Can We Give Mary Tudor a Break? (Guest Post)



Guest post by Juliana Cummings

She is known as one of the most evil women in history and is responsible for burning more protestants at stake than any other English Monarch.  There are alcoholic drinks and children’s sleepover games named after her, but in all fairness was Mary Tudor, the first Queen regnant, evil?

Born on February 18, 1516, Princess Mary would be the only surviving child of Henry VIII and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. By the time Mary was born, Katherine and Henry had already lost several children, either through miscarriage or stillbirth.  And while Mary was a healthy baby, she was still a girl, not the long-awaited prince of Greenwich Palace.

Mary was brought up Catholic, and like her mother, Mary’s  faith would become unshakable during the hardest days of her life.  Mary was instructed by her mother to attend mass several times a day and also to be sure she knew her prayers.  Mary was not only spoiled by her mother but she was the apple of her father’s eye. Despite the fact that she was not a boy, she was the most loved little girl in all of England.

However the ruby cheeked, red-haired Mary was often used as a pawn by her father in securing the English throne. At only two years of age,  she was betrothed to the young son of King Francis l of France. But the marriage contract was broken after three years. At six years of age, she was betrothed to her 22-year-old cousin, Charles V of Spain, with the promise of a large dowry.  This too fell through and it was even suggested that she marry King Francis l himself. Happily for Mary, this did not happen either.



In 1525 Mary was sent to live at Ludlow Castle of the age of nine under the tutelage of Lady Margaret Bryan. It was common practice for royal children to be brought up away from court.  It was also around this time that Henry VIII was becoming increasingly frustrated with the fact that he still did not have a male heir. Queen Katherine was six years older than The King and it seemed that her child-bearing days were coming to an end.  

When The  Lady Anne Boleyn walked into King Henry’s court in 1526, it would ultimately mean the end of the royal marriage. Anne, a lady in waiting to The Queen, was young and beautiful and attracted the eyes of not only several men of the court but The King himself. Anne gave Henry even more reason to end his marriage with Katherine. She would deliver him a son once she became Queen.  

Henry was a very religious man and he  turned to The Bible for guidance. A chapter in the book of Leviticus 20:21 stated that if a man married his brother’s wife, “it was unclean and they shall be childless”.  Before becoming Henry’s Queen, Katherine had been the bride of Henry’s older brother Arthur for only four months when he passed away. This was enough to convince Henry that his  marriage to Katherine had been no marriage at all and he that he should have the right to divorce her. It also convinced him that his daughter Princess Mary, was now a bastard.



Over the next several years, Henry and Anne continued to have an open and lucid affair directly under the nose of Queen Katherine.  And in June of 1527 Henry told Katherine he was ending the marriage and demanded his advisers petition the Pope for a divorce.

There was no love lost between Mary Tudor and Anne Boleyn. Mary saw Lady Boleyn as the great whore who was determined to ruin her mother.  Over the next year Henry’s advisers carried forth their attempts to persuade The Catholic Church to give him his divorce. When Anne Boleyn became ruthless in her attempts to dethrone Queen Katherine, Mary’s feelings turned to pure hatred.

Queen Katherine’s attempts at trying to save her marriage, even with The Catholic Church on her side, were in vain.  In the summer of 1529, a frustrated Henry VIII sent Queen Katherine away for good. And Princess Mary never saw her mother again.  After four years of fruitless attempts at convincing Rome to give him a divorce, Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church and declared himself head of the new Church of England. He then married Anne Boleyn, who was already pregnant with his child, in a small ceremony.  Queen Katherine was demoted to Dowager Princess of Wales while Princess Mary was stripped of her titles. And Anne Boleyn now reigned as Queen of England.

