Books 2017 – on sale now – Catherine of Aragon by Amy Licence (paperback)

15th October 2017 – Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII’s True Wife (paperback) by Amy Licence

(c) Amberley Publishing

‘Catherine of Aragon continues to fascinate readers 500 years after she became Henry VIII’s first queen. Her life was one of passion and determination, of suffering and hope, but ultimately it is a tragic love story, as circumstances conspired against her. Having lost her first husband, Henry’s elder brother Prince Arthur, she endured years of ill health and penury, to make a dazzling second match in Henry VIII. There is no doubt that she was Henry’s true love, compatible with him in every respect and, for years, she presided over a majestic court as the personification of his ideal woman.

However, Catherine’s body failed her in an age when fertility was a prerequisite of political stability. When it became clear that she could no longer bear children, the king’s attention turned elsewhere, and his once chivalric devotion became resentment. Catherine’s final years were spent in lonely isolation but she never gave up her vision: she was devoted to her faith, her husband and to England, to the extent that she was prepared to be martyred for them. Banished and close to death, she wrote a final letter to her ‘most dear lord and husband’. ‘I pardon you everything… mine eyes desire you above all things.’ The fidelity of this remarkable woman never wavered.’


Further details –

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The King’s Pearl Blog Tour – Cousins, servants, friends – Mary and the Grey family by Melita Thomas

I am delighted to host a stop on the blog tour to celebrate the publication of ‘The King’s Pearl: Henry VIII and His Daughter Mary’ by Melita Thomas.

(c) Amberley Publishing

Thank you to Melita for this guest article about the relationship between Mary and the Grey family.

Cousins, servants, friends – Mary and the Grey family

When her cousin, Lady Jane Grey, challenged Mary for the throne in 1553, pushed into it by her father, Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, and her father-in-law, the Duke of Northumberland, Mary was facing not just a fight for her crown, but also a deep sense of betrayal. Whilst the fact that Jane’s mother, Frances, was Mary’s first cousin, is well-known, much less familiar is Mary’s long history of friendship with Jane’s Grey family, who were also her relatives, descended from the first marriage of Mary’s great-grandmother, Elizabeth Woodville to Sir John Grey of Groby.

The Grey family had surrounded Mary almost from her birth. Thomas, 2nd Marquis of Dorset, was Henry VIII’s cousin, and despite a fourteen-year age gap, Henry was fond enough of him to forgive his disastrous leadership of a military expedition in 1512, which failed to re-establish English control in south-west France.

The 2nd Marquis had a brother, Lord Leonard Grey, and several sisters, amongst whom were Lady Elizabeth and Lady Anne, who both served Henry VIII’s sister, the first Mary Tudor, during her tenure as Queen of France. Lady Anne continued in her service, whilst Lady Elizabeth (later Countess of Kildare) transferred to that of Katharine of Aragon. It was Lady Elizabeth who stood as proxy for Mary when the princess was chosen as godmother to the French Queen’s daughter, Frances Brandon. The cousins were only seventeen months apart in age, and Mary frequently visited Frances and her brothers during her childhood.

By his second wife, Margaret Wotton (painted by Holbein), the 2nd Marquis of Dorset had at least seven children, of whom several were Mary’s friends or in her household. The Marquis himself was named as Grand Steward of her Household when she went to the Marches of Wales in 1525, but it seems to have been an honorary title whilst his daughter, Lady Katherine, actually accompanied Mary. Lady Katherine remained with the princess until her household was broken up in 1533. By then, Katherine was Lady Maltravers (Lady Maltravers did not die in 1532, as Wiki suggests – she had three children in the late 1530s, dying probably in 1542).

Another of Mary’s favourite attendants in her early household was Mary Browne, who later married Lord John Grey, the 2nd Marquis’ son, whose brother, Lord Henry, was to marry Frances Brandon.

During the years of the annulment, the Greys, like most of the court, had mixed feelings, but usually put their loyalty to the king first. The 2nd Marquis died in 1530, leaving his son, thirteen-year-old Henry, to inherit as a minor. For the next ten years, Henry, now 3rd Marquis and his mother quarrelled incessantly about money. Perhaps as a counter to his mother’s public support for the Boleyn marriage (she stood as godmother to Elizabeth) Henry, like his aunt, Elizabeth, Countess of Kildare, was, according to the Imperial Ambassador, Chapuys, a supporter of Katharine’s. In early 1536, Lady Kildare and Marquis Henry attended a dinner party with Chapuys. The talk was all of the quarrel between Anne Boleyn and Cromwell, which pleased the diners immensely.

Lady Kildare’s support for Katharine may have been born, not just of her previous service to the queen, but from anger against the king at the loss of her husband, whom she had married for love, against the wish of her family. The Earl of Kildare, having been Lord Deputy of Ireland, became deeply embroiled in the complexities of Irish politics, and was replaced. He was arraigned for treason in 1534, but died in the Tower, before he could be either tried or freed.

