It’s been awhile since I’ve shared my podcast with all of you – in case you didn’t know, I supplemented my website with a podcast in February 2017. I told a lot of stories about people and events in Tudor England, and then I moved to interviewing authors and historians. THIS season, I step it up with a 3-segment show! Please take a listen to my most recent episode featuring Tracy Borman. Adrienne Dillard answers listener questions about Jane Boelyn, Lady Rochford during ‘Ask the Expert’, and lastly, I tell you all about Lady Anne Clifford in ‘A Brief History’.
This week I had a very special guest on the show – the very talented and wonderful, historian and professor…..Suzannah Lipscomb!
This is Part Two in my series on the life of King Edward VI. If you missed Part One, click Here.
If you would prefer to listen to this article instead of reading it, you can do so by clicking this image that will bring you to my podcast:
King Henry VIII
It was at Westminster that King Henry VIII took his last breath.
He had reigned in England since his father’s death in April 1509. When he came to the throne he was a young, athletic and by all accounts attractive man. The man Henry VIII was just before his death in January 1547 was much older, obese and smelled of leg ulcers. Not the catch he once was.
The King’s legs eventually became so swollen, and his pain so severe, that he had to be carried around, room by room, in a chair. I wonder how many men could carry him? I wonder what the chair looked like? If you know, please send me a message because quick Google searches did not render any results for me.
Okay, so, not only did Henry VIII have swollen legs but as I mentioned earlier he had an issue with leg ulcers. He had more than one and they smelled of bacteria infested puss. Cuz that’s what it was. I honestly feel bad for Henry.
Using red-hot irons the doctors regularly cauterised the King’s ulcers to close the wound. It’s no wonder he was so cranky and unruly.
So anyway…Henry VIII had been sick in bed for while and had decided to finalize his will. The will was dated December 30, 1546. It was signed at the top and at the bottom. Historian Suzannah Lipscomb states in her book, “The King is Dead” that King Henry had not signed his own named since September 1545¹, so it comes as no surprise that a stamp had been used on his will.
Titles Warranted – Ceremonies
So that brings us back to Edward VI. Three weeks after the death of Henry – the titles warranted, per his will, were delivered to its recipients, who included: Edward Seymour, William Parr, John Dudley, Thomas Wriothesley, Thomas Seymour, Richard Rich, William Willoughby and Edward/Edmund Sheffield.
On that Thursday after the late King’s burial, on the 18th of February 1547, all the temporal lords gathered at the Tower of London wearing their robes of estate.
Leading off this ceremony was Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and Lord Protector and uncle to the King. He was wearing his kertell and was led from the council chamber to the King’s presence with all pomp and circumstance.
If you’re like me, you are probably asking yourself, “What is a kertell?” With the help of my friend, Susan Abernethy, she helped me to visualize it a bit better. A kertell was like a gown, a short gown for men. We might compare it to a tunic. Under it they wore tights. The portrait of Henry VIII with his barber surgeons is a perfect example of a kertell.
As Edward Seymour entered into the King’s presence chamber he was led in by “The officers of arms in their coats of arms”, two and two.
The Garter, baring his letters patents.
The Earl of Derby (Edward Stanley), baring his mantle.
Then on the right hand of him the earl of Shrewsbury (Francis Talbot), baring the rod of gold; and on the left hand the earl of Oxford (John de Vere), baring the cap of estate with the crown.
The earl of Arundell (Henry Fitzalan), baring the sword, the ‘pomell’ upward.
Then the said earl [of Hertford] led between the duke of Suffolk (Henry Brandon) and the marquess Dorset (Henry Grey).
“All these lords aforesaid being also in their robes of estate.”
And thus in goodly order proceeding, after they entered into the chamber of presence, they made three (iij) reverent ‘obacyens’ to the King’s highness, and when they came to the cloth of estate the Lords stayed standing while Edward Seymour knelt down. Then the Garter delivered the letters patents to Master Secretary, William Paget. Paget then delivered them to the King, the King, in turn, handed them back to Paget and had them read them openly.
The King then placed on Edward Seymour, his mantel, and then put about him a band/sash, over one shoulder and under the opposite arm. Following that he put on his cap, or crown and then delivered to Seymour his rod of gold.
Following that William Paget, the Master Secretary read the patents which contained the creation of Seymour to become Duke of Somerset, Earl of Hertford, etc.
With this patent he was given a gift of a thousand pounds of land yearly; and after which Paget delivered the said letters patents to the King’s Majesty, and his highness gave them to the said Duke of Somerset, and the said duke, after thanks given to his highness, stood on the side to assist the King’s majesty to the creation of other estates; and the rest of the lords and the officers of arms returned to conduct the other estates in like manner.”
Once Somerset’s ceremony had concluded they moved on to the next, in order of rank. Each man’s ceremony was like that of Somersets.
With Edward Seymour being raised to Duke of Somerset, he would have been the only duke created that day. So, by rank, he was the first to go.
After duke comes Marquess, which there was but one: William Parr, Earl of Essex. He was led between the Marquis Dorset (Henry Grey) and the Earl of Arundell (Henry Fitzalan). He was then created Marquess of Northampton and Earl of Essex in similar fashion.
After Marquess comes Earl, there were two men raised to Earl on this day, the first was John Dudley, Viscount Lisle. Dudley was led between the Earl of Derby (Edward Stanley) and the Earl of Oxford (John de Vere). He was then created Earl of Warwick and Viscount Lisle, etc. And also given a patent for the office of the Great Chamberlain of England (a position vacated by Somerset after being created Lord Protector).
The second man to be raised to Earl was Thomas Wriothesley, Lord Chancellor of England. Created Earl of Southampton. Wriothesley and Somerset had very different views – especially when it came to Somerset being Lord Protector. He did not think it right. It should come as no surprise that not long into the new king’s reign he was relieved of his duties as Lord Chancellor and removed from the privy council as well.
