Sir John Spelman

Posted By on January 26, 2019

On this day in history, Sir John Spelman, Judge of Assize and law reporter died. He was buried at Narborough, Norfolk.

Spelman is known for his reports of cases from 1502 to 1540, which included the proceedings against Cardinal Wolsey, Bishop Fisher, Sir Thomas More and Anne Boleyn.

To mark the anniversary of Sir John Spelman’s death, I want to share with you an article I wrote regarding his report on the case against Queen Anne Boleyn in 1536. Click here to read it now.

Picture: All Saints church – memorial to Sir John Spelman and wife, cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Evelyn Simak –

35 thoughts on “Sir John Spelman”

  1. Michael Wright says:

    Bits of missing history like this are so frustrating!

  2. Christine says:

    Sir John Spelmans reports are the only sources we have of the trial of Anne so they are very interesting, he writes ‘the trial was all bawdy and lechery’ one can imagine the tittering in the court when the indictments were read out, Annes face it was said did not change colour and she answered to each charge a firm no, it sounds much like a group of Sun reporters in court today over a famous sex scandal, like Madame Cyn and the Profumo affair, all trying to get a bit of each seedy news to publish the next day, as it was very seedy and designed to smear the reputation of this most pious of queens, today we would call it a smear campaign, what Spelmen thought in his heart of hearts we will never know that he must have shared with his family, but it seems to me he was disgusted with the whole affair, and must have thought like many others the trial was just a farce to bring down the queen and free the King from an unwanted wife.

    1. Michael Wright says:

      Point well stated. One big difference being today’s smear campaigns don’t end in judicial murder.

      1. Christine says:

        Yes that’s true five people at the end were murdured and their reputations tarnished forever, absolutely disgusting.

  3. Michael Wright says:

    I don’t know much about this gentleman. Is his court reporting reliable?

  4. Christine says:

    He was a politician and wrote a biography of Alfred the Great Michael, I should imagine his reports were pretty much accurate.

    1. Michael Wright says:

      Thank you Christine.

  5. Banditqueen says:

    Imagine being on trial now and the words from someone who said something to someone else and so on being used against you. Unless you are making a dying declaration at the time of the crime committed against you or there are exceptional circumstances, it would be deemed hearsay. Judge Spellman is interesting because here we have the testimony of a potential witness, albeit a dead one for Anne’s alleged affair with her own brother. Whatever this poor lady is meant to have reported or repeated, it was mostly taken out of context I would guess, like so many innocent conversations that Anne had with people and twisted to fit the prosecution’s obviously flawed and invented cass.

    For example the dead men’s shoes does not appear to be used, but a conversation Anne recalled with Francis Weston a few years earlier was used against her as was her telling off for Mark Smeaton gazing at her and moping around her room.

    At least here the lady usually accused in fiction, Jane Boleyn is not mentioned. Very curious.

    1. Christine says:

      That’s what iv often pondered on, Lady Worcester and Lady Wingfield are the women who apparently spoke against the queen yet it’s Lady Rochford who has been vilified down the years, George was convicted on hearsay as he bitterly remarked on, most convenient for the jury also was the fact that lady Wingfield was now dead and could not be present to refute her words, the dreadful injustice of the proceedings against the queen and her brother, and of the five others casts a black stain on the reign of Henry V111, even the Lord Mayor who was present at the trial states that he could find nothing in the proceedings against Anne, only that they had found an occasion to get rid of her, as quoted in Norah Lofts biography, the trial was just to show the world that the queen and the others got a fair trial tried and condemned by their peers, in reality it was but a sham and a black day for English justice.

  6. Michael Wright says:

    Where/when did the accusations against Jane Boleyn begin?

    1. Christine says:

      Hi Michael, at his trial George was asked if his wife had discussed the Kings impotence with the queen and this was written down and handed to him, he was under strict instructions not to read it out loud, but no doubt contemptuous of the proceedings he did so and ever since Janes name has become synonymous with that of the avenged wife, throwing him to the wolves out of jealousy for his closeness to his sister and indifference to her as his wife, in thruth there is no evidence to back this up and their marriage could well have been a happy one, there is no evidence that Jane was jealous of Anne and they could have got on quite well together, they had both colluded in a plot to banish the kings mistress from court and when George was in the Tower she wrote him an affectionate letter saying she would plead his cause for him, that is not the action of a gloating wife who had her husband where she wanted him – under lock and key in the Tower, disgraced and condemned, the poet George Wyatt years later spoke of her in not very flattering terms as her name was tarnished with that of Henrys other queen Catherine Howard, and down the years writers of historical fiction have mispresented her true character of which really, we have no knowledge of, she took part in the pageant Chateau de avert with Anne and Mary Boleyn years before and only those who were considered attractive were allowed to take part, yet she is spoken of as rather plain and this is one of the reasons for her envy and hatred of Anne, she came from a good family and was wedded to George a handsome charming man so why should she be envious, she was possibly very happy with George a rising star at court, after all his fortunes and that of the Boleyns were hers was she not his wife? There is no evidence George betrayed her with men as Professor Warnicke suggests, or other women though he could have had mistresse’s but it was considered normal amongst the nobility, and if there were any he could well have been discreet so Jane wouldn’t know of it, Jane had known her husband’s family since their early days at court and there is no evidence of any animosity towards them, had Jane fallen out with Anne as the latter did with her uncle being involved in a blazing row with him, where he called her a great whore, there surely would have been a record of it, when she was queen nearly everything of what she said and did was recorded, hence the twisting of her words when she was under accusation of adultery, Smeaton for eg, why should Jane wish her husband and sister in law ill fortune when whatever happened to them happened to her, when they fell so did all the Boleyns, Mary was out of it away from court with her husband and family in the country, but those who served at court were in the thick of it, Jane had to plead with Cromwell after her husband’s death as she was a bereft widow and finding her change in fortune hard, it was I believe her later involvement with Catherine Howard that blackened her name further, very unfairly as she was caught in the middle, she was reffered to by Chapyuis as ‘ that bawd’ because she carried messages between the queen and her alleged lover, she has been shown as delighting in the subterfuge where she was in reality highly distressed and her later breakdown bears this out, we will never know the real Jane, like many high born women she enjoyed a privileged upbringing and was lucky to be at court, where her sister in law was the queen, she could well have enjoyed a sisterly closeness to her and could have been a bit flighty and pleasure loving and maybe a bit indiscreet, maybe a bit of a gossip but then most women are, but a vicious envious bitter twisted woman no I cannot believe Jane was that, and we have to remember she lost her life in a brutal way merely because of her queen and mistresse’s reckless behaviour.

      1. Michael Wright says:

        Thank you for that. Wow, what a reach in order to blame Jane for George’s downfall. George was very high in the king’s esteem until he wasn’t. He and the other four men were simply ‘necessary’ casualties in Henry and Cromwell’s destruction of Anne Boleyn. Criticism for Lady Rochford for her actions regarding Catherine Howard I can get. But blaming het for her husband’s death is reprehensible. Think about how a false accusation like that would affect someone today. And someone like Retha Warnicke should know better than hanging the label of homosexuality on someone without evidence. Today it’s not a big deal but in the 16th century you could be executed for it. She does him a great disservice.

        Speaking of Henry’s cruelty: passing a law to make it legal to execute the insane so that Jane could be killed. Terrible.

        1. Christine says:

          Yes I believe Henry was enraged when he had that bill passed, certainly he was furious with grief over Catherines past activities and her meetings with his groom of the stool, he was in no mood for clemency, was this act of his due to the changes in his character caused by the brain damage we have discussed in the previous post, or just him taking revenge on her who took part in the queens deceit? Lashing out at everyone so to speak, still it was a dreadful thing to do, he had no pity for Lady Rochford whom he possibly thought had laughed at him behind his back, as said she must have shaked in her shoes with fright at the thought of discovery, as she knew what her punishment would be because of her implication, he allowed her to be nursed back to health in the home of one of his courtiers but she was not fully recovered,it takes a good part of six months to recover from a mental breakdown with medication, none of which was available in Tudor times, she must have had complete quiet rest and good food to help her calm down, as it was noted she was lucid enough on her execution, Lady Rochford could have just done with a prison sentence, a long stay in the Tower would have been punishment enough I should imagine, with the shadow of the axe looming over her, then condemning her to death, which makes Henry V111 appear petty and vindictive but we have to consider his own feelings of hurt and betrayal too which were uppermost in his mind at this awful moment in his life.

