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The Tudor Tournament

Katherine Howard vs. Margaret Pole AND Margaret Tudor vs. Robert Devereux

Only a week’s worth of first-round competition remains. Beginning next week, the Tudor Tournament will move far more rapidly, with Round Two being conducted over two days, and the remaining Rounds taking place in a single day. All of today’s contestants are fairly well-known – who will you choose?

Katherine Howard vs. Margaret Plantagenet

Katherine Howard

Katherine Howard, Queen of England

Date: (Disputed) – February 13, 1542

Strengths: As a member of the Howard family, and as the granddaughter of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, Katherine had powerful aristocratic connections. She was at the right place at the right time when Anne of Cleves arrived at the English court – or so it initially seemed. With little interest in his new queen, Henry’s eye traveled to Katherine, who was one of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting. The annulment of Henry’s fourth marriage led to Katherine becoming the king’s fifth wife.

Weaknesses: Katherine was not terribly well-educated, and a lax eye was kept on her while she was the charge of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. Couple a youthful pre-Henry romance with an illicit relationship while she was queen, and a recipe for disaster followed. The knowledge of the queen’s relationships, both prior to and during her marriage to the king, led to her eventual imprisonment and beheading.

Manner of death: Beheaded


Margaret Plantagenet

Margaret Pole (Plantagenet), Countess of Salisbury

Date: August 14, 1473 – May 27, 1541

Strengths: Margaret survived the War of the Roses and was married to Sir Richard Pole (likely as a check against any attempts for others to rally about her). She found favor after Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and her family prospered due to her wise management of funds and lands.

Weaknesses: Margaret’s enjoyment of the king’s favor fluctuated throughout the years. While serving as Princess Mary’s governess during “The Great Matter”, she refused to return the princess’s jewels upon the declaration that Mary was illegitimate. She also offered to act as Mary’s governess without pay. Margaret would survive this encounter with Henry, but she was eventually accused of secretly supporting both the return of Catholicism and Mary Tudor’s claim to the throne. Eventually attainted, she was executed after two and half-years of imprisonment.

Manner of death: Beheaded


Margaret Tudor vs. Robert Devereux

Margaret Tudor

Margaret Tudor, Queen Consort of Scotland

Date: November 28, 1489 – October 18, 1541

Strengths: Margaret was married to James IV in order to create an alliance between Scotland and England. When her brother, Henry VIII, went to war with France, Margaret’s husband honored his alliance with the French and set out for war. When James IV died in battle, Margaret initially acted as Regent for her young son, James V.

Weaknesses: Margaret’s blood ties to Henry VIII did not make her a popular choice for Regent. She allied with House Douglas by marrying Archibald Douglas. Politically, this wounded her, as it allowed her to be replaced as regent and opened up proceedings to have her children removed from her care. She initially attempted to keep her sons with her, but was eventually forced to leave the children with the new Regent, the 2nd Duke of Albany. Throughout her life, she was frustrated by two unhappy marriages – one to Archibald Douglas, the other to Henry Stewart. Each came with unfaithful husbands and political complications. Likewise, while being the King of England’s sister and King of Scotland’s mother gave her a unique role in Anglo-Scots relations, it was a wearying position that often placed her at odds with either her brother or her son.

Manner of death: Natural


Robert Devereux

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

Date: November 10, 1565 – February 25, 1601

Strengths: Robert enjoyed being both a favorite and a relative (through the Boleyn side) of Elizabeth I. He gained experience as a soldier under his stepfather, Robert Dudley. He was the ideal courtier, with a gift for words, flattery, and debate.

Weaknesses: Robert would overstep his position in the Queen’s eyes. While his lively nature and devotion to courtly behavior initially won him favor, it would also lead to his downfall. He greatly detested the Queen’s secretary, Robert Cecil, and made no secret of it. On more than one occasion, he was disrespectful to the Queen in public (public being the key word, as private displays often did not affect public perception). He failed in his appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and disobeying orders that he not return to England, presented himself to the Queen. For this, he was placed under house arrest. He was later stripped of his office and income. This led to the Essex Rebellion, in which Robert led his followers to London to force an audience with Elizabeth. For this, he was labeled a traitor. Robert was later captured and sentenced to beheading for his actions.

Manner of death: Beheaded



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