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16th Century England

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.













King Henry Viii


King Henry VIII was a Tudor.  The Tudors were a Welsh family, descended from Owain ap Maredudd ap Tydwr, a silver-tongued gentleman who caught the eye of the widow of Henry V, Catherine of France. The name Tydwr morphed into Theodore and then finally Tudor. 

King Henry VIII was redheaded, athletic, and England's sporting hero when he became King at age seventeen in 1509.  He was a tremendous archer, horseman, jouster, wrestler, and musician, with an insatiable appetite for enjoying himself.    Henry married the gorgeous and prestigious Spanish princess, Catherine, his brother Arthur's widow,  just before he was crowned. 

Catherine produced a female heir, Mary, born in 1516, but then had a series of miscarriages and stillbirths.  After ten years of marriage, Henry began to ponder why God was displeased with their union, since it had failed to produce a male heir to his throne.  He found his answer in Leviticus 20: "If a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing . . . they shall be childless."  Catherine maintained that this Scripture did not apply, as her five-month marriage to the fifteen-year-old Arthur had never been consummated.  Henry came to doubt her on this score. 

By 1527, Henry had his eye on Anne Boleyn, a self-assured beauty with mesmerizing dark eyes.  He was obsessed with producing a male heir but the pope would not grant him a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, who had failed to produce a prince.  The pope normally would have granted the divorce—for a fee—but Catherine was the aunt of the powerful Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (and close ally of the papacy) Charles V, of the Habsburg family.  Therefore the pope could not disgrace her.

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey ran England for Henry with great skill and statesmanship for fourteen years.   But Wolsey offended Anne Boleyn and was therefore disgraced.  He was charged with treason and died from the shock.  Henry took over Hampton Court, the magnificent palace Wolsey had built for himself. 

Anne Boleyn gave Henry a copy of William Tyndale's book Obedience of a Christian Man in which Tyndale pointed out that the Bible made no mention of popes, bishops, or an institutional church at all.  This book provided Henry with a solution to his "Great Matter."  The King could grant himself a divorce, regardless of what the pope may think.  

King Henry VIII of England had been a devout Catholic, and such a friend to the pope against the Reformation led by Martin Luther that the pope pronounced him The Defender of the Faith.  He began to separate the English Church from the Roman Church in 1529. Parliament supported Henry's efforts to attack the privileges and property of the Roman Church in England, seeing immense material advantages to be gained.  In 1532, Henry eliminated payments to Rome; in 1533 he cut Rome's ecclesiastical jurisdiction over churches in England; in 1534 he abolished papal authority over English Christians, naming himself Supreme Head of the Church of England.

The English were a devoutly Christian people in those days, with many attending mass every day.   At the heart of the Reformation was the exhilarating idea that each person could communicate directly with God through prayer.  This diminished the central role of the priest in religious life. 

Henry questioned by what right did clerics control a vast infrastructure of earthly power and possessions, such as the huge amounts of land owned by monasteries?  The Catholic Church was easily the largest landholder in England.  Henry the VIII's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, sent crews of inspectors out to survey the 800 monasteries in England, who reported back that they were full of lazy, greedy monks and friars, about 7,000 of them; who were sexually sinful as well. These reports were used to justify the greatest land grab in English history in 1536.

The destruction of England's ancient system of education, employment and social welfare was not without protest.  The northern part of the country saw 40,000 men rise in rebellion. The Duke of Norfolk was charged with putting them down, which he did mercilessly.  Villagers were hung on trees in full view of their wives and children.  By the time all Catholic lands had been taken in 1540, Henry the VIII had raised what would be $70M today by selling off some of these properties. 

Ten days after Henry's execution of Anne Boleyn, he married the meek, submissive, soft-spoken, kindly, level-headed  Jane Seymour.  Jane had a son but died twelve days later from loss of blood and infection.  She may have been the love of the King's life.  Alone among his wives, Jane was given a glorious funeral after three weeks lying in state.  Her name was on his lips when he died in 1547, and his will directed that he be buried next to Jane Seymour. 

England was dangerously isolated when, in 1538, the pope issued a call to the Catholic powers of Europe to oppose Henry VIII.  Thomas Cromwell sought an alliance with Germany through marriage.  Cleves was an important duchy with its capital at Dusseldorf, and the sister of the Duke, Anne, was available.  Without internet access, Cromwell dispatched royal painter Hans Holbein to do a quick portrait of the lady for the King to gaze upon.  Henry loved the portrait and agreed to marry her, but when he met her he was sorely disappointed by her plain features. After their wedding night, Henry said, "I like her much worse, for I have felt her belly and breasts.  I had neither the will nor courage to proceed any further in other matters."  The word is that Anne stunk and that this deflated the ardour of the King. 

