On this day in 1443 – Margaret Beaufort was born

Margaret Beaufort is considered the matriarch of the Tudor dynasty who worked tirelessly to put her son, Henry, on the throne but her life was not always that easy. She was born on 31st May 1443 at Bletsoe Castle, Bedfordshire to Margaret Beauchamp and John Beaufort. Margaret’s father was the great grandson of King Edward III through his third son, John of Gaunt and his mistress (and later wife) Katherine Swynford.

Margaret Beaufort

Upon Margaret’s first birthday, with her father dead and Margaret now a wealthy heiress, her wardship was given to William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk. It was here that her first marriage was arranged to William’s son John de la Pole, it is unsure whether this was a marriage or just a betrothal between the two young children. It is believed that the betrothal/wedding took place in 1444 but just three years later King Henry VI dissolved the union and Margaret’s wardship passed to Jasper and Edmund Tudor.

Henry VI arranged for Margaret to be married to his half brother, Edmund Tudor and on 1st November 1455 at the age of 12 she married the 24 year old Edmund. After less than a year of being married Edmund was taken prisoner by Yorkist troops and was imprisoned at Carmarthen Castle dying from the plague months later. He left Margaret a widow at the age of 13 and seven months pregnant.

On 28th January 1457 at Pembroke Castle Margaret gave birth to her son, Henry Tudor, in a labour that jeopardised the life of both mother and child. It is believed that she was too young and too slim to withhold the traumas of labour and it is likely this damaged her ability to have further children. Margaret and her new son remained in Pembroke until the castle was given to Lord Herbert of Raglan, a Yorkist. Margaret was son separated from her son who remained in Wales and eventually exiled to France for many years until he returned to win the throne at the Battle of Bosworth.

Margaret, now 14, was married to Sir Henry Stafford on 3rd January 1458 due to the couple being second cousins a Papal dispensation was required before they could marry which was granted on 6th April 1457. In 1471 Stafford was fatally wounded at the Battle of Barnet and although he returned to his home he died, leaving Margaret a widow again at the age of 28.

A year later in 1472, Margaret married Thomas Stanley in a marriage of convenience. The marriage allowed Margaret to return to the York court of Edward IV and later Richard III. She served both Elizabeth Woodville and Anne Neville in their roles as Queen. Despite the close position to Queen Anne, Margaret was under constant suspicion regarding her son who was considered the Lancastrian heir to the throne. As such King Richard III stripped Margaret of all titles and estates and placed her into the custody of her husband.

During her time under house arrest Margaret was in contact with the Dowager Queen allegedly plotting the downfall of King Richard III. Following the death of the Princes in the Tower the two women agreed that Henry would marry Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of King Edward IV.

Henry Tudor landed in Dale, Wales in 1485 and marched towards King Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth where Henry was victorious. Margaret was now the mother to the King of England, a position she had fought for since Henry was a child.

In 1499, with the permission of Stanley, Margaret took a vow of chastity in the presence of the Bishop of London. Margaret moved away from her husband and lived at Collyweston although her husband visited her she renewed her vows in 1504.

Margaret helped establish many new schools including in 1502 the Lady Margaret’s Professorship of Divinity at Cambridge University. In 1505 Margaret enlarged and renamed God’s Church, Cambridge as Christ’s College, Cambridge, here a copy of her signature can still be found carved into one of the buildings.

With Henry now on the throne Margaret was referred to as ‘My Lady the King’s Mother’ and during Henry’s first parliament he passed an act that would allow her to hold property independently from her husband. Despite Henry’s marriage to Elizabeth of York, Margaret styled herself as Queen Consort and spent many hours with Henry ruling the country. She also began signing her name Margaret R in order to show her royal significance.

When Henry VII died on 21st April 1509 he made his mother chief executor of his will and she not only arranged her son’s funeral but also her grandson’s coronation. However, just months later on 29th June 1509 Margaret herself died in the Deanery of Westminster Abbey. She is buried in the Henry VII Lady Chapel of the Abbey despite her will requesting for her to be buried with her son’s father, Edmund Tudor.

Margaret-Beaufort-effigy

Margaret Beaufort’s influence can still be seen in modern Britain her heraldic badge can be seen across Westminster and Parliament.

Beaufort Portcullis

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On this day in 1536 – the wedding of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour.

