Tag Archives: anne boleyn

The Much-Maligned King

Saint RichardWith the great historical discoveries we’ve had over recent years, there has been some major re-thinking on the history and reputation of one of England’s most hated and maligned kings – and rightly so.

While his mortal remains are now at rest this king’s legacy of evil and wickedness is still debated by eye-rolling, loony historians, fan-girls and sane history buffs on every Facebook page you come across (yes, I’ve checked, he even gets into groups dedicated to historical women *groan*).

He has, throughout, history, been demonised and vilified by historians and non-historians alike. Words such as “tyrant”, “monster” and “murderer” have been slung at this king for more years than I’d like to count.

The main beef for many is the propaganda levelled against this king by subsequent dynasties; the misrepresentation of his actions and the accusations of murder which just refuse to go away.

And mud sticks.

So it’s about time he was given the rights that all Englishmen have – the right to the “assumption of innocence until proven guilty”.

No, of course I’m not talking about Richard III! The man killed his nephews, why on earth should he be allowed to be presumed innocent?holbein henry

I’m referring to that great man of the Renaissance, the Hercules of England, Europe’s very own Alexander; Henry VIII, of course.

With this in mind I thought I would take a new look at the main accusations, strip away the propaganda and look at the deaths involved in their proper light; one at a time, rather than as one great killing spree.

Does responsibility lay at the king’s door?

Were the deaths justified for the good of the realm? Should I leave Cairo and move to more bridal climes? (Oops, sorry, that last was a personal question, not relevant – much – to this essay.)

The first person I looked into was Catherine of Aragon. Of course, Henry is not accused of killing her; but he is accused of treating her shamefully. Catherine married Henry having sworn that she’d never slept with her first husband Prince Arthur, Henry’s older brother. Catherine made thiCatherine_aragons declaration only after Arthur was safely dead – and therefore could not dispute it.

What was her motivation?

Well, Henry was a young, handsome – ok, gorgeous – 18-year-old Adonis who also happened to be king of one of the most powerful kingdoms of Europe, whereas she was a penniless Spanish princess who had been more-or-less abandoned by her own family. So, of course, she only said this out of her love for Henry, rather than any selfish reasons.

There was one problem with Catherine’s declaration; Prince Arthur had once sworn otherwise, declaring one morning, after leaving Catherine’s chamber, that he had “spent the night in Spain” (something no one bothered to tell Henry until many years later). Quite an unequivocal statement from a Prince who had no ulterior motive.

Poor Henry was a devout Catholic and knew that marrying his brother’s wife was a mortal sin and when he finally discovered the truth, what choice did he have but to divorce? And why would he do it with such vehemence and hatred? Surely it’s hard to be kind to someone who has endangered your immortal soul by making you commit such a heinous sin? Henry would have had to be a saint to be able to forgive. And it’s certainly not his fault that Catherine of Aragon stuck to this fib – through thick and thin – but neither is it Henry’s fault that he stuck to his own guns and fought to the very end to obtain a divorce.

So, now, we come to Henry’s “victims”.

Anneboleyn2Let’s look at Anne Boleyn first.

If Anne Boleyn was innocent of the crimes she was accused of – of sleeping with other men, including her brother and of planning the king’s death – then she is a true martyr and Henry is a monster worse than Darth Vader. However, thanks to the Daily Mail, we now know beyond any doubt that Anne did have an affair with her brother, George Boleyn. A French poem, written a few days after Anne’s execution by a Frenchman living in England, proves unequivocally that Anne slept with her brother.

And if one of the charges is true, then surely they all are?

And if Anne was sleeping around, what else could he do but execute her? Imprison her? Maybe, but an example from French history suggests the dangers in doing that. In 1314 the wives of France’s 3 princes were accused of adultery and imprisoned. However, the princes found obtaining divorces difficult (to cut a long story short) and all 3 ruled successively as kings of France, but were unable to  produce the much-desired legitimate male heir and the Capetian line died out.

With such an example from just a couple of hundred years ago, can Henry really be blamed for wanting a swift conclusion to his marriage?

And, to be honest, this same argument stands for Henry’s execution of Catherine Howard the poor chap is proof of the adage that lightning CAN strike twice in the same place).

One of the most heinous crimes that Henry is accused of is, of course, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. And well, to be honest, I’ll give his accusers that one. Poor Margaret. But, then, every king is allowed one over-reaction; Richard III has Lord Hastings, Henry gets Margaret Pole.

thomas moreAnd then there’s Thomas More…

Well, I have a theory…..

Sir Thomas More was Henry’s friend. What if he committed an unforgivable betrayal. I’m not referring to his refusal to swear allegiance to the Act of Succession, rather I’m referring to his abominable, slanderous book about Richard III.

We all know Henry loved his mother dearly, and spent most of his childhood sat on her lap, listening to her stories about her childhood, her father and her wonderful uncle, Richard. We always think of the Tudors hating Richard III, but in Henry’s time the slanderous, legend blackening work of Shakespeare is still decades in the future. What if Henry knew of the gentler side of Uncle Dickon? What if he saw him as the loving uncle of a fatherless teenage girl, who gave her gifts and danced with her at Christmas.

EoY portraitThis is the intimate picture of Richard III that Henry grew up with, knowing him and loving him as a favourite great-uncle. And then his friend presents him with a manuscript saying “I’ve put together some ideas, have a look at it, just let me know what you think.”

Of course, Henry reads it and goes ballistic. How dare More write such hateful things about this great king, this hero, this Son of York, this man who saved the kingdom from the disasters that would, almost-definitely, have befallen the land had a child-king been allowed to live …. er, I mean, to reign?

Henry had no choice, More brought it on himself. Henry had to have him executed in order to prevent More’s slanderous work from reaching a wider audience. It was the only way to prevent publication.

It’s not Henry’s fault the “facts” still got out…

By Jeff R Sun

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Jeff R Sun has been supporting the Richards for years – I’m thinking of changing my allegiance to the Henrys. All advice appreciated.

