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Topic :   The Ballad of Amy Robsart

Be that a banana peel on the stair?
How strange!  I wonder who put it there?
Surely no one would want me to trip
Arse over teakettle & do a backflip
Land on my head & break my neck
My farthingale would be a wreck!
Everyone's off to the county fair
I wonder who could've put it there?
My bonny Robin's nowhere to be seen
Dancing attendance on that tiresome queen
With lead paint smeared on her ugly face
Poor Robin's never at Cumnor Place
But you know, there have been awful rumors
He's boffing the queen while I've got tumors
'Tisn't very nice what people say
That Robin hopes I'll pass away
So he can give the queen a ring
And strut about like he's the king
They're pals, he says; I hope 'tis true
I like not the banana peel 'neath my shoe
I'm balanced so precariously
My skirt's so big I can hardly see
But I won't fall....I ain't, I ain't!
O dear, I feel a little faint
Come over with a malady
New shoes can be so slippery
Teeter-totter, balustrade
One foot on a banana peel & one in the grave!

12/27/2016 2:38 AM

Topic :   Fictional Plantagenets

I had an Edward III moment, so behold, the little fictional vignette called...

The Chatelaine of Castle Rising

As a queen, even a Queen Dowager, she had the right to wear her hair as she pleased.  Married and widowed women covered most or all of their crowning glory under headdresses.  His wife...though she was a Queen Consort who could also do her hair as she liked...had her thick, dark brown braids folded up over and over until they were fat coils that barely brushed her shoulders, pinned to her head and framing her plump face, a barbet encasing her ears and neck, topped off by a starched and ruffled coif that resembled a cloth crown.  It was the latest style amongst the young ladies of the court; some women disdained it and still wore a wimple and hood to conceal their hair completely.

But not Isabella.  Never Isabella. 

She wore a simple chaplet of silver embedded with tiny twinkling sapphires, the better to match her eyes, over a shoulder-length pale grey gorget of fabric so delicately sheer it was transparent, and her golden hair hung beneath it in shining waves that fell to her knees both front and back.  She had always worn it so, and was not about to stop now, though she was a widow of thirty-five.

He felt as if he had been punched in the gut as he watched her glide across the stone floor of the presence chamber and approach where he and Philippa sat under their canopies of state.  He’d not seen Isabella since that fateful night at Nottingham.  Her lustrous mane had been bed-tousled, flowing all around her shockingly low-cut, form-fitting, brazen red satin bedgown as she pled for the life of her lover, falling to her knees with arms outstretched in a beseeching posture.  He had never seen such raw fear etched into anyone’s face before.  She still looked so young and beautiful, tears glimmering on her lashes, begging him to spare the life of the man who had murdered his father, and who strutted about the court as if he were the new king.

The hardest heart would have melted at her terrified supplication, and his heart was not made of stone where she was concerned.  Unlike her and him when they had Hugh le Despenser executed, her lover’s sentence of hanging, drawing, and quartering was commuted by order of the king to simple hanged by the neck until dead, her desperate pleas haunting him.  Dead was dead no matter how it was accomplished.  Though the man rightly deserved additional torment after being dragged on a hurdle to Tyburn to be hanged, the king had shown him the mercy he and she had not granted to others.

It had taken months to work up the courage to take the bastard into custody, and it took all his willpower to not lunge forward with his sword right then and there and put an end to it himself, despite Isabella’s frightened expression.  He had averted his gaze as his wary henchmen permitted their naked captive to don braies and a shirt before hustling him out of the Queen Dowager’s apartments to his ultimate confinement in the Tower of London.

That blatant nudity...disregarding his marriage vows to Joan de Genville, who was kept conveniently imprisoned so that he could take the Queen Dowager in adultery...Isabella’s seductive, revealing costume, the fact that the bedchamber held a cloying scent of mating, made him tear his eyes away from her grief as well and close his ears to her agonized, “Good son, have pity!”. 

How much pity did you and he show my father? he’d wanted to shout at her.  Just so you and he could rut in bed and try to bring his kingdom to ruin?  He’d wanted to call her ugly names, bitch, or whore, mar the flawless beauty of her face with a hard slap that would leave a swollen purple bruise behind, send her reeling to the cold floor and shut her up.  Had she even realized it was three years to the day that she had conveniently been made a widow?  It mortified him that it had taken him so long to exact vengeance on his father’s behalf.

His own son, born this past June at Woodstock, had cemented his resolve to shake off their so-called regency altogether.  What need had he for their supposed guidance?  He was married to dear Philippa, who had turned sixteen only nine days after the birth of their son and heir, and he himself reached the age of eighteen just a month after the events at Nottingham.  He was no longer a pliable lad of fourteen, stunned by the sudden turn of events that had seen his father hunted down like an animal, imprisoned at Kenilworth, and forced to abdicate the throne. 

A mere week later he had made the traditional journey from the Tower to Westminster Abbey, and felt the heavy weight of his father’s crown set upon his own head, put in the peculiar position of being anointed as king whilst his father still lived.

He regretted his bewildered acquiescence to it all.  His brother John, then ten, liked puttering in the gardens with their father.  Without his patient instruction, John just made a mess, and wept bitterly when their mother directed that he would no longer be permitted to muck about in the dirt like some common laborer.  Nine-year-old Eleanor had kicked up more of a fuss over being forbidden to see their father in the last months of his life than the child who now occupied his throne, to his everlasting shame.  He’d made more noise over sending seven-year-old Joan off to Scotland as the bride of little King David Bruce, who was all of four. 

Meanwhile, their father had spent his last birthday in April all alone at Berkeley.  Their mother always rolled her eyes at the special treats their father enjoying planning for family occasions; he fondly remembered the last one...before he was packed off, ostensibly to do homage for Guyenne and the Aquitaine to his mother’s brother, the late King Charles of France...when they were lucky enough to have a fine April day and his father, laughing, rolled up his shirtsleeves and tried his hand at poling the royal barge down the Thames.

He wanted to see his father more than anything.  He wanted his guidance on what to do about John, who at fourteen seemed to be in a perpetual state of rebellion against his tutors and spent all his time angrily practicing the art of war.  He wanted to know what to do about Eleanor, who had gone from a mischievous, gregarious child to a painfully shy, anxious one.  He wanted him to meet buxom, pretty Philippa, who also loved flowers.  He wanted to put his sturdy, namesake grandson into his arms.  He wanted to wander Windsor’s park and sit with him in the shade of the oak sapling, now a tree, that his father carefully planted with his own hands to mark his own firstborn’s birth at the castle.  He had helped him do the same at Eltham, Woodstock, and the Tower of London for the rest of the children, had carried on the tradition for his own son’s birth, watering the soil with his and Philippa’s tears.

Instead of his father he was seeing his mother, just over a month after her lover had made the acquaintance of the hangman at Tyburn like the common felon he was.  He didn’t know what had possessed him to move her from Berkhamsted to Windsor.  Isabella was still under lock and key in her apartments and not been allowed out to partake in the merry festivities that they had planned just as his father would have done.  He hadn’t wanted to look at her again after Nottingham.

But she had requested an urgent privy audience with him.  He rather thought she expected a cozy little informal chat in his privy chambers.  So here he was sitting on his father’s throne, with Philippa in his mother’s place, the imposing presence chamber having been cleared of courtiers and instructions given to whisk her through back passages so that no one would glimpse Isabella, hoping desperately that he was projecting a no-nonsense, kingly mien.

He had no idea what Isabella desired that was so urgent.  Likely her freedom to come and go as she pleased, to visit with Eleanor and John, to write to homesick Joan in Scotland, to coo at her six-month-old grandson, to upstage Philippa and queen it over the court again as if nothing untoward had occurred. 

As she drew closer he could see that her grey velvet kirtle was new, as the sleeves tapered off into slender tippets in the latest fashion.  They jingled softly because she had tiny bells attached to the point of each tippet.  Her deep blue surcoat was lavishly ornamented with glittering beads and laced up the sides with silver cord, showing off a slim figure that was definitely not that of a grandmother.  So deadly.

She kept her face expressionless as she swept into a deep curtsey before the dais, head bowed, her tresses sweeping the stones around her.  Out of the corner of his eye he caught Philippa glancing at him anxiously.  “Arise,” he said with reluctance.

Isabella stood straight as an arrow, tinkling as she clasped her hands in front of her, and frowned as she looked him straight in the eye.  “I requested a privy audience with you, Ned,” she said, dispensing with the proper form of address for a king in order to make him feel like a child in the nursery who had done something wrong, and tilting her head in Philippa’s direction as if she expected his wife to immediately take her leave.