Following Wriothesley were the newly created barons (four of them) entered, starting with the brother to Somerset and uncle to King Edward. Sir Thomas Seymour, Knight, entered in his kertell and was led between two barons in their robes of estate. A baron before him baring his mantell, Garter baring his letters patents.
“As the words of investimus (to clothe/to cover), the King put on him his robes, and at the delivery of his patents to the King’s Majesty in manner as aforesaid by the secretary, after it was read, then the King’s majesty gave the said lord his letters patents, which contained the creation of him to be Lord Seymour of Sudeley; and at the same time the King’s Majesty delivered unto him another patent for the office of High Admiral of England.”
For someone who has been researching Thomas for quite a while this was a wonderful discovery. This proves that Thomas was given both titles at the same time. When I first began researching him I had read that he was given Lord Admiral after complaining he did not have enough power as uncle to the king. My tip- keep looking until you find a contemporary report. One written during the lifetime of your subject. You can form your own opinions from there.
Following Seymour was Sir Richard Rich. Rich had the same ceremony as previously listed and was given his patent containing the creation of him to be a baron of Parliament. He became Baron Rich of Leez.
Then came in Sir William Willoughby who was created Baron of Parham.
Lastly, Edward or Edmund Sheffield, created Lord Sheffield.
After that was completed then the King restored and delivered unto:
- Lord St. John, Lord Great Master;
- Sir Thomas Cheyne, Lord Warden Treasurer [of Household],
- and Sir John Gage, Comptroller.
- They were presented with their ‘stavis of their offyces’.
Then the group proceeded, all in their robes of estate, and the dukes, marquesses, earls and barons with their caps of estate on the heads, in like order as they were created, to the council chamber to dinner.
As they left for dinner, the trumpets began to blow. The men were led from the room, by officers of arms who walked two by two, then the Garter led out the Duke of Somerset who was followed by the rest of the peers.
When they arrived at the dinner chamber the peers removed their mantels and hoods and sat in their kertells for the dinner.
When the second course arrived, Somerset herald, because at that time Garter was ‘horrse’, proclaimed all the peers newly created, with the fees given by them to the heralds.
And after dinner the men changed into other apparel, and some went to give thanks and to attend on the King’s Highness, and the other at their pleasure.
Order of the Garter
Then, that afternoon at about 3 o’clock, the King and the knights of the noble Order of the Garter, gathered in the King’s closet, and there kept chapter; The King, and the knights of the said Order of the Garter presented, with one voice, to elect the following men into the order:
the lord marquis Dorset, the earl of Darby, the Lord Seymour of Sudeley, and Sir William Paget secretary, and delivered unto each of them the same time a George and a garter, and the same time the King’s Majesty wore his George about his neck and his Garter about his leg which had been delivered to him by the Lord Protector.
These men were able to become members of this exclusive and member-capped club due to four vacancies made that year: King Henry VIII (who died), Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk (who was degraded and in the Tower), King Francis I of France (who died) and lastly, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (who was degraded & executed). Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (degraded & executed).
The ceremony is referenced in Jessie Childs’ book, The Last Victim of Henry VIII when she describes the ceremony for Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.
Immediately after being elected he would give a speech of thanks and then kiss the cross that was offered to him. Then the Garter was buckled to his left leg with the words:
“Sir, the most friendly Companions of this Order denominated from the Garter have now admitted you their Friend, Brother and Companion, in faithful testimony of which, they impart and give you the Garter, which God grant that you deservedly receiving it, may rightly wear and use to the glory of God, the honour of the most famous Order and of your own.” (Literary Remains of Edward VI)
But that wasn’t it – “in order to officially become a Knight Companion you would also need to take possession of your stall at St. George’s Chapel”.²
This actually turned out to be a busy few days of ceremonies. The following day, the King left the Tower for the first time since arriving and began his coronation procession through the city of London. His destination, Westminster. The following day his coronation would be held at Westminster Abbey.
The occasion is described in “The Literary Remains of King Edward VI”:
On this occasion, Edward rode on horseback. His uncle, the Lord Protector on his left side; a state canopy carried by six knights, BUT Edward rode a little ahead of the canopy so that the ‘people might the better see him’.
His highness was richly appareled with a gown of cloth of silver, all over embroidered with damask gold, with a girdle of white velvet wrought with Venice silver, garnished with precious stones, as rubies and diamonds, with true-lover’s knots of pearls; a doublet of white velvet according to the same, embroidered with Venice silver, garnished with like stones and pearls; a white velvet cap, garnished with like stones and pearls; and a pair of buskins of white velvet.
At various states of his progress pageants with speeches and songs were exhibited before him; and in St. Paul’s churchyard he was detained for ‘a good space of time’ in order to watch the performances of a rope-dancer, a native of Aragon, for whom a cable was stretched from the battlements of the steeple to a great anchor at the deanery gate. He was quite amused.
The King appears to have slept at Whitehall that evening.
The following day was the coronation of Edward VI, it was Shrove Sunday, 20th of February. The noblemen were summoned to be in attendance by the early hour of seven in the morning.
During the ceremony there were three crowns, each place on the King’s head. The first being King Edward’s crown, followed by the imperial crown of England and then a ‘very rich crown’ which was specifically made for Edward.
Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury performed the ceremony and announced: “Sirs, here I present unto you King Edward, the rightful inheritor to the crown of this realm. Wherefore all ye, that be come this day to do your homage, service, and bounden duty, be ye willing to do the same?” to which all the people cried with a loud voice, and said, “Yea, Yea, Yea”; and cried, “King Edward”; and prayed, “God save King Edward”.³
Well known Tudor chronicler, Wriothesley described the events after the coronation as such:
“a great feast kept that day in Westminster Hall which was richly hanged, his Majesty sitting all dinner with his crown on his head; and, after the second course served, Sir Edward Dymmocke, knight, came riding into the hall in clean white complete harness, richly gilded, and his horse richly trapped, and cast his gauntlet to wage battle against all men that would not take him for right King of this realm, and then the King drank to him and gave him a cup of gold; and after dinner the King made many knights, and then he changed his apparel, and so rode from thence to Westminster Place.”
