Friday, April 29, 2016

Unique Scarab Seal from Egyptian Thirteenth Dynasty Discovered in Israel

Ancient Origins

A rare scarab seal has been found in Tel Dor on the Carmel Coast of Israel, south of Haifa. It is dated back to the 18th - 17th centuries BC and belonged to the period of Egypt’s Thirteenth Dynasty.

According to the Jewish Press, Alexander Ternopolsky, a birdwatcher, discovered the artifact. As soon as he made the find, he brought it to the archaeological team working at the site. Professor Ayelet Gilboa from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, who is heading the excavations at Tel Dor together with Professor Ilan Sharon from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, believes that the scarab belonged to a high-ranking figure in the Egyptian kingdom, perhaps a viceroy who was responsible for the royal treasury.
The reverse of the scarab seal found in Tel Dor, Israel.
The reverse of the scarab seal found in Tel Dor, Israel. (Tel Dor Excavations)
Exacavations started at the site in the mid-twentieth century. Since 2002, the work has been led by Professors Gilboa and Sharon. They discovered a settlement related to the Canaanite period (Late Bronze Age, the 2nd millennium BC), a Phoenician settlement, and two centers related to the Iron Age history of the Assyrians and Israelites. They also uncovered remarkable mosaics from the Hellenistic period, and remains from the Roman Period, including the ruins of a temple of Poseidon (aka. Neptune). However, the scarab is the first ancient Egyptian artifact found at the site.
“We have not yet reached the settlement of the 17th century BC, and this is why this finding is particularly important. The rains this past winter must have eroded the soil on the southern slope of the site, and thanks to Mr. Ternopolsky’s keen eyesight, the scarab was discovered and handed over to us.” Professor Gilboa explained to the Jewish Press.
People excavating at Tel Dor, Israel in 2006.
People excavating at Tel Dor, Israel in 2006. (Public Domain)
Scarabs were very popular objects in ancient Egypt. What makes the one discovered recently in Israel more unique, is its size and quality. The artifact was discovered in an excellent state of preservation. After preliminary studies, the researchers confirmed that the stone scarab contains the engraved name of its owner, but they haven't deciphered it yet. The description of the owner’s position in society includes phrases like ''overseer of the treasury'', ''bearer of the seal'', etc. Apart from those descriptions, archaeologists also recognized the symbol of the ankh, which symbolized eternal life and meant resurrection and stability.
The city of Tel Dor, located near the coast of Isreal and at the foot of Mount Carmel, was a very important port for thousands of years. It is believed that this place may contain the necessary evidence to explain the difficult relationship between the Egyptians and Israelites. The city appears in Egyptian inscriptions dated back to the New Kingdom Period, but the recently discovered scarab from the Middle Kingdom is a very unique discovery.
Aerial view of the Tel Dor excavation site.
Aerial view of the Tel Dor excavation site. (Sky View / Tel Dor expedition)
The researchers are trying to explain how the scarab of the viceroy reached the city of Tel Dor. One of the possible scenarios is that it arrived there by a representative of the viceroy, who came to the city for trade. Another explanation may be that it was brought there during the Roman period, when ancient artifacts were a precious souvenir. The scarab is currently being displayed at the Mizgaga Museum in Kibbutz Nahsholim. Excavations of the Tel Dor site will resume in July 2016.
Scarabs became popular during the First Intermediate Period (circa 2181 – 2055 BC), and continued to be an important part of religious symbolism until the fall of the ancient Egyptian civilization. They are related to the cult of the god Khepri.
A Scarab beetle in Tomb KV6, Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt.
A Scarab beetle in Tomb KV6, Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt. (CC BY SA 3.0)
Egyptian artifacts discovered in Israel are a puzzle for researchers, who are still trying to put the pieces in the right order and create an image of the history of these two ancient nations. The famous Egyptologist David Rohl used the enigmatic artifacts to support his theory about the chronology of ancient Egypt.
By analyzing the Bible and other sources, he revised Egyptian chronology and asserted that the previous history of the country near the Nile is untrue. In his book Test of Time, he discussed the rulers from the 19th to the 25th dynasties. It is possible that the current, and future, discoveries in Egypt and Israel will allow researchers to better clarify, and if necessary re-date, other parts of ancient Egyptian history as well.
Featured Image: The ancient scarab seal found in Tel Dor, Israel. Source: Tel Dor Excavations
By Natalia Klimczak

