10 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About the Tudors

A portrait of Anne in the 1540s by Bartholomäus Bruyn the elder. Recent x-rays have revealed a longer nose under the top layer of paint. Now at St. John's College Oxford (Wikipedia)

A portrait of Anne in the 1540s by Bartholomäus Bruyn the elder. Recent x-rays have revealed a longer nose under the top layer of paint. Now at St. John’s College Oxford (Wikipedia)

By Roland Hui

Did you know that…

Actress Elizabeth Taylor owned a jewel belonging to Mary I? The late actress was given the pearl ‘La Peregrina’ by her then husband Richard Burton. The pearl can be seen in many portraits of Mary where she wears it suspended from a diamond brooch.

Mary Queen of Scots had a thing for tall men? When she first laid eyes on her second husband Henry Stewart (later Lord Darnley), she gushed how he was ‘the properest and best proportioned long man that she had ever seen.’

Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey narrowly avoided being burnt to death? At the trials of the two ladies, both were condemned to be burned or beheaded at the sovereign’s pleasure. Mercifully, Henry VIII and Mary I allowed them the ‘kinder’ death of decapitation.

Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry VIII hoped to be his sixth? After her successor Katheryn Howard was executed for adultery, Anne hoped that the King would remarry her. However, she received a definite ‘no’. Bitterly, she would later grumble how Henry’s new wife Katharine Parr was not as beautiful as herself.

Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife, hated French fashion? When she became Queen, her ladies were banned from wearing French styled clothes. Jane thought they were too racy. Instead, her maids-of-honour had to adopt more sedate English dress.

Edward VI was very straitlaced even from a young age? When he was 8, he wrote to his stepmother, Queen Katharine Parr, asking her to warn his stepsister Princess Mary ‘to attend no longer to foreign dances and merriments which do not become a Christian Princess.’

Elizabeth I was competitive, to say the least? When she asked the Scottish ambassador who was taller – she or her cousin Mary Queen of Scots – and received the reply that it was Mary, Elizabeth remarked that Mary was too tall then and that she was the right height.

Henry VIII might have had seven wives? His sixth Katharine Parr was nearly arrested for heresy, and even during their marriage, there were rumours that the King was attracted to Katherine Willoughby, the attractive young widow of the Duke of Suffolk.

Henry VII was a big believer in astrology? He had horoscopes of his family done and the one for his wife Elizabeth of York predicted that she would live to 80. Unfortunately, she died at the age of 37, coincidentally on her birthday.

Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first Queen, was destitute during her early years in England? After the death of her first husband Prince Arthur, she was neglected by both her father King Ferdinand of Spain and by her father-in-law Henry VII. Katherine was forced to sell her jewels to put food on her table. Relief came when King Henry died, and she married his son Henry VIII.

Roland Hui received his degree in Art History from Concordia University in Canada. After completing his studies, he went on to work in Interpretive Media for California State Parks, The U.S. Forest Service, and The National Park Service. Roland has written for Renaissance Magazine and for Tudor Life Magazine. He blogs about 16th-century English art and personalities at Tudor Faces at: tudorfaces.blogspot.com.

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