On 30th May 1536 just 11 days after the death of his second wife, Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII married Jane Seymour. The couple were married in the Queen’s Closet at York Palace. In preparation for the service the former Queen’s falcon emblems were quickly replaced with a phoenix and Jane’s initials laid over Anne’s, it was done in such hurry that if you look carefully at Hampton Court Palace you can still see some A’s under the J’s.

According to David Starkey the wedding vows would have been spoken by the King first followed by Jane and they would have been similar to the following;

“I, Henry, take thee to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, and thereto I plight thee my troth.”

Jane’s vows would have been the same but with the added line promising to be ‘bonny and buxom in bed and board.’

The wedding remained secret for a few days and Jane was gradually introduced as the new Queen.

Sir John Russell wrote to Lord Lisle;

“On Friday last (2nd June) the Queen sat abroad as Queen, and was served by her own servants, who were sworn that same day. The King came in his great boat to Greenwich that day with his privy chamber, and the Queen and the ladies in the great barge.”

Henry granted 104 manors in four counties along with forests and hunting chases. He also gave his new wife a Hans Holbein designed gold cup that combined the King and Queen’s initials along with Jane’s motto of ‘bound to obey and serve.’

Jane was the only wife to give Henry the one thing that he desired, a son. Although it cost her her life in doing so.

marriage deed                               The marriage deed for Jane Seymour and Henry VIII

On this day in 1555 – George Carew was born

George Carew was born on 29th May 1555 to the Dean of Windsor, Dr George Carew and his wife Anne. Carew attended Broadgates Hall, Oxford and later Pembroke College between 1564 an 1573.

Carew entered into the service of the crown’s base in Ireland in 1574 and served under his cousin, Sir Peter Carew. The following year saw Carew volunteer to join the army of Sir Henry Sidney and in 1576 Carew for a few months fulfilled the role of Captain of the Garrison at Leighlin and was also appointed the Lieutenant Governor of County Carlow as well as the Vice Constable of Leighlin Castle.

With a successful career in the army in 1578 Carew was made Captain in the Royal Navy and began a voyage with Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Carew successfully helped put down the Baltinglas and Desmond rebellions and was later appointed Constable of Leighlin Castle after the death of his brother.

In 1580 Carew married Joyce Clopton, daughter of William Clopton from Stratford upon Avon. The couple had no children although he had one illegitimate child, Sir Thomas Stafford.

Carew’s success meant that Queen Elizabeth I held him in high regard, as did Sir William Cecil and his son, Robert. Carew began receiving many posts with the court starting in 1582 when he was appointed a gentleman pensioner to the Queen and the following year High Sheriff of Carlow.

Carew was knighted in Christ Church, Dublin on 24th February 1586 by Lord Deputy, Sir John Perrot and petitioned the court on many government issues from Ireland. Carew returned to Ireland in 1588 to become Master of the Ordnance, after turning down an ambassadorship to France. Carew would hold the role of Master of the Ordnance until 1592 when he became Lieutenant General of Ordnance.

In May 1596 Carew was part of the expedition to Cadiz and in 1597 to Azores. In March 1599 Carew was appointed Treasurer at War to the Earl of Essex during his Irish campaign but when Essex abandoned his post to return to England, leaving Ireland undefended, Carew was appointed Lord Justice.

At the tip of the nine year war Carew was granted the post of President of Munster on 27th January 1600 and landed at Howth Head in February with Lord Mountjoy. In his role of President and he was able to impose martial law. In his role Carew was involved in many events including when the Earl of Ormond was seized and Carew and the Earl of Thomond escaped under the rain of daggers.

When Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 Carew was faced with with civil disorder as towns that fell under his jurisdiction refused to accept King James I as the new King of England. In Cork riots broke out and Carew had to send troops to restore order to the town.

In 1604, under the reign of King James I, Carew was elected as a Member of Parliament for Hastings and on 4th June 1605 he was created Baron Carew of Clopton. Carew was able to leave Ireland behind for a while but regularly checked in with the progress of the country, he was pleased to see that Ireland was improving and offered suggestions on how to keep it moving forward as a Protestant country.

In 1616 Carew was appointed a Privy Councillor and in 1618 he pleaded to King James I for the life of Sir Walter Raleigh, who was accused of being a Spanish spy and denouncing the rule of King James I.

Carew remained at court when King Charles I took the throne and was appointed Treasurer to Queen Consort Henrietta Maria of France and on 5th February 1626 he was created Earl of Totnes.

Carew died on 27th March 1629 at The Savoy and he was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon on 2nd May.