        2. Banditqueen says:

          After your excellent history, Christine, I take a bow. I agree 100% Jane Boleyn gets a great disservice. Unfortunately, her lot isn’t made easier by media and film. The arch myth maker of modern fictional nonsense, Philippa Gregory, is fine if you see her books as mere entertainment. However, many of her admirers think she is the Queen of Historical Fact, when in fact, the opposite is true. The infamous Other Boleyn Girl has Jane as the tittle tattle, Jane the spy, Jane the ally of Cromwell, whom she did seek help from in his formal capacity as did so many other people, Jane the source of everything Anne was believed to have done and didn’t, Jane the shunned wife, the main one who gives Anne up. Of course PG believes Anne slept with her brother and was the wicked witch of the North, but she obviously believed the rubbish about Jane as well. In The Private Life of Henry Viii, which one should take with a big belly laugh, Jane not only assisted Katherine Howard, but does so as the spy and ally of the Duke of Norfolk. Just why Norfolk would want such a thing is beyond me? Oh, no, wait, that’s it, he hopes to get his niece with child at any cost and according to Jane the marriage is a sexual disaster. Jane gets just as much of a bad press in Wolf Hall and just what she is up to in the Tudors would have you on the psychiatric couch for months. In that of course she is the one to give evidence against George Boleyn, who is painted as a rapist, a very unfaithful homosexual, dragged to the alter and who thinks his marriage is a joke. Yeap! Say no more!

          Seriously, the only thing we believe Jane possibly said against her husband was that he was spending too much time at Court and not at home. This was probably true. George Boleyn like his father rose quickly up the ranks and was a talented man. It is not without basis that he would spend a lot of time at Court or in either Council or other meetings or with the King. He certainly wouldn’t be the only man to do so or leave his wife alone on such occasions. I actually think it’s a tribute to how she felt about George that she missed him and needed him home more often. In his absence everything, all of his local business and responsibilities fell on Jane as his wife, she managed everything as his wife when he wasn’t home, that’s what a Tudor woman did, but there were always difficult situations that she may need to defer to her husband’s authority or seek his wishes and she can’t do that if he is absent all the time. She had to come to Court on business as most administrators were there, she must also have missed his company and she missed his attention. Here we have the origin of another great myth around Henry Viii, that he was consistently impotent. The evidence. An off the cuff remark from Anne to her sister in law that Henry can’t satisfy her sexual needs. George read this out in Court and now it is a fact. No, it’s actually a myth. Yes, later on there is some medical evidence for short periods of erectile dysfunction but none at this stage. Anne could be annoying and vindictive when she was in a foul mood and the words of a cheesed off wife are hardly historical fact. We don’t even know how or when or under what circumstances she told Jane this or if George himself was the source. This, however, is the only thing Jane might have repeated to Cromwell or he heard it somewhere else. The gossip hub of the Court was just as scandalous as social media. However, if someone says something on social media you at least can report it and new rules say they have to remove it. When gossip is out in the world around you, there is very little you can do. In Jane’s case, it was dangerous and if someone wanted to use it to ruin you or in this case it was fatal, because it concerned the King. Hilarious as it might have sounded to 2000 people in a packed Court room, for Henry it was highly embarrassing, even if it wasn’t true, because it attacked his manhood, it attacked him as a King and it spoke against his marriage, which might be twisted into treason. Jane, might have confirmed her conversation with Anne, innocently being honest if questioned, but that is about it. She may have been alluded to in another source, but she certainly didn’t set up her husband for the chopping block.

