On this day in 1578 – Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex were married

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester married Lettice Knollys without consent from Queen Elizabeth I on 21st September 1578.

It is believed that Dudley had long hoped to marry Queen Elizabeth herself but it became more and more clear that she had no intentions of marrying anybody let alone her favourite, Dudley. Therefore, Robert began secretly looking for a wife. He had met Lettice Knollys, daughter of Catherine Carey and granddaughter of Mary Boleyn, when Lettice was 21 and married to Walter Devereux. Robert and Lettice enjoyed a brief flirtation at the time but it was nothing more than an attempt to make the Queen jealous after she had flirted herself with Sir Thomas Heneage.

After Devereux had been sent to Ireland Lettice remained in the employment of her first cousin, Queen Elizabeth and had regular encounters with Robert. Lettice was also present at Kenilworth Castle in 1575 when he entertained the Queen for 19 days, in an apparent last ditch attempt to win her hand in marriage.

Rumours began surfacing regarding the nature of Robert and Lettice’s relationship made worse when Devereux was sent back to Ireland. Devereux died in September 1576 leaving Lettice widowed with their four children to raise, they were forced to seek accommodation and favours from family and friends.

Finally accepting that the Queen would not marry him nor any other, Robert began negotiations with Lettice’s father and brothers in the hope that he could marry her. On the evening of 20th September 1578 Robert welcomed Lord North into his home at Wanstead and confided in him that he would be married in the morning. Robert also told his chaplain “that he had for a good season forborne marriage in respect of her Majesty’s displeasure and that he was then for sundry respects and especially for the better quieting of his conscience determined to marry with the right honourable Countess of Essex”.

The couple were married early on the 21st September between 7am and 8am with the bride wearing a loose gown. Only six people were present at the wedding including Lettice’s father and brother, Richard along with Robert’s brother, Ambrose and two friends the Earl of Pembroke and Lord North.

Queen Elizabeth was furious that Robert had married without her permission she banished the couple from the court, eventually allowing Robert to return but Lettice was not allowed back.

In the early years of their marriage in order to avoid further wrath from the Queen Lettice continued to call herself the Countess of Essex and not Leicester. She also continued living discreetly at her family home in Oxfordshire. Things changed when she gave birth to a son in June 1581, by 1583 Lettice and their son were openly living in Robert’s London home as man and wife, which infuriated the Queen further.

The relationship between Elizabeth and Robert never fully recovered after he married Lettice and although she still relied upon him and sent him on military missions abroad. The couple remained married until Robert’s death in 1588. The couple are buried together in the Beauchamp Chapel of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick alongside their son. When Lettice died in 1634 she had commissioned an epitaph to be fitted onto their tomb which read that she was buried with the ‘best and dearest of husband.’

Lettice Knollys Lettice Knollys and Robert DudleyRobert Dudley

On this day in 1486 – Prince Arthur Tudor was born

Following King Henry VII’s victory at the Battle of Bosworth he would have found it vital to secure the throne and produce an heir so when his new bride, Elizabeth of York announced her pregnancy there was great joy in the new Tudor court.

Just weeks before the new Queen was due to give birth; Henry moved his court from London to Winchester, 60 miles away. Henry believed that Winchester was the home of Camelot where King Arthur and his knights of the round table held court, Henry felt a strong connection to King Arthur and had even ordered a family tree to be commissioned that traced his ancestors back to the time of Arthur. The Queen had not been due for a few more weeks but Bernard Andre believed that the upheaval and the long journey caused Elizabeth to go into premature labour and she gave birth to a son in the early hours of 20th September 1486 at St Swithun’s Priory.

St Swithun's GateSt Swithun’s Gate, Winchester

Upon Arthur’s birth he was bestowed the title of Duke of Cornwall and his birth firmly cemented the union between the Houses of Tudor and York. Messengers were sent out and bonfires were lit across the country to announce the birth of the new Prince and Te Deum’s were sung in Cathedrals up and down England to celebrate the arrival of Arthur.

Due to Arthur’s early birth plans for his baptism had to be brought forward to the 24th September, with the King hoping that four days would be enough time for people to arrive at Winchester for the celebration as due to the early arrival key peers such as John de Vere, the Earl of Oxford had not yet arrived at the new court, in fact he was still at his home in Lavenham, Surrey over 100 miles away.