In September of 1533, Queen Anne gave birth to a daughter;  Mary’s half sister, Elizabeth. Despite the treatment she received by her father and her new step-mother,  Mary could not bring herself to hate the Princess Elizabeth. She found herself looking after her and enjoying the child’s curiosity and obvious intelligence.  But she could not and would never refer to Anne Boleyn as Queen. The only Queen in Mary’s eyes, was her mother Katherine. Anne was an avid supporter of the Protestant Reformation and in Mary’s eyes, this was absolute heresy.  Her refusal to call Anne Queen enraged Henry and he and Mary didn’t speak for over three years as a result. To make matters worse, the quick-tempered Anne saw Mary as a threat and would continue to criticize her in front of The King.



When her beloved mother fell ill, Henry refused to let Mary see her.  Katherine died in January of 1536 and Mary’s world fell apart. Her mother had been her strength and their love for each other had only deepened while separated . Now Mary was utterly alone with only her devotion to Catholicism to comfort her.

After three short years of marriage, Anne Boleyn had not given The King a son as promised. She quickly fell from The King’s favor and was accused of adultery, incest, conspiring against The King, and being a witch.  She was charged with high treason and executed on May 19, 1536.

We can imagine that Mary Tudor was probably not losing sleep over the fact the her step mother was dead. It’s been said that she simply stated “Is it done?” and nodded with approval when told that the execution had been carried out.  But perhaps she had some sympathy for her half-sister Elizabeth, who was also then declared a bastard and stripped of her title in the same way Mary had been.

Henry VIII would go on to marry four more times in his life.  Jane Seymour, his Queen just days after Anne Boleyn’s execution, played an important role in trying to repair Henry’s relationship with his daughters. After Mary begrudgingly signed a document, agreeing to recognize  her father as head of the The Church of England and to adhere to all his wishes, The King welcomed her back to court. This was done in large part to Jane’s gentle persistence. Queen Jane would also deliver Henry the one thing he had longed for; a son. In October of 1537, Prince Edward was born. Henry was elated. But sadly, Queen Jane fell ill from infection and died only 12 days after the birth. Mary was made Godmother to her half-brother and also served as the head of the family at the Queen’s funeral.



Henry’s fourth and fifth marriages were short-lived and Mary often acted as the royal hostess at court.  But it was Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, who was responsible for bringing the family even closer together. Catherine also convinced The King to rewrite the line of succession, which would now include Mary and Elizabeth should Edward die without a son.

Henry VIII died in 1547, leaving his kingdom to nine-year old Edward VI. Edward was too young to rule alone and his uncle Edward Seymour, The Duke of Somerset, acted as regent.  Like Edward, The Duke was intensely devoted to Protestantism. Protestantism was quickly being established all over England.

But Mary remained passionately faithful to Catholicism and during her brother’s reign she spent most of her time away from court where she was free to practice Mass in her private chapels.  The religious differences between Mary and Edward continued and she refused to bow to The King’s demands that she abandon her faith.

Edward had not been a healthy child  and suffered from frequent lung infections and coughing fits. When he fell seriously ill in July of 1553, he turned his father’s rules for the succession upside down.  He knew he was dying and he feared that his sister Mary, who was to inherit the crown, would restore England to Catholicism. Edward rewrote the succession, and instead of Mary and Elizabeth, he placed his very protestant cousin Lady Jane Grey as his successor.  Mary was summoned to London to see her dying brother but feared this was a trap to capture her. She fled to East Anglia where she had a strong Catholic following.

When King Edward died on July 6th, 1553, Lady Jane, a scared and self-conscious girl, took the crown.  At this time a letter had arrived for the privy council from Mary, claiming her right to the throne. Support for Lady Jane dwindled as support for Mary grew. Jane Grey was charged with being a traitor and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

On August 3rd, 1553, Mary paraded through the streets of London with almost 1000 nobleman.  The streets were filled with the English people who wanted their rightful Queen. Mary had Henry Tudor’s bloodline and the support of the Catholics.  She was crowned Queen of England on October 1st, 1553. As Queen, Mary was faced with a difficult decision. Did she really want to sign the execution warrant of an innocent girl? Jane Grey was just a child and in Mary’s eyes, didn’t deserve to die for being used politically.  But unfortunately after deliberating with Parliament, Mary saw no choice but to have Lady Jane and her husband executed.

