On this day in 1540 – Thomas Cromwell wrote a second letter to King Henry VIII from the Tower of London

On 30th June 1540 Thomas Cromwell wrote to King Henry VIII from the Tower of London, where he was being held prisoner, asking for mercy. Cromwell was being charged with treason and heresy but also Henry was dissatisfied with Cromwell over the disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves, which Cromwell had arranged.

Thomas Cromwell’s letter was long and detailed in the hope that Henry would show some compassion to his former aide;

Most mercyfull king and most gracious souerayng lorde may hit please the same to be aduetysyd that the laste tyme it pleasyd your bening doodnes, to send unto me the right honourable lorde Chaunceler the Right honourable Duke of Norffoke and the lord admyrall to examine and also to declare to me dyuers things from yowr magestye amongist the which one specyall thing they movyd and theruppon chargyd me as I woolde answer, beffor god at the dredffull daye of Judgement and also upon the extreme daunger and Dampnacyon of my sowlle and consyems to saye what I knew in the marriage and consernyng the marriage between your hinges and the queen to the which I answeryd as I knew declaring to them the partyculers as nyghe as I then coulde call to Remembraunce which when they hardde harde they in in your majestees name and upon lyke charge as they hadde gyvyn me before commaundyd me to wrytt to your highness the trewthe as moch as I knew in that matyer, which now I doo, and the veraye trewth as god shall salve me, to the uttermost of my knowlage. Fyrst after your majestye herde of the ladye Anne of Clevys arryvall at dover and that her Jerneyes were appoyntyd towards grenwiche and that She sholde be at Rochester on new yeres evyn at nyght your highness declaryd to me that ye woold pryvelye vysyt her at Rochester upon newyeres daye adding the words to norishe loue, which accordinglye your grace dide upon new yeres daye as is aboyesayd, and the next day being Frydaye your grace reternyd to grenwyche when I spake with your grace and demandyd of your magestye how ye lykyd the layde Anne your highness answeryd as me thought hevelye And not plesantlye nothing so well as She was spokyn of Saying Ferther that yf your highness hadde known asmoche before as ye then knew she shold not hav Commen within this Realme, Saying as by way of lamentacyon what remedye unto the which I answeryd and said I knew none but was veraye Sory therffore and so god knowith I was for I thought hit a harde begynnyng, the next day eater teh reccept of the said ladye and her enterye made into grenwyche and after your highness hadde brought her to her Chamber I then waytyd upon your highness into your pryuey chamber, and being ther your grace Callyd me to yow Saying to me this words or the lyke my lorde is it not as I told yow say what they will she is nothing so Fayre as she hathe bene reportyd, howbeit she is well and semelys, whereunto I answeryd Saying by my Faythe Syr ye Saye trewthe, adding therunto that yet I thought she hadde a quenlye manner, and nevertheles was sorye that your grace was no better content, and theruppon your grace commandyd me to calle to gether your Cowsayle whiche were thes by name the archebusshop of Caunterburye the Dukes of Norffolke & Suffolke my lorde Admyrall my lorde of Duresme and my selffe to Commons of thos matyers, and to know what commyssyon the Agenttes of Clevys hadde browght as well touching the perfformaunce of the Conuenunttes sent before from hens to Doctour Wotton to have bene Concludyd in Clevys, as also in the declaracyon how the matyers, stode for the Conuenauntts of Maryage between the Duke of loreyna Son and the sayd ladye Anne, wheruppon Osleger and Hogeston wer Callyd and the matyers purpossyd, wherby it playnlye apperyd that they were moche astonyed and abashed and desyryd that they might make answer in the next mornyng which was sondaye and upon sondaye in the mornyng your sayd Cownsaylors and they met Erlye and ther eftsons was purposyd unto them aswell touching the Comyssyon For the performance of the tretye and artycles Sent to maister Wooton as also touching the Contractes and Couenaunttes of mariage between the Duke of lorayns Son, and the layde Anne and what termes thay stodde in. To the whiche thinges so purposyd they answeryd as men moche perplexyd that as touching Commyssyon thay hadde none to trete consernyng the Articles sent to Mr. Wotton and as to the contractes and Conuenaunttes of mariage they cowlde Say nothing but that a reuocacyon was made, and that they were but spowsaylles, and Fynallye after moche resonyng they offeryd them selffes to Remayne prisoners vntyll suche tyme as they Sholde haue sent vnto them From Clevys the Fyrst Artycles Ratyffyed vner the Duke theyr maisters Signe and Seale, and also the copye of the reuocacyon made between the Duke of lorayns Son and the layde Anne, vppon the which answers I was sent to your highness by my lords of your said Counsayle to declare to your highnes what answere they hade made and Came to your highness by the prevey wey into your prevey Chambre and Declaryd to the same all the Cyrcumstaunces wherewith your grace was veray moch displeasyd Saying I am not well handelyd insomoche that I mought well persayue that your highness was Fully determenyd not to haue goone thorow with the maryage at that tyme Saying vnto me thes woordes or the lyke in effect that yf it were not that she is com So Farre into my realme and the great preparacyons that my states & people hathe made For her and For Fere of making of a Ruffull in the woorlde that is to meane to dryve her brother into the hands of the emperowre and Frenche kynges handes being now to gether I woolde neuer haue ne marye her, so that I myght well persayve your grace was neyther Content with the person ne yet content with the proceding of the Agenttes, and at after dynner the sayd Sondaye your grace Sent For all your Sayd Cownsaylours and in repeting how your highnes was handelyd aswell towching the said Artycles as also the sayd matyer of the Duke of loreyns Son it myght and I dowt not dyde appere to them how lothe your highness was to haue maryed at that tyme. And theruppon &vppon the consyderacyons aforsayd your grace thowght that it sholde be well done that She Sholde make a protestacyon before your sayd Cownsaylours and notaryes to be present that she was Free from