Thursday, April 30, 2009


I love learning about how food was made in the Tudor period. Here's a great youtube video about the Hampton Court Palace kitchens and how food was cooked there.

"The kitchens of Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace are the largest surviving Renaissance kitchens in Europe. Occupying nearly one third of the ground floor of the Palace, 36,000 square feet they have become internationally famous as the home of Tudor food."

Here's a great article
about what kinds of food Henry VIII served at his court:

Both Anne and Henry were great lovers of fruit, particularly cherries and strawberries. Henry is known to have liked quince marmalade and orange pies. In 1534 his household bought an orange strainer, a sign of how often zingy citrus – then a luxury – made its way into his diet. Damsons and grapes were brought from the gardens at Richmond Palace to Hampton Court. It was Henry who introduced apricots to Britain, planting espaliered trees at the garden of Nonsuch in Surrey. He loved artichokes, too, and employed a Flemish gardener to grow salad vegetables for his table."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Anne Boleyn hairstyle making a come back!

Anne Boleyn hairstyle is apparently making a comeback in the fashion industry. This Tudor hairstyle was part of London Fashion Week, so look for the large furry headband look coming your way soon. Haaa.

"Other Tudor-styles that are set to be massive in the beauty world next season include the loose chignon hairstyle, fixed in place with a pearl hair net and severe centre partings."

Read more:
Beauty Buzz: Anne Boleyn Hair

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Interesting facts about Henry VIII

What you didn't know about Henry VIII:



Henry VIII would have been at home in today’s recession, research from the British Library suggests. As a youngster, Henry spent £2.5 million on capturing a small town from France, Tournai, equivalent to about £5.6 billion today and he died in massive debt. Frittering the State coffers is just the tip of the iceberg. Using evidence from manuscripts, paintings and artefacts on display in a major new exhibition, Henry VIII, Man & Monarch, opening this week, a list of thirteen startling facts has been unearthed.

Henry the hoarder

* By the time he died, Henry owned 50 palaces, a royal record for England. These included Hampton Court, Whitehall Palace (where he died) and St. James’s Palace (where he lay in state).

* Foreshadowing modern day credit crunch and overspending, Henry was a monarch who died in massive debt.

* On display is the Post-mortem inventory of Henry VIII. It lists nearly 20,000 items, including the largest tapestry collection on record, seventy ships and 6,500 handguns.

Henry the lover

* Henry VIII was a happily married man. He was married to Katharine of Aragon for 20 years.

* Henry was a bit of a toy boy: Katherine was 7 years his senior when he married her aged 19 in 1509.

Henry the musician

* He was a keen composer, although he didn’t write Greensleeves as is widely reported, he did however write music such as ‘Pastime with Good Company’ which is on display.

* The music-loving monarch owned 78 recorders, 78 flutes, five sets of bagpipes and a virginal – a type of harpsichord.

Other Henry Facts

* By the end of his life, Henry’s waistline measured four-and-a-half feet round. He was 6ft 2 inches tall.

* He self-medicated – Henry’s prescription book shows methods for treating ulcers, some of them apparently devised by Henry himself. (ff. 43v-44): ‘An Oyntment devised by the kinges Majesty made at Westminster. And devised at Grenwich to take away inflammations and to cease payne and heale ulcers called gray plaster’.

* Henry was terrified of catching the plague, and spent most summers away from London to avoid it. His court painter Holbein was not so lucky, and succumbed to the so-called Black Death in 1543.

* The Bishop of Rochester’s cook, taking vengeance against an ungrateful master, added a toxic herb to a dish and two guests died. Henry ordered that the cook should be boiled alive in his own pot, rather than hanged, and this remained the standard punishment for poisoners for five years.

* As a child Henry had his own ‘whipping boy’ who was punished every time the young Prince did something wrong

* Henry had a remarkable memory and could remember the names of every single servant employed in the Royal households.

From the British Library's Press Release

Visit British Library's Man and the Monarch exhibition blog

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jane Seymour interview

Here is a TV Guide interview with Annabelle Wallis, the actress who plays Jane Seymour on "The Tudors."

Power, Sex and Tragedy: The Tudors' Queen Uncovers Court Life

Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Review: The Other Queen

"The Other Queen" should be called "The Other Piece of Crap" by Philippa Gregory.

Let's start by saying that nothing actually happens in this book. You spend 430 pages waiting with the characters of the book for something to happen. And then you wait some more. And oh- wait- an uprising might happen- score! Finally some action! Oh, wait- just kidding. Never mind. Back to waiting. The only reason I kept reading was because I thought the waiting was leading to something momentous. What a letdown.

