I know it’s not Tuesday, but I wanted to kick this blog off anyway!
Why is it that so much of history – and particularly Tudor history, is about the Kings, Queens and people of the Courts? Yes, I know how fascinating they were; such topics as the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, the marital shenanigans of Henry VIII, the career of Thomas Cromwell – but for me, the real interest is in the social history of the every-day common people of Tudor England.
What was daily life like for a Yeoman, or agricultural worker? What happened in the tavern of an evening? How did the seasons govern the daily routines? And most of all – how did religion affect every aspect of Tudor life?
I think that the focus on the Sovereigns and their Courts means we expect that the common populace swung ‘en mass’ with each shift of the Crown – from Henry VIII and Edward’s Protestantism to Mary’s reactionary Catholicism, then back under Elizabeth. But is the truth that the common people who had grown up with Catholicism didn’t generally accept ‘the new religion’ – and simply tried to keep to their known ways and rituals? The split from Rome and Cromwell’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, two events which effectively deconstructed religion at a local level, provoked a powerful backlash in the Pilgrimage of Grace of 1536-7. And there’s the support that Mary enjoyed from the common people in 1553 when she sought to enforce her claim to the throne over the Protestant Lady Jane Grey.
So I will be focussing in this blog on daily Tudor life, and where the big events of State do make it into the blog, it will be as a catalyst to social and religious changes at the level of the common people.
Please feel free to agree or disagree, and to contribute to the conversation!