29th October, 1618: Love, Pirates, Execution and an Embalmed Head.

Walter Raleigh; to my mind the best pirate in history. It seems there was never a dull moment in Walter’s life. He was introduced into Elizabeth I’s court as a young man, by Elizabeth’s governess, Kat Ashley, who was Walter’s Great Aunt. He had such an interesting life as a young man, dropping out of Uni, picking fights with Catholics and criticising the way that military operations were conducted in Ireland. It was the latter that got him noticed by the Queen – having a big mouth sometimes goes a long way – she fell for his charms, and knighted him in 1585.

Walter quickly became one of Elizabeth I’s absolute faves. She gave him lands and wealth, and he was a regular at court. Elizabeth had it bad for Walter, but Walter only had eyes for one; the Queens favourite lady in waiting, Elizabeth, (we will call her Bess), Frockmorton.

Bess and Walter were in love, and not love by Tudor standards which is forced and misogynistic at best, but proper love. They just couldn’t get enough of each other and it wasn’t long before Bess became pregnant. Let’s just keep in mind though that this was the Tudor era and any woman who conceived out of wedlock was considered a whore. Walter wanted to do the right thing and marry Bess, why wouldn’t he? She was smokin’ hot, having his child and he loved her immensely.

The problem was that anyone wishing to marry for love was pretty much deluded; All aristocracy and nobles were political pawns and needed the Queen’s permission to marry. There was no chance that Liz would let Raleigh marry her bestie, especially since he was HER favourite, (next to Robert Dudley, obvs). They had embarrassed her by cavorting about like a pair of teenagers behind her back, like some sort of bad Eastenders plot line, and If Liz couldn’t have Walter, then Bess certainly couldn’t.

It didn’t matter. Walter and Bess were so in love that they married in secret in 1591, regardless of the consequences that they clearly knew there would be. Their marriage became public knowledge when their baby was born in 1592, when the Queen heard the news she went fucking batshit mental, sending them both to the Tower for embarrassing her, abusing their status, and marrying without permission.

Walter, being the wheeler dealer that he was, was already minted at this point as he had set himself up as a trader, when I say ‘trader’, read ‘posh pirate’. It was because of this he was able to pay their fines and buy their way out of prison. He wasn’t invited back to Elizabeth’s court, which suited him as it allowed him to take the opportunity to get back to his adventures.

Off he trotted to the Americas where he ‘found’ Virginia, and named it after the Queen in an attempt to butter her up and win back a bit of favour, (I say ‘found’ – obviously there were already native Americans there…so not really, but he gets the credit nonetheless). When he returned from Virginia he brought back tobacco, which he introduced to the English nobles, and potatoes which he planted on his estate in Ireland.

Upon Elizabeth’s death, Raleigh served under James I, who didn’t fall for Raleighs charms. In 1603 Raleigh was accused of being involved in a plot to assassinate James I and sent to the tower for a second time, this time with a death sentence hanging over his head. However, James I wasn’t stupid, and kept Raleigh in the tower knowing that Raleighs experience in pioneering and privateering may eventually serve a purpose to the realm.

That purpose came about in 1616, when King James sent Raleigh to bring home some gold from El Dorado. The trip went tits up and Raleigh found himself in a tad of bother with the Spanish; exactly what James had told him to avoid. Furthermore, James had already sent Raleigh to bring home riches from El Dorado previously, with his pal and councillor, Cecil, fronting the bill. Raleigh had returned with sweet frig all, leading King James and Cecil to assume he had hid the riches for himself. After this they were out for blood, so when the second trip failed King James enforced the death sentence that he had initially served to Raleigh in 1603.

Raleighs execution was carried out on 29th, October 1618 when he was beheaded at Westminster Palace. On the scaffold he called out James I for making such a bullshit decision, highlighting all of his charges and debunking them all. On the run up to his execution Raleigh feigned illness and madness, and even plotted his escape, but eventually came to terms with his fate and went to his death ready and willing.

Raleigh took a tobacco pouch to the scaffold with him. On it was inscribed ‘He was my companion during that very unhappy time’. A sentiment echoed by my mother-in-law.

Upon his execution, Bess had his head embalmed and is said to have kept it in a velvet bag about her person at all times, (I seriously hope my husband never expects this of me upon his death, because he will be very disappointed). Bess allegedly carried her husbands head until her death in 1647, when it was passed down to their son, Carew, (like a grim, fucked up family heir loom), who was buried with it in Walters grave.

Bess campaigned to restore Raleigh’s reputation after his execution; being sentenced to death as a traitor meant that his sons could not inherit his lands, (which I imagine were full of potatoes by this time), and In 1628 a Bill of Restitution was passed allowing Raleigh’s assets to finally pass to their son.

I love Walter Raleigh. Not only did he have wit, charm and charisma, but he was a badass, a pioneer and a straight up, fucking Tudor pirate.

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8th August, 1503: The Rose and the Thistle

On 8th August, 1503, Henry VII’s eldest child, Margaret Tudor, married James IV of Scotland – uniting the quarrelling nations of England and Scotland for all of about five minutes, (I say ‘five minutes’, I actually mean ‘ten years’, but still…)

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The decision that the thirty year old Scottish King would marry the fourteen year old Tudor princess came about in 1495, after a bit of a shit storm, and a genius tactical play by the Scottish King.

In 1495 Henry VII had been ruling for a few years; however there were still people who thought his claim to the throne was dubious to say the least, and wanted him gone. This led to a couple of people pretending to be Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York, one of the ‘Princes in the Tower’. If it was found that the Princes were still alive, Henry’s claim to the throne wouldn’t be worth shit, and all that he had fought for would be thrown into question, and the country plunged back into civil war. Queue Perkin Warbeck.

