March 22 – William Bourne, his life and his submarine, and Catherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, a woman with spirit

On this day in Tudor history, 22nd March 1582, gunner, mathematician and writer, William Bourne was buried at Gravesend in Kent.

This popular author, who was able to explain technical matters for the common man in his books, was also a gunner, mathematician and inventor, yet he received no university education. He also drew plans for a submarine, although he never built it.

Find out more about the fascinating William Bourne and his works in this talk…

Also on this day in Tudor history, 22nd March 1519, Catherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk and wife of Charles Brandon, Henry VIII’s best friend, was born.

You can find out more about her, and hear a story about her little dog, in this video…

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One thought on “March 22 – William Bourne, his life and his submarine, and Catherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, a woman with spirit”
  1. Katherine Lady Baroness de Willoughby, the Duchess of Suffolk and lady Bertie is one of those very interesting Tudor women firstly because she was extremely rich in her own right, the heiress of her father and later because she was an influential reformist who became close friends with Henry V111’s sixth wife and queen, Catherine Parr, she was feisty brave and intelligent, half Spanish she was the daughter of Maria de Salinas Katherine of Aragon’s close friend and lady in waiting, and William Willoughby 11th Baron de Eresby, and was possibly named after the queen, after her fathers death she became a ward to Charles Brandon the Duke of Suffolk, who intended to marry her to his son by his third wife the Prince Mary Henry V111’s sister, however his son died and just three months after the death of Mary he promptly married his young ward instead, there had been rumours about his intentions at court but everyone must have been astonished when he married her twelve weeks after his wife’s body had been interred in her grave, the age difference alone he was thirty five years older than her and this was his fourth marriage, set tongues wagging but it seems her inheritance which included thirty manors inherited from her father, made her infinitely desirable to the duke, they had two sons and their portraits by Holbein the Younger show more than a passing resemblance to their mother, large blue eyes and golden hair then the dark looks of their worldly wise father, sadly they died of the Sweat within an hour of each other, one cannot imagine the extant of Katherine’s suffering and yet she resolved to put the past behind her and threw herself into her reformist beliefs, after Brandon’s death she married Richard Bertie a man nearer to her in age and it was a love match, caught up in the dangerous political web of Henry V111’s sixth queen she made an enemy of Bishop Stephen Gardiner, one of the kings councillors a man who was deeply Catholic and whose plot to bring down the queen and her associates failed, Gardiner had Anne Askew racked who was both friends with the queen and Katherine and later she was burned as a heretic, that Katherine hated Gardiner was well known and she made no secret of it, she had several little spaniels and addressed one as Gardiner, bossing the adorable little dog about made many a household member chuckle and it makes one smile to this day, the sour faced Bishop was later arrested during Edwards reign which made his enemies mightily relieved including Katherine, she had two children with Bertie, Susan and Peregrine, during Mary 1sts reign her life was endangered again and so she and her family fled abroad to avoid the persecution, returning during Elizabeth’s reign, she really was a most remarkable woman and later a Ballard and a play was composed of her flight into exile, she had grown up at court had served several of Henry V111’s queens and had been a close friend and associate of Catherine Parr, though raised a Catholic by her Spanish mother, she had maybe found the ostentatiousness and beliefs of the Catholic Church overbearing, like many at the time she became interested in the new religion, when Catherine Parr died in childbed she became the ward of her daughter, little Mary Seymour though loving her mother she nonetheless found the huge cost of caring for her daughter a real burden, so much so that she wrote to William Cecil bewailing the lack of funds she desperately needed, no more is heard of Mary Seymour so that burden seems to have been lifted from the duchesses shoulders, sad though it was, it appears the little girl died and it is a mystery to this day where she is buried, one biographer of Katherine believes she was buried in her manor of Grimsthorpe In Lincolnshire where Katherine herself spent her last remaining years, she died at the age of sixty one, a good age for the day and her husband joined her two years later, her children made successful marriages and both she and Bertie share the same beautiful tomb in the nearby church of St John’s, she funded Catherine Parr’s book The Lamentations Of A Sinner, the first book to be written and published by a Queen of England, a successful woman in her own right partly due to her extreme wealth and connections to nobility and royalty, she made her mark at the Tudor court, step grandmother to the tragic Lady Jane Grey she lived through her dreadful execution, the persecution of Mary 1st’s reign, where she fled to Lithuania for safety, she gave a home to her other step granddaughter Lady Mary Grey when she was released from the Tower after marrying without the queens permission, it’s true to say after the turbulence of youth her life in old age became more peaceful, her passing was peaceful and she is remembered to this day for being one of the most interesting Tudor characters in that most dangerous of ages.

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