all contractes which was done accordinglye, and theruppon I repayring to your highnes declaryng how that she hadde made her protestacyon, wherunto your grace answeryd in effect thes woordes or moche lyke is ther none other Remedye but that I must nedes agenst my will put my nek in the yoke, and so I departyd levying your highness in a studye or pensyvenes, and yet your grace Determenyd the next mornyng to go thorow and in the mornyng which was Mondaye your mageste preparying yourself towardes the seromonye, ther was Some qyestyon who sholde lede here to churche and it was appoyntyd that the Erll of Essex disceasyd and an Erll that Came with her shold lede her to chyrche and theruppon one Cam to your highness and said unto yow that the Erll of Essex was not yet Come wheruppon your grace appoyntyd me to be on that sholde lede here and So I went vnto her Chamber to thentent to have don your Comawndment and shortlye after I Came into the Chambre the Erll of essex was Com wheruppon your Magestye avauncyd toward the galerye owt of your pryvery Chambre, and your grace being in and abowte the middes of your Chamber of presens Callyd me vnto yow Saying thes woordes or the lyke in entens my lorde yf it were not to Satysfye the woorld and my Realme I woulde not doo that I must doo this day For none erthlye thing, and ther with one brought your grace woorde that She was Commyng and theruppon your grace Repayryd into the galerye towardes the Clossett and ther pawsyd her Commyng being nothing contest that She So long taryed as I iudged then. and so consequentlye She Came, and your grace afterwardes procedyd to the Serymonyes, and they being Fynysshyd travelyde the day, as appartaynyd and the nyght after the Costome And in the mornyng on tewysday I repayryng to your Majesty in to your prevey Chambre Fynding your grace not so plesaunte as I trustyd to haue done I was so bolde to aske your grace how ye lykyd the wuene wherunto your grace Sobyrlye answeryd saying that I was not all men, Surlye my lorde as ye know I lykyd her beffor not well but now I lyke her moche woorse For quoth your highnes I haue Felte her belye and her brestes and therby as I Can Judge She Sholde be noe mayde which Strake me So to the harte when I Felt them that I hadde nother will nor Corage to procede any Fether in other matyers, Saying I haue left her as good a mayde as I Founde her whiche me thought then ye spake displesauntly which I was veraye Sorye to here. your highnes also after Candlemas and beffore Shorofftyde oons or twyse sayd that ye were in the same Case with her as ye were affore and that your hert Coulde neuer consent to medyll with her Carnallye notwithstanding your highnes alledgyd that ye For the most parte vsyd to lye with her nyghtlye or cuery second nyght, and yet your majestye euer sayd that she was as good a mayde For yow as euer her mother bare her, For any thing that ye hadde mynystred to her your highnes Shewyd me also in lent last passyd at suche tyme as your grace hadde Sume communicacyon with her of my ladye marye how that She began to wax Stoborne and wylffull euer lamenting your Fate and euer vereffyng that ye hadde neuer any Carnall knowlage with her, and also after Ester your grace lykewyse at dyuers tymes and in the whytsonweke in your gracys prevey Chamber at grenewyche excedinglye lamentyd your Fate and that your gretyst greffe was that ye sholde Surlye neuer haue any moo Chyldren For the Comffort of this Realme yf ye Sholde So Contynew, assuryng me that beffore god ye thought she was neuer your lawffull wyff at which tyme your grace knowyth what answer I madde, which was that I woolde for my parte do my vttermost to Comffort & delyuer your grace of your afflyccyon and how sorye I was bothe to Se & here your grace god knowyth your grace dyuers tymes Sethen wytsontyde declaryd the lyke to me, euer alledgyng one thing, and also Saying that ye hadde as moche done to moue the Consent of your hert and mynde as euer dyd man and that ye toke god to wytnes but euer ye sayd the obstacle Coulde neuer owt of your mynde and gracyous prynce after that ye hadde Fyrst sene her at Rochester I neuer thowght in my hert that ye were or woolde be contentyd with that maryage, and Syr I know now in what Case I Stande In which is oonlye in the mercye of god and your grace, yff I haue not to the vtterst of my Remembraunce Sayd the trowthe and the holle trowthe in this matyer god neuer helpe me I am Sewre as I think ether is no man lyvyng in this your Realme that knew more in this then I dyde your highnes onlye except and I am sure my lord admyrall Calling to his Remembraunce Can Shew your highnes and be my wyttness what I sayd vnto hym after your grace Came From Rochester, ye and also after your gracys maryage, and also now of late Sethens wytsontyde, and I dowt not but manye and dyuers of my lords of your Counsayll bothe beffore your mariage and Sthens haue Right well persayvyd that your magestye hathe not ben well pleasyd with your mariage, and as I shall answer to god I neuer thought your grace content after ye hadde ons Sene her at Rochester, and this is all that I know most gracyous and most mercyfull Souerayng lorde, beseeching almightye god who euer in all your Causes hathe euer Counsaylyd preservyd oppenyd mayntayned relevyd and deffendyd your highness so he now will witsave to Cownsayle yow preserue yow maynteyn yow remedye yow releve and deffend yow as may be most to your honor welthe prosperytye helthe and Comffort of your hertys desire For the whiche, and For the long lyffe & prosperous reighne of of your most Royall magestye I shall durying my lyffe and whylis I am here praye to almyghtye god that he of his most haboundant goodnes, will help ayde and Comffort yow and after your Contenewaunce of Nestors yeres that that most noble Impe the prynces grace your most dere Sone may succede yow to reighne long prosperouslye and Felycyouslye to goddess plesure, besechyng most humblye your grace to pardon this my Rude wrything, and to consider that I am a most wooffull prisoner redye to take the dethe when it Shall please god and your majestye and yet the Fraylle Fleshe incytythe me contynnewallye to Call to your grace For mercye and pardon For myne offencys and this Crist Salve preserue & kepe yow wrytyn at the towre this Wedensdaye the last of June with the hevye hert and tremblyng hande of your highnes most hevye and most miserable prisoner & poore slave

