“Edward VI and Thomas Cranmer”, by Kyra Kramer

November 6, 2016 in Guest Writers by Beth von Staats

cranmeredwardmeme

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Edward VI and Thomas Cranmer

by Kyra Kramer

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Thomas Cranmer was not only the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was possibly the most influential figure in King Edward VI’s brief life. Cranmer was the young king’s godfather, and the man who taught the boy king to be a staunch — even hard-line — Protestant. Cranmer was also one of the few men the Edward would continue to trust as he grew older. Where most other men sought some form of fiduciary reward or position of power from the king, Cranmer served Edward without the need or apparent desire for more personal gain. Cranmer and Edward give every indication that they were united in a sincere, disinterested quest to spread the reformist gospel throughout England.

Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer

The pinnacle of their joint efforts was the 1552 edition of the Book of Common Prayer.  Although Thomas Cranmer was the author of the work and should receive all the credit for the haunting lyrical style of the writing, the book would have died aborning without the support and defense of his protege and sovereign. As I explain in my book, King Edward VI in a Nutshell:

The new Book of Common Prayer caused an uproar among the Catholic and less-Protestant subjects of Edward’s realm, who thought it was blasphemously Reformist. Among the hardened Reformists, it wasn’t quite Protestant enough. If the definition of a good compromise is indeed a situation in which no one is really happy, the 1552 Prayer prayer Book was a very good compromise. Edward, however, was king and he was determined that his godfather Cranmer’s liturgical compositions would become the bedrock of the Anglican service. In turn, Cranmer could not have been prouder of the young king, who he regarded as a veritable model of a Christian monarch.

Cranmer saw Edward as nothing less than the “English Josiah”, a child monarch in the mold of the Biblical king who devoted his reign to compelling his Hebrew subjects to worship Yahweh as the sole God of Israel. It was, for the devout and devoted Cranmer, the highest praise he could give the young king.

Edward VI

Edward VI

Thomas Cranmer was also one of the few people who had enough integrity to disagree with the king when there were ethical conundrums. For example, Cranmer was deeply concerned about Edward naming Lady Jane Grey his heir, even though he had to have known allowing the ultra-Catholic Mary Tudor to have the throne would have undone all the religious reform he and Edward had fought for. Nonetheless, Cranmer was genuinely troubled by conscience. He had promised to obey Henry VIII’s will and Mary was next in line by the terms of that document. Was it legal or ethical to set the old king’s will aside? First, the privy council talked to Cranmer and assured him that “the king was fully entitled to override his father’s settlement” (Ives, 2012:130). Not quite easy in his mind, the Archbishop of Canterbury wanted to talk to his godson about it personally. The king, who had less than three weeks to live, met with Cranmer and promised him face- to- face that “the judges and his learned council said, that the act of entailing the crown, made by his father, could not be prejudicial to him, but that he, being in possession of the crown, might make his will thereof” (Ives, 2012:131). Still uncertain, Cranmer begged the king to be allowed to talk to the judges and the attorney general, just to make sure. The king consented, and when Cranmer spoke with them they all confirmed “that he might lawfully subscribe to the king’s will by the laws of the realm” (Ives, 2012:131).

Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer

Sadly, Cranmer’s loyalty and honesty were rewarded with a horrific death after Edward VI passed away on 6 July 1553. Mary Tudor and her allies quickly usurped the throne from Queen Jane Grey and in spite of their promises of “tolerance” for Protestantism, soon made it clear that a return to Catholicism was in the offing. Thomas Cranmer, an elderly man and venerable scholar who was 67 years old, was burned alive at the stake at Mary’s insistence on 21 March 1556. From her perspective, she was riding her country of veritable sump of heresy. From the perspective of history, she slaughtered one of the best writers and theologians England has ever produced.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Kyra Kramer

Kyra Kramer

 

Editor’s note: Kyra’s biography is provided by her website, Krya Cornelius Kramer and is provided to us in her own words.

Kyra Cornelius Kramer is an author and freelance medical anthropologist. She holds BS degrees in both biology and anthropology from the University of Kentucky, as well as a MA in medical anthropology from Southern Methodist University. She  and her beloved husband live in Bloomington, Indiana, USA with their three young daughters.

Kyra is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Kyra is high-functioning, meaning that most of the time Kyra can pass for “quirky” with a dash of “gauche”. As a function of being an “Aspy”, she has a deep and abiding love for facts, which she stuffs into her writings like chestnuts in a Christmas goose. Seriously, you will knee-deep in facts by the time you are three paragraphs into her work. Moreover, she has a sardonic sense of humor that flavors her writings, no matter how academic they are in nature. Her editors appreciate this, but the review board usually makes her take any humor out before publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. Kyra hopes that the academic reviewers were at least amused before they crossed the sentence out with heavy red pencil marks. She suspects not.

Editor’s note: For more information about the remarkable accomplishments of Kyra Cornelius Kramer, do visit her website linked above.

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New Release!!!

New Release!!!

To Purchase Edward VI in a Nutshell,

CLICK THE LINK BELOW!! 

Edward VI in a Nutshell

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Review of the “Je Anne Boleyn” series by Sandra Vasoli

October 23, 2016 in News, QAB Book Reviews, The Anne Boleyn Society by James Peacock

by James Peacock

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VasoliBooks

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The story of Anne Boleyn has admittedly been “done to death” when it comes historical fiction. There are a ton of books out of there featuring Anne in some way or another. I must admit that before I read Struck with the Dart of Love: Je Anne Boleyn, Book One, there was a part of me that was apprehensive. Not long after I started reading the novel, however, I learned my apprehensions were needless.

Both Je Anne Boleyn novels are told from the viewpoint of Anne Boleyn. For me, Sandra Vasoli truly “gets” Anne. She understands the different sides of Anne’s personality: her charm, her intelligence, her wit, her courage, her passion, her ambition — even her jealousy and insecurities. Sandy doesn’t fall into the trap that so many fictional authors do by presenting Anne Boleyn as a “perfect saint”, instead crafting Anne’s true humanity.

The plot begins when Henry VIII first notices Anne (Vol I) and ends with her journey to the scaffold (Vol II). Henry is portrayed a lot more sympathetically than I have read in many other accountings, his relationship with Anne one of equal partners. I personally like how Sandy uniquely portrayed Anne and Henry’s relationship, as most authors portray one or the other as ruling the roost. In many ways, the similarities between Henry and Anne can be viewed as both a strength of their relationship, as well as it’s undoing. All too often, the easy (and in my opinion “lazy”) story is that their relationship cooled after Elizabeth’s birth. This is not the case here! Of course, there are occasional rows throughout (as we know there were), but this is presented as them being a typical married couple.

The story touches upon Anne’s education at the court of Margaret of Austria, her service to Queen Claude of France, and her relationship and admiration for one of the finest figures of the French Renaissance and one of the large players in the Reformation, Marguerite of Navarre.

A wonderful side to Anne’s personality is shown, one that those who have studied her life (such as myself) know about, but all too often gets ignored — namely Anne’s compassion and her charity! This is something that gets a strong focus throughout the books. We see Anne’s devotion to religion, as well as her support of William Tyndale, a man considered a heretic for his challenging of the Roman Catholic Church. Anne  is always portrayed in a caring capacity, such as the kindness she displayed towards one of her servants dying of the sweating sickness epidemic (Vol I). We also gain a glimpse of “the family orientated” Anne. Upset at the rumored whispers that surround her sister Mary, Anne enjoyed a sweet relationship with her mother, as well as a close relationship with her brother — a rapport that was ultimately twisted against them.

That doesn’t mean that the difficult relationship between Anne and her stepdaughter Mary is washed over at all, nor her eventual banishment from court of her sister Mary for marrying a man below her rank. Anne’s pleasure in the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey is also highlighted. We also see many times where Anne tries to guard her tongue and control her temper.

Another special point of both novels is the descriptions throughout of the various locations, such as the palaces, castles, abbeys, and manor homes that Anne and Henry visited. This brings the story to life and will make you feel you are in the story visualising these places. The mention of the “Bayne Tower” at Hampton Court Palace and the bath and sophisticated water system Henry had placed there are a real treat for readers and very informative. Sadly these rooms no longer survive, but you can see the outer building which is now a cafe.

Other highlights include the 1532 trip to Calais and subsequent secret wedding, the coronation, the devotion that Anne has towards her daughter (which admittedly we already know), the personal tragedy of 1534, the 1535 Reformation progress, and of course the tragic end, which shows the great courage that Anne Boleyn possessed.

Sandy clearly understands perfectly the trials and tribulations Anne endured, envisioning her views of how Anne must have felt. As I said previously, Sandy Vasoli truly “gets” Anne Boleyn 100%, presenting her – in what is my own opinion – in the best way Anne has ever been presented in any historical drama, whether that be in movies, television, and other fictional books — even my all time favorite Anne of the Thousand Days. I cannot begin to describe how many times I felt myself going “YES” inside my head while I read it, as I believed parts were just so “spot on”.

