Greenwich Palace: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Greenwich Palace.

  • Greenwich Palace was built during the 15th century by Humphrey, the Duke of Gloucester. It was located on the south bank of the River Thames in Greenwich, about 15 km along the river from Westminster.

  • It was conveniently located close to the royal dockyards at Deptford and Woolwich. The dockyards were used for building ships and for repairs until they closed in 1869.
  • It was originally known as the Palace of Placentia.
  • After Humphrey’s death in 1447, King Henry VII moved in and made improvements which included adding three large courtyards.
  • Greenwich Palace was one of the most modern and luxurious buildings of its time. It boasted fine furniture and paintings, as well as tennis courts, an armory, kennels and stables.
  • Henry VIII added gardens, orchards and a large fountain. He also built a special area outdoors where knights could take part in jousting events and competitions.
  • Several English kings and queens were born there during the next 200 years, including Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I.
  • Henry VIII married Anne of Cleves in the palace.

Greenwich Palace

  • Elizabeth played as a child in an oak tree in Greenwich Park. The huge tree fell over during a storm in 1991 but can still be seen lying on its side.
  • Oliver Cromwell took over the palace during the English Civil War of 1642 to 1651. He used the building as a biscuit factory and a prison, after unsuccessfully trying to sell it.
  • Much of the building was demolished in the 1660s to make way for Charles II’s new palace. This later became the Royal Naval College, and today is part of the University of Greenwich.
  • The Queens House is the only part of the original Greenwich Palace still standing. It was designed by the architect Inigo Jones and was the first classical designed building in Britain.

Tudor Music: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about music in Tudor times.

  • Tudor music was important in both everyday life and religious life. Musicians were often supported by the Church or the city, and were in demand at palaces and castles.
  • Travelling musicians in Tudor England had to have a licence to perform.

  • Tudor music for the poorer people was often played at markets and village fairs, as well as at the theatre.
  • There were several popular Tudor musicians and composers. One of the most well-known was John Dowland, whose First Book of Songs was a best seller and made him a lot of money.
  • Other famous Tudor composers included, William Byrd, John Bull, Thomas Tallis, Thomas Campion, Orlando Gibbons, George Kirbye and Vincenzo Galilei.
  • Several Tudor kings and queens were skilled musicians, and Royalty was expected to take an interest in music and songs. Most Tudor kings and queens practiced dancing each morning.
  • King Henry VIII was a skilled recorder player and he wrote several songs. He may have written the popular Greensleeves. The song was probably written for Anne Boleyn during their often troubled courtship.
  • Henry VIII left behind a large collection of musical instruments when he died in 1547. It included over 70 recorders and a mechanical virginal, a keyboard instrument named for the Virgin Mary.
  • Musicians who played Tudor music in towns and cities were known as waits. They played high pitched music on a pipe instrument, which was also used to sound the alarm.
  • Many rich people employed musicians to play in their houses, and families often played instruments as well.
  • Several new musical instruments were invented in the Tudor period, and they were often played together to create different sounds. The most popular combination was the 4 piece English Consort, consisting of the violin, flute, lute and viol.
  • The lute, a type of stringed instrument, was the most popular Tudor musical instrument. It  was similar to a modern guitar, and some of them measured 2 metres long.
  • Other Tudor instruments included the cornet and the trumpet, which was often used by soldiers. The tambourine, bagpipes and recorder were widely used, as well as the harpsichord.
  • The viol was a stringed instrument first used in Spain in the late 1400s.

What next? Learn more about the Tudors by visiting our Tudor resources page.

Richmond Palace: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Richmond Palace.

  • In 1502, at Richmond Palace, Henry’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, became betrothed to King James IV of Scotland.

Richmond Palace

  • Henry VII died at Richmond Palace in 1509.
  • In the 1500s, Henry VIII confiscated the more modern Hampton Court Palace from Thomas Wolsey, forcing him to accept Richmond Palace in exchange.
  • In 1540 Richmond Palace was passed on the Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement.
  • When Mary I became queen, Elizabeth (to become Elizabeth I) was imprisoned in Richmond Palace.
  • Elizabeth I used Richmond Palace as one of her royal residences. She liked to hunt stags in the palace grounds. Queen Elizabeth died in Richmond Palace on 24th March 1603.
  • James I created Richmond Park as an area to be used for stag hunting. It is thought that some of the red deer in Richmond Park today may be the descendants of the herd hunted in the 17th century.
  • Following the execution of Charles I in 1649, Richmond Palace was sold and demolished. Stones from the building were re-used in other projects.
  • Some original structures of Richmond Palace survive today, including the Gate House (built in 1501), Trumpeters’ House and the Wardrobe.
  • Along with Hampton Court Palace, Richmond Palace was one of the first buildings to be fitted with a flushing lavatory (designed by Sir John Harington).