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Photos: Wiki

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Sources: Measly Middle Ages; Terrible Tudors; Slimy Stuarts; Wiki; Daily Mail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Howard and the Fall of the Monarchy

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The Tower of London
Recently I had the honour and pleasure of attending the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. It takes place every night at the Tower, and has done since the 14th century.
Detroit_Publishing_Co._-_A_Yeoman_of_the_Guard_(N.B._actually_a_Yeoman_Warder),_full_restoration
Yeoman of the Guard
At exactly 9.53pm the Chief Yeoman Warder, dressed in Tudor uniform meets the TOwer of London Guard. Together, the Chief Yeoman Warder and the Yeoman Warder ‘Watchman’ secure the main gates of the Tower. On their return down Water Lane, they are challenged by the sentry:
Sentry: “Halt! Who comes there?”
Chief Warder: “The keys.”
Sentry: “Whose keys?”
Chief Warder: “Queen Elizabeth’s keys.” (identifying the keys as being those of Queen Elizabeth II, the current monarch)
Sentry: “Pass Queen Elizabeth’s Keys. All is well.”
The party then makes its way through the Bloody Tower Archway into the fortress, where they halt at the bottom of the Broadwalk Steps. On the top of the Stairs, under the command of their officer, the Tower Guard present arms and the Chief Warder raises his hat, proclaiming:
 

Chief Warder: “God preserve Queen Elizabeth.”
Sentry: “Amen!”

The keys are then taken to Queen’s House for safekeeping, and the Last Post is sounded.

The ceremony is an amazing spectacle, but I digress.

The reason I mention it is the chat I had afterwards, with one of the Yeoman Warders. We were talking about the ravens and I mentioned the legend attached to them, which says that the monarchy will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the Tower of London.

The Yeoman Warder laughed and said ‘yes, everyone falls for that one’. Intrigued – and not a little miffed at him laughing at me – I asked him to explain himself.

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King Richard III

He told me a very interesting story that begins in the reign of Richard III.

We all know of the wise woman who saw Richard on his way to Battle at Bosworth, saying that his head would soon strike the bridge where his spur had just struck. Well, apparently there was a little bit extra to that story that the Tudor propagandists decided not to share with the little people.

The wise lady said something that confused Richard immensely – she shouted to Richard that “the monarchy will fall if the Howards ever leave the Tower of London.”

Now, Richard, as we know, took no notice of this warning and John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk was one of the men who fell fighting for Richard at Bosworth – and Richard lost his crown.

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Henry VII

After the battle, the same wise woman sought out Henry VII and managed to shout the same warning – minus the comment about heads and bridges – to the king, before she was bundled away and unceremoniously thrown on a dung heap.

At first Henry dismissed the wise woman’s words as “fantasy and delusion”, but the events of 1487 (the Battle of Stoke Field) and the arrival of Perkin Warbeck made him think again. Being spiteful and nasty, Henry VII believed that the wise woman had meant a Howard had to be imprisoned in the Tower – and he started looking around for a suitable candidate.

Of course, his only problem was that Thomas Howard 2nd Duke of Norfolk, was annoyingly loyal and he could find no reason to send him to the Tower. He did manage to make him Lord High Treasurer, which meant he had offices in the Tower, and hoped that would be enough. Of course, shortly after this Henry’s son and heir, Arthur, died followed by his beloved wife, Elizabeth of York.

Henry started panicking.

However, not wanting to send the Howards into hiding, he bought 6 ravens, clipped their wings and had the rumour spread that if they ever left the Tower, the monarchy would fall.

He then warned his new heir, the magnificent Henry – soon to be the VIII of that name – that he should do everything in his power to keep a Howard in the Tower as often as he possibly could.

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Henry Howard Earl of Surrey

As we all know, Henry took his father’s words to heart. He tried to find a permanent solution, by lopping off the head of his 2nd wife, Anne Boleyn (whose mother was a Howard), and burying her in the Church of St Peter ad Vincular in the Tower, hoping that was an end to it.

But then there was the Pilgrimage of Grace…..

So he tried again with wife no.5, Catherine Howard, and this seemed to work. But then Henry got ill and even more paranoid, and started worrying about his son and the succession. In order to ensure the smooth accession of Edward VI, Henry made certain by imprisoning Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk AND Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey – then died content.

Unfortunately Edward VI’s regents released Norfolk – and Edward’s reign was cut short. Edward did manage to pass on the secret to his sisters, Mary and Elizabeth.

But she didn’t believe him – Howard was, after all, a Catholic. And as a result, Mary’s reign was short.

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Thomas Howard, Elizabeth I’s prisoner

Elizabeth, on the other hand, took the legend to heart and regularly threw a Howard in the Tower. Everyone thought that it was ‘just because she felt like it’, but she was just being extra cautious.

At this stage of the story the Beefeater started laughing uncontrollably. “Of course,” he said “they went to all that murderous trouble for nothing”.

Perplexed, I asked “what do you mean”

“The legend had nothing to do with the Norfolk Howards – in fact it was not so specific as to even mean a surname. During the Gunpowder Plot we discovered, that so long as someone in the Tower had Howard somewhere in their name, all was good.”

So, now, it’s just part of the recruitment process for Yeoman Warders, they have to be ex-military – and have ‘Howard’ somewhere in their name.

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Raven Howard and a friend

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to be extra cautious – one of the Tower Ravens is also named ‘Howard’ – just to be sure.

 

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Jeff R Sun got locked in the Tower of London after a quick trip to the loo follow the Ceremony of the Keys. Can someone please let me out?
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All pictures taken from Wikipedia
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Sources: Ceremony of the Keys taken from Wikipedia; http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/stories/theravens; Horrible Histories; 1066 and All That; Yeoman Warder Howard Carter of the Tower of London.

Anne’s Not So Sacred Last Confession

Much and more was made of the Holy Sacrament in the 16th century. If someone swore on the Sacrament, you could be certain that they were telling the “God’s honest” truth. Henry Percy swore that he was not married to Anne Boleyn, but to be sure he was made to take Communion, which he could not do if his soul was burdened with a lie. Katherine of Aragon swore upon the sacrament that she was a virgin when she married Henry VIII. This was enough to convince the Pope and a lot of other people that it was true.

Monstrance

Another of Henry’s wives had occasion to swear upon the Sacrament. Anne Boleyn’s famous confession, given freely in the presence of Archbishop Cranmer and William Kingston is often given as absolute evidence of her innocence. Surely one so close to death would not jeapordize their soul by lying before or after communion!

