Some more reviews of my book ‘The King is Dead’

Category : Blog · No Comments Dec 28th, 2015

Queen to History’s blog post:

A beautifully produced account of the creation, impact and legacy of one of the most important documents of the Tudor period – the last will and testament of Henry VIII.

The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII

Good Reads:

A beautifully produced account of the creation, impact and legacy of one of the most important documents of the Tudor period – the last will and testament of Henry VIII.

On 28 January 1547, the sickly and obese King Henry VIII died at Whitehall. Just hours before his passing, his last will and testament had been read, stamped and sealed. The will confirmed the line of succession as Edward, Mary and Elizabeth; and, following them, the Grey and Suffolk families. It also listed bequests to the king’s most trusted councillors and servants.

Henry’s will is one of the most intriguing and contested documents in British history. Historians have disagreed over its intended meaning, its authenticity and validity, and the circumstances of its creation. As well as examining the background to the drafting of the will and describing Henry’s last days, Suzannah Lipscomb offers her own, illuminating interpretation of one of the most significant constitutional documents of the Tudor period.

Illustrated with portraits of key figures at Henry’s court, including the executors named by Henry in his will, THE KING IS DEAD is a Tudor gift book to cherish, as authoritative as it is beautiful.

And another from Good Reads: James’ review.

Bookbag’s: Christmas Recommendation

History of Royal Women:

The lovely people over at Head of Zeus provided me with a copy of ‘The King is Dead’, by Suzannah Lipscomb, which is admittedly not about a royal woman, but some were most definitely affected by it. ‘The King is Dead’ is about the last will and testament of King Henry VIII of England, who despite six marriages had fathered a single sickly legitimate son and two illegitimate daughters.

Tudor Book Reviews:

Before I begin my review of the content, let me start by saying that Suzannah Lipscomb’s latest book The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII is stunning. It’s a square-shaped hardback book with a beautifully illustrated cover. The cover image has embossing and the K and the D of the title are illuminated. It’s just the kind of book that you want decorating your coffee table – gorgeous. It also features colour illustrations inside – very well produced.

But now to the content …

 

 

Free public lecture in London on the subject of Henry VIII’s will

Category : Blog · No Comments Dec 23rd, 2015

On 22nd February I will be giving a free public lecture in Bedford Square, London on the subject of Henry VIII’s will as part of the NCH Lectures Spring Season.

Tickets are available here.

UPDATE: General admission tickets are sold out – but make a point of checking back on the website after the deadlines pass for school kids and teachers, as if they don’t sell, those tickets will be released to the general public.

The Times Review of The King is Dead

Category : Blog · No Comments Dec 23rd, 2015

Cunning plans from beyond the grave

The King is Dead got a lovely review in The Times on Saturday 19th December from Gerard De Groot. He says:

Lipscomb ‘deserves admiration for taking on some of the heavy-hitters among Tudor historians and for holding her own… This is a book that deserves to be read. Lipscomb hs produced an entirely credible interpretation of a contentious issue. Her sober but still engaging prose thankfully lacks that sweet sentimentality that so often characterises popular histories of the Tudors. Her analysis of the available documents seems sturdy. With admirable authority, she provides an interesting allegory about how misplaced trust can undermine the best-laid plans of a powerful king.’

Then & now: Witches, Women and Outsiders

Category : Blog · No Comments Nov 27th, 2015

On Saturday 23rd January, 2016, at 5.45pm, I’ve been invited  to discuss witch hunts past and present, both literal and metaphorical. This event will take place at the Arcola Theatre, Dalston, London, between the afternoon and evening performances of Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern, and is free to attend.

Why not book to see the play on the same day?

 

An Adult Education

Category : Blog · No Comments Nov 26th, 2015

There should be no contradiction in constructing a history curriculum that incorporates both Britain’s ‘national memory’ and its many diversities. My December History Today article can be read here.

Bookish child: 'The Young Cicero Reading', fresco by Vincenzo Foppa, c.1464.

Bookish child: ‘The Young Cicero Reading’, fresco by Vincenzo Foppa, c.1464.

Hatchards book signings

Category : Blog · No Comments Nov 25th, 2015

Calling all those looking for a signed copy of THE KING IS DEAD I’ll be signing books at Hatchard’s on Piccadilly, London tomorrow night – Thursday 26 November – between 6.30pm and 8.30pm for their Christmas Customer Evening.

Book signing at Hatchards, Piccadilly on Thursday 26th November - 6.30pm - 8.30pm.

Book signing at Hatchards, Piccadilly on Thursday 26th November – 6.30pm – 8.30pm.

