Gerald Fitz Gerald, the 11th Earl of Kildare died on the 16th November 1585, his life can be viewed through the fall out of the failed Kildare rebellion of 1534.
At just twelve, Gerald Fitz Gerald had received the Earldom of Kildare following the aforementioned unsuccessful rebellion against King Henry VIII by the Silken Thomas, the 10th Earl of Kildare. Silken Thomas was Fitz Gerald's half-brother, he and his uncles James, Oliver, Richard, John and Walter Fitz Gerald, the sons of the 8th Earl of Kildare by Elizabeth St John were all hanged in the first week of February 1537 at Tyburn. At this time Fitz Gerald was raised under the guardianship of his aunt. He later fled to Belgium and Italy returning only after the death of Henry VIII.
Fitz Gerald himself had been accused of treason numerous times and had been twice imprisoned in the Tower of London, he had survived Henry VIII's attempt to capture him and lived through the reign of Edward VI and Mary and was fortunate to have the favour of Elizabeth. He died in London at the age of sixty, Mabel, Countess of Kildare lived for another twenty-five years.
Fitz Gerald first came to my notice as the husband of Mabel Browne, the great great granddaughter of my ancestor Thomas Browne. Mabel, according to tradition met Fitz Gerald at a masked ball and she immediately fell in love with him, and why wouldn't she, he could speak at least two languages, was highly intelligent, and a man who had used his time wisely, he learned and experienced much while in exile. Fitz Gerald also dabbled in alchemy, this 'hobby' caused concern to those less enlighted and just like his father and his father before him, he was quick-tempered, clever and charismatic.
Thomas Penn, in his book The Winter King, referred to Henry VII as a miser and stated that ‘money was dearest to his heart.’
In the image below we can see Henry with two of his ministers, Edmund Dudley and Richard Empson, no doubt discussing fiscal policy.
Richard Empson was in charge of recovering money owed to the king and was associated with Edmund Dudley in this capacity. When Henry VII died in the April of 1509 and his son ascended England's throne, both Empson and Dudley's days were numbered.
Henry VIII had both men arrested the day after he became king, and they were the first to fall victim to Henry ridding the court of men who were disliked in his fathers time, and who he considered would damage to his new reign.
Dudley, whose descendants would go on to do rather well in the reign of Edward VI and Elizabeth I, was thought to pay too much attention to feathering his own nest and both men were considered to be tough enforcers of the law.
Following their arrest they were convicted of treason in the October of 1509 and executed this day in 1510 on Tower Hill.
The death of King James IV of Scotland in the September of 1513, whilst he was leading his troops in the Battle of Flodden, left Margaret a widow with an infant son. Just under a year later Margaret would marry Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus.
Of this marriage Polydore Virgil wrote
"This year also Margaret, queen of Scots, wife of James IV killed at Flodden in the fifth year of the king's reign, and elder sister of the King, after the death of her husband married Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, without the consent of the King her brother or the council of Scotland, with which he was not pleased. But after that there arose such strife between the lords of Scotland that she and her husband came into England like banished persons, and wrote to the King for mercy and comfort. The King, ever inclined to mercy, sent them clothing and vessels and all things necessary, wishing them to stay in Northumberland until they knew further of his wishes. And the queen was there delivered of a fair lady called Margaret, and all the country were commanded by the King to do them pleasure."
Her marriage to Douglas gave the Scottish Parliament an excuse to replace her with John Stewart, Duke of Albany.
In this extract from a 1950's tale of Margaret defending herself and the rights of her son.
"My lord," she said, her fingers clutched together to still their trembling, "be you sure no person in the world desires the good of my bairns so much as I do. No man will I support who seeks to harm the rights and privileges of my son's crown, but rather will I do all in my power to bring him justice." She looked round at the lords, her adversaries, but the most of them, playing nervously with quill or sand-box, would not meet her gaze. Only Albany stared at her steadfastly, his thoughts hidden behind the curtain of his eyes. "Do not think," she went on, "that I ever consented to such things as you accuse me of. It will never be found that I did aught to hurt the privilege of my son's crown or mine own honour. I pray you, therefore, my lord Duke, give no credence to such vile slanders of me."
With Douglas, Mary would have one child, a daughter, Margaret who would later give birth to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, the ill fated husband of Mary Queen of Scots.
The marriage of Margaret Tudor to James IV of Scotland took place on the 8th August in 1503, it followed their marriage by proxy 25th January 1503 at Richmond Palace.
The future queen of the Scots was where accompanied on her journey north by her father, they left Richmond Place at the end of June, crossing the border into Scotland on the 1st August were they were greeted by the Archbishop of Glasgow and a large crowd of nobles all decked out in ‘in rich jewels and massy chains’.