Perkin was a pretender to the throne of England, claiming he was Richard, Duke of York. His claim was supported by Henry’s enemies, especially those in France, Ireland and Scotland, where Henry was hated the most, so when Perkin arrived in Scotland seeking help, King James was only too happy to oblige. James saw it as an opportunity to dangle a threat of uncertainty over the English, so kept Perkin close, gave him a salary of £1200 per annum and married him to Catherine Gordon, the daughter of a noble courtier. James was nobody’s fool, he was one of the brightest Kings in history; I don’t really believe that James thought that Perkin was who he claimed to be, but he was a handy man to have around.

Now that James had a trump card in his pocket, Henry shit himself and decided it might be a good idea to form an alliance with Scotland, by betrothing his then six year old daughter to the Scottish King, and approached the King with the suggestion.  Eventually Perkin used his income to invade England… but fucked it up, like a massive tit, and was finally captured by Henry VII – but the betrothal continued none-the-less. What harm could it do to keep your enemies close? Both kings saw the potential of the marriage, and both had their eyes on the greater prize of picking up another country through any heirs produced.

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Perkin Warbeck: Gobshite

On 24th January, 1502, both James and Henry agreed to sign a contract to confirm that they wouldn’t try and dick each other over anymore, and so the catchily-titled ‘Treaty of Perpetual Peace’ was created… ‘perpetual’ meaning ‘until you piss me off’ in this case. On the same day, after waiting ages for the Pope to decide if the couple were indeed not so incestuously-related that they would produce gompy, inbred heirs, (James and Margaret were distant cousins), the two kings also confirmed that James would marry Margaret in order to cement the friendship, (I use the term ‘friendship’ loosely here), so the plans for a wedding were drawn up.

On 25th January, 1503 Margaret was married by proxy to James IV at Richmond palace. Proxy weddings weren’t unusual at this time, but I don’t believe for one minute that people didn’t find them hysterical and ridiculous even then. Margaret’s proxy marriage basically meant that she had the usual customary wedding ceremony, but with one of James’ pal’s, a bloke called  Patrick Earl of Bothwell, standing in as the groom because James couldn’t make it, while everyone else stands like gormless idiots, pretends this is a normal thing to do, and definitely not fucked up in the slightest. In fact, proxy marriages were so stupid that when Mary Tudor, Henry VII’s other daughter, married the King of France by proxy years later, she had to ‘consummate’ her marriage by touching naked ankles with the pseudo-groom, though Margaret was spared this fucking ridiculous spectacle.

The proxy marriage was treated as a real marriage, and Margaret was known as Queen of Scotland from that day one, a fact that pissed off Margaret’s younger brother, The Prince Henry (later to be Henry VIII), as it now meant that she had greater titles and wealth than him and consequently received greater privileges at court, like being announced first at dinner, and sitting in a higher position to him. The fat little shit hated not being centre of attention, and outshined by his sister, and had to be warned to rein it in by his parents.

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Prince Henry as a pube haired, spoiled brat of a child, with cold, dead eyes; ruining his sisters weird, groomless wedding with his sour fucking temper, like a little moonfaced shithouse.

The ceremony itself was followed by an enormous banquet and several days of celebrations, including jousting, dancing and pageantry. Margaret, although only fourteen, was the life and soul of the court. She rocked being a princess, she loved to dance and play music, and was fucking obsessed with fine clothes. Both Margaret and the Earl wore cloth of gold to the ceremony, and she was given a new wardrobe to match her new status.

Due to her young age, Margaret wasn’t allowed to travel to Scotland to meet James for the best part of a year. Her Grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, had been forced to marry a man when she was twelve, and was so completely and utterly fucked up by her own experienced of marriage and child birth at such a young age, that she advised against a proper shagging consummation until Margaret was a little older.

Margaret set off for Scotland in June 1503, with a 30000 gold noble dowry; chaperoned by the Earl of Surrey and his wife, and a procession of well-dressed courtiers. Her carriage was kitted out in blue velvet and cloth of gold, and draped in bear skin. Margaret eventually arrived in Scotland on 1st August after three weeks of travelling, and was greeted by the Scottish Lords and the Archbishops of Glasgow, before being escorted to Dalkeith Castle, where she met James IV for the first time, (there had been a stable fire which had killed some of Margaret’s horses, so James had come to console his new wife like a proper sweetheart).

On 7th August, James and Margaret rode into Edinburgh, and Margaret was introduced to the people as their new Queen. Despite hating the English, the people of Scotland were made up to meet their new Queen. James was now thirty and despite being a complete womaniser, had never shown any signs of wanting to marry, which caused uncertainty as to who would inherit the throne upon his death. Now that worry was over, though this may also have something to do with the shit-tonne of wine that James supplied to the city in honour of his wife’s arrival.

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Margaret and James’ wedding procession through the streets of Edinburgh.

Both James and Margaret upped their spouse game by wearing matching outfits of cloth of gold trimmed with black fur, and trotting into the city ahead of a train of horsemen, trumpeters, minstrels and dancers. James kept his arm around his young bride’s waist for most of the day and Edinburgh was in its element. The next day the pair had a proper ceremony at Holyrood Castle to officiate their marriage. Once again, they wore matching ‘his and hers’ outfits, both made from white damask with crimson trimmings, and James, who was known for having the best beard in the kingdom, shaved it off for the event, as Margaret wasn’t a fan and he wanted to win her over big time.

The celebrations went on and on. James had spent a quarter of his annual living allowance on wine for the wedding and was desperate to show the visiting English nobles how rich the Scottish were. The English tried to pass it off as if it was nothing, but were obviously secretly impressed. James’ court was the place to be, and James was one fucking amazing King.

James IV became King after his father was murdered by a man pretending to be a priest as he fled from battle. James was then brought up by and groomed to be King by the very men who had defeated his father. He lived with this guilt all his life, and wore an iron chain around his waist at lent as penance for his dad’s death.

