english nobility

general li mulan

okay so i LOVE mulan okay. as far as i’m concerned it’s a Perfect Movie and doesn’t need any fixing. but i was thinking today and -

- what if mulan didn’t go to war to save her father?

say her father is dead, okay, killed by the previous war. so she’s raised by her mother and grandmother, women who’s complacency and softness has been worn away by necessity. she needs to marry well, for her family’s sake, because her mother has refused the hand of every man who offered. but mulan is even more rough around the edges than before, is educated not only in books (her mother said men wouldn’t find smarts attractive and grandmother pointed out that men aren’t always around and off to school mulan went) but in the sword too, taught to her by her classmate, ping.

mulan is considered in the lower end of the upper class, coming from a family of military men and scholars and successful merchants. ping is near the top, the son or nephew of an advisor to the emperor. his family is very rich and very important, and the reason they become friends is because mulan manages to notice something about him that he’s been hiding from everyone else - he’s going blind.

not totally blind, enough to get around, but blind enough that reading is difficult and swordplay is even worse, although once he has it down he has it. ping is no fool, he’s not weak or bumbling. his eyes just don’t work. so mulan notices and confronts him about it. she promises to keep it a secret, and hey, she’ll even help him with his assignments by reading the books out loud and helping him study. but in return he must teach her the sword, must teach her about military and tactics. he agrees.

ping and mulan become very good friends and there’s some raised eyebrows about it but they are TOO far away in class for it to be inappropriate, so they make tutting sounds and disapproving faces and let it go.

then the draft happens. ping can’t go to war, he won’t survive it. not with his eyesight like it is. so mulan offers him a deal - she’ll go to war for him, in his place. in return, if she survives, he must marry her. if she dies he must take care of her family.

ping can’t make this kind of family decision on his own, so he goes to his mother and tells her everything, about the eyesight and how he’ll die if he goes and mulan’s offer. his mother says he must keep it a secret from his father, but agrees - if mulan fights in her son’s place and survives, a wedding will be arranged. either way, mulan’s family will be taken care of. ping will be sent to live with some cousins in the meanwhile.

“you’re not in love with me, are you?” ping asks, helping mulan saddle her horse in the middle of the night. she scoffs and rolls her eyes, “not even a little. but marrying you will make my family happy, and besides, you’re my best friend,” she says, smiling, “better you than some grabby old man.” he smiles and hugs her and says, “i’m not in love with you either. but don’t die out there. we have a wedding to plan.”

so mulan goes to the camp, pretending to be ping, and she’s a little bit less lost but things still go as they go. she’s educated and trained, so it’s not hard for her to pass as ping. shang is keeping a special eye on her, thinking that she’s the son of an advisor, one of his father’s friends. and he sees how easily she excels, how quick thinking and smart she is, and starts giving her more and more responsibilities. by the time they’re called out, shang considers ping ie mulan to be his right hand man, and possibly his best friend.

he’s also a little bit in love with ping, and he’s long known he’s attracted to both genders, so he watches ping laugh and smile and the crease between his eyes when he frowns and does his best to let his feelings chase away the best soldier he has. every time shang looks at ping his heart clenches and he things to himself: i wish i could have you, i wish this was a time and a place where one man could have another, i wish you were a girl, is wish i was a girl - i wish we could be together. he’s literally a step away from doodling ‘li ping’ with little hearts over his battle plans. 

so the battles happen. shang and ping lead their men together, respected and loved. they each get promoted, and promoted, and promoted. it’s been years, and it comes to a point where they’re both generals in their own right. they trust each other, care for each other. and are both secretly in love with the other.

mulan is so conflicted. because she wants this war to end and to go home and settle back into life and become ping’s wife, so she can have an easy life spent studying and learning with her family taken care of. that’s what she’d wanted. but now what she wants is shang, her best friend, her brother in arms, her fellow general. she wishes to be everything to him, aches to be the woman on his arm and in his bed, but knows it’s the one thing she can never be.

then that final battle happens. mulan’s quick thinking saves them all and ends the war - but she’s injured.

shang finds out the ping has been a girl all along. he demands explanations - so she tells him everything, that she traded places with ping to save him, to become his wife.

and the lies should sting the sharpest, but they don’t. she’s still the same person, after all. it’s that she’s promised to another man, for one second he’d thought he might have her, but no. so he agrees not to reveal her but he’s furious and furious at himself for being furious and they’re not the same now, broken and splintered and neither of them know what to do.

