Book Review: “La Reine Blanche” by Sarah Bryson

Of the two surviving sisters of Henry VIII, his younger sister Mary was by far his favorite. Nothing shows that more than when he forgave her for secretly marrying Charles Brandon before returning from France after the death of her first husband, King Louis XII of France.

When I heard that author Sarah Bryson was releasing a book about Mary Tudor I was excited to learn more about the Tudor princess and French queen. She has fascinated me since her amalgamation in Showtime’s “The Tudors”. I say amalgamation because the character on the series was a combination of both Mary and Margaret Tudor. If you’re not familiar with the actual history of Mary Tudor the show’s story line will utterly confuse you. The biggest fictionalization (in my opinion) was when Mary, at eighteen years old married the King of Portugal. I’m really not sure why the writers of the series chose Portugal and not the King of France. In all the reading I do on the Tudor dynasty I have never come across any mention of Manuel I of Portugal. What we didn’t learn from that series is what an amazing person Mary Tudor was.

With all this in mind I was eager to learn more facts about the life of Mary Tudor, Queen of France.

Description of book:

Mary Tudor’s childhood was overshadowed by the men in her life: her father, Henry VII, and her brothers Arthur, heir to the Tudor throne, and Henry VIII. These men and the beliefs held about women at the time helped to shape Mary’s life. She was trained to be a dutiful wife and at the age of eighteen Mary married the French king, Louis XII, thirty-four years her senior. When her husband died three months after the marriage, Mary took charge of her life and shaped her own destiny. As a young widow, Mary blossomed. This was the opportunity to show the world the strong, self-willed, determined woman she always had been. She remarried for love and at great personal risk to herself. She loved and respected Katherine of Aragon and despised Anne Boleyn – again, a dangerous position to take. Author Sarah Bryson has returned to primary sources, state papers and letters, to unearth the truth about this intelligent and passionate woman. This is the story of Mary Tudor, told through her own words for the first time.

I ordered this book directly through Amberley Publishing in England because it is not released in the U.S. until June 2018.


Sarah Bryson did a phenomenal job bringing to life one of the lesser written about women of Tudor court, Mary Tudor.  While many of us are aware of who Mary Tudor was we might not know very much about her life. Mary was beautiful, well-liked and smart.

La Reine Blanche: Mary Tudor, A Life in Letters is just that, a book about the life of Mary Tudor (sister of Henry VIII) supplemented by letters. Bryson did a lot of research to be able to show us the most comprehensive look at the beautiful English princess to date.

Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII, Francis I, Cardinal Wolsey, Charles Brandon and a plethora of other Tudor figures make an appearance in this book. It’s interesting to see how they all interacted with Mary throughout her life. It’s also interesting to see how close Mary had become with the children of her husband’s from his marriage with Anne Browne – she was indeed a kind stepmother.

Mary’s life wasn’t without adversity and Bryson did a brilliant job bringing it all to life for the reader. I was moved at the loss of her son with Brandon. As a mother, my heart breaks every time a parent loses a child.

I was pleasantly surprised by Mary’s relationship with her first husband, King Louis XII of France. I had previously known that she went into the marriage with an open mind but had no idea of her feelings for the King until reading this book.

If you’re as obsessed with the Tudor period as I am then you’ll love this book. It’s also a great book to read if you’re interested in French traditions.

Interested in learning more? Here is Sarah Bryson’s guest post for my site: The Princess and the Knight

Buy This Book (available June 1, 2018 – Pre-order today!) (available now)

Book Depository (available now)

Author Bio:

Sarah Bryson is a researcher, writer and educator who has a Bachelor of Early Childhood
Education with Honours. She currently works with children with disabilities. She is
passionate about Tudor history and has a deep interest in Mary Tudor, Charles Brandon,
Duke of Suffolk and the reign of Henry VIII and the people of his court. She has run a
website dedicated to Tudor history for many years and has written for various websites
including ‘On the Tudor Trail’ and ‘QueenAnneBoleyn’. She has been studying primary
sources to tell the story of Mary Tudor for a decade. Sarah lives in Australia, enjoys reading,
writing and Tudor costume enactment.





