Key Stage 3 History: The Tudors: 7: Elizabeth I – Cousins at War

In today’s Key Stage 3 History blog an Oxford Home Schooling tutor looks at the life of Mary Queen of Scots.

One of my most unhappy moments as Queen was caused by my own cousin. She behaved in the most appalling way! It makes my blood boil just thinking about her treachery! My own cousin! I’m talking, of course, about Mary, Queen of Scots.

There was part of me that felt sorry for her. She had a very troubled past – unlucky in love. Her first husband was a weak little thing. She was still a teenager when he died. She then married a man called Darnley. He was a horrible man! An alcoholic. He used to get in fights all the time. He was killed in a house fire. Mary always denied any involvement in it, but I have my doubts. Darnley treated her badly and she was in love with another man, Bothwell. There has been talk that they planned Darnley’s death so they could marry.

Anyway, whilst all this was going on, Mary was Queen of Scotland. They really didn’t like her. In fact they hated her so much that she had to leave the country! Her little baby, James, became King, poor little mite.

Mary asked me for help. I honestly didn’t know what to do. She was my cousin and a fellow Queen so I felt it was my duty to help her, to offer my protection. But on the other hand, she was a Catholic. My advisers kept saying to me, “Majesty, what if she is part of a Catholic plot to overthrow you?” They seemed to be worried that the Catholics were using her to get close to me so that they could take my throne.

So I did the only thing I could. I offered her protection in one of my castles – but I made it into a prison. Oh, she lived in all the luxury a Queen could expect, but she was constantly watched, all her post read. I took no chances.

Twenty years we carried on like that. But then the rumour mill started up again. Catholic plots to overthrow me were being uncovered. And then Mary’s name kept coming up. Eventually, one of my closest advisers, Walsingham, found evidence that Mary was directly involved in one of the plots.

I had no choice. I had her executed. I didn’t want to but no one challenges me and gets away with it.

Penny Brooks

Tutor

For more information on home schooling visit the Oxford Home Schooling website, or contact a student adviser who will be happy to discuss your home education options with you.

In blog 6 of our Key Stage 3 History series an Oxford Home Schooling tutor writes about Elizabeth I’s religious reforms from her point of view.

Now, I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, but I think it’s safe to say that I have solved the religious problems that have worried this country for the last ten years. I’m a Protestant and I was adamant when I became Queen that England would be a Protestant country. But I’m no fool. If all this religious upheaval has taught us anything, it’s that the basic beliefs of Protestantism and Catholicism are the same – we’re all Christians at the end of the day.

So I found a middle ground. I introduced a ‘religious settlement’. I made England Protestant, but I allow plenty of Catholic practices to keep everyone happy. I insist that church services are in English instead of Latin, but I do allow churches to be decorated.

Of course there are some people foolish enough not to be happy. Some people are so devoutly Protestant that they think I haven’t gone far enough in making England Protestant. These people are called Puritans. They want me to get rid of all Catholic practices. They seriously annoy me, but they aren’t a threat to me. I know they won’t challenge me as Queen so I’m not worried about them.

I am worried about Catholic opposition though. Especially from countries like Spain. Philip was not happy when Mary died and I became Queen because it meant his alliance with England was over. Several countries in Europe would love to challenge me and force me to make England Catholic again. Most of the time I’m confident in my strength as Queen. But sometimes I worry and start to see Catholic plots wherever I turn. I have ministers constantly watching and looking for any plots so that they can be dealt with immediately. No one will challenge me and get away with it lightly!

But overall, I believe that the people of my country are happy with my religious changes. They know that they can follow their own beliefs, within reason, and I’ve been Queen for so long that a Catholic England is hard to remember. Yes, overall I think I can call myself a successful monarch when it comes to religion.

Penny Brooks

Tutor

For more information on home schooling visit the Oxford Home Schooling website, or contact a student adviser who will be happy to discuss your home education options with you.

