Monday, September 21, 2009

Question from Rachel - Edward Tudor, son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York

I was wondering if anyone could tell me how old Edward Tudor the son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York lived to be. I thought he died in infancy but Wikipedia states he lived to be 15 years old. I know Wikipedia is not always reliable but I could not seem to find this information in any of my books or online. Thanks!

[Update Sept. 29 - I've now closed this thread since a lot comments have strayed pretty far from the original subject. - Lara]


Lara said...

Maybe someone was confusing that Edward Tudor with Edward VI, who did die at 15?

All I can find on the Edward you are looking for is that he died in infancy and his birth and death dates are unknown. I can guarantee you that if he had lived to 15 there would be more records of him!

Diane said...

Henry and Elizabeth apparently had 8 children in all, but only 7 are usually listed. The 8 are: Arthur, born in 1486: Margaret, born in 1489: Henry, born in 1491; Elizabeth, born in 1492; Mary, born in 1496; Edmund, born in
1499; Edward (no date given); then Katherine, born in 1503. Edward must have been miscarried or stillborn. I'm not qualified to say whether a miscarried or stillborn child could still be named according to the beliefs of the time, but it's strange that Edward's sister Katherine is listed among Henry's children and Edward is not. Katherine was born and died on February 2, 1503. She appears in the Royal Collection portrait of the family of Henry VII with St. George and the Dragon, but Edward does not.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the responses! I agree, had Edward been older there would have been more records of his life. It would also make sense that someone confused the two Edwards explaining why wikipedia states he was 15 years old when he died.

Anonymous said...

Diane, it is my understanding that a newborn child must be alive in order to be named. Naming is done as part of what is commonly called "christening," which is really a shorthhanded way of saying "baptized into Christ's Church." The sprinkling or pouring of water during the christening ritual is actually baptism, the first of the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. And as a sacrament, it can be administered only to a living person whose soul is still present within the body.

Under normal circumstances, christening usually occurs in the first few days after birth. If the infant died in the hours or days between birth and christening, he or she died nameless in the eyes of the church, and beyond salvation.

Officially, the Roman Catholic Church still holds the position that the souls of infants who die before christening and baptism are damned, but it has gone to considerable lengths to make allowances for baptisms in extremis, even allowing non-clergy modern medical personnel to baptize a newborn infant in imminent danger of death, as long as that baptism is later attested to by an ordained priest. Unofficially, many Roman Catholics and some Protestants believe that unbaptized infants and children go to "Limbo," a state of being between heaven and hell and outside of purgatory. The Roman Catholic Church has never ruled definitively on the concept of Limbo, instead allowing the belief to persist without actually confirming it, though the more rigid and conservative among the Catholic hierarchy deny the existence of Limbo.

PhD Historian said...

Oops ... I did not attach my "signature" to the above response ... that's what happens when my Boston Terrier "Bean" sits in my lap while I am trying to type!

Kathy said...

I can't locate my source at the moment, but I have read somewhere that there was a possible confusion of Edward with Edmund and they may actually have been the same person, or there may have been even another son with a similar name but who died shortly after birth.

I totally agree with Lara though that if there had been an Edward who lived to 15, there would definitely be more records of him!

And, also, just for the record, I don't believe Mary was born in 1496. If you trace back through the actual records of the time -- nursery records, mentions in letters, and all the documentation surrounding her betrothal to Charles of Castile, they indicate that she was actually born in 1495. I think the only suggestion of 1496 is that her birthdate is listed as March 18, 1495 in Margaret Beaufort's Book of Hours. Scholars just assumed that a date before the equinox in 1496 would be listed as 1495. But that convention mainly existed in state papers which this surely wasn't. BTW, I think it would be an interesting graduate-level exercise to go through Margaret Beaufort's Book of Hours and tease out all the information about how dates were recorded, especially as there appears to be several different hands making the entries.

PhD Historian said...

Kathy, I'm afraid I have to challenge your statement that "dates before the [vernal] equinox in 1496 would be listed as 1495 ... mainly ... in state papers." The practice went far beyond state papers.

The "Old Style" dating, as scholars usually call it, was based on the Christian liturgical year, and the New Year was timed to coincide with the Roman Catholic Feast of the Annunciation, which was fixed on the 25th day of March. The "Old Style" calendar was usually the Julian Calendar, but despite the Julian new year beginning on the 1st of January, the English church and government still marked the "official" start of the new year using the liturgical date of 25th March. Yet the popular custom of exchanging gifts on New Year's Day (rather than Christmas) was carried out on the 1st of January. So there was some considerable difference between "official rules" and unofficial observance.

However, all governmental documents, including not only state papers but also such lesser things such as law court records, city records, property records, etc., assumed 25th March as the beginning of the new year. So too did most personal correspondence, most "commonplace books" (precursors to diaries), almanacs, and many other surviving documents, especially church records. And births (baptisms), marriages, and deaths (funerals)were recorded by church officials, so that the system for recording those events definitely used 25th March as the beginning of the new year.

People of the Tudor era seem to have been quite adept at working with two "New Year's" ... one "official" and one "unofficial." They no doubt shifted mentally between the two easily and as the occasion required. It is comparable to a very similar quasi-official dual dating system still used today in England. Many educated people continue to refer to annual events as they relate to Michaelmas, Candlemas, and other liturgically-based events, automatically translating in their heads to a day-date system.

