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Posts Tagged ‘Anne Boleyn’

Lady Jane Grey

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey is an oil painting by Paul Delaroche completed in 1833. It is currently housed in the National Gallery in London.

Imagine being sentenced to the block or a traitor’s death in medieval England. What impression would you want to make in your last moments on this side of the grass?

This is a fascinating thesis on the importance of a good death. (It’s a little tedious for about ten pages, but then it gains traction.)

Performing at the Block: Scripting Early Modern Executions
Jennifer Lillian Lodine-Chaffey (The University of Montana)
http://earlymodernengland.com/2013/07/performing-at-the-block-scripting-early-modern-executions/

Scroll down to “Click here to read this thesis from The University of Montana Missoula”

ANNE BOLEYN

Anne_Boleyn_London_TowerOur cousin Anne Boleyn tucked the hems of her skirt so her legs wouldn’t splay after impact. The Tudors series did a beautiful job on her end (haven’t checked to see how factual it was).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6-ThCEeTJU

Natalie Dormer, a historian at heart, was devoted to being as authentic as possible. “The execution scene was especially important to Natalie: “By the end of the season, when I’m standing on that scaffold,” she told Michael, “I hope you write it the way it should be. And I want the effect of that scene to remain with viewers for the length of the series…. Hirst, too, recalls the heightened emotions of shooting that scene: “That was an amazing day. Extraordinary day. After, I went in to congratulate her. She was weeping and saying, `She’s with me Michael. She’s with me.
http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/75175679.html#ixzz2Yqy8sDLz

In this video Natalie is taken to the actual spots where history was made, including Anne’s final resting place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvUV9QwqjoE

LORD THOMAS CROMWELL

Cromwell,ThomasWyatt family friend Lord Thomas Cromwell was hacked to death by an inept executioner as our Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet watched weeping.

This is captured in The Tudors, but not in this strange edit of the scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8uT6oEhGl0

(The Tudors is available on Netflix.)

QUEEN CATHERINE HOWARD

CatherineHowardOur young relative* Queen Catherine (Henry’s fifth wife and Anne Boleyn’s cousin) rehearsed with a block so she wouldn’t make a fool of herself.

According to Wikipedia (not a resource I trust, but ok for these purposes) “She died with relative composure, but looked pale and terrified and required assistance to climb the scaffold.”

I could not find anything on youtube that portrayed her demise with adequate respect.

LADY JANE GRAY

Lady Jane Gray – the innocent pawn known as “the nine day queen” – was blindfolded and needed help finding the block. Although the setting is all wrong, Paul Delaroche captured the emotion in 1833. (See main image, above.)

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

maryqueenofscotsI don’t know – we may be vaguely related – but Mary Queen of Scots went to the block with her small dog hiding in her red petticoats; red was the color of a Catholic martyr. She would have been mortified if she had known how humiliating her end would be.

Wikipedia again … “Mary was not beheaded with a single strike. The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head. The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew, which the executioner cut through using the axe. Afterward, he held her head aloft and declared, “God save the Queen.” At that moment, the auburn tresses in his hand turned out to be a wig and the head fell to the ground, revealing that Mary had very short, grey hair. A small dog owned by the queen, a Skye terrier, is said to have been hiding among her skirts, unseen by the spectators.”

This is probably a better account: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/scotlandshistory/renaissancereformation/execution/index.asp

SIR THOMAS WYATT THE YOUNGER

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger gave a final speech that helped save Elizabeth Tudor’s life by denying her complicity in his rebellion.

Bloody Mary was beyond pissed. He was condemned to a traitor’s death where he was drawn, hanged and quartered. I find it too disturbing to describe.

This link provides an excellent explanation:

http://academia.edu/215486/A_Traitors_Death_The_identity_of_a_drawn_hanged_and_quartered_man_from_Hulton_Abbey_Staffordshire

UPDATE

I no longer share original Wyatt content here because I will not give my work away. Cousins – please DO join me/us on Facebook where I share interesting articles from other Tudor and medieval fanatics daily. We are there as Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet. (See Facebook link at right.)

*We are related to all of Henry VIII’s queens through Jane Haute, wife of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger.

