Picture of The Week 11

Edward VI’s Diary

Edward VI reveals here that he and his sister Elizabeth learnt of their father Henry VIII’s death from his uncle Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, at Elizabeth’s Enfield residence on 30 January 1547.

Although he writes that it caused great grief in London, he reveals nothing of his personal feelings. He describes the Privy Council’s choice of Edward Seymour as Protector and Governor of the King’s Person and mentions how his father’s officers broke their staffs of office and threw them into Henry’s grave at his burial.

Edward may have been prompted to write his ‘diary’ by one of his tutors. It begins with a description of his childhood until 1547. For the years 1547 to 1549 the ‘diary’ is a chronicle of past events that mostly refers to Edward in the third person. From March 1550 until November 1552, when it ends, it is more like a diary, with entries for individual days.


Published in: on June 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

The French Revolution – Madame Du Barry and Princess de Lamballe

The French Revolution:

The French Revolution broke out in 1789 and in the Reign of Terror that followed, scores of hapless people, whose only crime was of being of aristocratic stock or associated in some manner with the royalty, ended their lives on the guillotine. Two prominent victims were Madame Du Barry and Princess de Lamballe.

Madame Du Barry and Princess de Lamballe:

Madame Du Barry

Princess de Lamballe

Madame Du Barry was one of the most famous Courtesans of France and the Mistress of the former King Louis XV. She was of humble origins – a fact that made Marie Antoinette, as the new Dauphine, cold-shoulder her – and, although good-natured, without the sharp intellect and powerful political acumen of her predecessor, the King’s former lover Madame de Pompadour. However, due to her association with the King of France, Madame Du Barry for a long time enjoyed a high status and privileged position in the French Court.

After his death in 1774 though, she was made to retire from Court and, after a two year sojourn at the Convent of Pont-au-Dames, withdrew to live a comfortable, untroubled existence at her country estate, Chateau de Louveciennes. She was probably happier now than she had ever been, not having to dance to the King’s whims or keep abreast with the numerous Court intrigues against her. So she lived quietly, took on new lovers, and, when time permitted, is said to have interested herself in social work in the neighboring areas. Her ministrations for the poor were however completely forgotten in the Reign of Terror and only her former excesses remembered.

Princess Therese de Lamballe was a very close friend of Queen Marie Antoinette. She was a great support to her during the early, difficult years of her marriage to King Louis XVI, and she was to provide comfort in the later dark days of her life. Princess de Lamballe was beautiful and witty and as fond of gaiety and the good life as the Queen. She was however no giddy, featherbrained creature and displayed remarkable personal courage and loyalty towards her disgraced royal friend.

Chance of Safety:
It is a curious point to note that both Madame Du Barry and Princess Lamballe had had the chance to escape to safety in Great Britain, but both chose to return to Paris and to their subsequent deaths.

In the case of Madame Du Barry, she had gone to England on a personal matter concerning her stolen diamond jewelery in 1792. Well-received in English Society, she was strongly urged to remain in England and not return to France where an ill wind was blowing for those of Royal blood and their associates. As a Mistress of the former King, probably it should have occurred to Madame Du Barry that returning home would be especially dangerous for her. However, for reasons best known to herself, she chose to return.

Princess de Lamballe had accompanied the Royal Family to imprisonment at the Tuileries Palace after they were forced to leave the Versailles Palace. In 1791 she was allowed to go to Great Britain where she tried to gain support for the beleaguered Royal family. Like Madame Du Barry, she too no doubt was advised to remain put, but she was determined not to desert Marie Antoinette and so came back to France.

Trial and Sentencing:
Madame Du Barry was arrested in 1793 and thrown into prison – for a while she shared the same dingy cell as that of Grace Elliott, the Mistress of the Duke of Orleans. Brought to trial, she was accused of treason and quickly sentenced to death.

Princess de Lamballe remained with Marie Antoinette until the events of 10 August 1792, when the Revolutionary mob attacked the Tuileries Palace and massacred the 900 Swiss Guards. The Royal Family, which escaped in the nick of time, was now carted off to imprisonment at the Temple Fortress in Paris.

After being incarcerated here herself, Princess de Lamballe was taken to La Force Prison in Paris. Brought to trial, she was asked to embrace the Revolution and its principles and denounce the Monarchy. While she agreed to take an oath supporting the former, she firmly refused to turn against her beloved Queen. With this refusal, she signed her own death warrant.

Actually, both Madame Du Barry and Princess de Lamballe received death sentences more for their royal connections than for any major crimes they had personally committed.

The end for the two ladies was neither peaceful nor dignified.
Madame Du Barry lost all of her former composure. As she was dragged before the blood-thirsty mob in the Place de la Concorde to be guillotined, she screamed and shouted and wept and begged for mercy. She tried to cling to life until the last, famously crying to the executioner, “Encore un moment, monsieur le bourreau, un petit moment!” (Another moment, Mr. Executioner, just a little moment).

Princess de Lamballe was turned over to an angry mob waiting with hammers, swords, and pikes in an alley outside La Force. They converged about her as soon as she stepped out the door and it is said that she was gang-raped before they bludgeoned and hacked her to death. Her head, her breasts, and her genitals were mounted up on pikes and paraded through the streets of Paris and taken to be displayed before the window of the imprisoned Queen. Marie Antoinette, whose hair had turned white after their capture in Varennes, is said to have fainted away on seeing the gruesome fate of her friend.

By Sonal Panse


Published in: on June 18, 2011 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Picture of the week 10

Henry VIII Coronation Oath (with notes by Henry himself)

On acceding to the throne, monarchs were crowned in a magnificent and elaborate ceremony in which the new king swore to defend the Church. Here the unmistakable hand of Henry has made several significant revisions to the oath.

Instead of swearing to maintain the rights and liberties of ‘holy churche’, he would swear to maintain those of ‘the holy church of England’, adding the crucial qualification, ‘nott preuto hys Iurysdyction and dignite ryall’. Walter Ullmann, a historian of medieval political thought, argued that these revisions anticipated the break with Rome.

However, there is nothing to confirm that this altered version of the oath was used in 1509, nor at the coronation of his son, Edward VI, in 1547. It is most likely that the revisions were made at the same time as the break with Rome, in the 1530s, and were taken no further. Nonetheless, they remain highly revealing about how Henry saw his Royal Supremacy over the Church.


Published in: on June 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Picture of the Week 9

This is the first love token Henry VIII gave to Anne Boleyn, which she kept until her death.  It is a tiny whistle pendant in the form of a pistol, chased with scrolling foliage. It contained cosmetic tools within the barrel (salt spoon, earpick and toothpick) (Henry VIII was known for his hygiene). When Anne gave it to her jailer shortly before her execution she pointed out that the design is of a serpent adding “and thus he (Henry) proved ever unto me”. It’s now kept at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country residence.

Such little trinkets were often sewn onto the king’s masque costumes. They could be given away as gifts, easily lost or even stolen. For example, in September 1510a goldsmith was paid £266 to make new trinkets including small hearts and roses in gold because so many former charms had been stolen or ‘given away at Henry’s pleasure.



Published in: on June 16, 2011 at 9:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Picture of the Week 8

My First Tattoo

Today was my 23rd birthday and as a gift my parents and sister said they would pay for me to get my first tattoo, and because of my love for Tudor history I right away wanted a Tudor Rose. I went into the shop, met and amazing artist who took my idea and made it so much better. Then after a short time of waiting I went back to his area and he started my tattoo. My mom and best friend for over 17 years came with me, and let me just say it was truly and amazing experince that I shall never forget. The artist was so gentle and it only hurt at little in a couple little spots. So over all it went wonderfully and Im so glad I was able to get it done because I am so in love with the outcome of it. Let me know what you guys think of it.


Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

The demands of 18th century fashion

18th century fashion required a lot of work. Some went to such lengths that the following rather panicky law was proposed in 1770 (but thankfully never passed):

An Act to protect men from being beguiled into marriage by false adornments. All women, of whatever rank, age, profession or degree, whether virgins, maids or widows, that shall, from and after such Act, impose upon, seduce or betray into matrimony, any of His Majesty’s subjects, by the scents, paints, cosmetic washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, iron stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes and bolstered hips, shall incur the penalty of the law in force against witchcraft and like misdemeanours and that the marriage upon conviction shall stand null and void.

This law makes it sound as though only ladies were vain, but men were just as careful about their appearance as women, and in some cases more so. Fashionistos called Macaronis were infamous for their eccentric styles, often wearing make-up as the ladies did, and earrings. The name comes from the Macaroni Club, founded in 1760 by a group of young men who had made the Grand Tour of Europe, of which Italy was the high spot.


Ladies (and Macaronis) had a range of cosmetics at their disposal. White lead powder mixed with egg white could be used to give a fine, pale complexion, although ladies taking the waters at Bath were warned that ‘those who use white paste as a cosmetic are liable to have skins turn entirely yellow’ from the vapours of the springs. Rouge was made from lead paste and carmine. Lips were tinted with coloured plaster of Paris. Eyebrows were blacked with lead or with green vitriol and gum Arabic, although artificial eyebrows of mouse-skin were also available to be glued on. Unfortunately the heat of the ballroom sometimes caused them to slip. Small patches of black taffeta or velvet were also worn on the face.


Contrary to popular opinion, people did wash carefully. Although bathrooms were rare, bathtubs were not, and water was piped into the houses of the rich. Bedrooms were furnished with washstands, and soap was plentiful, with 63 soap factories in London (Pears famous transparent soap was created in 1789).

Lord Chesterfield, who wrote copious advice by letter to his illegitimate son Philip, wrote in 1750, ‘In your person you must be accurately clean, and your teeth, hands and nails should be superlatively so.’ He advised the daily cleaning of teeth with a sponge and tepid water. Nonetheless, it was common to lose teeth, and ladies might wear ‘plumpers’ of cork inside their cheeks to avoid the sunken cheeks that this caused. No woman would admit to wearing them, however, and they were sold under the counter.

Soot was used as a dentifrice, as was lemon juice mixed with burnt alum and salt. Mouth washes were used, made of wine, bramble leaves, cinnamon, cloves, orange peel. Gum lacquer, brunt alum and honey infused in hot ashes. Decayed teeth could be drilled with a hand-drill and filled with tin, lead or gold. Dentures of ivory, bones, or wood were available, and set with teeth of ivory, porcelain, or even real human teeth. The prototype of the modern toothbrush was invented in 1780 by William Addis.


We remember the 18th century as a time of ridiculously elaborate hairstyles, but in fact it was only after 1770 that ladies began to wear their hair high, bulking it out with pads of wool and false hair, or arranged it over a frame, adding ribbons, flowers and feathers. Contemporary cartoons show us exaggeratedly complex styles, but one anecdote is true: at the French court, it was briefly the fashion to wear a model ship in the hair, in celebration of a famous naval victory.

Powdered hair had been in fashion since 1715, and only went out of fashion in 1795 when William Pitt put a tax on it. It was initially used sparsely, but worn more thickly after about 1750. Probably it helped disguise any differences of colour between a lady’s own hair and her pads of false hair. It was made of starch, sometimes tinted with colouring, and applied over hair which had been oiled to help it stick.


Published in: on June 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tudor Codpiece

Tudor Codpiece Definition
What exactly was a codpiece and what was its purpose? The codpiece was originally an inverted triangular section of cloth sewn into the hose around a man’s groin which would be held closed by string ties, buttons, or other methods. The codpiece worn by the Tudors was padded and boned and became so large that it was used to carry small weapons or jewels hence the reference to genetalia of a man being referred to as the “family jewels”. The codpiece came into fashion during the late Middle Ages and came into prominence during the reign of Henry VIII and disappeared during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Clothing and Fashion – Reason for the Codpiece
The main garment worn during the Middle Ages was the doublet but as fashion dictated an extremely short doublet the use of a codpiece became necessary for the sake of modesty. Early hose were fitted to the leg  similar to modern tights but open at the crotch which resulted in the genitalia simply hanging loose under the doublet.  The origin of the codpiece was a small bag with a flap at the fork of the hose which was fastened by ties.

The Tudor Codpiece and King Henry VIII
The fashion and design of Codpieces gradually evolved to emphasize the male genitalia and were eventually padded and enlarged to astounding proportions. The codpiece became prominent during the reign of King Henry VIII who is often associated with the codpiece and this peculiar, over sized, item of clothing is featured in his portraits. Codpieces retained their practical origins and doubled as pockets.

“The codpiece was exaggerated in size, the bag was puffed and slashed, and even
ornamented with jeweled pins.” 

The Decline in the fashion of the Tudor Codpiece
When Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1558 and she dictated many of the fashions and the fashions of men became more feminized.  The codpiece became smaller, with less bombast (padding). The Tudor codpiece fashion slowly declined and completely disappeared by the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth in 1603.  The Tudor codpiece was replaced by a vertical opening which was concealed in folds of material.


Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 8:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

History of Pomanders

Throughout history, the importance of scent has never been denied. Mystical and powerful, scent was an offering, a force of attraction and a curse. The pomander, a ball filled with perfumes worn from the Middle Ages onward, was a form of protection against sickness and death.


The word “pomander” originates from the French “pomme d’ambre.” A common interpretation of this phrase is “apple of ambergris,” referring to the wax substance used as a base in pomander recipes. Others take the phrase to mean “apple of amber” or “golden apple,” as in the fragrant citrus fruits exchanged during holidays for good luck.