As for Mary Tudor Brandon's date of birth being recorded as 18th March 1496 in Margaret Beaufort's Book of Hours ... a liturgical manual ... it is all but certain that it was recorded using the official liturgically-based calendar that observed the New Year on 25th March. It would be very odd indeed for anyone to use a non-liturgical dating style when recording a date in a liturgical manual.

I do hope that scholars did not "assume" anything with regard to the date in the Book of Hours, but anything is possible. If you have examined the relevant documents and can present a cogent argument for revising the year of Mary Tudor Brandon's birth, you have a highly publishable article waiting to be written!

Kathy said...

PhD Historian, give me a couple of days to get my sources in line and response together and I will be delighted to "present a cogent argument" of what I posted earlier. (I have a life outside of the internet, and I am going to be extraordinarily busy tomorrow, or I would get it together earlier.)

Incidentally these are not new sources. They have all be well-documented before, but seem to have fallen through the cracks of /15/16th century scholarship. So I wouldn't presume to claim that they are worthy of a publishable paper.

Also, you have misstated the entry for Mary's birth in Margaret Beaufort's Book of Hours. ( liturgical manual or not, it was a private book belonging to her and not a state or church document in any fashion. In fact, for what it is worth, I have seen it stated that Margaret used the book rather as a modern woman would use a day planner.) In any case, Mary's date of birth is listed as March 18, 1495, not 1496 as you posted.

Lara said...

To get back to the original question, and to add possibly more confusion, there is an Edward Tudor buried in Westminster Abbey (other than Edward VI), that my Abbey guide says in a son of Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois. That is something I would love to do some more digging on - such as where they got that information, etc. but I'll have to leave that project for another day. I've read speculation that there was another brother to Edmund and Jasper who became a monk (as well as a sister who died young), but I seem to recall he was thought to have been named Owen, after his father.

And of course, it is always possible that there was someone named Edward Tudor buried there that everyone has just assumed must be part of *the* Tudor family, but that might just be a faulty assumption.

Tudorrose said...

Edward Tudor was the seventh son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.One source stated that Edward son of York/Lancaster was 15 when he died.Other sources nothing.Another source that I looked at suggested that Edward was either born at the beggining of his parents reign or towards the end of the reign.I do not think that there is much if anything at all on this son and heir born to them.I know that King Henry VIII's son was also named Edward and he died at 15,perhaps there was some error made and it was reffering to Edward VI not Edward Tudor born to King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York,as there is no record of when Edward was born or died it makes it very hard to speculate.It may be probable that both King Henry VII's son Edward and King Henry VIII's son also named Edward died at the same age.Edward may have just been stillborn,I would not say miscarried because I do not think that if it were a miscarriage a name would not have been given.Thats not to say that parents do not think of names for the child beforehand,before the child is born.Diane, King Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York did have eight children in total.Four of their children survived adulthood,the other four either ended up in miscarriage or stillbirth.The reason why I say that it may be probable that both Edwards died at the same age is because Sybilla and Anne of Cleves,who were both sisters died at the same age of 42.

PhD Historian said...

I apologize Kathy ... in an effort to avoid writing an over-lengthy essay, I failed to make myself sufficiently clear. And in my haste, I also inadvertently introduced a typographical error into my second-to-last paragraph. Again, apologies.

Certainly the sources regarding Mary Tudor Brandon's d.o.b. would not be "new" if they are primary sources. But if scholars of 15th- and 16th-century England have indeed allowed existing sources to "fall through the cracks," and if you have examined the known primary sources yourself and can present them in a well-written paper, I can assure you that it would indeed be publishable. I have published two similar papers myself, though on a different person: Mary Tudor Brandon's granddaughter, Jane Grey Dudley. I thought perhaps if you have the necessary time to spare, you might like to pursue writing an article..... Especially since all of the secondary sources that I have consulted give 1496 as the year of Mary's birth, yet I understand from your comments that you suspect she may have been one year older, i.e., born in 1495. Were you to publish an article outlining your findings, you would be shedding new and important light on the subject.

Yes, I am aware that Margaret Beaufort's Book of Hours, like any Book of Hours, was a private volume belonging to an individual and not a public document belonging to a church or state entity. And yes, many women often used Books of Hours in a manner not unlike modern "day planners" (women were a significant audience for Books of Hours, and a great deal of scholarship has been generated on the connections between women and Books of Hours, from female patronage of the scribes who wrote them to their inclusion as status objects in graphic-artistic depictions of women, and more). My point was not the public/state/church vs private nature of the volume, but rather the dating system used by the makers of all Books of Hours ... a dating system that recognized 25th March as the beginning of the new year. If someone entered a date into a Book of Hours using the Julian New Year rather than the liturgical New Year, it would be as odd as someone taking an English exam by writing in Latin. Most (but perhaps not all) modern readers of that 500-year-old writing would assume that the writer was using a dating system consistent with what the book itself used. That would in turn suggest that the writer wrote "18 March 1495" and that the interpretation today should be 18 March 1496. But that's where your potential article would come in ... demonstrating that assumptions are not always correct.