Most gravyous prynce

I Crye for mercye mercye mercye




With this letter it was Cromwell’s last chance to appeal to Henry and save his life, however, the letter did not work and Cromwell would not get to speak to Henry again.

Cromwell's handwritingAn example of Thomas Cromwell’s handwriting

On this day in 1613 – Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was burned to the ground

The Globe Theatre was built in 1599 and was the home of William Shakespeare’s work; however, it was built of timber and a thatched roof. Within the theatre there were three tiers of wooden balconies and benches for the audience to sit on.

The Globe was home to many props that were used day to day within each play and this included a canon that was installed near to the thatched roof in the ‘Gods’. The cannon was loaded with gunpowder and wadding and used to create dramatic effect or in battle.

On 29th June 1613 the cannon was used during a performance of Shakespeare’s King Henry VIII to singal Henry’s arrival at a Masquerade ball at Cardinal Wolsey’s home. Sparks from the cannon fire landed on the roof and a fire quickly broke out and spread across the theatre, at first the audience ignored it believing it to be a part of the performance but eventually they all evacuated from the theatre leaving through two sets of doors, the main entrance and also an exit door.

There were no reported deaths or serious injuries but it was noted that one man’s breeches caught on fire and had to be put out with a bottle of ale.

There were two eyewitnesses to the Globe fire. First Sir Henry Wotton wrote in a letter dated 2nd July 1613 wrote;

“… I will entertain you at the present with what happened this week at the Banks side. The King’s players had a new play called All is True, representing some principal pieces of the reign of Henry the Eighth, which set forth with many extraordinary circumstances of pomp and majesty even to the matting of the stage; the knights of the order with their Georges and Garter; the guards with their embroidered coats, and the like: sufficient in truth within awhile to make greatness very familiar, if not ridiculous. Now King Henry making a Masque at the Cardinal Wolsey’s house, and certain cannons being shot off at his entry, some of the paper or other stuff, wherewith one of them was stopped, did light on the thatch, where being thought at first but idle smoak, and their eyes more attentive to the show, it kindled inwardly, and ran round like a train, consuming within less than an hour the whole house to the ground. This was the fatal period of that virtuous fabric, wherein yet nothing did perish but wood and straw, and a few forsaken cloaks; only one man had his breeches set on fire, that would perhaps have broiled him, if he had not by the benefit of a provident wit, put it out with a bottle of ale.”


A second eye witness, Mr. John Chamberaine, wrote in a letter to Sir Ralph Winwood on 8th July 1613;

The burning of the Globe or playhouse on the Bankside on St. Peter’s day cannot escape you; which fell out by a peal of chambers, (that I know not upon what occasion were to be used in the play,) the tampin or stopple of one of them lighting in the thatch that covered the house, burn’d it down to the ground in less than two hours, with a dwelling-house adjoining; and it was a great marvaile and a fair grace of God that the people had so little harm, having but two narrow doors to get out.”


The eye witnesses disagree on how long it took the theatre to burn to the ground but it is clear that within two hours of the roof catching on fire the Globe was no longer standing.


On this day in 1491 – King Henry VIII was born

On 28th June 1491 the future King Henry VIII was born in the manor house of Placentia, Greenwich. A small country manor house within the vicinity of Greenwich Palace. It was a far less significant birth to his older brother, Arthur, who was the Prince of Wales and the heir to the throne. Henry’s birth was largely less important as he was viewed as ‘the spare’

Henry’s mother, Elizabeth of York, would have gone into confinement after hearing a mass at the beginning of June. Her confinement would have been arranged down to the finest detail. Elizabeth’s chamber would have been highly decorated with intricate tapestries hanging from the walls, bed and windows they would be rich in colour and heavy. There would have also been hangings and cloth across the chamber. It would have been Elizabeth’s first confinement to take place in the height of summer and with the room plunged into darkness it would have been hotter than usual.

On 28th June Elizabeth gave birth to her second son. Henry would have been taken by his nurses and bathed in various substances including milk, sweet butter and barley water amongst others in the hope of preventing death before the infant was baptised.

Henry’s birth was less significant compared to his elder brother and sister. Very few records exist of Henry’s birth and even his paternal grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, only wrote a small note in her Book of Hours when she had wrote dates and times for Arthur. Henry was destining for a quiet life as the spare.

