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

What’s in a Name: Latin Titles

by Heather R. Darsie How important is it to understand Latin when sorting a monarch’s status in Medieval and Early Modern portraiture? A monarch’s title indicates over what he or she rules. There is a long history of the use of Latin to specify over who and what a monarch rules. Looking back into the Ancient period, when civic identity was paramount, the only things … Continue reading What’s in a Name: Latin Titles

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?

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

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

Ibn Battuta and the Roc

by Heather R. Darsie The scholar named Shams al-Din Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Ibn Battuta al-Lawati al-Tanji, or simply Ibn Battuta (meaning son of Battuta), was twenty-one years old when he set off on 13 June 1325 to travel the world. Ibn Battuta left from his birthplace of Tangier, traveling across northern Africa, across the Arab peninsula, through India, and … Continue reading Ibn Battuta and the Roc

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