Sadly, biographies of individuals seldom reveal the specific source for determining a stated d.o.b., unless either the source or the date are controversial (e.g., Anne Boleyn's d.o.b.). To my knowledge, Mary Tudor Brandon's d.o.b. is not controversial, so writers do not feel the need to "source" the d.o.b. (or at least I find no citation to a source for how her d.o.b. was determined) ... leading me to wonder if perhaps they have indeed assumed too much in looking at the Beaufort Hours and overlooked the other sources you mention. Again, a well-written article specifically and explicitly detailing all of the available evidence could quite literally "change history"!

Marilyn R said...

I have read of an Edmund Tudor, monk at Westminster Abbey, whose funeral was paid for by Henry VII. Will see if I can find the source.

Marilyn R said...

If I said Edmund in my last post I meant Edward!

Lara said...

Tudorrose - what sources did you find saying that there was an Edward Tudor (son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York) died at 15? Because that was the initial question here and as I and others have stated, if a son of that couple had lived to 15 there would certainly be more information on him out there.

Marilyn R said...

Hope the text below travels ok as I have cut & pasted from a website. I can’t find my original jottings from YEARS ago but I recalled the monk I mentioned was known as Edward Bridgewater. I have no idea whether it is correct or a complete fabrication, but the writer is questioning Dean Stanley of Westminster’s statement that an Owen Tudor was the monk in question. I’m too busy just now to read the rest but I seem to think that Henry VII is supposed to have paid for Bridgewater’s funeral - is there anything in Henry VII's accounts about this? Perhaps someone will follow it up.

No. 5

“....Owen, third son of Owen Tudor, and uncle of Henry VII, who lies in the Chapel of St Blaize." It is, of course, possible that this Owen Tudor entered our house and took another Christian name and another surname. Stanley repeats the statement on two other occasions, but neither an Owen nor a Tudor is to be found among our monks of that or any other date. If Stanley had consulted Camden (Reges, &c.), he would have seen that the son of Owen Tudor who found a home in our house and was buried, near Abbot Litlington, " in capella Sancti Blasii qua intratur ad Vestiarium," was called Edward, and under the head of Edward Bridgewater [q.v.], who entered the Convent in 1465-6 and said his first Mass three years later, I have indicated the reasons for conjecturing that this man may be Edward Tudor.”

See also “Henry VII” by Neville Williams (series ed. Lady Antonia Fraser):
I know this would not be regarded as an academic or scholarly work - I'm merely passing on what it says.
"Altogether Owen Tudor had three sons and two daughters by Catherine de Valois- Edmund and Jasper, Owen and Catherine who both entered religious orders, and Jacira, who married Lord Grey of Wilton."

I know it's away from the original question, but I would love to know who Bridgewater really was.

Diane said...

Prince Edward is mentioned in "Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey" by Arthur Penryn Stanley. The author is describing the reburials necessary to begin work on the Henry VII Chapel and he is speaking of Henry VII: "His infant daughter Elizabeth, aged three years and two months, was buried, with great pomp, in a small tomb at the feet of Henry III. His infant son, Edward, who died four years afterward (1499), ws also buried in the Abbey. The first grave in the new Chapel was that of his wife, Elizabeth of York. She died in giving birth to a child who survived but a short time." (That baby was the Princess Katherine).

The source that I used to mention the children of Henry VII stated that "Edmund" was born on February 21, 1499 and that he was the Duke of Somerset. It would seem then that Kathy was absolutely right in saying that there is some possibility that the two boys are the same person. Perhaps "Edmund" was a nickname for Edward to honor King Henry's father, the Duke of Richmond as well as Elizabeth's father and brother, the fourth and fifth King Edward.

Source" "Historical Monuments of Westminster Abbey, Volume 1" by Arthur Penryn Stanley. Page 199. Published by Anson D. F. Randolph and Company, New York. Fifth edition, 1882.

Lara said...

Thanks for the info Marilyn! I think what I was remembering and had snippets of is similar to what you posted. I wish I had some time to dig deeper right now, but I'll keep these notes for the future. I think I have some notes on this topic in my Jasper stuff for that novel I still hope to write someday...

Marilyn R said...

This is what I found a long time ago: it’s from the List of monks 161 from the 1916 document published by Cambridge University, mentioned above.

“Bridgewater, Briggewater, Bregewater, Brygewater, Edward.

Prima Missa 1468-9 (Infirmarer; Chamberlain; New Work; Almoner;

Defunctus 1471-2 (Infirmarer, which shows that he had a 3 weeks' ill- ness at the beginning of the year ; Chamberlain ; Q. Alianore, full share ; Richard II, share, 1470-1; so probably 1471).

Camden (Reges, &c.) records the burial in the Chapel of St Blaise of Edwardus monachus Westmonasteriensis, son of Owen Tudor by Queen Katharine, widow of Henry V; brother of Edmund Earl of Richmond, who married the Lady Margaret; and uncle of Henry VII.

The only other Edward on our list at this period is Edward Boteler [q.v.], who was trans-ferred to St Milburga's Priory at Wenlock; so we are left with the option of identifying Edward Bridgewater with Camden's Edward Tudor.

