Justice John Spelman and his report on Queen Anne Boleyn’s trial


On this day in history, 26th January1546, judge of assize and law reporter, Sir John Spelman, died.

Spelman is mostly known today for his reports of legal cases from 1502 to 1540, which included the proceedings against Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Bishop John Fisher, Sir Thomas More and Queen Anne Boleyn. In my latest “on this day in Tudor history”, I share some facts about this Tudor judge and also share his report on Queen Anne Boleyn’s case and trial.

In my talk, I mention Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, and her alleged role in Anne Boleyn’s fall. Find out more in this talk:

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76 thoughts on “Justice John Spelman and his report on Queen Anne Boleyn’s trial”
  1. There is something about the cold facts of his report for the preceedings of May 1536 that put me there like nothing else I’ve read. I would be very interested in reading the book of his reports. Where can we find that.

  2. I too have Fox’s biography on Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, she is a fair champion for this much maligned lady who history has painted without any reliable sources whatsoever, as a vengeful wife who told the most despicable lies about her husband and sister in law, the queen, I first read about Jane in Jean Plaidy’s ‘Murder Most Royal’, which gives a most biased view of Jane as being incredibly jealous of the closeness of her husband and his sister, and who was neglected by him and was left to fester in years of resentment, and finally spewed her hatred forth in the most scandalous of accusations against them both, I grew up reading more about Jane and most authors were of the opinion that she was this kind of vengeful harpy who helped send both George and Anne to the scaffold, all because of the tale that Gregorio Leti regaled to readers of her execution, I may not have spelt his name right so apologies but this has been taken quite seriously down the centuries as fact, and it is hardly surprising as when notable people are executed, there always does seem to be myths arising about their final moments on the scaffold, there are several version of Anne Boleyn’s speech and Catherine Howard’s, there was a myth that she spoke of Culpeper and how she would rather die his wife than that of queen, the truth was she spoke the usual speech of how she deserved the death and to pray for herself and the king, there was a myth that Lady Margaret Pole refused to submit her head to the block declaring she was no traitor, and the sentence was not justified, she was we are told chased around Tower Green by the headsman who swung his axe at her several times till she was so horribly injured she collapsed and expired, such tales are nonsense, in reality the horror of her execution was caused by a very inept inexperienced headsman, like Thomas Cromwells and such stories are always told to avid crowds by the beefeaters at the Tower, it makes it more interesting it adds colour, when it comes to Lady Jane Rochford she has I feel been the victim of character assassination, Murder Most Royal was published in 1949 long before John Guys intensive research on the trails of both Anne and George Boleyn, and the first accuser of Anne was lady Bridget Wingfield one of her ladies, she had several other ladies who were both interrogated by Cromwell and his bully boys, Lady Worcester and Ives believes Nan Cobham, these are the ones mentioned but all of her household must have been interrogated, the charges against the queen were very serious and I think really, a lot of the women were pressurised into giving false evidence against Anne, it is easy to intimidate women, more so in those days when the dreaded word treason carried a death sentence, there was also the misprision of treason charge, where the knowledge of such an act being committed was with held from the king and his council, these women and men of the queens household could have been threatened with certain death if they did not say what their interrogators wished to hear, Mark Smeaton it is believed was treated in this way, his execution which was only given to noblemen is proof that he had struck some kind of a deal with Cromwell , Jane herself must have been bullied quite harshly, she was George’s wife she must have seen scandalous things happening between her husband and the queen, and because she was his wife and therefore closer to him than anyone she has been misrepresented throughout history, just as her husband and the queen has, as Claire and Julia Fox points out her name is not mentioned in any of the judges report on the trials, and it is only the source given by the foreigner Gregorio about her execution speech that myths have arisen about this woman, she was sympathetic to Mary Tudor and possibly her mother, so that has added to the belief that she hated Anne, her father Lord Morley was a supporter but Jane was married to the queens husband, and there is no proof that she had any kind of enmity with her sister in law, her family’s fortunes were caught up with the Boleyn’s and she knew which side her bread was buttered on, when the Boleyn’s fell so would Jane and if she did say anything about Anne it would only have been under extreme pressure, her behaviour when she assisted the young Queen Catherine Howard in her nocturnal meetings with her alleged lover have not helped with the myths about her, when Chapyus wrote to his master the Emperor he dismissed her as that bawd, an old fashioned name for a procuress, she has been described as a rather silly woman sly and fond of tittle tattle, over fond of intrigue and with a vicious tongue to boot, a jealous woman plain and unliveable, yet the stories about her character and behaviour have all been caught up in the unholy mess of Anne Boleyn and her family’s fall from grace, she had long been at court and had served all of Henry V111’s queens, she had been one of the women at court chosen to take part in the Chateau Vert pageant, and only those attractive enough were chosen so the myth of her being plain does not quite match, there is a sketch of a lady said to be of her and the sitter is very attractive, with an oval face and regular features, plain she certainly was not, but then the sketch is also said to be that of her sister in law, her lack of attractiveness has been something writers of historical fiction have chosen to embroil in their work, but we have no contemporary descriptions of her what her colouring was like and whether she could dance or sing well, her talents we know nothing of only what we are told about her , but she was a court sophisticate and there is no evidence she and George were an unhappy married couple, at his trial as the video points out, George did not mention her name yet she has been taken to be the lady he accuses of slandering him, he would have mentioned his wife not one woman, another piece of telling information, it could be that if this woman was Lady Wingfield or Lady Worcester then this lady had a grudge against him, George was very handsome maybe she had made advances to him and been rebuffed, it was Lady Worcester who was immoral and whose foolish chatter first set into this dreadful miscarriage of events into motion, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, when he was in the Tower Jane wrote to him why do this if she had effectively sent him there? Without her husband she was alone frightened and knew he was condemned to die, George himself knew it hence his reckless decision to read out loud the toxic letter passed to him at his trial, he knew as did the whole court that the king was tired of his queen and was courting Jane Seymour, after his death Jane had to plead with Cromwell for financial assistance, it is not known where she lived but she may have stayed with her parents in law or maybe her own father, she did not have it easy but she was an experienced court lady, and was still at court in the service of Jane and then Anne of Cleves, it was when Catherine Howard became queen her path was finally set out for her, Catherine had a special preference for her, it could be because of the family connection but her liaisons with Culpeper was to eventually lead to death for both her and her favourite lady in waiting, Janes death was not justified and we can see how all along she has been a scapegoat, she continues to be a scapegoat to this day and I feel in Julia Foxes book and on this site she has been exonerated at last.

    1. I am so glad that Spelman’s reports exist. If Jane was there or had said what she has been accused of he would have most certainly written it down. It’s just awful that so many centuries after a person’s death their reputations are still maligned all for the sake of lucre. Sadly I’m sure this practice covers the entire globe and all historical eras.

      1. Yes Spelmans reports are obviously accurate and we have Chapyus as a good source of information, neither of them mention Jane in connection with the ludicrous charges against Anne and George Boleyn.

  3. One should learn about history through the experts, not through those who make their money writing romanticised drivel.

  4. There is one person and one person only who contributed to the fall of Anne Boleyn, that was the unfortunate and terrified Mark Smeaton. The various women blamed for her downfall are all scapegoats.

    There are four of them, Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, wife of George Boleyn, the most famous and the one history blames for the testimony that Anne had slept with his sister; Elizabeth Browne, wife of Henry Somerset, Earl of Worcester, whose quarrel with her brother over the fatherhood of her baby implicated the Queen in various affairs, including her brother and Mark Smeaton, because her brother took her words to Cromwell and then the King; the mysterious Nan Cobham who is mentioned by Justice Spelman and John Hussey in a letter to Lady Lisle, but we know nothing else about her; another unnamed lady, described as a maid. Eric Ives identified this young woman as Margery Horsman, who was a good friend of Queen Anne, very close to her and her Lady of the Wardrobe and she had shared her grief when her dog was killed. She too was connected to Lady Lisle.

    In the documents we have nowhere is Jane Boleyn mentioned and it is unlikely that a wife would write to her husband that she was going to intercede with the King for him would then turn King’s evidence against him. That makes no sense to me whatsoever. Jane is blamed by too many historians on the basis of very little evidence and yet Mrs Gossip herself, Lady Worcester isn’t even given a second glance. One historian is the exception to the rule, Professor George Bernard who actually believes that Anne is guilty and gives full credit to Lady Worcester who “was in a position to know what was going on”. Seriously! Yes, so was every woman in Anne’s private apartments. I don’t see any of them gossiping about the Queen. Bernard claims that Lady Worcester is telling the truth and has no motivation to make all this up. No, but she has an annoying brother who is practically calling her an adulterous wh*re who is having another man’s baby. Her response was to say the Queen was the one who didn’t have her house in order and that it was a place of scandals. It was after some pressure that she blamed Anne for having an affair with Smeaton and her brother. Her brother, Anthony Browne went to Cromwell and another friend and told them everything and they informed the King. This is according to the famous poem by Lancelot de Carles but a more likely story was that Sir Anthony was working with Cromwell to get rid of a rival and nuisance, his brother in law, William Brereton, the latter’s opponent in North Wales. He most likely used his influence over his sister in order to get her cooperation. Nobody did anything at Court without a political motive. It was Elizabeth Browne then who provided testimony against George Boleyn and not his much maligned wife. The content of that evidence isn’t known but it didn’t take long for George to be hit with the heinous crime of incest. Prof Bernard also argues against the impossibility of Anne’s adultery by saying how easy it was to sneak out from one palace to the next and that her ladies probably got away with helping her by giving evidence for the prosecution. This is in my opinion, ridiculous.

    For one thing until May 1536 there wasn’t even a hint of scandal around the Queen. It wasn’t that easy for her to slip out and nobody was blamed or issued with a pardon for helping her. Her women would have had to do more than just close their eyes to adultery and the number of lovers she had would require more than one or two bringing them to her chambers. Half the time she was meant to be having an orgy in her chambers Anne was pregnant or recovering from pregnancy or thought she was pregnant. Intercourse during pregnancy was considered dangerous for the baby and while confined for six weeks afterwards she had no contact with anyone other than her ladies. Anne was never alone and if the women turned King’s evidence to save themselves from being prosecuted with her, then why are no pardons issued for them and why don’t we know more details? All that Bernard has to go on is based on gossipy accusations like many on social media today and they don’t provide proof of anything. The two people accused are the last people Anne would sleep with, especially to get pregnant. Incest was the worst thing she could be accused off, punishment in the next life was certain. She looked down her nose at Mark as a person much below her and she told him so. Why would she have a child with a musician, even a talented and highly prized one? Even arguing about irregular impotence makes no sense as Henry would be more likely to know he wasn’t the father if he suffered periods of impotency. The only information we have about Henry’s alleged bedroom problems was an offhand statement which Anne said to her sister in law that Henry had neither the stamina nor abilities to satisfy a woman, read out by George Boleyn at his trial. This is hardly unbiased testimony and no other evidence corroborated it. It was the words of a wife to a husband, not the evidence of a bitter wife against that husband.

