April 25, 2011

Tudor Q&A: 10 Things You Need to Know About the Wars of the Roses

What are ten things that you NEED to know about the Wars of the Roses? (in history, not the film)
I am so glad this question was posed! Besides the Tudors, the Wars of the Roses is one of the most fascinating times in English history to me.
I'm not putting these in any particular order:

1) The name "Wars of the Roses" comes from the two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet who fought the wars: the house of Lancaster (whose symbol was the Red Rose) and the house of York (whose symbol was the White Rose).

2) Origins of the Wars: The strife between the two families originated when Henry of Bolingbroke deposed his cousin, Richard II. Richard II's government was highly unpopular, thus the nobles championed Henry's succession as King. Richard II was descended from Edward III through his eldest son, the Black Prince. Henry was descended from Edward III's third son, John of Gaunt. Though he claimed the throne, the succession should have followed down the line of Edward III's second son, Lionel, to his grandson Roger Mortimer before it passed to Henry. Richard II was childless and had adopted Roger as his heir. However, Roger was young and the nobles supported the elder Henry over him.Eventually, Roger's claim to the throne passed to his grandson, Richard, Duke of York.

Henry Bolingbroke became Henry IV. His son later became Henry V. When he died, his son (Henry VI) was only an infant. He also, throughout his life, suffered from bouts of madness. His government (mostly run by feuding noblemen) was extremely unpopular. This paved the way for Richard, Duke of York's claims to the throne.

3) The Wars of the Roses can be divided into three parts:

The first is the conflict between Henry VI and Richard, Duke of York (mentioned above). Henry VI's government proved ineffective. In 1455, Richard, Duke of York rose up against Henry VI's government. In 1460 the forces drew a peace treaty in which Richard became Henry VI's heir. However, Henry VI's wife, Margaret of Anjou and her son did not like this compromise. She fled to Wales and gathered support their. During the Battle of Wakefield, Richard was killed. His remaining sons, Edward, George and Richard took up their father's banner.

The second part of the Wars of the Roses was between Richard's son Edward and Henry VI. Like his father, Edward was now considered Henry VI's heir (despite the fact that he had a son by Margaret of Anjou). However, Edward knew Margaret would never allow his succession. He moved toward London with his army. Upon entering the city he was unofficially crowned King by Parliament and the people. He was officially crowned King Edward IV in 1461. Fighting continued and Henry VI was finally captured. He was imprisoned and killed within the Tower of London in 1471. His son and heir was also killed in battle. Edward was temporarily overthrown by his once ally, the Earl of Warwick. However he regained his throne in 1471. For a time, there was peace. Edward IV died in 1483.

The third part of the Wars of the Roses began when Richard, Edward IV's younger brother, claimed the throne over Edward's young son, Edward V. Richard had Edward V and his young brother, Richard, placed in protective custody in the Tower of London. He then had the boys declared illegitimate, thus leaving the throne to himself. Eventually, the two young boys disappeared. They became known as "The Princes in the Tower." Richard III was crowned king in July 1483. Opposition to Richard's rule was quick. Henry VI's claim to the throne had passed to Henry Tudor, a descendant of Edward III through his mother, Margaret Beaufort. Henry Tudor raised an army and invaded England. He defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. He was then crowned King of England. He married Edward VI's only surviving child, Elizabeth, thus combining the Houses of York and Lancaster to create the House of Tudor. (Please keep in mind that this is a very general overview of the Wars of the Roses!)

4) Henry VI died after being deposed and imprisoned in the Tower of London. However, his death is still under speculation. Some claim Edward IV had him murdered, but others claim he died of natural causes.

5) Edward IV married Elizabeth Wydville (a minor knight's daughter) in secret. Theirs was a marriage of love, not for political or monetary gain. The marriage was the main cause of the division between Edward and the Earl of Warwick.

6) The Princes in the Tower disappeared in 1483. To this day, historians still speculate whether or not they were murdered by Richard III, Henry VII or possibly the Duke of Buckingham.

