December 25, 2013

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Henry VIII's Very Merry Christmas


A few years ago, I read this article, written by Hilary Mantle from the Daily Mail, which listed some of the fabulous gifts Henry VIII received and gave, as well as the massive amounts of food eaten as part of the Christmas/New Years festivities at his court. According to the article,
"We have a lot of mistaken ideas about how the Tudors ate. They didn't gnaw chicken greedily and throw bones on the floor, and there were no dogs fighting over scraps under trestle tables.
In a well-conducted house, the dogs - except for little spaniels - were exiled to kennels. Table manners were strict and refined.
Knowing how to cut your bread and what to do with your napkin was an infallible social signal that separated a gentleman from an oik, and every young noble learned to serve at table and to carve."
Though Henry received many elaborate gifts, he also bestowed them. For example, Catherine Howard received "sables and diamonds, looped with a rope of 200 pearls." I wouldn't mind a gift like that!

Be sure to read the full article here. Have a very merry Christmas!!!

December 24, 2013

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Father Christmas

On the Eleventh day of our Tudor Christmas, we will discuss Father Christmas. Santa Claus and Father Christmas are, today, one in the same. Despite what many believe today, Father Christmas was not a purely Victorian invention. Rather, the version we tend to know today has evolved from Viking, Norman, German, and Christian lore.

Father Christmas was most likely an original evolution of a pagan figure who represented the coming of spring and wore a long green hooded cloak and a wreath of holly, ivy or mistletoe and had the ability to make people happier during the long winter months. Another origin story comes in the version of Jul, a form of the Viking god Odin, who sported a white beard and wore a long hooded cloak, and rode through the world on his eight legged horse giving gifts to the good and punishments to the bad.

St. Nicholas, a 4th Century Christian Saint and most popular "Santa Claus" originator, appeared in Britain about the same time as the Normans did. St. Nicholas was eventually merged with 'Father Christmas' and led to the formation of our modern Santa Claus or "Father Christmas." St. Nicholas was certainly known in Tudor times. Tradition has it that St. Nicholas was a wealthy Greek orphan who was raised in a religious home by his uncle, and later became a priest. He is depicted as an older man with a white beard. While traveling, St. Nicholas came upon a house where a man had murdered three boys and was trying to pass off their remains as ham. St. Nicholas saw through the ploy and brought the boys back to life. Another story tells of St. Nicholas secretly leaving money for a poor man who did not have the means to provide a proper dowry for his daughters (meaning they would probably have to resort to prostitution). Eventually, the legends around St. Nicholas had him leaving money and gifts for those who needed them. As stated before, though Father or Lord Christmas wasn't central to a Tudor Christmas, St. Nicholas was well known, and eventually combined with the Medieval 'Lord Christmas,' and Jul to form our modern day Santa Claus.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore, the earliest evidence for a personified ‘Christmas’ is a carol attributed to Richard Smart, Rector of Plymtree (1435-1477). The carol is a sung dialogue between someone representing ‘Sir Christmas’ and a group who welcome him, in a way suggestive of a visiting custom:
Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
’Who is there that singeth so?’
’I am here, Sir Christëmas.’
’Welcome, my lord Christëmas,
Welcome to us all, both more and less
Come near, Nowell!’
 Sir Christmas then gives news of Christ’s birth, and urges his hearers to drink:
“Buvez bien par toute la campagnie,
Make good cheer and be right merry.”
Thus, Father or Lord Christmas was well known in both Medieval and Tudor England. Lord Christmas from this time period is depicted wearing a long green robe trimmed in fur (most likely taking from the original pagan figure). Eventually, this evolved to the red and white suit we know so well today. Though he was present, Lord Christmas wasn't central to Tudor Christmas celebrations. It wasn't until Stuart and Victorian England that Father Christmas became a more central character in these festivities. Rather, records indicate that a parish would hire someone to dress in disguise and visit Parishioners and report back to the Parish priest on their well-being. It is unknown if this man served as a representation of St. Nicholas, and whether he gave the children of Parishioners gifts or not, as representations did in Germany.

An early 17th Century play by Ben Jonson titled Christmas, His Masque, was first presented at the Court of King James in 1616. In the play, 'Christmas' is represented by an actor with his entourage consisting of Cupid, Venus, and his children. He was described as being attired
"... in round Hose, long Stockings, a close Doublet, a high crownd Hat with a Broach, a long thin beard, a Truncheon, little Ruffes, white Shoes, his Scarffes, and Garters tyed crosse, and his Drum beaten before him." 
Because Father Christmas was not relegated by the Church and not considered a religious symbol, the secular world was able to do what they wanted with him. This began the real secular evolution of Father Christmas to the more recognizable version we know today.

With the coming of the English Civil War and the Commonwealth, Cromwell's Long Parliament banned all Christmas celebrations in 1645. In response, a broadsheet appeared on the streets of London taunting the Government, featuring a humorous political 'scandal' about the conviction and imprisonment and later escape of Father Christmas, saying "In comes I, Old Father Christmas, Be I welcome or be I not, I hope that Christmas will ne'er be forgot." During the celebratory ban, "Old Father Christmas" came to represent a nostalgic Christmas of days gone by, such as those celebrated by the Tudors. The Puritans were unable to stop all celebrations, despite the new laws, but were able to disrupt many traditions. John Evelyn wrote in his diary on 25 December 1652, "Christmas Day, no sermon anywhere, no church being permitted to open, so observed it at home." After the Restoration, Christmas and Father Christmas were again celebrated in England.

The Victorians culminated many of these Christmas traditions, forming a figure in pagan-like attire (remember that green and fur trimmed robe?) with icicles or ivy around his head, who was as likely to punish children as reward them for their behavior. Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol is a good example of the Victorian view of Father Christmas, represented as The Ghost of Christmas Past in a green and fur trimmed robe, a crown of ivy, and hand holding a large goblet of Christmas 'spirits.' As time went on, both English and American versions of Father Christmas evolved into what we know today as Santa Claus, taking all these many traditions from the past and combining them into one jolly fellow.