All Mary’s attendants had been dismissed in December 1533, and for three years, she was almost friendless in the household of her half-sister, Elizabeth. But in 1536, after the execution of Anne, and when she herself had been forced to accept the annulment of her parents’ marriage, she was permitted to choose her own attendants. She selected only three, leaving the rest of the choices to the king and Cromwell. Amongst the three was Mary Browne, not yet married to Lord John Grey.

In the following years, Mary’s account books contain numerous references to the Greys. One of the earliest, in 1536, notes a tip to Lady Kildare’s servant for bringing a gift from the Countess, presumably pleased that Mary was now in favour again. The following year, Lady Kildare’s step-son, known as Silken Thomas, and his five uncles, rose up in rebellion. The king sent Lord Leonard Grey to Ireland to curb the rebellion – Lord Leonard promised his sister’s step-son that he would be unharmed if he surrendered. But all were executed. Lady Kildare’s own son escaped to the continent, for which her brother was blamed, and accused of treason, was himself executed in 1541. During Mary’s own reign, Lady Kildare’s son was restored to his earldom.

At the New Year of 1538, Mary tipped the servants of Lady Kildare and Lady Margaret Grey for bringing gifts. Lady Margaret Grey was now amongst Mary’s attendants and on Twelfth Night, 1538, they played cards together, Mary starting out with the sum of 20s – although we don’t know how much she ended the evening with. Lady Kildare gave the princess a comb-case worked with pearls as a New Year gift in 1541, whilst her niece, Lady Anne Grey, gave artificial flowers.

In 1543, Lady Margaret sent the princess a cheese. She followed this up with the gift of a partlet (short wrap covering the upper arms, worn over the gown). Mary reciprocated with a present of two sovereigns. The next year, Lady Margaret and Lady Anne Grey gave Mary gifts of conserve (jam). Mary loved fruit of all kinds, so the delivery of jam in November, was probably a much-appreciated treat. That New Year of 1544, Mary also received gifts from her cousin, Frances, Marchioness of Dorset, and Lady John Grey.

During the later years of Henry VIII’s reign, Frances Dorset was often with Mary, although, as a married woman, with a family of three daughters, she was not always at court. But over time, religion began to come between the Greys and Mary. Henry, 3rd Marquis, became an ardent reformer, and brought his daughters up as evangelical Protestants.

With these familial connections, and old friendships, it must have been hard for Mary to bear the betrayal by Henry Grey, now Duke of Suffolk, in 1553 and it was probably her affection for his family, as well as for Frances, that led her to pardon him. His treasonable involvement with Wyatt’s Rebellion, in 1554, along with his brothers, Lord John and Lord Thomas, proved impossible to forgive, and Suffolk and Lord Thomas ended on the block. Lord John had cause to thank his lucky marriage – his wife pleaded for him, and Mary, remembering a friendship first forged in 1525, forgave him. His niece, Jane, was not so fortunate.

Whilst the daughters of Henry, Duke of Suffolk, Lady Jane, Lady Katherine and Lady Mary all suffered for their closeness to the throne, the rest of the family prospered. The current royal family is descended not only from Lady Katherine Grey, via the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, but the late Diana, Princess of Wales, is a descendant of the Lady Anne Grey who sent Mary the jam in 1544.

Mary and the Greys Family Tree

Grey Royal Descendants Family Tree

Other stops on the The King’s Pearl blog tour.

(c) Amberley Publishing

Buy ‘The King’s Pearl:
Amberley Publishing

About the Author

(c) Melita Thomas

Melita Thomas is the co-founder and editor of Tudor Times, a repository of information about Tudors and Stewarts in the period 1485-1625 .

Melita has loved history since being mesmerised by the BBC productions of ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ and ‘Elizabeth R’, when she was a little girl. After that, she read everything she could get her hands on about this most fascinating of dynasties. Captivated by the story of the Lady Mary galloping to Framingham to set up her standard and fight for her rights, Melita began her first book about the queen when she was 9. The manuscript is probably still in the attic!

Whilst still pursuing a career in business, Melita took a course on writing biography, which led her and her business partner, Deborah, to the idea for Tudor Times, and gave her the inspiration to begin writing about Mary again.

Follow Melita and the Tudor Times on Social Media

Tudor Times: Tudor Times
Facebook: Tudor Times
Twitter: @thetudortimes

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Blog Tour – The King’s Pearl by Melita Thomas

On Monday 9th October, this website will host one of the stops on ‘The King’s Pearl: Henry VIII and His Daughter Mary’ blog tour.

(c) Amberley Publishing

‘The King’s Pearl’ by Melita Thomas (co-founder and editor of Tudor Times website) was published by Amberley on 15th September.