These books present Anne as she was: intelligent, charismatic, witty, religious, charitable, passionate, while also occasionally temperamental, hot-headed and sharp-tongued. If you love historical fiction, you will love these as they are easy to read and digest, are beautifully written. You will learn many interesting things about Anne Boleyn, as it is incredibly factual as well.

I long for the day when the Je Anne Boleyn books get turned into a television series or movie.

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ABOUT JAMES PEACOCK

James Peacock

James Peacock

James Peacock is 29 years old and lives in a suburb in Greater London. Originally training and working in Youth and Community, in 2013 he decided to follow in his lifelong passion for history with a particular interest in Anne Boleyn. He currently works at a historical site heavily associated with Anne Boleyn. (See the picture… hint, hint.) In 2014, he set up ‘The Anne Boleyn Society’ which exists to promote and bring awareness to the role that Anne Boleyn contributed to England’s history and her role in the reformation. The Anne Boleyn Society can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@Society_Anne) and Instagram (@society_anne). James also writes articles for queenanneboleyn.com. Visit his blog here at QAB. CLICK HERE!

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“The Lives of Ordinary Tudor Women” by Elizabeth Norton

October 14, 2016 in Guest Writers, News by Beth von Staats

Sketch of a 16th-Century English Woman with Children Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger

Sketch of a 16th-Century English Woman with Children
Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger

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The Lives of Ordinary Tudor Women

by Elizabeth Norton

The Tudor age is often seen as an age of queens, with the six wives of Henry VIII and reigns of Mary and Elizabeth coming to characterise their respective periods. However, the vast majority of women ranked far below royalty. They were far below the nobility even, with their links to court and claims of kinship with the ruling dynasty. Seldom told, their stories can be just as dynamic as those of their social betters.

The early lives of most Tudor women were roughly similar, regardless of rank. All babies were swaddled at birth and all were baptised. They were weaned in the same way, with their mother or nurse carefully chewing food for their toothless mouths. There were toys, too, to suit all parental purses. Even the most destitute children could fashion a plaything from animal bones, scraps of cloth or wood, while children of all social levels played games and mimicked their elders in their play.

Margaret More Roper, daughter of Sir Thomas More, was an example of an intelligent, highly educated Tudor Era woman. Artist: Section of 1593 Copy of Holbein Original

Margaret More Roper, daughter of Sir Thomas More, was an example of an intelligent, highly educated Tudor Era woman.
Artist: Section of 1593 Copy of Holbein Original

With female education becoming fashionable, a surprisingly high number of Tudor girls were able to attend school. It was not, of course, thought necessary to teach them Latin and Greek, or other subjects taught to boys at the new Grammar schools since (as one contemporary educationalist put it) ‘naturally the male is more worthy’. Nonetheless, a little reading, writing and accountancy could not hurt a girl and a great many were sent to local free schools to learn alongside their male peers. Even the very poorest families in Norwich in the 1560s sent their daughters to school, although older girls – from about the age of nine – were pulled out of their lessons to help support the family with spinning and other work.

Childhood for Tudor children ended in the early teens when almost everyone, from the highest and lowest, left home for the first time. While aristocratic and gentle girls could expect to be sent to serve a social superior, for poorer girls this usually meant a term of domestic service. Contracts were verbal and of one year’s duration, with neither the employer nor the employee permitted to end them early. The master would undertake to pay a wage, as well as provide board and lodging, while the servant performed domestic, farm or business tasks.

Occasionally girls were actually formally apprenticed, although in much smaller numbers than boys. In Tudor Bristol, many girls were apprenticed to learn housewifery, although there are examples of girls being apprenticed to male pinmakers or mercers. Women, too, could take over a family business when their husband died, or in some places start up their own business as a ‘femme sole’. Then, they could take their own apprentices, securing their admission to the prestigious livery companies which would not admit even the most successful women traders.

Woodcut of Tudor Era Woman Spinning Wool

Woodcut of Tudor Era Woman Spinning Wool

For most girls, service was brought to an end by marriage. At all social levels it was expected that there should be some love or, at least, a liking between the young couple, with poorer women usually more free to choose than their social superiors. Men were also advised to choose carefully, with contemporaries advising them to meet with their prospective mother-in-law to observe her behaviour, in the expectation that her daughter would follow her conduct. Men were cautioned to seek out meek and demure wives, skilled in sewing, spinning, knitting and keeping bashfully out of the way when strangers came to call. There was less guidance for women, although they were advised to avoid the ‘crocodile tears’ of young men. A woman’s reputation, once lost, could never be repaired and they must ensure that they were safely promised before they consented to consummate their relationships.

In the absence of reliable contraception, most wives soon became mothers, with women expected to do the bulk of the child rearing. At the same time wives were expected to have a good knowledge of cookery and household medicine making, as well as the skills to assist their husband in his business. Given the fact that women lived longer than men on average (in the Tudor period and now), most women could expect to be widowed at least once. Subsequent marriages were not uncommon, although sexual intercourse after the menopause was frowned on by the church – there was, after all, no prospect of a child.

A Rare Tudor Era Portrait of an Aged Elizabeth, Regina Artist: Unknown

A Rare Tudor Era Portrait of an Aged Elizabeth, Regina
Artist: Unknown

Much is made of Elizabeth I’s concerns over her ageing and fading appearance, with sources claiming that mirrors were removed at court to stop the queen seeing herself as she truly was. However, old age was immeasurably harder for the queen’s poorer subjects. With no prospect of retirement, the elderly were usually forced to work until they were physically incapable. At the same time, aged women were viewed with suspicion. The author of the wildly popular Women’s Secrets, for one, believed that all women were toxic and that they could poison babies with one glance.

It was only a small step from this position to view the elderly as potential witches, with such unfortunate women always vulnerable to allegations of witchcraft. Poor Alice Samuel had only to visit her neighbour in Warboys in Huntingdonshire in 1589 to find herself accused of bewitching the household’s daughters. When one girl pointed to her and said ‘Grandmother, look where the old witch sits’, the die was cast. Poor Alice Samuel was later hanged for this supposed crime. Wealthier women were less vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft, but they did occur. Old age must have seemed a poor reward for surviving all the dangers of Tudor life.

Tudor women lived lives as varied as those of Tudor men, with social status and wealth particularly important in defining their daily activities. The idea that life could be divided into seven ages was a popular one in Tudor England, but very few women made it to their seventh age. Infancy, childbirth, accident and disease carried off most women long before they reached old age. It is perhaps no surprise therefore that, when questioned, many of the poor women of Norwich in the 1560s exaggerated their age, claiming to have reached the age of 100. They probably hoped for a place in one of the town’s charitable institutions – comfortable places to see out their final years.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Norton

Elizabeth Norton

Elizabeth Norton is a British historian that researches and writes primarily of the women contributing to English medieval history. With MA degrees in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and a MA degree in European Archaeology from Oxford, Elizabeth certainly is multi-talented and highly gifted. Elizabeth completed her doctoral research at King’s College, London where she researched the Blount family of Shropshire. Elizabeth also researched and released a non-fiction book focusing on the remarkable life of Elfrida, England’s first crowned queen, further broadening her expertise of England’s most remarkable female historical figures. For more information, visit Elizabeth’s website at ELIZABETH NORTON.

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New Release!!

New Release!!

 

To Purchase an Outstanding History Book by Elizabeth Norton,

CLICK THE LINK BELOW!!

Books by Elizabeth Norton

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QAB Interview with Historian Sarah Gristwood

October 6, 2016 in QAB Guest Interviews and Chats by Beth von Staats

New Release!

New Release!

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Editor’s Note: Today is a very exciting day for the English history of women’s studies!! Two major historical works are releasing that explore the lives late 15th through 17th-century women researched and composed by eminent historians Sarah Gristwood and Elizabeth Norton. Over the next few weeks, Queenanneboleyn.com will be highlighting through author interviews, guest articles, book reviews and extracts both Game of Queens: The Women Who Made 16th-Century Europe, by Sarah Gristwood and The Lives of Tudor Women, by Elizabeth Norton. Pull up a chair as together with these two fine historians we explore the “Gaps in English History”, the extraordinarily lives of powerful, as well as common women. We recently caught up with Sarah to discuss her thoughts on the women who yielded power in 16th-century Europe. Enjoy our online interview below. Sarah’s insights are fascinating.

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1. Sarah, your new history book Game of Queens: The Women Who Made 16th century Europe, releases today in the United Kingdom. By any historical era’s standards, women really stepped to center stage during the 16th century. Beyond the obvious choices of Isabella of Castile and Elizabeth Tudor of England, what female queen regents or queen consorts do you believe most profoundly influenced 16th-century historical events? Were there any surprises in this regard that you discovered through your research?
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Jeanne of Navarre (François Clouet, 1570)

Jeanne of Navarre
(François Clouet, 1570)

The sixteenth century was packed with powerful women, and not all of them had to hold a sceptre in order to wield that power. Isabella and Elizabeth were both ‘queens regnant’, ruling queens – like Mary Queen of Scots, or Jeanne of Navarre –  and other women wielded ‘soft power’ as consorts. But several of those consorts (Louise of Savoy, Catherine de Medici, Marie de Guise) then went on to rule as regents on behalf of their offspring . . . and two of the most interesting women of the century were never crowned queen at all. I’m thinking particularly about Margaret of Austria – the so-called ‘Great Mother of Europe’ – who ruled the Netherlands on behalf of her nephew Charles V, and Anne de Beaujeu, controlling France on behalf of her younger brother Charles VIII.

