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#otd in Royal History 1 - 16 January

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Firstly I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year for 2023.

#otd 1 - 16 January in Royal History Blog header

1 January

Tudor Rose

1 January 1511

Henry, Duke of Cornwall is born

Henry was born on 1 January 1511 at Richmond Palace, eighteen months after his parents' wedding & coronation, & was the first son & first living child born to King Henry VIII & Katharine of Aragon.

Richmond Palace from SW. 1765 engraving by James Basire, "based on an ancient drawing".
Richmond Palace from SW. 1765 engraving by James Basire

A lavish christening ceremony was held on 5 January during which beacons were lit in his honour. As one of the gifts for his christening, Louis XII of France, who was his godfather, gave a gold salt holder and cup weighing a total of 99 ounces.

For the birth of his son & heir, Henry & Queen Elizabeth planned extravagant celebrations rivalling their joint coronation, who immediately became Duke of Cornwall and was expected to become Prince of Wales, King of England & third king of the House of Tudor. The tournament at Westminster was the most lavish of Henry's reign, & the record of it is preserved on an illuminated vellum roll.

Catherine watching Henry jousting in her honour after giving birth to a son. Henry's horse mantle is emblazoned with Catherine of Aragon's initial letter, 'K.'

Henry carried Katharine's favour in the tournament (depicted above), riding under the banner of "Sir Loyal Heart" the relationship between the royal pair, already one of strong affection, had become even more of a love match because of Katharine's success in providing a male heir.

Known as "Little Prince Hal" & "the New Year's Boy", the prince was fondly regarded by Henry's court. However, on 23 February 1511, the young prince died suddenly. The cause of his death was not recorded. There is no known picture of Prince Henry.

Catherine of Aragon (16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536)
Katharine of Aragon (16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536)

Contemporary reports state that both parents were distraught at the loss of their second child & expected future king. The deeply religious Katharine spent many hours kneeling on cold stone floors praying, to the worry of courtiers. In an attempt to distract himself from his grief, Henry waged war against Louis XII of France with his father-in-law, Ferdinand II of Aragon.


2 January

The second of January is one of the few days where I cannot find any British royal related history. So I am choosing to remember the Cardiff Blitz.

2 January 1941

The Cardiff Blitz

Over 100 German bombers attacked the city of Cardiff over a 10-hour period on the night of 2 January 1941. Dropping high explosive bombs, incendiary bombs & parachute mines, the Riverside area was the first to be bombed.

The aftermath of a bombing raid on Cardiff, 2 January 1941 - Glamorgan archives
The aftermath of a bombing raid on Cardiff, 2 January 1941 - Glamorgan archives

In Grangetown, the Hollyman Brothers bakery was hit by a parachute mine & 32 people who were using the basement as a shelter were killed. When the raid was over 165 people had been killed & 427 more injured, while nearly 350 homes were destroyed or had to be demolished. Chapels & the nave of Llandaff Cathedral were also damaged. Western Cardiff was the worst hit area, particularly Canton & Riverside, where 116 people were killed, an estimated 50 of which were killed in one street in Riverside, De Burgh Street. The 10-hour air raid had started at 18:37 & Grangetown was the first area to be hit by 100 German aircraft.

The aftermath of a bombing raid on Cardiff, 2 January 1941 - Glamorgan archives
The aftermath of a bombing raid on Cardiff, 2 January 1941 - Glamorgan archives

Memorial to the victims of the Cardiff Blitz in Cathays Cemetery
Memorial to the victims of the Cardiff Blitz in Cathays Cemetery

The Royal British Legion Poppy Shop link banner

3 January

Catherine of Valois, Queen of England

3 January 1437

Catherine of Valois dies aged 35 shortly after childbirth, in London

Catherine of Valois (born.27 October 1401) was the Queen consort of England from 1420 until 1422. She was the descendant, consort, & ancestor of kings. A daughter of Charles VI of France, she married Henry V of England, & gave birth to his heir Henry VI of England.

In the end, her liaison (and possibly a secret marriage) with Owen Tudor proved the key to that family's fortunes, ultimately leading to their grandson becoming Henry VII of England. Isabella, Catherine's older sister, reigned as queen of England from 1396 to 1399 as the child bride of Richard II.


4 January

Louise, Princess Royal, Duchess of Fife

4 January 1931

Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife dies.

In the autumn of 1929, the Princess Royal suffered a gastric haemorrhage at Mar Lodge & was taken back to London. In January 1931, she died at her home in Portman Square, London, & was buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Later, her remains were taken to the Private Chapel of Mar Lodge Mausoleum in Braemar, Aberdeenshire.

Born on 20 February 1867, Louise was the third child & eldest daughter of King Edward VII & Queen Alexandra; the younger sister of King George V. She was the fifth daughter of a British monarch to be styled Princess Royal.


5 January

Edward the Confessor

5 January 1066

King Edward the Confessor dies.

Edward the Confessor, was also known as St Edward (Old English: Ēadweard Andettere). He was born between 1003 & 1005. Edward was among the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England, & is often considered the last king of the House of Wessex, ruling between 1042 and 1066.

He was the son of Æthelred the Unready & Emma of Normandy, Edward succeeded Cnut the Great's son - & his half brother - Harthacnut, restoring the rule of the House of Wessex after the period of Danish rule since Cnut conquered England in 1016. Edward married Edith of Wessex on 23 January 1045.