James was incredibly intellectual, and very generous. He spoke fluently in seven languages, including Celtic and had travelled far and wide. He met regularly with his people (including the Celts), and was a much loved King. In those times it was almost expected that kings would have mistresses, and James was no exception, only James seemed to treat his mistresses better than most monarchs, and seemingly never did the dirty on them. He was a womaniser, there is no doubt, but the women who were taken as mistresses by him were treated as queens, and of the several bastard children he had by these women, all were acknowledged and raised as princes and princesses, accessing the best education money could buy.

Shortly after arriving in Scotland, James took Margaret on a tour of his country, there she met all of his children who were being raised and taught together as a family and children of the king. Margaret wrote to her father to tell him about her time with James and commended him being such a fucking good Dad to his illegitimate kids, and whilst initially Margaret told her family that she was homesick, over time the couple came to love each other greatly.

However, Margaret Tudor was not the great love of James’ life. Prior to marrying her, James took a mistress, also called Margaret just to cause confusion, and apparently married her in secret. The problem was, or so the theories go, that James wouldn’t agree to his marriage with Margaret Tudor because of his love for Margaret Drummond, his favourite mistress. The Pro-English noblemen of the Scottish court apparently were having none of this shit, after all a king should marry a princess and stop pretending a mistress in anything more than a bit of fanny, and so decided to bump off Margaret Drummond in order to clear the way for James to marry the Tudor princess.

Margaret Drummond was poisoned at breakfast, along with her two sisters, in 1501 and died. She was given a tomb bestowing a queen and James mourned her death greatly. A few years later, Margaret Tudor wrote of the incident in letters to her family, condemning the Scottish nobles for their actions. Although Margaret eventually came to enjoy the Scottish court she could never really get her head around the women being so outspoken and liberal, but in spite of this her love for the Scottish people grew all the same.

Since James was the biggest Romeo around, he was well practiced in keeping women happy, and knew exactly what to do to make sure he won Margaret’s heart. He was known country wide for his warmth and generosity, he kept taxes low, spent cash when it needed to be spent and bought shit-hot gifts when they needed to be bought. For Margaret this must have been a bit of a change, as her Dad was a known tight arse and didn’t part with a penny unnecessarily. James lavished Margaret with the finest gifts*, and she was every bit the Scottish Queen he had made her. The pair had six children, though sadly only one that lived through infancy, a boy they called James after his father. Aside from the loss of their children the couple were very affectionate and loving and had ten years of happy marriage.

 

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James Iv: Pulling out all the smooth moves on Madge.

In 1509, Margaret’s father, Henry VII, died and her brother Henry VIII came to power. In true Henry VIII style, he went into his reign like a bull in a china shop and decided that in 1513 he would go and cause some shit in France, after all it had been quiet for a while and the French were only a stone’s throw away over the Chanel. This proved to be a problem for James IV, he had a sworn allegiance with France and now his cock-end brother-in-law had decided to go lay waste to them. James decided that there was only one course of action to take: to break the treaty of Perpetual Peace and invade England whilst Henry was away.

There was one thing that James hadn’t banked on though, and that was the fact that Henry had left his wife, the total BAMF and uber heroine, Queen Katherine of Aragon, in charge. Katherine wasn’t having her sister-in-laws hubby invade on her watch and sent her army to lay waste to James, and that’s exactly what they did.

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Katherine of Aragon looking like butter wouldn’t melt. Well let me tell you, butter very much does melt…

James was killed at Flodden by the troops of the Earl of Surrey, the very man who had brought his Wife to him ten years earlier. His body was sent to Katherine of Aragon as proof of his death, who, like a total bad-ass then decided to send his blood stained clothes to Henry in France to use as a war banner, and not so subtle message, to the French.

Sword and Dagger of James IV, and Two Knights' Banners, used at the Battle of Flodden Field

Margaret was gutted at James’ death, and understandably fucked off with her brother, but then all is fair in love and war, and Margaret had to dust herself off and act as regent to their seventeen month old son, the new King of Scotland, James V. Margaret wasn’t even allowed to bury her husband, as her sister-in-law had his body. Ordinarily he would have been buried in a royal grave, but James had been excommunicated the day he decided to break the Treaty of Perpetual Peace, so to bury him in consecrated ground would be like jizzing in the eye of God. So, instead he was shoved in the woodshed at Sheen Abbey and left to rot.

There has been much speculation over James IV’s body. It is believed that it became detached from his head as it lay rotting in the Abbey until it eventually ended up getting dumped in a charnel pit in London. The exact site of the pit has now gone and a pub sits in its place, it is believed that James’ head is still underneath.

‘And what of Margaret?’ I hear you cry. Well she went on to lead a life of up’s and downs, marrying twice more, holding a coup, being a general mother bear and becoming Great Grandma to the one King that eventually did manage to untie the two countries, James VI.

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James IV and his beautiful wife, Queen Margaret, (though I say beautiful, she looks like a 1980’s headmistress in this painting, which is pretty shit considering she is meant to be fourteen).

 

*Some of the gifts can still be seen. For instance, a kick-ass illustrated bible called ‘The Hours of James IV’, (I say ‘kick-ass’ but if my husband gave me a bible nowadays there would be words, like actual harsh murder words), which can be seen in a museum in Vienna, and also a recently found, monogrammed wedding chest is on public display in Scotland. The monograms on the chest are identical to the ones that James commissioned to be put on the tiled floor at Linlithgow castle.

 

28th July,1540: Henry Takes a Child Bride

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The very beautiful Katherine Howard.

On 28th July, 1540, Henry VIII married his fifth wife, the child bride Katherine Howard, (OK, OK, she wasn’t *technically* a child bride, but he was nearly 50 and she was around 17 years old, so its pretty fucking grim, even by Tudor standards).

Katherine’s life is a sad tale; riddled with abandonment, a lack of affection and constant occurrences of sexual abuse. It’s fucking heartbreaking reading it as a woman in the 21st Century. It really all started when her Mum, Jocasta Culpepper, died in 1531. Jocasta, or Joyce as she was known (because lets face it, Jocasta is a fucking stupid name*), had around fifteen children: ten from her marriage with Edmund Howard, Katherine’s Dad, and five from a previous marriage. Joyce was a strong and empowered woman; however Katherine’s Dad was the opposite in every way.