When Mary Tudor took the throne she was 37 years old and not very attractive.  She had not inherited her father’s height but was short with a bulky stature. She was considered an old maid instead of a young, virtuous bride. But Mary knew that in order to be an effective Queen, she needed a Catholic husband.   In July of 1554, Mary married Prince Philip of Spain. Mary was quite smitten with Philip, however, he didn’t share the same affections. He noted that Mary was very plain-looking and was not arousing to the pleasure’s of the flesh.

Mary was also determined to set right the wrongs that her brother had caused.  She carried much of this out by way of execution. Several leaders of the Protestant church, including Thomas Cranmer,  who was the moving factor in Henry’s divorce from Katherine, were imprisoned and executed. Mary also declared the marriage of her parents valid and abolished all of her brother’s religious laws.  Mary also had the Heresy Acts, which were repealed by her father and brother, revived. Under these laws, Queen Mary l would execute almost 300 protestants by burning them at the stake.

Being burned at the stake was considered one of the most gruesome deaths one could endure.  If you were lucky you would die from inhaling carbon monoxide before actually burning to death.   The people of England did not look upon their Queen favorably for her choice of revenge on protestants.  The burnings were so unpopular that even Mary’s husband and his advisers condemned them.

In September of 1554, Mary’s menstrual cycles stopped. She was also plagued with nausea and had started to gain weight. Despite Mary’s history of irregular cycles, her court doctors confirmed that she must be pregnant.  Mary’s abdomen continued to swell as she awaited the birth of her child but spring of 1555 came and went without any signs of The Queen going into labor. By July of that year, rumors started to spread that Queen had never been pregnant. The swelling in her stomach started to recede and Mary was convinced that God was punishing her.  Her husband Philip left England to join his army in fighting the French and Mary was heartbroken.

Philips returned in 1557 and Mary soon believed she was pregnant again.  However no baby was born this time either and Mary’s health was declining.  She suffered migraines, fatigue and stomach pain and passed away at age 42 in November of 1558. Because she had no heir, her sister Elizabeth inherited the throne.

As we look back on Mary Tudor’s life, it’s hard not to have some sympathy for her.  As a child, she was cast aside by her father and stripped of her titles after watching a bitter struggle between her parents.  She was filled with such hatred for her step mother that it all but consumed her. And Mary suffered the pain of knowing that her mother would die alone. The migraines that plague Mary as  a young woman would continue into adulthood and leave her in bed for days. After seeing her father denounce her beloved Catholic Church, she was ousted by her own brother and forced to leave England for safety. When Mary did take the crown, perhaps she was already filled with such bitterness over the cards she had been dealt. And although being burned at the stake was horrific, it was still the choice of execution for heretics over much of Europe.  And as a woman who desperately wanted to marry, her own husband made it clear that he wasn’t at all physically attracted to her. This must have been so hard for Mary because Philip would be the second major male figure in her life to mistreat her. And after two false pregnancies, it’s not hard to imagine how Mary turned into the bitter, miserable person she did. For someone who was born having everything, she quickly learned that things could change in the blink of an eye.

So, what if Mary had a life filled with the love of both her parents, free from illness and abandonment?  Could she have possibly been a different kind of ruler? However to this day, she still remains the infamous “Bloody Mary”.

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The Relationship Between Mary and Elizabeth Tudor

Princess Mary Tudor was the apple of her father’s eye for many years prior Anne Boleyn returning to England. Freshly back from her duties in France, Anne was unlike most women and Henry VIII noticed.

We don’t know the exact date that Henry noticed Anne but once he did it changed the course of English history.