Henry was baptised in Greenwich Church of the Observant Friars where Richard Foxe, Bishop of Exeter presided over the service. The church was lavishly decorated with tapestries, damask and cloth of gold and a wooden stage was built where the Canterbury silver font was placed. Now baptised Henry would soon be sent to Eltham where he would join his sister in the royal nursery. Just 11 years later Henry would suddenly find himself the new heir to the throne after the unexpected death of his older brother and with that Henry was catapulted into a life that would lead him to be King.

Henry VIII childThis bust is believed to be Henry VIII as a child

On this day in 1578 – William Bradbridge died

William Bradbridge was born in London in 1501, very little is known about his early life. On 15th July 1528 he was awarded his B.A. at Magdalen College, Oxford with his M.A. following on 6th June 1532 and finally his B.D. on 17th June 1539.

Raised as a Protestant, in 1555 Bradbridge was appointed prebendary of Lyme and Holstock Sarum, he was also granted the post of canon of Chichester in 1561 a dispensation was issued regarding a term of residence at Salisbury.

On 28th April 1562 Bradbridge was appointed to chancellor of Chichester and he was able to hold the chancellorship with his bishopric. On Low Sunday 1563 he preached the annual Spittal sermon and in the same June he was elected to dean of Salisbury via letters from Queen Elizabeth I.

On 1st March 1571 Bradbridge was elected to the bishop of Exeter. After a declaration regarding the Queen’s supremacy the temporalities of the see were restored to Bradbridge two weeks later on 14th March. He was officially consecrated at Lambeth on 18th March by Archbishop Matthew Parker and Bishops Robert Horne and Nicholas Bullingham. Alongside being made bishop he was also granted two benefices in commendam, in Newton Ferrers, Devon and Lezante, Cornwall. It was not as promising as he would hope and would leave him financially ruined. It was documented

He was far indebted to the Queen’s Majesty for the monies received of the clergy for tenths and subsidies, so that immediately upon his death, all his goods were seized for her use”

In 1572 Bradbridge was given the Pentateuch to translate for the new Bishop’s Bible. Despite holding a high position within the church Bradbridge he still had trouble with Catholics and dissenters. In 1578 Bradbridge asked Lord Burghley if he could return to Salisbury following trouble in his diocese.

Bradbridge died suddenly on 27th June 1578, aged 77, at his home in Newton Ferrers and was buried in Exeter Cathedral.

Upon his death it was noted that;

he died £1400 in debt to Queen Elizabeth, and had not wherewith to bury him”

Exeter CathedralExeter Cathedral

On this day in 1535 – An oyer and terminer was set up in order to gather evidence against Sir Thomas More

On 26th June 1535 in Middlesex a commission of oyer and terminer was set up in order to send Sir Thomas More to trial. The Sheriff of Middlesex was called upon to gather a Grand Jury at Westminster Hall two days later on 28th June. Those serving on the commission included;

Special commission of oyer and terminer for Middlesex, to Sir Thos. Audeley, chancellor; Thos. Duke of Norfolk; Charles duke of Suffolk; Hen. earl of Cumberland; Thos. earl of Wiltshire; Geo. lord Rocheford; Andrew lord Windsor; Thos. Crumwell, secretary; Sir Will. Fitzwilliam; Sir Will. Paulet; Sir John Fitzjames; Sir John Baldewyn; Sir Ric. Lister; Sir John Spelman; Sir Walter Luke; and Sir. Ant Fitzherbert.”

The oyer and terminer were required to decide if there was sufficient evidence to send More to trial on charges of treason. More was accused of refusing to recognise Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the newly created Church of England.

The commission found that there was enough evidence and they drew up an indictment listing the charges against Sir Thomas More;

The indictment found at Westminster on Monday next after the feast of St. John the Baptist, setting forth the Acts 26 Hen. VIII.

Found, that Sir Thos. More, traitorously attempting to deprive the King of his title of Supreme Head of the Church, &c., did, 7 May 27 Hen. VIII., at the Tower of London, before Cromwell, Thos. Bedyll, clk., and John Tregonell, LL.D., the King’s councillors, and divers others, being examined whether he would accept the King as Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England, pursuant to the statute, refused to give a direct answer, saying “I will not meddle with any such matters, for I am fully determined to serve God, and to think upon His Passion and my passage out of this world.” Afterwards, 12 May 27 Hen. VIII., the said Sir Thomas, knowing that one John Fissher, clk., was then detained in the Tower for divers misprisions, and that the said Fissher had refused to accept the King as above, wrote divers letters to him, which he tramsmitted by one Geo. Golde, declaring his agreement with Fisher, and intimating the silence which he, More, had observed when interrogated. In these letters he wrote as follows:- “The Act of Parliament is like a sword with two-edges, for if a man answer one way it will confound his soul, and if he answer the other way it will confound his body.”

Afterwards, fearing lest Fisher should reveal upon further examination what he had written to him, the said Sir Thomas, at the Tower, 26 May 27 Hen. VIII., sent other letters to Fisher, requesting him to answer according to his own mind, and not to give any such answer as he, Sir. Thos., had written, lest the Council should suspect confederacy between them. Nevertheless, in consequences of the letter first written, Fisher did, 3 June 27 Hen. VIII., at the Tower, when examined by Sir Thos. Audeley, Suffolk, Wiltshire, and others, refuse to answer directly, and said, “I will not meddle with that matter, for the statute is like a two-edged sword; and if I should answer one way I should offend my conscience, and if I should answer the other way I should put my life in jeopardy. Wherefore I will make no answer in that matter.”