16th century books

In a back alley bookstore in the city of Cairo, an amazing discovery has been made. Tucked away, in a dusty old copy of Tyndale’s “Obedience Of A Christian Man” was a letter. Careful study has revealed that this letter was in fact  written by Anne Boleyn in 1535 to someone unidentified at this time. Though much of the letter is illegible, a few lines stand out, and may change everything we thought we knew about the innocence of Anne Boleyn.

eucharist

“Tis but a pice of bread”, the letter says, and further on, “does not speak of confessors, nor Purgatory”. We can only assume from this that Anne Boleyn, known for her reformist views, may have been even more separated from the Roman Catholic Church than previously thought! Was Anne indeed a Lollard? Did she deny the sanctity of the Host, and disavow the spiritual need for the sacrament of confession and penance? This letter would indeed indicate that this is so.

If Anne did not believe in the holiness of the Sacrament, it casts new light upon her last confession, and her innocence as well. Known for her rash words and her constant beleaguring of her husband, Henry VIII, Anne may have made this show of confession just to make him look bad.  Knowing that poor Archbishop Cranmer and William Kingston would repeat her words, Anne found one more way to make Henry look like a villain, instead of the perfectly pious and good natured fellow that he really was.Her plan worked well. Henry had to go out and execute another wife for the same reasons, just to make himself look better.

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Jeff “the wiz” Berlin

Sources:

“Lollards and The People Who Love Them” by Ima Baker

“The Tudors”- Showtime

Cairo Dwellers Books and Emporium

“How To Make Your Man Look Bad” by Carmen Scold

 

I must admit, to find evidence pertaining to Anne Boleyn here, on the banks of the Nile, was surprising. I had come to Cairo to investigate some strange reports of irregular horse trade. While my mission proved to be a failure, I did find that the horses in Cairo are quite spirited, intelligent, and some of the best looking creatures I have been fortunate enough to come across. I am off now to another exotic location, on a mission so secret that I don’t even know what it is yet.

Meet Amber Lynn, a Tudor Queen’s Body Double.

Anneboleyn2

Anne Boleyn is always a controversial topic. Questions about her love life have long been debated studied by scholars in their ivory towers but along with her reputed “lovers,” she took many of her secrets to the grave. However, it appears that she may have taken a startlingly pragmatic approach to keeping her royal suitor satisfied during the years of abstinence, from 1527 to 1532. Apparently Anne Boleyn employed a body double. She was of “myddle height… well formyd and fayre” and her name was Amber Lynn.

Amber Lynn’s real name is not known. That which she used in her professional life was clearly chosen to mirror the name of Henry’s love, when Amber first appeared in a brothel in Cokke Lane, an alleyway leading from Cheapside down to the Thames. She was the most famous prostitute in London from around 1528 and there are suggestions that she visited court on several occasions, and that Henry’s courtiers wore disguises when they sailed down river to Cokke Lane. Did Anne turn a blind eye when Henry indulged? A poem found scrawled on the back of some of her household receipts implies she did far more. She may even have paid Amber’s expenses. The verse reads:

Sche dwellys in Cheapside in the nighte

Well formyd and fayre, of myddle height

And even yf you loathe thys dittye

You’ll find Mistress Amber Lynn is prettye.

A winsome smile, two dazzling eyes

Her pretty foote ys a surprise.

Most royally entertained and seen

She takes the place of Kyngis’ Quene.

After some satire levelled at various bishops of the era, the verse continues. There is also the interesting use of the description “crowe,” suggesting that Amber was dark haired, but echoing some of the more guttural and anamorphic insults directed at the future queen.

To Whitehall makes this crowe her waye

And tarries there with Kynges to playe

While Quenes look on with fires cooled

To see their lovers hotly schooled.

And in the end they pay and frown.

A costly way to win a crown.

The author of these verses has yet to be identified. It was clearly the work of some court insider, clearly a literate individual, although it is not great literature: perhaps a gentleman of the court who was privately critical of the King. If Anne was willing to allow Henry to have his fun with a woman who resembled her so closely, it would imply quite a different reading of her character. She would seem more cynical, more ambitious and focussed on gaining the crown at all costs. Perhaps she was simply being pragmatic, employing a woman who would not pose a threat to her, just as some have suggested she later encouraged her cousin Madge Shelton to submit to Henry’s advances. Maybe it was a question of better the devil you know. It also takes something of the romance out of her story. Alternatively, this inept ditty might all be lies, one more example of the force of contemporary feeling against Anne. Perhaps someone in the household of Princess Mary scribbled it down for their amusement, or it was an attempt to discredit Anne in popular eyes. In any case, it failed.

Amber Lynn disappears from history in 1532. She may have married, as there are a John and Amber Breakwynde listed as taking on the tenancy of an Inn in Southwark that August. Perhaps the loss of her body double encouraged Anne to finally take the plunge and submit to the King. Perhaps this just lifts the lid on the Tudor underworld; perhaps it just lifts the lid of a box of frogs.

Sources

Six of one and half a dozen of the other.

Hodge, John Records of the Deep: Life under Water

Munn, Llewellyn How to Live on £5 a week

Watson, Dr Eating People May Not be so Wrong After All.

Jeff R Vescent is sparkling away in the sunshine, drinking yam juice and knitting a stocking.

Elizabeth’s Secret Marriage (Part 2)

220px-Elizabeth_I_Rainbow_Portrait
Elizabeth in her wedding dress?

Behind the bike sheds: Well, after over 5 minutes of tedious waiting – and getting some very strange looks from the resident cyclists  – I was about to give up my quest when Bishop Stillington FINALLY appeared.

He seemed nervous, scared even. He kept looking behind him as he walked towards me. Did he think he was being followed? Was he being followed? I blinked, looked around and thought about it. No, he was definitely weird and not a little paranoid, but there was no one following him.

He walked straight up to me, slammed something into my hand – and left. Just like that. He was gone, swallowed up by the crowds of cyclists.

Magna_Carta_(British_Library_Cotton_MS_Augustus_II.106)
A 16th century love letter?

I looked at my hand nervously (the paranoia was obviously contagious). What had I got myself into?

The paper looked old, frail. It was brown at the edges, and curled up a bit?

