Special Thanks To

Seth Able Robinson  --  The Bard

For without his game to stir our imagination 
none of this would have come about! 

Alfred Lord Tennyson  --  The Poet

For his Ballad "The Lady of Shalott"; 
which work inspired our History! 

Loreena McKennitt  --  The Minstrel

For her beautiful and haunting refrains that 
instil peace and harmony in the soul! 

What follows is a small sampling of History in the late 15th century, as well as some earlier events, covering areas that we used to create the our own story. Most of this section contains true history gathered from various sources, a list of which are available in the Reference Dept. of our Library. This historical information is used to set the stage, as it were, but there are some additions and inserts into the Tudor History. These we have marked with the Rose of Shalott to highlight them and can be linked to from here.

Re-Creating Tudor times in our modern world naturally stems from an interest in the Tudor History. We maintain a fair amount of it here in various sections. Much of the Text about the Tudors and the Scans of the Tudor paintings were graciously supplied by  Lara E Eakins. Her website is Tudor England. Lara is an Honorary Member of the Isle of Standauffish.


Chap 01     In The Beginning ... there was Sysgod!
Chap 02     The World of Coincidences
Chap 03     Edward III of Woodstock - Warrior King
Chap 04     Ednyfed Fychan The Start of the Tudor Line
Chap 05     Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur
Chap 06     Edward and Jasper Tudor
Chap 07     Henry Tudor  The Early Years
Chap 08     Eight Henry Tudor  In Exile 
Chap 09     Henry Tudor  The Welsh King of England
Chap 10     Prince of Wales Arthur Tudor & Katherine
Chap 11     Tudors and the Royal Navy
Chapter One
In The Beginning ... there was Sysgod! 

We began this whole role playing game through an online local bulletin board game called "Legend of the Red Dragon" by "Seth Able Robinson" It is a simple text driven game where you pick a character and the object of the game is to kill the red dragon. It is loosely based on King Arthur and his Knights. You have the added advantage of e-mail writing within the game to form allies, taunt your enemies or make interesting friends. Though it is nothing like the modern hi tech games around, it never the less has a certain charm and has become a world wide phenomenon. Even with the take over of the web, there are still many places to play the game on local boards, especially overseas. 

 While playing this game we ran into a lot of "players" that had nothing better to do with their lives than to harass those trying to having fun, just like in anything else. So a number of us formed a little group, and with the help of a sysop, {system operator} Harry Miller (Chancellor Alderon Dragonsbane), we created a private game dedicated to those who wanted a haven from all the "noise" on the other boards. It was here that we first developed the History of Shalott. I was King Zorgon of Shalott, we had our own Circle of Knights, and we all had our personas. We all played as to the rules of honour and chivalry and had a lot of fun. We even had ideas of getting online players together at Excalibur {a local Las Vegas theme Casino} in costume! Silly us! Well little did we know then!

 One of our young members, Lady Guinevere, mentioned to me that she had heard that two of the others in our online group did this for real. Well, upon asking Lady Kayla and Sir Tazman if this was so, they expressed surprise that they had never mentioned it. This was our first knowledge of the existence of groups such as the ECS and the SCA. {See Library} We arranged to meet them at the Renaissance Faire at Sunset Park here in Las Vegas and that was the beginning of what now has become the Isle of Standauffish. 

Our History has changed a little over the years to make it bit more consistent, to take it from Fantasy to History, as well as to make it sound more plausible. The "King" was dropped in favour of "Baron", a title earned while with the ECS, and we add to it constantly as new players join us, or leave the fold. Many of the original L.O.R.D players are still around today, though some have changed their personas. Lady Acadia for one; Prince Rhys is now Connor MacLachlan; Lady Aylimn is still one of our belly dancers. Sir Bradley of Armagh is still with the ECS as Baron and very close to his Knighthood with them. Chancellor Alderon is still floating around somewhere. Lady Guinevere we know as Amanda, or Lady Alyssia.

Chapter Two
The World of Coincidences 

As we progressed into Renaissance Faires, the Empire of Chivalry and Steel, and later the Society for Creative Anachronisms, we took our personas and brought them to life. This needed some work, as the various groups have rules as to allowed names and personas. With a lot of work and research, we managed to find what we needed in order to maintain our characters consistent throughout the various groups.

All this work can be read in the following volumes,  "History of the Isle of Standauffish", a work that will never be complete as we add to it constantly. It is our "living" as well as past history and has become quite an epic in its own right. 

Along the way as our story line developed, we have run into a large number of coincidences. One of our members is fond of saying that if there are that many coincidences it must have been meant to be. We are beginning to agree with that. 

First the game. It was based loosely on Arthurian legend, the Red Dragon that we attacked, my persona of Zorgon {derived from an old text as the name of a general of Uthar Pendragon, but the name itself can be traced back to Sumeria} and our built up history of Shalott. This was the raw material. The descriptions of locations in the game, and the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson in his ballad "The Lady of Shalott", which we first heard sung by Loreena McKennitt on her album" The Visit" managed to flow together so easily that we could draw a map. So we worked all this into the first history.  Bare in mind it was pure fantasy at his stage.

The original, very loose story line was about a page or two long. Zorgon was born about a thousand years after King Arthur, putting him roughly in the late 1400's to early 1500's. He was the son of a rich merchant Lord, and as such  would have been brought up with the stories of Arthur, etc. There was much strife in the land, Zorgon's parents were killed in a battle and Zorgon inherits the land and money. He then has a dream, which sets his path and the rest follows. That was about all there was written down.

When we actually decided to research a more exact time period to give us credibility, never having looked at British history much before this, we found more than we bargained for. Much More! 

Then came the maps we drew of our "lands", and later of the Isle itself. They were made up from description in the game and prose, and basically the way we wanted them to look to fit everything in. The Isle was a "political" separation map of the various groups, and the surrounding "countries" were also drawn based on the other groups we were associated with. {See Maps in the Archives} Well, when we looked for a plausible place to put our Isle on the real world, we found that if we flipped the map over, it fit on the coast of Wales. Then it got eerie. The coastline matched, and there was an island there, only a little off where we had drawn it. Even the shape is very close to what we drew! {See Caldey Island} Furthermore, the coastline had two outlets for rivers; these rivers again matched our earlier map of the Realm of the Red Dragon and Castle Shalott, again by flipping the map over. So... this gave us real geography to fit our imagination. And just wait till you read the legend of Caldey Island. This was information just recently discovered by us and added in here as the biggest {and most frightening} coincidence to date!

