Showing posts with label 16th century England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 16th century England. Show all posts

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thomas Cranmer's Everlasting Legacy ~ Poetic Prose

by Beth von Staats

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (Jesus College, Cambridge University)

BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

Thomas Cranmer on this day especially is remembered as a great Protestant martyr, a tortured soul who found his courage just in time to die with the knowledge that his salvation was only guaranteed by his faith and his faith alone.

Most history lovers think of Thomas Cranmer as the man plucked up from obscurity to become Archbishop of Canterbury for the specific role of settling King Henry VIII's "Great Matter" once and for all, a task he dutifully committed by finding the King's marriage to Catalina de Aragon invalid. Others think of Cranmer as the ever cautious reformer, who, hiding behind the front man and principle driver Thomas Cromwell, helped pave the way to the Henrican Reformation and introduction of an English language Bible. Then there are those who also look to him as the lead and principle change agent for the sweeping Protestant reforms that ravaged through England during the reign of King Edward VI.

As memorable as these historical events were, and as dramatic and heroic his ultimate martyrdom was, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's greatest gift to the world is something most people never think about, his brilliance in composing a liturgical vernacular written specifically to be read aloud, the literary genre we now know as poetic prose.

1549 Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer, Thomas Cranmer's lasting liturgy for the Church of England, now extended worldwide to the Anglican Communion, is a literary masterpiece -- his words contained profoundly embedded into the very cultural soul of the British people, the lyrical vernacular deeply imprinted into every English speaking person worldwide. As Cranmer openly admitted, The Book of Common Prayer was not his entire original creation. Through his scholarship of theology, Cranmer dove head first into the Latin of the English Catholic Church, most notably a book known as the Sarum Missal, the liturgy of choice of the priests and monks of Salisbury Cathedral. Cranmer also borrowed from the liturgy of the Reformed Church of Cologne and prayers from the the Byzantine rite.

Though today some may call this literary plagiarism, these compositions were written in Latin for the clergy. Thomas Cranmer's intent instead was to create an English language liturgy that was universally gospelled throughout all parishes of the Church of England, one whose beauty laid in it's simplicity and scriptural truth. Cranmer's steadfast and primary goal in his religious reformation was to insure every person, whether educated or illiterate, could understand God's word. Thus, he didn't trifle with originality, but instead celebrated the richness of English religious traditions then only understandable to Latin scholars and translated them with his gifted hand of literary genius.

This acknowledged, it is critical to note that much of the most eloquently written and profoundly beautiful collects and prayers of The Book of Common Prayer, notable for their grace, simplistic grandeur, idioms, imagery, repetitions, contrasting reversals, general rhythms and lyric poetic cadence were of Thomas Cranmer's original composition.

Even Cranmer's writings in general through his scholarly articles and personal letters hold beauty and depth of feeling. Thus there is no Tudorphile alive who cannot quote Cranmer's professed love for Queen Anne Boleyn, "Now I think that your Grace best knoweth, that, next unto your Grace, I was most bound unto her of all creatures living...".


"See a prayer book in his hand, 
True ornaments to know a holy man." 
 William Shakespeare (Richard III)


William Shakespeare

Since the inception of The Book of Common Prayer, countless novelists, screenplay writers and poets show plainly in their writing styles and plots strong influence from the poetic prose of Thomas Cranmer. The first notable author to look to Cranmer for inspiration was none other than William Shakespeare. In fact, literary historian and Professor Daniel Swift argues that The Book of Common Prayer was absolutely essential to the playwright.

Although some historians believe Shakespeare was Roman Catholic, Swift convincingly demonstrates the playwright's use of Cranmer's liturgy in his early comedies, while the marriage rite is used in other plays. Also pronounced is Shakespeare's focus on church ceremonies for the departed in the connected rites of Communion and burial. Macbeth is the play Swift notes is most influenced by Thomas Cranmer's liturgy, demonstrating without question that Shakespeare clearly utilized The Book of Common Prayer as source material for his writing, taking what he wished and leaving the rest.

Charlotte Bronte
So engraved is Thomas Cranmer's literary style in English vernacular, many writers and composers, knowing and often unknowing "borrow" from it, enhancing the quality, rhythms and poetic cadences of their work. Most commonly this takes the form of the use of triplet repetitions, which is often seen in the writing of Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austin. It's no surprise to learn then that both women were daughters of Anglican clergymen. Examples of Cranmer's use of commonly known "triplets" include:

"...Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection..."

"What the heart loves, the will chooses and the mind justifies."

"O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give..."

Thomas Cranmer's poetic and rhythmic liturgical vernacular is as pronounced in our modern times as it was to Shakespeare, Bronte and Austin. Regardless of religion, many of us when marrying vow, "... to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health...".

Thomas Cranmer's prayer for the dead lives on eternal, as well. David Bowie and Faith No More fans sing aloud in the shower to tunes entitled "Ashes to Ashes", a theme continued in the novel titled Ashes to Ashes, by Tami Hoag and a play titled the same by Harold Pinter. Perhaps most notably, in Great Britain viewers tune in faithfully to BBC One's popular science fiction and television police drama Ashes to Ashes. 

"Give peace in our time, O Lord."

President Barack Obama
World War II history buffs will harken to Neville Chamberlain's policies of appeasement, declaring the most cherished "peace in our time", a theme continued in a politically charged song by Elvis Costello. Even President Barack Obama controversially invoked Thomas Cranmer in his second inaugural address, again striving for "peace in our time". Conservatives slammed Obama in the social media incorrectly citing Chamberlain as the source.

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury was a literary genius, who if novels had been envisioned in his lifetime, would surely have crafted masterpieces rivaling the greatest fiction writers in history. Cranmer's brilliance lay in his sonorities and structure of the English sentence and his knack of being as astute a listener as he was an author. Thus, on this anniversary of Thomas Cranmer's martyrdom, rather than remembering the circumstances of his tragic death, celebrate instead the man with the depth and quality of composition that leads literary historians to place him alongside William Tyndale and William Shakespeare as the pronounced founding influences of the English language as we know it now to be.

Many people today will remember the right hand of Thomas Cranmer. After all, it signed the recantations that Cranmer told those listening to his last speech "troubleth my conscience", so much so that he announced and then did thrust it first into the fire that consumed him.

Instead, today I prefer to cherish the words that flowed from the quills it held, and the man who wrote with " outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace."