On the morning of the 24th September the Earl of Oxford, who was a godparent to the new Prince, had still not arrived. King Henry had been informed that Oxford was within a mile of the ceremony and so the decision was made to postpone the beginning of the baptism. However, after three hours, Oxford had still not arrived and the congregation was getting restless so Henry intervened and asked Thomas Stanley, his stepfather, to act as a proxy godparent. With this agreed Henry returned to being out of sight, as was the protocol at baptisms, and ordered the ceremony to begin.

With the ceremony underway the priest was beginning to name the child when Oxford entered the Cathedral, Oxford then proceeded to take Arthur in his right arm and presented him for his confirmation. Arthur’s other godparents would be William FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel, Elizabeth Woodville, Dowager Queen and Arthur’s grandmother and Cecily of York, Queen Elizabeth’s sister and Arthur’s aunt.

Following the ceremony Arthur was taken back to his mother, who had not been present as tradition dictated and would be missing from the court until her churching, which normally took place 60 days after the birth of a child but Elizabeth’s churching took place just 40 days after Arthur’s birth. Arthur was carried by his aunt, Lady Cecily and was followed by a procession that passed through the nursery with the King’s musicians. Arthur was then delivered back to his mother and nurses whilst the court went and continued celebrating the new heir to the Tudor throne.

Arthur’s nursery consisted of Lady Darcy who was in charge of the nursery itself, a position she held previously with King Edward IV’s son, Arthur’s wet nurse was Catherine Gibbs and his rockers were Agnes Butler and Evelyn Hobbes.

Arthur Tudor was idolised by his mother and father who viewed him as the future of the country until his untimely death in 1502.

ArthurPrince Arthur Tudor

On this day in 1580 – Katherine Willoughby died

Katherine Willoughby was born on 22nd March 1519 to William Willoughby and his wife Maria de Salinas. She was born at Parham Old Hall in Suffolk. Her mother Maria was of Spanish origin that came to England in the service of the future queen, Katherine of Aragon.

Katherine was raised at Parham whilst her mother attended on the Queen but when she was only seven, in 1526, her father died and Katherine as their only child inherited her father’s barony and all his property, making her a very wealthy child. However, Katherine’s inheritance was fought over within her family due to doubt over which land was left to male heirs and which to heirs general. It would be an ongoing battle.

Due to the death of Katherine’s father she was now the ward of King Henry VIII. Wards were often granted to the king if a father had died to take the financial strain off the mother in her times of need. As a result of this the King sold his ward to his closest friend and brother in law, Charles Brandon. Brandon acting for his ward soon became involved in her ongoing struggle to claim her inheritance by writing a letter to Cardinal Wolsey.

Katherine was betrothed to Brandon’s son, Henry but when Brandon’s wife and the king’s sister, Mary Tudor died in 1533 Brandon, aged 49 began showing an interest in his 14 year old ward. The betrothal between his son and Katherine was broken and six weeks after his wife’s death Brandon married Katherine. Katherine bore two sons to Brandon, one called Henry and the other Charles. She also raised Brandon’s first son from his previous marriage, the boy Katherine was originally intended to marry.

Brandon died in 1545 with Katherine only in her mid 20’s. It is believed that following the death of his friend the king viewed Katherine as a potential seventh wife. However, nothing came of this and the king remained married to Catherine Parr until his death in 1547.

Following Henry’s death and that of the dowager Queen Catherine, she was awarded the wardship of Catherine Parr and Thomas Seymour’s daughter and in later years also Lady Mary Grey. Tragedy struck Katherine in 1551 when both her sons caught the sweating sickness and died within an hour of each other.

Katherine married for a second time to Richard Bertie, this appears to be a love match as he was a member of her household. They also shared the same religious beliefs, their beliefs would cause them to flee to the continent during the reign of Queen Mary I. They returned to England in 1559 and continued living at Katherine’s estate, Grimsthorpe. Katherine and Richard had two children Peregrine and Susan.

Katherine’s battle over her estates were not resolved until Queen Elizabeth I took the throne.

Katherine died on 19th September 1580 and is buried with her second husband, Richard, in Spilsby, Lincolnshire.

Katherine WilloughbyKatherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk

On this day in 1551 – King Henry III of France was born

King Henry III of France was born on 19th September 1551; he was the fourth son of King Henry II and Catherine de’Medici and was born at the Château de Fontainebleau. In 1560 he was created Duke of Angloulême and Duke of Orléans and later in 1566 the Duke of Anjou. Henry was his mother’s favourite son and was affectionately known as chers yeux (precious eyes).

Henry showed more interest in the arts and reading rather than hunting and sport like his father and brothers. He was heavily influenced by his mother. At an early age he showed a leaning towards Protestantism by refusing to attend mass, singing Protestant psalms and calling himself a ‘little Huguenot’. Catherine de’Medici cautioned Henry and his siblings and he remained a Roman Catholic.