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2. In a 16th-century world laden in pervasive misogyny, how beyond an “accident of birth” did European queens build their power and prestige? Did the example and mentoring of earlier 16-century women of power influence those that followed? 
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Anne de Beajeu (cropped from a triptych by Master of Moulins)

Anne de Beajeu
(cropped from a triptych by Master of Moulins)

What interested me especially was the networks these powerful women formed – quiet alliances stretching across national borders. Margaret of Austria provided lawyers to advise Katherine of Aragon, even while she was engaged in diplomatic negotiation with Katherine’s estranged husband Henry VIII. Katherine, of course, had already learnt important lessons from her own mother Isabella of Castile, and passed her strength and stubbornness on to her own daughter Mary Tudor. Anne de Beaujeu actually wrote an instruction manual for powerful women  – Lessons for my Daughter – which has been compared to Machiavelli’s The Prince.

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3. In looking at our contemporary world, I am struck with the dynamic of female world leaders — Hillary Clinton, for example — often being the spouses of powerful men. Did you notice any major similarities between contemporary women in power and their 16th-century counterparts? If so, can you give us a few examples?
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Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton

I see a huge number of similarities between the women of the sixteenth century and what’s happening today. Powerful women then and now face many of the same challenges – the difficulty of seeming strong without being called strident, the gendered abuse and the focus on their bodies: their looks, or the question of whether they’ve born a child. But Hillary Clinton is a particularly interesting example. Yes, to follow in your husband’s footsteps is a very well-worn path to power. But if she wins on November 8 she’ll be perhaps the world’s most powerful woman ever – and we’ll have to see what kind of a fist Bill makes of being America’s ‘First Laddie’!

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4. Can you provide Queenanneboleyn.com browsers with an example of one of the “lesser known” women highlighted in your book that you found surprisingly intriguing? Why so?
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Margaret of Austria (Jean Hay 1490)

Margaret of Austria
(Jean Hay 1490)

The character who most interested me was Margaret of Austria, and the surprise was just how someone so important could be ‘lesser known’ – or lesser known to English-speaking readers, anyway! To follow the adventures of her youth is like reading a Who’s Who of the sixteenth century, and she then spent more than two decades at the very heart of European diplomacy. A woman who could make poems as well as peace treaties, and who sent out a cohort of girls raised in her care to take their own places on the thrones of Europe.

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5. Mary Tudor — Is “Bloody Mary” a misunderstood monarch? What was her greatest contribution to English History? 
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Well – yes and no! Looking at the European context which formed her helps one understand Mary Tudor’s dilemmas. But I can’t say I really warmed to her. And I think her greatest contribution – whether or not she wanted it to be – was to have shown a woman could sit on England’s throne, and thus pave the way for her half-sister Elizabeth.
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6. Given 16th century female monarchs and queen consorts often reigned over their realms during overlapping timeframes, were they ever a support to one another? Or were they as better rivals as was common to their male contemporaries?
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Margaret Tudor

Margaret Tudor

I know I’ve talked already about women’s alliance, but there is something more to be said. The tragedy for many of these women was the way that – married off to cement a fragile peace made by their menfolk – they then found their responsibilities to that new country at complete odds with their loyalties to their natal family. Margaret Tudor must be the ultimate example – forced to appeal to her brother Henry VIII for help after the death of her husband the Scots king, even though that husband had actually been killed by her brother’s army! Margaret believed if only she and her sister-in-law Katherine of Aragon could only have met, they would have found a way to peace . . .

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7. Sarah, you prolific writing based on exhaustive research most commonly focuses on the lives of remarkable women throughout history. From Arabella Stuart to Perdita to Elizabeth Woodville to Royal Weddings to the Queens of the 16th-century, women take center stage. Do you find Women’s Studies has finally come to the forefront? Do you believe your research and those of other female historians is “rounding out” the stories of world history by finally “filling in the blanks”? 
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It’s firstly personal for me – it is women and women’s stories that most interest me. But it’s also completely true that women’s stories tend to be the forgotten ones, which the writer can have the thrill of telling afresh. Of course there are dangers – of making the women sound more central, more active in public events, than they really were. But I do believe that in trying to show aspects of women’s experience, we are filling in some huge gaps in our history.
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Arabella Stuart (Marcus Gheeraerts, the Younger)

Arabella Stuart
(Marcus Gheeraerts, the Younger)

8. If you could decide what research you’ve completed that you are most proud of, what would it be?

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My first historical biography was about Arbella Stuart, who was expected to inherit the throne of England from Elizabeth I – and she’ll always have a very special place in my heart. And in some ways her story ties in with Game of Queens, which looks at the reasons the country didn’t want another female ruler.

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9. Do you have any new projects in the pipeline that you are able to share with QAB browsers?
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Let’s just say I hope to be writing more on women and power – but in a period rather closer to home than the sixteenth century!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Sarah Gristwoog

Sarah Gristwood

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Sarah Gristwood is a best-selling biographer, novelist, former journalist, and commentator on royal affairs. A prolific historian of the influence of women in Tudor Era England and Europe, she wrote two bestselling Tudor biographies, Arbella: England’s Lost Queen and Elizabeth and Leicester; and the eighteenth-century story Perdita: Royal Mistress, Writer, Romantic which was selected as Radio 4 Book of the Week. Presenting and contributing to several radio and tv documentaries, she also published a book on iconic dresses, Fabulous Frocks (with Jane Eastoe); and a 50th anniversary companion to the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as well as collaborating with Tracy Borman, Alison Weir and Kate Williams on The Ring and the Crown (Hutchinson), a book on the history of royal weddings. 2011 also saw the publication of her first historical novel, The Girl in the Mirror. In September 2012 she brought out a new non-fiction book – Blood Sisters: the Women Behind the Wars of the Roses. Sarah’s newest history book, Game of Queens, releases today in the United Kingdom and November 29th in the United States.
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Game of Queens (United States Cover)

Game of Queens
(United States Cover)

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To Purchase Game of Queens or Another Brilliant Book by Sarah Gristwood, 

Click The Link Below!

BOOKS BY SARAH GRISTWOOD

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Book Extract: THE LIVES OF TUDOR WOMEN, by Elizabeth Norton

October 6, 2016 in Guest Writers by Beth von Staats

by Elizabeth Norton

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New Release!!

New Release!!

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Editor’s Note: Today is a very exciting day for the English history of women’s studies!! Two major historical works are releasing that explore the lives late 15th through 17th-century women researched and composed by eminent historians Elizabeth Norton and Sarah Gristwood. Over the next few weeks, Queenanneboleyn.com will be highlighting through author interviews, guest articles, book reviews and extracts both The Lives of Tudor Women, by Elizabeth Norton and Game of Queens: The Women Who Made 16th-Century Europe, by Sarah Gristwood. Pull up a chair as together with these two fine historians we explore the “Gaps in English History”, the extraordinarily lives of powerful, as well as common women. Let’s start with an extract from Elizabeth’s new release, which explores the life of one of my favorite Tudor Era historical figures, Elizabeth Barton, Holy Maid of Kent.

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Of Servants and Masters

BOOK EXTRACT: The Lives of Tudor Women

In late 1524, or early 1525, Elizabeth Barton, a young girl from Aldington in Kent, walked over to the house of Thomas Cobb, a gentleman of the parish. Verbally, they agreed their terms, and within a few days she had moved into the servants’ quarters of his house, high in the attic. She was nineteen years old, but she probably had several terms of service behind her already – stretching back to the beginning of her adolescence. It was the way for most of her peers.

She had received little in the way of education; indeed, one contemporary considered her to be ‘a poor wench without learning’. She knew no Latin, although she could probably read and write, and may have attended a village school until she entered service.

Service was far from unusual for both boys and girls of her class: the vast majority of them spent a period of time as agricultural or household servants. In Tudor Salisbury, for example, in the parish list of 1533 one-third of women and half of men were in service. The parents of adolescents usually assisted in finding a suitable first placement from among families in the local area or from connections further afield. A verbal agreement was then made, tying the teenager into work for one year’s service, in return for a wage.

With that agreement, the adolescent was ready to leave home, packing up their belongings and walking over to the house of their new master or mistress. This period of service was looked on as a transitional stage, in the same way that most girls’ social betters were sent to serve in the households of the nobility. Agricultural servants were young and unmarried – it was not a career, and cases of married women staying in service were rare. While they learned skills and saved for their future, they were also looking to marry and start their own households. And with so many young people entering service, it was also possible for them to gain useful social connections that would benefit them later in life. Young Elizabeth Cooper from Norwich, for example, became lifelong friends with Thomas Sutton, who served in the same household. He would serve as a Sheriff of Norwich in the 1550s and show Elizabeth some favour when she found herself in trouble with the law.