Aitkin, Jonathan, Common Prayer, Uncommon Beauty, The American Spectator

Swift Daniel, Shakespeare's Common Prayers: The Book of Common Prayer and the Elizabethan Age

Woods, James, God Talk, The Book of Common Prayer at 350, New Yorker Magazine

Beth von Staats is a short story historical fiction writer and administrator of 


Friday, February 7, 2014

Religious Scholar, Gospeller, Martyr and Feminist Change Agent, Anne Askew

by Beth von Staats

"Then they asked of my lady of Suffolk, my lady of Sussex, my lady of Hertford, my lady Denny, and my lady Fitzwilliams. I said, if I should pronounce anything against them, that I would not be able to prove it." ~~~~ Anne Askew, 1546 ~~~~

When I was a child in the 1960's, a woman close to our family married, but chose to keep her maiden name. Later, she left her husband, divorcing the man and leaving her children with him. Why was she so selfish? Well, this feminist had a passion. She set off for a career, placing her dreams to change the world before traditional motherhood. She had to do it. If not her, then who? My God, that woman was a radical. When she was arrested for protesting the Vietnam War, and then when she was arrested a second time and a third time and yet a fourth time for doing the very same thing, we all thought her unpatriotic, a traitor, a second "Jane Fonda".

Just what kind of woman was she? And just what other "bra burning" women and radical hippies was she in cahoots with? As I grew to an adult, with opinions based on my own thoughts rather than those of my parents, I came to admire this woman for her passion, her courage, her willingness to take risks in her attempt to make the world a better place, at least from her own perspective.

With those childhood memories in the back of my mind, I am truly in awe of those strong women in 16th century England, who within the constraints of medieval expectations, were leaders and change agents. Catalina de Aragón reigned in her husband's absence, leading a battle that brought Scotland to it's knees, King James IV killed, along with most of Scotland's nobility. Anne Boleyn held King Henry VIII's attention, keeping his advances at bay for seven long years, ultimately wearing the crown. Her influence on the Henrican Reformation may be overstated, but is noteworthy nonetheless. Queen Mary I led a successful coup d'état, becoming England's first female reigning monarch. Queen Elizabeth I reigned over an empire, becoming one of World History's most acclaimed and revered government leaders.

Beyond queenship though, was it possible for women to lead and influence the thoughts and beliefs of others? Could women forge their own lives, without male influence, outside of royalty or cloistered communities? Could any woman keep her own name upon marriage or divorce a man if unhappy? Could women truly be change agents? Obviously, these notions were completely unthinkable. Women were subservient to men. No person, man or woman, could question the established order. In an age of supreme monarchy and cruel torture, deprivation and execution methods, who beyond the insane would even try?

Anne Askew, a well educated daughter of a wealthy gentleman and knight once in King Henry VIII's service, and in one of the oddities of history, a juror in Queen Anne Boleyn's treason trial, was a devout Protestant forced into a marriage with a Roman Catholic named Thomas Kyme, a man once promised to her dead sister. The marriage was a complete and utter disaster.

In 1543, King Henry VIII, in concert with his conservative faction, changed his view on just who in the realm could read the Bible. By Parliamentary Law it became illegal for any women or man below the rank of gentleman from reading God's Word. This dramatic shift in acceptable theology practice did not deter Askew. Though two children were born of the marriage, she is said to have been studying the Bible with like minded Protestants when her husband kicked her out of the home for her disobedience to him, heresy and treason.

Anne Askew, retaining her given name despite her marital status, moved in with her brother and pursued a divorce based on her scriptural interpretation that Christians need not be "yoked to non-believers". Unsuccessful in her attempts, Askew moved to London. Taking the unlikely leadership role of a pious woman with a mission, Anne Askew became a "gospeller", more commonly known today as a preacher. Through her intelligence and scholarship, Askew set out to share her Protestantism with those not permitted access to the Bible themselves through scripture committed to memory. Askew also continued to pursue her desire for divorce.

Upon arriving in London, Askew connected with Protestant friends who introduced her to several people close to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who by this time was absent from court, retreating to Kent. Cranmer's absence from London clearly signaled King's Henry's change in stance, which became increasingly more traditionalist since the establishment of the Six Articles and the fall of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex. Through Askew's connections, she came to know and associate with Bishop Hugh Latimer, Dr. Nicholas Shaxton, Dr. Edward Crome most certainly, and perhaps, though unproven, more clandestinely with known Protestant sympathizers Catherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, Anne Stanhope, then Countess of Hertford, and other ladies close to Queen Catherine Parr.

Anne Askew as Portrayed by Emma Stansfield

Anne Askew became increasingly popular throughout London for her abundant scriptural knowledge, her charismatic "gospelling", and her ability to reach out to people of all classes and persuasions. Thus, she gained attention not only from admirers, but also those committed to King Henry's changed theological stance.

By 1545, traditionalists with Roman Catholic leanings including Bishops Stephen Gardiner and Edmund Bonner, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, and Lord Chancellor Thomas Wriothesley were actively gunning for people of high authority within King Henry VIII's inner circle, including Queen Catherine Parr and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Together they developed a strategy to bring Parr and perhaps even Cranmer down by first focusing their attentions to more minor evangelicals with the intention those targeted would implicate others with more power closer to the King. Within this context, Anne Askew became tangled in a web, caught in the midst of a power struggle between the conservative traditionalist faction and reformers.

In 1545, Anne Askew was arrested and interviewed by Christopher Dale, under mayor of London, and then later Bishop Edmund Bonner and other religious conservatives. The charges of her heresy laid within her Protestant opinions of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which Roman Catholics view as celebration of the Eucharist liturgy, the bread and wine which after the consecration are "transubstantiated" into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Any disbelief of the Eucharist liturgy was considered gross heresy, punishable without recantation by burning.

On June 13, 1545, Anne Askew was arraigned for violation of the "Act of Sacramentaries", but no witnesses appeared to testify against her, so she was released. A few months later, Anne Askew's petition to divorce was denied, and she was ordered to return to her husband. In some accounts, she is said to have been forced back to her husband, soon after escaping and returning to London. In others, she flat out refused to go altogether. In either case, Askew's stance on the court order was highly disobedient and provocative, giving ammunition to her detractors.