Then it gets even better! First, Wales has long laid claim to Arthur. It was here that Arthur finally beat the Saxons and started his rule of forty five plus years. While looking for the period of strife a thousand years after King Arthur, we did not have far to look. The War of the Roses was right there! Not only that, but where Shalott lay was just inside neutral territory. {According to a map from 1485 of Yorkist and Lancastrian holdings}

Zorgon has on his shield a sword, representing Excalibur; with a Red Rose entwined. The lower half carries a Wyvern. {See Heraldry} This was created by imagination, though the blue and gold where based on Arthur's colors, as well as the fact they were also my favorite colors as well. The Sword came from the game, being Excalibur; the Rose was to be the Rose of Shalott. Little did we know at the time that it would be appropriate later, being the colour of the Lancastrian we would be associated with at the time. The Wyvern was picked solely because we were looking for a nice dragon and the displayed Wyvern we found fit. Then it turns out that the Wyvern was used as a badge in Wales before the Tudors. So all parts of my shield were now tied to the history of the area purely by accident.

Once we researched the War of the Roses and the History of Wales in the late 15th and early 16th century it all started to fit into place. Shalott lay just north of the Tudor estates in the neutral portion of the Principality of Wales. Being a rich merchant Household at the time, we would have known the Tudors, as they were also a very powerful Merchant House. Being inland, the closest Port for Zorgon's family to use for their ships would have been Tenby. The Castle of Pembroke, where Henry Tudor was born, is visible from the Isle of Standauffish. The actual Merchant House of the Tudors that we just recently found on a map still stands today at Tenby, which happens to lie on the coast just over looking our Isle, a few short miles off. 

Another convenient fact is that the War of the Roses left a huge gap, both in the Gentry, {all killed off during the war} and recorded History. This makes it a perfect time slot for our created work.

Also, that time period was one when the name of King Arthur was fresh in the minds of people, Edward III had built a Round Table in Arthur's honour which still hangs today at Winchester. The popular names of the Knights of the Round Table that we know today are on that table with their represented Heraldry. Henry named his son Arthur for the same reason, and much more which is in our history. Even Prince Rhys, a name Connor took originally because he liked a character in a video game, turns out to be real. There WAS a Prince Rhys, whose daughter Gwenllian married Ednyfed Fychan, start of the Tudor line. And the name Rhys appears many times in connection with the Tudor's and Wales.

Add to that the struggles of the House of Tudor, paralleling our own formative struggles, their ups and downs and rebuilding of financial empires closely matches all the troubles we have had forming Shalott and Standauffish. 

Following is a brief outline of some of the other bits we ran across.

Henry Tudor escapes the Yorkist with Jasper from the Port of Tenby. His mother, helped by the Mayor of Tenby, hired an anonymous ship to take them to Brittany. This part is true History, in the official Tudor book sanctioned by Buckingham Palace, but provides us a perfect niche to add our part in Henry's career. 

His ship was blown off course by a storm, but Henry and crew made it to shore safely. Similarly our fleet had been hit by a storm on the way to the Principality of Vega. 

Henry hired anonymous ships and mercenaries through the Duke of Brittany to return to fight the Yorkist, giving us further opportunity to fit in. Also his second return, when he made his bid to become King, puts him in France, desperate in need of help and speed but short of funds. Again, this is History. But again, it is the perfect place to add our help, and this time it was a major involvement, though we kept it secret. Then look at the date that this voyage began. He sailed from France the SECOND WEEK in October, the same time we all got together at the "Age of Chivalry" Renaissance Faire in Las Vegas, Nevada as the beginning of the now Isle of Standauffish Renaissance Guild!

Henry was interested in the stories of King Arthur. So much so he tried to link his History to that King, even naming his son Arthur. This was mostly political as that name meant a lot to Welshman of the time. There had been a resurgence of the beliefs in chivalry started by Edward III. It must be remembered that to Britons of the 15th century King Arthur was factual History, not myth and legend as it is today.

Then finally, to bring it full circle, Henry Tudor had as his standard, a Red Dragon on a green and white field! That Dragon is still flying today as the Welsh flag, made so by Henry Tudor himself when he became Henry VII of England, his son Arthur as Prince of Wales. 

So, read our history, become a part of it yourself, even if your persona does not quite fit into our exact time line, we will work it in somehow. All those seeking perfect consistency in our history are doomed to frustration, as it does not exist; though we do try hard. And if all else fails, well...  do you see that blue telephone call box under that tree back there?

Chapter Three
Edward III of Woodstock - Warrior King
& Edward, the Black Prince

Edward III was seized with imaginative ideas of Chivalry. At the centre of this tangle of myths, legends and romances lay the shadowy ideal of the perfect Christian Knight, one who was brave, true and courteous. It was supposed that a Golden Age of Chivalry had once flourished under King Arthur. Indeed, according to the chronicler Froissart, Arthur had founded Windsor and established his noble Round Table there "from whence so many Gallant Knights had issued forth and displayed the valiant prowess of their deeds at arms over the world". 

In January 1344, after much jousting and feasting, the King, then thirty one years old, took a solemn oath that he would form a Round Table of three hundred knights in the same manner as Arthur. Work began on a large circular banquet hall to house the new Round Table. But the war in France distracted Edward's attention and the project was temporarily halted. Fortunately the actual table built for Edward III has survived to this very day and still hangs upon a wall in Winchester Castle. 

In 1347 and 1348 tournaments on a great scale were held at Windsor, birthplace of Edward III, and foreign Knights came from all over Europe to joust at them. The Order of the Blue Garter, under the patronage of St. George, the patron saint of England, was founded and the names of the first knights are a role of English chivalry. The first name is that of the Black Prince. He, as Prince of Wales, was the obvious choice of a knight of the new Order, and from that time each Prince of Wales automatically becomes a Knight of the Order.

The Prince had well earned this right as well, for Prince Edward, in 1348, was at the pinnacle of his military career. He had vanquished the French at Crecy in 1346. There, as is told, the Prince was hard pressed in battle against impossible numbers, but won his spurs and in the triumph of English arms saw all his enemies prostrate. Among the slain was the blind King of Bohemia, who lay dead with the bridles of his two knights entwined with his. His crest was the now famous ostrich feathers and his motto Ich Dien, German for "I Serve". Edward took these for himself, and thus they have brought a heritage of glory to the succeeding Princes to this day. In addition to that, his army in England had beaten the Scot's at Neville's Cross and taken their king prisoner. He had secured mastery of the narrow seas, and captured Calais, which was to add to his control of the Channel and to serve as a useful base of action against France. 

Edward III had played with the idea of making the patron of the Order the great hero of legend, King Arthur. The stories of the Knights of the Round Table owed much to the influences of the medieval chivalry. To found another Round Table which should become just as famous and noble as that of King Arthur was the king's aim.