History Trivia - birth of Catherine of Siena

April 29

1347 Catherine of Siena was born. Catherine, the patron saint of Italy, played a significant role in returning the Papacy from Avignon to Rome. She was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970

Thursday, April 28, 2016

12 surprising facts about Queen Elizabeth II

History Extra

Elizabeth II poses for a portrait in Buckingham Palace in December 1958. (Donald McKague/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

On Wednesday 9 September, at around 5.30pm, the Queen will surpass the record held by her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, of ruling for 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes.
Elizabeth acceded to the throne on 6 February 1952.
Reports suggest the royal family will mark the occasion at the Queen’s Scottish home, Balmoral.
Here, we bring you 12 surprising facts about Elizabeth II…


An unlikely queen

Elizabeth was not expected to become queen. The first child of the Duke and Duchess of York (who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), Elizabeth stood third in line to the throne after her uncle, Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), and her father, the Duke of York.
However, when Elizabeth’s uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 in order to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson, Elizabeth’s father acceded to the throne and Elizabeth became first in line.

A young Cinderella

The teenage Princess Elizabeth performed alongside her younger sister, Margaret, in a number of pantomimes during the Second World War.
Never-before-seen images emerged recently of a 15-year-old Elizabeth playing the part of Prince Florizel in Cinderella in 1941.

Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II) dressed as Prince Charming with Princess Margaret (1930-2002) as Cinderella during a royal pantomime at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, 21 December 1941. (Photo by Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Getty Images)


Wedding rations

Engaged to Philip Mountbatten (who was then created His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh) in 1946 (although the formal engagement was delayed until Elizabeth turned 21 in April 1947), the then-princess Elizabeth used ration coupons to buy the material for her wedding dress. The pair wed in November 1947.
According to the Independent, because of rationing the couple’s wedding cake was made using “ingredients given as a wedding present by the Australian Girl Guides”. The cake was baked by McVitie & Price.

A working mother

The Queen and her husband have four children: Prince Charles and Princess Anne, who were born before Elizabeth became queen, and Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
When Elizabeth gave birth to Prince Andrew in 1960, she became the first reigning sovereign to have a child since 1857 when Queen Victoria celebrated the arrival of Princess Beatrice.

Princess Elizabeth watching Prince Charles playing in his toy car while at Balmoral, 28 September 1952. (Photo by Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Getty Images)

“Annus horribilis”

The year 1992 spelled disaster for the Queen: a fire broke out in Windsor Castle, and the respective marriages of three of her children – Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne – broke down. The Queen deemed this her “annus horribilis” (horrible year).


Staying in touch

The Queen has answered more than three-and-a-half million items of correspondence during her reign so far, and has sent more than 175,000 telegrams to centenarians in the UK and the Commonwealth. She has also sent more than 540,000 telegrams to couples in the UK and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.
The Queen has penned more than 45,000 Christmas cards during her reign, and has given out upwards of 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff.

Strange gifts

The Queen has, during her reign, received a number of unusual gifts – some of them live animals. According to The British Monarchy website, these include two tortoises given to her during a tour of the Seychelles in 1972; a seven-year-old bull elephant called Jumbo, presented by the president of Cameroon in 1972 to mark the Queen's Silver wedding anniversary; and two black beavers during a royal visit to Canada. The animals were placed in the care of London Zoo.
Other curious gifts received by the Queen include a pair of cowboy boots (during a visit to the US); sunglasses, pineapples and 7kg of prawns.

Pooch pals

The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign. The first, Susan, was given to her as an 18th-birthday present in 1944. It has been reported that Susan accompanied the Queen on her honeymoon – to Broadlands, Hampshire, and Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate – in 1947. Many of the corgis since owned by the Queen were direct descendants from Susan.
Elizabeth’s love of dogs is similar to that of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, who owned a number of German dachshunds and later in life Scottish collies, which she gave the name of Noble.

Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle with one of her corgis, 28 September 1952. (Photo by Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Getty Images)


Ships ahoy

Elizabeth has launched 23 ships during her lifetime, the first being HMS Vanguard on 30 November 1944, in Clydebank, Scotland, when she was Princess Elizabeth.
The first ship Elizabeth launched as queen, on 16 April 1953, was the Britannia, which was also from Clydebank. Other ships launched by the Queen include Elizabeth 2 in 1967, and Queen Mary 2 in 2004.