What next? Discover more facts about the Tudors, or go to the Primary Facts History page.

Hans Holbein: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Hans Holbein.

  • Hans Holbein was a German print maker and artist and one of the greatest 16th century portrait painters.
  • He is often called the Hans Holbein the Younger; his father who had the same name was known as the Hans Holbein the Elder.

  • He was born in Augsburg, Germany, in about 1497 and spent his early years painting in Switzerland. He also created designs for books and stained glass windows.
  • While in Switzerland, he joined the painter’s corporation and was asked to paint murals for Basel town hall. Today, some of the drawings for the work are on display in Basel’s Kunstmuseum.
  • During the early 1530s, Hans Holbein moved to England and became King Henry VIII‘s official portrait painter. He also designed cups, books and jewellery for the King and his family.
  • He painted many paintings of Tudor royalty  while employed as the King’s portrait painter. Some of these works were so small that they could fit in the palm of a hand.
  • Henry VIII asked Hans Holbein to paint Anne of Cleves so he could decide whether or not to marry her. Although he liked what he saw in the portrait, the marriage only lasted a year. Apparently, Ann didn’t look as beautiful in real life as she did in her portrait.
Anne of Cleves Portrait
Anne of Cleves
  • In England, Holbein painted portraits of Thomas Cromwell and Sir Thomas More, who had opposite political views. Today the two paintings are on display together in New York’s Frick Museum.
  • During his life, Holbein also painted many religious works. One of his most famous is the Dance of Death, a series of woodcuts showing the figure of Death in different disguises.
  • Hans Holbein died from the plague in London, in 1543. He was buried in a communal burial pit in the grounds of St. Katherine Cree church in the City of London.
The Ambassadors
The Ambassadors
  • Holbein’s most famous painting is The Ambassadors, which is today in London’s National Gallery. The 1533 work features scientific and geometric symbols, as well as a distorted skull which can only be seen clearly when you look at the painting from a certain angle.

Martin Luther: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Martin Luther.

  • Martin Luther was a 16th century German professor of religion, and a Catholic priest. He is best known for beginning the Protestant Reformation in Europe.
  • He was born in 1483 in Eisleben in the Holy Roman Empire, which today is Germany. He studied Latin, grammar and logic and described these years as like being in Hell.

  • Luther decided to become a monk, joining a friary in Germany in 1505. He made this decision as his life was spared when he was riding a horse during a violent thunderstorm.

Martin Luther

  • Martin Luther began to reject the principles of the established Roman Catholic Church. In 1517, he nailed a paper containing 95 statements to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.
  • Helped by the newly invented printing press, copies of these statements spread all over Germany. Today, the statements can be seen engraved in a bronze door which replaced the original wooden one.
  • The Pope objected to this and insisted that Luther leave the Church. Luther decided to organize a new Church, the Lutheran Church, despite becoming a wanted man.
  • Martin Luther came up with a new form of worship, wrote a German mass and translated the Bible into German. He also wrote many hymns – often based on events in his own life.
  • In 1524, the peasants revolted, thinking Luther with his radical ideas, was on their side. The peasants demanded more freedom from landowners and over 100,000 of them were killed.
  • In 1525, he married a former nun whom he had smuggled out of a convent in an empty fish barrel. Luther’s marriage made it more acceptable for religious people to get married and have children.
  • Martin Luther died in 1546 and was buried in Castle Church in Wittenberg. He had several ailments including kidney stones, arthritis, vertigo and a cataract in one of his eyes.
  • Martin Luther King, the American pastor and one of the leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement, was named after Martin Luther.

Sir Walter Raleigh: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Sir Walter Raleigh.

  • Walter Raleigh was an English aristocrat, writer and explorer. He is best known for establishing an early colony in the New World and for bringing tobacco back to England.
  • Raleigh is also known for his chivalry. On one occasion he is said to have put his cloak on the ground so that the Queen Elizabeth I did not have to step in muddy puddles.