Shortly before he died on 5 January, Edward 'probably' entrusted the kingdom to his brother-in-law Harold Godwinson & Edith. He was buried in Westminster Abbey on 6 January, and Harold was crowned the following day.

His nickname reflects the traditional image of him as unworldly & pious. Confessor reflects his reputation as a saint who did not suffer martyrdom, unlike King Edward the Martyr. Some portray this king's reign as leading to the disintegration of royal power in England & the advance in power of the House of Godwin, because of the infighting after his heirless death.

Edward the Confessor, enthroned, opening scene of the Bayeux Tapestry

Edward the Confessor, enthroned, opening scene of the Bayeux Tapestry

Biographers Frank Barlow & Peter Rex instead portray Edward as a successful king, who was energetic, resourceful & sometimes ruthless, arguing that the Norman conquest shortly after his death tarnished his image. However, Richard Mortimer argues that the return of the Godwins from exile in 1052 "meant the effective end of his exercise of power", citing Edward's reduced activity as implying a withdrawal from affairs".

About a century later, in 1161, Pope Alexander III canonised the late king. Saint Edward was one of England's national saints until King Edward III adopted Saint George as the national patron saint c. 1350. His feast day is 13 October, celebrated by both the Church of England & the Roman Catholic Church in England & Wales.

A sealed writ of Edward the Confessor, issued in favour of Westminster Abbey.

A sealed writ of Edward the Confessor, issued in favour of Westminster Abbey.


Pope Clement VII
Pope Clement VII

5 January 1531

The Pope writes to king Henry VIII forbidding him to remarry.

In a letter to Henry VIII, Pope Clement VII forbade him to remarry and threatened him with excommunication if he disobeyed Rome.

“At the request of the Queen, forbids Henry to remarry until the decision of the case, & declares that if he does all issue will be illegitimate. Forbids any one in England, of ecclesiastical or secular dignity, universities, parliaments, courts of law, &c., to make any decision in an affair the judgment of which is reserved for the Holy See. The whole under pain of excommunication. As Henry would not receive a former citation, this is to be affixed to the church gates of Bruges, Tournay, & other towns in the Low Countries, which will be sufficient promulgation. Rome, 5 Jan. 1531.” (LP v.27).

Katharine of Aragon
Katharine of Aragon

The reason Henry VIII sought an annulment of his marriage to Katharine of Aragon was that he wanted to marry his new love, Anne Boleyn. In August 1527, he applied for a dispensation to marry again, not expecting it would take nearly six years to annul the marriage.

A seemingly simple request for a dispensation turned into “The King’s Great Matter”, & resulted in the fall of Cardinal Wolsey, England breaking with Rome, Henry declaring himself to be “sole protector & supreme head of the English church & clergy”, & the executions of men like Thomas More, John Fisher & the Carthusian monks, who would not swear the oath of supremacy.

Portrait of Henry VIII after Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1537–1562
Portrait of Henry VIII after Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1537–1562

Henry VIII finally married Anne Boleyn in a secret ceremony on 25th January 1533, & their marriage was declared valid on 28th May 1533, just days before Anne’s coronation on 1st June.

Near contemporary portrait of Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle, c. 1550
Near contemporary portrait of Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle, c. 1550


The Duke of York, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence, in the uniform of a Field-Marshal, with the mantle of the Order of the Garter, holding his Marshal's baton in his left hand.

The Duke of York, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence, in the uniform of a Field-Marshal, with the mantle of the Order of the Garter, holding his Marshal's baton in his left hand.

5 January 1827

Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany dies aged 63.

The Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany born 16 August 1763, was the second son & child of King George III, King of Great Britain & Ireland & Elector of Hanover & Queen Charlotte.

A soldier by profession, from 1764 to 1803 he was Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück, & from the death of his father in 1820 until his own death in 1827 he was the heir presumptive to his elder brother, King George IV, both to the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland & the Kingdom of Hanover. However, he died before his brother.

Frederick was thrust into the British Army at a very early age & was appointed to high command at the age of thirty, when he was given command of a notoriously ineffectual campaign during the War of the First Coalition, a continental war following the French Revolution. Later, as Commander-in-Chief during the Napoleonic Wars, he oversaw the reorganisation of the British Army, putting in place vital structural, administrative & recruiting reforms for which he is credited with having done "more for the army than any one man has done for it in the whole of its history."

On 29 September 1791 at Charlottenburg, Berlin, & again on 23 November 1791 at Buckingham Palace, Frederick married his cousin Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia, the daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia & Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Lüneburg. The marriage was not a happy one & the couple soon separated.

Frederick died of dropsy & apparent cardio-vascular disease at the home of the Duke of Rutland on Arlington Street, London, in 1827.

Fredericton, the capital of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, was named after Prince Frederick. The city was originally named "Frederick's Town". The towering Duke of York Column on Waterloo Place, just off The Mall, London was completed in 1834 as a memorial to Prince Frederick.

The Duke of York Column seen from The Mall, London

The Duke of York Bay in Canada was named in his honour, since it was discovered on his birthday, 16 August.


6 January

Harold Godwinson coronation

6 January 1066

Harold Godwinson coronation.