the war is over. they leave. mulan returns home, and thanks to her ping is now known as a respected general. she’s done her part and survived, and now she gets her reward - ping’s hand in marriage.

but she sees ping for the first time and flings herself into his arms and starts crying. she tells him everything, because he’s still her friend, her very best friend besides shang, the man whom she lied to and betrayed and loves. and ping listens and takes her by the shoulders and says - i’ll uphold our bargain, if that’s what you want. you can be my pampered wife, you’ve more than earned it. but if you want to go to shang, i won’t blame you. you deserve your happiness.

and mulan goes back and forth, but ultimately she decides she has to try. if shang rejects her she’ll return and marry ping and uphold her family honor. but if shang wants her - he’s not as high up as ping, but he’s high up enough to satisfy her family, and also she would love him and want him if he was no more than a farming peasant so it doesn’t matter much anyway.

she rides to the capitol. she finally meets ping’s father, running into him while looking for shang. “ah mulan,” says this man who was never supposed to know of her until she became his daughter-in-law, “i didn’t expect to see you here. how fortuitous. walk with me.” she does, wary, and that’s how she discovers - he and the emperor had discovered her deception a year in, but at that point she’d already proven herself too skilled and valuable to lose. he tells her that he will uphold his son and wife’s deal and gladly welcome her to his household - but that she’s earned her rank as general, and that he and the emperor have no problem with letting her keep it.

she says thank you, shocked and joyful, but that she has to talk to someone first. “ah, yes, young general li,” he says, eyes twinkling, “i do believe he’s around here somewhere.”

she has no idea how he seems to know everything, but she finally tracks down shang who’s ecstatic to see her and hates himself for it. she confesses - says she loves him, that she’s engaged to ping but willing and able to break this engagement for shang. who is dumbfounded and elated and says yes, of course, finally and forever.

and mulan accepts her rank and marries shang, and they become the literal power battle couple of the general li mulan and general li shang. ping becomes a scholar and marries a very nice young woman who loves reading and is happy to read aloud to her husband with his failing eyes.

and they all live happily ever after.

French Nobility

Originally posted by slainte71

Who are the nobility?

In France, nobility was a quality of the individual, a legal characteristic that could be held or acquired, and conferred some rights and privileges; such as levied taxes in times of war (since the nobility was supposed to fight for the sovereign), or since the 17th century, only weaker taxing exceptions. Also, a number of military and civic positions were reserved for nobility.

How is it inherited?

Nobility was usually hereditary only through the male line; a nobleman could marry a commoner and keep his nobility, but a noblewoman could not. When the nobility was hereditary, even though it was transmitted through the father, a higher percentage of noble blood or a higher number of noble generations in the family could be important as well.

How is nobility acquired?

  • By Birth. Usually from the father since 1370 (only exceptions are nobility in Champagne until the 16th century and Bar until the French Revolution). Bastards of nobles became nobles when legitimated by letters of the sovereign until 1600, after that a separate act of ennoblement was required (except royal bastards, they were always nobles even with no legitimation).
  • By Office. Depending on the office, the holder became noble either after a number of years in office or immediately. This kind of nobility could be personal or hereditary for 2, 3 or more generations. Here we have nobles for fiscal offices (tax courts and state auditors), “noblesse de robe” (for judicial offices, members of the parliament or courts that have been in office for 20 years),  “noblesse de cloche” (municipal offices, the mayors of towns), administrative offices (the places on the household of the king and the secrétaires du Roi) and military commissions (since 1750 officers reaching the rank of general would receive hereditary nobility).
  • By Letters. Meaning, by royal grant, meaning that the king could always ennoble whoever he wished.

Could nobility be lost?

Yes it could. You lose it by failing to your failing duties (this was called “déchéance”, kind of like Athos in The Musketeers BBC series); by practising forbidden occupations (called “dérogeance”), like commerce or manual crafts or farming someone else’s land (farming your own or the King’s land was ok). Funny that medicine, glass-blowing, exploitation of mines, maritime commerce and wholesale commerce was acceptable. Also, if you were a woman and marry a commoner, your nobility is lost.

What about the titles?

To bear a title you had to be noble. And a title is a rank attached to a certain piece of land. So, there could be nobles with no titles.