But then I remembered one of my old art lessons. Wasn’t it possible to make paper look old and frail, by wiping a teabag over it? It was a pretty good effect, I recall. So how could I know? The handwriting looked old – all squirly and fancy, not like kids learn to write these days. There were no obvious signs of forgery in the text: no OMGs, LOLs or xoxo’s. But I still couldn’t be certain.

I called in at the nearest Costa Coffee, grabbed a cappuccino and settled down to read the text:

“My dearest, darling Elizabeth,

It was lovely to see you the other day, and spend those wonderful few hours together.

My heart yearns for you still.

I often hark back to our wedding day, thinking of you in that wonderfully coloured dress. I am reminded of it every time I see a rainbow overhead. How adorable you looked – and you had eyes only for me.

I love you so much, you are queen of my heart and my world (and the country, of course). How are we ever going to be together forever, have we only stolen moments in dark corners to look forward to?

I know all has changed. You said that I must forget about us, that I must move on, but do you mean it? How can you? How can I? No woman is as wonderful and majestic as you – I am yours to command, always.

Sweet Elizabeth, you are my wife, you swore we would be together forever. Elizabeth, is the crown worth our parting?

Come home

Your ever-loving husband

Bob

Bob? Bob? Who on earth was BOB?

It was a nice, sweet, sad letter, but undated. Was it real?

I resolved to find out and took a trip to my old alma mater. Leicester Uni has recently had some success in dating 500-year-old ‘things’, so I thought I’d see if they would check out the letter for me.

Unfortunately, all the really clever professors were busy or out to lunch, but one of the lab rats took a look at it. He had a sniff and a nibble and declared it could be carbon dated to the 1550/60s, give or take a hundred years – or so. That was good enough for me. The letter must be genuine, as it was written at the right time.

I now turned my attention to the writer. Who could this ‘Bob’ be? I turned to Wikipedia – such a fabulous, accurate and complete research tool. It has been my saviour many times, during arguments on Facebook. No one can argue with Wikipedia and win.

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Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex

To the candidates:

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, was a favourite of Elizabeth’s later in her life. But did she marry him? It is possible. Given the example of her father – and she like to think she was a king of England, like him, it is entirely possible. Her father liked to chop the heads of his spouses when he tired of them. And Elizabeth did chop Devereux’s head off when she tired of him. Maybe it was cheaper than a divorce, certainly it was quicker.

Next there’s Robert Cecil, son of Elizabeth’s greatest adviser William Cecil, Lord Burleigh. Raised from childhood to serve the queen loyally. But to marry her? If he did, he got over the grief of her death very quickly – he was arranging for James VI of Scotland to take the throne before the poor woman was cold in her grave – actually, I don’t think she was even dead. So, no, not him. Surely?

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Bob

The penultimate candidate is Bob, page to the Lord Edmund Blackadder. A lively, adventurous, thigh-slapping chap, as I remember. He must have been great fun to be with – and Queenie did like Bob, as I recall. But….and it’s a pretty big but…. didn’t he turn out to be a girl? And run off with Lord Flashheart?

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Bob Dudley, Earl of Leicester

The most likely candidate, of course, is Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He was Elizabeth’s own age and a close confidant until his death. But he was married – for some of the time anyway. He married Amy Robsart in 1550. According to Wikipedia, this was a love-match. But something went wrong. Amy took a nasty fall down some conveniently well-placed stairs and managed to break her neck. There were constant rumours about the two of them – stories abounded that they wanted to marry. But Elizabeth called him Robin, not Bob, didn’t she?

Of course, that may have been in public, to throw people off the scent, maybe. There’s nothing to say Elizabeth didn’t call him ‘Bob’ in private.

Is there?

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Jeff R Sun, alumni of the University of Leicester, fan of lab rats and growing quite fond of cyclists, too

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Photos taken from Wikipedia, except Bob which is thanks to Google Images

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Sources: Wikipedia; Tony Robinson’s Kings and Queens, by Tony Robinson; Wikipedia; Cows in Action 1, the Ter-moo-nators, by Steve Cole; A Rough Guide to Egypt, by Dan Richardson; Blackadder II episode 1 ‘Bells’ (1st broadcast on BBC One 9th January 1986)

Elizabeth’s Secret Marriage (part 1)

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Was Elizabeth Tudor Mrs? ?

Why did Elizabeth I never get married?

This question has been long pondered by historians.

Many posit that her father’s or – more likely – her mother’s marital experiences put her off the whole idea. Her father – Henry VIII for those who were unsure – married 6 times, but never seemed to find that marital bliss he so obviously, and desperately craved.

Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, married only once, but it didn’t end well – to say the divorce was acrimonious is perhaps a mild understatement. And the way it ended cut off her chances of ever having a successful 2nd marriage, if you get my meaning.

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Anne Boleyn, with head

So there were obvious reasons for Elizabeth to remain a spinster her whole life – and who would blame her? Her father was a serial monogamist and her mother was a head short because of this, poor woman.

However, new evidence has come to light to suggest that the reason Elizabeth never married was because she already was – married, that is.

I know!

Why didn’t we know this?

We all know secret marriages come to light eventually, and usually at the most inconvenient times. It doesn’t usually take 500 years.

But we all know Elizabeth was clever and she had ample experience, within her own family, of how secret marriages could cause considerable – shall we say – ‘fallout’?

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532 years – coming, ready or not!

Elizabeth’s own great-grandfather, Edward IV, secret married Eleanor Butler, before he scandalously, secretly married Elizabeth Woodville. This led to no one knowing who he was actually married to and his sons running away to Burgundy, playing the longest-ever recorded game of ‘hide and seek’.

Luckily the wonderful Richard III stepped into the breach and saved the country from utter anarchy. Nonetheless, to this day no one is really sure who Edward was married to and the question regularly causes ‘fisticuffs’ on Facebook’s reputable history pages.

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Cuddly Henry VIII

And if that wasn’t enough of an example for Elizabeth, there was the one of step-mother no.2 – sorry, no – it was stepmother no.3.