Edmund Howard was brother to Thomas Howard, the third Duke of Norfolk, who was powerful and prominent politician at court. Edmund forever lived in his brothers shadow, failing to gain any importance (and fucking it up when he did), and racking up a shit load of debt, so when Joyce died and he was left with fifteen kids, he shit himself.  To get himself out of the financial turd he was in, he decided the only course of action was to ditch some of the kids onto rich relatives, and being a Howard, there was no short supply of those. So that was it, off Katherine went to live with her step-Grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.

Now don’t get it twisted – this wasn’t like going to stay with your Nan and having cake every day. This woman already had several girls in her care, and her guardianship was lax to say the least. Actually, scrap that, her guardianship was some pure, stone cold bullshit, because whilst Katherine was there she was pursued by her music teacher, Henry Manox, which incidentally was only discouraged due to him being a lower rank than Katherine, and then preyed upon and sexually exploited by the Dutchess’s man servant, Francis Dereham. These events would eventually come back to haunt Katherine and lead to her death a few years later.

In 1539, Katherine was sent to court to become a lady-in-waiting to the new queen, Anne of Cleeves. Now it will hardly be a spoiler when I tell you that Henry VIII didn’t really like his forth wife, Anne, and neither will it come as a shock when I say that he wanted to get his kicks elsewhere. Henry couldn’t get ‘aroused’ by his new queen, (which apparently had everything to do with her being supposedly smelly and ugly, and nothing to do with him being a vile old cunt who was rife with Syphilis, and dented pride), so when Katherine was brought to court, and waved in front of the King’s nose by her pimp-like Uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, it was no surprise that Henry had to have her.

Poor Katherine, she must have thought all her birthdays had come at once, the King and her Uncle offering her centre-stage at court, and allowing her to believe it was because she was special and neither had anything to gain. Conversely, poor Anne; newly arrived in a foreign country, called names by a fat pig of a King, and then to be embarrassed at court as he paraded his young mistress around like King of the peados.

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Henry VIII giving Rolf Harris a run for his money.

A few months after Henry’s annulment to Anne, he decided to wed his young bride, Katherine. Little is known about the actual ceremony, Henry had been so eager to impress everyone and pull out all the stops for his marriage to Anne, that he had managed to break the treasury and so decided to have a ‘low key’ affair with Katherine. The service was held at the chapel in Oatlands Palace, which he had built to rival Hampton Court as a gift for Anne of Cleeves… and then married her lady-in-waiting in it.

The pair were married by Bishop Bonner, but it is unknown who else was in attendance. After the ceremony, the wedding appears to have been kept quiet for a short while as Katherine was not announced as Queen until 8th August, when prayers were said for her at Hampton court – not that they did her much fucking good, prayers couldn’t save you from Henry. There is no record of plans for her coronation immediately after the wedding, which is unusual, but nobody could deny that Henry wasn’t smitten with his new bride, groping and grabbing at her constantly, and bragging about their bedroom exploits to his band of twats. The ceremony itself took place as Henry was having Tomas Cromwell executed for Treason for crimes only known to Henry, and after the pair went on a hunting holiday honeymoon around Surrey and Berkshire… how romantic.

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Oatlands Palace

You probably already know how the story ends: Katherine began an affair with a member of Henry’s council, Thomas Culpepper, then Francis Dereham rocks up demanding a place by her side, so she gives it to him possibly out of fear, and then everyone finds out everything and all involved lose their lives, including Katherine and Henry Manox, the music teacher. You can read more about their deaths by following the link at the bottom of this page, (I hated writing about it, as it’s depressing as fuck and makes me want to set fire to things).

As with everything ever EVER, I have opinions about the whole Katherine and Henry thing, (aside from him being a cretinous, lecherous jizz-sack of a man). I often find myself questioning whether Henry Manox actually deserved to die. Apparently he was totally in love with Katherine, but was banned from seeing her, and when he got wind of the slime bag Dereham sneaking into her dorms at night, he alerted the Dowager Duchess, who did fuck all about it. As for Dereham and Culpepper?… fuck them. They were equally as much the sneaky little shit holes as Henry was a dirty old mongrel of a man. Having said that,  some historians believe that Katherine and Tom Culpepper were in a relationship before Katherine became involved with Henry, but it never really went anywhere, because they argued like a couple in IKEA on a bank holiday Monday, but either way he was accused of raping a woman and continued to pursue Katherine after she was married, so he can go fuck a knife.

Now lets think about Henry…This old prick had his BFF executed on the day that he married his new bride. Thomas Cromwell was once the Kings closest and most trusted adviser, yet like the cruel bastard he was, Henry sent him to death and still managed to make it a day of celebrations. This wasn’t the first time Henry pulled shit like this. He married Jane Seymour the day after Anne Boleyn’s execution, and made a point of wearing yellow on the day of Katherine of Aragon’s death. I don’t know why Henry did this; possibly to illustrate his power, possibly to hide the feeling of guilt, though doubtful.

And so that brings us to Katherine, a child abandoned by her family and left with a woman who can only be likened to Miss Hannigan, the evil woman from Annie, only to crave affection and find it in the arms of those who would take advantage of a young girl. If it was modern day, she would be protected by social services and a Child Sexual Exploitation case would be opened. However, it wasn’t modern day, it was Tudor time, so instead she was branded a whore, and put to death. Tudor men were fucking cunts at times.

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Katherine Howard, looking smug because all said and done, death was preferable to  shagging Henry.

 

 

If you want to know more about Katherine’s downfall you can read about it here

Also, you can read about Anne of Cleeves’ betrothal to Henry here and about how she ultimately won the long game here.

