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#otd in royal history 17-31 January

#otd in royal history 17-31 January. The British Monarchy Blog

17 January

A drawing of the cat that Agnes Bowker allegedly gave birth to
A drawing of the cat that Agnes Bowker allegedly gave birth to

17 January 1569

Agnes Bowker is accused of giving birth to a cat!

Agnes Bowker of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, 'allegedly' gave birth to a cat. According to the midwife, Elizabeth Harrison, Agnes had told her of how “the likeness of a bear, sometimes like a dog, sometimes like a man” had carnal knowledge of her in its various guises. Harrison went on to describe how Agnes gave birth to the cat, “the hinder part coming first”.

The other six women who were present at the birth were questioned, but none seemed very sure of what had happened!. One Margaret Harrison said “that she was at the birth of the monster with her child in her arms, & the wives willed her to fetch a candle for they had not light… & when she came in with the candle she saw the monster lie on the earth & she thinketh it came out of Agnes Bowker’s womb.” Another woman spoke of seeing the monster, but none of them were present when it was actually born.

Testimonies from the local men were also taken. They had examined the cat & even dissected it, finding bacon in its digestive system. This convinced them that the “monster” was nothing but a real cat who had been enjoying a piece of bacon in the last few hours, rather than being carried in the womb of young Agnes. They also spoke of how Agnes had recently tried to borrow a cat & that a neighbour’s cat had gone missing.

Their testimonies, & those of the women present at the birth, were heard at a special ecclesiastical court in front of the Archdeacon of Leicester. A secular hearing was also set up to examine the evidence & to see if a crime, such as infanticide, had been committed.

Agnes herself was obviously examined, & she told some rather tall tales involving being seduced by a schoolmaster who gave her “falling sickness” (epilepsy), & who told her that she could be cured by having a child. According to Agnes, Mr Brady, the schoolmaster, sent “a thing” to her “in the likeness of a man”, & she slept with him. When questioned about her pregnancy & its outcome, she went from saying that she had given birth to a child who was being nursed at Guilsborough, to saying that she had given birth before Christmas to a dead child, which was buried in Little Bowden. Then she changed her mind & said she didn’t know what had happened when she gave birth in January, but that the midwife told her that the monster had come out of her body.

The case was referred to Henry Hastings, the Earl of Huntingdon, on 18th February 1569 & Anthony Anderson, (now this bit makes me laugh), the Archdeacon’s Commissary, passed on a drawing of the cat (image below), the results of the examination of the cat & another cat as comparison, & full transcripts of testimonies.

Incredibly this package of information was then passed to William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth I’s Secretary of State, who shared it with Edmund Grindal, Bishop of London in August 1569. Grindal concluded “for the monster, it appeareth plainly to be a counterfeit matter; but yet we cannot extort confessions of the manner of doings”. In other words, he could not establish what exactly had happened. The case had to be investigated, though, because people were seeing it as a portent, & news of Agnes Bowker’s cat had spread quickly via a pamphlet.


Charles I, king of England

17 January 1648

England's Long Parliament passes the "Vote of No Addresses",

- breaking off negotiations with King Charles I & thereby setting the scene for the second phase of the English Civil War. 1648 – England's Long Parliament passes the "Vote of No Addresses", breaking off negotiations with King Charles I & thereby setting the scene for the second phase of the English Civil War.


18 January

Henry VII, king of England (r.1485-1509)
Henry VII (r.1485-1509)

18 January 1486

Henry VII marries Elizabeth of York

As the eldest daughter of Edward IV with no surviving brothers, Elizabeth of York actually had a strong claim to the throne in her own right, but she did not take the throne as queen regnant. Such a convention would not truly come to England for another 67 years with the accession of Elizabeth of York's granddaughter, Mary I.

Elizabeth of York, Queen consort of England
Elizabeth of York

After procuring papal dispensation, Cardinal Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, officiated at the wedding of Henry VII & Elizabeth of York on 18 January 1486, in Westminster Abbey. The marriage unified the warring houses & gave his children a strong claim to the throne. The unification of the houses of York & Lancaster by this marriage is symbolised by the heraldic emblem of the Tudor rose, a combination of the white rose of York & the red rose of Lancaster.

Henry & Elizabeth had a total of four sons, three of whom died before their father, leaving their brother, Henry VIII, to succeed his father as king.

Their children were;

  • Arthur, Prince of Wales (20 September 1486 – 2 April 1502)

  • Margaret, later Queen of Scotland (28 November 1489 – 18 October 1541)

  • Henry, later King Henry VIII of England (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547

  • Elizabeth Tudor (2 July 1492 – 14 September 1495)

  • Mary, later Queen of France (18 March 1496 – 25 June 1533)

  • Edward? (b. 1498 – d. 1499) Possibly confused with Edmund.

  • Edmund (21 February 1499 – 19 June 1500)

  • Katherine (2 February 1503 – 10 February 1503)

The Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain Colouring Book


Prince John of the United Kingdom

18 January 1919

Prince John of the United Kingdom dies

Prince John of the United Kingdom (born.12 July 1905) was the fifth son & youngest of the six children of King George V & his wife, Queen Mary. At the time of John's birth, his father was the Prince of Wales & heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, Edward VII. In 1910, George succeeded to the throne upon Edward's death & John became fifth in the line of succession.

