The Battle of Flodden

James IV 237x300 The Battle of Flodden

James IV of Scotland

Today is the 500 year anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, an epic battle between England and Scotland that led to the death of the Scottish king, James IV. He had been Henry VIII’s brother in law and would be the last British king to die on a battlefield.

Henry VIII was away fighting a campaign in France at the time of the Battle of Flodden and had announced that his wife, Catherine of Aragon, would be Governor of the Realm and Captain General of the Forces in his absence. She would be helped to run the country by a handful of Councillors. The Scots were an old time ally of the French, in what was known as the Auld Alliance. Catherine and her Councillors were sure that Scotland would honour this alliance and exploit Henry’s absence so they all had growing concerns about England’s northern borders.

Catherine’s fears were soon realised when James IV declared war on England, he was going to support his ‘Auld’ ally and help divert English troops away from France. By this time Henry was camped outside Therouanne laying siege to the city, on the 11th August 1513 James sent a herald to Henry who passed on the message that he should abandon his efforts in France and go back to England. Henry was extremely angry about this, he felt James should be on England’s side considering he was married to his sister, Margaret. Henry responded back to the messenger:

“And now, for a conclusion, recommend me to your master and tell him if he be so hardy to invade my realm or cause to enter one foot of my ground I shall make him as weary of his part as ever was man that began any such business. And one thing I ensure him by the faith that I have to the Crown of England and by the word of a King, there shall never King nor Prince make peace with me that ever his part shall be in it. Moreover, fellow, I care for nothing but for misentreating of my sister, that would God she were in England on a condition she cost the Schottes King not a penny.”

Continue reading

The Birth of Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I young 227x300 The Birth of Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I aged around 13 by William Scrots

Today in 1533 the future Queen Elizabeth I was born at Greenwich Palace, she was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. The birth was quick and the baby was healthy, it was said she had her father’s complexion and her mother’s dark black eyes.

Preparations for Elizabeth’s arrival had begun in early August. Greenwich was the palace of choice for the birth, it had been a favourite of Henry’s mother, Elizabeth of York, and was the place of his own birth 42 years earlier. As was customary for the time a chamber was prepared at Greenwich for Anne’s confinement. Historian David Starkey describes how the walls and ceilings of the chamber were hung and tented with precious tapestries called arras which were woven with gold or silver thread and there were rich carpets laid on the floor. Anne’s bed was also richly hung with tapestries that matched the rest of the room. At the last minute gold and silver plate was brought into the chamber, there were cups and bowls to stand on the cupboard and crucifixes, candlesticks and images for the alter. Starkey describes the chamber as being like a “cross between a chapel and a luxuriously padded cell”

Greenwich Palace Tudor 300x229 The Birth of Elizabeth I

Greenwich Palace

Anne entered her confinement on the 26th August. There had been a lot of anxiety leading up to this date as it appears Anne had some difficulties in the later stages of her pregnancy. Eric Ives explains how Henry was said to have “been at his wits end, even hoping for a miscarriage if it would save Anne’s life”. Anne eventually gave birth to Elizabeth less than 2 weeks into her confinement. The birth was straightforward and Henry was hugely relieved that his wife and child were safe. Henry and Anne named their baby Elizabeth, after both their mothers.
Continue reading

The Marquess of Pembroke

Anne Boleyn Hever 222x300 The Marquess of Pembroke

Anne Boleyn – portrait on display at Hever Castle

Today in 1532 Anne Boleyn was granted her own title by Henry VIII and created the Marquess of Pembroke, the first time a female had been made a peer in her own right. Henry did this to give Anne some status on the European stage prior to a planned meeting with Francis I of France. Henry’s “Great Matter” was still dragging on so he’d been unable to make Anne his wife. The last time Anne had met Francis she was Katherine of Aragon’s maid of honour but she now needed a status of her own which reflected the fact she was England’s intended Queen.

The ceremony was held at Windsor castle. Anne was taken into Henry’s presence by the Garter King-at-Arms and was accompanied by the Countesses of Rutland and Derby and her cousin, Mary Howard, who carried the crimson velvet mantle and gold coronet of a Marquess. Anne, dressed in ermine-trimmed crimson velvet, wore her hair loosely around her shoulders and was adjourned with jewels. She must have looked every inch the Queen, just as Henry would have intended.

Anne Boleyn Badge The Marquess of Pembroke

Anne Boleyn’s Badge

Anne knelt in front of Henry, who had the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk at his side, while Stephen Gardiner read out the patent which bestowed the title of Marquess of Pembroke to her. Henry then crowned her with the gold coronet, laid the velvet mantle on her and handed her the patent of nobility. She was also given a patent granting her lands worth £1000 a year.

After the ceremony Henry went to St George’s Chapel for a high mass conducted by Gardiner. Henry and a representative for Francis I swore to the terms of an Anglo-French treaty, then Edward Fox preached a sermon and announced that the two would meet in Calais. The service ended with a hymn of praise before everyone returned to Windsor Castle for a huge banquet in Anne’s honour.

Mary Queen of Scots Exhibition

An exhibition about Mary Queen of Scots is currently being hosted at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and will run until the 17th November. I just wanted to share with you this wonderful virtual sculpture of Mary that was created for the exhibition by a team of experts from the University of Dundee, it’s amazing what can be achieved with technology these days! It shows what Mary may have looked like during her reign in Scotland when she was between 19 and 26 years old and was created using 3D modelling software and craniofacial templates.

MaryQueenScots reconstruction Mary Queen of Scots Exhibition

3D model of Mary Queen of Scots, courtesy of the BBC website

Unfortunately no portraits have survived from Mary’s time in Scotland so experts had to use what they could from before and after this period to create the model. Professor Wilkinson who was part of team described Mary as having quite a large nose and chin but points out that these strong features coupled with her pale skin and red hair gave her a very striking appearance. I would have to agree, what do you think?

Margaret Tudor and Scotland

Margaret Tudor 250x300 Margaret Tudor and Scotland

Margaret Tudor by Daniël Mijtens

Today in 1514 Margaret Tudor, the older sister of Henry VIII and widow of James IV of Scotland, married Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, which forced her to give up her Regency in Scotland. Margaret’s intriguing story is very much intertwined with Scottish politics and is explored further in this article.

Margaret, like all daughters of monarchs, had been a political pawn for her father Henry VII and her first marriage to James IV, which happened by proxy on 25th January 1502 and in person on 8th August 1503, was made in an effort to end Scottish support for the pretender Perkin Warbeck. Scotland at this time was an enemy of England and an ancient supporter of France in what had become known as the Auld Alliance so this marriage was a real diplomatic coup for Henry VII. A treaty of perpetual peace had been agreed between England and Scotland on 24th January the previous year with the marriage a guarantee of this peace. It was the first peace treaty between the two countries for 170 years but sadly it didn’t last long after the death of Henry VII in 1509.

Henry’s successor and son, Henry VIII, was far more interested in military glory than cautious diplomacy and soon declared war on Scotland’s old ally France. English troops unsuccessfully invaded France in 1512 and then again in 1513 with greater success, capturing the towns of Therouanne and Tournai. That same year Margaret’s husband James IV entered the war as France’s ally and attacked England’s northern border on 22nd August, while Henry was away fighting in France. The Scots were eventually defeated at the Battle of Flodden and James IV was killed. Continue reading