7) Men you should know:

Henry VI-King of England
Richard, Duke of York-Claimed the throne, but died in battle
Edward IV-son of Richard, Duke of York. Won crown from Henry VI.
Richard, Earl of Warwick-Known as "the King Maker." Major player in the later battles between Edward and Henry.
Richard III-Brother of Edward IV. Claimed throne after Edward's death.
Henry Tudor (later Henry VII)-Won the Battle of Bosworth against Richard III and founded the Tudor Dynasty.

8) Women you should know:

Margaret of Anjou-Queen of Henry VI
Margaret Beaufort-Mother of Henry VII
Elizabeth Wydville-Wife of Edward IV

9) Battles you should know:

The Battle of First St. Albans-The first battle of the Wars of the Roses. Richard, Duke of York won against Henry VI.
The Battle of Wakefield-Victory for Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou's forces. Richard, Duke of York was killed.
The Battle of Barnet-Richard, Earl of Warwick was defeated (and killed) by Edward IV's forces.
The Battle of Tewkesbury-Victory for Edward IV in which he demolished the Lancastrian forces.
The Battle of Bosworth-Victory for Henry VII against Richard III. Richard III was killed.

10) Despite Henry VII's decisive victory, he and his son Henry VIII were plagued by imposters and claimants until 1525.

These are just a few of the things I think are important. Please feel free to add your own!

April 21, 2011

This Day in Tudor History: The Death of Henry VII

Death bed scene of Henry VII
On April 21, 1509, King Henry VII of England died. His son, Prince Henry, became King of England as Henry VIII. According to historical records, Henry VII died at Richmond Palace from tuburculosis.
Henry VII was buried in the Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey. He was buried beside his wife, Elizabeth of York, who had died in 1503. The Henry VII Lady Chapel is one of the most famous parts of Westminster Abbey. Its  most famous feature is the pendant fan vault ceiling. It is the first example of this in known history.
The tomb of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York was constructed by Henry VIII. The altar which was placed by the tomb was also constructed by Henry VIII, but then destroyed during the Reformation. This fascinates me. It is speculated that Henry and his father did not have a good relationship, but it is known that he cared deeply for his mother. Why would he allow their altar to be destroyed? Any thoughts?

April 20, 2011

Book(s) of the Week: Tudor Pirates

This week in Tudor History, Sir Francis Drake severely damaged the Spanish fleet at the Bay of Cadiz on April 18, 1587. This event delayed the Spanish invasion of England for over a year. This event is not that well known, but it got me thinking about Sir Francis Drake and Tudor Piracy.

Sir Francis Drake is probably the most famous English pirates of the Elizabethan Era. The Queen did not name him a pirate, however, but a "Privateer." Because the Spanish continually complained about Drake's constant attacks on their treasure ships, the Queen said that she would stop it. However, she rewarded him with a knighthood in 1581. He was second in command against the Spanish Armada in 1588.
Doing a bit of research, I found a few interesting books on Drake and Tudor Piracy.
The first I want to point out is Francis Drake: The Queen's Pirate by Harry Kelsey. According to amazon, the book discusses how "Francis Drake roamed the world under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth I. He enriched her coffers by attacking Spanish merchant ships in the Caribbean, raiding ports, looting churches, and taking a cut of the slave trade--the acts not of a military man, Harry Kelsey argues, but of a pirate, and of a cowardly one at that as he was given to fleeing at the first sign of danger, leaving his men behind. Even so, for his services Elizabeth awarded Drake a knighthood and a degree of immunity until he failed to appear at his post during a naval engagement against ships of the Spanish armada. He then lost the queen's favor and disappeared from history's stage. Drake has few champions today, certainly fewer than he did in Elizabethan times. Even then he was none too popular. This well-written revisionist biography explains why."

Here's the amazon link.

Another book I wanted to highlight is Under the Bloody Flag: Pirates of the Tudor Age by John Appleby. This fascinating book mentions Francis Drake, but explains that "Although the young Francis Drake became the most famous pirate of the period, scores of little-known pirate leaders operated during this time, acquiring mixed reputations on land and at sea. Captain Henry Strangeways earned notoriety for his attacks on French shipping in the English Channel and the Irish Sea, selling booty ashore in southwest England and Wales. John Callice and his associates sailed in consort with others, including another arch-pirate Robert Hicks, plundering French, Spanish, Danish, and Scottish shipping, in voyages that ranged from Scotland to Spain. The first British pirates led erratic careers, but their roving in local waters paved the way for the more aggressive and ambitious deep-sea piracy in the Caribbean."