    We have no other evidence to support any claims that Jane Boleyn brought down her husband or the Queen, her sister in law. Because Lady Rochford helped Kathryn Howard to meet her alleged lovers she has wrongly been accused of being a spy for Cromwell and for being the one who out of revenge for a loveless marriage that she gave him all kinds of false evidence about George and the Queen. In fiction she is shown in an alliance with the Duke of Norfolk or as an abused wife or a tittle tattle. However, this is drama, not history and if anything she was a loyal wife who stood by her husband.

    1. Yes an observer at Anne’s trial said there was nothing really factual produced, it was just all women’s gossip, she saw them with their tongues down each other’s throat they disappeared for a long time in her bedchamber etc, had the queen been carrying on like this it would not have all come out into the open those first weeks in early may, there would have been talk long before, as she was supposed to have committed adultery with one of the men days after she had just given birth to Elizabeth, the charges were that she had been carrying on like that since she was first married to Henry and as you say, it just was not backed up by hard evidence, it was proven she was elsewhere on several different occasions, as Ives noted, quadruple adultery invites disbelief, today the CPS would consider the so called evidence and would throw it out.

      1. Anne Boleyn the extremely busy wh*re! That’s a bad joke by the way, but she would have to have been a sex maniac, full of energy and her women fully complicit in her daily round. Anne wasn’t just accused with one man or two, but originally seven and it was cut to five, one being her brother, whom could come and go pretty freely, but she was rarely if ever alone as Queen. Kathryn Howard was a devious little minx who was used to sneaking about to meet young men before her marriage and she found it hard enough to cheat on the King, regardless of whether or not she had a sexual relationship, meeting a man in your room while married is cheating, with one man, let alone five. A Tudor Queen had private and public duties, they didn’t just sit all day making clothes for the poor or sewing. More than half the Courts calender was taken up with rituals and religious feasting or worship. A Queen as well as the King received visitors and held audiences, she had meals at set times which lasted a couple of hours, went hunting, took part in entertainment and if pregnant, prepared for the birth of her children. Her official duties took up time. She then had times when she was intimate with the King, she would be at prayer, hear Mass, dressing took forever, her charity interests took time and she needed leisure time and sleep. Kathryn was left alone a lot, was helped by at least two others and was on progress, married to a man who needed more rest and care than nine years earlier. Anne Boleyn was constantly attended by Henry, was a very hands on Queen Consort, she was always busy and if the reports are true, pregnant up to four times. The brilliant work by the late Professor Ives showed how two thirds at least of the charges were complete nonsense and the rest could be challenged. To have as many lovers as Anne Boleyn was accused of having and to actually have had sexual relations with them all regularly, been pregnant up to four times, had one living child, to whom she was an involved mother, carrying on her normal activities as Queen and regularly stayed close to the King, travelling from place to place, being involved in reforms and interfering with his decisions as he accused her of doing often enough, Anne would need to be a super woman. I doubt it. Anne was pregnant at the time of one liaison and had just given birth to Elizabeth, in a room that no man could enter, when she was carrying on with her lovers according to the false allegations. It was considered dangerous to have sex during pregnancy or shortly afterwards and in confinement Anne had to stay clear of human contact as she wasn’t yet Churched and allowed into public again. Believe it or not Henry could not see her in confinement, save to see his child after birth or in an emergency if she was ill. There is some evidence that he may on occasion not taken any notice. Anne was constantly watched, never on her own and unlike Kathryn Howard, no accomplices were tried with her.
        There is nothing about people giving evidence at her trial, but obviously her women were questioned for show and Cromwell invented most of it. Gossip and innuendo and even then the one thing which could have lawfully condemned her wasn’t even on the list of indictments, the conversation with Henry Norris.

        Every legal process in her trial was followed but every piece of “evidence” and the way the juries and hearings were loaded, all point to a setup. Seriously flawed from the outset. We have to forget about a modern CPS throwing out these charges, this was 500 years ago, but even by the standards of the day, this failed to stand up to scrutiny. Treason trials were show pieces of theatre, they were not about fairness or even guilty or not guilty, they were about showing the power of the state over its enemies. However, rarely have they been so obviously decided before all of the parties have even been arrested.

        Judge Spelman is an excellent resource and I think his work is online.

  5. I agree with you about Mark Smeaton but he was also a tragic victim. I realize it’s only speculation but if he was tortured and told that no matter what he was going to die and he had 2 choices either decapitation if he confessed or hung drawn and quartered if he didn’t I cannot fault him for choosing beheading. If true this was a terrible position to put him in but it certainly does sound like something Cromwell was capable of doing. If so many men of noble birth were going to fall certainly Smeaton being lower on the social ladder was seen as expendable.

    1. Yes, I agree, Michael, Mark Smeaton was targeted because of his access to the Queen and his lower status. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about him, but he was a talented young man, certainly good enough to sing for the King and Queen and was richly rewarded with money and gifts of clothing, nothing unusual, but part of the evidence used against him. Anne had seen him looking gloomy a few days before her arrest and teased him as to the reason. He said it was because he admired her and she put him down saying he was a lowly person and she should not speak with him. He was being insolent. So we know his status. A gentleman would be exempt from torture and have a traitors death commuted to mere beheading. Mark faced a far more terrible death if found guilty. One source says he was tortured, another not but you needed a royal warrant for torture. However, unofficial torture happened and Cromwell was quite capable of putting him under extreme pressure, psychological torture, deprived of food and drink and physical pain, yes, he would be confessing to anything. Smeaton never changed in his confession, not afterwards, not in Court and not on the scaffold, which suggests he was told to confess and he would be decapitated or don’t and face the full law, hanging until partly dead, cut down, revived, your abdomen cut open, organs removed and burned before your eyes, your private parts cut off and then your heart and head removed and the rest of you cut up and displayed around the city or wherever you came from. The young man would have been terrified. If he wanted a quick death he would do as he was told. Yes, Cromwell was more than capable of such terror.

    2. Smeaton was the tragic scapegoat the tool to bring down an unwanted wife and queen, his poor status I agree was used against him for Cromwell dare not torture a nobleman, it was easy for Cromwell Henry’s chief minister and a man noted for his ruthlessness to have the young lad hauled before him and interrogated, torture or the threat of torture was probably used, Smeaton a poor lowly musician would not have stood a chance, he probably was promised a quick noble death if he implicated the queen, I have always said that we should not judge him too harshly, in the same situation how would any of us react? It is easy for us in the comfort of our easy existence to condemn him, everything about the whole rotten affair stinks, the gathering of the courts of oyer and terminer in the two counties, the hastily assembled farcical trials after of Anne and her co accused, the headsman from Calais already crossing the stormy seas of the channel before the trials had already begun, the king merrily cavorting around the town wining and dining his mistress, whenever young Mark Smeaton is remembered it should not be as Sir Thomas Wyatt puts it, as ‘ a rotten twig upon the tree’, but in sympathy and understanding, for he to lost his life and like Lady Jane Rochford has had his name vilified down the years.

  6. Hi Christine and BQ. I don’t judge Mark Smeaton harshly at all. As you say who of us under those circumstances wouldn’t make the same choice. I also do not believe he condemned his soul because of the conditions under which it was coerced and God knew his heart. Hi BQ. First of all thank you for looking up Nathan Amin’s info on the Beaufort legitimacy. Yes, I thought I had read that. It seems most other historians just say they could not inherit the crown without going any deeper into it. I’m glad he really researched it. You mentioned unauthorised torture. The torture of Anne Askew by Thomas Wriothsley and Richard Rich with their own hands comes to mind. This next one I’m not quite sure of but was it Bishop Bonner who tortured people in his own home or am I thinking of someone else

    1. Yes Michael when one is under duress a false accusation does not count, Smeaton no doubt would have prayed for god’s forgiveness and exonerate Anne in his heart, Mary Tudor signed the document admitting her parents marriage was invalid, yet she would have prayed afterwards also that enormous pressure had been put on her, Chapyus had feared for her life, as she was by not admitting such an act and by not therefore acknowledging her father as supreme Head of the Church, committing treason, such a signature would be considered invalid, and the pope understood and yet poor Mary felt she had let her mother down, her mother I feel would not have held it against her she was a realist, and would not have wanted her dear daughter to have the threat of the death sentence over her, the threat of torture in the case of young Smeaton was much the same , Henry V111 knew such methods were used, it was always a very capable form of coercion yet it’s effectiveness meant dreadful injustices were carried out, the racking Michael mentions of Anne Askew, an act that was illegal on women, just goes to show the depths of human cruelty, so eager were her torturers to implicate the queen on heresy charges yet their hard work was all in vain, this unique incredible woman uttered not one name in her agony, a rarity surely and thus the queen was saved yet poor Anne went to the stake, a true martyr indeed and her name surely ranks alongside that of Joan of Arc.

      1. I feel you have to have compassion for Mark because he really was just forced to say what he did and God judges the heart, not what we say. Thomas Cromwell was a force to contend with and if he used pressure, isolation, deprived him of food and drink, left him in a cell, threatening him, using psychological torture, stress positions, whatever, same barrage of questions, over and over, it’s little wonder he cracked. I don’t think he said much other than “Masters, pray for me” so wretched was he. Thomas Wyatt blamed him in his poem saying he deserved death for his perjury which had condemned them all, but that’s very extreme. Anne had some pity but even her remarks condemned him. Yes, I am sure he found forgiveness. He wasn’t guilty of the crimes he was accused of and mercy awaited in the after life.

  7. Thanks Michael, I am glad that someone has researched the Beaufort claim and legitimacy in detail because it is one of the misunderstandings of history, because Henry iv obviously made it known they had been excluded. Really who was going to pop down to the Parliamentary Archives and look at the Parliamentary Rolls as historians can do today and have a look or check the record of Parliament as to what was said in session? We have the Chronicle to refer to but seriously, in 1407,_most were still in Latin and even with a reasonably literate gentry and moderate learning elsewhere, only the clergy and educated could read that. It’s a fairly safe bet that few people had a clue what these documents said. So if history said the Beaufort family were excluded from the crown, then that’s how everyone down to the present time knows it was so. Modern historians have the benefit of doing proper research into translated Parliament Rolls and commentary and Chronicles on digital formats in high definition and whole armies of books in numerous libraries, thousands of of resources to aid them, one would think proper research would surely lead to the correct interpretation of these snippets of important information. If it was recorded that the Act was merely added to by the King as his Chronicle suggested, then the law remained the same, an Act has to be read in full to be repealed and that apparently was not the case here. Therefore the law didn’t exclude the Beauforts from the crown. Historically that was how it has always been interpreted, as with many things, historians get lazy and don’t revisit the matter for themselves.