After the Order had been founded the King and his companion knights showed how well they understood the nature of chivalry. There was an encounter near Calais with a great French champion, Eustace de Ribemount, in which Edward played rather the part of a knight errant than of a soldier. In 1350 there was the incident of the sea battle {Les Espagnols sur la mer} with the Spanish Pirates, as they might be termed, who had been plundering the coast of England. They suffered a heavy defeat after a terrible encounter in which the highest qualities of courage were shown by the king, prince, and all their knights.

Edward III founded this Order as one of the chief manifestations of his love of knighthood. And even today as then, it is still the highest award that Queen Elizabeth II can bestow on a person.

Chapter Four
Ednyfed Fychan
The Start of the Tudor Line

The actual origins of the House of Tudor do not quite match the imaginative flights of the Abbot of Valle Crucis, Dr Poole, canon of Hereford, and John King, herald. At the same time, the historical story of the family's rise, untidy and incomplete though it is, should be romantic enough for most people.

The first identifiable forbear of the Welsh Tudors was Ednyfed Fychan, who flourished in the first half of the thirteenth century. Ednyfed followed a successful and profitable career in the service of Llewelyn the Great and his son David, princes of Gwynedd {North Wales}. He was rewarded by grants of land in Anglesey and Caernarfon, and also acquired estates in west Wales.

Ednyfed married, as his second wife, Gwenllian, daughter of Rhys, prince of South Wales. He had two sons, Tudur and Goronwy, who inherited both his office of seneschal, {or steward to the rulers of Gwynedd} and his considerable property.

The final subjugation of Wales by England in the early 1280's does not seem to have had any adverse effect on the family fortunes. Like a good many other native magnates, Ednyfed's grandson, Tudur hen ap Goronwy most likely supported the English Crown, at least he is reported as having done homage to Edward of Caernarfon, the first English Prince of Wales, in 1301. By the middle of the century this Tudur's grandson, another Tudur ap Goronwy {II}, was established as an important land owner and a member of the new gentry class which had begun to emerge out of the decay of the old Welsh tribal society. 

 But unfortunately for the descendants of Ednyfed Fychan, the old loyalties were not dead yet. Tudur ap Goronwy II had married a sister of Owain Glyn Dwr, and when Owain rose in revolt against Henry IV at the beginning of the 1400's Tudur's surviving sons came out for their uncle. There is evidence that Owain and the three Tudur brothers, Goronwy ap Tudur II, Rhys ap Tudur, and Maredudd ap Tudur, served in Richard II's army. But whatever the reason for joining the revolt, it was to prove disastrous for the Tudur Clan, as it did for Wales in general. 

Harsh reprisals were taken against the rebels and, according to the chronicler Adam of Usk, Rhys ap Tudor was executed at Chester in 1412 All the Tudur estates were confiscated, although one property, Penmynydd in Anglesey, was eventually recovered by the heirs of the eldest brother, Goronwy. The senior branch of the family, who took to spelling their name Theodore, stayed at Penmynydd, obscure country squires taking a modest part in local affairs, until the line finally petered out towards the end of the 17th century, leaving nothing behind but some monuments at Penmynydd Church. And there it might very well have been the whole story, if it were not for a quirk of fate, which had taken the son of the youngest brother, Maredudd, into the household of Henry V. 

Chapter Five
Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur
The New Beginning

Very little is known about Maredudd ap Tudur {or Meredith}, the ancestor of the Royal Tudors, except that he is said to have held some office under the Bishop of Bangor and to have been exchequer of Anglesey. There is a tradition that he had to flee from justice after killing a man and that his son was born away while he was on the run. But no one knows for sure where or when Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur, more conveniently, Owen Tudor, was born, though it must have been in the early 1400’s. Nor does anyone know exactly how or when he entered the Royal service. All that is known for certain is that at some point in the 1420’s Owen became Clerk of the Wardrobe to Henry V’s widow, Katherine of Valois, and that in 1429, or it may have been 1432, he and the Queen were married.

Sir Owain Tudor
Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur

The traditional story goes that Owen and Katherine contrived to conceal their love from the world until, one day, their secret was betrayed to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, Protector of the Realm, Protector of the Realm. Gloucester immediately incarcerated the Queen in a nunnery, where she died of a broken heart, and threw Owen into prison. From the known facts, scanty though they are, it is possible to piece together a rather less pathetic, if no less extraordinary sequence of events. 
Although all the circumstances surrounding the romance of the French princess and the “gentleman of Wales” which was to have such far reaching consequences for England remain shrouded in mystery, it seems reasonable to assume tradition is right in saying that Owen and Katherine fell in love.

Her short lived marriage to Henry V had been a matter of high politics. She was barely twenty when she became a widow and her son, “Harry born at Windsor and destined to loose all the glory his famous father had won, became King at nine months. As Queen Dowager, she had little say in the affairs of state, nor in the upbringing of her son. Bored, lonely and with nothing to look forward to but the prospect of a life of barren exile, she would naturally be susceptible to the attentions of an attractive man - “following more her appetite than friendly council and regarding more her private affections than her open honour”, as the chronicler Edward Hall was to put it. As to what Owen looked like we can only speculate, but the Queen and her Clerk of the Wardrobe would have been in daily contact, they were about the same age, and both strangers in a strange land. Perhaps it is not so surprising that they gravitated together.

The fact that the King's mother had “privily wedded” one of her servants was not advertised generally, but it must certainly have been common knowledge in court circles.

At least none of the traditional accounts explain how Katherine contrived to produce four Tudor babies; Edmund, born at the royal manor of Hadham in Hertfordshire; Jasper, born at Hatfield; another son Owen, and a daughter, without anyone noticing these interesting events. Everything, in fact, points to the conclusion that the Queen and her socially undesirable husband were left in peace. When Katherine retired into the Abbey of Bermondsey some time in 1436 there is no evidence that this was due to anything but a “long and grievous illness” which finally killed her on 3 January 1437.

After her death, her second family broke up; Edmund and Jasper were placed in the care of the Abbess of Barking, who looked after them for three years. The two younger children have no further part in the story, but the young Owen became a Monk at Westminster, surviving into his nephew's reign, and the girl is said to have gone into a nunnery. As to their father, the remainder of his career has a distinct flavour of melodrama. Shortly after Katherine's death a summons was issued by the Council requiring “one Owen Tudor which dwelled with the said Queen Katherine” to come into the King's presence.