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In 1540, Cromwell himself was condemned of treason and sentenced to a dreadful death by being drawn and quartered.  His sentence would be reduced to a mere beheading if he could find a way to annul Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves, which he did.  Ten days later, the King was married again, this time to Katherine Howard, nearly 30 years his junior.  Katherine was the niece of his fierce general, the Duke of Norfolk, who was a Catholic and hated Cromwell.  The Duke had been pushing for Katherine to entice the King, and plotting Cromwell's downfall.  The new Queen was a sexpot and unfortunately this extended beyond the King.  She had several affairs.  The King wept when he found out.  She was beheaded in 1542, along with three of her lovers and her lady-in-waiting, who had arranged many of the rendezvous. 

Henry was by now a gross mountain of a man, with arthritis, ulcers, and serious royal hemorrhoids.  He did marry one more time, to Catherine Parr.  Finally, the King went the way of all men, to the grave.  It was hard to imagine England without the lustful tyrant who had once been a beautiful young sportsman.  He was surely immoral, he was not a good man, but he was a great King—maybe the greatest of English Kings.  Though he ruled England with an iron hand, he did so without an army.  He revolutionized the ownership of land, strengthened Parliament, and built the Church of England.  His accomplishments were formidable. 



Sir Thomas More


Sir Thomas More was executed by King Henry VIII for treason in 1535.  What an end for a man whose friendship had been treasured by the King. Thomas More was learned and witty; a literal Renaissance man; and friends with Erasmus.  He wore a hair shirt beneath his outer garments for most of his life.  King Henry had coerced More into becoming his Lord Chancellor.  More only accepted after Henry promised not to involve him in his divorce.  Royal policy was determined by Thomas Cromwell, who pushed a new statute through Parliament that required all men to reject the rights of Queen Catherine and her daughter Mary.  More refused and thus began his imprisonment, which ended at the scaffold. 

In 1516 he wrote Utopia, an inspired combination of the Greek words for "no" and "place."   It was a science fiction fantasy about a perfect society.  Couples with many children gave a few away to the childless.  Interestingly, lawyers were banned in Utopia and described as "those who disguise the truth." Thomas More's own wealth came from practicing law.



Anne Boleyn

Ann Boleyn (1507-1536) was the daughter of an English Earl, a devout Christian, and a fervent studier of the Bible. She became part of the court of Henry VIII in 1521, along with her sister, Mary, who became the King's mistress. Anne Boleyn refused her King when he asked her to also become his mistress, saying, "I think your majesty, most noble and worthy king, speaketh these words in mirth to prove me, without intent of defiling your princely self, who I find thinks nothing less than of such wickedness which would justly procure the hatred of God and of your good queen against us."

The evangelical Boleyn family helped Thomas Cranmer, a convert to Protestantism, be selected as the archbishop of England in 1533. That same year, Anne Boleyn married King Henry VIII after Cranmer granted the King a divorce. She appointed evangelical bishops, and distributed English Bibles throughout the realm. Anne always discussed the Bible with the King during dinner.

Like King David, Anne Boleyn used poor judgment by living with, and secretly marrying, King Henry whilst he was already married. She and the King had one child together, the future Queen Elizabeth. Anne was a flirtatious woman, and this proved to be her undoing. Flirting caused suspicion of infidelity; men were tortured and confessions produced. A court musician pleaded guilty to adultery and Anne's brother charged with incest. Anne Boleyn was falsely accused of adultery and beheaded. Her last words were, "To Christ I commend my soul, Jesus, receive my soul."




Bloody Mary

When Henry VIII died in 1547, his nine year old son Edward VI became King of England. Six years later he died of tuberculosis and the crown passed to his sister, the foul-breathed Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry's first wife, Catherine of Aragon—and a devout Catholic.

During Edward's short reign, the language used for church services changed from Latin to English; communion was once again served with both bread and wine; purgatory, confession, and Mass for the dead were repudiated.

Mary's family and life had been ruined by Protestantism and she determined to bring England back into the Catholic fold. Protestantism was outlawed and back came vestments, altars, feast days, and processions.

Queen Mary was a pious woman. She was known to kneel down to wash, dry, and kiss the feet of poor women. She visited widows in disguise and personally gave them charity.

Bloody Mary burnt 300 Protestants at the stake, including Archbishop Cranmer, who had annulled her mother's marriage and proclaimed her a bastard. But the cheerful courage of the martyrs made a favorable impression on the huge crowds that gathered to watch. Burnings were well attended entertainments back in those days but the smell of the burning flesh of good men, tortured for their beliefs, turned the people against the Queen. Hostility to popery reached new heights. It is still present in England today, where it is against the law for a British King or Queen to marry a Catholic.

