Photos from ‘Lady Jane’ feature in new Hever Castle Exhibition

‘Hever on Stage & Screen’ exhibition opened at Hever Castle last week.

Running until November, the exhibition features costumes, posters and information about films and tv programmes that were filmed at Hever.

The exhibition includes 2 dresses from ‘Anne of a Thousand Days’ and some behind the scenes photos from the filming of ‘Lady Jane’ starring Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes.

(c) Owen Emmerson

Thank you to Owen Emmerson for permission to use his tweet.

Further details about the exhibition are available at: Hever on Stage & Screen

You can follow:

Twitter: @HeverCastle
Twitter: @MOwenEmmerson

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My review of ‘The Tragic Daughters of Charles I’ by Sarah-Beth Watkins

(c) Chronos Books

Sarah-Beth Watkin’s new book focuses on the three surviving daughters of King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria. Their two other daughters (Anne and Catherine) died young. While the stories of the future Charles II and James II are well-known, this book goes someway to putting their sisters in the spotlight.

The events of the Civil War meant that the Princesses Mary, Elizabeth and Henrietta-Anne lived very different lives. Mary, the eldest daughter, married Prince William II of Orange, which was partly to help fund her father’s campaign. Elizabeth spent most of the war in the hands of the parliamentarians. Along with her brother Henry, she famously saw her father on the day before his execution to say goodbye. Henrietta-Anne was born during the war itself, and had to be smuggled out of England by her governess, to join her mother in France and later married into the French Royal family.

As with Watkin’s previous books, this is a fast-paced, fascinating look at the lives of her subjects. Although all three sisters died before reaching 30, Watkins shows how their fortunes were linked to the status of their brother and fell and rose accordingly. It is a great starting point for anyone wanting to find out more about these Stuart Princesses.

Thank you to Chronos Books for my review copy

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Books 2019 – on sale today – Scottish Queens, 1034-1714 (paperback) by Rosalind K Marshall

(c) Birlinn Ltd

‘The lives of the Scottish queens, both those who ruled in their own right, and also the consorts, have largely been neglected in conventional history books.

One of the earliest known Scottish queens was none other than the notorious Lady MacBeth. Was she really the wicked woman depicted in Shakespeare’s famous play? Was St Margaret a demure and obedient wife? Why did Margaret Logie exercise such an influence over her husband, David II, and have we underestimated James VI’s consort, Anne of Denmark, frequently written off as a stupid and wilful woman? These are just a few of the questions addressed by Dr Marshall in her entertaining, impeccably researched book.’


Further details –

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Listen to my talk about Lady Jane at the Tudor Society

I am honoured to be the expert speaker at the Tudor Society for May.

(c) Tudor Society

If you are a member of the society, you can listen to my talk about Lady Jane here

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The Teenage Tudor Queen – Guest Article by Conor Byrne

I am delighted to host this guest article by Conor Byrne, to celebrate the UK publication of ‘Katherine Howard: Henry VIII’s Slandered Queen’ on 29th April by The History Press.

The History Press

You can buy it from:

Thank you to Conor for this article.

The Teenage Tudor Queen

An unknown Spanish chronicler acknowledged in his history of Henry VIII’s reign, written perhaps during the 1550s, that the Tudor king’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard, ‘was a mere child’. The chronicler also believed that Katherine was, at the most, fifteen when she married Henry VIII on 28 July 1540. The very little evidence that we have for Katherine’s date of birth – including, for example, her grandfather’s will, a possible portrait and the Spanish chronicler’s statement – seems to suggest without a doubt that she was born after August 1523, and may have been born as late as 1525. Thus making her anywhere between fifteen and seventeen when she became Henry’s fifth consort in 1540.

