On This Day 17th December 1538
On 17th December 1538, Pope Paul III published a bull of excommunication against Henry VIII. The original bull had been drawn up on 30 August 1535, but held in abeyance in the hope that Henry would be reconciled to Rome. But, having tasted the power of being the head of both Church and state in England, there was no turning back for the King. The particular act that Paul III cited as provoking the excommunication, was the desecration of the shrine of Thomas a Becket at Canterbury, and the burning of the saint’s bones.
On This Day 28th November 1489
On 28th November 1489, Elizabeth of York, Queen of England, gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Margaret, presumably for her grandmother, (who was also her godmother) Lady Margaret Beaufort. Margaret was married to James IV, King of Scots at the age of fourteen, as part of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace, which, unfortunately, did not live up to its name. With her husband killed at the Battle of Flodden, Margaret, aged twenty-four, became Governor of Scotland for her son, the infant James V. She quickly married again, and thereby forfeited the Regency.
Her second marriage, to the Earl of Angus, was less successful than her first, and she finally obtained a divorce, remarrying a third time to Henry Stewart, Lord Methven. Margaret spent much of her life trying to encourage her son to follow a pro-English policy, but the heavy-handed tactics of Angus, and Margaret’s brother, Henry VIII, inculcated a deep resentment of them both in James V. Margaret was the grandmother of both Mary, Queen of Scots, and Mary’s husband, Lord Darnley, and it is thus from Margaret that the British Royal Family is descended.
On This Day 8th November 1576
On 8th November 1576, the provinces of the Netherlands, regardless of their religious affiliations, signed an agreement whereby the whole of the Netherlands agreed to mutiny against the rule of Philip II of Spain, their hereditary duke. Philip’s great-grandmother, Mary of Burgundy, had inherited the lands from her father, Charles the Bold (or Rash, as he was sometimes termed). Mary had died young, falling from a horse, to be succeeded by her son, Philip, then her grandson, the Emperor Charles V. Charles had been brought up largely in Ghent and was therefore accepted as overlord, even though the day to day running of the Netherlands had been left first to his aunt, Marguerite, daughter of Mary, and then to his sister, Mary of Hungary. By the time Philip, born and brought up in Spain, succeeded, the familial link seemed very tenuous. By the 1570s around half the territories had converted to the Calvinist Reformed faith, whilst the southern areas remained largely Catholic. Whilst Philip came to terms with the leaders of the various provinces, peace did not last long.
In the picture, Anne is shown third from left, her older sister Mary, having died before the window was made for Canterbury Cathedral
This Day 2nd November 1475
On 2nd November 1475, a daughter named Anne was born to Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. She was their sixth child, and fourth daughter. During her childhood, Anne was betrothed to Philip of Burgundy, son of the Emperor Maximilian and his wife, Mary of Burgundy, but her father died before the marriage could take place. Anne was just eight when Edward IV died, and her brother, who was never crowned, disappeared to be replaced by her uncle, Richard III. Anne remained in the sanctuary of Westminster with her mother and sisters, until they were persuaded to emerge on receiving promises that, despite having been branded as illegitimate, they would be treated honourably by their uncle.
Richard III arranged a marriage for Anne with Thomas Howard, the grandson of Richard’s close supporter, John Howard, Duke of Norfolk. The marriage had not taken place by the time of Richard’s death at Bosworth in 1485, but was eventually solemnised in 1495 when Anne was twenty, and her husband a couple of years older. Anne and Thomas had several children, but none survived childhood. Anne was frequently in attendance on her sister, Elizabeth of York, and took part in the christenings of Elizabeth’s children. Anne died in 1511, and was buried in the Howard chapel at Thetford Priory, although, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries implemented by her nephew, Henry VIII, her remains were moved to the church at Framlingham.
On This Day 30th October 1600
On 30th October, 1600 Elizabeth I refused to renew Essex’s monopoly on sweet wine with the words ‘an unruly horse must be abated of is provender that he may be the better brought to managing’. Monopolies were a common way for the Crown to give grants to favored courtiers. As the name suggests, all imports and exports of the product in question were routed through the monopolist’s hands, who was then free to take a percentage of the profits. During the 1590s, the practice of granting monopolies was heavily criticised by the House of Commons as being in restraint of trade. In Elizabeth’s last Parliament she promised to look into the matter, but no changes were made. For Essex, the loss of the monopoly effectively bankrupted him and was a contributing factor in his descent into open rebellion.
Picture is of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, where Jane is buried
On This Day 24th October 1537
On 24th October 1537, Jane Seymour died at Hampton Court, twelve days after an excruciating labour had brought forth Henry VIII’s heir. The exact cause of her death is uncertain – she did not (despite rumours) have a caesarean section. If she had, she certainly would not have made the immediate progress she did after the birth, being able to sit up in bed and receive visitors after the christening of the baby Edward. Modern research suggests that some of the placenta was left behind, leading to septicaemia. Attended by male doctors, rather than midwives, they may well not have understood that all of the necessary matter had not been expelled and thus did not treat her as more experienced midwives would have done.
Henry mourned his wife sincerely, as did the whole court. The King organised a splendid funeral for her. It was not customary for kings to attend funerals (other than their own!) so he withdrew to mourn in private. The role of Chief Mourner was taken by Jane’s step-daughter Mary, who was originally so upset that the Marchioness of Exeter had to undertake the initial duties. Mary and the other ladies, including Lady Frances Brandon, Marchioness of Dorset, rode slowly behind Jane’s coffin to its burial place at Windsor, where she still lies, Henry by her side.
On This Day 14th October 1536
On 14th October 1536, Lady Katherine Scrope, nee Clifford, wrote to her father, Henry, Earl of Cumberland, to inform him that the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace were in the vicinity of her home at Bolton Castle and were ‘persuading’ the local nobles and gentry to join them. The tone of Katherine’s letter is rather ambivalent – she implies that her husband, John, 8th Baron Scrope of Bolton, would follow his father-in-law’s lead on whether to join with the rebels or not. Whilst the Earl of Cumberland stayed staunchly loyal, Lord Scrope became embroiled and Bolton suffered some reprisals by the king’s troops.
Lady Katherine was well-connected – her grandmother, Anne St John, was half-cousin to Henry VII, and her own half-brother, another Henry, was married in June 1537 to the king’s niece, Eleanor Brandon – perhaps as reward for the Cliffords not joining the rebels.