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threequeensBy Mickisuzanne© 

In 1535 Henry VIII – who desperately sought an heir and a spare  – was saddled with a queen and a spare.

Pious and beloved of the people, Katherine of Aragon had denied him a divorce. She managed to survive despite extreme emotional abuse that included the flaunting of Anne and being denied access to her beloved only living child Mary. Henry relocated her to increasingly damp and difficult environs.

Anne Boleyn had been the other woman, Henry’s case of “be careful what you wish for.” Her arrogant behaviors as queen managed to piss off friends and family – even her self-seeking uncle, the powerful Duke of Norfolk. Henry was disappointed because she had failed to produce the promised son. She delivered one healthy girl, Elizabeth, miscarried a second child and was not getting any younger.

All of England was learning that when Henry was disappointed, he was dangerous. William Edward Simonds (Sir Thomas Wyatt and His Poems) wrote that Henry had “alienated the sympathies of the people at large through his cruelty to Catharine and the shamelessness of his relations with Anne Boleyn. All classes were disaffected.”

People were still reeling from the executions of Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More. Erasmus wrote, ” Every man bewaileth the death of Thomas More, even they who are not of his faith, so great was his affability and courtesy to all mankind ; so excellent his nature.” The King of France – Henry’s nemesis – suggested offenders should be banished, not put to death. Henry angrily responded “That they had suffered by due course of law, and were well worthy, if they had a thousand lives, to have suffered ten times a more terrible death and execution than any of them did suffer.”

In the fall of 1535 Henry first laid eyes on Jane Seymour at Wolf Hall; it was love at first sight. Jane had been a maid of honor to Katherine and was (I believe, at that time) a maid of honor to Anne. From beauty to sensual style of dress, her ladies were eye candy, a virtual smorgasbord of temptation.

Henry was in his mid-40s, overweight and sometimes impotent. Jane must have lit his fires as Anne conceived upon his return.

1536 – YEAR OF TRAGEDIES

Things were suddenly going Anne’s way. On 7 January Katherine of Aragon finally died.

(Katherine and our Sir Tom had a relationship of sorts; Tom was sensitive to the queen’s plight, probably appalled by Anne’s behavior and in love with one of Katherine’s most loyal ladies – Elizabeth Darrel.)

On her deathbed Katherine dictated this heartbreaking letter for the king.

“My lord and dear husband,

I commend me unto you. The hour of my death draweth fast on, and my case being such, the tender love I owe you forceth me with a few words to put you in remembrance of the health and safeguard of your soul, which you ought to prefer before all worldly matters, and before the care and tendering of your own cares. For my part, I do pardon you all; yea, I do wish and devoutly pray God that he will also pardon you.

For the rest, I commend unto you Mary, our daughter, beseeching you to be a good father to her, as I heretofore desired. I entreat you also on behalf o my maids to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants, I solicit a year’s pay more than their due, lest they should be unprovided for.

Lastly, I do vow that mine eyes do desire you above all things.”

Anne was ecstatic. She is said to have cried out “Now I am indeed a queen!”  According to William Howitt (Cassell’s Illustrated History of England), “She said she was grieved, not that Catherine was dead, but for the vaunting there was of the good end she made; for numberless books and pamphlets were written in her praise, which were, therefore, so many severe censures on Henry and on Anne. Indeed, her open rejoicing on this occasion, and the haughty carriage which she now assumed, disgusted and offended every one.”

Catholic Europe saw Katherine as Henry’s one true wife; they saw the king as a widower, a free man.

Anne was not safe appearing outside the palace gates, “so bitter was the feeling of the common people towards her.” (Simonds)

In London she was attacked by a mob of seven to eight thousand people who sought her death. Henry’s nobles were “ripe for treason” and (Wyatt family friend) Cromwell responded to the dangers by filling the country with spies.

Several weeks after Katherine’s death, Anne miscarried a 15 week old male fetus. One can imagine the cold chill that went down her back when Henry said “I see God will not give me male children” [by you]!