Owen evidently suspected a trap, as he declined the to accept the invitation unless he was first given assurance that he might “freely come and freely go” A verbal promise was forthcoming, but he was not satisfied. Finally, after hiding and much skulking about, he made a sudden appearance in the Royal presence of Henry VI, now 15 years old. He had heard, he said, that the King was “heavily informed of him” and was anxious to declare his innocence and truth. But Henry had just wanted to take a look at this unknown stepfather and Owen was allowed to depart “without any impeachment”.

His luck was soon to change. Like so much else about him, the reason for Owen Tudor's arrest and committal to ward in Newgate gaol remains a mystery. Polydore Vergil claims it was ordered by the Duke of Gloucester because Owen “had been so presumptuous as by marriage with the Queen to intermix his blood with the noble race of kings”, but no documents exist to prove this. In two obscurely worded documents, one of which is dated 15 July 1437, the Council were at considerable pains to establish the legality of the arrest, having regard to the King's recent promise of safe conduct and also, it may be assumed, to the prisoner's royal connections. In neither of these documents is any specific charge mentioned, but from the very meagre information they do contain, it appears that Owen was involved in a private quarrel.

The next news of him appears in the Chronicle of London, which records that he “brake out of Newgate against night at searching time, through help of his priest, and went his way, hurting foul his keeper; but at the last, blessed be God, he was taken again.” This exploit took place in early 1438, for in March of that year Lord Beaumont received twenty marks to cover his expenses in guarding fugitives and bringing them before the Council.

Owen, his priest and his servant were sent back to Newgate in disgrace, but a sum of eighty nine pounds which was on the priest was confiscated and handed over to the Treasury.

He was transferred from Newgate to Windsor Castle in July 1438; a move that again has no explanation, but this marked the beginning of an improvement of his fortunes. 
In July of the following year he was conditionally released, one of the conditions being that he made no attempt to go to Wales or “parts adjacent”. Presumably the authorities were remembering the old Tudor involvement with Glyn Dwr. At last, in November 1439, he was granted a general pardon for all offences committed before October, though there is still no indication as to what those offences had been 
Owen had spent three years in gaol without trial and a further four months on probation, but from then on he became respectable. The King, perhaps feeling some guilt, is “moved by special causes”’ to provide Owen with a pension of forty pounds a year, paid out of the privy purse “by especial favour”. His name shows up many times in documents over the next twenty years, but an entry in 1459 is the most significant historically, for it is then that Owain ap Maredudd {Meredith} ap Tudur seems to have finally become Owen Tudor esquire.

Owen himself followed the normal Welsh custom of adding his fathers name to his own, at least he referred to himself as Owen ap Meredith in his petition for letters of denizenship in 1432. In official documents he is variously described as Owen ap Meredith, Owen Meredith, Owen ap Meredith ap Tudur {or Tider} until 1459, when a hurrying clerk wrote him down as Owen Tudor and thereby gave England a Tudor, instead of a Meredith dynasty. 

Chapter Six
Edmund and Jasper Tudor

While their father was enduring all his difficulties, and gradually winning his way back into polite society, the two brothers were growing up. In November 1452 they were create Earl of Richmond and Earl of Pembroke respectively and thereafter where granted lands and offices by the Crown. In fact, the gentle, devout, ineffectual Henry VI showed both his half brothers a remarkable degree of generosity, but never more so than when it came to choosing a wife for the new Earl of Richmond. In 1455 Edmund Tudor married Margaret Beaufort, an event which took him a giant step up the social ladder and which was to have had an incalculable effect on the whole course of English history.

Jasper Tudor
Earl of Pembroke
{After Henry became King}

The Beaufort family was a long ago liaison between John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his daughters’ governess, Katherine Swynford, nee de Roet. Their four children were indisputably born on the wrong side of the blanket, but after the death of his second wife John of Gaunt had made an honest woman of Katherine. And the Pope had legitimized his Beaufort progeny, so called after the Castle in France where they were born, by Letters Patent issued by Richard II and, for good measure, by Act of Parliament. The Beauforts grew rich and powerful. Cardinal Beaufort, last survivor of Katherine's brood, had governed England with the Duke of Gloucester during Henry VI's minority, and after the King and his heirs, they represented the ruling family of Lancaster.

So the bestowal of Margaret Beaufort was a matter of State. What prompted the King to grant first the wardship, then the marriage of this important heiress of the royal blood to such a junior member of the peerage, son of an obscure Welsh esquire but with possibly complicating Royal connections, is yet another mystery. Perhaps, at a time of increasing political instability, Henry simply felt that the Tudors at least could be trusted to remain loyal Lancastrian. If so, he was to be proved right.

Edmund's marriage coincided with the outbreak of that long drawn out dynastic struggle among the all too numerous descendants of Edward III, conveniently known as the War of the Roses. The roots of the quarrel went back to the coup d’etat of 1399, when Henry Bolingbroke had wrested the crown from his cousin Richard, and, like most family quarrels, it became progressively more bitter and more complicated with the passage of time.

Edmund Tudor
Earl of Richmond
{After Henry became King}

Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, did not live to see its outcome. Nor did he live to see his son. He died at Carmarthen in November 1456, leaving his young wife six months pregnant. Jasper at once came to the rescue, taking his brother's widow under his protection, and Margaret Beaufort’s child was born at Pembroke Castle on 26 January 1457. Tradition says that he was to have been christened Owen, as was Welsh custom, but his mother insisted he should be given the Royal and English name of Henry.

Although the Countess of Richmond was herself little more than a child {she was only twelve at the time of her marriage} this sort of determination would have been perfectly in character. An intelligent, serious minded, deeply religious girl, she later developed into a formidable personality, exercising a profound influence on the dynasty she had founded.

Chapter Seven
Henry Tudor
The Early Years 

Henry VII  by an Unknown artist
The Bridgeman Art Library, London

In the general turmoil of the 1450’s the arrival of a fatherless child in a wintry and uncertain world attracted no particular attention, and for the first five years of his life Henry Tudor stayed with his mother, snug in his uncle Jasper's stronghold at Pembroke. Not that he saw much of Jasper, though. The fortunes of the Tudors were now inextricably involved with those of the Lancastrian cause and as the deadly power game of York and Lancaster unfolded, the Earl of Pembroke was proving himself one of Henry VI's most useful supporters.

At first things went well, but early in 1461 came disaster, when the Lancastrian were heavily defeated at the battle of Mortimer’s Cross One casualty of this reversal was Owen Tudor, quite an old man by now but who had nevertheless been present fighting under Jasper's banner. Owen was captured and taken to Hereford to be executed in the market place. It is ironical, but not untypical of this man, that it is not until the moment of his death that we get our only authentic personal glimpse of the man who sired a line of Kings and whose remote descendants still sit on the thrown today. It seems that the gentleman of Wales could not bring himself to believe that his luck had turned at last, for William Gregory's chronicle says that he trusted “all away that he should not be headed till he saw the axe and the block, and when that he was in his doublet he trusted on pardon and grace till the collar of his red velvet doublet was ripped off. Then he said “that head shall lie on the stock that was wont to lie on Queen Katherine's lap” and put his heart and mind wholly unto God and full meekly took his death”.

