Many people read historical fiction to escape to another place and time. Obviously I like the Tudors the same way I like ice cream, which is a lot. I find a commonality of existence as do many authors who set their stories in ye olde Englande. Why?
Think about it: literature is escapist. It is the only vehicle that can instantly transport you via your imagination to another time, an alternate universe, or a place much more depressing and heinous than where we are today. England isn’t simply close in geographical terms, it is also similar in language, mannerisms, culture, habits, and dress to America minus the whole melting pot thing. Even that isn’t quite accurate.
Tudor England was no stranger to non-caucasian complexions and cultures. (See, http://www.historyextra.com/feature/missing-tudors-black-people-16th-century-england) Native Americans were brought to the English Court as well, although whether it was voluntary remains to be seen. Henry VIII and his father had an African American “trumpeter” in their house band. Remember, the Moors ruled Spain and Portugal during this time. They heralded immense cultural immersion for any European traders and their contributions to the northern European culture cannot be underestimated.
Oh that’s so dry, right? No, not if you open your mind. When I write about Henry VIII, I try to imagine what he was like as a person, not the satirical portrayal of his “personality” by his courtiers and palace spin doctors. How did he live? Did he wear fragrances? How did he shave, brush his teeth, and engage in other day-to-day activities? What was it like to have that power?
Think about it: do you know what Anne Boleyn looked like? Is the alleged portrait of her accurate? I don’t think it is. It is colored by how she was perceived by the court at the time. That perception was far from flattering. Meantime, poor rejected Anne of Cleves was portrayed in a painted miniature as not half bad. She shows up, Henry sees her and screams, “I like her not!” The portrait had been, ahem, airbrushed a la Renaissance.
Do I believe that happened? You bet. He was a major Donald Trump when it came to female appearances. That is well documented and I can accept it as fact given that he was king and, under the rules of the time, God on earth; equal to Il Papa, the Pope, but never to la papa, a potato, although he vaguely resembled one in the end.
People in the court of Henry VIII were crazy. Think of the unthinkable when you consider what their priority was, especially when the Court was on the move (no pun intended): how to dispose of human waste. Good God, thousands of people in one building complex for months at a time. London was a festering sewer of incomprehensible filth until their sewer system was created.
Henry VIII was plagued by waste around him, but he was clever enough to engineer the water supplies at his palaces to account for all that “pastime with good company” without overflowing the honey bucket if you know what I mean. In fact, he had a full bathroom with hot and cold running water in Hampton Court Palace. Shudder at the thought. No town or city today could exist without adequate methods to dispose of human waste, period. Ick. It remains a grave health concern today, particularly in third world countries and certain portions of the United States.
Tudors loved to dance and jam out, too. Their clubs were the homes of the nobility and, of course, court. People ran about, got drunk, and misbehaved. Their court gossipers and tattlers, who were never scarce, were the facebook of the time. They read beautiful books and painted. They looked at the same stars we admire today and went to bed on soft down or coarser stuff. The materials they used in their clothing (the nobility) were exquisite even by today’s standards.
Yes, in the end, history does repeat itself albeit in ways we might not perceive right away. That’s why I love the Tudors and history in general. If you view it as a human being, you leave your bias of year markers behind and vicariously experience the pleasures of way back when, whatever they may be.
Although “The Tudors” was pretty hilarious, I loved the dance scenes. They’ll give you a feel for the time, dress, and dance above all.