    A good example of historians just repeating one another down the generations is the story of Lady Jane Grey and her wicked parents who treated her so cruelly, beating her into a marriage with a man she hated, while she preferred to read and study than hunt, so learned and righteous was she at fourteen. The story was related by Roger Ascham who was one of her tutors in the Schoolmaster written in the 1580s or later. He recalled how on a visit to Bradgate Park in Leicestershire he had come upon the teenage Jane at her books and had a conversation with her. He is reputed to have asked why she wasn’t out hunting with everyone else and she answered she would rather study. Jane complained that her mother and father pinched and hit her in discipline as most teens do and that record was taken to mean that her parents, especially her maligned mother, Lady Frances Grey, Duchess of Suffolk, from whom she got her own royal blood, beat her and treated her with abuse. It’s utter nonsense and was disproved by letters between Jane and her parents. One historian wrote this story, Richard Davey and everyone since repeated it, without looking at the sources to verify and analyse these allegations. That changed recently through historians like Stephen Edwards and Leanna de Lisle and new perspectives on Jane and her siblings revealing a girl who loved hunting and dancing, was part of the Court life, was vibrant and as cheeky as any teen, loved fine clothing, was exceptionally bright and clever, but who was also dutiful and respectful. She was also as much a religious fanatic as her cousin, Mary, more in fact with evangelical zeal. However, the majority of people think of her as a clever but helpless victim, bullied by abusive parents, forced into a loveless marriage and a puppet Queen. Nothing could be further from the truth, but repeatedly historians copied each other, only researching the truth more recently.

    1. I believe you’re right about historians getting lazy and just repeating what’s already out there. We need more researchers like Nathan Amin’s who admits he’s not a trained historian, just a guy who’s interested in this subject or Claire who is so thorough with her research and hacks it up with evidence from primary sources. I also have Mr. Amin’s first book Tudor Wales. Excellent. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it.

        1. Hi, yes, took it to Wales a couple of years ago as we were touring most of the places in it.
          Unfortunately, got so hot that June, ridiculous heat, could only do about 60% as it was too hot. Went bird watching instead. Had a close encounter with a beautiful red squirrel on a fence right next to me. It was just sitting there for some time. Absolutely beautiful. I swear he was posing for my photos. It was the most lovely moment of the whole three weeks.

          In June this year Nathan is releasing a new book “Henry Vii and the Pretenders” Simnel, Warwick and Warbeck. Should be interesting read. The most detailed book on this subject is John Ashdown Hill book “The Dublin King: The True Story of Edward, Earl of Warwick, Lambert Simnel and the “Princes in the Tower”. Another good one is Ann Wroe “Perkin” one tome on the mystery of Perkin Warbeck who claimed to be Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, younger son of Edward iv, younger of the two ex Princes suspected of being killed in the Tower of London. Warbeck ran the Tudor Government round in circles for six years before he was captured, forced into a false confession and hung. Most books take things either from a guesswork point of view and from the view of the York resistance. It will be good for a counter balance from the Tudor point of view and Nathan does his research well. Looking forward to reading it.

    2. I think Frances Brandon has had quite a bit of name bashing over the years to, she has as you point out been described as cruel to her young daughter and that Jane was beaten quite dreadfully because she refused to hunt often, preferring her books to the chase, I am sure Frances and her husband would have liked Jane to accompany them but they knew their daughter was studious and decided to let her be, she was very precocious something which must have made them immensely proud, if she wished to be left alone with her books then it would not matter there were plenty of other occasions when she could join them, in fact the Greys gave all three of their children a brilliant education, befitting of their high status, later Jane complained to her tutor Ascham that she was always being criticised with sharp retorts and nips and pinches, she has to stand straight she has to sit properly etc, all this could just have been adolescent whining her behaviour when queen shows she had a strong will, and teenagers can be rebellious, her complaint to her tutor could just be that of a young girl rebelling against the strict confines of Tudor chastisement, the Tudors were very strict with their children, but they loved them very much, to be strict does not mean a lack of parental devotion, table manners had to be impeccable and how they walked spoke conducted themselves in the company of others, these children of royalty and the nobility were all treated the same, maybe Janes parents were a bit stricter than others but they were of the royal blood, and court life would soon be beckoning how they conducted themselves was very important, Jane possibly loved to retreat to her world of books where she could be on her own, Frances Brandon was pardoned by Queen Mary and allowed to stay at court after the deaths of both her daughter and husband, they were very close cousins their mothers had been close, I cannot see Frances being happy with her daughter stealing Mary’s crown as why should she deceive the cousin she had been so close to? So I believe she was just acting on her husbands orders her portrayal as a hard faced woman who bullied her young daughter both at home and in her quest to be queen is misplaced, it does not tie in with the affection she had for Mary she had grown up with her at court, could she have been truly happy with her daughter replacing her dear cousin as queen? She was granted an audience with Mary and the fact she was forgiven shows a lot of how close the two cousins were, Mary knew men were ambitious , for now they were all alive and had a lot to be grateful for, but her husband never learnt humility and joined Wyatts rebellion which ended in his death and that of his daughters and Guildford, Frances must have been in despair, for years there was a painting said to be of her with her second husband Adrian Stokes, the lady is stout and bullish looking nothing like the beauty that was her mother Princess Mary Tudor, but now that has been disproved, she married not long after her family’s executions which was thought to be quite shocking but I believed she was trying to assuage her grief, her second daughter Katherine was not as intelligent as Jane nor so academically inclined but she was very attractive, her portrait by Lavinia Terlinck with her baby son shows a golden haired beauty with features not unlike Jane, she grew up to cause quite a furore at Elizabeth’s court, their youngest sibling Mary was sadly a hunchback said to be a dwarf and quite plain, they both married without the consent of Queen Elizabeth and ended up in the Tower, which would have reminded them uneasily of their tragic elder sister, all their lives they were viewed with suspicion by Queen Elizabeth, both near to the throne both of the blood royal and both legitimate, no wonder Elizabeth did not like to let them out of her sight, Frances lived well however and on her death was given a grand burial worthy of the granddaughter of Henry V11 and Elizabeth of York, her tomb lies in Westminster and her effigy shows a serene woman her eyes closed in sleep and her hands in prayer, unlike the wasting remains off her eldest daughter in the traitors grave in the mean little church of St. Peter Ad Vincula, the legacy of Tudor blood she passed onto her daughter assured her violent death, but Frances lies in honour with her long dead ancestors.

      1. Whoever wants to answer this.
        After Jane’s tutor Roger Ascham talked to her and complained about her home life how did he relate this information? In other words ‘Jane Gray said this’ or ‘I witnessed this happen to Jane’. I’m trying to figure out how the bad press against Henry and Francis Gray started or is this a fairly modern Victorian take?

        1. Hi Michael, in 1570 Roger Ascham wrote a book titled ‘The Schoolmaster’ and included in it an account given by his one time long dead brilliant student of her home life with her parents, it explains how he visited her home one day and found her all alone reading Plato, the rest of the family out hunting, a few barbed remarks may have passed between her and her parents as she then complained about the harsh treatment they meted out to her, this account by a young possibly hot headed girl has been taken quite seriously as fact and yet, as her tutor John Aylmer relates Jane was of the age where discipline was necessary, it seems modern writers has therefore taken the view that Frances was some overbearing harridan of a mother and in some accounts also said to have bullied her henpecked husband, I have Leanda De Lisles biography on the three Grey sisters and she notes her character has been twisted so much her real character has been lost to history, many authors tell us that Frances was cruel to her servants also and beat them regularly yet they do not quote their source, and Eric Ives dismisses it also Susan Hinginbotham, it seems Aschams account written in his book decades after Janes death, has been coloured along with the Victorian’s view of Jane as a young innocent virgin sacrifice, her mother is therefore the opposite, cruel tyrannical and power hungry, yet there are no sources that tell us she was anything other than a mother who dearly loved her children and, also she had lost two babies already by the time she had Jane, another myth is that she dearly wanted a son and was disappointed because her next child was a daughter, but in an age when children died so easily I should think any child that lived would be considered precious, it really is time for a much more balanced view of Frances to be heard.

        2. Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset and Duke of Suffolk via Frances Brandon, daughter of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, granddaughter of Henry Vii was a patron of the arts and the best education around. Both he and Frances were well educated and would have wanted the same for their children. Why employ the top tutors for their children as they did if you don’t want them to be educated in the best possible way? Frances agreed with her husband’s choices but she was close to Mary and was able to get an interview and pardon for herself and her husband. Suffolk, that is Henry Grey blew the whole deal and got his daughter killed because he was also impetuous and stupid. He made the fatal decision six months later to support the rebellion led by Thomas Wyatt the Younger, son of Anne Boleyn’ s boyfriend, the poet, in favour of Princess Elizabeth, an Act of treason which meant his already condemned daughter, Jane and her husband were too dangerous to keep alive. But before their world imploded, Jane and her sisters were raised as country ladies, encouraging them to hunt and dance and learn music, preparing them for future husbands, they were frequently taken to Court as cousins of the Tudor children and they were given a first class education. Jane spent much of her time at her family homes in Leicestershire and of course she enjoyed hunting but she also enjoyed Plato and the classics and was a book worm. On this occasion she chose to remain at home, most probably with her parents approval who appreciated their daughter’s choice to read. Very few people found hunting appalling. Blood sports were part of social entertainment at every social level and even ordinary people hunted small game to supplement diet and farm produce. They couldn’t hunt deer but rabbits and small mammals or rodents found their way to the pot. I don’t think one would find a vegetarian in Tudor England, although meat could be rare for the lower classes. The idea of Jane not approving of hunting is ludicrous. A studious young lady, yes, but a Tudor gentle woman also.
          Frances was maligned on the one report decades later, as women often were.

  8. The person who tortured people at home and remember we really don’t know if that is actually true, it isn’t a verified story, was actually Topcliffe, the official investigator working with Francis Walsingham and the spy ring of Elizabeth I. He interrogated people, mostly Catholics in his home, various other prisons and the Tower, where he oversaw torture. It was reported that he used a rack in his own home, which would not have been authorised by the authorities. The number of people actually tortured officially between 1520 and 1610 is 80. This to me is low, but it certainly isn’t hundreds. The Tudor police state may have been frightening, but torture had a specific purpose, name your fellow conspirators. It wasn’t meant just to gain a confession, although lesser physical implements of restraint were used. His national biography says he used torture, but the sources are hostile so we must be cautious. He certainly used torture in the Tower, the stories are contemporary but we can’t confirm if he had his own rack. Bishop Edward Bonner has had a number of very similar accusations levelled against him, popularized by John Fox in his Book of Martyrs but the majority are again unverified and later propaganda. Yes, he was a central figure in the questioning and investigation of accused heretics, but it was normal practice for the local Bishop to be involved. However, in England the State also controlled what was orthodox religious belief because of the Supremacy which evolved to be even more powerful during the reigns of Henry’s children. Even Mary, although not having the title, as she recognised the Pope as the representative of Saint Peter and the Church on Earth, used the political power of the Supremacy as head of state. This was actually something Henry Viii had tried to avoid, but the political power of the title grew stronger. Heresy was an odd criminal offence in that people were reported to the local clergy, investigation took place by a local official and the local Bishop and a magistrate was also involved in the trial. Local churches were used as Courts, unless a secular crime was committed, then the magistrates tried them. The main aim was to get them to confess and recant, not so much to punish. If a heretic returned to their old ways, that was more serious and that led to being burned at the stake as many Protestant or reformed martyrs were. I am not condoning that, merely looking at the process. What people did to each other because they held different religious views is terrible and must always be condemned, but it’s also part of history and can’t be studied without a neutral stand. Bonner, like others involved was good at his job, if you want to call it that, he unfortunately had a bad reputation. Stories of actual torture are not true, a woodcut often showing him racking someone is not of Bonner, it does not date to the time of Mary, it is in fact Elizabethan and the man on the rack had tried to kill her. Torture wasn’t usually used in heresy investigations in England, but that doesn’t mean certain pressures were not used unofficially. The case of Anne Askew illustrates how the investigators got around the official use of torture, especially in extreme cases when they were after bigger fish.

