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This Week In Royal History

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

25 May - 31st May

Victorian painting portraying the wedding of Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley in 1553
Victorian painting portraying the wedding
25 May 1553

Lady Jane Grey married Lord Guildford Dudley

Lady Jane became engaged in the spring of 1553, her bridegroom being Lord Guildford Dudley, a younger son of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland. The duke was then the most powerful man in the country.

On 25 May 1553, the couple were married at Durham House in a triple wedding, in which Jane's sister Catherine was matched with the heir of the Earl of Pembroke, Lord Herbert, & another Katherine, Lord Guildford's sister, with Henry Hastings, the Earl of Huntingdon's heir.

Lady Jane Grey (c. 1537 – 12 February 1554), known also as Lady Jane Dudley (after her marriage) & as "the Nine Days' Queen", was an English noblewoman & de facto Queen of England & Ireland from 10 July until 19 July 1553.

She was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII through his younger daughter, Mary Tudor, Jane was a first cousin, once removed, of Edward VI, King of England & Ireland from 1547-1554.

Did You Know? Lady Jane Grey is the 3rd cousin 12 times removed of Queen Elizabeth II. Their common ancestor is Elizabeth Woodville, Queen consort of Edward IV.

Elizabeth Woodville was married to Lady Jane's 2nd great grandfather, Sir John Grey of Groby. Sir John was killed in the Second Battle of St Albans in 1461 (wars of the roses), while fighting for the Lancastrian cause. His widow, 'Dame Elizabeth Grey' (Elizabeth Woodville), later married king Edward IV who was the successful Yorkist claimant to the throne.

Bradgate House;

Edward Grey, 6th Baron Ferrers of Groby's son Sir John Grey of Groby married Elizabeth Woodville, who after John's death married King Edward IV. Their son Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset prepared for building Bradgate House in the late fifteenth century but died before he was able to begin. It was his son Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset who built Bradgate House, the likely completion date being around 1520. There is now some confusion over this completion date however, as an older house has been discovered under the visible walls & findings have suggested that Lady Jane Grey who wasn't born until 1537 lived in the older house. Sir Thomas Grey died in 1530 & was succeeded by his son Henry, the 3rd Marquess of Dorset, who was married to Frances, the daughter of the Duke of Suffolk & Mary Tudor, King Henry VIII's younger sister. The couple's daughter Jane was born at Bradgate House 12 October 1537.

25 May 1846

Princess Helena of the United Kingdom was born.

Princess Helena Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein  by John Jabez Edwin Mayall albumen carte-de-visite, February 1861
Princess Helena, by John Jabez Edwin Mayall, February 1861. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Princess Helena was born at Buckingham Palace, in London, on 25 May 1846, the day after her mother's 27th birthday. She was the third daughter & fifth child of the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria, & her husband Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. As the daughter of the sovereign, Helena was styled Her Royal Highness The Princess Helena from birth. Helena was a lively & outspoken child, & reacted against brotherly teasing by punching the bully on the nose. Like her other sisters, she could play the piano to a high standard at an early age. Other interests included science & technology, shared by her father Prince Albert, & horse riding & boating, two of her favourite childhood occupations.

On 5 July 1866, Helena married the German Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. The couple remained in Britain, in calling distance of the Queen, who liked to have her daughters nearby, & Helena along with her youngest sister, Princess Beatrice, became the Queen's unofficial secretary. However, after Queen Victoria's death on 22 January 1901, Helena saw relatively little of her surviving siblings.

Helena was the most active member of the royal family, carrying out a programme of royal engagements at a time when royalty was not expected to appear often in public. She was also an active patron of charities, & was one of the founding members of the Red Cross.

She became the first member of her family to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary in 1916, but her husband died a year later. Helena outlived him by six years, & died aged 77 at Schomberg House on 9 June 1923.

Helena actively promoted needlework, & became the first president of the newly established School of Art Needlework in 1872; in 1876, it acquired the "royal" prefix, becoming the Royal School of Needlework. In Helena's words, the objective of the school was: "first, to revive a beautiful art which had been well-nigh lost; & secondly, through its revival, to provide employment for gentlewomen who were without means of a suitable livelihood."

Helena was anxious to help children & the unemployed, and began hosting free dinners for their benefit at the Windsor Guildhall. She presided over two of these dinners, in February and March 1886, & over 3,000 meals were served to children & unemployed men during the harsh winter that year. Through her charitable activities, she became popular with the people; a contemporary author, C. W. Cooper, wrote that "the poor of Windsor worshipped her"

The painting above is of Princess Helena, her sister Princess Louise & brother Prince Arthur.

Helena had a keen interest in nursing, & became President of the British Nurses' Association (RBNA) upon its foundation in 1887. In 1891, it received the prefix "Royal", & received the Royal Charter in 1892. Helena was a strong supporter of nurse registration, an issue that was opposed by both Florence Nightingale & leading public figures.

Princess Helena Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein  by Lafayette bromide print, 1890s
Princess Helena by Lafayette, 1890's © National Portrait Gallery, London

In a speech Helena made in 1893, she made clear that the RBNA was working towards "improving the education & status of those devoted & self-sacrificing women whose whole lives have been devoted to tending the sick, the suffering, & the dying" (Although the RBNA was in favour of registration as a means of enhancing & guaranteeing the professional status of trained nurses, its incorporation with the Privy Council allowed it to maintain a list rather than a formal register of nurses).