Jasper, tough, energetic, and resourceful, escaped Mortimer’s Cross with his life. A second defeat followed at Towton. Henry VII's indomitable Queen, Margaret of Anjou, kept the fight going for a time, but then was forced to take refuge in France with her son.

Henry VII himself, reduced to a wandering fugitive, was betrayed to his enemies and deposited in the Tower. The eclipse of the Lancastrian seemed complete. 
It was not long before the misfortunes of his relatives rebounded on the little boy at Pembroke. Jasper Tudor was wanted for treason and was stripped of his lands and titles, and was reported “flown and taken to the mountains”. It is here that the House of Shalott meets the House of Tudor for the first time. Lord Zorgon’s father gave refuge to the fleeing Jasper, being a Lancastrian sympathizer. Zorgon was barely three years old at the time. 

With the best will in the world, Jasper no longer had any power to protect his nephew and his sister-in-law. Pembroke Castle surrendered to the Yorkist in November 1461, and Henry Tudor was separated from his mother and transferred to the custody of Lord Herbert of Raglan. It must have been a traumatic experience for a child of four and a half, but his guardian treated him kindly.

Young Henry remained with the Herberts in Wales for the next nine years.  The existence of this obscure sprig of the ruined Lancastrian did not cause the ruling Yorkist party to lose any sleep, after all Henry Tudor was being raised in a reliable Yorkist family.

Then came a dramatic series of developments, which temporarily altered the whole political situation, and permanently and drastically altered the status of Lord Herbert's ward.

In 1469 Edward IV fell out with his most powerful supporter, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as “the Kingmaker”. Warwick went over to the other side and by the summer of 1470 he was in France, burying the hatchet with Queen Margaret, once his bitterest enemy, and canvassing the support of Louis XI for another coup d’etat. By the autumn a remarkable triple alliance had been sealed. Edward, caught unawares, found it necessary to go abroad in a hurry, and the brief “Readeption” of Henry VI had begun.

Prominent among the returning exiles was Jasper Tudor, who had spent his years in the wilderness moving from one safe house to another in Wales, then turning up in Ireland, in Scotland and over to France where King Louis recognized him as cousin. Then back to Wales, always keeping the spark of resistance alive, even with a raid on Denbigh Castle with fifty followers.

One of his first actions on arriving in England was to make the journey to Wales to retrieve his nephew, whom he found “kept as prisoner, but honourably brought up with the wife of William Herbert”. Jasper took the boy, now almost fourteen, back to London with him, and early in November Henry Tudor was presented to Henry VI. After the audience he and his nephew were sent back to Wales with instructions to be ready in case war broke out once again. Barely six months later, Edward returned, and defeated Warwick at Barnet, on Easter Day 1471, a battle fought in heavy fog. On that day Queen Margaret landed with her forces at Weymouth, but too late. Edward intercepted the Queen at Tewkesbury, which encounter ended final and complete disaster for the Lancastrian. The last surviving male members of the Beauforts lost their lives, as did the Prince of Wales. On Tuesday, 21 May, King Edward returned in triumph to London and that same night, “between eleven and twelve of the clock”, King Henry was released from his earthly troubles by a Yorkist sword.

When Jasper heard the news, he retreated to Chepstow, where he narrowly escaped with his life. After the horrifying events of the past few weeks, his young nephew had incredibly become the only surviving male of the Lancastrian line. At all costs Henry Tudor must be prevented from falling into Yorkist hands.

Jasper made straight for Pembroke from Chepstow, where he was besieged in the castle by Morgan Thomas, acting on instruction from Edward IV. But the Tudor luck held.

Morgan Thomas's brother David was an old friend of Jasper's, and after about a week succeeded in smuggling them out through “the ditch and trench” of the besiegers lines.

Jasper and Henry, with a small party of servants and followers, reached the coast at Tenby where they found a ship, helped, it is said, by Thomas White, mayor of the town. The ship belonged to the House of Shalott and was making ready to sail for France when the mayor sent word to Lord Zorgon’s father, who was known to be in Tenby on business at the time, asking his old friend for a favour. Upon hearing what was at stake, there was no hesitation in making preparations, and as soon as the Tudors and supporters were on board, the ship made sail. It would be fourteen years before they saw Wales again.
Chapter Eight
Henry Tudor
In Exile 

Henry VII by an Unknown artist
The Bridgeman Art Library, London

The refugees were making for France where they might reasonably expect to be granted political asylum. But fortunately, as it turned out, a storm blew them on to the coast of Brittany. Duke Francis II received them willingly and with such honour, courtesy and favour as though they were brothers, allowing them the freedom of his lands.

Not surprisingly, Edward had not been pleased by the Tudor's escape and tried to bribe the Duke into giving them up. This gave the Duke an idea as to the worth of his guests, and as he would not break his promise of asylum, he none the less sent word back to Edward that he need not worry, that he would keep them “so surely” that the King of England need not be afraid “they should ever procure his harm any manner of way”.  Edward was obliged to agree to this arrangement, which proved highly advantageous to Brittany. Jasper and Henry were separated, deprived of their English servants and guarded instead by Bretons, while the Duke received a handsome pension from King Edward.

Little is know of their time in confinement. Time was passing and Henry Tudor was growing into a man helpless to defend himself, entirely dependent on the goodwill of a protector who might at any moment turn on him. Fretting in his Breton gaol, he saw little prospect of ever leading a normal life, let alone reclaiming his father's Earldom of Richmond.