Here's the amazon link.

Finally, I wanted to point out The Pirate Queen: Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire by Susan Ronald. This book shows how Elizabeth, "the iron-willed, financially astute monarch utilized piracy and plunder as a vital tool in guaranteeing English independence from foreign domination and in transforming a backwater nation into a nascent empire." It seems to be a new and interesting approach to Elizabeth.

Here's the amazon link.

April 19, 2011

Tudor Q&A: Katheryn Howard's Annullment

I wanted to ask if Henry VIII annulled his marriage to Catheryn Howard or not, and if so, on what grounds?

Tudor Q&A: Mary Seymour

Is there a possibility that Mary Seymour (daughter of Catherine Parr) lived? Could it have been for her own protection that it was said she died at age of 2 years. It is very strange that her death was not recorded as she was the daughter of a Queen.

Tudor Q&A: Tudor Tailor

I am doing a speech for English class and I have to dress up as the person I am researching. I am a tailor during the Elizabethan Era. I have no idea what the tailors wore and yes I am aware that the majority of tailors were men. So, what would a male tailor wear during that time? Any suggestion of what I can use at home to create an outfit?

April 18, 2011

Weekly News Update: Shakespeare's House, and Mary Rose, King James Bible, and Bess of Hardwick Exhibits

A dig at the site of Shakespeare's last home has began uncovering ground not touched for 400 years. According to this article, finds so far include "roof tiles, pottery and animal remains which experts from the trust say suggests that New Place was at times a high status household, with venison, and salt and fresh water fish supplementing the diet of meat from cows, pigs, sheep, geese and chickens." There will soon be an exhibit of the findings.

I've mentioned before on the blog that the Mary Rose Museum will be opening next year, displaying all of its fascinating artifacts. Here is a new article on the museum as well as a short video on some of the artifacts. According to the article, "the 19,000 artifacts found on Henry VIII's flagship's Mary Rose are to go on display in a new museum being built for the ship in Portsmouth. The £36m building, due to open in 2012, will allow the hull of the ship and its artifacts to be seen under the same roof. So far, most of the items have been held, unseen by the public, in conservation rooms."
The 400th anniversary of the King James Bible is being celebrated with an exhibit. Though the exhibit is now over, this article offers some fascinating insight into the wording of the King James Bible.

*Note: Apparently the exhibit is traveling to at least one other location, so you may still be able to see it! Read more here.

Bess of Hardwick's 200+ letters are going on display for the first time. According to BBC News, "the exhibition at Hardwick Hall near Chesterfield will allow visitors to see their content for the first time. The letters include exchanges with friends, lovers, royalty and spies."
Read more about this fascinating new exhibit here.

April 16, 2011

"The Favourite"

Author Mathew Lyons has recently released a fascinating new book titled The Favourite: Ambition, Politics, and Love-Sir Walter Raleigh in Elizabeth I's Court. According to the author's website, "Mathew Lyons reveals a new portrait of an immortal relationship and a fascinating exploration of the many layers of love between Gloriana and Ralegh – courtier, chancer and privateer."

Similarly, an article from Express.co.uk, titled Why Elizabeth Walked All Over Raleigh, discusses the famous story of Raleigh throwing his jacket over a puddle so the Queen could walk upon it. "Mathew Lyons...says: 'In a way the truth doesn’t really matter. It’s not a significant story, even if it is true, but I think it tells us something about the politics of Elizabeth’s court and the role of the favourite; their deference and the kind of submissiveness she demanded.' Despite this, the relationship between Elizabeth and Ralegh (many historians prefer to spell his name without the i) remains relatively unexamined. Was he manipulating a lovesick Queen? Or was she using a man, dazzled by her power and her charm, for her own ends? Lyons went back to original sources, state papers and letters of those at court, to try to find out."

