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Tudor women

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It was not just the men who influenced politics and monarchy in Tudor times. As wives, mothers and sometimes rulers in their own right, women held a huge amount of power and had to learn to survive in dangerous times.

Among the most famous of Tudor women are the six wives of Henry VIII: from Catherine of Aragon (his first queen and daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain) to the most infamous of his wives, Anne Boleyn, each has a fascinating story that tells us much about the experiences of women during Tudor times.

Executed for witchcraft after failing to bear Henry his desired male heir, Anne Boleyn is perhaps the most enigmatic of all Henry’s wives. But the lives of other Tudor women captivate us just as much. Elizabeth I herself, the daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn, became one of the most successful queens in British history. Her relationship with her sister Mary and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots reflects the political and religious division that is typical of the Tudor era.

Catholic Mary I was England’s first queen regnant. Her overwhelming desire to have a child and thus prevent her protestant sister Elizabeth from acceding to the throne ended in disappointment after false pregnancies and possible miscarriages. Her premature death at the age of 42 meant that Elizabeth was crowned queen, and the country had a protestant ruler once again. Then there was Lady Jane Grey, the tragic ten-day queen executed by Mary to prevent her taking the crown, and her surviving sisters who also had a claim to the throne. All these women’s stories open a window to the Tudor period, and are as fascinating as the times in which they lived.

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