Further Reading

  • The History of Santa Claus and Father Christmas. URL.
  • Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore (2001).
  • Austin, Charlotte. 'The Celebration Of Christmastide In England From the Civil Wars to its Victorian Transformation.' URL.
  • Josiah King. The Examination and Tryal of Father Christmas (1686) in which Father Christmas was exonerated. URL.
  • The Reformation and Father Christmas. URL.
  • The Christmas Archives - England. URL.

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Churching

Christmas Mass as Seen in "The Tudors"
As we continue with our Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas, we will discuss the importance of Churching. Going to Church was the most important part of any Tudor Christmas. The monarch would begin the Twelve Days of Christmas by attending Mass three times a day, exiting the Privy Chamber and walking in procession to the chapel. While processing, the genealogy of Christ was sung. Each Mass service required the monarch to wear new clothing, each sumptuous outfit accented with coronation robes and crown.

A popular tradition was the election of the "boy bishop." During the Twelve Days of Christmas, an altar or choir boy was decreed bishop. He performed all of the duties of the bishop, such as preaching and visiting parishioners. The only act he did not perform was conducting Mass. In the 1540's, Henry VIII abolished this practice, as he saw it as mocking the English Church, as well as its head...him.

King Edward VI decreed that all his subjects should walk to church during the Twelve Days of Christmas. I suppose since he had to walk, he felt his subjects should too. Technically, this decree is still in law.

December 22, 2013

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Gift Giving

Portrait of baby Edward, given
by Hans Holbein to Henry VIII
On this last day of our Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas, we will discuss the tradition of gift giving. If we had followed the original Twelve Days of Christmas, today would have been the first day of the Twelve Days, ending after New Year. But, breaking with tradition, I have it as our last. Gift Giving was a part of the Twelve Days of Christmas, but occurred on the seventh day of the Twelve Days, which we celebrate as New Years Day. All nobles would send or bring their monarch a gift. Each gift was carefully recorded on a Gift Roll. Some, like one from 1539, still survive today.

Some gifts had special meanings. For example, Elizabeth I received a jeweled whip from Sir Philip Sidney as an apology for suggesting she not marry. It represented his submission to her will.

Silk stockings belonging
to Elizabeth I
Some gifts were more practical. Robert Dudley gave Elizabeth a pair of silk stockings during her first New Years celebration as Queen. During his reign, Henry VIII often received shirts made and embroidered by the women of his court.

Even humble subjects gave their monarch gifts. Probably one of Henry VIII's favorite gifts was a portrait of his son, Edward, by Hans Holbein. One year, Elizabeth received a pair of cambric sleeves from a school master, and a gilded sweet pastry from her pastry chef.

The monarch was not the only one to receive gifts during the Christmas season. Peasants in Tudor times would give gifts too, though not as rich as at the royal court. Gifts of fruit (such as oranges, which were quite rare), nuts, and possibly a new piece of clothing or a handmade toy or two were common. Occasionally gifts were given on Christmas day. These gifts were known as "Christmas Boxes" and were usually given by a Lord to his servants, or an employer to his apprentices. They were a representation of appreciation for work done over the previous year. Though we now give gifts on Christmas day rather than New Years, we can easily imagine the excitement of the Tudors on New Years day as they received gifts.

Further Reading

  • Maria Hubert. Christmas in Shakespeare's England (1998).
  • State Papers Online—Part I, The Tudors, Henry VIII to Elizabeth I, 1509–1603: State Papers Domestic. URL.
  • Jane A. Lawson, ed. The Elizabethan New Year's Gift Exchanges, 1559-1603.
I must admit I am sad to finish my Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas. I hope all my readers have enjoyed it and have a very Happy Christmas!


December 20, 2013

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Ghost Stories

On the seventh day of our Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas, we will discuss the tradition of telling of Ghost Stories. This tradition, like many Christmas traditions, has pagan roots. The days surrounding Christmas have short, cold days and long, cold nights, leaving those enduring them to sit by the warm hearth. Telling stories by the hearth has been a tradition from the dawn of man. However, around the end of the year, the old spirits go out and the new come in, thus might have some bearing on the tradition of telling stories of spirits. Winter is also said to spark more paranormal activity than other parts of the year.


One story that might have been told by the Tudors is a Medieval ghost story titled Hellequin's Hunt. Probably written by a monk, Orderic Vitalis, it tells of a man who was caught in the forest at night and began to witness supernatural things. First, he heard the echoes of an army, then he saw a giant man carrying a mace. This giant told him to stay still and to watch. He then began to see a series of supernatural voyagers, the first on foot (including some of his dead neighbors). They were lamenting. The rest were tortured in different ways, reflecting their sins. One group, for example, was of women on horseback, riding sidesaddle with the saddles studded with hot nails. Their crime was loving luxury and debauchery. Throughout the story, all social stations were represented - no one escaped...

Since most of the ghost stories told by the Tudors would have been passed down from the Middle Ages, it is no surprise that most of them would have a religious theme.

Like Hellequin's Hunt, the stories were meant to inspire fear in those who heard them, in the hopes of keeping them on the straight and narrow path.

Though the Victorians really popularized the tradition, the Tudors would have certainly sat around the hearth, sipping wassail or egg nog and telling ghost stories. Though the tradition has pretty much died out in our modern celebrations of Christmas, we still reference it. For example, the song It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year features a line saying, "There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago..."

Do you and your family continue the tradition of telling ghost stories around Christmas time?

December 19, 2013

Twleve Days of Tudor Christmas: The Yule Log


On the sixth day of our Tudor Twelve Days of Christmas we will discuss the burning the Yule Log, an extremely popular tradition in Tudor and Stuart England. In Tudor times, young males would find and drag a heavy log into a home and place it in the hearth. The log was usually decorated by the young maids of the household with ribbons and greenery, while the young men were rewarded with beer. A remnant of the previous year's Yule Log was used to light the new log. It was meant to represent protection from evil, and was a surviving remnant of the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice. The log, due to its size and denseness, would burn the entire Twelve Days of Christmas. Once the log had burned down, a remnant was taken and kept for the next year.


The burning of the Yule Log is rarely practiced in today's Christmas festivities. Rather, a Yule Log (a chocolate and cream cake made in the shape of a log) is often made and eaten in modern Christmas celebrations. They are pretty delicious, I must say.

