Whether you’re an aficionado of novels set in the Tudor era, or are looking for an atmospheric page-turner to keep you reading into the wee hours, Steven Veerapen’s Of Blood Descended is likely to float your imperial barge. It’s a veritable feast of un-put-down-able historic fiction. It’s the summer of 1522 and as Henry VIII’s court receives Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, Anthony Blanke is summoned back to Hampton Court by Cardinal Wolsey, his former employee. The cardinal wants Anthony (the son of the king’s late black trumpeter, John Blanke) to take centre stage in a gift he’s preparing for Henry - a masque of King Arthur and the Black Knight. But Anthony’s role at court takes a very different turn when Wolsey’s historian is murdered, his body discovered as part of a grisly tableau scene, and Anthony is called upon to investigate the historian’s death. With “the shadowy, faceless, nameless murderer… abroad in the city streets”, he must “hunt him” on a labyrinthine inquiry as Anne Boleyn comes onto the scene. Witty, often funny, and always sharply evocative, Anthony’s narrative voice is incredibly engaging and gives this history-rich thriller broad modern appeal.
On the death of Elizabeth I, Anna of Denmark, wife to James VI and I, became the first queen consort of both England and Scotland. She offered her subjects north and south of the border an ideal of consortship: an attractive, fecund woman with a flair for display. Yet, history has been far from kind to the first British consort. Anna has been castigated as frivolous, vain, stupid, and more interested in dancing and pleasure than politics. This is unfair. As scholarship has recently begun to show, the queen was a determined, intelligent woman whose contributions to the cultural lives of her kingdoms was to prove of major importance in late-Renaissance Britain. This study aims to contextualise Anna not as a woman of minor significance in relation to the queens regnant of the sixteenth century, but as an inheritor of the bloody legacies of previous consorts north and south of the border. What emerges is a woman of wit, intelligence, and taste, who exploited political faction to her benefit and that of her children; who was canny enough to manage a slippery husband and sovereign; who sought creative avenues to mitigate the increasingly troublesome issue of her foreignness; and who provided the public face of monarchy in the teeth of an errant king who placed little stock in public opinion.
The Elizabethan era is generally understood to coincide with the blossoming of English language - it was the age of Shakespeare, Sidney, and Marlowe. Yet it is known also as a period of brutality and repression: saying or writing anything against the state, the queen, or its governors might result in hanging, fines, or the loss of limbs. Defaming neighbours could and frequently did result in a day in court, with slander emerging as a byword for unacceptable speech and writing. Academic interest has long been divided into studies which focus on the power relations underpinning literary production, the ways in which authorities sought to suppress and censor transgressive material, or the role slander played in religious polemic. This book will explore the legal backdrop which helped and hindered the production and curtailment of slanderous and seditious material across multiple sites. In so doing, it will seek to uncover exactly how slander and sedition were defined, regulated, punished, and, ultimately, negotiated by those who grappled over control of discourse. Through examination of the legal, theatrical, and religious conditions of the age of Elizabeth, this study will provide an explanation of the rise of the flagrantly slanderous political discourses of the seventeenth century.