  • Duc. A duke (from the Latin dux, “leader”) was originally the governor of a province and a military leader. He was the possessor of a “duché” (a duchy).
  • Comte. A count (from the Latin comes, “companion”), originally an appointee of the king governing a city and its immediate surroundings. He was the possessor of a comté (county) or a high-ranking official in the king’s immediate entourage called Counts Palatine (palace counts).
  • Marquis. Originally the governor of a “march”, a region at the boundaries of the kingdom in need of particular protection. He was the possessor of a marquisat (marquessate).
  • Vicomte. A viscount was originally the lieutenant of a count, either when the count was not at home or then the county was held by the King himself. He was the possessor of a vicomté (viscounty).
  • Baron. Originally a direct vassal of the king or another major feudal lord (a duke or count or so). The possessor of a baronnie (barony).
  • Châtelain. A castellan was the commander in charge of a castle. Few chastellanies survived with the title or “Sire” (sir).
  • Prince. Possessor of a principauté (principality). This title was not the same as the rank of Prince and did not give his possessor precedence at the court.
  • Seigneur. A lord, possessor of a lordship.
  • Chevalier. The equivalent of a “knighted” or a member of certain chivalric orders or the head of the King’s guardsmen. Not the same as the rank of Chevalier.

Wait. Titles and Ranks are not the same?

No, they were not. Because French people are crazy and this could not be easy at all. Let’s say that there were two kinds of “titles”: the ones linked to the fifes (the feudal real estates, meaning the duchies and counties, etc) and the personal ranks.

  • Fils de France/Filles de France. The sons and daughters of the King.
  • Petit-fils de France. The grandchildren of the King through the male line.
  • Prince du Sang/Princesse du Sang. A Prince/Princess of the Blood was a legitimate descendant of the King but was not part of the immediate family. Meaning that they were not Fils neither Petit-Fils de France.
  • Prince/Princess Légitimé. The legitimized children of the King or other males of his dynasty.
  • Prince Étranger. A foreign prince naturalized and recognized by the French court.
  • Chevalier. A rank assumed ONLY by the most noble families and the possessors of very high dignities in the court. Note that the ones with the title of Chevalier and the ones with the rank of Chevalier are addressed differently.
  • Écuyer. This rank (squire) was the one of the majority of nobles. It was a member of the nobility with no title.

How are they addressed?

For this section I’ll use an example name, so each way of addressing will be very clear. Let’s use the Marquis de Castelnau: Philippe-François d'Albignac.

  • The simpler way to address a noble is using Monsieur, Madame and Mademoiselle: here, we would address Philippe-Françoise simply as Monsieur.
  • But of course it cannot be that simple, you could not be sure about who and which Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle you’re talking about. So, there is a simple formula: Monsieur/Madame + de + last name or house = Monsieur de Albignac.
  • But you can also refer to someone by their title and not their last name: Monsieur/Madame + le/la + title = Monsieur le Marquis.
  • And you can be even more specific, since we wanna know, are we talking about the same Marquis? You’d use: Monsieur/Madame + le/la + title in full style = Monsieur le Marquis de Castelnau.

Those are the general ways, but it can be very tricky or specific according the rank and title. Here is another helping guide:

  • The King. Majesté, Your/His Most Christian Majesty, Your/His Majesty, Monsieur Le Roi.
  • The Queen. Majesté, Your/Her Most Christian Majesty, Your/Her Majesty, Madame La Reine.
  • The Dauphin (the eldest son of the King). Monsieur le Dauphin, His/Your Royal Highness, Monseigneur le Dauphin, His/Your Royal Highness Monseigneur le Dauphin.
  • The Dauphine (the Dauphin’s wife). Madame la Dauphine, Her/Your Royal Highness, Her Royal Highness Madame la Dauphine.
  • The Fils de France. Referred by their main title, except the Dauphin. I.e. Monsieur le Duc d’Anjou.
  • The Filles de France. Referred as Madame+their given name. Except the eldest daughter that was called Madame Royale until she married, and then that style is used by the next Fille de France. I.e. Madame Victoire.
  • The Petit-Fils/Petit-Filles de France. Addressed using their full style titles.
  • Prince du Sang/Princesse du Sang. Usually styled by their main ducal title, but other more precise titles were also used. It could be used: Monsieur le Prince, Madame la Princesse, Monsieur le Duc, Madame la Duchesse, and so on. In writing only the style Serene Highness was used.
  • Prince Légitimé/Princesse Légitimé. They took last names according to the branch of the House their father belonged and after the legitimization they were given a title. Males were given titles from their father’s lands, and therefore addressed as Monsieur and the title or last name; females were given the style of Mademoiselle de “X”.
  • Prince étranger. Basically addresses as Haut et puissant Prince or Your/His Highness. They are tricky to address, since they could have ANY other kind of title (literally any, from Prince to Chevalier, everything in between), then they could be called according to their first title and/or as Highness. Let’s take the example of Hercule Mériadec de Rohan, Duke of Rohan-Rohan; he could be addressed as: Monsieur le Duc de Rohan-Rohan, His Highness Hercule Mériadec de Rohan, His Highness Monsieur le Duc de Rohan-Rohan, His Highness Monsieur de Rohan, Monsieur de Rohan.

