Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rare tiles unearthed at Surrey Palace

Rare Valencian tiles have been unearthed at Surrey Palace, a castle once belonging to Henry VII.

"A spokeswoman for the authority said: "The teams uncovered walls of the Palace of Henry VII, Henry VIII and Elizabeth, and evidence for earlier medieval buildings.

"The most exciting finds were rare Valencian tiles which were made in Valencia, Spain. They have only been found in a few other locations across the UK, according to the archaeologists working at the dig site.""

Read full article

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sodomy Laws: Henry VIII

Found this article about how Sodomy laws originated from Henry VIII's reign:

Henry VIII (1491-1547), the most handsome man in all of Christendom, tried for some years to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn. A spectacular and violent struggle between the English monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church thus ensued, culminating in Henry VIII being excommunicated by the Pope in 1530. In 1531, Henry VIII became the supreme head of the Church of England. And in 1533, he married Anne Boleyn — never mind that he would have her beheaded three years later.

1533 was an interesting year, though, because it was then also that Henry saw to the passing of England's Buggery Act, amid all the political and religious intrigue. Up to 1533, there were no parliamentary laws outlawing homosexuality, except for what was contained in a few medieval commentaries on English common law, such as this one: "Those who have dealings with Jews or Jewesses, those who commit bestiality, and sodomists, are to be buried alive after legal proof that they were taken in the act, and public conviction."

Under Henry VIII, what was once the domain of ecclesiastical punishment became a parliamentary matter. Sodomy, or buggery as it was referred to then, became a capital offence. In fact, Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury, became the first person to be executed under the law in 1540, although it is interesting to note that Sir Walter was in fact implicated in an insurrection against the king.

To read more

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is this Mary Tudor?

This is the most interesting article from Times online: (I am copying and pasting because it's so fascinating!)

Is this Mary Tudor, England’s Catholic queen who has gone down in schoolroom history as Bloody Mary?

If it is, as some scholars believe, the painting could make a virtuous circle to delight the heart of a Home Counties Jesuit parish priest. “It could be a small miracle,” says Canon Timothy Russ. And the secrets it contains could also bear new witness to the torrid religious politics of the mid-16th century.

Canon Russ is prepared to sell the painting he inherited in order to rescue Sawston Hall, near Cambridge, the 16th-century home of the recusant Huddleston family, and turn it into a Catholic heritage centre and refuge.

After the death of her brother Edward VI in July 1553, Mary Tudor was pursued by Robert Dudley, son of the chief minister, the Duke of Northumberland. She took refuge at Sawston and was smuggled away as her pursuers closed in. Dudley burnt the house down and Mary promised to rebuild it for the Huddlestons, and she was true to her word.

After her death in 1558 Sawston became a safe house for persecuted Catholic priests. The family remained there until 1980 when Sawston Hall was left by Canon Russ’s great-uncle to a cousin and it was eventually sold to a developer whose plans foundered. It is now for sale at £5 million.

But the contents, including the portrait, had been left to Canon Russ. The painting, oil on panel, is an unsigned full-length portrait of a lady, in black and wearing no jewellery. Tests on the panel in the 1970s date it to the 1550s, and it has been attributed to William Scrots, the court painter who succeeded Holbein. It was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1956 and firmly ascribed as Mary I, but since then the identity has been doubted. Exhibited at the Tate in 1969-70 in an exhibition curated by Sir Roy Strong, the title was downgraded to Called Mary I, and by the Tate’s Destinies exhibition 1995 it had become A Lady in Black.

This year it was seen by Dr Tarnya Cooper, 16th-century curator at the National Portrait Gallery. “We concluded that while it is undoubtedly a very interesting and important painting, it cannot represent Mary I mainly because of facial dissimilarity with other authentic portraits of her. It is more likely to be a member of the nobility, possibly from within Princess Mary’s circle,” she said.

Sir Roy Strong, former director of the NPG and an authority on Tudor portraiture, is a patron of the charity set up to save Sawston. He said he has never been convinced that the portrait is of Mary, “and I have seen nothing to change my mind. The mid-16th century was a very dark time and it is extremely difficult to be certain.” But Professor Jack Scarisbrick, the Tudor and Catholic scholar, says it is too grand a portrait to be of anyone but royalty. “There was nobody outside the royal family important enough for such a lavish full-length painting — and if it is isn’t Mary, who is it? Nobody else fits the bill,” he said.

