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28th-Aug-2012 01:53 pm - Books 2012: On Sale Now

28th August - Margaret of York, the Diabolical Duchess: The Woman Who Tried to Overthrow the Tudors by Christine Weightman

‘The amazing life of Margaret of York, the woman who tried to overthrow the Tudors. Reared in a dangerous and unpredictable world Margaret of York, sister of Richard III, would become the standard bearer of the House of York and 'the menace of the Tudors'. This alluring and resourceful woman was Henry VII's 'diabolical duchess'. Safe across the Channel in modern-day Belgium and supported by the Emperor she sent Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck with thousands of troops to England to avenge the destruction of her brother and of the House of York. Both rebellions shook the new Tudor dynasty to the core. As the duchess and wife of the wealthiest ruler in Western Europe, Margaret was at the centre of a glittering court and became the patron of William Caxton. It was at her command that he printed the first book in English. Her marriage to Charles, the dour, war-mad Duke of Burgundy, had been the talk of Europe. John Paston, who was among the awestruck guests, reported in the famous Paston Letters that there had been nothing like it since King Arthur's court. Yet within a decade Charles was dead, his corpse frozen on the battlefield and within another decade her own family had been destroyed in England. Childless and in a foreign land Margaret showed the same energetic and cautious spirit as her great-grand-niece Elizabeth I, surviving riots, rebellions and plots. In spite of all her efforts, the Tudors were still on the throne but Margaret, unlike the Yorkist kings, was a great survivor.’

From Amazon.co.uk

Further details - Amazon.co.uk

Further details – Amberley Publishing

24th-Aug-2012 08:16 am - Wolf Hall on TV

It was reported yesterday that Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize winner and it's sequel will be adapted for television.

I'll send you to The Anne Boleyn Files for more details.

The Anne Boleyn Files

Historian Sarah Gristwood (author of 'Arbella: England's Lost Queen' and 'Elizabeth and Leicester') will launch her new book at the Tower of London.

'Blood Sisters:The Hidden Lives of the Women Behind the Wars of the Roses' will be published on 13th September by Harper Press.

The event at the Tower is on September 11th and members can book tickets here:

Historic Royal Palaces: Events for Members

24th-Aug-2012 08:05 am - When Lady Jane Returned Home

There is an article in the Leicester Mercury about a pageant called 'The Lady Returns' that was held at Bradgate Park 60 years ago.

When Lady Jane returned home

21st-Aug-2012 09:34 pm - Interview with David Loades

Professor David Loades is the author of ‘Mary Rose: Tudor Princess, Queen of France, the extraordinary life of Henry VIII’s sister’, ‘The Tudors: History of a Dynasty’, ‘The Boleyns: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Family’ and ‘Mary Tudor’ amongst others.

Many thanks to David for answering my questions.

1. Why did you choose to write about Mary Tudor Queen of France & Duchess of Suffolk?

I wrote about Mary Tudor because I was invited to do so by the Amberley Press. It seemed to be within my competence, so I decided to give it a shot.

2. What does your book add to the existing works about Mary Tudor?

It builds on, and brings up to date, W.C. Richardson’s MaryTudor, the White Queen, of 1970. A lot of research has been done since Richardson wrote – some of it by me.

3. Why do you think Henry VIII forgave Mary for marrying Charles Brandon?

Henry forgave Mary because he was fond of her, but forgiveness only went so far. He exacted heavy financial penalties from her and her husband.

4. Who was the main protagonist behind their marriage, Mary or Charles?

Mary was undoubtedly the driving force. Brandon would not have dared, and in any case he had promised Henry that he would do nothing until they had returned to England.

5. Why do you think that Mary and Margaret Tudor (who both became Queens) have been overlooked in recent years?

They have not been completely neglected. Apart from some older work, there is Maria Perry’s Sisters to the King of 1998, which is a respectable piece of history, dealing with them both.

6. What do Mary’s letters whilst Queen and in the aftermath of the death of Louis, reveal about her personality and her political role?

They reveal that she was brave enough to take control of the situation, and shrewd enough to realise that she would have to placate her brother. Reminding him of his promise took courage. They also show her feisty side

7. Do you have a favourite quote from Mary’s letters?

I think that my favourite quotation comes from a letter which she wrote to Henry on the 15th February 1515, describing a conversation which she had had with Francis I:

‘Whereunto I answered that I would disclose unto him the secret of my heart in humility as unto the prince of the world after your Grace in which I most trust, and so declared unto him the good mind which for divers considerations I bear to my Lord of Suffolk, asking him not only [to grant] me his favour and consent thereunto, but [also]that he would of his own hand write unto your grace, and pray you to bear your like favour upon me…’

She goes on to say that that had put an end to the advances which Francis had been making to her ‘not according to my honour’. It is altogether a most interesting letter!