One prominent victim was the bishop Hugh Latimer (1487-1555). Latimer said, "The Author of Holy Scripture is God Himself; let God's Word direct us." As he was engulfed by flames at the stake he exclaimed to a fellow martyr, "Be of good comfort! We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

Queen Mary married the heir to the Spanish throne, but died in 1558 before having children. Now the crown passed to Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, who was openly called a bastard by Catholics.












Queen Elizabeth


In 1559, the red-haired, 25-year-old Elizabeth became Queen of England.  Elizabeth was theatrical, flamboyant, vain, and hot-tempered. 

Though the Catholics viewed Queen Elizabeth as a heretic and a bastard; she was deeply loved by her Protestant subjects.  Queen Elizabeth declared the religion of England to be Protestant; yet she kept Catholic elements such as priestly robes, ornaments, saints' days, confirmation, the sign of the cross, and kneeling.  This became known as Anglicanism, a middle way between Rome and Geneva.  Elizabeth loved ceremony and felt it should be an important part of worship.  Puritans complained about these dregs of popery, and half-baked reform.  Elizabeth agreed with Luther, that robes and ornaments don't matter much either way.  She saw her ideas as compromise, live and let live. As Francis Bacon said, "She had no desire to make windows into men's souls.

But a strong Puritan movement was swelling that hated everything Catholic, especially after the publication of Foxe's Book of Martyrs in 1563. This spectacular book detailed the burnings of true believers by the Roman Catholic Church over the previous two hundred years.  News reached England about bonfires of vernacular Bibles in Catholic lands, adding fuel to the fire.

Mary Queen of Scots began to plot the overthrow of Elizabeth in 1586.  Her plans were discovered and Elizabeth reluctantly allowed her execution. 

Meanwhile the Puritan movement grew still larger. The Puritans did not believe in compulsory church attendance.  They believed people should only go to church if they wanted to; that they should worship according to the Bible; and elect their own ministers.  This became known as Congregationalism.  They were persecuted and in 1593 many of them fled to Holland. 

Near the foot of London bridge, grimaced a row of rotting skulls, the severed heads of traitors, some of them generations old.  Twenty to thirty were hanged every day in 1599, for crimes such as treason, murder, manslaughter, rape, grand theft, witchcraft, highway robbery, desertion from the army, hawk stealing, the malicious letting out of ponds, committing homosexual acts, and bestiality.

Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, her sixty-nine-year-old face still plastered with the lead-based white chalk that killed her.  All women of means in those days wore thick color and varnish on their faces, sometimes made from apples and hog fat.  That new device, the mirror, had started the beauty business.  Elizabeth dyed her hair red and plucked her eyebrows out of her head, which is why she never looked surprised.  Elizabeth was the white-faced Virgin Queen. 

Elizabeth had presided over one of the most glorious periods of English history.  During her reign, the first English stock market was created.  Sir Walter Raleigh said, "The Queen was a lady whom time had surprised." 

The son of Mary Queen of Scots became King James of England, and every monarch since has been her descendant. 



Spanish Armada


In 1588, King Philip of Spain, the most powerful monarch in Europe,  launched the largest naval force in world history, the Spanish Armada, against England to punish her for piracy, Protestantism, and for locking up Mary Queen of Scots.  King Philip and Queen Elizabeth were bitter rivals. 

27,000 soldiers were aboard those 130 ships, along with hundreds of monks who were to restore Catholicism to England.  More than half of the Spanish Armada was destroyed by faster, more maneuverable English ships;  English naval skill; and God's Providence—manifested as winds which favored the English.  The English also had twice the cannon power on their ships—Spanish ships were built to haul silver—and they deployed fire ships against the Spaniards.  17,000 Spanish soldiers perished in this humiliating defeat, that spelled the beginning of the end of the dominance of Spain.  The English lost sixty men and not one ship. 



Sir Francis Drake


Sir Francis Drake was an adventurer who saw piracy and plunder as his solemn Protestant duty, providing the captured vessels were the property of Catholic Spain.

By the 1580s his very name provoked panic among the Spanish.

Drake not only hijacked the King of Spain's silver in route from the New World, he daringly pillaged harbors and sacked Catholic churches in Spain itself.

Sir Francis Drake cemented his fame by sailing around the world during 1577-1580.





Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots was the granddaughter of the English King Henry VII. From the time she was six days old, she bore the title, Queen of Scots. In 1565 Mary married her cousin Henry Stuart (Lord Darnley). She soon began an adulterous affair with the Earl of Bothwell, and they blew up—literally—her bedridden syphilitic husband. She then married Bothwell, and was compelled to abdicate her throne. Thus her one-year-old son James was crowned King of Scotland, and would one day be King of England as well. Mary fled to England to throw herself on the mercy of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth. But the Queen of England was jealous of her reputedly much prettier relative, and placed her under house arrest. The two women never met.

In 1570 Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth and called on English Catholics to rise up and murder her. The papal decree would become Mary's death sentence. Elizabeth's spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, was convinced that England would plunge into a civil, religious war if Mary was allowed to live. He conducted a sting operation and caught Mary red-handed agreeing with a plot to kill Elizabeth. Mary was convicted of treason and her head was chopped off. Elizabeth was stricken with grief, and enraged at the news because she had not signed the final execution order yet. Apparently her aides had itchy axe finger.




Sir Walter Raleigh


Sir Walter Raleigh was a soldier of fortune.

He was handsome, well built, rich, a flashy dresser, and a proper gentleman.

Queen Elizabeth named him Captain of the Guard.

She also granted him exclusive control over the sale of tin, playing cards, and liquor licenses.

Raleigh brought the potato and tobacco to the English court, the former considered an aphrodisiac and the latter a healthy medicine.

He proposed that the land where these plants grew should be named in her honor—Virginia.

The Water Closet

Sir John Harrington invited Queen Elizabeth to try out his new invention, the first modern water closet, in 1592. Most folks of those days used a hole in the ground, with moss or leaves as toilet paper. But this device had a lever by which you could flush water down from a cistern above. The Queen loved it and installed one in her palace.

To prepare this article I used the following books: Europe by Norman Davies; Great Tales from English History by Robert Lacey; and From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 15, 2019:

Kimberley ~ I appreciate your lovely laudations. Thanks for visiting. Your comments made my day. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 15, 2019:

James Dean Watkins ~ Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate your comments and warm invitation to further correspondence.

இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу from Niagara Region, Canada on August 21, 2013:

What can I say James except that this was wonderful! I love the Tudors and their stories never get old. Well done.

Best wishes


James Dean Watkins on July 18, 2013:

i'd like to hear from james a watkins and find out more i live in dodge city kansas 67801 1400 4th ave apt 5 phone number is 620-253-6721 i go by jim thank you and hope to hear from you as soon as you have time.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 03, 2012:

nklnkl— Thank you!! Thank you very much! :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 03, 2012:— Thank you very much for taking the time to come by and read my article. I appreciate your patience as I know this Hub is a bit long. There was much ground to cover.

I enjoyed reading your outstanding remarks. You are spot on in your analysis. It is always a pleasure to "see" you and receive your discerning thoughts for my perusal. Thanks again!


nkjnkl on December 03, 2012:

this was useless i didn't help me at all i needed to find out about names for criminals in 16th century england!!!!!!! from upstate, NY on November 30, 2012:

What a long and tragic example this is of the abuse of power and a confirmation that- "absolute power corrupts absolutely"! I can also see, how the reputation of the Christian faith was damaged by the power plays of English tyrants! This history lesson makes a good object lesson in understanding the nature and tactics of tyrants, a lesson that the Founding Father took to heart when crafting a government which divided powers and respected God given rights.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 11, 2012:

Patricia,— You are most welcome. Thank you for your visit and your astute comments. I am glad you are such a fan of 16th Century England.

This Hub has proven to be quite popular for me. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 13, 2011:

gryphin423— Thank you!! Thank you you very much! :D

Welcome to the HubPages Community, my fellow Floridian.

gryphin423 from Florida on October 10, 2011:

My focus when getting my BA in History was this period. Nice overview! Thanks again.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 03, 2011:

pfp— Thank you. Thank you very much.

pfp on October 02, 2011:

rubbish info

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2011:

sharewhatuknow— That IS ironic, alright. Mary Queen of Scots lives on.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate your excellent, thoughtful comments. Welcome to the HubPages Community!

sharewhatuknow from Western Washington on September 11, 2011:

Isn't it ironic that Mary, Queen of Scots, was a Tudor by blood, was imprisoned for years by her own first cousin once removed, Queen Elizabeth, and executed as a traitor, only to have her son become king, thus having the modern day monarchy descended from her.

In essense, Mary Queen of Scots still lives on.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 05, 2011:

marwan asmar— I appreciate you taking the time to read some of my work. I am glad you enjoyed this article in particular. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

Marwan Asmar from Amman, Jordan on September 04, 2011:

It brings back memories of school days when we were learning about the tudors, very enjoyable

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2011:

X— AH! Madame X! I have missed your wise comments and encouragement. I'm sorry you left HubPages. I'll come over and see if there are any Hubs of yours I have missed.