          We have evidence which showed Jane Boleyn as a concerned wife. Four days from his arrest she wrote asking could she do anything to help him and promising to do so. We don’t know what happened next. If Jane thought of Cromwell as a friend or at least someone who could help, did she ask him to save her husband? We don’t know. History is silent. Whatever else, we know Jane wasn’t called to testify, she is not in the report and her role if anything has been greatly and unfairly exaggerated. But think on this, Jane Boleyn never remarried when this would have been a safer course for stability, she is reported to have worn black or dark clothing for the rest of her life and she had to enlist the aid of Cromwell for her due as a widow. She returned to Court to serve Queen Jane, well welcome to 1536 when a woman had little choice if she was to support herself, stay a recluse as a widow at home or serve as best she could in a good living or remarry. Jane Boleyn had to go on doing what she knew best.

          There is a curious incident which may also explain her return to service, for Jane Boleyn supported Princess Mary, openly. Jane was part of some form of placard waving protest in support of Mary on one of her visits to one of the properties Henry moved her to and was arrested and ended up in the Tower. She was one of several women involved and they were questioned about their motivation. Some people think a brief breach was formed between Jane and George at this time but it wasn’t enough to have her testify for the prosecution or to lie to Cromwell about her husband and the Queen. Jane Seymour supporters generally also supported Princess Mary as did the new Queen, herself. However, most of the rest of Anne’s broken up household returned to service under Queen Jane. People were pragmatic and had to get on with life, no matter who was on the throne. Jane was also the daughter of a premier courtier, Lord Morley and her place was at Court. Jane became a veteran in service, going on to serve as principal lady to Anne of Cleves and unfortunately, Kathryn Howard.

          It wasn’t as the spy of Norfolk that Jane gave in to the moo eyes and insistence of her mistress Kathryn Howard and helped her to meet with Tom Culpeper, but as her servant. We don’t know whose idea it was but Katherine could only continue to meet Tom Culpeper in secret with help. This isn’t Walt Disney where the Princess swaps clothes with her maid and puts on a cloak and sneaks out into the night to meet the farm boy she saw in the forest earlier in the day. This is a heavily guarded Court, paranoid in the extreme, were the Queen can’t sneeze without the whole place knowing. Kathryn asked Jane to help, most likely she commanded her to help her and foolishly she did, to act as a chaperone. Jane here is thinking of the young Queens honour, Kathryn wanted fun. Now by this stage we have at least some circumstantial evidence that Henry now was suffering from short and irregular periods of impotency. He also had more problems with his leg and was suffering from bouts of depression. Kathryn was left alone, at times with no explanation, just a gift of jewellery, sent via Tom Culpeper. Taken with him, her heart fluttering, well maybe, certainly she found him attractive and wanted his company, Kathryn could only meet with him with the help of someone she trusted, could manipulate, even threaten if she needed to, whom she confided in and who was bound to her and under oath could not betray her confidence. Jane, having said yes once, had no choice but to do so or to report the Queen and put themselves in trouble. The problem was, these meetings became more frequent on progress, more risky, other people were talking, they almost got caught one night, oh and Kathryn had a past which caught up with her. In the investigation that followed, the affair with Culpeper came out and all hell broke loose. The two terrified women were interrogated, more than once, fingers pointed and Jane was used as a scapegoat. Jane had a breakdown, fear and insanity affected her and was nursed back to health by Lord Russell and his wife. Legally Jane should have been spared the fate of treason or misprison. However, as we know Henry made a vindictive law to execute an insane person in a case of treason. Jane Boleyn and Kathryn were found guilty by an Act of Attainment and both beheaded. The other ladies were pardoned. The rest of the Howard family were rounded up as well and after several weeks of interrogation, tried and imprisoned. In May the following year, they were eventually pardoned and quietly let go. The women especially must have been terrified and the old Duchess was ill. Only Norfolk escaped after his famous grovelling letter to the King. I agree, Henry was in a rage when he made that law, but he was also sending a cruel and chilling message. By the way, the woman usually condemned as the most blood soaked in history, which of course sensible historians dismiss, Queen Mary I, reversed this Act and repealed the law Henry had passed on insane people and treason. In the end Jane became a scapegoat for many historical myths and it is only thanks to her biography by Jane Fox and a recent novel The Raven that she has to some extent been rehabilitated. Unfortunately, fans of PG will always believe what they want.