After Katherine of Aragon’s last unsuccessful pregnancy Henry began to consider that he would never have a male heir. He believed the fact that he had married his brother’s widow was the reason why. That God would not grant them living male sons because of their sin. Henry referenced Leviticus 20: 21 which said: “If a man should take his brother’s wife it is an unclean thing…he shall be without children.” Henry took this as living sons, specifically. This was completely against everything that happened at the beginning of their marriage – Henry made sure to get a papal dispensation so he could wed his brother’s widow. Now it was convenient for the king to turn things around to his advantage.



It was around 1524, when Henry began to aggressively pursue Anne Boleyn, historian Eric Ives believed that this is when Henry began to reject Katherine of Aragon and stopped sleeping with her…it had been seven years since her last pregnancy. When exactly he began to turn away from Katherine is unclear. It may have been in 1522 but most definitely by 1525 when he brought his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, out of the shadows and created him Duke of Richmond. This gave him precedence over everyone except for a legitimate son he may have in the future.

Henry didn’t immediately turn against his daughter Mary, it took time for that to come to fruition. But once he did, poor Mary must have been so confused. As a young woman it must have been heartbreaking to lose the love of your father, and king. No wonder why she disliked Anne so much. Who could blame her – she saw Anne as the woman who took away her father and destroyed her family. While that may be what Mary believed, it’s definitely not the truth – Henry is responsible for this as Anne tried several times to have a relationship with Mary. Mary always refused because she was loyal to her mother.

On the 7th of September 1533, Queen Anne Boleyn gave birth to Princess Elizabeth. She and the King were disappointed that their first child was a daughter but were optimistic their next would be a son. Unfortunately, this is when things began to change for Mary. Soon after, Mary would lose her title of Princess and only be referred to as Lady Mary Tudor. Could you imagine? For seventeen years you are a princess and suddenly you no longer have the prestigious title that goes along with being the legitimate daughter of a king. Her mother had already fallen from grace as the King had ended their marriage, and now Mary was removed from the line of succession and declared illegitimate. One can only imagine the malice Mary held toward Anne because of this. She definitely saw this woman as the one responsible for her misery.



Not only had she lost her title but she also had to serve in the household of Princess Elizabeth. You would think Mary definitely had animosity toward the situation she was in. She was defiant when first placed in Elizabeth’s household at Hatfield – she spent days in her chamber, uncontrollably crying and refusing to acknowledge Elizabeth as Princess. She would, however, call Elizabeth “sister” just as she called Henry Fitzroy, “brother”.

I’m not aware of how Mary felt toward Henry Fitzroy but I assume it was similar to her feelings for Elizabeth. However, Fitzroy’s mother had not destroyed everything she ever knew. So it’s possible she liked him as well.

It is clear that Anne did not feel threatened by Fitzroy; She was instrumental in securing the marriage between her cousin Mary Howard and him. This is something that I do not understand. You would think the last thing she wanted was to have him declared legitimate and thus remove her daughter from the line of succession, but it did not seem to be a concern of hers.

The Concubine’s Downfall

Anne’s marriage being declared null and void after she was charged with adultery made their daughter illegitimate along with her sister, Mary – Henry Fitzroy was now presumably the only heir presumptive. Of course, Henry expected to have a son by Jane Seymour but Fitzroy was his steady backup, even though he himself was still considered illegitimate.

According to author Antonia Frasier, after Anne Boleyn’s arrest Henry VIII went to see his son, Henry Fitzroy. In tears he told Fitzroy that Anne was a ‘poisoning whore’ – who had planned to kill both him and his half-sister Mary; what a lucky escape they had had!



In David Starkey’s book titled, “Elizabeth” he says that after the execution of Anne Boleyn that Mary made her peace with Boleyn’s ghost and prayed that ‘that woman’ might be forgiven. He also mentioned that Mary and Elizabeth got along well and lived amiably under the same roof. The sisters became really close.

Two months after Anne’s execution Henry Fitzroy died. This left poor old Henry VIII without Fitzroy as his backup and Jane Seymour was not yet pregnant.