December 18, 2013

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Music

On the fifth day of our Tudor Twelve Days of Christmas, we will discus Tudor-era Christmas Music, Wassailing and Caroling, and the origins of many of our favorite Christmas tunes.

Caroling as we know it is a mostly 19th Century invention. However, it does have its origins in Medieval and Tudor times. Carol, from the original French word carole, roughly means "a circle dance accompanied by singers." Carols and other type songs flourished throughout Tudor times as a way to celebrate and spread the message of Christmas.

Wassailing (not to be confused with the drink Wassail, though they are connected) was a type of "caroling" performed three times a year (Christmas, January 6th/Twelfth Night, and Shrove Tuesday) by local peasants. They would "come a wassailin'" to the Lord's manor, begging charity. These were not normal beggars, but local townspeople who only asked charity on these days. When approaching the manor, they would sing:
"We are not daily beggars that beg from door to door, but we are friendly neighbors whom you have seen before."
A famous Victorian carol is based on Wassailing. It is aptly titled "Here We Come A-Wassailing." A modern performance of an original Medieval wassailing song, The Gloucester Wassail, can be heard here.

An antique Wassail set. These sets were very
popular in the 17th Century, but similar sets
could have been used by wealthy Tudors.
The connection between Wassail (the drink) and Wassailing stems from pagan roots where villagers would make Wassail and sing to the apple trees in the hopes of a fruitful harvest. Wassailing traditionally began with the eating of hot cakes and the drinking of cider or "Wassail" (a brew of cider, brandy, ale and spices drunk hot from a "wassail bowl"). This is followed by a visit to an apple orchard, where the apple trees are "wassailed" to insure a fine crop of apples in the summer. A cake or like-food gift was placed at the foot of the tree and splashed with cider. The revelers would then bang pots and shake the branches to frighten off evil spirits, then sing a special wassail song to the tree.

The wassail procession eventually evolved from its pagan roots in the orchards to a more Christian tradition of asking for alms, then on to a Christmas party who went caroling (or Wassailing), visiting different houses, singing and drinking.

The earliest recorded collection of Christmas carols dates from 1521, published by Wynken de Worde. One of the carols in this collection is The Boars Head Carol. This carol describes the presentation of a boar's head as part of the Yuletide feast. Similarly to us having a turkey or ham as our Christmas dinner centerpiece, so did the wealthy Tudors have a boar's head. Enjoy a version of the carol below:


The Twelve Days of Christmas is one of today's most popular Christmas songs today. Did you know that it originated as a way for Catholic Tudors to share their beliefs secretly with other Catholics? During the reign of Elizabeth I, Catholics were often persecuted, as their Queen and her government were Protestant.


The Twelve Days of Christmas was a way for Catholics to teach their children the tenants of their faith, as well as let other Catholics know they were not alone in their persecution.

Here is a translation of the meanings behind the gifts in the song:

On the first day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, a Partridge in a Pear Tree. "My True Love" represents God, "Me" the baptized believer, and "a Partridge in a Pear Tree" represents Christ.
On the second day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Two Turtle Doves... "Two Turtle Doves" represent the Old and New Testament.
On the second day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Two Turtle Doves... "Two Turtle Doves" represent the Old and New Testament.
On the third day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Three French Hens... "Three French Hens" represent the Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
On the fourth day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Four Calling Birds... "Four Calling Birds" represent the Four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
On the fifth day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Five Golden Rings... "Five Golden Rings" represent the Five Catholic Obligatory Sacraments - Baptism, Communion, Confirmation, Penance, and Last Rites.
On the sixth day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Six Geese a Laying... "Six Geese a Laying" represent the Six Days of Creation.
On the seventh day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Seven Swans a Swimming... "Seven Swans a Swimming" represent the Seven Sacraments.
On the eighth day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Eight Maids a Milking... "Eight Maids a Milking" represent the Eight Beatitudes - days required for Catholics to receive Communion.
On the ninth day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Nine Ladies Dancing... "Nine Ladies Dancing" represent the Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
On the tenth day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Ten Lords a Leaping... "Ten Lords a Leaping" represent the Ten Commandments.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Eleven Pipers Piping... "Eleven Pipers Piping" represent the Eleven Apostles, Excluding Judas.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my True Love gave to Me, Twelve Drummers Drumming... "Twelve Drummers Drumming" represent the twelve points of the Apostles Creed.

Though not originally a Christmas carol, the tune Greensleeves has been adapted as the popular Christmas song What Child is This? Legend has it that Greensleeves was written by Henry VIII about Anne Boleyn. However, many historians doubt this. Despite who wrote it, it is one of my favorite Tudor-era songs. My favorite version of Greensleeves is by Mannheim Steamroller. Listen to it below:


Most Christmas music from Tudor England was religious. Christmas, after all, was one of the most important religious holidays in Tudor England...as it still is today!

December 17, 2013

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Mumming

Day Four of our Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas will focus on Mumming.

Mumming, or Mummer's Plays, was a common entertainment during the Christmas season. Mummers would usually dress in a guise and perform a play, sometimes with a religious allegorical undertone. Common characters in these plays would include Saint George, Robin Hood, a Turkish Knight and Slasher (both opponents of St. George) and later, Father Christmas.

The players would wear costumes which disguised them. They would then go from house to house, or perform in the streets. Mummers would often ask the crowd for money. It was apparently a very lucrative profession, sometimes raising an entire months wages in one night!

Mumming is originally thought to have come to England from Ireland. Like many of our Christmas traditions, it has evolved through time and is still practiced today!

For a little fun, be sure to check out The Onion's news report on Mummers. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Onion, it is a news spoof. I thought their take on mumming was pretty funny. Watch it here.

For a real, modern take on mumming, be sure to check out this video:

December 16, 2013

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Feasting and Drinking

The third day of our Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas brings us to one of the most important aspects of a Tudor Christmas: Feasting and Drinking. I will focus on the some of the most popular foods, including Mince Pies, Meat, and Puddings. I will also discuss some of the most popular drinks of the time, including Wassail, Mulled Wine, Egg Nog, and Buttered Beer, all of which people still drink today!