Interview with the Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide

Category : Blog · No Comments Nov 24th, 2015

I’ve done an interview for the Lady Jane Grey website about my new book, which you can read here.

And, I’ll have some exciting news about US publication soon…

Hidden Killers of the Post-War Home

Category : Blog · No Comments Nov 24th, 2015

Excited to be recording the voiceover for our new Hidden Killers… Of the Post-War Home… Coming soon to BBC 4.

Discussion about The King is Dead on BBC Radio London with Harriet Scott and Tim Arthur

Category : Blog · No Comments Nov 22nd, 2015

Here it is on catch-up: 2 hrs 17 mins in, I’m told.

Free Thinking

Category : Blog · No Comments Oct 26th, 2015

As Halloween fast approaches, Matthew Sweet is joined around the Free Thinking cauldron by guests (including me) to consider the season of the witch.

Join me on BBC Radio 3, at 10pm, on Tuesday 27th October, when I will be discussing Witches with Marina Warer, Matthew Sweet, Claire Nally, Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Catherine Spooner and Craig Templeton Smith.

Or if you miss it, the programme will be available to listen to on iPlayer Radio shortly after broadcast.

The King is Dead

Category : Blog · No Comments Oct 23rd, 2015

In less than 2 weeks – on 5th November, my new book, The King Is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII, is to be published.

Pre-order it here now to get it first.

 

History Hit

Category : Blog · No Comments Oct 23rd, 2015

Here’s the whole panel at HistoryHit – from left to right Neil Oliver, Sam Willis, Bethany Hughes, Dan Snow, Tom Holland, me, David Olugosa and Frank McDonough:

History Hit Live panel

History Hit Live panel

History Hit Live

Category : Blog · No Comments Oct 21st, 2015

Come hear some of your favourite Twitter historians discussing big historical questions:

At St. James's Church, Piccadilly, 22nd October, 7pm.

At St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, 22nd October, 7pm.

 

Get your tickets here

 

 

A brief history of witches

Category : Blog · No Comments Oct 21st, 2015

Here’s a short history of witchcraft that I wrote for the BBC History Magazine (online):

History Extra

c1610, a group of supposed witches being beaten in front of King James I (King James VI of Scotland). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

c1610, a group of supposed witches being beaten in front of King James I (King James VI of Scotland). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

On the trail of sorcery and superstition

Category : Blog · No Comments Oct 21st, 2015

If all this witchery makes you want to go looking for witchcraft sites, here’s my guide, featured in this week’s Sunday Telegraph.

Telegraph article about witchcraft

WITCH HUNT: A Century of Murder

Category : Blog · (2) Comments Oct 5th, 2015

I have exciting news for UK viewers: my series on the 16th and 17thc women accused of witchcraft – “WITCH HUNT: A Century of Murder” – looks set to start on Channel 5 on 13th October. (It’s been renamed from Witches to Witch Hunt).

More details to follow (including any dates for airing in other countries as and when I get them).

Witchcraft pictures

A brief history of witches

Step into a dark chapter of Britain’s history

Did you know that one in five witches in Europe were male

Some of the common characteristics of witches

How did the authorities prove that someone was a witch?

Where do the stereotypical ideas of witches come from?

The Stuff of the Living Past

Category : Blog · No Comments Sep 24th, 2015

Historians try to produce as total a view of the past as possible. Yet does our concern with facts isolate us from how material culture influenced lived experience?

Oct Hist Today picture

Read my latest History Today post here.

How to choose a wife – sixteenth-century style

Category : Blog · (2) Comments Aug 21st, 2015

If you are a man seeking a wife, you can do worse than employ this helpful list of questions prepared by King Henry VII in 1505 when he was thinking of marrying again (to Joanna of Naples).

 

Ask yourself:

1. Does she speak any French or Latin?

2. How old is she?

3. Does she wear makeup?

King_Henry_VII

The wisdom of Henry VII

4. Is her face fat or lean, sharp or round?

5. Is her countenance cheerful and amiable, frowning and malicious, steadfast or light, and does she blush when she speaks?

6. How clear is her skin?

7. What colour is her hair?

8. What shape is her nose?

9. Measure the height and breadth of her forehead.

10. Are her arms long or short, small or great?

11. Get a look at her bare hands: are her palms thick or thin? Are her hands fat or lean, long or short?

12. What about her fingers? Are they long or short, small or great, broad or narrow?

13. And her neck? Is it long or short, small or great?

14. Are her breasts big or small?

15. Does she have any hair about her lips?

16. Find some excuse to get her to tell a story at some length, get as close to her as possible and note: how sweet is her breath?