    Anne A was known to the authorities as trouble with a capital T. For one thing she had come to London after leaving her husband and she was arrested a few years earlier, confessed, although she argued about the wording and was released. She was on the radar and a radical. She knew other reformers and had friends within the Queens household and the King’s. The main target was her benefactor, Lady Anne Seymour and Edward Seymour and Queen Katherine Parr. KP had already escaped being arrested, her wisdom had won out and she said her opinions were those of a simple woman and not important, her apartment had been searched for books and household questioned. There was an accusation of a nest of heretics within the royal household, the royal musicians were accused, the conspiracy was believed to be everywhere, but in fact it was later found to be based on false charges. The people who denounced the Windsor Heretics were given public penance and flogged, but it was too late for three to six people who had already died. Anne Askew and her fellow accused, including one John Lascelles, the man who stitched up Katherine Howard, were arrested against this highly charged background. Anne was questioned about her beliefs, answering very well and with bravery and intelligence, she was given various papers to sign but refused, the usual processes, until she was asked about the Queen and who had helped her in London. Again, Anne refused to name anyone. This is when things got ugly and she was moved to be shown the instruments of torture. Now it was definitely unlawful to rack a woman. However, the persecutors, Rich and Wriothesley and Audley declared she must be tortured and forced to denounce either her beliefs or her friends. The man who was responsible for torture refused and they took over and did it themselves. It was very cruel and extreme. The Constable ran to the King who feigned outrage and gave the order for the torture to stop. However, this pair of Court bigwigs didn’t know what they were doing, they over did the racking and poor Anne was in a terrible state. When she was taken out to her execution a few days later, she had to be carried in a chair and chained to the stake in the chair. Her body and bones were broken and she couldn’t stand. It was a wholly unnecessary and cruel process which was totally illegal. This poor but brave lady was a true Christian martyr and yes, very brave and valiant like Joan of Arc.

    1. Yes, Topcliffe! As soon as I saw that I remembered where I read it so I just checked to be sure: It was in Robert Hutchinson’s biography of Francis Walsingham. Thank you for correcting me. I don’t want to spread false accusations against historical figures, especially since I criticize others for doing just that. I feel the same as you about Anne Askew. After what she endured I don’t know how she held out. I like your comparison to Joan of Arc. I read Helen Castor’s biography of her. Wonderful read but it made me so angry reading about her treatment. I was happy to learn however that her name was cleared in her mother’s lifetime.

  9. Jane was quite a feisty lady and this is apparent when she became queen, she was not averse to issuing orders like the time she sent Dudley her father in law to meet Mary’s army of supporters in the north, she also rebelled against the idea of making her husband the petulant Guildford king consort and in doing so fell out with both his parents, she took control of her council after the country fell behind Mary and seized the keys and locked them all in the Tower, by this time she must have been very frightened and desperate, it is true earlier writers have assumed Jane was led like a lamb to the slaughter, but the sources tell us she was far from that, the Victorians would have us belief she was like a typical sacrificial maidenly offering – virginal and pure and docile, whose innocent blood was shed in the quest for power, her own parents those that guided her footsteps on the path to the scaffold, she becomes in fact like Andromeda, whose foolish mother boasted that her beauty surpassed that of the sea nymphs, she was thus tied to the rocks and offered up as an offering to the sea god in an act of appeasement, her execution was also captured in oils by the Victorian artist Delaroche she is guided to the block dressed in a simple white robe, again like the virgin sacrifice, this painting is not accurate as she is shown meeting her doom in a small dark chamber, in reality she was beheaded on Tower Green in front of hundreds of spectators, Anne Boleyn herself in the Victorian period was looked on with sympathy and compassion by two writers, one the historian Agnes Strickland and the other Jane Austen, who praised her many qualities of elegance and wit, both women were extraordinarily brave however not doe eyed demure maidens but very capable of knowing what they wanted, Jane after the shock had worn of after she had been informed Edward had named her as his successor, did her best to act like a queen (we have to remember she was after all a Tudor), and although she was obviously reluctant she must have told herself it was gods will and therefore her calling, after her brief sojourn as queen had ended and she found herself not master of the Tower, but one of its prisoners, she was kept in luxury and allowed to walk in the gardens whilst Mary busked herself with ruling her kingdom, her father in law went to the block but her parents were pardoned and her traitorous council, Mary’s clemency must be noted as for so long she has been called cruel and without mercy, but she did pardon many in the early days of her queen ship, only after many months had passed and Thomas Wyatt foolishly led another rebellion in which her father also took a part, was Jane seen as a threat and even then, Mary was reluctant to condemn her to the block, during this time she sent one of her own Catholic priests a Master Feckingham to coerce Jane to change her religion, in the wish her life would be spared, but Jane was of the stuff of martyrs, her religion was life and blood to her, as Bq says she was fanatical about what she believed was the true faith, Jane was singleminded like Katherine of Aragon about her Catholic doctrine as Anne Askew was about her reformist belief, such people cannot be swayed and Jane was one of them, what is extraordinary about this young girl who was still in her teenage years, was she was prepared to die rather than relinquish her faith, for several days and nights Feckingham tried to persuade her but Jane could not be Catholic anymore than she could change her sex, Mary was saddened and Spain was baying for her blood, so no Jane was far from being the mild mannered easily led girl of popular belief, she also very precocious and had a great academic mind, and in modern times could easily have been a professor of languages or other vast learned subjects, she was not a victim but rather a victim of circumstance, her Tudor blood caused her downfall, we can see why history has painted her as a tragic sacrifice because her death was tragic, but in the end she was in control of her own demise.

    1. I agree with you about Jane Gray. She was much stronger and independent than many would have us believe. I would like your opinion on this: If Jane had remained on the throne would the reformation have continued as Edward VI had set it in motion or do you think she would have become more radical and persecuted Catholics as harshly as Mary did Protestants? Personally I see a cold side to her just like Edward.

      1. Hi Michael, yes I do believe she would have, she abhorred Catholicism and was passionate about the reformation as her young cousin had been, Edward feared (egged on by Dudley ) that Mary would undo all that, In fact she did when she ascended the throne, she made it legal to celebrate mass again, she tried to force her half sister Elizabeth to attend mass but the latter craftily always pleaded illness, she started to undo that which her father had started, and which her brother ruthlessly had pushed through during his short tenure on the throne, but when it comes to young Jane it is difficult to ascertain, she was fanatical but I doubt she would have approved with the shedding of blood, we do not know much of her character only that she was learned devout and had taken to queen ship quite easily, after so many years on the throne she could well have become hardened and less tolerant with her Catholic subjects, she could have been a successful queen but of course there was her father in law Robert Dudley who would have been the real power behind the throne, or so he believed when he planned the coup to place his son and Jane on the throne, her rebellion against making Guildford king shows she had a steely side to her, as time went on I can see her sparring with her parents in law quite often and them ending up being clapped in the Tower, England could well have had a longer Tudor dynasty as she would have in time had children or maybe just the one, as the Tudors were not prolific breeders, but her mother had three children, but of course young Jane and Guildford were beheaded, Janes only crime being that she accepted the throne, she later said she should not have accepted it but crowns are not to be bartered around like skittles, she was placed in a very difficult situation but it was not of her making, the fault lay with Edward who should have honoured his fathers will, a very tragic ending to a brilliant young life.

        1. Thank you Christine that’s pretty much the same conclusion I came to.

          I just finished Linda Porter’s biography of Mary Tudor. Loved it. A lot of detail and very balanced. Earlier last year I read Anne Whitelock’s biography on the same subject. Also quite good. My opinion of Mary has changed over brhe years. I initially saw her as only ‘bloody Mary’ the Protestant persecutor but the more I read I realize she was also a victim and one who was emotionally broken in many ways.

  10. Yes she was, Linda Porters book is excellent I loved it, Mary’s adolescence was particularly painful and they are the years when people are most unsettled, research has shown that teenagers are more affected by their parents break up than at any other age, raging hormones all play their part in a difficult stage in a humans life, not only that but here was not a young girl knowing simply that her father had left her dear mother for another woman, and would she see him on saturdays only etc, but her very existence as her fathers heir was at stake and she must have felt like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders, Mary did suffer but her chose to stand against her father for many years. which caused friction between them and a lot of hurt, Henry had always loved his eldest daughter most dearly she was his pearl, but he had to chastise her the way he would with any of his rebellious subjects, both father and daughter were estranged for many years and they only came to enjoy convivial family bliss again when she acknowledged her father as Head of the Church and her own mothers married status as his queen invalid, she was then allowed to come to court and became very close to her stepmother Jane who had tried so hard to bring them together, she was not bloody the only problem was when she did become queen, she chose to revive the old heresy laws and that meant hundreds and hundreds of so called heretics were rounded up and burnt, and pregnant women old people children were killed, had she not done that her name would now not be so derided, it is difficult because she was not that intolerant, her character was that of a kind woman who was popular with her household and she had some dear friends but because of the Smithfield fires there were plenty of mutterings against her, by those who did not really know her true nature, as said she had pardoned her council who had gone over to Jane Grey, she had no wish to send Jane her husband or father to the block, realising the plot had all been Dudley’s and he had persuaded young King Edward to leave her out of his new will, (even though Edward we must acknowledge was not happy about Mary undoing his beloved reformation), many Protestants fled abroad including the Knolly’s family, it was sad she did choose to rout out those whom she deemed as heretics, but we have to remember she had lost her cherished birthright and the religion she had worshipped as a child, the religion of her beloved mothers country, she vowed the new religion as evil and synonymous with her hated stepmother Anne Boleyn, the woman who had wrecked her parents marriage and made her a bastard, this new religion was something Mary must have seen as the root of all evil and no wonder she was determined to stamp it out, myths and legends however have arisen about Mary since her death and the term ‘Bloody’ was not attributed to her till the seventeenth century, long after her death and the smoke of Smithfield had died out, historians now have given her a more balanced view instead of the image of the cranky catholic fanatic chucking to herself as the fires were lit, she did not glorify in the slaughter of blood although the Smithfield fires have tainted her memory somewhat.

    1. Let me preface this by saying I do not condone Mary’s actions they were abhorrent. With that said it seems with the exception of Thomas Cranmer the burnings did not involve malice or vengeance. I think she truly thought in her heart of hearts that she was saving the souls of the condemned. This same view does not apply to her father who’s actions seemed to be based on obedience. I believe her actions may have been a part of her broken state. From what I’ve read she never lost her kind heartedness that she had since childhood, she treated her friends and loyal servants like family. It makes no sense to me that in this one area that would be be malice behind her actions. Just my opinion for what it’s worth.