26 May 946

King Edmund I was murdered

Anglo-Saxon King, Edmund I, king of the English 939-946
King Edmund I, king of the English 939-946

Edmund I, known as 'the Elder' or the Magnificent, was born circa 921, the son of King Edward the Elder (eldest son of Alfred the Great) & his third wife Edgiva. As a sixteen year old, he had fought with distinction beside his elder half-brother, King Æthelstan, at the Battle of Brunanburh* against a combined force of Scots & Vikings.

*The battle was reported in the Annals of Ulster:

'A great, lamentable & horrible battle was cruelly fought between the Saxons & the Northmen, in which several thousands of Northmen, who are uncounted, fell, but their king Amlaib [Olaf], escaped with a few followers. A large number of Saxons fell on the other side, but Æthelstan, king of the Saxons, enjoyed a great victory'

Edmund was around eighteen when he succeeded Æthelstan on England's throne in 940. Edmund's promising reign was cut violently short after only six years. On the Feast of St. Augustine, 26th May, 946, a great festival among the Anglo-Saxon peoples. During the course of revelries to celebrate the event at Pucklechurch, in Gloucester, Edmund, being none the better for the large amount of wine he had consumed, became angered at the presence of one Liofa, an outlaw whom he had expelled from the kingdom a several years previously. Angered beyond endurance at what he saw as an outrage against his authority, the King flung Liofa to the ground in fury & in the ensuing struggle the Edmund was fatally stabbed by the outlaw. A recent article re-examined Edmund's death & dismissed the later chronicle accounts as fiction. It suggested the king was the victim of a political assassination. Edmund the Elder was twenty-five years old when he was killed & was buried at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset.

Edmund's first wife was Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury. There were two sons from this marriage, both future kings of England, Eadwig (c. 940–959), & Edgar (c. 943–975). Ælfgifu died in 944, following which Edmund married Æthelflæd of Damerham. There are no known children from this marriage.


921 - Edmund was born in Wessex, his father was Edward the Elder, son of Alfred the Great.

924 - Edward the Elder died, Edmund's half brother Æthelstan became king.

939 - Æthelstan died & Edmund became king of the English.

939 - King Olaf III Guthfrithson conquered Northumbria & then invaded the Midlands. Edmund encountered him at Leicester, but Olaf escaped & a peace was negotiated by Oda of Canterbury & Wulfstan I of York.

942 - Olaf died & Edmund re-established control over Northumbria & ruled a united England.

943 - Edmund extended his rule into southern Scotland.

945 - Edmund conquered Strathclyde, but Cumbria was annexed by the Scots, in exchange for a treaty of mutual military support.

946 - Edmund was killed at Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire.

picture of a Silver penny of Edmund I, king of the English
Silver penny of Edmund I

26 May 946

Eadred accession as king of the English

Miniature d'Eadred d'Angleterre dans une généalogie royale du XIVe siècle... Eadred, king of the English
King Eadred

Eadred (b.923 – d.23 November 955) was King of the English from 946 until his death. He was the son of Edward the Elder & his third wife Eadgifu of Kent, & a grandson of Alfred the Great. Eadred came to the throne after his older brother Edmund I was assassinated.

His main achievement as king, was to bring the Kingdom of Northumbria under total English control, which occurred with the defeat & expulsion of Eric Bloodaxe (twice King of Northumbria, c. 947–948 & 952–954) in 954. Eadred died at the age of 32 having never married, & was succeeded by his 15-year-old nephew, Eadwig.

26 MAY 1465

Elizabeth Woodville was crowned Queen of England

Elizabeth Woodville portrait painting. Elizabeth Woodville (1437-1492), Queen Consort of Edward IV of England. The portrait of her shown here is probably a multiple-generation copy of one taken from life. The College has several versions in differing states. She is shown posed in the high fashion of the day, with strained back hair and a partial veil.
Elizabeth Woodville,

Portrait details; Elizabeth Woodville. The portrait of her shown here is probably a multiple-generation copy of one taken from life. The College has several versions in differing states. She is shown posed in the high fashion of the day, with strained back hair & a partial veil.

Elizabeth Woodville was born around 1437, she was Queen consort of England as the spouse of King Edward IV from 1464 until his death in 1483. At the time of her birth, her family was mid-ranked in the English aristocracy.

Her first marriage was to a supporter of the House of Lancaster, Sir John Grey of Groby; he died at the Second Battle of St Albans, during the Wars of the Roses, leaving Elizabeth a widowed mother of two sons.

Her second marriage, to Edward IV, caused a great deal of controversy thanks to Elizabeth's great beauty & lack of great estates. Edward was only the second King of England since the Norman Conquest to have married one of his subjects, & Elizabeth was the first such consort to be crowned queen.

Illuminated miniature depicting the marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Anciennes Chroniques d'Angleterre by Jean de Wavrin, 15th century
The marriage of Edward IV & Elizabeth Woodville, by Jean de Wavrin, 15th century

Her marriage greatly enriched her siblings & children, but this incurred the hostility of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, 'The Kingmaker', & his various alliances with the most senior figures in the increasingly divided royal family.

This hostility between King Edward & Warwick, lead to Warwick switching allegiance to the Lancastrian cause. Elizabeth remained politically influential though even after her son, briefly proclaimed King Edward V of England, was deposed by her brother-in-law, Richard III, & she would play an important role in securing Henry VII's accession to the throne in 1485, which ended the Wars of the Roses.