Since service was more of a life-stage than either a career or an indicator of social class, it is unsurprising that the dividing line between the servant and the served in houses such as Thomas Cobb’s was not always strictly drawn. Indeed, it was expected that Cobb – and other masters – would stand in loco parentis. They were obliged to maintain their servant for the term of his or her service, regardless of whether there was enough work or whether the servant was fit to do it. Conversely, servants were not free to leave their employment early, and the courts regularly ordered those who absconded back unless they could prove that they had been mistreated.

Runaway servants might have hoped that they could quietly melt away by securing a better offer elsewhere; and it is true that new employers were often less than rigorous in their checks when employing new servants. Mawdlin Gawen, a young servant from Oxfordshire, found this to be the case in 1575, after running away, with her lover, from service in Teddington. In London, they claimed to a prospective employer, Mr Fluett, that they hailed from Collyweston. Evidently suspicious, Fluett questioned them on the distance of Collyweston from Stamford; but took them into his employment even when they failed to answer. The pair would have been constantly aware that their former master might seek them out.

In 1520, John Smith, a servant of a London draper named Thomas Howell, ran away, after which Howell and his wife expended great efforts and sums in chasing him. Mistress Howell ordered men to ride after him – following his trail for over four weeks all the way to Plymouth. When Smith was finally located, he refused to return until forced to by the court. It cost his master more than £6 to secure his return to unwilling service – a sum that Howell intended that Smith should reimburse. Howell was not considered a bad master, as suggested by the fact that one of his maidservants stayed in his household for at least five years and another for six. They were paid 13s and £1 4s a year respectively, which was considered a good wage, and they each received a new gown every year.

More common than absconding, for dissatisfied servants, was simply moving on at the end of their term, and many maidservants often passed through the service of a number of employers. There would usually be plenty of choice, for even quite lowly households could employ servants. For example, one William Blunte, of Richmond in Surrey, worked as a labourer yet was known to have kept an eleven-year-old girl as his servant in 1559.

By far the majority of servants – including Elizabeth Barton – worked on farms. Her master, Thomas Cobb, was a prominent man, charged as bailiff and steward with running the Archbishop of Canterbury’s substantial estates in the parish. As the archbishop’s most senior manorial officer, Cobb held considerable sway in the local community, his daily life centred on both church and the farm.

Life in rural Aldington was dominated by the grand archiepiscopal palace, sitting close beside the parish church. It loomed large over the little town that nestled close to the winding road taking travellers to and from the ancient port of Hythe. The palace – with its five kitchens, nine barns, six stables and many other agricultural buildings, all set within more than a thousand acres of farmland – dwarfed the other buildings in the settlement. The townspeople proudly displayed their ambitions in the great new church steeple, which was slowly rising, stone by stone as donations and bequests trickled in. It was a project that would never be completed, though it was already the tallest local structure in 1525.

Elizabeth Barton was too young to remember the great Erasmus’s brief tenure as Rector of Aldington, which had begun in 1511; but she was certainly familiar with the new priest, Richard Masters, who had arrived in 1514 and would remain for well over fifty years. He was a scholarly, conservative man, who spent most of his time with his head bent over his enormous library of 113 books, stowed carefully in his chamber in the parsonage.

Farming life was a busy, hard life, but, as contemporaries asserted (based on the Book of Job), ‘a man is ordained and born to do labour, as a bird is ordained to fly’. The year was an annual cycle, with ploughing and sowing to be done, alongside animal husbandry. The main crops were always peas and beans, corn, barley and oats, while horses, cattle, sheep and pigs were usually kept on mixed farms.

Women, either wives or servants, were expected to play an active part in farm life, and this would have been no less true for Elizabeth Barton. They had their own specific and vital jobs to do; not for nothing did the old saying maintain that ‘seldom doth the husband thrive, without the leave of his wife’. On waking, the women of the house were enjoined to first say their prayers, before sweeping and tidying. It was then time to milk the cows, feed the calves, and wake up the children of the family before preparing breakfast.

Women carried corn and malt to the mill, as well as attending to brewing and baking, and making butter and cheese. They fed the pigs and dealt with the poultry. It was also the wife’s job, assisted by the female servants, to prepare a kitchen garden in March, sowing the seeds and herbs that would ‘be good for the pot and to eat’. They would need to plant flax and hemp, too, which they would later spin into cloth for towels, sheets, shirts and smocks, while they also prepared the sheep’s wool for clothes and blankets. For servants such as Elizabeth, there was at least variety within the yearly cycle of hard toil. In towns, servants’ work could be even more varied, where a good position could see girls involved in their employer’s trade, either through work in the shop or in manufacture.

Thomas Cobb was by all accounts a diligent master, aware of his contractual obligations and prepared to fulfil them. At Easter 1525, which can only have been weeks, at most, after Elizabeth Barton was hired, she fell dangerously ill – ‘touched with a great infirmity in her body’. Sometimes her throat would swell so much that she writhed in agony, struggling for breath as ‘though she had suffered the pangs of death itself’. There was considerable fear that the swelling ‘was like to stop her breath’. At other times she was quieter, but still very sick, her illness coming in fits and starts. As her sickness progressed, she was carried out of the servants’ attic and down to a room that she shared with one of Cobb’s young children. The baby, which slept in a cradle close to her was also dangerously ill, so it was thought the pair could be nursed together.

Elizabeth was still very ill in November 1525. During all this time her master had been paying for her food and care, in spite of the fact that she could carry out none of her duties. He must surely have been intending to end her employment when her year’s term was set to conclude, at the start of 1526. That was soon set to change.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Norton

Elizabeth Norton

Elizabeth Norton is a British historian that researches and writes primarily of the women contributing to English medieval history. With MA degrees in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and a MA degree in European Archaeology from Oxford, Elizabeth certainly is multi-talented and highly gifted. Elizabeth completed her doctoral research at King’s College, London where she researched the Blount family of Shropshire. Elizabeth also researched and released a non-fiction book focusing on the remarkable life of Elfrida, England’s first crowned queen, further broadening her expertise of England’s most remarkable female historical figures. For more information, visit Elizabeth’s website at ELIZABETH NORTON.

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norton

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QAB Book Review: “The Private Lives of The Tudors” by Tracy Borman

August 26, 2016 in QAB Book Reviews, The Anne Boleyn Society by James Peacock

 

by James Peacock

Editor’s Note: James Peacock is the founder of The Anne Boleyn Society. Visit James on facebook at The Anne Boleyn Society.

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ThePrivateLivesofTheTudors

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The Tudor Dynasty ruled over England for approximately one hundred and eighteen years, a relatively short time when compared to the Plantagenets or the Stuarts rule over Scotland. Still, people with little interest in history are drawn to this period, largely thanks to Showtime’s series The Tudors (2007-2010) and countless Hollywood movies set during the era. Also, this period has something for everyone, including drama, battles, romance, politics — the list is endless. People just can’t get enough of the story of Henry VIII and his six wives or Elizabeth I and her endless suitors, not to mention that inspiring Tilbury speech.

In her latest book The Private Lives of the Tudors, Dr. Tracy Borman takes on a new angle in examining these fascinating people by looking at the private lives of the monarchs and their consorts behind the closed doors of their sumptuous Palaces. Many stereotypes labelled on these people, such as Henry VII being a boring old miser, Edward VI being a puppet King, Mary I being a dried up spinster incapable of fun, and many others are debunked with evidence stating the contrary. Readers will come away from this seeing most – if not all – of these people in a new light.

The book is not intended to be a biography, but more a glimpse into life at the Tudor court, everything from the fashion to diet to hobbies and much more is examined. For example, Henry VII spent excessive amounts of money on rich clothing — a revelation to many. Also enlightening is what we still exists today of items belonging to each of the monarchs and what they can tell us about them as people. My personal favourites were the mementos Elizabeth I kept of her mother Anne Boleyn, as well as the documents and letters Edward VI kept that referenced his mother Jane Seymour.

What is so special about this book is it succeeds in bringing to life the Tudors as real people. It is often not easy to read many history books, and I feel that they often come off as one-dimensional. Instead, Dr. Borman succeeds bringing us as close to the real people that lived so long ago as we possibly can. They come life with real emotions and that is all to Tracy Borman’s credit.

It was also interesting to read more about the set up of meals at court, the number of dishes brought out, and how someone’s status would determine how many courses guests would receive. Other interesting topics include the discussion of clothes and how they would determine someone’s status and wealth, as well as the changing of the fashions over the period. Also of particular interest was the topic of the set up of the Private Apartments, how far people of certain status would get, and what the duties for the vast number of staff attending the monarchs and their consorts consisted off.

Prepare to have the way you view these people challenged, as you learn more about the monarchs behind the glittering crowns and jewels, learn of their struggles to hold onto absolute power through portraiture intended to keep the mystique around the monarchy, whilst also having the personal touch. The only downside is you will definitely wish the book went on for longer.

