Why do We Kiss under the Mistletoe?

by Heather R. Darsie Oh, the romantic kiss under the mistletoe. The viridian, sturdy, parasitic mistletoe. Varieties of the plant are found all over the world, growing on trees and shrubs. The mistletoe eventually kills the branch of the host plant upon which it is preying, feeding on the host plant throughout the winter. Mistletoe is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “dung twig.” So how did … Continue reading Why do We Kiss under the Mistletoe?

Anna of Cleves and Sankt Nikolaustag

by Heather R. Darsie 6 December is Sankt Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas’ Day. It is a Roman Catholic holiday that is still celebrated in parts of Germany. St. Nikolaus goes by other nicknames, such as Pelznickel, Belsnickel, and Niglo. Named after the Catholic St. Nicholas, patron saint of children and sailors, this holiday traditionally signifies the beginning of the gift-giving season. Children place their shoes … Continue reading Anna of Cleves and Sankt Nikolaustag

The Meeting of Katharine of Aragon and Arthur Tudor

by Heather R. Darsie On 4 November 1501, a fifteen-year-old girl made her entrance into England to marry the fifteen-year-old prince of that kingdom. Their parents, especially the boy’s, hoped that the dynastic marriage would secure the future of their family on the throne. Much excitement surrounded the safe arrival of Katharine of Aragon from Spain to England. She and her husband-to-be, Arthur Tudor, were … Continue reading The Meeting of Katharine of Aragon and Arthur Tudor

Henry VIII Orders Medicine for Anna of Cleves

by Heather R. Darsie In the British Library, there is a collection of pharmaceutical recipes created by Henry VIII and four of his physicians. Henry and his doctors seemed to prefer herbal remedies for a lot of the recipes. It is believed that the manuscript was compiled between late 1540 and 1545. Important to dating the manuscript, there is a recipe for a plaster to … Continue reading Henry VIII Orders Medicine for Anna of Cleves

The Gregorian Calendar is Adopted in 1582

by Heather R. Darsie On 15 October 1582, the Gregorian calendar was decreed via papal bull. Pope Gregory XIII, under the bull Inter gravissimas or Of Great Importance, corrected calculation of a year from 365.25 days in the Julian calendar to 365.2422 days in Gregorian. Also, the Julian calendar had 100 leap days over 400 years, whereas the proposed Gregorian would have only 97. Most centennial … Continue reading The Gregorian Calendar is Adopted in 1582

Margaret Douglas, Tudor Poetess & Henry VIII’s Niece

by Heather R. Darsie On 7 or 8 October 1515, Margaret Douglas was born to Margaret Tudor and Margaret Tudor’s second husband, Archibald Douglas. Margaret Douglas’ mother fled into England over trouble between Margaret’s half-brother James V of Scotland and Margaret’s father Archibald. Margaret was born at Harbottle Castle in Northumbria. She joined Cardinal Wolsey’s household around 1528, when she was roughly twelve years old. … Continue reading Margaret Douglas, Tudor Poetess & Henry VIII’s Niece

The Six Fiancées of Charles V

by Heather R. Darsie Charles von Habsburg, the eldest son of Philip von Habsburg and Juana de Trastámara, was quite the prize groom in the early 16th century. Charles was born 24 February 1500 at the Prinsenhof in Ghent, Flanders, which is now part of modern Belgium. His parents, better known as Philip the Handsome and Juana the Mad, were their parents’ heirs, setting up … Continue reading The Six Fiancées of Charles V

Elizabeth I and the Plimpton Sieve Portrait

by Heather R. Darsie In 1579, when Elizabeth was around forty-five-or forty-six years old, a portrait of her holding a sieve was painted by George Gower. It is believed that Gower was born around 1540, but his early life is obscure. Along with the 1579 portrait of Elizabeth, Gower created a self-portrait. In his self-portrait, Gower emphasizes the importance of his art by having the … Continue reading Elizabeth I and the Plimpton Sieve Portrait

The Habsburg Sisters, Part IV: Catherine von Habsburg, Queen Consort of Portugal

by Heather R. Darsie Most people interested in Tudor history are familiar with names like Charles V, Francis I, or even Christina of Denmark. Charles’ mother Juana of Castile might sound familiar. But what of Juana’s four daughters, Charles V’s sisters? Who were they? Why were they important? How did they fulfill the goals of Charles and his brother Ferdinand in the early 16th century? This article will provide an … Continue reading The Habsburg Sisters, Part IV: Catherine von Habsburg, Queen Consort of Portugal

Henry VIII Marries Catherine Parr

Anna of Cleves’ marriage to Henry VIII ended in July 1540, scarcely six months after their official wedding took place. Swiftly after that, Henry married the very young Katheryn Howard. During Katheryn’s fall from grace, there was strong speculation that Henry would take back Anna. Dignitaries from Cleves actively tried to convince Henry to remarry Anna in early 1542. Henry refused, and Parliament would not … Continue reading Henry VIII Marries Catherine Parr