Friday, June 11, 2010

Historical Week - The Tudors

Jonathon Rhys-Meyers as Henry VIII from Showtime's "The Tudors"

By Stephanie Burkhart

Little known facts about the Tudors

Watching Showtime's "The Tudors" series is my sinfully delicious treat for the week. I love seeing the colorful sets and lavish costumes. Heck, I can't believe they wore those things way back when! I mean, how did you get off those puffy dresses?

Jonathon Rhys-Meyers is a real cutie on the show. He plays Tudor king, Henry VIII, who is probably the best known of the Tudor Monarchs.

The Tudors came to the throne in 1485 with Henry VII. In 1603 with the death of Elizabeth I, the Tudors dynasty ended, but they changed England in ways never dreamed of.

I thought I'd share a couple of little known facts about each Tudor Monarch. Henry VII's father was Edmund Tudor. He was in his 20's when he married Margaret Beaufort. She was 13 when she gave birth to Henry. The age difference was acceptable then. Nowadays, it would not be. Henry was known as the 2nd Earl of Richmond.

During the time of Henry's birth, the Wars of the Roses (between Lancaster and York) had just began. In July 1483, Edward V (of York) was a 13 year old boy and mysteriously killed in the tower of London along with his younger brother, Richard of York. Richard III, Edward's uncle came to the throne and was the last York king. Who killed Edward V? For years, Richard III was thought to have killed him for the throne, but history poses that Henry VII also had strong motives to kill the boy. Killing Edward would mean Henry was that much closer to the throne, as he exerted a weak dynastic claim through his mother, Margaret Beaufort, who was a granddaughter of Edward III.

Henry VII was the last English monarch to win his crown in battle at the Battle of Bosworth against Richard III in August 1985. Henry married Elizabeth of York who had a stronger dynastic claim to the throne than he did, but because he won the crown in battle, the crown was his in his own right. It was reported that Henry VII loved his wife very much, but he was known to be cold and calculating in his younger years.

Henry VIII succeeded his father when he was 17 years old. He was the Duke of York until he turned 10 and then was made the Prince of Wales upon his brother's death. (Arthur) In 1510, Henry VIII executed two of his father's most unpopular advisors for treason. What a way to start his reign, huh?

Margaret Tudor, From Showtime's "The Tudors"

Margaret Tudor, Henry VII's, eldest daughter married James, the King of the Scots, in the 1st decade of the 1500's. Henry VII was quoted as saying:

"Supposing, which God forbid, that all my male progeny should become extinct and kingdom devolve by law to Margaret's heirs, will England be damaged thereby, or rather benefited?"

Was Henry feeling guilty about what he'd done to the sons of Edward IV? We'll never know. Henry VII loved his daughter very much and treated her with much respect.

Edward VI, Henry VIII's surviving son upon his death, was 9 when made king. A regency council ruled for him. He had poor eyesight. He spoke French and Spanish and wrote a treatise about the Pope being an antichrist. Sounds like a lovely child, doesn't he?

Mary I, Henry's eldest daughter was the first Queen Regnant in over 400 years. She earned the nickname "Bloody Mary" for burning 300 religious dissentients. Mary also had poor eyesight. All though never invested with the title, Henry VIII would refer to her often as the Princess of Wales when she was younger.

Mary's reign was short and her sister, Elizabeth, came to the throne in 1558. As a young teenager, Elizabeth lived with her father's last wife, Katherine Parr and her new husband, Thomas Seymour. Seymour made advances toward Elizabeth and she was sent away.

Elizabeth could write English, Latin, and Italian. She was one of the best educated minds of the time. She named James VI (Stewart) of Scotland her heir. He was Margaret Tudor's great grandson.

Remember Henry VII's thoughts about Margaret and her heirs. How ironic his old demons came back to haunt his children. History will never know how Edward V died, but there are several theories that point out Henry VII had everything to gain if Edward V and his brother, Richard of York, were dead. There is a theory that speculates Henry killed the princes in the tower, not Richard III. If you believe in karma, than the end of the Tudor dynasty was karmic indeed.

History has an interesting way of resonating with us, doesn't it?

Source: The Sisters of Henry VIII by Maria Perry, DaCapo Press, ISBN: 0-306-809-89-3, 2000


Lindsay Townsend said...

Fascinating, Steph!
The 'Tudors' is great fun, isn't it?

JaneB said...

WOW what complicated times. This is really fascinating. Loved the Tudor series, however the tv channel seemed to take it off 1/2 way through...grrr....
Thank you for writing this, i really enjoyed it.

Savanna Kougar said...

Steph, really, the female line as I understand it from the history I know about... not recent studies, though... really was far superior.

Unfortunately, they lost... because they couldn't play the political game as well.

StephB said...

Thanks for popping in everyone. I agree - female rulers really have a bit more going on - Elizabeth I embodies this, but the game is a masculine one. Out of Elizabeth and Mary, Elizabeth mastered it. Mary did not.