Friday, August 1, 2014

Read of the Week

I have been doing quite a bit of reading since the last time I shared my thoughts with you. I'll start with one of the best books I have read lately: The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens who Made England by Dan Jones is a great addition to any British historian's library. I have been trying to expand my general knowledge about high medieval England and this book gave great insights into the rise of the Plantagenet family including the root of their name, family trees and vignettes that gave you very detailed looks into the life of these spectacular rulers. It is a great survey book of the Plantagenet reign. That being said, it would have been nice if the author had included some social history. After all, he claims, the Plantagenets 'made England' but failed to show how their actions affected every day common English people. As far as gender emphasis is concerned, Jones was careful to weigh in on how women impacted the rise of the English nation state including Eleanor of Aquitaine and Matilda, some of the most fascinating, powerful females in English history.

The book covered nearly 400 years of history and so was understandably sparse in some areas, but I had a bit of a problem with the author ending his narrative with the deposition of Richard II when in fact that Plantagenet line continued until the brutal death of Richard III as Bosworth and the rise of the Tudors.

In addition to being incredibly informational, the book was very well written. It engaged the reader the entire length of the narrative and was well cited. The books mixes hard facts with engaging stories and makes for a fun, rather quick read. I suggest grabbing this affordable volume from your local book store today!

Le Temps Viendra

Confession: My life is crazy and my blog has not remained a priority...

I have been largely absent from blogging for a few months. In that time I: completed my first year of my M.A. in history, chose my thesis topic and committee and scheduled a trip to England to relax and research. I am planning for this blog to expand to include my personal stories of research struggles and keep you all up to date on my degree progress. Thank you for continuing to support Confessions as my life gets busy and my blogging time decreases.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Trial of Anne Boleyn

Today marks the 478th anniversary of the trial of Anne Boleyn. I have written quite extensively about today's nuanced, obviously pre-decided outcome and Anne's spectacular defense of herself. Read all about it here!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On This Day in Tudor History

On this day in Tudor History 1536 Cromwell continued his propaganda campaign against Anne Boleyn when he wrote to Bishop Stephen Gardiner saying:
"The Queen's incontinent living was so rank and common that the ladies of her privy chamber could not conceal it. It came to the ears of some of the Council, who told his majesty, although with great fear, as the case enforced. Certain persons of the privy chamber and other of her side were examined, and the matter appeared so evident that, besides that crime, "there brake out a certain conspiracy of the King's death, which extended so far that all we that had the examination of it quaked as the danger his Grace was in, and on our knees gave him laid and praise that he had preserved him so long from it" Certain men were committed to the tower, viz., Marks and Norris and the Queen's brother; then she herself was apprehended and committed to the same place; after her Sir Fras. Weston and Wm. Brereton. Norris, Weston, Brereton, and Marks are already condemned to death, having been arraigned at Westminster on Friday last. The Queen and her brother are to be arraigned tomorrow, and will undoubtedly go the same way...
I write no particularities, the things be so abominable that I think the like was never heard...."
Cromwell had already crafted opinion against Anne in England and his aim in writing to Gardiner was to spread these vile tales to France where the Bishop was serving as an ambassador. Notice how he essentially assures Gardiner that Anne and George will be condemned to death; not exactly a fair trial by peers eh? Stay tuned this week as we continue to count down the events leading up to Anne's execution.

**You can also read about the lives of Anne's accused lovers here!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

John Skip's Passion Sunday Sermon

Happy (very belated, as I forgot to post this) Passion Sunday to all of my fellow Christians! Today marks a very important day in the fall of Anne Boleyn. On Passion Sunday 1536 Anne's personal almoner, John Skip, preached a controversial sermon on the stories of the Old Testament of Esther, Nebuchadnezzar and Solomon. Skip's sermon portrayed Henry VIII as both Ahasuerus who was being led astray by his wicked and scheming advisor Haman, and as Solomon who lost his righteousness by choosing whores over his legitimate wife Naamah.
The Letters and Papers contain a primary source account of the sermon, one that shocked all of those listening:

"A sermon preached by My. Skyppe<sic>, in the King's chapel, upon Passion Sunday, in the year of Our Lord 1536, on the text Quis ex vobis arguet me de peccato [which of you convinceth me of sin?] defending the clergy from the defamers and from the immoderate zeal of men in holding up to public reprobation the faults of any single clergyman as if it were the fault of all. He insisted upon the example of Ahasuerus, who was moved by a wicked minister to destroy the Jews. He urged that a King's councillor ought to take good heed what advice he gave in altering ancient things, and that no people wished to take away the ceremonies of the Church, such as holy water, holy bread etc. That alternations ought not to be made except in cases of necessity....

The preacher insisted on the strict following of God's Word: That Christ chose ignorant followers, to teach men that nobility standeth not in worth but grace; and he cited the example of Solomon to show that he lost his true nobility towards the end of his life by taking new wives and concubines. He insisted on the need of a King being wise in himself, and resisting evil councillors who tempted him to ignoble actions, by the history of Rehoboam; observing that if a stranger visited this realm, and saw those who were called noble, he would conceive that all true nobility was banished from England. He warned them against rebuking the clergy, even if they were sinful, as rebukers were often rebuked, like Nebuchadnezzar, who was God's instrument to punish the Jews, but was damned for his labour. Against evil councilors who suggested alternation in established customer, he instanced the history of Haman and Ahasuerus. He then explained and defended the ancient ceremonies of the Church...."

The sermon, obviously approved by Anne, served to solidify her reformist views and to further break down her tenuous relationship with Thomas Cromwell. It was a thinly veiled threat, that assured all listening that she would prevail and condemned Jane Seymour, whom the King was known to be courting, as a whore. Skip was fined for his actions and was accused of "...preaching seditious doctrines on these words, and slandering the King's highness, his counselors, his lords and nobles, and his whole parliament."

**Excerpts taken from the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII and The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives.