The Spanish Armada

Queen Mary I

Queen Mary I

Mary I married Prince Philip of Spain in 1554 at Winchester Cathedral.  Once crowned Queen of England, Mary burned many Protestants at the stake on charges of heresy, and restored Catholicism across England.

Philip spent little time in England, during their four years of marriage, for in 1556; he became King of Spain, and always considered himself King of England, until Mary’s death in 1558.

On the 17th November 1558, Elizabeth ascended to Queen of England, upon the death of Mary I, and restored the Protestant faith across her kingdom.

So it was, Queen Elizabeth I of England and King Philip of Spain, never saw eye to eye with each other.  Things got worse in 1585, when Elizabeth sent aid to Dutch Protestants, fighting for Independence from Spanish rule.

Queen Elizabeth I.jpg

Queen Elizabeth I

Philip retaliated, and pushed forward plots to murder Queen Elizabeth I and replace her, with Mary, Queen of Scots, of Catholic faith … but these attempts failed.

In 1586, Mary, Queen of Scots was brought to trial on charges of treason, plotting against the life of Queen Elizabeth, and found guilty.

King Philip of Spain received the support of the Pope in 1586, for an invasion of England, and the removal of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, from the throne.

NPG 1766,Mary, Queen of Scots,by Unknown artist

Mary Queen of Scots

The final straw came, when Elizabeth signed the death warrant for Mary, Queen of Scots, to be executed, on charges of treason, notably plotting against the life of Elizabeth.  On the 8th February 1587, Mary was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle.

News reached the ears of Francis Drake, that the Spanish port of Cadiz was amassing ships and supplies, for an attack upon England.

Elizabeth sent Drake on a pre-emptive strike, to buy time for England.  In April of 1587, Drake rallied other ships for a raid, launching a surprise attack on Cadiz; destroying 24 Spanish ships and supplies.

By 1588, the Spanish had rebuilt their fleet, and the word was, they would sail first to the Netherlands to collect soldiers, and then attack London in force.

The English fleet was commanded by Lord Charles Howard and split into three forces, located at; Plymouth, Kent and Tilbury.

The Marquis de Santa Cruz, the intended choice to command the Spanish Armada, died in February 1588, to be replaced by the Duke of Medina Sidonia, but he lacked military and naval experience.

In July of 1588, 130 Spanish warships departed Lisbon, heading for Calais, and were first sighted on the 29th July, off the coast of Cornwall.  Southern coastal ports were notified, by fire beacons.

Drake playing bowls

Francis Drake Playing Bowls

According to legend, Francis Drake chose to finish his game of bowls, before setting sail from Plymouth, to engage the Spanish Armada.

Spanish Armada

Close Quarter Exchanges

Initially the English attempted to disable Spanish warships, with long range cannon fire, which only inflicted minor damage.  So they opted for repeated broadsides at close quarters, getting in and out quickly, resulting in many Spanish ships sunk.

Spanish Armada Fire Ships

English Fire Ships attack Spanish Ships

On the night of the 7th August 1588, eight fire ships, packed with explosives were pushed towards the Spanish fleet anchored between Dunkirk and Calais.  On the 8th August, English gunners crippled many Spanish ships as they tried to make their escape.

Fierce storms pushed remnants of the Spanish fleet northwards, and round the coast of Scotland.  King Philip’s attack upon England, and quest to remove Elizabeth from the throne, ended in disaster.

Both the Spanish and English ships flew flags displaying the Red Cross on white background.  The Spanish believed the Armada was a crusade to remove a heretic queen, and the English, because the cross of St.George had become England’s national emblem.

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Royal Scandal: Rules of Marriage

Lady Mary Grey

Lady Mary Grey

She crossed the class divide, and married below her status.  Lady Mary Grey, this woman of the Royal household, she caused a scandal in Tudor England.

Lady Mary Grey, daughter of Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, and maid of honour to her cousin Queen Elizabeth.

She knew she would never be in line of succession to the English throne, believing rules about marriage did not apply to her.

She married Thomas Keyes, Sergeant in charge of palace security, a widower with several children, without the Queen’s permission in July of 1565.

Queen Elizabeth, hearing of the wedding had Thomas Keyes arrested and thrown into prison, and Mary placed under house arrest… never the two would meet again.

In 1569, Keyes was released from Fleet Prison, and returned to Kent, where he died a few months later.

Mary was held under house arrest by relatives, until the Queen allowed her back to Court in the latter months of 1577, she tasted freedom for a few months, before she passed away in 1578.

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My Life: Catherine Parr

Katherine ParrCatherine Parr was born in 1512, at Blackfriars in London.  In 1529 she marries Sir Edward Borough and is widowed in 1533, then in 1534 marries John Neville, Lord Latimer, and is widowed in 1543.

She starts a relationship with Thomas Seymour in 1543, but this was put on hold, as Henry VIII caught her eye.  On the 12th July 1543, Henry VIII and Catherine Parr were duly married.

From July to December of 1544, Queen Catherine acted as Regent whilst Henry waged war with France.

In 1545, Queen Catherine publishes her book; “Prayers and Meditations.”