If you want to know more about Thomas Cromwell and the events that led to his demise, you can find out here.

 

 

 

*Apologies to any readers who may be called Jocasta. I was showing off and it wasn’t big or clever. Jocasta is a great name and I’m sure you don’t ever get questioned about it.

16th July, 1546: The Horrific Death of Anne Askew

16th July marks the anniversary of the death of Anne Askew, the last martyr to be executed under the reign of Henry VIII, one of the first English women to ask for a divorce and the only woman on record to have been tortured in the Tower of London… Oh, and one of history’s biggest bad asses.

(c) National Trust, Tatton Park; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Anne Askew: Gave zero fucks about patriarchy, religion or pain.

Anne was born into a noble family, in Lincolnshire in 1520. Her Dad, William Askew, was a prominent courtier and landowner and pals with Henry VIII, whilst her two brothers were the Sherriff of Lincoln, and Henry’s cup bearer (which sounds like a shit job but was actually considered an honour, mostly because the Tudor courtier were the biggest bunch of brown-nosers in history, and fought to get close to the King, so much so that wiping the Kings fat, shitty arse was considered one of the highest positions a man could hold. Can you imagine telling your friends that is your job nowadays??

Anne was very well read and witty, and a devout protestant. The shit all started when Anne was fifteen and her sister, Martha, died.  So as to ‘save money’, Anne’s father arranged for Anne to marry the man her sister had been betrothed to, a local landowner, a vile scumbag called Thomas Kyme. Kyme was a strict catholic and didn’t approve of Anne’s protestant faith. He obviously though he could change her ways, but soon came to realise that he had bitten off more than he could chew when Anne refused to take his name and refused to refer to him as her husband.

In my opinion, Anne was the ultimate Tudor feminist, giving not one toss about society’s expectations of women of that time. Anne’s marriage was unhappy and abusive, and despite having two children with Kyme, Anne used the introduction of the reformation as a way to seek a divorce from her cock-wiff husband. Kyme grew tired of Anne’s belligerence and, under the advice of the local priest, and much to Anne’s pleasure, he kicked her out. Anne, being the indomitable rebel that she was, saw this as an opportunity to head down to London and spread the word according to the protestant bible.

Because he was a massive scrotum-faced fuckwit, in 1543 Henry VIII ruled that it would be illegal for all women and men of minor gentry and lower to read the bible. This was a bit to take back some control and hopefully forge some sort of relationship with the Holy Roman Empire. It was therefore seen as heresy to be somebody who would stand in towns reciting the bible for the ordinary folks who may not ordinarily have access to such texts, or a gospeller as they were named. For Anne there was no other way. She had been attending bible meetings in London, where groups would get together in secret to study the protestant text, and this was the next step for her. The people of London wanted to hear it and she felt duty bound to deliver it.

Anne was an amazing gospeller. The people flocked to hear her recite the protestant texts, and were enamoured that a noble woman of such high ranking would come to the streets to give the poor, uneducated and bible-less povvers faith and inspiration; plus she was easy on the eye, which I’m sure helped. She soon earned the name the ‘Fair Gospeler’ and became somewhat of a Tudor celebrity. Anne knew she was breaking the law but gave zero fucks about all that noise.

At one point she was arrested and her divorce request rejected, she was sent back Lincolnshire and imprisoned but escaped and returned to London to continue her good work. This is when the shit really hit the fan.

One of Henry VIII’s most trusted politicians, the militant Catholic Bishop of Winchester, was a snidey little gobshite called Stephen Gardiner. Gardiner didn’t take kindly to Anne Askew educating the poor with the protestant text and went out of his way to put an end to it by putting an end to her. At this point in time, Henry VIII was onto his last wife Katherine Parr, a beautiful, well-educated and very tolerant woman who also happened to be a devout protestant and a bit of a free thinker. Gardiner didn’t like the queen and so decided that there may be a way to kill two birds with one stone.

 

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Stephen Gardiner and his massive bollock of a face.

 

Anne was good pals with a high ranking noble woman called Catherine Brandon, the Duchess of Suffolk. Catherine Brandon was also the queens BFF so Gardiner, seeing a connection decided that was his way in. He had Anne arrested and sent to the Tower, then he had the Queen and her ladies arrested under suspicion of heresy. Katherine Parr, being the brain box that she was, had the foresight to burn all of her protestant literature prior to the arrest when she got a wiff of Gardiners plans.

Whilst Anne was imprisoned in the Tower of London she was asked to name all of the women that she knew who heretics were. Anne said nothing. Ordinarily what would happen next would be that the prisoner would be shown a man undergoing torture on the rack, with the threat of ‘this will be you if you don’t comply’, but because Anne was a woman, and one of high birth at that, it was deemed inappropriate for her to see a naked man, so instead, and with rather questionable moral benchmarks, Gardiner decided that the middle man should just be cut out and Anne would go straight to the rack in an attempt to get her to name her conspirators.

Anne was eventually condemned to be executed by burning, but Gardiner still needed Anne to implicate the Queen. Now, as I hope you are now seeing, Anne was nobody’s mug, and being the heroine that she was decided to write accounts of her time in the tower. According these these accounts Anne was stripped down to her shift, tied to the rack and stretched until she was taught and raised five inches from the table. She passed out from the pain, but was revived and the whole process was repeated twice more. The Tower constable, a man named Anthony Kingston, could not bear to see the torture and ran to the King to demand it be stopped.

The problem was that the two men who ordered the torture were Gardiner’s right hand men. These two utter fucking wankstains were named Tom Wriothesley and Richard Rich (which in hindsight is probably why they were angry men). Rich and Wriothesley ignored the gaolers request to end the torture of Anne and instead took hold of the reigns and decided that if the torturer wouldn’t do it, that they would simply do it themselves. The violence only ended when Anthony Kingston returned from Henry with a royal demand to get Anne off the rack and leave her the fuck alone until her execution. As I have already said, Anne was the only woman ever recorded to have been tortured in the Tower, and still she didn’t name one other person as an accomplice. What an absolutely amazing lady she was. The Queen and her ladies were released due to a lack of evidence, and also because of Anne’s silence.

