Sunday, November 29, 2009

Question from Christine - Dudley's relationship with and proposal to Elizabeth

Would someone please explain in simple detail what happened during the marriage purposal between Elizabeth and Robert Dudley? Why was Spain needed to give approval? and later in her reign what did Robert do to her to loose favor,he loved her why would he become involved in treason and why didn't he get executed? Thank you. I love to study this time period but some things are hard to understand the way it is written.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Question from Alex - Army recruitment and feudal lands


I'm confused about the how recruitment for the army worked in tudor times and what was the main military unit?

Was the fuedal system still broadly in place? And how was land delegated, could one take land by force?

I know thats a lot of questions but any help would be appreciated.

Question from Jacque - Sidesaddle riding

I have heard conflicting statements on when the side saddle came into common use in England and I was wondering how Tudor women would have ridden horses during ordinary travel? Could they have ridden astride by themselves, in a side saddle on their own, or did would they have sometimes ridden with a man astride?

[There is a semi-related thread linked to below - Lara]

Question from Jenny - Crossbow assassination attempt on Elizabeth

was there ever an attempt to kill Elizabeth I with a crossbow?

Question from Nicole - Fashion of pale skin of males

Was paleness considered a desirable trait for men in Tudor times? Or just for women?

Question from Renee - Farm labourers, marriage rules, etc.

Hello there!
I am trying to source information for a novel I am writing (fiction) in which I have a small section based in tudor-stuart eras (around 1605). Any help would be greatly appreciated, I live in Australia so I am mainly relying on internet sources, I have ordered a few books from my local library that people have suggested here so thankyou for the information I have so far received on this site! I have several questions...sorry!! I'm desperate!:

1. My central character is the daughter of a wealthy yeoman (farmer). If the farm estate had labourers employed seasonally would they have stayed in the same house as the yeoman and his family? Would they have 'socialised' such as at supper or about town?

2. Would said daughter of the yeoman been able to marry without the father's consent? Would it have been faesible that he would disapprove of a farm labourer as a husband for his daughter?

3. Would people have travelled long distances (say from northern England to London) on foot, were there "roads" the whole way? If so, where would they have stayed along the way?

Thanking you in advance, I know I have asked a lot but I have been searching for weeks and I am no closer to knowing the answers! Cheers,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Question from Lily - Wives taking husbands' surnames

Was it customary for women to use their husband's surname in the upper, middle, or lower classes? I have seen a portrait titled, "Anne Stanhope.." painted around the time that she was married to Edward Seymour. On the otehr hand, I see references to names like Mary Boleyn Carey. Is that what she would have been called during her time or is that how modern historians refer to people?

[The previous related discussion was specifically on the royal surnames, but I'm not sure that the topic in general has been discussed. Related threads linked below. - Lara]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Question from Elizabeth M - Proxy marriages v. pre-contracts

I am not sure if this question has been answered before--if so, please forgive the repeat. I am confused about the difference between pre-contracts and proxy marriages made through alliances and how subsequent marriages are effected. I am currently reading John Ashdown-Hills biography of Eleanor Talbot Butler, in which he argues basically for Titulus Regulus--saying that Edward IV either married Eleanor in secret, or at the least, made a promise and then they had sexual relations, which according to the laws then, amounted to an actual marriage. As a result, his subsequent marriage to Elizabeth Wydeville was bigamous and its issue bastards. This was the argument Richard III used to "claim" the throne for himself when he imprisoned Edward's young sons, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York. Anne Boleyn may have had a pre-contract with Henry Percy, but it is unknown i she consummated the relationship. In marriage contracts which were arranged by alliance, say for example, Princess Mary Tudor's to the future Emperor Charles V, or her niece Mary's contracts to the same Charles and later the Dauphin of France--were there similarities to a pre-contract and was the only difference a lack of physical consummation? In the elder Mary Tudor's case with Charles, and in her niece's case with the Dauphin, were not proxies used to exchange rings? The elder Mary Tudor was considered to be, or at least thought of herself, as Charles's "wife." How did the church deal with these "marriages"?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Question from David - Studies of intellect and metal stability of the Tudors

According to my grandmother (who died in 1979) she was told as a child that our family is descended from a daughter of the 'Duke of Bedford' who lived "over 400 years ago". This ancestor was said to be the source of the "family curse" ... a "mental instability" with associated very high intelligence that resulted in many family members "ending their lives in institutions" (as my grandmother did).

Helen Tudor seems to be a possibility as the family came from a locality close to Bury St Edmunds ... where some sources say she married a local merchant ... and her son, Stephen Gardiner's intellect fits the pattern. My opinion is that this presumably genetically driven trait is a form of Autism (Asperger's?). I think I remember reading a book a while back in which the author (a woman?) claimed that Henry VIII was "schizophrenic". Does anyone know of any studies of the Tudors' that examines their intellect/mental stability?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Question from Lindsey - TV Renaissance documentary from the 80s or 90s

I have a question regarding a television documentary on the Renaissance which I saw back in the 90s (possibly the late 80s). I distinctly remember a segment on Elizabeth I as a Renaissance queen: there is a re-creation scene in which she is being carried in a litter and greeting her subjects in the good ole Elizabeth I fashion. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

I also believe that a companion book was published at the same time the series was broadcast here in the U.S. I am trying to find out if the series was ever available on VHS or dvd because I would very much like to see this well-done documentary again.

Question from Julia - Servants in wealthy Tudor households

I am writing a children's book set in Tudor times and this blog has already been a great source of information, so thanks!

