Happy Birthday, Anna of Cleves and Henry VIII!

by Heather R. Darsie On this day of 28 June in 1515, a little baby girl was born in the Holy Roman Empire whose life would be dramatically shaped by international politics. The baby was christened, “Anna,” after her paternal aunt. “Anna” was a family name on her maternal side, as well. Anna of Cleves’ great-grandmother through Maria of Juelich-Berg was Anna of Saxony. Anna … Continue reading Happy Birthday, Anna of Cleves and Henry VIII!

The Habsburg Sisters, Part I: Eleonore von Habsburg, Queen Consort of Portugal and France

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 … Continue reading The Habsburg Sisters, Part I: Eleonore von Habsburg, Queen Consort of Portugal and France

1519: A Tudor Year in Review

by Heather R. Darsie The year 1519 was a year of massive changes, important births, and important deaths in Western Europe. Some of these impacted Henry VIII’s reign, whilst others did not come meaningfully into play until the reigns of Henry’s daughters. Henry VIII turned 28 years old in 1519, and was still young-minded. Births and Deaths Maximilian I von Habsburg, Holy Roman Emperor, died … Continue reading 1519: A Tudor Year in Review

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?

The Increasing Horrors of War in 16th Century Western Europe

by Heather R. Darsie The 16th century saw rapid changes in military capabilities. The medieval knight and a knight’s form of armor and fighting reached peak efficiency by around 1450. After 1450, advances in military science made armor more and more vulnerable. The advent of pike attacks and guns made armor almost ineffective, and the flat walls of many fortifications made excellent targets for canon … Continue reading The Increasing Horrors of War in 16th Century Western Europe

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

Sebastian Cabot and the Loss of Sancti Spiritu

by Heather R. Darsie On 1 September 1529, Charles V von Habsburg lost one of his major forts in what is now Argentina. Charles V became King of Spain on 23 January 1516, right before his sixteenth birthday on 24 February. A few years later, on 28 June 1519, Charles effectively inherited the Holy Roman Empire from his paternal grandfather, Maximilian I von Habsburg. The … Continue reading Sebastian Cabot and the Loss of Sancti Spiritu

Elector Johann Friedrich: Anna of Cleves’ Powerful Brother-in-Law

by Heather R. Darsie Please note that this article first appeared at On the Tudor Trail. Johann Friedrich Wettin, Elector of Saxony, was born 30 June 1503 to Elector John of Saxony and his first wife Sophia of Mecklenburg. Sadly, Sophia passed away on 12 July 1503, shortly after Johann Friedrich’s birth.  Johann Friedrich was born in Torgau, Saxony. His father married again, bringing Johann Friedrich … Continue reading Elector Johann Friedrich: Anna of Cleves’ Powerful Brother-in-Law

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