The said Sir Thomas likewise, when examined at the Tower, 3 June 27 Hen. VIII., maliciously persevered in refusing to give a direct answer, and, imagining to move sedition and hatred against the King, said to the King’s councillors, “the law and statute whereby the King is made Supreme Head as is aforesaid be like a sword with two edges; for if a man say that the same laws be good then it is dangerous to the soul, and if he say contrary to the said statute then it is death to the body. Wherefore I will make thereunto none other answer, because I will not be occasion of the shorting of my life.” And, moreover, the said More and Fisher, in order to conceal their treacherous intentions, severally burned their letters which passed between them immediately after reading the same.

Afterwards, 12 June 27 Hen. VIII., Richard Ryche, the King’s Solicitor General, came to Sir Thomas in the Tower, and charitably moved him to comply with the Acts; to which More replied, “Your conscience will save you, and my conscience will save me.” Ryche then, protesting that he had no authority to make any communication with More, said to him, “Supposing that it were enacted by Parliament that he, Richard Ryche, should be King, and that it should be treason to deny the same, what would be the offence if he, Sir Thomas More, were to say that the said Ryche, was King?” For certain, the said Ryche further said, in his conscience it would be no offense, but that More was obliged so to say, and to accept Ryche for King, because the consent of the said More was compelled by an Act of Parliament. To which More then and there answered that he should offend if he were to say no, because he would be bound by an Act, because he was able to give his consent to it. But he said that would be a light case; wherefore he would put a higher case:- “Suppose it should be enacted by Parliament that God should not be God, and that opposing the Act should be treason; and if it were asked of you, Ric. Ryche, whether you would say that God was not God according to the statute, and if you were to say so, would you not offend?” To which Ryche answered More, “Certainly, because it is impossible that God should not be God. But because your case is so high, I will put a medium one. You know that our lord the King is constituted Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England; and why ought not you, Master More, to affirm and accept him so, just as you would in the preceding case, in which you admit that you would be bound to accept me as King?” To which More, persevering in his treasons, answered that the cases were not similar; because a King can be made by Parliament, and deprived by Parliament; to which Act every subject being at the Parliament may give his assent (ad quem actum quilibet subditus ad Parliamentum existens suum præbeat consensum); but as to the primacy, a subject cannot be bound, because he cannot give his consent to that in Parliament (quia consensum suum ab eo ad Parliamentum præbere non potest); and although the King is so accepted in England, yet many foreign countries do not affirm the same.”

Sir Thomas More was put on trial and executed as a traitor on 6th July 1535.

Thomas MoreSir Thomas More painted by Hans Holbein the younger

On this day in 1503 Prince Henry Tudor and Katherine of Aragon were formally betrothed

Following the premature death of her husband, Prince Arthur Tudor, Katherine of Aragon found herself widowed at the age of 17. Both King Henry VII and King Ferdinand of Aragon and his wife Queen Isabella of Castile were keen not to lose the alliance that was formed between England and Spain. Therefore on 10th May 1502 negotiations began for the new heir to the English throne, Prince Henry, to be married to his brother’s widow.

Dr De Puebla was nominated by the Spanish to be their ambassador and representative during the negotiations. De Puebla began meeting daily with the English council to work out an agreement that would benefit both countries.

On 23rd June 1503 a treaty was signed between the two nations and a formal betrothal took place two days later on 25th June 1503.

It was agreed that the newly betrothed couple would marry before Henry’s 15th birthday on 28th June 1506. This allowed enough time for a Papal dispensation to be obtained by both England and Spain. The dispensation allowed the marriage to proceed despite the fact that Katherine had been married to Henry’s brother. It also covered Katherine if the first marriage had been consummated, something that Katherine denied for her whole life and in court when Henry began proceedings to annul his marriage on the moral and religious grounds that by marrying his brother’s wife he was breaking the word of the bible.

With the death of Queen Isabella in November 1504, King Henry VII saw his son’s match with Katherine as weakened as without Castile Katherine’s inheritance significantly weakened. With this King Henry VII began to encourage his son to abandon the match.

On 27th June 1505, the day before the intended wedding day and Prince Henry’s birthday Henry declared that he no longer wished to marry Katherine and with this the betrothal was broken.

Katherine was left uncertain of her future. Henry VII was unwilling to allow her to return to Spain as it would mean that he would have to return her dowry from her marriage to Arthur. This was another reason why Henry persuaded his son to not go through with the marriage as King Ferdinand had only fulfilled half of the dowry and was stalling on paying the rest.

With no money or allowance from the King, Katherine was forced to live in poverty and had to resort to selling her personal belongings to survive along with her maids. By reducing her income Henry VII was hoping to force Ferdinand into paying the second half of the dowry owed when Ferdinand heard the conditions Katherine was living in. However, this never came to happen.

Miserable and suffering ill health Katherine wrote to her father asking that she returned to Spain and entered into a nunnery. Instead Ferdinand granted Katherine the position of Spanish Ambassador to the English court.