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Understanding Anne Boleyn

I’ve read several books on the subject of Anne Boleyn – each are very similar with slightly varying take of her, and each I have read with an open mind. It is important for me to understand who she was as a person, whether or not she loved Henry or power, and what is her legacy.

Understanding Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard – the fact that her mother came from the very noble Howard family was impressive, but the fact that it was her mother and not her father diminished her total nobility slightly since the Boleyn name did not carry as much clout.

As a teenager, Anne was sent to the household of Margaret of Austria where she was educated. Not only was she taught French while in the regent’s household but she became familiar with the power that a woman could yield near the throne. Margaret was very open-minded when it came to women’s rights which must have been refreshing for Anne since early 16th century England was not friendly to women yielding power.

When Henry VIII’s sister Mary Tudor was sent to France to marry King Louis XII, both Anne and her sister were to serve the new French queen. At both courts Anne would learn the importance of her behavior with others and interactions, or flirtations with men. She became aware of how to get what she wanted in a discreet way. This would become useful to her in the future.

My instinct tells me that Anne was like any other girl, or woman of her time – she understood her duty as a daughter but she also wished to find love, marry and have children. Her early years, those before Mechelen, would not have had her wishing to be queen of England. The Anne I have discovered is one who wanted a “normal” life, at an early age. It was after she was sent to Mechelen and France that her ideal future began to change.

Upon her homecoming to English court around 1522, Anne returned to a country that she had left nearly a decade earlier. She was in her early twenties and ripe for marriage to a family who would increase the standing of the Boleyn family.

While serving Katherine of Aragon she met Henry Percy, who was a servant of Cardinal Wolsey. It was common practice that Percy would visit the queen’s chambers and visit with her ladies, just as other young men would. This was normal for the time. Court was a great place to make a noble marriage.  Over time, Anne and Henry Percy grew affection for one another. It is said that they fell in love and formally, in front of witnesses, became betrothed. Anne Boleyn had found true love and would get the happy ending she had wished for as a young girl.

All of Anne and Percy’s joy came to an end when Wolsey discovered the betrothal – he was quick to tear the couple apart. Wolsey declared that Percy was already betrothed to Mary Talbot and had been for years, but some believe there was never a proposal and Wolsey fabricated the entire thing just to tear the couple apart. Was it Henry VIII that pushed Wolsey to tear apart the couple? It’s possible. It was in 1522 that Henry first had first set his eyes on Anne when she played Perseverance at  Chateau de Vert.

Regardless of who was responsible for breaking apart the couple, it happened, and Anne must have been crushed. Anne would have been left heart-broken and filled with angst against the man, or men responsible for her misery. We don’t know for certain whether it was solely Wolsey or if the king who had ordered it so he could have Anne to himself. What I feel confident in is that Anne definitely blamed Wolsey and that she would make sure that he eventually paid for destroying her great love with Henry Percy.

When Henry VIII eventually began to pursue Anne she had no choice but to let it happen, but did she do it willingly? After everything that I’ve read I believe that she decided to use any power that would be gained from Henry and use it to her advantage. If she was unable to have the glorious love story that she had wished for then she would make sure that she got something out of her new arrangement.

Anne did not love Henry. That is my opinion. Anne got what she wanted by making promises to a man who was unhappy in his marriage and looking for a way out. She was willing to make her bed and lie in it. When she gave birth to a daughter she was devastated – this jeopardized her whole operation. Anne knew that if she fell out of favor with the king that she would end up in the same situation as her predecessor. Like Katherine of Aragon, she held a power over Henry that he was unaware of – a power of manipulation with words and actions. At the beginning of their courtship, Henry was infatuated with Anne and would do anything to have her – she learned how to play on his emotions to get exactly what she wanted, and it worked. It worked for nearly a decade.

Thomas Cromwell was the was the man who changed everything for Anne. His new-found favor with the king was thanks to Anne and her family, unfortunately, that influence would eventually grow greater than that of Anne’s with the king. And that, my friends, is when Anne fell from Henry’s good graces.

