In the whole of the monarchy of England/Great Britain only 4 Kings have ever abdicated. These were Edward II in 1327, Richard II in 1399, James VII (II in England but you use the highest regnal number and he was James VII in Scotland) and finally Edward VII on the 11th December 1936. So most of us will have probably a living relative to either lived through this period or knew someone who did.
Edward VIII was born on the 23rd of June 1894 at the White Lodge, Richmond Park, London. He was the first child born to the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary). He was the grandson of the King at the time Edward VII. Edward’s full name was Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David. Within the family he was known as David.
On Edward’s 16th birthday in 1910 he was created the Prince of Wales after his father ascended to the throne of Great Britain. He was invested as the Prince of Wales at Caernafon Castle in Wales on the 13th July 1911.
Edward attended Naval college (but never graduated) and during WW2 he joined the Grenadier Guards. He wanted to fight but as the heir to the throne this was not allowed. Edward eventually took to flying and became a qualified pilot.
As Edward got older he became known for enjoying life shall we say. He had a string of mistresses, and it is through one of these mistresses, Lady Furness, he met the woman who would change his life and impact greatly on the country as a whole.
In January 1931 Edward was introduced to an American woman by the name of Wallis Simpson.
Wallis Simpson was born in 1894 in Pennsylvania, USA. She was named Bessie Wallis Warfield by her parents Teackle Wallis Warfield and Alice Montague. Wallis married her first husband Earl Winfield Spencer in 1916 in Baltimore, USA and the divorced in 1927. She married secondly in 1928 in Chelsea, London to Ernest Aldrich Simpson. It was while she was married to him she began the affair with Edward. In fact it wasn’t until 5 years after she began the affair with Edward that she divorced him. During this period the relationship between Edward and Wallis became somewhat of a scandal for the King and Queen. They had no fondness for Wallis at all and would not accept her as she was a divorcee and under Church of England law a divorcee could not marry in church, and since Edward was heir to the throne he would have needed to marry in church, as the monarch could not marry a divorcee (this has since changed).
The problems for Edward got worse in January 1936. On the 20th January his father King George V died thus making Edward King Edward VIII. When he was proclaimed King of the Realm Wallis was by his side. The couple were seen together a lot and even holidayed together. They famously, or infamously visited Germany and met with Adolf Hitler.
In October 1936 Wallis divorced her second husband and Edward made it known he wished to marry her. Parliament at the time were against such as marriage as marrying after a divorce was against church laws, and as King Edward was head of the Church of England. Also they felt the people would never accept Wallis as Queen. The Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin gave Edward 3 choices. Not marry Wallis, marry her against parliament’s wishes or abdicate.
Edward signed his abdication on the 11th December 1936. Those present were his 3 brother, Prince Albert, Duke of York, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Prince George, Duke of Kent. The next day Edward made a radio statement to the nation in which he stated “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love”. On the 13th December Edward and Wallis left England for Austria and he was now known as the Duke of Windsor.
Edward and Wallis finally married in France in 1937 with Wallis then becoming the Duchess of Windsor. The couple stayed together until Edward died in France in 1972 just days after a private visit from his niece, Queen Elizabeth II. Edward was buried at Frogmore, Windsor where Wallis would join him in 1986. The couple never had any children.
So in 1936 Great Britain had 3 monarchs in King George V, King Edward VIII and the newly crowned King George VI who was Edwards’s brother and had been known as Prince Albert, Duke of York. And all for the love of a divorced woman. Now it wouldn’t matter at all!
Eleanor of Aquitaine was a powerful woman who had influence of much of France and England in her lifetime. She was the wife of 2 kings and the mother to 2 kings. She was Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right. She participated in the Crusades in the Holy Land, was regent of England while her son was on the Crusades and in captivity and raised the ransom for him. But what of her genealogy?
Bit of background first.
Eleanor was born around 1122 in France (probably Aquitaine) to William X Duke of Aquitaine and Aenor de Chatelleraut. Her first marriage was to Louis the Younger of France, son of Louis VI of France. He became Louis VII of France a few days after the marriage. The couple married on the 25th July 1137 at Bordeaux Cathedral, France. The couple had their marriage annulled in 1152 due to consanguinity, most likely as Louis was desperate for a son but was also celibate (unless his doctors told him not to be) and Eleanor’s eye had be caught by another and was a strong woman and the King was not as strong, as well as many other factors.
Eleanor secondly married Henry II, Duke of Normandy the son of Geoffrey of Anjou and the Empress Matilda of England (the daughter of King Henry I) in May 1152. Henry became King of England in 1154 after the death of his Uncle Stephen. During this marriage the couple had a love hate relationship with Eleanor and her sons fighting against the King. This lead to Eleanor spending 19 years imprisoned on and off until the King died.
