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 13th April 1519

    On 13th April 1519 Catherine de Medici was born in Urbino, Italy, to Lorenzo and a French noblewoman, Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne, whose heiress she was. Catherine was also great-niece to Pope Leo X who arranged her marriage to Henri, Duc d’Orleans, son of Francois I of France. Catherine and Henri were married aged fourteen, and forced to consummate their union under the gaze of her father-in-law. This began an unhappy marriage, in which Catherine was ignored by her husband, who paraded his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, openly. The first of Catherine’s ten children was born after nearly eleven years of marriage. Henri II died in 1559 and Catherine spent the next thirty years fighting as Regent and Queen Mother to maintain her position and that of her children, whilst trying to steer a middle course in religious affairs. In the latter, she failed, and the Wars of Religion between Catholics and Huguenots resulted in horrific bloodshed. Catherine was a notable patron of late Renaissance culture, but has a sinister reputation as an intriguante and poisoner – probably not entirely deserved.

  • On This Day 12th April 1550

    On 12th April 1550 Edward de Vere, later 17th Earl of Oxford, was born to John, 16th Earl, and his second wife, Margery Golding. His father died when he was only twelve so Oxford became the ward of Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, and was brought up in his household, together with the Earl of Essex and Burghley’s own children. He married Burghley’s daughter, Anne, although the marriage was unhappy – more on that here. Oxford was a noted poet and literary figure at the court of Queen Elizabeth, and has been put forward as a candidate for being the “realShakespeare. He also patronised scholars and musicians. Nevertheless, he was reckless and improvident - Oxford managed to squander his entire inheritance as the second ranking Earl in the kingdom.

    Image of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, is by Nicholas Hilliard

  • On This Day 11th April 1492

    On 11th April 1492 Marguerite d’Angouleme, sister and close companion of Francois I of France, was born. Marguerite was a scholar and a writer and hugely influenced the cultural life of the French court. Her book, the Heptameron was a collection of tales in the style of the Decameron, and her more famous work, The Mirror of a Sinful Soul, strongly influenced the evangelical religious movement of the 1520s. Marguerite's work may well have also influenced the young Anne Boleyn who was in the train of Marguerite’s sister-in-law, Queen Claude. Marguerite married Henry II of Navarre, in 1525. Her grandson was Henri IV of France – about whom you can read more here in an article written for Tudor Times by Dominic Pearce.

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