During this time of exile for the Tudor's, the House of Shalott ran into misfortunes as well. In June 1473 there was an attack on the Castle of Shalott by Yorkist. Although the attackers were defeated, Lord Zorgon’s parents suffered injuries from a hail of arrows, his father falling instantly, his mother dying several weeks after the battle from her wounds, leaving him soul heir to the family fortune. Lord Zorgon was only fourteen at the time, but already well trained in the family business and a sailor since he was ten. Because of its position deep in the Welsh mountains, and lying in predominantly neutral territory fortunately assured that it remained untouched for most of the war. This, as well as the trusted staff of the House of Shalott, assured their survival during that period of strife.
Due to the War business had become poor and the House of Shalott needed new revenues. Also, doing business from the closest port to the Castle, that of Tenby, was dangerous at best during those days. So in the middle of October of 1480, Lord Zorgon took a small fleet and a few of his family and trusted followers and went in search of a Principality he had been told about that might become an ally and trade source, that of the Principality of Vega.  While there many allies and friends were made, and House Shalott prospered. Finally, in the beginning of February 1483, Baron Zorgon, a title earned him in the now Kingdom of Vega which Shalott had played a role in the forming of, left some of his new found allies in charge of holdings in Vega, and set sail for home.
Then suddenly, in April 1483, Edward IV was dead. His two small sons fell into the hands of their uncle Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, and were taken to the Tower of London, never to be seen again. Richard had made his move and by the end of June 1483 had been proclaimed King of England. The Yorkist however were still in control, and on the face of it there seemed no particular reason why the fortunes of the exiled Lancastrian should be affected one way or the other. Nevertheless within three months there was a to be a sensational improvement of their circumstances. 
At this time Baron Zorgon and his followers decided it was in Shallot's best interest to put their resources to use to help end the war. Edward's death seemed to provide a perfect opportunity, and the Duke of Gloucester had never been popular with the House of Shalott, this latest business only adding to the dislike. So it was decided to use the wealth of Shalott, their ships and manpower to aid the House of Tudor, deciding this would be the best way to help end the strife. For many reasons, but mainly with the security of the House of Shalott in mind, it was also decided that this aid would be in secret.

Thus the precise origins of the conspiracy to replace Richard III with Henry Tudor have remained obscure to history. As do the reasons which prompted the Duke of Buckingham, who had played a prominent part in putting Richard on the Throne, to come out that same year in favour of Henry. The obvious explanation was that by the end of the summer Buckingham had good reason to believe that Richard had had his nephews murdered. Also, history does not record the date that the Tudor conspiracy started; though it is evident that Henry Tudor's mother was one of the prime movers.

Margaret Beaufort made contact with Edward IV’s widow, Elizabeth Woodville, who had taken sanctuary at Westminster with her daughters. But, by a fortunate coincidence, both she and Margaret employed the services of a Welsh physician named Lewis, “ a grave man and of no small experience”’ well qualified to act as a go between.  The plan that he unfolded to the Queen Dowager was that if she and her numerous and ambitious relations would undertake to support Henry's claim to the throne, Henry, once he had ousted the usurper, would then marry Elizabeth Woodville and thus unite the warring factions. The idea was accepted by both, Elizabeth promising to do her part to swing her late husband's friends to the side of Henry. Thus encouraged, Margaret Beaufort entrusted her steward, Reginald Bray with the delicate and dangerous task of enlisting the support of “such noble and worshipful men as were wise, faithful and active” and ready to help her cause.

Support grew rapidly, and word was sent to Henry. With the advice of his uncle Jasper, an old hand at this sort of game, Henry responded bravely to this challenge. The Duke of Brittany was prepared to help with a loan of 10,000 crowns. The Tudors raised a small force of ships and mercenaries, and by the second week in October 1483, were ready to go.

Jasper, remembering his old friend at House of Shalott, had sent word to Baron Zorgon through Henry's mother that he had need of ships and men, and though he knew they could be counted on, nevertheless promised payment. So in that second week of October 1483, the fleet of Shalott lent its support to Henry Tudor's bid to return. Along with Shalott was the Neptune's Fury, a crew of Rogues that had long been plaguing the Spaniards, but were friendly to Wales. Also there were Baron Zorgon’s newly hired elite mercenary squad, the Brotherhood of the Gauntlet. Even the Abbot of Chelsea, Thërn du Claravouix was along that day.

Meanwhile in England, the worst was happening. King Richard had heard of Buckingham's activities and an uprising at Kent seems to have erupted prematurely. The exact sequence of events is uncertain, but by the time Henry made landfall off Poole harbour all element of surprise was gone. Swallowing his disappointment, Henry made a wide decision, to cut his losses, and gave orders to hoist up sail.

Once again setback! And trouble in Brittany forced Henry and his followers to flee to France. Time was running out, Elizabeth was still unmarried but would not likely remain so for much longer, and Henry needed that marriage to unite the nobles. In his ancestral Wales where the forces of nationalism were working strongly in his favour, the bards were growing impatient; 

In what seas are thy anchors, and where art thou thyself?
When wilt thou, Black Bull, come to land; 
How long shall we wait? 
On the feats of the Virgin fair Gwynedd, in her singing, watched the seas. 

The letters smuggled out of England brought messages of goodwill from Henry's stepfather Lord Stanley, as well as “others innumerable”. From Wales came word that Rhys ap Thomas and other “men of power” were ready and waiting, and that Reginald Bray had collected “no small sum of money’ to pay soldiers. Then, in the spring of 1485, another message crossed the Channel, a rumour that King Richard, now a widower, had begun to cast his eye on his niece Elizabeth, and to desire her in marriage. This news pinched Henry by the very stomach and further delay now might destroy any chances of success.

He borrowed money, a “slender supply” from the French King and more where he could get it, and managed to find a few pieces of artillery and a force of between two and three thousand mercenaries from Normandy to supplement his 500 or so Englishmen. It was here that the House of Shalott proved most useful, as Henry had little funds left to hire ships for his forces, but imagine his surprise when he saw Baron Zorgon’s fleet in the harbour, flying Henry's banner, not that of Shalott. And small as it was , it proved enough to carry that army to England.

The tiny armada, no more than a dozen ships, sailed north from the mouth of the Seine on August 1st, 1485, with a soft south wind behind it, and set course for Wales. The “long yellow summer”, the summer of the dragon, of the hero in the golden cloak, the summer of the “Bull of Anglesey” had come around at last! 

Chapter Nine
Henry Tudor
The Welsh King of England

Henry VII in 1505
National Portrait Gallery, London

When the Bull comes from the far land to battle with his great ashen spear, To be an Earl again in the land of Llewelyn Let the far-splitting spear shed the blood of the Saxon on the stubble...  When the long yellow summer comes and victory comes to us And the spreading of the sails of Brittany, And when the heat comes and when the fever is kindled, There are portents that victory will be given to us ...

Sang the bards in the “long yellow summer” of 1485, as they waited for the fleet which would carry “the one who will strike”, Henry, Earl of Richmond, the black bull of Anglesey, the peacock of Tudor, back to the land of his fathers. There was longing for Harry, they sang, whose name “comes down from the mountains as a two edged sword”, mab y darogan, the long promised hero who would fulfil the prophecy of Myrddin the wizard, who would deliver his people from the Saxon oppressor and bring content to the blessed land of Gwynedd.

