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.