The following day, at one o’clock in the afternoon royal jousts held at the Palace of Westminster. King Edward and the Lord Protector, as well as other noblemen were present in his highness’ gallery to witness the jousts. The joust had six challengers and twenty-five defender. The challengers were: Sir Thomas Seymour, Baron of Sudeley and Lord High Admiral, Sir Richard Devereux, Sir Anthony Kingston, Sir Peter Carew, Francis Knollys and Mr. Shelly. The challengers ran against every one of the defenders.
“And so they passed forthe that day with great valyantnes, and so nobly behaved themselves on ether party, that, thankes be to God, there was nether man nor horse hurt; and brake many speres so redyly, that yt was to their great honour, and praise of all the people there assembled, as the were well worthy.”
That evening, after the events had concluded, they all returned in ‘goodly order’ to the house of the Lord Admiral (Seymour Place), where they had a “goodly” supper prepared for them, with great feasts and thanks.
Then on the following day, the King dubbed fifty-five men Knights of the Carpet. From Wikipedia:
A so-called carpet knight was a person who had been awarded a title of knighthood by the king of England on a holiday occasion (or in time of peace), as opposed to knighthoods awarded for military service, or success in tournament games.
One can almost imagine how spectacular all of these events were. I’m hoping that through descriptions and pictures I have been able to bring some of it to life.
¹Lipscomb, Suzannah. The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII. December 20, 2016. Pegasus Books. Page
²Childs, Jessie. Henry VIII’s Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey Hardcover – December 10, 2007. Thomas Dunne Books. Page 151
³Memorials of Archbishop Cranmer by John Strype, Vol. II, Oxford 1848 – page 204
Childs, Jessie. Henry VIII’s Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey Hardcover – December 10, 2007. Thomas Dunne Books.
Lipscomb, Suzannah. The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII. December 20, 2016. Pegasus Books.
Literary Remains of King Edward the Sixth, Edited from His Autograph Manuscripts, with Historical Notes and a Biographical Memoir –
Strype, John. Memorials of Archbishop Cranmer by John Strype, Vol. II, Oxford 1848.
Wriothesley, Charles, Hamilton, William Douglas. A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559; Camden Society, 1875-77
As only the second Tudor king, Henry VIII was troubled through most of his reign by the lack of a male heir. He had sons but they never survived infancy – until the birth of his son Edward, Prince of Wales.
It took three marriages and countless pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths and deaths before the King got what he so desired. A son. Jane Seymour was the mother of Prince Edward but sadly lost her life after a long and arduous labor. There are debates on whether she died from puerperal fever or food poisoning since the release of Alison Weir’s novel, ‘Jane Seymour – the Haunted Queen’ which came out earlier this year (2018).
King Henry’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon had been married to the king for over two decades, with many pregnancies and only one surviving child, a daughter, name Mary. While Mary was not the son that Henry so desired she was still ‘The King’s Pearl’.
King Henry’s mistress, Bessie Blount provided the king with an illegitimate a few years after the birth of his daughter Mary. Surprising many at court, probably including his queen consort, Henry recognized the child as his and gave him the surname, Fitzroy, which translates to son of the king. Surely, if it came to it, Fitzroy could be his heir, but it was not ideal. In history it was never ideal to have a bastard named heir to throne. The king was grasping, he was desperate. Enter, Anne Boleyn.
Anne Boleyn had arrived at Tudor court at a time when Henry VIII was restless in his marriage. One could probably say that he was in panic mode. He desperately wanted a male heir and Anne Boleyn gave him the possibility of the son that he so desired. Unfortunately for King Henry his first wife would not accommodate his need for a son by granting him a divorce. The battle lasted seven long years and culminated in the King becoming the Head of the Church of England and marrying Anne near the end of 1532. The following September Anne gave birth to a daughter, called Elizabeth. While both Henry and Anne were disappointed they both believed that sons would follow.
Some have claimed that the King had syphilis, that this may have been the reason behind so many miscarriages and stillbirths, but that could not be further from the truth. In 1888, a Victorian doctor claimed the King had syphilis and this claim continued until it was debunked in 1931 by Frederik Chamberlin, but even Chamberlin could not stop the spread of the rumor. To this day, there are still those who believe the King and his Queens suffered from the disease. If the king HAD suffered from syphilis, not only would there be documentation of mercury treatment for the disease but he would have had ‘gaping sores in the lymph node areas, potentially the destruction of the nasal cavity, loss of front teeth and palate erosion and lesions on the scalp and tibia’.¹ None of which had been reported.
Author Kyra Kramer, and others, believe that the King had a Kell positive blood type and that he developed McLeod syndrome as a result.²
The Kell positive blood type would help to explain why his partners suffered miscarriages and losses. While McLeod syndrome explains the physical decline and outbursts by the king in his later years.
Unfortunately for Anne Boleyn she would not provide the King with the son she had promised and Henry in turn moved on to another – Jane Seymour.
In October 1537, Jane Seymour gave birth to a healthy son, Edward, Prince of Wales. Twelve days later she was dead, but Henry had his son.
Around midnight on the 28th of January 1547, King Henry VIII took his final breath. He had denied for days that he was to die and had been ‘loth to hear any mention of death’ until Sir Anthony Denny insisted that last rites be given by Archbishop Cranmer. When Cranmer arrived, the King was no longer speaking and could on ‘press’ Cranmer’s hand to acknowledge his presence.
At 3am, just hours after King Henry had died, Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and Sir Anthony Browne rode to secure Edward, now King of England.
After retrieving Edward he was brought to Enfield where his sister Elizabeth had been staying, it was there that the two were informed of their father’s death. Edward was just nine years old and Elizabeth thirteen. At nine, Edward was too young to rule outright and his father had desired a regency council of 16 men to govern the country.