Everyone at court knew about Jane but Anne. Howitt wrote “according to Wyatt, Anne only became aware of it by entering a room one day, and beholding Jane Seymour seated on Henry’s knee, in a manner the most familiar, and as if accustomed to that indulgence. She saw at once that not only was Henry ready to bestow his regards on another, but that other was still more willing to step into her place than she had been to usurp that of Catherine. Anne was far advanced in pregnancy, and was in great hopes of riveting the king’s affections to her by the birth of a prince; but the shock which she now received threw her into such agitation that she was prematurely delivered – of a boy, indeed, but dead. Henry, the moment that he heard of the unlucky accident, rushed into the queen’s chamber, and upbraided her savagely ‘with the loss of his boy.’ Anne, stung by this cruelty, replied that he had to thank himself and ‘that wench, Jane Seymour,’ for it. The fell tyrant retired, muttering his vengeance, and the die was now cast irrevocably for Anne Boleyn, if it were not before.”

THE DIE IS CAST

On 18 April, 1536, Cromwell vacated his apartments at Greenwich Palace so Jane could move in. This allowed Henry to see her whenever he wanted; but she was smart enough to maintain her honor. She had learned Anne’s game – and bettered it.

The Seymour faction was secretly usurping the Boleyns; and the Wyatts had a connection. Our Sir Thomas Wyatt had grown up with Anne and George Boleyn, as Allington and Hever Castles were not that far apart; Anne, George and Tom were part of a circle of renaissance types who inspired art, poetry and music within the Tudor court.

And Tom’s wife Elizabeth Brooke was related to the Boleyns. (As a result, Wyatt descendants are related to Anne Boleyn.)

In April the court was abuzz with excitement about the May Day Jousts. On the last day of the month the king went to Greenwich and Cromwell headed to London. Trouble was simmering beneath the surface.

Cromwell invited Mark Smeaton to dinner. Mark – the queen’s musician – was a friend of Tom’s, part of the tight-knit creative circle.

Mark suspected nothing. Martin Andrew Sharp Hume, English historian (1847-1910) wrote that Cromwell took him by the hand and led him to his chamber, where six men waited. Once he had him, he said “Mark, I have wanted to speak to you for some days, and I have had no opportunity till now. Not only I, but many other gentlemen, have noticed that you are ruffling it very bravely of late. We know that four months ago you had nothing, for your father has hardly bread to eat, and now you are buying horses and arms, and have made showy devices and liveries such as no lord of rank can excel. Suspicion has arisen either that you have stolen the money or that someone had given it to you …”

Of course Cromwell was implying the queen was showering Mark with riches in return for sexual favors.  Imagine the impact of a queen who cheated; kings need to know the heir is theirs.

Cromwell continued “I give you notice now that you will have to tell me the truth before you leave here, either by force or good-will.”

Mark got confused, then frightened. “Then he [Cromwell] called two stout young fellows of his, and asked for a rope and cudgel and ordered them to put the rope, which was full of knots, round Mark’s head, and twisted it with the cudgel until Mark cried out ….”

The Tudors series took liberties with the facts … but we get a powerful visual impression of the dynamic.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1SLLn5MOFw

Torture continued until Mark was ready to tell him anything that would make it stop. “When the Secretary heard it he was terror-stricken, and asked Mark if he knew of anyone else besides himself who had relations with the Queen. Mark, to escape further torture, told all he had seen of Master Norris and Brereton, and swore than he knew no more. Then Cromwell wrote a letter to the King, and sent Mark to the Tower.”

toweroflondon

Cromwell wrote Henry “Your Majesty will recollect that Mark has hardly been in your service four months and only has [100 pounds] salary, and yet all the Court notices his splendor, and that he has spent a large sum for these jousts, all of which has aroused suspicions in the minds of certain gentlemen, and I have examined Mark, who has made the confession which I enclose to your Majesty in this letter.”

THE BLOODY MONTH OF MAY

On May 1 Henry read the “confession” and “his meal did not at all agree with him.” It’s upsetting to even read those words; it was the ultimate setup. I sometimes wonder if he convinced himself of his own deceits and saw himself as a victim. (Note that other monarchs of those times managed to divorce or otherwise rid themselves of unwanted queens without resorting to bloodshed.)