  11. Yes she could have believed these people had been seduced by the new religion, and this was her way of saving their souls from hellfire and brimstone, but i do think it was also because as I said earlier, that she felt the reform had ruined her life, it had turned her life upside down and was connected to the misery of her past and Anne Boleyn, also when under her brothers reign their difference in religion caused a rift between them, that is just my theory and she was determined to turn England Catholic again, she married a Catholic husband and reversed the titular Regis she was undoing everything her father and brother had started and nearly completed, regarding Thomas Cranmer I feel his death was not necessary, and was based on Mary’s own personal feelings towards him as the man who deemed her parents marriage invalid, that was not worthy of the queen as he was merely obeying her fathers wishes and also he had recanted but, it is thought Mary did not believe he truly wished to recant and was just intent on saving his own skin more than his soul, it was the soul that was considered more important, and the heavenly glory that was the true existence than the fleshly one on earth, however by law as he had recanted it was illegal to send him to his death but Mary refused to allow him to live, it was a dreadful ending for a man who had served King Henry faithfully for many years, he had held his hand as he lay on his deathbed and yet his career was coming to an end with the reign of Queen Mary, he was not a young man either and when he was chained to the stake he thrust his right hand into the flames, saying that was the hand that had sinned therefore it shall be the first to be burnt, his horrible death did Mary no favours there, i agree the Smithfield fires did mar Mary’s reputation and because she was a woman, it looked far worse than had she been a king, but once she had started she possibly found it hard to stop and yet this tiny little woman, whom her father had called his pearl, this precious child who had been the only surviving offspring of her parents long marriage, was in her youth immensely popular, she was also eager to please and had a very gracious friendly nature, she was generous to those less fortunate than herself and visited the poor in their mean little dwellings with baskets of food and medicine and warm blankets, she had many supporters throughout the kingdom and enjoyed a close friendship with her cousin Lady Margaret Lennox, several of her maids Jane Dormer and a Susan Clarencieux who often shared her bed, she was especially close to her governess and cousin Lady Margaret Pole, and she had to suffer real grief when her father sent her to the block, she had had to fight for her crown after Edwards death, and she must have felt that all her life she had obstacles in front of her, a happy childhood doth a happy adult make and today a psychologist would have a field day with Mary, Mary’s reign today is largely seen as a failure which is very sad as she had the potential and the makings of a great queen, the Smithfield fires are forever ground in the human subconscious and it is because of that, no heir to the throne has ever been allowed to marry a Roman Catholic again.

  12. I don’t disagree with you. Part of what was broken in her was her connection to religion. Yes, she was trying to turn back the reforms but I still believe she was trying to save the souls of those poor misguided people who strayed from what she knew was the true faith, Catholicism. She was trying to change things yes, but not with malicious intent toward the accused.

  13. Thank you Christine. I knew that the Gray’s reputation had been tarnished over the years but I didn’t know how Ascham’s information about Jane was originally published. Darn those Victorians and their warping of history. The mess they’ve made is going to take a long time to clean up but I’m glad modern historians are are trying.

    1. Yes for years Jane Rochfords marriage was seen as unhappy and she was the one who bore false witness against her husband, she mentioned this on the scaffold, and then there is Jane’s mother Frances made out to be a vicious harridan who beat her children and ruthlessly pushed her eldest on the throne, history has really done these two woman a deep injustice, it is good after long last that we are gradually learning the truth about them.

  14. Hi BQ. That trip to Wales bringing Nathan Amin’s book as a guide sounds like such fun but I’m sorry the heat put a damper on it. I’m glad you were able to visit as many sites as you did. Love the encounter with the squirrel. I live about 2 miles from s golf course called Glendoveer and there is a dirt track for walking/running and you always have meetings with squirrels. Some are very bold. Thank you for the info on Mr. Amin’s upcoming book. I am looking forward to reading it and learning what information he has dug up that I’ve never read. Sounds very interesting.

  15. Henry Gray does not seem to have been the brightest bulb in the box. Its sad enough that he got himself condemned to death but he more than likely cost his daughter her life.

    1. Yes he did and that last attempt to join forces with Wyatt and reinstate her as queen was very foolhardy, they were overcome by Mary’s superior army and this time, both Jane and her father lost their lives, Philip of Spain was also refusing to travel to England whilst Jane was alive as she was a threat to Mary’s safety, this poor young girl because of her royal blood was deemed very dangerous, the Spanish ambassador was trying to force Mary to behead her and she did not want to, they were cousins closely related, she was secure in the Tower that most impregnable of fortresses, watched day and night, Frances must have railed against her foolish husband and this time there could be no pardon, he had effectively thrown the queens earlier pardon back in her face, Jane in her own chamber wrote him a letter bearing him no ill will but it must have made him weep, Guildford too lost his life so not only did Frances lose a husband and daughter, so did Jane Dudley lose a husband and son, one death is hard enough to bear in a family, let alone two and a cherished child at that.

  16. What most people forget is that when Mary gained the crown, the majority of people were still in fact devoutly Catholic and resented the enforcement of the reformation on the country. For most places, with a few exceptions, including London, the introduction of the Mass again was met with joy and bonfires. In fact before Mary reached the Capital Mass was being said in many churches. On one hand there was great rejoicing, on the other there were protests. London never liked anything it didn’t have a hand in. Thomas Cranmer issued Letters and printed tracts against the introduction of the Mass and criticism of the new regime and supported Queen Jane.

    Mary was a devoted Catholic, that’s how she and most people were raised and it was taken from her through the marriage of her father and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Henry Viii took control of the clergy and Church lands and property in the biggest land grab in our history. Her parents tore themselves apart and she was pushed to the sidelines and forbidden to see either of them until she accepted her father and mother were not lawfully married and she was illegitimate, on the orders of the father she adored. Mary refused and was bullied and threatened until she gave in after four years of persecution. Her life was threatened, her friends arrested and sent to the Tower for protesting in her favour, and yes, I do mean with placards. Mary spent the last nine years of her father’s life trying to rebuild a broken relationship and did succeed but then found herself dictated to by her snotty nosed little brother. Her protest in public against his outlawed Mass was wonderful. She rode through the City to Mass at Southwark Cathedral in full view with her ladies and knights all carrying rosaries and with prayer books for all to see. The crowds went wild. A barrage of letters passed as Edward forbade Mass in her own house in the Midlands. Mary was defiant.

    Mary was warned of the attempt to exclude her from the throne she should have lawfully inherited in July 1553 on the death of King Edward and of a plot to capture her if she went to pay her respects to her dying brother, who was actually dead. Elizabeth was also warned. Mary used her estates and escaped. With Jane installed she had to act quickly and did so, winning over the local gentlemen and magistrates. The navy sent to stop her escape and fire on her came over to her side and she gained control of their guns. The army sent by Jane didn’t fire and eventually stood down and declared for Mary. Jane took the keys of the Tower because the Council changed sides and locked them in. However, some how they got out and Jane was abandoned. A few days later Mary was proclaimed Queen to wild celebrations.

    Jane is reported as asking could she now go home, but that doesn’t ring true. She may have been “reluctant” to accept the crown but she didn’t hesitate to use her power once she held it and was certainly as radical a Protestant and as fanatical in her condemnation of Mary and her supporters as traitors as Mary was a Catholic and determined Jane’s supporters were traitors. We do hear at least a pretence at conciliation from Mary who wrote to the Council declaring herself as their true Queen but saying she gave them a chance to rectify their mistakes and return to their allegiance. Mary saw Jane as innocent in the affair and to some extent she was. Apart from John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland, Mary was very generous to these rebels and traitors who had denied her her inheritance rights. He was executed within weeks, actually dying a Catholic. Even Thomas Cranmer was left at large, the man responsible for her parents annulment, her loss of her rights, the man who had brought heretical teaching to the entire realm and supported her father in his reformation and converted the entire population to his own reformation and who continued to write treason against her. The family of Jane Grey were pardoned and even the two leading culprits were left alone even after a show trial several months later. Cranmer was allowed to hold a Protestant funeral for King Edward and Mary heard Mass for him. However, eventually after her coronation and Parliament, Cranmer and Jane and husband and other Dudley family members were put on trial at the Guildhall in London. They were found guilty, but sentences were postponed. For one thing, Cranmer had to face heresy charges. The path to his execution was long and bizarre. First he wanted to be heard in Rome and his case was deferred, he was granted a dispute on his theological ideas, followed by several hearings, being removed from the clergy and the Church. He was imprisoned in a variety of places, he made several written recanted statements and was allowed visitors and better conditions, until his final hearing, his submission and Mary eventually received his last statement to recant. It was at this point the Queen was involved.

    Now Mary’s motivation is difficult because there isn’t proof either way, so personal opinion will always be part of the debate. Cranmer had made the required submissions and recanted but here is one problem, he changed the wording. This is something people choose to overlook. A formal recanted statement was written in a particular way. Cranmer had his changed. There was something about it which made it impossible to accept. Mary had to decide if she accepted it or signed his death sentence. She did the latter and her motivation has been questioned since. Some people think it was revenge, but why not execute him for treason in that case back in 1553 or 1554? His being a member of the clergy would no longer protect him, her father had broken that taboo. So do we know how she felt? Not really. However, we can assume because of the personal hurt he had caused her that it was her motivation, yet it wasn’t her nature and other evidence shows she had at one time pardoned that. Mary wasn’t a bitter woman. Yet, her more recent experience had added to her distress and between 1554 and 1557 when Cranmer was executed there had been further rebellions, two fake pregnancies caused by ill health, her personality must have been affected. By the time she came to sign his warrant, Cranmer had changed his mind several times and looked insincere. I believe her decision was a mix of personal and frustrated feelings and she thought he had deeply undermined her authority, was responsible for much of the problems she had inherited and therefore had to die. For me it was the one act which stands against her personally.

    Mary wasn’t involved in most heresy trials and wasn’t personally a cruel woman, in fact her government proceeded with caution. She did revise the heresy laws during her first Parliament, but she was obligated to do so and her people actually would have expected her to do so, the country was still a majority Catholic country. It was her obligation as a Christian Monarch to take a tough stance with people who threatened her realm and its peace and that is how a Catholic World saw heretics and “reformers” and no matter how horrible that is to us today, Mary was not going to be an exception. Her government may have gone too far, heresy charges often resulted from local disputes between neighbours, just as accusations of witchcraft did, but it was her duty to see it stamped out. It was also the same under every monarch of her day and afterwards. However, before anyone was tried for heresy she ordered an educational and evangelical programme and one of preaching and tracts. Her brand of Catholicism was radical and lively. She wasn’t a traditionalist. Mary didn’t undo many of her father’s ideas, she stood by some of them. She didn’t take back much of the seized and redistribution of Church lands but did re establish the religious orders, if not the original housss. So her nobles breathed a sigh of relief. She didn’t push too many changes in the reform of the clergy either and the reconciliation with Rome was popular. The Mass was vibrant and women wanted to be Churched again. The Rosary was encouraged as was study and Churches were beautiful and alive again. It was a time of deep contrast. The darkness of the fires and the cruelty they represent, the death of men and women and young people over 14, although only a few cases thankfully, but the Tudors did see this as an adult, again horribly, the terror and fear that so tragically brought, which have left a bitter stain on Mary’s reputation. The new light of the welcome return of the Catholic Mass, of shrines restored, monasteries restored, of people again on pilgrimage, of much loved ceremonies, of the hours, the colour returned to Church buildings, the hidden statues came out, the beautiful rituals, the things the people wanted, a living and dedicated faith, all this was much celebrated.