(It’s so confusing, haven’t a clue how Henry managed to keep up with so many wives – maybe that’s why the last 2 were called Catherine? But that’s another story…)

So, yes, stepmother no.3 (no.4 for Mary Tudor, of course, and no.2 for Prince Edward), the unfortunate Catherine Howard who ‘forgot’ she had married (or promised to marry, at least) Francis Dereham – until he reminded her. Sadly, Catherine was already married to Henry when she inconveniently remembered her first wedding.

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Poor Catherine Howard (I know this is Jane Grey – but you get the idea?)

 

Henry didn’t take kindly to being 2nd.

In a fit of pique, Henry lopped off her head and introduced Elizabeth to stepmother no.4 (no.5 for Mary Tudor and no.3 for Prince Edward), Katherine Parr.

And what does all this mean? Well, if Elizabeth was ever going to get married secretly, she wasn’t going to tell anyone – ever!

But there was a secret marriage – apparently.

So there was I the other day, minding my own business, sitting in Costa Coffee, drinking a cappuccino (with chocolate sprinkles, of course) and reading. I think I was reading The other Boleyn Girl, by that excellent historian whose name quite escapes me for the moment.

Anyway, this chap came and sat on the next table, looked over to me and smiled. Then he looked round, leaned over and went ‘pssstttt!’. He had to do this a good few times before I stopped deliberately ignoring him.

I looked at him.

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Bishop Stillington? 

He whispered, behind his hand ‘I know a secret about her daughter’, nodding to the book in my hands.

‘Who? The writer?’ I replied, with a bemused (I hoped, rather than scared) look on my face.

‘No, the queen, Elizabeth. She was married you know. None of this Virgin Queen stuff is true, she was well and truly married.’

‘Who are you? How do you know?’ I asked., still not falling for it. Then he said something that totally made me trust him.

‘Oh, I’m Bishop Stillington, from Bath – and Wells. I have a letter. I found it in the attic. From Elizabeth to her husband.’

‘Really?’ I asked. I was totally drawn in. It had to be true. How could you not believe or trust a man with the name Bishop Stillington? Well, if he was lying, I wouldn’t be the first one to have been taken in by him, would I?

Magna_Carta_(British_Library_Cotton_MS_Augustus_II.106)
The letter? We’ll have to wait and see..

 

‘Do you want to see it?’

‘See what?’ I asked, bemused and not a little discomfited.

‘The letter – I can show it to you’ Bishop Stillington replied. ‘You’ll have to meet me….’

So, the meet was set up. I’m meeting Stillington behind the bike sheds on Tuesday at 10.30 am – to see the letter (I hope, gulp!).

Look out for my update.

Yours truly, Jeff R Sun (looking forward to Tuesday with trepidation)

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Photos taken from Wikipedia

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Sources: The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory; Eleanor the Secret Queen by John ‘eye-roll’ Ashdown-Hill; I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles; The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George; Carry on Henry VIII; The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell.

 

Mary Boleyn – Sister, Harlot, Spy

Mary Boleyn is known as the Other Boleyn Girl, the Great Whore and the Mistress of Kings. She has been written about, portrayed on stage and screen, and there is speculation about her life to this very day. Yet the late Eric Ives, arguably the most knowledgeable person on the subject of the Boleyns since my great aunt Tessie, tells us that what we don’t know about her could fill a book.

So, that got me  wondering. Why would a woman of whom we hear so much leave so little evidence of herself behind? We don’t even know for sure when she was born. Then she spoke to me. I was finishing off a bottle of Dewars and studying her portrait. At least we think it could be her portrait. It probably is. Maybe not.  It could be. But I digress. Anyway, there I was with my Scotch, and all of a sudden, it hit me. Mary Boleyn was a spy. I even spotted some secreted writing in her portrait, but I have not been able to find it since, so stealthy were the clues.

francis1

 

We know that Thomas Boleyn, a ruthless and grasping man, placed his daughters in foreign households. Mary promptly finagled herself into the inner sanctum of the king of France. But while she was under the covers, was she truly under cover? The answer is yes. Mary was engaging in espionage, learning all of Francis’ secrets and passing them on to her ambitious father and uncle, the archetypical villain, Thomas Howard. I know! I know that this seems outlandish because we know that Mary was an empty-headed yet fecund tramp, but that was all part of her ingenious cover.

After a while, Mary was recalled to England and prepared to marry. As the eldest daughter, she might have expected to marry James Butler, and make a nice little life as a countess in Ireland. At least we think she was the eldest. She might not have been. But she probably was. See how far this cloak of uncertainty was drawn over her? Anyway, instead of being shipped as a very attractive if somewhat  dimwitted parcel to Ireland, she married one William Carey. Carey was a bit of a nobody really. Some distant cousin to the king, but hardly the heir to Ormond. So why was she kept in England? So she could continue in her trade, duh!

holbein henry

Mary was situated among the ladies of Katherine of Aragon. There she was in an excellent position to sniff out information that passed between the queen and her Spanish ambassador. At the time, everyone wanted to know what was being said between those two. Henry VIII was a bit of a wanker where the saintly Katherine was concerned, and it did not take long for Mary’s kind heart to go out to her mistress. We know Mary was kind  because she portrayed the virtue “Kindness” in the Chateau Vert pageant. So, caring and fearing for her mistress, Mary tried to help her. She started sleeping with Henry.

Now, we don’t know when the affair started, nor when it ended, or if it was a love affair or a booty call, but we do know that at some point Mary was under cover again. She may even have born the king a couple of kids to complete the ruse. They might be his kids. Probably not. But they could be. Anyway, by this point, Mary was a double agent. She was spying on Katherine and the Spanish and Henry and the English. All this information went straight to her dastardly father and her infamous uncle. And where did they go? To France, of course. Yes, yes, I know she was spying on Francis earlier, but allegiances change. Besides, this is what fits with what little we know.

After Mary’s sister entered the game, things got really tricky. Anne either did not want Mary snooping around or maybe they just didn’t get along, but either way Mary again married some random fellow and got kicked out of court. However, she continued corresponding with Thomas Cromwell, and we all know what kind of guy he was.

Anneboleyn2

Eventually,  the feces hit the rotary oscillator between Henry and the Boleyns. He arrested a few, executed a couple, and just really did a number on them. Where was our dear Mary at the time? You might have guessed it. She was back in France. Calais, actually, the last English possession in France. Which is rather telling in itself, don’t you think? She was not brought back for questioning, nor persecuted in any way. There was still one Boleyn flitting about the queen’s chambers and doing all kinds of secret stuff.  That person was the notorious Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford. But I am all out of Dewars, so that story must wait for another day.