“The most wise and fortunate Henry VII is a Welshman”, remarked the Italian author of a Relation of the Island of Briton. And although the Welshness of the first Henry Tudor can easily be, and often is, exaggerated, Henry himself was fully aware of the importance that should be attached to the fulfilment of bardic prophecies. He was also conscious of the political advantages to be gained by polishing his image as a “high-born Briton of the stock of Maelgwyn”, prince of the line of Cadwallader of the beautiful spear. At any rate, David Powell, writing in 1584, says that the King appointed a three man commission to inquire into the matter of his pedigree and that these seekers after knowledge, having consulted the bards and other appropriate authorities, “drew his perfect geneaologie from the ancient Kings of Brytaine and Princes’ of Wales”.

Henry Tudor
as King Henry VII

The new dynasty of the Tudors made a clean sweep of many things that had been the features of Medieval England. For one thing Henry VII's claim to the throne was so poor that he had to be audacious and resolute in his handling of matters or he would have been condemned out of existence. He was the direct descendant of Edward III but through an illegitimate line. John of Gaunt, the forth son of Edward III, had married, as his third wife, his former mistress, Katherine Swynford. His children by Swynford were legitimized, and John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, was the great great grandfather of Henry VII.  Then, in the male line, Henry's ancestors had the usual traditional descent of Welsh families; at least Henry said they did. In fact, soon after ascending the throne Henry sent commissioners into Wales to look for his forebears, of note and fame. The results of the commissioners’ findings have never been prominently displayed.

Henry's best claim to the throne lay in the weariness of the English people with the perpetual disturbances caused by the great lords; in addition to which the king had prudently married the Princess Elizabeth, the heiress of York. Thus came about the Tudor Rose, which is the product of art, not horticulture. The Tudor Rose symbolized the end of the strife of the rival roses.

There was one aspect of the Tudor ascent to the throne, which had great value among the Welsh and with reference to the Prince of Wales. This was the old prophecy of Cadwallader, the last King of the Britons, that his people would once more possess the land of their ancestors. When the last great Norman-Angevin line had been killed at Bosworth, Lord Stanley took the Crown from the bush where it had fallen and placed it on the head of the Earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor. For the first time since 1066 Wales had a King of native origin and blood. A Welshman had become King of England! He hastened to give his son a name that would ring through Wales, and be of great moment in England also. This was the name of Arthur. Sir Thomas Kendrick has shown how much this name of the hero King of the popular mythology meant in the England and Wales of the Tudor period.

Battle Banner of Henry Tudor Flown at Bosworth

The popular idea of the History of Britain was derived from the History of Geoffrey of Monmouth. Most modern historians disbelieve in Geoffrey of Monmouth's statement that he derived his information from an old book brought over by a friend of his from Brittany. However, the truth of Geoffrey's history apart, there is no doubt of the great influence which it exercised on the thoughts of the Middle Ages in England.

The Historia Regum Britanniae, or British History, or The Brut, written by Geoffrey of Monmouth, described how Brutus the Trojan came from Troy about 1170 BC and conquered Britain. From him descended a long line of British or English Kings, including Arthur, the hero of the Arthurian Legends, right down to Cadwallader, who had been defeated by the Saxons.

The fortunes of this history, nor the validity of it, do not much matter to the tale of Henry VII, except to point out that the name of Arthur had a peculiar significance at the time, and that its use for the name of Henry VII's eldest son was deliberate. The boy was born in 1486, and from the start great things were expected of him. He was to revive the fame of his great namesake, and at many a pageant Arthur was hailed as the new Arthur come again to raise England and make it the terror of Europe. Arthur was supposed to have conquered most of Europe in his day and although historians outside the British Isles knew none of this, that meant little to patriotic Englishmen.

Thus the legend of the British history gave the name of Arthur a lustre which aided the popularity of Henry VII. This young Prince, then, who was born in September 1486 at Winchester, was destined by his father to be the glorious successor to himself.  Winchester, his birthplace, added to his fame and ambitious hopes held out for him, for was not Winchester closely associated with King Arthur, and was the Round Table not at Winchester?

“The Rounde Table at Wynchester beganne... 
... And there it ended, and there it hangeth yet” 

John Hardyng 1463

Arthur of Winchester was christened with immense splendour at Winchester, only four days after his birth, this nearness of baptism to the birthday being the custom of those times. A great concourse of nobles was present at the ceremony, and everything was done to suggest the greatness of the infant. Also, he was ordained as Prince of Wales, it being the custom to appoint the King of England's eldest son to this position. This, too, sat well with the Welsh, as Arthur was after all of Welsh blood. 

Chapter Ten
Prince of Wales Arthur Tudor
& Katherine of Aragon

Arthur Tudor, probably at 15, 
the year of his marriage to 
Catherine of Aragon.
Bridgeman Art Library
Young Catherine by Michael Sittow
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

King Henry VII's hopes centred upon Prince Arthur He was created Prince of Wales when not four years old. His education proceeded with a grim rigor, which allowed no chance for the boy to build a strong constitution. He was learned in Greek and Latin, many letters surviving in the latter which are models of Latin style. The strain of learning was lightened for the Prince by his sport of archery. So good was he as an archer that he gave his name to outstanding proficients in the art; they were said to be true Prince Arthurs.

From the earliest age the young Prince was the unconscious subject of matrimonial intrigues. There were several foreign princes who were willing to ally themselves with the House of Tudor. When negotiations were in progress between Spain and England on the subject of Prince Arthur's marriage the business nearly broke down owing to the demands of Henry VII.

The object of the king's choice for his son was the daughter of the King and Queen of Spain. This was Katherine of Aragon, the daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Under these two who had been politically married, all Spain had become united and was about to enter upon her great career of conquest. The approach to Henry came from the Spanish king, and the ambassadors were permitted to view the young prince with nothing on (he was only four years old at the time) in order the better to appreciate his beauty and the value he would have for their young princess, Katherine, then only three years old.

Henry VII had known a great deal of poverty in his youth, and loved to feel he had money in his coffers. His love of money was to lead in the sequel to a terrible amount of suffering. When Henry wanted more dowry money than the Spanish ambassadors seemed to be able to give, they hinted to the king that his title was none to good, and that in view of what happened to the English kings he should be happy to make a match for his son with the sovereign of Spain, a great and settled land.

However, Henry VII was a man of persevering character and he gradually wrought upon the Spanish envoys, so that they returned home with lyrical accounts of the young Prince Arthur.

In due course the Princess Katherine of Aragon arrived in England to be married to the young Arthur, to whom she had indeed, been married more than once by proxy. To make the match possible, Henry VII had executed the last male heir of the Plantegenets, Edward Earl of Warwick, who died at the age of twenty four for no other crime save that he was the male heir of the Plantegenets. He was put to death solely for that reason, because he threatened the king's throne, and his death was promised to the Spanish envoys, to show that no rival claimant to the English throne existed.

