When Henry Met Anna: The German Account

by Heather R. Darsie On 1 January 1540, Henry VIII surprised his new bride, Anna of Cleves. For centuries, it was believed that Henry VIII found Anna of Cleves ugly at worst and was not attracted to her at best. The main sources for this rumor were depositions specifically created for the annulment of their marriage. The depositions were taken in June and July 1540, … Continue reading When Henry Met Anna: The German Account

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

Of Dwarves, Pet Elk, and Gold Noses: Tycho Brahe, Danish Astronomer

by Heather R. Darsie Tyge Ottensen Brahe, or Tycho Brahe as he is usually known to English speakers, was born on 14 December 1546 on the Danish peninsula of Skania. Tycho was born into a noble family and benefited from an excellent education. He was very passionate about mathematics, which caused him grave disfigurement. How, exactly, does one become disfigured because of mathematics? Why, by … Continue reading Of Dwarves, Pet Elk, and Gold Noses: Tycho Brahe, Danish Astronomer

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

Sir Thomas More: Ethics, Duty, and the Law

by Heather R. Darsie On 6 July 1535, Sir Thomas More lost his head for sticking with his legal principles. He was 57 years old. Often lauded as an important religious figure during the English Reformation, More was canonized 19 May 1935. Ironically to some, that was the 399th anniversary of the death of another famous victim from the English Reformation: Anne Boleyn. Turning back … Continue reading Sir Thomas More: Ethics, Duty, and the Law

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

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

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