The condemnation of the putain

Today in History: 15th May 1536 – the trial of Anne Boleyn On the morning of 15th May 1536, Jane Seymour – affianced to the King of England – busied herself with wedding preparations from her new lodgings in Chelsea. Her predecessor – although not yet quite ‘pre’ enough for Henry’s taste – prepared herself […]

Hoping shortly to receive you in these arms

In May 1536 the court – perhaps even the whole of London – was uneasy and twitchy. Their Queen was imprisoned in the Tower, accused of fearful things, her trial set for the 15th of May. Things were never to be as they were before. King Henry – one way or another – was going […]

Eltham Palace

As originally hosted here, at The Tudor Cafe. Eltham Palace, in Greenwich, South East London, was the childhood home of Henry VIII, his sisters and younger brother. Sadly, the original medieval house is all but gone, the current building dating from the 1930s. The impressive, timber-roofed Great Hall – built by Edward IV in the […]

From the Lady in the Tower: 6th May 1536

Today in History: 6th May 1536 On this day in 1536, tradition holds that Anne Boleyn wrote her husband a desperate letter. In a state of limbo – her trial was not to be held until May 15th – perhaps she thought that she could still stop the tide, secure her daughter’s legitimacy, her brother’s […]

Shakespeare and his two wives

It’s an intriguing prospect. Was Will Shakespeare – whose fame to facts known ratio must be one of the most off-skew – a secret bigamist? In November 1582, William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, a woman from Shottery, a small village just outside of Shakespeare’s native Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare was a strapping eighteen year old; Anne Hathaway […]

Some deep and difficult question

Today in History: 30th April 1536   Today – April 30th – in 1536, Anne knew she was in trouble. Summoning up the fight and the spark that had attracted Henry to her a decade before, Anne went to him carrying their daughter, the infant Princess Elizabeth, who was staying with them during Eastertide. We […]

Dead Men’s Shoes

Today in History: 29th April 1536 On this day – 29th April – in 1536, the normally quite savvy Anne Boleyn made two fatal blunders. Perhaps her slip in poise was a sign of her rising unease and growing panic..? When Anne saw her favourite musician, Mark Smeaton, gazing morosely out of the window of […]

Entirely beloved..?

Today in History: 25th April 1536 On this day – 25th April – in 1536, Anne Boleyn was already on borrowed time. She may have had an inkling; the devastating bearing of a stillborn male fetus in the January of the previous year, her recent falling out with the influential Thomas Cromwell, and Henry’s growing […]

The Queen in cloth of gold

Today in History: 11th April 1533 Today – 11th April – in 1533 was Good Friday. On this day, Henry VIII appeared before his Royal Council and told them plainly that he had married the Marchioness of Pembroke – the Lady Anne Boleyn – and that henceforth she was to be recognised as Queen of […]

Hidden historical heroines (#26: Penelope Rich)

Penelope Rich, aka Penelope Blount, Countess of Devonshire (January 1563 – 7 July 1607) was a prominent English noblewoman during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. She was the sister of Elizabeth’s “toyboy favourite”, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex and scandalised her contemporaries with her extra-marital activities. Penelope Devereux was born in 1563, […]