Woodville's twelve children included Edward V, Richard (one of the Princes in the Tower) & Elizabeth of York; by the latter she was maternal grandmother of Henry VIII & great-grandmother of King Edward VI, & queens Mary I & Elizabeth I, of England, & the great-great-grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots. Through her daughter, Elizabeth of York, she is the ancestor of every English monarch since Henry VIII & every Scottish monarch since James V of Scotland.

Did you know? Elizabeth Woodville is the 14th great grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II.

Coat of arms of Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of England as the wife of Edward IV.
Coat of arms of Elizabeth Woodville

26 MAY 1867

27 May 1199

King John's coronation took place at Westminster Abbey

King John presenting a church, painted c. 1250–1259 by Matthew Paris in his Historia Anglorum
King John

Unfortunately little is known of his coronation. John (b.24 December 1166), also known as John Lackland, was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death in 1216.

John, the youngest of five sons of King Henry II of England & Eleanor of Aquitaine, was at first not expected to inherit significant lands (possibly where his nickname came from). Following the failed rebellion of his elder brothers against his father between 1173 & 1174, John became Henry's favourite child. He was appointed the Lord of Ireland in 1177 & given lands in England & on the continent. John's elder brothers William, Henry & Geoffrey died young; by the time Richard I became king in 1189, John was a potential heir to the throne. As acting king during his brother’s absence, John unsuccessfully attempted a rebellion against Richard's royal administrators whilst his brother was participating in the Third Crusade.

Did You Know? The legend of Robin Hood dates from this time in which John is portrayed as Bad King John.

John was proclaimed king after Richard died in France, in 1199. Following the battle of Bouvines, John lost the duchy of Normandy to King Philip II of France, which resulted in the collapse of most of the Angevin Empire. The baronial revolt due to John's repressive policies & ruthless taxation, at the end of John's reign led to the sealing of the Magna Carta, a document sometimes considered to be an early step in the evolution of the constitution of the United Kingdom.

His concessions did not last for long & the Barons War continued. The barons sought French aid & Prince Louis of France landed in England supported by attacks from the North by Alexander II of Scotland. John fled & according to 'legend' lost most of his baggage & the crown jewels when crossing the tidal estuaries of the Wash*. He became ill with dysentery & died at Newark Castle 19 October 1216.

The Wash is a rectangular bay & estuary at the north-west corner of East Anglia on the East coast of England, where Norfolk meets Lincolnshire, & both border the North Sea.

John, King of England is the 22nd great grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II.

27 May 1541

Margaret Pole was executed

Unknown woman, formerly known as Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (b.14 August 1473), was an English peeress. She was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of kings Edward IV & Richard III. Margaret was one of two women in 16th-century England to be a peeress in her own right with no titled husband.

She was married to Sir Richard Pole, (b.1462 – d. before 18 December 1505) a Welshman who was a supporter & close relation of King Henry VII. He was created a Knight of the Garter & was married to Margaret: a marriage which reinforced the Tudor alliance between the houses of Lancaster & York. Sir Richard died sometime before 18 December 1505.

They had five children;

Henry Pole,1st Baron Montagu (c. 1492 – 9 January 1539), most famous as one of the peers in the trial of Anne Boleyn; married Jane Neville. Henry Pole, his wife & his mother were beheaded by Henry VIII. A great-grandson of Henry Pole was Sir John Bourchier, a regicide of beheaded King Charles I of England – a great-great-grandnephew of Henry VIII. Talk about bad luck running in the family hey!

Arthur Pole, (before 1499 – before 1532), Lord of the Manor of Broadhurst in Sussex; married Jane Lewknor.

Reginald Pole (c. 1500 – 17 November 1558), cardinal, papal legate in various regions, including England, & the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury.

Geoffrey Pole, (c. 1501–1562), Lord of the Manor of Lordington in Sussex. He was suspected of treason by King Henry VIII & accused of conspiring with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor; lived in exile in Europe.

Ursula Pole, Baroness Stafford (c. 1504 – 12 August 1570), married Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford.

Did You Know? When Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509, he married Katharine of Aragon. Margaret was appointed one of her ladies-in-waiting.

The fall of the Countess;

In 1531, Margaret's son Reginald Pole openly opposed the Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn marriage. He returned to Italy in 1532, where the Imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys suggested to Emperor Charles V that Reginald marry Henry's daughter Mary (later Mary I) & combine their dynastic claims. Chapuys also communicated with Reginald through his brother Geoffrey. Reginald replied to books Henry sent him with his own pamphlet, which denied Henry's position on the marriage of a brother's wife & denied the royal supremacy. Reginald also urged the princes of Europe to depose Henry immediately.

In 1537, Reginald was created a Cardinal. The Pope (Paul III) put him in charge of organising assistance for the Pilgrimage of Grace, an effort to organise a march on London to install a conservative Catholic government instead of Henry's increasingly Protestant one. Neither Francis I of France nor the Holy Roman Emperor supported it, & the English government tried to have Reginald assassinated.

In 1538 as part of the investigations into the 'Exeter Conspiracy', Reginald's brother Geoffrey was arrested in August 1538; he had been corresponding with Reginald, & the investigation of the Marquess of Exeter (Henry VIII's first cousin & Geoffrey's second cousin) had gave up his name. Geoffrey appealed to Thomas Cromwell, who had him arrested & interrogated. Under interrogation, Geoffrey said that his eldest brother, Lord Montagu, & the Marquess had been parties to his correspondence with Reginald. Montagu, Exeter, & Margaret were arrested in November.