When Prince Arthur first met his bride, he was shy and downcast, and little wonder. He had been wooing her for seven years, and writing letters to her in choice Latin, but when he finally did meet his bride he could speak to her only through the interpretation of a bishop who understood Spanish. He was fifteen when he married her in November 1501.

Welsh Dragon Badge
of the Prince of Wales
Chapter Eleven
Tudors and the Royal Navy

The Royal Navy got its name from the fact that in Tudor times all warships belonged to the king or queen. When Henry VIII became king in 1509, he carried on the work of his father, Henry VII, who had begun to build up the navy. 

The Mary Rose, Henry VIII's favorite ship

England was at war with France for a lot of Henry VIII's reign so he needed good ships to take his armies to France to attack the French coastline and shipping. Strong warships could also defend England if an enemy attacked. Because England is on an island, Henry also needed to protect the trading ships carrying cargo to and from England. But mainly, in addition to all these reasons, Henry VIII simply loved ships. He loved to go to the shipyards and watch ships being built, and sometimes even held banquets on board.

Before the Tudor Kings and Queens began building special fighting ships, if there was going to be any fighting at sea, previous kings had to borrow ships that were usually used for something else, such as carrying cargo. These would predominantly have been merchant ships.

Ships such as those of the House of Shalott, a rich merchant house friendly to the Tudors. These vessels already had cannons mounted for protection against raiders. After Henry VII was returned to England and became king, he felt it wise to spend some money to outfit the fleet of Shalott with proper weapons in case they were ever needed again. Also there was the deal struck with the House of Shalott for their help in the War of the Roses, for which Henry granted them privileges, titles and a land grant, namely the island known as Ynys Pyre off the coast of Pembroke. In return for these considerations, the House and its allies were further charged with the protection of the southern coast of Wales, which just happened to include the Ports of Tenby and Pembroke, the Tudor lands.

After the Wars were over, prosperity and peace were the mainstay of life by the year 1499, the year current in the History of Shalott. As England had no Royal Navy at this point, the ships of the Isle were still in the service of King Henry VII, on call whenever they might be needed. In this service they still bore the heavy armament provided by His Majesty in return for their service. This was of course most advantageous for the Isle. It was the expense of maintaining the Isle's fleet and other such hired vessels that led Henry VII to form the Royal Navy near the end of his Reign. But the Isle continued to supply their service well into Henry VIII's Reign.

Henry VII, rather than rely just on his allies for ships, loyal as they may be, began a programme of building warships for a navy, and by the time he died, and Henry VIII became king, there were 5 royal warships. Two of them were new four-masted carracks that were much larger than the usual English merchant ship. By 1547, when Henry VIII died, the navy had been built up to about 40 ships. Even with this many warships the navy still found it necessary to borrow some extra merchant ships to help in battles.

In Tudor times the River Thames was far more important for transport, so it was a good place to put new dockyards for building ships. As ships were built of wood, it meant that very many trees were needed. There were still quite large forests in parts of Kent and Sussex, so the South of England was also a good place to get the materials for building. Henry VIII had new ship building yards started at Deptford and Woolwich.

Deptford was the most important yard in the country by 1547. Both the new yards were very close to Greenwich, where there was a royal palace of which Henry was very fond. He and his daughter Elizabeth were born there, and Henry was married there twice. From Greenwich, it was very easy for him to visit the new dockyards. Because the new ships needed lots of supplies great storehouses had to be built, as well as the space for building the ships. Henry also set up better systems for running the navy and organizing the supplies.

By now much heavier cannon were carried on board the Warships, about 20 heavy, and 60 light ones. The great cannon could now fire a ‘broadside’, which meant all guns along one side of the ship firing at once. Watertight ‘gunports’ with hinges were also invented.  These gunports were flaps that covered holes in the side of the ship. The flaps would be opened in a battle so that the cannon could poke out while they were being fired.

This invention meant that guns could be placed much lower down in the ship, making it much more stable, therefor less likely to tip over. The Mary Rose was the first ship to carry the new guns and fight in this way. Built in Portsmouth for Henry VIII between 1509 and 1511, and rebuilt in 1536, she was Henry's favourite ship and he named her after his sister, Mary. He was also very proud of the ship called Henry Grace a Dieu, which was known as the Great Harry.

A  Warship in the 1540's had a crew that included about 200 sailors, 185 soldiers, and 30 gunners. Ordinary sailors helped the gunners with the cannon. Most of the crew had very plain food to eat, living  mainly on ships’ biscuit (about half a kilogram a day) and dried salted meat, usually pork or beef. Added to that, each sailor was given 10 pints of beer every day.

Henry's ships would have also carried many archers, as well as using the cannon to fire stone and iron balls at the enemy. The ship sailed as close as possible to the enemy, and then the archers tried to shoot arrows at the crew of the opposing ship.  The English archers could fire 10 arrows in a minute. They used longbows while the French archers used crossbows. Even with the new cannon, they still tried to end a battle by boarding the enemy's ship. ‘Prize money’ was given to the sailors if they managed to capture an enemy ship, so when they fired their cannon, they were hoping to hit the masts and rigging, not trying to sink the ship. Giving prize money was also meant to help the captain to get the crew to obey him in a battle.

On 19th July 1545, while Henry VIII watched, the Mary Rose sank very quickly, in the piece of water between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight called the Solent. The Mary Rose was part of an English fleet trying to stop the French ships landing on the Isle of Wight, but sank before firing a single shot. Around 700 of her crew, including the captain, Sir George Carew, were drowned, and only about 30 men were rescued.

No one is sure exactly why the Mary Rose capsized. We know that she was very overloaded, carrying 700 rather than the 400 crew she was built to carry. Once the ship began to tip to one side, after turning sharply, sea water poured in the gunports.  Perhaps the crew was not obeying orders, for just before the ship went down the captain shouted that he had the sort of knaves he could not rule.

People living at the time wrote about the Mary Rose, and drew pictures of her, so we know what she looked like. Almost as soon as she sank, people tried to lift her, but they could only manage to raise the masts. She lay on the seabed for over 400 years.  Then, in 1967, archaeologists diving in the area where she sank discovered the wreck. In 1982 she was lifted up from the bottom of the sea.

The mud they were lying in had preserved lots of things on the ship. After more than 400 years at the bottom of the sea, actual items from Tudor times can now be seen. The exhibit from the Mary Rose is housed in a museum at Portsmouth, managed by the Mary Rose Trust


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