A conversation later mentioned by Sir William Paget with Edward Seymour, then Earl of Hertford tells us that Hertford began plotting for the Protectorship prior to the King’s last breath while pacing outside his room at Westminster. And so began the reign of King Edward VI, but before I get into that, let’s go back to the beginning and learn a bit about the young Prince Edward.
Prince Edward of England
In March 1538, when Edward was almost six months a formal household was setup up for him. This was not uncommon. From birth, Prince Edward was handed over to the care of a separate household from the hectic nature of Tudor court.
Lady Margaret Bryan led Edward’s household just as she had with his sisters Mary and Elizabeth as Mistress of the Household. Bryan would write regular letters to inform both the King and Cromwell of the Prince’s progress.
Tudor England, as we know, was strife with superstitions and prophecies – and a series of circumstances struck fear for the safety of the Prince, such as voodoo dolls which portrayed young Edward were found with pins pushed into it. In most cases, a piece of something belonging to the victim is attached to the doll – this makes one wonder how they would be able to obtain a piece of hair or what not to create the dolls.
There were also rumors spreading that Edward ‘should be as great a murderer as his father’³ since he had murdered his mother in her womb. These rumors were apparently started by a royal herald called Robert Fayery.
With all this happening in England, security was stepped up around the young prince who was already be protected from disease. Every day his residence would be cleaned to protect the young prince from infant mortality.
“Nothing must escape the closest of scrutiny. All foods for Edward’s consumption – bread, meat, milk, eggs and butter – were to be first eaten in large quantity; his clothes thoroughly washed, dried, brushed and stored safely, to be tested and worn before Edward put them on.”4
Edward appeared by all to be a happy and healthy child. Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys reported that Edward was ‘the prettiest child you ever saw’. (LP, XIII, ii, 232) But, in the Fall of 1541 he contracted a ‘quartan fever’. (LP, XVI, 1297), a form of malaria and for ten days the prince’s life appeared in danger. King Henry so feared the death of his heir that he summoned all the doctors in England, said French Ambassador Marillac – and one of those doctors informed him: (translated from French) “that without this accident, the said Prince seems to him to be of a composition so large, so dear, and so unhealthy, that he can not believe, by what he now sees, that he is to live long.” (Kaulek, Correspondance politique, 350-4). The Prince, of course, recovered with the help of his father’s physician, Sir William Butts. Butts had fussed so much about the prince that Edward, feeling better, began to call him a fool and a knave and instructed the doctor to leave him.
By the time Prince Edward had recovered his second stepmother, Katheryn Howard was on her way to the scaffold and his father still had but one male heir.
After his recovery Edward returned to his normal daily life at the palaces of Hunsdon, Havering and Ashridge.
For a majority of his young life, Edward was surrounded by women. Until the age of six when he was ‘handed over’ to Richard Cox and John Cheke – both young humanists from Cambridge. Roger Ascham, a tutor of the Lady Elizabeth also became involved in educating the future heir.
By all accounts, Edward was a quick learner. By late 1546, Richard Cox began to teach the prince French, which by December of that year he had so excelled that he wrote letters to his sister Elizabeth in the language.
Only the best of the best were brought in to teach the future king. Like his elder sisters, Edward was also taught music. He could play the lute, and perhaps other instruments as well. Author and Edward VI biographer Jennifer Loach believes that Edward was probably taught by one of King Henry’s most favored musicians by the name of Philip van der Wilder. Wilder was a member of Edward’s privy chamber.
Just a month after he wrote a letter in French to his sister his father had died and he was now King Edward VI of England.
Just three days after the death of his father, Edward travelled to London by horse where the news of King Henry’s death had just been made public.
“Hear ye, hear ye, King Henry is dead, long live the king!”
He was escorted to the Tower of London where cannons saluted the new king’s arrival. He would stay there until his coronation.l on the 20th of February.
The last coronation took place in England was in 1533 when Anne Boleyn was crowned queen consort. It had been 14 years and one can imagine the uncertainty that came with a minor on the throne.
King Henry VI had been a minor when he came to throne as well and it was during his reign that the Wars of the Roses occurred, it would have seemed imperative to secure Edward’s throne immediately and his eldest uncle believed that he was the best option to lead the country and guide his nephew. An act that would later destroy the Seymour brothers and leave the King without his uncles to protect him.
For two days following the coronation, Royal jousts were held while King Edward looked on. The king’s uncle, Thomas Seymour was one of the six challengers who competed and ran six courses against twelve defenders.
The celebration continued with banquets and plays but the Imperial ambassador, Van der Delft was reportedly unimpressed calling the festivities ‘unremarkable’.
As is usual with Edward’s diary little is written about the festivities except that he sat next to his uncle Edward and Archbishop Cranmer ‘with the crown on his head’.
It did not take long into the young king’s reign before there were issues with council members not agreeing. Ambassador Van der Delft had predicted some envy between the Lord Protector and John Dudley. ‘Although they both belong to the same sect they are nevertheless widely different in character; Dudley being of high courage will not willingly submit to his colleague. He is also higher in favor with the people than Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector.’ Van der Delft also said that Somerset was ‘indeed looked down upon by everybody as a dry, sour, opinionated man.’5
The young king spent most of his time isolated and without money to pay his servants, musicians and tutors, so when his uncle Thomas was made aware the King needed money he sent messages and coins to his nephew through the king’s servant, John Fowler. Through Fowler Thomas Seymour now Lord Admiral was able to receive consent to marry the dowager queen, Kateryn Parr. By the way, he has already secretly married her without consent.
The Lord Admiral continued sending the king money and at one point Edward was reported as saying that he wished his uncle Edward were dead. During all of this the Admiral was pressing for the title, Governor of the King’s Person, a title Somerset also held. Thomas Seymour hired lawyers and suggested that their nephew’s reign was similar to that of the minor king, Henry VI.
A visit to the king brought forward Thomas Seymour’s path to the governorship; asking the King to give his Royal signature to the bill. Edward was not used to making decisions as such on his own and was uncertain what to do. Thomas continued to try to convince his nephew but the King only resisted harder, and at one point asked him to ‘leave him alone’. Afterward the young king spoke to his tutor Cheke and asked if it would be wise to sign the bill. Cheke made it clear that it was a risky idea and recommended he did not.