In 1909, John was discovered to be afflicted by epilepsy & was also believed to have some form of intellectual disability, possibly autism. As his condition deteriorated, he was sent to live at Sandringham House & was kept away from the public eye (people have criticised the family for this, but in my opinion it was the correct decision. In the early part of the 20th century there was no understanding of mental disability, he would certainly have faced ridicule. Even people with dementia were packed off to a mental asylum!, & people with a mental illness &/or a learning disability were classified as an imbecile, idiot, lunatic, or deaf & dumb, they were very harsh times, it's all about opinions but I feel during those times it was the right thing to do).

At Sandringham, he was cared for by his governess, "Lala" Bill & befriended local children whom his mother had gathered to be his playmates. His illness was released to the wider public only after his death. On 18 January 1919, after a severe seizure, John died in his sleep at Wood Farm at 5:30 p.m. Queen Mary wrote in her diary that the news was "a great shock, tho' for the poor little boy's restless soul, death came as a great relief. [She] broke the news to George and [they] motored down to Wood Farm. Found poor Lala very resigned but heartbroken. Little Johnnie looked very peaceful lying there." His funeral was the following day at St Mary Magdalene Church.


19 January

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

19 January 1547

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey is executed on a charge of treason

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (born. 1516/1517), was an English nobleman, politician & poet. He was one of the founders of English Renaissance poetry & was the last known person executed at the instance of King Henry VIII. He was a first cousin of both Queen Anne Boleyn & Queen Catherine Howard, second & fifth wives of King Henry VIII.

Howard quartered the attributed (coat of) arms of King Edward the Confessor, &, although the arms of Howard's ancestor Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, show that he was entitled to bear Edward the Confessor's arms, doing so was an act of pride. In consequence, the King ordered Howard's imprisonment & that of his father, sentencing them to death on 13 January 1547. Howard was beheaded on 19 January 1547 on a charge of treasonably quartering the royal arms. His father escaped execution as the king died the day before that appointed for the beheading, but he remained imprisoned.

The arms for which Howard was attainted (Edward the Confessor's arms are in the fifth quarter with a label of three points plain Argent).

Image: Silver & Gold, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

The coat of arms above for which Howard was attainted (Edward the Confessor's arms are in the fifth quarter with a label of three points plain Argent).


Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain A5 Postcard
Kings and Queens A5 Postcard

20 January

King Richard II (r.1377-1399)
King Richard II (r.1377-1399)

20 January 1382

Richard II marries Anne of Bohemia

Richard II (6 January 1367 – c. 14 February 1400), was King of England from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard, a son of Edward the Black Prince, was born in Bordeaux during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III. Richard succeeded to the throne at the age of ten.

Richard married Anne of Bohemia, daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor (King of Bohemia Charles IV) & his wife Elisabeth of Pomerania, on 20 January 1382. The marriage had diplomatic significance; in the division of Europe caused by the Great Schism, Bohemia & the Empire were seen as potential allies against France in the ongoing Hundred Years' War.

Tournaments were held for several days after the ceremony, in celebration. They then made a tour of the realm, staying at many major abbeys along the way.

In 1383 Anne of Bohemia visited the city of Norwich, where at the Great Hospital a ceiling comprising 252 black eagles was made in her honour. Anne & Richard were only 14 years old when they first met & married. Yet they soon fell into a loving relationship & "over the years the king proved truly devoted to his new wife".

Their 12 year marriage was childless. Anne died from plague in 1394 at Sheen Manor. She was greatly mourned by her husband. He was so grief-stricken that he demolished Sheen Manor, where she had died.

Anne and Richard's coronation in the Liber Regalis of Westminster Abbey
Anne & Richard's coronation in the Liber Regalis of Westminster Abbey

Did you know?

Richard & Anne's wedding was the fifth royal wedding in Westminster Abbey & was not followed by any other royal wedding in Westminster Abbey for another 537 years, when Princess Patricia of Connaught (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria) married Captain the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.

1935 Complete Album of 50x 'KINGS and QUEENS of ENGLAND' collectible cards. Worldwide delivery


Kin George V (r.1910-1936)
Kin George V (r.1910-1936)

20 January 1936

George V dies

The First World War took a toll on George's health: he was seriously injured on 28 October 1915 when thrown by his horse at a troop review in France, & his heavy smoking exacerbated recurring breathing problems. He suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease & pleurisy. In November 1928, he fell seriously ill with septicaemia, & for the next two years his son Edward took over many of his duties.

In 1929 he retired for three months to Craigweil House, Aldwick, in the seaside resort of Bognor, Sussex. As a result of his stay, the town acquired the suffix "Regis", which is Latin for "of the King". A myth later grew that his last words, upon being told that he would soon be well enough to revisit the town, were "Bugger Bognor!" George never fully recovered. In his final year, he was occasionally administered oxygen. On the evening of 15 January 1936, the King took to his bedroom at Sandringham House complaining of a cold; he never again left the room alive.

By 20 January, he was close to death. His physicians, led by Lord Dawson of Penn, issued a bulletin with words that became famous: "The King's life is moving peacefully towards its close."

Dawson's private diary, unearthed after his death & made public in 1986, reveals that the King's last words, a mumbled "God damn you!", were addressed to his nurse when she gave him a sedative on the night of 20 January. Dawson wrote that he hastened the King's death by giving him a lethal combination of morphine & cocaine. Dawson noted that he acted to preserve the King's dignity, to prevent further strain on the family, & so that the King's death at 11:55 p.m. could be announced in the morning edition of The Times newspaper rather than "less appropriate ... evening journals".

