10 December’s Tudor Treats

Time for another Anne Boleyn Files Advent Calendar treat! I do hope you’re enjoying them. We have lots more to come!

Today, we have an excerpt from historical novelist Rozsa Gaston’s forthcoming novel, so a wonderful sneak peek for us. Thank you so much to Rozsa for sharing it with us. What a treat!

To enjoy today’s treat, simply visit the Advent Calendar by clicking here.

Then, why not enjoy another historical treat by heading over to the Tudor Society? Find out who is hiding in the very Christmassy Coughton Court today.

Simply go to https://www.tudorsociety.com/advent2020/!

And in case you missed the daily Teasel’s Tudor Trivia videos from Advent last year, here is Teasel’s 10th December treat:

And, if you want even more Tudor history goodness, then here is today’s “on this day in Tudor history” video:

and here’s last year’s one too:

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4 thoughts on “10 December’s Tudor Treats”
  1. I have said this before, no matter the character of a man like Francis Dereham, one cannot but think that this full traitors death was more personal than anything else on King Henry’s part. This was the sentence for high treason, it had been since the fourteenth century, but it was customary for the King to commute everything but beheading for gentry and nobles or ex friends. Thomas Culpepper was granted that mercy but Henry judged that because of his former relationship with Kathryn Howard, this man, Francis Dereham had “spoiled” her for him by taking her virginity. Yes, a totally preposterous thing to believe, I would agree, but Henry wasn’t really in his right state of mind during these proceedings. He is recorded as crying, being hysterical with rage and despair, wanting to kill Kathryn himself, breaking down in front of his Council, displaying totally bizarre behaviour and then withdrawing almost from public view. Unlike the contrived investigation and fake trials of Anne Boleyn and five innocent men, Henry had not believed anything ill of Kathryn to begin with. This investigation had been conducted with discretion and care and taken several weeks. Now the truth was out, Henry felt lost and betrayed. His decision making wasn’t exactly spot on.

    Kathryn herself remained at Syon House, not the Royal Apartments in the Tower. Lady Jane Boleyn, Vicountess Rochford remained in a deep mental depression at the home of Lady and Lord Russell. They would not be executed until February, due to a number of delays, Parliament, Christmas, further investigation, tge health of Lady Rochford and legal changes needed in the law. However, one thing which was especially vicious on the part of King Henry was that he had Parliament pass a new law to allow a mad person to be executed for treason. This law was repealed by Mary I.

    Kathryn and Jane were beheaded on 13th February 1542 and buried next to Anne Boleyn and her brother in the Church of Saint Peter ad Vincula. Along with the graves of Anne and George they were given the beautiful markers which we see today before the lovely alter there. However, the bones of Kathryn are missing and may have crumbled because of her youth. While certainly not a child, Kathryn was the youngest of King Henry Viii wives and was no more than 19 or 20 at the time of her execution. Contrary to folklore Kathryn didn’t say that she died the wife of Thomas Culpepper or wished to, but with dignity and convention.

  2. I agree Henry was acting out of vicious jealousy, his feels of anger hurt and betrayal are perfectly understandable, but to vent his fury on Dereham simply because he had been in a relationship with the queen before her marriage to the king, is small minded petty and unworthy of a king, the law surmised that Dereham intended to pursue his affair with the queen hence his position in her household, but that should not be enough to convict a man of high treason, there was no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part and Dereham may have been a loud mouthed braggart, but no one deserves to die the horrific death he suffered, it was Culpeper who was the guilty one, I think he was incredibly foolish to admit to intending to do ‘ill with the queen’, he was very fortunate that the king commuted his sentence to beheading, also petty and small minded was his actions regarding the tragic Lady Rochford, as you mention he hastily had a bill passed enabling the execution of the insane, Lady Rochford had a mental collapse, no doubt brought on by the sheer stress of her dire situation, she had aided and abetted his queen in her nightly visits with Culpeper, therefore Henry V111 was determined she should suffer also, sheer rage convicted Jane Rochford, meanwhile the Tower was full of the Howard family, including the queens step grandmother, but out of all the Howard relations only Catherine Jane and the two men died, the king was considering having Agnes Duchess of Norfolk executed but his council persuaded him that it would be rather unjust, the poor old woman was not in the best of health, and she must have been extremely worried under the ongoing interrogation she was subject to, Henry V111 was devastated he must have been genuinely in love with Catherine, he had discarded his fourth bride and placed her crown on the head of her lady in waiting, now Catherine for all her breeding had shown she was totally unsuitable to be queen, her uncle the Duke of Norfolk grovelled before the king despairing of his nieces wild lewd and disrespectful behaviour towards his majesty, he to escaped Henrys wrath yet it was said the king never trusted him again, Catherine did die with dignity maybe with more dignity than she had ever exhibited in her tenure as queen, her bones have never been found and it is believed because of her youth, her bones dissolved in the limestone under the flooring in the chapel, she and Anne Boleyn were said to lie in between two Dukes, Northumberland and Somerset, said to be a very little girl she possibly stood no more than five foot, and her portraits show her to be round faced and she appears auburn in colouring, she was such a contrast to the kings fourth wife, Anna from Cleves, who must have appeared dour and clumsy with her harsh accent, her ugly clothes and the fact that she appeared not to even remotely resemble her portrait, there was Catherine a charming fresh faced girl slender with rosy pink cheeks and most of all, someone whom the king could converse with, Anna was treated badly because the king just found her so unattractive, but he was a king and the pro creation of heirs was the important matter here, also because it was necessary for Anglo German relations, Cromwell had negotiated this marriage and really, by this time in his life, Henry could not afford to be fussy, the death of his second wife had made other potential brides wary, in fact he was lucky to get Anna, other kings would have gritted their teeth and got on with it, but as we know Henry V111 was no normal monarch, as soon as he saw her he was trying to find a way out of marrying her, when he spied little Catherine Howard with her dimpled cheeks he was all the more urgent in getting rid of her, he believed Catherine would be the perfect wife and he envisaged a long happy union of marital bliss, sadly that to ended in tragedy and bloodshed, leaving the king to complain why was he so unlucky in his choice of wives?