In January 1539, Geoffrey was pardoned, but Margaret's son Henry, Baron Montagu (& cousin Exeter) were later executed for treason after trial. In May 1539, Henry, Margaret, Exeter & others were attainted. This meant they lost their titles & their lands (the least of their problems!). As part of the evidence for the bill of attainder, Cromwell conveniently 'produced' a tunic bearing the Five Wounds of Christ, symbolising Margaret's support for Catholicism & the rule of her son Reginald & the king's Catholic daughter Mary. The 'supposed' discovery, six months after her house & effects were searched at her arrest, is likely to have been a fabrication. She was charged with high treason & sentenced to death. Margaret Pole, was held in the Tower of London for two & a half years. She, her grandson Henry (son of her own son Henry), & Exeter's son were held together & supported by the king. She was attended by servants & received an extensive grant of clothing in March 1541. In 1540, Cromwell himself fell from favour & was attainted & executed in 1540.

On the morning of 27 May 1541, Margaret was told she was to die within the hour. She answered that she hadn't been accused of any crime. She was taken from her cell to the place within the Tower of London where a low wooden block had been prepared instead of the customary scaffold. As she was of noble birth, she was not executed before the populace.

There are two written accounts that survive of her execution: by, the French ambassador, Marillac; & by Chapuys, ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor. The two accounts differ, with Marillac's report, recording that it took place in a corner of the Tower with so few people present that in the evening news of her execution was doubted. Chapuys wrote 2 weeks after the execution that 150 witnesses had been present including the Lord Mayor of London.

He wrote that;

"at first, when the sentence of death was made known to her, she found the thing very strange, not knowing of what crime she was accused, nor how she had been sentenced." & that, because the main executioner had been sent North to deal with rebels, the execution was performed by "a wretched & blundering youth who literally hacked her head & shoulders to pieces in the most pitiful manner."

An apocryphal account, described in Burke's Peerage as an invention to explain the appalling circumstances of her death, states that Margaret refused to lay her head on the block, declaiming, "So should traitors do, & I am none;" according to the account, she turned her head "every which way," instructing the executioner that, if he wanted her head, he should take it as he could. Margaret was buried in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London.

The following poem was found carved on the wall of her cell:

For traitors on the block should die

I am no traitor, no, not I!

My faithfulness stands fast and so,

Towards the block I shall not go!

Nor make one step, as you shall see;

Christ in Thy Mercy, save Thou me!

28 MAY 1533

Anne Boleyn becomes Queen of England

16th century portrait of Anne Boleyn by an unknown artist. Queen of England as the second wife of king Henry VIII
16th century portrait of Anne Boleyn by an unknown artist

Anne Boleyn (born, c. 1501 – d.19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 28 May 1533 – 17 May 1536, as the second wife of King Henry VIII.

King Henry VIII the second monarch from the House of Tudor, famous for his six wives.
Henry VIII

Henry & Anne married on 25 January 1533, after a secret marriage in November 1532. On 23 May 1533, newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer declared Henry & Katharine's marriage null & void; less than a week later, he declared Henry & Anne's marriage valid. Anne was crowned queen consort on 1 June 1533 in a magnificent ceremony at Westminster Abbey with a banquet afterwards.

On 7 September, she gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I. Henry was disappointed to have a daughter rather than a son but hoped a son would follow & professed to love Elizabeth. Anne later had three miscarriages, & by March 1536, Henry was courting Jane Seymour (later his third wife). To marry Seymour, Henry had to find reasons to end the marriage to Anne.

He had Anne investigated for high treason in April 1536. On 2 May she was arrested & sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury of peers – which included Henry Percy, her former betrothed, & her own uncle, Thomas Howard & found guilty on 15 May. She was beheaded four days later. Modern historians view the charges against her, which included adultery, incest, & witchcraft, as unconvincing & I fully agree.

Following the coronation of her daughter Elizabeth as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr & heroine of the English Reformation, particularly through the works of John Foxe. Since then, she has inspired or been mentioned in numerous artistic & cultural works. Anne has been called "the most influential & important queen consort England has ever had", since she provided the occasion for Henry VIII to annul his marriage to Katharine of Aragon, & declare his independence from Rome.

Did You Know? Anne Boleyn is the 8th cousin 13 times removed of Queen Elizabeth II. Their common ancestor is king Edward I of England.

28 May 1660

King George I was born

King George I by Sir Godfrey Kneller. The first king of Great Britain of the House of Hanover
King George I by Sir Godfrey Kneller

Born 'His Highness Duke George Louis of Brunswick-Lüneburg', George was born on 28 May 1660 in Hanover in the Holy Roman Empire. He was the eldest son of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, & his wife, Sophia of the Palatinate. Sophia was the granddaughter of King James VI (of Scotland) & I ( of England) through her mother, Elizabeth of Bohemia.

George I was the King of Great Britain & Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, & ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698. George inherited the titles & lands of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg from his father & uncles. After several European wars , he expanded his German domains during his lifetime, & in 1708 he was ratified as a prince-elector of Hanover.

On 1 August 1714, after the death of Queen Anne of Great Britain, George, ascended the British throne as the first monarch of the House of Hanover. Although over fifty Roman Catholics bore closer blood relationships to Anne, the Act of Settlement 1701 prohibited Catholics from inheriting the British throne; George was Anne's closest living Protestant relative.

He did not arrive in Britain until 18 September. George was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 20 October. His coronation was accompanied by rioting in over twenty towns in England. Jacobites* made several attempts to depose George & replace him with Anne's Catholic half-brother, James Francis Edward Stuart (the old pretender), but their attempts failed.

* a movement that supported the restoration of the House of Stuart to the British throne. The name is derived from Jacobus, the Latin version of James.