King George V

George V was King of the United Kingdom & the British Dominions, & Emperor of India.

Reign: 6 May 1910 – 20 January 1936.

Coronation: 22 June 1911, Westminster Abbey.

Born: Prince George of Wales, 3 June 1865, Marlborough House, Westminster.

Parents: Edward VII & Queen Alexandra.

House of: Windsor (from 1917), Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (until 1917).

Married: Mary of Teck on 6 July 1893 at Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace. Princess Victoria Mary ("May") of Teck (26 May 1867 – 24 March 1953) was the only daughter of Prince Francis, Duke of Teck, the son of Duke Alexander of Württemberg by his morganatic wife, Countess Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde. Her mother was Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, a granddaughter of King George III & the third child & younger daughter of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge.


  1. Edward VIII (later Duke of Windsor after he abdicated) (23 June 1894 - 28 May 1972). Married Wallis Simpson in 1937.

  2. George VI (14 December 1895 - 6 February 1952). Married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923.

  3. Mary, Princess Royal (25 April 1897 - 28 March 1965). Married Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood in 1922.

  4. Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (31 March 1900- 10 June 1974). Married Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott in 1935.

  5. Prince George, Duke of Kent (20 December 1902 - 25 August 1942). Married Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark in 1934.

  6. Prince John (12 July 1905 - 18 January 1919)

Successor: Edward VIII (son).

Kings and Queens Framed poster

Kings and Queens Framed poster with worldwide delivery.


20 January 1965

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, (born Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones) is born

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, (born Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones; 20 January 1965 in Oxford), is the wife of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Married in 1999, she worked in public relations until 2002 & now is a full-time working member of the British royal family who splits her time between her work in support of the Queen & a large number of her own charities & organisations.

The Earl & Countess have two children: James, Viscount Severn, & Lady Louise Windsor.

Sophie is the second child & only daughter of Christopher Bournes Rhys-Jones (born 1931), a retired sales director for an importer of industrial tyres & rubber goods. Her mother was Mary (née O'Sullivan; 1934–2005), a charity worker & secretary. Sophie has an elder brother, David.


21 January

Opening of Parliament by Henry VIII at Bridewell in 1523; a contemporary illustration from the Wriothesley Garter Book.
Opening of Parliament by Henry VIII at Bridewell in 1523; a contemporary illustration from the Wriothesley Garter Book.

21 January 1510

Henry VIII opens his first parliament

The 17 year old king Henry VIII opened the first Parliament of his reign.

During the reign of the Tudor monarchs the modern structure of the English Parliament began to be created. The Tudor monarchy was powerful, & there were often periods of several years when parliament did not sit at all. However the Tudor monarchs were astute enough to realise that they needed parliament to legitimise many of their decisions, mostly out of a need to raise money through taxation legitimately without causing discontent. Thus they consolidated the state of affairs whereby monarchs would call & close parliament as & when they needed it.

State Opening took on greater symbolic significance as an occasion for the full constitution of the State (Monarch, Lords & Commons) to be seen. In this period, the parliamentary gathering began to be preceded by an open-air State Procession (which often attracted large numbers of onlookers): the Monarch, together with Household retinue, would proceed in State from whichever royal residence was being used, first to Westminster Abbey for a service (usually a Mass of the Holy Ghost, prior to the Reformation), & thence on foot (accompanied by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in their robes) to the Palace of Westminster for the Opening itself.


Prince George of Denmark & Queen Anne
Prince George of Denmark & Queen Anne

21 January 1687 & 21 January 1694

Queen Anne suffers miscarriages on both dates

Queen Anne (b.6 February 1665 – d.1 August 1714) was Queen of England, Scotland & Ireland between 8 March 1702 & 1 May 1707. On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of Union, the kingdoms of England & Scotland united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain & Ireland until her death in 1714.

Despite seventeen pregnancies by her husband, Prince George of Denmark, she died without any surviving children & was the last monarch of the House of Stuart.

Anne with her son Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, in a painting from the school of Sir Godfrey Kneller, circa 1694
Anne with her son Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, in a painting from the school of Sir Godfrey Kneller, circa 1694


22 January

Re-enactment of Vikings at battle

22 January 871

Battle of Basing

The Battle of Basing was a victory of a Danish Viking army over the West Saxons at the royal estate of Basing in Hampshire on about 22 January 871.

In late December 870 the Vikings invaded Wessex & occupied Reading. Several battles followed in quick succession, Englefield, a West Saxon victory, Reading, a Viking victory & Ashdown in January, a West Saxon victory. Two weeks later, King Æthelred & his brother, the future King Alfred the Great, were defeated at Basing. There was then a lull of two months until the Battle of Meretun, when the Vikings were victorious once again. Soon after Easter, which fell on 15 April in that year, Æthelred died & was succeeded by Alfred.

A statue of a Viking warrior


Queen Victoria

22 January 1901

Queen Victoria dies

Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; born. 24 May 1819) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death.

Known as the Victorian era, her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than that of any of her predecessors. It was a period of industrial, political, scientific, & military change within the United Kingdom, & was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. In 1876, Parliament voted her the additional title of Empress of India.

Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (the fourth son of King George III), & Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840. Their children married into royal & noble families across the continent, earning Victoria the sobriquet "the grandmother of Europe. After Albert's death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning & avoided public appearances.