Feasting


Mince Pies were enjoyed by Tudors from the lowliest peasants to the King and his court. Minced pies were made with thirteen ingredients to represent Christ and his apostles. Often times, pies were shaped like a crib (to represent the Christ child) or decorated with a crib or infant child.

Historians from the Royal Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace have pieced together a recipe for Ryschewys Close and Fryez which is a perfect alternative to Christmas mince pies. Watch this video and visit the Tudor Cookery website for more information on how to make your own Tudor mince pies from Henry VIII's cook.


Meat was the main component of any Christmas feast. For peasants, poultry or game would have to suffice. However for the rich, Swan, Peacock, and a Boar's Head were often eaten. The first Christmas Turkey in England dates from the early 1520's, and was served to none other than King Henry VIII himself. I'm sure he enjoyed the turkey leg in particular.

Though expensive, Queen Elizabeth ordered that every household in England should eat goose as part of their Christmas Feast in 1588, as it was the first meal she enjoyed after the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Needless to say, many of the Queen's poorer subjects had to settle for much smaller and less expensive game.

Presentation was extremely important in Tudor England. When meat, such as swan or peacock, was cooked, the skin and feathers were removed, then replaced once the bird had finished roasting, leaving the bird to look as if it had never been cooked!

Christmas Pudding has been a very popular Christmas treat since the Middle Ages. During this time, the Catholic Church decreed that every household was to serve a pudding made on the 25th. It was to be prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and his 12 apostles, with every family member taking a turn to stir the pudding from east to west, to honor the Magi. Eventually, the tradition fell out of use until George I re-established a Plum-version as part of the traditional Christmas feast. The Victorians further evolved it into more of what we know today.

Here's the link to an excellent Christmas Pudding recipe from Medieval Cookery.

Drinking


Wassail is a drink dating back to Angol-Saxon times. The word Wassail comes from the Saxon greeting "Was Hael," meaning 'Good Health.' It is still drunk today in many parts of Europe and America. 

The drink is made from hot ale, sugar, spices, and apples. A piece of bread or toast is placed at the bottom of the bowl. Once the Wassail has been drunk, the toast is given to the most important person in the room. This is where we get our modern tradition of raising a glass and "toasting" an important guest from. 

I have enjoyed making Wassail for the last few years in my own home. I find it to be a delicious drink that my family and guests enjoy. Here's the recipe I use:

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb of apples, cored and cooked at 375 degrees for 1 hour in a foil covered baking dish. Remove peel when apples have cooled and mash.
  • 1-2 cups light brown sugar (to taste) 
  • 6 bottles of ale (such as double bock) 
  • 1 cup sherry 
  • 1 whole nutmeg, grated 
  • 2 tsp ginger 
  • 1/8 tbsp cloves 
Directions
Dissolve sugar in 1 bottle of ale over a low flame. Add spices and stir. Add remaining ale and sherry and remove from heat. Let sit for several hours, covered. Warm and add mashed apples. I usually garnish the Wassail bowl with apples.

Wassail was served in an elaborate bowl made in the shape of a large goblet. Small goblets or cups made of wood would accompany the bowl, making a Wassail set. Sadly, few Tudor examples survive. The tradition became much more popular during the 17th Century. Many stunning examples of 17th century Wassail bowls are still in existence, and sometimes are for sale (if you have a pretty penny to spend at Christie's)!

Another drink dating from ancient times, and thoroughly enjoyed by the Tudors, is Spiced or Mulled Wine. I love wine, and have enjoyed making this drink for the holiday season.

Spiced wine comes in many forms. The most common form is a red wine, heated and spiced with sugar, cinnamon, orange, and cranberries.

Here is the recipe I use every Thanksgiving and Christmas:

Ingredients:
  • 2 bottles of light red wine (such as pinot noir)
  • 1 to 2 oranges (I squeeze the juice into the pot, then add the orange as well) 
  • 1 to 2 lemons (I only squeeze the juice, then discard the lemon) 
  • 1/2 cup kirsch (a cherry brandy) or other type of brandy 
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar 
  • Cinnamon sticks (to taste- I usually use three to five)
  • 8-10 cloves
  • Optional: Nutmeg and Cardamom to taste
Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a low boil. Let simmer for an hour, then sit for a day or two (in the fridge). Heat up before serving.

Another drink of choice for Henry VIII and his court was Eggnog. Thought to have originated in East Anglia, England, this popular drink is made from eggs, milk or cream, sugar, spices, and alcohol. One possible origin for the mixture was from the old English "Egg Flip" which was a drink made from beer, rum, eggs, sugar, spices, and milk, poured together and heated with a hot poker which caused a frothing effect. The term "Nog" might have originated from the term "noggin," a wooded drinking cup commonly used for alcoholic beverages.

Eggnog was generally only enjoyed by the upper class, as dairy and egg products were expensive and hard to keep fresh. Did you know that the first recorded eggnog made and consumed in the United States was by Captain John Smith's 1607 Jamestown settlement?

Here's a delicious recipe for eggnog:

Ingredients:
  • 8 large eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1.5 cups rum
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp superfine sugar (an instantly dissolving sugar)
Directions:
Mix eggs, yolks, and sugar together (excluding superfine sugar). Pour mixture into sauce pan and heat slowly. Gradually stir in milk. Heat and stir steadily until mixture forms a custard. Pour custard into a large bowl and stir in vanilla, rum, bourbon, and nutmeg. Let mixture cool, then cover and refrigerate for several hours or a day. 30 mins before serving, whip cream and superfine sugar until it forms soft peaks. Fold into chilled mixture until completely mixed, and serve in chilled glasses, garnished with ground nutmeg.

Buttered Beer is another popular holiday drink dating from Medieval times. Though more popular in the UK than the USA (with the exception of Harry Potter fans), it is still a delicious beverage to add to any holiday gathering. The oldest written Buttered Beer recipe dates from 1588 and is as follows:

Ingredients:
  • 3 bottles of a good quality British Ale (not a lager)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 unsalted butter (diced)
Directions:
Slowly pour ale into a pot. Stir in ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Gently heat to a low boil, then let simmer. Gently whip egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Remove pot from heat and mix in whipped egg. Once thoroughly mixed, return to low heat for five mins. Mix in butter, making sure it melts completely. Froth the mixture by gently whisking it. After about 10 mins, remove from heat and let cool to a drinkable temperature. 