His fingers curled around the arms of his father’s throne.  “My wife, my queen, the mother of my heir, is privy to concerns,” he managed in a firm, even tone.  “If you find that not to your liking, you have our leave to return to your apartments.”

For a moment he thought she was going to flounce out, as he had seen her do dozens of times to his father when she could not get her own way.  Her eyes flashed dangerously for a few seconds and then she swallowed hard, as if eating her anger.  “Oh, Ned,” she began again, in that faux-sorrowful, I am so disappointed in you voice.  “You’ve grown so...hard.”

He said nothing in response to her observation.  There was nothing to be said, after all.  What did she expect, when her actions had put him into this situation?  His father had been forty-three when he died...was killed.  His grandfather had lived to the end of his seventh decade.  It was not unreasonable to have expected Isabella’s unwanted husband to live another score of years or longer.  Seeing her here before him, unchanged, made his heart ache all the more in missing him.

Her gaze turned toward his wife, and it was critical.  “Jesu forfend, Philippa, you’re not enceinte again, are you?”

It was plain by the way Isabella said it that she thought the queen was breeding because she had added weight to her hourglass figure during her pregnancy.  He opened his mouth to deliver a sharp rebuke for the impertinent question, but Philippa forestalled that with a quiet, “Nay, Your Grace,” serene and unruffled by it.

Isabella, meanwhile, had realized there was not so much as a lowly stool in sight, let alone a comfortable chair.  “Are you really going to leave me standing here like some common audience seeker, Ned?” she chided, flashing her dimples in a winning smile that said he ought to shove Queen Philippa from her throne in order to be more accommodating.

“Say your piece and begone,” he shot back, irritated.  “You have already been in our presence five minutes longer than necessary.”  Had she honestly thought a charm offensive would make him welcome her with open arms after what she had done?

Her lips compressed and her eyes narrowed at him, those frivolous little bells jarring discordantly as she crossed her arms beneath her bosom in equal irritation.  He half-expected her to continue in this familiar manner by pointing a finger and haranguing him, her opening line the usual exasperated You’re so much like your father, Ned!.  His hands gripped the arms of his father’s throne tightly in anticipation of it.  He would be hard put not to strangle her if she so much as dared mention him.

“Oh, you want me to say my piece and begone?  I’m pregnant,” she spat out.

He was glad he had the throne in a death grip.  Otherwise he feared he might have slid off it in a faint with how abruptly lightheaded he became at her words.  He felt nauseous and his ears began to roar as he stared at her in incredulous shock. 

Her chin was up defiantly and a hint of a smirk played at the corners of her mouth.  She had the upper hand and she knew it. 

Her gentle knight had left behind a little something to remember him by, despite being wrenched from her bed to die the death he deserved.

The idea of looking at a posthumous brat sired by that murderous Marcher lord, calling it “brother” or “sister”, having it anywhere near him as a constant reminder of those dark days when neither he nor his father were permitted to rule the realm, a child who might be the spitting image of the would-be usurper whom he had made him want to lean forward and puke on the pointed toes of her embroidered slippers. 

A queen’s bastard. 

Their intimate relationship had long been a source of speculation...they had been discreet, certainly, but not sufficiently to quell the rumors...and the appearance of an infant would confirm it. 

Isabella, the scandal of all Christendom.

She looked so smug as she smoothed her hands down the front of her surcoat, the loose garments concealing no ripening curve...yet.  Soon it would be thrust forward for all to see, mute evidence that she had done it all for mere lust.

He heard Philippa’s soft voice over the ringing in his ears.  “When reckon you, Your Grace?” she inquired with feminine practicality.  Thank God she was here.  Otherwise he would be gaping mutely at his mother, wondering how to proceed.

“Oh, methinks round the Feast of St. John the Baptist,” Isabella said, showing her dimples again.  “Our children will both have June natal days and be close enough in age to share a nursery and be playfellows.”

As if it were all settled, and perfectly normal for a widow of three years’ standing to produce an infant!  She thought he would accept her spawn into his household, bring it into the nursery with Edward, and everyone would think nothing of it.  Was she demented?  Queens did not lie down with felons and raise up their bastards!  Was he not already providing for poor Joan and the many children she had given that villain?  Isabella’s implication was intolerable.  She was mad if she honestly thought it was a realistic solution to this problem.  Could she be mad?  Had her lover’s death driven her round the bend?

His fingers ached from clutching at the arms of the throne.  He thought he might have to ask Philippa to pry them off, one by one, after Isabella’s dismissal from their presence.  It was never going to be what Isabella wanted again, and she had best get that through her head.  She had made him king...though she had only intended for him to be a figurehead...and now she had to live with the consequences of her actions.

“Madame,” he ground out, watching her dimples fade as she turned toward him.  “Should you manage to go to term, whatever you produce will most certainly not be acknowledged as a royal child.  When you return to your apartments, you will set your ladies packing.  For you alone, not for them, as your household will be replaced.  You will be confined to your property of Castle Rising in Yorkshire.  Your misbegotten bastard will be...removed...after its birth.”

Isabella looked terrified, as fearful as she had been when she realized he meant to exact vengeance upon her lover and take his life in exchange for his father’s.  “Mon Dieu,” she breathed.  “Ned, you would innocent babe...”

He had no clear plan yet beyond getting her away from court, only a vague, half-formed notion of sending it to a religious house, but it was plain she interpreted removed to mean infanticide.  Her eyes were wide and shocked.  Such a thing would be easier than trying to keep it hidden. 

He took part of the blame on himself for this.  Had he moved faster rather than hesitating until his friend William de Montacute’s life was being threatened by the would-be king, arrested her paramour in August instead of October, she would not be in this situation.  If the bastard lived, keeping it alive would be part of his own penance for being so weak.  He did not disabuse Isabella of her interpretation.  Let that be a part of her penance as well.

“Do you not question me, Madame,” he said.  “You will do as you are told when you are told.  There will be no further breath of scandal uttered regarding your disgraceful condition.  There will be no further shame brought down upon our house because of you.  I am the king and I will not have it!

His voice rang in the large, empty chamber, his fingers cramping painfully.  Isabella stumbled back a step as if he had shoved her.  Philippa sat very still beside him, only her brown eyes darting back and forth as she witnessed this clash of wills.

The Queen Dowager drew in a huge, shuddering breath, no longer confident and smug that she would eventually prevail over her elder son.  “Yes, Your Grace,” she said slowly, inclining her head as she gave him his royal due for the first time.  “Yes, I understand.”

“Then begone from our sight and commence your packing.”  He jerked his head toward the door through which she had entered, unable to raise a beringed hand and wave it in dismissal.  Isabella dropped a graceful curtsey once again, and then picked up her skirts to hurry away.

When he heard the sound of the door closing behind her, he slumped back in his seat, closing his eyes and willing his fingers to relax.  A soft whisper of fabric drifted into his ears as Philippa arose from her throne and came to settle herself in his lap, wrapping her arms around him.  “You did well, my lord,” she praised.  “She is your mother, but what must be done must be done.”

He found her could move his hands at last, hugging her tightly.  “Yes,” he sighed.  “She is my mother.”

10/13/2016 11:25 AM

Topic :   Which wife was Henry's best match?

Short article from History Extra, doing a little psychology & dating site reasoning on Henry to determine which of his 6 wives was best suited to him....the answer may surprise you!

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived – but which wife was Henry's best match?

| Georgios Kollidas (Aimoo keeps changing the copyright symbol to a ques mark for some reason)

Henry ended his three-year marriage to Anne Boleyn by having her beheaded, but she is still the most compatible match for the infamous king, according to the findings from relationship website eHarmony.

Tudor historian Elizabeth Norton carried out psychological studies of Henry and all six of his wives and this data was used by eHarmony to score each marriage’s compatibility. Factors considered included emotional temperament, social style and relationship skills.

Few could claim any of his marriages were particularly successful anyway, but the results show Henry was incompatible with all six women. His aggressive personality, neuroticism and lack of compassion all made him less than a perfect match.


But Anne tops the list due to their “similar libidos and high levels of energy and ambition” as well as their openness with each other. Despite the passion of the relationship, the suspicious and neurotic Henry had her head chopped off.

Henry called his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, a “Flanders mare” and they divorced within a year, but she proved the second most compatible. Next on the list was Catherine of Aragon, who was married to Henry for 23 years before he split with the Roman Catholic Church to divorce her. According to her profiling, their relationship may have been strained by her lack of interest in appearance and athleticism.

Today, Jane Seymour is commonly regarded as Henry’s favourite wife – not least because she finally bore him a son – but she’s down in fourth place. It is likely Henry would disagree with the findings that she was not bold and outgoing enough, as she is the only wife buried with him.