Anne wasn’t a bad person. She was a woman who cared about her country and the subjects of her king. She wanted the best for them all. That is the truth. Anne was smart. Anne was brave. Anne was the mother of the greatest monarch in English history – Gloriana.


Ives, Eric; The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
Weir, Alison; Anne Boleyn – A King’s Obsession
Dunn, Wendy J.; The Light in the Labyrinth
Richards, Natalia; Falcon’s Rise – The Early Years of Anne Boleyn
Gristwood, Sarah; Game of Queens - The Women Who Made Sixteenth-Century Europe

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Henry VIII turns on Katherine of Aragon


When Henry VIII believed that Katherine of Aragon would no longer be able to give him a male heir he began to look for ways out of the marriage. Whether he truly believed his own statements, or if he was just looking for a way out, only he and his closest advisers would know. Henry’s biggest concern was that Katherine’s marriage to his older brother Arthur must have been consummated and that is why he had not been able to conceive a surviving son and male heir with her.

While reading Sarah Gristwood’s newest book, “Game of Queens” she discusses two different debates regarding Henry’s concern with his first marriage.

In the book of Leviticus, the Bible says, “If a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness. Thy shall be childless.”

In Henry’s mind this meant not without child, but without male heir. Clearly he interpreted things the way that would benefit himself. However, in the book of Deuteronomy it contradicts Leviticus saying that a man has a duty to marry his deceased brother’s widow and to ‘raise up seed for his brother’. So…which was it? Was Henry supposed to marry his brother’s widow or was he not?

The ultimate question was whether or not Katherine of Aragon and Arthur, Prince of Wales had consummated their marriage. When the papal legates (Campeggio and Wolsey) visited Katherine and tried to convince her to join a nunnery she refused. They told the Pope, ‘Although she is very religious and extremely patient, she will not accede in the least.”  Katherine swore on her conscience that she and Prince Arthur had never consummated their marriage, and declared that ‘she intended to live and die in the estate of matrimony to which God had called her.’

Cardinal Campeggio attempted to sway the queen but she would not listen. Wolsey warned her to yield to the King’s displeasure – she snapped at him saying:

Of this trouble, I thank only you, my lord of York! Of malice you have kindled this fire, especially for the great grudge you bear to my nephew the Emperor, because he would not gratify your ambition by making you Pope by force!

Wolsey then went on to excuse himself. He stated that it had been ‘sore against his will that ever the marriage should be in question’ and he promised, as legate for the Pope to be impartial. Katherine did not believe him as she knew Wolsey to be the closest adviser to the King.

On the 26th of October 1528, by her request, Campeggio heard Katherine’s confession. She declared, upon the salvation of her soul, that she had never been carnally known by Prince Arthur. Campeggio believed she was speaking the truth but continued to push for her to go to a nunnery.

In 1531, Katherine was still declaring herself Henry’s true wife. Henry was attempting to force Katherine to sign his Act of Supremacy. She refused, stating that the Pope was ‘the only true sovereign and vicar of God…’ She went on to say:

I love and have loved my lord the King as much as any woman can love a man, but I would not have borne him company as his wife for one moment against the voice of my conscience. I am his true wife.

From all that we have read and learned about the relationship of Arthur, Prince of Wales and Katherine of Aragon it appears that they had not consummated their marriage. Most believe it is because Arthur was in such poor health at the time. I believe that Katherine would never have lied in confession.

What do YOU believe?


Gristwood, Sarah; Game of Queens; page 129

Weir, Alison; The Six Wives of Henry VIII, pages 177, 190, 191, 227



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Elizabeth Scrope: Denial of Wolsey’s Request

Elizabeth (1)

Cardinal Wolsey was arguably the most powerful man during the early years of Henry VIII’s reign. To deny him was close to denying your king. The fact that Elizabeth Scrope did just that and stood up for herself was remarkable.

Elizabeth Scrope

Elizabeth Scrope was the daughter of Sir Richard Scrope of Boulton and Eleanor Washbourne.¹ Elizabeth was married twice. Her first husband was William Beaumont, 2nd Viscount Beaumont. Beaumont suffered from mental illness and Parliament ruled that his land and estates were to be his handled by his comrade, John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford. After Beaumont’s death in 1507 and the death of Oxford’s wife the same year, he became the second husband of Elizabeth Scrope.