But, in October 1537, Jane Seymour gave birth to a son – Henry was over the moon and great celebrations were had everywhere. From all accounts, both Mary and Elizabeth loved their brother Edward – there is nothing recorded that would tell us they harbored any resentment toward their brother, the prince. The siblings all loved one another – they didn’t care that they had different mothers, they were all children of the king.

King Edward VI

When Edward ascended to the throne in 1547, he would continue with the Reformation process and push it even further than his father had. This was something that truly upset Mary as she was a staunch Catholic. Several times Edward attempted to press Mary to convert and was unsuccessful. He even jokingly suggested that Thomas Seymour wed his sister so he could change her ways. That, of course, never happened as Seymour only wanted Elizabeth or Katherine Parr.



Queen Mary I

Mary’s rise to the throne after the death of her brother, King Edward VI wasn’t without issue. Mary had spent most of her adult life in uncertainty and received no proper training to prepare her for her role as queen. However, by right, she was the heir per her father’s Act of Succession – nonetheless, Edward, on his death-bed attempted to change the succession by naming Lady Jane Grey, a fellow Protestant as his heir (excluding both of his sisters). This devise of succession did not have the Council’s approval. Author Sarah Gristwood states in her book, “Elizabeth & Leicester” that Edward’s justification behind removing his sisters from the line of succession was that they were both bastards of the late king and could both marry abroad. “No wonder Elizabeth saw marriage as a poor consolation prize.

This was a turning point for Mary, she realized that there were people who did not want her on the throne. She also knew that her sister Elizabeth was raised in the Protestant faith and there was concern about others wishing Elizabeth to take her place. Mere months after Mary became queen, Elizabeth felt it necessary to reach out to her sister for a meeting. She understood that her sister was aware of her religion and so pleaded ignorance of, not hostility toward, the Catholic faith. All she knew was how she was raised…as a Protestant.

Not long after Mary’s coronation she had Parliament declare the marriage of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon valid – this appears to have brought up old hostilities toward Elizabeth. She even toyed with the idea of removing Elizabeth from the line of succession but found that would not be as easy as she thought, regardless she would not need to worry about that since she’d hope to have a child of her own making it all unnecessary.



Mary’s Council continued to push her to rid herself of Lady Jane Grey, who was sitting in the Tower of London, as they saw her as a threat to her throne. Mary was soft about her dear cousin and kept her locked away instead of executing her. She understood that Jane wanted no part in becoming queen and felt sorry for her. It wasn’t until Wyatt’s Rebellion that her hand was forced and the execution of Jane was ordered.

Wyatt’s Rebellion only cemented Mary’s paranoia against her sister and Jane’s fate. It appears that Mary was concerned about what Elizabeth was doing and who was in her inner circle. Elizabeth, not wanting to be on her sister’s bad sad, made sure by all outward appearances to act the loyal subject by practicing the Catholic faith in public and not associating herself with rebels, hoping her sister would not find reason to arrest her.

With all the turmoil in the country surrounding religion, many wished Mary to be removed from her throne and Elizabeth to take over as Queen of England. Elizabeth was smart enough to know it was suicide to go along with any plans and seemed comfortable waiting for her turn. She may not have agreed with her sister’s dealings as queen but she knew it was suicide to go against Mary. The queen was paranoid nonetheless and called for her sister to come to London. Allison Weir states in her book, “The Children of Henry VIII” that Elizabeth feigned sickness to save herself. Ambassador Renard suspected that Elizabeth was pregnant with Edward Courtenay’s baby, so Mary’s physicians examined Elizabeth to ensure she was safe for travel and concluded that she was only suffering from ‘watery humours’ or nephritis and was able to travel to court. Renard continued to push for Elizabeth and Edward Courtenay’s execution, going so far to say, When these traitors have been removed “Your Majesty need have no fear for your crown.” Renard is an example of the type of people who were trying to keep the sisters apart. Unfortunately, Elizabeth was probably the one person who understood Mary best.