Other words to keep in mind to address nobility:

  • Monseigneur. Used for those of very high office and noble blood, like the Dauphin, cardinals, etc. Usually used only for adults.
  • Excellence. Ambassadors, foreign dignitaries.
  • Eminence. Mostly for cardinals, along with Monseigneur.
  • Monsieur le Chevalier. ONLY used when Chevalier is the rank.
  • Chevalier+last name. To address those who are knighted members of chivalric orders.
  • Sieur. Like Sir in English. Usually used for property holders that are not noble. It is used as Sieur + de + name of the land.
  • Gentilhomme. Used for ANY noble, from the King to the last écuyer.

I hope this works for you @meltingpenguins :D

There will be a second part on English Nobility.

ribstongrowback  asked:

Hey! Since you have knowledge of the medieval times and women were not as submissive and silent as I was taught in class and by mass media, can you tell me about medieval warrior women? Especially in France, if possible? Finding documentation on that subject on the internet is not that easy and it'll definitely come in handy for some historical roleplay stuff

Okay, for a general overview of (young) medieval women, the culture, and some ideas/misconceptions/cultural parameters about them, I do recommend Medieval Maidens: Young Women and Gender in England, 1270-1540. By its nature/title, it obviously focuses more on England, but France was not so terribly different culture-wise at this point, and this is around the time that most people think of as “medieval.” This book is fairly readable as academic texts go, and absolutely worth going through just for some basics.

In terms of warrior women, I will say that they are very much still the exception rather than the rule. They did exist, but there isn’t some grand conspiracy to cover up legions of Amazons and so forth (though it would be fun if there were). I work on the crusades, and one of the interesting questions is how much women participated as active combatants, if at all. Natasha Hodgson’s Women, Crusading, and the Holy Land in Historical Narrative covers some of this, though she mainly explores the interesting tensions about the presence/existence of women for crusade armies, and their relationships to crusaders – i.e. how much could women participate in a movement that by its nature was designed for arms-bearing knights, i.e. men? Helen Nicholson also has an article, Women on the Third Crusade, that deals with some cases of reported warrior women during said crusade (1187-1192) and what motives chroniclers, especially Muslim ones, might have for reporting or exaggerating their presence. This is a bit earlier, as the crusades are generally accepted to have taken place between 1095-1291, but still medieval.

In terms of French warrior women to look into, I’d say definitely Jeanne de Clisson (that is her wikipedia page, but there are links/references for further reading). She was a fourteenth-century French female pirate called the “Lioness of Brittany,” which if you ask me, is awesome, and everyone knows about Joan of Arc already. In this vein, Grace O’Malley was a 16th-century clan chieftain/pirate captain who met with Queen Elizabeth I; she couldn’t speak English and Elizabeth couldn’t speak Irish, so they communicated in Latin (also, in my opinion, awesome). She also had a badass nickname, “the Sea Queen of Connacht.” Not French, obviously, but yes.

Maud (or Matilda) de Braose was a 12th/13th-century Anglo-French noblewoman known for her military skill (in defending castles for her husband/leading armies in the field). She was supposedly exceptionally tall and also wore armor in fighting, and her death and that of her son (starvation by King John) so outraged the English nobility that there is a clause in the Magna Carta specifically banning such treatment of the king’s subjects. She also made enough of an impression that she is a Welsh folk legend.