Read more here.

Also, here's the link to the author's website and the amazon listing.

April 12, 2011

Live Author Chat and “George and the Dragon”

Passages to the Past is having a Live Author Chat from tonight 6:30 - 7:30 pm EST with Christy English on her latest novel To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Though this novel predates the Tudors, I thought it might be of interest to some of you. Amy is also giving away two signed copies of the novel!
Check it out here.
I ran across a very interesting novel today titled The Dragon's Tail. According to this article, the novel follows the trail of Raphael's famous painting, George and the Dragon, from its first owner to the last. Originally, the painting was commissioned by the Duke Guidobaldo da Montefeltro of Urbino as a present for King Henry VII after being made a Knight of the Garter. The story follows the painting's turbulent journey through history from the Tudor dynasty to the modern era.
Be sure to read about this fascinating book here.

Catherine of Aragon: Henry VIII's Spanish Queen is now out in paperback. Read more about it here.

Review for The Wars of the Roses by Michael Hicks.

Tudor Film Club

MadameDarque and I are trying to get the Tudor Film Club back up and running at the Everything Tudor Wiki. The way it works is this:

We collectively decide on a Tudor-related film, watch it, and discuss it. Pretty simple, and honestly a lot of fun! Be sure to join in and help us decide what film we will watch next here.

April 10, 2011

Tudor Book Blog Book Review: The Tudor Secret

Normally I wouldn’t post two reviews in the same day, but I have been working simultaneously on these two forever now, so I wanted to make sure they both got up! Enjoy!


Young Princess Elizabeth
This story follows an orphaned stable boy, Brendon Prescott, on a search to discover his past, as well as save the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth.

Found abandoned as a baby, he is taken in by the powerful Dudley family. When he is old enough, he is called to the Royal Tudor Court, ruled by the young Edward VI. Though Robert Dudley has shown his obvious distaste for Prescott, Prescott is assigned to become his squire. His first mission is to take a ring to the Princess Elizabeth, a gift from Robert Dudley. This small gesture sets the events for the rest of the story in motion. Upon meeting the Princess, he is quickly taken with her. She is distraught to discover her brother has “disappeared.” She is not allowed to see him and Prescott quickly discovers that there is a plot a foot to keep both Mary and Elizabeth from the throne. He resolves to save both.

Prescott is an innocent, knowing nothing of the way the Royal Court works. He quickly finds himself spying for Dudley and an unknown person, in the hopes of keeping Princess Elizabeth safe and help her half-sister, Mary, take her rightful place as Queen. His motivation really stems from his desire to discover his past; Who abandoned him and why? However, once he gets involved with protecting Elizabeth and aiding Mary, they quickly become his motivations.

Overall, I really liked this novel. I found it extremely easy to read and was quickly drawn into it. Even though I am not a huge fan of first person novels, I did like that this novel was set from the point of view of a “commoner” not the typical Elizabeth or other royal person-view point. Through this point of view you certainly get a new look at the Tudor Court.
Sir Francis Walsingham, a true Tudor Spy
From the point of view of a “commoner,” I found it fascinating that Brendan Prescott was so willing to accept his “low” station in life. He would have been happy to stay at the Dudley estate raising horses. Even when told that his greatest accomplishment would be becoming the Duke’s Steward, Prescott thought it was too lofty for him. I found this interesting as despite it being a good position, it was still the position of a servant. Even this he thought was too much. I suppose this is how it was back then; You were born low, you stay low.

This view is in stark contrast to that of the Dudleys whom Gortner paints harshly. He shows them as greedy, self-serving, and cruel. To an extent, I think this is an accurate depiction. However, there seems to be no real redeeming quality presented in the novel.

One thing I did not like about the novel is that it takes place in such a short amount of time: about two weeks. It seems like such a short amount of time for so much to happen. Not events, but the development of the characters flies by. Brendan Prescott evolves so fast, it seem unrealistic. I feel that the time frame could have been extended. Another issue is the language. Now, for this novel I think the more modern dialogue works. However, many historical Tudor fans will find it very unrealistic. However, I feel that the story and new approach to the Tudor period far outweighed the minor flaws I mentioned above.