Thomas did not give up on his nephew – he continued pushing his cause and told his nephew that he would soon be able to rule alone, but not with Somerset managing his affairs. Eventually King Edward agreed to sign the bill, but unfortunately for Thomas it was only a verbal agreement. He asked his uncle to leave the bill with Cheke for him to sign later.
Seymour handed Cheke a paper which had this written on it: “My Lords, I pray you to favor my Lord Admiral my uncle’s suit.” It was in Cheke’s hands now to agree to bring the bill to the king to sign. He would not. Seymour was furious and Cheke informed his student that he was playing with fire and by no means was he supposed to sign anything without the guidance of the Lord Protector.
Meanwhile Somerset had raged yet another battle in the war best known as the Rough Wooing – an ongoing war with the hopes of a treaty between England and Scotland over the marriage between their Queen (Mary Stuart, or queen of Scots) and the King of England, Edward VI. The battle of Pinkie was considered a success and the King commended his uncle for ‘striving that his kingdom be quiet and replenished with true religion’. When Edward was informed from his uncle that Catholic priests were some of the first to be hacked down in battle he was ecstatic. While the battle was a victory for the English, the Scots would not relent and their Queen Mary was smuggled out of Scotland and raised in France- that’s how much the Scots did not want the reformed religion in their country. She would later marry the Dauphin of France who later became King Francois II making Mary also queen consort if France.
Religious reform during the reign of Edward VI was in full swing with the guidance of Somerset, the King and a slightly reluctant Cranmer. The repeal of King Henry VIII’s Act of Six Articles allowed for unrestricted reading of the Bible. This also resulted in books that had been previously banned being printed once again. Most were Protestant books.
King Edward’s sister Mary was a staunch Catholic and the reformation went completely against her beliefs making her an obvious figurehead for the opposition. Mary became a vocal critic of her brother’s government and their religious policies. This became a sore spot between the two for Edward’s entire life. Even so, Edward still cared for his sister and was a bit sympathetic to her cause – he allowed her to she could practice her faith privately and to “Have patience till I have more years, then I will remedy all”. That statement suggests that even the King had believed his uncle Somerset had take the reform too far. He was not alone, Archbishop Cranmer felt the same.
¹ Kyra Kramer – Henry VIII’s Health in a Nutshell
² CATRINA BANKS WHITLEY and KYRA KRAMER. A NEW EXPLANATION FOR THE REPRODUCTIVE WOES AND MIDLIFE DECLINE OF HENRY VIII
³ Skidmore, Chris. Edward VI. Page 23
5 Ibid. Page 24
6 Ibid. Page 64
Loach, Jennifer. Edward VI
Kramer, Kyra. Henry VIII’s Health in a Nutshell
Skidmore, Chris. Edward VI
Who doesn’t love a good creepy ghost story? When Fall comes around all I want to do is watch scary movies and rehash old ghost tales.
In this post I’ll give you all the creepy and scary as well as fascinating tales of horror at Tudor court and a bit of history on Halloween. I hope you enjoy.
One of the most horrifically botched executions of the era was that of Margaret Pole, Countess of Surrey.
The following poem was found in the Margaret Pole’s cell in the Tower of London:
For traitors on the block should die;
I am no traitor, no, not I!
My faithfulness stands fast and so,
Towards the block I shall not go!
Nor make one step, as you shall see;
Christ in Thy Mercy, save Thou me
Here is a quote from a guest post on my blog by Alan Freer, called The Last Plantagenet:
“On the morning of 27th May 1541 an elderly, stately woman walked with dignity, as befitted her birth, from her cell in the Tower of London. Her name was Margaret Pole. Margaret had been informed earlier that day that she was to die. Her reply had been to say that no crime had been proved against her. In an effort to play down the event, no wooden scaffold had been built, no large crowd of onlookers were to be present; only the Mayor of London and a few dignitaries were to witness Margaret’s death.
Margaret knelt at the simple, low block of wood, which was to be her final pillow, and commended her soul to God.
Turning to the thin line of bystanders she asked them to pray for the King and Queen, for young Edward, Prince of Wales, and for Princess Mary, of whom she was Godmother.
With a final prayer she placed her delicate, royal neck on the block. The executioner, a clumsy novice, hideously hacked at her neck and shoulders before the final decapitation was accomplished.”
This version of Margaret Pole’s demise is not the only one available. In the much kinder version that Freer shares with us it is believed that Margaret was hacked at ten times before her head was removed from her neck. Yes, you heard me right at the beginning there – I said kinder version, and here is why – There is a second version. That account is the one that really tears at the heartstrings. That account states that Margaret managed to escape from the block and was cut down by the executioner as she ran. In the account it was also noted that it took eleven blows to accomplish the deed.
Both of the versions have one thing in common, Margaret was hacked at either ten or eleven times. What a horrible way to die.
Richard Roose – Boiled Alive
Speaking of horrible ways to die, how about being boiled alive? Just thinking about it I can hear the screams of poor Richard Roose.
A statute was passed in England in 1531 by Henry VIII that made willful murder by means of poison high treason and punishable by death by boiling.
It was the action of Richard Roose, cook of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester that prompted the measure.
In February 1531, Roose poisoned the porridge of Rochester and his guests. But it wasn’t only those in the household at the time who received the poisoned porridge but also the poor who had gathered outside to collect alms. They were also given whatever was leftover from the poisoned meal. All those that ate the food became extremely ill and two people actually died.
Rochester had not eaten so he was spared.
In his defense, Roose claimed that he had merely placed a laxative in the porridge and that it was meant as a joke – no harm was meant.
Richard Roose was charged and found guilty of high treason – his penalty was the newly instituted, death by boiling.