Catherine Howard’s “mismatched libido” makes her the fifth most compatible wife and Catherine Parr, for being too intellectual for Henry’s tastes, comes in last.

Norton says, “The results of the study have been fascinating. Henry VIII was a complex character and found lasting love difficult to achieve. It was with Anne Boleyn that he enjoyed his most passionate relationship, with him even writing love letters to her – despite not being a fan of letter writing. The results of the study suggest that he should have given their relationship longer!”

“It’s a shame”, says eHarmony’s Jemima Wade, “that there was no eHarmony back in the 16th century, as we’re confident we could have saved Henry a lot of time and heartache by helping him find long-lasting love with a truly compatible partner who shared his beliefs and outlook on life.”

Aimoo sometimes goes wonky on links, so I copied to article text just in case.  History Extra is crammed full of Tudor articles, so it's a good site to bookmark:

05/02/2016 4:18 PM

Topic :   Richard III's Almost-Wife

Article on Joanna of Portugal.  She would've been Richard III's 2nd wife had he won at Bosworth.  She really wanted to become a nun, but as a princess pawn on the marriage mart, her brother King John refused to allow her to take her final vows even though she had been in a convent for years.  The dream to which the article briefly refers has also been termed a vision - Joanna asked John to spend the night in prayer considering the betrothal, and she supposedly saw Richard falling from a horse in battle.  The next morning she told her brother of her visions and said that she would agree to become Richard's wife, if he still lived.  As Richard was just 32 and in good health, John thought the alliance with England was a done deal.  Then the messenger from England came with the news of Richard's defeat and death.  John was in awe at Joanna's vision coming true, and permitted her to take her final vows and become a nun.

Since links tend to go wonky in Aimoo, credited to above site and pasted here:

Joan was the daughter of Isabella of Coimbra and Afonso V of Portugal. She was born on 6 February 1452 and she was for short time the heiress presumptive  between the death of her older brother John and the birth of her younger brother, the future John II. She was even given the title Princess of Portugal at this time despite the fact that she was only the heiress presumptive, usually she would have been titled as Infanta. Ever after the birth of her younger brother she was referred to as Princess. In 1471 Joan acted as regent in her father’s absence.

Joan was greatly drawn to the religious life but due to her close proximity to the throne her father forbade her from becoming a nun. She was finally able to join the convent after her brother had a child in 1475, but offers of marriage continued to come. A serious candidate was the recently widowed Richard III of England. In a double marriage alliance Joan would marry Richard and Richard’s niece Elizabeth of York would marry the future Manuel I of Portugal. Joan was a descendant of John of Gaunt, through his daughter Philippa of Lancaster. Richard would die in battle a short while later and neither marriage took place. Joan supposedly had a dream that Richard would die in battle. Joan would remain unmarried for the rest of her life.

Joan died on 12 May 1490  at the age of 38 in the convent at Aveiro. Her brother died without surviving issue five years later and had she outlived him she would have become Queen Regnant. Instead her brother was succeeded by their first cousin Manuel. Though Joan was beatified in 1693, she was never canonized so she cannot be considered a saint. However, she is commonly referred to as Princess Saint Joan. She is buried in the convent in Aveiro. Her tomb survives to this day.

As a Tudor aside, Manuel of Portugal would go on to marry 2 of Catherine of Aragon's sisters - Isabella, who died in childbirth with a son who lived only 2 years, and Maria, with whom he had 6 children. 

02/07/2016 12:34 PM

Re :   The Life & Times of Margaret Douglas

Margaret Douglas was the daughter of a princess/queen, Margaret Tudor, but as the daughter of the Earl of Angus, the courtesy title she was afforded came through the male line, not the female, so she was simply Lady Margaret Douglas.  She was not a Princess of Scotland even though she lived for a time at the court of her half-brother, James V, son of Margaret Tudor's 1st marriage to James IV of Scotland.  She was merely the king's sister from another mister LOL

12/07/2015 11:10 AM

Topic :   The Life & Times of Margaret Douglas

Aimoo gets wonky when links get older, so in addition to crediting & linking to the site, I'm also pasting the article content into my post, just in case the link screws up.

The Freelance History Writer

Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox

Margaret Douglas, sometimes styled “Princess of Scotland”, was the daughter of Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland and her second husband, Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus. Margaret enjoyed the affection of her uncle King Henry VIII of England and was witness to many events in Tudor history. She also was a pawn of her uncle’s game in the marriage market and did not actually wed until she was in her late twenties. She was a dynamic Tudor personality. More importantly, she was the grandmother of King James VI of Scotland and I of England.

Margaret was born under difficult circumstances. Her mother Queen Margaret was involved in a power struggle for the regency of her young son King James V of Scotland. Things became unbearable and Queen Margaret fled to England seeking refuge and a place to have her child. The birth took place on October 8, 1515 at Harbottle Castle in Northumberland.

Margaret and her mother remained in England for a year. Queen Margaret and Angus were reconciled and little Margaret and her mother returned to Scotland where her parent’s marriage rapidly disintegrated. At the age of three, Margaret’s father took possession of her. Angus took good care of her, assigning a governess although she did not receive a strong education. In 1522, Angus traveled to France and may have taken Margaret with him. Margaret did not see her mother from 1521 to 1524 and was highly influenced by her father, becoming very much a Douglas. Her parents were finally divorced in 1527. From 1525 to1528, Angus was in complete control of the Scottish regency. This was a time of great luxury for Margaret. As half-sister of King James V, she was treated as a princess. She may have become conceited during this time.

In May of 1528, King James V began to assert himself and overthrew his stepfather. Angus fought to keep his position until March of 1529. During this time Margaret traveled with her father, sometimes seeking refuge at Norham Castle. Angus finally fled to England taking the 13 year old Margaret with him. She was left with Sir Thomas Stangeways at Berwick until that summer. She and her ladies were prisoners but treated well. Margaret’s mother made an attempt at this time to get her back but was unsuccessful. Henry worried Margaret would turn out like her mother because he disapproved of his sister’s behavior. Sir Thomas wrote to Cardinal Wolsey that he was keeping a strict eye on Margaret, fearing she might be stolen into Scotland. Margaret was now legally the ward of King Henry who along with Wolsey, arranged for her to be brought south to live with her aunt Mary Tudor.

Sometime in 1530, Margaret went to be lady-in-waiting to King Henry’s daughter Princess Mary at Beaulieu which lasted for three years. They shared an education and were to remain friends until Mary’s death. Anne Boleyn also took an interest in Margaret during this time. In 1533, Henry married Anne Boleyn and she was crowned Queen. Margaret may have participated in Anne’s coronation and when Princess Elizabeth was born to Anne in 1533, Margaret was first lady of honor in Elizabeth’s household. During this time Margaret contributed some of her poems to a book in the Boleyn circle called the “Devonshire Manuscript”. Margaret was in high favor and would come into contact with the powerful Howard family, relatives of Anne Boleyn. In 1535, with the encouragement of Queen Anne, Margaret began a romance with Thomas Howard, half-brother of the Duke of Norfolk. She fell in love and gave him a miniature of herself and he gave her a ring.

By 1536, Anne Boleyn had fallen out of favor and was executed. Within ten days, Henry had married Jane Seymour and Margaret was to be a part of Jane’s household. It was about this time, Henry found out about Margaret’s romance. Henry decided this was an attempt by the Howard’s to marry into the royal family and eventually take the throne. Howard was attainted for treason and he and Margaret were thrown into the Tower. The “Act of Succession” was changed to state that it was a capital offense to “espouse, marry or deflower being unmarried” any of the King’s female relations.

Both Margaret and Howard fell ill while in the Tower. Margaret was released into the care of the Abbess of Syon and recovered there to return to court, un-deflowered. Howard was to die of his illness in the Tower two days after her release. It is more than likely she had to disavow Thomas as a condition of her return to court. It took Margaret a long time to recover from Thomas’ death.

In October of 1537, after giving birth to Henry’s only son Edward, Jane Seymour died. Margaret was an attendant at the funeral. In January of 1540, Margaret was assigned as a lady-in-waiting to Henry’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. Anne of Cleves marriage was annulled in May of 1540. By July, Henry had married Catherine Howard and Margaret was named lady-in-waiting to her. During this time, possibly with the encouragement of the Queen, Margaret began a romance with the Queen’s brother Charles Howard, the nephew of her first lover Thomas Howard. Someone informed the King and Margaret was arrested and again lodged at Syon. Charles escaped to Flanders to avoid arrest. Margaret was only at Syon a short time before Henry released her to go to Kenninghall when Catherine Howard fell from grace. Margaret’s mother died on October 18, 1541. She willed all her little remaining property to Margaret, but King James V took it.