Oh. I see you have pulled your Hubs. That is too bad. I've missed you.

X on February 21, 2011:

Madame X. Left hubpages because of the overt left-wing bias on the forums from the HP staff. But I still read your stuff :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 17, 2011:

X— I'm trying to place you . . . give me a clue.

I appreciate that recommendation. I've written it down and I'll check it out. I never pictured Elizabeth I as "wishy-washy;" that's for sure. No doubt she was shrewdly calculating, as you say.

Thank you for coming to visit, and for your excellent comments. You are also truly welcome. :)

X on February 16, 2011:

Hello James - long time no see!

Great hub! I've done an extensive study on this subject and was delighted to see your hub on it. I recommend the book "Elizabeth the Great" by Elizabeth Jenkins. She's one of the only authors I've read about the Tudor era that understands how Elizabeth I's decisions were all made based on the dynamics of power. Elizabeth I was never wishy-washy or procrastinating, as some authors claim, but shrewdly calculating. She had to be - so many were just waiting for the smallest opportunity to depose her.

Thanks for the fun read. -Ellen

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 26, 2011:

mademoiselle33— Whoa! We have an expert here. You see, I am a mere layman. I am surely glad you came with your piercing insights and studied knowledge into this history.

Yes, I believe all you said is true. Thank you for these illuminating words. I appreciate your contributions to our understanding. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

mademoiselle33 from Cleveland, OH on January 26, 2011:

Actually, the pope did consider giving Henry VIII an annulment...that is why he sent Cardinal Campeggio as a papal legate to help decide the matter because Henry asserted the dispensation had been granted under false pretenses. He brought witnesses to testify that Catherine had slept with Arthur and therefore, his marriage to her was illegal. The dispensation had only been granted because Catherine said (and everyone at the time went along with it) that her marriage to Arthur hadn't been consummated. However, Campeggio & Clement were being pressured by Charles, the Holy Roman Emperor & nephew of Catherine of Aragon, who just happened to be holding the pope prisoner at that time (after the Sack of Rome).

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 17, 2011:

Malcolm_Cox— I appreciate you taking the time to check out my Hubs. Thank you for your comments. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

Malcolm_Cox from Newcastle, England on January 16, 2011:

great stuff. English is is my favourite! I'm English so that's probably not surprising

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2010:

WestOcean— Thank you very much! Wolsey, I agree, is a fascinating character.

I surely appreciate you taking the time to read my work. I enjoyed your comments.

WestOcean from Great Britain on December 09, 2010:

An outstanding hub. I am fascinated by the persona of Wolsey, that son of an Ipswich butcher who became "alter rex"...

"Why come ye nat to court? To which court, to the king's court, or Hampton Court?" - John Skelton

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on August 26, 2010:

Peggy W— Right. History can be awfully boring if it only involves rote memorization of dates and names. It is truly an incredible story that should be intensely intresting if told well.

I greatly appreciate the Tweet! Thank you for visiting and commenting. Always nice to hear from you.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 25, 2010:

Just like boba020682, I also liked history but hated the tests with names, places and dates. You brought this synopsis of 16th Century England alive with your words and photos. Thanks! Will tweet this!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 15, 2010:

jorrddann— Thank you! Thank you very much. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

jorrddann on May 13, 2010:

I am absolutely obsessed with the Tudor era, amazing post!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 11, 2010:

boba020682— I always enjoy hearing from you, my friend. Thank you for your fine comments. And you are welcome!


boba020682 from Silicon Valley on May 06, 2010:


A very nice job of condensing about a hundred years of English history.

History was one of my favorite subjects until I had to take tests on it. Always loved the information. Hated the testing.

So this was a pleasant experience.

Thank you!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 29, 2010:

MCWebster— Thank you! I appreciate your compliments. As you observed, this is quite condensed. I saw that you are a musician and have a degree in art history. So, I am your latest follower and look forward to reading your Hubs. :D

MCWebster on April 29, 2010:

Hi James,

Terrific hub! I've recently been reading a lot of non-fiction articles about King Henry VIII and his court, as well as many historical fiction novels. Currently reading one about Mary, queen of Scots. You do a great job of condensing a lot of info here!

Looking forward to reading more of your work :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 28, 2010:

Micky Dee— Thank you! Thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed it, brother. You are most assuredly welcome.