Katherine was the youngest queen of England in a century. All of her contemporaries noticed how young she was; George Cavendish, who served in the household of Cardinal Wolsey, made reference to Katherine’s youth no less than ten times in the seventy-five lines that he wrote about her. Not since Margaret of Anjou, in 1445, had England had a teenage queen consort. Margaret was fifteen when she married the ill-fated Henry VI on 23 April 1445. The next teenage queen consort after Katherine was Henrietta Maria, who married Charles I in 1625 when she too was fifteen years old.

It was not uncommon for noblewomen in the late Middle Ages and sixteenth-century to marry husbands who were considerably older than themselves. Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, for example, wed Katherine Willoughby in 1533 when he was forty-nine and she was fourteen. It is possible that some early historians dated Katherine Howard’s birth to as early as 1518 because they found the notion of her being only fifteen when she married the forty-nine-year-old morbidly obese Henry VIII too disturbing to contemplate. As Retha Warnicke noted, ‘the age attributed to Henry VIII’s fifth queen, Catherine Howard, relies in part on the supposition that in 1540, when the king was forty-nine, he surely would not have wed a woman younger than eighteen.’ And yet, in 1537-8, Henry expressed an obvious interest in marrying Christina of Milan, who was born in 1521/2 and was therefore fifteen or sixteen when the king contemplated taking her as his fourth wife. The suggestion that Katherine Howard was born as early as 1518-20 is almost entirely based on the belief that a portrait in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery dating to c. 1535-40 (with versions also at the Toledo Museum of Art and Hever Castle) depicts Katherine, but there is no evidence to prove that she was the sitter and a strong case has been made that the portrait is a likeness of Jane Seymour’s sister Elizabeth.

Prior to the reign of Henry VIII, who became king of England in 1509, England was relatively used to having teenaged queens consort. Most of the queens of England in the period 1066-1509 were in their teenage years when they married their husbands, although some were in their early twenties and a few, although not many, were in their late twenties or even thirties. In the twelfth-century, the queens consort of England were mostly aged in their twenties when they married, but the reign of King John (1199-1216) marked a change. His consort, Isabella of Angouleme, was aged between twelve and fourteen when she married him, while her successor, Eleanor of Provence, was aged thirteen. Eleanor of Provence’s daughter-in-law, Eleanor of Castile, was also thirteen when she married Edward I in 1254. Margaret of France was aged between seventeen and twenty; Isabella of France was twelve; Philippa of Hainault was probably thirteen; Anne of Bohemia fifteen (her successor Isabelle of France was only seven); Katherine of Valois was eighteen; Margaret of Anjou fifteen; Anne Neville was sixteen; and Elizabeth of York was nineteen. The glaring exceptions to this custom of a teenage queen consort between the twelfth- and sixteenth-centuries were Joan of Navarre (aged about thirty-three when she married her second husband, Henry IV, in 1403); Elizabeth Wydeville (aged twenty-seven when she married her second husband, Edward IV in 1464); and Henry VIII’s queens, with the exception of Katherine Howard herself.

With the exceptions of Katherine of Aragon (born in 1485) and Anne of Cleves (born in 1515), unfortunately we know little, if anything, about the birth dates of Henry VIII’s consorts. Anne Boleyn was born between 1500 and 1507, but the likeliest date for her birth remains unclear. The Spanish ambassador Chapuys recorded in the spring of 1536 that Anne’s successor, Jane Seymour, was aged ‘a little’ over twenty-five, which would indicate that she was about twenty-six or twenty-seven, suggesting a date of birth of about 1509. Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth consort, was probably born in August 1512, making her thirty or thirty-one when she married her third husband, the king, in 1543.

Dating Katherine Howard’s age is important, for it affects how her adolescence and career are perceived, including her actions as queen consort. While it seems clear that she was born between 1523 and 1525, it is perhaps less often appreciated that she was the youngest queen of England in a period of one hundred years. In electing to marry a teenaged bride, Henry VIII returned to a custom that had proven enduring between the twelfth- and sixteenth-centuries, but which was especially common until his own reign.

(c) C. Byrne

Follow Conor on Social Media:

Conor’s website: Conor Byrne
Facebook: Conor Byrne Historian

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