In July of 1543, Henry married Katherine Parr. Margaret was chief bridesmaid and carried Katherine Parr’s train. She served in the Queen’s household and was on intimate terms with her. Also in July, Margaret learned the 29 year old Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox was interested in marrying her. Lennox was a Scottish nobleman who had made his way to France in 1532 and stayed there for ten years, becoming a French citizen. At one time there had been talk that Lennox would marry Mary of Guise, Queen Dowager of Scotland and regent for her young daughter Mary Queen of Scots but this never materialized. Lennox was one of the few remaining Scottish nobles with Anglophile sympathies. He looked to England to make an impressive match and King Henry eventually agreed to let him marry his now 28 year old niece.

Margaret fell in love with Lennox and felt lucky to have a handsome, politically ambitious husband. She devoted herself to his causes. He had his own following of men and his knowledge of French politics and military affairs would help King Henry. The King and Queen were present at Margaret’s marriage on July 6, 1544 at St. James Palace in London.

In the early years of their marriage, Margaret was pregnant much of the time and Lennox was in Scotland working for King Henry and fighting. When it was discovered that Lennox was working for the English, he was attainted and exiled to England. Margaret and Lennox lived most of the time at Temple Newsham House near Leeds. Margaret was to have a total of eight children but only two survived. Their eldest son Henry, Lord Darnley was born on December 5, 1545 and was named after the King. Charles was born in 1555 or 1556.

Henry VIII died in January, 1547. His young son Edward became King. Margaret spent most of her time in the North, supervising the education of her sons. When Marie of Guise visited London in November of 1551, Margaret made a rare appearance at court. When Edward died in 1553, it was a dangerous time. One faction wanted Lady Jane Grey to be Queen and another faction supported Princess Mary. Mary fought for the throne and won. Margaret was in high favor during the reign of her old friend. Margaret even took precedence at court ahead of Princess Elizabeth. She treated Princess Elizabeth badly during this time. There were rumors during the time Mary had Elizabeth sent to the Tower that Margaret was urging Mary to execute Elizabeth. Mary died in November 1558 and Elizabeth became the new Queen. Despite the animosity between the two women, Margaret brought her sons to court to greet the new Queen and she participated in Elizabeth’s coronation.

Margaret and her husband, who had lost his property in Scotland, were fighting most of the time they were married to get their property restored. Margaret pinned all her hopes for the future on her two surviving sons Henry and Charles. It was Margaret’s greatest dream to see her son Henry married to the young Mary Queen of Scots after she was widowed in 1560. Henry was well educated, a musician and a poet, fair and tawny haired, handsome and 6’3” tall which was important to the 6’ Mary Queen of Scots.

From 1561 to 1564, Margaret and her husband were under suspicion by the Elizabethan government. Because Margaret was a devoted Catholic, it was believed she was involved in rebellion in the North against the regime. In addition, Margaret’s scheme to marry her son to Mary Queen of Scots was suspicious. Margaret and her husband would spend most of 1562 in prison. Matthew was in the Tower but Margaret was under house arrest at Sheen. Margaret defended herself and her family and eventually Matthew was released from the Tower to join her. By 1563, the entire family was released. Margaret was back at court, tolerated for the time being.

After all Margaret’s intrigues on behalf of her son, Elizabeth finally gave Darnley permission to travel to Scotland in February 1565. By July, Mary and Darnley were married. Even before the marriage, Margaret had been arrested. In June she was in the Tower again. Darnley turned out to be a disaster as a husband and was murdered on Feb 10, 1567. Margaret was heartbroken. She was released from the Tower almost immediately. Elizabeth was sympathetic to Margaret over the death of her son.

Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to a child by Darnley on June 19, 1566 and named James. She was eventually to abdicate the Scottish throne to her son on June 24, 1567. Lennox went to Scotland to act as regent for his grandson. After troubled regency, Margaret’s husband was murdered on September 4, 1571. Margaret schemed with Bess of Hardwick to marry her son Charles to Bess’s daughter Elizabeth. They married in October 1574. Queen Elizabeth was furious with Margaret and had her imprisoned in the Tower yet again but only for a short time. Charles and his wife were to have a daughter, Arbella Stuart. Arbella was to get into trouble, just as her grandmother did, for making an unsanctioned marriage in 1610 to William Seymour, great grandson of Edward Seymour, brother of Queen Jane Seymour.

After Margaret’s final release from the Tower she spent most of her life at her home in Hackney, finally done with politics. She took great interest in her grandchildren, Arbella and James, becoming a devoted and affectionate grandmother. By 1578, her health was failing. She died in poverty at Hackney on March 7, 1578. She had witnessed many important events of Tudor and Stuart history. Her grandson James would ascend the throne of England on the death of Elizabeth I in 1603

12/07/2015 11:06 AM

Topic :   Henry VIIIs Stuff

From ....Aimoo has a tendency to eat links.

Six months after Henry VIII died in 1547, a full inventory of all of the possessions of Henry’s crown was commissioned in London. Now housed in The British Library, the inventory took 18 months to complete and listed tens of thousands of individual items—from castles and ships to more than 3500 gold and silver trinkets, as well as Henry’s enormous collection of 2000 tapestries.

Also making the list, however, were a handful of more bizarre objects, including an orchestra’s worth of musical instruments, experimental weapons, and one of the largest suits of armor in British royal history. Add to that some of the incredible gifts Henry received from fellow rulers during his lifetime—as well as some of the surprising personal items he commissioned for his own use while on the throne—and arguably the most famous king in British history owned some very unusual curiosities indeed.


Although he probably didn’t write "Greensleeves," Henry was nevertheless a talented musician and composer, and was able to play the organ, the lute, the flute, and the virginal, an early form of harpsichord. Most of Henry’s personal collection of musical instruments was housed at Westminster Palace in London, where they were maintained by a Flemish-born composer named Philip van Wilder, who was given the title of “Keeper of the King’s Instruments.” Henry’s 1547 inventory lists more than 20 recorders, 19 viols, two clavichords, and four sets of bagpipes—including one made of purple velvet, with ivory pipework.


Shortly after the birth of his son Edward (later the short-lived King Edward VI) in 1537, Henry had a bowling alley built at Hampton Court Palace on the outskirts of London. At almost 200 feet long, it was more than three times the length of a modern 10-pin bowling alley. Bowling was a hugely popular pastime in Tudor England—at least until Henry’s daughter, Queen Mary I, outlawed the “keeping of any bowling-alleys, dicing houses, or other unlawful games” in 1555.


The “scavenger’s daughter” was a gruesome and brutal instrument of torture invented sometime during Henry VIII’s reign by Sir Leonard Skevington, the Lieutenant of the Tower of London. The device consisted of an A-shaped iron brace, inside of which a victim would be made to sit in a crouched position, with their head almost touching their knees, and their wrists, ankles, and neck shackled in place. An iron bar passed through the top of the A-frame would then be tightened like a vice, crushing the victim with excruciating force—apparently, until the eyes, nose, and even ears began to bleed. The “scavenger’s daughter” was intended to be an alternative to the rack, which stretched its victims rather than compacting them, but unlike the rack, it mercifully seems to have only been used occasionally.


By all accounts, Henry VIII loved animals. He kept ferrets, hawks, falcons, and numerous other birds (the windows at Hampton Court were surrounded by cages containing canaries and nightingales), and owned dozens of dogs during his lifetime; after his death, more than 60 dog leashes were found in his wardrobe. By far Henry’s most unusual pet, however, was a marmoset he received as a Christmas present in the late 1530s. Coincidentally, his first wife, Catherine (sometimes Katherine) of Aragon, also had a pet marmoset, and was even painted with it earlier that decade. But are these the strangest royal pets on record? Oddly enough, they aren’t—in 1252, King Henry III was given a polar bear by the Norwegian king, Haakon IV, which was housed at the Tower of London and kept on an enormous leash long enough to allow it to swim in the river Thames.


Henry VIII is credited with popularizing the peculiar Tudor fashion for enormous, exaggerated codpieces, which during his reign established themselves as symbols of a man’s virility and masculinity. The king, of course, had to have the biggest codpiece of all—and toward the end of his life, Henry’s codpieces had become roomy enough for him to use them as glorified pockets, in which he could keep jewels and other valuables, and even small weapons. He even had them built into his armor.