  • He was born in Devon in about 1553, although little is known about his early life. Because he fought well in Ireland, Queen Elizabeth I trusted him with the colonizing of America.

Sir Walter Raleigh

  • In 1580, Raleigh helped to stop a rebellion by the Irish, making him more popular with Queen Elizabeth. He was given a knighthood, making him Sir Walter Raleigh, and became rich and powerful.
  • In 1587, he sent an expedition of colonists to Roanoke in present day North Carolina. The group mysteriously disappeared and to this day nobody knows what happened to them.
  • Although Sir Walter Raleigh did not play a very large role in repelling the Spanish Armada of 1588 (particularly when compared to the role played by Sir Francis Drake), he was a member of Elizabeth I’s war council, and worked hard to recruit troops and improve coastal defences.
  • In 1591, the Queen was upset because Raleigh married one of her servant girls. However, she forgave him when one of his expeditions to Spain resulted in the capture of a large treasure trove.
  • Walter Raleigh made two trips to South America in search of El Dorado, the legendary city of gold. Instead of gold, he found tobacco and potatoes.
  • King James I distrusted Raleigh and sentenced him to life imprisonment in the Tower of London and later, to death. While there, he wrote a book about Ancient Rome and Greece.
  • Sir Walter Raleigh was executed in London in October, 1618. His head was given to his wife who apparently kept it in a velvet bag until she died almost 30 years later.
  • The state capital of North Carolina was named after him, in 1792.
  • He has been portrayed in films and plays by Vincent Price, Richard Todd and Andy Griffith.

What next? Discover more Tudor facts by visiting our Tudor resources page.

Pieter Bruegel: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

  • Pieter Bruegel was a Flemish Renaissance painter, who lived from about 1525 to 1569. He is well known for his paintings of peasants and landscapes.
  • Painting peasants in everyday life was rare in Bruegel’s time and his work gives us an important insight into everyday life in the 16th century.

  • Although he was born with the last name of Breughel after the town of his birth, he spelt his name without the ‘h’ from 1559 onward.
  • He had two sons, one of whom also became a successful painter.
  • He was often nicknamed Peasant Bruegel. He sometimes went to weddings and meals dresses like a poor peasant to get ideas for his paintings, and to better mingle with people.

Pieter Bruegal

  • Bruegel worked in Antwerp in 1551 and became a master of that city’s guild. He also made a trip to Italy in 1552, and then to Switzerland, where he completed several drawings of the Alps.
  • Hunters in the Snow is one of Pieter Bruegel’s most famous paintings. It was one of a series of 6 paintings showing the different seasons, which a wealthy merchant requested.
  • Bruegel often painted people with disabilities and another of his well known paintings is The Blind Leading the Blind. The painting’s subject of blind people is based upon a quote from the Bible.
  • The Adoration of the Kings is another of Pieter Bruegel’s famous paintings. The painting shows someone wearing spectacles even though they had not been invented in Biblical times.
  • Bruegel asked his family to burn many of his paintings, when he was on his deathbed. This was to protect his wife and sons from political persecution caused by religious conflicts.
  • Only about 45 paintings by Pieter Bruegel survive, of which about a third are in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. However, many of his drawings and engravings have been discovered.

What next? Discover some facts about other famous artists, or learn more about the Tudors.

King Edward VI: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Edward VI, King of England and Ireland.

  • Although Jane Seymour appeared to recover quickly from the birth of Edward VI, she died on 24th October 1537.
  • Edward has traditionally been described as a sickly youth, but this view has been challenged by modern historians. There is evidence to suggest that Edward VI was tall and healthy as a child.

Edward VI

  • From the age of six, Edward VI was educated in a range of subjects, including: philosophy, geometry, music, scripture, French, Spanish and Italian. He is believed to have been very intelligent.
  • Edward VI got on well with his sisters Elizabeth and Mary, and he had had a good relationship with Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr.
  • Following the death of Henry VIII, Edward VI was crowned on 20th February 1547 at Westminster Abbey.
  • Henry VIII’s will did not name a Protector. Instead he wanted England to be governed by a Regency Council until Edward VI was old enough to rule in his own right. This didn’t happen, and Edward Seymour, Edward VI’s uncle, was made Lord Protector of the Realm and Duke of Somerset, and ruled England on behalf of his nephew.
  • Edward Seymour was eventually removed from power by the Privy Council led by John Dudley. He was executed in 1552.
  • John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, took over the role of ruling the country, even though he never called himself Protector.
  • Edward VI became ill in early 1553. He died on 6th July 1553, aged 15. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. It is thought that he was suffering from tuberculosis.
  • Before his death, Edward had drawn up legal documents to disinherit his half-sisters (Mary and Elizabeth) from the succession. He named Lady Jane Grey (his first cousin once removed) as his successor.