George Carew

On this day in 1509 – Edward Courtenay died

Edward Courtenay was born to Sir Hugh Courtenay and Margaret Carminow whose family were loyal to the Lancastrians and also the Tudors.

Edward Courtenay was one of Henry Tudor’s companions whilst he was in exile in France and he also fought alongside Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth. During his time in France Courtenay acted as a courier between France and England in the 1480’s and sought patronage of Margaret Beaufort.

In 1471 at the Battle of Tewkesbury Edward’s cousin once removed, John Courtenay, 7th Earl of Devon was killed and the Earldom expired as John Courtenay had no children. With the Earldom was no longer bestowed on anyone the newly crowned King Henry VII created Edward the new Earl making him the 1st Earl of Devon on 26th October 1485. At King Henry’s coronation Edward was given the honour of carrying the second sword in the procession.

Courtenay married his distant cousin, Elizabeth Courtenay and they went on to have one son, William, whose son was beheaded in 1539 alongside Margaret Pole for allegedly plotting to place Reginald Pole upon the throne.

Edward had a fairly quiet life away from court. He fought at the Battle of Stoke in 1487 and led a retinue of 99 men in France. In 1494 Edward was inducted into the Knight of the Garter, a prestigious honour granted to few men.

Edward was an influential courtier and ruled much of Devon on behalf of the crown. The county remained loyal to the Tudors and gathered men from Devon and East Cornwall to try to stop the imposter Perkin Warbeck. Edward defended the city of Exeter from the rebels and although wounded the rebels eventually disbanded.

Edward made his will on the 27th May 1509 and it is believed that he died the following day on the 28th May. In his will he requested to be buried in Tiverton chapel next to his wife. Edward had left his son William in line for the Earldom but on the condition that William obtained the King’s pardon. William had been imprisoned since 1502 and was under attainder since 1504.

Edward Courtenay monument

On this day in 1541 – Lady Margaret Pole was executed

Margaret Pole was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and Lady Isabel Neville making Margaret niece to both King Edward IV and King Richard III. Margaret would have had a claim to the English throne had it not have been for the attainder passed against her father after he was executed for treason.

During King Richard III’s reign Margaret and her brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, were kept at Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire until Richard was defeated by the hands of Henry Tudor’s army at the Battle of Bosworth. After this Margaret’s brother was taken into the Tower of London only to be seen once in 1487 before he was eventually killed as he was considered a rival to the throne and the focus of the rebels cause. Margaret, however, was married of to Henry’s cousin Sir Richard Pole in an attempt to make her forgotten by marrying her to a lowly courtier.

Sir Richard Pole was created Chamberlain for Arthur Tudor, Henry’s eldest son and when Arthur married Katherine of Aragon Margaret was one of her ladies in waiting. The Pole’s would be at Ludlow Castle until Arthur died in 1502 and Richard was put in charge of the Welsh Marches.

Sir Richard and Margaret Pole had five children when Richard died in 1504 and with the death of her husband Margaret was left with limited land and no income and so Henry VII paid for Sir Richard’s funeral to help ease the financial burden. Also to help her family Margaret arranged for one of her sons, Reginald, to enter the Church. Reginald’s relationship with his mother was to be strained after this and he had a career that eventually led him to be Archbishop of Canterbury during Mary I reign.

With Henry VIII coming to the throne after the death of his father Margaret was again appointed a lady in waiting to his new wife and Margaret’s former lady, Katherine of Aragon. Henry was very favourable to Margaret and restored some of her brother’s lands to her at the cost of 5000 marks. She was restored the lands of the Earl of Salisbury making her one of only two ladies in England to be a peer in her own right and by 1538 Margaret was the fifth richest peer in England.

Margaret’s other children became favoured by the new King, her eldest son Henry was created Baron Montagu and her second son Arthur was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. Margaret’s daughter, Ursula, married Henry Stafford and her youngest son, Geoffrey, married the daughter of Sir Edmund Pakenham.

Margaret’s favour continued when she was made Princess Mary’s Governess and she remained loyal to Mary. When Mary was declared illegitimate and her household was broken apart Margaret asked to remain with Mary at her own cost, a request that was turned down. Even the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, suggested to the King that Mary was kept with Margaret again Henry refused calling Margaret ‘a fool, of no experience’.