This monstrous-looking device is called a mace pistol, although in Henry’s day it was nicknamed the “holy water sprinkler,” or “the king’s walking staff.” Now housed in the Royal Armouries in Leeds, England, the weapon was comprised of a pronged mace concealing three gun barrels in its spiked head. Henry apparently had a habit of wandering the streets of London at night brandishing his “walking staff” in order to check that his constables were doing their work properly. However, one night he was arrested for carrying a weapon by one of his men who failed to recognize him, and ended up spending a night in a prison cell. When the constable recognized his error the following day, he presumed the king would have him immediately executed—but instead, Henry granted him a handsome raise, and supplied all the prisoners with whom he had spent the night a supply of coal and bread.


Records show that in 1526, Henry VIII commissioned a pair of leather football boots at a cost of 4 shillings (around £90, or $130 today); 14 years later, in 1540, he banned football on the grounds that it incited riots.


A suit of armor made for Henry, five years into his reign in 1514, shows that the 23-year-old king was 6-foot-1, and had an athletic 32-inch waist and a 39-inch chest. Twenty-five years of a king’s diet later, a suit of armor Henry had made for a May Day tournament in 1540 when he was 49 years old shows that he now required a 51 inch waist, and a 54.5 inch chest.


A bespectacled, demon-faced “Horned Helmet” was presented to Henry VIII by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in 1514 (along, tragically, with the rest of a now-lost suit of armor). After Henry’s death in 1547, his court jester, Will Somers, apparently took over possession of it and most likely incorporated it in his act.

10/22/2015 8:18 AM

Re :   Did This Kill Mary?

Stupid Aimoo ate the links again. 

Anyone who wants to check out the symptoms & pix is just going to have to Google 'em.

08/22/2015 7:53 AM

Topic :   Renaissance Fashion: The Birth of Power Dressing

This time period, of course, covers the Tudors, and I found this article from History Today quite interesting as regards the reasoning behind the sort of outfits worn, especially Henry VIIIs and Elizabeth Is extravagance in garb.

Renaissance Fashion: The Birth of Power Dressing

I shall never forget, while staying in Paris, the day a friend’s husband returned home from a business trip. She and I were having coffee in a huge sunny living room overlooking the Seine. His key turned in the door. Next, a pair of beautiful, shiny black shoes flew down the corridor. Finally the man himself appeared. ‘My feet are killing me!’ he exclaimed. The shoes were by Gucci.

We might think that these are the modern follies of fashion, which now beset men as much as women. My friend certainly valued herself partly in terms of the wardrobe she had assembled and her accessories of bags, sunglasses, stilettoes and shoes. She had modest breast implants and a slim, sportive body. They were moving to Dubai. In her spare time when she was not looking after children, going shopping, walking the dog, or jogging, she would write poems and cry.

Yet neither my friend nor her husband would be much out of place in the middle of the 15th century. Remember men’s long pointed Gothic shoes? In the Franconian village of Niklashausen at this time a wandering preacher drew large crowds and got men to cut off their shoulder-length hair and slash the long tips of their pointed shoes, which were seen as wasteful of leather. Learning to walk down stairs in them was a skill. Men and women in this period aspired to an elongated, delicate, slim silhouette. Very small people were considered deformed and were given the role of grotesque fools. Italian doctors already wrote books about cosmetic surgery.

When, how and why did looks become deeply embedded in how people felt about themselves and others? The Renaissance was a turning point. I use the term in its widest sense to describe a long period, from c.1300 to 1600. After 1300 a much greater variety and quantity of goods was produced and consumed across the globe. Textiles, furnishings and items of apparel formed a key part of this unprecedented diffusion of objects and increased interaction with overseas worlds. Tailoring was transformed by new materials and innovative techniques in cutting and sewing, as well as the desire for a tighter fit to emphasise bodily form, particularly of men’s clothing. Merchants expanded markets in courts and cities by making chic accessories such as hats, bags, gloves or hairpieces, ranging from beards to long braids. At the same time, new media and the spread of mirrors led to more people becoming interested in their self-image and into trying to imagine how they appeared to others; artists were depicting humans on an unprecedented scale, in the form of medals, portraits, woodcuts and genre scenes, and print circulated more information about dress across the world, as the genre of ‘costume books’ was born.

Dressed to thrill

These expanding consumer and visual worlds conditioned new ways of feeling. In July 1526 Matthäus Schwarz, a 29-year-old chief accountant for the mighty Fugger family of merchants from Augsburg, commissioned a naked image of himself as fashionably slim and precisely noted his waist measurements. He worried about gaining weight, which to him signalled ageing and diminished attractiveness. Over the course of his life, from his twenties to his old age, Schwarz commissioned 135 watercolour paintings showing his dressed self, which he eventually compiled into a remarkable album, the Klaidungsbüchlein (Book of Clothes), which is housed today in a small museum in Brunswick. From the many fascinating details the album reveals we know that, while he was courting women, Schwarz carried heart-shaped leather bags in green, the colour of hope. The new material expression of these emotions, which were tied to appearances, heart-shaped bags for men, artificial braids for women or red silk stockings for young boys, may strike us as odd. Yet the messages they contained (of self-esteem, erotic appeal or social advancement; and their effects, which ranged from delight in wonderful craftsmanship to concern that a look had not been achieved or that someone’s appearance was deceiving) remain familiar to us today.

When cultures throw up new words, historians can be fairly sure that they have struck on new developments. The word ‘fashion’ gained currency in different languages during the Renaissance. Moda was adapted from Latin into Italian to convey the idea of fashionable dressing as opposed to costume, which denoted more stable customs relating to dress. In 16th-century France, the word mode began to supersede the Old French expression cointerie to mean ‘in style’. The French term was adapted in 17th-century German as à la mode. The English word ‘fashion’ came from the Latin word for ‘making’. It was first used c.1550 to refer to a temporary mode of dress in the physician Andrew Boorde’s Book of Knowledge. Boorde depicted an almost naked Englishman on a woodcut, cheerily announcing: ‘Now I will wear I cannot tell what, all fashions be pleasant to me.’ Boorde thought that the English would never be role models for other nations if they assimilated other fashions. His book was also the first in Europe to include woodcut depictions of people in different dress from across Europe. Yet the new preoccupation with fashion reached beyond the continent. In 1570 the Chinese student Chen Yao wrote of how hairstyles, accessories and styles in his region of China changed ‘without warning. It’s what they call fashion’ (the word he used was shiyang, which literally translates as ‘the look of the moment’).

Many people reacted with shock to these cultural transformations. Stability, or a return to old customs, signalled order, whereas change, and especially constant change, seemed threatening and corrupting. Moralists warned that there should be clear principles concerning who should wear what in terms of their profession and bodily needs in different climates. Once the right kind of clothing had been identified there would be no need ever to change. Elites naturally tried to preserve the signalling of high rank through fine clothing. Sumptuary laws, dating from Roman times and so called after the Latin word sumptus meaning expense, had multiplied during the Renaissance. These sought to limit the amount of money wealthy people could spend on apparel, so as to limit competitive spending. They also typically set out what kinds of materials and sometimes even colours each rank could wear. Like Andrew Boorde, many worried about the introduction of foreign styles. Moralists across Europe really believed that dress shaped people’s mentalities, so that fine foreign clothing, for instance, would make a person more affected and licentious. Such commentators were concerned about the money that would be taken from one country to another and about people losing their virtuous, ‘national’ customs of behaviour; the worst was when people mixed fashions from different cultures and thus became completely unidentifiable in any national, political or moral sense.

Alongside these reactions was the dawning realisation that clothing made one historical. Matthäus Schwarz was in his early teens when he started talking to old people about what they had worn in the past and began to make drawings of his own apparel. People began to be aware that future generations would look at them with a sense of historical distance and incredulity, simply on account of what they looked like. Rather than revering their ancestors, they might be laughing at their funny shoes. This uncomfortable realisation raised the question which underlies all cultural history: how were these changing customs to be explained?

One answer suggested by contemporaries, such as the Strasbourg-born poet and satirist Sebastian Brant (1457-1521), was that humans were like apes because they imitated others. Such a view was neither sophisticated nor uplifting. It presented two choices: either to join the apes and take part in the folly of human life or to turn rigidly moral and refuse the dance. The latter position was as ridiculous as the former because those opting out of fashion appeared archaic, particularly at a moment when beauty and inventions were highly esteemed. Cities such as Florence were praised for the beauty of their women and sumptuary laws were suspended, often for months, when important foreign dignitaries visited. People stored finery for such moments or forged links with those from whom they could borrow garments. Consequently inventories that record the kind of clothing people possessed when they married or died often provide an incomplete account of the goods they had access to via networks of friends and family.

