The Tudor Roses

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The Rose Blog

A Call for Intellectual Honesty

Today we host a guest article from Katherine Marcella who after reading a recent article from The Telegraph voiced her concerns over it's accuracy on our Facebook page. After reading her comments we thought why not give her a platform where she could fully explain these concerns and have her voice heard. To this end we invited her to write a guest post for our blog and this is what you will find below. Some may find it controversial but we shall never decide not to post anything that others have said as everyone is entitled to their opinions and as long as there is evidence to go with the arguements anyone puts forward we will be happy to publish them. These opinions are solely hers and we have in no way influenced her or guided her as to what to write. We hope you enjoy reading Katherine's article and appreciate her passion for Charles Brandon, the real Charles Brandon.


Charles Brandon


It's all too common to come across ridiculous articles in newspapers these days, even ones about the Tudors. But the snarky little article Jousting secret explains how Charles Brandon rose in the court of Henry VIII. by 'Science Editor' Sarah Knapton that appeared in The Telegraph last week is in a class all of its own.

The large photo of a semi-bare chested Henry Cavill pasted front and center of the article signals just what demographic this is aimed at -- and its not serious scholars of the 16th century. So I tried not to pay it too much attention.


Henry Cavill
Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon in BBC's The Tudors Photo: SONY


The article itself, not surprisingly, is full of lies and half-truths, but there is something more at work here that troubles me deeply. I will get to that, but first I want to just briefly dispel a few of the idiocies about Charles Brandon.

The article purports to be original research by one Emma Levitt, a Ph.D. student from the University of Huddersfield. She is dismissive of Charles, saying "The only thing he is any use at is jousting. This is something that has been completely overlooked."

Both sentences are lies. Let's take the last one first. Overlooked? No. This has been well-covered before, most notably in Steven Gunn's 1988 book, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, c. 1484-1545, based on his earlier Ph.D. dissertation work, which is where Levitt probably got her information and certainly where she got the idea. As this is just a short newspaper article, I will give her the benefit of the doubt on how much work, if any, she has done on her own. Whatever that may be, the topic has hardly been "completely overlooked."

Levitt goes on to claim that Brandon let Henry VIII win at jousting -- probably true -- but the headline of the article claims that is the only reason Charles rose at court -- blatantly untrue.


Duke of Suffolk

His Grace The Duke of Suffolk, detail of a double wedding portrait attributed to Jan Gossaert, c. 1516.


That takes us back to the first lie, that Charles was only good at jousting and had little or no involvement in warfare, theology or politics. That is the most blatant lie I have ever read about Charles Brandon. He was very much involved in Henry's army and was universally acknowledged as a very competent military leader. I'm not going to wade any further into that, as it could be the topic of a long book in and of itself.  He did wisely stay out of religion and politics. Those were excellent ways to lose your head as More, Cromwell, Cranmer, and more Howards than you can shake an executioner's ax at could testify.

But as I looked at this article more closely, I realized that it wasn't about Charles Brandon at all.  The main thrust of it seemed to be to ridicule Henry VIII by implying he was so vain and shallow that he rewarded sycophants, and that when injury prevented him from engaging in his favorite sport, he had to invade another country to make himself feel like a real man again.


Henry VIII

Henry VIII by Hans Liefrinck


Then a google alert I'd set for Charles Brandon popped into my inbox.  It contained a link to an article in The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. It appears The Telegraph rewrote this without attribution. Only it happens that they left out an important piece of information: the work behind what was to go into this article was sponsored by a £1,000 grant from the Richard III Society.

That explained a lot of things about this article that I had wondered about. Though the Richard III Society says that its mission is "to secure a reassessment ... of the role of this monarch in English history," judging from everything I've seen come out of that group and conversations I've had with people belonging to the group, that is double-talk that really means "We want to substitute our propaganda for your propaganda."   Part of the way they try to rehabilitate Richard is to trash the Tudors. The lies that have come out in both The Telegraph and the Examiner articles are so egregious, they cannot be attributed to mere disagreements on interpretation of facts, but have to be part of the continuing Ricardian propaganda campaign.

We have all seen articles in newspapers along the lines of  "Study shows eating more pickled kumquats will increase your lifespan and improve your sex life."  Buried in the middle of the article or at the bottom in microscopic print will be the statement, "Study sponsored by the Pickled Kumquat Producers Association."  

I hereby call for all articles that involve a sponsored study or research grant have that sponsorship prominently mentioned in the article, so the reader will be able to use that information in evaluating the truthfulness and purpose of the article.  

I am deeply saddened that academic research has sunk to this level.




Thank you Katherine for this article and it certainly gives food for thought, we look forward to hosting future articles from you!




Please note that all images in this article were inserted by The Tudor Roses

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