On this day in 1555 – Robert Samuel was burned at the stake

Robert Samuel was an English priest with the parish church of East Bergholt in the Stour Valley during King Edward VI’s reign. Edward had allowed priests to marry and so Samuel lived peacefully with his wife within his parish.

When Queen Mary I took the throne she issued a law forbidding priests to be married and that any priest that was already married had to put aside their wives and return to a life of celibacy, Samuel’s wife went to live in Ipswich.

Samuel’s was a Protestant and believed in the reformed faith and therefore gained the attention of William Foster, an anti-reformist from Copdock, Foster was a Justice of the Peace. Foster was known to go after priests when he first found John Averth, celebrating mass in the home of Dr Rowland Taylor. Foster had Taylor arrested and deemed a traitor and after interrogation was burnt at the stake. Foster then set his sight on Samuel.

Samuel was removed from his parish but continued to secretly visit the homes of his congregation who still adhered to the reformed faith. Spies were sent to investigate these claims and a trap was laid out to catch him whilst visiting his wife, he was captured and dragged away from his wife’s home. Samuel’s was first imprisoned in the Ipswich town gaol.

Samuel wrote two letters to the Christian Congregation and his fellow sufferers saying;

Be constant in obeying God, rather than men. For, although they slay our sinful bodies for God’s verity, yet they cannot do it but by God’s sufferance and goodwill, to His praise and honour, and to our eternal joy and felicity. For our blood shed for the Gospel shall preach it with more fruit, and greater furtherance, than did our mouths, lives and writings, as did the blood of Abel, Stephen, with many others more.”

Samuels was moved to Norwich and then a prison within Norwich Castle to await the inquisition by Bishop Dr Hopton, it was here Samuel was subjected to torture where he was chained upright in a position where only the tips of his toes could touch the floor whilst only being fed a couple of mouthfuls of bread and water daily. After a few days of this Samuel claims that he was visited by Christ and he did not eat or drink again until he was sent to his death.

Samuel was sentenced to death by burning at the stake with the date set for 31st August 1555 on Corn Hill, Ipswich.

woodcut of Robert Samuel burningA woodcut depicting the burning of Robert Samuel

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On this day in 1548 – Queen Dowager Catherine Parr gave birth to a daughter

On 30th August 1548 the Queen Dowager, Catherine Parr gave birth to a daughter at Sudeley Castle, the home she shared with her fourth husband, Thomas Seymour.
Catherine Parr spent the final three months of her pregnancy at Sudeley Castle preparing for the birth of her first child. Catherine ensured that she was surrounded by her closest friends including her chaplain, Miles Coverdale, her almoner, John Parkhurst as well as her ladies from when she was Queen.

053Part of the remains of Sudeley Castle where Catherine Parr would have given birth

Shortly before her confinement was due to begin Catherine decorated the nursery, it was situated looking over the gardens and chapel. It was decorated in crimson and gold velvet and taffeta. Beside the cradle was a bed with crimson curtains as well as a separate bed designated for the new child’s nurse.
The daughter was named Mary, after the Queen Dowager’s eldest step daughter and future Queen. Just six days after her birth Catherine died of puerperal fever and was laid to rest within the grounds of Sudeley Castle. Mary was then brought up with her father as her main guardian, Seymour took Mary to London and placed her with her aunt and uncle, the Duke and Duchess of Somerset, who had just had their own child. Mary remained here until Seymour was executed for treason just seven months later leaving Mary an orphan.

178The burial place of the Queen Dowager Catherine Parr

Due to an appeal made to William Cecil by Katherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk we know that she was appointed Mary’s guardian after Seymour’s death, it appears that she resented being given the young child to care for and referred to her as ‘the Queens daughter’ in her letter. Katherine Brandon was appealing to Cecil to gain his help with talking to the Lord Protector, the Duke of Somerset regarding the upkeep of Mary’s household. The household was expensive to maintain as Mary was still the child of a Queen and therefore needed a lady governess, rocker and her own servants despite her young age. However, in January 1550 an act of Parliament was passed that allowed Mary to inherit Seymour’s properties and therefore a regular income.
Records show no other mention of Mary after this date, she was just 16 months old, she never stood forward to claim her inheritance and so it is believed that she died as an infant. It is likely that she is buried near Grimsthorpe in the estate owned by Katherine Brandon.

Catherine Parr letter7A letter written from Catherine Parr to Thomas Seymour

about her pregnancy

On this day in 1538 – Geoffrey Pole was arrested

On 29th August 1538 Geoffrey Pole was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Pole was the son of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and therefore had a claim to the throne.