Following the death of Edward the Confessor on the previous day, the Witan meets to confirm Harold Godwinson as the new King of England; Harold is crowned the same day, sparking a succession crisis that will eventually lead to the Norman conquest of England.

Harold Godwinson (c. 1022 – 14 October 1066), also called Harold II, was the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England. Harold reigned from 6 January 1066 until his death at the Battle of Hastings, fighting the Norman invaders led by William the Conqueror during the Norman conquest of England. His death marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule over England.

Harold Godwinson was a member of a prominent Anglo-Saxon family with ties to Cnut the Great. He became a powerful earl after the death of his father, Godwin, Earl of Wessex. After his brother-in-law, King Edward the Confessor died without an heir on 5 January 1066, the Witenagemot convened and chose Harold to succeed him; he was probably the first English monarch to be crowned in Westminster Abbey. In late September, he successfully repelled an invasion by rival claimant Harald Hardrada of Norway in York before marching his army back south to meet William the Conqueror at Hastings two weeks later.


Anonymous artist's impression of Richard II in the 16th century. National Portrait Gallery, London.
Anonymous artist's impression of Richard II in the 16th century. National Portrait Gallery, London.

6 January 1367

King Richard II is born.

Richard II, was King of England from 1377 until he was deposed on 30 September 1399.

Richard was born at the Archbishop's Palace, Bordeaux, in the English principality of Aquitaine, on 6 January 1367. According to contemporary sources, three kings "the King of Castille, the King of Navarre & the King of Portugal" were present at his birth.

Richard, a son of Edward, the Black Prince & Joan, Countess of Kent, was born during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III. He was the younger brother of Edward of Angoulême; upon the death of this elder brother, Richard at four years of age became second in line to the throne after his father. Upon the death of Richard's father prior to the death of Edward III, Richard, by primogeniture, became the first in line for the throne. With Edward III's death the following year, Richard succeeded to the throne at the age of ten.

Coronation of Richard II aged ten in 1377, from the Recueil des croniques of Jean de Wavrin. British Library, London.

Coronation of Richard II aged ten in 1377, from the Recueil des croniques of Jean de Wavrin. British Library, London.


King Henry VII, the first Tudor king of England
Henry VII (28 January 1457 – 21 April 1509)

6 January 1494

A Twelfth Night Supper is hosted by King Henry VII.

To keep morale high, more splendid celebrations than usual were held at court on the Twelfth Night: after a 'sumptuous & great dinner', the king's players put on 'a goodly interlude' based on St George and the dragon, after which the wine flowed and 120 dishes were set before the assembled company.

An example of a medieval banquet
An example of a medieval banquet

[In the time of Christmas before passed, the king kept an honourable household at Westminster, & upon the twelfth day was holding a sumptuous & great dinner in the white hall.... The mayor with his brethren... were worshipfully & plenteously served with all manner of dainties... & after he was desired... to tarry & see such disports as that night should be showed in Westminster Hall... which... at that time was hanged with arras [tapestry], & staged along the hall at the king's cost that the people might well & easily see the said disport... Anon from the kitchen being behind the Common place... 60 dishes were all served unto the king's mess [table], & forthwith were as many served unto the Queen, of the which six score dishes was not one of flesh or fish, but of all confections of sundry fruits & conserves....

& finally as all worldly pleasure has an end, the board was reverently withdrawn, & the king & queen with the other estates.... conveyed into the palace, & the mayor with his company yood [gone] to the Bridge where 2 barges tarried for him, & so came home by the breaking of day, & then the mayor kissed his wife as a double lady.]

▪ A Twelfth Night Supper, (by Robert Fabian, The Great Chronicle of London, pp. 251-2)

In medieval & Tudor England, Candlemas traditionally marked the end of the Christmas season, although later, Twelfth Night came to signal the end of Christmastide, with a new but related season of Epiphanytide running until Candlemas. A popular Twelfth Night tradition was to have a bean & pea hidden inside a Christmas cake; the "man who finds the bean in his slice of cake becomes King for the night while the lady who finds a pea in her slice of cake becomes Queen for the night."


Anne of Cleves (1515 – 16 July 1557)
Anne of Cleves (1515 – 16 July 1557)

6 January 1540

King Henry VIII marries Anne of Cleves

Around the year 1539, Henry wished to marry once again to ensure the succession. Thomas Cromwell, now Earl of Essex & chief minister to Henry, suggested Anne, the sister of the Duke of Cleves, who was seen as an important ally in case of a Roman Catholic attack on England, for the duke fell between Lutheranism & Catholicism.

Hans Holbein the Younger was dispatched to Cleves to paint a portrait of Anne for the king. Despite speculation that Holbein painted her in an overly flattering light, it is more likely that the portrait was accurate; Holbein remained in favour at court.

After regarding Holbein's portrayal, & urged by the complimentary description of Anne given by his courtiers, the king agreed to wed Anne. Despite Henry's very vocal misgivings, the two were married on 6 January 1540 at the royal Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, London by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

The Palace of Placentia, after it was rebuilt around 1500 by Henry VII

The phrase "God send me well to keep" was engraved around Anne’s wedding ring. Immediately after arriving in England, Anne conformed to the Anglican form of worship, which Henry expected. It was not long before Henry wished to annul the marriage so he could marry another (Catherine Howard, they married on 28th July 1540). Anne did not argue, & confirmed that the marriage had never been consummated.