The Plantagenet name remained a strong name in England and when Henry began to turn away from Rome the north began to rise and the Pole name, in particular Reginald, was a name that the rebels would march behind. Henry began investigating the rebels and Sir Geoffrey was arrested after being found communicating with Reginald. Under interrogation Geoffrey admitted that Lord Montagu and his mother as well as Henry Courtenay had all corresponded with Reginald as well. They were all arrested in Novemnber 1538.

January 1539 saw Geoffrey pardoned and released but Lord Montagu and Henry Courtenay were executed on the charge of treason. All those arrested were attainted this included Montagu and Courtenay who were already dead. As part of the evidence for the attainders Thomas Cromwell had produced a tunic worn by the Pilgrimage of the Grace that bore the symbol of the Five Wounds of Christ. This was enough for Henry to condemn his mother’s cousin to death.

Margaret Pole and her grandson, Henry and Courtenay’s son were held in the Tower of London where they would remain for the next two and a half years. On the morning of 27th May 1541 Margaret was informed that she was to executed within the hour and prepare herself. Her execution is remembered as being one of the most horrific. A block was prepared and 150 witnesses were there to see the former Countess of Salisbury die. Margaret was dragged and forced to place her head on the block and the executioner took his first swing, missing Margaret’s neck completely and hitting her shoulder. It allegedly took a further 10 blows before Margaret died. She was later laid to rest in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London.Margaret Pole

On this day in 1536 – Lady Mary writes to Thomas Cromwell

With the execution of Anne Boleyn a week earlier on the 26th May 1536 the Lady Mary wrote to her father in order to repair their relationship. Mary had always blamed Anne for the breakdown of her parent’s marriage and the treatment of her mother and herself after the divorce. Mary wrote to Thomas Cromwell asking for him to intercede on her behalf. The letter is badly damaged and only fragments of it now survive but some of it reads as follows;

“Master Secretary,

I would have been a suitor to you before this time to have been a mean for me to the King’s Grace to have obtained his Grace’s blessing and favor; but I perceived that nobody durst speak for me as long as that woman lived, which is now gone; whom I pray our Lord of His great mercy to forgive.” Is now the bolder to write, desiring him for the love of God to be a suitor for her to the King, to have his blessing and leave to write to his Grace. Apologises for her evil writing; “for I have not done so much this two year and more, nor could not have found the means to do it at this time but by my lady Kingston’s being here.

Hunsdon, 26 May.”

The letter to Cromwell did not work as Mary planned and Henry VIII continued to be hostile to Mary until she the oath that declared Henry the Supreme Head of the Church and that the marriage between Henry and Katherine of Aragon was never valid.

Mary

On this day in 1553 – Lady Jane Grey and Guilford Dudley were married.

On 25th May 1553 Lady Jane Grey was married to Guilford Dudley. Jane would have been around 16 years old at the time of her wedding and although there is no exact birth year for Guilford it is believed he was around the same age.

The wedding was attended by almost all English nobility with the exception of the King, who was ill and unlikely to live. The marriage was partly of convenience with the King dangerously ill; John Dudley feared that his position would be in danger if either Mary or Elizabeth took the throne so he moved to secure his position. The Dudley’s and Grey’s moved to arrange the marriages of their children. With Jane having a strong claim to the throne the Dudley’s arranged to marry her to their only unwed child, Guilford.

At the same time a two offer weddings took place between Katherine Dudley and Lord Henry Herbert and Lady Katherine Grey and Lord Henry Hastings. Each couple were dressed in silver and gold during the ceremony, as the weddings were rushed the outfits were borrowed from the Master of the Wardrobe.

In a letter from Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor it was written;

“On the 25th of this month were celebrated the weddings of my Lord Guilford, son of the Duke of Northumberland, to the eldest daughter of the Duke of Suffolk; of the Earl of Pembroke’s son to the second daughter; and the Earl of Huntingdon’s son to the daughter of the Duke of Northumberland. The weddings were celebrated with great magnificence and feasting at the Duke of Northumberland’s house in town.”

With the death of King Edward VI, Jane was proclaimed Queen in place of Mary and was taken to the Tower of London to prepare for her coronation alongside her husband. Jane was unwilling to take the crown and was noted as saying; ‘The crown is not my right, and pleaseth me not. The Lady Mary is the rightful heir’.

Jane, Guilford and her family were all arrested upon Mary’s arrival in the city and imprisoned in the Tower of London where they awaited trial and eventually the executioner’s block. Jane would be known as the nine day Queen.

Jane Grey and Guilford Dudley