The May Day jousts had just begun. Henry ordered his boat to take him to Westminster, but the jousts should continue as planned.

Henry ordered that “when the jousts were over that Master Norris and Brereton, and Master Wyatt, should be secretly arrested and taken to the Tower.

The Queen did not know the King had gone, and went to the balconies where the jousts were to be held, and asked where he was, and was told that he was busy.” She also noticed Mark Smeaton had not come out. She was told he had gone to London and had not yet returned.

“So the jousts began and Master Wyatt did better than anybody. This Master Wyatt was a very gallant gentleman, and there was no prettier man at Court than he was.” After the jousting was done, Norris and Brereton were “carried off to the Tower without anyone hearing anything about it.”

On 2 May Henry VIII sent the Captain of the Guard and a hundred halberdiers to Greenwich to fetch the queen. She expected to be taken to Henry at Westminster, but they took her to the tower instead.

Again, The Tudors exaggerated, but what beautiful, gut-wrenching exaggeration.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWOGRKeNeP8

After Henry learned she was in The Tower, he had her brother George arrested.

On 5 May. “Then Cromwell’s nephew said to Master Wyatt, ‘Sir, the Secretary, my master, sends to beg you to favour him by going to speak with him, as he is rather unwell, and is in London.’ So Wyatt went with him.

It seems Henry wanted Cromwell to give Wyatt the third degree. “When they arrived in London Cromwell took Master Wyatt apart, and said to him, ‘Master Wyatt, you well know the great love I have always borne you, and I must tell you that it would cut me to the heart if you were guilty in the matter of which I wish to speak.’ Then he told him all that had passed; and Master Wyatt was astounded, and replied with great spirit, ‘Sir Secretary, by the faith I owe to God and my Kind and lord, I have no reason to distrust, for I have not wronged him even in thought. The King well knows what I told him before he was married.‘ [He had warned Henry against marrying Anne by telling the king she had been less than virtuous.] Then Cromwell told him he would have to go to the Tower, but that he would promise to stand his friend, to which Wyatt answered, ‘I will go willingly, for as I am stainless I have nothing to fear.’ He went out with Richard Cromwell [the nephew] and nobody suspected that he was a prisoner; and when he arrived at the Tower Richard said to the captain of the Tower, ‘Sir Captain, Secretary Cromwell sends to beg you to do all honour to Master Wyatt.’ So the captain put him into a chamber over the door….”

I’m not sure what view he would have had. If anyone reading this knows, please comment. I snagged this photo from TripAdvisor … maybe he looked out of one of these windows?

towerdoor

On 11 May Cromwell wrote Sir Henry Wyatt and assured him his son’s life would be spared.

Mid-May Jane was moved to a house a mile of the king’s residence at Whitehall.

On 17 May George Boleyn and Mark Smeaton were executed. This moving video from The Tudors includes Sir Thomas’ poetry towards the end.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UudjGTPDk7c

On Friday, 19 May Anne Boleyn was executed. Wyatt’s sister Mary – a.k.a. Margaret – Lady Lee – attended Queen Anne on the scaffold. Anne gave her a miniature book of prayers before her death. (I don’t buy their portrayal of our ancestor whimpering in the background; I’m sure he was greatly saddened, but #1, he was still imprisoned and #2, he had been upset by her behavior towards Queen Katherine.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IsCnsYIPVA

On Saturday, 20 May Henry and Jane were secretly betrothed at Hampton Court.

On 30 May Henry married Jane. Jane took care to have her ladies dress more modestly. She caught him, she expected to keep him.

On 14 June, 1536 our Sir Thomas was released from the tower, a changed man.

Five months later his father Sir Henry Wyatt died.

* * *

(I apologize if there are errors or typos in this blog; this topic deserves days of work, not hours!)

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Catherine_Aragon_Henri_VIII_Wikipedia

R.I.P. – 16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536

I will light a candle for this dear lady tonight. She was a descendant of John of Gaunt – as are we.

Most queens were glorified breeders; prince mills. This princess’ parents raised their girl with love and honor. They were the power couple of their time – Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain.