Henry VIII

The subject of Anne's previous marriage arrangements with the Duke of Lorraine's son eventually provided for the answer, one complicated enough that the remaining impediments to an annulment were thus removed. Henry's fourth marriage was subsequently dissolved, & Anne received the title of "The King's Beloved Sister", two houses & a generous allowance.


7 January

Katharine of Aragon, Queen of England

7 January 1536

Katharine of Aragon dies at Kimbolton Castle.

Katharine of Aragon (Spanish: Catalina de Aragón; b.16 December 1485) was Queen of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII from their marriage on 11 June 1509 until their annulment on 23 May 1533. Katharine was previously Princess of Wales as the wife of Henry's elder brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales.

Until the end of her life, Katharine would refer to herself as Henry's only lawful wedded wife & England's only rightful queen, & her servants continued to address her as such. Henry refused her the right to any title but "Dowager Princess of Wales" in recognition of her position as his brother's widow.

Katharine went to live at The More castle late in 1531. After that, she was successively moved to the Royal Palace of Hatfield, Elsyng Palace, Enfield, Ampthill Castle & Buckden Towers. She was then finally transferred to Kimbolton Castle, where she confined herself to one room, which she left only to attend Mass, dressed only in the hair shirt of the Order of St. Francis, & fasted continuously.

She was permitted to receive occasional visitors, but was forbidden to see her daughter Mary. They were also forbidden to communicate in writing, but sympathisers discreetly conveyed letters between the two. Henry offered both mother & daughter better quarters & permission to see each other if they would acknowledge Anne Boleyn as the new queen. Both refused.

Kimbolton Castle
Katharine died at Kimbolton Castle on 7 January 1536

Katharine died at Kimbolton Castle on 7 January 1536. The following day, news of her death reached the king. On the day of Katharine's funeral, Anne Boleyn miscarried a boy. Rumours then circulated that Katharine had been poisoned by Anne or Henry, or both. The rumours were born after the apparent discovery during her embalming that there was a black growth on her heart that might have been caused by poisoning. Modern medical experts are in agreement that her heart's discolouration was due not to poisoning, but to cancer, something which was not understood at the time.

Katharine was buried in Peterborough Cathedral with the ceremony due to her position as a Dowager Princess of Wales, & not a queen. Henry did not attend the funeral & forbade Mary to attend.

The tomb of Catherine of Aragon, at Peterborough Cathedral
The tomb of Katharine of Aragon, at Peterborough Cathedral


Princess Charlotte of Wales

7 January 1796

Princess Charlotte of Wales is born at Carlton House, London.

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales was the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later to become King George IV) & Caroline of Brunswick. Had she outlived both her grandfather King George III & her father, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom, but she died following childbirth at the age of 21.

Charlotte's parents disliked each other from before their arranged marriage & soon separated. The Prince of Wales left most of Charlotte's care to governesses & servants, but only allowed her limited contact with the Princess of Wales, who eventually left the country.

As Charlotte grew to adulthood, her father pressured her to marry William, Hereditary Prince of Orange (later King of the Netherlands), but after initially accepting him, Charlotte soon broke off the intended match. This resulted in an extended contest of wills between her & her father, & finally the Prince of Wales permitted her to marry Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (later King of the Belgians). After a year & a half of happy marriage, Charlotte died on 6 November 1817 after giving birth to a stillborn son.

Charlotte's death set off tremendous mourning among the British, who had seen her as a sign of hope & a contrast both to her unpopular father & to her grandfather, whom they deemed mad.

As she had been King George III's only legitimate grandchild, there was considerable pressure on the King's unmarried sons to find wives. King George III's fourth son, Edward, Duke of Kent, fathered the eventual heir, Victoria, who was born 18 months after Charlotte's death.


8 January

A nineteenth-century depiction of the Battle of Ashdown.
A nineteenth-century depiction of the Battle of Ashdown.

8 January 871

The Battle of Ashdown.

The victorious Anglo-Saxons were led by King Æthelred & his younger brother, the future King Alfred the Great, while the Viking commanders were Bagsecg & Halfdan Ragnarsson.

Æthelwulf, King of Wessex
Æthelwulf, King of Wessex

The battle is described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Asser's Life of King Alfred.

By 870, the Vikings had conquered two of the four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Northumbria & East Anglia. Towards the end of 870 they launched an attempt to conquer Wessex & marched from East Anglia to Reading, arriving on about 28 December. Three days after their arrival they sent out a large foraging party, which was defeated by an army under the command of Æthelwulf, Ealdorman of Berkshire, at the Battle of Englefield, but only four days later the main West Saxon army under Æthelred & Alfred was defeated at the Battle of Reading.