These are the stops on the tour so far:

Tudor Times – The King’s Pearl: An Overview – ‘A Perfect Friendship’; Mary and Thomas Cromwell

Sarah Bryson – Interview with Melita Thomas

History of Royal Women – ‘Your most humble daughter:’ Mary and Katherine Parr

On the Tudor Trail – She is my death and I am hers – Anne Boleyn & Mary Tudor

History Refreshed – Susan Higginbotham – A New Mother

Henry Tudor Society – Mary, Princess of Wales

Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide – Cousins, servants, friends – Mary and the Grey family

Tudor History Blog – Mary and the Exeter Conspiracy

Royal Historian – Tudor Book Review

Tudors Dynasty History – Pastimes for a Princess

Amy Licence – ‘My well-beloved future Empress: Mary and the Emperor Charles V

Sibling Rivalry? Mary I and her Half-Siblings

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Books 2017 – on sale now – The Life of Henrietta Anne: Daughter of Charles I by Melanie Clegg

30th September 2017 – The Life of Henrietta Anne: Daughter of Charles I by Melanie Clegg

(c) Pen & Sword History

‘Henrietta Anne Stuart, youngest child of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, was born in June 1644 in the besieged city of Exeter at the very height of the English Civil War. The hostilities had separated her parents and her mother was on the run from Parliamentary forces when she gave birth with only a few attendants on hand to give her support. Within just a few days she was on her way to the coast for a moonlit escape to her native France, leaving her infant daughter in the hands of trusted supporters. A few years later Henrietta Anne would herself be whisked, disguised as a boy, out of the country and reunited with her mother in France, where she remained for the rest of her life. Henrietta s fortunes dramatically changed for the better when her brother Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660. After being snubbed by her cousin Louis XIV, she would eventually marry his younger brother Philippe, Duc d Orl ans and quickly become one of the luminaries of the French court, although there was a dark side to her rise to power and popularity when she became embroiled in love affairs with her brother in law Louis and her husband s former lover, the dashing Comte de Guiche, giving rise to several scandals and rumours about the true parentage of her three children. However, Henrietta Anne was much more than just a mere court butterfly, she also possessed considerable intelligence, wit and political acumen, which led to her being entrusted in 1670 with the delicate negotiations for the Secret Treaty between her brother Charles II and cousin Louis XIV, which ensured England s support of France in their war against the Dutch.’


Further details –

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The Queen of Bradgate Park – Remembrance and Rose Petal Service – 16th July 2017

On the evening of 16th July, a service was held in the chapel at the ruins of Bradgate Park to commemorate Lady Jane. It was the final event held to celebrate ‘The Queen of Bradgate Park.’

(c) Bradgate Park Trust

Other ‘Queen of Bradgate Park’ events included, free guided tours, dusk tours, a talk about Jane by Peter Tyldesley (Park Director), Meet the Executioner, 1000yrs of History, a ghost walk and a Hysterical History Comedy Night.

On arrival at the ruins, guests at the service were greeted by Lady Jane’ great grandfather, Thomas Grey (played by Jed Jaggard), who told us about the great house he had planned for Bradgate Park and asked us to imagine what it would look like when complete.

We entered the chapel to music from Fabula Musica (mezzo-soprano, Motje Wolf and Sarah Wilander on harpsichord).

The service started with Richard Trethewey (Rector of St Peter’s, Glenfield and All Saints’ in Newton Linford) welcoming us to Bradgate.

(c) Leicester Mercury

I then read the Eulogy to Jane. It was a very moving experience speaking about Jane at the place where she grew up. You can read the eulogy here.

(c) Leicester Mercury

Reverend Tretheway then gave a brief introduction to the service and the background to the 1552 prayer book. It was a similar service to that heard by Queen Jane on Sunday 16th July 1553 in the chapel at the Tower of London.

‘Turn thy face away from our sinnes (O Lorde) and blot out all our offences.

Rente your heartes, and not your garmentes, and turne to the lord your God: because he is gentle and mercyful, he is pacient and of muche mercy, and suche a one that is sory for your afflictions.

Amende your lyves, for the kingdom of God is at hand.’

The service also included readings by Peter Tyldesley and Suzanne Gamble.

It was especially poignant when Reverend Tretheway said:

O Lorde, save the Queen.

As Reverend Tretheway lit a lantern from one of the candles at the front of the chapel and proceeded outside, Motje started to sing ‘Oh Death Rock Me Asleep’ (a poem attributed to Anne Boleyn) and one with very fitting lyrics for the occasion.

(c) Leicester Mercury

We then followed Reverend Tretheway to the lake. Here he read the final prayers from the 1552 funeral service.

(c) Leicester Mercury

‘ALMIGHTIE God, with whom doe lyve the spirites of them that departe hence in the lord, and in whom the soules of them that be elected, after they be delivered from the burden of the fleshe, be in joye and felicitie: We geve thee hearty thankes, for that it hath pleased thee to deliver Jane our sister out of the myseryes of this sinneful world: beseching thee, that it maye please thee of thy gracious goodnesse, shortely to accomplyssh the noumbre of thyne electe, and to haste thy kingdome, that we with this our sister, and al other departed in the true faith of thy holy name, maye have our perfect consummacion and blisse, both in body and soule, in thy eternal and everlastyng glory. Amen.

(c) Leicester Mercury

We then scattered roses and rose petals in the lake.

Thank you to Michele and the other staff at the Visitors Centre for arranging such wonderful events to celebrate Jane.

You can read the whole service – Queen of Bradgate Park Rose Petal and Remembrance Service.


Bradgate Park

Fabula Music

Up An’ At ‘Em! – Jed Jaggard

Leicester Mercury

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