History lovers and those who find most history books quite dry will easily enjoy this unique look at Tudor History thanks to Dr. Tracy Borman’s easy to read and engaging writing. It truly is a book for everyone — a truly informative and thoroughly enjoyable read.

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Dr. Tracy Borman

Dr. Tracy Borman

Dr. Tracy Borman Tracey Borman is a historian and author from Scothern, United Kingdom. She is most widely known as the author of Elizabeth’s Women.

Borman was born and brought up in the village of Scothern, England near Lincoln. She was educated at Scothern Primary School (now Ellison Boulters School), William Farr School, Welton, and Yarborough School, Lincoln. She taught history at the University of Hull, where she was awarded a Ph.D in 1997.

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The Martyrdom of Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex

July 28, 2016 in News, The Tudor Thomases by Beth von Staats

by Beth von Staats

after Hans Holbein the Younger, line engraving, possibly 18th century © National Portrait Gallery, London

after Hans Holbein the Younger, line engraving, possibly 18th century
© National Portrait Gallery, London

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“Most gracious Prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy!”

– Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex –

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Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, is a study in contrasts. Bearer of a complicated legacy, Cromwell is often demonized for his role in the falls and ultimate executions of Elizabeth Barton, Saint John Fisher, Saint Thomas More, Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry Pole, Henry Courtenay and several others. Vilified for his leadership and efficiency in orchestrating the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Thomas Cromwell with his king’s support and approval ended a way of life going back centuries.

In stark contrast, Thomas Cromwell is also heralded as the architect of the Henrican Reformation. A self-made man who rose from dire poverty, Cromwell brought the English language Bible to England and Wales, stabilized the English economy, patronized the arts, advocated for the poor and down-trodden, and as a “man of laws” changed the very face of Parliament, introducing the notion that governmental laws could and should be established and approved through representation of the people.

It is no surprise then that historian Edward Hall noted, “Many lamented, but more rejoiced,” when Thomas Cromwell was arrested on 10 June 1540.

John Foxe by Martin Droeshout line engraving, 1620s-1630s © National Portrait Gallery, London

John Foxe
by Martin Droeshout
line engraving, 1620s-1630s
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Painted by his detractors as a traitor and “secret sacramentarian”, a sinful heretic who not only denied Roman Catholic transubstantiation but also the Lutheran sacramental union, Thomas Cromwell died via a botched beheading from an inexperienced executioner on Tower Hill, his severed head speared onto a spike placed in exhibition on London Bridge.

Though most view Thomas Cromwell as either a “hero of the common man” or “evil incarnate”, 476 years ago today, 28 July 1540, Cromwell died as neither. Instead, as much as most people rarely consider the possibility, this complex intellectual genius who changed the face of England died a religious martyr for his faith. Martyrist John Foxe honored him alongside other heralded Protestant martyrs in his famous, albeit heavily biased historical accountings — and justifiably so. As Foxe proclaimed in his Book of Martyrs:

In this worthy and noble person, besides divers other eminent virtues, three things especially are to be considered, to wit, flourishing authority, excelling wisdom, and fervent zeal to Christ and to his gospel. First, as touching his fervent zeal in setting forward the sincerity of Christian faith, sufficient is to be seen before by the injunctions, proclamations, and articles… that more cannot almost be wished in a nobleman, and scarce the like hath been seen in any.

How could this be? Thomas Cromwell, a religious martyr?

Foxe’s assessment of Cromwell’s “fervent zeal to Christ and to his gospel” is not overstated. As early as 1524, Cromwell showed plainly his desire to reform the Church in England through his association with merchants such as Thomas Somer, a stock fishmonger who was a known smuggler of evangelical heretical books, including Tyndale’s New Testament.

By 1530, Thomas Cromwell’s faith demonstrated decisively a commitment to fostering of “the new learning” within the realm. Within a year, he was smuggling and organizing the translation and printing of Lutheran works, most notably The Apology of the Augsburg Confession by Philipp Melanchthon. With Sir Thomas More and John Stokesley, Bishop of London, actively chasing heretics, burning six evangelical smugglers at the stake, Thomas Cromwell certainly took dangerous risks to foster his reformist religious agenda – all activities known, and likely far more unknown, accomplished with great secrecy before his service to or any protection from King Henry VIII.

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“My prayer is that God give me no longer life than I shall be glad to use my office in edification and not in destruction.”

– Thomas Cromwell

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To all living in 16th century Tudor England, there was only one true religion, all those disbelieving heretics. The problem became disagreement on what exactly the true religion was. 16th-century religion was serious business. Unfortunately for the subjects of the realm, just what religion one was to adhere to changed with the theological whims of the reigning monarchs and was particularly confusing during the reign of King Henry VIII. Overstep the mark of the king’s ever-changing religious philosophies, and a person would quickly become the victim of judicial murder.

after Unknown artist line engraving, possibly late 18th century © National Portrait Gallery, London

after Unknown artist
line engraving, possibly late 18th century
© National Portrait Gallery, London

As loyal as Thomas Cromwell was to Henry VIII through his ten years of faithful service, eventually he crossed the religious line of the king over an issue the monarch actually never wavered upon. The truth of the matter was that though a sinner by his own admission, Thomas Cromwell, like other evangelicals and Lutherans, believed heart and soul in justification by faith alone. Once King Henry VIII understood what this all meant upon digesting a rousing sermon by Cromwell’s rival Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, at St. Paul’s Cross on the first day of Lent 1540, Thomas Cromwell’s days were numbered.

King Henry VIII, though hateful of the papacy, still held close many Roman Catholic tenants, particularly the notion that abundant good works combined with faith were needed for salvation. This disagreement in religious belief ultimately became a sticking point in the King Henry VIII’s relationship with his most faithful servant, enabling the king to ultimately order Cromwell’s execution after his detractors, most notably Stephen Gardiner and other high ranking conservative clergy, along with Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, orchestrated Cromwell’s arrest and imprisonment upon certainly false charges.

Perhaps most convincing of Thomas Cromwell’s “fervent zeal to Christ and to his gospel” was his speech to those witness to his execution. Though many people, particularly historical fiction writers and arm-chair historians, mistakenly assume Cromwell recanted his Lutheran beliefs by proclaiming, “I die in the Catholic faith, not doubting in any article of my faith…” during his final speech, he, like Martin Luther, Thomas Cranmer, Philipp Melanchthon and other Lutherans and evangelicals, used the term “Catholic” to mean the “Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”. To this day, Lutherans and Anglicans are Catholics. What they are not are papists or “Roman” Catholics, neither term used by Cromwell.

Instead of the recantation many assumed was offered, Thomas Cromwell professed clearly and pointedly to those in witness, to his family, to his king, and to his God his steadfast belief that his salvation could only be justified through his faith and his faith alone. He prayed at the block,

I see and acknowledge that there is in myself no hope of salvation, but all my confidence, hope and trust is in thy most merciful goodness. I have no merits or good works with I may allege before thee… Of sins and evil works, alas, I see a great heap… but through thy mercy, I trust to be in the number of them to whom thou wilt not impute their sins; but will take and accept me for righteous and just…

With Thomas Cromwell’s staunch Lutheran beliefs intact, like Cardinal John Fisher, Sir Thomas More, John Frith, John Lambert, the Carthusian Monks, Father John Forest, and his blessed William Tyndale before him, Thomas Cromwell died a religious martyr to his faith. Though often forgotten, ignored or dispelled, that truth remains undaunted.

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Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury by Pieter Stevens van Gunst line engraving, published 1707 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury
by Pieter Stevens van Gunst
line engraving, published 1707
© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Surviving Partial Letter Composed by

Thomas Cranmer to King Henry VIII

14 June 1540

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…….. I heard yesterday in your Grace’s Council, that he [Crumwell] is a traitor, yet who cannot be sorrowful and amazed that he should be a traitor against your Majesty, he that was so advanced by your Majesty; he whose surety was only by your Majesty; he who loved your Majesty, as I ever thought, no less than God; he who studied always to set forwards whatsoever was your Majesty’s will and pleasure; he that cared for no man’s displeasure to serve your Majesty; he that was such a servant in my judgmentt, in wisdom, diligence, faithfulness, and experience, as no prince in this realm ever had; he that was so vigilant to preserve your Majesty from all treasons, that few could be so secretly conceived, but he detected the same in the beginning? If the noble princes of memory, King John, Henry the Second, and Richard II had had such a counsellor about them, I suppose that they should never have been so traitorously abandoned, and overthrown as those good princes were:

…….. I loved him as my friend, for so I took him to be; but I chiefly loved him for the love which I thought I saw him bear ever towards your Grace, singularly above all other. But now, if he be a traitor, I am sorry that ever I loved him or trusted him, and I am very glad that his treason is discovered in time; but yet again I am very sorrowful; for who shall your Grace trust hereafter, if you might not trust him? Alas! I bewail and lament your Grace’s chance herein, I wot not whom your Grace may trust. But I pray God continually night and day, to send such a counsellor in his place whom your Grace may trust, and who for all his qualities can and will serve your Grace like to him, and that will have so much solicitude and care to preserve your Grace from all dangers as I ever thought he had…….. [14 June 1540.]