Statue of Alfred the Great by Hamo Thornycroft in Winchester
Statue of Alfred the Great by Hamo Thornycroft in Winchester

The Vikings arrived first at the battle ground
& claimed the higher ground
The Vikings arrived first at the battle ground & claimed the higher ground

On about 8 January, the armies fought again at Ashdown. The Vikings arrived first at the battle ground & deployed along the top of the ridge, giving them the advantage. They divided their forces into two contingents, one under their kings, Bagsecg & Halfdan, the other under their earls. When the West Saxons heard this, they decided to copy the formation, with Æthelred facing the kings & Alfred the earls. The king then retired to his tent to hear Mass, while Alfred led his forces to the battlefield. Both sides formed their forces into shield walls. Æthelred would not cut short his devotions & Alfred risked being outflanked & overwhelmed by the whole Danish army. He decided to attack & led his men in a charge up hill. Battle then raged around a small thorn tree & finally the West Saxons were victorious. Although both the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle & Asser emphasise Alfred's role in the victory, in the view of Richard Abels it was the attack by Æthelred when he joined the battle which was decisive & he may have intended all along to take the Vikings unawares. They suffered heavy losses, including King Bagsecg & five earls, Sidroc the Old, Sidroc the Younger, Osbern, Fræna, & Harold. The West Saxons pursued the fleeing Vikings until nightfall, cutting them down. However, victory proved short-lived, as it was followed by two defeats, at Basing & Meretun. Soon after Easter, which fell on 15 April in that year, Æthelred died & was succeeded by Alfred.

The Battle of Ashdown can be dated because Bishop Heahmund of Sherborne died in the Battle of Meretun, & it is known that he died on 22 March 871. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that the Battle of Basing was two months earlier, dating it to 22 January, Ashdown fourteen days before that on 8 January, Reading four days earlier on 4 January, Englefield another four days earlier on 31 December 870 & the arrival of the Vikings in Reading three days earlier on 28 December. However, as the two month interval between Meretun & Basing is probably not exact, the earlier dates are approximate.

Viking helmet and sword


Prince Albert Victor
Prince Albert Victor

8 January 1864

Prince Albert Victor is born

Albert Victor was born two months prematurely on 8 January 1864 at Frogmore House, Windsor, Berkshire. He was the first child of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), & Alexandra, Princess of Wales (formerly Alexandra of Denmark).

Following his grandmother Queen Victoria's wishes, he was named Albert Victor, after herself & her late husband Albert. As a grandchild of the reigning British monarch in the male line, & a son of the Prince of Wales, he was formally styled His Royal Highness Prince Albert Victor of Wales from birth.

Did You Know? After two unsuccessful courtships, he was engaged to be married to Princess Mary of Teck in late 1891. A few weeks later, he died during an influenza pandemic. Mary later married his younger brother, who became King George V in 1910.


9 January

9 January 1982

Catherine Elizabeth Middleton is born at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

She was baptised at St Andrew's Bradfield, a local parish church, on 20 June 1982. She is the eldest of three children born to Michael Middleton (b. 1949) & his wife, Carole (née Goldsmith; b. 1955).

Her Middleton relatives, including her great-grandmother Olive Middleton, played host to members of the British royal family in the 1920s & 1930s. Her mother's family are descended from coal miners, & have been described as working-class. She has a younger sister, Pippa, & a younger brother, James.

Her husband, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is second in the line of succession to the British throne, making Catherine a likely future queen consort. They married on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey. The couple's children—Prince George, Princess Charlotte, & Prince Louis of Cambridge—are third, fourth, & fifth in the line of succession to the British throne, respectively.


10 January

Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom by Liotard, 1754
Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom by Liotard, 1754

10 January 1741

Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom is born.

Elizabeth was a member of the British Royal Family, a grandchild of King George II & sister of King George III. Princess Elizabeth was born at Norfolk House, St James's Square, Westminster. Her father was The Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales, eldest son of King George II & Caroline of Ansbach. Her mother was The Princess of Wales (née Augusta of Saxe-Gotha).

Little is known of her short life other than a fragment preserved in the Letters of Walpole.

'We have lost another Princess, Lady Elizabeth. She died of an inflammation in her bowels in two days. Her figure was so very unfortunate, that it would have been difficult for her to be happy, but her parts & application were extraordinary. I saw her act in "Cato" at eight years old, (when she could not stand alone, but was forced to lean against the side-scene,) better than any of her brothers & sisters. She had been so unhealthy, that at that age she had not been taught to read, but had learned the part of Lucia by hearing the others study their parts. She went to her father & mother, & begged she might act. They put her off as gently as they could—she desired leave to repeat her part, & when she did, it was with so much sense, that there was no denying her'. — Horace Walpole, letter to Horatio Mann, 13 September 1759

She died on 4 September 1759 at Kew Palace, London & was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Kew Palace
Kew Palace


Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom Portrait by Sir William Beechey, 1797
Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom by Sir William Beechey, 1797

10 January 1840

Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom dies.

Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom (born. 22 May 1770) was the seventh child & third daughter of King George III & Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

After marrying the Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg, Frederick VI, she took permanent residence in Germany as landgravine.

Elizabeth was known for her insistently optimistic attitude in spite of her stilted existence. Elizabeth was determined to enjoy her life by exploring & developing her varied interests & hobbies. Elizabeth was a talented artist, producing several books of her own engravings to benefit various charities. She was the only one of George III's children to share his interests in agriculture, running her own model farm at a rented cottage in Old Windsor. She took great delight in the products of her garden, as well as the eggs, milk, & butter from her flocks of chickens & cows. Elizabeth was equally fond of rich food & drink & was known among the family for her tendency to gain weight, criticism about which she was very sensitive.