Elizabeth Scrope, the Countess of Oxford and her sister, Margaret Scrope, Countess of Suffolk were both Ladies-in-Waiting to Henry VIII’s first wife Katherine of Aragon.² She also served the previous queen consort Elizabeth of York.

At the time of his death, the Earl of Oxford was staying at Wivenhoe and Castle Hedingham in Essex. This would explain why Wolsey was writing his widow, the now dowager Countess of Oxford, about obtaining stone from another location in Essex. Harwich.

First Letter – In Response to Wolsey’s Request

WOLSEYThis correspondence is in response to a request from Cardinal Wolsey in 1528.

To my Lord Cardinal’s good grace,

Pleaseth it youR grace, I have received your honourable letters dated the 2d of July, whereby I perceive your request is that I would grant unto your grace, for the foundation of your college in Ipswich as much stone and calions out of my cliff of Harwich as will be thought necessary by the masters of your works there for the foundation of the same; to the which your grace’s request I am as glad and desirous to condescend, if it might there be had without prejudice or hurt in time coming unto my town there.

And where upon the request made in your grace’s name by your chaplain, in that behalf, I sent my receiver Daniell there to meet your said chaplains, to the intent that they then and there my perceive and know how much might resonably be borne; and it was well perceived, and I credibly informed by the tenants and inhabitants there, little might be forborne, unless the town’s great prejudice, forasmuch as the cliff is not of stone,, but only the stone there remaining lieth as a foreland to defend the same: if that were gone the cliff to be washed away within short space, to the utter destruction of the town. notwithstanding, as much as might be reasonably forborne your grace to have the same, to stay your works for the time. Certifying your grace, in that being nothing prejudicial unto the strength and defence of the town, I would as gladly to do your grace pleasure as any poor woman living. Beseeching your grace to accept herein my good mind, who is always at your commandment; as knoweth our Lord, who preserve your grace in prosperous estate long to endure.

Written the 8th day of July.

Your continual beadwoman,

E. Oxford

The above letter explains to Wolsey that she cannot under good conscience allow his men to take stone from Harwich since what remains there cannot be removed. If the existing stone is removed, the cliff will wash away and destroy the town. Seems like a logical reason to deny his request, right? We do not have Wolsey’s reply to her but her response back shows that he was none too pleased with her denial of his request.

Second Letter

WOLSEY (1)Pleaseth your grace, I have received your honourable letters, dated the 15th day of July; the contents whereof being not a little to my discomfort. Where your grace doth suppose my denial of your request for the stone and calions was but a pretence of hinderance to my town of Harwich, I humbly beseech your grace to accept therein my true and faithful mind, and not to conject it to be done under any such manner. And to the intent your grace shall well perceive in any wise I would avoid your displeasure, and glad to do the thing to your grace most acceptable, and ever have been, am very well contented you shall take your pleasure in my said haven, and have not denied your formal request by any manner wilfulness, but only did give your grace knowledge as I was informed by credible persons. Humbly beseeching your grace in like manner to accept, and be it hurtful or otherwise, your grace to do your pleasure; forasmuch as I always have found you my most gracious and very singlular good lord, not doubting of the same hereafter. And thus the blessed Trinity preserve your grace in prosperous estate, long to endure.

Written the 22nd day of July.

Your continual beadwoman,

E. Oxford

The outcome of these letters is unknown. I have been unable to find out if Wolsey demanded she heed his request. Either way, the fact that Elizabeth Scrope was a woman, and a widow at that, who was brave enough to stand up to Wolsey and deny his request is amazing. She should be applauded for her bravery.

Ipswich College

Building began in 1528 on a very ambitious project for a college in Ipswich. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was an Ipswich native and intended the new school to be a feeder to his recently built ‘Cardinal’s College’ of Oxford University, which is now known as Christ Church.  Unfortunately, Wolsey fell out of favor with Henry VIII (probably because of Anne Boleyn) and the college was demolished in 1530 – it was only half built. The only thing left standing is the cherished ‘Wolsey Gate’.