Royal assent

For a bill to become an act of law, it must first be passed by both the houses of Lords and Commons, and then receive royal assent from the Queen.
Since 1952, the Queen has given royal assent to more than 3,500 acts of parliament.

Prime ministerial

The queen has, over the course of her reign, held regular evening meetings with 12 British prime ministers: Winston Churchill (1951–55); Sir Anthony Eden (1955–57); Harold Macmillan (1957–63); Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1963–64) and Harold Wilson (1964–70 and 1974–76).
The Queen also met regularly with Edward Heath (1970–74); James Callaghan (1976–79); Margaret Thatcher (1979–90); John Major (1990–97); Tony Blair (1997–2007) and Gordon Brown (2007–10). The tradition continues with the current prime minister, David Cameron (2010–present) - the pair usually meet on a Wednesday evening.
Tony Blair was the first prime minister to have been born during Elizabeth’s reign – in May 1953, just a month before the Queen’s coronation.
Interestingly, there have also been 12 US presidents during the queen’s reign: Harry S Truman (1945–53); Dwight D Eisenhower (1953–61); John F Kennedy (1961–63); Lyndon B Johnson (1963–69); Richard Nixon (1969–74); Gerald Ford (1974–77); Jimmy Carter (1977–81); Ronald Reagan (1981–89); George H W Bush (1989–93); Bill Clinton (1993–2001); George W Bush (2001–09) and Barack Obama (2009–present).

President Ronald Reagan roars with laughter at a joke delivered by Queen Elizabeth II during a state dinner in San Francisco, March 1983. The 'deadpan'-style joke remarked on the California weather. (Photo by Diana Walker/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images) 


Elizabeth II is the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England on Christmas Day 1066. She is also the oldest monarch to have celebrated a Golden Jubilee (in 2002 at the age of 76) – the youngest was James VI and I, at the age of 51. Elizabeth was also the first British monarch to celebrate her diamond wedding anniversary, on 20 November 2007.
Only five other kings and queens in British history have reigned for 50 years or more. They are: Victoria, who reigned for 63 years; George III (59 years); Henry III (56 years); Edward III (50 years) and James VI and I (58 years).
Facts courtesy of The British Monarchy website, Time magazine, Vanity Fair and the Independent
To read a profile of Queen Elizabeth, click here.

History Trivia - Emperor Constantius II visits Rome

April 28

357 Emperor Constantius II, after dealing with the Franks, visited Rome before moving his army north to campaign against the Sarmatians, Suevi and the Quadi along the Danube. Constantius spent most of his reign quelling uprisings throughout the Roman Empire, succumbing to a fever in the winter of 361 at Mopsucrene (central Turkey). 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

History Trivia - Battle of Dunbar

April 27

1296 Battle of Dunbar: The Scots were defeated by Edward I of England. This battle was the only significant field action in the campaign of 1296 when King Edward I of England had invaded Scotland to punish King John Balliol for his refusal to support English military action in France.

Have we completely misinterpreted Shakespeare’s Richard III?

History Extra

King Richard speaks to James Tyrrell (portrayed by Shakespeare as the man who organises the murder of the princes in the Tower) in Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’. From ‘The Illustrated Library Shakespeare’, published in London in 1890. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Richard the Third is a masterpiece: the depiction of evil that dares us to like the villain and question, as we laugh along with his jokes, why we find such a man attractive.
The play is believed to have been written in around 1593 and its political context gives it a wider meaning. Queen Elizabeth I was ageing and obviously not going to produce an heir. The question of the succession grew like a weed, untended by all (at least in public), yet the identity of the next monarch was of huge importance to the entire country. Religious tensions ran high and the swings between the Protestant Edward VI, the Catholic Mary I and the Protestant Elizabeth I were still causing turmoil 60 years after Henry VIII’s reformation.