It may have taken Margaret a while to settle into her new life in Scotland, it seems that she was homesick, writing to her father
‘I would I were with your Grace now and many times more’
Margaret bore James six children, only one survived, the future James V, who was seventeen months old when James was killed fighting the English in 1513 at Flodden. Margaret stepped in to rule for her infant son, James V.
Her marriage, a year later to Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, gave the Scottish Parliament an excuse to replace her with John Stewart, Duke of Albany
Did you know that the family of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, originate from the County of Lincolnshire?
Cranmer's family lived among the fenland folk in the village of Sutterton in the middle of the 15th century. It was from Sutterton that Cranmer's great grandfather Edmund Cranmer made a advantageous marriage to an heiress of the Aslockton or Haslerton family of Aslockton in Nottinghamshire where Cramner was born.
Thomas Cramner was the architect of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer who died a martyr on the 21st March 1556.
Cranmer was Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII and his son Edward VI. When Catholic Mary, the daughter of Henry's first wife Catherine of Aragon succeeded to the throne, he was burnt at the stake as a heretic.
Following a number of recantations, Thomas Cranmer withdrew his confession on the day of his execution, and in front of a large gathered crowd he placed his hand in the fire and said, according to a letter written by a Catholic witness
......."that unworthy hand" and his dying words were, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit... I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."
In 1538 every parish in England was required by law to hold a copy of an English Bible to be placed where all could access it. The Great Bible, commissioned by Thomas Cromwell in 1538, is a hagiography, a biography of saints and religious leaders.
In a letter to Thomas Cromwell dated the 23rd of June 1538 from Myles Coverdale and Richard Grafton it states
'we have here sent unto your lordship ii ensamples, on parchment, wherein we entende to prynt one for the kynges grace, and another for your lordship" and "We follow not only a standing text of the Hebrew, with the interpretation of the Chaldee and Greek, but we set also in a private table the diversity of readings of all texts, with such annotations in another table as shall doubtless delucidate and clear the same as well without any singularity of opinions, as all checkings and reproofs."
The illustrations within this work convey exactly what Thomas Cromwell intended, that is, that the king is head of the English Church replacing the Pope in Rome and that the bible should be available to all - from king to commoner. This is achieved by having Henry seated on his throne, with clerics and laymen on either side. He is presenting bibles to both. At his feet are Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Thomas Cromwell, they too are distributing bibles.
In Paris in 1539, two copies of the Great Bible were printed by Miles Coverdale, one for the king and one for Cromwell himself. Six other editions were soon printed and this was followed by 9,000 copies being distributed by 1541.
What is considered to be Henry VIII's copy of the Great Bible, is held at the British Library, the second made for Cromwell, is held at St John's Collage Cambridge. Cromwell's copy of the bible may have been given to the university by John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln, who claimed to be related to the Cromwell family.
Despite being head of the Church in England, Henry VIII continued to be sympathetic to the Catholic religion. He never became a Protestant.
5th April 1531
In 1531, Richard Roose was a cook in the home of John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester, who in way of a prank, (he claimed) served his employer and other guests porridge which he had laced with a laxative. After the meal all of those who ate Roose's offerings became ill and two died leading to his conviction of poisoning with murderous intent.
It has been suggested, although there was no proof to back up the claim, that Roose had been paid by someone in the Boleyn family to poison Fisher, an opponent of Henry VIII’s church reforms and his plan to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn.
Roose was arrested and was denied the chance to plead his case. Henry VIII's Act of Poisoning was quickly passed making murder by poisoning high treason that was punishable by boiling. Was this dreadful punishment specifically created because Roose was a cook?
Death by hanging was the most commonly used form of capital punishment for those convicted of murder and those convicted of high treason, as was Roose, were punished by hanging, drawing and quartering, so why did Richard Roose not receive either one of those punishments? I am having trouble seeing poisoning as any more abominable than any other act of murder that the perpetrator needs to be executed in such a specifically horrible way, the suggestion was that poisoning was a particularly wicked and despicable crime and that Henry's act would deter other would be poisoners - why suddenly apply the eye for an eye theory, why not just hang the man and be done with it? It seems a bit strange to me?
Richard Roose met his horrific death, boiled in front of a large crowed at Smithfield in London on this day in 1531, his case was mentioned in the chronicle of the Grey Friars of London
"This yere was a coke boylyd in a cauderne in Smythfeld for he wolde a powsyned the bishop of Rochester Fycher
with dyvers of hys servanttes, and he was lockyd in a chayne and pullyd up and downe with a gybbyt at dyvers tymes
tyll he was dede.
John Fisher would survive his murderous cook by just four years, he, just as Roose, was one of many who got in the way of Henry's grand plans. He was executed for treason for refusing to take the Oath of Succession and accept the king as the Supreme Head of the Church of England.