Her Golden & Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration. She died on the Isle of Wight in 1901. The last British monarch of the House of Hanover, she was succeeded by her son Edward VII of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Victoria spent the Christmas of 1900 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Rheumatism in her legs had rendered her lame, & her eyesight was clouded by cataracts. Through early January, she felt "weak & unwell", & by mid-January she was "drowsy ... dazed, [and] confused". She died on Tuesday 22 January 1901, at half past six in the evening, at the age of 81. Her son & successor, King Edward VII, & her eldest grandson, Emperor Wilhelm II, were at her deathbed.

Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland.

Reign: 20 June 1837 – 22 January 1901.

Coronation: 28 June 1838, Westminster Abbey.

Born: Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, 24 May 1819, Kensington Palace.

Parents: Prince Edward, Duke of Kent & Strathearn, (2 November 1767 – 23 January 1820), son of King George III & Queen Charlotte and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (17 August 1786 – 16 March 1861), the daughter of Franz Frederick Anton, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, & Countess Augusta of Reuss-Ebersdorf.

House of: Hanover.

Married: Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (26 August 1819 – 14 December 1861) on 10 February 1840. Albert was a son of Ernest III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, & his first wife, Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.


  1. Victoria, Princess Royal (21 November 1840 - 5 August 1901). Married Frederick III, German Emperor & King of Prussia in 1858. Their children included Wilhelm II, German Emperor, & Queen Sophia of Greece.

  2. Edward VII (9 November 1841 - 6 May 1910). Married Alexandra of Denmark in 1863.

  3. Princess Alice (25 April 1843 - 14 December 1878. Married Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse & by Rhine in 1862. Their children included Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia.

  4. Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha (6 August 1844 - 31 July 1900). Married Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia in 1874. Their children included Queen Marie of Romania.

  5. Princess Helena (25 May 1846 - 9 June 1923). Married Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein in 1866.

  6. Princess Louise (18 March 1848 - 3 December 1939). Married John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne, 9th Duke of Argyll in 1871.

  7. Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught & Strathearn (1 May 1850 - 16 January 1942). Married Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia, their children included Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden in 1879.

  8. Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany (7 April 1853 - 28 March 1884). Married Princess Helena of Waldeck & Pyrmont in 1882.

  9. Princess Beatrice (14 April 1857 - 26 October 1944). Married Prince Henry of Battenberg in 1885. Their children included Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain.

Successor: Edward VII (son).

Queen Victoria Mug


King Edward VII (r.1901-1910)
King Edward VII (r.1901-1910)

22 January 1901

King Edward VII accession

When Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901, Edward became King of the United Kingdom, Emperor of India &, in an innovation, King of the British Dominions.

He chose to reign under the name Edward VII, instead of Albert Edward the name his mother had intended for him to use declaring that he did not wish to "undervalue the name of Albert" & diminish the status of his father with whom the "name should stand alone". The numeral VII was occasionally omitted in Scotland, even by the national church, in deference to protests that the previous Edwards were English kings who had "been excluded from Scotland by battle".

One of the first things he did was donating his parents' house, Osborne on the Isle of Wight, to the state, he continued to live at Sandringham. He could afford to be magnanimous; his private secretary, Sir Francis Knollys, claimed that he was the first heir to succeed to the throne in credit.

Edward's coronation had originally been scheduled for 26 June. However, two days before on 24 June, he was diagnosed with appendicitis. Appendicitis was generally not treated operatively & carried a high mortality rate, but developments in anaesthesia & antisepsis in the preceding 50 years made life-saving surgery possible. Sir Frederick Treves, with the support of Lord Lister, performed a then-radical operation of draining a pint of pus from the infected abscess through a small incision (through 4½ inch thickness of belly fat & abdomen wall); this outcome showed thankfully that the cause was not cancer. The next day, Edward was sitting up in bed, smoking a cigar. Two weeks later, it was announced that the King was out of danger. Treves was honoured with a baronetcy (which Edward had arranged before the operation). Edward was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 9 August 1902 by the 80-year-old Archbishop of Canterbury, Frederick Temple, who died only four months later.

Edward refurbished the royal palaces, reintroduced the traditional ceremonies, such as the State Opening of Parliament, that his mother had forgone, & founded new honours, such as the Order of Merit, to recognise contributions to the arts & sciences. As king, Edward's main interests lay in the fields of foreign affairs & naval & military matters. Fluent in French & German, he made a number of visits abroad, & took annual holidays in Biarritz & Marienbad.

Edward reigned as king from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910.

King Edward VII


23 January

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn

23 January 1820

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn dies of pneumonia.

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, (born. 2 November 1767) was the fourth son & fifth child of King George III. & Queen Charlotte. He married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in 1818. Their only child became Queen Victoria.

Prince Edward was created Duke of Kent and Strathearn & Earl of Dublin on 23 April 1799 &, a few weeks later, appointed a General & commander-in-chief of British forces in the Maritime Provinces of North America. On 23 March 1802, he was appointed Governor of Gibraltar & nominally retained that post until his death. The Duke was appointed Field-Marshal of the Forces on 3 September 1805.

Edward was the first member of the royal family to live in North America for more than a short visit (1791–1800) &, in 1794, the first prince to enter the United States (travelling to Boston on foot from Lower Canada) after independence.


Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna and Prince Alfred around the time they met. 1868.
Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna and Prince Alfred around the time they met. 1868.