Stanley (Memorials, 3rd ed. 1869, pp. 170 n.; 395; 412) thrice repeats a statement, taken from Sandford, Geneal. Hist. ed. 1677, p. 285, that Owen, son of Owen Tudor, became a Westminster monk, and this statement has
been reproduced by subsequent writers. On p. 170 n. he gives a reference to Crull, Antiquities, p. 233 (3rd ed. i. 251), who has correctly taken the
name Edward from Camden.”

Kathy said...

PhDHistorian, I have had an extremely busy day today and have not had time until now to get to the issue of Mary Tudor Brandon's birthday. I am going to work on it tonight and hope to have a post on the matter by late tomorrow.

I actually managed to see the Beaufort Book of Hours this summer as it's part of the Henry VIII: Man and Monarch exhibit at the British Library. Unfortunately for my interests it was open to the entry recording the birth of the future Henry VIII.

I just checked in my exhibit catalog which contains a photograph of the page that records Henry's birth. If that page is representative of the rest of the book -- and I can't think why it wouldn't be -- there are no years printed, just months and dates and a brief description of what feast falls on that date. The only years I see recorded are in the handwritten entries in the generous margins.

David Starkey, the exhibit curator and catalog author, describes the book as "...a calendar of Church festivals and saints' days which Lady Margaret turned into a chronicle of important political and dynastic events in the foundation of Tudor power..."[page 18 of the paperback edition of the catalog].

The point I was attempting to make was that there are no years listed in the Book of Hours itself (that I can find anyway). All years were listed by Margaret or various scribes in her employ. That is why I think it would a fascinating paper to delineate how many scribes there were, who wrote what entry, and what convention they employed regarding the listing of years as the issue seems to have been in flux at the time.

By "falling through the cracks", I did not mean original documents that were overlooked, but original documents that were noted and discussed by earlier critics/historians but whose work has been overlooked by more modern/contemporary critics. The material I have found has been discussed in books and I will cite that. I don't know if it has percolated up to articles or not. And, honestly, I don't think it merits an article as it has all been discussed before, just overlooked.

Mary's exact date of birth is really no more important in the larger scheme of things than Anne Boleyn's is. I think it is just one of those facts that can be teased out by a diligent study of the available documents and is worth doing for that reason alone.

Unknown said...

Very interesting that Edmund and Eward could quite possibly be the same person. I guess one way to find out would be to see if there is a grave marked for Edmund. However, with the graves of the infant Elizabeth and the infant Edward along with their mother being buried in the same place it seems unlikely that Edmund would be buried elsewhere.

Kathy said...

Okay, as promised -- documentation suggesting that Mary Tudor was born in 1495 rather than 1496 as is frequently stated.

I didn't have time to complete this list. There is some more material relating to her betrothal to Charles of Castile that also touches on the date of her birth. I will try to get that up tomorrow.

Also, as nice as Lara's blog is, it does not accept all HTML tags. I didn't want to take the chance of some that I was using not working, so I have put this up in a webpage that I will link to: Mary Tudor's Birthdate.

Diane said...

There are pictures of Mary of Suffolk's grave at listed under Mary Rose Tudor. On the wall above her grave it gives her birth year as 1495.

PhD Historian said...

Thank you so much, Kathy, for taking the time to prepare that webpage. We do appreciate it.

I’m not an expert on the earliest Tudors and have done very little reading about Mary Tudor Brandon’s early years, so your insights are, in essence, new information to me. But if I may be so bold as to comment on the sources that you cite:

Source #1, the Book of Hours. It still seems most logical to me that the date of Mary’s birth was recorded in the dating style that was in use among the overwhelming majority of the educated public, a style that uses 25 March as the beginning of the new year. That would suggest, to me at least, that the writer was describing a date in 1496.

Source #2, the biography by Mary Croom Brown. The relevant portion of the quote from what is imprecisely described by Brown as a “privy seal document” is translated “at the end of the Pashcal term [in 1496, Julian calendar, the Paschal term ended on 29 March] in the eleventh year of the current king: Anne Skeron, nurse to the Lady Mary, 1 shilling for the quarter of the year ended at the last Feast of St John the Baptist [fixed on 25 June].” Without knowing the date at which the document itself was written, there is room for some confusion. But Kathy is correct that it would appear, if debts were paid well after the fact, that the payment made to Skeron after Easter 1496 was indeed for the period between 29 March and 25 June 1495. But that would mean that Skeron was being paid fully nine months after the fact. Alternatively, it is possible, if the document was written in July or early August 1496 and therefore after the Feast of St John the Baptist, that Skeron receiving money in advance for the period that began on 29 March and ended on 25 June 1496. While it would seem unusual in the modern era for a servant to be paid in advance, it certainly is not impossible. But the amount paid, just one shilling for a three month time frame, suggests that the payment was not, in fact, for wages earned, but was instead for some other purpose. One shilling for 120 days work equals a halfpence per day. Even in late 15th century economic terms, that is an exceptionally paltry sum for a nurse to a royal princess! I suspect the money was not wages, but was instead some kind of expense repayment or “bonus.”

Source #3, the letter from Henry VII to Sforza. It would be critical to see the original text, which is presumably in Latin. Ages were described in a variety of ways in the 15th century, so that we need to see the text to determine whether Henry VII stated that Mary was “three years from birth” or “in her third year.” The former would make her 3 years old when the letter was written, while the latter would make her only 2 years old. Sadly CSP Venice is a modern translation, not the Latin original, and seeing the Latin original is truly critical. Translators too commonly err when translating idiomatic expressions of age, often translating “anno sui X” as “X years old” ... and that is incorrect.