Wolsey's Gate via Ipswich Town & Waterfront
Wolsey’s Gate – Credit: Ipswich Town & Waterfront


Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain, Volume 3 – page 23-26

¹ The Practice and Representation of Reading in England by James Raven, Helen Small, Naomi Tadmor

² The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII: The Women’s Stories, by Amy Licence; page 49

Ipswich History – Wolsey’s Gate

History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Suffolk, and the Towns Near Its Borders by William White

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Anne Boleyn writes to Cardinal Wolsey

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn has always been said to have had a fiery temper. None experienced it more than Cardinal Wolsey.  The first letter appears to be Anne thanking Wolsey for taking up her cause. I assume this means the cause to obtain an annulment/divorce between Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon.

Authors have claimed that Anne never forgave Wolsey for breaking apart her relationship with Percy – if that were the case, this first letter seems a little conniving and opportunistic, in my opinion. Was she still angry with Wolsey but only using him to get what she wanted?

It’s interesting to see in the second letter Anne’s anger and embarrassment by the hand of Wolsey – she certainly was mad at him for not giving her what she wanted and so desperately needed as well as embarrassed that she opened up to him for him only to appear to side with Queen Katherine.  It’s interesting to see how her mood changes from the first letter to the second.

I’m not sure on the authenticity of this letter, nor do I have dates of the letters. All I know is the source book lists it as a letter written by Anne to Cardinal Wolsey.

by Unknown artist, oil on panel, late 16th century (circa 1520)
Cardinal Wolsey

Letters dated 1529

First Letter from Anne to Cardinal Wolsey:

My lord,

After my most humble recommendations, this shall be to give unto your grace, as I am most bound, my humble thanks for the pain and travail that your grace doth take in studying, by your wisdom and great diligence, how to bring to pass honourably the greatest wealth that is possible to come to any creature living, and in especial remembering how wretched and unworthy I am in comparing to his highness. And for you, I do know myself never to have deserved by my deserts that you should take this great pain for me; yet daily of your goodness I do perceive by all my friends, and though that I had not knowledge by them, the daily proof of your deeds doth declare your words and writing toward me to be true.

Now, good my lord, your discretion may consider as yet how little it is in my power to recompense you, but all only with my good-will, the which I assure you that after this matter is brought to pass you shall find me, as I am bound in the mean time, to owe you my service, and then look what thing in this world I can imagine to do your pleasure in, you shall find me the gladdest woman in the world to do it. And next unto the king’s grace, of one thing I make you full promise to be assured to have it, and that is my hearty love unfeignedly during my life; and being fully determined, with God’s grace, never to change this purpose, I make an end of this my rude and true meaning letter, praying our Lord to send you much increase in honour, with long life.

Written with the hand of her that beseeches your grace to accept this letter as proceeding from one that is most bound to be

Your humble and obedient servant,

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn

Second Letter from Anne to Cardinal Wolsey:

My lord,

Though you are a man of great understanding you cannot avoid being censured by every body for having drawn yourself the hatred of a king who had raised you to the highest degree to which the greatest ambition of a man seeking his fortune can aspire. I cannot comprehend, and the king still less, how your reverend lordship, after having allured us by so many fine promises about divorce, can have repented of your purpose, and how you could have done what you have, in order to hinder the consummation of it. What, then, is your mode of proceeding? You quarrelled with the queen to favour me at the time when I was less advanced in the king’s good graces; and after having therein given the strongest marks of your affection, your lordship abandons my interests to embrace those of the queen. I acknowledge that I have put much confidence in your professions and promises, in which I find myself deceived.

But, for the future, I shall rely on nothing but the protection of Heaven and the love of my dear king, which alone will be able to set right again those plans which you have broken and spoiled, and to place me in that happy station which God wills, the king so much wishes, and which will be entirely to the advantage of the kingdom. The wrong you have done me has caused me much sorrow; but I feel infinitely more in seeing myself betrayed by a man who pretended to enter into my interests only to discover the secrets of my heart. I acknowledge that, believing you sincere, I have been to precipitate in my confidence; it is this which has induced, and still induced me, to keep more moderation in avenging myself, not being able to forget that I have been

Your servant,

                                                                                                                                      Anne Boleyn



Letters: Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain Vol. II, by Mary Anne Everett Wood – Cheifly from the originals in the State Paper Office, The Tower of London, The British Museum and other State Archives.