Jeff “the wiz” Berlin

 

Sources:

The Other Boleyn Girl ( both the book and unfortunate movies, which I do not recommend)

Dewars (which I highly recommend)

Whoever painted that portrait that is probably Mary Boleyn

Medieval and Renaissance Espionage For Dummies

My Great Aunt Tessie

 

Author’s note- As a daring super spy myself, this story was near and dear to my own heart. So much so that the wife has since removed the portrait of Mary from my study, muttering something about an unhealthy obsession.

The Curse of Katherine of Aragon

Katherine of Aragon was born on December 16, 1485. The daughter of two powerful monarchs, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, her life should have been that of a princess in a fairy tale, and indeed seemed that way for quite some time. She was betrothed to Arthur, heir to King Henry VII, and set forth to England to marry him in 1501. Sadly, the young prince died, and Katherine was left a widow, her future uncertain as her father and Henry VII haggled over her worth.

KoA

Luckily for Katherine, Henry VII died and she married his son, Henry VIII, and the story was one of a chivalrous knight rescuing fair damsel. Their court was merry, and they looked forward to being the parents of many healthy sons. This unfortunately was not to be. Katherine suffered multiple miscarriages and children who were either stillborn or lived only a short while. The only child that survived was a puny daughter, Mary. Henry was not impressed.

holbein_henry_viii (1)

Katherine was several years older than Henry, and her looks had gone to rot with all the pregnancies, and the stress of being married to such a jerk. He cheated, had children with other women, and just generally treated her very badly. He set his sights on Anne Boleyn, one of Katherine’s ladies, and divorced Katherine by reason of the marriage was cursed by God. But Katherine was not one to just go away quietly. She held on as long as she could. Fighting, praying, and hoping.

Elizabeth Barton, known as the Holy Maid of Kent, was dead set against the marriage of Henry and Anne, and had made several prophecies concerning the fate of the king, should he continue to pursue Anne.  People who were loyal to Katherine brought the nun to Katherine’s attention, and Katherine secretly corresponded with her, at first only seeking spiritual support. But, the Holy Maid was actually………….a witch.

holy maid

When it became clear that Henry would not be put off the path he had chosen, the Maid put forth an ominous prophecy. She cursed Henry’s future wife, saying that Anne’s joy would last only 1000 days, and that she would bear no sons. Of course a curse like this requires a blood payment, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester would be the sacrificial lamb. His execution sealed the curse, and though Katherine did not know it, her most staunch defender served her even in his death.

Anneboleyn2

Anne’s first pregnancy yielded only another squalling girl child, and her second ended in miscarriage. When Anne became pregnant in 1535, everything seemed to be going quite well. By now, the Maid had herself been executed, and Henry believed that her prophecies died with her. But this was a terrible and powerful witch, only burning would stop her curse. As she was hanged the curse lingered and even grew with her death at Henry’s hands.

Katherine of Aragon died, alone and bereft, on January 7, 1536. On the very day of her funeral, Anne miscarried the male child that Henry so longed for, and doomed herself. Henry had continued to enjoy his mistresses during his marriage to Anne, and one of them, Jane Seymour, was a particular favorite. And so the wheel of fortune turned, and Anne was now in the place that Katherine had sat, her star descending quickly.

thomas_cromwell (1)

Thomas Cromwell, who was behind the execution of the Holy Maid, had fallen afoul of Anne, and as the curse wove itself around them both, he would be instrumental in Anne’s fall and subsequent execution. He himself was cursed by the Maid as well, and his fall in 1540 would be as fast and as fatal as Anne’s.

Jane Seymour went on to marry Henry. She managed to produce a male child, but having been too close to such a powerful curse, she died herself of childbed fever, and so she neither enjoyed bettering Katherine, or reaped any benefit from sitting on Katherine’s throne. Henry married three more times, all without issue and suffered from many painful ailments, and a cursed sore on his leg that had never healed, much like Katherine’s broken heart.

Jeff “the wiz” Berlin

Sources:

Friar Tucker Marsh

Wikipedia, Katherine of Aragon

Wikipedia, Elizabeth Barton

Philippa Gregory “The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl”

“The Creation of Anne Boleyn”

My Grand ma’am

Healing from recent plastic surgery, I have been immersed in research about my family,  the history of the World’s Cup, and arguing with my neighbors. I am dedicated to sharing my discoveries and will keep you all updated. I have an assignment at the American football championships, but can not go into detail.

Richard, Perkin and a genetic mutation.

Double History. Examining the similarities and differences of the physical characteristics of Perkin Warbeck, alleged pretender to the throne and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York.

This article begins in a nondescript bar in a nondescript village on yet another nondescript island in the Mediterranean. I will not name the island as :-

I had no interest in actually learning the name of it or anything more than the way to the nearest hostelry

and

It is a small place and I want to spare the blushes and the reputation of the man I am about to describe.

Mrs JJ and I were on a ‘round the Med cruise’, eighty four islands in seven days or something like that, accompanied by the two small people who hang around our house. That day the liner had put into the harbour of a whitely painted, aloe planted, domed and pointed, picturesque kind of place. Mrs JJ took the boys, (or was one a girl? I was never quite sure,) to buy what she described as souvenirs and mementos and what I described as overpriced plastic mass produced cr*p, while I ambled about town trying not to make it look too obvious that I was headed for the nearest glass of, mug of, plate of, kind of place.

Instinct (or was it desperation?) soon led me to the sort of place I desired and gratefully I sank into an outside chair and scanned the menu. My eyes took a while to acclimatize to the dim light filtering through the rubber tree canopy of the Taverna but then I saw a fierce Backgammon game was in progress between the smallest man I had ever seen and a loud dark haired Islander. I tried not to stare but the small man, who was obviously winning the Backgammon match, was so striking in appearance with stark white, long hair, pale, pale skin and when he removed his aviator shades, and I saw his opaque eyes, one out turning, almost pinkish in colouring  and seemingly lashless, my eyes could not help but be drawn to him.