Matilda of Tuscany is another woman (late 11th century) remembered for military accomplishments and formidable political prowess, especially in the Investiture Conflict.

Anyway, I think this is most of what I can come up with off the top of my head, but hopefully that is a useful start!

Beyond her interactions with the Spanish ambassadors, very little is known about Elizabeth’s political and diplomatic role. Only two letters survive regarding her efforts to intercede for the benefit of others. On August 1, 1499, she wrote to King Ferdinand of Spain to recommend the services of “Henry Stile, who wishes to go and fight against the Infidels,” adding her recommendation to that of King Henry, who had already written in the soldier’s favor. The queen’s letter included a personal observation about Stile: “Though he is a very short man, he has the reputation of being a valiant soldier.” Another letter to the Prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, asks permission to nominate one of her chaplains to the vacant living of the parish church of All Saints in Lombard Street, London. After her death, a single record mentions an action relating to Thomas Whytyng and his wife Margaret, who received rent for the lordship of Havering at the Bower, “not with- standing a fine and recovery made there in the court of Elizabeth late queen of England.”As Laynesmith points out in her seminal study of late medieval queens, Elizabeth of York’s chambers often hosted important political events and her personal sociability contributed to Henry’s success with foreign ambassadors and English nobility. Scanty records, however, limit more precise knowledge of Elizabeth’s political role.
—  Arlene Okerlund

See, this is what I think is so cool about the way Rapunzel and her prince are around each other in the movie version of Into the Woods. Look at the above picture.

He doesn’t have a problem showing her his vulnerability; she doesn’t have a problem with him being vulnerable.

IMO this makes their relationship pretty much the total opposite of Cinderella and her prince, which is a relationship built 100% on appearances and not reality. 

Cinderella admits to herself (and us) that she CAN’T show the prince who she really is, because then he wouldn’t want her.  And her prince - well, he knows how to be charming but not sincere.

Rapunzel’s prince, on the other hand, is nothing BUT sincerity. Klutzy, earnest, “Bad idea!” “Your hair! I like it!” blurt-it-out sincerity.  The Great Pumpkin would visit him in a heartbeat.

Why is this? Who knows? Both princes were raised by the same people, we presume.But maybe that’s a wrong presumption.

Obviously Cinderella’s prince, being the heir to the throne, got a set of instructions that’s more “How to Charm Your Subjects So They’ll Believe Anything” than “How To Be an Effective King”.

Whereas Rapunzel’s Prince, apparently…didn’t. Aside from sharing some vanity and competitiveness with his big brother, he doesn’t seem to be anything like Cinderella’s prince. Their personalities are very different.

My own personal theory on this - and it’s not really based on anything except a passing knowledge of English nobility - is that he and his brother are NOT the only two males in the royal family. If there is at least one other brother between them (who doesn’t figure in the story), then Rapunzel’s prince is neither the heir nor the spare. He did not get the same training his brothers did - why would he? - and he would be basically regarded as superfluous and more or less ignored, expected to go into the military or clergy when old enough so as not to be a drain on the royal treasury (which is what happened in English nobility). 

It’s even possible that Rapunzel’s prince is wearing a military uniform, which would explain why it looks so different from Cinderella’s prince (again, that’s a theory not supported by anything, but what the heck!!)

Anyway, just a few thoughts I figured I’d share.  Suitable for framing or wrapping fish. :-) Enjoy the pretty picture!

oikur41  asked:

Was Arthur the only noble boy in his household? Or were there other sons of lords? I'm thinking like the Earl of Warwick's wards--did Arthur have any companions with whom he trained? And were there any girls too?

When he was younger he shared a nursery with Prince Henry and Princess Margaret, who he was apparently quite close with.  

I’ve seen David Starkey take the position that Arthur had a “solitary” childhood, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, strictly speaking.

Arthur was served by the sons of English, Irish, and Welsh nobility.  The Earl of Kildare’s son lived with him, as did Baron Robert Willoughby, Robert Radcliffe (heir of Baron FitzWalter) and Maurice St. John (Margaret Beaufort’s nephew) – all boys of about Arthur’s age.

