Books 2020 – on sale now – Medical Downfall of the Tudors: Sex, Reproduction & Succession by Sylvia Barbara Soberton

(c) Sylvia Barbara Soberton

The Tudor dynasty died out because there was no heir of Elizabeth I’s body to succeed her. Henry VIII, despite his six marriages, had produced no legitimate son who would live into old age. Three of the reigning Tudors (Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I) died without heirs apparent, the most tragic case being that of Mary Tudor, who went through two recorded cases of phantom pregnancy. If it were not for physical frailty and the lack of reproductive health among the Tudors, the course of history might have been different.

This book concentrates on the medical downfall of the Tudors, examining their gynaecological history and medical records.’


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‘Portrait of an Unknown Lady’ by Polly Saltmarsh added to the website….

(c) British Art Studies Journal

‘Portrait of an Unknown Lady: Technical Analysis of an Early Tudor Miniature’ by Polly Saltmarsh added to the Journals section of the bibliography.

Entry added to the following:

Art – Paintings – Teerlinc.

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New identity for Teerlinc miniature?

Thanks to Lee at Lady Jane Grey Revisited for posting about this new possible identification of the sitter in the ‘Teerlinc’ portrait.

In Portrait of an Unknown Lady: Technical Analysis of an Early Tudor Miniature, Polly Saltmarsh puts forward the argument that the sitter is a young Mary I.

In 2007, David Starkey suggested that the woman is Lady Jane Grey and was painted by Lavinia Teerlinc. The miniature, which is owned by the Yale Center for British Art was on display in the UK in March 2007 at the Philip Mould Gallery, as part of the ‘Lost Faces: Identity and Discovery in Tudor Royal Portraiture’ exhibition.

In 2000, Susan E James and James S Franco suggested the sitter as Queen Katherine Howard and the artist as Susanna Horenbout. Eric Ives in 2009 and Chris Skidmore in 2010, both suggested that the woman is Amy Rosbart (wife of Robert Dudley).

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‘The Boy King’ Interview with Janet Wertman

Janet Wertman is the author of the Seymour Saga, (‘Jane the Quene’ and ‘The Path to Somerset’).

The last book in the trilogy, ‘The Boy King’ was published at the end of September.

To buy in the UK:

Further details –

(c) Janet Wertman

Follow Janet Wertman on Social Media:

Janet Wertman’s website: Janet Wertman
Twitter: @JaneTheQuene
Facebook: Janet Wertman – Author

(c) Janet Wertman

Many thanks for answering my questions.

Thank you so much for having me! I love this topic – and I love talking about it!

What inspired you to write the Seymour Saga trilogy?

The Seymours shaped the Tudor era – but they are usually ignored! I actually started out making that same mistake…I was more than a hundred pages into a novel called The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn when Robin Maxwell published her book of the same name! My first thought was to just switch over to Jane (that saved me from a terrible depression anyway!) but it took me a few years to really get into my new topic. It was when I did – and more importantly, when I embraced the Seymours as the central dynasty of the Tudor era – that things really took off.

Each book focuses on a specific character. Who was the easiest to write, Jane, Edward Seymour or Edward VI?

They were all both easy and difficult in their own ways. Jane was difficult because she was the first and I needed to learn how to truly tell a story. Edward Seymour was difficult because the politics were so complicated. And Edward VI was difficult because he was a nine-year old boy whose natural interpretation of things would be different than what I wanted readers to understand!

At the same time, Jane was easy because her story was the simplest. Somerset was easy because Henry’s craziness infused every scene with the fear and excitement of a car chase. And Edward VI was easy because his innocence prompted most of my story strategy! (Plus I conjured my kids at that age…).

Why do you think that Edward VI (the main character in ‘The Boy King’) has been overlooked in historical fiction?

I think one reason is that he was on the throne for such a short time. Another is the fact that the stories of his reign are the stories of the men around him. We all know the basic things that happened (the big things, anyway – there are a lot more details that I was able to include!!), but Edward’s point of view is a new way of seeing them.

What role does Mary play as joint narrator in ‘The Boy King?’

Mary fills two critical roles. First, she is the antagonist. I don’t mean that she is the evil one, just that she was working at cross purposes to Edward, trying to thwart his desires just as he was trying to thwart hers. Second, she gives the reader an alternative point of view – another way of interpreting the political happenings beyond the understanding of a nine- year-old boy.

Edward VI starts his Chronicle at the beginning of his reign and stops it abruptly. What does this signify in your novel?

I love Edward’s Chronicle, love how he kept that record. When he started it, he wrote it like a fairy tale – like the child he then was. He kept it updated with this idea that it would be a wonderful text for the future, then he gradually lost excitement as the entries got more mundane…and more tragic.

So many people see the Chronicle as evidence of his coldness – especially the entry that says only, “The Duke of Somerset had his head cut off on Tower Hill at nine this morning.” To me, it’s just the opposite: I see the starkest entries as hiding overwhelming emotion (and I set the scenes up that way!).

He stopped suddenly, for no apparent reason. I saw that as a boy putting away one of the playthings of his youth. Still, I gave him a reason for that choice – a moment when the volume falls open to an entry that made him feel bad – because life can be accidental where literature cannot!

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Books 2020 – published today….

(c) Pen and Sword History

‘Myths and rumour have shrouded the Borgia family for centuries – tales of incest, intrigue and murder have been told of them since they themselves walked the hallways of the Apostolic Palace. In particular, vicious rumour and slanderous tales have stuck to the names of two members of the infamous Borgia family – Cesare and Lucrezia, brother and sister of history’s most notorious family. But how much of it is true, and how much of it is simply rumour aimed to blacken the name of the Borgia family? In the first ever biography solely on the Borgia siblings, Samantha Morris tells the true story of these two fascinating individuals from their early lives, through their years living amongst the halls of the Vatican in Rome until their ultimate untimely deaths. Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia begins in the bustling metropolis of Rome with the siblings ultimately being used in the dynastic plans of their father, a man who would become Pope, and takes the reader through the separate, yet fascinatingly intertwined, lives of the notorious siblings. One tale, that of Cesare, ends on the battlefield of Navarre, whilst the other ends in the ducal court of Ferrara. Both Cesare and Lucrezia led lives full of intrigue and danger, lives which would attract the worst sort of rumour begun by their enemies. Drawing on both primary and secondary sources Morris brings the true story of the Borgia siblings, so often made out to be evil incarnate in other forms of media, to audiences both new to the history of the Italian Renaissance and old.’

From –

Further details – Pen and Sword History

Further details –

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