A quote about the event from, The Men and Women of the English Reformation by S.H. Burke:
“He roared mighty loud,” says an old chronicle, “ and divers women who were big with child did feel sick at the sight of what they saw, and were carried away half dead; and other men and women did not seem frightened by the boiling alive, but would prefer to see the headsman at his work.”
What a horrific way to die.
It seems plausible that sometimes, when a person has a horrific death that their ghost/spirit may stay behind and haunt a person or a place. This seems true when it came to Queen Katheryn Howard.
Katheryn Howard’s Ghost
Katheryn Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII was executed by the axe at the Tower of London. Her story is either seen as tragic or reckless. You can decide.
When, in 1541, Katheryn Howard’s secrets came to light the King immediately took action and asked for an investigation. You see, for those who do not know, Katheryn Howard was the first cousin of Anne Boleyn. Henry’s second wife whom he had executed for adultery (among other ridiculous charges). The fact that there were rumors about Katheryn’s promiscuity did not bode well for the Howard clan, or for Katheryn.
When Katheryn Howard was arrested she was unaware of what was happening. She was confined to her rooms at Hampton Court, she was cut off from contact, there was no music, no dancing and I can only imagine fear and panic. One can imagine the young queen sitting in her rooms – mind wandering. Terror of what it could all mean for her. She was aware of her cousin’s fall and execution about half a decade previously.
With all that intense energy and emotions is it any wonder that it is now believed that Katheryn Howard haunts the gallery at Hampton Court Palace?
When Katheryn was arrested it is said that she escaped from the guards and ran toward the door of the Chapel Royal, where she believed Henry to be at prayer. Katheryn screamed for Henry’s mercy, to no avail. Henry was not even there.
Today, the story goes that Katheryn’s ghost can still be seen running in the gallery at Hampton Court Palace. Visitors of the palace have reported having strange sensations in that part of the building as well.
The sixth wife of King Henry VIII, Kateryn Parr is also known to haunt a couple of castles in London.
Parr died of childbed fever in 1548 at Sudeley Castle and is still seen roaming the ground wearing green and appears to be searching for something. Some believe she is looking for her daughter Mary. The child she had with Thomas Seymour before her death.
There is another account by a servant at Sudeley, a Margaret Parker, who said she saw a tall, beautiful woman in a long green dress looking out a window. Margaret Parker believed the woman was Kateryn Parr.
Kateryn Parr also makes an appearance at her former abode with Lord Latimer, of Snape Castle. At Snape, Kateryn evidently appears as a young girl with fair, long hair who wears a blue, Tudor-style dress. This one seems a bit strange to me to be Kateryn Parr – why would
While Kateryn Parr’s death was not by execution it was tragic, nonetheless. Kateryn was about to have it all. She married her great love and they were to have a family. It was all taken away when she died of puerperal fever in September 1548. The following spring her husband was executed by beheading.
If there is one thing Thomas Seymour could be grateful for is that he wasn’t Hanged, drawn and quartered. This may be the most disgusting and inhumane execution method. It’s clearly overkill to send a message to the subjects of His Majesty.
Hanged, drawn and quartered
To receive a sentence such as: hanged, drawn and quartered the person most likely would have had to cause high treason, or a similar type crime.
On execution day, the prisoner was dragged behind a cart from their jail or prison to where the execution was to take place. Once there, the prisoner was hanged until near death and then cut down. Their sex organs were cut off and the stomach was sliced open. They’re inerts were removed and burned before them. Finally the head was removed and the body cut into four quarters. The victim’s head and quarters were parboiled to prevent them from rotting quickly and were then displayed at the city gates as a warning to others.
If you were killed by execution there were plenty of other ways to die in Tudor England, like by plague or the dreaded sweating sickness. Next I’ll discuss the two and how truly awful they were.
My friend Susan Abernethy at TheFreelanceHistoryWriter.com wrote this about the Sweating Sickness:
Outbreaks of the sweating sickness in England in 1485, 1502, 1507, 1528 and 1551. A sufferer of the disease in the beginning would experience a sense of apprehension followed by violent cold shivers, then giddiness, headache and pains in the neck, shoulders and limbs along with great exhaustion. Then the hot and sweating stage began.
“There was good reason to be scared of sweating sickness. It came on without any warning and did not seem preventable. People would feel a sudden sense of dread, then be overtaken with headache, neck pains, weakness and a cold sweat that covered the entire body. Fever, heart palpitations and dehydration followed. Within three to 18 hours, 30 to 50 percent of people afflicted with the illness were dead.” – https://www.history.com/news/the-mysterious-epidemic-that-terrified-henry-viii
The final stage was complete exhaustion and collapse or sometimes an irresistible urge to sleep. There was no immunity if one survived an attack and some experienced several attacks before succumbing. If one could survive the first twenty four hours, they usually lived.
The disease did not discriminate. The historical records say Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales and son of King Henry VII of England, may have died of the disease, leaving Catherine of Aragon a widow. The best friend of King Henry VIII, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk had two young sons, Charles and Henry who died within hours of each other in the 1551 outbreak. Even Mary Boleyn’ sister and King Henry VIII’s great love Anne Boleyn suffered from the disease in the 1528 outbreak but managed to survive.
The attacks would last just hours before a person died. The cause of the disease was never found and never appeared again in England after it was last seen in 1578.
Probably equally as terrifying was the black death, and while it wasn’t around during the Tudor period it is still a frightening reminder of how our health can change in an instant.
Europeans were introduced to The Black Death, or “The Great Pestilence” (by sea) in 1347 when twelve trade ships docked at a Sicilian port. Most on board were dead and those who were alive were gravely ill – they would soon die as well. On board were men covered with black boils that oozed blood and pus – it was eventually given the name, “Black Death.”
The Black Death knew no status – when a person became infected with this plague they would die within a few days. It would begin with a persistent fever, followed by blisters and boils on the legs, arm and neck that would weaken the victim due to the immense pain – so much pain they became fatigued and bedridden. The boils would grow and increase in size until they were the size of an egg, oozing and seeping infectious fluids. Within days they would be dead. Very few people actually survived the plague.