17. Every time you speak with her, notice: does she smell of spices, or rosewater, or musk?

18. How tall is she? And is she wearing heels? How high are the heels? Don’t be deceived into thinking she’s taller than she actually is.

19. When she takes the heels off, get a look at her feet: what shape are they?

Joanna of Naples - how did she fare under Henry VII's vigorous questionnaire?

Joanna of Naples – how did she fare under Henry VII’s vigorous questionnaire?

20. Does she have any sickness, deformities or blemishes? Is she often ill? With what?

21. Enquire about her diet. Is she a great feeder or drinker? Does she eat often? Does she drink wine or water, or both?

22. Finally, appoint a ‘cunning painter’ to produce an image of her.

This, gentlemen, is all the information you need to make your decision.

 

Based on:

Instructions given by King Henry the Seventh to his Embassadors, When he intended to marry the young queen of Naples: together with the answers of the embassadors ed. by T. Becket and P.A. De Hondt (1761)

Excerpts below:

  1. …whether the young queen speke any other languages thatn Spaynyshe and Italyon, and whether she can speke any Frenshe or Late
  1. Item, Specially to marke and note well the age and stature of the said yong quene, and the feturys of her bodye
  1. Item, Specially to marke favour of hir visage, whether she bee paynted or not, and whether it be fate or leene, sharpe or rounde, and whether hir countenance bee chierfuil and amiable, frowning or malinco yous, stedefast or light, or blushing in communicacion.
  1. Item, To note the clearness of hir skynne
  1. Item, To note the colours of hir here
  1. Item, To note well her ies, browes, teethe, and lippes
  1. Item, To marke well the fashion of hir nose, and heithe and brede of hir forehedde
  1. Item, Specially to note hir complexion
  1. Item, To marke hir armes, whether they bee grete or small, long or shorte
  1. Item, To see hir hands bare, and note the fascion of theym, whether the palm of hir hand bee thikke or thynne, and whether hir hands be fatte or leene, long or shorte
  1. Item, To note hir fyngers, whether they bee longe or shorte, small or grete, brode or narrowe before
  1. Item, To marke whether hir nekke be longe or shorte, small or grete
  1. Item, To marke hir brest and pappes, whether they be bigg or small
  1. Item, To marke whether ther appere any here about hir lippes or not
  1. Item, That they endevor theyme to speke with the said yong quene… and that she may tell unto them some matier at lengthe, and to approach as nere to hir mouthe as they honestly maye, to thentent that they may fele the condicion of hir brethe, whether it be swete or not, and to marke at every time when they speke with hir, if they fele any favour of spices, rose waters, or muske, by the brethe of her mouthe, or not
  1. Item, To note the height of hir stature, and to enquire whether she were any slippers, and of what height her slippers bee, to thentent they be not deceived in the veray height and stature of hir, and if they may come to the height of her slippers, then to note the fashion of hir foote
  1. Item, To enquire whether she have any sekenesse of her nativitie, deformity or blemmyshe in hir bodye, and what that shuld bee; or whether she hath been communely in health, or sometye seke, and sometime hole, and to know the specialities of such diseases and sicknesse…
  1. Item, To enquire of the manner of hir diet, and whether she bee a grete fedar or drynker, and whether she useth often to eat and drynke, and whether she drynketh wyne or water, or bothe

23. Item, … diligently enqere for some conynge painter…  [to] drawe a picture of the visage and semblance of the said young quene…

 

Sex Changes Over Time

Category : Blog · No Comments Aug 5th, 2015

High minded allegations of prurience should not stop historians from examining the intimate lives of people in the past – My August History Today article

Behind the curtain: an illustration from Barthelemy l'Anglais' Le Livre des Proprietes des choses, c.1410. - See more at: http://www.historytoday.com/suzannah-lipscomb/sex-changes-over-time#sthash.LmoKemHn.lwzcMZx2.dpuf

Behind the curtain: an illustration from Barthelemy l’Anglais’ Le Livre des Proprietes des choses, c.1410. – See more at: http://www.historytoday.com/suzannah-lipscomb/sex-changes-over-time#sthash.LmoKemHn.lwzcMZx2.dpuf

 

Why Did Anne Boleyn Have to Die?

Category : Blog · No Comments Jul 29th, 2015

Was she ensnared by a conspiracy, the victim of her own loose tongue, or simply guilty as charged? In this 2013 article I tries to unearth the real reason why Henry VIII sent his second wife, Anne Boleyn, to the block.

Anne feature 2

Why Did Anne Boleyn Have to Die?