The Tudor Facts

In my last post, I offered a quiz on Tudor History. Below are the answers, with enough detail to provide some insight to the life and times of this famous royal family.

1. How many wives did Henry VIII divorce?
While the traditional “rhyme” used to remember Henry VIIIs wives is “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived”, technically Henry never divorced any of his wives. He annulled marriages to Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves, and also annulled the marriages to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard before they were beheaded. Since the marriages were considered to never have been valid, he never had to divorce any of them.

2. Which wife of Henry VIII narrowly escaped arrest and possible execution?
While given the label “survived” in the above rhyme, Katherine Parr may have had a narrow escape. The warrant for her arrest was dropped, and the person who found it brought it directly to her. She hid it from Henry, pleaded her case to him as a loyal and loving wife who in no way subscribed to heresy, and they reconciled.

3. Which wife of Henry VIII supposedly still haunts Hampton Court Palace?
Catherine Howard. When she was arrested for adultery, it was said that she was dragged to her rooms at Hampton Court Palace screaming “her head off”. Visitors to Hampton Court have reported hearing her still shrieking in the hallways.

4. Which wife of Henry VIII was added to a famous family portrait posthumously?
In a famous picture of the Royal Family depicting Henry, Jane Seymour, and young Edward, Jane Seymour was added posthumously. She’d been dead for several years when it was painted, but Henry requested that she be included. He is also buried next to her, causing some to claim that she was his most beloved wife.

5. Despite his apparent hatred for her, Henry allowed Anne Boleyn one small “allowance” for her execution. What was it?
Henry allowed Anne to be executed by sword, instead of axe (sword being the “better” way to go, if that can be said of decapitation). This also meant she was allowed to choose her executioner.

6. How did Lady Jane Grey rise to the throne?
Even though Mary and Elizabeth had been placed back into the line of succession, they had not been legitimized. As he was dying, Edward amended the succession document, writing out Mary and Elizabeth. Mary Queen of Scots, the next legitimate heir, had been written out by Henry VIII. Therefore, the succession passed to the family of Henry’s younger sister, Mary. Francis Grey, Henry VIII’s niece would have been next in line, but (for reasons only speculated about) she was passed over for her daughter Lady Jane Grey, who never really wanted to be queen.

7. How long did Mary Tudor (once Queen) wait before executing Lady Jane Grey? How old was Lady Jane when she was beheaded?
Queen Mary waited 7 months before executing Lady Jane Grey for treason, hoping to find a way to spare her life. She provided her with a priest, saying that if Lady Jane converted to Catholicism her life would be spared. Lady Jane held steadfast to her faith, and was executed at just 16 years old.

8. Which wife of Henry’s was later named as his sister?
While Henry has been reported as saying “I like her not!” upon first meeting Anne of Cleves, she agreed to be called his sister after the marriage was annulled and the two remained friends. She frequented court often to visit, play cards, and even serve as a trusted confidant of the King.

9. Why was Henry VIII so desperate to have a son?
Henry VIII’s father (Henry VII) won the crown in battle, and his claim was a bit nebulous. Henry VII was the grandson of Catherine of Voilas, who married Owen Tudor, her Master of Closet, after the death of Henry V. Rumor was that they’d had an affair, and some speculated they never actually married – which would have made Henry VII, and therefore Henry VIII, an illegitimate heir to the throne.

10. Before marriage to Henry, Lady Anne Boleyn was bestowed which title on her that was historically only given to men.
Marquess of Pembroke. She was the first woman in England to ever be given this title.

11. Why was Elizabeth I not legally a suitable Queen for either Protestants or Catholics?
Catholics believed her parent’s marriage was invalid, and therefore she was not a legitimate heir. The marriage had been annulled under Protestant Law, which also made her an illegitimate heir. Therefore, she technically should not have been queen according to either faith.

12. The Tudor dynasty produced how many Monarchs?
Five: Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth. Technically, you could also count Lady Jane Grey, as she is a decedent of Mary Tudor, Henry’s younger sister. But she was not a direct descendent, was taken off the throne after reigning for only 9 days, and later executed for treason. James I of England (also presided as James V of Scotland) was descended from Henry VIII older sister Margaret, but his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, had long been written out of the line of succession. Therefore the Tudor dynasty is said to have produced three kings and two queens, ending with Henry’s last direct decedent, Elizabeth I.


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