Books 2024 – Another book that features Jane to look forward to….

28 February – Women’s Lives in the Tudor Era by Amy McElroy

(c) Pen and Sword

‘Women in the Tudor age are often overshadowed by their male counterparts. Even those of royalty were deemed inferior to males. Whilst women may have been classed as the inferior gender, women played a vital role in Tudor society. As daughters, mothers and wives they were expected to be obedient to the man of the household, but how effective would those households be without the influence of women? Many opportunities including much formal education and professions were closed to women, their early years spent imitating their mothers before learning to run a household in preparation for marriage. Once married their responsibilities would vary greatly according to their social status and rank. Widowhood left some in vulnerable conditions while for others it enabled them to make a life for themselves and become independent in a largely patriarchal society. Women’s Lives in the Tudor Era aims to look at the roles of women across all backgrounds and how expectations of them differed during the various stages of life.’


Further details – Pen and Sword

Further details

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‘Lady Katherine Grey: A Dynastic Tragedy’ Interview with Conor Byrne

Conor Byrne is the author of ‘Katherine Howard: Henry VIII’s Slandered Queen’ and his latest book, ‘Lady Katherine Grey: A Dynastic Tragedy’ was published in July by The History Press.

Buy ‘Lady Katherine Grey: A Dynastic Tragedy’:

The History Press

(c) C. Byrne

Follow Conor Byrne on Social Media

Conor’s website: Conor Byrne Historian
Twitter: @executedqueens

Many thanks to Conor for answering my questions.

(c) The History Press

Why did you choose this subject for your book?

I have long been fascinated by the Grey family and by Katherine in particular. She is usually viewed as a tragic figure, whose clandestine marriage enraged Elizabeth I and resulted in her ruin, but Katherine’s dynastic significance deserves to be better known. According to Henry VIII’s last will and testament, she was Elizabeth’s heir and it should have been her son Edward who inherited the throne in 1603, rather than James VI of Scotland. Of course, the invalidation of Katherine’s marriage to the earl of Hertford meant that their sons were illegitimate and, legally, could not inherit the throne – but the proliferation of succession tracts during the 1560s makes it clear that Katherine’s claim received considerable support. Prior to her marriage to Hertford, there had been suggestions of a match with members of the ruling dynasties of Spain and Scotland, both of which testify to Katherine’s dynastic importance and the widespread perception of her as a viable candidate to succeed Elizabeth, should the queen die childless.

What does your book add to previous work about Katherine Grey?

My book seeks to study Katherine as a viable, even leading, candidate to succeed Elizabeth I, with emphasis on her succession rights. The Elizabethan succession question has long interested me, especially during the first decade of her reign, when Katherine and Mary, Queen of Scots were the leading candidates to be recognised as the queen’s heir presumptive – it would be fair to regard them as dynastic competitors. While the tragedy of Katherine’s life has long been known, I sometimes think it overshadows the strong claim she possessed to the throne as enacted in law during the reign of Henry VIII. Of course, if Elizabeth had followed her father’s wishes and recognised the claim of Katherine and her offspring, then the history of England – and Great Britain – would have been very different. Additionally, my biography contains an extended discussion of the succession tracts that circulated during the 1560s and analyses, in detail, the competing claims of Katherine, Mary, Queen of Scots and, to an extent, other candidates such as Margaret Douglas, countess of Lennox considered by the authors of the tracts.

Do you think Katherine harboured an ambition to be Queen of England?

I don’t think the evidence is sufficient to suggest that she did. It is clear at the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign that she resented the queen’s treatment of her, namely in demoting her from the Privy Chamber to the Presence Chamber, whereas she had been favoured by Mary I and had served her in the Privy Chamber. The imperial ambassador reported that Katherine believed ‘that the Queen does not wish her to succeed, in case of her (the Queen’s) death without heirs. She is dissatisfied and offended at this’. At this time, there was also a scheme to transport Katherine to Spain to marry Don Carlos, son of Philip II, but the extent of her involvement in this is unclear and the imperial envoys were unaware of Katherine’s developing relations with Hertford. Collectively, these circumstances might indicate dynastic ambition on Katherine’s part but, following her marriage to Hertford, there is no suggestion that she personally harboured any desire to succeed Elizabeth and she played no part in the succession debates of the 1560s.

What surprised you most researching this book?

I was aware of how tragic Katherine’s life was, but reading the letters that she wrote during house arrest (alongside those written by her uncle and custodian Lord John Grey) very clearly reveal her worsening state of mind and her gradual loss of hope. These letters are very human and shed light on a very personal tragedy taking place in the midst of the political debates that raged in London about which candidate possessed the strongest claim to succeed the queen. As these debates took place at court and in Parliament, one woman far away in the countryside was struggling to come to terms with the consequences of a marriage that had resulted in her ruin and her enforced separation from her husband and eldest son.