Source #4, Erasmus’s letter. The same situation arises here as with the Henry-Sforza letter. Erasmus wrote in Latin, and thus it is imperative to see the letter in its original language in order to determine which of two possible idioms for expressing age were used.

I am not saying that Kathy is wrong, not by any means. She may well be correct. What I am trying to point out is the difficulty and potential for error that arises when we rely on poorly referenced secondary sources (Brown, Gairdner, Richardson) or translations that may not be entirely accurate. The best historians rely on primary source documents in their original languages, which usually (but not always) offer the most reliable information.

Kathy said...

PhDHistorian, I would be the first to agree the documents in question are extremely poorly referenced. But they have been put forth by those who know the matter (and especially Latin) far better than I do.

The date of Mary Tudor's birth is not a burning issue in Tudor studies and there really hasn't been that many scholars involved. From what I have been able to find, it seems to me that the ones more contemporary to modern times seem to favor 1495 based on the documentation I presented (along with the dates discussed in matters regarding the betrothal to Charles of Castile that I haven't put up yet.)

It may be that they have studied the matter more thoroughly than they discussed but just didn't go into documentation on it as they didn't consider it to be that important.

Henry VII's letter and Erasmus' quote should be easy enough to track down. And as a rough date is given for the "privy seal document" (for lack of a better name for it), I would think that would be not impossible to find. So the task doesn't seem impossible to me.

I wish somebody would investigate this matter with a rigorous scholarly approach and meticulous detail to citation. The material is there and may yield a definitive answer on the matter.

Also I still think the Book of Hours deserves a study of its own as well. Although not listing any citations (as usual), Brown thinks that modern usage in writing dates was starting to become more used in private documents at the time the book belonged to Margaret Beaufort. And as there appear to be many different hands making entries, it might be possible to sort out who made what entries and what dating conventions they used.

I will try to get up more of the Latin tomorrow in the "privy seal document" as I very well may have picked the wrong material to put up. Brown does quote various other amounts paid to the other nurses, so that may help resolve the wage scale problem.

PhD Historian said...

Diane, the plaques on the wall date to the 17th or 18th century, judging by the style of the script (e.g.,"ye" used for "the"). The change recognizing 1 January as the start of the new year instead of 25 March did not occur in England until the second half of the 18th century. Thus the persons who created the plaque were still operating under the old system, which had Mary Tudor born in 1495.

PhD Historian said...

Actually, Kathy, "scholars ... more contemporary to modern times" favor the 1496 date, not 1495. Virtually ALL current scholarly reference sources, from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography to the Institute for Historical Research at the University of London to the most recent academic books and articles on Mary give 1496 as the year of her birth. I have yet to find a modern work by a qualified historian (as opposed to a writer of history for popular audiences) that gives or supports 1495 as her year of birth.

Marilyn R said...

Hi Kathy

I don’t know anything about “Mrs Green” but the “Dr Gairdner” mentioned by Mary Croom Brown is Dr James Gairdner 1828-1912. He entered the Public Record Office, now the National Archives, as a lad of 18; below a clipping from his obituary in The Times, 6th November 1912,

“....[his] services to the scientific study of historical materials were second to none, and he was easily the foremost English archivist of his time. Almost the whole of his life was passed within the walls of the Public Record Office.... Dr. Gairdner's parerga on the history of the 15th and 16th centuries might have constituted the life-work of several less industrious scholars. In 1858 he edited for the Rolls Series a volume of "Memorials of Henry VII" and in 1861 and 1863 two volumes of "Letters and Papers" for the reigns of Richard III and Henry VII. He also edited for the Old Camden Society "Collections of a London Citizen in the Fifteenth Century" (1876), and "Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles" (1878). But apart from his official labours his best-known editorial work was done on the famous "Paston Letters," of which he published editions in 1872-5, 1901 and 1904.”

The great work of his life was the "Letters and Papers in the Reign of Henry VIII", which took 56 years,

“The number of volumes is no guide to the magnitude of the work, for most of them have more than one part, and one (Vol. IV) has four parts and runs to over 4,000 pages. The total number of entries exceeds 50,000 and the number of documents calendared is not less than 100,000, while the index to the last volume alone occupies 736 columns. The editorial standard steadily rose as the work progressed, and the result has been a corpus of historical materials unequalled in value in any other period of history, unrivalled in scholarship in any other country. It is one of the achievements of which England may well be proud...”

Personally I am ever-grateful for his work on the Paston Letters which I had to plough through some years ago.

Hope this helps.

Kathy said...

PhDHistorian, I was referring to those scholars who actually list a reason for their choice. Most of those who use 1496 don't list a reason for its use or even seem to be aware that there is a question about it. Anyway, I will post more information later today.

Kathy said...

As promised, some more Latin and another document (with a citation and a quote!). Again, so I could use the HTML tags I wanted to, I put it up in another page.

And as I state at the end of it, I would love to hear what the arguments for 1496 are....

Marilyn R said...