Geoffrey Pole was present at Anne Boleyn’s coronation but his loyalty, along with the rest of the family, lay with Katherine of Aragon and her daughter, Princess Mary. Pole had a private meeting with the Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys and Pole told Chapuys that if the Holy Roman Emperor was to invade England to avenge the wrongs that had been done to his aunt, Katherine, then the English people would support him.

The conversation, which was supposed to be private, reached King Henry VIII’s ears and Pole was instantly arrested. He would stay in the Tower of London for the next two months until in October when he was called for interrogation. Pole was questioned about conversations and letters that had been sent and received to his brother, Cardinal Pole, from his family. These letters were not approved by the King or Council and so suspicion fell on the Pole family.

Pole’s wife, Constance, was also questioned about Pole’s activity but she was not imprisoned and so attempted to contact Pole’s mother and brother, Lord Montagu to warn them that Geoffrey was facing the rack and that they could be implicated. By the time word reached his family Geoffrey had attempted suicide and had caused some injury to himself.

After further interrogation Pole broke and gave all the evidence the King would need against the Pole family. Henry had Lord Montagu and Henry Courtenay arrested and imprisoned in the Tower on 4th November 1538.

Geoffrey along with his brother and Henry Courtenay were tried, they entered a plea of guilty and was originally condemned to death until he was pardoned on 4th January 1539. Thomas Cromwell wrote that he had received the pardon because he was so ill he was already as good as dead.

A_Torture_RackA typical torture rack

On this day in 1583 – William Latymer died

William Latymer was the third son of William Latymer and his wife Anne and was born in Freston, Suffolk in approximately 1498. His early life is unknown but he first became noticed when he became one of Anne Boleyn’s chaplains and was a patron of the Reformation.

In 1536 he graduated Corpus Christi College, Cambridge with an M.A after seven years of studying.

Latymer was in Europe collecting books for the Queen when she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London Latymer was arrested at Sandwich upon his arrival back in England accused of bringing foreign books about the Protestant reformers into the country, Latymer handed the books over to the authorities and with that was released. After the fall of Anne Boleyn Latymer was the rector of Witnesham, Suffolk between 1538 until 1554 and also in 1538 he was appointed by King Henry VIII to Master of the College of St Laurence, Pountney.

In 1549 Latymer was involved in the trial of Edmund Bonner, a Catholic who in the reign of King Edward VI opposed the first Act of Uniformity and Book of Common Prayer and failed to enforce them in his church. As a punishment the Council required him to speak at St. Paul’s Cross regarding royal authority. Bonner spoke but made significant omissions and as a result he was called to stand trial in which Thomas Cranmer presided over and Latymer was the principal witness.

In 1560 Latymer married Ellen English and when Queen Mary I took the throne as a married clergyman he was dismissed and retired to Ipswich.

When Queen Elizabeth I took the throne Latymer became her chaplain and also wrote ‘The Cronickile of Anne Bulleyne’ he focused on Anne’s time as Queen and the speeches she gave regarding religion, education and charity. He is the only author to have written about Anne Boleyn that actually knew her.

Latymer died on 28th August 1583 and was buried in Peterborough Catherdral.

Peterborough cathedralPeterborough Cathedral – the final resting place of William Latymer

On this day in 1590 – Pope Sixtus V died

Pope Sixtus V was born 13th December 1521 as Felice Peretti di Montalto at Grottammare. His parents were Pier Gentile and Marianna da Frontillo, they were a poor family. At an early age Felice entered a Franciscan friary at Montalto where he demonstrated the ability as a preacher and dialectician, a fable surrounds Felice as a young friar – it was said that Nostradamus approached Felice and he knelt in front of him and kissed the friar’s robes exclaiming that he was kissing the robe of a future pope!

In 1552 Felice was noticed by Cardinal Rodolfo Pio da Carpi, the protector of the Franciscan order, Cardinal Ghislieri, the future Pope Pius V and Cardinal Caraffa, the future Pope Paul IV. With those three Cardinal’s backing him Felice began to advance. He was sent to Venice as inquisitor general but he was recalled in 1560 as his conduct was too severe and arguments broke out regarding his behaviour.

After spending a short time as procurator of his order Felice in 1560 was attached to the Spanish legation that was being led by Cardinal Boncampagni, the future Pope Gregory XIII, they were sent to investigate claims of heresy against the Archbishop of Toledo, Bartolomé Carranza. Felice disliked Boncampagni and soon returned to Rome when Cardinal Ghislieri ascended to Pope Pius V. During the reign of Pope Pius V Felice was made an apostolic vicar of his order and then in 1570 a Cardinal. He took the name Cardinal Montalto.