During George's reign, the powers of the monarchy diminished & Britain began a transition to the modern system of cabinet government led by a prime minister. Towards the end of his reign, actual power was held by Sir Robert Walpole. George I died 11 June 1727 on a trip to his native Hanover, where he was buried.

28 May 1972

Edward VIII, later Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor died

Edward VIII, later Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor was the eldest son of George V & Queen Mary. He was the King of the United Kingdom & the Dominions of the British Empire, & Emperor of India, from 20 January 1936 until his abdication on 11 December of that year.

Prince Edward was commissioned into the Guards in 1914, but as heir to the throne his request for active service was denied. He spent the war abroad, visiting troops. During the 1920s & 1930s, his concern for unemployment & successful tours throughout the Empire made him a popular figure. While Prince of Wales, he engaged in a series of affairs that worried his father & the British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin.

After the death of his father George V, he was King Edward VIII from January to December 1936, but abdicated following insoluble constitutional problems raised by his proposed marriage to the American socialite & divorcée, Wallis Simpson. They married in June 1937 & lived abroad, mainly in France.

Many historians suggest that Hitler was prepared to reinstate Edward as king in the hope of establishing a fascist Britain. It is believed that the Duke & Duchess sympathised with fascism before & during the Second World War, & they were moved to the Bahamas to minimise their opportunities to act on those feelings. He was Governor of the Bahamas from 1940 to 1945.

On 28 May 1972, ten days after the Queen's visit, the Duke died at his home in Paris, just short of what would have been his 78th birthday. His body was returned to Britain, lying in state at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. The funeral service took place in the chapel on 5 June in the presence of the Queen, the royal family, & the Duchess of Windsor, who stayed at Buckingham Palace during her visit. Edward was buried in the Royal Burial Ground behind the Royal Mausoleum of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert at Frogmore. The Duchess died in 1986, & was buried alongside her husband.

29 May 1630

King Charles II was born

Charles II, king of England Portrait by John Riley, c. 1680–1685
Charles II portrait by John Riley, c. 1680–1685

Charles was born in St James's Palace on 29 May 1630. His parents were Charles I, who ruled the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, & Henrietta Maria, the sister of the French king Louis XIII. Charles was their second son & child. Their first son, who was born about a year before Charles, had died aged less than a day. Charles was baptised in the Chapel Royal on 27 June by the Anglican Bishop of London William Laud & brought up in the care of the Protestant Countess of Dorset, though his godparents included his maternal uncle & grandmother, Marie de' Medici, both of whom were Catholics.

At birth, Charles automatically became Duke of Cornwall & Duke of Rothesay, along with several other associated titles. At or around his eighth birthday, he was designated Prince of Wales, though he was never formally invested with the Honours of the Principality of Wales.

Charles was king of England, Scotland & Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, & king of England, Scotland & Ireland from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 until his death in 1685.

Charles had no legitimate children, but acknowledged a dozen by seven mistresses, including five by Barbara Villiers. As a result, in his lifetime he was often nicknamed "Old Rowley", the name of his favourite racehorse, notable as a stallion.

The present Dukes of Buccleuch, Richmond, Grafton & St Albans descend from Charles in unbroken male line. Diana, Princess of Wales, was descended from two of Charles's illegitimate sons: the Dukes of Grafton & Richmond.

Did You Know? Diana's son, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, second in line to the British throne, is likely to be the first British monarch descended from Charles II.

29 May 1660

King Charles II's reign begins

King Charles II by John Michael Wright. portrait painting of the third Stuart king of England
King Charles II by John Michael Wright

Prior to 1660, Charles II's father, Charles I, had been executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War. Although the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II king on 5 February 1649, England entered the period known as the English Interregnum or the English Commonwealth, & the country was a de facto republic, led by Oliver Cromwell, who later installed himself as 'Lord Protector'..

After the death of Cromwell in 1658 a political crisis followed resulting in the restoration of the monarchy, & Charles was invited to return to England. He set out for England from Scheveningen, arrived in Dover on 25 May 1660 & reached London on 29 May, his 30th birthday.

Although Charles & Parliament granted amnesty to nearly all of Cromwell's supporters in the Act of Indemnity & Oblivion, 50 people were specifically excluded. In the end nine of the regicides were executed: they were hanged, drawn & quartered; others were given life imprisonment or simply excluded from office for life. Cromwell's body was exhumed from Westminster Abbey on 30 January 1661, the 12th anniversary of the execution of Charles I, & was subjected to a posthumous execution, as were the remains of Robert Blake, John Bradshaw, & Henry Ireton. His body was hanged in chains at Tyburn, London & then thrown into a pit. His head was cut off & displayed on a pole outside Westminster Hall until 1685. Afterwards, it was owned by various people, including a documented sale in 1814 to Josiah Henry Wilkinson, & it was publicly exhibited several times before being buried beneath the floor at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in 1960. How gruesome!

As king the English Parliament granted Charles an annual income to run the government of £1.2 million, generated largely from customs & excise duties. For the most part, the actual revenue was much lower, which led to attempts to economise at court by reducing the size & expenses of the royal household & raise money through unpopular innovations such as the hearth tax**.

In the latter half of 1660, Charles's joy at the Restoration was tempered by the deaths of his youngest brother, Henry, & sister, Mary, of smallpox. In 1665, Charles was faced with the Great Plague of London. The death toll reached a peak of 7,000 per week in the week of 17 September. Charles, with his family & court, fled London in July to Salisbury; Parliament met in Oxford. Plague cases ebbed over the winter, & Charles returned to London in February 1666. Then he faced the Great Fire of London in 1666, that eventually consumed about 13,200 houses & 87 churches, including St Paul's Cathedral. Charles & his brother James joined & directed the fire-fighting effort. 