On 16th July, 1546 Anne was put to death by being burnt at the stake, the standard, yet friggin horrific death reserved for heretics and martyrs. The problem was the Anne had been tortured so much that she couldn’t stand. She had been stretched on the rack until her tendons had snapped, her wrists, ankles, elbows, hips and knees had all dislocated and her muscle fibres stretched to beyond repair. These vile bastards had really gone to town on her to the point where Anne had to be carried to the stake on a chair. She was then tied with chains to a separate chair which was attached to the woodpile, which was then set alight. As if this wasn’t enough, the fire was set to burn slowly, ensuring that Anne endured as much pain in her last moments as the men could cause.

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The martyrdom of Anne Askew

It is thought that somebody who took pity on Anne, covered her in gunpowder to ensure a swift end, other accounts suggest that the fire burnt for over an hour and people flocked to see the burning of the Fair Gospeler. One thing is consistent though, and that is that Anne maintained her dignity and courage until the very end.

At the time of Anne’s execution, a motherfucker of a thunderstorm rolled into London. It was believed that this was a display of Gods wrath at the murder of innocents. I like to think of Gardiner, Rich and Wriothesley sat there shitting themselves, cry-wanking into a pulpit begging for forgiveness at the sound of weather, but I doubt they did.

It is unknown whether Anne and the Queen were in the secret protestant club that Gardiner had invented, or if they even ever met at all. One thing is for certain though, Anne Askew’s story is one of the saddest yet most empowering in Tudor history, so much so that in Victorian times interest in her peaked and a special ‘Anne Askew doll’ was created, (which came complete with a rack and stake… real talk). Apparently one can still be seen today in Leeds toy museum… though quite why you would want to make a special trip to see a vintage murder doll is beyond me.

Anne was the last martyr to die under the reign of Henry VIII. She was only 25 when she died.

June 6th, 1520: The Field of Cloth of Gold, (a.k.a. Histories most expensive dick measuring contest).

Back in 1518, when tensions between European countries were high, and each nation was acting like a chief to the next, declaring wars and generally being cunts to their neighbours, Henry VIII’s right hand man, Cardinal Wolsey, hatched a plan.

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Wolsey- more than likely hatching a cunning plan.

The idea was to invite all of Europe’s great monarchs to London for a sort of less shit, medieval G8 summit, where they would all sign ‘the Treaty of London’. The treaty was an agreement that stated that all those who signed would maintain peace in Europe, and if a country decided to break the treaty, war would be declared upon them by the others. It all sounded good in principal, but took less than a year to go tits up.

It all kicked off when Francis I of France and The Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V of Spain had a spat. Spain and France were the most powerful countries in Europe at the time, so shitting themselves both sought to form an alliance with England, the third most powerful. Whilst Henry must have loved all this attention, he was in a bit of a tricky situation: He was married to a Spanish princess, and the Aunt of Charles V, Katherine of Aragon, meanwhile France lies next door and could cause a potential shit storm for Henry.

Henry decided to meet Francis to talk shit through and try to ‘strengthen relations’. I feel it is important to say at this point that Henry fucking hated Francis, Francis was arty, rich and handsome, and knocked around with the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci , whilst Henry was athletic, spoiled and egocentric. The pair had one thing in common though, they were both competitive as fuck.

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The rather dashing Francis I of France, serving the painter come to bed eyes and a little coy smile.

 

They decided to meet at Balinghem, in the then English owned area of France known as the Pale of Calais. Henry took half the bloody country with him; he had around 5000 noble men and women, 3000 horses and a shit tonne of wine. Some of the noble’s had literally had to re-mortgage to be able to attend, but they wouldn’t have missed it for the world… to be fair would you? it was essentially front row tickets to see two kings make themselves look like right royal pricks (pun intended), in a display of self-provoked public humiliation. So off they all trotted, popcorn and front row tickets at the ready, off to France.

The whole event lasted nearly seventeen days, during which time each king tried to upstage and outshine the other. These cunts were so insistent on making the other look like a chump that they both nearly bankrupted their treasuries. Henry had a mock castle made to house him, which was draped in cloth made from real gold, (hence ‘the Field of the Cloth of Gold’). He had the finest, most expensive tapestries taken across, along with the most monumental feasts. There was dancing, jousting and archery tournaments and the whole thing became geared up to discover which country held the most wealth and power. It was less of a celebration of unity and more of a cock fight, (with Henry and Francis acting like big fucking cocks alright).

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‘I’ve got a tent’… ‘well I have a church’…’well I have a castle’… ‘WELL I’VE GOT A FUCKING DRAGON!’

The whole thing ended in tears when Henry challenged Francis to a wrestling match. Henry, who was built like a brick shit house, was no stranger to wrestling and confidently thought he could take the weedy, art loving ‘Renaissance Prince’, Francis. He was wrong, and to put a long story short, Francis owned his arse. Some say that Francis tripped Henry and therefore only won by cheating, but these ‘some’ would be English, and I like to think that Henry got pwned by a nerd.

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There is definitely no tripping to be seen in this instant replay still.

Henry, being the utter spoiled sore loser that he was, skulked off, and with that the Field of the Cloth of Gold was over. The whole event, which was designed to strengthen relations between the two nations, failed miserably. On his way home with his freshly bruised ego, Henry popped in to see Charles V and forged an alliance against France. Two years later England and Spain were at war with the French King and the Treaty of London went out of the window.

