Westminster Abbey

The Consecration of Westminster Abbey. December 28, 1065.

Before either pagan temple or Christian church was erected on it, the site of Westminster Abbey was a place of marsh and forest. From its dense bushes of thorn derived its ancient name of Thorn Ey (the Island of Thorns). According to monastic tradition, the earliest building on the Isle of Thorns was the Roman temple of Apollo, destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 154. King Edward I the Confessor was ultra-religious with a special devotion to Saint Peter. Before he acceeded the throne, he had vowed that he would make a pilgrimage to the apostle‘s tomb in Rome, and soon after his coronation he announced his intention of keeping his oath. The Great Council was afraid of the dangers of the journey and a deputation was therefore sent to Leo IX to persuade him to release Edward from his vow...

The Coronation of Bloody Mary. October 1, 1553.

Mary I, also known as Mary Tudor, was the queen of England from July 1553 until her death. She is best known for her vigorous attempt to reverse the English Reformation, which had begun during the reign of her father, Henry VIII. Her attempt to restore to the Church the property confiscated in the previous two reigns was largely thwarted by parliament, but during her five-year reign, Mary had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian persecutions, which led to her denunciation as “Bloody Mary” by her Protestant opponents. Mary was the only child of Henry VIII by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to survive to adulthood. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded their father in 1547 at the age of nine. When Edward became mortally ill in 1553, he att...

Cromwell´s exhumation and execution. January 30, 1661.

In December 1648, in an episode that became known as Pride’s Purge, a troop of soldiers headed by Colonel Thomas Pride forcibly removed from the Long Parliament all those who were not supporters of the Grandees in the New Model Army and the Independents. Thus weakened, the remaining body of MPs, known as the Rump Parliament, agreed that Charles should be tried on a charge of treason. Cromwell was by that time in the north of England, dealing with Royalist resistance, when these events took place, but then returned to London. On the day after Pride’s Purge, he became a determined supporter of those pushing for the King’s trial and execution, believing that killing Charles was the only way to end the civil wars. Cromwell approved Thomas Brook’s address to the House of...

Queen Elizabeth. 15 January, 1559.

Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who was executed two-and-a-half years after Elizabeth’s birth. Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII was annulled, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Her half-brother, Edward VI, ruled until his death in 1553, bequeathing the crown to Lady Jane Grey and ignoring the claims of his two half-sisters, Elizabeth and the Roman Catholic Mary, in spite of statute law to the contrary. Edward’s will was set aside and Mary became queen, deposing Lady Jane Grey. During Mary’s reign, Elizabeth was imp...

Charles I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland. March 27, 1625.

Charles was born into the House of Stuart as the second son of King James VI of Scotland, but after his father inherited the English throne in 1603, he moved to England, where he spent much of the rest of his life. He became heir apparent to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on the death of his elder brother, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1612. An unsuccessful and unpopular attempt to marry him to the Spanish Habsburg princess Maria Anna culminated in an eight-month visit to Spain in 1623 that demonstrated the futility of the marriage negotiations. By 1624, James was growing ill, and as a result was finding it difficult to control Parliament. By the time of his death in March 1625, Charles and the Duke of Buckingham had already assumed de facto control of the kingdom. The...

Henry VIII of England and Anne of Cleves – July 9, 1540 AD

Henry Tudor was born on June 28, 1491, the third child and second son of King Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York. His childhood was a steady stream of appointments and titles. Before his third birthday in 1493, he was appointed Constable of Dover Castle and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Within the next year, he was appointed Earl Marshal of England and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and inducted to the Order of the Bath. The day after being in the Order, he was made Duke of York. About a month later, he was made Warden of the Scottish Marshes. In 1495, he was appointed to the Order of the Garter. Despite all of education and titles, his older brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales, was expected to be crowned King of England. In 1502, Arthur died suddenly of “English sweating sickness”, le...

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