We will never know for certain whether or not Elizabeth’s ‘illnesses’ were real or not but we can conclude that she was smart enough to know how to manipulate situations to her advantage.

Mary’s concerns were real. As the first Queen regnant of England she was paving a path that was never laid out before. There were enemies around every corner and she had to figure out on her own who was friend and who was foe. It appears that many were convincing her that her sister was foe – so many that there were rumors that Mary would name her Catholic cousin, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox her heir. Margaret was the daughter of Henry VIII’s sister Margaret Tudor, who had been queen consort of King James IV of Scotland. With this in mind, Margaret Douglas seized the opportunity to besmirch Elizabeth’s reputation by relaying gossip about her to Mary so she would look more favorably on her.

When the queen wed Philip of Spain her subjects and the Council were not pleased with her. She had truly believed that it was God who wished her to marry Philip to help in restore England to Catholicism and Rome. Of course, it had been many years since her father had become the Head of the Church of England so many of her subjects were raised Protestant and happy to continue as such. There were others who were just as happy to return to Catholicism. It was a difficult time to live in England.

Even though Mary locked away her sister in the Tower of London to control the situation, she always had a connection with her sister. She had helped raise Elizabeth years ago and understood her personality better than anyone else. When Elizabeth was first placed in the Tower she requested, no begged, to  write to her sister and plea her case. She was so concerned that other’s would try to change her message that she scored the blank space at the bottom of the letter to ensure nothing could be added.



In her dying days, Queen Mary understood that if God would give her ‘no fruit nor heir of my body’ that England would then go to the person ‘the laws of this realm’ decreed. Mary could not get herself to name Elizabeth as her heir but knew her statement made it so. She made Elizabeth promise that she would not immediately change the country’s religion, and to pay the queen’s debts.

In the end, I truly believe that Mary loved Elizabeth – she was her kin and both were children of a king and his queen consorts. She never executed her sister, only threatened her harm to get her way.

*If you are interested in hearing the recorded version of this article in my podcast, click HERE.

Sources:

Ives, Eric; The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
Starkey, David; Elizabeth – The Struggle for the Throne
Fraser, Antonia; The Wives of Henry VIII
Gristwood, Sarah; Game of Queens – The Women Who Made Sixteenth-Century Europe
Gristwood, Sarah; Elizabeth & Leicester – The Truth About the Virgin Queen and the Man She Loved
Gristwood, Sarah; Blood Sisters – The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses
Weir, Alison; The Children of Henry VIII

Further Reading (Fiction):

Lawrence, G.; The Bastard Princess
Lawrence, G.; The Heretic Heir

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Dishing with the Tudors: My Adventures in Renaissance Comedy

Guest Article by: JoAnn Spears

Dishing with the Tudors:  My adventures in Renaissance comedy

I am one of those people who ‘reads out’ a subject or author of interest.

That took some doing with Jean Plaidy’s canon of eighty-odd historical fiction novels.  Having started in on the task at the age of twelve, with The Captive Queen of Scots, I was actually able to exhaust all that Plaidy had to offer before I was out of my twenties.

jean plaidy book

 

My favorite subjects in those wonderful novels were Henry VIII’s six wives and their Tudor relatives.  Eventually, I read the Tudors out too, both in fiction and in biography.  From Norah Lofts and Mary M. Luke down through Alison Weir, I read anything that was going about Henry VIII and his clan.    When I ran out of biographies of the heavy-hitting Tudors, I read bios of the supporting Tudor cast, such as Bess of Hardwick and Arabella Stuart.

yellow catherine the queenelizabeth book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I still remember the day that  I stood in front of a Tudor shelf at Barnes and Noble, looked at everything that was on offer, and felt that I’d seen it all before.  It’s high time, I thought, for something different.  Enough tragedy, excuses, and apologies.  Henry’s six wives need to come out on top for a change!

completely different

At around the same time, I spent an evening in a hot tub in Vermont, chatting with a friend who was working on a book.  She knew that I did a lot of report writing in my professional life, and asked me if I didn’t have an idea for a novel.  She dared me to tell it to her.  And for the first time, I gave voice to that ‘something different’ that I wanted to see in the Tudor world.