Upon the death of Pope Pius V and the reign of Pope Gregory XIII whom Montalto disliked, Montalto lived in enforced retirement at his home the Villa Montalto that was originally built by Domenico Fontana and overlooked the Baths of Diocletian.

Pope Gregory’s reign ended in 1585 when conclave began to seek a new Pope, it is believed that Montalto was selected due to his physical vigour as the other Cardinal’s believed that it would lead to a long pontificate. Pope Gregory had left the ecclesiastical states in a bad way and Montalto who had chosen to become Pope Sixtus V became to correct the mess that had been left to him. He began by bringing thousands of brigands (highway robbers and plunderers) to justice bringing peace to his country. Sixtus also ordered the executions of anyone who had broken their vow of chastity.

Sixtus also set about restoring the finances of the church by selling offices and levying new taxes, he quickly built a surplus which he banked for emergencies such as a crusade or the defence of the Holy See. Sixtus also spent a large amount of money improving the country which included bringing water to the Acqua Felice hills, laying out new arteries in Rome which would connect the basilicas, he even made plans to replan the Colosseum as a silk spinning factory, plans that did not come to fruitation.

Pope Sixtus V completed the dome of St. Peter’s, restoration of the aqueduct of Septimius Severus and the placing of four obelisks including one in Saint Peter’s Square amongst many other projects. Sixtus also restricted the Catholic Church by limited the College of Cardinals to just 70 but he did double the number of congregations.

Pope Sixtus renewed the excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I but at the same time mistrusted King Philip II of Spain. By renewing Elizabeth’s excommunication he granted Spain a large subsidy that would go towards the Armada, but only when they landed on English soil, saving the Papacy a fortune. In the events that the Spanish did land in England Sixtus had Cardinal Allen prepare ‘An Admonition to the Nobility and Laity of England’ that would be published and distributed across England.

Pope Sixtus V died on 27th August 1590

SixtusPope Sixtus V

On this day in 1533 – Anne Boleyn took to her chamber to prepare for the birth of Princess Elizabeth

On 26th August 1533 Anne Boleyn took leave of the court and entered confinement where she would stay until she gave birth. Normally a lady would go to confinement four to six weeks before the anticipated birth of their child.

Anne took to her chamber at Greenwich Palace after attending a special mass at the Chapel Royal within the Palace grounds. Anne would then proceed with her ladies to the great chamber were they would enjoy wine and spices before the Lord Chamberlain prayed to God that Anne would give a safe delivery, hopefully to a son. Anne would then enter her chamber where she would be waited on by her ladies; no men were permitted into the room.

The chamber was decorated in accordance with the ‘Royalle Book’ that had additions by Margaret Beaufort and had been followed by King Henry VIII’s mother, Elizabeth of York during her confinements in the same Palace. The book stated that the room should;

  • Be carpeted
  • Have an altar
  • Have soft furnishings of crimson satin that were embroidered with Gold crowns and the Queen’s arms
  • Have its windows, ceilings and walls covered with blue arras and tapestries
  • Have a tapestry covered cupboard to store the birthing equipment
  • Have a font in the room in case the baby needed baptising instantly due to sickness
  • Have a display of Gold and Silver plate items from the Jewel House, it was thought that the Queen and her baby to be surrounded by symbols of wealth
  • Be furnished with a luxurious bed for the Queen and a pallet at the end of it for the Queen to give birth on. The pallet would be built up to a height similar to the midwife, it was close to the fire and away from any cold draughts
  • One window would be slightly uncovered to let in light and air when deemed neccersary

In the ‘Ordinances and regulations for the royal household society of antiquaries’ it is written what is expected of the Queen’s chamber;

As to the deliverance of a Queene, it must bee knowne what chamber shee will bee delivered in, by the Grace of God; and that chamber must bee hanged with rich arras, the roofe, side and windowes, all except one windowe, and that must bee habged that shee may have light when it pleaseth her; with a royall bedd therein, the flore laid with carpeth over and over with a faire pallet bedd, with all the stuffe belonging thereto, with a riche sperner hanging over; and there must be a cupboard set faire, covered with the fame suite that the chamber is hanged withal. And if it please the Queene to take her chamber, shee shall bee brought thither with Lordes and Ladies of estate, and brought into the chappell or church there to bee houseled; then to come into the great chamber and take spice and wine under the cloth of estate; then twoe of the greatest estates to lead her into her chamber where shee shall be delivered; and they then to take their leave of the Queene. Then all the ladies and gentlemento goe in with her; and after that noe man to come into the chamber where shee shall bee delievered, fae woemen; and they to bee made all manner of officers, as buttlers, panters, fewers, kervers, cupbearers; and all manner of officers for to receave it in the chamber: a traverse of damaske, the bedd arrayed with sheetes of fine lawne or fine raynes, great pillows with a head sheete according to the sheetes; a pane of ermines embrothered with riche cloh of gould, the ells breadth of the cloth, and head-sheete of ermins and cloth of gould of the same suite; a pallet by the bedd arrayed according to the bedd, with sheets and paine; except the cloth of gould on the paine to bee of another colour than that of the great bedd; and over the pallet a large sperner of crimson satin, with a bowle of gould or silver and guilt; and above the opening of the same sperner to bee embrothered the King’s and Queen’s armes, and the residue with crownes of gould: and that such estates both spirituall and temporall as it shall like the Kinge to assigne to bee gossippes, to bee neere the place where the Queene shall bee delivered, to the intent anon after they bee ready that the child may soone bee christened.”

