Terrible Tudors

March 22, 2014

terrible tudorsThrough Terrible Tudors I entered Terry Deary‘s world and, to this day, this book is still the one I have enjoyed the most. However, I’m sure there are many Horrible Histories volumes that await to be read and reviewed, and I bet those will be as fascinating as the one I’m going to talk about here.

The Terrible Tudor timeline stretches from the end of The War of the Roses to the last day of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign. Besides the Tudor dynasty, you will read about life and death in Tudor times, including awful doctors and remedies that didn’t work, school and rules, crimes, thieves’ slang and punishments, “terrible Shakespeare” (this is how Terry Deary gratulates the English bard), theatre, the mystery of Christopher Marlowe’s sudden disappearance, witches and superstitions, strange food and endless banquets, Sir Francis Drake and the Spanish Armada, life for women and so on.

Before revealing an interesting aspect I found in the chapter entitled Terrible Shakespeare, I cannot restrain myself from writing some peculiar facts about Queen Elizabeth I (or Gloriana, a term my headmaster taught me in high school). The English Sovereign was very ugly, had very bad teeth, a quick-temper and bathed only four times a year.  Are you surprised in a bad way? Oh, but her majesty was cleaner than King Louis XIV, who took only three baths per year.

Now let’s leave the filth behind – there’s a lot of that in Tudor England anyway – and return to Shakespeare. I won’t bore you with Shakespearean insults, because you might already know some of them from the multitude of articles found on the internet about this subject; but I’m sure that you haven’t heard of Shakespeare’s curse. Yes, King Tut is not alone when it comes to curses. Some people speculate that plays unknown to us might be buried with Shakespeare’s body, but nobody had the courage to open the tomb and put the curse to the test. Have I stirred your interest a little?  Here is the epitaph the bard wrote himself:


In the end, Terry Deary asks the reader if one wants to live in Tudor times. Are we thankful that we live in a different and better era or do we agree with the history books that the Tudor period was the “Golden Age” of Good Queen Bess and Jolly Old Henry VIII? (Loc. 1540)

Terrible Tudors toilets

Terrible Tudors: Elizabeth I’s Christmas

by Alina Andreea Cătărău

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