Posted in Tudor Paintings, Uncategorized

Did Henry VIII have a midlife crisis in 1536?

The archetypal image of an unsmiling, bejewelled Henry VIII staring directly out of Hans Holbein’s famous painting with his legs spread wide apart was a mastermind of propaganda for the Tudor monarchy.

Even today, centuries after his death, coming face to face with a life size copy of the painting is intimidating. The image was designed to show the king’s power, his riches and his divine right to rule.

The original painting was part of a life size mural which included life size portraits his parents (Elizabeth of York and Henry VII) as well as his third wife Queen Jane Seymour. She was the mother of his heir Prince Edward, and she may have been pregnant with their son during the time that it was painted.

Copy of the Whitehall Mural, 1667.
Remigius van Leemput, after Holbein.
© The Royal Collection.
Hampton Court Palace.

Portraits of Jane and Henry, some painted long after her death, helped to safeguard the future of their son’s throne by showing the kings approval of the marriage and acceptance of Prince Edward as his legitimate heir. Henry was buried with Jane at St. George’s chapel Windsor, possibly for the same reason.

The Whitehall Mural was painted during a time when Henry’s reign was in crisis. 1536 is sometimes called ‘the year of three queens.’ Katherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife had died in January 1536, Anne Boleyn, his second, was executed on 19th May and Jane Seymour, his third wife, married Henry on 30th May 1536. Jane died in child birth in October 1537 leaving the king with a legitimate but motherless prince.

On top of  all this personal turmoil Henry then had a serious jousting accident at Greenwich Palace in January 1536. He never jousted again. Henry may have become aware of his own mortality at this point because aged forty five he was no longer considered a young man, he was without a son and his people were becoming restless.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Book Review – La Reine Blanche: Mary Tudor, A Life in Letters

By Nathen Amin

It is never easy to emerge from the considerable shadow of Henry VIII, but it’s fair to say that during her brief life, the mighty king’s younger sister Mary tried her damndest to seize at least some of the attention. Unlike Elizabeth Woodville, as recent fiction work might have you believe, Mary Tudor truly was known as the White Queen during her lifetime, referred to by the French for the colour of her mourning clothes after the death of her husband Louis XII in 1515, and it is this particular Tudor queen that author Sarah Bryson chooses to explore in her latest work ‘La Reine Blanche; Mary Tudor, a Life in Letters’.

The author notes in her introduction that the Tudor age was a period dominated by men, but there were nonetheless many strong, independent and intellectually gifted women, one of which she asserts was…

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Dr. William Butts, Royal Physician

The Freelance History Writer

Dr. William Butts – Portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger

Dr. Butts was the premier royal physician at the court of King Henry VIII. He was an intellectual and a supporter of the Protestant religion and appears to have been a kindly and urbane man. He treated many of the prominent members of the court and the king’s family and was one of the few men that King Henry VIII esteemed and trusted.

William was born c. 1485 in Norfolk, the son of John Butts, auditor of crown revenues and his wife Elizabeth. He received his education at Cambridge, achieving a Bachelor of Arts in 1507, a Masters of Arts in 1509 and became a medical doctor in 1518. Butts married Margaret Bacon of Cambridge about 1516. Together the couple had a daughter and three sons. Beginning in 1524, Butts took out a lease at St. Mary’s Hostel in Cambridge…

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Posted in Nursery rhyme meanings

Mary, Mary, quite contrary…



The Mary in the nursery rhyme is often associated with Mary the daughter of Henry VIII who reigned as Mary I of England from 1553 to 1558. She was the only surviving child of the king’s first marriage to the Spanish Princess Catherine of Aragon.

‘How does your garden grow?’ according to Roberts (2004), could refer to Queen Mary’s lack of heirs or to her marriage to the Spanish King. After her marriage to Phillip II of Spain, England was seen by many as a ‘branch’ of the Holy Roman Empire.

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