Mary I of England (1553-1558): Bloody Mary

Mary I survived a difficult childhood—separated from her mother, rejected by her father and suffered poor health—to restore Catholicism to England and produce an heir. Mary was born in 1516 at Greenwich Palace, the only surviving child of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry was initially disappointed but he proudly showed off his…

Lady Jane Grey (1553): The Nine Days Queen

Lady Jane Grey is best known as history as the Nine Days Queen. She survived an unhappy childhood only to become a pawn in a conspiracy to usurp the throne. Jane was born in 1537 at her family’s estate, Bradgate Manor, in Leicestershire. She was the eldest of three sisters born to Henry Grey, Marquess…

Catherine Parr: Henry VIII’s Sixth Wife

Catherine Parr was a loyal and sympathetic companion who nursed an increasingly irritable Henry VIII in his declining years by creating a domestic family life at court. Henry’s sixth wife was born in 1512, the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Parr and Maud Green of Kendal. Catherine was married twice before and recently widowed. Catherine…

Thomas More: The King’s Good Servant

Thomas More is best remembered for his refusal to acknowledge Henry VIII supremacy over the Church and later executed. More was considered a genius by his contemporaries. Thomas was born in London on 7 February 1478, the son of Judge John More. He was taken into the Archbishop of Canterbury John Morton’s household as a…

Katherine Howard: Rose Without A Thorn

Henry VIII thought his fifth wife, Katherine Howard, was perfect. Katherine Howard was a woman with a past when she came to court in 1539, as a maid-of-honour. Katherine’s uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, used his influence to find a place for her in anticipation of the King’s marriage to Anne of Cleves. Henry was…

Margaret Tudor: James IV of Scotland’s Queen

Margaret Tudor led a very turbulent life, causing scandal. She married three times, and, like her brother Henry VIII, had trouble obtaining divorces. She “had the faults of the Tudors without their brains”! Margaret was born on 28 November 1489—“a sturdy, healthy child”—the eldest daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. She was a…

Mary Boleyn: A Short Biography

Mary Boleyn’s life is retold—somewhat inaccurately—in both the novel and the movie, The Other Boleyn Girl. She had numerous affairs including two kings. Not much is known about Mary’s early life. She was born c 1499 at Hever Castle, Kent—the home of Sir Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Howard. She was the eldest of three…

Margaret Beaufort: My Lady The King’s Mother

Lady Margaret Beaufort was the Tudor dynasty's matriarch. She harboured strong ambitions for her son during the turbulent Wars of the Roses. She wept at his coronation. Margaret was extremely intelligent and very literate. She founded St John’s College, Cambridge, in 1511. She also promoted higher learning for girls. The first women’s college, Lady Margaret…

Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York was already Queen Regnant when she married Henry VII. They ended the Wars of the Roses and founded the Tudor dynasty. She was known as “one of the most gracious and best-beloved princesses in the world” despite not taking an active role in politics. Elizabeth was an embodiment of all the admired…