Wednesday, June 30, 2010

King Harold's Residence Found!

The ancient residence of King Harold of Denmark was discovered recently by archaeologists near the famous Jelling runic stones. Harold was called Harald Blåtand in Denmark, meaning dark-skinned and tan.

This king is well-loved by many Danes because he united Denmark and Norway and he converted Denmark to Christianity. Born in 911, King Harold was the son of King Gorm and his wife Thyra. Thyra was rather interested in Christianity but remained pagan.

When Gorm was defeated by the German king, Henry 1, he was forced to tolerate his Christian subjects. Harold only accepted Christianity when Denmark was finally defeated by Otto 1. Otto forced Harold to convert and Harold was baptized by a German with the strange name of Poppo. Harold must have taken to the new religion in the end because he built a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity and he built a monument which said that he converted the country to Christianity.

When his sister's Graafeld's husband,Erik Blood Axe, was assassinated, Harold took over Norway. He was slain himself in 986.

Harold was nicknamed 'Harold Bluetooth' and Ericsson's famous Bluetooth technology, which unites 'the worlds of computers and telecom' is named after him.

You can read more about Harold here: Harold Bluetooth's Royal Palace

The King's Secret Matter by Jean Plaidy

This is a sympathetic portrayal of Catherine of Aragon who suffered so much at the hands of Henry VIII. Plaidy paints a vivid picture of the splendour of Henry's court and the life that Catherine is forced to endure after her downfall.

Catherine is depicted as proud and determined to fight for her daughter's legitimacy. She is a very loving wife and mother, and remains very fond of Henry even when he subjects her to great trials. She is, perhaps, shown as a little bit too saintly, but Plaidy does an excellent job of making the reader feel very sorry for her.

Plaidy's character analysis of Henry is also excellent. He could be kind and loving, but quickly change to being nasty. His mercurial nature must have been extremely frightening! Henry was capable of turning against people very quickly, and the fear of death became ever-present for those close to him.

Plaidy also wrote well about Wolsey, but I got a bit tired of reading about him. He wasn't a very likeable character, and I wasn't especially interested in reading about his thoughts. Plaidy probably thought that this made the story clearer, but I am not sure that it was necessary.

I enjoyed this book and thought that it was one of Plaidy's better novels. The story is depressing and the reader knows that at the start. This probably made the novel even harder to write because many readers like happy endings. This book is worth reading if you like historical novels set in Tudor times.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Six Wives by David Starkey

This is a clearly written and interesting book in which Starkey attempts to get rid of many misconceptions about Henry VIII's wives. These misconceptions have existed for centuries. Catherine of Aragon has always been regarded as saintly, for example. Although Starkey agrees that she was very religious, he does think that she probably lied about her first marriage. She did spend a long time with Henry's brother, Arthur, who was quite healthy. It is unlikely that the marriage wasn't consummated.

He also writes sympathetically about Katherine Howard. She is usually regarded as a rather stupid tecenager, but Starkey's book shows that she really wasn't stupid. She also had a mind of her own and spoke up for some people whose lives were in danger.

I did think that Starkey got carried away by speculation at times. He writes that Anne Boleyn, for example, had her bed hung with richly embroidered crimson velvet of the 'Bed of Alancon'. He thinks that Anne may have wanted this because she got the Duke of Alancon mixed up with the French duke, Longueville, captured by the English during Henry's war with the French. Catherine had written that she would exchange the coat of the dead King of Scots, killed in the great battle of Flodden, for the Duke. Starkey thinks that Anne may have regarded the relic as a symbol of Catherine's finest hour, and appropriated it for herself. This seemed to me to be rather a stretch. Perhaps Anne just liked the beautiful fabric?

One reviewer wrote that Anne was Starkey's favourite, but I didn't think so. He annoyed me by attributing ulterior motives to her at almost every turn. The passage about the bed was just one example.

He also appeared to dislike Jane Seymour, who didn't seem to have too many qualms about Anne's death. His view of her was more understandable, I thought.

This was not a riveting book. The beginning was a bit dull but Starkey got into his stride when he started writing about Anne Boleyn and the book became more interesting. Most people who like to read about Henry's fascinating wives will enjoy it.