The Black Death terrified people so much that they often abandoned family members and loved ones to save themselves from becoming infected.
”Many died unseen. So they remained in their beds until they stank. And the neighbors, if there were any, having smelled the stench, placed them in a shroud and sent them for burial. The house remained open and yet there was no one daring enough to touch anything because it seemed that things remained poisoned and that whoever used them picked up the illness.” – Marchione di Coppo Stefani, The Florentine Chronicle
An interesting side note:
- Many scholars believe the nursery rhyme, “Ring Around the Rosy” was written about the Black Death (See video below)
- King Edward III was the ruling monarch during the outbreak — his daughter, Joan of England died from the plague on 1 July 1348.
Lyrics to Ring Around the Rosy:
Ring around the rosy
A pocketful of posies
We all fall down
So now we’ve come to the last topic of this post…the history of Halloween! Did the term Halloween begin with the Tudor dynasty?
History of Halloween
Over 2,000 years ago the Celts celebrated summer’s end, or Samhain/SAHwin on the 1st of November which marked the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. The night before Samhain, people believed the dead returned as ghosts. By leaving food and wine on their doorstep they would keep the ghosts away – they also dressed in disguise to blend in with the ghosts who walked among them.
The Christian Church turned Samhain into All Saints Day and in the 8th century All Saints Day became known as All Hallows. That was when October 31st became All Hallow’s Eve.
If you are wondering what exactly a “hallow”? According to Google it is a saint or holy person.
During the reign of Queen Mary I of England in 1556, the term All Hallow’s Eve was reportedly used, however, it was used in the setting of the church and not as a “celebration” as we know it today.
Author Nancy Bilyeau (Bilyeo) wrote an article on October 27, 2011 for the website English Historical Fiction Authors website and said the following (no source listed):
The first recorded use of the word “Halloween” was in mid-16th century England. It is a shortened version of “All-Hallows-Even” (“evening”), the night before All Hallows Day, another name for the Christian feast that honors saints on the first of November. – Nancy Bilyeau, The Truth about Halloween and Tudor England
There was a similar statement on Halloween-History.org that states: “Halloween is said to have started as early as 16th Century.”
So now that I’ve covered the basics let’s discuss something that is a bit more familiar to us in the modern-day. Dressing up and trick-or-treating.
I remember as a kid, my mom used to make our costumes. As a poor farm family my parents did not have the money to purchase costumes for my three siblings and I. It didn’t bother me because I got to dress in disguise for the day and spent hours trick-or-treating at night.
So did the children in the Tudor period dress up and trick-or-treat like we do now?
In the Tudor period people would dress in costume and accept food, wine, money and other items in exchange for singing, citing poetry or telling jokes. It was called guising and it originated in medieval England.
That makes for a completely different kind of night. I’m just imagining someone coming up to my house, ringing the bell and reciting me poetry. I’m not so sure I would give them any food, wine or money, but I might need some wine afterward.
While I often wish that I could go back and time and experience life at Tudor court, if just for a day, it only takes a few stories about life in 16th century England to quickly change my mind.
During my continual research of Thomas Seymour I have come across a many letters that he wrote during his diplomatic missions. I will be honest, when I first found these letters I glanced at them and my eyes instantly glazed over. Most of these letters contained what I considered a bunch of military jargon that made little sense to me.
It wasn’t until very recently that I decided to look at the letters again to help me truly understand who Thomas Seymour was. He wasn’t just the fourth son of John and Margery Wentworth, or the brother of Queen Jane and Edward Seymour – he was a soldier, a man of the sea, an ambassador to the Low Countries and to the King of Hungary. He was also, by the standards of the mid-16th century, worldly. Thomas had traveled to France, Germany, Austria and Hungary…to name the ones that I know of for sure. He was, for the most part well-liked by all. Thomas had the charisma that his brother Edward did not; and the looks his sister Jane apparently lacked.
As I navigated through the passages of these letters, I discovered that Thomas had a flare for the dramatic as well. There is one part where he states “we have lost our boats” – making it appear worse by not expounding. When reading that line you get the impression that ships sank. Quite the contrary, they just veered off course. Thomas had a way of drawing attention to himself, even in letters.
It is with all this in mind that I chose to write about what I believe was Thomas’ first mission abroad – As ambassador to the King of Hungary.
In order to grasp the entire subject of this post, I need to start with the Siege of Buda – this will help a bit to explain the events leading up to Thomas Seymour being appointed ambassador in 1542.
Siege of Buda (1541)
The Siege of Buda lasted from 4 May to 21 August 1541 and resulted in the capture of Buda (in Hungary) by the Ottoman Empire, headed by Suleiman the Magnificent.
A little back story: Ferdinand of Hungary was the ruler of the Austrian hereditary lands of the Habsburgs. and two years before the Siege of Buda, his accomplished commander, Wilhelm von Roggendorf resigned from combat. — Well, when it was decided that Ferdinand and his allies would lay siege on Buda, von Roggendorf could not resist a good fight for his master. He threw on his armor and joined the allies probably in Vienna.
The Hapsburg Empire and the Ottoman Empire had a lasting feud with one another. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Suleiman the Magnificent, ruler of the Ottoman Empire, appear to have enjoyed fighting one another for the land in Hungary.
Ferdinand, in 1541, was the King of Hungary, Bohemia, Germany, Croatia, King of the Romans and Archduke of Austria. Between Ferdinand and his brother the Emperor, those two ruled most of Europe. By the 16th century, the Ottomans had become a serious threat to the European powers.
This siege was nothing new. From 1526 – 1568, the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Empire were engaged in a series of campaigns called the Little War of Hungary…that’s 42 years of fighting! Am I the only one that thinks 42 years is far from little?
The conflict with Buda had really begun much, much earlier.
