More information about ‘Crown of Blood’ by Nicola Tallis

(c) Michael O'Mara Books

(c) Michael O’Mara Books

There are some interesting details about ‘Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey’ by Nicola Tallis (published 3 Nov 2016) in the Michael O’Mara Books catalogue.

‘Following Lady Jane Grey’s journey from the deadly intrigues of her childhood that led inexorably through to her trail and execution at the age of seventeen, Nicola Tallis explores new evidence that brings fresh insight to the life of the Nine Days Queen. She reveals the human and emotional story that has thus far been neglected, introducing us to a young woman and religious radical who ultimately became a martyr for her faith.

An important and significant retelling of an often misread tale.

Examines evidence that has never been used in a biography, including Jane’s own letters and prayers, jewel inventory and legal documents.

Challenges popular myths, including the demonization of Jane’s mother and Jane’s own motivations.’

From page 4 of the Michael O’Mara Books Catalogue

Posted in Author, Books, Crown of Blood, Lady Jane Grey, Nicola Tallis | Comments Off on More information about ‘Crown of Blood’ by Nicola Tallis

‘The Tudor-Brandons’ Interview with Sarah-Beth Watkins

Sarah-Beth Watkins is the author of ‘Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII’ and ‘Ireland’s Suffragettes: The Women Who Fought for the Vote.’

Her new book, ‘The Tudor Brandons: Mary and Charles – Henry VIII’s Nearest & Dearest’ was published earlier this month in the UK and USA.

To buy in the UK:

To buy in the USA:

(c) Sarah-Beth Watkins

(c) Sarah-Beth Watkins

Follow Sarah-Beth Watkins on Social Media:

Twitter: @SarahBWatkins
Facebook: Sarah-Beth Watkins

Many thanks to Sarah for answering my questions.

(c) Chronos Books

(c) Chronos Books

Why did you choose to write about the Tudor Brandons?

The simple answer is I just love Tudor history. There are other periods I’m also interested in but when I open a new book about the Tudors it feels like I’m coming home! Yet you rarely get books on the other people that featured at Henry VIII’s court. There are so many books on the king and his wives that I’m really driven to write about alternative people that were there and lived their lives around him. Charles has always fascinated me as being the closest to the king and unlike others never lost his head. Mary did as she was told and married the King of France but then married Charles without Henry’s express permission and although he fined them for it, his displeasure with the both of them didn’t last. I think they were the closest Henry had to friends and family.

What does your book add to existing works about Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon?

I hope that the book gives more of a rounded view of their relationship and more information on Charles as a man. Charles had an appalling track record with women so I wondered why Mary would be so infatuated with him. She knew of his previous marriages and his heritage and yet she still loved him and saw him as a way out of her situation in France. I found researching Charles’ family fascinating and think it added to his portrayal. Also whilst there are books about Mary, there is little about her later life or her descendants and I hope this will add to our knowledge about this couple.

Who do you think was the main protagonist behind their marriage, Mary or Charles?

Mary definitely! She had to marry Louis XII who was no prize, aging and unwell and after his death she was hounded by his successor, Francis I. I think she had always admired Charles and whilst away from Henry’s strict instructions, she had the chance to marry someone she had grown up with and loved. She wouldn’t have had the chance back in England. I’m sure Henry would have used her again to his political advantage.

Why do you think Henry VIII forgave Mary for marrying Charles?

Mary was the last of his immediate family to be close to him. His elder sister Margaret was causing him a headache as Queen of Scotland. She was feisty and wilful and although Mary also showed these traits, he had a soft spot for her. She was his baby sister and I think he always knew she was in love with Charles. Her choice of husband was also his best friend so I think he was happy to have them back at court, to have people he could trust by his side and still to some degree control.

What evidence is there that Charles wrote the verse that was added to their marriage portrait?

To be honest, the poem is attributed to him as something he wrote to add to the portrait but also to appease Henry after they returned home but we shall never really know for sure.

Why do you think that Charles survived to almost the end of Henry’s reign, when other courtiers didn’t?

Two reasons mainly. One – they grew up together. When Henry was an impressionable young boy he looked up to Charles who taught him how to joust and gave him respite from his stuffy school room lessons. He was a chivalrous (sort of!) knight and Henry wanted to be just like him. I think their relationship was solid because it went back so far and two, Charles survived because he did as he was told! Ok, so he married Mary but I’m sure this had been discussed as a possibility with the king prior to his trip to France as per Henry’s instruction for him not to act on his feelings when he was there. Henry was well aware of the couple’s feelings for each other. So apart from this Charles never really went up against his king. Even if Charles was unhappy at a situation – for instance, over Anne Boleyn – he still carried out Henry’s wishes.

Do you think Edward VI or John Dudley was the instigator of the ‘Devise for the Succession’?

This is a tricky one and something I think will be debated for many years to come. Edward has often been portrayed as a sickly king and one who was controlled by others but I think he was far stronger than that. The devise is in his own writing not something he just signed and I think he thought long and hard about what he was going to do with the succession. Mary and Elizabeth had been declared illegitimate but Mary was also a Catholic and had caused Edward constant trouble so we can see why she would not be included. Elizabeth is a different matter but then if he had to leave out one illegitimate sister then he had to leave out the other really. Of course Dudley was always in the background advising Edward but I think the king was far more astute than he is given credit for.