Eleanor had 10 children by her 2 husbands.
By King Louis she had:
1. Marie of France born in 1145 in France. She married Henry I, Count of Champagne in 1164 and had 4 children. Marie was Countess of Champagne. She died in 1198 in Champagne, France.
2. Alix of France born in 1150 in France. She married Theobald V, Count of Blois in 1164 and had 7 children. She was Countess of Blois. She died in 1197/98 in France.
By King Henry she had:
1. William IX, Count of Poitiers who was born in Normandy in 1153. He died in 1156 at Wallingford Castle and was buried in Reading Cathedral.
2. Henry the Young King. He was born in 1155 at Bermondsey Palace, London. In 1172 he married Margaret of France in Winchester Cathedral. She was the half-sister of his half-sisters Marie and Alix. They had 1 son who died when he was a few days old. Henry died in France in 1183 after a siege. He was buried in Rouen Cathedral.
3. Matilda of England was born in 1156 at Windsor Castle. In 1168 she married Henry Duke of Saxony at Minden Cathedral and the couple had 5 children. Matilda was Duchess of Saxony. She died in 1189 at Brunswick, Saxony.
4. Richard I King of England (3/9/1189 – 6/4/1199). Richard was born in 1157 at Beaumont Palace in Oxfordshire. He was King of England, Duke of Normandy, Aquitaine, Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Poitiers, Anjou, Maine and Nantes (thank goodness he didn’t have all that on a business card). Richard married Berengaria of Navarre, daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre in 1191 in Limassol, Cyprus. The couple had no children. Richard died from an arrow wound in 1199 in Chalus, Aquitaine and was buried at Fontevrault Abbey at his father’s feet, except his heart which is in Rouen Cathedral.
5. Geoffrey II Duke of Brittany was born in 1158 in England. In 1181 he married Constance of Brittany the daughter of Conan IV, Duke of Brittany and they had 3 children. Geoffrey died in 1186 in Paris.
6. Eleanor of England, Queen Consort of Castile was born in 1611 in Normandy. She married in 1170 or 1177 King Alfonso VIII of Castile in Burgos, Castile and they had 12 children. Eleanor died in Burgos in 1214 and was buried there.
7. Joan of England, Queen Consort of Sicily and Countess of Toulouse. Joan was born in 1165 in Anjou and married firstly King William II of Sicily in 1177. She married Raymond VI Count of Toulouse in 1196 and they had 3 children. Joan died in Rouen in 1199 and was buried in Fontevrault Abbey at her father’s head.
8. John, King of England (27/5/1199 – 19/10/1216). John was born in 1166 at Beaumont Palace, Oxfordshire. He married firstly in 1189 at Marlborough Castle, Wiltshire to Isabella Countess of Gloucester but the marriage was annulled in 1199 on the grounds of consanguinity. He then married in 1200 Isabella Countess of Angouleme in Angouleme and they had 5 children. John died at Newark Castle in Nottinghamshire in 1216.
Eleanor died on the 1st April 1204 at Fontevraud Abbey where she had become a nun. She was buried alongside her husband Henry II and son Richard I.
So Eleanor was the Duchess of Aquitaine, Queen Consort of France, Queen Consort of the Franks, Queen Consort of England and Regent of England. She was mother of Kings, Queens consorts, Dukes, Duchesses, Counts and Countesses. She had 10 children and 40 grandchildren. She is the 21 times great Grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II and thus 24 time great Grandmother of youngest members of the Royal Family.
It’s the year 1066 and England is in turmoil. In January the King Edward the Confessor died without leaving an heir. So what would happen to the country? Enter 3 men who felt they had a claim to the throne. By December 1066 England would have a new king and the other 2 men would be dead.
So who were the contenders?
Harald Hardrada was the King of Norway and claimed the English throne as he claimed Harthacnut who was a previous King of England and Edward the Confessors half-brother had left the throne to him if there was no heir to the throne. Edward had no heir.
Harold Godwinson was the brother in law of Edward the Confessor and he claimed the Edward had claimed him his heir.
William of Normandy was the illegitimate son of Edward the Confessors cousin Robert of Normandy and William claimed Edward had promised the throne to him as his heir.
Let battle commence.
Before the battles commenced Harold attempted to consolidate his position as King amongst the nobles of the land. He was in the best position as he was in England when Edward died. Harold was crowned the day after Edward died and spent the next month’s building on his claim, but this wasn’t to last as he faced challenges to his throne.
The first battle was between Harald Hardrada and Harold Godwinson. This battle took place at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire on the 25th September 1066 with King Harold’s army beating the army of Harald Hardrada and killing Harald and King Harold’s brother who had sided against his brother.