Elizabeth was also known for her well-developed sense of humour & maintained a large collection of jokes & witticisms. She had an open & plainspoken nature, & disliked excessive "politeness". After her wedding Elizabeth founded a care centre & school in Hanover for children of working mothers. While she was past childbearing age herself, Elizabeth found fulfilment in working with the children attending the school. She died on 10 January 1840 at age 69 in Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany. She was buried in the Mausoleum of the Landgraves, Homburg, Germany.


11 January

Reconstructed image of Old St Paul's Cathedral before 1561, with intact spire
Reconstructed image of Old St Paul's Cathedral before 1561, with intact spire

11 January 1569

The first recorded lottery is drawn.

The first recorded lottery, “a verie rich Lotterie Generall”, was drawn at the west door of St Paul’s Cathedral. Its purpose was to raise funds for the “reparation of the havens & strength of the Realme, & towardes such other publique good workes”.

Tickets were sold from 1566, so Elizabeth I’s government was able to borrow the proceeds until 1569, when the lottery was drawn & the money raised went on prizes. It was a far more popular policy than raising funds by taxing the people. A contemporary record of this lottery, kept at Loseley House in Surrey, tells us that it consisted of 400,000 lots costing “tenne shillings sterling onely”. There were many thousands of prizes, but the main winner of the lottery was to receive a mixture of money, plate, tapestries & cloth: “the value of five thousande poundes sterling, that is to say, three thousande pounds in ready money, seven hundred poundes in plate gilte & white, & the rest in good tapisserie meete for hangings, & other covertures, & certain sortes of good linen cloth”.


12 January

Medieval jousting

12 January 1510

King Henry VIII jousts for the first time as King.

The joust was a private one, & took place at Richmond Park. Henry & his friend William Compton attended in disguise, & there was panic when Compton was seriously injured by Edward Neville. Nobody knew whether it was Compton or the King, & it was only when his visor was raised that people knew, & someone cried out “God save the King!”. Then the King took off his disguise to reassure worried spectators.

William Compton survived the accident & served the King as his Groom of the Stool until Wolsey’s “Eltham Ordinances” forced his resignation. He died in June 1528 after contracting sweating sickness.

Medieval knight

Jousting was a popular sport in Tudor times, but actually dated back to the Middle Ages when it was used to prepare knights for warfare. It kept them fit, & was good practice of weapon skills. As time went on, jousting became rooted in the chivalric tradition, & ladies would offer favours (a ribbon or a handkerchief) to knights to wear on their clothing during the joust.

Tudor jousting tournament

The sport involved two knights, in armour & equipped with lances, riding towards each other at speed. By Tudor times, a barrier or “tilt”, separated the knights’ courses to prevent collisions, & lances had been made blunt. A herald would start the joust, & the knights would charge at each other & attempt to strike or unseat their opponent.

Armour for King Henry VIII by Matthew Bisanz, 1544
Armour for King Henry VIII by Matthew Bisanz, 1544

It was a dangerous sport, & was actually discontinued in France after the death of the French king, Henry II, when his eye was pierced by a splinter from a lance while jousting in 1559.


Anne, Princess Royal & Princess of Orange by Jacopo Amigoni
Anne, Princess Royal & Princess of Orange by Jacopo Amigoni

12 January 1759

Anne, Princess Royal & Princess of Orange dies.

Anne, Princess Royal & Princess of Orange (b. 2 November 1709) was the second child & eldest daughter of King George II of Great Britain & his consort, Caroline of Ansbach.

She was the spouse of William IV, Prince of Orange, the first hereditary stadtholder of the Netherlands. Princess Anne was the second daughter of a British sovereign to hold the title Princess Royal. When her husband died at the age of 40 in 1751, Anne was Regent of the Netherlands from 1751 until her death in 1759, exercising extensive powers on behalf of her son William V. She was hard-working, but arrogant & imperious, which made her unpopular.

Because of her English upbringing & family connections, she was known as an Anglophile - despite being unable to convince the Dutch Republic to enter the Seven Years' War on the side of the British. She continued to act as regent until her death from dropsy in 1759, at The Hague, Netherlands, when she was replaced by her mother-in-law, Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel, & by Duke Louis Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg.

Did you know? Princess Anne, Maryland, in the United States is named for her.


13 January

Æthelwulf of Wessex
Æthelwulf of Wessex

13 January 858

Æthelwulf of Wessex dies.

Æthelwulf, also spelled Aethelwulf or Ethelwulf; Old English: Æþelwulf, meaning "Noble Wolf", was King of Wessex from 839 until his death in 858. He was the only known child of King Egbert of Wessex. He conquered the kingdom of Kent on behalf of his father in 825, & was sometime later made King of Kent as a sub-king to Egbert.

He succeeded his father as King of Wessex on Egbert's death in 839, at which time his kingdom stretched from the county of Kent in the east to Devon in the west. At the same time his eldest son Æthelstan became sub-king of Kent as a subordinate ruler.

Æthelwulf & his first wife, Osburh, had five sons, Æthelstan, Æthelbald, Æthelbert, Æthelred, & Alfred (later Alfred the Great). Each of his sons, with the exception of Æthelstan, succeeded to the throne. Æthelwulf's only daughter, Æthelswith, was married as a child to King Burgred of Mercia. Æthelwulf was married a second time to Judith of Flanders.