Bishop Stephen Gardiner summoned Anne Askew under the guise of ordering she return to her husband. Upon questioning of her husband, Askew refused to answer. Gardiner then turned his attention to her religious views. Askew honestly and pointedly denied the existence of "transubstatiation", and in doing so sealed her fate. On June 18, 1546, Anne Askew was arraigned at Guildhall, along with Dr. Nicholas Shaxton and two others. They all confessed and were convicted of heresy, condemned to die at the stake. Although the others recanted the next day, Anne Askew held firm to her convictions. Before burning Askew, however, the traditionalist conservative faction was eager to know who her "like-minded" supporters were, and they suspected, perhaps correctly, that those close to her included Queen Catherine Parr, along with the Queen's high ranking friends and ladies-in-waiting.

In the most grotesque of cruelty even condemnable for the era, Anne Askew became the first and only woman tortured in the Tower of London. On June 19, 1546, she was imprisoned in the Tower. Askew was aggressively interrogated by Bishop Stephen Gardiner, Lord Chancellor Thomas Wriothesley and Sir William Paget for two long days. Continually threatened with execution, Askew refused steadfastly to name other Protestants or recant her beliefs. Unsuccessful in securing the damning information they sought from her, most importantly an admission that she was associated with Queen Catherine Parr, the order was given to exercise torture. Askew was brought to a lower torture room in the White Tower and was shown the rack. Still refusing to name other Protestants and recant her beliefs, she was unmercifully racked by Lord Chancellor Thomas Wriothesley and Solicitor General Richard Rich.

Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower and witness to much torture in the context of his job responsibilities, was appalled by the torture of a woman. He refused to participate beyond one turn of the handle, and left for court to find King Henry VIII to secure command that Wriothesley and Rich discontinue. By the time Sir Kingston was able to meet with the King and secure his command, Wriothesley and Rich had turned the handles so hard after Askew's continued refusals to name other Protestants that she was drawn apart, her arms and legs ripped out of their sockets and her elbows and knees dislocated. By some reports, even after she was returned to her cell, Wriothesley continued questioning Askew hours thereafter, as she lay on the floor writhing in pain. Still, Anne Askew held firm to her convictions, refusing to recant or name other Protestants.

On July 16, 1546, the 26 year old uncommon commoner Anne Askew, who maintained her maiden name despite convention, who sought her freedom from a loveless marriage through attempting to obtain a divorce, who provocatively "gospelled" scripture to people prevented from reading the Bible by Parliamentary Law, who refused to return to her "husband" after court order, and who refused to recant her beliefs or name other Protestants to protect them from harm's way, was burnt at the stake. Unable to move her body in any way and obviously still in excruciating pain, she was brought to and tied to the stake in a wooden chair. Still defiant, Anne Askew refused a last chance at recantation and chimed in her disagreement to points made ironically by Dr. Nicolas Saxton in his sermon before the fags were lit.

Though burned alive as a heretic, Anne Askew through her courage, conviction and martyrdom became one of English history's most cherished national heroes and earliest feminist change agents.


Claire Ridgway, Anne Askew Sentenced to Death, The Anne Boleyn Files (

James Gairdner, Anne Askew 1521-1546, Luminarium: Encyclopedia Project (

Wikipedia, Anne Askew

Beth von Staats is a short story historical fiction writer and administrator of 


Friday, November 8, 2013

Alice Wolf: ‘The Diabolic Woman'

by Lauren Johnson

July, 1533: In the cool relief of a summer evening, two oars broke the inky surface of the River Thames. A woman’s laughter echoed across the quiet riverbanks as a small boat approached the Turning Tree. The oarsmen bent to their task while the two passengers – men whose clothes revealed them to be wealthy as well as foreign – did not let their eyes drift from the woman opposite.

As the Tree came into view the woman shifted in her seat and suddenly, from beneath a leather covering in the stern a man emerged, clutching a dagger. Before he could cry out, one of the foreign passengers was dead. The other pleaded for mercy, but his shouts went unheard. Once both men were dead the murderer, the oarsmen and the woman bound the foreigners face to face and threw their bodies in the river. There, it was hoped, they would remain.

Rebecca Todd, interpreting 
Alice Wolf at the Tower of London (2013)
Unfortunately for the killers on that boat it was only a matter of days before the corpses were discovered. Their bound bodies were proof enough of foul play even before the coroner gave his verdict of murder.

The authorities, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Thomas Cromwell, moved quickly to prevent the killers escaping. A ‘Kolener born’ by the name of John Wolf was widely believed to be the chief actor in the crime, and it was not long before both he and his accomplices were in custody. One of these accomplices, the woman who had enticed the foreigners out onto the river that evening, was to go down in history as a notorious ‘pirate’ and the only woman ever to escape the Tower of London. This is the extraordinary story of Alice Wolf.

Alice, it seems, was a native Londoner. Wolf was her married name, although exactly how married she and John Wolf were is still a matter of debate. Her maiden name was Tankerville or Tankerfelde, but more than that we do not know. It was only with the murderous events of 1533 that she forced her way into the record of Henry VIII’s reign. She may have been a prostitute, and the chronicler Edward Hall, who was a lawyer of Gray’s Inn and acted as counsel in the Wolf case, certainly believed Alice to be ‘a harlot’ who ‘haunted strangers’ chambers’. Hall may simply have been expressing his moral disapprobation for Wolf and Alice’s common law marriage, but Alice clearly knew how to use her charms to her advantage.

Of John Wolf we can say slightly more. He was a merchant of the Steelyard, that area inside the walls of the City of London near modern-day Blackfriars. There, Hanseatic merchants operated and were governed by their own law. John Wolf first appears in documents on his arrival in London in 1531, rather suspiciously mentioned alongside the theft of 366 crowns from Cologne. If he really was a ‘Kolener born’ had he fled his birth city laden with bags of stolen gold? He was certainly considered a criminal, and in 1532 was consigned to the Tower of London as a prisoner, apparently at the instigation of the Hanseatic merchants.

He and Alice were already involved at this point, and she regularly visited him in the Tower to provide him with the comforts a prisoner had to pay for out of his own pockets. A later prisoner, Father John Gerard, recorded that all prisoners had food provided by the Crown: ‘six small rolls of very good bread’ daily, but ‘the prisoner must find his own bed and any other furniture he wants’ otherwise your ‘bed’ would be a pile of straw on the floor. Clothes also had to be brought in from outside.

Still, Wolf was comparatively lucky – his gaoler, John Bawde, was clearly not an unkind man and during Wolf’s incarceration he, Bawde and Alice became friends. When Wolf was released from the Tower he fled to Ireland and left Alice in Bawde’s care during his absence.