I love the story of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. It sounds like it should be a majestic and bromantic tale of two men finding peace, when actually its about a massive fucking mard arse with a big wallet having a pop at another massive fucking mard arse with a big wallet. I like to imagine that after the event Henry told Katherine, ‘you know what dear, I think as a way of showing my undying, eternal love to you, we will go and help out Charlie after all…’, and that’s why he decided to become allies with Spain. I’m pretty sure it was not because he was actually seething out pure venom from his sweat glands at the thought of a two stone when wet through, French as fuck hipster, kicking his hoop all over a posh field whilst his subjects look on… and then having to pay for the privilege as well. That would be childish.

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Henry VIII and Charles V, The Holy Roman Emperor…probably planning a dish of smack down for Francis. 

 

If you enjoyed this Tudorial, you may also like the Drunk Histories version of events told by Tiff Stevenson, which can be found here. Enjoy!

2nd June, 1572: Thomas Howard Is In The Shit.

On June 2nd, 1572, the 4th Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard, was executed for treason under the order of Elizabeth I. Thomas was born into one of the noblest families in England. Thomas’ family had been powerful for some time. His Grandfather, (also called Thomas Howard since the Tudors only had about 3 names), was a powerful politician during Henry VIII’s reign. This overambitious prick was the uncle of Anne Boleyn, and one of the main reason she found herself in the mix with the fat, spousicidal twat of a king in the first place.

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Thomas Howard,4th Duke of Norfolk…

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…who, to my utter amusement, looks like my friend Oisin.

Thomas’s Dad, Henry Howard, was a bit more vanilla than his father. However, he was still executed under Henry VIII’s orders for suspected treason. Thomas Boleyn senior was also due to be beheaded, but as luck would have it Henry VIII died the day before the order was to be carried out, so he managed to dodge his sentence… and still it was only women who were accused of witchcraft!

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Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk (the Grandad)

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Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (the Dad)

Anyway, after the king’s death, his daughter, Mary Tudor, took the throne with her very catholic and very Spanish, dick of a husband, Phillip of Spain. Mary had Thomas Howard Snr. released from the Tower and reinstated as Duke of Norfolk, a title which passed to his grandson on his death in 1554. Thomas junior was now the 4th Duke of Norfolk and in royal favour, which was still the case when Elizabeth I inherited the throne upon Mary’s death.

Elizabeth thought very highly of Thomas, she referred to him as ‘her cousin’, (Anne Boleyn and Henry Howard were first cousins, and Elizabeth liked to think that she and Thomas were also very close). Thomas might have been close to the queen, but he was still no comparison to Elizabeth’s favorite, Robert Dudley. It was said that Thomas Howard was jealous of Dudley because Dudley could influence the queen’s decisions, whereas he could not, despite being the richest bloke in the country. That aside, she still relied on him to do her bidding, and sort out the unholy shit storm that her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, had caused when she came to England to seek refuge.

The catholic Queen Mary had basically run away from all kinds of mess that she had been tied up in back in Scotland. She was hoping that her cousin would help her, but Elizabeth, quite rightly, saw her as a threat to her throne. Mart was catholic, the country had just reformed, Mary had a family link to the English throne, ergo she was a massive threat, and she now being in England brought about the threat of rebellion against Liz. So off went Thomas Howard to sort it out.

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Mary Queen of Scots – doing the ‘shady moon’ face.

Howard was all for laying some smackdown on Mary, until he met her Secretary of State, a slimy dude called Maitland. Maitland not only convinced Howard that Mary was innocent of any ill intent towards Elizabeth, but he also convinced Howard that it would be a good idea if he married Mary and then tried to blag Elizabeth into naming Mary as her successor to the English throne upon her death. Talk about being played like a fiddle, but Howard was stupid enough to go for it. The problem was that he didn’t have the bollockss to actually put the idea to Elizabeth, so, like a deluded fuckwit, he kept it a secret and but carried on making plans to wed the Scottish Queen regardless.

Because Howard suspected Elizabeth wouldn’t go for the idea, and because he shat himself at the prospect of being the one to put it to her, Maitland and Howard decided that Maitland would approach Elizabeth and make the suggestion. After all he had been able to chat shit to Howard and convince him of the shit idea in the first place. In the meantime, the plans for Howard and Mary to wed continued to be hatched.

When Elizabeth found out,  was had none of it. Why the fuck would she hand the throne to her knob head cousin, who had literally THE WORST track record with men in History*, and who would seek to restore England back to Catholicism with the help of that snivelling cunt, and  Elizabeth’s sworn enemy, Prince Philip of Spain? So as you can imagine, Howard’s plans started to look a tat premature, and a lot ridiculous.

For acting like a knob and going behind her back, Elizabeth had Howard was arrested and imprisoned in the tower. Elizabeth didn’t quite have the same blood thirst as her father and didn’t want the PR nightmare that sending Howard to trial would cause, so when shit settled down, he was eventually released from the tower. However, this is not where the story ends, because like an utter fucking spafftool, Howard continued to write to Mary, who wrote back chatting all kinds of love shit, and kissing him up via letters. This eventually lead to Howard getting himself involved in a fucking stupid idea with the shitehawk, Phillip of Spain and his cunt faced, London based banker pal, (yep, they were around being fuckheads in Tudor England too), Roberto Ridolfi.

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Phillip of Spain: Elizabeth’s ex bro-in-law and a right cunt.

The ‘Ridolfi Plot’, as it is now known, was basically a plan hatched by the men to free Mary, marry her to Howard, boot Elizabeth off the throne and restore England to its catholic glory with the help of Spain. Can you imagine?! What a misled knobweasle Howard had become.

The perpetrators of the plot had not counted on three things: firstly, Howard’s incompetence, Secondly, the pure badassness of Elizabeth’s spymaster, Walsingham (think Varys from Game of Thrones),  and finally, the fact that Howard’s servant sang like a bunch of shitbirds when put to the rack.

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Walsingham the spymaster, like a boss

Howard had also mistrusted one of his servants to convey messages between himself, Phillip and Ridolfi. The servant had then found a merchant to do the dirty work, taking letters and money between the parties. The merchant was found out pretty sharpish as his sacks weighed more than they were supposed to, arousing the suspicion of the port guards, so he was arrested and questioned and he too spilled the beans on Howard.

