Shrove Tuesday and Shrovetide in Tudor times

Posted By on February 25, 2020

It’s Shrove Tuesday today, the third day of Shrovetide, so I’ve been explaining to Teasel what’s behind the tradition of “Pancake Day”. Teasel thought this information would be just perfect for her “Teasel’s Tudor Trivia” series, so she persuaded me, with those lovely puppy dog eyes, to do this video with her.

I do hope you enjoy hearing all about how Shrove Tuesday was celebrated in the Tudor period.

And here is Tim making Tudor pancakes!

As I said in the Shrove Tuesday video, Shrovetide was a time for celebrations in the Tudor period, and for the Shrovetide jousts. Here are some articles about particular Shrovetide jousts:

10 thoughts on “Shrove Tuesday and Shrovetide in Tudor times”

  1. Christine says:

    Thank you for sharing with us the video of your adorable doggy Claire, she certainly is a very handsome looking dog, beautiful eyes so sweet I just wanted to cuddle her, and I must admit, I was looking at her more than listening much to what you were saying ! I am glad however you did this video as I had forgotten it was pancake day, I must get some I am a bit lazy I just buy them usually from M&S, hope you enjoy yours tho wether you cook them yourself or buy them from your local supermarket!

  2. Michael Wright says:

    Thank you Claire. Any chance to see Teasel is a treat. I’ve seen Shrove Tuesday mentioned plenty of times in things I’ve read but didn’t know exactly what it was so this post is very much appreciated. The tradition of hitting a Cockerel buried to it’s neck is horrendous. There were cultures in the past all over the world who used that with people as a form of execution. Awful.

  3. Maggie Boleyn says:

    American pancakes with butter and swimming in maple syrup. Sometimes, strawberries and whipped cream. Bacon or sausage on the side for both.

    1. Michael Wright says:

      I agree with all of that but would add one more thing: a few hash browns! (personal preference).

  4. Banditqueen says:

    Lovely to see Teasel again and thanks also to her assistant, Claire for sharing this video.

    A football match at that time was totally wild, a free for all, involving the entire community with no rules, sometimes people even got killed or injured. No rules, no refeeee, no VAR, no offside, no limits, great stuff.

    We used to have pancake races in the field at the back of all the houses but nobody bothers now. I get Scottish pancakes, the thick ready made ones with fruit in and have cheese or whatever I fancy, usually with honey and lemon. Steve doesn’t like them, so I just get a small pack for me. They were a great lot back then, cock fighting, cats tied up with fireworks, bear baiting, blood sports for entertainment and don’t mention the terrible executions. At least the tournament was meant to hone genuine fighting skills and although men still got injured or occasionally killed, that wasn’t the aim.

    Henry was obviously one for declaring or making a tribute to love on such occasions, with a broken heart or true heart or loyal heart, the latter declared to Katherine during their first joust at Westminster or having a wounded hart, as in deer to signify an unrequited love and some of these banners were imagined as relating to Mary or Anne Boleyn by historians, but as it was traditional for such banners as the theme was usually love and everyone in the two teams had the same banners. So they could be because Henry had a new lady, hoped to woo a new lady or just for the fun of the day. It was all about courtly love and that Henry dedicated a Shrovetide joust to Mary or Anne, merely speculation. The only woman Henry is actually known to have dedicated any joust or pageant to, ironically is Katherine of Aragon.

    Now if we went back in time we would remove all the good stuff from our homes, go to confession and not have any meat for 40 days, to fast and only have certain types of fish on Wednesday and Friday and to reflect on the suffering of Christ and the temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness. We still keep Lent, but to a much lesser degree, although one is still meant to not eat meat on Wednesday and Fridays and to fast as much as possible. People also give something up, but that’s actually not the purpose of Lent as it is only a symbol. We are called more to repentance and prayer and to do positive things to help and serve other people. This is a way of deepening our relationship with God and our neighbours. Today it’s recognised that there are health problems connected to fasting and you should only fast if

    Aged between 14 and 70
    In good health and no medical problems
    You must always remain hydrated so water is permitted
    Between sunrise and sundown.
    If you experience any complications or illness or are faint you must cease and seek medical advice or eat and drink normally.
    You must never fast when you are pregnant.
    You must never fast if you have long term disability or medical conditions and never if your doctor advises you not to or you have an eating disorder.
    It is also permitted not to fast if working in a demanding job, in an essential profession or while caring for children or adults.

    Now the Tudors also cheated a bit as some animals were not categorised as being meat so could be classified as a fish. These included birds or even some odd luxury animals, like dolphins or even large luxury birds which were expensive but certainly better than eating salt fish most of Lent. Apparently there was also a black market in meat, although the fines were high if you got caught.

  5. Anira says:

    Hi Claire and Tim, thanks for the videos! Teasel is a cutie pie, for sure! And nice to watch Tim making pancakes. In my family, our tradition is to use blueberry jam, sometimes strawberry jam, or sugar, and not a lot of spices in the batter. All very nice!

  6. Diane says:

    Claire and Tim, Pancakes in the States are so plain compared to Tudor cakes! Is it possible to have the ingredients and amounts written out so we can try these at home?Thank you for making Tudor history fun. We all enjoy videos with Teasel- so sweet!

    1. Claire says:

      Hi Diane,
      The recipe Tim used is in this description of the video. They were yummy!