    Mary was also very much merciful to people who rebelled. Of course she had to get rid of Wyatt and his supporters, but most were pardoned. She pardoned 300 ordinary people out of pity for them in one day, she was torn about what to do with Jane and her husband but in the end her Council advised her that they were too dangerous, so just as her grandfather had killed Warwick, Mary reluctantly allowed the death sentence passed in November 1553_to be carried out in February 1554. Mary also had every right to put Elizabeth to death if she chose, because she was implicated in the Wyatt conspiracy to kill her. However, Mary actually resisted calls for this during the time Elizabeth was held in the Royal Apartments in the Tower and Mary had to release her because nothing was proved and Wyatt said nothing. Elizabeth must have been afraid at this time, but it was her own fault she was imprisoned. Mary wrote to her to come to Court and Elizabeth disobeyed her. In my opinion Mary had little option but to lock her up as a security measure as her life was under threat. I can’t prove it but I also believe Elizabeth was guilty and consented to the Wyatt plot. Under Edward she had come pretty close to a treasonous plot as well, she talked her way out again. Under Mary, who had rallied her people behind her, Elizabeth was seen as the Protestant alternative and wasn’t exactly someone not to be suspicious off. Mary released her to house arrest and then her own estates.

    Mary was also one for wonderful ceremonies and public pageantry, with the Gentlemen Pensioners for example and a tournament between the Spanish and English knights to try and settle things as trouble had been a problem after her marriage to Philip Ii. She also extended trade and opened up contact with Russia and reformed naval funding and the currency and social reforms for the poor. She loved to play cards and music and dance and her reign wasn’t unsuccessful. It was just too short. Her achievements have been forgotten because she was overshadowed by her sister who had the good fortune to come to the throne at 25 and live a long time so she was able to do more. Under Elizabeth culture and the theatre flourished but we also had war after war with Ireland and Spain and they lasted years. Exploration flourished but it was funded by slavery. Elizabeth was a great Queen, but she didn’t rule over a golden age.

    Jane Grey is hard to judge on her methods against the Catholic Faith, she was only in charge for 13_days. However, the sentiments she expressed in the orders she gave and her heartfelt responses to Father Feckenham show a vibrant and evangelical zeal. I suspect that yes, she would have used every method she could to eradicate the Catholic Church. Only one monarch practised tolerance and that was Mary Queen of Scots because she had seen horror in France against various groups. She was also the minority in a now Protestant land, with the Catholic Highlands the only real part of her land her faith lived on. She agreed to remain private, having her Mass in her own Chapel, but it was open to all, and John Knox refused to allow her that. She was a rare flower in a world at war with itself and were sadly difference could mean death.

    1. Thankyou Bq for informing us of Cranmer’s doings in support of Jane, the printing of letters against mass would have irked Mary, and of course coming down in support of Jane, I was not aware of that, however regarding the young Lady Elizabeth I think she was too clever to intricate herself with Wyatt’s foolish plot, she knew Jane was in the Tower and her life hung by a thread, Elizabeth was known for being cautious and wary, could be wrong but it’s one of the pieces of history we can only ponder about.

      1. Yes, Elizabeth was very clever and savvy and although some people believe she was sent a letter from Wyatt, none was ever found or it may be speculation, but some contact was always suspected. The Council certainly believed Elizabeth was up to no good, soon changed their tune the moment she was Queen of course. Under Edward she was interrogated by their representatives a few times over two weeks, regarding the activities of Thomas Seymour who wanted to marry her, and, now under Mary she was accused of a number of things. She always managed to talk her way around though, her responses were very mature and clever and astounded them. She knew she could not consent to anything, but she didn’t say no either, just remain neutral, say nothing, watching, being vigilant and keeping her own counsel. We don’t really know if Wyatt contacted her but it has always been part of the narrative. We do know Mary was persuaded Elizabeth was involved or knew something and her odd behaviour on her way South didn’t exactly put the Queens mind at rest. I believe she was deeply torn as she gave the order for Elizabeth to be taken to the Tower, their relationship had not been bad up to now and it had only recently become difficult. However, the dynamics had changed. Up to 1553_the two women were in the same boat, two heirs to the crown, legally illegitimate, rich, but at the heart of the Court and yet excluded because of their sex and yet likely to succeed as Edward was ill without an heir. That was changed with his Devise which removed both women from the succession and the way that Mary became Queen.

        Although Mary received Elizabeth well, she was part of her sister’s coronation and was there at her entry into London, as a potential heir to the throne, until Mary had a child, Elizabeth was the target for every rebel and nut job out there who saw her as an alternative to the Catholic Queen. As you can imagine, that immediately put her under suspicion from certain advisors if not the Queen herself. This made her a target for Wyatt who wanted to put her on the throne and he planned to kill Mary as well. The dilemma for the crown was did Elizabeth know all of this and did she consent to it? Had Thomas Wyatt told Elizabeth of his plans and had she hidden the information? If yes, Elizabeth was guilty of misprison of treason and being the Queen’s half sister wasn’t going to mitigate such a crime. That’s the pressure Mary was receiving to believe. She must have been shocked and disappointed. The rumour machine was running overtime. Mary wrote to Elizabeth at this point and told her to come to Court and explain herself. Elizabeth wrote to try to reassure her sister but it wasn’t any good. Pretending to be ill she took far too long to come to London and was allowed to return to Hatfield were she was later arrested and escorted to the Tower, having written the famous Tide Letter the night before. Here Elizabeth was smart because she stalled one day and the paper showed her letter is on two pages, finishing half way down the page, leaving space where the government could add something, so what does she do but draw diagonal lines across and signed at the bottom. Smart! Mary obviously suspected her and Elizabeth puts that in her letter as well but was confident that nothing could be proven against her. She was questioned several times by the Council and she managed to answer well. She must have been confused and afraid but eventually Mary released her after the crisis passed. In a bitter sweet irony Elizabeth was released on 19th May 1554,_the eighteenth anniversary of her mother’s execution.

        It would certainly make a good book, investigation into evidence but I don’t believe there is any either way as it was destroyed. Thomas Wyatt exonerated Elizabeth apparently and the investigation turned nothing up, so really it was suspicion only. At least Mary didn’t just invent evidence to get rid of Elizabeth as her father had done through Thomas Cromwell and the case against Anne Boleyn, she resisted calls from her advisors to execute her and she probably realized it wasn’t a good idea in any case. Mary didn’t trust her afterwards. From that point any relationship was more or less impossible although they did communicate and Mary did try to persuade her to go to Mass. One story says Elizabeth asked for instruction and Mary agreed but then said she was too ill to attend. Mary knew her sister well enough not to believe her. She probably gave her up as a lost cause and Mary still didn’t have a child. When Mary thought she was pregnant in 1556 Elizabeth sent her a gift of baby clothes. So the two obviously didn’t entirely hate each other and no evidence exists that her life was constantly in danger from Mary. Elizabeth was kept under close watch and confined at Woodstock and then allowed home after one year but had the grounds and servants so it was a luxurious house arrest. In the Tower she also had the gardens to walk in. Mary never trusted her again though, others both suspected and supported her but the fact that Elizabeth had been the subject of a plot to kill her, whether or not she knew and consented was enough to send alarm bells ringing. And what if she was guilty? Then one might say she had a lucky escape. Elizabeth for me gets far too much sympathy over her imprisonment. I am sorry, I don’t agree, she was the chief target for those who wanted to use her to kill and replace her sister. For me, Mary took the correct action and locked her up as a sensible precaution.

  17. The traits you mention in Mary such as tolerance and a sense of fairness are the very reasons I believe her actions against Cranmer were personal as he was responsible for declaring her parents marriage invalid and her being declared illegitimate. I think she used a trial for heresy as a cover for revenge but as you say we can never really know.

    There are two times I am very proud of Mary. Her handling of Wyatt’s rebellion and as you mentioned, she and her ladies thumbing their noses at her brother by riding through the streets with Rosaries. The more I read about her the more I actually like her.

    1. We at least have some very good accounts of Mary now, very well balanced. Linda Porter is probably my favourite as well, then Anna Whitelock, then Edwards “Catholic Queen” then probably the study by Eamon Duffy on the persecution. The study of martyrdom and persecution is a very difficult subject, you have to be extremely objective and almost detached. I have read several accounts of the Jesuits under Elizabeth and the priests who died and later the female martyrs and its hard not to want to strangle her. The Marian persecution is hard because of the nature of them, the details, but the stories from any perspective are difficult. Eamon somehow managed to remain neutral. David Loudes did an excellent account of the Marian Church structure and practice in context and his biography of Mary was one of the best before his death. Porter is better though. Whitelock is very feminine, Mary the woman comes through in a deeply human way. Two excellent older accounts are Helen Prescott The Spanish Queen and my first account, The Lady Mary: A Biography of Mary Tudor by Milton Waldman with an emphasis on her early life. Jessie Childes has written an excellent book on the Elizabethan and Jacabean persecution and the Catholic populations and the Gunpowder Plot through one family. Some of the tortures are really hard to read. Nicholas Owen who made most of the priest holes was racked and hung by his wrists for so long that his guts burst and they carried on, despite the fact it was illegal to rack a sick or disabled person. He died of his injuries. He was held for six weeks in the Little Ease cell. It was too small to stand up in and very painful to be in. Edmund Campion was also held there and racked four times before being tried and hanging, drawing and quartered. Campion is well known as a scholar, much like Thomas Cranmer and was actually a chaplain to Queen Elizabeth before his conversation. He was one of the most popular and most successful of the missionary priests and his debate with the Council and theologians and his writing are the stuff of legend. He was also connected to the family of William Shakespeare.

      When you read any story of anyone persecuted for faith it really makes you grateful we live in an age that is tolerant. I don’t believe people were necessarily cruel then but somehow more programmed to see others as dangerous rather than just someone different. Yet there was so much inspiration as well. It was a deeply religious age but it was a highly sensitive age and the States involvement in what was the correct form of belief made them more powerful and reactive, less likely to be fair in their investigations. Heresy became treason, a political crime, not just a religious one.

      Mary, Elizabeth, Edward, Henry, James all prosecuted heresy and religious dissidents and so did their international counterparts, Charles V, Philip and even Francis of France. Mary certainly doesn’t deserve to be called Bloody anymore than any of the others, less so most probably and thanks to historians like Linda Porter she has started to lose that reputation.

      1. So beautifully put. When I first heard about Mary many years ago I thought she was the most awful person there was. I’ve come to really like her just not some of the things she did and as I begin to understand her motivations for why she did them, though I don’t agree my opinion has softened a lot. The only book I’ve read on the heresy executions was one I found on archive.org called ‘The Burning Time’ by Virginia Rounding. Though it’s primary subject is Protestant martyrs A few Catholics are mentioned. I don’t care what faith they were. It was a terrible situation. The most fascinating thing is a primary thread dealing with Richard Rich and how he maneuvered his way through different regimes and managed to die a natural death by being (in my words) a weasel.