In the fifth blog in our  Key Stage 3 History series on the Tudors, we look at the life of Mary I though the eyes of her sister Elizabeth.

Key Stage 3 History: The Tudors: 5: Mary I – The Queen with Blood on her Hands

I never really got on well with my sister, Mary. We spent a lot of time together as children, but the age gap was too great for us to be good friends. And the story of our mothers was always between us. She never forgave my mother for replacing hers as Queen.

But the biggest difference that divided us was religion. Mary was a devout Catholic. From the day she became Queen she set about making everyone in England go back to Catholicism. She reversed all the changes that Father and Edward had made and anyone who refused to be Catholic was treated harshly. She even had 280 people burnt at the stake! This was a fairly common punishment, but Mary managed to make it her lasting legacy by being so narrow minded about it. In her mind it was simple – be a Catholic or die.

In many ways I feel sorry for Mary. Everyone remembers her as a bitter and twisted woman who never smiled or had a pleasant word for anyone. But she had a hard life really. Father rejected her when he divorced Catherine of Aragon and that hurt her a lot. And as an adult she had more than her fair share of misfortune. If I’m brutally honest, the problem was that she was not a pretty girl. (When I was really angry with her, I went so far as to say she was ugly!) Her, shall we say, poor looks meant that no one wanted to marry her.

Until she became Queen. Then suddenly in swept Philip. He was younger than her and the King of Spain. She fell in love with him at first sight. He wanted her for her money and to make England and Spain allies. But she was blind to the fact that he was using her. She was desperate for a baby. She wanted to have an heir so that when she died England would stay Catholic. She hated the fact that I was her heir until she had a child because I’m a Protestant. Anyway, she was so desperate for this baby that she really was quite irrational. She thought she was pregnant so many times – once she claimed she was for nearly two years and only admitted she wasn’t when it became too difficult to pretend any more.

Even when she was dying, Mary believed she was pregnant. But she wasn’t. She had a tumour in her stomach. She died slowly and painfully and became more bitter by the day. She tried to make me promise that I would leave England as a Catholic country, but I refused. I knew when I was Queen exactly what I was going to do.

Penny Brooks

Tutor

For more information on home schooling visit the Oxford Home Schooling website, or contact a student adviser who will be happy to discuss your home education options with you.

In the fourth blog in our Key Stage 3 History series an Oxford Home Schooling tutor looks at the life of Edward VI.

Key Stage 3 History: The Tudors: 4: Edward VI – the Child King

My father never got his wish for another son. And when he died, Edward was only nine years old. Imagine the scene. My father had changed hundreds of years of history and made England Protestant. Everyone had had to change with him. And a lot of people did not like it at all. Poor little Edward was a Protestant, but at the age of nine he wasn’t exactly in the position to rule the country and take control.

So England had a King, but he was really King in name only. The adults around him were the main leaders. They did rule England as a Protestant country, but they were self-serving, only interested in looking after themselves. They made no effort to make the people of England embrace Protestantism. They simply continued to force it on them. Although equally, no one who continued to be Catholic was treated badly as long as they practised quietly.

Poor little Edward never stood a chance. He was a weakling really, the runt of the litter as I heard many courtiers joke when they thought my father wasn’t listening. I very rarely saw him – we lived in different houses and only came together at Christmas or if Father thought something was important enough to demand both of us were with him. We wrote to each other, so I know that he inherited the Tudor intelligence, but he didn’t inherit the Tudor constitution – he was almost permanently ill.

Mind you, a lot of it was down to Father being overprotective of his only son. Edward only had to sneeze and Father had him confined to bed for a week. Still, Edward did get sick with alarming regularity and on one occasion it was genuinely life threatening. Father was beside himself with fear until we heard that Edward had pulled through.