He grew up very closely with his lifetime BFF Gruffydd ap Rhys ap Thomas, who was 8 years older than him and the son of Thomas ap Rhys, one of the most powerful Welsh nobleman.  They were such BFFs that Gruffydd was one of Arthur’s chief mourners at his funeral and he was later buried alongside Prince Arthur.  Bromantical, no? 

morgauseoforkney replied to your post “dohaeries replied to your post “If William the Conqueror is a bastard…”


Forgive… I am so sorry. I misspoke and I meant say Edgar Aetheling was the true King of England. Harold Godwinson name is just aesthetically more pleasing to the eye. 

However, we should get on tracking down Edgar’s descendants and tell them should head over to Buckingham palace to take back from the so-called “Queen” what is rightfully theirs. 


The Temple of Glory at Orsay, which belonged to Diana Mosley (née Mitford), one of the famous Mitford sisters and wife of the English fascist Sir Oswald Mosely. 

A clumsy student with poor self-esteem, Neville Longbottom was the only son of talented Aurors who, much like the Potters, were targeted for opposing Lord Voldemort. He grew up to be one of the most dedicated members of Dumbledore’s Army and a valiant warrior in the Battle of Hogwarts, proving his worth to the Gryffindor House.

  • I’ll admit I don’t have much of a clue about Neville, but it was the surname of a noble British warrior family from the medieval age (Wikipedia), so it could be taken as an old-fashioned English name that suggests nobility, for a true Gryffindor warrior.
  • Longbottom is an embarrassingly funny surname, for a boy who struggled to get respect from anybody at all.

Bonus: Neville had originally been named “Neville Puff” and “Neville Sidebottom”.


Catherine Willoughby (1519-1580)

Duchess of Suffolk and Baroness Willoughby de Eresby

Catherine Willoughby (married name, Brandon) was born on 22 March 1519 to William Willoughby, Baron Willoughby de Eresby, and his wife, Maria de Salinas. Catherine’s mother was a Spanish lady-in-waiting who had arrived in England with Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife. Maria remained one of the queen’s closest friends (she likely named her daughter after the queen), and she chose to remain in England by marrying into the English nobility. Their marriage further cemented the Anglo-Spanish alliance created by Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon’s union.

Catherine Willoughby was Baron Willoughby de Eresby’s only heir, for his sons had both died in infancy. When her father died in 1526, Catherine became the Baroness Willoughby de Eresby in her own right. At the age of seven, she became one of the most wealthy and influential women in England, as well as the most eligible. Because of her young age, Henry VIII gave Catherine’s wardship to his good friend and brother-in-law, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Brandon betrothed Catherine to his son, Henry Brandon, Earl of Lincoln. When Brandon’s wife, Mary Tudor, died in 1533, however, the forty-nine-year-old duke married his fourteen-year-old ward that same year. Despite their differences in age, Catherine Willoughby and Charles Brandon had a successful marriage. Catherine added the title, Duchess of Suffolk to her name, and she gave Charles two sons.

Catherine was raised as a devout Catholic by her mother, and her godparents included the queen and the Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner. By the 1530s, however, Catherine had begun to support radical religious reform. She supported Henry VIII’s break with Rome and the creation of the Church of England in 1534. She eventually converted fully to Protestantism, however, and certainly supported further reform - despite the king’s more conservative tendencies. She became a close friend of Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr - another Protestant. As Duchess of Suffolk, she supported reformist priests and encouraged the reading of the Bible in English. She also antagonized Catholics, including her godfather, the Bishop of Winchester, by naming her spaniel “Gardiner.”

In 1545, Charles Brandon died and Catherine became a wealthy and powerful widow. Two years later, in 1547, Henry VIII died and his Protestant son, Edward VI became king. Protestants such as Catherine celebrated and took advantage of England’s change in religion. Catherine used her wealth and power to further support Protestantism in England - patronizing reformist literature and Protestant priests, such as Hugh Latimer. She also remained close to Catherine Parr, and when the dowager queen died in 1548, the duchess took her daughter, Mary, into her care. In 1551, both of Catherine’s sons died of the sweating sickness. Catherine channeled her grief into religion, and this made her even more devoted to the Protestant cause. A couple of years later, Catherine married her second husband, Richard Bertie - a member of her household. Their union was a love match, which only wealthy widows usually had the freedom to enter into. She attempted to have her new husband named Baron Willoughby de Eresby, but to no avail. Catherine herself continued to be known as the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk. Through her second marriage, she gave birth to two daughters.