Kathy & PhD

Have you seen this?
(Googled Mary Croom Brown - seems that everybody is confused about Mary's d.o.b. - including ODNB(1495/6 and Complete Peerage (1494/5!)This is the first thing that came up:

Corrections to "Dictionary of National Biography..."However, Mary Croom Brown (pp. 2, 3) argued that "the new fashion of reckoning the year as beginning in January was already in use in private documents", ...
html - Cached - Similar

PhD Historian said...

Thanks for those additional documents and quotes, Kathy.

Regarding the payment to Skeron: It might be very helpful to see the text that precedes "de Termino Paschae...." As you have it written, the ellipsis preceding "de" indicates that the quote begins in the middle of a sentence. The beginning of that sentence may have bearing on the issue ... or it may not. Either way, it would be useful to see it.

As it stands now, I have to agree with you that it appears that Skeron was paid for some debt originating in the second quarter of 1495.

But if I may be terribly picky, it is not clear that she was paid for acting as nurse to Mary. Instead, she is identified in the document as the nurse to Mary at the time the document was written, i.e., the third quarter of 1496. People are always referred to in documents by their current identification, not their former identification.

It is possible that she was first a nurse to the young Duke of York and his sisters, plural (Margaret and Mary?)and was reassigned to Mary alone at a later date.

The more complete quote does clarify the salary issue, however. If the six (other than Skeron) were paid a total of 33 shillings 4 pence for the half year, that works out to an average of about 1/3 to 1/2 pence per day ... the same that Skeron was paid. Clearly nursery workers received extremely low wages! A salary of a halfpence per day would result in an annual salary of just 182 pence, or 3/4 of a pound.

"Cum xiv annum tertium decimum attigisset" As presented, this is a difficult phrase to translate. Clearly the core of the phrase is "when she shall have reached" ("attigisset" is the third person singular pluperfect subjunctive of attingo, attingere - to reach or arrive at). There are, however, two ages presented in this phrase: fourteen ("xiv") and thirteen ("annum tertium decimum"). Because this phrase seems to be only one part of a longer sentence, it is not possible to tell precisely what is meant.

(Again, it is always wise to quote the entire sentence when working with Latin, since Latin syntax and sentence structure are very different from English. Any additional words in the sentence that are not included here will obviously affect how we deal with the two very different numbers.)

PhD Historian said...

Thanks for that additional reference, Marilyn, though it does further confuse matters somewhat (I still say there is a publishable article lurking beneath this debate).

I do not have access to The Complete Peerage, but apparently it was last published 50 years ago ... it is therefore quite out of date. Even the most recent volume of corrections is over a decade old.

And having examined quite a large body of documents from the 1530s, 1540s, and 1550s during my years of first-hand archival research, I must challenge Mary Croom Brown's assertion that "the new fashion of reckoning the year as beginning in January was already in use in private documents." In my experience, the old system was still the dominant one as late as 1555.

And again, without seeing the entire text of the original Latin sentences, it is impossible to determine whether Mrs Brown's translations of the relevant documents are correct. Pulling one or two words or phrases out of a lengthy Latin sentence is poor-quality scholarship.

And no, Dr Loades's article on Mary Tudor Brandon in the ODNB would quite rightly not refer to Mary Croom Brown's book because it is not the work of a trained scholar published by a peer-reviewed press, and it would not refer to the Complete Peerage because that work is half a century out of date.

Even so, the ODNB can be quite wrong, as can any other scholarly work. In the case of Lady Jane Grey's date of birth, for example, the ODNB still gives it as October 1537. And prior to last year, all published works mentioning Jane Grey likewise dated her birth to October 1537. But that has now been amended, and scholars are beginning to accept that she was born much earlier, perhaps as early as March or April 1536. So were someone to thoroughly review all of the available evidence for Mary Tudor Brandon's date of birth, subject it to the accepted standards of rigorous scholarly analysis, write up the results in an article, and get that article published in a peer-reviewed journal, it might be possible to "prove" that she was born in 1495 rather than 1496.

PhD Historian said...

A last note on the subject as a clarification to Marilyn R:

From your comment, it appears that you may have interpreted the notations "1495/6" and "1494/5" to mean that the ODNB and Complete Peerage were themselves unsure whether the date fell in one year or the other.

If that was your interpretation, I should point out that some historians use that system to mean "though the primary source document reads 1495, the date would be written as 1496 if the new-style system is used." It's just a shorthand way of showing that the original document used to old dating system while the modern writer has amended it to the modern dating system.

Kathy said...

Marilyn R., I haven't seen the DNB entry, but that does seem to reflect what MCB says about dating usage at the time. I'm glad they acknowledge a discrepancy.

PhDHistorian, regarding the "privy seal document, MCB begins quoting in the middle of one of her sentences: "The day and the month have hitherto been a matter of uncertain conjecture, and the year has been given as 1496 on the strength of a privy seal of Henry VII. which runs as follows: "de Termino Paschae..."..." Sorry, I can't figure out a better way to punctuate that sentence fragment. I hope that makes sense, as it does show where she starts quoting but not what else is in the document. She goes on to say that Gairdner and Green are the ones arguing for 1496 but she doesn't believe that is so.