In 1570 discussions were opened between France and England regarding a possible marriage between Henry and Queen Elizabeth I however, nothing came from the negotiations for many reasons including their religious differences as well as the large age gap. It is reported that Henry also called the Queen a ‘putain publique’ (public whore) and even called her an ‘old creature with a sore leg’ due to false reports that she limped due to a varicose vein.

Whilst as a Prince of France he led the royal army during the French Wars of Religion and was present at the Battle of Jarnac in March 1569 and the Battle of Moncontour in October 1569. In 1572 whilst still the Duke of Anjou he was allegedly involved in the plot of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. Henry would go on to lead the siege of La Rochelle in 1572/73.

Following the death of Sigismund II Augustus on 7th July 1572 a French envoy was sent to Poland to negotiate the case for Henry to be elected as the next ruler of Poland in exchange for military support against Russia, financial subsidies and diplomatic assistance with the Ottoman Empire. On 16th May 1573 Henry was the first elected monarch of the Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth. A Polish delegation was sent to La Rochelle, where Henry was still fighting, to meet the newly elected King.

On 10th September 1573 the delegation asked Henry to take an oath at Notre Dame Cathedral, where he would swear to Henry Polish throne‘respect traditional Polish liberties and the law on religious freedom that had been passed during the interregnum.’ Before his election could be confirmed Henry was also required to sign the Pacta Conventa and the Henrician Articles which would allow religious tolerance throughout the Commonwealth. At a ceremony on 13th September before the Parlement of Paris a Polish delegation handed over the certificate of election to the throne and under the Henrician Articles and Pacta Conventa Henry acknowledged that he had no claims to succession due to free election.

Henry arrived at the borders of Poland in January 1574 and his coronation was held in Kraków on 21st February 1574. However, upon learning of his brothers, Charles IX, death Henry left Poland for France. His absence caused a constitutional crisis and Parliament warned Henry that if he did not return to Poland by 12th May 1575 then he would lose his throne. Henry failed to return and the throne was declared vacant.

Henry’s time in Poland although short lived was influential on France, upon his return he ordered the building of septic facilities at the Louvre and other royal palaces, Henry was also introduced to forks and a bath that had regulated hot and cold water.

On 13th February 1575 Henry was crowned King of France at Reims Cathedral and he married Louise of Lorraine on 14th February 1575.

In 1576 Henry signed the Edict of Beaulieu, which granted concessions to the Huguenots. This caused the Duke of Guise to form the Catholic League and Henry was forced to revoke many of the concessions.

In 1578 Henry created the Order of the Holy Spirit to commemorate being the first King of Poland as well as the King of France. This order would give precedence over the previous Order of St. Michael, which had been awarded too frequently and lost its meaning. The Order of the Holy Spirit remained the most prestigious order of France until the fall of the French monarchy.

Francis, Duke of Anjou, was Henry’s younger brother and heir presumptive to the throne of France until his death in 1584. The next heir was to be Henry of Navarre, a Protestant and direct descendant of Louis IX. With pressure from the Duke of Guise, Henry issued an edict that suppressed Protestantism and therefore also annulled any claims that Henry of Navarre had to the throne of France.

The Duke of Guise had been incredibly popular in France and following the defeat of the Spanish Armada Henry feared that the Spanish support for the Catholic League would falter. On 23rd December 1588 at the Château de Blois the Duke of Guise was invited to the council chamber where his brother, Louis II, Cardinal of Guise was also waiting. They had been told that the King wished to see them both in a private room next to the royal bedroom. Upon entering the room the Duke and the Cardinal were murdered by royal guardsmen who also imprisoned the Duke’s son. The Duke of Guise was very popular in France and the King’s subjects began to blame him for the murders and turned on hm. The Parelement issued criminal charges against the King who was then forced to join with his former heir, Henry of Navarre to form the Parliament of Tours.

On 1st August 1589 Henry was lodged at Saint-Cloud with his army preparing an attack on Paris. It was here that a Dominican friar, Jacques Clément was granted access to the King under the illusion that he was delivering important Assasination of Henrydocuments. The friar approached the King and stated that he had a message just for the King’s ears, Henry signalled for his attendants to step back for the message to be delivered. As the friar whispered in Henry’s ear he stabbed him with a knife to the abdomen. Clément was killed instantly but it was thought that the King’s wound was not fatal. As the guards gathered around the King to attend to his injury Henry spoke that if he was to die then they should be loyal to Henry of Navarre as the new King of France.