In 1553, the Catholic Mary I came to the throne, and Catherine was forced to flee England with other devout Protestants. Her reputation as a Protestant supporter was amplified at this time through the publication of John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. She and the other Marian exiles were able to return to England in 1558, when Elizabeth I came to the throne. Under the new Protestant regime, Catherine spent the rest of her life as a wealthy, powerful woman. She died on 19 September 1580 at the age of sixty-one.








Anne Stanhope (1510-1587)

Duchess of Somerset, Countess of Hertford, and Viscountess Beauchamp

Anne Stanhope is a lesser-known figure in Tudor history, but she has a special significance for me, as much of my Master’s thesis concerned her life and family. She was a fascinating woman who has, unfortunately, been much maligned in the centuries since her death. Historians, almost without fail, refer to her as a proud, ambitious, and hateful woman. Throughout much of my research, however, Anne seemed to me to have been an intelligent, devout, sensible, and tenacious woman.

Anne was born in 1510 to Sir Edward Stanhope and Elizabeth Bourchier. We know that she served at the royal court from a young age, probably beginning service as a lady-in-waiting under Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. While at court, she met and married Edward Seymour sometime in early 1535. Her marriage was well-timed, as Edward’s sister, Jane Seymour, soon caught the eye of the king. Jane became Henry VIII’s third wife in 1536, and Edward was made Viscount Beauchamp. Anne Stanhope became, within a year of her marriage, a viscountess and sister-in-law to the king. Edward and Anne had a loving marriage and she gave him ten children.

In 1537, Jane Seymour gave birth to Henry VIII’s only son and heir, Prince Edward. That same year, Edward Seymour was made Earl of Hertford, making Anne a countess. Although Jane Seymour died shortly after giving birth, Edward and Anne remained at court and in the king’s good graces. While at court, they both supported religious reformers, hoping that their influence would push the Church of England closer to Protestantism.

When Henry VIII died, his nine-year-old son, Edward VI, succeeded him. Edward Seymour, as uncle to the new king, became the Lord Protector of England and made himself Duke of Somerset. As a duchess, Anne was now at the pinnacle of the English nobility. Edward Seymour used his new power to help the king make England truly Protestant. Edward’s younger brother, Thomas Seymour, became jealous of his brother’s new power. Mere months after Henry VIII’s death, he married the old king’s widow, Catherine Parr. Their marriage shocked the court and Edward Seymour saw it as a political threat. Although Anne had served in Queen Catherine’s household under Henry VIII, as the new Lord Protector’s wife, she refused to approve of the hasty marriage. The two couples became political rivals and, in 1549, Thomas attempted to kidnap his nephew, Edward VI. Edward Seymour soon had his brother executed. Historians have blamed Anne Stanhope for Thomas Seymour’s death, arguing that she convinced her husband to act. There is no proof of this, however, and Thomas’s actions gave Edward no choice. That same year, however, Edward’s other political enemies staged a coup and he and his wife were arrested. In 1552 he was executed and Anne remained in the Tower for over a year.

Mary I, who succeeded her royal half-brother in 1553, released Anne Stanhope from the Tower. Despite the fact that Mary was a Catholic and Anne a Protestant, the two women were close friends. They had met at court under Henry VIII, and Anne had probably served Mary’s mother, Catherine of Aragon. The fact that Mary released Anne from imprisonment indicates that both women suffer from unfair historical reputations. Anne was clearly capable of forming strong female friendships at court, and Mary was clearly capable of allowing her personal relationships to outweigh her religious convictions. Anne Stanhope and her family thus benefited from the new reign, despite the fact that they were already firmly committed to the Protestant faith. In 1558, however, Elizabeth I succeeded her royal half-sister and her reign reestablished Protestantism in England. Anne Stanhope remained an important figure at court under the new queen, and the Seymour family retained its political influence. In 1561, Anne married her second husband, Francis Newdigate. Newdigate had been Anne’s first husband’s steward and he was much younger than his new wife. Their marriage seems to have been happy and mutually beneficial.

After her release from the Tower, Anne became the matriarch of the Seymour family. Her eldest son, Edward, became the Earl of Hertford (his father’s old position). Due largely to her influence, the Seymours remained one of the most important noble families in England for over a century. Anne Stanhope died on 16 April 1587 at the age of seventy-seven and was buried in Westminster Abbey. After living a long life, she had survived the reigns of four monarchs, the intrigue of the royal court, and the political and religious turmoil of the Tudor period.x