Tudors

School Tudor Day
A School Tudor visit will include a presentation that is normally centered around the social structure of Tudor society. We explain how the rich needed the poor and vice-versa and will bring a massive collection of amazing Tudor artifacts along to your school!

Typically in a Tudor workshop we arrive in costume and bring a huge array of Tudor age resources including period clothes for “dressing up”, armour, weapons, a full sized matchlock musket, everyday items, jewellery etc.  All the resources can be individually handled by the students.  There will be enough items to fill seven or eight tables!

Activities include wool spinning, writing with quill pens, brass rubbing, trying medieval toys and coin striking – we bring authentically made coin dies and every  pupil can strike a coin of Henry VIII which they can keep.

All aspects of Tudor society are touched upon from the lord of the manor house to the servants. We will explain how good king Hal “cheated” his people by de-valuing the currency!

The sessions can last anywhere between 45 minutes and two hours. If required, the teacher can take a class photograph with each pupil either holding an object or wearing a costume!

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Anne Boleyn – Guilty or Innocent?

When Anne Boleyn was arrested in May 1536, it came as much of a shock to her as it did to the rest of England. Although she surely suspected something was awry – her husband, Henry VIII, had been avoiding her – she could not have imagined it was an investigation into her alleged infidelities.

Examining Tudor Artifacts
Examining Tudor Artifacts

Unfortunately for Anne, however, the man behind the investigations was as fiercely determined to prove her guilt as she was to deny it. Thomas Cromwell, Henry’s chief minister, was a master of intrigue and had been at odds with Anne for some time. It is not certain whether he took it on himself to investigate her, or whether it was Henry’s idea.

The notion that Anne was framed is entrenched in popular opinion. Henry was deeply in love with his latest mistress, Jane Seymour, and may have wanted to remove Anne so he could marry Jane. He knew this would not be difficult because Anne was regarded by much of England as a harlot who had schemed to remove Henry’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon.

Young Tudor Squires in Training?
Young Tudor Squires in Training?

It seems logical in hindsight, then, that getting rid of Anne was imperative, and that the allegations against her did not have to be completely true. Or so goes the theory. But what if they were true? What if Anne’s famously flirtatious manner and saucy tongue had led to liaisons with some of the young men at her court?

An account not often heard is that of Elizabeth Browne, countess of Worcester, one of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting. It was Elizabeth’s indiscreet gossip to her brother about Anne’s infidelities that led to the investigation against her. Why would one of Anne’s closest confidants lie to her brother about the Queen sleeping around?

Although torture often changed people’s minds about many things in medieval England, it is unlikely every allegation against Anne was a result of someone close to her being tortured into giving the ‘right’ answer.

An elderly woman named only as Margaret, for instance, admitted that she had led the handsome young musician Mark Smeaton into Anne’s bed chamber. It was said that Margaret had been tortured into surrendering this information but she did leave a remarkably detailed – if factually questionable – account of what happened.

Indeed, Smeaton himself confessed to having slept with Anne, but admittedly he too was said to have been tortured, at Thomas Cromwell’s house.

No account questioning Anne’s innocence would be balanced without adding that she always strongly denied any form of sexual misconduct. So, too, did all her alleged lovers, apart from Smeaton. The charge that she had slept with her brother, George, was seen as especially loathsome and difficult to believe.

Peter Balanck 2014

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