On his return a year later, John Wolf found that Alice had made the acquaintance of two foreign merchants: Jerome de George and Charles Benche. The pair were wealthy, and Alice knew enough of the inside of the men’s chambers to tell her husband that even more riches were hidden there. It was then, in summer 1533, that Alice and John hatched the plan that was to be their undoing: they would lure the men onto the river, with two trusted associates in the guise of oarsmen, and Wolf himself concealed in the stern of the boat. When they were far enough from watching eyes, Wolf would emerge, kill the men, then they would strip them both of their goods – and, crucially, of the keys to the chamber where the rest of their wealth was kept.

At first, they seemed to have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The Wolfs and their accomplices were so voracious in their hunting that they secured goods to the value of £100. This sum was considerable. William Warham, Archdeacon of Canterbury, retired on an annual pension of £80.

But the bodies of the merchants were not lost. And when they were discovered, Wolf found himself once more a prisoner of the Tower – and this time Alice was there with him. The authorities were particularly concerned that Alice not escape justice. In a letter to Cromwell one prosecutor pleaded for his superior to intercede, fearing that ‘if the diabolic woman escape, we shall be in great jeopardy’.

Alice Wolf's escape route, over St Thomas's Tower
Perhaps this anxiety is why Alice was so closely confined. She was imprisoned in Coldharbour Tower, ‘enclosed within two wards’ of the Tower of London. To reach her, any visitor would have to pass through the Middle Tower, Byward Tower, Bloody Tower and into the Coldharbour Tower in the innermost part of the fortress. And even if they reached her cell, they would find Alice shackled to the walls with iron manacles.

In late January 1534 the Wolfs’ fate was sealed. They were condemned to death by an act of attainder. As they had committed their crime on water they were pirates in the eyes of the law and their death would be a particularly unpleasant one. They would ‘hang upon Thames at low water mark in chains’, and the rising tide would drown them.

It was a death that Alice was determined not to meet. Mistress Wolf clearly had a way of playing on the sympathy of those around her. The chief official in the Tower was the Lieutenant, a respectable gentleman who sometimes lived within the walls of the fortress with his family. Perhaps this is how the Lieutenant’s daughter came to meet Alice Wolf.

Prisoners would often be given the liberty of the Tower to take the air either on the leads above their cell (literally the roof of a tower) or even walk around inside the walls. It is conceivable that during one of these walks Alice met the Lieutenant’s daughter and pleaded with her for her chains to be removed when she was in her cell. Or perhaps it was William Denys, the Lieutenant’s servant, who grew so close to Alice that he was allegedly plotting a way to help her escape, who conveyed a message to the Lieutenant’s daughter. Either way, by early 1534, although still a prisoner, Alice’s chains had been removed and she could move freely inside her cell.

But Denys’s friendship with Alice had not gone unnoticed. The Lieutenant could not allow his servants to aid and abet criminals, and when it was revealed that Denys knew of a secret route out of the Tower he was dismissed, and with him one possible escape route was closed to Alice.

However, she still had a crucial ally in the Tower, her old friend John Bawde. She begged him to help her escape, and – considering the end she would otherwise make – he could not refuse.

Cell door
On Wednesday 23rd March 1534 Bawde and Alice put their escape plan into action. Bawde bought two hair ropes, and after night had fallen he passed these through Alice’s prison grate. The next morning he took back the concealed ropes and gave her instead some clothes and a key to the outer door of the prison. The inner door of her cell was almost comically ill-secured, with only a bit of old bone acting to pin it shut. Since the Lieutenant’s daughter had arranged for Alice’s shackles to be removed she was able to reach under the cell door, and by interchangeably shaking it and poking at the pin with a stick, she knocked it out of the staple.

Traitors Gate, towards the old wharf of the Tower
Then disguised in the men’s clothes Bawde had given her she made her way from her cell, out of Coldharbour Tower and up onto the leads of St Thomas’s Tower – above what we now call ‘Traitor’s Gate’.

This was part of the outer walls of the Tower of London, and only the fortress’s moat separated it from the wharf beyond. On the opposite side of the wharf was the open River Thames, and with it, freedom.

Reaching the roof of St Thomas’s Tower as the bells across London tolled ten o’clock, Alice found John Bawde waiting. He had secured an iron hook to the ropes and threw it over the moat to the wharf opposite. Together, they slid down to the wharf, where they slipped into a lighter a flat-bottomed barge used to transfer goods along the river – and crept along it until they found a boat at Vaughan’s Stair.

Escape was tantalizingly close. Bawde steered their boat out of the precinct of the Tower and around to one of the weed-slick steps running from the river up towards St Katherine’s Dock, east of the Tower. Somewhere not far from where Tower Bridge now stands, they stepped back onto dry land and walked as confidently as they could in the direction of St Katherine’s Dock, where two horses awaited them in the house of one Jeffrey Haryson. Even in her ill-fitting men’s clothing, Alice must have felt a thrill of triumph as they mounted the hill. They had done it. Once they were on horseback they could flee the country – take a ship to the Continent, perhaps find Wolf’s friends there.

The White Tower, Tower of London
But their victory was to be short-lived. Coming down Tower Hill was one of the watchmen, an old friend of Bawde’s called Gore. He called out a greeting, and despite attempts to allay suspicion, it must have been painfully obvious that all was not as it should be. A second look at the ‘man’ accompanying Bawde revealed her to be a woman, and within moments the watchman had seized them both and they were being escorted back into the walls of the Tower.

The story, of course, does not end there. Alice returned to her cell with death now a certainty. But for John Bawde, death was not enough – he was placed in ‘Little Ease’, a small dark cell where you could neither stand up nor sit down. And having endured those cramped conditions he was racked to discover if any outside forces had compelled him to free Alice. He repeatedly told his questioners that he had acted only out of ‘the love and affection he bare to her’.

The Lieutenant had publicly lost face by allowing not only his dismissed servant to plot with Alice, but also a gaoler and – by her well-meant intercession – his own daughter. He was no doubt keen to make Bawde say as much as possible to throw blame further from his own door. Once it was clear he would reveal no new information, Bawde was hanged.

Both Alice and John Wolf met the fate she had tried to avoid. Edward Hall records their ends:

‘And at the last she and her husband as they deserved, were apprehended, arraigned and hanged at the foresaid Turnyng Tree, where she hanged still and was not cut down, until such time as it is known that beastly and filthy wretches had most shamefully abused her while being dead.’

So ended the life of Alice Wolf: murderess, pirate, prostitute perhaps – but brave all the same, and worthy of being better remembered in the history of the Tower of London. She may not have got far, but her daring escape is still the only one we know of by a woman. Whatever other crimes we can accuse her of, she certainly cannot be called a coward.


Philip Caraman (trans.), John Gerard: The Autobiography of an Elizabethan (Longmans, Green and Co, 1951)
Edward Hall, Hall’s Chronicle: Containing the History of England (London, 1809)
Journal of the House of Lords: volume 1: 1509-1577 (1802).
Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volumes 4-10 (at British History Online)
John Charlton, The Tower of London: Its Buildings and Institutions (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1978)
Alan Neame, The Holy Maid of Kent: The Life of Elizabeth Barton, 1506-1534 (Hodder & Stoughton, 1971)
Derek Wilson, The Tower: 1078-1978 (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1978)


About Lauren

Lauren Johnson is an author and historian based in London, UK. She is the Research Manager for a costumed interpretation company which works daily at the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace among other heritage sites. She blogs about her experience here and tweets as @History_lauren.

Her debut novel, The Arrow of Sherwood is an origin story of Robin Hood, rooting the myth in the brutal, complex reality of the twelfth century. It is published by Pen & Sword Fiction.



Friday, August 30, 2013

On Henry VIII’s MP3 Player

by Melanie Spiller

Okay, so you and I both know that Henry VIII didn’t have an MP3 player. But what if he had? What kind of music would he have collected? What interesting tunes would turn up on shuffle?

Insert watery wavering lines and harp glissandos as we travel back in time…

Henry VIII was King of England from 1509-1547. His father, Henry VII, had a serious interest in music and was a strong supporter of musicians. Throughout Henry VIII’s childhood, music occupied a prominent place at his father’s court, and young Henry was trained in music from an early age.

When he was still a teenager, it was his turn to be king, and Henry VIII turned his court into a center of musical culture. He encouraged foreign musicians to work there, introducing the Franco-Flemish style of church music (see my posts on Josquin, Dufay, and Ockeghem for more about this style) to England, and building up an enormous collection of musical instruments.

During his lifetime and after, supporters created the Henry VIII Manuscript. The manuscript is mainly a secular document, and includes descriptions of life at court (perhaps somewhat embellished and romanticized by a finely honed sense of “courtly love”). It also includes song lyrics, naming composers such as Robert Fayrfax (1461-1521) and William Cornysh the Younger (1468-1523), and even the names of some of his buddies. Other manuscripts from Henry VIII’s reign contain a variety of songs and instrumental pieces in three and four parts, which was the style of the day.

From this environment, by mid-century, a distinctly English genre for solo voice accompanied by a consort of viols had emerged. The master of the consort song was William Byrd (1543-1623), who raised the technical level of the medium to new heights. Byrd’s collection was very successful in his own lifetime and after, and although English madrigal and lute songs are better known today, composers would continue to write songs for consorts well into the 17th century. But Byrd was more a composer for Elizabeth I and James than for Henry. I mention him here so that you can see how English music was hugely colored by Henry VIII, as much by the man himself as by the political and religious change that his monarchy brought about.

Speaking of change, the leader of the Reformation movement and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), wrote to Henry stating what was to become the basic principle for settings of the new English musical texts: “The song should not be full of notes, but, as near as may be, a syllable for every note.” This put the emphasis on the text, where it had been before polyphony came along, about 500 years earlier. (For more on this, read my blog posting Chords versus Polyphony.)

Composers reacted variously to the new conditions. John Taverner (1495-1545), one of England’s shining stars, gave up composition altogether to become an agent of Thomas Cromwell (c1485-1540), who was First Earl of Essex and the chief minister who helped orchestrate the annulment of Henry’s first marriage. Christopher Tye (c1505-c1572) and Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585) wrote music for the Protestant services, which, while attractive, did not match the technical interest and artistry of their Latin music. Both continued to compose Latin motets, but obediently no longer wrote the lengthier (and more undeniably Catholic) Mass music.

The suppression of the monasteries between 1536 and 1547 not only involved the dispersal of monastic musicians, but often included the destruction of musical manuscripts in large quantities, so much of the pre-Reformation music of the British Isles is lost to us. We have the Fayrfax Book (collected c1500) and the Eton Choirbook (collected 1500-1505) from Henry’s father’s time, but that is nearly all that survived. (Don’t you wish there really had been MP3 players?)

The Chapel Royal

In the 13th century, English monarchs established a body of priests and musicians to provide musical entertainment and who were part of the royal household. This group was called the Chapel Royal, and to be named a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal was a considerable honor. It meant income, status, and property. (There is still such a group in England today. Other countries had similar bodies, although most have long since disbanded.)

During Henry’s father’s time, big names like William Cornysh the Younger (1468-1523), Robert Fayrfax (1461-1521), and John Lloyd (d.1523) were part of this establishment, and after Henry’s time, William Byrd (1543-1623), Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585), and Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) received this honor.
During Henry’s reign, only Richard Edwardes (1525-1566) seems to have been added to the very auspicious ranks. Edwardes was probably Henry’s illegitimate son by Agnes Edwards, so it’s hard to know if he was there on merit or out of some some obligation on Henry’s part.

But that doesn’t mean Henry VIII didn’t surround himself with musicians of the highest caliber. It meant that many of the greatest musicians of his time were already members from his father’s reign. But he didn’t stop with British musicians. He invited big names from all over the Continent to come, and come they did.

Henry collected all things musical, and musical instruments were no exception. It probably started with the tradition of having household minstrels. At the time, minstrels were common for royal households and those of other aristocrats. Ecclesiastics kept them, and so did towns and ships. Minstrels played either haut instruments or bas (for more on haut and bas, see my post on the shawm) as required by the occasion, and they sang and were expected to compose songs on demand. Kind of like today’s rap artists.

The minstrel would have had a large collection of instruments, such as the louder winds and the trompette de menestrals (which was a slide trumpet or sackbut, not a modern trumpet), stringed and keyboard instruments, along with gentler wind instruments like recorders and cornetti. Wind instruments were his favorite, and Henry VIII had 77 recorders in his stash when he died.