On the 24th May 1546, Catherine’s friend, Anne Askew is arrested, tortured and executed for her beliefs.

On the 28th January 1547, after a short marriage, King Henry VIII dies.

In the May of 1547, Catherine Parr and Thomas Seymour marry, and in the September she publishes her book; “Lamentations of a Sinner.”

From 1547 to 1548 Catherine and Thomas have Lady Elizabeth, the Future Queen of England, and Lady Jane Grey residing at Sudeley Castle.

On the 30th August 1548, the Dowager Queen Catherine gives birth to a daughter; Lady Mary Seymour.

On the 5th September 1548, the Dowager, Queen Catherine Parr died, and was buried in the chapel of Sudeley Castle.

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My Life: Katherine Howard

Kathryn HowardKatherine Howard was born in 1521 to parents Edmund Howard and Jocasta Culpepper.  This young and flirtatious woman, attracted men, and in 1553 had an affair with her music teacher, Henry Mannox, then again in 1536 with Francis Dereham.

In 1539, she became lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves, and soon after became the mistress of Henry VIII.

Following Henry’s and Anne’s divorce on the 9th July 1540, Henry VIII and Katherine Howard, daughter of Edmund Howard and cousin of Anne Boleyn, were married on the 28th July 1540.

It didn’t take long for Katherine to get bored; she had married an old man, which led to her seeking out younger friends at court.  Rumours of adultery circulated around court, and in the summer of 1541, Thomas Cranmer investigates.

In November of 1541, Thomas Cranmer informs his King of his findings, that his Queen had other relationships before their marriage, and since becoming Queen, had taken into her service, one Francis Dereham a former lover.

On the 22nd November 1541, Katherine was stripped of her position as Queen of England, arrested and interrogated, then sent to Syon Abbey.

On the 10th December 1541, her lover Francis Dereham was hung, drawn and quartered.

On the 10th February 1542, Charles Brandon the 1st Duke of Suffolk escorts Katherine Howard former Queen of England to the Tower of London, along the river thames, flanked by armed guards.  On Monday 13th February, she is beheaded on Tower Green, Tower of London.

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My Life: Anne of Cleves

Anne of CleavesAnne of Cleves was born on the 22nd September 1515 at Dusseldorf, Duchy of Cleves to parents; John, the Duke of Cleves and Marie von Julich.

Henry never met his new wife, until she arrived in England, all he had to go on, was the portrait sent to him, for his approval, which pleased him.

In 1539, the marriage treaty was arranged, and Anne made the trip to Rochester, England and her marriage.

Henry walked unannounced into the chambers of Anne of Cleves, she not knowing him, did not acknowledge or curtsy to him, he expected to be acknowledged, and took an instant dislike to her.

On the 6th January 1540, the couple were married, and by the 9th July an annulment of the marriage was granted, on grounds of non-consummation.

Anne of Cleves was reluctant to return to her family home, and be known as a failure.  She stayed at Hever Castle for the rest of her life.

Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of King Henry VIII, was educated in domestic skills.  Henry had expected an intellectual wife, with which to converse with… she could not compete.  Henry had a love of music, books and cards; she had no interest in these.

The marriage was a failure from the start, and a relief to both, when it was over.

Anne’s latter years, was one of an independent woman, visiting court as an honoured guest, and her love for ale and gambling.

Anne of Cleaves, died on the 17th July 1557 at Chelsea in London, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

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My Life: Jane Seymour

Jane SeymourJane Seymour, believed to have been born in 1508/09 at Wolf Hall, Wiltshire, and in 1523, became one of the ladies-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon.

In 1533, she was moved to lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn.

On the 10th September 1535, Henry VIII was a guest, at the home of John Seymour at Wolf Hall, and here he would have met the young Jane Seymour, and maybe she made a lasting impression on him.  Then in November Henry started courting Jane.

In January of 1536, Anne Boleyn sees a jewel hanging from Jane’s neck, and pulls it off, discovering it contained a likeness of the King.  Days later Jane is discovered by Anne, sitting upon the king’s knee, and accepting his advances.

On the 29th January Anne Boleyn has a still born child, and Catherine of Aragon is buried at Peterborough Cathedral.  Rumours spread that the King was seeking a new wife, one who could give him a son and heir.

In the March, Henry sent Jane Seymour a letter along with a purse of sovereigns.  The letter implied a summons to the King’s bed… Jane returned the sovereigns; her price was one of marriage.

Thomas Cromwell and the Queen had fallen out with each other, and it wasn’t long before Cromwell saw her, as a threat.

In the April, Edward Seymour, Jane’s brother along with his wife, moved into rooms once used by Cromwell.  These rooms contained a secret passage, leading to the King’s apartments, so Henry and Jane could meet in private.

On the 2nd May Anne Boleyn is arrested on charges of treason, brought to trial on the 15th, and found guilty along with fellow conspirators, and executed on the 19th at Tower Green.

On the night of Anne’s execution, Henry travelled up river to Hampton Court, where he met with Jane.  On the very next day, the 20th Jane was conveyed from Chelsea to the King’s lodgings by river, where the pair were betrothed, and married on the 30th May, and Queen Consort of England on the 4th June.

