This talk will take the audience behind closed doors to explore the private lives, loves and scandals of the most celebrated royal dynasty in history.
Here, the Tudors led a very different life to the one that most of their subjects witnessed. It was vital for a king or queen to show no vulnerability to the outside world: any sign of frailty, illness or even the natural process of ageing had to be disguised by a mask of invincibility. If this mask slipped, then so might their dynasty. But their closest attendants knew the truth. They saw the tears shed by the seemingly implacable Henry VII upon the death of his son Arthur. They knew the real cause of ‘Bloody’ Mary’s protracted – and, ultimately, fruitless – pregnancies. And they saw the ‘crooked carcass’ beneath Elizabeth I’s carefully applied makeup, gowns and accessories.
In exploring the private lives of the Tudors, Tracy Borman will interweave familiar tales, such as Henry VIII’s turbulent affair with the ‘Great Whore’, Anne Boleyn, and the endlessly debated question of their daughter Elizabeth I’s virginity, with lesser–known episodes such as Henry VII’s courtship of his own daughter–in–law, and the lingering, excruciating death of his grandson, Edward VI. She will also reveal other aspects of their lives behind closed doors: what they ate, how they dressed, their hobbies and friends, health and hygiene.
Dr Borman is an expert on the Tudors and uniquely placed to explore their private lives. Her highly acclaimed book, Elizabeth’s Women, was Book of the Week on Radio 4, and her latest biography, Thomas Cromwell: the untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant, was a Sunday Times bestseller. As well as being a writer and historian, Tracy is joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. She therefore has unparalleled access to the archives, collections and palaces in which so much of the narrative takes place, notably Hampton Court and the Tower of London.