Henry was a skilled all-around performer, playing several keyboard instruments, the cornetto, the recorder, and the lira de flauti (don’t know what that is, but I’m going to guess that it’s some sort of lyre or harp). There are stories that Sir Edward Stanley (c1460-1523), the fellow reputed to have killed James IV of Scotland, wrote and sang a ballade to the clavichord while at court, but it isn’t known if Henry accompanied him.

There were plenty of people in Henry VIII’s court who played or composed, including Robert Fayrfax (1461-1521), Richard Davy (c1465-1538), William Cornysh the Younger (1468-1523), Thomas Ashewell (c1478-c1513), John Redford (c1486–1547), Nicholas Ludford (c1490–1557), John Taverner (1495–1545), Christopher Tye (c1505–c1572), and most notably, Thomas Tallis (c1505–1585).

And there were some Chapel members who didn’t compose but were fine musicians, such as Benedict de Opitiis (dates not available), Ambrose Lupo (d. 1591), Dionisio Memo (dates not available), and Richard Sampson (d. 1554). All of these fellows would have been on Henry’s MP3 player. There would also have been women at court who played or sang, including some of his wives, such as Anne Boleyn, who was Henry’s equal in musical skill.

Henry’s education was quite good. In addition to reading and writing in English, French, and Latin, he played the lute, organ, and virginals, along with that assortment of wind instruments. (And I thought I had a large collection of instruments!)  Music was terrifically important to him, and he brought musicians from the Continent to teach and share their compositions. It was Henry VIII that put an end to English musical isolationism, something that Elizabeth I would follow up on with enthusiasm.

In 1513, Henry took the members of the Chapel Royal to Lille, where they met the Burgundian Chapel of Margaret of Austria. It must have been a wonderful festival, full of music. While Henry was out and about, he recruited Venetian organist Dionisio Memo (mentioned above), a whole bunch of French and Flemish musicians, and the Bruges organist Benet de Opiciis (no dates on this fellow, although he took payment for a regal organ—a post about these is coming soon—in 1518).

In 1520, they all trooped over to the Field of the Cloth of Gold in France, where they met the French Chapel of Francis I. The meeting was intended to improve relations between France and England and was considered a successful meeting, but one which not be repeated until Queen Victoria met King Louis Philippe I in 1843.

You all know the story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, so I won’t tell it here. But the result of the fracas was a new church. In 1534, Henry convinced Parliament to separate from Rome and named himself as the new head of the Church of England. The new church remained essentially Catholic in Doctrine under Henry, but Henry wanted a few changes. He wanted less pomp and circumstance, as prescribed by the Mass format, but more importantly, he wanted the services to be in English rather than Latin, the language of Rome. English music would be changed forever.

The Music and Musicians

The leading composer of the early 16th century was John Taverner (c1490-1545). His Masses and motets exemplify the English taste for long melismas (lots of notes on a single syllable), full textures, and cantus-firmus (the chant melody, usually performed slowly as a counterpoint to the polyphony swirling around it). This is the opposite of what Thomas Cranmer prescribed, if you’ll recall, and probably had a lot to do with Taverner’s quitting the music business.

Most of Taverner’s church music was probably written during the years 1526-30, while he was organist and choirmaster of Cardinal College (now Christ Church), Oxford. It includes eight Masses, three Magnificats, and some shorter pieces. But Taverner was attracted to Lutheranism, and he became a zealous agent of Thomas Cromwell during the Dissolution and repented that he’d previously made “Popish ditties.” He abandoned composition altogether.

Thomas Cranmer (1489-1527) also wrote to Henry, stating the basic principles for settings of the new English texts. He also preferred syllabic music (one note per syllable) rather than melismatic (a single syllable spread over lots of notes). But not all composers agreed.

Christopher Tye (c1505-c1572) and Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585) wrote music for the Protestant services. They were nice, but not as interesting or technical as their Latin music. Both Tye and Tallis continued to compose Latin motets but not Masses, and it is perhaps this simplification of music that led to what would become the English anthem (you’ll read more about those in my post on William Byrd, coming soon).

The most important mid-century English composer—not just for the 16th century, but probably until our own times—was Thomas Tallis (c1505-1565). Firmly Catholic despite the laws against practicing Catholicism, he would come to write English service music and other sacred works that reflected the religious and political upheavals in England during Henry’s rule and through Elizabeth’s. But he couldn’t hide his own pain at the dismal situation his own religion was in, and it’s reflected in his music, either in the melody or in the texts he chose.

Another noted composer of the times was John Merbecke (c1510-c1585). He wrote that music should follow natural speech rhythms. In 1522, Merbecke was among the pro-Calvinists who proclaimed that all music was vanity.

But what would Henry have listened to; what would he have asked his musicians to play? Part songs, which is music written for multiple voice parts (like soprano, alto, tenor, bass) were popular in Henry’s reign, and the fashion continued long after. Keyboard music was new and in vogue, such as that of John Redford (1485-1545) for virginals and organ. Most of these songs were based on chant, now called plainsong in England, with either imitative counterpoints or florid ornamental lines as accompaniment. There are plenty of dances, settings of psalm tunes and chant melodies by Redford’s contemporaries, and transcriptions of secular part songs and anthems in the Mulliner Book (compiled 1545-1570).

The FitzWilliam Virginals Book (collected 1562-1612) is from later years, but it contains organ works from earlier, such as dances, variations on themes, and fantasia forms (lots of improvisation) that are usually found only in the lute repertoire. The virginals or virginal (depending on what country you’re in) was a keyboard instrument similar to the harpsichord, and was very popular among those with smaller parlors.

Any Excuse

There would have been many reasons for making music. Church, obviously, would have been one of them. But it wasn’t all seriousness and prayer. There would have been dances, ceremonies for visiting dignitaries and the promotion of the aristocracy, and social entertainments. There would have been tournaments, festivals, and breaks from the work-a-day drudgery of ruling a nation. There would have been ambient music during meals, fanfares announcing the king’s arrival, and notifications of arriving ships or dignitaries. There would have been loads of music everywhere the king went. Except when he didn’t want it, of course. That’s what being king is all about.

Henry wrote plenty of music himself. There are 34 pieces identified as by Henry, and there are possibly more attributed to “anonymous” or lost. Of the 20 vocal items he wrote, many are not original but are arrangements of existing music, and his instrumental offerings might also have been arrangements.