Micky Dee on April 28, 2010:

Great hub! Great Pics. I enjoyed learning some new things and re-learning. I remember bits but I was glad to go through the entire hub with the comments! Thanks James!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 28, 2010:

lone77star— You're welcome. I sure appreciate the accolades. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

Rod Martin Jr from Cebu, Philippines on April 27, 2010:

Thanks for an entertaining hub. You bring history to life for a most important era in England. You captured the motivation behind the events with humor and insight. And great pictures, too!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 25, 2010:

habee— That sounds like an interesting Hub. I have heard about the TV series "The Tudors" but I haven't seen it yet. I'll have to do that. Thank you for the compliment.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 25, 2010:

rls8994— He surely was a busy man! I love history. I am glad that you've enjoyed my work. Thank you for letting me know.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 25, 2010:

Tom Whitworth— Yes, brother, as you say the Founders did not want a state imposed religion that was mandatory for all to observe. I so appreciate your laudations! Thank you. :D

Holle Abee from Georgia on April 25, 2010:

Awesome! I've been watching the Tudors series again, and I'm thinking of writing a hub about the wives of Henry VIII.

rls8994 from Mississippi on April 24, 2010:

Henry Vlll was a very busy man wasn't he? History is so fasinating! Your hubs are always so full of information. I have learned so much from you and your avid research. This was great!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 24, 2010:

DeBorrah K. Ogans— There you are! What a pleasure to receive you again. I am so happy to read your laudatory remarks. I am walking ten feet tall now. :D

Thank you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 24, 2010:

gracenotes— Well, you are surely right. Women were treated unfairly. And the poor men, being drawn and quartered . . . I don't want to think about it. :-)

Tom Whitworth from Moundsville, WV on April 24, 2010:


Another home run, you knocked this out of the park!!!!!!

It is obvious why our Founding Fathers wanted no established State religion. England had way too much mixing of politics and religion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on April 23, 2010:

James A Watkins, Wow! Intriguing, educational and fascinating historical chronicle of 16th century England!

The saga between man’s idolization of power resulting in corruption through domination and control continues... What an enthralling cast of characters! I must join the chorus by saying your work is always excellent and well researched! I am never disappointed and always impressed! Great illustrations as well! Superb job Professor! In His love, Peace & Blessings!

gracenotes from North Texas on April 23, 2010:


Yes, I agree, it was a dangerous time for MANY folks.

However, when things went wrong in the natural, women could easily be accused of being witches, or of being associated with the "dark arts" in some way. It happened in Henry VIII's time, and of course, we're familiar with what happened during early life in 17th century Salem, Massachusetts.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 23, 2010:

CMHypno— Yes, I agree that this could easily be several Hubs. This is only meant to be a brief overview so I can keep moving. Actually, I wrote a Hub about 16th Century Europe and broke this off from it, which I will publish later today. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on April 23, 2010:

Interesting Hub on the Tudor period James, but you could easily divide it into different Hubs if you wanted to - each of these people could easily be a Hub on their own. Lots of good research.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2010:

Amber Allen— Hi Amber! Thank you for taking the time to read my article and for your well received compliments. I only have three brain cells left and they are working overtime. :D


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2010:

jjmyles— Thank you! Thank you very much. "Off with their heads!" :D

It seems as though they resolved their difficulties the quick way. Life was short in those days.

Amber Allen on April 21, 2010:

Hi James

A truly well researched and interesting hub which took me back to my school days. Whilst I'm not an avid history buff I can remember the fate of the six wives of Henry VIII as I was taught the following "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived". I also remembered that armada is Spanish word for naval fleet! So some of the old gray cells must still be there and working!!


jjmyles from Pacific Northwest on April 21, 2010:

Great Hub! Excellent research. The royal court was a real soap opera. It was quite a violent show that the royals ran. "off with their heads." Seems to have been the answer to any inconvienence that popped up.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2010:

carolina muscle— Thank you, my friend! I appreciate the kind words.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2010:

Allan McGregor— Ah! The old close shave! :)

Thank you, my brother, for illuminating this topic. I appreciate your visits and extraordinary commentaries. You are always more than welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2010:

gracenotes— Yes, Elizabeth seems quite wise in her choice to remain single, despite enormous pressures brought to bear to marry a strategic ally. This looks like a dangerous time to be any person, male or female, to me. Still, it is fascinating. Thanks for coming by and leaving your fine remarks.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2010:

Allan McGregor— You are so right, my friend. Many of these characters rightly deserve their own Hubs—Henry, Elizabeth, Mary Tudor, Drake, Raleigh, More, and as you say, Mary Queen of Scots. I only attempted a brief overview for the attention span challenged. :D JK

Everything you wrote seems entirely accurate to me. Thank you very much for filling in the gaps.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2010:

Kendall H.— Thank you. Rock Stars, eh? I hadn't heard that but it is befitting. I am well pleased that you enjoyed this article. Thanks for coming!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2010:

knell63— Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. You are an Englishman fortunate enough to live in the Italian countryside. Oh! What a lucky man he was!

carolina muscle from Charlotte, North Carolina on April 21, 2010:

well done.... an interesting read!!!