Further details - David Loades

Author Susan Higginbotham looks at the facts and fiction about the relationship between Jane Grey and Katherine Parr.

History Refreshed - Jane Grey and Katherine Parr

20th-Aug-2012 01:55 pm - Our Man in Rome by Catherine Fletcher

I have just finished ‘Our Man in Rome’ by Catherine Fletcher and really enjoyed it. This book got some excellent reviews and thoroughly deserved them.

It is a fascinating look at Henry VIII’s attempts to get a divorce but instead of viewing events from the perspective of those waiting in England, we get to see what occurred on the front line in Rome and how Gregorio Casali used all his talents to try to persuade the Pope to grant it.

It was all the more interesting for me, having seen one of the documents relating to the divorce at the Lux In Arcana Exhibition in Rome.

This is what Catherine writes about it.

‘In mid-June, the nobility of England were corralled into signing an appeal for the divorce, which was then dispatched for presentation at the papal court.’ (p.13)

19th-Aug-2012 05:27 pm - Differing opinions about Frances Grey

I am currently reading ‘A Dangerous Inheritance’ by Alison Weir. The sequel to ‘Innocent Traitor’, this new historical novel, weaves together the lives of Katherine Grey and Katherine Plantagenet.

The cover blurb reads:

‘Two women’s lives are linked by love, intrigue and the overwhelming danger of being too close to the throne.’

I was intrigued to read the following in the Author’s note:

'The long-accepted view of the Suffolks as harsh parents has recently been challenged, but there is no credible explaining away of Lady Jane Grey's own bitter testimony to that, as recorded first-hand by Roger Ascham, and at least one contemporary source records Jane being beaten and cursed when she resisted her betrothal to Guildford Dudley. New research undertaken by historian Nicola Tallis suggests that the traditional view of the Suffolks is correct. It is conceivable that Frances mellowed after Jane's execution, as portrayed in this novel, and that Katherine and Mary never suffered the rigour and expectations that their parents imposed on Jane. I would question the theory that there has been a deliberate attempt down the centuries to blacken Frances's character.' (p.501, Weir)

According to Alison Weir's Tour website, Nicola 'is currently working on her first history book, a biography of Frances Brandon, mother to the ill fated Lady Jane Grey.' (Alison Weir Tours)

I asked Leanda de Lisle (author of 2009’s ‘The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey) to comment on this new development and this is her response:

'The 'bitter testimony' referred to here is not Jane's but Roger Ascham, writing years after Jane's death in a book in which he made a number of things up. Reported speech is not the same as speech! I could say, in ten years time, that you told me your mother was a pig. Would that make it true? It is also telling that even Ascham does not single Frances out for criticism- his "Jane' complains about both parents equally - yet Frances came to be attacked personally in the next century and after. The other 'contemporary source' referred to here, in which Jane is obliged to marry Guildford 'at the insistence of her mother and the threats of her father' also post dates Jane's death. In cutting through the myths on Jane it is vital to look at what we know from sources that predate July 19th 1553, when Jane lost her throne, and be more questioning about anything after that date. I have found this very revealing in my current research. But I look forward to reading Nicola Tallis and wish her well with her project on Frances - history is not static and what one historian writes one day may be overthrown the next, it is all part of the excitement.

Leanda’s next book, will discuss the date of Frances Grey's second marriage and the document discovered in the National Archives by author, Susan Higginbotham.

'Tudor: The Family's Story' is due to be published in 2013.

I am really looking forward to reading both Leanda’s new book and Nicola’s biography of Frances Grey. It will be fascinating to discover in detail their different arguments about the mother of Lady Jane Grey and will make for interesting discussions!

17th-Aug-2012 08:32 am - Helen Castor reviews 'The Watchers.'

Helen Castor reviews 'The Watchers: A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I' by Stephen Alford in The Times Higher Education Supplement.

Be afeard, the isle is full of spooks

The Telegraph has further details about the re-enactment of Katherine Parr’s funeral at Sudeley Castle. The article includes details of the route taken by Katherine Parr and Lady Jane Grey to the Sudeley chapel.

Sudeley Castle: the curious life and death of Katherine Parr

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