Archive for the ‘Renaissance’ Category

Charlotte and CesarePreviously on The Borgias: Lucrezia was forced to screw her new husband in front of his cousin and her brother, who shortly after departed for France to find a wife. Giulia got on Alexander’s bad side for helping her brother attempt to balance the books, and in order to get back on his good side, she came up with a brilliant (and effective) plan to keep all the cardinals loyal. Bianca Gonzaga found her way back into Alexander’s bed, prompting her husband to publicly call Alexander out for sleeping with her.


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On May 13, 1515, Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor, Queen of France, were officially married at Greenwich Palace, more than two months after marrying in secret in France following the death of Mary’s first husband, the French King Louis XII.

Mary, who was extremely close to her elder brother, Henry VIII, was reputed to be one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe. Her marriage to 52-year-old Louis was brokered by Cardinal Wolsey, Henry’s right-hand man, and she was not happy about it at all. Nonetheless, she married the king in October 1514, when she was 18 years old. One of her maids of honor was Anne Boleyn, her future sister-in-law. The marriage lasted all of three months; Louis died on January 1, 1515, allegedly worn out from his exertions in the bedchamber.

Mary had been in love with Charles Brandon, the first Duke of Suffolk, since before her marriage to Louis took place. Henry allegedly knew of her true feelings but wanted her marriage to be politically advantageous to her. He nevertheless sent Brandon to France to fetch Mary home in late January 1515, making the duke promise not to propose to her. Charles ignored his promise and married Mary on March 3, technically committing treason by marrying a royal princess without the king’s consent. Henry was outraged when he received the news, and only Wolsey’s interference saved Brandon’s head. Instead of being arrested or executed, Brandon was made to pay a hefty fine.

The Brandons had four children, and she spent most of her time in the country, especially after she and Henry fell out in the 1520s over his decision to annul his marriage to Katherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. She died in 1533 at the age of 37, and her husband went on to marry 14-year-old Catherine Willoughby. Her two sons died young as well, but one of her daughters, Frances, married Henry Grey, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, and was mother to the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey.

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627Previously on The Borgias: Lucrezia got married and promptly slept with her brother, because why not? (No, seriously, that was her actual reason). One of the disgraced Cardinals set fire to the treasury before hitting the road, and Caterina Sforza started gathering an army of discontents.

Giulia’s brother, Alessandro Farnese, gets his Cardinal’s hat, as per Alexander’s deal with Giulia. He’s a young pup, so young one of the other cardinals has no idea who he is.


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borgias33-3Previously on The Borgias: At Alexander’s behest, Cesare and Cardinal Sforza started purging the Vatican. One of the disgraced cardinals decided to take things into his own hands and attacked Alexander while confessing, only to get his own knife in his throat.

A little disconcertingly, we don’t pick up with the fallout from Alexander being found covered with the blood of a cardinal—we start off with him enthroned, back to stripping disgraced churchmen of their offices and titles. One of them asks how much longer this is going to go on, and accuses him of doing this for personal gain (all the property being taken back goes directly to the church). Afterwards, Cesare warns his father that he’s running out of cardinals. Alexander doesn’t care, as long as the place is cleansed of enemies and he can use the money to do God’s work. I hope that means Giulia’s, Lucrezia’s, and Vannozza’s charitable endeavour from last season gets more funding. It’d be a way to keep Giulia around, at least.


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Episode 302Previously on The Borgias: Lucrezia’s quick thinking saved her father’s life, but it was up to Cesare and Micheletto to save the Borgia family from Caterina Sforza’s assassination plot. She tried to enlist the help of Cardinal Sforza, but at the last minute he threw in his lot with Rome and told Cesare they have a serious new enemy: Caterina’s henchman Ruffio, who’s being sent out to round up disgruntled nobles and rally them to the anti-Borgia cause.


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This Week’s Question:

The first complete English-language Bible was printed on this day in 1535. What was it called?

Last Week’s Question:

Arbella Stuart, who was once considered a successor to Queen Elizabeth I, was buried in the vault of what other famous queen?

Answer: Arbella (or Arabella) Stuart was buried in the same vault as her cousin-probably-a-few-times-removed, Mary, Queen of Scots.