Pieces for which Henry gets credit include Helas madam and Pastyme with good companye, which are two of his most famous works. They’re very much in the style of what was going on over on the Continent. They also found 13 instrumental pieces in three or four parts, and a three-part motet, Quem pulchra est.

White note mensuration was used to write all this music down. You’ll want to have a look at that over on the blog post I wrote about the History of Music Notation. There’s too much to go into that here.

After Henry VIII

When Henry died, his son Edward was too young to take the throne properly. He had advisors, and as you can imagine, it was a fractious time to be at court. The Edwardian Act of Uniformity devastated all remaining musical establishments by forbidding the celebration of Mass. Attending church became less formal, a poor substitute for what had previously been the chief feature of the daily musical life at cathedrals, churches, and colleges. Whole throngs of monastic and clerical musicians were essentially sent out to compete with lay musicians, seeking patrons and busking to earn their keep.

Under Mary, for five years, Mass music reappeared along with the official restoration of Catholicism. But as soon as Elizabeth took the throne, it was banned again. In the new type of service established during Elizabeth’s reign, Latin motets could be used as church music, along with the new form, the anthem. You’ll want to read my blog post on William Byrd (1543-1623) when I publish it for more on that subject. He’s quite a character!

If you want to build your own MP3 player full of the same music Henry would have heard, you’ll want to search for music by the fellows in this article. Here. I’ll make it easier:

·         Thomas Ashewell (c1478-c1513)
·         William Byrd (1543-1623)
·         Richard Davy (c1465-1538)
·         Josquin des Prez (c1440-1541)
·         Guillaume Dufay (c1400-1474)
·         Richard Edwardes (1525-1566)
·         Robert Fayrfax (1461-1521)
·         Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)
·         Henry VIII (1491-1547)
·         John Lloyd (d.1523)
·         Nicholas Ludford (c1490–1557)
·         John Merbecke (c1510-c1585)
·         Johannes Ockeghem (c1420-1497)
·         John Redford (c1486–1547)
·         Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585)
·         John Taverner (1495-1545)
·         Christopher Tye (c1505-c1572)

Melanie Spiller is a medieval musician in San Francisco, California. She’s a bit of a chant-aholic, sings against anything with a drone from the refrigerator’s hum to a leaf blower to a shruti box, and is looking for a publisher (or two) for her books on Hildegard von Bingen (fiction and non-fiction). Her blog focuses mostly on the history of music. She’d love to help you figure out what your characters were listening to or what kind of instrument they would have played. Her blogs are collected on her website ( and publish approximately weekly at


The Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music, edited by Stanley Sadie. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1994.
A Dictionary of Early Music, from the Troubadours to Monteverdi, by Jerome and Elizabeth Roche. Oxford University Press, New York, 1981.
A History of Western Music, by J. Peter Burkholder, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2010.
The Concise Oxford History of Music, by Gerald Abraham. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1979.
The Pelican History of Music, Volume 2: Renaissance and Baroque, edited by Alec Robertson and Denis Stevens. Penguin Books, Middlesex, 1973.
Music Manuscripts, by Arthur Searle. The British Library, London, 1987.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My New Clothes

by Anne Barnhill

I'm as excited as a school girl!  Why?  Because my Tudor dress, the outer garment, is finished.  Well, almost finished.  The miraculous seamstress, my dear friend from high school, Becky Thacker, must make sure the length is right.  My skirts will not be quite as long as the pattern indicated because I don't want to fall and break a hip while giving readings in my ensemble.  Besides, if I tripped, I might ruin the dress!

When my first book came out in January 2012, (At the Mercy of the Queen) Becky had completed the undergarments and I wore those to promote the book.  It was like that nightmare where you appear in front of people in just your skivvies--let's just say I lived the dream.

Here I am in shift, petticoat, bum roll:

After putting all that stuff on, I definitely see why one might need a lady-in-waiting.  I asked the lucky bookstore person to help (assuming this was a female) if Ms. Thacker couldn't attend me.  Often, there was great entertainment in the 'dressing room' as we struggled to get everything in place.

I expect the dress with be just as challenging.  Plus, I'll have all that underwear on, too. 

Thus far, I have not tried the dress on, but over a year ago, I fell in love with the materials Becky, her sewing advisor, Lisa, and I selected.  I had no idea the dress would be heavy, but I'm told the sleeves alone weigh a ton.

While the outer dress may not be as spot-on, historically speaking, as re-enactors might wish, it will serve my purposes well.  I want to bring listeners back to the 16th century and I believe visual aids help.  I've devised a little talk about the importance of clothing at Court; how, in those days, clothes really did 'make the man.'  Courtiers invested in silks and satins to impress the monarch, the way we might invest in real estate in the hopes of filling our portfolios.  If a courtier could catch the king's (or queen's) eye, establish a relationship and come into royal favor, that courtier would find his purse growing fatter and his future looking brighter.

I'm convinced my new dress would definitely be met with approval.  I used a color chart from The Tudor Tailor by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies to select my cloth and tried to get materials that would have been used in the 1500's by a noblewoman.  I also took into consideration the extremely hot North Carolina summer: no heavy velvets or damasks for me. 

When my second novel, Queen Elizabeth's Daughter, is released next March, I hope to keep cool over the summer, dress and all.

Here's the final product:

I can't wait to try it on!

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Delicious Sense of History at The Lord Leycester Hospital

by Anne O'Brien

Anyone of an historical turn of mind visiting Warwick will automatically make Warwick Castle their first port of call. It is without doubt a marvelous site. But for me, the Lord Leycester Hospital should take priority as a unique historical and architectural gem.

The name hospital is used in its ancient sense of 'a charitable institution for the housing and maintenance of the needy, infirm or aged.' It was established by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester in 1571, as a retirement home for old soldiers disabled in the service of Elizabeth I. It takes the name Leycester from the original spelling of Leicester's name in his will.

But the building has a continuous, well-documented history from a much earlier date. The original chapel of St James the Great was built in 1123 over the West gate into Warwick, but most of what we see today is from the fifteenth century when the United Guilds of Warwick moved to the site and the whole was rebuilt under the patronage of the Earls of Warwick. After Leicester's death without a direct heir, it became the property of Sir Philip Sidney, the celebrated poet and soldier. His descendants have been patrons of the Hospital until the present day.