This historical fiction by the author of "The Other Boleyn Girl" is about Mary, Queen of Scots and her captivity under the watchful eyes of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his wife, Bess of Hardwick. It is told from all three characters' perspectives, which is great, but incredibly repetitive. The book goes like this:

Mary: "Oh, I'm so pretty and vain and everyone loves me and desires me and one day I will be free from this captivity and rule both England and Scotland instead of my heretic cousin Elizabeth. P.S. Did I tell you I'm really hot?"

George: "I have such honor and dignity and I shall do my duty to serve Queen Elizabeth yet Mary of Scots is so sexy and I want her body. WHAT TO DO?!"

Bess: "I fuckin' hate you all for depleting my fortune because I love money."

The characters are all so one-dimensional and terribly unlikable, even as you're reading from their perspectives. Mary spends the whole book going on and on about how beautiful she is and how she can win any man to her desire, which is not only irritating but it is hard to believe. It would have been nice to see some of her vulnerable side. Obviously we'll never know what actually went on in Mary's head, but she was just a woman with normal insecurities and doubts. Especially all that she had been through- forced abdication, murder of her close advisor and her second husband, rape by her third husband (debatable), being forced to flee to England to her cousin's protection yet not really receiving it- all those were fascinating events that were not really in the book. It seems as if all the exciting events of Mary's life already happened and we only get a glimpse of it through reminiscing.

George Talbot and Bess' relationship was somewhat interesting because they were completely on opposite sides. Bess is clearly loyal to the Queen Elizabeth (and thus William Cecil), and George Talbot just looks like a stupid fool in love with Mary. George is such an idiot that it makes me want to slap him. I felt nothing for his love towards Mary because Mary didn't have any admirable qualities in the book so it makes George look really foolish to want her. I hate that it reinforces a very common male stereotype of a guy who just falls in love with a pretty face and forget everything else that matters.

Bess seems like a woman who would be really interesting to get to know if she wasn't solely talking about money every 5 seconds. Yes, Bess, we get that housing Mary is costing you all your fortune that you worked so hard to get- I get it and can sympathizes, but again, is that all there is to you?!? Boring.

I think it's time to stop writing, Phillipa Gregory. I have read "The Boleyn Inheritance" and "The Constant Princess" and it just seems like you've stopped being able to bring fascinating real people to life. All three of these books had the same theme of repetitiveness and one dimensional characters.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is this what Henry VIII really looked like?

Tudor author and historian Derek Wilson claims that the paintings we see and associate with Henry VIII - the strong magnificent King, with his feet apart and displaying a multitude of power- was all really just propaganda.

The painting was commissioned during a time when Henry needed the most ego boost. At age 45, Henry was getting old, no longer the active youth he use to be, with the ulcer on his leg hindering on his health and attitude. He was growing fat (as shown by the previous blog post regarding his armour). His reign had just suffered a political rebellion from the North containing thousands of his subjects who were unhappy with the dissolution of the monasteries- and worse, he still had no son to show for it all.

I agree with Wilson - it makes sense because we know that a lot of portraits painted at the time were for PR purposes, a prime example being marriage proposals. Anne of Cleves, as we know, looked nothing like her portrait painted for Henry and he was sorely disappointed and unsatisfied with the looks of his fourth wife when he finally met her.

Read more:
Was Hans Holbein's Henry VIII the best piece of propanda ever?

Jousting Accident of Henry VIII turned him into a different man?

There's a great article in the Independent claiming that the jousting accident that caused Henry so much pain in his leg for the rest of his life, was also an incident that turned his entire personality around. According to the History Channel documentary, "Inside the body of Henry VIII", Henry might have also suffered from a brain injury when he fell.

"'We posit that his jousting accident of 1536 provides the explanation for his personality change from sporty, promising, generous young prince, to cruel, paranoid and vicious tyrant," Lucy Worsley [historian and chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces] says. "From that date the turnover of the wives really speeds up, and people begin to talk about him in quite a new and negative way. "After the accident he was unconscious for two hours; even five minutes of unconsciousness is considered to be a major trauma today." Henry may have suffered a brain injury, Dr Worsley says. "Damage to the frontal lobe of the brain can perfectly well result in personality change.'"

To read more:
The jousting incident that turned Henry VIII into a tyrant

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Meet the author of "The King's Rose!"

Tudor History fans of Boston: come meet the author of "The King's Rose", Alisa Libby.

When: Sunday, May 3, 2009
Time: 1-3pm
Where: Cafe L'Aroma, 85 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

If you haven't read the book, no worries! Feel free to come by and talk about Tudor history with fellow friends!

Though well aware of her cousin Anne Boleyn’s fate only four years earlier, 15-year-old Catherine Howard acquiesces with her ambitious, conniving relatives’ plans and marries King Henry VIII. He calls her “my rose without a thorn,” but she is well aware of the thorny secrets she conceals: no virgin when she and the king married, she later begins a sexual liaison at court, partly in a desperate effort to produce an heir. Soon, Catherine begins a downward spiral toward madness and despair. An author’s note separates historical fact from conjecture in this account of Catherine’s short years as Henry’s “rose.” Libby offers a convincing, sympathetic portrayal of a young woman who relinquishes her hopes of marrying for love and finds herself doomed by her choices and deceptions. Hardly an active heroine, Catherine falls into a trap early on and, in the end, has little left but her dignity. This one’s for historical-fiction fans who will appreciate this character study of Henry’s fifth wife.

