103. The Tudors.

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected where we demonstrate how everything has a history and how those histories link together in unexpected ways.

For this episode let us join the Hampton Court of history, Professor James Daybell, and the Sir Francis Drake of maritime history, Dr Sam Willis, as we finally, and at long last, bring you the unexpected history of the Tudors!

From the moment that Henry Tudor, grandson of Welsh courtier Owen Tudor & Catherine of Valois, seized the crown from the Plantagenet king, Richard III, a new dynasty was born from bloody battle. On August 22 1485, at the Battle of Bosworth, Richard’s forces were defeated by the heavily outnumbered Lancastrians, led by Henry, who drew his men from the Welsh hills and valleys. With courtiers, including the husband of Henry’s mother, abandoning his royal cause Richard, the last Plantagenet king, with the supposed final cry of ‘Treason!’ led a cavalry charge and died in combat, as blows rained down upon his unprotected head. It was at the Battle of Bosworth that the red rose of the Tudor dynasty ascended from the haze of battle upon a field of death and destruction. Henry VII’s claim to the English throne rested on his mother’s ancestry, that of Margaret Beaufort, whose great grandfather had been John of Gaunt, and so the lineage which brought us Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I began; the Tudors now sat upon England’s throne, and would do so until 1603.

James and Sam take the lead in a lively and merry Tudor dance from Henry VIII’s tumultuous reign of courtly love, wives, divorce, reformation and dissolution, to Edward VI’s reign of Protestant zeal, Catholic Martyrs, and the Lord Protectorship’s of Edward Seymour (1547-1549) and John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. Along the way we view the fall of Thomas Moore and Thomas Cromwell, we see the rise of the Protestant faith and watch as monasteries are pulled down, Queens lose their heads, and Kings die. There’s no time for a pause as the dance steps speed up and without a backwards glance we come upon the reign of Mary I, the English Catholic queen and a Spanish Catholic king, Philip, and the attempted reversal of Protestantism, as the burnings began and heretics fled England’s shores. Then with a bow and a twirl the dance moves on to the age of intrigue, plots, and a virgin queen, as Elizabeth ascends to the Tudor throne in 1559. With the introduction of a new Religious Settlement Elizabeth once again establishes the Protestant Church of England. And so begins one of the longest reigns in history, punctuated with divine Protestant winds, the execution of a Scottish Queen, a Tudor propaganda machine and the question of succession. But for now, this dance must end – as a Stuart King is ushered in!

Listen out as James explains how Sir Francis Drake is rather like the Ed Sheeran of Tudor times, and Sam explains what he likes about Henry VII.

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