Painting of The Great Fire of London, depicted by an unknown painter (1675), as it would have appeared from a boat in the vicinity of Tower Wharf on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666. To the left is London Bridge; to the right, the Tower of London. St. Paul's Cathedral is in the distance, surrounded by the tallest flames.
The Great Fire of London, depicted by an unknown painter (1675)

**A hearth tax (also known as chimney money & chimney tax) was a property tax, levied on each hearth, thus by proxy on wealth. It was calculated based on the number of hearths, or fireplaces, within a municipal area & is considered among the first types of progressive tax. One shilling was liable to be paid for every fire hearth or stove, in all dwellings, houses, edifices or lodgings, & was payable at Michaelmas, 29 September & on Lady Day, 25 March. The tax thus amounted to two shillings per hearth or stove per year. After the Glorious Revolution (1688), the hearth tax was repealed by the newly empowered English Parliament & agreed to by the newly installed William III & Mary II in 1689, as; 'not only a great oppression to the poorer sort, but a badge of slavery upon the whole people, exposing every man’s house to be entered into, & searched at pleasure, by persons unknown to him.'

30 May 1472

Jacquetta of Luxembourg died

Imagem de Jacquetta de Luzemburgo, Duquesa de Bedford e Condessa de Rivers.
Jacquetta of Luxembourg

Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess Rivers (born 1415/16) was the eldest daughter of Peter I of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol, Conversano & Brienne, & his wife Margaret of Baux (Margherita del Balzo of Andria).

Jacquetta was a prominent, figure in the Wars of the Roses. Through her short-lived first marriage to the Duke of Bedford, brother of King Henry V, she was firmly allied to the House of Lancaster. However, following the Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Towton, she & her second husband Richard Woodville, Earl Rivers sided closely with the House of York. Three years after the battle & the accession of Edward IV of England, Jacquetta's eldest daughter Elizabeth Woodville married the king & became Queen consort of England.

Jacquetta bore Earl Rivers at least 14 children. In 1469, the Earl of Warwick (Kingmaker) openly broke with Edward IV & temporarily deposed him. Earl Rivers & his son John were captured & executed by Warwick on 12 August at Kenilworth. Jacquetta survived her husband by three years & died in 1472, at about 56 years of age.

Did You Know? She stood trial on charges of witchcraft, of which she was exonerated. Thomas Wake, a follower of Warwick's, accused Jacquetta of witchcraft. Wake brought to Warwick Castle a lead image "made like a man-of-arms . . . broken in the middle & made fast with a wire," & alleged that Jacquetta had fashioned it to use for witchcraft & sorcery. The case fell apart when Warwick released Edward IV from custody, & Jacquetta was cleared by the king's great council of the charges on 21 February 1470.

Jacquetta of Luxembourg Luxembourg is the 15th great grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II.

30 May 1842

John Francis tried to assassinate the Queen Victoria

John Francis shoots at Queen Victoria in 1842

On 29 May 1842, Queen Victoria was riding in a carriage along The Mall, London, when John Francis aimed a pistol at her but the gun did not fire; he escaped.

The following day 30 May, Victoria drove the same route, though faster & with a greater escort, in a deliberate attempt to provoke Francis to take a second aim and catch him in the act. Standing on Constitution Hill with a flintlock pistol, Francis waited for Victoria & Prince Albert to return from a carriage ride through London's parks. Francis shot at her, but he was seized by plain clothes policemen, & convicted of high treason. On 3 July, two days after Francis's death sentence was commuted to transportation for life.

The decision to ride was entirely down to the Queen, as was the decision to ride the next day among a crowd of thousands clamouring to congratulate her. There were at least seven recorded assassination attempts on Queen Victoria's life. As for Francis, he lived out the rest of his life in Australia, marrying & fathering ten children, his descendants live on to this day.

30 May 1536

King Henry VIII married Jane Seymour

Hans Holbein the Younger - Jane Seymour, Queen of England as the third wife of Henry VIII - Google Art Project
Jane Seymour

King Henry VIII was betrothed to Jane on 20 May 1536, just one day after Anne Boleyn's execution. The couple married at the Palace of Whitehall, London, on 30 May 1536. As a wedding gift the King made her a grant of 104 manors in four counties as well as a number of forests & hunting chases for her jointure, the income to support her during their marriage.

She was publicly proclaimed as queen consort on 4 June. Jane’s well-publicized sympathy for the late Queen Katharine & the Lady Mary showed her to be compassionate & made her a popular figure with the common people & most of the courtiers. She was never crowned because of an outbreak of the plague in London, where the coronation was to take place. Or was it because Henry was reluctant to crown Jane before she had fulfilled her duty, by bearing him a son & a male heir. What do you think?

As queen, Jane Seymour was said to be strict & formal. She formed a very close relationship with Mary Tudor (Henry's sister). The lavish entertainments, & extravagance of the Queen's household, during the time of Anne Boleyn, was replaced by a strict enforcement of decorum. For example, she banned the French fashions that Anne Boleyn had introduced. Her only reported involvement in national affairs, in 1536, was when she asked for pardons for participants in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry is said to have rejected this, reminding her of the fate her predecessor met with when she "meddled in his affairs".