Though there are many other holiday drinks, I felt that these were the most popular and delicious of them. Each and everyone, in some form, was enjoyed by the Tudors, and can likewise be enjoyed by you in your own home! Happy drinking!

December 15, 2013

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Decorations

On the second day of our Tudor Christmas, we will discuss Tudor Christmas Decorations.

Tudor Christmas decorations at Trerice.
The familiar sights of lights, Christmas trees, and red bows in our own homes is a far cry from what the people of Tudor times used to decorate their homes. 

Greenery of the season, along with dried fruit, berries, and candles, constituted the bulk of Tudor Christmas decorations. A good example of what a Tudor home would have looked like decorated is seen at Trerice (above). Large bows of green garland are draped over railings and doors, with oranges, covered in decorative patterns using cloves, adorning the table. Hampton Court Palace also has a very good example of Tudor Christmas decorations. Seen in the image to the left, the window centerpiece is a combination of candles, dried oranges, and greenery.

Despite the fact that the Christmas tree did not become popular in England until the reign of Queen Victoria, Christmas trees did exist during the Renaissance.

According to legend, monks in Germany used the "Christmas" Fir tree as a symbol of the trinity. It became popular to have them displayed, especially around Holy Days such as Christmas. The first decorated Christmas tree on record was at Riga, Latvia in 1510.

Legend has it that Martin Luther added the first "Christmas lights" to his Christmas tree. While traveling home one night, he was struck by the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of the trees about him. He took a small tree home and placed candles on it to show his children how the stars would shine all night through the branches of the trees.

One of the most popular decorations in Tudor times was the "Kissing Bough." This hanging decoration was made from woven ash or willow wood, covered in greenery. In the center of the bough was placed a small effigy of the baby Jesus. The bough was hung by the door to the home. Whenever someone visited the home, they were embraced under the bough as a sign of goodwill. This tradition eventually became attached to mistletoe, which was commonly used to make the "Kissing Bough."

Another popular Christmas decoration was the Advent Wreath. The use of the Advent Wreath dates back to the Middle Ages. It served a double purpose; as decoration and as a tool for spiritual preparation for the holy season.

The wreath was made of various evergreens, which symbolized continuous life, formed in shape of a circle, which represented the continuity of God, with no beginning or end. Four candles, representing the 4000 years between Adam and Eve and the birth of Christ, were placed in the wreath. Three of the candles were purple, and one was rose in color. Each had a specific meaning, and would be lit on different nights. The three purple candles symbolized prayer, penance, and good works. The rose candle represented the midpoint of the Advent season.

Decorations were extremely important to the Tudors, just as they are to us today. Decorating marked the beginning and the end of the holiday season. It was considered bad luck to leave Christmas decorations up after Candlemas (Feb. 2).

December 14, 2013

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Lord of Misrule

This holiday season, I am posting an updated version of my Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas series (originally posted on The Tudor Tattler) to get us in the Christmas spirit! I was also honored by Oxburgh House, who have used my research on the twelve days of Christmas in a new exhibit, showing Christmas celebrations throughout time. Read more about this fascinating exhibit here (and visit if you're close!).

In Tudor times, the Twelve Days of Christmas (made popular by the traditional song) actually began on Christmas day and went through New Years to the 6th of January. However, to get into the Christmas spirit, I am going to have our Twelve Days of Christmas lead up to Christmas Day.

The first of twelve traditions I will discuss is the Lord of Misrule.

The start to the Christmas season at the Royal court, and often within towns and villages, began with the appointment of the Lord of Misrule. This "Lord" was generally a peasant who was appointed by the local Parrish. He led the celebrations, presiding over large drinking parties and feasting, including the "Feast of Fools." In this role reversal, the Lord of Misrule mocked the King, ruling in his stead for twelve days. At the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, his rule came to an end and the King "resumed" his duties.

This tradition was passed down for generations until 1512, when Henry VIII abolished it. I suppose he didn't want to share his power with anyone, especially a "fool." When Mary I came to power, she reinstated the tradition, but Elizabeth I abolished it again.

Another form of the Lord of Misrule surrounded Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night was the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and was marked by a large feast. During the feast, a bean was baked into a cake. The person who found the bean became the "Lord of Misrule," and presided over the banquet. Roles were reversed, with the King and nobles becoming "peasants." At midnight, the Lord of Misrule's reign ended and the world returned to normal.

Tomorrow we will look at Tudor Christmas Decorations.

December 9, 2013

Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge: December

Hello Lovely Readers!

This is the last month for the 2013 Reading Challenge. I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by!

As you may remember, one lucky winner will be drawn randomly from those who complete their "goal." This winner will receive several Tudor-related items. I will be posting a list of these prized soon. A separate prize will be given to the person who reads/reviews the most books.

You have until Dec. 30th to get your reviews in and complete your goal. You may post any remaining reviews on this post. On Dec. 31st I will tally up everyone's entries and post them. You will have a few days to review what I've tallied to make sure it is correct. On Jan. 2nd, I will post the winners.

Now back to the present - November's Reading Challenge Summary:

  • Eliza reviewed Amy Licence's In Bed with the Tudors on TTBB.
  • Esther reviewed Queen Elizabeth in the Garden by Thea Martin and Alison Weir's The Life of Elizabeth I on TTBB.
  • Fencing Mom reviewed Tudor: Passion. Manipulation. Murder. The Story of England's Most Notorious Royal Family by Leanda de Lisle on TTBB.

A HUGE thank you to everyone who has participated this year! There have been some amazing books and reviews to grace this blog this year, thanks to you guys! If you have any questions, let me know! Happy Reading :)

December 6, 2013

Tudor Book Blog Review: 'In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn'


I am pleased to be reviewing In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn by Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger today on the Tudor Book Blog, as part of their Virtual Book Tour. This nifty handbook to Anne Boleyn locations grabbed my attention from the first entry. The book is organized in chronological order, covering Anne Boleyn’s:

  • Early Life (including locations in France where Anne spend part of her childhood/teen years)
  • The Courting Years
  • Anne the Queen
  • The 1535 Progress

and ends with a section on Boleyn Treasures. The authors were kind enough to discuss some of these treasures further in a special post here.