In January of 1537, she rode on horseback with Henry to Greenwich Palace, across the frozen River Thames.

In the spring, Jane announces to Henry, she is with child, as Henry hopes it be a son and heir.

On the 12th October, following a difficult labour, Jane gives birth to a son and heir; Prince Edward, who is christened on the 15th.

On the 24th October 1537, Jane Seymour Queen Consort of England, died at Hampton Court Palace, and buried at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on the 12th November.

Jane Seymour was the only one of King Henry VIII’s six wives to have a Royal Funeral, and buried alongside her husband.

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My Life: Anne Boleyn

Anne BoleynMy name is Anne Boleyn, and I was born in 1501 to parents: Sir Thomas Boleyn, who would become Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde and Lady Elizabeth Howard at Blickling Hall in Norfolk.

Much of my early years, I lived within the house of Louis XII of France, who was married to King Henry VIII’s sister Mary.  Upon the death of Louis, I remained in France, becoming a lady in attendance to Claude, the new French Queen, for the next six years.

Whilst my sister Mary Boleyn already in attendance to the French Queen, but when Louis XII died, returned to England with Mary Tudor.

In 1521, I returned to England, and took up the position as maid of honour to Katherine of Aragon, wife of Henry VIII, as arrangements were being made for my marriage to the heir of Ormonde, sadly that marriage never took place.

On the rebound, took up with Henry Percy, but Cardinal Wolsey put a stop to our romance; can’t a girl have any fun.  I went on to make a close friend of Sir Thomas Wyatt the poet, at a time when he and his wife were separated.

In 1526, I had a secret affair with King Henry VIII, as my sister had done, many years earlier.  I told him, if he wanted more of me, I would no longer be his mistress; I wanted his hand in marriage and the title of Queen.  It was that or nothing.

In 1527, Henry my Henry started down the long road, to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled … then I would become his new wife and Queen.

In 1528 I was permitted to attend court in my own right, gaining favour and hatred among some members of court, based on my suggestions of religious reforms.

Henry proved to be head over heels in love with me, and it was plain to see, as he lavished me with fine clothes and jewellery.  I knew this was done to humour me, as the legal wrangling’s continued in his quest for annulment from Catherine.

On the 1st September 1532, Henry VIII made me the Marquess of Pembroke, and in October I attended meetings between Henry and the French King at Calais.

Although I had resisted Henry romantic requests, how could I say no to my king, and in December of 1532, I told him I was with child.  On the 25th January 1533 we were secretly married.

On the 23rd May the marriage between Henry and Catherine was officially proclaimed as invalid by the Archbishop.  For Henry had broken his ties with the Catholic Church by passing an Act of Supremacy, declaring himself the head of the “Church of England” which so outraged the Pope.

On the 1st June 1533, I was crowned Queen of England by the then Archbishop of Canterbury; Thomas Cranmer at Westminster Abbey.

On the 7th September 1533, Princess Elizabeth was born, not the son he desired, his future heir.  I was pregnant in January 1534 and again in 1535, but neither child survived.

I could see it in his eyes, he was not pleased, no son, no heir, and I wondered how long it would be before I was to be replaced.

On the 30th April 1536, my friend of many years Mark Smeaton was arrested and tortured.  Then Sir Henry Norris was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, then my own brother George Boleyn; Lord Rochford was arrested.

Fear ran through my veins, wondering when they would come for me.  On the 2nd May 1536, I was arrested and charged with adultery, incest and plotting to murder my husband … and sent to the Tower.

It didn’t stop there, Sir Francis Weston and William Bereton were arrested and charged with adultery, and found guilty on 12th May 1536.  For their supposed crime they were hanged at Tyburn, cut down whilst barely alive; disembowelled and quartered.

On the 15th May 1536, myself and my brother George were put on trial at the Great Hall in the Tower of London … found guilty on trumped up charges of incest, witchcraft, adultery and conspiracy against the King.

On the 17th May 1536 George was executed on Tower Hill and on the 19th May 1536, I was executed.

The bodily remains and head of Anne Boleyn were placed in an arrow chest, and buried in the Chapel of St.Peter ad Vincula adjoining Tower Green.

In 1864, a sentry at the Tower of London challenged a headless figure, believed to have been Anne Boleyn, and his bayonet passed right through her; the sentry fainted in shock.

At another time, the Captain of the Guard, observed a light source radiating from the locked Chapel Royal in the White Tower.  He peered down into the chapel, witnessing a procession, with Anne Boleyn at the head.

There have been many sightings of Anne Boleyn in the vicinity of the White Tower and the Chapel of St.Peter ad Vincula, within the walls of the Tower of London … her final resting place.

Anne Boleyn’s ghost, has been seen dressed in white, carrying her severed head and arriving by coach, driven by headless horsemen and headless horses to Blickling Hall on the anniversary of her execution: 19th May each and every year.

Her ghost is said to glide around the halls and rooms of Blickling Hall by night and fade by daybreak.

Her ghost also appears at Hever Castle each and every Christmas Eve, drifting across the gardens.