The following morning King Henry III of France died, it was received within the city with joy it was even considered by some as an act of God. Henry was interred at the Saint Denis Basilica but during the French Revolution he was disinterred, his body desecrated and thrown into a common grave. Henry III was the last of the Valois Kings of France.

Duke of AnjouA painting of Henry whilst he was the Duke of Anjou

Film review – Bill

Bill

Ever wondered what William Shakespeare did during ‘the lost years’, with so many theories floating around the team behind ‘Horrible Histories’ have thrown their tale into the ring. A story of love, treason and a plot to kill Queen Elizabeth writers Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond could have taken it straight from the pages of a Shakespearean tale and who knows maybe Shakespeare did hand out flyers to make ends meet whilst dressed as a tomato.

Bill

We meet Bill (Mathew Baynton) as he is kicked out of the Tudor lute band Mortal Coil with another get famous scheme failed his wife, Anne Hathaway (Martha Howe-Douglas) declares it’s time to get a proper job and support the family. Bill has other ideas and sets off for that London with dreams of becoming a writer. Whilst in London he gets drawn into writing a play that will be the focal point of a Catholic plot and a comedy of errors ensues.

Throughout the film we meet King Philip II of Spain, Queen Elizabeth I and Christopher Marlowe, these historical figures along with Bill are brought to life on screen by the fantastic troupe of actors that have earned the title of heirs apparent to Monty Python. Helen McCrory is particularly captivating as the Virgin Queen. Baynton’s Bill and Jim Howick’s Christopher Marlowe have a great on screen relationship especially in their first meeting where Bill tries to teach Marlowe ‘your mum’ jokes. Simon Farnaby was outstanding as the Earl of Crawley….oh um sorry I mean Croydon! He reminded me of Colin Firth’s Lord Wessex from Shakespeare in Love but just slightly more hapless.

The jokes come thick and fast and there is something for children and adults alike as do the references to Shakespeare’s work, there is a great game in there to see how many you can spot! Normally with films set in historical times the accuracy and attention to detail goes out of the window however, this is not the case with Bill everything looks like it belongs in the era and the characters were spot on. It will also be educational for children who are beginning to learn about other eras.

I don’t think that I can fault Bill in the slightest the locations and costumes were stunning, the cast were hilarious and the plot provided plenty of laughs. There is something for everybody within the film and although the comedy is there in buckets there is still a lesson to be taken away at the end of the film.

I for one will watch it time and again and look forward to spotting even more references that I surely missed. I can’t wait to see what the cast and writers do next as I think Bill is the start of something great.

First_promotional_photo_for_''Bill''_(2015_film_release)L-R: Laurence Rickard, Simon Farnaby, Mathew Baynton, Martha Howe-Douglas, Ben Willbond and Jim Howick

On this day in 1501 – Henry Stafford was born

Henry Stafford was born on 18th September 1501 in Penshurst, Kent to Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Eleanor Percy.

On 16th February 1519 Stafford married Ursula Pole, daughter of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and Sir Richard Pole. The marriage had been arranged by Stafford’s father the Duke of Buckingham after it was suggested by Cardinal Wolsey. Ursula brought a dowry of 3,000 marks which would be increased by a thousand if her mother was able to gain back family land from King Henry VIII. Ursula’s mother, Margaret Pole, managed to secure them lands worth 700 marks and in return Edward Stafford kept lands worth £500 for Ursula’s jointure, in the event of her husband’s death.

Henry Stafford and his new wife lived in the household of his father as due to their young age they were required to have a guardian. In November 1520 the couple had their first child, named Henry, who died in infancy.

In 1521 Henry’s father was arrested and beheaded after being accused of treason, he was posthumously attainted by an Act of Parliament in 1523 which meant that his titles and lands were forfeited to the crown leaving Henry and his family with no support. Until the Attainder against his father, Henry had been known as the Earl of Stafford.

It is believed that Henry and Ursula had 14 children during the course of their marriage including Dorothy Stafford who served Queen Elizabeth I as Mistress of the Robes.

In 1547 Henry petitioned Parliament for the restoration in blood but did not ask for his father’s lands and titles to be returned to him. Instead in 1548 he was summoned to appear in front of Parliament and it was here that he was created 1st Baron Stafford by King Edward VI. It was the fourth time Baron Stafford had been created but because it had been viewed as a new creation he was the first in this line. Henry in February 1558 won the right for the title to have been recognised as a continuation from 1299, giving the title its history.

In 1531 Staffordshire elected him as a recorder for the borough and he was later appointed as Justice of Peace for Staffordshire and Shropshire in 1536. Henry was also the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire between 1558 and 1559 a role that included Clerk of the Peace.

In 1548 Henry published an English translation of the 1534 tract by Edward Foxe entitled ‘The True Dyfferens Between the Royall Power and the Ecclesiasticall Power’. During the reign of Queen Mary I he converted back to Catholicism and translated two tracts by Erasmus against Luther. His personal library included over 300 books many of which were in Latin.

Henry died on 30th April 1563 at Caus Castle in Shropshire. He was buried in Worthen Church on 6th May.

wothen churchWorthen Church the burial place of Henry Stafford

On this day in 1558 – Walter Devereux, Viscount Hereford, died

Walter Devereux was born in 1488 to John Devereux, 8th Baron Ferrers of Chartley and his wife Cecily Bourchier. Devereux was born in either Chartley Castle of Chartley Manor in Stowe-by-Chartley, Staffordshire. He was also the maternal grandson of Anne Woodville, daughter of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg and sister to Elizabeth Woodville, wife of King Edward IV.

In 1501, when Walter was only 13, his father died with Walter succeeding him as 9th Baron Ferrers of Chartley and on 9th December 1509 he was granted the use of a special livery, despite being underage he was not required to show proof of age or payment of relief for his father’s land. Devereux had also been married prior to his father’s death however, on 15th December 1503 it had been pardoned due to him being under the appropriate age for marriage, he had been married to Mary Grey, daughter of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset and granddaughter to Elizabeth Woodville through her first marriage. Devereux and Mary went on to have three sons, Henry, William and Richard.

On 20th November 1510 he was created High Steward of Tamworth and on 15th February the following year he was appointed alongside Sir Edward Belknapp as joint Constable of Warwick Castle, at the same time Devereux was also appointed joint Steward of the town of Warwick.

Devereux received further appointments on 27th January 1513 when he was appointed Keeper of Netherwood Park, on 1st August 1513 as Councillor and Royal Commissioner of Wales and the Marches and the following year in 1514 as High Steward of Hereford.

Devereux also served the army during the War of the League of Cambrai and later in the Italian Wars of 1521 – 1526, during his time serving in France he was appointed as Captain of the English Army on 24th August 1523 and he oversaw the fight off the coast of Brittany. King Henry VIII was highly impressed with Devereux and rewarded him on 13th July 1523 by creating him a Knight of the Garter alongside Thomas Boleyn.

With King Henry VIII holding Devereux in such high regard the positions kept coming on 11th February 1525 he was appointed as Bailiff of Sutton Coldfield and later that year he was made Steward of the Household and Councillor to King Henry’s daughter, Princess Mary. On 22nd August 1525 Devereux was appointed as Chief Justice of South Wales and High Steward of Builth. The following year on 25th May 1526 he was created Chamberlain of South Wales, Carmarthen and Cardigan making him a powerful and influential man in Wales.

In the late 1520s with his increased powers in Wales he became the target of Welsh peer Rhys ap Gruffydd who in 1529, along with a group of armed supporters, threatened Devereux at knifepoint. The pair were allowed to talk through the issues that were troubling them but Gruffydd and his family continued to cause trouble in Wales and for Devereux until Gruffydd was eventually arrested and executed after being charged with treason.

Devereux married for a second time, following the death of his first wife, to Margaret Garneys and they went on to have two children, Edward and Katherine.

In 1543 Devereux was appointed as Custos Rotulorum of Cardiganshire otherwise known as Keeper of the Rolls, a position Devereux would hold until his death. It is also known that Devereux was with King Henry VIII at the siege of Boulogne when it was taken on 18th September 1544.

Upon his return from Boulogne, Devereux was created Viscount Hereford on 2nd February 1550 and was appointed as a Privy Councillor by King Edward VI. On 4th May 1551 he was made joint Lord Justice and Lieutenant of Stafford and on 18th February 1554 Justice of the Peace for Stafford, Worcester and Salop.

Devereux died on 17th September 1558 and was buried at Stowe-by-Chartley, Staffordshire.

walter_devereux__margaret_garneys_250x187The tomb of Walter Devereux and second wife Margaret Garneys

On this day in 1541 – King Henry VIII and Catherine Howard arrived in York on royal progress

In 1541 King Henry VIII set of on royal progress to the north of England with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. On 16th September 1541 Henry and his travelling court entered the city of York through Walmgate Bar where they were met by the mayor and aldermen of the city who would beg forgiveness from the King for the Pilgrimage of Grace, when the north rebelled against the King in 1536. The King and his wife were then presented with a gold cup that were both filled with gold coins as a token of welcome.