Colour and class

Lending and borrowing sustained much of early modern life, especially among poorer sections of society. Women in particular relied on such connections, because they were paid less than men or were engaged in unsalaried labour. At the same time unmarried women were expected to look attractive in their efforts to gain a partner, so sumptuary legislation sometimes made allowances for accessories they might wear. For example, a 1530 Imperial Police Ordinance permitted daughters and unmarried peasant women to wear hairbands of silk.

There was general disdain of slovenly dress, a strong theme, for example, in the writing of the Dominican priest Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), who thought that wives needed to look their best to keep their husbands faithful. New colours excited people and since outfits were usually composed of many individual elements, such as detachable sleeves, those lower down the social scale might be able to afford one section in a fashionable colour, perhaps purchasing it second hand. Yellow, for example, became a fashionable colour at the beginning of the 16th century. Inventories from the Swiss city of Basel at this time show that the colour was first adopted by wealthy men and women, but within a few years it became popular with prostitutes, journeymen, apprentices and maidservants, as well as minor officials and artisans. In 1512 the widow of the town piper in Basel is registered as owning a yellow bodice and her husband’s yellow and green hose. By 1520 just about everyone in the city wore yellow and the colour appeared in many innovative combinations – yellow-brown, yellow-red, yellow-green, yellow-black.

Fashion gained favours for men and women alike. Matthäus Schwarz had three expensive outfits tailored for himself to please Archduke Ferdinand I of Austria, whom he met twice during the Imperial Diet of Augsburg of 1530, presided over by the archduke and his brother, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Members of the emperor’s entourage were certain to write about how civilised or not a city appeared to be. Such diaries and travelogues were frequently published. Visitors were keen to see craft workshops and examples of urban ingenuity on display; they would dance, dine, be waited upon and bestow gifts. Few people wanted to seem ‘behind the times’, especially since Italians had ingrained in European society the notion that a refined civilisation was a superior one. But what bearing did Schwarz’s appearance have on the imperial party in 1530? Schwarz, who had slimmed in advance and had grown a beard like Ferdinand himself, used fashion to produce an image of himself which made the archduke like and trust him.  In 1541 Schwarz himself received a particularly special reward from the emperor, whom he had also had a chance to impress in person; he was ennobled. Of course he had been loyal to the Catholic Habsburgs during the Reformation and had worked as head accountant for the firm that did most to finance them. Schwarz celebrated this achievement and had himself depicted in a coat lined with marten skin, a fur which was restricted to the highest elites. Such fur was homogenously coloured dark brown and came in rectangular pieces measuring up to 60 centimetres. It materialised the rich man’s garb in relation to that of the poor man, whose coat, in contrast, was likely to have been made of scraps of different furs.

What was new in the Renaissance is the dynamic ability of fashion to reach down the social scale. Schwarz was not an aristocrat, but a wine merchant’s son. In the depictions he has left us (as well as the book of clothes he also commissioned two surviving oil paintings of himself) we see a burgher who knew how to create effective and lasting self images. Real life was less glamorous. In April 1538, at the age of 41, Schwarz married Barbara Mangolt, the not very exciting and not very young daughter of a local manager in the Fugger firm. In the picture of himself marking the occasion Schwarz is shown in his home from behind wearing a dark coat trimmed with green half-silken taffeta. The text accompanying the image reads simply: ‘20 February 1538 when I took a wife this coat ... was made’. After this he got fat, had a stroke and afterwards looked his age. Politics, too, did not work out the way he hoped because the Reformation made headway and in the 1550s German trade entered a profound credit crisis. Schwarz left long gaps in between images of himself in his album. It was difficult to find a fitting end. When he had decided on his final image in September 1560, he could not help but look back at the paintings of himself in his prime to note, sardonically, that he looked so different now from then. Social expectation did not permit older people to be so playful with dress. Now his days in bright red were over and he wore mostly black and white.

Schwarz’s extraordinary record of his clothes has wider meanings. It shows why it is too simplistic to treat fashion, as the French sociologist Gilles Lipovetsky does, as an engine of western modernity since the Middle Ages, in his view because it broke with tradition, encouraged self-determination, individual dignity and opinion-making. It did this in part, and importantly so, but not in uniform ways and not in the West alone. Clothes already formed an important part of what we might call people’s ‘psychic landscapes’. Wardrobes could become repositories of fantasies and insecurities, as well as reflecting expectations of what a person might look like and behave. These cultural arguments and tensions lie at the heart of our struggle to understand the Renaissance. People’s interaction with material goods and visual media added further complexities to their lives. Images could sometimes be manipulated in highly controlled visual displays designed to achieve a specific response from large public audiences evoking, for example, divine magnificence at papal rituals. But they could also be used to explore more openly what was local, regional and foreign, to manage conflicting emotions, or to reflect ways in which an individual tried to appear to others.

New ideas of luxury

When we study the Renaissance, therefore, we need to trace the process by which increasing numbers of people outside courts became attached to material possessions and tried to work out how virtue and decorum might be maintained amid selfish, vain and competitive human tendencies. In southern and northern Europe this process was crucial to people’s attempts to give meaning to life. Even English Puritans were able to acknowledge that possessions could be God’s temporal blessings as ‘ornaments and delights’. Protestants, however, developed a particular notion of new, ‘justifiable luxury’ as opposed to corrupt ‘old luxury’. According to this view, ‘old luxury’ was the preserve of a narrow elite trapped in a vicious circle of self-congratulation and greed, which cultivated extravagant, effeminate and over-sensuous tastes. Protestants saw examples of papal, oriental and monarchical splendour as excessive and guilty of creating a false world of fantastic illusion which overwhelmed onlookers and engendered envy even among elites. Furthermore such manifestations of conspicuous consumption suggested an emotional style pertaining to uncontrollable passions rather than manageable emotion. ‘Old luxury’ was perceived as doomed and, as in ancient Rome, set to lead to a republic’s decline, as well as evincing the misery of human nature after the Fall.

‘New luxury’ could, by contrast, be declared virtuous. Together with the defence of new decencies, it could be identified with a republican spirit, public gain, gentility and politeness. This notion enshrined clear codes of honourable, often more frugal, consumption based on self examination of whether one needed something or was being over-indulgent.

In the 17th and 18th centuries bourgeois consumption qualified as ‘good’, if it did not encourage travesty – men as effeminate gallants, for instance, or women in breeches. In a rare miniature exploring sexual identities beyond the clear divisions of masculine and feminine so rigorously upheld by society, the Dutch artist Adriaen van der Venne depicts a vomiting cat next to an ordinary couple having fun by cross dressing. The cat symbolises sexuality, the act of vomiting a satire on the couple’s subversive act. Bourgeois consumption was meant to establish men as respectable heterosexuals, who would marry and take on public roles; women as distinctly feminine as well as destined for fidelity in marriage. The appearance of small flower patterns and pastel colours, meanwhile, created a softer, more delicate style, which took its cues from Persian designs and was an alternative to the hyper-masculinity of much of the 16th century, with its bold stripy patterns, daring slashes and frequently loud colours. Meanwhile, black, in its different shades, continued for some time as the international shade indicating sumptuous restraint for both sexes. New models of luxury consumption endorsed measured innovation and the notion of aesthetic pleasure to reinforce cultural competence. Sensations such as surprise and delight could be regarded as refined, because they were not linked to simple utility or physical pleasure. Necessity pointed to functional utility, whereas luxury suggested honourable decorum and progressive, though ‘polite’, creativity. Such evaluations were connected to the notion that consumers should obtain a high degree of product information and an understanding of intricate cuts and constructions of clothing from artisans, shops and tradesmen, or books and magazines. Hence the cultivation of taste based on knowledge and civil sociability rather than the kind that advertised conspicuous wealth. Bourgeois classes could positively cherish fashion as a forward-looking social tool. It could now be presented in a positive light as fuelling the wealth of nations and engendering emotional well-being.

French dressing

Molière’s 1661 comedy L’Ecole des Maris (The School for Husbands) is a perfect example of the trend. This short, entertaining play was a pan-European success. It was not just performed, but published with plentiful captivating engravings. Its whole plot turns on two brothers who had totally different ideas about dress; each had been promised orphaned girls for marriage, if they looked after them. The younger brother, Sganarelle, wants his girl to dress in brown and grey wool and to remain indoors. Likewise, he himself only dresses functionally and traditionally. His older and more relaxed brother, Aristide, by contrast, considers social pleasures, such as the theatre and good company, as the meaning of life. To him, fine clothes are a further fount of pleasure that he acknowledges as a source of female self-esteem. As Aristide sees it, women feel well treated by men who provide money to clothe them nicely, making them feel honoured and happy. Hence, in Molière’s play, commerce and sociability were presented overtly as guaranteeing female civility and emotional contentment.