Arbella was the great-granddaughter of Margaret Tudor, the daughter of Henry VII. Through her first marriage to the King of Scotland, Margaret became mother to James V (future father of Mary). Her second marriage to Archibald Douglas produced a daughter, Margaret, who, in her turn, produced two sons: Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (ill-fated husband of Mary of Scotland) and Charles. Arbella was Charles’s daughter.

As a descendent of Henry VII, Arbella had a place in the succession to the English throne though the influential Cecil family worked to steer the succession in the direction of James VI of Scotland instead. James eventually succeeded the throne as James I of England.

In 1610, Arbella secretly married William Seymour, a descendent of Mary Tudor, yet another daughter of Henry VII. King James threw the couple in prison for daring to marry without his permission (though Arbella’s ‘prison’ was the home of a nobleman). The two conspired to escape, but Arbella was recaptured and once again imprisoned, this time in the Tower of London. She refused to eat and later died in September 1615 without ever having seen her husband again.

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What day is it again? On September 14, 1752, Great Britain finally adopted the Gregorian calendar, adjusting the date in such a way that the previous 11 days were skipped entirely (the day before this was actually September 2).

The Gregorian calendar wasn’t exactly a new invention. It was introduced in February 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII and was adopted later that year by a handful of countries, all Catholic. Protestant countries, like England, were less eager to switch their calendars around just so they could celebrate Easter on the date the Catholic Church liked best. Never mind that the old calendars had proven to be inaccurate in their measurement of the time between vernal equinoxes. The Julian calendar believed the time between the equinoxes was 365.25 days, but in reality, it’s about 11 minutes shorter. That doesn’t sound like such a big deal until you reckon it out over hundreds of years. By the time the Gregorian calendar was approved in the 16th century, Gregory had to drop 10 days right off the calendar just to bring it back in line with the seasons.

Spain, Portugal, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, most of Italy, the Southern Netherlands, and the Dutch provinces of Brabant, Zeeland, and the Staten-Generaal adopted the new calendar in 1582, with the provinces of the Southern Netherlands and Holland following suit in early 1583. Most Protestants, however, were suspicious of the new calendar and believed it was part of a plot to return them to the Catholic fold (apparently they scared easily). Catholic rebels in Ireland adopted it as a sort of “F you” to England.

Things went along like this for a while, but then Denmark adopted the solar portion of the calendar (but not the lunar portion, for some odd reason) in March 1700. The rest of the Dutch Republic fell in line in July 1700, and just over 50 years later Britain adopted it throughout its entire empire. It wasn’t the last country to adopt it—not by a long shot. Most of Eastern Europe clung to the old Julian calendar until World War I and the Russian Revolution. Greece finally made the switch in 1923, becoming the last European country to do so, and Turkey adopted the new calendar in 1926.

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Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the joining of two countries. As Princess Margaret Tudor marries King James IV, England and Scotland are united and shall remain so forevermore.


Well, no. That certainly was the idea behind Margaret’s marriage to James, which took place on August 8, 1503, the day after she arrived in Edinburgh, but as we all know, the friendship didn’t last. In fact, the treaty started to fall apart soon after the death of Margaret’s father, Henry VII, in 1509. The new king, Margaret’s brother, Henry VIII, was young and brash where his father had been cautious and diplomatic. Before long, he was headed for a war with France, Scotland’s old ally. So, James invaded England in 1513 to honor his commitment to the Auld Alliance with France. He wound up getting himself killed at the Battle of Flodden, leaving yet another underage Stuart king: one-year-old James V (the kings of Scotland had a disturbing habit of dying young and leaving incredibly young heirs to rule).

Margaret, who understandably opposed the war, was named regent for as long as she remained a widow. Naturally, her appointment wasn’t met with cheers across the board, since she was a) English, and b) a woman. A pro-French party quickly formed within the nobility, angling to replace her with the Duke of Albany, James V’s closest male relative (who was also third in line to the throne—no conflict of interest there!) Albany had also been born and raised in France and was a big fan of the Auld Alliance.

Proving that having breasts doesn’t mean you can’t be a good leader, Margaret steered her way through the political quagmire and, somehow, managed to reconcile the opposing parties within Scotland, remain friends with France, and make peace with England. Which pretty much made her a better politician than any of the dukes and kings she was dealing with, who were more interested in battlefield glory than doing what might be best for their countries.