23 January 1874

Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha marries Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia

Alfred reigned as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from 1893 to 1900. He was the second son & fourth child of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert. He was known as the Duke of Edinburgh from 1866 until he succeeded his paternal uncle Ernest II as the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in the German Empire.

On 23 January 1874, he married the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, the second (& only surviving) daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia & his wife Marie of Hesse & by Rhine, daughter of Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse & by Rhine & Wilhelmine of Baden, at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg.

The wedding of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna and Prince Alfred at the Winter Palace. 23 January 1874.
The wedding of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna and Prince Alfred at the Winter Palace. 23 January 1874.

To commemorate the occasion, a small English bakery made the now-internationally-popular Marie biscuit, with the Duchess' name imprinted on its top. The Duke & Duchess of Edinburgh made their public entry into London on 12 March.

The marriage, however, was not a happy one. She was surprised to discover that she had to yield precedence to the Princess of Wales & all of Queen Victoria's daughters & insisted on taking precedence before the Princess of Wales (the future Queen Alexandra) because she & her father the Tsar considered the Princess of Wales' family (the Danish Royal Family) as inferior to their own. Queen Victoria refused this demand, yet granted her precedence immediately after the Princess of Wales. Her father gave her the then-staggering sum of £100,000 as a dowry, plus an annual allowance of £28,000.

They had five children; Alfred, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; Marie, Queen of Romania; Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, later Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna of Russia; Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; & Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.


23 January 2015

Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest living monarch after 90 year old Abdullah of Saudi Arabia dies.


24 January

Edward III, king of England
King Edward III (r.1327-1377)

24 January 1328

Edward III marries Philippa of Hainault, granddaughter of Phillip III of France.

The marriage had been negotiated by Edward's mother, Isabella, in the summer of 1326, Isabella, who was estranged from her husband, Edward II, visited the Hainaut court, along with Prince Edward, to obtain aid from Count William to depose King Edward in return for the couple's betrothal. After a dispensation had been obtained for the marriage of the cousins (they were both descendants of Philip III), Philippa arrived in England in December 1327 escorted by her uncle, John of Hainaut.

The marriage, celebrated at York Minster on 24th January, 1328, was a happy one, the two became very close & produced a large family. Phillipa was kind & inclined to be generous & exercised a steadying influence on her husband. Their eldest son Edward, later known as the Black Prince, was born on 15th June 1330, when his father was eighteen. Phillipa of Hainault was a popular Queen Consort, who was widely loved & respected, & theirs was a very close marriage, despite Edward's frequent infidelities. She frequently acted as Regent in England during Edward's many absences in France.

Philippa of Hainault
Philippa of Hainault

Edward & Phillipa produced twelve children in all, among them were John of Gaunt, later the 1st Duke of Lancaster, (father of King Henry IV).


King Henry VIII of England
King Henry VIII (r.1509-1547)

24 January 1536

King Henry VIII of England suffers an accident while jousting.

On the 24th January 1536, the forty-four year-old King Henry VIII had a serious jousting accident at Greenwich Palace.

The accident occurred at a tournament at Greenwich Palace when Henry, in full armour, was thrown from his horse, itself armoured, which then fell on top of him. He was unconscious for two hours & was thought at first to have been fatally injured. But, although he recovered, the incident, which ended his jousting career, aggravated serious leg problems which plagued him for the rest of his life.

Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial Ambassador, reported it in his dispatches, writing:- “On the eve of the Conversion of St. Paul, the King being mounted on a great horse to run at the lists, both fell so heavily that every one thought it a miracle he was not killed, but he sustained no injury."

Dr Ortiz also recorded the accident in a letter to the Empress:- “The French king said that the king of England had fallen from his horse, & been for two hours without speaking. “La Ana” (Anne Boleyn) was so upset that she miscarried of a son.” (five days after the accident)

As historian Suzannah Lipscomb points out in her book “1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII”, the combination of speed, the weight of Henry’s armour & possibly the horse, & the blow to his head made it a serious accident, & it is amazing that Henry survived.

Depiction of a Jousting tournament


25 January

A fourteenth-century illumination of Edward II, King of England on folio 105r of Bodleian Library MS Rawlinson C 292.

25 January 1309

Edward II marries Isabella of France in Boulogne.

Edward gave Isabella a psalter as a wedding gift, & her father gave her gifts worth over 21,000 livres & a fragment of the True Cross.

Isabella of France, third from left, with her father, Philip IV of France, centre

Isabella of France, third from left, with her father, Philip IV of France, centre.

The pair returned to England in February, where Edward had ordered Westminster Palace to be lavishly restored in readiness for their coronation & wedding feast, complete with marble tables, forty ovens & a fountain that produced wine & pimento, a spiced medieval drink. After some delays, the ceremony went ahead on 25 February, under the guidance of Robert Winchelsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

They had their first child a little over four years later. The long delay was because of Isabella's youth - she was only twelve years old at the time of her wedding.

Edward & Isabella's first son, the future Edward III, was born in 1312 amid great celebrations, & three more children followed: John in 1316, Eleanor in 1318 & Joan in 1321, Joan was nicknamed Joan of the Tower, having been born in the Tower of London. Joan went on to become the Queen of Scots on marriage to David II of Scotland.


King Henry VIII of England

25 January 1533

Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn

In the winter of 1532, Henry met with King Francis I at Calais & enlisted the support of the French king for his new marriage.