Do you contend that the document was written in the third quarter of 1496? Brown says the Latin indicates it was written around Easter in 1496, so it can only have been referring to the previous year, meaning Mary would have to have been born before the summer of 1495. I don't see at all how you come up with the third quarter of 1496 for the date.

As to Anne Skerton, I've never seen her referred to in any Tudor work as being anything except Mary's nurse.

OOPS, I made a major typo on the Henry VIII quote that I didn't catch. I'll try this again and go back and correct it on the page I put up. The correct quote should read: "cum vix annum tertium decimum attigisset" Mea culpa.

As I said, I don't read Latin, though I am familiar with Roman numerals. I don't recall seeing vix before though. Could it be a word? If not, could it represent 9? That was the age of Charles of Castile at the time of the betrothal. Mary certainly wasn't 9 at the time, so I don't see how it could refer to her.

I'm sorry I can't produce scans of the original documents out of my hat, but I don't live in the British Library. I do, however, have a reader's card at the Library of Congress which is a short Metro ride away. If you will give me some assistance in what to look for and if they are available at LOC, I will attempt to get copies of the originals.

PhD Historian said...

Ok, this is really my last post on this issue. Lara's going to be peeved, otherwise, that this is dragging on so long and so far off the original question. ("LOL")

Kathy, without seeing some kind of date for the entire document (often included in what is called an "endorsement"), we can only speculate when the document was actually written.

However, the very limited text quoted by Brown implies that it was probably written in the 11th year of the reign of Henry VII ("anno xi regis nunc").

The document also indicates that the monies were paid at the end of the Paschal term or season ("de Termino Paschae"). The Paschal term ends on the Sunday before Easter. In order to have been written both in the 11th year of the reign of Henry VII and on or shortly after the end of the Paschal term in that 11th year ("de Termino Paschae anno xi regis nunc" ... "at the end of the Paschal term in the 11th year of the present king"), it must necessarily have been written in 1496. The Paschal term for 1495 ended on 12 April 1495 (Julian date), but the eleventh year of the reign of Henry VII did not begin until the third week of August 1495. That supports the claims of Gairdner and Green in favor of 1496 while contradicting Brown's claim for 1495.

On the question of which quarter in 1496, IF the payments were recorded exactly at the Paschal-Easter week, that would suggest that the document dates to the second (rather than the third) quarter of 1496.

But ... it is possible that the payments were actually recorded well after the Paschal season.

First, we would need to know the precise origin of the document. If it is truly a "privy seal" document, it is very unlikely that the payments were recorded by the staff of the privy purse at precisely the time they were made. Instead, much like modern bill paying and check processing, the record may reflect payments made within the Duke of York's household days, weeks, or months previously, the receipts for which were then transported to the king's household and processed by the privy staff. In other words, it took time for the personnel in the two households and the various accounting offices to process the paperwork upward through the bureaucratic system, perhaps as much as two or three months.

Additionally, much depends on the ambiguous antecedent of "predictum" (another reason why the entire text is critical). To which "aforesaid" year does the writer refer? The "11th year of the current king"? Or the year in which the ultim Feast of St John the Baptist fell, which Kathy suggests, perhaps correctly, was actually in the 10th year of the current king? The strictest classical Latin grammatical interpretation would indicate that the antecedent of "predictum" is "anno xi regis nunc." It is therefore possible that the document was written in August 1496 at the finem (end) of the predictum (aforesaid) anno xi regis nunc as a summary for the accounts of the entire previous regnal year (August 1495-August 1496). Compare that timing to fiscal year accounting used today, which seldom corresponds to calendar years. If it is indeed a year-end summary, then it was compiled in August 1496 ... the third quarter of that calendar year.

I realize that this is all very confusing ... for all of us. And that is why there is some debate in all quarters regarding the year in which Mary was born. There are several possible interpretations of the various bits of the evidence, thanks to the incomplete portions of sentences provided by Brown, Green, Gairdner, and others from the 19th century. Were someone to take the time and actually examine the entire original documents in their original language, the answer might suddenly become crystal clear.

PhD Historian said...

Last post, second half:

And yes, Kathy, "vix" rather than "xiv" makes a HUGE difference. "Vix" is a Latin adverb meaning scarcely, hardly, or barely. The new translation is thus "when she shall scarcely have reached the thirteenth year." Bearing in mind that we are dealing with an incomplete thought contained in a sentence fragment, the text indicates that Mary was "barely in her thirteenth year." Depending on which Latin idiom of age expression Henry VIII was using to describe his younger sister, Mary was at most "barely 13 years old" at the time to which Henry referred (apparently 1508, though I am confused about what "ceremony" is meant). That would indeed support a birth in 1495.

However, by far the more common idiom of age expression used in the Tudor period was one in which the year in which the subject presently found herself was meant. That is, an infant was "in its first year" from birth until the 1st birthday. IF Henry meant that his sister Mary was "barely in her thirteenth year" since birth (as I firmly believe he does, since that is precisely what the Latin actually says), then she was, in modern terms, "barely 12 years old" ... which correlates to 1496 as the year of her birth.