I have a couple of questions about servants in wealthy Tudor households:

Would there have been a head servant in charge of the others? Something like a butler? This is for a character in the book, so it would be really helpful if you could also describe the way they would dress.

Could you tell me where the servants would sleep. Would their rooms be at the top of the house as in Victorian times?

Also, I'd really like look at a floorplan of a large Tudor house, do you know of any sites on the internet where I could see one?

Your help will be very much appreciated.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Question from Alexandra - Sources for medieval and early modern ideas of kingship

I've been keeping an eye on this excellent blog for a couple of years now (I usually pop up in the comments when there is a question about Latin), but now I have a question of my own.

I'm planning a paper for my Honours History of Medicine course in university about how attitudes towards kingship in medieval/early modern times made the king touching the neck of an afflicted person an acceptable cure for scrofula.

There are several primary source documents online that have to do with treating and curing scrofula, so I'm pretty much covered there. However, I have no idea where to start searching for primary sources on medieval/early modern ideas of kingship. I've found a lot of websites with a lot of primary sources; I just don't know what kind of documents I should concentrate on. Does anybody have any suggestions for sources I could use?

Question from Rachel - Opinions of Jane Boleyn

I just started reading the only book I could find about Jane Boleyn. It is by Julia Fox. I have never been a fan of The Lady Rochford, yet I try to see all the members of the Tudor Court as individuals. True people who actually lived through it and how they dealt with it on that individual basis. I would like to know what others here think of Lady Jane Boleyn Rochford.

[There have been various discussions on aspects of Jane before. Just search on "Jane Boleyn", Jane Rochford" and "Jane Parker" in the archives for the previous threads. - Lara]

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Question from Hazel - Advice on Tudor History PhD dissertation proposal

I am beginning to think about a PhD proposal for an area of Tudor history. However, I am having problems narrowing down a research area as the topic is so vast and there is so much research already carried out on the Tudor era that a new contribution or addition to the field may be difficult. I a lucky enough to have a UK passport so I am of course going apply to UK universities. I am leaning towards Warwick and checking programs in Scotland.

I am increasingly interested in the pregnancies of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn as well as midwifery at the Tudor court. I am wondering if there is a connection between their numerous miscarriages and stillborns and the lying in period and birthing chamber environment and if anything changed in midwifery practices by Jane Seymour's reign - although Jane did die of infection brought on by childbirth so there may be another connection between all three's pregnancies and deliveries. Although Henry is often said to have been impotent, he was able to impregnate all of these women as well as Bessie Blount and possibly Mary Boleyn. Even if Henry and Catherine Carey were not King Henry's children, Mary Boleyn was obvously very fertile having four children in total so I think it may be possible to rule out a genetic problem or the possibility of Anne being RH-. Mary Boleyn was also not in the court's birthing chamber and I wonder if this had an influence on the survival of her!
children and lack of stillborn delivery.

Another track would be a comparison of these two Queens, as both had their hands in politics and diplomacy, a definite influence on religious activity, were intelligent and educated and both were stripped of their titles in the end as the only means of getting them out of court. They were both women ahead of their time and I would be interested in showing a similarity between the two rather than the contrasts which are the norm when writing/researching these two Queens. In many ways, Henry essentially married a woman similar to Queen Catherine when he wed Anne (apart from her class)and he gained power and influence in Europe and England due to his marriage to both - a twist on the idea that it was only Catherine and Anne who gained from the marriages, although on the surface this is definitely the case.

If anyone has any suggestions on research areas that have not been really explored surrounding these topics or other areas involving the period between 1485 - 1540 I would be most grateful. Or if you think I am way off base, let me know as well. I just need some help narrowing it down.

Thanks in advance.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Question from Emilia - Cold baptismal water and childhood illness

This summer i visited Torpa Stenhus, the home of Gustav Wasas third wife Katarina Stenbock. It´s from the 15th century and located in the south-west of Sweden. At Torpa there´s a very old baptismal font, made of stone.
The guide there told us something I find very hard to believe. She claimed that when children were baptised in this font, they didn´t bother to heat up the water, not even during the cold (very, very cold in sweden!) winter. The font was placed in the chapel wich was never heated so sometimes the baptism-water was frozen so they had to remove the ice covering the water. She said that on very rare occasions, and only for boys, they could place a heated stone on the bottom to warm it up, but that hardly ever happened. The guide said that this could be part of the explenation to why so many children died in infancy.
Now to my question: Could this possibly be true? Has anyone heard of anything about this custom, or is it maybe something that only took place in Sweden? I find it hard to believe because even though people didn´t now as much about causes behind deseases, it should still have been well known how dangerous icecold water is for anyone, especially an infant.
Sorry for the long text, but the question needed som background explenation!
Sincerly / Emilia

Question from Maria - Mother of Henry VIII's son Edward who died young

With whom did Henry VIII have the child Edward who died young ie was it Mary Boleyn or Catherine of Aragon's lady in waiting

Question from Eva - Online resources

I have just finished reading Alison Weir's "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" and decided to look in the bibliography to see where she got her information on Anne Boleyn. I searched "Calendar of Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII" on the internet and also anything by George Wyatt, but I could not find much. Is there anywhere (online) where I could find these things?

[There has already been some discussion on the State Papers online (see the links below) but not the availability of the George Wyatt papers. - Lara]

Previous State Papers threads/posts:

I think there are some volumes available through Google Books and the Internet Archive as well.

And there is the Gale Cengage State Papers Online project that some might have access to through university or other library subscriptions.

Catching up with this week's questions

I'm finally catching up from the busy end of a busy month - new posts coming momentarily!