It was scary, talking out loud about an idea that had heretofore lived only in my head.  Maybe it was the hot tub ambience, or more likely the wine, but out the idea came.

I wanted to write about Henry VIII’s six wives.  My heroine, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, would meet the Big Six somewhere on the other side, after losing consciousness.  She’d join the Tudor women for a night of revelation and vindication on their part, and of self-discovery on hers.  She’d return to the real world a wiser girl for her time with the Tudors.

Once I started in on writing about Henry VIII’s six wives, things flowed easily for a while.  The Katherine Parr and Ann of Cleves alternative histories were low hanging fruit.  Jane Seymour’s and Catherine Howard’s subplots took a bit more researching, but they did come together next.  The Anne Boleyn and Katharine of Aragon subplots emerged only after a spell of cluelessness and the shedding of some blood, sweat, and tears, but eventually, emerge they did.   And best of all, because of the fantasy setting, I got to have the six wives interacting with each other, as well as with my heroine.  It was a Tudor history buff’s dream come true.

The wives’ stories as created for Six of One are obviously outré and entirely a product of my fevered Tudor imagination, but they were carefully researched and made plausible to give the reader some food for thought.  What if, even if only in imagination, each of these women had a secret that took her from victim status to victory over Henry VIII?  Might such secrets make for a satisfying, albeit brief and fictional, experience for the jaded Tudorphile?  Might my book inspire Tudor neophytes to want to learn more about these fabulous women?

six of one

Since my six wives subplots were so very offbeat, I felt that the best way to approach the entire novel was to take it as a comedy.  Clare Boothe Luce’s The Women inspired me here, with its all-girl cast, ‘girls’ night in’ feel, and comic sass and dishing.

bw

Seven Will Out, my second novel, brings the comic corrective recapitulation and the hen party atmosphere to the stories of the latter generation Tudors and their associates.  It addresses the complicated family dynamics between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, Bess of Hardwick and Arabella Stuart, and ‘Bloody’ Mary and Jane Grey, to name a few.

seven will out

Of course, it is for the reading public, and ultimately individual readers and Tudorphiles, to determine if my experiment is a success, and if there is indeed a place for comedy in the chaotic and execution-laden realm of the Tudors.  My Amazon reviews tell me that some readers are all for it (‘Go girls!’  ‘Great new take.’ ‘Humorous her-story.’  ‘Great romp through 16th century England.’  ‘Weird at first, but it grabs you.’  ‘Oh Henry!’  ‘What a hoot.’’)  Other reviews tell me that readers prefer their Tudors straight up, serious, and traditional (‘I couldn’t’.  ‘Don’t bother’.  ‘This book was a little silly.’  ‘Great idea in theory.’  ‘Not for me.’ ‘Too lightweight for my tastes.’)

In Claire Ridgway’s review of Six of One, she says ‘…you need to not mind your favourite wife being made fun of…this Kindle book made me laugh. I love spoofs and can handle misrepresentations of historical characters when they are presented in a way which is clearly a spoof and not to be taken seriously.’   On the other hand, I have had a reviewer say ‘…It seems the author doesn’t really like Anne Boleyn with all the snide remarks made throughout the book.’ (Just for the record, I do not hate Anne Boleyn.)

So, what do you think?  Would you try your Tudors with a comic, fantasy, revisionist twist?  Or do you prefer them familiar and traditional?  I’d love to know what you think!

JoAnn SpearsAbout the Author: JoAnn Spears

Author of Six of One, a Tudor Comedy, and the upcoming sequel, working title Seven Will Out. It’s the most fun you can have with your nightdress on!