    1. I agree with you on many points regarding Henry and his reaction to Jane especially and the punishment does seem rather harsh, but that was the law of treason, it used even presumption of guilt, intention to commit treason. Henry took revenge on both Francis Dereham because of his relationship with Kathryn and Jane because she had encouraged the treason and according to the Parliamentary Attainder she acted almost as a Madam for Kathryn. The term in the Bill was bawd which meant prostitute, but more than that, a brothel keeper. Jane Boleyn was especially lambasted in the Indictment and she was given the blame for everything. That was grossly unfair, but she was the Lady Kathryn used to procure Thomas Culpeper for her and to find places for them to meet. Other Ladies knew as well but they gave evidence against her and so were pardoned.

      The old Duchess, Agnus Tilney was really put through the mill. She was interrogated on a few occasions for long periods of time, she was visibly unwell, she confessed to hiding money and letters and breaking into a confiscated chest. I must add that if the goods were already confiscated, then that was against the law, because the King couldn’t take them until after someone was condemned or imprisoned. His officials could, however, list and hold them under restraint so as you could not touch it ready to take after the trial. There wasn’t enough room in the Tower for all of the prisoners, some must have been held elsewhere. The Duchess, her daughter, her daughter in law and so many more were arrested, tried and locked up. It was only the Duke of Norfolk, himself who escaped, mainly because he pleaded for his life and denounced both of his nieces. Norfolk would always find a way to be useful to the Tudors because he was a soldier. Henry’s invasion of France and Scotland saw Norfolk as well as the other nobles back in favour, but he was arrested in 1547 and only escaped death because Henry died that morning.

      I have to say I don’t agree at all about Anne of Cleves. It was only at the beginning that Anna wore German clothing which probably did look a bit clumsy and awkward, but she adopted English dress very quickly. I also disagree that Anna didn’t look anything like her portrait, because its a myth. The information for this is taken from the “evidence” gathered by Henry’s Council in order to get his fourth marriage dissolved. Henry got his cronies to write statements which agreed with his official version, saying he disliked Anna as soon as he saw her, which isn’t supported by the evidence of the Germans or Edward Hall. Nobody else had anything bad to say about how she looked and Henry got on well with her afterwards. Cromwell was told to give the testimony to support him and locked up in the Tower, he testified that Henry had told him about his dislike of the Queen, reluctance to marry her, he confided to his doctor that he had problems sexually with Anna and that the marriage wasn’t consummated. Anna was well treated, she received every honour during her marriage, she received every courtesy and she was shown much respect. However, Henry was trying to find a way out of his fourth marriage and was paying court to her maid of honour, Kathryn Howard, visiting her by boat in secret every night. He also slept with Anna every night. Then we have the very suspicious evidence where Anna had a conversation in which she revealed ignorance of sex. That was highly unlikely. Royal women were prepared for their wedding night by their mothers and Anna spent a lot of time with her mother before she came to England. The whole case against Anna was contrived by Henry and his Council and confirmed by Cromwell who was fighting for his life.

      There was a good reason why Henry wanted to end his marriage with Anna, it was politically dangerous. Henry’s marriage to Anna put Cleves between Henry and Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Charles basically wanted the strategically important Duchy of Guelders and William V, Duke of Cleves held it through his mother. Tensions between Germany and the independent United Duchies was growing from May 1540 and England was stuck in the middle, as usual. If Henry remained married to Anna he would basically have dragged England into a war he couldn’t afford. Thomas Wyatt was the Ambassador at the Court of Charles V and he was interrogated about Henry’s intentions. Charles gave him some very sharp warnings. Henry was deeply worried and he probably genuinely didn’t consummate the marriage either because he couldn’t. Charles had granted Anna safe passage through his territory but there was no guarantee he would do so if she went home. Anna basically became a very rich political refugee. Anna was blamed for Henry’s problems and she was talked reluctantly into accepting a divorce settlement. Anna loved being Queen but she wanted to please Henry, who was actually exceptionally good to her and always courteous around her. She believed that she was his true wife, she was very disappointed but she was wise to accept his offer and was rewarded with a wad of cash, a bunch of castles, palaces and houses and the title King’s Sister. In terms of how she spent much of the rest of her life and the friendship Anna enjoyed with Henry’s children, being in the end buried in Westminster Abbey, it might be said that Anna of Kleves was his most successful Queen.

      1. I forgot to say maybe it’s time to see the evidence Henry and Cromwell and the Council cook up about Anne of Cleves at the end of her marriage in the same vein as the evidence against Anne Boleyn. It can be summed up in one word: poppycock.

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