Henry VIII on Twitter

My, my, isn't technology amazing. You can now be a part of Henry VIII's coronation, exactly the way it was done 500 years ago- on Twitter!

You can follow Henry VIII on twitter (here is his profile page) and he will update the events leading up to the coronation on June 24th. Wowzah!

According to Google Press, "It is believed to be the first time the website has been able to engage users in historical events from the first person perspective, and in real time over the actual period they took place, a spokesman for the charity said."

To read more:
Henry VIII's Coronation on Twitter

Henry VIII tapestry all lite up

Somehow scientists have "restored" a 500 year old tapestry by shining bright beams of light on it in order to display what the original colors would have been like.

According to the Telegraph, "High-definition projectors have now been used to beam two million pixels of different coloured light on to the tapestry"

It is on display at Hampton Court Palace.

Henry VIII's 500-year-old tapestry gets 21st century makeover

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Season Four of "The Tudors" will be its last

ALAS!!! "The Tudors" series will end in 2010. I'm incredibly bummed. My guess is that since this current season will feature wives Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves, season four in its last season will feature the 5th and 6th wives, Kathryn Howard and Catherine Parr? I guess it was too good to be true to think that they would continue the series into other monarchs like Edward and Mary and even Elizabeth. That would be quite a long ass show, I suppose.

Showtime Picks up Fourth and Final Season of "The Tudors"

An account of Anne's trial is now avaliable online

The National Archives is currently exhibiting an impressive online display of primary sources from Henry VIII's life. Documents pertaining to his political and personal life is right here for you to study for yourself. It's absolutely fabulous for those who cannot be there to see it for themselves.

This includes an account of Anne's trial in 1536, which includes accusations of her alleged incest with her brother, George Boleyn. Click here to read article.

The National Archives: Henry VIII

House of Tudor stamps/coins

With all this Henry VIII 500th anniversary hoopla going on, so many stamps and collectibles are popping up everywhere! I'll try and post as many as I can find:

You can get these two covers at Buckingham Covers.

This one below you can purchase for 15 pounds at Bletchley Park Post Office.

New stamp issue to mark House of Tudor anniversary - an article about the stamps, pictured below. Head over to The Royal Mail online website to purchase these stamps and a variety of stamp covers.

Not stamps, but coins! Tudor Coin Cover

Anne Boleyn exhibition opens

Blickling Hall, a former home of the Boleyn family, is having an exhibition that celebrates 100 years since "The Masque of Anne Boleyn" was performed. "The Masque of Anne Boleyn" was a play that reenacts the events of Anne's life that lead up to her marriage with Henry.

The exhibition has original scripts, programs and costumes worn by the actors on display.

Fascinating Anne Boleyn exhibition opens

Mamma's Boy

Starkey argues that Henry VIII was "emotionally dependent on woman" and that's why he was always falling in and out of love with women.

"Unlike most early modern princes the Tudor monarch was brought up in a feminine household and was almost certainly taught to write by his mother, analysis shows. This upbringing shaped Henry's "emotionally incontinent" personality, leading him to fall and love with – and marry – so many women, Starkey claims."

I guess that's one theory. Don't get me wrong, I love David Starkey, but at the same time, sometimes I think he is is full of shit.

I don't know if I buy this theory of his because if Catherine of Aragon just gave him a son, none of the other 5 wives would have happened. I doubt the whole reformation would have gone the way it did if he just had a baby boy to inherit the throne.

Henry VIII emotionally dependent on woman

So he's not just a cold-hearteded bastard who killed his wife

Well, not that I think Henry was always a cold-hearted bastard, but I do think he was a rather moody spoiled man who got everything his way. But I am always fascinated by his infatuation towards Anne because it went on for so many years, and I love reading his love letters to her.

He writes, "Henceforth my heart will be dedicated to you alone, and wishing that my body was so too."

Article below:

Henry VIII's love letter to Anne Boleyn reveals tender side

Henry VIII's armour reveals he was no small man

Research shows that Henry VIII started to swell in size as he got older.

His body, I mean.

A 52 inch waist!!

"It found that by the end of his reign the 6ft 1in Tudor king had a whopping 52in waist and 53in chest - enough to make him severely obese by modern standards."

Article below:
King Size! Henry VIII

Henry VIII's love letters to Anne Boleyn avaliable online

Henry VIII's love letters are avaliable to be viewed online!

It is avaliable at State Papers Online