Immediately upon returning to Dover in England, Henry, now 41, and Anne, now 32, went through a secret wedding service. She soon became pregnant, & there was a second wedding service in London on 25 January 1533.

On 23 May 1533, Cranmer, sitting in judgment at a special court convened at Dunstable Priory to rule on the validity of the king's marriage to Katharine of Aragon, declared the marriage of Henry & Katharine null & void. Five days later, on 28 May 1533, Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry & Anne to be valid. Katharine was formally stripped of her title as queen, becoming instead "princess dowager" as the widow of Henry's brother Arthur.

In her place, Anne was crowned queen consort on 1 June 1533. The queen gave birth to a daughter slightly prematurely on 7 September 1533. The child was christened Elizabeth, in honour of Henry's mother, Elizabeth of York.

Anne Boleyn ( c. 1501 – 19 May 1536)
Anne Boleyn ( c. 1501 – 19 May 1536)


25 January 1858 - Victoria, Princess Royal married Frederick III

25 January 1858

Victoria, Princess Royal marries Frederick III

The wedding of Victoria, Princess Royal and Prince Frederick of Prussia took place at the Chapel Royal of St. James's Palace in London.

Victoria, Princess Royal (1840-1901) was the eldest child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom & Prince Albert. Frederick was the only son of Wilhelm I, king of Prussia (& later German Emperor from 1871)

To mark the occasion, Frederick was promoted to major-general in the Prussian army. Although it was an arranged marriage, the newlyweds were compatible from the start & their marriage was a loving one; Victoria too had received a liberal education & shared her husband's views. Of the two, Victoria was the dominant one in the relationship.

Photograph of Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia: half length portrait, in military uniform
Photograph of Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia: half length portrait, in military uniform

The couple often resided at the Crown Prince's Palace & had eight children: Wilhelm in 1859, Charlotte in 1860, Henry in 1862, Sigismund in 1864, Victoria in 1866, Waldemar in 1868, Sophia in 1870 & Margaret in 1872. Sigismund died at the age of 2 & Waldemar at age 11, & their eldest son, Wilhelm, suffered from a withered arm—probably due to his difficult & dangerous breech birth, although it could have also resulted from a mild case of cerebral palsy. Wilhelm, who became emperor after Frederick's death, shared none of his parents' liberal ideas; his mother viewed him as a "complete Prussian". This difference in ideology created a rift between Wilhelm & his parents, & relations between them were strained throughout their lives.

Prince Frederick William of Prussia with his wife & two older children, Prince William & Princess Charlotte. by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1862
Prince Frederick William of Prussia with his wife & two older children, Prince William & Princess Charlotte. by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1862

The Unification of Germany into a politically & administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor of the German Empire after the French capitulation in the Franco-Prussian War.

Kaiser Wilhelm I died aged 90 at 8:22 a.m. on 9 March 1888, upon which Frederick became German Emperor & King of Prussia, Victoria the German Empress, & Queen of Prussia. Victoria was empress for only a few months, during which she had opportunity to influence the policy of the German Empire. Frederick III died in 1888 – 99 days after his accession – from laryngeal cancer & was succeeded by their son William II. After her husband's death, she became widely known as Empress Frederick (German: Kaiserin Friedrich). The empress dowager then settled in Kronberg im Taunus, where she built Friedrichshof, a castle, named in honour of her late husband.

Did You Know? The Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn was played at the marriage of Queen Victoria's daughter, Victoria, and Friedrich of Prussia, & became a popular wedding processional.


26 January

Queen Mary when Princess of Wales & Prince George

26 January 1903

Prince George is baptised

Prince George, Duke of Kent (20 December 1902 – 25 August 1942) was the fourth son of King George V & Queen Mary. He was a younger brother of kings Edward VIII & George VI. George was baptised in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on 26 January 1903 by Francis Paget, Bishop of Oxford.

Prince George, Duke of Kent (1902-1942), Naval and air force officer; son of King George V
Prince George, Duke of Kent (1902-1942), Naval and air force officer; son of King George V


27 January

A contemporary engraving of eight of the thirteen conspirators, by Crispijn van de Passe. Missing are Digby, Keyes, Rookwood, Grant, and Tresham.
A contemporary engraving of eight of the thirteen conspirators, by Crispijn van de Passe. Missing are Digby, Keyes, Rookwood, Grant, & Tresham.

27 January 1606

Gunpowder Plot: The trial of Guy Fawkes & other conspirators begins, ending with their execution on January 31.

The King (James VI & I) & his family, hidden from view, were among the many who watched the trial. The list of traitors' names was read aloud, beginning with those of the priests: Father Garnet, Oswald Tesimond, & Father John Gerard.

The first to speak was the Speaker of the House of Commons (later Master of the Rolls), Sir Edward Philips, who described the intent behind the plot in detail. He was followed by the Attorney-General Sir Edward Coke, who began with a long speech. According to Coke, there was little doubt, that the plot had been invented by the Jesuits. According to Coke the Gunpowder Plot would always be known as the Jesuit Treason. Coke spoke with feeling of the probable fate of the Queen & the rest of the King's family, & of the innocents who would have been caught up in the explosion.