  7. Michael Wright says:

    I don’t think the execution of Jane Rochford was connected to any injury. I think it was part of his innate cruel nature that he had shown early on. Wheras many people who were upset might want to punch a brick wall Henry would have the offending person executed. I have a feeling that had he been born a common citizen his temper would have cost him his life early on. The one constant throughout his life seems to have been little or no value of human life except his family and not always then. He is really hard to pin down to any particular personality.

  8. Christine says:

    Yes we can only speculate about his mental health, and we also have to remember Henry lived in an age when life was not held in high regard like it is today, every little word could be misconstrued as treason as he grew ever older and saw a threat to his throne, his treatment of his daughter Mary was said to be harsh yet she defied him time and again, would any other monarch be more tolerant faced with such a rebellious child?, as Claire herself says he faced opposition from his ministers and churchmen for his title of Head Of The Church, he faced opposition from his first Queen and the Pope, he also had to deal with those he considered heretics, if we see things from his point of view, he was king of England and these people were in rebellion against him guilty of treason and therefore traitors, no king in history has ever dealt kindly with those convicted of high treason, still he has gone down in history as a most brutal monarch and his treatment of his two executed wives are largely to blame for that view of him.

  9. Michael Wright says:

    Henry II’s sons and wife actually made war on him and none were executed. Maybe he was the exception. I admit I have a hard time taking myself out of the 21st century. You are right about all the problems that Henry was forced to deal with.

    1. Christine says:

      Yes but we have to take into account Henry’s two wives who were executed were English subjects, without power or influence, unlike Henry 11’s queen who was also the ex Queen of France and Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, there would have been dreadful repercussions there had Henry ever attempted to harm her, also there were her warring sons who would have avenged her, her favourite Richard especially, Henry would not give his sons another reason to rise up against him a second time, all these factors Eleanor had in her favour, unlike Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, these two tragic queens had no one to fight for them. all alone they were completely at the mercy of their omnipotent husband and king.

      1. Michael Wright says:

        Many points I didn’t consider.

    2. Banditqueen says:

      I think when Henry II lost it you took yourself out of the way. Unfortunately, his temper did have one fatal consequence. His words caused the murder of Saint Thomas Becket. He then faced excommunication, rebellion and war and did public and what sounds like very painful penance. Yes, Becket probably had driven him to the brink, but his reaction was still very extreme and his words misunderstood. He didn’t actually say: “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?” but something much more obscure which I can’t actually remember . However, his words were near enough to be taken as a serious command and the four Knights set out to do what they actually thought was the right thing, rid the King of a traitor. They even confronted Becket in his residence the night before and a lengthy exchange followed. The vow was carried out the next day in the Cathedral, with several others also being injured and several blows killing Thomas Becket. Then off they went. Henry was genuinely shocked and distressed and he was genuine in his display of public sorrow and repentance. His fortunes changed and he equated his victory over his rebellious sons and his victory over King William the Lion in Scotland who was his prisoner as being the work of Saint Thomas who was now canonized by this time. He continued to endorse and endow the tomb for the rest of his life and left a legacy to continue to do so after his death. The Canterbury City Council still sends a cheque every year on the Festival of the Holy Innocents, the day of his martydom, for in modern money £13.28 and the place if his murder is still marked even though Henry Viii had his tomb dismantled and bones dispersed in anger at the shrines in general. The shrine was of great national and international reputation and visitors still go from all over the world, but even then Kings and Queens came and left many precious items. A King of France left a big jewel of some description, a bright sapphire I believe, and Henry Viii had it made into a ring.

      No Henry ii didn’t execute his sons, who for the most part were reconciled, although he continued to deny them any power. He had his eldest, Henry the Young King, crowned, by men whom Becket had excommunicated and this was part of the final quarrel which led to his murder, but controlled his power and financial independence. His sons replied on him. He pushed Richard so far that he was in open war with him at the very last over Normandy. Richard of course was the darling of Eleanor his mother and stood up for his mother, even as a child. John, the baby was the one who betrayed him as he lay dying and Geoffrey was influenced by his older brother. He didn’t execute his wife either when she joined them and rebelled but she was locked up for the rest of his reign. Henry when not losing his temper was actually tolerant and forgiving. He was a reformer of the law Courts and this led to his original fall out with Becket as Henry II wanted clergy and monks who committed serious crimes, murder, theft, rape, etc tried in his secular courts were they would receive a harsh sentence and Becket refused saying this was against custom and Church law. It all got out of hand and Thomas fled. He was reconciled to Henry after King Louis stopped protecting him in 1169 after nearly five years in exile. The last quarrel the following year was of course fatal. But if you think of it, Henry could not execute his sons, he needed heirs. He couldn’t execute Eleanor either. She was of independent noble blood and he needed her lands and wealth. He didn’t have the legal system to fall back on with treason laws either. Henry Viii used old and new Treason law to execute his wives and his nobles. Nobles could be executed, but rarely were. Most of them were more powerful than the King. Henry II set down rules and laws to curb the Barons. He was strong enough to do so despite his domestic misfortune. He was beaten in the end and forced into a humiliating peace with Richard. Despite his turbulent temper, Henry II apparently was a fair King. John pushed his barons well over the edge and was in the end destroyed by them. Magna Carta was forced on him. It was revoked with the help of the Pope but the invasion by Prince Louis looked like the end. John died a broken and sick man not long afterwards. If it had not been for the faithful nature of William Marshal, the integrity and holding out by High de Bugh at Dover, the Knights coming back into allegiance under the child King Henry iii, Louis may have won. He held London. The only reason he wasn’t actually crowned was that he too was excommunicated. He was refused entry to a Church. Westminster refused him entry and after the Barons made their own peace, he went home. A number of Medieval Kings could well have executed family members but most didn’t. However, treason laws, imagining the King’s death and rebellion becoming the acts of treason included, taking up arms and so on soon saw nobles as well as commons facing the death penalty, notably under the three Edwards, then with greater regularity and the Wars of the Roses became notorious for nobles on the wrong or losing side to be executed soon afterwards by which King was victorious. Noble women and clergy seem to spared the death penalty, even when they really were trying to bring down the current regime. Margaret de Valois of course could not be executed and one could argue she was actually the rightful Queen and Edward iv was the traitor, but his regime was back, her family now defeated and wiped out, but Margaret spared, but put in prison. She was later allowed home after a ransom was paid. Margaret Beaufort was planning the downfall of King Richard iii and was caught writing to encourage her son to invade and was involved in more than one plot around the wrongly named Buckingham revolt. She was in fact condemned by an Act of Attainment in 1484 in Parliament but Richard refused it and spared her. She was put under the control of her husband Lord Thomas Stanley and her lands, wealth and wine given to him. She was more or less under house arrest. Henry Viii was pretty unique. We don’t know why he turned so violent although there are 100 theories. It was more likely a lot of different physical, mental and life event factors, all of which we looked at in the previous post, but yes, his treason laws and power from the Supremacy are fully exploited in his execution of a number of male and some female traitors, including two wives and a number of friends. He is also, ironically, considered by many as a great King and maybe his legacy is that we still debate him and try to get to the bottom of him today.

      1. Christine says:

        Thankyou Bq for your nice words about Jane, yes I think we have to be fair when assessing historical characters, I read a novel not so long ago and really it was just trash, about Jane and she was in cahoots with Cromwell, even sleeping with him and messages were passed between the pillows, she even had his baby whom she called a devil child, it was so bad I couldn’t stop laughing! In the Tower at the end it showed her seeing the ghosts of Anne and George who berated her for her betrayal of them, this author would give Phillipa Gregory a run for her money, pure drivel yet its authors like these who will keep up the stereotype of Jane as a jealousy snidy sneak who threw her husband to the wolves, there is a myth relating to her execution speech, in which Jean Plaidy a well respected novelist put in her ‘Murder Most Royal’ novel, in which Jane believed her death was an atonement for the false accusation she made against her late husband and queen, Miss Plaidy herself kept the myth up too by portraying her as envious and plain, as we have noted there is no evidence that Jane was anything other than a loving devoted wife and she must have been attractive as only the most attractive women were chosen to take part in the Chateau pageant, maybe there was a slight tinge of envy purely normal and felt by many of the women at court, towards Anne who was the Kings chosen one, but those feelings are perfectly normal when you see someone dripping with jewels, and lovely furs a gift from an ardent suitor, Jane no doubt had gifts from George there is a sketch said to be of her but which could be of her sister in law, this sketch shows a woman with an oval face and neat regular features, it is disappointing we have no account of what she actually looked like and this is where novelists have a field day, she is painted as the original plain Jane bitterly berating her husband for his love and devotion towards his sister the dazzling Anne, she is shown as being ignored by him and seeking out brothels by night, and spending all day with his sister whilst Jane is left to stew alone, vowing to heap revenge on them that dare laugh at her, if Jane herself could read the drivel said about her I’m sure she would be astonished as to how people came to that conclusion, her looks have been scorned her marriage pulled apart in fact, she really is the victim of character assassination just because of a very indiscreet remark she made to her husband about the Kings so called impotence.