The chronological order appeals to me, as I have a running timeline in my head and tend to keep track of facts that way.

Each entry has a quote of some kind, many from contemporary Tudor sources, to start you off. One of my favorites was for Hampton Court Palace. Of course, I am slightly biased as Hampton Court is probably my favorite place on earth. The quote reads:

“This is the most splendid and magnificent royal palace that may be found in England or indeed in any other kingdom. – Jacob Rathgeb, 1592.”

I couldn't agree more!

Windsor Castle as it probably appeared in Tudor times.
Each entry is then followed by a brief history of the place, from its initial building to what remains of it today. Sub sections explaining Anne’s connection generally make up the bulk of each entry, detailing how Anne would have used or known each location. For example, the entry on Windsor Castle, where Anne spent a great deal of time, breaks down into specific rooms. Thus, when one is visiting a location, they can take this book as a guide and find these Tudor-connections that may not be in the average Guide Book. Though Windsor, for example, has changed drastically over the years, the book takes you on a tour of the modern setting, pointing out where Tudor locations once were and how they have been transformed into what they are today. Though much has changed since then, one can use their imagination, and the bits and pieces that survive, to envision how the place would have looked when Anne was there.

Another section that I enjoyed within each entry is the “Authors’ Favorites.” Taking Windsor as my example again, the author discusses one of the most important events of Anne’s life; her elevation as Marquess of Pembroke, which happened at Windsor in 1532. The authors layout where this event happened, and how you can (at least somewhat) stand where Anne once stood, imagining what she might have felt that day.

Each entry ends with a “Visitor Information” section, outlining how one can visit each location, and some of the interesting things one can do there.

Hampton Court Palace
Many locations discussed in the book no longer exist, sadly. However, the authors have researched and discovered a plethora of information about these sites, including any archaeological finds in the area, and information on what the buildings would have looked like. Greenwich Palace is a good example of this. Sadly, this favorite Tudor palace no longer exists. It witnessed many historical events, including the birth of Elizabeth I. Though it no longer stands, the authors are able to give us insight into its remains, archaeological finds at the site, and tidbits of history.

My only gripe with the book is that it does not have an index in the back for quick reference. One must skim the Table of Contents to find particular entries. It isn’t a major problem, just takes a few seconds longer to find things. However, this is honestly the only complaint I have! The ‘Further Reading’ section, however, is a great resource for those who are looking for both primary and secondary sources. I particularly liked the recommended guide books listed in this section.

One of my favorite sections of the book covered the Tower of London. The Tower is not an easy site to visit, as it is a maze of buildings from various time periods. As someone who knows a bit about Tudor history, I found I still got confused while roaming about, and missed a few key places I had hoped to see! This book, which walks you through the grounds, will keep that from happening next time. The most fascinating part of the Tower entry included "Myths" about Anne Boleyn at the Tower, including where she stayed, where she was executed, and the events surrounding her time there. The details and research that went into this book are proven with each entry, causing me to be unable to put it down!

This is one of the most interesting and original Tudor books I've read, and deserves the full Five Tudor Roses!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about places I have visited, imagining myself back there and confirming in my mind what I thought I saw (for example, the ceilings of the "Wolsey Rooms" at Hampton Court), but that the guidebooks didn't really cover. I discovered many new tidbits that I did not know before, and discovered many new places I hope to visit in the future. I will certainly be packing this book, using it to plan my itinerary, and taking it with me to each Tudor place I visit in the future! This is a must read for those who are planning to travel to Tudor-related locations, or who are interested in the history of the locations surrounding Anne Boleyn.

'In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn' Giveaway

I'd like to start off with a huge thank you to Natalie and Sarah for their wonderful research and book! As you will see in my review (which I will post this afternoon), I LOVED this book! I know all of you will as well!



Now, for the moment you've been waiting for. Our winners (who were randomly selected using Random.org) are...

Lynda Breig, whose favorite AB-related place is the Tower of London

and 

Jennifer B, whose favorite AB-related place is Hever Castle

Ladies, please send me an e-mail (everythingtudor "at" yahoo.com) with your mailing address by Dec. 13th to claim your prize!

A huge thank you to all who entered! The Tudor Book Blog hosts some type of giveaway (almost) monthly, so please check back for our next one! Again, thank you to the authors for including us in their tour!

Please check back later today for my review and thoughts on In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn.

'In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn' Authors Guest Post: Boleyn Treasures

Over the last four years, we have researched and documented the many great houses, palaces and castles that have borne silent witness to Anne Boleyn’s dramatic story, and immersed ourselves in the life and times of this remarkable woman. It has been an intense, challenging and often emotional journey but one that has proven to be incredibly rewarding and insightful. We have lived and breathed Anne, and forged a bond that transcends time and space.

Blickling Hall in Norfolk. A Jacobean mansion now sits
on the spot where the manor Anne was probably born
once stood.
We've journeyed with her from her birthplace in Norfolk to her childhood home in Kent. We've braved the English Channel together, our skin bristling with the excitement and nerves the bright-eyed teenager must have felt as she first left English shores for the Continent, and the court of the Archduchess Margaret of Austria. We stood proudly by her side when her many accomplishments secured her a position in the household of the king’s sister, Mary Tudor, in France and remained her stalwart companions for the seven or so years that she served as a lady in waiting to Queen Claude, Francis I’s young wife.

We returned to England and to court with Anne and witnessed her spectacular rise to power, accompanying her to all the grand palaces along the Thames. We took to the open air with her as she trotted across the English countryside for each summer progress, revelled in her many successes and despaired at her heartaches.

We watched elatedly as Anne was crowned Queen of England at Westminster Abbey, fervently prayed with her for a son, before falling in love with her flamed-haired baby girl with the lively eyes. We attended her during her brief queenship, witnessed the bond bloom between mother and daughter, and watched in disbelief as Anne’s world was annihilated.

Not only have we walked in the fallen queen’s footsteps, and documented the buildings associated with her, we’ve searched for other tangible links to her past, and dedicated the last section of our book to those ‘Boleyn Treasures’ not housed in any of the locations covered in the guidebook.