Each of the condemned, said Coke, would be drawn backwards to his death, by a horse, his head near the ground. He was to be "put to death halfway between heaven & earth as unworthy of both". His genitals would be cut off & burnt before his eyes, & his bowels & heart then removed. Then he would be decapitated, & the dismembered parts of his body displayed so that they might become "prey for the fowls of the air". Confessions & declarations from the prisoners were then read aloud, & then the prisoners were allowed to speak. Fawkes explained his not guilty plea as ignorance of certain aspects of the indictment. Only Sir Everard Digby, tried on a separate indictment, pleaded guilty, insisting that the King had reneged upon promises of toleration for Catholics, & that affection for Catesby & love of the Catholic cause mitigated his actions. He sought death by the axe & begged mercy from the King for his young family. His defence was in vain; his arguments were rebuked by Coke & Northumberland, & along with his seven co-conspirators, he was found guilty by the jury of high treason. Digby shouted "If I may but hear any of your lordships say, you forgive me, I shall go more cheerfully to the gallows." The response was short: "God forgive you, & we do."

Father Garnet was charged with high treason & tried in the Guildhall on 28 March 1606, in a trial lasting from 8 am until 7 pm. His guilt, announced at the end of his trial, was a foregone conclusion. Criticised for his use of equivocation, which Coke called "open & broad lying & forswearing", & condemned for not warning the authorities of what Catesby planned, he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn & quartered. He was executed on 3 May 1606. Before the executioner could cut him down alive, many in the crowd pulled on his legs, & as a result, Garnet did not suffer the remainder of his grim sentence. There was no applause when the executioner held Garnet's heart aloft & said the traditional words, "Behold the heart of a traitor". His head was set on a pole on London Bridge.


28 January

King Henry VII of England (r.1485-1509)
King Henry VII (r.1485-1509)

28 January 1457

Henry VII is born

Henry was born at Pembroke Castle in Wales on 28 January 1457 to the 13-year-old Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond (1441/43 – 1509). His father, Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond (1430-1456), died three months before his birth.

Born Henry Tudor, he later became king Henry VII & was the founder of the Tudor dynasty, unifying the warring factions in the Wars of the Roses. Although supported by Lancastrians & Yorkists alienated by Richard III's usurpation, Henry VII's first task was to secure his position after his victory at The Battle of Bosworth (1485). In 1486 he married Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV, thus uniting the Houses of York & Lancaster.

Henry's reign was troubled by revolts, sometimes involving pretenders (such as Perkin Warbeck & Lambert Simnel) who impersonated Edward V or his brother. With this in mind, n 1485, Henry formed a personal bodyguard from his followers known as the 'Yeomen of the Guard' (the oldest military corps in existence today).

Henry strengthened the power of the monarchy by using traditional methods of government to tighten royal administration & increase revenues (reportedly including a daily examination of accounts). Royal income rose from an annual average of £52,000 to £142,000 by the end of Henry's reign. Little co-operation between King & Parliament was required; during Henry's reign of 24 years, seven Parliaments sat for some ten & a half months.

Henry used dynastic royal marriages to establish his dynasty in England & help maintain peace. One daughter, Margaret, was married to James IV of Scotland (from whom Mary, Queen of Scots & her son, James VI of Scotland & James I of England, were descended); the other daughter married Louis XII of France.

The Tudor Puzzle Book: Word Searches, Crosswords and Fiendish Questions by Claire Ridgeway


King Henry VIII of England

28 January 1547

King Henry VIII dies

Henry's obesity hastened his death at the age of 55, which occurred on 28 January 1547 in the Palace of Whitehall, on what would have been his father's 90th birthday (King Henry VII).

Henry allegedly uttered his last words: "Monks! Monks! Monks!" perhaps in reference to the monks he caused to be evicted during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. On 14 February 1547 Henry's coffin lay overnight at Syon Monastery, en route for burial in St George's Chapel, Windsor.

Twelve years before in 1535 a Franciscan friar named William Peyto (or Peto, Petow), had preached before the King at Greenwich Palace “that God's judgements were ready to fall upon his head & that dogs would lick his blood, as they had done to Ahab”, whose infamy rests upon 1 Kings 16:33: "And Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him".

The prophecy was said to have been fulfilled during this night at Syon, when some “corrupted matter of a bloody colour” fell from the coffin to the floor. Henry VIII was interred in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, next to Jane Seymour. Over a hundred years later, King Charles I (1625–1649) was buried in the same vault.


King Edward VI (r.1547-1553)

28 January 1547

Edward VI, the nine-year-old son of Henry VIII, becomes King of England on his father's death.

Edward was born on 12 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace, the only legitimate son of Henry VIII. Edward's mother, Henry's third wife Jane Seymour (c.1508 – 1537), died a few days after his birth. Edward was given a rigorous education & was intellectually precocious, although his health was never strong.

Edward became king at the age of nine, when his father died in January 1547. His father had arranged that a council of regency should rule on his behalf, but Edward's uncle, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, took power & established himself as protector. Somerset & the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, were intent on making England a truly Protestant state, supported by the young king. An English Prayer Book was issued in 1549 with an Act of Uniformity to enforce it.

In the summer of 1549, peasants in the West Country revolted in protest against the Prayer Book. Kett's Rebellion in Norfolk was focused on economic & social injustices. At the same time, the French declared war on England. The Norfolk rebellion was suppressed by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick. In the atmosphere of uncertainty, Dudley exploited his success by bringing about the downfall of Somerset, who was arrested & later executed. Although Dudley, later duke of Northumberland, never took the title of protector, this is the role he now assumed. Protestant reform was stepped up - the new Prayer Book of 1552 was avowedly Protestant. Altars were turned into tables, religious imagery destroyed & religious orthodoxy was enforced by a new & more stringent Act of Uniformity.

