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Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots is one of the most intriguing and captivating personalities of the 16th century

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  • On This Day 22nd October 1548

    On 22nd October 1548, Jean Calvin, leader of the growing ‘Calvinist’ branch of the Protestant Reformation, based in Geneva, wrote to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset exhorting him to ‘steadfastly to prosecute the Reformation of Religion begun in England, and to promote the diffusion of the true doctrine of the Gospel’. Somerset was Lord Protector of England for his nephew, Edward VI. Although he had been a religious reformer for some years, Somerset either wasn’t convinced about Calvin’s theology himself, or thought it a step too far for England at that point. The first reform in the liturgy of the English Church, the Book of Common Prayer of 1549, was still essentially Catholic in tone. Somerset continued in his post of Lord Protector until he was removed in a coup orchestrated by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick (later Duke of Northumberland). Somerset tried to regain his position, but was executed on 22nd January 1552.

    Picture of Jean Calvin

  • On This Day 21st October 1536

    On 21st October 1536, Thomas, Lord Darcy of Templehurst, surrendered Pontefract Castle to Robert Aske, leader of the Pilgrimage of Grace. Darcy had written several times to the King to say that he had insufficient men or supplies to hold the castle against the rebels, but no help was forthcoming. Once the rebels had taken the castle, Darcy was persuaded to sign the rebel oath and throw in his lot with them. It seems likely that he sympathised with their aims, of removing Cromwell, whom he detested, from government, clarifying the succession and restoring the monasteries. Henry VIII had already observed that he did not trust Darcy. Lord Darcy was executed for complicity on 30th June 1540 on Tower Hill. His lands were confiscated and formed part of the marriage settlement of Lady Margaret Douglas and Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox.

  • On This Day 20th October 1496

    On 20th October 1496, the second daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, Juana, married Philip, Duke of Burgundy. The marriage was part of a double treaty. The bride’s brother, Juan, Prince of the Asturias (Crown Prince) was married to the groom’s sister, Marguerite of Austria. At the time of the marriage, Juana, as well as a brother, had an older sister living, so it was not anticipated that she would bring anything to the marriage other than her dowry. Philip, Duke of Burgundy, since the death of his mother, Mary, when he was a small child, was the son of the Emperor Maximilian, and was likely to be Emperor himself in due course. The marriage, passionate at first, descended into utter misery, as Philip’s philandering enraged his wife, and her reaction, seen as hysterical and unseemly, become the talk of Europe. Both the siblings ahead of Juana in the succession died, leaving her as Queen of Castile in 1504. Philip tried to dominate the government of Castile, and came into conflict with Juana’s father, Ferdinand, who did not want to cede control. Philip died suddenly, and Juana spent most of the rest of her life held under restraint, first by her father, then her son, the Emperor Charles. There is an excellent book on Juana and her sister Katharine, by Julia Fox, read our review here



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