  7. Christine says:

    I have just watched the video of Tim making the Tudor pancakes it was great fun, I had not seen that before and it was interesting noting the different ingredients that went in their seasonal dish, I do love ginger and some spices like cinnamon but I am not too sure if I would like that in my pancakes, still next year I may try that recipe for myself, well done Tim!

  8. Banditqueen says:

    During Shrovetide on 2nd March 1522_there was a very famous Joust which some historians insist on dating to the time of the alleged affair between King Henry Viii and Mary Boleyn or as she was then, Mary Carey. So why state this? What’s the evidence? One piece of coincidental evidence only, the legend on his banner during this elaborate tournament. As the teams entered the arena they carried banners with hearts, with similar mottos and his read She Has Wounded My Heart. The theme was unrequited love and everyone was dressed in similar costumes. This was typical of these tournaments and it certainly doesn’t mean Henry was in love with Mary Boleyn.

    It would be reasonable, however, to date the brief affair from this date or before, just as it would any other time before 1526 which was when he started his pursuit and relationship with Anne Boleyn. Henry was so discreet over his affairs that we know nothing of the details and would know nothing but for the fact that Henry asked the Pope for a dispensation to marry Anne because he had been involved with a lady she was related to. He also commented on the truth of the affair later to Thogmorton. He also denied allegations of sleeping with Elizabeth, their mother. Henry later used his relationship with Mary to justify his annulment of his marriage to Anne, in order to declare Elizabeth illegitimate.

    Other circumstantial evidence suggests that Henry may have been the father of Catherine Carey or Henry Carey, although most historians believe this to be unlikely. The one thing we do know, this tournament wasn’t evidence of their alleged affair.

    Tomorrow is the 4th March and on that day in 1522 was the Chateau Vert at York House in which Anne Boleyn made her debut appearance at the Court of King Henry Viii and she played Perseverance, with Mary playing Kindness and the King’s sister, Mary, Duchess of Suffolk playing Beauty, the ladies were being the maidens held in a fortress built for the pageant, were held prisoners by eight more ladies and the eight masked knights, including the King and Brandon attacked the castle and liberated the ladies. They then danced and the entire party had a good time. By the same stretch of imagination, we know that some historians and writers like to date the romance between Anne Boleyn and Henry to this event. Very romantic but it is highly unlikely. Henry was nuts about Anne Boleyn, absolutely obsessed and passionate about her, he couldn’t sleep or eat for his desire for her and it probably began within a short time of him spending any amount of quality time with her. Had Henry fallen for Anne at this pageant, then how was he obsessed for four years without doing something about it? No, a more realistic scenario is that Henry noticed Anne in passing and danced with her, probably saw her as someone who had striking looks, but wasn’t interested in her in the romantic sense. Another reasonable explanation may be again the possibility that he was involved with Mary and therefore, forbidden morally from a relationship with her sister. Believe it or not, a person could not marry or have a sexual relationship with the sibling of anyone they had a previous relationship with, not without special permission from the Catholic Church. The same was true if one brother or sister married someone and the other then wanted to marry their sibling. Again special permission was needed from Rome, not just the local Bishop. If the couple were also cousins in the second, third, fourth degree up to the eighth a second dispensation was needed. That such weddings took place shows people either ignored such rules and hoped for the best or that the gentry and nobility were able to get them without too much fuss. That Henry didn’t really start a relationship with Anne until four years later possibly shows Henry was conscious of the moral difficulties of bedding two sisters.

    Mary’s relationship, if we can even call it that, was probably brief, a few months only, between 1520 and 1522 and was most certainly discreet and no threat to his wife. Apart from this brief encounter with the King, there is no evidence that Mary was unfaithful to her husband, Sir William Carey, a good friend and relative of King Henry and whose wedding he attended. In fact some people believe she was his mistress before her marriage and given a good marriage afterwards. This was a pattern with many Royal affairs. Bessie Blount had been Henry’s mistress in 1518 and gave him a son in July 1519, after which she was married off. Henry did have the odd affair with married women. It’s believed he had an affair with Anne Shelton and Madge Shelton, the former being married at the time. If so, this was a departure from his norm being to have sexual relations only while his wife was pregnant having carefully courted the lady in the art of courtly love. Mary Boleyn fits into this pattern to some extent, save Katherine wasn’t pregnant after 1518. Henry didn’t abandon his wife’s bed until sometime after 1524 when she may have entered an early menopause. This is all speculative of course because we don’t know anything more than at some time or other Mary Boleyn had sex with Henry Viii. It may even have been a one night stand.

    Henry and Anne probably began their relationship some time in 1525/6 because Henry was looking at her as a long-term partner during that Summer. They most certainly were in a loving and passionate and committed relationship by the Summer of 1527 and Henry had opened annulment proceedings. They were in their infancy, it was mainly enquiries only and an investigation, but he was looking at Anne as his next wife. Before any of this Henry had shown interest in Anne who had spurned his advances and ran off home to get away from him. His wooing had clearly won her round and during the two years after 1525 they fell in love and were in a committed relationship. However, it didn’t begin on 4th March 1522 with Anne haunting Henry and whispering “Seduce Me”. Beautiful as the Chateau Vert scene is in the Tudors, which captured it very well, the following one of Anne appearing in a waking dream everywhere around the palace going ” Seduce Me” is pure imagination for the gratification of the audience. Natalie Dormer hated the specialization of Anne Boleyn in season one and persuaded the producers to make Anne into a much more political and religious astutely aware person with positive and negative power and a real personality for the second season. She studied Anne closely and played her very realistically and with balance and grace.

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