  10. Michael Wright says:

    You’ve heard this from me before. People like Phillipa Gregory drive me nuts. Nothing against her personally, she seems quite nice. I’ve seen her introduced as a historian and she doesn’t correct whoever she is talking to. There is nothing wrong with being an historical novelist
    Why can’t people like her just admit that and stop continuing to sully the reputations of the deceased. It doesn’t matter that it’s been 500yrs, it’s wrong.

    1. Bancitqueen says:

      Talking about reputations, I am going to see Mary Queen of Scots this afternoon. I promise to try and behave. I will let you know later what I think.

      1. Michael Wright says:

        Please do. I’m very interested.

      2. Christine says:

        Enjoy the movie Bq, make sure you have plenty of pick and mix!

        1. Banditqueen says:

          I really enjoyed it. I thought the meeting between Elizabeth and Mary (yes, they never met but the meeting had a dramatic purpose) was very cinematic and worked well, very well acted, a lot of emotion, better than a string of letters. The contrast between the two women isn’t as startling as you might expect and there are as many similarities as differences. I was struck by how accurate the film actually was. Yes there is an emphasis on some of the more shocking parts of Mary and Darnley’s relationship, it’s a two hour movie, not a six part documentary but much of it was correct. He definitely wasn’t the right man for the job, but she chose him. He gave her a claim to the English throne in addition to her own and they were related, sharing a grandmother. Elizabeth was the less secure of the two women in herself and despite her success as a Queen, that was probably right, especially when it came to the succession and trustworthy people around her. You could see she really only trusted Cecil and herself. Mary trusted the wrong people but her strength of character, considering what she went through is evident in the movie. I loved the performance of David Tennant as John Knox, the firebrand misogynistic preacher who hated everything poor Mary stood for. A very strong performance.

          The locations are very apt settings and the lighting and costumes spot on. Mary’s execution scene is extremely moving and the murder of Rizzio was terrifying. There was an almighty bang when they recreated the explosion at Kirk o the Field, where Darnley was murdered. Mary’s defiance just before her forced abdication and in the face of rebellion by her half brother, James Stewart, Earl of Murray is remarkable. The whole film is actually commendable and for the whole it is one of the best and most accurate historical films I have seen for a long time.

          The only thing was Elizabeth’s wig. It was far too red. In one scene she looked like a painted tart but she was otherwise portrayed in a sensitive and balanced light.

  11. Michael Wright says:

    Hi BQ. After such a great review I definitely want to see it now. Thank you.