Anne Boleyn's letter to her father, c. 1515.
For the most part, they are things that Anne would have seen or owned, like her first independent letter, written to her father, from the court of the Archduchess Margaret of Austria, where Anne was serving as one of eighteen filles d’honneur. The letter is now housed in the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and can sometimes be seen on display in the exhibition in The Wilkins Room.

Cambridge is also home to another spectacular reminder of Anne and Henry’s relationship. Henry VIII installed a magnificent organ screen in the chapel of King’s College Cambridge early in Anne’s reign, which contains many tantalizing symbols associated with the couple, including Anne’s falcon badge, the king’s badges and the ‘HA’ initials.

The British Library is home to Anne’s illuminated Book of Hours. The manuscript is in two parts; the first was made in Bruges and dates from around 1500, and the second was made in England in the second quarter of the sixteenth century. This manuscript is a real treasure because at some point, during Anne’s ownership, below a miniature of The Annunciation, she wrote a couplet to Henry VIII:

By daly prove you shalle me fynde,
To be to you bothe loving and kynde.

 To which Henry responded:

Si selon mon affection la suficnaire sera voz prieres ne scram yesz opic car je sus Henry Jamays [If you remember my love in your prayers as strongly as I adore you, I shall hardly be forgotten, for I am yours. Henry R. forever].

A page from Anne's Book of Hours.
The manuscript provides a rare glimpse into the private life of Henry and Anne and is one of only a small number of artifacts that survive, inscribed by Anne’s own hand.

Henry, again, emerges as a devoted and ardent suitor in the seventeen love letters he wrote to Anne during their extended courtship. Penned in the king’s own hand —ten in French and seven in English— they, ironically, ended up in the Vatican Library, where they are presently housed but not displayed publicly. It seems likely that they were stolen from Anne and sent to Rome during Henry’s campaign to obtain an annulment of his marriage to his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. Sadly, Anne’s responses have been lost or destroyed.

Another link to Henry and Anne’s romantic past lies in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle: a clock of silver gilt, partly dating to the sixteenth century, believed to have been a wedding gift from husband to wife. It is engraved with Henry and Anne’s initials, intertwined in a lover’s knot, and inscribed with Anne’s motto, ‘The Most Happye.’ The clock is not on public display, however, a replica can be seen on the mantelpiece of the inner hall at Hever Castle.

Not far from Hever, in the Great Hall of Knole House, you can see a pair of cast-iron firedogs (used to hold firewood in position), the tops of which bear the arms of Henry VIII, the initials HR and Anne’s falcon. These were almost certainly royal property and would have been found in the king or queen’s private apartments.

As we have seen, not all artifacts associated with Anne are housed in England. Stored in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow Museum is a section of a valance from a bed hanging decorated with the ‘HA’ monogram and Anne and Henry’s private motif, honeysuckle and acorns. You can read more about it here.

The "Boleyn Cup," said to have once
belonged to Anne.
Whether letters, jewellery, books or portraits, these treasures are immensely valuable, not only because of their age and rarity, but also for their power to transport us back in time. They offer a direct and tangible link between us and the past; between us, and Anne Boleyn.

Part 5 of ‘In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn’ provides a comprehensive list of artifacts associated with Anne Boleyn and includes information on where they are housed and whether or not the public can view them.

Dr Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger co-authors of In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn, published in September 2013. In the Footsteps is a guide book to all the places and artifacts associated with one of England’s most compelling and controversial queens.

Natalie Grueninger is a researcher, writer and educator, living in Australia with her husband and two children. She graduated from The University of NSW in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts, with majors in English and Spanish and Latin American Studies and received her Bachelor of Teaching from The University of Sydney in 2006. Natalie has been working in public education for the last seven years and is passionate about making learning engaging and accessible for all children. In 2009 she created On the Tudor Trail, a website dedicated to documenting historic sites and buildings associated with Anne Boleyn and sharing information about the life and times of Henry VIII’s second wife. To find out more about Natalie’s research and writing visit:
www.onthetudortrail.com
www.nataliegrueninger.com

Sarah is also the author of Le Temps Viendra: a novel of Anne Boleyn, Volumes I and II. Le Temps Viendra is a fictional biography telling the story of Anne’s innocence through the eyes of a modern day woman, drawn back in time, to find herself in the body of her historical heroine as Anne Boleyn’s dramatic story unfolds from triumph to disaster and its final, heart-wrenching conclusion on the scaffold. Volume I was published in 2012, with Volume II due out before the end of 2013. To find out more about Sarah’s research and writing visit:
www.letempsviendra.co.uk
www.facebook/LTViendra.com

Thank you for following our virtual book tour!

 

December 5, 2013

A Yuletide Celebration at Oxburgh Hall

I received a lovely email from the folks at the National Trust for Oxburgh Hall, one of the finest existing examples of Tudor architecture in England. They were kind enough to use some of my research on the Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas in their exhibit. I am reworking my original posts and will post the updated versions here starting Dec. 14th.

Below is more detail about Oxburgh Hall's newest exhibit:

A YULETIDE CELEBRATION AT OXBURGH HALL

Snowy image of Oxburgh Hall, from Oxburgh Hall's official Facebook page.

Friday 20th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd December 11am-4pm.

Normal admission prices apply and car parking is free. Note that admission is free to National Trust members – although you can join on the day and have your admission fee refunded.(Adults £9, Child £4.50, Family £22).

Details can be found here.

From my contact: "...essentially we have a Tudor celebration in the gatehouse and then a timeline through the rest of the house. The downstairs interior of the house is Victorian so we are covering up all the furniture in dust sheets and each room as you walk through will be a display about Christmas celebrations in a different century. As you progress through the rooms, you are going back in time learning about facts and figures about Christmas through the ages until you reach the last few rooms. These are in our Medieval gatehouse (built 1482) and are showrooms shown as bedrooms. We are decorating them in a Tudor style; we have costumed volunteer guides and Minstrels Gallery playing (a group of musicians)."