Katherine was Catholic, pious and fully prepared to do all that her new Tudor family asked. She had a terrifying journey from Spain to England – and then Prince Arthur died within months of the wedding. His father the king had promised her parents he would treat her as his own child – but he began to treat her as a bargaining chip.

She didn’t fit in on her own. She wore funny clothes and didn’t know how to dance and laugh. Her fate in that strange new land was in his hands and he wasn’t certain she was the best bride for his spare heir. Best bride, of course, meant whichever alliance would yield the most money and power.

Katherine was on the short list because she had already been shipped in by her parents, Henry wouldn’t have to pay her travel expenses. On the downside, if he found a better bride, he would have to return her dowry.

Yes, he was that cheap.

When her parents’ stars began to fade, he sent her to live “in rags” over the stables with not enough money for food nor funds to pay her servants.

When Henry died of tuberculosis, not many mourned. In Cassell’s Illustrated History of England, William Howitt states: “While his father [Henry VII] had strengthened the throne, he had made himself extremely unpopular. The longer he lived the more the selfish meanness and the avarice of his character had become conspicuous and excited the disgust of his subjects.”

After the king’s death, his mother – Lady Margaret Beaufort – chose counselors for her grandson, including our Henry Wyatt; and Katherine found her first (and last) years of true happiness. Henry VIII was a kind and loving husband for a time; but she was older than Henry. Through all the miscarriages she was only able to produce one living princess – not a prince. Henry could barely conceal his disappointment.

Menopause came early in those days. When it was obvious Katherine could not produce a son, the king set his sights on Anne Boleyn. Note that while Queen Katherine was losing Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas was losing Anne Boleyn to his friend Henry VIII. At least our Sir Tom had the good sense to step aside.

He wrote …

Whoso List to Hunt

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar’s I am
,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

Katherine’s days as wife and queen were numbered. Towards the end of 1527 she commanded Wyatt to translate Petrarch’s “remedy of yll ‘fortune’ – or Book II of De remediis utriusque fortunae. It was a massive undertaking that contained 132 dialogues. He completed some of it before deciding to substitute Plutarch’s short essay The Quiet of Mind instead. This would be his holiday gift to the queen.

His signature states that with her encouragement this work might lead “this hande / towarde better enterprises.” He dated it “the last day of Decembre. M.D. XXVII” and presented it to her as a New Year’s gift.

According to Patricia Thomson, author of Sir Thomas Wyatt and His Background, “This was indeed a poignant moment in Catherine’s life, to which both the work she commissioned of Wyatt and the one she got are appropriate.”

Thompson also suggests that “it is quite possible that, coming at this moment, Wyatt’s learned offering marks his swift revulsion of feeling against Anne’s values and in favour of those for which Catherine stood.”

Sir Thomas fell in love with Katherine’s servant, Mistress Elizabeth Darrell. They would be together until his end.

Henry VIII wanted a divorce so he could marry Anne. He hoped Katherine would be compliant – he needed her to be accepting because he feared angering her nephew, Emperor Charles VI. When Katherine stood her ground, Henry viciously destroyed her from within. He prevented her from seeing her only child and sent her to ever distant, colder, damper castles. Katherine wrote her nephew the Emperor:

‘My tribulations are so great, my life so disturbed by the plans daily invented to further the king’s wicked intention, the surprises which the king gives me, with certain persons of his council, are so mortal, and my treatment is what God knows, that it is enough to shorten ten lives, much more mine.’

In May of 1534 Katherine was sent to Kimbolton Castle, where she became a prisoner in the southwest corner. She spent most of her time in prayer and was attended by a few loyal servants – including Lady Darrell; Katherine left her £200 for her marriage, “though none was in prospect.”

(Henry VIII was malicious in preventing Lady Darrell from receiving the funds; she finally received them from Queen Mary after his death.)

“When Catherine’s body was cut open for embalming, the undertakers discovered that her heart had turned black, with a hideous growth on the outside. De la Sa was certain she had been poisoned and the accusation was later used against Anne Boleyn. But no one had access to the queen except for her most faithful ladies. Modern medical historians are certain she died of cancer. Its’ interesting in the light of current ‘new age’ thinking about the relationship between illnesses people get and their emotional condition: Catherine of Aragon died of something very close to a broken heart.” From Karen Lindsey’s Divorced Beheaded Survived; a feminist reinterpretation of the wives of Henry VIII

Henry found Anne Boleyn was more willful than Katherine – and just as unlikely to produce a male heir. I’ve read that Anne thought her life was in danger so long as Katherine was alive; the opposite was probably true. He couldn’t discard her because the emperor would
expect him to take his aunt back.

