Tag Archives: Margaret Beaufort

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

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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 1443 – Margaret Beaufort was born

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

Margaret Beaufort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaret-Beaufort-effigy

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

Beaufort Portcullis

On this day in 1497 – Catherine Woodville died

Catherine Woodville was born in 1458 to Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Making Catherine the sister to Elizabeth Woodville and sister-in-law to King Edward IV. Many of Elizabeth’s family were elevated into high ranks and Catherine was no different she was married to Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham.

The Duke of Buckingham resented his marriage to Catherine and considered her to be of inferior birth; however, this did not stop the couple having four children together.

In 1469 with King Edward VI captured by the Earl of Warwick and imprisoned at Warwick Castle the Woodville family were targeted and Catherine along with her mother, Jacquetta and her sister were accused of using sorcery. Catherine denied all charges and was acquitted early in 1470 by a committee.

After the death of Edward VI, Buckingham aligned himself with Richard, Duke of Gloucester and helped him gain the throne to become King Richard III. Buckingham though was unhappy with Richard’s reign and he became turncoat to help Henry Tudor’s cause. Buckingham led an unsuccessful rebellion in 1483 and was executed as a traitor, leaving Catherine to raise four children with little money due to Buckingham being subject to attainder.

With Buckingham’s death, Catherine was left a widow and after the victory of Henry Tudor at Bosworth in 1485 she was married to the new King’s uncle, Jasper Tudor on 7th November 1485. With her marriage to Jasper Tudor, Catherine’s life turned around, her wealth and lands restored to her with Buckingham’s attainder reversed. The newlyweds began the Duke and Duchess of Bedford.

Catherine began helping with preparations for her niece’s coronation and the morning after the coronation Catherine was sat to the left of the Queen, with Margaret Beaufort on the right. This showed just how highly regarded Catherine was in the new royal court.

Jasper Tudor died in 1495, after ten years of marriage and Catherine was then married to Richard Wingfield. The marriage was in secret and without the King’s permission. King Henry VII fined the couple £2,000 which would have been paid by Catherine’s son, Edward, the new Duke of Buckingham.

Catherine died on 18th May 1497 and it is unknown where she was buried.

Woodville_Tudor Cardiff Castle                               Catherine Woodville and Jasper Tudor stain glass window at Cardiff Castle

On this day in 1509 – King Henry VII died

On 21st April 1509 King Henry VII, the first monarch of the House of Tudor died.

King_Henry_VII

Henry won the throne from King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and by marrying Elizabeth of York he united the houses of York and Lancaster bringing an end to civil unrest. Henry restored political stability to England as well as many administrative, economic and diplomatic advances. However, Henry’s final years were overshadowed by his greed and unfair treatment which caused many Englishmen to be indebted to Henry. Upon his death Henry had gained a personal fortune of £1.25 million, which is the equivalent of £978 million in 2015.

Henry VII was not a military man and did not seek to gain fame on the battlefield so he signed peace treaties that ensured peace remained. Henry formed many alliances which he strengthened through marriage. His son, Arthur, was betrothed to Katherine, daughter of Queen Isabella of Catile and King Ferdinand of Aragon. Henry also married his daughter, Margaret, to King James IV of Scotland.

Although the Wars of the Roses had ended Henry still had to deal with rebellions from those loyal to the former King as well as pretenders to the throne most notably Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck who both claimed to be the rightful heirs to the throne.

King Henry’s wife, Elizabeth, died in 1503 during childbirth and Henry attempted to negotiate a new marriage and even briefly considered marrying Katherine of Aragon, the widow of his son and heir Arthur. However, neither this nor any other women that was considered ended up being the new queen of England. After the death Elizabeth, Henry fell ill and would only allow his mother, Margaret Beaufort, to attend him. The Tower of London was not used again as a residential palace by Henry and even his son used other palaces in London for the births of his children. It appears then that the death of the Queen affected both her husband and son deeply.

The last couple of years of Henry’s reign he had been ill many times however, in February 1509 he became ill once again and this time it was likely he would die. On the evening of 20th April Henry summoned his confessor to administer the last rites. He knew his time was coming to an end. His confessor anointed Henry with the holy oil and performed mass.

King Henry VII died at Richmond Palace at 11pm on 21st April 1509 of turberculosis. He was buried at Westminster Abbey next to his wife in the chapel that he commissioned. His son Henry was proclaimed King on 24th April.