After this battle news came that William had landed in England and so King Harold and his troops marched south.
William spent the months between the death of Edward and his arrival in England building up his army to launch an invasion. When William landed at Pevensey on the south coast on the 28th September 1066 he had a force of around 10000. Harold had an army of approximately 7000.
The 2 sides eventually met at the battle site near Battle on the 14th October 1066. Just as a side note it’s not really known where the battle took place exactly but the town of Battle is the most likely perhaps where the Abbey stands now or a mini roundabout in the town.
Harold and the English army were on the hill above William and his forces were in the valley below. The battle began around 9am and lasted until dusk, probably with a lunch break. Harold and William both fought in the battle alongside their men. Eventually for whatever reason Harold’s forces came down the hill and levelled out the playing field. During the fighting Harold’s brothers who were also commanders were killed and eventually Harold was killed sometime in the late afternoon thus leaving the English without a leader. There is much speculation as to how Harold died. The Bayeux Tapestry which tells the story of the battle would have us believe Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye, but whether this is true or not is unknown as the first recorded mention of this was in the 1080’s.
After the battle William and his troops marched on London to claim the throne. What he didn’t know was that a new King had been chosen. At this time there was a body of nobles called the Witenagemot who could choose the monarch if there was no obvious heir. They chose Edgar Ætheling who was Edward the Confessors great nephew. Needless to say Edgar was never crowned, but in the future he did try to get it back but eventually sided with William the Conqueror (William of Normandy) eldest son.
William of Normandy faced several more battles on his way to London all of which he won and eventually all the Nobles in England declared fealty to William. William was crowned King of England on Christmas day 1066 and he reigned the country until his death in 1087 in Rouen, France. William was succeeded by his third son William II.
So by Edward the Confessor taking a vow of chastity and not having any children England was thrown into chaos for a year. This left many dead on the battlefield and England coming under the rule of the Normans, instead of the Danes!
You may remember a few weeks ago I considered that even if you don’t have an interest in the monarch the history of the Kings and Queens will give you an insight into the lives of your ancestors. I looked at the Monarchs of England and Scotland from 1066 until 1603 and now I’m going to look from 1603 to the present day with the monarchs of Great Britain which began after the death of Elizabeth I.
James I of England VI of Scotland. Reigned 24th March 1603 – 27th March 1625. Successor: Charles I, son of James I.
Charles I. Reigned 27th March 1625 – 30 January 1649 (executed for treason). Successor: Oliver Cromwell and the commonwealth.
Charles II. Reigned 29th May 1660 – 6th February 1685. Successor: James II, son of Charles I.
James II. Reigned 6th February 1685 – 23rd December 1688. Successor: William III, grandson of Charles II and Mary II, daughter of James II.
William III and Mary II
William III. Reigned 23rd December 1688 – 8th March 1702. Successor: Anne, daughter of James II.
Mary II. Reigned 23rd December 1688 –28th December 1694. Successor: Anne, daughter of James II.
Anne. Reigned 8th March 1702 – 1st August 1714. Successor: George I, great grandson of James I.
George I. Reigned 1st August 1714 – 11th June 1727. Successor: George II, son of George I.
George II. Reigned 11th June 1727 – 25th October 1760. Successor: George III, grandson of George II.
George III. Reigned 25th October 1760 – 29th January 1820. Successor: George IV, son of George III.
George IV. Reigned 29th January 1820 – 26th June 1830. Successor: William IV, son of George III.
William IV. Reigned 26th June 1830 – 20th June 1837. Successor: Victoria, granddaughter of George III.
Victoria. Reigned 20th June 1837 – 22 January 1901. Successor: Edward VII, son of Victoria.
Edward VII. Reigned 22 January 1901 – 6th May 1910. Successor: George V, son of Edward VII.
George V. Reigned 6th May 1910 – 20th January 1936. Successor: Edward VIII, son of George V.
Edward VIII. Reigned 20th January 1836 – 11th December 1836 (abdicated). Successor: George VI, son of George V.
George VI. Reigned 11th December 1836 – 6th February 1952. Successor: Elizabeth II, daughter of George VI.
Elizabeth II. Reign 6th February 1952 to present.
So now you have a comprehensive list of the monarchs from 1066 until the present. You can now use this information to gather more information about your ancestors.