The royal progress was normally a grand affair and this one was no different Henry had not long been married to his young bride and wanted to show to the country that the disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves was not his fault. The progress made many stops on their way to York after leaving London on 30th June. They arrived in Lincoln on 9th August and visiting Pontefract on 23rd August before arriving in York on 16th September via Cawood, Wressle, Leconfield and Hull. Henry had also arranged to meet King James V of Scotland at York to discuss the prospect of peace between the two countries. However, King James did not show to the meeting.
Chronicler Edward Hall wrote about King Henry’s progress of 1541;

This Sommer the Kyng kepte his progresse to Yorke, and passed through Lyncolne Shire, where was made to hym an humble submission by he temporaltie, confessing their offence, and thankyngthe kyng for his pardon: and the Toune of Staunforde gaue the Kynd twentie pounde, and Lyncolne presented fourtie pounde, & Boston fiftie pound that parte whiche is called Lynsey gaue three hundred pounde, and Kestren and the Churche of Lyncolne gaue fifte pounde. And when he entered into Yorke Shire, he was met with two hundred gentlemen of the same Shire in coates of Veluet, and foure thousande tall yornen, and seruyng men, well horsed: whiche on their knees made a submission, by the mouthe of sir Robert Bowes, and gaue to the Kyng nyne hundred pounde. And on Barnesdale met the Kyng, the Archebishoppe of Yorke, with three hundred Priestes and more, and made a like submission, and gaue the kyng sixe hundred pounde. Like submission was made by the Maior of Yorke, Newe Castle and Hull, and eche of theim gaue to the Kynd an hundred pounde. When the Kyng had been at York twelue daies, he came to Hull, and deuised there certain fortificacions, and passed ouer the water of Homber, and so through Lyncolne Shire, and at Halontidee came to Hampton Court.”

It was also on this royal progress that Catherine Howard had become involved with Thomas Culpepper, an affair that was discovered shortly after their return to London and seal the young Queen’s fate.

Catherine Howard portrait Henry Hans Holbein 1537

On this day in 1589 – The Battle of Arques began

The Battle of Arques began on the 15th September 1589 and was between King Henry IV of France and the army of the Catholic League that was led by Duke of Mayenne, Charles of Lorraine.

After the death of King Henry III of France, Henry of Navarre began the next King of France as Henry IV. Henry was a Huguenot but he declared that he intended to keep and preserve the Catholic religion in France. The majority of the French cities sided with the Catholic League against the new King and their leader, Charles of Lorraine the Duke of Mayenne.

The French royal army was in disarray at the time and Henry IV could only summon 20,000 men to help stop a country that was rebelling. Henry therefore divided what troops he had into three and placed Henri I d’Orléans, Jean VI d’Aumont and Henry himself in charge of Picardy, Champagne and Normandy respectively with Henry waiting for troops to be sent from Elizabeth I in England.

On 6th August 1589 Henry had set up camp with his 8,000 men at the port of Dieppe however, the Duke of Mayenne wanted to win back the port and drive Henry from Normandy. The Duke had an army of 35,000 as well as militias from Cambrai. Henry knowing that an attack on an army the size of the one led by the Duke of Mayenne would be a dangerous decision he decided to move his troops to the city of Arques where he would construct defences.

On 15th September 1589 the Catholic League launched an attack on Arques however; Henry’s forces fought back with artillery but eventually Henry’s side began to struggle.

Henry’s army was eventually rescued through the help of Elizabeth I on 23rd September when she sent 4,000 men by the sea to aid his cause. Upon seeing the English ships approaching the Duke of Mayenne ordered his troops to retreat leaving Henry and the royal army victorious.

Henry IV at ArquesKing Henry IV of France at the Battle of Arques

Sandra Vasoli’s book tour – Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower

Today Tudor Chronicles welcomes Sandra Vasoli, author of ‘Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower’ on her book tour. Sandra has written a wonderful article about the British Library and how Sandra came to view Anne’s Book of Hours.Sandra’s book is available in either paperback or Kindle and published by MadeGlobal Publishing.

Here is Sandra in her own words about the British Library and Viewing Original Documents.