Jane went into confinement in September 1537 & gave birth to the future King Edward VI, on 12 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace. Edward was christened on 15 October 1537, without his mother in attendance, as was the custom. Edward was the only legitimate son of Henry VIII to survive infancy. Both of his daughters, Mary & Elizabeth, were present & carried Edward's train during the ceremony.  The pregnancy had been difficult, lasting two days & three nights, probably because the baby was not well positioned. After Edward's christening, it became clear that she was seriously ill. She died on 24 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace. In retrospect from the current day, according to King Edward's biographer, Jennifer Loach, her death may have been due to an infection from a retained placenta. According to Alison Weir, she may have succumbed to puerperal fever following a bacterial infection contracted during the birth. The same author has also speculated, after medical consultation, that the cause of her death could have been a pulmonary embolism.

Edward VI, king of England, the son of Henry VIII & Jane Seymour
Henry's coveted male heir, the future Edward VI

31 May 1495

Cecily Neville, Duchess of York died aged 80

Duchess Cecily died aged 80 at Berkhamsted Castle, Hertfordshire on 31 May 1495 & was buried in the tomb with her husband Richard & their son Edmund at the Church of St Mary & All Saints, Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire. All subsequent English monarchs, beginning with Henry VIII, are descendants of Elizabeth of York, & therefore of Cecily Neville.

Cecily Neville, Duchess of York (b.3 May 1415) was the wife of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York & the mother of two Kings of England, Edward IV & Richard III. Cecily Neville was called "the Rose of Raby", because she was born at Raby Castle . Historically she is also known for her piety. She herself signed her name "Cecylle". Her maternal grandparents were John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, & his third wife Katherine Swynford. John of Gaunt was the third surviving son of King Edward III of England & Philippa of Hainault. She was the aunt of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (kingmaker), a grand-aunt of queen consort Anne Neville who married her son Richard III, & a great-great-grand-aunt of queen consort Catherine Parr, sixth wife of her great-grandson, King Henry VIII.

When Cecily was was nine years old in 1424, she was betrothed by her father to his thirteen-year-old ward, Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York. Cecily & Richard were married by October 1429. Her husband, the Duke of York, was the leading contender for the House of York's claim to the throne of England. York was made Lord Protector of England in 1453 & 1455, however he didn't press his claim to the throne during these two periods. In 1460, York was named Prince of Wales & again Lord Protector of the Realm.

With King Henry VI in custody, the Duke of York became the de facto ruler of England. However, before York could claim his crown, he was defeated and killed in December 1460 at the Battle of Wakefield with his son, Edmund of York, & his brother-in-law the Earl of Salisbury.

31 May 1441/43

Lady Margaret Beaufort was born at Bletsoe Castle, Bedfordshire.

Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of the first Tudor king, Henry VII, & grandmother of Henry VIII
Lady Margaret Beaufort

Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond & Derby, was the mother of King Henry VII & paternal grandmother of King Henry VIII of England. She was the daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset & Margaret Beauchamp of Bletsoe. Margaret's father was a great-grandson of King Edward III through his third surviving son, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster by Katherine Swynford.

She was a key figure in the Wars of the Roses, & passed a disputed claim to the English throne to her son, Henry Tudor. Taking advantage of political upheaval of the period, she actively maneuvered to secure the crown for her son. Beaufort’s efforts culminated in Henry’s decisive victory over King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field . She was thus instrumental in orchestrating the ascension of the Tudor Dynasty.

With her son Henry VII now king of England, she wielded a considerable degree of political influence, unusual for a woman of her time. She was also a major patron & cultural benefactor during her son’s reign, initiating an era of extensive Tudor patronage. She is credited with the establishment of two prominent Cambridge colleges, founding Christ's College in 1505 & beginning the development of St John's College, which was completed posthumously by her executors in 1511.

During her lifetime Margaret married four times, producing just one child, Henry VII by Edmund Tudor.

Her marriages;

John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk, (27 September 1442 – 14~21 May 1492). The marriage was annulled in 1553. Margaret never recognised this marriage, & considered her next husband her first (as is written in her 1472 will). Under canon law, Margaret was not bound by her first marriage contract as she was entered into the marriage before reaching the age of twelve.

Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond (11 June 1430 – 3 November 1456). At age twelve Margaret married Edmund Tudor - twelve years her senior - on 1 November 1455. The Wars of the Roses had just broken out & Edmund, a Lancastrian, was taken prisoner by Yorkist forces less than a year later. He died of the plague in captivity at Carmarthen Castle, leaving a 13-year-old widow who was seven months pregnant with their child. While in the care of her brother-in-law Jasper Tudor, on 28 January 1457, the Countess gave birth to a son, Henry Tudor, at Pembroke Castle. She was only thirteen years old at the time & the birth was extremely difficult. She never had another child.

She married Sir Henry Stafford (c. 1425–1471) second son of Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, on 3 January 1458, at the age of fourteen. She was 14 years old & he was in his early 30's. In 1471, Margaret's husband, Lord Stafford, died of wounds suffered at the Battle of Barnet, fighting for the Yorkists. At 28 years old, Margaret became a widow.

In June 1472, Margaret married for a fourth time, to Thomas Stanley (1435 – 29 July 1504), the Lord High Constable & King of Mann. Their marriage was one of convenience; as marrying Stanley enabled Margaret to return to the court of Edward IV & Elizabeth Woodville.

31 May 1916

The Battle of Jutland

King George VI (then Prince Albert) was involved in the battle, here we take a look at his career prior to & during the First World War (1914-18). In 1909 Albert had attended the Royal Naval College, Osborne, as a naval cadet. He later progressed to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. When Edward VII died in 1910, Albert's father became King George V. Prince Edward was created Prince of Wales, & Albert was second in line to the throne.