I love the “What If’s” of history. C.W. Gortner certainly does this here. This novel is not one for historical fact. Though he has certainly done his research, this is not a “textbook-novel.” Rather, it is a fun and suspenseful novel. It is certainly a work of fiction, but because Gortner has done a wonderful job researching and setting the scene, the factual “errors” surprisingly didn’t bother me. For me, this novel is a meshing of my two favorite genres: The Tudors and Mysteries. C.W. Gortner’s mystery novel is certainly a new take on the typical Tudor novel. His blend of mystery, historical events, and fiction is a great new twist to an often written-on time period. I give it Four and a Half Tudor Roses, and highly recommend it.

Note: Thanks to C.W. Gortner and St. Martin’s Press for TWO copies of this novel! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and hope the giveaway winner enjoys their copy as well!


I have now updated the Book Blog! Now I must go through and individually upload/update all of the content. You may notice parts of the site missing, but they will all be available soon. Thanks for your patience!

Updates and News

Well, the Book Blog is back up and running! However, because the site has become so big it is getting hard for me to manage. Therefore, I am going to be making some big organizational changes:

1) The Tudor Book Blog is going to become the main blog on the site. I will, of course, still focus on Tudor books, but I will do a weekly "News" post on the latest non-book related Tudor news.

2) I am also going to start writing more historical "articles" or posts, all heavily based on Tudor books, but with interesting bits of history thrown in that I find during my personal research. I have done this some at the old Tudor Times blog, but I am going to start doing it here instead. At the end of each of these articles, I will post a "further reading" section to tie in all the books I used as well as suggest further works to check out.

3) Tying in with this, I am going to move the "This Day in Tudor History" from the Tudor Times blog to here.

4) I am also going to start publishing the Tudor Times monthly magazine here.

5) I am going to start doing the Tudor Book(s) of the Week again. I know it has been a while :(

6) I am going to move all Tudor Librarian Q&A's to the Book Blog so readers do not have to navigate from this site to another.There will be a special Book Q&A section and a non-book related section.

With all of this, the Book Blog is going to get a lot bigger, but I feel that it will make it a lot easier for me this way, and for you, the reader as well. You will not have to navigate to as many sites/pages. It will all be in one nice location!
As you all know, I have been slowly updating the Book Blog. You may have noticed that some of the Archives are missing. I am having to manually reload it all, so it is taking some time. Do not fret, however. It will all be up again soon!

Thanks for your patience, guys. It has been a long rework! I will update as stuff gets moved around. If you have any questions/suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment!

April 9, 2011

Tudor Book Blog Book Review: His Last Letter


Westin begins the story on the eve of Elizabeth’s victory over the Spanish armada. Elizabeth. As she goes through the intricacies of the court celebrations, she notices Robert Dudley, her favorite, is not there. It is then that she receives the letter, his last letter. Robert was dead. She locked herself alone in her room and begins to remember their life together.

This novel is a mix of present and past events for Elizabeth. Through out it, she continually has flash backs in a random sort of order. However, Westin masterfully brings these many scenes to life with colorful details and historical fact. I was pleased to see that she had certainly done her research. Westin sets each scene perfectly. I found myself easily transported through time to intricately carved wood paneled rooms, watching Elizabeth and Dudley toying with physical love, jealousy, revenge, and loss.

Westin, as any novelist would, takes a few liberties with history. She shows that Elizabeth and Dudley did have a sexual relationship. However, I feel that the way she portrays it would be the way it would have probably happened if they did, in fact, become sexually involved.

I really like that Westin also tells the story from several points of view, not just Elizabeth’s. At times, the reader was seeing as Elizabeth, at other times as Dudley. Perhaps the most interesting parts to me were the scenes from Dudley’s point of view. He is depicted as a bit of a lady’s man, having several mistress…and several illegitimate children. He even eventually marries one of these mistresses, Lettice Knollys, whom Elizabeth despises. I found it extremely fascinating to see Dudley’s reaction to the death of his son by Lettice, and his suspicions that she had something to do with it. I felt that by seeing through his point of view, Westin really captured him as a man, not just a historical figure. You feel his loss for his son, his love for Elizabeth…and his jealousy when Elizabeth shows favor to other noblemen.