Molière was writing during the reign of Louis XIV and thus did not advertise this life in any way as republican. Rather it was linked to the notion of a good monarchy as opposed to a tyranny. Sganarelle exemplified tyranny in the way the household was run, which contemporaries thought of as a microcosm of the state. Tyranny was presented as resulting from a deep fear of rebellion; in the household this would be typified as adultery. For Sganarelle, the overly restrictive nature of his domestic regime resulted in him losing his woman to a fop. On the other hand, Molière gives Aristide’s girl, Leonore, a voice to defend women’s rights to enjoy dress and how these link to the values of a civilised society, which should encourage self regard, in contrast to the treatment of women by barbarous Turks. Leonore argues for women’s liberty and against their subjection to men’s will and suspicions. She speaks of trust enabling women’s natural virtue to manifest itself:

Yes, all these stern precautions are inhuman.
Are we in Turkey, where they lock up women?
It’s said that females are slaves or worse,
And that´s why Turks are under Heaven’s curse.
Our honour, Sir, is truly very frail
If we, to keep it, must be kept in jail ...

All these constraints are vain and ludicrous:
The best course, always, is to trust in us.
It’s dangerous, Sir, to underrate our gender.
Our honour likes to be its own defender.

The Renaissance watershed

Debates about fashion that started in the Renaissance did not end with Molière. The idea that the defence of decorous fashion was compatible with a good Christian existence evolved as did complex debates about clothing, of the kind we are familiar with today. But the development of fashion in this period marks a historical watershed. How one dressed began to be seen as the right of an individual and this conviction helped gradually to erode sumptuary legislation. Interest in what one wore was increasingly informed by lure of what craftsmen were able to produce. Different kinds of half-silks, beautiful dyes and lovely patterned textiles seemed delightful to explore and purchase. Yet these choices could also cause confusion and cultural arguments. Women were worried about what colours would be considered seemly and students angered their mothers by asking for money for clothes. Family exchanges now included children bargaining with parents over what they might wear, while parents desperately sought to exercise control. Take the case of Paul Behaim, son of a Nuremberg merchant, who in 1574 aged 17 travelled to Italy with two friends. Having left unsettled debts in Leipzig, where he had been a student, he knew that he now needed to display to his widowed mother a more frugal attitude while simultaneously arguing his case. In his first letter home, he wrote:

Dear Mother ... I have used the money from the sale (of a horse) to have the simplest coarse green clothing made for myself – a doublet with modest trim, pleatless hose (like those Gienger [the tutor] wears at home), and a hooded coat ... Lest you think things are cheap here, all this has cost me approximately 17 or 18 crowns, even though it was as plain and simple as it could be. I could not have been more amazed when I saw (that bill) than you will be when I send it to you.

In all these ways, then, clothing has changed the ways in which we feel and behave.

The Renaissance is in some ways a mirror which leads us back in time to disturb the notion that the world we live in was made in a modern age. Messages reflected in clothing about self-esteem, erotic appeal or social advancement of the wearer are all familiar to us today. Since they first surfaced we have had to deal more intensely with clever marketing, as well as with questions about image and self-image and whether clothes wear us or we wear them. In short, dress has changed in history and it changes history.

Ulinka Rublack teaches early modern European history at Cambridge University and is a Fellow of St John’s College. She is the author of Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe (Oxford University Press, 2010).

(Article copied in its entirety as Aimoo has a bad habit of wrecking links once they get old.)

07/26/2015 3:38 PM

Topic :   HM the Queen Surpasses Queen Victoria's Reign on Sept 9, 2016

If she doesn't shuck off her mortal coil twixt now and then, natch, as she is 89 yrs old and, quite frankly, looks embalmed already with the thick amount of makeup troweled on her face. Sort of like the other Queen Elizabeth, only we're savvy to the dangers of lead-based face whitening in the 21st century, so that's not going to kill her (as it probably did Good Queen Bess).

Here's a little ditty to help remember the British monarchs, starting with William the Conqueror and stopping at Elizabeth II.  (When Chuckles takes the throne they'll have to revamp the end.)

(Can be sung to the tune of Good King Wenceslas....I heart that bit)

Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee,
Harry, Dick, John, Harry three
One, two, three Neds, Richard two
Harrys four, five, six... then who?
Edwards four, five, Dick the bad
Harrys twain and Ned the Lad
Mary, Bessie, James the Vain
Charlie, Charlie, James again
William and Mary, Anna Gloria
Four Georges, William, and Victoria
Edward seven next, then George the fifth in 1910
Ned the eighth soon abdicated
Then George the sixth was coronated
After which Elizabeth
And that's the end, until her death!

That George V line is a bit dodgy if you ask me.

07/26/2015 3:18 PM

Re :   Catherine of Aragon: Anorexic?

Just because Catherine fasted in her teens (more like those misers Ferdinand & Henry VII kept her household short of money) doesn't have a thing to do with her parade of miscarriages & stillbirths.  She did go thru very premature menopause & her last pregnancy was at age 33, when she should've been able to keep going on having children into her 30s & possibly even her 40s.  She certainly had no problem conceiving from 1509-1518; she was pregnant nearly every year.  Her eggs expired prematurely.  She had 1-2 miscarriages but they were after successful live births (the New Year's Boy).  Of the 4 pregnancies that actually produced an infant, whether live or dead, they were all premature births.  Incompetent cervix, maybe?

03/16/2015 11:51 PM

Re :   Happy Christmas!

Same thing goes for every holiday.  They're all down there.  The Tudors celebrated St Valentine's Day, and that's coming up.  The webset for that was made from a pre-Raphaelite painting by Edmund Blair Leighton entitled God Speed.

01/18/2015 10:17 PM

Topic :   Happy Christmas!

Scroll down to the bottom (edit as I may not have been clear....not here, but on AMTs main pg that has the list of boards, so 1st click up there ^^^ where it says All My Tudors...history chat to get there, THEN scroll down to the bottom) to click on the old MSN AMT, then click the Enter shield on the page graphic to access the old boards.  As a precaution (& a good one, as it turned out, the way Aimoo migrated the grp over here), all AMTs hidden pgs, that mgmt did a magically visible just for holidays tap on, are listed right near the beginning.  Start with Christmas in Britain and work your way down all AMTs Xmas pgs from there.  Edit: wait, you can't miss the Yuletide Greetings pg a bit above that, tis fab!

Hidden historical gems!  Can't go wrong, peeps!  Enjoy ForeverAmber's splendid pgs & Tudory/medieval Xmas info.

Just as a reminder to those who keep cluttering up mgmt inboxes with requests to join AMT.....the grp has gone read-only.  This is because there were like 100 members & they were ALL freakin' mutes.  Aimoo will poof begone grps that have had no posts for 60 days, so it's imperative that peeps TALK here to keep AMT online.  Since all those peeps had nothin' to say, they were banished from the kingdom (we kept the peeps who migrated here from MSN out of purely sentimental value, even tho they went mute as well, very disappointed).  Mgmt will post something before 60 days hits, to keep AMT from being reported (by some snitchy self-important peep with nothin' better to do) to Aimoo as an inactive grp (hopefully, anyway), but since it's been proven peeps join & won't talk, meh, why bother with em.  Not like one has to be mgmt to initiate a new discussion or add to an existing discussion.

I don't get that nonsense.  WHY do peeps join a grp when they got zero to contribute AND the grp is public & accessible if you don't join it?  I mean, they don't even curtsey/bow & say TYVM when they're let in, let alone do any historical chatting! AMTs dearly beloved (& unfortunately demised in RL, gone far too soon & sadly missed) co-founder, LadyoftheGlade, would've bounced mutes posthaste, so her tradition lives on, even tho the bounced mutes were given A LOT more time to pipe up than she would've ever stood for.  Maybe somewhere down the road AMT will open up again & start accepting applicants IF they promise to TALK!

Till then, Happy Christmas!  Happy New Year!  And we can't forget the medieval/Tudor blow-out of Twelfth Night!

12/19/2014 2:55 AM

Re :   An Irreverent History of the English Monarchs

As William was preparing to paddle over, Harold had a spot of trouble with his troublesome brother (there’s generally at least one of those in the royal family), Tostig, Earl of Northumberland, who thought he should be king. Tostig allied with a Viking dude called Harald Hardrada and supported his invasion of England in the Viking-friendly north.  Harold hurried across the length of England and trounced them both soundly at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.  He was no sooner done wiping the sweat from his brow when word came that the Bastard had landed down south.  So Harold glared at his bro’s corpse, sighed, and turned his barons around for the long march back.  It was accomplished much faster than William expected, and he was barely ready to do battle when Harold’s forces arrived.