Katherine would eventually marry Prince Henry but waited until 1509 when King Henry VII died. You can read about Katherine and Henry’s wedding here https://thetudorchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/on-this-day-in-1509-king-henry-viii-married-katherine-of-aragon/

Katherine of AragonKatherine of Aragon

On this day in 1509 – King Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon were coronated at Westminster Abbey

24th June 1509 saw Henry Tudor and his new wife Katherine of Aragon crowned as the new king and queen of England, making Henry King Henry VIII.

The celebrations however began three days earlier on 21st June when Henry rode from Greenwich to the Tower of London where he would stay until the morning of his coronation. The following evening, at a lavish banquet Henry created new Knights of the Bath these men would carry the dishes into the feast under the premise that they would never carry dishes again with their new appointment. These men were;

“viz., Richard (sic) Radclyff lord Fitzwater, the lord Scroop of Bolton, the lord Fitzhugh, the lord Mountjoye, the lord Dawbeney, the lord Brooke, Sir Henry Clyfford, Sir Maurice Berkeley, Sir Thomas Knyvet, Sir Andrew Wyndesore, Sir Thomas Parr, Sir Thomas Boleyne, Sir Richard Wentworth, Sir Henry Owtrede, Sir Francis Cheyny, Sir Henry Wyotte, Sir George Hastynges, Sir Thomas Metham, Sir Thomas Bedyngfeld, Sir John Shelton, Sir Giles Alyngton, Sir John Trevanyon, Sir William Crowmer, Sir John Heydon, Sir Godarde Oxenbrige and Sir Henry Sacheverell.”

(Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 1, 1509-1514.)

On Saturday 23rd June at 4pm a procession began that would take Henry from the Tower of London to Westminster. It was led by the newly created Knights of the Bath who were dressed in blue gowns. They were followed by the newly created Constable of England, Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham was carrying a silver baton that showed his office and he was then followed by the soon to be King. The streets were lined with tapestries and cloths of gold.

Henry wore a cloth of gold coat that was highly decorated with gems and a collar of rubies and topped with a collar of red velvet and ermine trimmed robe. Henry’s horse was also dressed for the procession in ermine and cloth of gold. There was also a cloth of gold canopy held over him by the four barons of Cinque Ports.

Behind Henry came his master of the horse, Sir Thomas Brandon. Following Brandon came the procession for the future Queen. Katherine was escorted in a litter covered by a canopy. Katherine wore her hair loose, which was custom for a coronation procession and was dressed in ‘a rich mantle of cloth of tissue’ and a gold, pearl and silk circlet upon her head.

On 24th JuneHenry Katherine coronation at 8am following behind 28 bishops Henry and Katherine proceeded from the Palace of Westminster towards the Abbey for the ceremony. It was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham. Warham presented Henry to the crowd and called ‘Vivat ,vivat rex’ translated into English as ‘Long live the King’. Henry went on to swear the nine oaths of kingship and was anointed by Warham with the holy oils before being crowned. Katherine was then crowned Queen and the couple moved back to Westminster Hall for a splendid celebration banquet.

The chronicler, Edward Hall said of the coronation;

“The following day being a Sunday, and also Midsummer’s Day, the noble prince with his queen left the palace for Westminster Abbey at the appointed hour. The barons of the Cinq Ports held canopies over the royal couple who trod on striped cloth of ray, which was immediately cut up by the crowd when they had entered the abbey. Inside, according to sacred tradition and ancient custom, his grace and the queen were anointed and crowned by the archbishop of Canterbury in the presence of other prelates of the realm and the nobility and a large number of civic dignitaries. The people were asked if they would take this most noble prince as their king and obey him. With great reverence, love and willingness they responded with the cry ‘Yea, Yea’.

When the ceremony was finished, the lords spiritual and temporal paid homage to the king and, with the queen’s permission, returned to Westminster Hall – each one beneath his canopy – where the lord marshal bearing his staff of office ushered all to their seats. Each noble and lord proceeded to his allotted place arranged earlier according to seniority. The nine-piece table being set with the king’s estate seated on the right and the queen’s estate on the left, the first course of the banquet was announced with a fanfare. At the sound the duke of Buckingham entered riding a huge charger covered with richly embroidered trappings, together with the lord steward mounted on a horse decked with cloth of gold. The two of them led in the banquet which was truly sumptuous, and as well as a great number of delicacies also included unusual heraldic devices and mottoes.

How can I describe the abundance of fine and delicate fare prepared for this magnificent and lordly feast, produced both abroad and in the many and various parts of this realm to which God has granted his bounty. Or indeed the exemplary execution of the service of the meal itself, the clean handling and distribution of the food and the efficient ordering of the course, such that no person of any estate lacked for anything.”

Hall goes on to describe the events of the days that followed that included two days of jousting and even more banquets.

“The following day the aforementioned defending team, lady Palla’s scholars, presented themselves before the king ready for the tourney. All on horseback and armed from head to foot they each had one side of their armour-skirts and horse-trappings made of white velvet embroidered with gold roses and other devices, and the other made of green velvet embroidered with gold pomegranates. On their headpieces each wore a plume of gold damask.


At the same time the other side rode in, the aforementioned eight knights fully armed and dressed, like their mounts, in green satin embroidered with fine golden bramble branches. Following them, blowing horns, came a number of men dressed as foresters or gamekeepers in green cloth, with caps and hose to match, who arranged a set like a park with white and green fencing around it. Inside this paddock were fallow deer and artificial trees; bushes, ferns, and so forth. Once set up before the queen the paddock gates were unlocked and the deer ran out into the palace grounds. Greyhounds were then let loose which killed the deer, the bodies of which were then presented to the queen and then assembled ladies by the above-mentioned knights.