Albert spent the first six months of 1913 on the training ship HMS Cumberland in the West Indies & on the east coast of Canada.

He was rated as a midshipman aboard HMS Collingwood on 15 September 1913, & spent three months in the Mediterranean. His fellow officers gave him the nickname "Mr. Johnson".

HMS Collingwood was a St Vincent-class dreadnought battleship. Prince Albert, later king George VI served on her.
Prince Albert served on HMS Collingwood (1908)

First World War service;

One year after his commission, he began service in the First World War. He was mentioned in despatches for his action as a turret officer aboard Collingwood in the Battle of Jutland, an indecisive engagement with the German navy that was the largest naval action of the war. The battle was fought from 31 May to 1 June 1916 in the North Sea, near the coast of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula. It was the largest naval battle & the only full-scale clash of battleships in the war, involving 250 ships. He did not see further combat, largely because of ill health caused by a duodenal ulcer, for which he had an operation in November 1917.

In February 1918, he was appointed Officer in Charge of Boys at the Royal Naval Air Service's training establishment at Cranwell. With the establishment of the Royal Air Force two months later & the transfer of Cranwell from Navy to Air Force control, he transferred from the Royal Navy to the Royal Air Force. He was appointed Officer Commanding Number 4 Squadron of the Boys' Wing at Cranwell until August 1918, before reporting to the RAF's Cadet School at St Leonards-on-Sea where he completed a fortnight's training & took command of a squadron on the Cadet Wing.

Did You Know? He was the first member of the royal family to be certified as a fully qualified pilot.

During the closing weeks of the war, he served on the staff of the RAF's Independent Air Force at its headquarters in Nancy, France.


My book recommendations;


Other notable events this week in history 25-31 May (For this part of my blog I will mainly focus on royal history, but also add some other non royal events of interest)

25 May

1320 - Toghon Temur, Emperor of China & considered the last Khagan of the Mongol Empire was born.

1550 - Camillus de Lellis, was born, he was a Roman Catholic priest from Italy who founded the Camillians, a religious order that cared for the sick.

1555 - Henry II king of Navarre (b.1503) died. Reign 1517-1555.

1659 - Richard Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell resigned as Lord Protector of England, beginning the second brief period of the Republican government called the Commonwealth of England, this eventually led to the restoration of the monarchy.

1660 - King Charles II arrives at Dover at the invitation of the Convention Parliament of England, which marked the end of the Cromwell proclaimed Commonwealth of England, Scotland & Ireland & began the Restoration (1660) of the British Monarchy.

1713 - John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute was born. He was the first Scottish Prime Minister of Great Britain following the Acts of Union in 1707, & also the first Tory to have held the post.

1786 - Peter III, king of Portugal (b.1717) died. Reign 1777-1786

1895 - Oscar Wilde, the playwright, poet, novelist & aesthete was convicted of 'gross indecency' with 'other male persons', & sentenced to two years imprisonment.

26 May

735 - Bede, English Monk, historian, & theologian (b. 672/3) died, He was also known as Saint Bede, Venerable Bede & Bede the Venerable. His most famous work is 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People. This earned him the title 'The father of English History'

1566 - Mehmet III was born. Mehmet was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1595 until his death in 1603.

1650 - John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough was born. Churchill was an English soldier, & statesman whose career spanned the reigns of five monarchs. He is the 6th great grandfather of Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), 7th great grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales & 8th great grandfather of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.

1703 - Samuel Pepys ,English politician (b.1633) died

1896 - Nicholas II became the last Tsar of Imperial Russia. Reign 1894-1917.

1897 - Bram Stoker published his novel 'Dracula'

27 May

1153 - Malcolm IV reign as king of Scotland began. Reign 1153-1165.

1257 - Richard of Cornwall & his wife Sanchia of Provence, were crowned king & Queen of the Germans at Aachen Cathedral. Richard was the second son of King John of England.

1626 - William II, Prince of Orange was born at The Hague. He was a Sovereign Prince of Orange & Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, Overijssel & Groningen in the United Provinces of the Netherlands. He married Mary, Princess Royal, daughter of King Charles I of England, & was the father of King William III of England.

1703 - Peter the Great founded the city of Saint Petersburg.

1883 - Alexander III was crowned Tsar of Russia.

1922 - English actor Christopher Lee was born (d.2015)

28 May

1908 - Ian Fleming was born, An author, best known for his James Bond series of spy novels

1849 - Anne Bronte, English novelist & poet (b.1820) died

29 May

1328 - Philip VI was crowned King of France. Reign; 1328-1350.

1453 - The Fall of Constantinople, The Ottoman armies of Sultan Mehmed II Fatif captured Constantinople after a 53 day siege, which ended the Byzantine Empire

30 May

1431 - Joan of Arc, French Martyr & Saint (b.1412) was burned at the stake.

1574 - Charles IX of France (b.1550) died. Reign; 1560-1574

1593 - Christopher Marlowe, the English poet & playwright (b.1564) died

1744 - Alexander Pope, An English poet, essayist & translator (b.1688) died.

1845 - Amadeo I, King of Spain was born (d.1890)

31 May

1911 - RMS Titanic was launched in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The British passenger liner operated by the White Star Line, eventually sank, after hitting an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. More than 1500 passengers & crew died.

1930 - Clint Eastwood was born. He is an American actor, director, musician & producer.


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