The description you give of Queen Jane is based on the only contemporary account by Baptista Spinola. In the paperback version of her book ‘The Sisters Who Would Be Queen’ (published 2010); Leanda de Lisle argues that the letter and description are a fake. Do you have an opinion about this?

I had no reason to disbelieve the short description of Jane’s personal appearance as it has been quoted in many academic texts since 1906 and I felt it was reasonably near the truth. Yet Lisle and Edwards have pointed out now that Spinola’s full letter only appeared in Davey’s work of 1906 and never before and they have examined it for its inconsistencies. They make a good case for it being a work of fiction and perhaps now if quoted it should be mentioned as such.

Posted in Author, Books, Interview, Sarah-Beth Watkins, The Tudor Brandons | Comments Off on ‘The Tudor-Brandons’ Interview with Sarah-Beth Watkins

‘The Tudor Brandons’ by Sarah-Beth Watkins added to the website

(c) Chronos Books

(c) Chronos Books

‘The Tudor Brandons: Mary and Charles – Henry VIII’s Nearest and Dearest’ by Sarah-Beth Watkins added to the Other Biographies section of the bibliography.

Entries added to the following:

Primary Accounts – Spinola, Paintings – Delaroche and Writings of Lady Jane Grey – Speech from Scaffold and Letters – Letter to Mary.

Posted in Updates | Comments Off on ‘The Tudor Brandons’ by Sarah-Beth Watkins added to the website

Get 35% discount on ‘The Lady Jane Grey’s Prayer Book’

(c) Stephan Edwards

(c) Stephan Edwards

‘The Lady Jane Grey’s Prayer Book’ by Stephan Edwards will be published on 15th July. You can get a 35% discount if you order directly from the publisher and pre-ordering is now available.

For further details and to place your order, go to:

Some Grey Matter – The Lady Jane Grey’s Prayer Book

Posted in Stephan Edwards, The Lady Jane Grey's Prayer Book | Comments Off on Get 35% discount on ‘The Lady Jane Grey’s Prayer Book’

More books to look forward to…

14 July 2016 – The Birth of a Queen: Essays on the Quincentenary of Mary I edited by Sarah Duncan and Valerie Schutte

(c) Palgrave Macmillan

(c) Palgrave Macmillan

‘Marking the 500th year anniversary of the birth of Queen Mary I in 1516, this book both commemorates her rule and rehabilitates and redefines her image and reign as England’s first queen regnant. In this broad collection of essays, leading historians of queenship (or monarchy) explore aspects of Mary’s life from birth to reign to death and cultural afterlife, giving consideration to the struggles she faced both before and after her accession, and celebrating Mary as a queen in her own right.’

From – Palgrave Macmillan

Further details – Palgrave Macmillan

Further details –

6 September 2016 – Blanche of Castile, Queen of France by Lindy Grant

 (c) Yale University Press

(c) Yale University Press

‘This is the first modern scholarly biography of Blanche of Castile, whose identity has until now been subsumed in that of her son, the saintly Louis IX. A central figure in the politics of medieval Europe, Blanche was a sophisticated patron of religion and culture. Through Lindy Grant’s engaging account, based on a close analysis of Blanche’s household accounts and of the social and religious networks on which her power and agency depended, Blanche is revealed as a vibrant and intellectually questioning personality.’


Further details – Yale University Press

Further details –

15 September 2016– Arbella Stuart: England’s Almost Queen by Jill Armitage

 (c)Amberley Publising

(c)Amberley Publising

‘In 1562, Elizabeth I, the last of Henry VIII’s children, lay dying of smallpox, and the curse of the Tudor succession again reared its head. The queen was to recover, but the issue remained: if the queen did not produce an heir, who was next in line to succeed?

Enter Lady Arbella Stuart, cousin to both the English queen and James VI of Scotland, a woman whose parents’ marriage had been orchestrated to provide an heir to the English throne. Raised by her formidable grandmother, Bess of Hardwick, Arbella lived her life in Elizabeth’s shadow and, unfortunately, at her mercy.

Jill Armitage lovingly revitalises Arbella’s tale, focusing on her lineage, her life and her legacy. Through her story we discover a well-born, well-educated woman desperate to control her own fate, but who is ultimately powerless against those in the scheming Tudor court; and we explore the harsh reality that comes from being on the wrong side of the calculated revenge of a jealous queen.’


Further details – Amberley Publishing

– Further details –

15 October 2016 – Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII’s True Wife by Amy Licence

(c) Amberley Publishing

(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 meant life or death. 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. One of the most remarkable women of the Tudor era, Catherine’s legendary focus may have contributed to the dissolution of the way of life she typified.’


Further details – Amberley Publishing

Further details – Amy Licence

Further details –

Posted in Books 2016 | Comments Off on More books to look forward to…