Crocheman, who had brought in the golden lance the previous day, then declared that his knights were the servants of the goddess Diana and whilst they had been indulged in their pastime of hunting had received news that lady Pallas’s knights had come into these parts to perform feats of arms. Thereupon they had left off the chase and come hither to encounter these knights and to fight with them for the love of the ladies.

He added that if lady Pallas’s knights vanquished them or forced them to leave the field of battle then they would receive the deer that had been killed and the greyhounds that slew them. But if Diana’s knights overpowers their opponents they were to be given the swords of those knights and nothing more.


Hearing this, the queen and her ladies asked the king for his advice on the matter. The king, thinking that perhaps there was some grudge between the two parties and believing that to grant the request might lead to some unpleasantness, decided not to consent to the terms. Instead, to defuse the situation, it was decided that both parties should fight the tourney but that only a limited number of strokes would be permitted.


This was done and the two sides then left the field. The jousts then came to an end and the prizes were awarded to each man according to his deserts.”

parliamentary rollThe Parliamentary roll of King Henry VIII coronation procession

On this day in 1586 – Henry Cheke died

Henry Cheke was born in 1548 and was the eldest son of Sir John Cheke and his wife Mary. Cheke was tutored at an early age by his father’s friend, Peter Osborne and later sent to King’s College, Cambridge. However, Cheke’s father died when he was just nine years old and although Cheke inherited his father’s land that were worth two hundred marks a year he also inherited debts that totalled a thousand marks.

As a minor Cheke’s wardship was likely to have been granted to Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, therefore Cheke and Cecil corresponded often with Cheke asking for help or thanking him for various things.

In 1568 Cheke was granted his M.A. from Cambridge at just the age of 20 although Cheke was studious some believed that Cecil had a hand in it being granted early. With his M.A. and Cecil’s influence Cheke attended the 1572 Parliament for Bedford. Just two years later he would be seeking Cecil’s help again, this time in the form of employment.

In 1569 Cheke married Frances Radcliff and although we know for definite they had their son, Thomas, the total amount of children the couple had is unknown, although many believe they had three sons and two daughters

In July 1576 Cheke received a clerkship from the Privy Council and not long after that Cheke set sail for the continent, in particular France and Italy. During his travels Cheke translated a play about the ‘devilish devices of the popish religion’ and dedicated it to Lady Cheney of Toddington.

Upon his return back to England on 3rd January 1578 Cheke was placed on the roster of Privy Council clerks and would be required for six months of the next year; January, February, July, August, September and October. In August of the same year Cheke was sent to York to take up the role of secretary to the council in the north. He resided at the council in a place called ‘The Manor’

With his new position within the council in the north Cheke retained his position in Parliament this time for Boroughbridge and served on a committee that discussed the fraudulent conveyances bill on 15th February 1585.

Cheke became involved in an argument with the Archbishop of York when two council servants were arrested. The Archbishop complained that Cheke had attempted to hinder his proceedings whereas Cheke stated that he and other members of the council commissioners had simply refused to comply with the demands of the Archbishop who had demanded to see depositions and examine those who had not been listed in the Archbishops commission.

Cheke died on 23rd June 1586, most likely at ‘The Manor’ and as buried in York Minister. Although the cause of his death is not officially known it is widely believed that he died after breaking his neck after falling down some stairs. This allegedly occurred after he had openly mocked the Catholic martyr, Francis Ingleby. However, the two incidents were never proven to be linked.York MinsterYork Minster, burial of Henry Cheke

On this day in 1536 – Lady Mary submitted to the King.

On 22nd June 1536 Lady Mary Tudor finally submitted to her father, King Henry VIII, and accepted him as the Supreme Head of the Church of England and the invalidity of his marriage to her mother, Katherine of Aragon. Mary was a staunch Catholic and to recognise Henry’s split from Rome and the head of a new church would have been something that Mary had struggled with. However, a visit from Henry’s council just a week earlier where they threatened her must have weighed heavy on her mind and combined with council from the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, Mary came to her decision and wrote to her father;

“Moste humbly prostrate before the feete of Your most excellent Majestie, your most homble, faythefull, and obediente subjecte, which hath so extremely offended Your most gratyous Highnes, that my heavie and fearfull hert dare not presume to calle you Father, ne Your Majesty hathe any cause by my desertes, saving the benignetye of your most blessed nature dothe surmounte all evelles offences and trespasses, and is ever mercyfulle and redy to accepte the penytente callynge for grace, in any convenyente tyme. Havinge received this Thursdaye, at nighte, certene letteresfrom Mr. Secreatary, aswell advisying me to make my homble submyssyone immedyatly to your selfe, which because I durste not, without your gravyous licence, presume to doe befor, I latly sente unto him, as sygnefyenge that your moste mercyfull harte and fatherly pyttye had graunted me your blessyng, with condissyone that I should persevere in that I had commenced and begoone; and that I should not eftsones offend Your Majesty by the denyall or reffusalle of any suche articles and commaundementes, as it maye please Your Highenes to addresse unto me, for the perfite trial of myne harte and inward affectyone, for the parfait declaration of the bottome of my herte and stomake.