Portrait of Elizabeth I of England c1593. Found in the collection of Elizabethan Gardens, Manteo. Artist anonymous. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Shakespeare is believed by some to have been a devout Catholic all of his life, hiding his faith and working for sponsors such as the earls of Essex and Southampton, whose sympathies were also with the old faith. Opposed to those keen for a return to Catholicism was the powerful Cecil family. William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, had been Elizabeth’s constant supporter and advisor throughout her reign and was, by the early 1590s, as old age crept up on him, paving the way for his son to take on the same role. The Cecils favoured a Protestant succession by James VI of Scotland. It is against this backdrop that Shakespeare wrote his play and his real villain may have been a very contemporary player.
The Tragedy of King Richard the Third is replete with demonstrable errors of fact, chronology and geography. The first edition reversed the locations of Northampton and Stony Stratford to allow Richard to ambush the party of Edward V (one of the princes in the Tower) party rather than have them travel beyond the meeting place. Early in the play Richard tells his audience “I’ll marry Warwick’s youngest daughter./ What, though I kill’d her husband and her father?’” Accounts of both the battles of Barnet (April 1471) and Tewkesbury (May 1471) make it almost certain neither Warwick nor Edward of Westminster was killed by Richard.
The ending of the play is also misinterpreted. The infamous “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!” is often mistaken for a cowardly plea to flee the field. Read in context, it is in fact Richard demanding a fresh horse to re-enter the fray and seek out Richmond (Henry Tudor). Even Shakespeare did not deny Richard his valiant end.

Illumination of the 1471 battle of Tewkesbury, dated 15th century. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Shakespeare’s Richard delights in arranging the murder of his brother Clarence by their other brother Edward IV through trickery when in fact Edward’s execution of Clarence was believed by contemporaries to have driven a wedge between them that kept Richard away from Edward’s court. The seed of this misdirection is sown much earlier in the cycle of history plays too. In Henry VI, Part II Richard kills the Duke of Somerset at the battle of St Albans in 1455, when in fact he was just two-and-a-half years old.
The revelation at the beginning of the play that King Edward fears a prophesy that ‘G’ will disinherit his sons is perhaps another signpost to misdirection. Edward and Richard’s brother George, Duke of Clarence tells Richard “He hearkens after prophecies and dreams./ And from the cross-row plucks the letter G./ And says a wizard told him that by G/ His issue disinherited should be./ And, for my name of George begins with G./ It follows in his thought that I am he.”
George is therefore assumed to be the threat, ignoring the fact the Richard’s title, Duke of Gloucester, also marks him as a ‘G’. Before Clarence arrives, Richard appears to know of the prophesy and that George will be the target of Edward’s fear, suggesting that he had a hand in the trick and that a thin veil is being drawn over the obvious within the play. The true villain is slipping past unseen as signs are misread or ignored.
The language of the play’s famous opening soliloquy is interesting in the context of when it was written. In autumn 1592, Thomas Nashe’s play Summer’s Last Will and Testament was first performed in Croydon. Narrated by the ghost of Will Summer, Henry VIII’s famous court jester, it tells the story of the seasons and their adherents. Summer is king but lacks an heir, lamenting “Had I some issue to sit on my throne,/ My grief would die, death should not hear me grone”. Summer adopts Autumn as his heir but Winter will then follow – and his rule is not to be looked forward to. When Richard tells us “Now is the winter of our discontent/ Made glorious summer by this sun of York” it is perhaps not, at least not only, a clever reference to Edward IV’s badge of the sunne in splendour.
Elizabeth I, great-granddaughter of Edward IV, could be the “sun of York”, and this might explain the use of “sun” rather than “son”. Using Nashe’s allegory, Elizabeth is made summer by her lack of an heir that allows winter, his real villain, in during the autumn of her reign. The very first word of the play might be a hint that Shakespeare expected his audience to understand that the relevance of the play is very much “Now”.
Richard was able to perform this role for Shakespeare because of his unique position as a figure who could be abused but who also provided the moral tale and political parallels the playwright needed. The Yorkist family of Edward IV were direct ancestors of Elizabeth I and attacking them would have been a very bad move. Richard stood outside this protection. By imbuing Richard with the deeds of his father at St Albans, there is a link between the actions and sins of father and son, the son eventually causing the catastrophic downfall of his house. Here, Shakespeare returns to the father and son team now leading England toward a disaster – the Cecils.
I suspect that Shakespeare meant his audience to recognise, in the play’s Richard III character, Robert Cecil, William’s son – and that in the 1590s they would very clearly have done so. Motley’s History of the Netherlands (published in 1888) described Robert’s appearance in 1588 as “A slight, crooked, hump-backed young gentleman, dwarfish in stature” and later remarked on the “massive dissimulation” that would “constitute a portion of his own character”. Robert Cecil had kyphosis – in Shakespeare’s crude parlance, a hunchback – and a reputation for dissimulation. I imagine Shakespeare’s first audience nudging each other as Richard hobbled onto the stage and whispering that it was plainly Robert Cecil.