A typical room that was used for a ladies confinement was closed up to light and fresh air, it was believed that clean air was harmful to the new child. Candles were used day and night to provide light in the dark room and objects like herbs, relics and amulets were brought in to speed and aide delivery. Superstition was high regarding childbirth and a dark and clean room was believed to protect the baby from evil spirits as it would remind the child of the womb. Women were also required to move anything that could restrict the birth, this included knots, buckles and rings.

The women that accompanied the Queen into confinement would keep her company and were there to assist during the labour by bringing spiced wine or ale and making the caudle.

Anne Boleyn would give birth just two weeks after entering her confinement to the Princess Elizabeth. However, she would remain in confinement for a further 30 days when she would be churched and re-enter the court.

170px-Anne_boleynAnne Boleyn

On this day in 1559 – Sir Thomas Cawarden died

Thomas Cawarden was the son of William Cawarden, his birth is unrecorded but in 1528 he was noted as being an apprentice to Owen Hawkins, a mercer based in London. In 1542 Cawarden married, the only thing known about his wife is that her first name was Elizabeth, the couple had no known children.

In 1540 Cawarden was appointed Keeper of Bletchingley manor. In the same year as marrying Elizabeth, Cawarden was also elected as a Member of Parliament for Bletchingley a position he would hold again in 1547. Bletchingley was so small it did not even hold the status of town.

In 1544 Cawarden received a patent as Master of Revels and Tents, a position that was relatively minor until King Henry VIII when the role became important. Cawarden was the first to become head of an independent office and was also knighted in the same year at Boulogne. Soon after Cawarden was appointed the office and stores were moved to a dissolved Dominican monastery at Blackfriars. As part of his position he was responsible for overseeing royal festivities, progresses and military expeditions.

list of items to be moved to BlackfriarsAn itemised list detailed what was required to be moved to the new Master of the Revels office at Blackfriars

In 1547 Cawarden and his office provided hales, roundhouses and a kitchen tent for a military expedition to Scotland during the war of the Rough Wooing. Upon the return home Cawarden paid for the tents to be dried and put away after they were soaked during travel.

During the reign of Queen Mary I she ordered officers to collect arms and armour from Cawarden’s home in order to protect to city from Wyatt’s rebellion. Also during Mary’s reign Cawarden was implicated in a plot to replace Mary with Elizabeth. Evidence given implicated Cawarden and others in which he was allegedly require to intercept any treasure sent by Queen Mary to her husband in Spain. In May 1556 Cawarden was given a bond ordering him to remain in his home at Blackfriars, just two months later the order was rescinded.

His patent also allowed Cawarden to keep 40 armed and liveried servants at Bletchingley Castle, during his time in office Cawarden lived at Loseley Park near Guildford, which is where his official papers were preserved.

Many honours came to Cawarden in his life including in 1543 he was appointed as Keeper of the house and gardens of Nonsuch Palace until 1556, in 1547 Cawarden was appointed as High Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex, in 1550 as Keeper of Hampton Court and in 1558 he was the joint Lieutenant of the Tower of London, sharing the position with Sir Edward Warner. Between 1547 and 1559 he was elected as knight of the shire for Surrey on four occasions.

In 1547 Cawarden obtained the former home of Anne of Cleves, Bletchingley a Tudor home that was gifted to the former Queen as part of her divorce settlement with King Henry VIII. In 1551 Cawarden began work on a banqueting house in Hyde Park, London with Lawrence Bradshaw who was a surveyor of works but by 1556 this was supplanted by his banqueting house at Nonsuch Park.

Cawarden died on 25th August 1559 at East Horsley, his body was taken to Bletchingley for burial.

Sir Thomas Cawarden tombSir Thomas Cawarden’s tomb