        1. Thanks for the compliment, Michael. I have been a Marian for donkeys years, I feel I know her very well, but there are always questions about motivation and individuals impossible to answer after 500 years and unless we find a personal letter, memories or something, we really can’t as yet answer them. One day perhaps.

    2. Yes Mary was not a frightened little woman, she was determined to show her brother she was Catholic and Catholicism was the true religion, it must have been so very hard for her likewise the ordinary people, in fact rich and poor, one minute you are Catholic your country has been Catholic for over a thousand years, the Pope is the head of the holy Roman church of which your monarch is the subject, the next your religion which is life and breadth to you is being swamped under a black cloud of reform, Mary was stubborn, her very refusal to accept Anne Boleyn as her fathers consort and her half sister as the true princess, shows to what extent she was prepared to go to, she defied her father for many years yet in the end it was all for nothing she had to bow to his authority, she fell out with Edward over her faith and yes, Edward does appear a snotty nosed little prig, Mary had been his favourite sister for a time yet when he became king it must have been insufferable, this child who was about twenty years her junior lording it over her primly informing her that she should not celebrate her beloved mass and other popish fancies, Edward when little must have been an adorable little boy as all children are, yet as he grew older ever aware of his exalted state he became prim haughty and possibly quite overbearing.

      1. We shouldn’t be too hard on Edward. He was acting like what he was King of England. We must also remember that just as Mary was brought up only knowing Catholicism and was probably taught that any deviation was wrong and sinful Edward, during his short life was only taught reformist views and was told the old religion was wrong and sinful. Mary, being Edward’s sister was given a lot of leeway that I don’t think any other subject would have gotten and that his advisors were against. Mary did say something to Edward in a letter that I agree with. She said he should not make decisions about religion until he was older and had a better understanding. But again remember HE was king and his father was Henry Viii. I am so glad to see this as history and not to have been in the middle of it.

        1. You are right Michael Mary was brought up in the Catholic faith and Edward only knew about reform, our minds are conditioned by other forces in our childhood, yet I think of Lady Willoughby who married Charles Brandon as his third wife, her mother had been Maria de Salina a fervent Spanish Catholic yet she began to study the new religion and became a ardent follower of it, Edward was quite fanatic about it as was Lady Jane Grey, regarding his character, we only know he was serious and rarely laughed, he appears quite cold hearted to, he did not grieve for Thomas Seymour his favourite uncle at his death, and by all accounts found it quite easy to sign his death warrant, however we have to remember Thomas had shot his beloved dog over the ill fated attempt to kidnap him, which would have angered and upset him a great deal, but still he had always been fond of his merry uncle, I have often wondered what sort of king Edward would have made, fussed over since childhood aware of how important he was he could not really be anything else but overbearing, or maybe arrogance is the term that could be used, as you mention he was king and a son of Henry V111, yet he does not appear to have inherited his fathers warm carefree personality which he had possessed at the start of his reign, maybe Edward was more of a Seymour, his mother was described by Chapyus as rather proud and haughty, Anne Boleyn’s supporters thought Jane cold hearted as she stepped over the body of her dead mistress and became queen, but that does not mean she was, it was the king who was to blame for Anne’s death not Jane, Edward is an enigma also, he so dreaded the crown going to Catholic Mary and he could not leave it to Elizabeth either, therefore by the will of Henry V111 the next heiress was Lady Frances Brandon, yet she forego her right of descent in favour of her eldest daughter, by the law it should have been the descendants of his eldest daughter Margaret, but Henry hated the Scots and barred the throne from going to any foreigner, Edward drew up his devize for the succession yet without parliamentary approval, which was needed as he was a minor, but was his will valid as he was England’s anointed king ? Eric Ives believes Jane was the true queen and Mary usurped her crown not the other way round, Edward believed both sisters who he did love we must remember, were not entitled to the throne as they had both been made illegitimate, and I recall the earlier posts about the Beaufort’s, no bastard can inherit the throne but here Mary was in a stronger position than Elizabeth, as legally her parents had entered into wedlock and had been granted the dispensation from the pope, any child born of such a Union was considered legitimate, the trouble is Henry created such confusion by making himself head of the church, and declaring his first marriage invalid creating his own laws and such, that his wives and children could not have known if they were coming or going, it was more cut and dried with his second wife who legally was not his wife at all as there had been no dispensation, therefore Elizabeth was really born a bastard, and such a stigma was never allowed to taint the throne, so even though Henry put both daughters in the line of succession they were still, according to young Edward illegitimate and his only one true heir whom he deemed worthy to sit on his throne was cousin Jane.

  18. Hi Christine. Yes, Edward’s apparent lack of emotion is a bit frightening. Very unlike his father. All we know about what Edward was taught is by reports. I would be interested in knowing what information about Catholicism was conveyed to him only orally that we are not aware of. I think it would really help explain his adamant stand against it.

    1. I wonder if Jane was haughty or just reserved. Alexandra Romanov was considered conceited by her contemporaries in Russia but it was that she was painfully shy. Not a good trait if you’re the Empress of a major power.

      1. It must be difficult if you are by nature shy, and lack confidence, our present queen was suddenly thrust into the spotlight when her uncle abdicated, she was a shy girl to and yet she had to overcome that as she knew she would eventually be queen one day, her own father George V was painfully shy and very nervous, he stuttered and was not at all prepared to be king, it was something the queen mother never forgave Edward and Wallis for, Queen Mary the mother of both Edward and George V was said to be a right tartar, the early photographs of her show her looking very hard and severe she was every inch a queen, she never received Wallis and never forgave her eldest son for abdicating, Princess Diana was painfully shy yet as she grew older she managed her job with much more ease, she grew much more confident and enjoyed going to shelters and charities and functions, she was aware she was very popular and more so than Charles, but the stress of media attention in the early days brought on bulimia nervosa, Kate on the other hand took to the spotlight with aplomb I think one day she will be a most gracious queen.

        1. I had heard before how upset Elizabeth II’s mother was about the abdication and blamed her husband’s early death on the pressures of being king. How horrible for the family to be thrust into that when you’re not expecting it or prepared.

        2. Well it was his smoking that hastened his early death, as for his brother there was a general consensus amongst the people that Edward V111 should be allowed to marry who he wanted, he was popular the golden prince was how he was perceived, his subjects did not mind about Wallis being an American divorcee it was the huge fuss the tabloids made about it, Parliament also had to ensure Edward did not renage on his duties, Churchill was sympathetic towards him, but as king though as yet uncrowned, he could not marry a divorced woman or a Catholic, it was laid down in the statute law, now it’s more relaxed, and they have even put the daughters according to their age in the succession ahead of a younger brother, so times are changing, another thing I heard about Edward V111 is he was known to be a nazi sympathiser and Wallis was just used as an excuse to get rid of him, but he could not be forced to abdicate, there are such a lot of files and secret documents we have no access to nor ever will, they remain entirely state secrets.

  19. He also referred to Mary’s mother as The Spaniard’ and that it was Elizabeth’s misfortune to have Anne Boleyn as a mother, he obviously believed he was the one true legitimate heir of his father, when Mary became queen she reversed the titular Regis as was her right as sovereign, so that act made her parents marriage valid again (which in fact it always had been), no matter what Henry V111 said or did, and so she was again legitimate, many historians and maybe her contemporaries to have wondered why Elizabeth did not also reverse this act when she became queen, thus making her parents marriage valid and herself legitimate, maybe she decided to let her mothers name rest in obscurity as it had done for the past twenty two years by the time her daughter ascended the throne, there was no scandal attached to Mary’s mother but Anne Boleyn was different, to resurrect the past concerning her legitimate status and parents marriage, would have meant the dredging up of old wounds the horror of the execution and the charges against her, and Elizabeth was deeply sensitive about her mother, we can infer this because she never spoke her name in public, we do not know if she did in private, she could have discussed her with Catherine Carey as she was blood kin, and maybe Katherine Ashley her beloved companion, but she was never heard to speak of her in public, although there was references to her at her coronation, there was a life size figure of Anne with Henry V111, she also adopted her mothers falcon badge and had her emblems on her table linen, she also had a ring commissioned with a portrait of herself and who could only be her mother in the opposite space, and also a more balanced kinder view was emerging of Anne as the blessed mother of Elizabeth gods anointed sovereign, this was only natural as her daughter being Queen Anne would enjoy some form of exoneration, instead of being seen as a wicked wh*re who had plotted the kings death and who had broke England with Rome, she was seen as the champion of reform who helped to free England from the idolatry of Rome, Elizabeth however to her Catholic subjects was merely the bastard child of an infamous concubine, most of Europe which was largely Catholic mistrusted her, whatever Elizabeth herself thought of her illegitimate status we will never be sure, certainly it did not stop suitors vying for her hand she was still Queen of England after all.

  20. Hi Michael, your mention of Richard Rich brings me back to our Judge and of course he also gives us one of the reports on the other major trial of Henry’s reign: Sir Thomas More, for which we have endless information.

    One person stood out as causing the conviction of More who actually looked as if he might have gotten off, so strong was his own legal arguments. Silence equalised consent. However, Richard Rich committed perjury in the case of Thomas More. Earlier in his career More had refused him a job as he was unreliable and many believe he later took his revenge, although he may have been under orders, given he was working for the government. He was sent with another weasel, Richard Southall, to remove all of More’s books and writing materials from the Tower. During the activities he began asking questions and he or More said something hypothetical. Now the version we have is garbled because of the perjury and we cannot really construct things properly.

    More, according to our weasel, Richard Rich, asked a question about Parliament and the existence of God, could Parliament make such a law? No, of course not! More is then meant to have remarked that in the same case Parliament can’t make a law which says the King is Head of the Church because it is against the belief of the rest of the Church and the law of Christ. Rich agreed. More contended that no such conversations took place or that it went down very differently and was a hypothetical question on the nature of law. More was an expert on the nature of law. He once said he would give the Devil the protection of the law because we are all entitled to the same and can’t do away with the rule of law. He was also the master of rhetoric which makes the testimony of Rich even less likely as someone that skilled would never have been caught out by such a weasel.

    Rich was a member of the household and administration of Thomas Cromwell and was Chancellor of Wales, which Cromwell wanted to annex under the Act of Unification, passed in 1536. He had risen very quickly and was being used to trap Thomas More but it almost backfired. In the end Christopher Hatten, the Attorney General noted his testimony as confirmation that More had been stubborn and refused the King his lawful tittle as Supreme Head of the English Church. IT was Thomas More’s speech which went down in history as one of the best explanations of his mind and beliefs. It was made after he had been condemned.

    Richard Rich certainly did a lot of regime hoping, changing his spots as he went, reformer, ardent Catholic, reformer, prosecuting counsel in heresy trials and he had no principles. He was involved in the illegal racking of Anne Askew. Regardless of who was in charge Rich and others slivered along from one government post to the next.