He was buried first at Steyning & later re-interred in the Old Minster in Winchester. His bones now rest in one of several "mortuary chests" in Winchester Cathedral.

Æthelwulf is regarded as one of the most successful West Saxon kings, who laid the foundations for the success of his son, Alfred the Great.


14 January

The wedding of Eleanor and Henry III depicted by Matthew Paris in the 1250s
The wedding of Eleanor & Henry III depicted by Matthew Paris in the 1250s

14 January 1236

King Henry III of England marries Eleanor of Provence.

In 1236 when Henry married Eleanor of Provence, Henry had been king for around 20 years, having inherited the throne aged just 9 . Eleanor was the daughter of Raymond-Berengar, the Count of Provence, & Beatrice of Savoy. Eleanor was well-mannered, cultured & articulate, she was renowned for her cleverness, skill at writing poetry, & as a leader of fashion. but the primary reason for the marriage was political, as Henry stood to create a valuable set of alliances with the rulers of the south & south-east of France.

King Henry III
King Henry III

The pair were married at Canterbury Cathedral in January 1236, & Eleanor was crowned queen at Westminster shortly afterwards in a lavish ceremony planned by Henry. There was a substantial age gap between the couple, Henry was 28, Eleanor only 12. Henry gave Eleanor extensive gifts & paid personal attention to establishing & equipping her household. He also brought her fully into his religious life, including involving her in his devotion to king Edward the Confessor.

Henry & Eleanor had five children together, In 1239 Eleanor gave birth to their first child, Edward, named after Edward the Confessor. Henry was overjoyed & held huge celebrations, giving lavishly to the Church & to the poor to encourage God to protect his young son.

Their first daughter, Margaret, named after Eleanor's sister, followed in 1240, her birth also accompanied by celebrations & donations to the poor. Henry's third child, Beatrice, was named after his mother-in-law, & born in 1242 during a campaign in Poitou. Their fourth child, Edmund, arrived in 1245 & was named after the 9th-century saint: concerned about Eleanor's health, Henry donated large amounts of money to the Church throughout the pregnancy. A third daughter, Katherine, was born in 1253 but soon fell ill, possibly the result of a degenerative disorder such as Rett syndrome, & was unable to speak. She died in 1257 & Henry was totally distraught.


Queen Elizabeth I

14 January 1559

Queen Elizabeth I's coronation procession

Elizabeth left the Tower for her eve of coronation procession at 3pm on the 14th January 1559 in a cloth of gold covered litter carried by two mules. As she passed the Tower of London menagerie, Elizabeth prayed to God, thanking him for her deliverance, like that of Daniel from the lion’s den.

Elizabeth was a natural. She charmed the crowd, smiling warmly at people, joking & replying to their good wishes. It was usual for pageants to be part of a coronation procession, & Elizabeth had five:

Gracechurch Street – This pageant referred to Elizabeth’s genealogy, her Tudor roots & the history of the House of Tudor. The people were reminded that her name sake & grandmother Elizabeth of York had brought peace to the land by marrying Henry Tudor & uniting the warring Houses of York & Lancaster. Elizabeth, too, would bring peace & unity to the land.

Cornhill – This pageant referred to Elizabeth’s new government as being upheld by four virtues: True Religion, Love of Subjects, Wisdom & Justice.

Soper’s Lane – This pageant was based on the New Testament Beatitudes &, applied them to Elizabeth’s sufferings at the hands of her sister.

Little Conduit, Cheapside – This pageant with its subject of “Time” attacked Mary’s reign, contrasting “a decayed commonwealth” to “a flourishing commonwealth” in two tableaux. Time’s daughter, Truth, carried an English Bible labelled the “Word of Truth”, which Elizabeth’s government was said to possess. When Elizabeth saw this pageant, she asked for the Bible & “kissed it, & with both her hands held up the same, & so laid it on her breast, with great thanks to the City therefore.”

Fleet Street – This pageant depicted Elizabeth as the prophetess Deborah who had rescued Israel from Jabin, King of Canaan. Like Deborah, Elizabeth would reign over her people for over forty years. The procession ended at Westminster in readiness for Elizabeth’s coronation ceremony the next day in Westminster Abbey.


15 January

The marriage of Lady Anne Mowbray with Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, by James Northcote
The marriage of Lady Anne Mowbray with Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, by James Northcote

15 January 1478

Richard of Shrewsbury marries Anne De Mowbray.

On 15 January 1478, in St Stephen's Chapel, Westminster, when he was about 4 years old, Richard married the 5-year-old Anne de Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk, who had inherited the vast Mowbray estates in 1476.

Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York (born 17 August 1473 - died c.1483), was the sixth child & second son of King Edward IV of England & Elizabeth Woodville, born in Shrewsbury. Richard & his older brother, who briefly reigned as King Edward V of England, mysteriously disappeared shortly after Richard III usurped the throne of England in 1483. Anne de Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk, later Duchess of York & Duchess of Norfolk (10 December 1472 – c. 19 November 1481) was the child bride of Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, one of the Princes in the Tower. She died at the age of eight.


Queen Elizabeth I coronation portrait

15 January 1559

Elizabeth I is crowned Queen of England

On 15th January 1559, a date chosen by her astrologer Dr John Dee, a triumphant Elizabeth Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn, processed from Westminster Hall into Westminster Abbey to be crowned queen.

