Women of History: Anne Neville

For those of you who have read this blog for a while, or maybe have gone back in the archives, you might notice that I have an interest in Tudor and the adjacent time periods in English history.  My choice this week for Women of History reflects that.  We are featuring (belatedly) Anne Neville, Queen Consort of England in the late 1500s.

Like several women of this time, there isn’t as much to go on for them themselves.  Anne’s life was dominated by the actions of the men in her life, and unfortunately her story sometimes gets lost in theirs. Continue reading

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Happy St Patrick’s Day

I decided to take a break from my usual friday essay on Women of history this week as tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s Day.  The Day is celebrated differently in different regions of the world, and by various people within the US.  For some it is a religious holiday, a feast celebrating Saint Patrick, and for others it is simply a day to celebrate Irish culture and heritage.

As an American, I am more familiar with the secular version of the holiday then the religious. The day has become a day known for celebrating Irish/Irish-American history and culture as well as a food and drink holiday.  I have Irish ancestry on both sides of my family, but I don’t think that has much to do with why I like Saint Patrick’s day.  However, it’s a day for family and friends to gather around and share good food (most likely Irish in nature) and each other.  The area I live in has a large amount of people of Irish and German descent, so just about everyone can say “Kiss me, I’m Irish.”

So who was Saint Patrick?  And why was he connected to Ireland and March 17?  Well, that is what today’s post is about.

St Patrick was a Briton born during the Roman occupation.  While his actual time is debated, it is largely agreed that he was active as a missionary and bishop during the late fifth Century.  According to his own writings, he was not christian until his late teens, when he was taken prisoner in Ireland.

His hometown of Bannavem Taberniae has no modern equivalent so it is hard to say where he was from, except that it was from the British Isles or Northern France.  Many believe that it was southwestern Scotland, near the coast facing Ireland.

Patrick, from his own accounts, was born into a Catholic family.  His father Calpurnius was a deacon as well as a member of the local government, and his grandfather a Catholic Priest.  He himself wasn’t a strong believer, that is not untill he was 16.  At that time, he was captured by a crew of Irish raiders and taken to Ireland.

He lived in Ireland for about six years according to his Confession, before escaping back to his native land. He had spent his time on Ireland as a Sheppard, and strengthening his new-found faith in God.  He believed that God had led him to a ship that would take him home to his family.

He then became a cleric, studying christianity and eventually was ordained as a Priest, possibly by another saint, Germanus of Auxerre.  He claimed to have seen a vision of the people of Ireland calling out to him to lead them in their faith.

He came to Ireland as a bishop, replacing the outgoing Bishop Palladius. It is possible that the two men’s stories have intermingled over the centuries, and the legends of Saint Patrick is actually more a melting pot of Palladius (who was known as Patrick by some) and Patrick.

At some point during his ministry, he was put on trial by his fellow Irish Christians, which prompted him to write his declaration.  He, according to legend, banished snakes from the island, as Ireland was not known to have snakes.  It was more likely a naturally occurring absence.

Some of the common imagery on Saint Patrick’s day are legends in themselves.  The Shamrock,  also known as a clover, was credited as part of a parable that Patrick told to explain the holy Trinity.

Most of Patrick’s life is left to be guessed, due to the loss of any contemporary accounts of his activities other than his own writings, and the possibility that accounts that do remain might be confusing Palladius and Patrick together.

However, the legend of the man might be more important.  He has come to represent Ireland, being one of their patron saints, perhaps the most well-known.  His feast day is celebrated on the day he supposedly died, March 17, and at least in the United States its a day to celebrate being Irish (even if it’s just for a day).

It wasn’t always that way, and the United States has a history of prejudice against the Irish.  But it has come along way.  Saint Patrick’s day has taken a life of its own in the United States and Canada.  In Ireland however, it was only in the last twenty years that the day started to be more than just a religious observance.

So whether you celebrate this day as a religious observance or a cultural one, may you have a great St Patrick’s Day.

Further Reading:

Saint Patrick’s Day (US)

Wikipedia: Saint Patrick

Wikipedia: Palladius

Confession of Patrick – Saint Patrick

Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus – St Patrick

History.com: The History of St Patrick’s Day

 

Women of History: Catherine Trastámara

Out of Henry VIII’s six wives, the ones that are most remembered are his first three.

Catherine of Aragon: His first queen and mother of Queen Mary.

Anne Boleyn: mother of Queen Elizabeth, and a woman who is also known for helping cause a religious revolution in England and her tragic end.

Jane Seymour: the young woman who gave birth to his only son. To be fair, Jane is often forgotten and limited as “mother of Edward” then anything else.