NB: I also posted this review at my Book Addiction blog.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Crown Princess Victoria's Wedding

Here is a pretty video of photos of : the Swedish princess's wedding. You can view many photos here and read about what all the royal ladies wore at: .Crown Princess Victoria's Wedding and the Triumph of Style.

The all-important question! What do you think of the dress?

I hope to write an article soon - it will probably be on a historical subject

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII's Rebel Sister

Queen Margaret of Scotland was certainly an interesting woman! I'm hoping to read a book about her one day. Here is my article about her: Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII's Rebel Sister.

I am writing too many posts about women, so I must try to write more about men! Henry V of England might be my next choice.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Theresa Tallien

Juan Cabarrus, the Minister of Finance for the King of Spain, was in a panic. His beautiFul daughter, who was very young, was attracting the attention of men. He needed to marry her off quickly.

He chose Juan Fontenay, a French aristocrat. Theresa, only fourteen, was probably not pleased, because Fontenay was short and not good-looking. However, she was presented at Court and she probably enjoyed the sumptuous life of luxury to which she was introduced by her husband. They had a son, Devin.

This was 1788 and danger was on its way. Fontenay fled the Revolution, leaving his young wife in peril from the ruthless French revolutionaries. Even though she divorced him in 1791, Theresa was jailed because she was the former wife of an aristocrat.

She actually went to prison twice. On the second occasion, she met and became friendly with the charismatic Josephine, the future wife of the Emperor Napoleon. She also met Jean Tallien, a revolutionary leader, and seized her chance. Even though he was pock-marked and unattractive, she became his mistress and had a daughter, Thermidor, to him. She was nicknamed 'Our Lady of Thermidor' because she used her influence to free many prisoners.

Theresa sent her lover a message: "I had a dream last night that you were no longer a coward, and I was free." After reading this, Tallien made an impassioned speech against Robespierre and managed to oust him from power. He also married Theresa. This marriage also failed, however, and they were divorced in 1802.

Theresa didn't act like a woman educated by nuns. She had many lovers, including Paul Barras and Gabriel Ouvrard. Eventually she married the Comte de Caraman, the 16th Prince of Chimay, and had several children with him.

She was famous for her salon and friendly with many in the artistic and intellectual world in Paris.

Henry VIII and The Lord's Prayer

In 'The Tudors', an enjoyable but rather historically inaccurate TV series, Henry VIII introduces the doxology into The Lord's Prayer. I became interested in whether he really did do this. You will find the history of the prayer here: The Lord's Prayer.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Young Bess by Margaret Irwin

Young Bess by Margaret Irwin

By the time that this book begins, young Princess Elizabeth has had a lot to cope with, including her mother's brutal death, different stepmothers, and her father's changing moods. She has, understandably, become guarded and somewhat distrustful. Now she finds herself dealing with her father's death and her feelings for Thomas Seymour.

Ebullient, handsome Thomas Seymour, played brilliantly by Stewart Granger in the movie, is the real star of this book. Mercurial and ambitious, he has his eye on the Crown and he falls in love with the young Princess. This naturally upsets his sweet wife, the late King's widow. Elizabeth struggles with her feelings, torn between her love for Thomas and her love for his wife, Katherine. Thomas Seymour, has 'wit, but little judgment' and his love for Elizabeth places him in great danger. It also places him in grave danger, from his equally ambitious brother, the Lord Protector.

The rivalry between the two brothers and their different characters is described with great analytical skill. The Lord Protector is cold and jealous, but he is also idealistic and he does a lot to help the common people. Which aspect of his character will win?

Elizabeth comes into her own when her love for Thomas means that she has to fight for her very life. Her courage and brilliance shine in the last section of the book.

Margaret Irwin's book describes the Tudor period in vivid detail and it's sure to please most lovers of historical novels. However, some may find the novel too full of historical detail and the style rather breathless and old-fashioned. She descends into purple prose at times, but some of the writing is luminous and some of the scenes are memorable. These include the scene in which Cranmer walks in the garden and thinks about his late friend and master, his beloved King.
Custom Search