So for example if your ancestor was alive in 1703 you now know Queen Anne was on the throne. From here you can find out more about the country they lived in. In 1703 England was struck by a storm which caused 100’s of boat to wash ashore on the south coast and 1000’s of sailors died, 1000’s of homes were damaged and many areas were severely flooded including parts of the West Midlands. From here if you know your ancestor was a sailor on the south coast you may find they were affected by the storm. They may have lost their boat or the boat they sailed on may have been lost. They may also have lost their relatives if they were at sea at the time of the storm. They could have lost fathers, brothers, husbands or sons. Entire male lines of families may have been wiped out as a family boat could have been lost. This could have left the women of the family destitute. It could also help you to understand why you can’t find the grave of a family member. They may have been lost at sea in the storm and their body was never found for burial. It could also mean you may be able to discover the grave for a female family member you couldn’t find. If a woman lost her husband in the storm she may have remarried and thus be buried under the name of her second husband.
Hopefully this will relationship between the knowledge of when the monarchs were on the throne and what was going on in the country while your ancestors were alive.
Last week I looked at the link between how knowing which monarch was on the throne and can help you discover more about the lives of your ancestors by showing you what was happening in the world around them. Even though the lives of your ancestors may have been completely different from the monarchs major events may have impacted upon them.
This week I’m looking at the monarchs of Scotland from 1066 to 1603 (I’m starting at 1066 to be in line with the English). You need to remember that the succession in Scotland for the throne is different from England in that war and murder were often ways to trigger a change of monarch. Also the English sometimes influenced the succession with Edward I (1272-1307) placing pressure on the Scots.
Malcolm III. Reigned 1058 – 13th November 1093. Successor: Donald III his brother.
Donald III. Reigned 13th November 1093 – May 1094. Successor: Duncan II, son of Malcolm III.
Duncan II. Reigned 1094 – 12th November 1094 (murdered). Successor: Donald III, son of Malcolm III.
Donald III. Reigned 12th November 1094 – 1097. Successor: Edgar, son of Malcolm III.
Edgar. Reigned 1097 – 8th January 1107 (Murdered?). Successor: Alexander I, son of Malcolm III.
Alexander I. Reigned 8th January 1107 – 23rd April 1124. Successor: David I, son of Malcolm III.
David I. Reigned 23rd April 1124 – 24th May 1153. Successor: Malcolm IV, grandson of David I.
Malcolm IV. Reigned 24th May 1153 – 9th December 1165. Successor: William I, grandson of David I.
William I. Reigned 9th December 1165 – 4th December 1214. Successor: Alexander II, son of William I.
Alexander II. Reigned 4th December 1214 – 6th July 1249. Successor: Alexander III, son of Alexander II.
Alexander III. Reigned 6th July 1249 – 19th March 1286. Successor: Margaret, granddaughter of Alexander III.
Margaret. Reigned 25th November 1286 – 26th September 1290. Successor: John who was chosen by claim.
John. Reigned 17th November 1292 – 10th July 1296 (abdicated). Successor: Robert I through battle and claim.
Robert I (the Bruce). Reigned 25th March 1306 – 7th June 1329. Successor: David II, son of Robert I.
David II. Reigned 7th June 1329 – 22 February 1371. Successor: Robert II, grandson of Robert I.
Robert II. Reigned 22 February 1371 – 19th April 1390. Successor: Robert III, son of Robert II.
Robert III. Reigned 19th April 1390 – 4th April 1406. Successor: James I, son of Robert III.
James I. Reigned 4th April 1406 – 21st February 1437. Successor: James II, son of James I.
James II. Reigned 21st February 1437 – 3rd August 1460. Successor: James III, son of James II.
James III. Reigned 3rd August 1460 – 11th June 1488. Successor: James IV, son of James III.
James IV. Reigned 11th June 1488 – 9th September 1513 (died in battle). Successor: James V, son of James IV.
James V. Reigned 9th September 1513 – 14th December 1542. Successor: Mary, daughter of James V.
Mary (Queen of Scots). Reigned 14th December 1542 – 24th July 1567 (abdicated. Executed by Queen Elizabeth I of England 8th February 1587). Successor: James VI, son of Queen Mary.
James VI. Reigned 24th July 1567 – 27th March 1625. To Monarchy of Great Britain.
After the death of Queen Elizabeth I of England the throne passed to her 1st cousin twice removed James VI of Scotland and he became James I of Great Britain.
James VI was the great, great grandson of King Henry VII of England. Henry’s eldest daughter Margaret Tudor was married to James IV of Scotland thus combining the Stuart house of Scotland with the Tudor house of England and giving us the royal family we have today.
Many of you will know that I am fascinated with the monarch, but many of you may not realise how much of an impact knowledge of the monarchy can have on your research. If you know who was monarch when your ancestors were alive you can read about what was happening in the country and thus how it may have been affecting your ancestors. So in this vein here is my list of the Monarch of England.
Edward the Confessor. Reigned 8th June 1042 to 1st May 1066. Successor: Harold Godwinson, brother in law of Edward who claimed Edward named him heir.
Harold Godwinson. Reigned 6th January 1066 to 14th October 1066 died in battle. Successor: William the Conqueror who claimed to be Edward the Confessors names heir and William defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings.
William I, the Conqueror. Reigned 14th October 1066 – 9th September 1087. Successor: William II his son.
William II. Reigned 9th September 1087 – 2nd August 1100 possibly murdered. Successor: Henry I his brother.
Henry I. Reigned 2nd August 1100 – 1st December 1135. Successor: Stephen the grandson of William I who may have usurped the throne.
Stephen. Reigned 22nd December 1135 – 7th April 1141. Successor: Matilda, daughter of Henry I.
Matilda. Reigned 7th April 1141 – 1st November 1141. Successor: Stephen.
Stephen. Reigned 1st November 1141 – 25th October 1154. Successor: Henry II son of Matilda.
Henry II. Reigned 25th October 1154 – 6th July 1189. Successor: Richard I the Lionheart, son of Henry II.
Richard I. Reigned 6th July 1189 – 6th April 1199. Successor: John, brother of Richard I.
John. Reigned 6th April 1199 – 19th October 1216. Successor: Henry III, John’s son.
Henry III. Reigned 19th October 1216 – 16th November 1272. Successor: Edward I, son of Henry III.
Edward I. Reigned 16th November 1272 – 7th July 1307. Successor: Edward II, son of Edward I.
Edward II. Reigned 7th July 1307 – 24th January 1327. Successor: Edward III, son of Edward II.
Edward III. Reigned 24th January 1327 – 21st June 1377. Successor: Richard II, grandson of Edward III.
Richard II. Reigned 21st June 1377 – 29th September 1399. Successor: Henry IV, grandson of Edward III.
Henry IV. Reigned 30th September 1399 – 20th March 1413. Successor: Henry V, son of Henry IV.
Henry V. Reigned 20th March 1413 – 31st August 1422. Successor: Henry VI, son of Henry V.
Henry VI. Reigned 31st August 1422 – 4th March 1461. Successor: Edward IV, great grandson of Edward III by usurpation.
Edward IV. Reigned 4th March 1461 – 3rd October 1470. Henry VI, son of Henry V.
Henry VI. Reigned 3rd October 1470 – 11th April 1471. Successor: Edward IV, great grandson of Edward III, by usurpation.
Edward IV. Reigned 11th April 1471 – 9th April 1483. Successor: Henry VI, son of Henry V.
Edward V. Reigned 9th April 1483 – 25th June 1483 (disappeared possibly murdered). Successor: Richard III brother of Edward IV.
Richard III. Reigned 25th June 1483 – 22 August 1485 (died at the Battle of Bosworth). Successor: Henry VII, great, great, great grandson of Edward III, by usurpation.
Henry VII. Reigned 22 August 1485 – 21 September 1509. Successor: Henry VIII, son of Henry VII.
Henry VIII. Reigned 21st September 1509 – 28th January 1547. Successor: Edward VI, son of Henry VIII.
Edward VI. Reigned 28th January 1547 – 6th July 1553. Successor: Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry VII.
Jane Grey. Reigned 10th July 1553 - 19th July 1553 (deposed). Successor: Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII.
Mary I. Reigned 19th July 1553 – 17th November 1558. Successor: Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII.
Elizabeth I. Reigned 17th November 1558 – 24th March 1603. Successor: James I and VI, great, great grandson of Henry VII.
This brings to an end the walk through the English monarch from 1066 until 1603. After this period the monarchies of England and Scotland combined to become the monarchs of Great Britain.
Coming soon I’ll do the same for the Monarchs of Great Britain from 1603 to the present.
I want to consider my favourite of King Henry VII wives today. Everyone’s heard of Anne of Cleves, King Henry VIII 4th wife, but probably you don’t know much about her.
Anne was born in Dusseldorf in the Duchy of Cleves in September 1515. She was the 2nd of 4 children born to Duke John III of Cleves, Julich and Berg and his wife Maria Duchess of Julich-Berg. When she was just 11 she was betrothed to 10 year old Francis of Lorraine the son of the Duke of Lorraine. This betrothal was later declared void due to Francis being so young.
After the death of Queen Jane in 1537 the king’s adviser Oliver Cromwell began to look for a new queen and looked to Cleves as the new Duke (Anne’s brother) was a protestant, although Anne was a Catholic like her devote mother. Hans Holbein the younger was despatched to paint portraits of Anne and her sister. It was from these pictures Henry decided on Anne. In October 1539 a treaty was drawn up between King Henry and Duke William for Henry to marry Anne.
Anne was described by contemporary sources as being tall, slim, fair haired and having a lovely face and being of a gentle and docile. She was not well educated although she could read and write in German. She was very skilled at needlework.
Anne arrived in England in December 1539 and she first met the King on 1st January 1540. Henry entered her chambers in disguise and embraced her. Anne was alarmed and thanked the man and then turned away. It is alleged that it was Katherine Howard who pointed out to Anne that it was the King. Henry was enraged and immediately demanded that a way be found to stop the wedding. Oliver Cromwell was all for the wedding taking place and persuaded the king to go through with the wedding as the alliance with another protestant nation was vital to the defence of the country against Spain, France and the Holy Roman Empire. In the end this decision cost Cromwell his life.
Anne and Henry were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cramner at the Palace of Placentia on the 6th January 1540. After the marriage Henry made many complaints about Anne from her being ugly and smelly to her being so undesirable that he could not consummate the marriage. Anne is believed to have believed the marriage was consummated as Henry slept beside her every night. The King decided he wanted out of the marriage and used the fact that she had been betrothed to Francis of Lorraine and the non consummation of the marriage as the main reasons. We all know he was besotted with Anne’s lady in waiting Katherine Howard and she was the main reason.
Anne was ordered to leave court in June 1540 and on the 6th July she was told the King wished to annul the marriage. Anne sensibly agreed to the annulment and thus probably saved her life. She inherited many houses as part of the annulment including Richmond Palace and Hever Castle. She was also given the title of Beloved Sister and she thus ranked higher than all ladies of the court except the Queen and the Kings daughters. She was a regular at court and had a strong friendship with Princess Mary and Elizabeth.
After the execution of Katherine Howard it is believed Anne’s brother Duke William of Cleves was pushing for Henry to remarry Anne. Whether Anne was for this or not is not really known as no evidence survives.
After Henry’s death Anne lived mainly away from court and was not seen much but she was by Queen Mary’s side along with Princess Elizabeth when Mary entered London to take the crown. Anne was also at Mary’s coronation in 1553. Anne converted back to Catholicism when Mary took the throne.
Anne came under scrutiny during the Wyatt rebellion against Queen Mary as Anne was very close to Princess Elizabeth who was protestant and was removed form court in 1554.
Anne lived at her estate for the rest of her life where she was a described as a good and kind mistress. Many say she suffered from periods of homesickness but she never left England after her arrival in 1539.
In June 1557 Anne became so unwell she wrote her will in which she asked Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth to look after her servants who she also left some money to. On the 16th July 1557 Anne of Cleves died at her home in Chelsea from cancer and was buried by the high alter in Westminster Abbey. She was the last of King Henry VIII wives to die.
I thought I’d look at the world of heraldry this week and probably another week as well. This is something many genealogists and historians will have come across, but what does it actually mean.
Well to consider the subject fully would be a huge undertaking so I thought I’d look at the basics.
First of all what is heraldry? Well in basic terms it is the images on a shield or a coat of arms used to identify an individual.
Anyone can apply to the college of arms to have their heraldry registered and it can in include symbols which are important to you.
Right I’ll start with shield.
These are the main backgrounds or ordinaries that are found on shields (please excuse my bad drawing skills and spelling it should read saltire not saltaire, that’s a place in Bradford).
These can be coloured with the colours of heraldry which are gold/yellow for generosity, silver/white for peace, black for grief, blue for truth and loyalty, green for hope and loyalty of the heart and red indicates a warrior.
Now you can just leave your shield at that, but usually symbols are placed on top of the ordinaries.
But what do the ordinaries mean. Well it seems most of them have a meaning.
The chief denotes that the bearer has authority and domination over others.
The saltire indicates that the holder of the shield has resolve.
The cross derives from the crusades and may be used to show the bearers Christian faith.
The fess shows that the holder is a man of honour.
The pale shows the bearer has military strength.
The chevron denoted the holder’s faithfulness to the crown.
The bend denoted defence and protection and the bend sinister may have denoted the holder held defence and protection in high esteem but was illegitimate. Why was that important?
The pall denoted a link to the clergy.
The others of pile, checky and quarter were more of a decoration thing.
Probably on of the most famous shields belonged to King Richard the Lionheart of England. His shield was believed to be a white background with a red cross i.e. the St Georges cross with the 3 lions (except there not lions there leopards as that’s what they were called when they were first used by Richard 1) denoting Richards rule over England, Normandy and Aquitaine.
Some of the more common symbols are lions/leopards for courage, dragons for valour and protection, horses for readiness to support King and country, the unicorn for courage virtue and strength and bears for strength. Patterns are also used such as the fleur-de-lis which indicates the English Kings claim to throne of France.
If you consider the Queen’s Royal Standard it shows the harp of Ireland, the rampant (standing up growling) lion of Scotland and the 3 lions of England. So basically you can design your own branding so when you were on the battlefield you could be recognised which if you think about it is silly as people know who you are, so they could make a beeline for you on the battlefield if they didn’t like you.