This was an ongoing battle with the winner often changing. So the Habsburgs claimed it and then it was taken by the Ottoman Empire. The Habsburgs reclaimed Buda and eventually the Ottoman Empire snatched it up again. That is exactly what happened leading up to the Siege of Buda. The Ottoman Empire after claiming Buda again decided that they wanted Vienna as well and would try to use the momentum gained from the victory at Buda. It did not work and they were horribly defeated in Vienna.
So we are left with both Buda and Pest in the hands of the Ottoman Empire after the Siege of Buda. Of course, the Habsburgs could not let this be. They wanted both Buda and Pest back in their control.
This is when England and Thomas Seymour comes into the story.
Siege of Pest (1542)
In June 1542, Thomas Seymour was named ambassador to the court of King Ferdinand of Hungary. A trip to Nuremberg quickly followed and Thomas was accompanied by Charles Howard. Charles was the brother of the late Katheryn Howard and Thomas the brother of the late Jane Seymour. The trip to Nuremberg would be the beginning of their trip to take part in the expedition against Hungary, or what it would later be called, “Siege of Pest”.
It appears from letters that this ambassador traveled with the allied troops and discussed any interactions he may had as ambassador to Hungary.
The allies traveled through Europe until they arrived at Vienna, where (it appears) they regrouped before heading to their final stop before Buda, at Esztergom.
On the 6th of July 1542, it was reported that the whole army would moved on Buda (it would take about 10 days from Esztergom). Thomas Seymour, in a letter, tells King Henry that there are about 80,000 troops in all, of which 6,000 were upon the Danube, in boats. Along the way the army was able to determine that Buda was strongly fortified with 15,000 men.
Then on the 10th of July, Thomas wrote to King Henry that the army ‘is camped on the other side of the Danube’. Half of the army came across the Danube by the town castle, where the king and queen, as well as lords and ladies stood for ‘8 or 9 hours‘ to see them pass. I have been trying to figure out which castle he is referring to in his letter. I’m assuming that he is referring to the mammoth sized Buda Castle that lies on the banks of the Danube but I cannot be certain on their plan of attack.
The following day the rest of the men followed. In the same letter to his King, Thomas explains how the King (of Hungary) did not intend to besiege Buda the following day and that he planned to depart for Nuremberg to meet the Council of the Empire.
So, here is Thomas, ambassador to Hungary, and he just revealed that the man who the English army was there to assist (brother to the Emperor), would abandon the field to go to Nuremberg for a meeting.
The plan moving forward was that the army would besiege Pest. If they won the battle they would fortify it and end the campaign for the year. Once fortified they would await the instructions from the Council of the Empire.
There was a snag in the plans when the Turks chose not to send their 8,000 footmen, but in their place they would send 20,000 light horse. Seymour then goes on to explain in his letter that they will ‘tarry here five days for pioneers to mend the way’.
The scene changed a bit by the time August arrived – still in Hungary, here is a transcribed letter by Thomas Seymour:
News is here so uncertain that he cannot vouch for it. The Turk is coming in person to Buda with 300,000 men, divided in six battles, intending to attack on six sundry days. This army intends, therefore, to tract time until the midst of October; for in the end of October the Danube is frozen, so that the Turk cannot then bring his victuals by water. If it was certain that the Turk would not come in person, even if he sent 200,000 men, as Baron Hedeke says, they would straight to Pest, which could be taken in three days, and then besiege Buda, which might be battered sufficiently for the assault in eight days. Missing it, they would garrison Pest, Stregone, Rabbe, and other strongholds and retire home for the winter. This enterprise can wait six weeks yet. The Turk has lately sent 14,000 men to Buda and Pest, making 32,000 in all; but they are sore punished with plague, men falling dead as they walk in the streets.
A few days after his letter to Henry VIII, the King replied to Thomas Seymour telling him that he had essentially done his job as ambassador and that his ‘service here is required‘ and that ‘shall upon receipt of this take leave and return home‘.
So…evidently, Thomas left Buda and headed back toward Vienna, because that is the next time we hear from him, on the 5th of September where he updates the progress of the upcoming siege.
So the Bishop of Warden sent a man to the King of Hungary and told him that if he will come to Buda in person that the Bishop will accompany him with 8,000 horses. If he does NOT come then neither he nor the 15,000 troops at Stregonne (Esztergom) will advance.
Inevitably, the Siege of Pest was a failure. The ally armies were led by a seasoned Austrian military leader, Wilhelm von Roggendorf. Roggendorf was wounded in battle near the end of the siege and died two days later.
Had it been the King of Hungary leading his men this story may have had a different ending. King Ferdinand, whatever his reasons, left HIS battle! Does that seem odd to you?
On the 5th of October, Thomas Seymour reported that ‘after battering a breach, they assaulted Pest, but failed; and afterwards, for lack of wages, the soldiers refused to keep watch and ward or to make assault’.
After all the excitement in Hungary, Thomas Seymour was sent back (under order of the King) to Nuremberg. There he had more discussions and negotiations with other German ambassadors who said they would not fight for the Emperor, but that they could find men who would.
As stated previously, the Siege of Pest was an utter failure and the Ottoman Empire ruled there for another 150 years!
Before doing all this research I did not really know anything about Ferdinand of Hungary. Once I discovered he was the brother to the Holy Roman Emperor it all made more sense.
Here is Charles V and his wife Isabella of Portugal. Charles was the son of Juana of Castile, and Isabella the daughter of Maria of Aragon. Juana and Maria were both sisters of Katherine of Aragon. Charles and Isabella were not only husband and wife but also first cousins.
Now, check this out: Ferdinand of Hungary, younger than Charles V by about three years. He doesn’t appear to have the strong Hapsburg chin but definitely the long jaw.
Let’s be honest, if you look at their portraits side by side you’ll notice the similarity in features. They were, by the way, both sons of Philip I and Juana of Castile. Juana, the sister of Katherine of Aragon.
So, that’s the story of Thomas Seymour as diplomat and the Siege of Pest. I truly hope you enjoyed taking this adventure with me to learn the truth about Thomas’ life and another interesting piece of Tudor history. I will continue on this path for future posts!