So convinced is Linda Porter, the author of a recent biography of Mary Tudor, of the sitter that she used the image on the cover of her book. “I’m certain it’s Mary,” she said. “It was quite fashionable in the last decades of the 20th century to question the identity of sitters in several well-known Tudor portraits, but some of this scepticism has now come full circle — the portrait of Katherine Howard that was questioned at this period is now thought to, indeed, be her. My own view is that family traditions are very often reliable. Plus which, to me at least, it looks like her.”

There are, she says, distinct similarities in other verified portraits of the queen, such as the one by Antonio Moro of the 1550s, now in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

But Canon Russ has identified more in the painting than the portrait. It is a puzzle picture, with secret messages in the background. The ruins, painted in blood red, behind the sitter could denote the Reformation destruction of Catholic churches and proscripton of priests; a head to her right showing a triple crown tumbling off it could be the rejection of the Pope; to her left, there appear to be several profiles, at least one of which could be Henry VIII; and at the foot of the column to her left appears what could be a baby in swaddling.

This, he and Professor Scarisbrick, who is also a patron of the Sawston appeal (with Cardinal Cormack Murphy O’Connor and the Archbishop of Canterbury), believe to be the crucial clue, representing the new-born Edward who superseded her in line to the throne.

The sitter could be in mourning for Edward’s mother, Jane Seymour, who died giving birth, explaining the lack of jewellery, of which Mary was fond. She dangles what seems to be a watch, the thief of time. However, this would date the painting to much earlier: Edward VI was born and his mother died in October 1537, when Mary had been seriously ill and only recently restored to her father’s favour.

Which, says Canon Russ, suggests another surprise: could it be by Holbein himself? He died in 1543 and his most famous puzzle painting is The Ambassadors of 1533, but the suggestion is rejected by Strong who says it is not in Holbein’s style.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The White Queen

The White Queen, the new book by Phillipa Gregory, comes out today!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More podcasts

Henry VIII talks at Hampton Court Palace - listen now!

Between May and October of this year...

A public lecture series hosted in the magnificent Great Hall, in association with History Today

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Henry VIII podcasts!

Listen to these podcasts about Henry VIII!

Topics including:

The fall of Anne Boleyn
Inner Life of Henry VIII
Henry's Great Bible
Field of Cloth and Gold
Henry's music and maps

Alison Weir, David Starkey, Phillipa Gregory are just a few people you can hear speak about these topics.

Go here:
Henry VIII Podcasts

Monday, August 10, 2009

Whoso List to Hunt by Thomas Wyatt

Found an article talking about the poem that Wyatt probably wrote about Anne Boleyn.

Whoso List to Hunt

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,

But as for me, alas, I may no more;

The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,

I am of them that furthest come behind.

Yet may I by no means my wearied mind

Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore

Fainting I follow; I leave off therefore,

Since in a net I seek to hold the wind.

Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,

As well as I, may spend his time in vain.

And graven with diamonds in letters plain,

There is written her fair neck round about,

'Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,

And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.'

More info about Wyatt and this poem

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Save the oak tree!

I love "historic" trees! I love how British tree experts have identified the 4,500 of the oldest trees in the hunting forest of Savernake.

And why is this awesome? Because Henry VIII is said to have courted Jane Seymour under one of these trees. (Click on this image to read).

This is the very exciting tree, it's kinda gross looking: (but huge!)

This reminds me of the oak tree at Hatfield, where Princess Elizabeth is said to have received the news of her accession. The original oak tree is dead, but Queen Elizabeth II planted another one in its place. I took this photo after dragging my friend around the large acres of Hatfield trying to find this damn tree (she thought I was crazy):

But it was worth it, and I was a total dork and even said out loud, "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes." Hahaha. Yay.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Meet the Tudors at Donington le Heath Manor House

This Saturday and Sunday August 8th and 9th...

If you live in the UK.


Click here to read more