But looking back now, I suppose it was inevitable that this boy-King was not going to reign for long. He just didn’t have the strength to survive. He died when he was just fourteen, from tuberculosis. And as he had no children, the heir to the throne was our big sister, Mary. And now my story takes a violent turn…

Penny Brooks

Tutor

For more information on home schooling visit the Oxford Home Schooling website, or contact a student adviser who will be happy to discuss your home education options with you.

Following our last series of Key Stage 3 History blogs on Medieval England, we return with a new series by an Oxford Home Schooling tutor on the Tudors.

Key Stage 3 History: The Tudors: 1: An Introduction to my Family

Oh, I’m so tired. It really is a lot harder than everyone thinks. They seem to think I sit on my throne having people wait on me hand and foot whilst I while away the hours in the lap of luxury. If only they knew the truth – I have constant meetings, I’m always being watched so I have to behave perfectly at all times. I’m on duty from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed.

Why are you looking like that? Oh, alright. I suppose I’ll admit it is very nice having people to do everything for you. My best ladies-in-waiting don’t even need to be asked to do something – they just know what I expect to be done and when they should do it. And I do get the best treatment from everyone. So it’s not all bad. Although it is true I am very tired. Someone had the cheek to suggest I was getting on in years earlier and that is why I have less energy than I used to. How dare they? I may be no spring chicken, but I match anyone.

Have you guessed who I am yet? I’ll give you some more clues. I’ve been Queen since 1558. I’m the last of the true Tudor monarchs. I refuse to be told what to do by anyone and I rule this country with determination. That’s right – I’m Elizabeth I.

You probably already know that my father was the great Henry VIII, one of the most famous Kings this country will ever know. I had an older sister and a younger brother. Because men always inherit over women, my brother, Edward, became King after my dear father passed away. But Edward was not long for this world either and when he died without children, Mary was the next in line for the throne because she was older than me. But she died with no children either so I finally became Queen.

Now, I’ve reached the age where I like to talk about my past and my background. So I thought I’d share my story with you, the story of the mighty Tudors…

Penny Brooks

Tutor

For more information on home schooling visit the Oxford Home Schooling website, or contact a student adviser who will be happy to discuss your home education options with you.

The last blog in our  Key Stage 3 History series takes a look at medieval monastic life.

Monks and Nuns

I knew it! I just knew the local monastery was up to no good! My husband has just got home from town with the gossip. Apparently, there are accusations flying around that the monks in the monastery are not living as they should. They have rich clothes, lots of good food and gallons of wine a day! Where are they getting the money you might ask! From us! We have to pay a tithe and the money is being spent on some so-called monks living it up and having a fine old time of it!

When monks and nuns are doing it properly, they have a terribly hard life. They have to get up at 1:30 in the morning to go to church. They can go back to bed afterwards, but they have to be up again at 5:00 for another church service. Then it’s a bit of breakfast before they go to work, then church, then work, then church. After lunch they pray again before they get a bit of free time. I’d sleep if it was me! Then it’s church again, work again, dinner, church again and bed time at 8:00. Every single day. For the whole of their lives. I’d go stark raving mad!

There are lots of different jobs for them to do. There’s working in the herb garden and making medicines (everyone goes to the monastery for help if they’re sick because we don’t have doctors), writing manuscripts (every book in the country is written by hand!), being in the choir, cooking… The list goes on.

And if the constant work and prayer wasn’t enough, a good monk or nun lives a very strict life. They aren’t allowed any personal possessions. They have to wear plain clothes made of the cheapest cloth. Laziness is seen as the ultimate sin so they have to be busy all the time. Most monasteries have a vow of silence as well – you are only allowed to talk if it is really necessary. (I’d never manage that! Can you imagine how much trouble I’d be in constantly?!)

I’d love to know if the stories in town are true. Are the monks really taking our tithe money to live the life of luxury when we can barely afford to pay the tithe in the first place? What a scandal! The gossip won’t go away from this one! I bet we’ll still be talking about this for years.

Penny Brooks

Tutor

Follow the link to find out more about our Key Stage 3 History course.