    1. He was a slimy toad, they showed him at the trial of Sir Thomas More in ‘A Man For All Seasons’, he gave false evidence and More uttered he feared his soul will suffer for it, he was obviously more concerned about his fleshly life that the heavenly one, and yes he did die in his bed, something they mentioned after the film had ended, his lies at the trial of More a decent honest man and a humanist show him to have been without scruples, this was evident in the case of Anne Askew, I cannot understand any man who could stand by and let a woman be racked but like Cromwell he obviously did not let the suffering of others bother him that much.

      1. Hi Christine and BQ. I am so glad that I am not the only one to have such a low opinion of Rich. He was responsible for so much suffering through his lying throughout his career. I can’t comprehend having no concern for anyone but yourself. No sympathy, no empathy, no conscience whatever.

  21. Hi Christine. I’d not heard the Nazi sympathizer label applied to Edward VIII before but I have heard it applied to Errol Flynn. And remember we also had Joseph P. Kennedy, ambassador, father of John & Robert Kennedy who didn’t want to fight and just wanted to let Hitler take whatever he wanted. He was a defeatist and a real piece of work. Christine mentions all the sealed documents held by the government. We of course have the same type of thing. Regarding the Kennedy assassination documents were sealed for 75 yrs but from when I’m not sure. If it’s from the year of the incident that will be in 2038 which is not too far away. Regardless of when I’m sure the courts will extend the seal indefinitely.

    1. Errol Flynn I first saw him in Robin Hood, he was a notorious womaniser, famous for the immortal words ‘I like my whisky old and my women young’, it’s strange how stories come about, I have never heard he was connected to the Nazis, it could have been put about to discredit him, like those rape cases for which he was acquitted, of course all countries have files locked away we only know what they want us to know, it will be interesting when the Kennedy flies are opened if they do open them of course, that surely must be up to your government ?

      1. I don’t know where I heard the accusation against Flynn but I don’t believe it. I’ve never heard details as to why it may even be possible. The womanizing and drinking yeah, not unusual for an actor, especially one as big as he was. I also saw him in Robin Hood and some of his wartime pictures. I really enjoyed him.

        1. The accusations against Edward Viii are reasonably well-known in Britain because he was friendly towards the regime and he did spend time with Hitler and Mussolini before the war. In 1938 he visited Nazi factories to be shown weaponry and efficiency. You probably don’t need to ask who the workers were. A number of factories were employing forced labour and that included the poor, immigrants and Jewish conscripts. Edward Viii was filmed during the visit and he didn’t seem concerned, he was too busy mixing with the brass and the Nazi command. It’s just a short newsreel but its available to see as its in most documentaries on Edward Viii or Wallis Simpson. I have heard the accusations against Errol Flynn but never really heard anything confirmed. However, a number of people did meet the Nazi government in Germany and elsewhere, including Switzerland, France and Italy and some of them even visited America. You have to remember, the Nazi party was a lawfully constituted political party before Hitler took over. Even then Hitler did good work economically and his ideas were praised in that area. A number of people were beguiled by the Nazis and the true intention of them, to wipe out the none Arian races and anyone not physically perfect only came out afterwards. We are living with post war knowledge, not the propaganda our government was being fed. All they saw was the public face of the Nazis, they remained ignorant, maybe ignored the warnings, saw what they wanted, but now we know the truth. What those people knew and ignored has been the subject of secrecy and cover-up ever since.

          If people were beguiled by Hitler, Mussolini was even worse for selling himself and the regime. I saw where he was shot when I was nine, so definitely not beguiled. My dad’s obsessions with history could be a bit bazaar. 30 miles on a local bus in Lake Como, miles from our resort to some remote village, a trek of three more miles under the local guide we somehow managed to find and hire, on one of three Sunny days from 10 wet ones, into hills and back roads, a farm house, walls, yeap I was impressed. The words El Duci Morte and a date sprayed on the wall is the only indication of the fate of him and his mistress. The guide then hired a local mini bus and took us to the town and square he was hung up in and his body mutilated and spat upon. He told us some history and then there was actually a museum. It had pictures of him in his hey days and that was more interesting. We now of course know he was interested in high culture and actually nothing like Hitler but he still allied and copied that regime. Were Hitler was a creep, if charming, Mussolini invited people to high tea and ladies from England, from our middle and upper classes visiting Italy had tea with him. This is absolutely true. He travelled to the Holy Land and you know many of the big churches there on the Holy spots were either beautified or built by Mussolini. A lot go back to the Crusaders but Mussolini built them on the Mount of the Sermon and the Mount of Olives. Otherwise he spent millions to restore the others. People who met him were charmed by him, he was interested in high art and without being involved with the Nazis you may even have praised him as a cultured and enlightened leader. The Italians hated him for the Nazis and his forcing them into the war. His mistress and he felt their anger. Lake Como has lots of beautiful villas, many connections to Mussolini. One was used in Star Wars Episode Two as the home of Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala where they were married. If people were taken in by Mussolini, it’s not surprising the Nazi machine with powerful rallies and propaganda and fear looped in dumb political figures and actors, royalty and just about any idiot who believed them.

        2. Edward Viii also made a Radio Broadcast from Verdun, the place of so much loss and death during WWI and later 2,_where he had actually served and appealed for all world leaders to set aside their differences and work for peace. This was in 1939 and would have been a good thing but Germany wasn’t up for peace and pacification of their regime wasn’t a good idea. It only gave them leave to carry on and the Nazis to invade Poland and Denmark and Norway and then Belgium. It is more likely that Edward was a Nazi pacifist rather than sympathetic to them. He was also very much involved in promoting and showing genuine concerns for social reforms and ideas, like Prince Albert had been. He was a play boy but he was also very insecure and sensitive. There is no evidence that he actively supported the Nazis after or during World War Two save to want peace.

          I think we three should have a meet up some time. Hard for Michael, but perhaps we could connect via Video or something and Chris and I meet in London? We could solve the world problems between us. Don’t forget, Christine, King Boris is addressing his subjects at 10 p.m on TV. I am looking forward to his Brexit speech, thank goodness that saga is finally over. Currently watching the great saga of Transfer Deadline Day on Sky Sports News and them getting over excited about absolutely nothing. Any club with any sense has already got in new players. Seriously nothing happening but it’s their Christmas and New Year all rolled into one, honestly its a giggle.

          Talking about news, what about the great Nicholas Parsons dying the other day, 96. I remember his Sale of the Century and other shows. Recently did a wonderful documentary looking for the watch made for Marie Antoinette in the 1780s. He did another great show, travelling Britain in an old Bentley or Triumph, I remember it was brilliant yellow with the chap from Antiques Road Show, going around buying and selling old stuff. It was going around their favourite history places. What a loss for the entertainment industry! He was a lovely man. Very much missed.

  22. Hi BQ. Your description of Edward VIII’s dealings with the Nazis reminded me of Charles Lindbergh who was also an avid supporter of Adolph Hitler. You can find footage of him in speeches praising Hitler for what he was doing in Germany. Lindbergh was also a rabid anti-semite. Over the years it has come out that he was a real jerk and his only positive quality was his prowess as a pilot.
    As dictators go Mussolini was a wanna be. I mean, he had to be rescued by Otto Skorzeny. Hitler never put himself in a position to need rescuing. I find it sad that Mussolini’s Mistress Clara Petacci suffered the same fate as him but I suppose her relationship with him made her just as hated. That Villa you mentioned in SW ep2 I did recognize and knew where it was but didn’t know it’s connection to Mussolini.

    1. I have been to some really weird places. Villa Carpena was his home for his wife and two children and Villa Carlotta which had little to do with them, save it was state owned, was always sold as his villa. He probably visited the gardens. It was actually presented to Charlotte of Prussia the wife of George Ii on her marriage after she stayed there and was connected to Napoleon and a number of others. Its gates on the lake are iconic and filmed many times, Roman Holiday and many other films. It is now a grand hotel and a beautiful place to visit. It has some fine art. I just visited the site of his execution online and now they have a proper commemoration plaque at the farm house. Yes, Benito Mussolini was more show than substance. He was trying to escape with his mistress, Claretta Petacci and the vehicle stopped by his enemies, searched and they were literally dragged out, held and shot. Its more a proper house with nice trees now, a plaque, pretty gates but not much changed. In 1971 it was just a farm house, high walls and a painted sign and bullet holes. The Villas around Lake Como and Lake Garda really are beautiful.

      1. I would love to meet up I feel we are all friends on this site, yes I am watching the BBC tonight with my bottle of Champagne, last night I was watching old clips of Enoch Powell on you tube, he was speaking on the day after Britain voted to enter the Common Market in 1973, he said one day we will realise the mistake we made and vote to leave, he despaired because our sovereignty which is so special to Britain would be lost, but he said you can always turn back the clock, he was something of a philosopher and a prophet, many did not understand him but he was a highly intelligent man, I just wish my parents were alive to see this day, it is like we are coming out of the wilderness to make our own voice be heard on the world stage again.

      2. Old Mussolini what a twit he was, wanted a share of Hitlers glory, they changed to whichever side was winning, the Germans called the Italians the weather vanes, very apt description!

        1. I love your post about the twit Mussolini Christine. A terse but perfect summation of Italy’s participation in the second would war. I am in no way criticizing the Italian people. This is directed towards Mussolini and his army.

        2. Me neither and besides I love Italy, I’m just sipping my champagne celebrating our departure from the EU, feeling a bit squiffy mustn’t overdo it, but I probably will, ha!

      3. I have visited Portofino a very exclusive resort rather like St Tropez, it has millionaire yachts and designer shops, the bells rung all the time in Italy, it was fascinating looking at the old Roman ruins, one place I would love to visit is Pompeii I love watching documentaries about that, it is expensive travelling but lovely to see the world and soak up different cultures and cuisine.

  23. Hi BQ, I love your meet up idea but I’m afraid with the three of us being so perfect the world simply does not deserve our help.
    Your description of Edward VIII as a Nazi pacifest is a perfect description of Joseph P Kennedy.
    I didn’t recognize the name Nicholas Parsons so I looked him up and as soon as I saw his face I knew him immediately. Good for him for making it to such a ripe old age. If you live that long and decide to pack up and go who’s going to tell you ‘no’!

  24. Yes Nicholas Parsons used to watch his programme, thought he was a bit pompous but there was never any scandal attached to him, very good age indeed.

  25. I added the disclaimer at the last moment because I realized these posts ate international and I did vwant I to be taken wrong.

    Congratulations on leaving the EU! Although I am an American I truly believe Britain is better off as her own sovereign nation.

    1. Yes since the tsunami billions of years ago ripped us apart from Europe we have always stood on our own, we have against all the odds forged our own identity, we are the UK we are an island race and it is that which makes us unique, you have to be born British to understand that, although our ancestry lies deep in Europe thousands of years ago, the British as a nation feels itself apart from the European, this is not being derogatory towards our continental cousins, it is rather just an awareness of being British, we still love Europe but we love Britain more, just as America forged her own identity as Americans when she split from her colonial roots several hundred years ago, we are now at the dawn of a new great age, I feel it is something Henry V111 especially and Elizabeth 1st would understand.

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