The only flaw of the book I found was that it might be a bit much for a Tudor beginner. The memories jump around a lot, as they would in a normal person’s mind. Each chapter starts a different time period, which do not go in sequential order. If you are not somewhat knowledgeable about Elizabeth, the book could get very confusing. I suggest brushing up on your facts about Elizabeth and Dudley before reading.

Overall, I feel like this book is one of the best fictional portrayals I have read of Elizabeth and Dudley, and really captures the love between them. It felt as if Westin was actually there, witness to these events.

I give this novel Four Tudor Roses, and I highly recommend this novel as one of the best fictional portrayals of Elizabeth.

*Note: I want to thank Jeane Westin for providing me a copy of this wonderful novel!

April 8, 2011

New Book on Thomas Wyatt

According to this article, Nicola Shulman is publishing a “close study of the elusive Tudor poet Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder titled Graven with Diamonds, approaching him strictly through his verse in a way that illuminates all the goings on in Henry VIII‘s court.” The article claims that “Graven with Diamonds makes this complex poet accessible as never before…” The article also goes into a lot of detail about the author. It is a fascinating read.

Be sure to read it here.

April 7, 2011

The Creation of Anne Boleyn

I have seen in the news and on a few other Blogs that a new book on Anne Boleyn is out by author Susan Bordo. It is titled The Creation of Anne Boleyn and is set to discuss all the myths of Anne as well as modern perceptions of her. I recently posted on the Tudor Times Blog a lecture given by the author where she investigates Anne’s true appearance. Be sure to check it out here. She not only looks over historic fact and myth but also compares several of the actresses (such as Natalie Dormer and Genevieve Bujold) who have played Anne over the years.

The book is still in production but has a Facebook page here.

April 6, 2011

"Elizabeth I: A Novel" and Interview

The Burton Review has posted a detailed review for Elizabeth I: A Novel by Margaret George. According to Marie, “We see through the aged Elizabeth’s eyes the ghosts of the past from her parents to her favorites who flit in and out of her consciousness…” Marie loved the novel, stating “This is a very detailed book and even though it is fiction I felt like I was being educated during the read. I loved this look at the last decade of Elizabeth’s reign, and admired the amount of facts and the imagery that were blended throughout the story.”
Be sure to read her review here which also has a nice little video attached.

Also, be sure check out this interview with the author. In it she discusses why she chose to write on Elizabeth to her writing style.

April 5, 2011

Three Catherines and a Few She-Wolves

First off, author Kelly Hart (who wrote Mistresses of Henry VIII and soon to be released The Seventh Wife) has kindly written in about Katherine Willoughby. Be sure to check it out at the Tudor Q&A Page!


I have found an interesting review for She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor. According to the review, “The tangled, bloody history of England’s royal descent through medieval times is the thread of Castor’s story. In an age when women administered power only as “a consort, a helpmeet, an intercessor in the cause of peace and justice,” Castor highlights four remarkable women who “ruled England” through superior intelligence, political and military skill, boldness, determination and charisma.”
Be sure to read the rest here.


Be sure to read this interview with Giles Tremlett, author of Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII. In the interview, he discusses why people are still fascinated with the Tudors, and many of his thoughts on Catherine.
Enjoy it here.

There is a great excerpt from the History of the United States here, which covers the English attempt to colonize the New World. Apparently, Henry VII and Henry VIII had more of a hand in it than I thought!


Here’s an article discussing the often forgotten 5th wife of Henry VIII, Katheryn Howard. The article points out that Katheryn’s tragic cousin, Anne Boleyn, gets all the attention, but Katheryn’s story is equally if not more, tragic. The article also discusses many of the books written about both.

Be sure to read it here.


Finally, I have my review for His Last Letter finished (minus the posting) and am almost done tweaking my review for Secret of the Tudor Court. I apologize in the long delay of posting them, but I have been really busy with work and the other sites I run. Thank you for your patience and I will have both published this week!