So who could have a shield like this well it was only usually the Monarch, the nobility and the knights. But their servants would wear the design on their clothes so they could be recognised as belonging to their master. It would also be worn as a badge of honour so they could say look at me I work for ……. And you don’t.
So although shield design these days is seen as mainly a medieval thing it was in fact the branding of its day. The shield was the nobel or knights logo.
I’ll look at heraldry again soon and focus on the coats of arms of the nobility and also towns and cities.
A couple of weeks ago my blog was about the life and death of Anne Boleyn the 2nd wife of King Henry VIII of England. Well this week brings the anniversary of his marriage to his 3rd wife just 11 days after he had Anne executed.
Jane Seymour was the 7th child of 10 born to Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth. Her father was knighted by King Henry VII for his role in quashing the uprising by the Cornish in 1497. Her mother was the 1st cousin of Elizabeth and Edmund Howard the children of the Duke of Norfolk. Elizabeth Howard was the mother of Anne Boleyn and Edmund was the father of Katherine Howard. Jane was born around 1508 in the West Country, most likely Wiltshire. She was educated to an extent and she could read and write but her most notable skill was needlework.
Jane first went to court in an official capacity in 1532 when she was approximately 24 years old. She was made a maid of honour to Queen Katherine of Aragon. Jane held this position for the rest of Katherine’s tenure as Queen and throughout Anne Boleyn’s reign as well. It is during the last few months of Queen Anne’s reign that it is believed Jane caught the attention of the King.
Jane has been described by many contemporary sources as being everything Anne wasn’t. The Imperial Ambassador to England from the Holy Roman Empire Eustace Chapuys described Jane as being a peacemaker, and others described her as being meek. She was also described as being of plain appearance and she banned all her ladies from dressing in the French style like they did under Anne.
Jane was also different from Anne in one major way. Jane was a Catholic whereas Anne was Protestant. Many hope Jane would sway Henry back to the Roman Catholic faith. Whether this would have happened is debatable but it is noted that when she tried to grant pardons for the participants of the Pilgrimage of Grace (an uprising in the north of England against the break from Rome in 1536) she was reminded by Henry as to what happened to Anne when she meddled in men’s affairs.
Jane became formally betrothed to Henry on the 20th May 1536 the day after the execution of Anne and the couple married on the 30th May 1536 at the Queens closet in the Palace of Whitehall. She was proclaimed Queen of England on the 4th June 1536. Jane was never crowned Queen as during the summer of 1536 plague struck London and so no coronation could take place. Some believed this was an excuse and Henry would not crown her until she produced a male heir.
In January 1537 it was announced Jane was pregnant with the couple’s first child. Jane entered her confinement in September 1537 at Hampton Court Palace. Jane was in labour for three days and finally in the early hours of the morning of the 12th October 1537 she gave birth to a son who was named Edward and he went on to become King Edward VI. This was to become the best and worse time for the Monarch. Henry rejoiced the birth of his much prayed for son but it was soon clear the Queen was unwell. Just 12 days after she gave birth she died from the results of child birth.
Jane was buried at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on the 12th November 1537 with Lady Mary (Henry’s daughter by Katherine of Aragon) as chief mourner. In the space of a few weeks Lady Mary went from being made godmother to her new brother to chief mourner for her step mother. Jane’s tomb marker is in the middle of the Aisle of the chapel in the choir close to the alter. The memorial reads
There is no actual tomb for Jane and as you can see she was joined by her husband Henry after his death. Many believe Henry was buried along with her as she was his beloved wife, but in reality it could have been because she gave him the son he desperately wanted.
During her reign as Queen she managed to reconcile Henry with his daughters, in particularly Mary, and Henry allowed both to return to court. She had wanted Mary and Elizabeth restored to the succession after any children she bore to Henry, but alas this didn’t happen, although her successor Katherine Parr did achieve this with the succession being Edward, then Mary, then Elizabeth followed by the decedents or Mary Tudor, Henry VIII sister (i.e. Lady Jane Grey). She also moved her family up socially. Her eldest brother Edward was made the 1st Duke of Somerset and was the Lord Protector for King Edward VI during his minority. Another brother Thomas was made 1st Baron Seymour of Sudley and would later marry King Henry VIII widow Katherine Parr and he may have had an inappropriate relationship with Henry VIII daughter Elizabeth under the nose of his wife Katherine. In the end though the brothers lost everything, literally. Edward was executed in January 1552 for felony after struggles over who would be the Kings regent. Thomas was executed for treason in 1549 with the final straw being when he attempted to enter the King bedchamber with a loaded weapon and shot the Kings dog when it barked.
Jane was Queen of England for 512 days. She succeeded where her predecessors failed in producing a living male heir and had the honour of having the King buried alongside her. But if she hadn’t died would Henry have tired of her and either divorce her or had her executed or would he have lived a peaceful life surrounded by his wife and the many children they may have had. If Jane hadn’t died then history many have been completely different and the Tudors descended from Henry could still be around today.
Anyone who reads my blog (A BIG THANK YOU) will know my passion in history is the Tudors. I’ll read anything about them. Well on the 19th of May it is the anniversary of the death of Anne Boleyn.
It is believed Anne was born in 1501 in either Norfolk or Kent, although no one truly knows for sure. She was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Howard (the daughter of the Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. She was the sister of Mary and George. She was an educated woman and learnt many skills that a girl of this time period would not be expected to know. She was known to be strong with her languages.
Anne became a lady in waiting to Margaret of Austria who was ruler of the Netherlands in the stead of her nephew the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. She stayed there for just over a year until her father gain a place as lady in waiting for her in the household of Mary Tudor, King Henry VIII sister, when she went to France to marry Louis XII. When Louis died and Mary remarried and returned to England Anne stayed in France as Lady to the new Queen Claude. Anne returned to England in around 1522 when a marriage was arranged for her but the marriage never took place.
Anne soon had a place in the household of Queen Katherine of Aragon. She was described as being quick witted with excellent dancing, singing and musical skills, but even then her short temper was noted. In 1526 King Henry VIII first really noticed Anne and began to pursue her. This in turn led to Henry beginning to turn away from the Catholic church as he wanted a divorce for Katherine and they wouldn’t allow it. He needed the divorce as many believed Anne would not become his mistress and would accept nothing less than marriage.
Henry began to defer to Anne over Katherine and she was by his side at many great events such as the Field of the Cloth of Gold when Henry met King Francis of France at Calais in one of the most grand and decadent meetings seen. The fountains actually had red wine in them!
In September 1532 Anne became the Marquessate of Pembroke in her own right. This made her a higher rank than almost all the peers of the land. And in November 1532 Anne and Henry married in secret in Dover, small problem though was that Henry was still married to Katherine and would be until May 1533 when his divorce to declared.
Anne was crowned queen on the 1st June 1533 at Westminster Abbey after a procession through London from the Tower of London where traditionally the monarch and consort stayed the night before the coronation. By this time all could tell Anne was pregnant. She was crowned with St Edward’s crown which was usually only used for the monarch.
During her time as Queen Anne was a great advocate of the protestant faith, possibly more so than the King himself.
Anne gave birth to her first child in September 1533, a girl named Elizabeth. She suffered a stillbirth in 1534 and a miscarriage in 1536 and many believe this miscarriage was the final straw for the King.
As was said before Anne was known to have a temper on her and was also accustomed to getting her own way and this also played a part in her downfall. It is said she was overheard to have told Sir Henry Norris, one of the King men, that after the Kings death he would wish to marry her. This statement alone was ground for treason as imagining the Kings death was against the law. This accompanied by the, probably very false, confession of one of the Queens musician Mark Smeaton to have having an affair with the queen lead to the arrests on the 2nd May 1533 of the Queen along with Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brerton, Sir Thomas Wyatt, Sir Richard Page and Viscount Roachford George Boleyn. All were charged with treason for having knowledge of the Queen (in other words having an affair with her). In the case of the Queen and Viscount Roachford this was incest as they were brother and sister.
All were taken to the Tower of London and on the 12th May Weston, Norris and Brereton were tried declaring their innocence. Only Mark Smeaton confessed after torture. All men accused were found guilty of. Sir Thomas Wyatt was never tried as he was declared innocent. On the 15th May Queen Anne and her brother were tried and also found guilty of high treason. The law of the land stated that the men should be hanged, drawn and quarter and Anne should be burned at the stake. In the end all the men were beheaded on the 17th may on Tower Hill by axe.
Anne herself was to also be beheaded, but the King paid to have a swords man brought over from France to carry out the execution. She left her quarters in the Tower of London on the 19th May 1536 and was lead to the execution site. She made her speech to the crowd in which she praised the King. She was then blindfolded and knelt down and her head was removed with one swing of the sword. She was then buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London in an unmarked grave. Her brother was also buried there.
So was Anne Boleyn the villain that history portrays her to be or was she a porn in the politics of the day? It’s very probable that she said somethings she shouldn’t have and got herself into some uncomfortable situations, but did she deserve to die for it. Or was her true downfall the fact that she didn’t produce the much needed male heir and the Kings eye began to roam. The truth is a source of much debate, but since the King became engaged the day after Anne’s execution and married 10 days after that!
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!