Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England

by Heather R. Darsie Eleanor Ramnulfid of Aquitaine, born circa 1122, was a pretty, wealthy teenager when she married her first husband. No confirmed likenesses of Eleanor exist, and it is not known what she looked like other than that Eleanor was a beauty with gorgeous eyes. Eleanor’s father died when she was young, leaving her the vast, rich territory of Aquitaine in southern France. She was … Continue reading Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England

Is Today Really Anna of Cleves’ Birthday?

by Heather R. Darsie Tradition has held for the last couple hundred years or so that Anna of Cleves, fourth wife to Henry VIII of England, was born 22 September 1515. No proof has ever been put forward to support that date. However,  primary source exists which shows Anna’s date of birth as 28 June 1515, making her exactly twenty-four years younger than Henry VIII. … Continue reading Is Today Really Anna of Cleves’ Birthday?

Anne Boleyn: The Difference of 1,100 Days

By Heather R. Darsie On 15 May 1536, Anne Boleyn was put on trial for her alleged crimes against Henry VIII. Three years earlier, a roughly five-months pregnant Anne and her husband Henry were learning that things were leaning in favor of their marriage. Henry and Anne secretly wed around 14 November 1532 in Dover, then officially secretly wed (confusing, I know) in January 1533 … Continue reading Anne Boleyn: The Difference of 1,100 Days

Jeanne d’Albret

by Heather R. Darsie Please note that this article first appeared here. Jeanne d’Albret was born on 16 November 1528 to Marguerite d’Angoulême and Henri II of Navarre at the Parisian Saint Germain-en-Laye palace. Henri was Marguerite’s second husband. Marguerite had two children with Henri, but only Jeanne survived. Jeanne was the niece of the French king, Francois I, who dearly loved his elder sister Marguerite. … Continue reading Jeanne d’Albret

Juana of Castile and Her Madness

by Heather R. Darsie Juana la Loca, or Joanna the Mad, was the elder sister of Catherine of Aragon and sister-in-law to Henry VIII of England. Juana was born on 6 November 1479, a daughter of the formidable Isabella of Castile and Isabella’s husband Ferdinand of Aragon. Juana was known during her lifetime as Juana of Castile.  Juana married Philip von Habsburg, known as the … Continue reading Juana of Castile and Her Madness

Death of a Matriarch: Eleonore Helena of Portugal

by Heather R. Darsie On 3 September 1467, Empress Eleonore Helena passed away. Born on 18 September 1434 as Eleonore d’Aviz of Portugal, she was not quite thirty-three years old when she died. Eleonore was one of nine children, the sixth born overall, and one of five daughters. Two brothers and two sisters survived to adulthood along with Eleonore. Eleonore was the eldest surviving daughter, … Continue reading Death of a Matriarch: Eleonore Helena of Portugal

Mary, Queen of Scots: What a Difference Two Years Can Make

by Heather R. Darsie Mary, Queen of Scots returned to Scotland on 19 August 1561. She was not quite nineteen years old, and already a widow. Speculation swirled around whom the young Scottish queen with a claim to the English throne would wed. Mary, Queen of Scots in White Mourning after the Queens of France, after Francois Clouet, c. 1560. Via Wikimedia Commons. Mary’s next … Continue reading Mary, Queen of Scots: What a Difference Two Years Can Make

Anna of Cleves Breaks the News to Wilhelm

by Heather R. Darsie   On 21 July 1540, Anna of Cleves was no longer allowed to hide the truth from her brother Wilhelm about her marriage’s end. Henry had grown impatient waiting for Anna to write her family. Anna waited as long as she could, hoping that Henry would either directly send a letter to Duke Wilhelm in Cleves, or that one of Henry’s … Continue reading Anna of Cleves Breaks the News to Wilhelm

Anna of Cleves Learns her Marriage is Annulled

by Heather R. Darsie On 9 July 1540 while she was at Richmond, Anna was told that her marriage to Henry VIII was unlawful. Her marriage annulled, Anna was no longer Queen Consort of England. “Anna reportedly wailed and screamed when Henry’s representatives came to deliver the news of the annulment. A few days before, Henry covered his tracks by ordering…[for] ‘counsel learned in those … Continue reading Anna of Cleves Learns her Marriage is Annulled

Gloriana’s Rainbow: Elizabeth I and the Rainbow Portrait

by Heather R. Darsie One of the most iconic images of Elizabeth I in full array as Gloriana, the Virgin Empress of the Seas, is the Rainbow Portrait, painted around 1600. Elizabeth turned 67 years old in 1600. She became Queen of England in 1558, and the weight of her responsibilities was surely showing on her face by this point. Elizabeth was a master of … Continue reading Gloriana’s Rainbow: Elizabeth I and the Rainbow Portrait