The British Library, adjacent to St Pancras Station in Euston Road, London, is the national library of the United Kingdom. It is truly a place of amazement and delight for individuals of all ages. It’s the largest library in the world based upon the number of catalogued items. They total over 170 million, and are held in many languages and formats.

british-library-01

(illustration The British Library http://static.trustedreviews.com/94/b5ce19/eb6b/british-library-01.jpg)

Maybe most spectacular is the Library’s collection of historical manuscripts and artefacts. There are precious holdings which date as far back as 2,000 BC. The Library often puts selected pieces on display, creating opportunities for people to see things which are astonishing by virtue of their age and importance in the history of humankind.

Beinecke Library

(Illustration British Library glass stacks http://www.educationbash.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Yale-Rare-Book-Manuscript-Library-4.jpg)

With regard to early manuscripts, papers and documents, the Library shines. Very convenient to the interested person or serious researcher, there are digitized versions of documents available which have contributed to history all over the world, because the British Library partners with major educational settings globally. In addition, the research staffs from various departments within the Library are enormously helpful in supporting people in their studies .

The Library’s website is well worth poring over, especially for anyone interested in seeing early documents. One of my personal areas of interest and delight includes viewing early illuminated manuscripts. Once logged into the Library’s website, go to the page ‘Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts’ http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/welcome.htm. There, you can key in a time period, or the name of a historical figure, and you will have a chance to see any and all documents or items which pertained to that person or time.

For another fascinating computer-based search, visit the tab ‘Services’, and ‘Images Online’. This will provide an endless array of options to explore. As a point of example, if you are a fan of Anne Boleyn, type her name in the box designated for ‘Search Images Online’, and you will be rewarded with 22 wonderful items to discover and view, including paintings, letters and a gorgeous image of the tiny, gold –bound book of hours that Anne was said to hand to one of her ladies while she was on the scaffold awaiting her death.

untitled-picture

(illustration Anne’s book https://bookaddictionuk.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/untitled-picture.png)

How did I become acquainted with the magnificent British Library? In 2011, I had begun research to write the first of my two-part series of a novel of Anne Boleyn. The book, Je Anne Boleyn: Struck With the Dart of Love, is a memoir about Anne’s relationship with Henry VIII. I became very interested in the book of hours which it is reputed Anne owned, and in which both she and Henry wrote flirtatious inscriptions to each other. I had learned that this book is owned and held by the British Library, and I decided to attempt to see it. I had no idea whether this effort would work, but I spoke with the staff in Research Services and received my instructions about what was required to receive a Reader’s Pass for the Manuscripts Reading Room. As a part of my planned visit to London, I went to the Library, with necessary documents and information in hand. A last minute requirement caused me a great deal of panic, as my heart was now set on seeing this book, and it appeared that I might not be admitted. But due to the help of a London based friend, I was able to complete all my verification paperwork, and lo and behold, I entered the Reading Room.

For me, at least, this was a marvelous, but daunting experience. There was a reverential hush throughout the lovely, brightly lit space. Many students of all ages were situated in study carrels, which have been designed for the purpose of safely and carefully viewing precious, ancient documents. I was assigned a seat, and placed my scant belongings (at that time, the only items permitted were a notebook, number 2 pencils, eyeglasses, and a magnifying glass. Now, I believe, laptops or pads are permitted). I submitted my request, using the Library catalogue number, through the internal computer system, and then checked with the staff at the desk, where I was told to wait, and that I would be summoned if and when my request was approved. I nervously waited at my station, and looked about , craning to glimpse what incredible items others were studying. I was dumbfounded, seeing the ancient Greek, Latin, medieval, and even Egyptian hieroglyph manuscripts opened with people scrutinizing them, busily making notes.

After a short wait, I was asked to approach the desk. The pleasant young woman handed me a small box. She lifted the lid, and there, lying in its cardboard covering, was a leatherbound volume. My heart pounded, and I looked at her questioningly. She said, “certainly, you may take it and look at it. You are the only one permitted to handle it, please do not allow anyone else to touch. Use the tips of your clean, dry fingers only, and touch as little as possible.” She handed me a ‘snake’ of smooth pebbles strung together which are placed across the pages to hold them open. I returned to my desk, barely breathing.