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury (1563–1612). (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)
The warnings of the play are clear: Richard upturns the natural order, supplanting a rightful heir for his own gain, and Shakespeare’s Catholic sponsors may well have viewed Cecil in the same light as he planned a Protestant succession. We almost like Richard, and we are supposed to. Elizabeth called Robert Cecil her “little imp” and showed him great favour. Richard tells us that he is “determined to prove a villain” and Shakespeare was warning his audience that Robert Cecil similarly used a veil of amiability to hide his dangerous intentions.
Robert Cecil got his Protestant succession. William Shakespeare became a legend. Richard III entered the collective consciousness as a villain. Perhaps it was by accident and the time has come to look more closely at the man rather than the myth.
Matthew Lewis is the author of Richard, Duke of York: King by Right (Amberley Publishing, 2016). 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A seventh wife for Henry VIII?

History Extra

Katherine Willoughby in an 18th-century engraving after a Hans Holbein the Younger portrait. In 1546 the prospect of her marrying England’s ageing king was causing tongues to wag in diplomatic circles. (© National Portrait Gallery)

In February 1546, the imperial ambassador Fran├žois van der Delft wrote to his master, Holy Roman emperor Charles V, to acquaint him with a story he had heard circulating in aristocratic and diplomatic circles. “Sire, I am confused and apprehensive to inform your majesty,” he began apologetically, “that there are rumours here of a new queen, although I do not know why, or how true it may be. Some people attribute it to the sterility of the present queen [Katherine Parr] whilst others say that there will be no change whilst the present war [with France] lasts. Madame Suffolk is much talked about, and is in great favour; but the king shows no alteration in his demeanour towards the queen, though the latter, as I am informed, is somewhat annoyed at the rumours.”
The speculation had reached Europe by early March when Stephen Vaughan, the king’s agent in Antwerp, advised lord chancellor Thomas Wriothesley and diplomat William Paget that: “This day came to my lodging a… merchant of this town, saying that he had dined with certain friends, one of whom offered to lay a wager with him that the king’s majesty would have another wife; and he prayed me to show him the truth. He would not tell me who offered the wager, and I said that I never heard of any such thing, and that there was no such thing. Many folks talk of this matter, and from whence it comes I cannot learn.”

Better humour

‘Madame Suffolk’ was Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, the widow of King Henry’s closest friend, Charles Brandon, who had died in August 1545. Married to Brandon in 1533 when she was 14 and he nearly 50, Katherine had many opportunities to meet the king socially in the 1530s and 1540s. Henry undoubtedly liked her – they began exchanging new year gifts in 1534 – and Eustace Chapuys, van der Delft’s predecessor as imperial ambassador, noted that he had been “masking and visiting” with her in March 1538, only months after Jane Seymour’s death.
“The king,” wrote Chapuys, “has been in much better humour than ever he was, making musicians play on their instruments all day along. He went to dine at a splendid house of his, where he had collected all his musicians, and, after giving orders for the erection of certain sumptuous buildings therein, returned home by water, surrounded by musicians, and went straight to visit the Duchess of Suffolk… and ever since cannot be one single moment without masks.”
So did Katherine and Henry become lovers at this period, and did Charles Brandon, who owed everything to his royal master, turn a diplomatically blind eye? The question is ultimately unanswerable, but Katherine’s appointment as a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr would have allowed her to be constantly about the court without attracting comment.
William Carey had been recompensed for tolerating the king’s affair with his wife, Mary Boleyn, and it is possible to speculate that the rewards Brandon received were for more than his own good service. Perhaps Henry would have wed Katherine in the years after Jane Seymour’s death if she had been single, but Brandon’s longevity denied him the chance.