Allan McGregor from South Lanarkshire on April 21, 2010:

Secret marriages of courtiers happened because royal attendants had strategic obligations, one of which was that they may not marry without the king's/queen's permission.

This was not that uncommon until quite recently. When I was a police officer an older colleague told me that as recently as the 1960s an officer still had to ask the chief constable's permission to marry, whereupon an assessment would be made of the suitability of their intended.

As sovereigns ruled as absolute monarchs in the 16th Century, disobedience to a royal edict was treason, hence the close shave on the axeman's block.

gracenotes from North Texas on April 20, 2010:

What a fascinating time of history that was. But not a good time to be a woman at all.

Husband impotent? My fault. Gave birth to royal male heir, stillborn? My fault.

It is very interesting, but if you read enough of that era, you begin to wonder about all of the secret marriages. In fact, my reading indicates that a secret engagement that you entered into, but broke off, was enough to make you a marked woman, should that information ever be uncovered. Too much intrigue, innuendo, and heartlessness for me. Too many risks to be a married woman. No wonder Elizabeth remained single her whole life.

Allan McGregor from South Lanarkshire on April 20, 2010:

Mary Queen of Scots life would make a great hub in its own right, because she is a pivotal figure in world history.

She actually became Queen at six days old after her father James V died at the age of 30. He too had become king as a child when his father James IV was killed fighting the English at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Henry VIII was abroad at that time so it was his wife Catherine of Aragon who dispatched the army that dispatched Mary's grandfather.

By the time of Mary’s birth, Henry had a son and seeing his chance to acquire Scotland through the marriage of Mary to young Edward, invaded Scotland accordingly, in a campaign of harassment Sir Walter Scott later called ‘the War of Rough Wooing’.

That’s why Mary was removed by her mother Marie of Guise to the French Court where she eventually married the Dauphin at Notre Dame Cathedral, becoming daughter-in-law of Catherine de Medici in the process. When the Dauphin became Francis II, Mary became Queen of France. Sadly, Francis died aged 17 and Mary returned to Scotland two years later.

So, as the daughter of James V, wife of Francis II and granddaughter of Henry VII, Mary was arguably Queen of Scots by birth, Queen of France by marriage and Queen of England by right.

However, having fled to France as a child, Mary was culturally French and despite being religiously tolerant was despised for being Roman Catholic by Scottish reformers like John Knox who had been a slave in a French galley.

Renowned as the most beautiful queen in Europe, Mary was highly sexed and soon became dazzled by her English first cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, but soon became disliilustioned with her political match and became close to and the Italian courtier David Rizzio, who some think may have been her lover. Darnley was in fact a drunken bully and a brute who beat his wife during her pregnancy and on discovering her relationship with Rizzio burst into her chambers with a bunch of Scottish nobles and stabbed Rizzio to death in front of her.

Mary’s baby would become James VI, first king of Great Britain and the king who commissioned the Authorised Version of the Bible, popularly known as the King James Version.

Unsurprisingly, Mary's marriage to Darnley did not flourish and she took James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell as her lover, who is generally believed to have murdered Darnley.

The jury’s out on who definitely did the dirty deed, as there were no reliable witnesses and no Edinburgh CSI to wrap up the case. But it seems that when Darnley’s apartment was blown up while he slept, he survived the blast, saved by his mattress from the impact as he was thrown clear and made a run for it, only to be hunted down and strangled.

Knox accused Mary of complicity and Scotland eventually descended into a civil war which ended at what is now Battlefield just outside Queen’s Park (named after Mary). When her army lost she fled to England and the rest, as they say, is history.

Kendall H. from Northern CA on April 20, 2010:

Excellent hub! History really has the most interesting characters especially during that time period in England. I believe they are calling them 'rock stars.' Anyway it was a pleasure to read! Good luck on the book!

knell63 from Umbria, Italy on April 20, 2010:

Great hub James, I had the Kings and Queens of England spoon fed as a kid at school but its always good to take a refresher course.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

dreamreachout— Thank you for the applause! I sure appreciate it.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

JannyC— You are surely welcome, my dear. I so appreciate your kind comments. Thank you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

hypnodude— Good to see you are still around. Thanks for the affirmation. Yes, women can be dangerous creatures.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

magnoliazz— Thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yes, people were stuck in the middle of many serious disputes in those days. Most of them simply tried their best to pick the side they thought would win.

dreamreachout on April 20, 2010:

Wonderful hub!! Great to know such historical facts. Your hubs are amongst the very best here on hub pages .. Kudos!!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

Hello,hello,— Hello! You're welcome. The ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh? hmmm . . .

