David Starkey Lecture Tour: “The King is Dead: Royal Death and Succession Under the Tudors”
05/31/2016 in Uncategorized
This isn’t of a “micro historical” nature but the Tudor historian Dr David Starkey is on a lecture tour with a lecture on “The King is Dead: Royal Death and Succession Under the Tudors.” I attended the lecture that David gave at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth on Saturday and it was very good. David only made one rude remark and was very complimentary about Suzannah Lipscomb and always addressed the audience as “Ladies and Gentlemen.” In his introduction he said that the Tudor monarchy was like being on a stage and using this analogy he said that in the lecture he would take the audience behind the scenes to the wings and dressing room in his exploration of the deaths of the five Tudor monarchs. David focused on the secrecy surrounding the deaths of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I as all had the announcements of their deaths delayed. In the case of Henry VII this involved the struggle between the leading church men and the lawyers, which delayed the proclamation of his death and of Henry VIII’s kingship by 48 hours. In contrast David said that Henry VIII’s own death was keep secret for 4 days, and he also discussed what he believes was the cause of Henry VIII’s death – septicaemia caused by the ulcer(s) on his leg – I’m not entirely convinced that this was the cause of Henry’s death. C.R. Chalmers & E.J. Chaloner, referring to documentary evidence have argued that the ulceration on Henry’s leg began in 1527 (Chalmers & Chaloner, J R Soc Med. 2009 Dec 1; 102(12): 514–517) and in an age where injuries often resulted in infection and then death due to the limited medical understanding about infection I would have thought that if Henry’s ulcer caused the development of septicaemia then it would have done so within a shorter time frame that was closer to the development of the ulcer in 1527 rather then 20 years later. After discussing Henry’s death, David moved on to consider the deaths of Edward VI and Elizabeth I.
Whilst David doesn’t practice history from the bottom up and his lecture wasn’t micro history, I found it an enjoyable event so thought I would share it with My-Parish.org, particularly as reflecting on the lecture has helped me to appreciate the wealth of documentary evidence that is available to the micro historian taking a bottom up approach David talked about the rule of law through parliament particularly in relation to the legality of Henry VIII’s will but whilst he had no reason to mention common law or the canon law (even though he referred to both leading churchmen such as Cardinal John Fisher and to the struggle between the church and the lawyers), his omission of these two types of law could give the impression to the audience that there was only Parliamentary Law during the Tudor period.
Afterwards in the bar David kindly consented to a photo with me.