To find out more about home education visit the Oxford Home Schooling website or contact a Student Adviser.

In blog 9 in our Key Stage 3 History series we look at medieval beliefs.

What did Medieval People Believe about Heaven and Hell?

I have some sad news today. Old Mrs Miller from next door is really ill. It’s not likely she’ll live much longer. Still, she’s in her sixties, which is old in these times. She’s had a good life. When I saw her this morning she asked me to fetch her the priest. She wants him to give her the last rites while she can take part, to be sure she gets to Heaven.
We all really believe in Heaven and Hell. What we do during our lives determines where we end up. Sometimes it isn’t that clear cut and a person may go to purgatory. They may be there for hundreds of years, just waiting for God to decide whether they should go to Heaven or Hell.

I’ve decided I’m going to make sure I go straight to Heaven. There’s no way I’m hanging around in purgatory! There are four main ways that I can guarantee a straight passage. Firstly, I could buy my way. I could give the church a present, like some gold candlesticks or money. Then the priest will say some extra prayers for my soul to help me get to Heaven. But I can’t afford to do that.

Alternatively, I could go on a pilgrimage. If I travel to a holy place to pray, I’ll be ok. But I can’t do that either. A pilgrimage would take several weeks at least and I can’t leave for one day let alone any longer.

And I’m not going with my third option – I’m not becoming a nun! Monks and nuns always go straight to Heaven. But I couldn’t live in a convent for the rest of my life. What about my family? No, that option is best for young girls who don’t have responsibilities.

My final option is to buy a Pardon. All my sins will be forgiven so I don’t have to wait around in purgatory. But I can’t afford this either.

Well, I guess I have no options. I just have to be good all the time. If I go to church every Sunday and confess my sins to the priest and behave myself as much as I can, I might be in with a chance of Heaven. I’m sure the priests just use religion to keep us peasants in our places – why else are all the options only available to the rich?!

Penny Brooks

Tutor

Follow the link to find out more about our Key Stage 3 History course.

To find out more about home education visit the Oxford Home Schooling website or contact a Student Adviser.

In blog 8 of our Key Stage 3 History series we look at the role of the medieval church.

The Role of the Church

I’m all flustered! I’m flapping around like a headless chicken and achieving nothing! It’s Sunday morning. That means all of us have to be going to church and no one is ready. My husband is complaining his head hurts too much (serves him right for spending last night in the tavern!!!) and the children are complaining they are too tired (serves them right for playing so long last night!). But we all have to go and they aren’t moving!

Everything in the village revolves around the church. It’s the best building around. It’s bright and cheerful and the best place to meet up with everyone because we all go. There are the usual weddings, christenings and funerals, but we all go to Mass every Sunday without fail. You have to have a very good reason to be excused – a sore head definitely doesn’t count!

There are also fairs and fetes. When the lord gives us a day off, we all get together at the church for a bit of a party. Sometimes the lord even arranges for us all to have a feast, like when the harvest has been collected, or at Easter. Those are the best days. Lots of food and drink, some dancing, a good gossip with all my friends. The children love it too.

And we always know the priest is there if we have any troubles. He is probably the only person except the lord with any education in the village. We all go to him for advice if we don’t know what to do. Lucky for us our priest is friendly. He doesn’t mind what time we go knocking on his door.

It’s not all good though. We all have to pay a tithe to the priest. That means we have to give him ten per cent of everything we earn. That is a lot, especially when we have other taxes to pay as well. It doesn’t seem fair. Why should we give our hard earned money to the church? I’ve heard that in some areas the priests are corrupt and steal from the villagers. The peasants get poorer whilst the priests get rich and fat! So unfair. It shouldn’t be allowed. Thank goodness our priest seems to be above board.

Oh, finally, everyone is ready. I’d best get them out the door before one of them decides to hold us up again!

Penny Brooks

Tutor

Follow the link to find out more about our Key Stage 3 History course.

