Every Wednesday, writer and historian Ann Foster tweets about the women of Tudor history under the hashtag #SixWivesNoHenry. On her eponymous blog, she takes us on in-depth Tudor time travels, picking apart convoluted family trees and 16th-century political intrigue with clarity and wit.
Her love of history is infectious, and her combination of ease and erudition brings her historical subjects to life — some well-known, some seldom written about. But we’ll let her blog speak for itself; here are tantalizing bits from a few of our recent favorites.
As a wedding gift, he lavished her with a castle and gowns and jewels. And she gave him… a giant pair of scissors. He was like, “Wait, what?” and then she and one of her ladies-in-waiting forced him to cut off his beard. Amazing. She may have been sixteen years younger than her husband, but she wasn’t about to let him take control of their relationship (or make his own facial hair decisions anymore.)
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Margery was first arrested for sorcery in 1432, at which time she was put in prison at Windsor Castle. While in jail, she made the acquaintance of Friar John Ashwell, a cleric proficient in astronomy as well as the scholar Roger Bolingbroke. Both Ashwell and Bolingbroke were proficient in astronomy, and after spending time in jail at the same time as Margery, they seem to have all become good friends. Margery was eventually released from prison under two conditions: that she refrain from further witchcraft, and that she be on good behaviour from then on. Margery… did not do either of those things.
This is where the secrecy of Edward and Elizabeth’s marriage came back to bite them. Because one of the reasons royals have huge party weddings is so that everybody knows who’s married who, so there’s no question about who did what and when. But Richard was like, “Edward had a secret pre-contract to marry some other random woman who is conveniently now dead! Which means he was never able to legally marry Elizabeth! Mwa ha ha ha,” which is how he talked, because he was THE WORST.
Ready for more? Head to Ann’s site to read the full posts or lose yourself in her archives. And for even more court intrigue and dynastic scheming, take a look at Anne Thériault’s “Queens of Infamy” series at our sister site, Longreads.