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…

The Borgias: History’s Infamous Family

The Borgias were the most infamous family of the Renaissance best remembered for their climb to power, murder and corruption within the Papacy. Calixtus III The first was Lord Alfonso de Borja who was born in 1378. He was Alfonso V of Aragon's private secretary, remained in royal service for forty-two years, before he was…

Joanna I, The Mad Queen of Castile

Joanna of Castile was declared unfit to rule by her father but many historians believe she suffered from bipolar disorder or clinical depression. She was born in Toledo, the capital of Castile, on 6 November 1479, the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand's third child. She inherited her Trastámara ancestors' very fair complexion, blue eyes and…

Isabella and Ferdinand: Spain’s Catholic Monarchs

Isabella and Ferdinand’s reign heralded in a golden age and marked the beginning of Spain’s modern history with the Reconquista, Christopher Columbus and the Inquisition. Their marriage on 19 October 1469 united Spain. Isabella preferred Ferdinand as she turned down all other offers including the Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III). He was handsome, a…