My review of ‘Mary I: Queen of Sorrows’ by Alison Weir

(c) Headline Review

‘Mary I: Queen of Sorrows’ is the sort of book where you look forward to your morning commute, as it gives you a chance to read more!

Alison Weir has taken the well-known events of the reigns of the Tudors and shown them as Mary’s story from beloved Princess to illegitimate daughter, the dangers of being Catholic heir to the throne during her brother’s reign, her courage in fighting for the throne and the difficulties she faced as Queen.

In doing so, Weir has portrayed a very human Mary and crafted a compelling tale, while not shying away from the horrors of her reign.

Thank you to Headline Review and Net Galley for my review copy

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Books 2024 – on sale today – From Tudor to Stuart: The Regime Change from Elizabeth I to James I by Susan Doran

(c) OUP Oxford

‘From Tudor to Stuart: The Regime Change from Elizabeth I to James I tells the story of the dramatic accession and first decade of the reign of James I and the transition from the Elizabethan to the Jacobean era, using a huge range of sources, from state papers and letters to drama, masques, poetry, and a host of material objects.

The Virgin Queen was a hard act to follow for a Scottish newcomer who faced a host of problems in his first years as king: not only the ghost of his predecessor and her legacy but also unrest in Ireland, serious questions about his legitimacy on the English throne, and even plots to remove him (most famously the Gunpowder Plot of 1605). Contrary to traditional assumptions, James’s accession was by no means a smooth one.

The really important question about James’s reign, of course, is the extent of change that occurred in national political life and royal policies. Sue Doran also examines how far the establishment of a new Stuart dynasty resulted in fresh personnel at the centre of power, and the alterations in monarchical institutions and shifts in political culture and governmental policies that occurred. Here the book offers a fresh look at James and his wife Anna, suggesting a new interpretation of their characters and qualities.

But the Jacobean era was not just about James and his wife, and Regime Change includes a host of historical figures, many of whom will be familiar to readers: whether Walter Raleigh, Robert Cecil, or the Scots who filled James’s inner court. The inside story of the Jacobean court also brings to life the wider politics and national events of the early seventeenth century, including the Gunpowder Plot, the establishment of Jamestown in Virginia, the Plantations in Ulster, the growing royal struggle with parliament, and the doomed attempt to bring about union with Scotland.


Further details – Oxford University Press

Further details –

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Portrait identified as Arbella Stuart

‘Investigative work by art historians Elizabeth Goldring and Emma Rutherford has led to the discovery of the identity of the sitter of a newly discovered Nicholas Hilliard miniature, shining a spotlight on the incredible, but little-known, story of Lady Arbella Stuart (1575-1615), as well as transforming the picture into a remarkable artefact of Elizabethan spycraft.’

Arbella Stuart was the great-great granddaughter of Henry VII, great-granddaughter of Margaret Tudor (Queen of Scotland), granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick and Margaret Douglas and niece of Mary, Queen of Scots. She also married one of the grandsons of Katherine Grey.

Read more at Art Daily – Arts and spycraft: The new discovery that illustrates the fortune and tragedy of an Elizabethan life

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Books 2024 – A book that features Jane to look forward to…

15 June – Heroines of the Tudor World by Sharon Bennett Connolly

(c) Amberley Publishing

‘These are the women who ruled, the women who founded dynasties, the women who fought for religious freedom, their families and love. These are the women who made a difference, who influenced countries, kings and the Reformation. Heroines of the Tudor World focuses on the women who lived through the Renaissance and Reformation, examining the threats and challenges they faced and how they overcame them. Studying regents, writers, nuns and queens, and taking in the likes of Elizabeth Barton, Anne Boleyn, Catherine de Medici, Bess of Hardwick and Elizabeth I, Sharon Bennett Connolly shines the spotlight on the women who helped to shape Early Modern Europe.’


Further details – Amberley Publishing

Further details –

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471st Wedding Anniversary of Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley

‘On the 25th of this month were celebrated the weddings of my Lord Guilford, son of the Duke of Northumberland, to the eldest daughter of the Duke of Suffolk…The weddings were celebrated with great magnificence and feasting at the Duke of Northumberland’s house in town.’

May 30. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20.Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.

Wyngaerde’s “Panorama of London in 1543”
26. Durham House
Commons Wikimedia

The wedding took place at Durham House and the celebrations have been depicted in various works of fiction.

One of the two letters discovered in 2013 by Stephan Edwards gave us new information about the wedding and Lee from (from Lady Jane Grey Revisited) and I separated fact from fiction in Investigating Jane.

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