  12. Christine says:

    Poor Mary fascinates like Anne Boleyn, I have read Frasers biography of her and it is very sad very moving, Mary was just a baby when she became queen of unruly Scotland and was shipped ofto France to the care of her French relations, her character was headstrong and passionate and yes she put her trust in unsuitable men, she loved unwisely and after a series of disastrous choices lost her crown forever, said to be beautiful she was held by her enemies mostly anti catholics to be a wicked temptress, a she devil who plotted to kill her husband and then after been graciously given sanctuary by her benevolent cousin Queen Elizabeth, also plotted to kill her, that was the view of William Cecil and Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth’s spy master, poor Mary was neither evil or a murduress was I believe, but after the dreadful death of Rizzio whilst she was heavily pregnant, she may have decided to leave him to his fate, there are the infamous casket letters which historians are divided by, these clearly proclaim her guilt yet are they a forgery? Meant to blacken her name and keep her throne from her, she is a tragic figure, one of the most tragic figures in history, I’m glad the film was good Bq, sadly we know the two cousins never met but the movie men love to put it in, I wasn’t very keen on the film with Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson but may get around to seeing this one.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      I haven’t been to watch too many historical films ever since Elizabeth and Elizabeth the Golden Age as I usually sit there muttering no, that didn’t happen or the dates are wrong and so on. Not that they weren’t great films but I appreciated them a second time around. The sets were spectacular in both films. I loved the one with Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson, they were polar opposites. This one I felt brought the idea that the women were not so different, but that life and choice dealt them different destinies. Mary always makes a sympathetic and tragic heroin and Elizabeth the Queen who got it right, but in reality it wasn’t quite that simple. The letters both women exchanged are extraordinary and show how given different circumstances they could have been sisters. It’s the conflict of two Queens out doing each other and their struggle over one succession which kept them apart. It’s a real pity that they didn’t actually meet, but then you can always pretend someone really is your enemy from a distance. In the end Mary was desperate and she became the figurehead for a number of reckless schemes to replace or kill Elizabeth which made her dangerous, but it was her captivity which led to this, giving desperate Catholic families new hope. Mary had been a Queen from eight days old and the subject of endless attempts to kidnap her by Henry as a bride for his son. It was little wonder she was sent to France to marry the young future Francis ii aged fifteen. A widow before she was eighteen, Mary left the comfort of France and returned to a now Protestant Scotland. She started well but her decision to marry Lord Henry Darnley, while a good political match, being a matter of the heart it was a disaster. He was drunk and mostly unfaithful, overly ambitious, violent, jealous and probably incapable most of the time as well. She faced down a rebellion and produced an heir, saw her musical Secretary killed before her eyes and was implicated in the murder of her husband. She then married his actual murder, whether by force or will, is hotly debated. Not a smart move and the Casket Letters were later used against her. I think they are forgeries but they really are dynamite. If only her first husband was healthy and didn’t fall and suffer a haemorrhage. As Queen of France Mary would have had a luxurious and productive life, but well it wasn’t to be. I do recommend this film, though, very well done.

      1. Michael Wright says:

        I too love the one with Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson. Historical innacuracy usually drives me insane but having Mary and Elizabeth meet doesn’t bother me. This device is certainly a lot less awkward than using their letters and besides, watching two such great actresses play off each other is a treat. One great accuracy in that film is Vanessa Redgrave is 5’11”.

      2. Christine says:

        Just seen the trailer of Mary Queen Of Scots, your right Queen Elizabeth looks ghastly, in fact she resembles Helena Bonham Carter as the red queen in Alice in Wonderland.

        1. Banditqueen says:

          Yes, that’s it! That’s the look I was thinking! Thankfully it’s only in the meeting scene but it’s a wild red wig, as if she has been to the modern hairdressers and they left a very bright dye on far too long. You can’t half tell the poor woman has had smallpox even with the makeup. The idea I think is to show Elizabeth getting older and Mary as the ageless Queen.

          The meeting scene was very well done. The sheets keep them from seeing but it is very emotional. It’s a very well acted scene. Of course you will have to see for yourself. I think you will enjoy it.

  13. Michael Wright says:

    I was just on the Richard III Society website and saw that Philippa Langley, who led the search for Richard’s remains has a new research project: The Missing Princes Project. You can find a link to it on the Richard III Society website homepage.

  14. Banditqueen says:

    Yes, that’s it! That’s the look I was thinking! Thankfully it’s only in the meeting scene but it’s a wild red wig, as if she has been to the modern hairdressers and they left a very bright dye on far too long. You can’t half tell the poor woman has had smallpox even with the makeup. The idea I think is to show Elizabeth getting older and Mary as the ageless Queen.

    The meeting scene was very well done. The sheets keep them from seeing but it is very emotional. It’s a very well acted scene. Of course you will have to see for yourself. I think you will enjoy it.

    1. Christine says:

      I will probably wait till its available to rent, I have an Apple box where you can watch the movies as soon as there released.

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