By Bookmarked and Patricia Treble - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - 0 Comments
It took six years for Henry VIII to divorce wife No. 1, Catherine of Aragon. While England was being torn apart by the scandal, the king relied on Gregorio Casali, an Italian diplomat employed to look after England’s interests at the Vatican, to persuade Pope Clement VII to end the marriage. Aside from the odd mention—Shakespeare calls him “Gregory de Cassado”—Casali had vanished from history before Catherine Fletcher brought him back in an absorbing investigation of the diplomat’s ultimately failed attempt to fulfill his employer’s wishes.
As she explains, part of Henry’s problem was timing. Italy was in turmoil. When the king started down the road to divorce in May 1527, Rome and the Vatican were being sacked by unpaid troops of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The pope was besieged. For Clement’s family, the Medicis, to get back into power in Florence, they needed the increasingly victorious army of Charles V, who just happened to be the nephew of Catherine of Aragon. The pope would do anything rather than rule on a divorce that was splitting Europe into factions and threatened the Church, already under attack from Martin Luther’s Reformation movement.
Still, Casali, not even 30 years old yet already a seasoned diplomat, soldier and well-connected Vatican power player, and his relatives—diplomacy was a family business—never gave up. They entertained lavishly, played patrons against each other and tried to follow Henry’s evolving tactical position. And pursue their own interests, which often conflicted with Henry’s, including getting a Venetian bishopric, fending off the relatives of Gregorio’s rich bride, and even an alliance with Suleiman the Magnificent, who was pushing his Turkish empire to the gates of Vienna. There are so many plot twists that it can be difficult keeping track of the cast of characters. Indeed, the only boring part of this book is the title.
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By Patricia Treble - Friday, January 11, 2013 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Elizabeth I was the Gloriana, the virgin queen who reigned over England’s Golden Age, the Renaissance of Shakespeare, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Philip Sidney. Yet behind that beautiful facade, her 45 years in power were dogged by threats of invasion, treason and treachery. Her Catholic enemies, both domestic and foreign, were determined to rid Europe of the woman deemed a bastard heretic unworthy of the throne. Her closest advisers, especially spymaster Francis Walsingham, spent considerable time, and a large chunk of the treasury’s gold, stamping out any threat to their sovereign. He planted loyal Protestants within Catholic exile groups as couriers so he could intercept their communications, and even knew about one invasion force’s plans before its top commanders did. Using letters and documents that have somehow survived from the era, including amazingly frank communications from Walsingham or his minions, Alford weaves an exciting tale of intrigue, mystery and danger from the spies’ and traitors’ points of view. There’s Charles Sledd, an agent who infiltrated priests’ colleges, writing detailed descriptions of Jesuits about to be smuggled into England, allowing them to be hunted down. Thomas Phelippes, one of Walsingham’s best code breakers, carefully lays out evidence for the treasonous guilt of Elizabeth’s cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots. There’s even a letter to Elizabeth in which William Parry, a rather hapless spy turned politician and would-be assassin, tries to explain his actions: “Your Majesty may see by my voluntary confession the dangerous fruits of a discontented mind.” Against all odds, the spymaster, his agents and successors proved successful. In 1603, Elizabeth died of natural causes in her own bed. Her successor was the son of her cousin, Mary. And, to the dismay of Elizabeth’s enemies, a Protestant.
By Mika Rekai - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 3:38 PM - 0 Comments
Betting agencies all over the world are handicapping the possibilities: here’s a summary of the contenders
Because the baby growing inside the duchess of Cambridge will, presumably, become Canada’s Head of State, it is the job of every Canadian citizen to celebrate the news, congratulate the happy couple (open a window, shout towards the east) and speculate wildly about the future monarch currently taking up its in utero residence.
Will it be boy or a girl? Will it have shiny hair like its mother? Will it have rosy cheeks like its father? Will there actually be two babies? The question on most people’s minds, however, is what will the baby be called? Betting agencies all over the world are handicapping the possibilities: here’s an alternative summary of baby name prospects.
Elizabeth is the odds-on favourite worldwide, and the choice is really a no-brainer. The Queen has carried the name very successfully for the last 86 years and her mother pulled it off for 101 years, so you can hardly accuse the couple of being “faddish” with this one. Another nice thing about the name “Elizabeth” is that it lends itself easily to nicknames, so Kate and Wills will still have a dozen choices for what to actually call the child, when they’re yelling at it to stop running in the palace, or to put down that jewel-encrusted scepter! Personally, I hope they pick “Beth”. “Beth Wales” sounds like the kind of girl you want to play detectives with at when you’re eight. “Beth Wales” is the type of girl who gets caught smoking in the washroom with you at 17. “Beth Wales” is the type of Queen you want to grab late night pizza with after you’ve had too much Champagne at a State Dinner.
