PERSON OF THE MONTH
Arbella Stuart

Lady Arbella Stuart was a potential successor to Elizabeth I, but her life was one of frustration and sorrow.

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  • On This Day 18th April 1503

    On 18th April 1503, a son, Henri, was born to Catherine I, Queen of Navarre, and her husband, Jean d’Albret (Jean III of Navarre). Catherine was Queen of Navarre in her own right, a claim that was disputed by her paternal uncle, Jean de Foix, and her maternal great uncle, Ferdinand of Aragon. The Spanish conquered parts of Upper Navarre in 1512, so when Henri inherited in 1517, he sought protection from further Spanish depredations by marrying Marguerite d’Angouleme, sister of the King of France to bolster his claims. Succeeded by his daughter, Joan III, Henri’s grandson (Henri IV) eventually inherited the thrones of both Navarre and France, uniting the two kingdoms.

  • On This Day 17th April 1534

    On 17th April 1534, Sir Thomas More, former Lord Chancellor of England, was sent to the Tower of London for refusal to swear to the Oath of Succession. He remained in there for over a year, without either stating his reasons for refusal, or agreeing to sign. He said that, as he had never advised anyone else to refuse, nor criticised it, nor put any scruples into any other man’s head, but left them to their conscience, so ought he to be left to his conscience. More, son of a London lawyer, had been one of Henry VIII’s inner circle of Councillors during the 1510s and 1520s, although he was more of an intellectual companion than a member of Henry’s group of jousting and hunting companions. He worked well with Thomas Wolsey, but he and Cromwell were largely opposed politically – More was a strong supporter of the Common Law, whilst Cromwell used statute to increase the power of the Crown. Read more on their relationship here

  • On This Day 16th April 1587

    On 16th April 1587 Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset, died. Anne was the second wife of Edward Seymour, brother of Queen Jane. Other than with her husband, who seems to have doted on her, and Queen Mary, who despite their religious differences maintained a friendship with her, Anne seems to have been almost universally disliked. She was accused of being 'more presumptuous than Lucifer', and of domineering over her husband. On the remarriage of Katherine Parr, whose Lady-in-Waiting she had been, to Anne’s brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Seymour, Anne demanded to take precedence of the former Queen, even jostling her out of the way, quite against all court etiquette. One of Anne’s ten children, Edward, Earl of Hertford, was disgraced and imprisoned for a secret match with Lady Katherine Grey. Anne is buried in Westminster Abbey.


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