That whole Bayeux Tapestry thing says Harold took an arrow in the eye at the Battle of Hastings. OUCH that’s gotta hurt. But really, we don’t know, because said tapestry is 11dy6,000 yrs old and has been repaired so many times no one can make out what it originally looked like.  (We don’t even know for sure exactly where the actual battle took place.)  All we know is that Harold was killed during the battle and his barons laid down their arms and surrendered to the Normans.

So then the Duke of Normandy became William the Conqueror instead of William the Bastard because, well, he conquered. Ruthlessly. William was not a nice guy. Peeps quickly learned one did not say pffft to William because he meant business. Even the blue peeps were afeared and decided to just eat haggis and forgo steaks and burgers for the time being. William had an iron fist and smacked it down regularly on the conquered English. He was back and forth between his two domains kicking backsides right and left. He sent some peeps round all of England to take inventory of his new possessions and write them down for posterity (and tax-levying purposes). This was called the Domesday Book.

Between warring, as he aged he he dummied up to the feast table. A lot. He got beyond tubby. He was so fat that somehow he managed to get his saddle horn stuck in his guts! You didn’t want a belly wound in those days when no one even washed their hands before operating, nosireee. So the Conquerer first demised and then…


Seriously. He was so fat he could barely fit in his coffin and was crammed in as best as could be done, and the next morn peeps filed in for the funeral and ran back out again puking because William was so fat and gassy that he practically blew the lid off the coffin and was leaking all over the floor in a malodorous fashion. This was not a good time to be selected as pallbearer. Imagine the mess. YUCK.

William’s oldest son Robert got to be Duke of Normandy, whilst his next son William got to be King of England (luckily for him the brother in between Robert and William, Richard, had predeceased Dad) and his youngest son Henry just got some coin to compensate for the lack of a nice title. They were OK with such an arrangement, as right of primogeniture hadn’t really taken hold yet and Normandy was regarded as the superior set of lands when held up against England.

William Jr was called Rufus because he had red hair (and a hot temper like Dad). He said pffft to the notion that he should take a bride and breed up little Rufuses posthaste.  It was rumored he was batting for the other team.  His court was described as scandalous because he had male favourites and they liked to mince around in fabulous outfits (pity there are no portraits).

William II didn’t get to be king very long. One day he went out hunting in the New Forest and got shot with an arrow. (O the irony if the Harold tale is true, huh?) Some say it was accident (Sir Walter Tyrrell allegedly loosed that arrow and immediately ran away to the Continent), some say it was murder.  William Rufus wasn’t very popular with anyone but his favourites, and his baby bro was ambitious.

Henry promptly scampered over to Westminster to secure the treasury and proclaimed his good self King of England. Robert was a bit miffed because he wanted it all, so he took up arms against little bro. Henry trounced big bro at the Battle of Tinchebrai, added Normandy to the English monarch’s Crown holdings, and hurled Robert into captivity in England at Corfe Castle for a long, long time, until he was 82 years old and finally demised (probably of sheer boredom)…..

08/23/2014 2:53 AM

Topic :   Who's Who in Tudor Women

An historical romance author with waaay to much time on her hands has done a listing of all the important Tudor chicks.

08/23/2014 2:47 AM

Topic :   An Irreverent History of the English Monarchs

Once upon a time there was a land of mist, fog, and rain.  Some peeps said Hey! Yeah! This island looks like a splendid place to set up housekeeping, let's go over there in our boats and establish settlements before someone else grabs it!

Some of them painted themselves blue to match the weather.  The other peeps looked at that askance and told them to keep walking, so they went to Scotland and called themselves Picts.  They liked to raid the borders for cattle whilst looking scary, and spent an inordinate amount of time primping for it what with all that folding of 11dy6,000 yards of wool from their sheep that they spun into pretty tartans of many colours.  The peeps who didn't keep walking sniffed at that and called them barbarians.  They tried to keep the blue peeps on their own side of the borderlands, because in Britain, as the new place was called, they were getting low on steaks and burgers what with all the cattle raiding.

The Britons decided hugging trees was a splendid religious thing, and so they invented Druids to be in charge of that stuff. The Druids in turn invented lots of fun festivals to keep church attendance up, Halloween being one of the bestest. It had lots of baking of soul cakes to leave on the graves of their departed ancestors because hey, the deceased might get hungry, you never know. They had no pumpkins but they carved jack o'lanterns out of turnips instead. As if anyone really wanted to eat the turnips anyway, so it was a good use of a revolting vegetable that failed to go well with steaks and burgers. They decided they needed a spiffy worshipping place for peeps to gawk at in awe, and started dragging great big rocks from all over the place to Salisbury Plain near Sarum and put them in a circle, and that was Stonehenge.

But nobody was really in charge of everyone, so when the Romans paddled over in their boats to see if they were missing conquering anything good, it was pretty easy for them to take over and set up a nice city on the Thames called Londinium from which to be in charge. They built Hadrian's Wall to keep out those blue dudes in the dresses, as the Romans were rather keen on steaks and burgers as well. A chick named Boadicca who was not amused at this takeover hassled them for a while, but eventually the Romans were running the joint, frowning at all the tree-hugging and adapting all the fun festivals to slide into the calendar of Christianity. They even sent a peep called Patrick on a boat over to some other place of mist, fog, and rain close by that was called Eire, to make all those peeps Roman Catholic and drive out the snakes and pick a lot of shamrocks to represent the Holy Trinity. Then the Romans got irked with the long trip and forgetting umbrellas and catching colds and sneezing all the time, plus their Empire had a lovely collapse, so they went away.

This post-Roman era was called the Dark Ages. Maybe the Romans packed up all the torches? They didn't even finish the wall to keep out the blue peeps, so that was tiresome.  The Britons dug a big ditch capped off with a big berm, trying to keep out the Celts in Wales to the west.  That was called Offa's Dyke. There were lots of little kingdoms then and they all wanted to be bigger kingdoms, so they squabbled incessantly and perfected the art of war against each other.

Good thing, too, because the Vikings decided to come over to have a peek and start fighting with them. They didn't just raid for cattle, nosiree. They stole wenches, coin, jewels, and started setting up their own little kingdoms that wanted to be bigger. Plus they had like gods of thunder and such that frightened the Roman Catholics. Pretty soon the blue peeps were their problem as they successfully managed to take over the northern half of England and grinned menacingly at the south. Several of them claimed to be king of all England (as Britain was now starting to be called), such as Cnut who impressed peeps by holding back the tides.

In the south there was a gent from a royal house in Wessex called Alfred who was very bad in the kitchen and forever burning cakes. He rallied his peeps and the peeps of the rest of the little kingdoms and said Tally-ho, let's push those Vikings into the sea from whence they came! He got to be called Alfred the Great for doing such and his kingdom was the biggest of the little kingdoms. If you were a rellie of Alfred, you were set for life. Peeps kept wanting to crown you king and such.

The Vikings for the most part then retreated across the Narrow Sea (English Channel) to Normandy (so called because they were Norsemen, you understand) and started speaking French and being Catholic to fit in with those peeps. All that nonsense on the island of mist, fog, and rain just weren't worth it to them anymore.  The Frenchies let the Vikings walk all over them and it was a nice change from all that fighting.

Because of all that warring, marrying princesses to make peace, and lots of inbreeding, there were hopelessly snarled family trees and they were all related somehow. So when the very last of Alfred's line, Edward the Confessor (he was quite the holy gent and built Westminster Abbey just in time to get buried in it), appeared incapable of producing more little cake-burners to be king, there was much speculation all around. Some peeps said Edward promised his throne to a kinsman called Harold Godwineson. But then Harold had an unfortunate shipwreck on Normandy's shores and the Duke of Normandy, one William the Bastard (his parents weren't married so that's what he was), was said to have squeezed Harold to give over the throne of England to him when Edward cocked up his toes.

Well, Edward did, and Harold promptly crowned his good self, as one would, thumbing his nose at those Normans. William was unfussed with this and gathered up a nice invasion force....

07/21/2014 1:54 PM

Topic :   The Murder of Lord Darnley

Hoping the link works because it seems Aimoo is attacking older links around here & rendering them useless.  Apparently even historical royal murders have made it into Crime Library, so here's an acct of Rizzio & Darnley going down.  Stupid Aimoo won't allow me to hyperlink, either.

05/11/2014 4:13 AM


05/06/2014 4:13 AM


02/22/2014 9:45 PM

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