Last point: Why do I so firmly believe that Henry VIII meant that his sister Mary was “barely in her thirteenth year” (i.e., barely past her twelfth birthday) at the time of the proposed betrothal to Charles of Castile? Because canon law on marriage dictated that a woman could not legally consent to marry until she was in her thirteenth year, or 12 years old in modern terms. Henry is claiming to have demurred on pursuing the betrothal because Mary was still too young, though "barely" so. Henry is arguing that because Mary was barely in her thirteenth year (barely 12 years old) when the betrothal was being pursued, she was only just barely old enough to consent legally. Had she been, in fact, fully 13 years old (or in Tudor-era terms, in her fourteenth year) when the betrothal was proposed in 1508, Henry would have had a harder time arguing that she was too young to consent.

Lara said...

Hehe... Yeah, I should have migrated the Mary birthdate comments over to a new thread ages ago, but I guess it's kind of too late now! That's okay, it's been an interesting discussion.

Unknown said...

This was my first time ever being brave enough to post on a site with people WAY more educated about Tudor History than I am. I have to say something here in respect to Lara. The first responses I received were good , but then everyone who posts here regularly turned MY post into something I do not even recognize. In reading all of this I ponder WHY. Lara, if this makes any sense to you at all please do not limit those who are still learning but leave your site as they are intimidated by those who always have to prove THEY know better. It is a bit exhausting. JMHO

Marilyn R said...

Thank you for the clarification PhD, but I have been writing, lecturing and carrying out first-hand research for many years, and am well-aware that 1495/6 refers to old-style/new-style dates.

Kathy said...

Okay, one last post from me too.

Yes, we definitely need more investigation of all these documents.

Regarding the earlier suggestion about Anne Skeron having been promoted to be Mary's nurse, I would think if that were the case, she would be receiving the same wages for two quarters that the other nursery workers received instead of for just one quarter.

The ceremony Henry VIII was talking about was the betrothal and proxy marriage on December 21, 1508. I'm not sure what exactly was on Henry's mind when he wrote the vix then as Mary was three quarters through whatever year it was given her birthday in March. He seems to be attempting to emphasize her youth. That wasn't really necessary though.

As I understand the church position at the time, a marriage contracted between two parties, one or both of whom was under age of consent at the time of the contract could be broken by either party at any time as long as at least one party was still under age and the marriage hadn't been consummated. So Henry was well within his rights to break the contract.

In any case, all's well that ends well. I think Mary would have been miserable married to Charles V -- they had radically different personalities. She ended up getting to marry exactly who she wanted to.

And I really wish somebody would write a rigorous paper examining this issue. I'm not totally wedded to the idea she was born in 1495, though I think the evidence suggests that. I just want to know the truth, and I think it can be arrived at by a careful study of the evidence available.

Lara said...

Rachel, as I said above, I should have migrated the off-topic posts to a new thread, but the comments on the second subject had already accumulated in this thread. Unfortunately it would be very hard for me to now move the comments to a new thread, so that's why they are still here. I usually try to keep the threads closer to their original subject (although tangents are inevitable), but this one just kind of got out of hand.

Unknown said...


Thanks for the response. I understand. I really enjoy this site and have for years. Like I said-my first time posting-although I always reference this site. I can see where it would become exhausting to have to move everything!

PhD Historian said...

I do apologize most sincerely, Marilyn R, if you felt insulted by my attempt at clarification. I was merely trying to clarify ... for all of the readers of this public forum ... your comment about "1495/6" and "confusion" etc, even if my response was addressed to you. I have no way of knowing what your background or knowledge level may actually be, though it is clearly above average. That's one of the chief drawbacks of these rather anonymous blogs ... you seldom know much about the other participants, which makes it very difficult to gauge the dialog accordingly. Again, my apologies if you felt that your intelligence was being insulted.

Marilyn R said...


I thank you for your apology.

I did feel you were rather condescending; you and I have had an exchange over this before, which you appear to have forgotten. I choose not to advertise my academic qualifications on this site as I think it is quite unnecessary, and because it is decades since I was awarded my degrees in England and the novelty wore off years ago.

Marilyn R said...


I think we should thank you for a timely reminder here. It is very easy to drift away from the original question, and I am as guilty of that as anybody.

It’s a great site and a credit to Lara and I hope it will be available and welcoming to everyone, no matter what age or level of interest, for many years to come.

Keep asking questions and don’t feel intimidated.

PhD Historian said...

Yes, Marilyn, I have forgotten any previous discussion that may have occurred regarding "advertising" one's qualifications. However, unless some sort of hint or clue is provided, readers of this site will have no way of knowing how qualified an individual respondent may or may not be and whether or not the response itself has historiographic validitiy, or whether the response instead might contain fanciful information gleaned from some Showtime sex-drama. But perhaps I am being too "English status conscious".....

Lara said...

I'm posting this comment on behalf of Diane, and then I will close this thread:

According to Find a Grave, "Edmund" is buried near his sisters, Elizabeth and Katherine, in the Chapel of Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey. He was 15 months old. The babies lie between Henry III and Eleanor of Castille at the base of a pillar to the left of the Confessor's shrine. Apparently the confusion over his name is because the grave marker was lost.

If you google "Elizabeth Tudor (1492-1495) Find a Grave Memorial" you'll find more information and a picture of their gravesite. If you go directly to however and search for Elizabeth Tudor you'll get every Elizabeth and Tudor they have listed.

I hope this finally answers your question, Rachel. :)