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Early Tudor Palaces and Country Houses


Early Tudor Palaces and Country Houses


Compton Wynyates

Public Domain: 19th century print or a watercolour from Nash Mansions of England published in 1870
Public Domain

“The delightful red-brick manor house of Compton Wynyates in Warwickshire, was begun by Edmund Compton in 1481, just prior to the accession of the House of Tudor. Edmund’s sturdy but good-looking country home was given some elegant editions, including porch and some towers by his son, the prominent Tudor courtier, Sir William Compton, between 1493 and 1528.” –The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.348)

King Henry VIII’s room at Compton Wynyates had stained glass windows featuring the royal arms and throne of Aragon – the royal arms of his future wife, Katharine of Aragon. In 1572, Elizabeth I also stayed in the same room as her father.

In later years Compton Wynyates became uninhabited. This caused the house to decay and nearly fell into complete ruin. In 1768 it was ordered by Lord Northampton to be demolished, but the order was not carried out. In the late 19th century it was restored and in 1884 was once again inhabited by the 5th Marquess of Northampton.

Hampton Court Palace
Photo Credit: Christopher Wren / CC BY-SA 3.0

“One of England’s finest royal building associated with the magnificent court of Henry VIII, although major changes were made in the 17th century during the reign of William and Mary. The palace came into royal hands as a gift from the statesman, Cardinal Wolsey to his royal master, Henry VIII.” -The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.350)

In an episode of “The Tudors” on Showtime, it shows Henry VIII becoming a little distraught by the grandeur of the palace that Wolsey had built - it was greater than any palace Henry had at the time. Once Wolsey noticed Henry’s reaction to the grand palace he offered it as a gift to His Majesty. At this time Wolsey was starting to fall out of favor of the  king and out of self-preservation offered his splendid palace…I’m sure Hampton Court Palace was hard to part with, but then again, so is your head.

(c) Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Hever Castle

Public Domain
Photo Credit: The Giant Puffin / Public Domain

“The moated and fortified manor house of Hever Castle, near Edenbridge in Kent, was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth l. Henry VIII was a frequent visitor in the 1520’s when he paid court to Anne.”- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.352)

After the death of Anne’s father Hever Castle was taken over by the Crown. Henry VIII gave it to Anne of Cleves after their divorce in 1540. When Anne of Cleves died in 1557 the Castle again reverted to the Crown until Queen Mary l gifted it to Sir Edward Waldegrave.  For more on what happened: Hever Castle & Gardens – Owners

© National Portrait Gallery, London
Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves by Hans Holbein the Younger

Leeds Castle

CC BY-SA 3.0
Photo credit: Sophie Templer / CC BY-SA 3.0

“Henry VIII took a great liking to Leeds Castle in Kent, and carried out lavish improvements, transforming it from castle to fortified palace. The King was often in Kent, where he was entertained at Penhurst Place and visited Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle. Leeds Castle had well-established royal links, and had been favoured by kings and queens since Edward l honeymooned there in 1299.” –The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.353)

In 1519, Henry VIII transformed Leeds Castle for his wife Katherine of Aragon.

Katherine of Aragon
Katherine of Aragon

Sulgrave Manor
Photo Credit: Cathy Cox / CC BY-SA 2.0

“The sturdy, unpretentious manor house at Sulgrave, in Northamptonshire, was built in the early Tudor years by a direct ancestor of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America. Lawrence Washington, younger son of a prominent Lancashire family, was born c. 1500. He became a wool merchant and bought the Priory of St. Andrew, Northhamptonshire, from the Crown in 1539, following Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.356)

Edinburgh Castle & Holyroodhouse
Photo Credit: Kim Traynor / CC BY-SA 3.0

“Edinburgh Castle was a well-established stronghold and royal dwelling by the latter years of the 14th century when the future Robert ll build David’s Tower, containing royal apartments. In the mid-1430’s, James l built a new Great Chamber, probably alongside the royal accommodations in the Tower. His successor, James ll, brought the great siege gun of Mons Meg to the castle, which assumed an increasingly important role as a royal artillery.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.358)

