine the Queen" on it? When was that added? Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Question from Anonymous - Holbein tapestry designs

Are there any Holbein experts out there who are aware of any work created by Hobein for tapestries? I have a tapestry that has all the earmarks of a Holbein creation, except there is no recorded history to be found regarding such. Not even cartoons associated with tapestry, although he did work with textiles, jewelry, theartre sets, etc., why not tapestry? Henry VIII and Wolsey owned hundreds of tapestries, surely Holbein may have been involved.

[Ed. note- This came in the comments to another thread, but I thought it should be bumped up to a post of its own]

Question from TudorRose - Contriband Blue

I think that the chocolate blue riband got its name from the colour that was most popular in Elizabehan England contriband blue. What does everybody else think?

Question from Nicole - Mary Grey's appearance

I have read that Mary Grey, Jane Grey's sister, was a hunchback. What exactly does this mean? Did she have some type of physical deformaty?

[Ed. Note: This was touched on in the thread about "The Sisters Who Would Be Queen", but I thought would be good to have it in a post of its own in case others came looking for info.]

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Question from Tracey - Bargeboards

This is a question concerning architecture.

>From a description of Ightham Mote-

"...oak bargeboards in the cobbled courtyard are carved with twining branches carrying the Tudor rose of England, the fleur-de-lis of France, and the pomegranate of Granada, the badge of Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon. This armorial decoration was overseen by Ightham's owner, Richard Clement, in 1521."

What are bargeboards?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Question from Pippa - Henry VIII and being King

Did Henry the 8th ever wish he wasn't King?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Question from Elizabeth M. - Elizabeth Norton's bio of Anne Boleyn

Has anyone read an advance copy of Elizabeth Norton's biography of ANNE BOLEYN, due out in February?

Friday, January 02, 2009

Question from Ann - Travel from England to Spain

can anybody help me. I am trying to find the average time for a voyage from England to Spain during the reign of Henry VIII. Thanks.

Further info from Ann: What I'm looking for is the approximate crossing time from Tilbury to Bilbao to be more exact.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Question from Diana - Anne writing to Henry concerning Elizabeth

Does any one know if Anne wrote to Henry in regards to the Princess Elizabeth? I find very little information on Anne's relationship with the Princess. Can anyone refer me to letters or resources? Thanks,


Question from Elizabeth M. - Familial connections between Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour

Wow, I may be the first post of the New Year!! Happy New year everybody!!
My question concerns the familial relationship between Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour. They shared a great-grandmother in Elizabeth Cheney. Jane Seymour's mother, Margaret Wentworth, was a daughter of Anne Say, Elizabeth Cheney's daughter from a marriage to John Say. Anne Boleyn's mother, Elizabeth Howard, was the daughter of Elizabeth Tylney, Elizabeth Cheney's daughter from her marriage to Frederick Tylney.
This is never mentioned in the histories I have read that Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour were so closely related. Why is that? Did Anne and Jane know--it seems they would, because pedigree was everything back then.