Meanwhile, back at home, Howard’s servants had been arrested and tortured, during which time they told their captures that Howard had been squirrelling away letters about the plot under one of his roof tiles at one of his many properties.

Elizabeth was beside herself when she found out. How the fuck did Thomas Howard find himself mixed up in all this bullshit? He had always maintained his loyalty to Elizabeth and, to a certain extent, she believed him. She did not want to condemn him to death, signing and retracting his death warrant several times, until eventually parliament stepped in and insisted she should stop fannying about and just get it over and done with.

Thomas Howard’s death warrant was eventually signed and he was sent to his death for being a treasonous prick, just like his father and Grandfather, on June 2nd, 1572. He is now buried in the church of St Peter and Vincula at the Tower of London, a dumping ground for headless Tudor traitors. ‘And what of Mary?’ I hear you cry. Well she continued to plot and scheme once she found out that Elizabeth would not name her as heir to the throne. In 1586, Walsingham uncovered enough evidence to have her sentenced to death, and in 1587 she met a very sticky end.

*If you need proof of Mary’s terrible choice in men, or you want to know more about her rather shitty execution, you may be interested in this plots-execu:https://thetudorials.com/2015/07/17/july-17th-1586-tions-treason-and-the-dick-end-men-in-mary-queen-of-scots-life/

 

April 21st, 1509. Executions: Start as you mean to go on.

After his father’s death on April 21st 1509, Henry VIII inherited the throne of England and Wales, but wasn’t acknowledged until 2 days later, on the 24th April 1509. His father had brought well needed peace to the country for the past 23 years, ad Henry wasn’t about to let that change. However, his father was extremely unpopular by the people of the country, in particular the rich who he had full raped of their cash. Long gone were the days where nobles were flush and wealth, Henry VII had ensured that. He had inherited a country in debt and so to counter this has decided it pointless to increase taxes on the poor, rather it better to take it from the wealthy who could afford it, and had more than likely been milking the system for years. My kind of man I have to say.

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Henry VII: Like butter wouldn’t fucking melt…

Obviously this had rendered him very unpopular with the nobles; if they were seen to be flashing the cash Henry would take it for the royal treasury, if they were seen to be struggling financially, he assumed they were hiding their cash, and tax them harder.

Henry VII would not have been so successful at pissing off the rich nobles if it hadn’t have been for his ‘Council Learned in Law’, a dodgy government body set up by two of his right-hand men, Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. Empson was born around 1450 and Dudley around 1462, both had earned the trust and respect of the king and shot to power quickly. Empson had gained popularity under Yorkist rule, but most of Henry’s council had, keep your enemies close and all that.

Henry VIII basically made the men his chief tax collectors. The two penny pinching Scrooge’s made it their business to go around and collect debt from the rich and give them to the king, (an interesting sort of love child hybrid between Robin Hood and The Sherriff of Nottingham if you will). These men were seriously good at their job. The nobles could not stand the money grabbing little shits, and Empson and Dudley gave NO FUCKS about this whatsoever.

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Empson and Dudley acting like a medieval Marley and Marley, taking orders from the King and conspiring to shaft the rich like shady fuckers.

All was going well, the rich were being royally fucked over and the treasury was growing nicely, until Henry VII died on 21st April. On 24th April, 1509 it was announced that the King was dead and the throne would pass to the new King, Henry VIII. The new young King was the polar opposite of his father. He had grown up being ‘the spare to the heir’, so to speak. Prior to his older brother, Arthur’s, death Henry had led the fun filled life expected of a young, rich, carefree prince. He was a complete attention seeking gobshite, and enjoyed nothing more than basking in the lime light and being loved arse licked adoring fans, (to be fair, not much changed after Arthur’s death, he still liked to be the centre of attention then). The problem he now faced however, was that the nobles were so glad to be rid of the Miser, Henry VII, which it was apparent that they didn’t want to risk another king bringing down financial hardship on them, and enforcing the same exploitative taxation laws on their pockets.

Henry basically shat himself: If the people didn’t trust him how could they love him and if the people didn’t love him, what would happen to his massive ego? He had to take action to distinguish himself from his father, and fast. His first order of business was to arrest Dudley and Empson and show his new subjects that the frugal reign of his father was well and truly over. The two men were arrested on Henrys first day at work and sent to the tower on trumped up charges of treason.

The actual charge brought against the men was ‘constructive treason’. Henry had decided that the men had called their pals to rally arms encase the king died, that and they had been dipping their own hands into the kings penny jar. Actually, the real reason they were arrested was to show to the public that Henry VIII was going to be a fun and generous king, who supported the plight of the rich, and would end the totally wank reign of his stingy as balls father. A popularity vote for the new party king if you like.

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A young Henry VIII, posing like a ponsy twat end.

The men were sent to the tower and left there. Dudley planned an escape, but it looked like they would be exonerated. They were not. Dudley even wrote an arse kissing book called ‘The Tree of Commonwealth’ in which he yaks on about how great the new monarch is, and how the commonwealth is a massive tree built on godliness, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, it didn’t work. Henry basically was having too much fun in his new job, and when he remembered they were there decided to set an example. On 17th August, 1510, the men were sent to Tower Hill and executed.

 

Oh, and FYI…

You may recognise the name Dudley. Edmund Dudley was the father of John Dudley, who became the 1st Duke of Northumberland under Edward VI reign. He too was executed at Tower Hill 43 years later after conspiring to usurp Henrys VIII’s daughter, Mary Tudor, and placing Jane Grey and his son Guilford on the throne. John Dudley was also the father of Robert Dudley, Elizabeth I’s ‘favourite’, (and by ‘favourite’ I mean the bloke that made her basement flood, wink, wink). It was all very complex at Tudor court, but one thing is certain, there was no room for grudges against the monarch’s.