Henry VII tomb

The origins of the Tudor dynasty.

The Tudor’s are one of history’s most famous families and their association with Wales stems back to their origins all the way to Henry Tudor landing in Dale to begin his march towards Bosworth and the crown.

The earliest Tudors date back to 1240 where they were landowners in Four Cantrels (later Denbigh) and later served Llywelyn ab lorwerth. Ednyfed Fychan, steward to the Prince, married a daughter of Lord Rhys and his sons also followed into representing the Prince of Gwynedd. One of these sons was Tudur ap Ednyfed (Tudur son of Ednyfed) whose service was rewarded with land in North Wales, where the Tudor dynasties origins begin.

When Edward I successes the English throne in 1272 he set his sights on conquering Wales and the descendants of Ednyfed saw that it would be more beneficial for them to support the new King. Their decision to switch sides paid off when Edward I took control of the country. However, not everyone in the family was happy with the new King and they joined a failed rebellion against the monarch. One of these rebels was Tudur Hen, Lord of Penmyndd, who quickly swore his allegiance to Edward of Caernarfon and when he died his land passed to his son Goronwy ap Tudur (Goronwy son of Tudur).

Tudur Hen had five sons, they all held positions of importance in North Wales. They were all loyal to the current King, Richard II and two of the brothers Rhys and Gwilym served the King in Ireland whilst on campaign. Richard II was deposed in 1399 by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke, Henry IV. Unhappy with Richard II being usurped the Tudur’s cousin Owain Glyndwr initiated a Welsh uprising against the new King. At first the rebellion was a success with many Welsh lands gained, however in 1401 Henry Percy issued an amnesty to all Welsh rebels except Owain Glyndwr, Rhys ap Tudur and Gwilym ap Tudur. The Tudur brothers were later pardoned after they were captured at Conwy castle. The third Tudur brother Maredydd had his land confiscated and was removed from his positions.

Maredydd ap Tudur married Margaret ferch Thomas and they had a son named Owen ap Tudur ap Maredydd. In an attempt to turn the Tudur families fortunes around they moved to London and Owen, aged seven, was sent to the English court of Henry IV acting as a page. Owen now also went by the name Owen Tudor to make his sound more anglicised by having a surname. Owen also went on the serve Henry V and fought at Agincourt in 1415.

After the death of Henry V in 1422 Owen was appointed the keeper of the wardrobe to the Dowager Queen, Catherine of Valois. The story goes that they met and fell in love when he tripped over and fell into her lap, although this is unproven. The soon married, however it broke a law that stated that the King’s permission was required. Owen and Catherine had two sons, Edmund and Jasper who grew up in the court of their half brother Henry VI. They were granted the Earldoms of Richmond and Pembroke respectively and in return they remained loyal to the King and the House of Lancaster. Owen Tudor went on to lead Lancastrian armies during the Wars of the Roses and was ultimately captured during the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross by Edward, Earl of March (later Edward IV).

His sons Edmund and Jasper continued to fight for Henry VI. In 1455 Edmund was married to Lady Margaret Beaufort, descendant of John of Gaunt through his illegitimate children. Edmund Tudor died from the plague two months before his son was born. This child would grow up to become King Henry VII.

Henry VIII Margaret Beaufort

         Henry Tudor as King Henry VII and his mother Margaret Beaufort

During Henry VI’s reign, Jasper was charged with maintaining Lancastrian ties in Wales and also looked after his widowed sister in law and her infant, Henry. Upon Edward IV’s ascension and the rise of the House of York, Jasper remained loyal to Henry VI and his Queen Margaret of Anjou. Once Henry VI was captured and murdered and the Lancastrian cause temporarily lost. Jasper fled from Tenby, Wales with the young Henry and they fled to Brittany in order to keep Henry safe. Jasper taught and trained Henry. Jasper was always gaining support for the Lancastrian claim to the throne whilst Henry’s mother was promoting her son as the heir to the Lancastrian throne.

Jasper, Henry and 2000 men set sail from Harfleur, France on 1st August 1485 and landed in Dale on the west coast of Wales. They marched towards Richard III’s army capturing town and gaining more and more supporters as they went finally meeting on Bosworth battlefield on the 22nd August. Where Richard III was killed in battle and it saw the end of the Plantagenet rule and the rise of the Tudors to the throne.

403           The winning Lancastrian army kneel down to their new King.