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, December 3, 2012 at 1:06 PM - 0 Comments
Jaime J. Weinman explains
Since I don’t know enough about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy but still feel I must contribute something to the most important event of our lives, I have decided to quote coverage of Princess Elizabeth’s pregnancy from 1948. I mean, obviously, things are very different. Back then you had a demoralized Britain looking to the royal baby as a welcome relief from its day-to-day problems, while Canada was technically under the monarchy. Today, you have a demoralized Britain looking to the royal baby as a welcome relief from its day-to-day problems, while Canada is technically under the monarchy – but this time, Newfoundland is a province. So, very different.
Anyway, here is how it works. First, rumours start circulating that the Princess may be having a baby, appearing side-by-side with an official statement from “official sources.” Their statement is that they can make no statement, not even of who they are. The process is that the rumours begin in the tabloids and then make their way into the wire services, which are free to report that someone else is reporting these rumours.
London, March 21 – A London Sunday paper said today Princess Elizabeth is expected to have a baby in October.
The story drew an official “no comment” from Buckingham palace sources. It is the first time a British newspaper has come out with a definite statement as to the princess’s pregnancy. However, the Sunday Pictorial said two months ago that Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip confided to intimates they would like a baby in the first year of their marriage.
Today’s front page story in the People, one of the most widely circulated of the popular Sunday newspapers, said an official announcement cancelling the princess’ public dates is “expected at any time in the next few weeks.”
Then if British tabloids aren’t enough, there are foreign-language sources to report on, and rumours that the Princess is giving up strenuous activity. The court sources can now move from saying nothing to officially denying that the Princess has cancelled all her upcoming engagements. But this in turn just creates more anticipation, since these unnamed sources aren’t officially denying that the baby is coming.
London, April 1 – Responsible court sources took cognizance today of a French news report, attributed to a Colonel Backhouse, that Princess Elizabeth is pregnant. The report said the princess intended to call off her engagements in June.
A palace informant said: “That’s certainly contrary to fact. Instead of cancelling her June engagements, the princess has taken on three or four additional ones, and there is every likelihood she’ll be making public appearances in July. As for Colonel Backhouse, we simply don’t know who he is.” A palace source also denied that Princess Elizabeth had given up horseback riding.
There was still no direct confirmation or denial from any palace source on the reports that the princess is expecting a baby.
Finally, after two months of anticipation, speculation and tabloid tidbits, the official announcement comes and the world rejoices. And the Buckingham Palace insiders, whoever they are, congratulate themselves on how great a job keeping the whole thing a secret even though everyone seemed to know it was coming: “Despite all the talk, it has been a well-kept secret – at least to us. Not even the princess’s ladies-in-waiting have known she was expecting a baby.”
And, of course, along with the official announcement there are still rumours a-plenty, the biggest one being about whether the baby will be a boy or a girl. Anonymous sources have ways of telling us about these things, and they’re always right:
One reliable source said the royal physicians had medical reasons to believe the princess’s child would be a girl.
“Nobody, of course, can be sure about these things.”
By Scaachi Koul - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 10:33 AM - 0 Comments
A human skull found buried under a parking lot in England may actually be…
A human skull found buried under a parking lot in England may actually be a link to royalty.
A team of British and Canadian archeologists believe they’ve dug up the remains of King Richard III in central England. The discovery will be tested against the DNA of an Ontario family with a genetic link to the king.
In 2005, British historian John Ashdown-Hill traced King Richard’s maternal bloodline to Canada. Retired journalist Joy Ibsen arrived in Canada from Britain after the Second World War, raised a family in London, Ontario. She died in 2008 but donated DNA samples for future testing. She and Richard had the same maternal ancestor, Cecily Neville: Richard’s mother.
King Richard’s burial plot isn’t glamorous—the excavation started last month in a parking lot in downtown Leicester.
Richard was king during a tumultuous time for English royalty. His brother, Edward IV, was king first, and the elder of his two sons was to take his throne when he died. Richard became king instead, and was suspected of killing his nephews. His two-year reign ended with the Tudor revolt and his death at Bosworth field.