Life at the Tudor Court


The Pleasure Palace, Between Two Queens, By Royal Decree, At the King's Pleasure, The King's Damsel and Royal Inheritance by Kate Emerson are set at the courts of the Tudor monarchs from Henry VII through the first Queen Mary. This page is designed to give glimpses into the world of the novels and the real world of sixteenth-century England.

The royal palaces were many and varied. The painting at the top of this page shows Greenwich Palace from the Thames. Greenwich is the "pleasure palace" of the title of the first book in the series. The old name for it was Pleasance.

Below is a views of the Tower of London in Tudor Times. It, too, is an important setting in all of the novels, both as a prison and as a royal residence. While awaiting their coronation, the king (or queen) customarily lived in the royal apartments in the Tower of London.

Some of the other palaces that figure in the novels in this series are Eltham, Richmond, Westminster, and Whitehall. After a fire at Westminster Palace in 1512, there was no royal residence of note there until King Henry took York Place from Cardinal Wolsey and renamed it Whitehall. Whitehall then became "the king's place at Westminster" and is often called Westminster in records of the time. This leads, as you can imagine, to considerable confusion! Below is a view of the water gate at Whitehall.

Did you ever wonder how courtiers traveled from palace to palace? Often they went by water Below is one sort of boat courtiers used, this one part of a reenactment. That's "Henry VIII" being rowed down the Thames.


The map below shows a section of the Thames between Westminster on the west and Lambeth on the east. Whitehall is between Westminster and Charing Cross. The latter is depicted at the top of the map.


The Who's Who section of this website has mini-biographies of many of the women at court, but the anonymous subjects of paintings and sketches also create a picture of life at court. Take the unknown lady below. She was immortalized sometime in the 1520s or 1530s by Lucas Hornebolt. She's wearing the gable headdress so hated by Nan Bassett in Between Two Queens.


The portrait below show the sitter wearing a French hood, a much more comfortable and flattering headdress. The sketch is by Hans Holbein the Younger and is probably Mary Zouche, who was one of Nan Bassett's fellow maids of honor.


In Between Two Queens, for Queen Jane's funeral, another sort of attire was required. Below is a sketch showing mourning dress for a countess.



last updated 8/6/13