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Sir Thomas Wyatt By J. Thurston, engraved by W.H. Worthinton after a drawing by Hans Holbein the younger in the Buckingham Library from Charles Cowden Clarke, The Poetic Works of Sir Thomas Wyatt

Sir Thomas Wyatt
By J. Thurston, engraved by W.H. Worthinton after
a drawing by Hans Holbein the younger in the
Buckingham Library from Charles Cowden Clarke,
The Poetic Works of Sir Thomas Wyatt

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Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Poem Heralding

the Execution of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex

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THE pillar perish’d is whereto I leant,

The strongest stay of my unquiet mind;

The like of it no man again can find,

From east to west still seeking though he went,

To mine unhap, for hap away hath rent

Of all my joy the very bark and rind,

And I, alas, by chance am thus assign’ d

Daily to mourn, till death do it relent.

But since that thus it is by destiny,

What can I more but have a woeful heart;

My pen in plaint, my voice in careful cry,

My mind in woe, my body full of smart;

And I myself, myself always to hate,

Till dreadful death do ease my doleful state.

– Sir Thomas Wyatt

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Coat of Arms Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex

Coat of Arms
Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex

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SOURCES:


Cranmer, Thomas, Archbishop, Letter of Thomas Cranmer to King Henry VIII, Regarding Thomas Cromwell, Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature.

Foxe, John, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 195. Thomas Cromwell.

Loades, David, Thomas Cromwell, Servant to Henry VIII, Amberley Publishing, Gloucestershire, 2013.

Schofield, John, The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant, The History Press, Gloucestershire, 2008.

Wyatt, Thomas, THE pillar perished is whereto I leant, Luminarium: Renaissance Literature.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth vo

Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats is a history writer of both fiction and non-fiction short works. A life-long history enthusiast, Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She is the owner and administrator of Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers website, QueenAnneBoleyn.com.

Beth’s interest in British History grew through the profound influence of her Welsh grandparents, both of whom desired she learn of her family cultural heritage. Her most pronounced interest lies with the men and women who drove the course of events and/or who were most poignantly impacted by the English Henrician and Protestant Reformations, as well as the Tudor Dynasty of English and Welsh History in general.

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"Thomas Cranmer In a Nutshell" Final Blog Stop

Thomas Cranmer -mini-bio

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A KING IN WAITING: Building Prince Arthur’s Power in the Welsh Marshes, by Sean Cunningham

July 21, 2016 in Guest Writers by Beth von Staats

Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales (1500) Artist Unknown

Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales (1500)
Artist Unknown

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A King in Waiting: Building Prince Arthur’s Power in the Welsh Marches

Sean Cunningham

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When Arthur, Prince of Wales first arrived in the border region of England and Wales in the spring of 1493 he was at the head of an intimidating group of Henry VII’s insiders and loyalists. The visitors are visible in the historical record as the bench of justices for the quarter sessions held at Hereford Castle, but their purpose in the marches at that time was much broader. They were there to transplant Arthur into his new homeland and to emphasise to the people of the region just what was expected from them in terms of loyalty and obedience.

Jasper Tudor, Stained Glass at Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales

Jasper Tudor, Stained Glass at Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales

The company was headed by the king’s uncle and life-long mentor, Jasper Tudor, duke of Bedford and included the prince’s godfather the earl of Arundel, the half-brother of the queen, Thomas, marquis of Dorset, the king’s chamberlain, Sir William Stanley, and the Chief Justice Sir William Hussey, along with many other lords, knights and lawyers from the core of Henry VII’s court – a very powerful set of men for a provincial sessions of the peace.

This mission into the marches sent the strongest message that the Tudor crown was a visible presence in the region and would be active in maintaining the power of the prince. The communities along the march between Hereford, Leominster, Ludlow and Shrewsbury would have to play their part enthusiastically. They would have a key role in Arthur’s practical training; and the obvious incentive for their diligence was a share in royal patronage when, in future, the prince became King Arthur.

Many of the men who accompanied Arthur in 1493 were royal councillors and so would already have known King Henry’s long-term plans for his son’s education. Arthur was to follow the same path that Edward IV’s heir, Prince Edward, had taken in the decade after 1473. Arthur would be based at Ludlow Castle in southern Shropshire. The jurisdiction of the Council of the Marches of Wales had already been revived in his name. Plans were underway to grant to the prince the lands and rights of the earldom of March – one of the chief props of the aristocratic power of Edward IV and his father before 1461.

King Henry VII

King Henry VII

This region was one of the few areas of the country that King Henry knew personally from the time before he was king. He had been a ward of William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, at Raglan Castle in the 1460s and then lived for eighteen months with Herbert’s widow, Anne Devereux, at Weobley near Leominster after 1469. That local knowledge perhaps allowed Henry to prepare the ground for his son’s move from Farnham in 1493. The king could adapt the institutions of power for his son relatively easily. He faced a more complex task before he could be sure that Arthur was prepared personally for his future role.

Arthur was aged only six in 1493. This move to Ludlow was the early stage in establishing his status as a semi-independent lord. King Henry would ensure that Arthur learned everything that a king-in-waiting needed to know. Some of that came from a mixture of schoolroom education in languages and history, with training in the kingly arts of rhetoric, debate, and personal interaction. His tutor, Bernard André was experienced enough and trusted to meet King Henry’s demands in this area. Arthur’s skills would also be developed in ways that all politically active landowners were expected to master. Those included managing estates and tenants, learning the law and the extent of the jurisdictions linked to his titles, and how to be a leader in time of war. The prince’s counsellors and household officials were given those responsibilities.

A)Bernard André’s fee as Arthur’s schoolmaster, January 1497. Warrant, TNA E 404/80

A) Bernard André’s fee as Arthur’s schoolmaster, January 1497. Warrant, TNA E 404/80

What might have been harder to address were the complexities of court life that fed off proximity to the departments of state at Westminster, the commercial centre of London, and state occasions like the sessions of parliament. The decision to complete Arthur’s upbringing on the Welsh Marches therefore represented an initial prioritisation of self-reliance and the skills of lordship over mastery of the complexity of the court and the mechanics that kept national government working. What was important to the king, it seems, was to ensure that his son learned to understand how people behaved within the service relationships that members of the ruling elites had with the crown. Other responsibilities could be delegated or developed later. Significantly, the self-contained region under the rule of the Council of the Marches supplied experienced councillors and servants who could act as a safety net for any mistakes or misjudgements Arthur made as he developed.

Perkin Warbeck Artist Unknown

Perkin Warbeck
Artist Unknown

The little snapshot of activity in spring 1493 tells us a great deal about how Henry VII felt he had to demonstrate his own authority. At that time, Perkin Warbeck’s conspiracy was gaining traction among former supporters of the Yorkist kings. Later records suggest that Sir William Stanley and his colleague in charge of the ‘downstairs’ part of the royal household, John, Lord Fitzwalter, had already committed themselves to Warbeck, whom they believed to be the queen’s brother, Richard, duke of York – one of the Princes in the Tower.

Arthur’s brother, Henry, who was the duke of York, was not yet eighteen months old. In terms of the Tudor dynasty’s strength-in-depth, therefore, things were still a little precarious for Henry VII. Granting the power of the earl of March at that time to Arthur and his steward, Sir Richard Croft (another local man experienced in the methods of the royal household), was probably a deliberate attempt to dominate the regional links to the House of York and to begin the process of binding them to the reigning Tudor royal family.

Henry VII‘s advisers already knew that the region could be volatile. Ever since Arthur’s birth in 1486 there had been an expectation that, at some point during his childhood, he would take up residency at Ludlow and Tickenhill Place in Bewdley. The king’s reliance on many Yorkist innovations and practices made it likely that he would see the value in duplicating elements of Edward V’s education in the marches (but be mindful of how it had ended abruptly in April 1483).  From the spring of 1487 there had been some jostling for influence along the march between Richard Croft and Sir William Stanley. Stanley’s main ally on the spot was Sir Thomas Cornewall. He and Croft flexed their strength for control of the town of Leominster. Against the background of the invasion and rebellion that forced the king to fight the battle of Stoke in June 1487, each man made accusations against the other of treason, rioting, appropriating of the king’s authority and the retaining of bands of unsavoury men from the lands of the Principality of Wales.

Prince Arthur's Chambers at Ludlow Castle

Prince Arthur’s Chambers at Ludlow Castle

Once Arthur took up residency, the struggle for dominance – of which this dispute was a long-running symptom – became more intense. It spilled over into the higher levels of the Council of the Marches. The king’s relatives and allies from further afield, like Jasper Tudor, Sir Richard Pole and Sir Rhys ap Thomas, were drawn into struggles across the region in efforts to restrain those engaged in violence. Since Henry VII had decided not to place Arthur under the care of a single senior noble (as Earl Rivers had dominated Prince Edward’s household by 1483), it was far more likely that there would be some tensions over status between the councillors of the Marches and the men of the prince’s household. There was overlap between the two institutions as regional gentry manoeuvred to become associated with the prince’s service, but prominent roles were limited. There was political skill involved in displacing rivals while staying on the right side of the law in demonstrating loyalty and versatility.