Thank you for the accolades. It makes a man feel good. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

billyaustindillon— He was one busy dude, alright. Thanks for the compliment. I enjoyed writing this, and researching it beforehand, too. Good to see you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

lightning john— Thank you and you're welcome. Severe penalties surely lessen crime. In some Arab lands they chop your hand off for stealing. The theft rates are incredibly low. They castrate you for rape. They hardly ever have a rape to prosecute. hmmm . . .

JannyC on April 20, 2010:

I adored this as you fed the histroy lover in me. I knew some of the history, but you went above and beyond in this one and I learned new things. Thank you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

Ken R. Abell— You are surely welcome. I'm glad you came to visit and that you enjoyed the presentation. Thank you for letting me know, brother.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

GmaGoldie— Thank you for the laudations! You have warmed my heart and lifted my spirits!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

RevLady— Well then, here you go. It is my pleasure to write about history. I love it. Thank you for your gracious words. And you are welcome. God Bless You Sister! :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

stars439— Thanks for the applause, my friend. I always enjoy reading your warm words in my comments boxes; and your Hubs are also quite interesting and full of the love that fills your heart.

Andrew from Italy on April 20, 2010:

Some women are really dangerous. :) James your historic hubs are always a pleasure to read. This one was simply great. Rated up and stumbled.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

Ann Nonymous— Hey, Ann! Thank you for the accolades. I love history. This was a fascinating time period, methinks. I appreciate you coming by to visit. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

"Quill"— Thank you for reading my article, brother. I do appreciate it and I am well pleased to read your kind compliments.

magnoliazz from Wisconsin on April 20, 2010:

Excellent hub, very enjoyable.

"Dammned if you do, dammmed if you don't", the mantra of the average person of the time.

Religion is a convuluted, funny thing, a completely human device.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on April 20, 2010:

Hello, James, and thank you for the pleasure of reading you piece of English history. As always, fantastic. Would I expect anything else? One little information about Sir Walther Raleigh. He definitely was beheaded because his ghost still wanders about with his head under his arm. I forgot where. It could be either Hampton Court or the Tower of London. He had been seen several times. Thank you for a very comprehensive hub.

billyaustindillon on April 20, 2010:

Henry VIII had a very busy time didn't he from his involvement in the reformation and all those wives - you capture it so well James.

lightning john from Florida on April 20, 2010:

Great history james thank you!

Treason and wrong doing had severe repercussions in those days! I just have to wonder that if we had the same today for overwelmingly guilty child rapists/killers that surely there would be a less large prison population.

Ken R. Abell on April 20, 2010:

Excellent work, as always, James. I especially appreciated this one because you hit upon a couple of my first heroes, Sir Francis Drake & Queen Elizabeth. Fifth grade social studies class.

Thank you for an enjoyable, educational read.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on April 20, 2010:

I didn't think you could get any better - this Hub is fantastic! Wow!

RevLady from Lantana, Florida on April 20, 2010:

My knowledge of this period in European history is lacking so I can appreciate this hub and the work that went into organizing it is such a readable manner. The photos are a wonderful compliment. Thank you.

Forever His,

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on April 20, 2010:

James, your work is amazing and an educational pleasure to read. You brought history to life in this nice hub, and as always the photographs are interesting and many. God Bless You Dear Brother.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 19, 2010:

cameciob— You are welcome. Thank you for your gracious compliments. I am well pleased to read your response. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 19, 2010:

Vladimir! You're welcome, my friend. Thank you for your kind comments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 19, 2010:

EnLydia Listener— Where would I be without my wit? Thank you for coming.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 19, 2010:

msorensson— I am well pleased that you approve, my dear. Thank you for letting me know.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 19, 2010:

satomko— Thank you! Thank you very much.

Ann Nonymous from Virginia on April 19, 2010:

Hi james! It was great getting a history lesson from you again! The Kings, Queens and Lords of England have been on mind a lot lately, so it was perfect to read this and learn! Good hub!

"Quill" on April 19, 2010:

James as always the research you put into your work amazes me and blesses us all...a real history lesson indeed...

Blessings and Good Faith Brother

cameciob on April 19, 2010:

Hi James, you did a wonderful job reviving such great lives of kings and queens of England. I forgot how many unique stories this county’s history has. Your hub is a nice overview. Thank you for reminding me.

Vladimir Uhri from HubPages, FB on April 19, 2010:

Very good history info, thanks James.

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