It’s possible that Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk (shown here), was recompensed for holding his tongue while King Henry pursued his wife. (© Topfoto)
By February 1546, when the rumours about a new wife were swirling, Henry had been married to Katherine Parr for two and a half years, and their relationship was not always amicable. Any hopes that she would give him a second son remained unrealised, and he sometimes found her forthright Protestant opinions too challenging for his liking. According to the martyrologist John Foxe, he was heard to complain that “a good hearing it is when women become such clerks; and a thing much to my comfort, to come in mine old days to be taught by my wife”; and the conservative bishop Stephen Gardiner offered to obtain evidence that the queen’s views were “treason cloaked with the cloak of heresy” and merited death.
But matters turned out rather differently. Foxe says that Henry confided his intentions to his physician Dr Wendy (who also attended Queen Katherine), and the bill detailing the charges against his wife was left where a friend of hers would find it. Forewarned, she seized the initiative, begging Henry to accept that she had disputed with him only to divert his mind from his infirmities, and in the hope that she would herself “profit from his learned discourse”. The king was mollified, and embraced her with the words: “And is it even so sweet heart? And tended your arguments to no worse end? Then perfect friends we are now again, as ever at any time heretofore.”

Queen and courtiers

Several interpretations could be placed on these events, but perhaps the most obvious is that Katherine Parr was being warned and at the same time given an opportunity to redeem herself. Perhaps Henry was toying with his queen and his courtiers, playing off the reformers against the conservatives while showing both parties that he alone was in control of the situation.
Unfortunately, no one told Lord Chancellor Wriothesley what had happened, and when he came to arrest Katherine next morning he found her walking in the garden with her husband. He was  sent packing with Henry’s curses ringing in his ears.
On the other hand, it is possible that the capricious monarch had seriously considered changing his wife again but had decided against it at the last moment.

A Hans Holbein drawing of Henry VIII. By February 1546 rumours were doing the rounds that the king was tiring of his sixth wife, Katherine Parr, and her strident Protestantism. (© AKG)
Katherine Willoughby was attractive and vivacious, but she shared Katherine Parr’s devotion to Protestantism and was also markedly self-opinionated. In later years she had to apologise to William Cecil for what she herself called her “foolish choler” and “brawling”, and while these characteristics may have amused Henry in small doses her feistiness could have made her less appealing as a seventh consort. Katherine may have felt disappointment, or perhaps relief that she had not had to make an equally difficult choice.
King Henry’s life was now almost over – he died in January 1547 – but Katherine still had many years to live. After losing her two sons by Brandon to the ‘sweating sickness’ in 1551, she married Richard Bertie, her gentleman-usher, and had another son and a daughter. She avoided involvement in the conspiracy built around her step-granddaughter, Lady Jane Grey, but still spent four years in exile in Europe while the Catholic queen Mary ruled England. She returned when Elizabeth succeeded, but disagreed profoundly – and vocally – with the queen’s more tolerant approach to religious matters. She died in 1580, and her magnificent monument can still be seen at Spilsby, Lincolnshire today.

Henry’s Last Years

6 January 1540
Henry marries Anne of Cleves but their union is annulled on the grounds of non-consummation and an alleged pre-contract, on 9 July.
18 April 1540
Thomas Cromwell, Henry’s chief minister, is created Earl of Essex. However, he is executed, ostensibly for religious transgressions, on 28 July.
8 August 1540
Henry marries Catherine Howard. His  union with a Catholic is widely seen as a victory for the religious conservatives over their evangelical opponents.
13 February 1542
Catherine Howard is executed after admitting to affairs with the courtiers Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper, the latter after her marriage to the king.
12 July 1543
Henry weds the twice-widowed Katherine Parr. Her preferred suitor, Thomas Seymour, the late Queen Jane’s brother, prudently stands aside.

Katherine Parr. (© Bridgeman)
The third Act of Succession of Henry’s reign is passed in the spring. The ‘illegitimate’ princesses Mary and Elizabeth are restored to their places in the succession. Henry visits Boulogne after it surrenders to English forces on 13 September. But six years later the town is restored to the French.
19 January 1547
Henry Howard, the poet Earl of Surrey, is executed for foolishly misappropriating the royal arms. He defends himself brilliantly, but his fate is already sealed.

Henry Howard. (© Bridgeman)
David Baldwin’s books include a biography of Richard III (Amberley, 2013).