The marcher families could see the resources devoted to building up Arthur’s household and the related growth of his influence in the territory between Gloucestershire and Cheshire during the second half of the 1490s. The longer the Tudor king survived the more assertive and secure his kingship would become. Sir William Stanley’s condemnation on the grounds that if Perkin Warbeck truly was Prince Richard then he could not, in conscience, stand against him, must have been a strong lesson for others less sure of their ability to influence events. Men were increasingly less willing to risk the influence and associations they had built up by dabbling in treason. That was the trump card that the king held. Their decision-making was encouraged by a tangle of pledges and sureties that ensnared many in bonds to guarantee the good behaviour of a few.

Coat of Arms of the Tudor Princes of Wales

Coat of Arms of the Tudor Princes of Wales

The king surrounded Arthur with family members and experienced friends linked to his mother, like Bishop William Smith of Lichfield, president of the Council of the Marches, and Sir Richard Pole, who was Arthur’s household chamberlain. Their role at Arthur’s side became more important when Jasper Tudor and William Stanley died in 1495.  That period marked the height of Warbeck’s threat. But by then, Arthur’s independent status was becoming a source of strength for Henry VII’s national power, rather than a potential risk to its continuation. Suspicions over the loyalty of the Stanley family were counterbalanced by a stronger role given to George Talbot, 4th earl of Shrewsbury in the background of Arthur’s lordship. Shrewsbury’s relative by marriage, Sir Henry Vernon, was Arthur’s personal governor. He was in a prime position to manage who had access to the prince and who was able to influence his development.

The role of the king’s friends expanded further. Arthur’s vast estates and interests were overseen by loyal stewards like Rhys ap Thomas and Richard Pole. As a result, they were able to deliver thousands of Welsh light cavalry into the king’s armies when required. They mustered the same quantity of archers and billmen as the most powerful noblemen for the armies assembled against Scotland in 1497 (most of whom went on to fight at the battle of Blackheath). Arthur was kept secure in his own country by these troops. Collectively, they formed one of the military powerhouses of the regime. So even by the time he was aged eleven, Prince Arthur’s personal power was literally a force to be reckoned with. Henry’s risk in educating his heir away from his siblings and his family seemed to be paying off by the end of the 1490s.

Tinkinhill Manor, Bewdley

Tinkinhill Manor, Bewdley

It is frustrating that the detailed journal books of the prince’s household spending do not appear to have survived (they are certainly not yet identified in any archive or library). These records would reveal so much about Arthur’s daily life at Ludlow and Tickenhill right up to and beyond his wedding in November 1501. Evidence of meals, furnishings, visitors, pastimes, events and celebrations would allow us to reach behind the closed doors of his houses and into his private chambers and personal life.

The glimpses we do have suggest that the prince carried the weight of his father’s expectations with dignity, resilience and skill. These sources imply that his life was one of constant learning and preparation, but that surely hides a true picture of a powerful young prince enjoying all the benefits of the most privileged upbringing. Unlike his brother, Prince Henry, whose progression from teenage prince to domineering king is well-documented, Arthur’s death before he was sixteen freezes his legacy on the cusp of adulthood. Yet even in that brief life, we can see something of the devotion he attracted and the type of king he might have become.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sean Cunningham

Sean Cunningham

Sean Cunningham, Ph.D., author of the newly released Prince Arthur: The Tudor King Who Never Was, is a prolific researcher of late English Medieval and early Tudor History. Already highly respected for his previous works, Henry VII and Richard III, a Royal Enigma, Dr. Cunningham the Head of Medieval Records within the Advice and Medieval Records Department of The (British) National Archives. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and co-convenor of the Late Medieval Seminar at London University’s Institute of Historical Research.

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PRINCE ARTHUR, THE TUDOR KING WHO NEVER WAS

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“Recantations” — In Memory of Saint Thomas More, Executed July 6, 1535

July 6, 2016 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), The Tudor Thomases, Tudor Y Writer's Group by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

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Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

— Book of John 20:27, King James Bible —

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“I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Over twenty years ago, Sir Thomas More spoke those words for all to hear just before the executioner swung the ax, just before his head rolled from his shoulders onto the straw, just before his self-serving martyrdom. For months beyond a year holed up in The Tower, he stoically embraced his fate, faithfully hung to his God, stubbornly held firm in his convictions, and refused to see the truth, no matter how hard dearest Cromwell, Audley and I tried to convince him, no matter how much his wife and children begged he compromise his self-righteous scruples. In scripture, there is no Pope. There is no purgatory. There are no idols, relics, or indulgences. Mary is the mother of Jesus, not a saint interceding on behalf of all who pray to her. It’s really that simple. What is not written in God’s word is not truth. Why could More not see the obvious? Was he blind? Was he daft? Was he of Satan?

And why after 20 years does More’s sorry fate still weigh my conscience down like a stone?

“More was not satisfied to be Lord Chancellor, Your Grace. His heresy burnings were not enough to fill his soul. More yearned for a higher calling than service to the realm and His Majesty. He yearned to be a martyred saint. He yearned for pilgrims to travel long journeys to touch his hair shirt and gaze upon his pickled head, disgusting as that be.”

Dearest Cromwell, I hear him ringing through my mind as if he were sitting in this dank horrid cell right alongside me. The Earl always found a way to rationalize quandaries, bless his soul. All we asked, all His Majesty wanted, all that was required to save his very life was for Sir Thomas More to take the oath, say the words out loud publicly, and do what he wanted in private. More could worship his Latin Mass, give confession, fondle his rosary, collect his idols, venerate his relics, wear his hair shirt, and whip his back bloody to his heart’s content.

“Just take the damn oath, and then do what you will.”

“No, and I will speak nothing of it.”

Again, again, again, the Earl pleaded for this simple sign of obedience to the King. Again, again, again, the same reply. My God in heaven, the Pope is the antichrist. To this day, I am still dumbfounded. The man was brilliant, scholarly, eloquent. So why was he such a fool?

After hours of mulling over my fate, I look down at the parchment. My couched recantations, written to baffle His Eminence and the Queen without sully to my conscience, baffled them not. Cardinal Pole then took a quill to parchment and wrote out another, and then an another and yet another, one that clearly says to all in the far more eloquent words of the papal whore, “The last twenty years of my life were heresy. The liturgy of the Church of England is heresy. The lyrical Evensong at Friday service is heresy. The Collects said in worship all through the year are heresy. The Book of Common Prayer is heresy. Holy Communion as a commemoration to the Lord’s Last Supper is heresy. I recant. I recant it all. The Eucharist correctly turns wine to Christ’s blood, turns bread to Christ’s body. The holy church in England and its clergy are led by His Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome. Unless you purchase an indulgence, your mother will remain rotting to the bones in purgatory. There I said it. Now, you know my truth.”

Thomas Cranmer, Parish Church of St. George

Thomas Cranmer, Parish Church of St. George

If I want to live another day, die in my own bed, not burn pitifully as my beloved friends Ridley and Latimer, I must copy this in myne own hand, and sign my name to it. And, no, this is not the same challenge More faced. More was never forced to endure a trial for treason, found guilty, and yet a second trial for heresy, found guilty again. More did not have to debate at Oxford, over and over, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year with papist religious scholars wearing him down, chiding his every word. More did not have to watch his friends burn at the stake, poor Ridley lingering for hours due to a poor man’s misguided attempt to help. More did not have the entire Church of England and its future laying squarely on his shoulders. No, it is not the same challenge More faced. No, it is not.

If I say it enough, I might believe it.

I confess Sir Thomas More’s writings so authored while he himself imprisoned give me strength. A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation is just brilliant in all truth. Though they believed pushing More down my throat would wear me down, instead, his writings give me hope, nourish my soul. As More so correctly alluded through his story telling, persecution for one’s faith is a hazardous quandary indeed. It brings upon us at the same time both the lure and comfort rewarded for recantation — and the dread of torture and a painful death if we remain steadfast and true.

I look at the parchment yet again. No, I will not copy it in myne own hand. No, I will not sign it.

More conceded, and I agree, that it is not acceptable to escape persecution by compromising some of God’s truths, while keeping true to the rest. His err laid in not knowing what God’s truths truly are, by placing his faith and belief as defined by a papal authority instead of God’s word in scripture.

I look to the flickering candle, the only light in this stench laid cell and hold the parchment near. I will burn this parchment, and then I will burn. God, give me strength.

The cell door slams open, bashing the stone wall like a death knell.

“The recantation, is it ready Dr. Cranmer?!”

I startle upright. Damn, it be the Spaniard friar, Juan de Valligarcia, bellowing at me yet again. I look to the man wearily and hold out the parchment. He snatches it from me.

“No, I refuse to write it.”

This friar, I swear he is paid handsomely just to torment my soul. He saunters to the front of me and glares me down — evil incarnate, I do swear.

“I have word from Her Majesty. She desires I give you a message and one last chance to comply. Do you wish to hear it?”