It soon became clear that Edward was suffering from tuberculosis & would not live long. Northumberland was determined that his religious reforms should not be undone, so he persuaded Edward to approve a new order of succession. This declared Mary illegitimate & passed the throne to Northumberland's daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, who was a more distant descendant of Henry VIII. Edward died on 6 July 1553.


29 January

Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England

29 January 1536

Katharine of Aragon funeral at Peterborough Cathedral

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 their daughter Mary to attend.

Katharine of Aragon (Spanish: Catalina de Aragón; b.16 December 1485 – d.7 January 1536) 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. She was previously Princess of Wales as the wife of Henry's elder brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales.

Peterborough Cathedral
Peterborough Cathedral

Tomb of Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England, Peterborough Cathedral


King George III of Great Britain

29 January 1820

George III dies

In the last years of his life the king suffered from dementia & became completely blind & increasingly deaf. He was incapable of knowing or understanding either that he was declared King of Hanover in 1814, or that his wife (Queen Charlotte) died in 1818. Over Christmas 1819, he spoke nonsense for 58 hours, & for the last few weeks of his life was unable to walk. He died at Windsor Castle at 8:38 pm on 29 January 1820, six days after the death of his fourth son, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent. His favourite son, Frederick, Duke of York, was with him when he died. He was buried on 16 February in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

George was succeeded by two of his sons George IV & William IV, who both died without surviving legitimate children, leaving the throne to the only legitimate child of the Duke of Kent, Victoria, the last monarch of the House of Hanover. He lived for 81 years & 239 days & reigned for 59 years & 96 days: both his life & his reign were longer than those of any of his predecessors. Only Victoria & Elizabeth II have since lived & reigned longer.

George III was King of Great Britain & of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two kingdoms on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland until his death in 1820. He was concurrently Duke & Prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire before becoming King of Hanover on 12 October 1814.

Reign: 25 October 1760 – 29 January 1820.

Coronation: 22 September 1761, Westminster Abbey.

Born: 4 June 1738, Norfolk House, St James's Square, London.

Parents: Frederick, Prince of Wales, (31 January 1707 – 31 March 1751), who was the eldest son & heir apparent of King George II. & Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (30 November 1719 – 8 February 1772), daughter of Frederick II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg & Magdalena Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst.

House of: Hanover.

Married: Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz on 8 September 1761, at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace. Charlotte (19 May 1744 – 17 November 1818) was the youngest daughter of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg, Prince of Mirow & Princess Elisabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen.


  1. George IV (12 August 1762 - 26 June 1830), married Princess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in 1795.

  2. Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (16 August 1763 - 5 January 1827), married Princess Frederica of Prussia in 1791.

  3. William IV (21 August 1765 - 20 June 1837), married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen in 1818.

  4. Charlotte, Princess Royal (29 September 1766 - 6 October 1828), married King Frederick of Württemberg in 1797.

  5. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (2 November 1767 - 23 January 1820), married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in 1818; his descendants include Queen Victoria, Elizabeth II, Felipe VI of Spain, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Harald V of Norway & Margarethe II of Denmark.

  6. Princess Augusta Sophia (8 November 1768 - 22 September 1840).

  7. Princess Elizabeth (22 May 1770 - 10 January 1840), married Frederick, Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg in 1818.

  8. Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover (5 June 1771 - 18 November 1851), married Princess Friederike of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1815; descendants include Constantine II of Greece & Felipe VI of Spain.

  9. Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (27 January 1773 - 21 April 1843), (1) married in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772, The Lady Augusta Murray, marriage annulled in 1794; (2) married 1831, The Lady Cecilia Buggin (later 1st Duchess of Inverness).

  10. Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge (24 February 1774 - 8 July 1850), married Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel in 1818; descendants include Elizabeth II.

  11. Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh (25 April 1776 - 30 April 1857), married Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh in 1816.

  12. Princess Sophia (3 November 1777 - 27 May 1848).

  13. Prince Octavius (23 February 1779 - 3 May 1783).

  14. Prince Alfred (22 September 1780 - 20 August 1782).

  15. Princess Amelia (7 August 1783 - 2 November 1810).

George III died: 29 January 1820, Windsor Castle,

Burial: 16 February 1820, St George's Chapel, Windsor

Successor: George IV (son).


The Victoria Cross Medal

29 January 1856

Queen Victoria issues a Warrant under the Royal sign-manual that establishes the Victoria Cross to recognise acts of valour by British military personnel during the Crimean War.

The Victoria Cross (VC) is one of the highest awards a British soldier can receive. It requires an act of extreme bravery in the presence of the enemy, & has achieved almost mythical status, with recipients often revered as heroes.

The VC was instituted by Royal Warrant on 29 January 1856 to acknowledge the bravery displayed by many soldiers & sailors during the Crimean War (1854-56). Unlike its predecessors, the new award was open to all ranks & would only be presented for acts of supreme gallantry in the face of the enemy.

The first 85 awards - announced in 'The London Gazette' of 24 February 1857 - were made retrospectively, dating back to the start of the Crimean campaign in the autumn of 1854.

For more about the Victoria Cross visit The National Army Museum


30 January

King Charles I of England
Charles I (r.27 March 1625 – 30 January 1649)

30 January 1649

King Charles I is executed