To find out more about home education visit the Oxford Home Schooling website or contact a Student Adviser.

 The sixth blog in our Key Stage 3 History series is about the Peasants’ Revolt.

Causes of the Peasants’ Revolt

Now, you know I’m not one for drama, but the whole world has gone mad! I never thought I’d see what I’ve seen in the last few days. The peasants are rebelling! All around Essex, Kent and London there are riots. People are being killed, houses and shops are being looted, buildings are being set on fire… It will be quite a clean-up operation I can tell you!

From what I’ve heard, there are several reasons for all this trouble. Some of the reasons started a while ago and have been building up. Do you remember I told you that a law was passed so that lords couldn’t put wages up after the Black Death? Well, that has annoyed a lot of peasants. Quite a few of them have managed to buy their freedom over the last few years and others want to be able to do the same. But even the Church is against peasants being free. The bishops are arguing that peasants shouldn’t be given freedom. Only because they want cheap labour to work on their lands, mind you.

All that built up tension as you can imagine. But things hit a real low point when the new King, Richard II (who is only ten years old!!!) introduced a Poll Tax. Everyone has to pay him 4d. Most of us can’t afford it. But if we don’t pay we’ll end up in prison. It’s the final straw for some peasants.

And now all this anger has been pulled together into violence because some peasant leaders have emerged. I’ve not seen them but I’ve heard they are out to get the King and will commit whatever violence necessary. There’s John Ball. He’s a priest, but only a poor one. He says the Church is too rich and he’s been travelling around the countryside encouraging peasants to rebel. And there’s Wat Tyler. Some say he’s always been a low life, stealing and helping pirates, but now he’s leading the revolt. He’s stirred things up so loads of peasants were riled enough to march to London and do all that damage.

Apparently, Richard II has arranged to meet Wat Tyler to find out what he wants and try to sort this mess out. I see trouble ahead!

Penny Brooks

Tutor

Follow the link to find out more about our Key Stage 3 History course.

To find out more about home education visit the Oxford Home Schooling website or contact a Student Adviser.

In the last blog in our Key Stage 3 History series we looked life in the country. In blog 5 we look at life in a Medieval town.

Life in Towns

You think life in the country is bad? It’s no better in the towns for us poor commoners. I have to go to the nearest town once a week for the market so I know what a terrible, stinking place it is. I’ve just got back now, but I just have to have a glass of ale before I fill you in. We can’t drink the water, you know. It’s always made into ale or wine to make it safe to drink.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the town. Well, I had a near miss with a chamber pot, I can tell you! Because there are no toilets in the houses, everyone does their business in a clay pot during the night. In the morning, they just throw it out the window into the street below. One was emptied today just as I walked past. Honestly, it missed me by inches, I was so busy watching where I was putting my feet on the disgusting floor. On market day, the animals are herded through the streets to the market and no one clears up their mess. Combine that with the emptied chamber pots and all the other rubbish everyone just throws out their front door and you can imagine the state of the paths! Rank doesn’t even begin to describe it!

Pretty much everyone makes their living at the market. The people who live in the town are generally the traders and craftspeople. It’s where we go to buy our candles, cloth, ribbon, any extra food…everything we can’t make ourselves basically. It’s really crowded on market days because everyone from nearby goes.

But you have to make sure you leave in time! The town has a wall built all the way around. There are three or four entrances which are sometimes guarded if there is trouble nearby. If the king is sending troops past, the guards are doubled! He has no care for the damage he causes, that man. Anyway, at dusk, the gates to the city are closed. No one goes in. No one goes out. You are stuck. So you have to have a care to make sure you are on the right side of the gates at dusk. I wouldn’t want to spend a night in one of those stinky places ever. It may be hard work in the country, but it’s a lot cleaner. Well, apart from all that mud…

Penny Brooks

Tutor

Follow the link to find out more about our Key Stage 3 History course.

To find out more about home education visit the Oxford Home Schooling website or contact a Student Adviser.

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