The true miracle is that this building has survived at all. When the Great Fire of Warwick swept through the town in 1694, it wrought havoc with the medieval timber framed buildings. Today it is easy to follow its route. The buildings approaching the Hospital along High Street are constructed in stone and brick, showing the path of destruction of the fire driven by a strong southwesterly wind. Miraculously the fire stopped just before it reached the Hospital.

Today the The Lord Leycester's Hospital is open to visitors and is a delight, a visual feast, but there are some aspects that particularly draw the eye and the imagination. There is no electric lighting in the beautiful chapel. Every weekday morning (except Mondays) the Brethren who still live in the Hospital gather there for prayers in exactly the same wording as laid down by Robert Dudley in 1571. Such a breath of history! Because there was some renovation in the 19th Century, there is also a lovely window by the pre-Raphaelite artist, William Morris, who also designed the altar hangings.

The Great Hall is superb, dating from 1383. Particularly fine is the beamed roof. What a superb place to hold a wedding reception, a concert or a dance. Any opportunity to spend time in this room with such a sense of history would be perfect ...

The Guildhall was for me the star of the show, built in 1450 by Richard Neville, the 'Kingmaker' Earl of Warwick, as a private chamber for the Guilds to meet and carry out business. There are mementos here of the visit of James I to the room, but it is the Warwick connection that is so strong. The structure of the room is magnificent, and so is the original table around which the Guild members sat. And you can actually sit at it and touch it ...

Entering the Courtyard is striking. The gallery that faces the doorway is decorated with shields depicting the devices of families associated with the Hospital over the past 450 years, including of course the bear and ragged staff. It is an opportunity simply to stand and stare.

And then if sustenance is needed, a visit to the Brethren's Kitchen is a must. This is where the Brethren ate together until 1966 when the Hospital was provided with self-contained flats. Now it caters for the exhausted visitor. The oak cupboard from Kenilworth is said to have once belonged to Elizabeth I, and there is a framed piece of embroidery by Amy Robsart, the first ill-fated wife of Robert Dudley, to admire as you drink a cup of tea.

What a splendid place it is. What a sad loss it would have been if the 1694 Fire had continued to sweep through Warwick. Whatever you do in Warwick, make time for The Lord Leycester's Hospital.  I defy you to be disappointed!

Anne O'Brien is the author of The Virgin Widow, Queen Defiant, The King's Concubine and The Forbidden Queen.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

British Florida

by Lauren Gilbert

It’s hard to imagine Florida as a British colony.  It seems almost an impossibility.  Yet from 1763 to 1783, Florida was in fact a British colony.  And  it all started in Carolina...

The Spanish were in Florida as early as 1513 and built St. Augustine.  However in 1586, Queen Elizabeth’s loyal sailor (and pirate) Sir Francis Drake plundered St. Augustine and burned it to the ground. Of course the Spanish rebuilt and established further towns as missionaries converted indigenous people to Catholicism and settlers came.  

It is important to note that the Spanish had claimed Carolina, but abandoned the Carolina coast to focus on Florida in approximately 1587.   In 1670, the English established the colony of Carolina and built Charles Town.  However when South Carolina’s charter fixed the border of the colony south of St Augustine, it was inevitable that there would be trouble.  

Throughout the 17th century, English settlers in Virginia and Carolina pressed southwards into Georgia and Florida, while the French were pressing eastwards.   British plantations owners had their eyes on the lush lands available for the taking further south.  In 1677, the Apalachee Indians allied with the English.  Finally, things came somewhat to a head in 1702 when English Colonel James Moore and his Indian allies destroyed the town of St. Augustine.  However, they could not destroy the fort, Castillo de San Marcos.  Florida remained in Spanish hands.

In 1704, England’s Indian allies went into Florida and destroyed various mission towns.   Repeated British attacks finally resulted in the capture of St. Augustine in 1740.  Throughout this period, Spain offered freedom to slaves, servants and other runaways who came to Florida and converted to Catholicism.  The Spanish did not forbid the retrieval of a runaway slave; they simply would not assist in any way, nor would they pay any sort of remuneration for the loss of the slave.  Needless to say, the English colonists, particularly the plantation owners, were angered by this situation. 

Between 1754-1763, the Seven Years’ War occurred, which was arguably a world war in that it affected Europe, India, West Africa, the Philippines, and North and Central America due to conflicting trade and colonial goals.  As a result of this war, in 1762-63, Spain traded Florida to England in exchange for control of Havana, Cuba, which the British had captured during this conflict.  Almost the entire Spanish population left, taking a significant number of the indigenous people with them.  In 1763, in what became East Florida, the Kings Road was built to encourage trade and settlement.  The plantation system was brought to Florida during this period.

In Volusia County, for example, the lieutenant governor of Florida, John Moultrie, a planter from Carolina, experienced some success with indigo and sugar.  Other crops brought to Florida included rice, mulberry trees for silk and grapes for wine.  The British divided Florida into two colonies: East Florida with the capitol St. Augustine and West Florida with the capitol Pensacola.  Even the Keys were subject to continued negotiation: Spain tried to claim that the Keys (Cayos) were actually part of Cuba.  However, Britain pursued its claim with assistance from Bermuda and Bahama.

When the American colonies declared independence, Florida remained loyal to Great Britain; raids on the American south were launched from Florida.  Florida was a staging ground for English troops invading the southern colonies.  

In Nassau Co. Florida, a unit of the American troops under Col. John Baker attempted a raid in East Florida which resulted in a disastrous defeat and surrender to the British on May 17, 1777.  In 1779, the Spanish entered the fray as an ally of the French.  They took advantage of the situation and captured Pensacola from the British in 1781.  

In 1783, the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War.  As a result of the treaty, all of Florida was returned to Spain.  The English residents of Florida had not foreseen that possibility and were dismayed at the prospect of Spanish rule.  As a result, most returned finally to England.  Florida remained a Spanish possession until the signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819, when Spain ceded Florida to the United States effective 1821.

For more information, check out:
History of Florida.
“English Settlers A History of Florida.”  1904. EXPLORING FLORIDA. “Florida of the British”.

“Florida Becomes A State.”
A Comparative Timeline of General American History and Florida History, 1492 to 1823.”

Arnade, Charles.  “Florida Keys, English or Spanish in 1763?”
Illustration: 1763 Gibson Map of East and West Florida.  Wikimedia Commons:.
Lauren Gilbert is the author of HEYERWOOD: A Novel.  She lives in Florida with her husband, and is working on another novel which is coming out soon.Visit her website HERE: