Monday, March 3, 2014

Reader Questions

Q: I recently finished reading a book on Henry VII. Did he and Elizabeth of York have a poor marriage?
A: Good question, it was definitely not a love match but a marriage of political expedience. Their marriage attempted to unite the warring houses of York and Lancaster. We do not know a lot about their marriage but they produced children and seemed to live in relative peace. When Elizabeth died on her 37th birthday Henry VII was deeply saddened. I think it is safe to assume that despite their arranged marriage Henry and Elizabeth grew to love each other.

Q: Was Thomas Cromwell related to Oliver Cromwell?
A: Yes, though not directly. Oliver was the great-great grandson of Thomas' sister Katherine. When Katherine married Morgan Williams they took the surname Cromwell because of it's prominence.

Q: Is there any evidence that Elizabeth I was hermaphrodite?
A: Absolutely not, the theory comes from a scientist Robert Bakan in the 1980s when he asserted that Elizabeth had testicular feminization. He used evidence such as her long hands, height and slimness to support his theory. A simple examination of the descriptions of Anne Boleyn gives us evidence that long hands and slimness were probably maternally genetic and Henry VIII was a very tall man at over 6ft tall when most men were only about 5'8 so Elizabeth undoubtedly inherited her height from the Tudors. The defect he believes she had is genetic and passed on from the mother. An examination of the women in Elizabeth's family show no evidence of this mutation. It is, in my opinion, an attempt to undermine Elizabeth's reputation as a strong female leader who was many years ahead of her court and their established gender norms.

Q: Can you recommend a good Mary I biography?
A: Mary I: England's Catholic Queen by John Edwards is good as is The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter.

Q: What happened to Perkin Warbeck?
A: He was hanged in 1499 after an attempted escape from the Tower with Edward, Earl of Warwick. For more information on Perkin's life and death check out the book The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy by Ian Arthurson.

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