Do you think Katherine or her sons ever had a real chance of succeeding Elizabeth?

Katherine’s claim to succeed Elizabeth was strong because her succession rights had been recognised by Henry VIII during the 1540s in his last will and testament. If Elizabeth had elected to follow her father’s wishes, then Katherine’s son Edward would have become king in 1603. The imperial ambassadors recognised the strength of Katherine’s claim and sought a marriage between her and the son of Philip II of Spain. Moreover, during the succession debates of the 1560s, a number of tracts identified Katherine as the leading candidate to succeed Elizabeth. However, a set of circumstances complicated Katherine’s claim, chiefly her marriage to Hertford, which was invalidated on Elizabeth’s orders and their sons declared illegitimate. Moreover, there was a suggestion that the conviction and execution of Jane Grey in 1554 for treason meant that both of her sisters – Katherine and Mary – were ‘reproached with the same crime [and] are consequently excluded from the succession’. It does not appear that Elizabeth ever seriously considered Katherine (or Mary Grey) as a viable candidate to succeed her; she seems to have regarded the claim of Mary, Queen of Scots as superior.

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Books 2023 – on sale today a book that features Lady Jane….

(c) Hodder & Stoughton

‘The British monarchy is one of the oldest in the world – dating so far back that even its origins are the subject of debate. Was William the Conqueror the first king of England, or was it Alfred the Great? In this third instalment of the series that began with The Prime Ministers and The Presidents, Iain Dale charts this long history of the English and British monarchy, with 64 essays by journalists, historians and politicians on every individual to have sat on the throne, as well as some who didn’t.

From Alfred the Great to Charles III, each essay examines the monarch, their role and what they tell us about British history. Why has the British monarchy, unlike so many others, endured? Kings and Queens will attempt to answer this question, and many others, providing valuable insight into British history and how Britain is ruled today.’


Further details –

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My review of ‘The Tudors by Numbers’ by Carol Ann Lloyd….

(c) Pen and Sword

Any fan of the Tudors knows that Henry VIII had 6 wives and that Lady Jane Grey was the 9 day queen. But did you know that Henry VII spent 14 years in exile? Or out of 7 coronations, only one was a join coronation? Or that Mary I went on one royal progress while Elizabeth I went on 25? If not, you will after reading ‘Tudors by Numbers’ by Carol Ann Lloyd.

What was particularly interesting for me was the detailed look at what happened during the 13 days in July 1553 when there were 2 Queens of England. By ‘rolling the numbers’ in this educational and amusing book, Lloyd presents the Tudor period through a different lens and would make a wonderful addition to your Tudor bookshelf!

Thank you to NetGalley and Pen and Sword for my review copy.

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Books 2024 – Another book that features Jane to look forward to….

22 February – Young Elizabeth: Princess. Prisoner. Queen by Nicola Tallis

(c) Michael O’Mara

‘Elizabeth I is one of England’s most famous monarchs, whose story as the ‘Virgin Queen’ is well known. But queenship was by no means a certain path for Henry VIII’s younger daughter, who spent the majority of her early years as a girl with an uncertain future.

Before she was three years old Elizabeth had been both a princess, and then a bastard following the brutal execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn. After losing several stepmothers and then her father, the teenage Elizabeth was confronted with the predatory attentions of Sir Thomas Seymour. The result was devastating, causing a heartbreaking rift with her beloved stepmother Katherine Parr.

Elizabeth was placed in further jeopardy when she was implicated in the Wyatt Rebellion of 1554 – a plot to topple her half-sister, Mary, from her throne. Imprisoned in the Tower of London where her mother had lost her life, under intense pressure and interrogation Elizabeth adamantly protested her innocence. Though she was eventually liberated, she spent the remainder of Mary’s reign under a dark cloud. On 17 November 1558, however, the uncertainty of Elizabeth’s future came to an end when she succeeded to the throne at the age of twenty-five.

When Elizabeth became queen, she had already endured more tumult than many monarchs experienced in a lifetime. This colourful and immensely detailed biography charts Elizabeth’s turbulent and unstable upbringing, exploring the dangers and tragedies that plagued her early life. Nicola Tallis draws on primary sources written by Elizabeth herself and her contemporaries, providing an extensive and thorough study of an exceptionally resilient youngster whose early life would shape the queen she later became. The heart racing story of Elizabeth’s youth as she steered her way through perilous waters towards England’s throne is one of the most sensational of its time.’


Further details – Michael O’Mara Books

Further details

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