The pomander became popular during the Middle Ages when the black death and other ailments ran rampant. Sanitation during the era was lamentably lacking. The streets and even some homes were strewn with filth, bodily fluids and the discarded remnants of past meals. People thought that the cause of their problems lay in the resulting stench lingering about the city. The belief went that the pleasant scent of a pomander could repel the disease in the air.


Several recipes for pomanders survive from the era. To the base of ambergris, musk, civet, rose water, and other perfumes and spices were added. The mix would then be inserted into the pomander’s container. A pomander could be worn around the neck or waist. Many women attached them to their girdles.


Both men and women wore pomanders, most of whom hailed from the elite classes of society. Queen Elizabeth I is frequently depicted wearing one, as are other nobles and notables of the day. People took great pride in their pomanders. Simple pomanders were made of wood, while the most stunning examples were worked in silver or gold, studded with precious stones, and etched with intricate designs. Some pomanders were divided into sections, similar to an orange, into which its wearer would place several different scents.


As time wore on, the pomander began to take on the “golden apple” interpretation. By the 18th century, a pomander was more often than not an orange studded with cloves and other spices. These made for popular gifts during Christmas and New Years. Many people make this type of pomander today in order to scent their homes and clothing.


Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 8:02 pm  Comments (3)  

Picture of the Week 7

Prince Henry’s Book

The boy who would become King Henry VIII wrote “Thys boke is myne Prince Henry” in this copy of Cicero’s writings from 1502. Although the writing is undated, Henry would have been about eleven—then considered a fine age to study Cicero—when the book was new. Annotations and glosses in two hands, identified by some as the writing of Prince Henry and his tutor, the poet John Skelton, appear on other pages of the book as well.

Cicero and other classic Roman prose writers formed the crux of the sixteenth-century curriculum, and were almost certainly studied some decades later by young William Shakespeare in the village grammar school at Stratford-upon-Avon. (His opinion of the era’s dry, laborious instruction may be inferred from the description in As You Like It of “the whining schoolboy…creeping like snail unwillingly to school.”)

In their compositions, which were also in Latin, students were encouraged to aspire to Ciceronian purity of language. Cicero’s writings have left their mark to this day on the study of ethics, political thought, oratory, logic, and rhetoric, and his works remain a valuable source of historical information on Roman life and times.


Published in: on June 7, 2011 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Tudor Rose

The Tudor Rose
The dynasty of the Tudors was symbolised by the Tudor Rose which was the emblem of the Tudors and represented the fusion of the Lancastrian and Yorkist noble factions. This fusion was symbolised by the White rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster. An important emblem of the Tudors dynasty which marked the end of the devastating English civil war called the Wars of the Roses. This section covers the design and adoption of the Tudor Rose by the Tudors and where the emblems and designs can be found. A picture of the emblem is illustrated as follows:

The Creation of the Tudor Rose
The father of King Henry VIII was Henry Tudor (who became King Henry VII). Henry was a member of the House of Lancaster. England had entered a long period of Civil war called the War of the Roses between the two most powerful noble factions of England called the House of York and the House of Lancaster. A final Lancastrian rebellion rose against the Yorkist King Richard III following the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, who were the two young sons of King Edward IV. Henry VII defeated the Yorkist leader King Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth Field and claimed the throne of England becoming King Henry VII. The Dynasty of the Tudors was born, but it was shaky claim based on an illegitimate Plantagenet line. The Lancastrian King Henry VII therefore cemented his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, the Yorkist daughter of King Edward IV. The Houses of York and Lancaster therefore merged leading to the creation of the emblem called the Tudor Rose.

The Design of the Tudor Rose
The national flower of England is the rose which was adopted as England’s emblem during the time of the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485). The design took the white rose of York as the center of the flower, and the red rose of Lancaster as the outside edging. The design symbolised unity and mutual regard.

The Tudor Rose Emblem
The Tudor Rose emblem was used a badge, a distinctive device which is displayed as a mark of recognition by an individual or family and worn as a symbol of loyalty and allegiance. The emblem became part of the British heraldic tradition. The Tudor Rose Badge is still evident on the uniforms of the Yeomen Warders at the Tower of London.

The Tudor Rose of England
The Tudor Rose emblem can be found on many old buildings in England. Hampton Court Palace built by Thomas Wolsey and ‘acquired’ by King Henry VIII has many examples of the Tudor Rose. The most notable examples can be seen on Anne Boleyn’s Gate. The ceilings of many old English houses are also adorned by the emblem. Wherever it was feasible, a Tudor rose would be carved. A Tudor Rose was found carved on to a gun on the Mary Rose ship. The tradition and emblem are still used in modern-day England. Even the current 20p coin displays a Tudor Rose.


Published in: on June 7, 2011 at 8:27 pm  Leave a Comment