When Katherine died, Anne was condemned (through treachery) and Henry had already found her replacement. She was waiting in the wings. He nearly slipped the ring on her finger as the French swordsman sliced Anne’s head off her little neck.

Henry arrogantly assumed he was in a favorable position to reopen the lines of communication with the emperor. So guess who he sent as ambassador. Can you imagine calling upon the Holy Roman Emperor on behalf of the monster who killed his aunt?

I can’t.

Please join us on Facebook – Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet

(This was mostly from memory – and opinion – so please write if you note errors.)

 

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Henry Tudor – son of Henry VII – was born 28 June 1491. Our Sir Thomas Wyatt was born in 1503.

In 1509 Henry VII died and his son was crowned Henry VIII. Our Henry Wyatt was the new king’s guardian as well as an advisor; his son Thomas became Henry’s friend – even through the Anne Boleyn debacle. It’s hard to imagine how Thomas felt when his childhood friends Anne and George Boleyn were beheaded, along with others of his creative friends.

Henry was openly brutal. He had no one to answer to; he was the head of the Church of England. He had his own damned church, Rome could kiss his ass.

Our Sir Thomas had the unpleasant task of representing the wishes of Henry VIII with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor – nephew of poor dead Catherine of Aragon. I believe Henry killed her too – not with a Frenchman’s sword, but with emotional violence, by moving her to unhealthy places and denying her access to her beloved daughter. With Catherine out of the way, Henry shamelessly pursued an alliance with Spain.

Henry was manipulative, Charles was evasive and Thomas was caught in the middle. After time spent, he begged to be allowed to come home to Allington; but Henry wasn’t a man who cared about anyone but himself. Thomas finally retired to Allington, but was called back on a mission for the king. That’s how he died, leaving poems unwritten and his sister’s son (by Henry VIII??) “unraised.” (He was raising Lady Margaret Lee’s son at the time of his death.)

What happened to Henry? What turned him into a monster? I can’t get enough of the possible answers. Here’s another interesting article on the subject:

“As a young man, he was fit and healthy. But by the time of his death, the King weighed close to 400 pounds. He had leg ulcers, muscle weakness, and, according to some accounts, a significant personality shift in middle age towards more paranoia, anxiety, depression and mental deterioration. Among other theories, experts have proposed that Henry suffered from Type II diabetes, syphilis, an endocrine problem called Cushing’s syndrome, or myxedema, which is a byproduct of hypothyroidism.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42041766/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/king-henry-viiis-health-problems-explained/#.T_w7T0DCqhV.facebook

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He liked soft beds, hard harlots and beautiful clothes.

(The photo is Alan Van Sprang, who played Bryan brilliantly in the Tudors series. Enjoy the series but note that casting and timing constraints forced them to distort facts.)

As a soldier, diplomat and poet it’s easy to understand that Sir Francis Bryan had everything in common with our Sir Thomas Wyatt. Henry VIII liked both men and yes, they were friends. (Wyatt’s writings to/of Bryan survive to this day, but Bryan’s writings have been lost in time.)

Most important, they were business associates; the king’s business. I think the difference between Wyatt and Bryan was that doing the king’s business was a heavy burden to Wyatt’s conscience whereas … well, Sir Bryan didn’t seem to have one.

This story tells us how Bryan got his nickname. “N. Sander, Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism ( 1877), p. 24, records that Sir Francis Bryan ‘was once asked by the king to tell him what sort of sin it was to ruin the mother and then the child’. Bryan replied ‘that it was a sin like that of eating a hen first and its chicken afterwards’. The king burst forth into loud laughter and said to Bryan, ‘Well, you certainly are my vicar of hell’.”