I will never forget the feeling I had when when I opened the book. The binding had been replaced during the reign of George I in the early 1700’s (his inscription was on the binding), so that was not original. But the pages! They were of the smoothest, highest quality vellum, which is lamb or kidskin. And the illuminations – well, they were nearly indescribable. My magnifying glass was critical, because the book was small, smaller than the size of one’s hand, and the illustrations were painted with stupendous detail. The colours were so vibrant that the blues almost hurt the eyes, and the gold leaf, of which there was a great deal, shone and gleamed. This clearly was a book which had been enormously costly, and had been taken great care of in its day. Slowly and carefully I turned the pages, marveling over every one, until I came to the page illustrated with the image of Mary, with the archangel and the dove of the Holy Spirit seeking to gain her attention, to tell her that she would have a Son. The illustration was beautiful – but below… there was Anne’s handwriting! It was before my own eyes, and I realized that she had touched the very page I had just touched, and had written a message to Henry, her love – meant only for him. It was an unimaginable moment for me. And from then on, my concept about research was never the same. I looked at the words she had written:

By daily proof you shall me find

To be to you both loving and kind

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(illustration Anne’s Page in Book of Hours http://41.media.tumblr.com/f359953b92731fb7293072eb5fa8e0c5/tumblr_nojudaWm8Y1rnltc5o1_1280.jpg)

Paging onward, it was difficult, because I wanted to study each leaf, yet I was anxious to find Henry’s inscription. That lay further on in the book – almost at the end. Finally, I turned a page and there it was. The ink had faded to a soft grey, and the nib he had used was sharper – Anne’s letters were broad – but on the page with the bleeding and flayed Christ, he had written in French :

“If you remember my love in your prayers as strongly as I adore you,

I shall hardly be forgotten, for I am yours. Henry R. forever.”

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(illustration Henry’s page in Book of Hours http://onthetudortrail.com/Blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/annebs_large.jpg)

I studied his writing, and the entire book, as long as I was able. Finally, I had to relinquish it, and return it to the Manuscripts desk. I had taken copious notes, which today I treasure. I have been told that it is becoming more and more difficult to obtain permission to view many of those priceless and singular documents.

Once I had an opportunity to reflect on what I had seen, I was struck by something which I feel the book told me. The story of this Book of Hours, as repeated by historians, is that the book belonged to Anne before 1529. Once their romance had commenced, and in Mass one morning, she wrote Henry her message in the book and passed it to him. He found her note, and seeing as he was already doing business and signing documents (as apparently he did during morning Mass) he penned the response, and sent the book back to her. After having held this lovely item and having viewed it closely, I found that I disagreed with this legend. My first strong realization was that this particular book, lavishly illustrated, with gorgeous,expensive, and numerous pages, was too costly to belong to anyone but royalty. Therefore, the story that it was Anne’s prior to 1529 I find erroneous. (If compared to the Books of Hours she did in fact own, and are kept at Hever, it is quite apparent that they are much less extravagant than this one). I believe the book was owned by Henry. The second deviation I find is that Books of Hours were not typically used at Mass. Instead, congregants used Missals, which followed the rites of the Mass. The Henry and Anne volume is clearly a Book of Hours, which was intended to be carried throughout the day, to refer to when praying at differing times and locations. This causes me to doubt the legend of the exchange at Mass. The pages of the book were not well worn, therefore I don’t believe it was often used, but instead was a beautiful belonging of Henry’s. I think he decided to give her the Book, and wrote his message in it when he was wooing her. I feel that Anne received it, and took her time in selecting a page on which to respond, as well as the message she would inscribe before she returned it to Henry. These inscriptions were not done hastily, it is easy to see when studying them.

What happened to this beautiful object? How did it come to remain with us today? I don’t know, but my guess is that Henry gifted it to Anne after he had read her wonderful, promising inscription. Perhaps she then gave it to someone close to her, or perhaps it was left in her belongings after her death and saved for her daughter Elizabeth who ensured its safety.

I learned that day, not only about the Book itself, but just how much the study of original documents can inform our assessment of history. It makes all the difference!

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Sandra Vasoli, author of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower, earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and biology from Villanova University before embarking on a thirty-five-year career in human resources for a large international company.

Having written essays, stories, and articles all her life, Vasoli was prompted by her overwhelming fascination with the Tudor dynasty to try her hand at writing both historical fiction and non-fiction. While researching what would eventually become her Je Anne Boleyn series, Vasoli was granted unprecedented access to the Papal Library. There she was able to read the original love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn—an event that contributed greatly to her research and writing.

Vasoli currently lives in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two greyhounds.

A huge thank you to Sandra for her words.

Sandra’s book tour will continue all week with visits to the following sites

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Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower is available now and can be purchased here:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-Boleyns-Letter-Tower-Assessment/dp/8494372157/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1442061382&sr=8-1&keywords=sandra+vasoli

Our review of the book will be up later in the week but in the meantime MadeGlobal Publishing have offered one copy of the book as a competition, for further details please head over to http://www.facebook.com/TudorChronicles to enter, one winner will be selected at random after the competition closes at midnight on September 18th and will be contacted after this date.