He looked familiar, but I knew I did not know him.

I ate my food and drank my drink and pondered the strange pale man and later, talking with Mrs JJ, she suggested that he may have been an Albino and may also have the condition Dwarfism.

Mrs JJ is clever like that.

I didn’t think too much more about the unusual man and several years passed, years of working and saving and eighty four more islands in seven more days and then I was asked to write an article about one Perkin Warbeck. Despite my university lectures I could not for the life of me remember who Perkin was and, like everyone else, my first stop was Google and second stop was Wikipedia…… and there I saw HIM! Not the man in the Taverna, but all the features were the same, overlarge head on narrow shoulders, light, light hair, pale see-through eyes – eyes looking in different directions.

.Perkin_Warbeck

My immediate thought was Perkin is an Albino Dwarf! and, although I know it is not the correct way to do research, I began to look for original evidence, hitherto overlooked, to back my supposition.

Of course, I did not find any chroniclers saying ‘that Perkin kid was a pale midget of a bloke’ but tantalizing

clues I found aplenty :-Capture IMP (3)

The ‘picture’ is a screen shot I took one day. Sadly I did not make a note of what I had snipped it from, but you will see from the varying descriptions that Perkin seemed to be a small, fey, almost ethereal sort of man

The word Imp, used by Fabyan, I find particularly telling. The word imp traditionally has connotations of  something IMPlanted or grafted on, as can be seen in the screen shot (below) from an 1836 dictionary and what could be more implanted than a lookalike Richard of Shrewsbury. In addition, the word IMP is used for a mischievous small person. This usage has faded and risen throughout the centuries but was in common usage (together with the alternate versions, impi and impa,) in mediaeval period.

.Double history. 1836 dictionary clip IMP

From the electronic Middle English Dictionary. (The print MED, completed in 2001, has been described as “the greatest achievement in medieval scholarship in America. I am not going to argue with that! I wish that all historical fact writers (particularly those with double barrelled names) would actually bother to look stray and strange words up in there rather than positing whole theses on one word incorrectly understood. )

Imp, impa, impi, impe (n.) Also imppe, himpe & (in place names) im-. Pl. impes, impen.

1.(a) A branch of a tree; a shoot, sprig; a sucker shoot; (b) a scion, a graft; (c) a young tree; a sapling, a seedling; also fig.; (d) a tree; (e) ~ garth (yerd), a garden or nursery where seedlings or graftings are grown or cultivated; ~ tre, a grafted tree, an orchard tree.

2.(a) The offspring of a noble family; (b) ?a representative

  1. 3. A small, fey and mischievous person of doubtful origin.

The more I looked at the facts the more the facts shouted back at me that Perkin was small and very pale. Everywhere he went he was looked at, stared at and pointed out for the fairness of his face and then it hit me. Not many people ever doubted seriously that he was Richard, the sixth child and second son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydeville.

That was when my mind froze. If Perkin was an Albino Dwarf then Richard of Shrewsbury must also have been an Albino Dwarf. Immediately I started sifting facts, looking through books, searching the internet and reference section of the library for any mention of Richard’s appearance, any contemporary picture – learning all about Dwarfism, Albinism, anything I could lay my hands on – noting, jotting, drinking tea and puzzling.

Albinism (from Latin albus, “white”; also called achromia, achromasia, or achromatosis) is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of tyrosinase a copper-containing enzyme involved in the production of melanin.

Albinism results from inheritance of recessive gene alleles and is known to affect all vertebrates. While an organism with complete absence of melanin is called an albino an organism with only a diminished amount of melanin is described as albinoid.

Albinism is associated with a number of vision defects, such as photophobia, nystagmus and astygmatism.

Dwarfism is a medical disorder. In men and women, the sole requirement is having an adult height under 147 cm (4 ft 10 in) and it is almost always classified with respect to the underlying condition that is the cause of the short stature. Dwarfism is usually caused by a genetic disorder; achondroplasia is caused by a mutation on chromosome four. If dwarfism is caused by a medical disorder, the person is referred to by the underlying diagnosed disorder. Disorders causing dwarfism are often classified by proportionality. Disproportionate dwarfism describes disorders that cause unusual proportions of the body parts, while proportionate dwarfism results in a generally uniform stunting of the body. Disorders that cause dwarfism may be classified according to one of hundreds of names, which are usually permutations of the following roots:

rhizomelic = root, e.g., bones of the upper arm or thigh

mesomelic = middle, e.g., bones of the forearm or lower leg

acromelic = end, e.g., bones of hands and feet.

micromelic = entire limbs are shortened

But what of Richard of Shrewsbury? Was there any evidence or hint that he could also be short? Did he also have pinkish eyes or white hair? There are no contemporary pictures of Richard but a stained glass window in Canterbury Cathedral does show him with bright gold hair and what appears to be a squint. He also looks unusually short against the lectern.Richard_of_Shrewsbury_Royal_Window_Canterbury

I searched in vain for a contemporary reference to his appearance, but as with Perkin, I found little concrete evidence to back my thesis and concluded that even the most outspoken and daring of chroniclers is unlikely to have put ‘King Eddie and Liz Double U’s second son was a bit of a squirt who could easily be mistaken in candlelight for a miniature ghost’.

Rui De Sousa, a nobleman who had seen him in 1482, later said of him, ‘he had seen him singing with his mother and one of his sisters and that he sang very well and that he was very pretty and the most beautiful creature he had ever seen…’

Then it hit me! (I was getting bruises from all of these things hitting me!) There was evidence but of a circumstantial type. Richard of Shrewsbury was still with his mother and sisters at an age when most strong and healthy young lads had been sent to do knightly training in another household. His mother had the principal say in his upbringing, unlike all other royal sons who had a living father or elder brother who were more paternally reared. Cloth for the clothes of ‘The Right high and myghty Prynce the Duke of Yorke’ are recorded in the Calendar of Patent Rolls, cloth whose measurements do not increase throughout the years as if the prince stayed the same size. (Similar records of cloth for growing children show a greater yardage year by year indicating growth in the child, but Richard’s yardages remain constant.) His ‘beauty’…….

I may never be able to find the one piece of evidence proving beyond all reasonable doubt that Perkin Warbeck and Richard of Shrewsbury were Albino Dwarfs, but I am satisfied in my own mind that this is at least a reasonable supposition.

Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff is tired now and wants a cup of tea and a nice home made biscuit.

Happy 2015 to you all and happy reading.

Source material:

The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy Ian Arthurson   The History Press, 2009

http://www.web-books.com/Classics/ON/B0/B869/TudorsC03.html

“Ocular straylight in albinism”. Kruijt B et al. 2011.

Clumber Spaniel Keeping, Showing and Breeding (1984)

Littell’s Living Age, Volume 75 edited by Eliakim Littell, Robert S. Littell

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/perkin_warbeck_rebellion.htm

Fabyan’s Chronicle: Robert Fabyan (a cloth-merchant who liked colourful stories) Circa 1460- Circa 1512.

Bolognaise source/sauce

On the Tudor Trail (blog): Natalie Grueninger

“Saucy girls” Calendar: 1984

Hastings, the man, the myth and legend: Jeff Jefferty Jeff. (Manuscript still to be written.)

The Lost Prince: David Baldwin

A New English Dictionary of the English Language: A to K, Volume 1 1836 Charles Richardson

‘Onken’ family size yoghurt pot

The British Occupation of Iraq: Andrew Lycett

Henry the Seventh by James Gairdner (pub. 1899)

Five go Adventuring Again: Enid Byton

Mutation in and Lack of Expression of Tyrosinase-Related Protein-1 (TRP-1) in     Melanocytes from an Individual with Brown Oculotaneous Albinism: A New Subtype of  Albinism Classified as ‘OCA3’ Raymond E Boissy et al 2014

Smoking seriously harms you and others around you

Scouting for Boys (1939 edition)

The Burial of Edward V: Jeff Jefferty Jeff. (A work in progress.)

Cucumber sauce recipe: Delia Smith

Cumberland source

Anne Boleyn, the myth, the legend, the superstar. Jeff Jefferty Jeff. (Manuscript still to be written.)

Cumberbatch, Benedict

Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City.

https://doublehistory.wordpress.com/category/duchess-of-york/  

The Maligned King: Annette Carson

© Jeff ‘Jefferty Jeff January 3rd 2015

A New Year’s Tudor Tragedy: Pourquoi has Henry VIII’s Canine Victim been Overlooked?

tudor dog

On a December day in 1534, an often-overlooked victim of Henry VIII met a sad end. But this was no overblown nobleman, crowing about his claim to the throne, no broken-hearted wife, turning over the past to see where she had gone wrong, and no devoted councillor unable to fulfil the King’s latest scheme. The death of little Purkey, or Pourquoi, Anne Boleyn’s beloved lapdog was to prove a foreshadowing of her own tragic decline. In the beast’s quaint tilted head and appealing eyes, Anne’s own dark orisons were echoed. In its plaintive bark, Henry heard shades of her winning laugh, and when the creature begged, elegantly dancing on his hind legs, it brought the King to mind of Anne’s graceful steps. So why exactly did the canine have to die?

Purkey was the gift of Honor, Lady Lisle, to the new queen in the winter of 1533. Having remarried to Arthur Plantagenet, illegitimate son of Edward IV, Honor was keen to advance her daughters from her first match. She accompanied Anne to France in the autumn of 1532 and was hopeful that such a gift would encourage the queen to place Katherine and Anne Basset in her household. Anne however, accepted the gift but kept the pretty girls at arm’s length, perhaps recalling her own rise to power from within the service of Catherine of Aragon. Anne adored little Purkey, keeping him often at her side and feeding him titbits from her plate; she was heart-broken when she learned of his death. A year later, in December 1534, he supposedly fell from a window and the King was charged with breaking the terrible news to his wife. In fact, this was because Henry himself was responsible for the animal’s execution. Imagining the scandal if he sent a dog to the block, let alone the practical difficulties, Henry solved the problem with a simple act of defenestration.

Earlier the same day, Henry had discovered the canine’s deadly secret. He was more than a lap dog, more than a consumer of bread and a chewer of chair legs or chaser after royal balls. Purkey was, in fact, a highly trained double agent in the service of the Calais-based Lisle and his English agent, John Husee. Between them, the pair had trained the dog up since he was a pup, using an elaborate system of sign language, allowing it to report court gossip to fellow canines and its masters alike. Thus, it could rouse the dogs of London to howl when Henry passed by, or bark whenever the King began a rendition of Greensleeves. More dangerous though, Purkey could scratch, bow and wink his little way through Henry’s latest French policy, sending the news directly to Husse, who passed it to Lisle, who informed Francis I himself. It took Henry a while to work out exactly who was acting as the leak in his household, but by strange co-incidence, it was a literal leak that led him to the culprit.

In spite of his attempts to keep the court clean, appointing a royal scooper to follow around his wife’s pet, Purkey was caught short after a Christmas banquet and relieved himself in the straw in his mistress’s chamber. Anne was absent at the time, but Henry witnessed the leak and lost his temper. According to a little-know letter written by Chapuys, the King was furious and railed at the animal. Purkoy panicked and, in the moment, reverted to sign language to offer his apologies. Convinced at first that the dog was suffering a fit, the King watched, before the terrible truth dawned. His wife’s pet was a spy and he had to go. At once, he seized the creature and the cruel deed was done.

Anne grieved Purkey’s loss. She had been preparing a special gift for him for New Year, a silver collar hung with dog biscuits fashioned from gold and studded with pearls. In the intensity of her emotion, she ruled that when New Years’ Day arrived, it should be devoted to the memory of her pet, requiring all her ladies in waiting to wear a similar collar and even insisting that Henry too should sport such an item. At first, Henry complied out of guilt, but by the following year, his relationship with Anne had changed so completely that he did not feel obliged to. On January 1 1536, Anne’s ladies wore the silver collars for the second time running, while the Queen spent the day on her knees, as masses were said for the soul of the beast. She was reunited with Purkey a few months later and Henry ordered the silver collars to be melted down and returned to the royal treasury. This was one New Years’ Custom he was not prepared to continue.

 

SOURCES

Aesop’s Fables

Feasop’s Ables

Asspop’s Foibles

Having read this, you now have Jeff R Vescent in your head. He’s going to sit back in there, stretch out his legs and have a look around.