The 2nd April marks the death of Arthur, Prince of Wales, son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.
Arthur and his new wife had left their home at Tickenhill Manor, where they had been living since their marriage. Just before Christmas 1501, they arrived at Ludlow Castle in Shropshire, a fine castle that stands on the River Teme.
Even before the arrived at Ludlow, Arthur was suffering from ill health, he had been growing weaker since his wedding and by the beginning of March the following year both Arthur and Catherine were afflicted by an unknown illness. Although the real cause has never been established many historians believe it was sweating sickness or tuberculous. Catherine recovered, Arthur did not, he died this day, the 2 April 1502. He was just fifteen.
Henry VII did not attend the funeral, many believe he was too devastated by the boys death, Catherine did not attend either. Arthur’s untimely death led to his younger brother, Prince Henry, becoming the heir to the young boys throne, inheriting his lands and his wife.
Certainly the event was a turning point in history.
It was on the 9th March 1566 that Italian David Rizzio, private secretary to Mary Queen of Scots was murdered at Holyrood House in Edinburgh.
Out of the fourteen men involved in Rizzio's death it had been Patrick, Lord Ruthven who was the first in the queen's bedchamber that evening, standing in the door way he was wearing full armour that covered his nightshirt, Forcing his way into the room he shouted the words
“May it please your majesty to let yonder man Davie come forth of your presence, for he has been overlong here.”
Rizzio is said to have hidden behind Mary's skirts before he was dragged kicking and screaming to his death, he was stabbed over fifty times before his body was pushed to the bottom of a stone staircase. Later, in his testimony on Rizzio's murder, Ruthven stated that the Scottish lords had acted in what they considered was the best for Mary's husband Henry Darnley, Mary herself, the State of Scotland and religion. State and religion, I imagine were the main factors behind this plot, Darnley I think was not.
It must have been very clear to the Scottish lords that Henry Darnley was jealous of Rizzio's relationship with the queen and he was easily persuaded to join in the plot. However, when it came to the day when action was needed Darnley refused to stab Rizzio, standing back, he distanced himself from what was a frenzied attack. Angered by this his dagger was cleverly left in the body to show his involvement, a fact that was mentioned thirteen days later in English state papers when diplomat Sir Thomas Smith wrote to Lord Burghley.
"His (Darnley) dagger was left standing in Rizzio's body. Their mind was to have hanged Rizzio. The Lords of this last attempt have written Murray not to forbear for their cause to agree with the Queen. Lennox remains at Dunbar much offended with his son. The King repents of it, and confesses that he was abused."
In this affair poor David Rizzio goes down his history as a scapegoat, and Henry Darnley a weak willed coward. Darnley's death a year later was a violent one too, implicated in that was James Bothwell. Lord Ruthven died in his bed three months later. Of the final fate of David Rizzio there is some confusion, but it is considered by many that he lies in unmarked grave at Hollyrood Abbey.
Christopher Marlowe was an English playwright and poet, he was born in Canterbury to shoemaker John Marlowe and his wife Catherine, he was baptised on this day in 1564. Marlowe's life, his work and his death are all steeped in mystery, rumour and myth with questions such as, Was he really William Shakespeare? Did he write Shakespeares plays? Was he a spy? Was he murdered? being asked.
He of course wasn't William Shakespeare, but they were born in the same year. Marlowe attended the King’s school in Canterbury after which he went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. His frequent and lengthy absences from university and a letter that remarked on his “good service” to Elizabeth I on “matters touching the benefit of his country” play their part in the theory he was spying for Francis Walsingham.
The theory that Marlowe wrote parts of Shakespeare plays seems to be true though. Henry VI, Parts One, Two and Three are among as many as 17 plays that are thought to contain the works of other playwrights including Marlowe.
So what of the rumours of Marlow's death? These say that he was stabbed to death, he was killed in a drunken fight, and the reasons for his death has been speculated upon too - he was murdered by a rival in love, Elizabeth put out a contract on him.
My favourite play, Dr Faustus of course, a play about a man who sells his soul for twenty years of knowledge and power. Today, we use the term “Faustian bargain” which is in reference to any deal made for a short term gain that comes with a great cost.
All fascinating stuff !
After ten years in the workplace I became a mother to three very beautiful daughters, I was fortunate enough to have been able to stay at home and spend my time with them as they grew into the young women they are now. I am still in the position of being able to be at home and pursue all the interests I have previously mentioned. We live in a beautiful Victorian spa town with wooded walks for the dog, lovely shops and a host of lovely people, what more could I ask for.
All works © Andrea Povey 2014. Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of Andrea Povey.
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