Bryan was also a cousin of Anne Boleyn – who he betrayed. Note that our Lady Elizabeth Brooke was also a cousin of Anne Boleyn. I haven’t been able to establish whether our lines attach to Sir Francis Bryan in any way, but this morning I received this FASCINATING comment from Bryan descendant William Jones and wanted to share it with everyone.

“It’s so that great grandfather loved to do contests and hone his skills with the sword but he endeared himself in his works of poetry. He indeed wore a patch but something you may not know is this. In the writings of the Three Musketeers, the villain that challenged them was developed from the character and looks of grandfather Sir Francis Bryan. The evil and eye patch wearing character was developed from the image of ‘The Vicar of Hell.’

None the less in later generations of his lineage the town of Smithfield North Carolina was founded and layed out by his grandchildren of which two were by grandparents and the other a great uncle….Needham Bryan 1 and sons William ( my lineage) and Needham Bryan II ( a great uncle) were founders of that town.  Grandfather William Bryan and his brother Needham Bryan married daughters of Joseph Smith who by so marrying them proved Joseph Smith to be an indirect great grandfather that gave the land for the town of Smithfield.

Also it must be noted that another great grandson of Sir Francis Bryan, namely Morgan Bryan had two daughters and a son that married two children of Squire Boone. Rebecca Bryan married the great frontiersman of America, Daniel Boone.”

(Please note a descendant’s comment/correction to this quote below.)

I share this because – besides being FASCINATING – it may help some of you develop your trees. It may help me flesh out my line also because they also lived in this area and talked about a relationship with the Boones.

How wonderful it would be to learn – all these generations – that the descendants of old friends  had connected again.

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My friend Dr Linda Saether is an expert on Anne Boleyn. She’s so passionate about Anne’s life that she recently went to the Vatican to see Henry VIII’s love letters. She wanted to see them and hold them in her hands.

You can imagine the hoops she went through. She shares her experience here.

http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/17571/the-vatican-love-letters-of-henry-viii-linda-holds-them/

Why do we care? Anne Boleyn was Sir Thomas Wyatt’s childhood friend and romantic obsession before she caught the king’s eye.

I’ve always wondered how Sir Tom’s wife felt about all this. Anne Boleyn was Lady Elizabeth Brooke’s second (?) cousin.

Pretty cool to be distant relatives of this famous/infamous queen, eh?

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Henry VIII's true wife.

Forgive my rants and ramblings. “The Tudors Wiki” has an ongoing debate about which of Henry’s wives had it worse.  I say it was Katherine of Aragon.  

(The Tudors is a “visually lush but historically loose” series on the life and wives of Henry VIII. Our ancestor Sir Thomas Wyatt is an integral part of it. You can see seasons 1 and 2 on demand via Netflix; seasons 3 and 4 are available on DVD.)

I suspect 80% of “The Tudors”‘ research came from one of my favorite references – Alison Weir’s “Six Wives of Henry VIII.”

The casting is brilliant, but they were a little stuck in stereotypes. They have the Spanish queen played by Maria Doyle Kennedy who has pitch black hair and fair skin;  check it out: http://tudorswiki.sho.com/page/Queen+Katherine+of+Aragon

This actress is awesome in the role but the real queen had fair skin and reddish hair. 

In my research I find myself growing very attached to some of these people. Katherine – like Sir Henry Wyatt – is  a favorite. But it didn’t “feel” right because I’m supposed to be writing about our ancestors and their connections, ya know? So you can imagine my delight in finding she does have a connection to us. 

Henry VIII elbowed our Thomas out of the way so he’d have a clear shot at Anne; then Tom fell in love with Elizabeth Darrel, Katherine’s Maid of Honor. (I’m going off memory so don’t hold me to details in this blog.)

Katherine of Aragon

It’s funny, the English had not yet encountered a strong, capable Queen Regnant but that’s exactly what Katherine’s mother was. Isabella I of Castile was at war and in the saddle the day before Katherine was born; she gave birth and rode off again the next morning, leaving the infant with a wet nurse.

Henry VII saw Isabella and Ferdinand as movers and shakers; he wanted to  strengthen his claim to the throne by marrying his oldest, Arthur, to their Katherine. They were betrothed as toddlers.