I remain silent, mulling over how best to respond. The dirty dog drums his fingers impatiently on the table.

“Am I commanded to hear it? If not, I choose you leave with her words unsaid.”

“Yes, you are so commanded!”

“Carry on then.”

“As you so professed these many years, a monarch is supreme and heads the clergy is this realm. His Majesty King Henry chose to delegate to you and the heretic Emissary of Satan, Cromwell, while Her Majesty chooses to delegate to His Holy Father,” the friar scowls. He then holds out a parchment, its wax seal of the Queen made evident for myne benefit.

“Dr. Cranmer, as your monarch I command that you recant in writing as so drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and sign your name in full. I further command that you attend Latin Mass and recant publicly through a sermon approved in advance by His Eminence. From this day forward, you will attend Mass, celebrate the Eucharist, and worship the Roman Catholic faith with all humility.”

That bastard friar begins pacing to and fro. I say nothing. What be there to add to that?

“Will you abide Her Majesty’s command? If not, I need not remind that you will burn, mayhaps hanging in a giblet liken you and the concubine’s butcher did unto poor Friar Forest. The poor man be roasted hours on end like a chicken on a spit.”

Forest? He dares speak of the devil Forest?

I be in a rage now. “Forest’s burning fulfilled God’s prophecy! Saint Derfel burned with the forest as foretold from one to the next for many a moon — a suitable punishment for the evil Franciscan. He was both a sin-filled heretic and heinous treasoner of the King’s Majesty!”

I grab hold tight onto the table. Myne humors be in a twist, near to spew. The damn Spaniard steps up right close to me and leans into myne beard, so close his putrid rank breath near makes me faint.

“Cranmer, you are a hopeless, spineless, wretched, evil little man. God forgive you.”

My gout raging in my legs, I steady myself by the table, push him back and stand strong. What there be to lose? I am already a dead man. “No, I will not abide the damn command. Leave me to rot and be gone. You can light the fags another day.”

“But Dr. Cranmer, Her Majesty is supremely your head as you define by scripture, eh? Are you not by your own interpretation of God’s Holy Word sinning through your treason?”

The man, he is of Satan and chides me mockingly, finding my greatest weakness yet again. This very issue, this very dilemma, has me confused and conflicted once more. This pitiful servant of the antichrist is right, but in my heart to recant is a larger sin, an unforgivable sin.

“I said, NO, I will not abide by the damn command.”

Unsteady of feet, I sit back down.

“Dr. Cranmer, Her Majesty in her great benevolence wishes to extend this offer. Queen Mary, Regina remains steadfast in her vision to route this realm of all heresy, and will burn it all wherever it lays. Her Majesty desires to reassure you that should you recant, your Lutheran whore and bastard children will sleep safe. If not, they will burn as the heretics they are  — before you, as Ridley and Latimer did.”

Did myne heart just stop? Frozen in fear, I look at the Spanish friar, my blood frozen cold, just like that. Satan speaks through him as sure as Christ died for his sins. Mary, Regina — no one could be this evil, no one, especially a woman. De Villagarcia is trying to trick me. He must be. Margarete, my children, they fled to Nuremburg. Edmund promised me.

Aye, but Satan reached Tyndale. Why not them? My mind, it be cloudy, worn thin. I can’t concentrate. Think, Thomas – think. Would she really command my Margarete burned? Thomas and Marge? Would she really kill them before myne very eyes? Or is this man baffling me? Are they safe on the Continent or did Pole’s spies find them?

I gaze just beyond the Spaniard, and dearest Bishops Latimer and Ridley stand before me, burning pitifully, screaming in agony. Yes, the friar speaks truth. The Queen of England, Satan’s mistress, seeks revenge. This is hopeless. Either way I go, I be damned.

Broken, yes, after two long years, I am finally broken. I am sorry, Sir Thomas More. For this tribulation, there is no comfort. To route out this tribulation, I am willing to burn in hell so they don’t burn. Am I selfish? Or is that God’s will? Your writing, your gentle and humble wisdom, they tell me not.

I hold out my trembling hand, and the Spaniard hands back the parchment. My voice quivering, I say in complete surrender, “Come back in the ‘morrow. It shall be done.”

The friar sits down on the table before him, and holds out a fresh quill.

“Now, Dr. Cranmer, or Her Majesty’s offer is not guaranteed.”

I swallow hard, tears welling. O Lord forgive me.  I take the quill in my hand, and though shaking,  dip the quill in ink and seal my fate.

—– fade to black —–

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.
Given the overwhelming breadth of the magnificent life of Saint Thomas More, many people do not realize that he was an outstanding poet. In memory of Saint Thomas More, his poem, “The Words of Fortune to the People”:
.
Lady Fortune and her Wheel. Boccaccio De Casibus Virorum Illustrium

Lady Fortune and her Wheel.
Boccaccio De Casibus Virorum Illustrium

The words of Fortune to the people.
~~ Master Thomas More — 1504 ~~

.Mine high estate, power, and authority
If ye ne know, ensearch and ye shall spy1
That riches, worship, wealth, and dignity
Joy, rest, and peace, and all things finally
That any pleasure or profit may come by
To man his comfort, aid, and sustenance,
Is all at my devise and ordinance.

.Without my favour there is nothing won,
Many a matter have I brought at last
To good conclude that fondly was begun,2
And many a purpose, bounden sure and fast
With wise provision, I have overcast.
Without good hap there may no wit suffice,3
Better ’tis to be fortunate than wise!
.And therefore have there some men been ere this
My deadly foes, and written many a book
To my dispraise.   And other cause there n’is4
But for me list not friendly on them look.5
Thus like the fox they fare, that once forsook
The pleasant grapes, and ‘gan for to defy them
Because he lept and yet could not come by them.6
.But let them write, their labour is in vain;
For well ye wot, mirth, honour, and riches7
Much better is than penury and pain.
The needy wretch that ling’reth in distress
Without my help, is ever comfortless,
A very burden, odious and loath
To all the world, and eke to himself both.8
.But he that by my favour may ascend
To mighty pow’r and excellent degree,
A commonweal to govern and defend,
O! in how bless’d condition standeth he,
Himself in honour and felicity,
And over that, may farther and encrease
A region whole in joyful rest and peace.
.Now in this point there is no more to say,
Each man hath of himself the governance;
Let every wight then follow his own way.9
And he that out of poverty and mischance
List for to live, and will himself enhance
In wealth and riches, come-forth and wait on me;
And he that will be a beggar, let him be.

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Saint Thomas More “Prayer Card” of the Roman Catholic Faith

ThomasMorePrayerCard

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Book Give-Away!!! “War of the Roses: Bloodline”, by Conn Iggulden

July 4, 2016 in QAB Author Highlight by Beth von Staats

war of the roses bloodline

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win

BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!

Conn Iggulden and G.P. Putnam’s Sons are graciously offering a complimentary copy of War of the Roses: Bloodline to one lucky QAB member or browser. If you are interested in being included in a drawing for a chance of winning this wonderful book, send the administrator a message via the website’s contact form. To complete the contact form, click here –> CONTACT US! We will draw a random winner on July 10, 2016. Good Luck!!!

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Watch for Queenanneboley.com’s upcoming review!

Video Credit: Penguin Books UK

Quick Take: In Winter 1461, Richard, Duke of York, is dead – his ambitions in ruins, his head spiked on the walls of the city. King Henry VI is still held prisoner. His Lancastrian queen, Margaret of Anjou, rides south with an army of victorious northerners, accompanied by painted warriors from the Scottish Highlands. With the death of York, Margaret and her army seem unstoppable. Yet in killing the father, Margaret has unleashed the sons. Edward of March, now duke of York, proclaims himself England’s rightful king. Factions form and tear apart as snow falls. Through blood and treason, through broken men and vengeful women, brother shall confront brother, king shall face king. Two men can always claim a crown—but only one can keep it.

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Conn Iggulden

Conn Iggulden

Born in 1971 to an English father and Irish mother, Conn Iggulden is a British historical fiction author. He studied English at the University of London and later taught English for seven years, becoming head of the English department at St. Gregory’s RC High School. He eventually left teaching to write his first novel, The Gates of Rome. 

Conn Iggulden’s first five-part series of novels, entitled Emperor,  focuses on the remarkable life of Julius Caesar, from childhood to death. Conn Iggulden’s next series of novels, the Conqueror series, is based on the lives of Mongol warlords Genghis, Ogedai and Kublai Kahn.

The Wars of the Roses is the extraordinary novel series spanning the thirty-year-long civil war when two families, the Yorks and the Lancasters, ripped England apart during one of the most bloody and brutal periods of British history. Releasing in the United Kingdom in 2013, Wars of the Roses Stormbird  was Conn Iggulden’s first novel focusing on British history. War of the Roses Margaret of Anjou followed in 2014 and War of the Roses Bloodline in 2015.

Due to popular demand, War of the Roses Bloodline is set to release once more through G.P. Putnam’s Sons on July 19th, 2016.

To order your hard bound novel or Kindle version, click the link below!

Wars of the Roses: Bloodline 

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