Unfortunately, Margaret made the same mistake her granddaughter, Mary, Queen of Scots would make: she fell in love with and married a worthless idiot. In her case, it was Archibald Douglas, the Earl of Angus, whose own uncle called him a “young, witless fool.” She secretly married him on August 6, 1514, less than a year after her husband’s death. When word got out, it alienated the other noble houses and strengthened the pro-French faction at court. The marriage also meant she was no longer permitted to act as regent; before the month was out she had to hand over the reins to the Duke of Albany. The Privy Council also attempted to remove her sons from her protection, but she wouldn’t hear of it and took the young princes to Stirling Castle.

Albany finally got around to arriving in the country he was supposed to be ruling in May 1515, and he immediately set about getting custody of James and his younger brother Alexander. Margaret was forced to surrender and hand the boys over in August. Her brother kept urging her to flee to England with the boys, but she refused, afraid that such a move might deprive James of his crown. She, however, did head south to England herself, and there she gave birth to Lady Margaret Douglas, the future mother of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, Mary of Scotland’s crappy spouse. Clearly dumbassary ran in the family.

After a year in England (during which she stopped for a while in London to hang out with Henry), Margaret headed back to Scotland, following a treaty of reconciliation that was worked out by Albany, Henry, and Henry’s right-hand man, Cardinal Wolsey. Although Margaret was restored to her son, she was not able to reconcile with her husband, who had abandoned her to go join Albany’s side. He’d also spent the past year living with another woman, on his wife’s dime. Margaret started to consider divorce, even as she herself started to draw closer to Albany, who was once again in France, renewing the Auld Alliance. Albany, reluctant to abandon the pleasures of France for the wind, rain, and oatcake-based diet of Scotland, suggested she resume the regency.

Albany finally returned to Scotland in 1521, and the enthusiasm with which he was received by Margaret raised several eyebrows throughout the court. Margaret’s husband was sent into exile, and Albany lent his assistance in helping Margaret obtain a divorce, which she finally did in 1527. By that time, she’d executed a successful coup d’état while Albany was away in France, bringing her 12-year-old son to Edinburgh, where the Parliament obligingly declared the regency over. Although young James officially had his full kingly powers, he’d still very much be controlled by his mother, who was named his chief councilor.

Her divorce finalized, Margaret married her third husband, Henry Stewart, in March 1528. Just a few months later, James began to rule more strongly on his own, though his mother and new stepfather were his leading advisors. Margaret used her position to try and bring Scotland and England closer together—it’s even said she favored a marriage between her son and niece, Princess Mary, although that obviously came to nothing. The continued resistance she met on that front—even from her own son—and her new husband’s constant cheating led her to declare in the 1530’s that she was “weary of Scotland.” Things improved a bit when Marie de Guise, James’s French bride, arrived in Scotland in 1538. The two ladies hit it off, and Marie made sure her mother-in-law was regularly welcomed at court.

Margaret died after suffering a stroke on October 18, 1541. Despite her wish that her personal effects be given to her daughter, Margaret, James took them all himself. Although England and Scotland continued to squabble for more than a half century more, when Elizabeth I died, the throne went to James VI, Margaret’s great-grandson, whose claim was all down to her. So, in a sense, she really did bring England and Scotland together after all.

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Previously on The Borgias: Juan became too much of a screwup to live, so Cesare did everyone a favor and gutted him and threw him into the Tiber.

Deep in the bowels of the Castel Sant’Angelo, Savonarola’s being racked and screaming his head off. The torturers pause just long enough for Micheletto to urge him to sign a confession of heresy, and Savonarola agrees, so they let him sit up and hand him a pen. Instead, he spills the ink all over the document. Micheletto orders the torture to recommence. You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?


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Previously on The Borgias: Juan continued to be a screwup, lying about how the siege of Forli went and becoming a junkie. Lucrezia, on the advice of her mother, decided to go ahead and agree to marry Genoa the Elder while sleeping with his younger brother. Cesare made some trips to Florence, where Savonarola continues to be a pest, and Della Rovere’s protégé got started on his mission by getting rid of the competition.

Lucrezia wakes and seems surprised to find herself in bed alone. She’s also surprised to see the caged panther at the foot of her bed.


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