Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tudor: A Rose By Any Other Name?

Was there a Tudor Age?  Historian C.S.L. Davies (somewhat ironically the author of, among many other works, "a Study in the Effectivenness of Early Tudor Government,” Economic History Review 17, 2, 1964: 234–48) says no, or at least not until the mid-18th century.
  • "He says that in Welsh documents the name of Tudor is 'celebrated' but it was 'considered an embarrassment in England.'
  • "Henry VIII preferred to represent himself as the embodiment of the 'union of the families of Lancaster and York," says Dr Davies.  
  • "Dr Davies suggests that the idea of a distinct Tudor period of history was first established in the 18th Century by the historian and philosopher, David Hume." ("'Tudor era' is misleading myth, says Oxford historian," by Sean Coughlan, BBC, 29 May 2012)
So we were all duped (although Sources and Debates, ch. 2 and earlymodernengland can be grateful that we emphasize the frontispiece of The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre & Yorke, above). But did Mary or Elizabeth ever emphasize their relation to their grandfather, Henry VII? That would restore the claim somewhat. Certainly Henry VIII emphasized his descent from his father in the portrait to the left (although his mother is there too, so we still have simply the union of the two noble families). From the Royal Collections, they note that this is a copy "by the Flemish artist Remigius van Leemput for Charles II from the life-size mural on the wall of the Privy Chamber in Whitehall which was painted by Holbein for Henry VIII in 1537..., destroyed by the fire at Whitehall Palace on 4 January 1698."

In any case, Davies suggests that, in effect, Twdr was too Plaid Cymru for 16th-century Westminster.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was left a bit baffled by this story, especially why it warranted a reasonably big headline on the BBC website. Perhaps the Tudors didn't identify themselves as such, but it doesn't mean it is not a useful hostorical term. I'm pretty certain nobody Medieval, Classical or Early Modern had the faintest idea that they were, but it doesn't make the terms meaningless.


Creative Commons License
This work by Newton Key
is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.