What next? Discover more Tudor facts, learn about famous Tudors, or find out about Edward VI’s father, Henry VIII.

Spanish Armada: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Spanish Armada.

  • The Spanish Armada was a fleet of ships which fought against England in 1588. The intention of King Phillip II of Spain was to overthrow the Queen of England, Elizabeth I.

  • The planned invasion of England was supported by the Pope who was promised money if Spain won. The Armada was commanded by a Duke, Medina Sidonia, who had no previous sailing experience.
  • The Spanish Armada consisted of 130 ships, including 22 fighting galleons. Some of the ships were merchant ships converted to fighting vessels and the ships sailed in a crescent formation, for defence.
  • The Spanish ships carried about 30,000 soldiers and 2,500 guns. They sailed from Portugal, which was then part of the Spanish Empire, to the English Channel.
  • Between them, the ships of the Armada also carried 14,000 barrels of wine, 11,000 pairs of sandals and 4,990,000 kg of ship’s biscuits. There were 180 priests on board the ships.
  • The English fleet of ships was led by Lord Howard and Sir Francis Drake, who, according to legend, insisted on finishing his game of bowls before setting sail. Drake probably had knowledge of the tides and knew he would have to wait.

Spanish Armada

  • The battle was won by the English, as they had smaller and lighter ships which were easier to maneuver. The English also broke up the Spanish Armada by sailing boats on fire into their formation.
  • Throughout the entire battle, the English lost about 7,000 men. The Spanish lost about 20,000 men and almost half of their ships.
  • Sir Francis Drake became famous and popular after the English victory. The defeat of Spain also meant that the Protestant religion became more widespread throughout Europe.
  • Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir John Hawkins, Richard Hawkins also played important roles in the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
  • Several novels have been written predicting what would have happened had the Spanish won. The Spanish Armada featured in the film Elizabeth, the Golden Age and it was even in an episode of the TV show The Simpsons.

What next? Learn more about Tudor ships or discover more Tudor facts by visiting our Tudor resources page.

Globe Theatre Facts

Here are some facts about the Globe Theatre, London.

  • The original Globe Theatre stood in Southwark, London, on the south bank of the River Thames. Today, an accurate replica stands on the site of the original building.

  • The Globe was built in 1599, by the acting company of which William Shakespeare was a member. It burnt down in 1613, was rebuilt the following year and then demolished in 1644.
  • The Globe was an open air theatre, with three floors and could seat about 3,000 people. The stage measured about 27 by 43 feet and was raised off the ground to allow access by a trapdoor.
  • The Globe Theatre regularly showed up to 10 different plays in just two weeks. The plays often incorporated special effects, such as acrobatics, fireworks and even a real cannon firing.
  • Shakespeare was a part owner of the Globe Theatre, and several of his plays were performed there, including Hamlet, As You Like It and Macbeth.
  • A visit to the Globe Theatre was a big event. As well as the play, there would be music, food and drink and many businesses complained that their employees were going to the theatre rather than to work.
  • Advertising was also important in Shakespeare’s day and the Globe would fly colour-coded flags to indicate what was playing. A black flag meant a tragedy, while a red flag indicated a historical play.

Globe Theatre

  • The new Globe Theatre was built in 1997, following a 20 year campaign by the film maker Sam Wanamaker. Wanamaker’s vision was to build a replica of the Globe as it would have looked in Elizabethan times.
  • The authentic replica was made from wood and has London’s only thatched roof. There are no microphones or speakers and the music is played live on period instruments.
  • Today the Globe Theatre offers guided tours of the facility, as well as an exhibition of life in Shakespeare’s London. The theatre attracts over 200,000 visitors every year.

What next? Discover more facts about the theatre in Elizabethan England, or learn more about the Tudors.