She was just twenty five years old, was the third child of Henry VIII to become monarch, & was the longest reigning of them, ruling England for over 44 years.

Elizabeth’s coronation day began in Westminster Hall, which had been decorated with her father’s sumptuous tapestries & his collection of gold & gilt plate. Blue cloth had been laid from the Hall to the Abbey, & Elizabeth, wearing her crimson parliament robes, processed along this cloth, which was then torn to shreds by people as souvenirs.

Elizabeth processed to the crossing in the Abbey & withdrew to a curtained enclosure to change. She was then led by Owen Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle, up onto the stage, where he proclaimed her queen in each of the four corners, asking the congregation if they would have her for their queen & listening for their enthusiastic replies of “Yea! Yea!”.

Elizabeth then made the traditional offerings at the altar & sat in the throne of estate to listen to the sermon. After the sermon, Elizabeth knelt for the Lord’s Prayer, took the oath, then withdrew to the traverse to change for the anointing part of the service. Wearing a kirtle of gold & silver & leaning on cloth of gold cushions, which had been placed before the altar, Elizabeth was anointed on the shoulder blades, breast, arms, hands & head. She was then dressed in white gloves, a white coif & the white dalmatic (tunic) of a deacon.

After the new Queen had sworn the oath & been anointed, she could sit in St Edward’s Chair & receive the sword, armils, mantle, ring & sceptre, & be crowned. She was crowned with three different crowns, one after the other, with fanfares marking each crowning.

Elizabeth was then dressed in gold right down to her shoes, & with the sceptre in one hand & orb in the other, she processed onto the stage where she sat in the throne. There, her people greeted her & Oglethorpe, & the Lords Spiritual & Temporal paid homage to their new queen by kneeling at her feet & kissing her cheek.

The coronation pardon was read, & this was followed by the coronation mass, which included the Epistle & the Gospel being read out in both Latin & English. Elizabeth then kissed the Bible. Oglethorpe, defied his new queen by elevating the host, at which point Elizabeth withdrew to change into her purple robes.

Westminster Abbey

The Queen then processed from the Abbey, through Old Palace Yard & back to Westminster Hall to enjoy her coronation banquet. Elizabeth was now the official queen, & her coronation & accession had been a huge success.

Elizabeth I (born. 7 September 1533 – died. 24 March 1603) was Queen of England & Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death in 1603. She is sometimes referred to as the Virgin Queen, as she never married. Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who was executed when Elizabeth was 21⁄2 years old.


16 January

Miniature of Edmund with Saint George, from an early 14th-century manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 231)
Miniature of Edmund with Saint George, from an early 14th-century manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 231)

16 January 1245

Edmund Crouchback is born in London

Edmund Crouchback was a member of the House of Plantagenet, & was the second surviving son of Henry III of England & Eleanor of Provence. He was a younger brother of Edward I.

Edmund obtained important possessions & dignities, for soon after the forfeiture of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester on 25 October 1265, Edmund received the Earldom of Leicester & later that of Lancaster. He was granted the honour of the Stewardship of England. He also acquired the titles & estates that included the earldom of Derby, & the Honour of Hinckley Castle.

In 1267 he was granted the lordship of Builth Wells in opposition to the then holder, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (the last prince of an independent Wales). In 1267, he was appointed High Sheriff of Lancashire. Henry III created his second son Earl of Leicester in 1267, granting the honour & privileges of that city. The following year, he was made Constable of Leicester Castle, a royal possession in the king's name.

By now Crouchback had a reputation for being a ruthless & ferocious warrior. In 1271 he accompanied his elder brother Edward on the Ninth Crusade to Palestine. On his return from the Crusade of 1271-2 he seems to have made Grosmont Castle his favoured home & undertook much rebuilding there.

Edmund Crouch back took part in the ninth crusade

Edmund's duty to the church included the foundation of the Nuns of Clara, Minories, at St Aldate's. In 1291, his estate paid for the establishment for the Chapel of Savoy, in memory of his mother, at St Clement Danes. Filial piety was part of the chivalric code of an honourable knight. He was a generous benefactor to the monastery of Grace Dieu in Leicestershire, & the nuns at Tarrant Crawford. He also helped establish a major Grey friars monastery at Preston in the duchy of Lancaster. In 1281 he supervised the construction of Aberystwyth Castle for King Edward I to subjugate the Welsh. The next year he accompanied Roger Mortimer on campaign against Llywelyn, defeating & capturing the prince.

His nickname, "Crouchback" (meaning "crossed-back"), refers to his participation in the Ninth Crusade.

Edmund married (1st) 8 April 1269 Aveline de Forz. She died just 4 years after the marriage, at the age of 15, & was buried at Westminster Abbey. The couple had no children, though some sources believe she may have died in childbirth or shortly after a miscarriage.

He married (2nd) in Paris, on 3 February 1276 Blanche of Artois, widow of King Henry I of Navarre.

With Blanche he had three children:

  • Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster (born 1278, executed 22 March 1322)

  • Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster (born 1281, died 22 September 1345)

  • John of Lancaster (born before. May 1286, died in France shortly before. 13 June 1317)


Bodiam castle
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