The gift shop and second-hand bookshop will be open, as will be the tearoom for some turkey rolls, soup, mince pies and drinks. The Estate will also be open to enjoy a walk around the garden and woods. And don’t forget that National Trust membership always makes a fantastic Christmas gift!


Here's the link to Oxburgh Hall's website for more information on this fascinating Medieval/Tudor building!

This exhibit sounds fantastic! If any of you get the chance to see it, please write in about it!

December 3, 2013

December's New Tudor Releases

Non-Fiction

December 3

With the Heart of a King: Elizabeth I of England, Philip II of Spain, and the Fight for a Nation's Soul and Crown by Benton Rain Patterson (Kindle Edition)

Philip II of Spain, the most powerful monarch in sixteenth-century Europe and a ferocious empire-builder, was matched against the dauntless queen of England, Elizabeth I, determined to defend her country and thwart Philip's ambitions.  Philip had been king of England while married to Elizabeth's half-sister, Bloody Mary Tudor, a devout Catholic.  After Mary's untimely death, he courted Elizabeth, the new queen, and proposed marriage to her, hoping to build a permanent alliance between his country and hers and return England to the Catholic fold.  Lukewarm to the Spanish alliance and resolute against a counterreformation, Elizabeth declined his proposal.

When under her guidance England's maritime power grew to challenge Spain's rule of the sea and threaten its rich commerce, Philip became obsessed with the idea of a conquest of England and the restoration of Catholicism there, by fire and sword.  Elizabeth—bold, brilliant, defiantly Protestant—became his worst enemy.

In 1586 Philip began assembling the mighty Spanish Armada, and in May 1588 it sailed from Lisbon.  With superior seamanship and strategies, Elizabeth's navy defeated and drove off the Spanish fleet.  Forced to retreat around the northern coast of Ireland and Scotland, Philip's ships ran into violent storms that wreaked havoc.  It was the rivalry's climactic event.

US Amazon Page


Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir (Hardcover)

Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry’s mother and Elizabeth’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline...


US Amazon Page


December 8

Atlas of Early Modern Britain, 1485-1715 by Christopher Daniell

The Atlas of Early Modern Britain presents a unique visual survey of British history from the end of the Wars of the Roses through to the accession of George I in 1715.

Featuring 117 maps, accompanied throughout by straightforward commentary and analysis, the atlas begins with a geographical section embracing England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and providing clear orientation for the reader. It then focuses separately on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, dividing its coverage of each into four key themes:

  • Geography and Counties – Outlining in detail how Britain’s geography was shaped during the period;
  • Politics and War - the main campaigns, rebellions and political changes in each century;
  • Religion - including denominational concentrations, diocesan boundaries and witch trials;
  • Economy and Culture –charting Britain’s wealthiest towns, the locations of Britain’s houses of aristocracy and the effects of The Great Fire of London

The broad scope of the atlas combines essential longer-term political, social, cultural and economic developments as well as key events such as the Spanish Armada, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution. Its blend of clear visual aids and concise analysis represents an indispensable background and reference resource for all students of the early modern period.

US Amazon Page


December 10


Richard III: From Contemporary Chronicles, Letters and Records by Keith Dockray

No English king has suffered wider fluctuations of reputation than Richard III, perhaps the most controversial ruler England has ever had. Vilified by critics as a ruthless master of intrigue and a callous murderer, he has been no less extravagantly praised by defenders of his reputation against Tudor and Shakespearian charges of tyranny.

Richard III: From Contemporary Chronicles, Letters and Records, by its presentation of contemporary and near contemporary sources, enables the reader to get behind the mythology and gain a more realistic picture of the king. An invaluable collection of the primary sources presented clearly and concisely, it demonstrates just why Richard has remained an enigma for so long. Established as an essential part of the literature on Richard III since its first publication under the title Richard III: A Reader in History, this new edition has been completely revised and considerably expanded to offer an indispensable source book for historians, students and the general reader. Also, this up to date edition includes a chapter in relation to the exciting discovery of Richard III’s skeleton that was found under a car park in Leicester.

The genesis of this book came from a summary guide produced by Keith Dockray for all of his second year undergraduate students. Upon this foundation has been built an accessible and enjoyable history of this fascinating king, as seen by those who knew him at the time. (From Fonthill Media).

US Amazon Page


December 11

The Queen's Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I by John Cooper

Elizabeth I came to the throne at a time of insecurity and unrest. Rivals threatened her reign; England was a Protestant island, isolated in a sea of Catholic countries. Spain plotted an invasion, but Elizabeth's Secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham, was prepared to do whatever it took to protect his queen and country. He ran a network of agents across England and Europe who provided him with information about invasions or assassination plots. He encouraged Elizabeth to make war against the Catholic Irish rebels and oversaw the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.

The Queen's Agent is a story of secret agents, cryptic codes, and ingenious plots, set in a turbulent period of England's history. It is also the story of a man devoted to his queen, sacrificing his every waking hour to save the threatened English state.

US Amazon Page


December 19

The Life of Henry, Third Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare's Patron by Charlotte Carmichael Stopes

Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton (1573-1624) is widely regarded as the subject of Shakespeare's sonnets, and the two narrative poems Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece are both dedicated to him. Originally published in 1922, this book used the limited available material concerning Southampton to provide a biographical account of his life and connections with Shakespeare. The text was written by Charlotte Carmichael Stopes (1840-1929), a renowned Shakespearean scholar, literary critic and campaigner for women's rights. Illustrative figures and addenda are also contained. This book will be of value to anyone with an interest in the life of Southampton, Shakespeare and literary criticism.

US Amazon Page


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Fiction


December 5

His Dark Lady by Victoria Lamb

London, 1583. William Shakespeare has declared Lucy Morgan the inspiration for his work. But what is he hiding from his muse?

Meanwhile, Lucy has her own secrets to conceal. Tempted by love, the lady-in-waiting also bore witness to the one marriage forbidden by the queen.

England is in peril. Queen Elizabeth's health is deteriorating, her throne under siege. She needs a trusted circle of advisors.but who can she turn to when those closest have proved disloyal? And just how secure is Lucy's fate, now she has learned the dangerous art of keeping secrets?

UK Amazon Page

Click the following links to view November's Non-Fiction and Fiction releases.