Once a man had settled on the qualities he wanted in a spouse, and with the help of family and friends had sought such a woman out, courted her and secured not only her own agreement but that of her family, the next step to be taken on the path to marriage was betrothal. Betrothal … Continue reading ‘In time meet and convenient’ – Betrothal in Early Modern England
Despite years of cool-headed scholarship over several decades, the idea still persists in the popular imagination that during the period known as the 'witch craze' millions of women were rounded up and burned at the stake often for nothing more than their skill with herbal remedies. While thousands of women, and men, believed to be … Continue reading Book Review – Crimen Exceptum: The English Witch Prosecution in Context by Gregory J Durston
In the 16th century, marriage was not a purely personal affair but rather a group effort involving acquaintances, friends or family members. When a young man or woman or, more often, their parents decided it was time to marry, the first step was to find a suitable spouse. After determining that there was no one … Continue reading The Elizabethan ‘Suter’
The Lenten and Easter season in pre-Reformation England was rich in sights and sounds and smells. Shrove Tuesday was celebrated with pancakes and football games, plays and masquerades. Ash Wednesday brought the blessing of ashes and their application by the priest to the foreheads of the faithful with the injunction ‘Remember O man that thou are … Continue reading Easter in Early Modern England
A year ago today I published Forsaking All Other, an Elizabethan love story set against the war in the Netherlands abroad and Catholic plots at home. Forsaking All Other has been almost continuously in the top 50 bestsellers in Amazon’s Tudor Historical Romance Category for the last eight months – and for a brief shining … Continue reading It’s My Book’s Birthday!
During the 16th century, as in the centuries both before and after, marriage was a state that most aspired to - it gave both men and women status not only as full adults but, in the case of men, that of householder. Without marriage, women had few opportunities to independently support themselves. Except for those … Continue reading ‘It is an action like a stratagem in war where man can err but once’ – Choosing a spouse in 16th century England
The Woman in the Shadows is a fictional account of the adult life of Elizabeth Wykes, the wife of Thomas Cromwell, a man from relatively humble origins who rose from merchant and lawyer to become chief minister to Henry VIII. For most people, all that is known of Elizabeth is as Cromwell’s wife, a background … Continue reading Book Review – The Woman in the Shadows by Carol McGrath
While not an absolute rarity, portraits of pregnant women were not common in the Renaissance period. Surprisingly, there are a number of late Elizabethan and early Jacobean portraits of women at an advanced stage of pregnancy, sometimes surrounded by their children, sometimes alone. Many of these were painted by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. When I … Continue reading ‘The great daunger of childbyrth’