I will admit that I am biased against Henry VIII who I felt was a bit of a bastard towards his wives in more ways than one. I also feel that general history has basically reduced these women to just being one of the six wives, without a sense of individuality. There has to be so much more to them then just their spouse.  In that respect, I have decided to learn more about these six women, starting with the first, Catherine of Aragon.

Catherine aragon Continue reading

TV Review: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (4 of 4)

Title: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (Via Amazon Prime)
Episode: Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr (4 of 4)
Released: 2001

So we reach the end with the last two of Henry’s wives, both named Katherine.  Although I have to wonder how he felt that half his wives had the same first name for all intents and purposes.  The first Katherine is a bit weird, really.  At least her story.  She’s `is 16-17 when she marries Henry, whose 50+.  It’s hard to tell if the story is attempting to be sympatric or not, but it comes across as Starkey (who I assume directs the content of the piece) didn’t think highly of her.   She seems like she was just a typical teenager, perhaps too willing to fall in love and not quite understanding the consequences of her actions.  I also want to find out more about her, because there has to be more to the Queen then her at least emotional affairs.

Actually, while looking stuff up about this mini-series I found out that it is based on the book by Starkey, so I can confidently say that the tone of this miniseries is set by him, both as narrator and as the basis of the show itself.   His views on the Queen are apparent, although there are a few times where its close.

Catherine Parr seemed to be very well liked by Starkey, and his portrayal of her tended not to show any flaws she might have other than being overly zealous in her education (which isn’t really a flaw in any case).  She is published, so it might be interesting to read what she wrote.

The final episode gets an B, (so overall B-).  The epilogue sentence confuses me and I don’t understand it in context of the show, or history in general.  How is Elizabeth the greatest rumor?  Design wise I’m still bothered by the fonts used in the credit sequences, finding them not all easy to read.  But in general the mini-series was enjoyable, and worth the time even though it does require more looking into things if you really want to know the Queens.  However, as an overview, it’s not too bad.

TV Review: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (3 of 4)

Title: The Six Wives of Henry XIII  (Via Amazon Prime)
Episode: Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves
Released:  2001

So the mini-series is only four episodes long, with the last four wives having the pair up for their episodes.  I’m kind of disappointed, but I can understand why they might want to use less time.  After all, with the exception of Jane Seymour, the last wives of Henry had less of an impact on Henry, England and history in general.  Still, part of me wishes they could have spent the same amount of time on these women.

I have to admit though, that the section on Jane Seymour was perhaps the most I’ve seen on her.  Most documentaries on the Tudors seem to pass her by as simply Edward’s mother.  This goes a little more in-depth.  I still think more could have been said.  Especially during her time as Catherine of Aragon’s lady-in-waiting and her relationship with Mary.

Anne of Cleves story just made me feel sorry for her.  Again, not much is usually said about Anne other than the fact that she and Harry annulled their marriage quickly out of displeasure with each other.  This documentary segment makes me wonder about it.  She’s another one of the Queens I wish I knew more of, and may add to my list of people to research and read about.

THis episode gets an B, as I feel it doesn’t really do justice to these two women, but it does a better job then the last at making you want to know more about them.

TV Review: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (2 of 4)

Title: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (Via Amazon Prime)
Episode Title:  Anne Boleyn (2 of 4)
Release date 2001

This episode was rather odd for me, because it was not very sympathetic towards Anne, and describes her as pretty much someone who manipulated Henry to get power.   Given how the first episode seemed sympathetic towards Catherine I was surprised, expected this to be the same for the second Queen, who, from all accounts I know of, was falsely accused because of her inability to give Henry a son.

I also wonder that they had no mention that one of Anne’s miscarriages was around the same time Henry had an accident.  Perhaps that was not a widely accepted connection.  I also feel that this episode didn’t really go much into Anne but those around her being mad that she was Queen, or being happy for the same reason.  Perhaps it is because Anne is often the most known of the Queens in pop culture due to her death, and the fact that she was Queen Elizabeth’s mother.

This episode gets a C, as it felt rather unbalanced in its reporting of Anne, but the overall series still gets an A.

TV Review: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (1 of 4)

Title: The Six Wives of Henry XIII (Via Amazon Prime)
Episode Title: Catherine of Aragon.
Release Date: 2001

This mini-series was a misdirection on my part, as I thought I was watching a program my friend had recommended to be, but it was the wrong one with the same title.   However, I decided to continue my plans of watching it and reviewing the various episodes (there are four) that I watched.

The premise of the series is a focus on the wives of King Henry XIII.  The first episode deals with the wife he had first and longest, Catherine of Aragon. He was married to her from 1509-1533 (24 years).  She died in 1536. Continue reading