Fyrste, I knowledge my selft to have most unkyndly and unnaturally offended Your most excellent Highenes, in that I have not submitted myselfe to your moste juste and virtuous laws; and for myne offence thearin, which I must confesse wear in me a thousand folde more grievous, then they could be in any other lyving creature, I put myselfe holly and entirely to your gratyous mercy; at whos hands I cannot receave that punishment for the same, that I have derserved.

Secondly, to opene my herte to Your Grace, in theis thinges, which I have heartofore refused to condiscend unto, and have nowe writtene with myne owne hand, sending the same to Your Highenes hearwith; I shall never beseeche Your Grace to have pyttye and compassion of me, yf ever you shall perceave that I shall prively or appertly, vary or alter from one pece of that I have writtene and subscribed, or refuse to confyrme, ratefy, or declare the same, wher Your Majesty shall appointe me.


Thurdly, as I have and shall, knowinge your excelent learnynge, vertue, wisdom, and knoledge, put my soulle into your directyone; and, by the same, hathe and will, in all thinges, from hence foarthe directe my consyence, or my body I do holly commyte to your mercye and fatherlye pyttye; desiringe no state, no condissyone, nor no mannore degre of lyvinge, but suche as Your Grace shall appoynte unto me; knoledging and confessynge, that my state cane not be so ville, as ether the extremity of justice wold appoynte unto me, or as myne offences have required and deserved. And what soever Your Grace shall comaunde me to doe, touching any of theyse pointes, ethere for thinges paste, presente, or to come, I shall as gladly doe the same, as Your Majestie cane comaund me. Moste homblye, therefor, beseeching your mercy, most gratyous Soveraine Lord and benign Father, to have pyttye and compassion of your myserable and sorrowfull child; and, with the aboundance of your inestymable goodnes, so to overcome my iniquitie towards God, Your Grace, and your holle realme, as I maye feele some sensyble tokene of reconsyllyation; which, God is my judge, I onely desyre, without other respect, to whome I shall dayly praye for the preservation of Your Highenes, with the Queenes Grace, and that it may please him to send you issue. From Hownsdon, this Thursdaye, at 11 of the clocke at nighte.


Your Graces moste humble and obedient Daughter and Handmayd,


Marys letterRemains of Lady Mary’s letter to King Henry VIII

On this day in 1529 – Katherine of Aragon appeared in front of the Legatine Court.

King Henry VIII’s attempts to divorce his wife, Katherine of Aragon had caused great controversy not only throughout his kingdom but across Europe. With Henry putting increasing pressure on the Pope to annul the marriage the Pope was also facing pressure from the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, to ensure the marriage was saved. Charles V also happened to be the nephew of Katherine and therefore had a personal interest in saving the marriage.

Matters had gone as far as they could before the Pope had no choice but to send a representative to England to preside over the divorce hearing before a decision could be made. Cardinal Campeggio was sent to England with the hope of delaying Henry’s desires for as long as they could.

On 21st June 1529, a Papal Legatine court was held in Blackfriars where Cardinal Campeggio and Cardinal Wolsey began to hear the evidence regarding Henry’s request for his marriage to be annulled. Henry protested that by marrying his brother’s widow he had done wrong in the eyes of God and that is why he had not been blessed with a son. Katherine maintained that her first husband, Arthur, and she had never lay as man and wife and their marriage was never consummated.

As the proceedings began for the day both Henry and Katherine were present to give their testimonies regarding the matter. As Katherine was asked to make her case known she went and knelt in front of her husband and spoke directly to him by saying;

“Sir, I beseech you for all the love that hath been between us, and for the love of God, let me have justice. Take of me some pity and compassion, for I am a poor woman, and a stranger born out of dominion. I have here no assured friends and much less impartial counsel…

Alas! Sir, wherein have I offended you, or what occasion of displeasure have I deserved?,,,I have been to you a true, humble and obedient wife, ever comfortable to your will and pleasure, that never said or did any thing to the contrary thereof, being always well pleased and contented with all things wherein you had any delight or dalliance, whether it were in little or much. I never grudged in word or countenance, or showed a visage or spark of discontent. I loved all those whom ye loved, only for your sake, whether I had cause or no, and whether they were my friends or enemies. This twenty years or more I have been your true wife and by me ye have had divers children, although it hath pleased God to call them out of this world, which hath been no default in me…

When ye had me at first, I take God to my judge, I was a true maid, without touch of man. And whether it be true or no, I put it to your conscience. If there be any just cause by the law that ye can allege against me either of dishonesty or any other impediment to banish and put me from you, I am well content to depart to my great shame and dishonour. And if there be none, then here, I most lowly beseech you, let me remain in my former estate… Therefore, I most humbly require you, in the way of charity and for the love of God – who is the just judge – to spare me the extremity of this new court, until I may be advised what way and order my friends in Spain will advise me to take. And if ye will not extend to me so much impartial favour, your pleasure then be fulfilled, and to God I commit my cause!”

With her plea over Katherine stood up, curtseyed to her husband and walked out of the courtroom. There were many attempts to get Katherine to return that went ignored until she responded “On, on, it makes no matter, for it is no impartial court for me, therefore I will not tarry. Go on.”

Katherine did not return to the Legatine Court almost as if she knew her cause would go unanswered.

Catherine_Aragon_Henri_VIII_by_Henry_Nelson_ONeilKatherine pleading her case in front of Henry VIII and the Legatine Court

Painted by Henry Nelson O’Neil