The increased use of Edinburgh Castle as Scotland’s principal foundry in 1511 left little room for the royal family to stay. In the meantime, the royals began to stay more regularly at the Abbey of Holyrood. King James IV built Holyroodhouse as his principal residence in the late 15th century.
Holyroodhouse – Photo Credit: Kim Traynor / CC BY-SA 3.0
James IV of Scotland

Following her return from France in 1561 Mary, Queen of Scots stayed at Holyroodhouse. In 1565 she married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley there, and in 1566 the brutal murder of David Rizzio catapulted Mary into scandal after Lord Darnley was suspected of orchestrating the murder.

Mary, Queen of Scots
David Rizzio
David Rizzio











Falkland Palace & Stirling Castle
Falkland Palace – Photo Credit: Sam Styles / CC BY-SA 2.0

“Falkland Palace began as a castle built by the Macduffs, earls of Fife, probably in the 13th century. James ll extended the castle and frequently visited it to hunt deer and wild board. After 1458, when he granted a charter, it was known as Falkland Palace.” “James V’s daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, was a frequent visitor to Falkland Palace after her return to Scotland from French exile in 1561.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.359)

King James ll of Scotland
King James II of Scotland

Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s most historically important sites and was once a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations at the castle.

Knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors once flocked to Stirling Castle to revel in its grandeur with its superb sculptures and beautiful gardens. It was a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations from christenings to coronations.” –

Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle – Photo Credit: Finlay McWalter / CC BY-SA 3.0

Deal Castle
Photo Credit: Lieven Smits / CC BY-SA 3.0

“Henry VIII built the low-lying artillery fort of Deal Castle, in Kent, as one of a string of coastal fortifications built around England’s south coast in the later 1530s and early 1540s. Following his break with the Church of Rome, he feared invasion by the armies of a Franco-Spanish Catholic alliance brokered by the Pope.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.360)

Notice how from above Deal Castle looks like the Tudor Rose. Henry VIII was in his late 40s when he build these forts. Anne of Cleves is said to have stayed at Deals Castle after her long voyage from Europe on her way to London to meet her future husband.

Henry Vlll in 1542
Anne of Cleves - 1540s
Anne of Cleves – 1540s

Syon House

Public Domain
Public Domain

The splendid Syon House, now surrounded by London’s westward sprawl at Brenford in Middlesex, was built during the reign of Edward VI by his uncle Edward, Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector. Somerset built a three-storey building with battlements and angle turrets around a central courtyard. His house stood on the foundations of the abbey church that had belonged to the convent on the side.” –The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.362)

The land which Syon House was built had originally belonged to a convent. The nuns’ confessor, Richard Reynolds refused to accept Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church of England – he was was executed and his body placed on the gateway of the abbey to be used as an example of what happens to those who refuse to accept the Act of Supremacy.

Henry’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard was detained here prior to her execution in 1542.

Henry’s coffin rested at Syon House on it’s journey to Westminster and had burst open overnight- dogs were said to be seen gnawing on the royal corpse. Many suspected divine retribution since this happened at Syon House and the events that took place years earlier.

Katherine Howard
Katherine Howard

Sudeley Castle
Photo Credit: Wdejager / CC BY-SA 4.0

“The 15th century Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire was rebuilt in the late 1540s by Lord Thomas Seymour. Thomas was the brother of the Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector to Edward VI; their sister, Jane, had been Henry VIII’s third wife, who had died giving birth to Edward in 1537, making the brothers the young king’s uncles.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.363)

After the king’s death, Thomas Seymour married Henry’s widow Katherine Parr. Thomas and Katherine moved into Sudeley Castle where she gave birth to their daughter, Mary on 30 August 1548. Katherine died there from puerperal fever a week later and was buried in St. Mary’s Church near the castle.

Thomas Seymour
Thomas Seymour
Katherine Parr
Katherine Parr