I can’t remember how old Katherine was when she finally made the journey to England. I think early teens.  She met with horrific storms en route and it took about three months to get there. I wonder if she saw that as an omen.

When she landed, she was entering prime child-bearing years. Arthur died of sweating sickness shortly after the wedding. Katherine was sick too – but she survived.

Imagine being a young girl, widowed, alone in a strange country. I read somewhere that her parents taught her to drink wine before she left home because the English couldn’t drink their water; it was unfit for human consumption.

Henry VII promised Isabel and Ferdinand that he would treat Katherine as his own daughter, but he used the young widow as a financial bargaining chip instead. He wanted dowry. He arranged for her betrothal to his son Henry, butyears later it was secretly withdrawn. He got stingy with her and she had to beg for clothes and money for the few loyal servants she had left.

Henry VII bears much blame for Katherine’s sad life because he wasted at least six of her prime child bearing years. Maybe if he had stepped aside, his son would have had his sons. Sure he would have strayed, but Katherine might have kept her crown and lived a more peaceful life. 

By the time Henry VII died and the young Henry VIII accepted his brother’s widow as wife, she was 23 years old – he was 18. Her first son was born on New Year’s Eve – a little boy who died in less than 60 days.

More miscarriages … imagine the rush of hormones, the depressions, the grief. Queens were glorified breeders. I read that she gave off an unpleasant odor after every pregnancy and Henry couldn’t stand the thought of getting close. Plus she was getting old quickly. Who wouldn’t? 

The royal couple’s daughter Mary didn’t count in the grand scheme of things because the English could not remember a time when they’d had an effective queen regnant.

Henry VIII’s father cared about money and establishing the Tudor dynasty. Henry VIII cared about putting on a big show and having a legitimate son or two to perpetuate the lineage. 

I think it’s probably true that he felt he had sinned by taking his brother’s wife; but the measures he took to rid himself of this pious woman were despicable.

There is a scene in The Tudors where Katherine takes a nighttime carriage ride to a cathedral to pray for a son. She steps out of the carriage barefoot onto cold wet stones … it’s a powerful visual.   

Katherine was the proud daughter of a powerful queen. Katherine herself was queen regnant for six months at the Battle of Flodden (Henry was busy in France at the time; nobody talks about that because he took credit for her win over the Scots.) 

She was a was a good woman who genuinely loved her God, her husband and her daughter. 

Towards Katherine’s end, Henry told Katherine and Mary they could see each other if they would acknowledge Anne as queen; they would not. Who could blame them?

All those miscarriages, one beloved daughter – then a husband whose affections grew cold to the point where he flaunted her successor.  When they opened her up after her death, they found “something black” on her heart. They say now that was a cancer. Well, abuse feeds cancers. I say any way you cut it, she died of a broken heart.

Yes, I believe Katherine had it worst.

I truly wonder why the Catholic church sainted Sir Thomas More (who burned Protestants at the stake) but not Katherine? Her faith, integrity and loyalty were unshakable.

If you watch the Tudors, you’ll see the scene where Katherine dies and her maid Elizabeth Darrel hangs herself; it didn’t happen that way. Elizabeth D. did not commit suicide.

Katherine wrote Elizabeth D. into her will, hoping she would find a good match. She already had a match – our ancestor, Sir Thomas Wyatt.   He even translated some Latin for Katherine. I wonder how well he knew her.

Anne Boleyn was the victim of her own ambition. I don’t care if we are related, I believe Anne’s karma played out in her lifetime; fortunately it did not extend to her daughter Elizabeth.

Elizabeth D. lived with Sir Tom at Allington until his death. (He died while traveling on behalf of the king.)  She had sons by him; one died with his half-brother Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger at or after the rebellion.

Here’s something cool … last week I learned that Henry VIII gave Anne of Cleves three residences in appreciation for her willingness to step aside as wife. (She had to be giddy with relief!!) One of those residences was Hever, home of Anne and the Boleyns. Anne of Cleves also took an interest in little Elizabeth.

I wonder if the two spent time together at Hever. I can’t wait to learn more.  I have a soft spot for bastards who turn out ok:-)

(I am one.)

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