history: henry VIII, bloody mary; elizabeth I; mary stuart; charles I, bonny prince charlie

Henry VIII
Sometimes History is more fantastic then a fictional, imaginary story. This is the case of Henry VIII’s life. Henry VIII (1491 –. 1547) was the son of Henry VII and was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. When his father died, the throne passed into the hands of the elder son (figlio maggiore) Arthur, who soon died in battle. So Henry VIII was crowned (incoronato) King of England and had to marry his dead brother’s wife, Catherine of Aragon. The couple had an only daughter, Mary. Henry wanted a son to keep the Tudor line going (continuare la dinastia) …and he did not care about how many wives he had to marry.
He asked the Pope to get the divorce from Catherine, but she was a Spanish, a supporter (=sostenitrice) of the Church of Rome and the Pope did not approve. Henry broke with the Catholic Church and created his own church with himself as the head. After Catherine Henry married six women. The first was Anne Boleyn who gave him another daughter, Elizabeth. She was beheaded under the charge (accusation = accusa) of betrayal (tradimento). Anna was followed by Anne Seymour who gave Henry a son, Edward, but soon after died. Henry divorced also by Anne of Cleves and make Catherine Howard executed (put to death = uccisa). Only his last wife survived him, Catherine Parr. The last three did not give Henry any heir. There is a sort of rhyme to remember Henry’s wife. Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

Bloody Mary
Mary, first daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Argon remained Catholic. During the reign of her brother, Edward VI, England became a Protestant country, but after his early death Mary took the power. She marched to London and removed the successor her brother had chosen, Lady Jane Grey, proclaiming herself the new Queen of England. Mary wanted to restore the Catholic faith to the country and in 1554 she married the heir to the throne of Spain, prince Philip. Spain was an old enemy of England and the idea of an English Queen married to a Catholic Spanish prince caused social troubles. Sir Thomas Wyatt led a revolt which was repressed. Wyatt was sent to the block (executed = mandato al ceppo) together with Lady Jane Grey. Mary eliminated the Protestant Laws and made Thomas Cranmer , Archbishop of Canterbury, execute together with 270 Protestant priests and followers. For this reason she got the nickname of Bloody Mary. She was very unpopular. As her marriage was loveless and without children Philip of Spain returned home to become the King of Spain Mary died in 1558 died without an heir: she was buried under a pile of stones. Later, the tomb of her sister Elizabeth – Elizabeth I – was built on top of her.

Elizabeth I
After Mary’s death her sister Elizabeth came to the throne. She was Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s daughter. Her father had sent her mother to the block (executed = mandare al ceppo) when Elizabeth was just two and a half years and she was declared illegitimate. England was a troubled country. Protestant fought Catholics and there was very little money. With a group of trusted (confidential = di ficucia) adviser the young queen began to unite her country: she sold land, stopped building new palaces and made peace with her country’s enemies. The quality of life started improving (a migliorare) with better housing, heath and education. England became a strong trading (commercial = commerciale) nation with towns and ports. A curiosity: to get money Queen Elizabeth I put a tax on beards (barbe). Men like Sir Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh sailed (travelled on ship = salparono per) the world and returned with new discoveries and knowledge. Her reign was a peaceful one, but she fought a very important war with Spain, when Sir Francis Drake and his fleet of ships (flotta) met and destroyed the Spanish Armada in 1588. Queen Elizabeth had many fine jewels and clothes. She loved hunting (cacciarae) , the theatre and fireworks (fuochi d’artifico). She enjoyed meeting her people and often visited towns and the countryside in colourful royal processions (parades = sfilate). Elizabeth had many admirers but she never married and she died childless in 1603.

Mary Stuart
Mary Stuart, known as the Queen of Scots, was born in 1542. she was one of Henry VII’s great granddaughters, and cousin to Queen Elizabeth I of England. Mary was a Catholic, but Scotland was a Protestant country and she found it hard to control both the Church and her nobles. After being widow (vedova) of the Dauphin of France, and looking for help she married the vain (vanitoso) and cruel Lord Darnley. The marriage was a disaster. Mary began to grow close (avvicinarsi) to her young secretary David Rizio, and jealous, Darnley, had the young man brutally murdered. Lord Darnley himself died in a mysterious explosion. Soon afterwards (dopo) and many people believed that Mary had planned (organizzato) his death. When the young Queen later married her new love, the Earl of Bothwell, her noblemen rebelled and imprisoned Mary in the island castle of Lochleven. With the help of friends Mary managed (riuscì) to escape from her rooms in the castle disguised (travestita) as a maid and made her way to England. Queen Elizabeth was not pleased to see her young catholic rival and she imprisoned Mary in a series of remote castles. Mary’s passion for intrigue continued and many plots were discovered by Elizabeth’s agents. The English Queen was afraid to put a Catholic relative on trial (in processo), but once a plot (complotto) was revealed involving the murder of Elizabeth and an invasion from Spain, Mary’s fate was sealed (segnato). Mary was executed at Fortherinhay Castle in 1587. She had been a captive in Britain for 19 years. After her execution it was discovered that Mary was wearing a large red wig (parrucca).

Charles I
Charles I came to the throne in 1625. He was proud (self-important=orgoglioso), but arrogant. His reign began badly in the disastrous wars he fought against Spain and France. Costly (expensive=costose) wars had left him short of money (a corto di denaro) and Charles turned to Parliament to ask them to raise (increase =aumentare) taxes. Parliament refused to help him and so it was dissolved. Charles made him unpopular by attempting (trying=cercando) to force (oblige = obbligare) a new prayer book onto the people of Scotland. They rose up (si ribellarono) against him and defeated the weak (fragile=debole) and badly led (commanded=comandate) English armies sent to fight them. Parliament was reformed and a new group known as the Puritans began to criticise the king. Charles led his soldiers into Parliament to arrest the Puritan leader John Pym, but he had already fled (gone away, escaped = fuggito) King Charles had enraged (made furious = fatto arrabbiare) the Parliament once again with his behavior (comportamento) and he was forced to flee from London. The country was now divided and both sides raised their armies in a bloody civil war. The war began well for Charles, but his luck did not last (durare) for long. Parliament raised a new force called the New Model Army under the command of the brilliant General, Oliver Cromwell. He won great victories at the battles of Mars ton Moor and Naseby. Charles and his Royalist armies soon crumbled (si divise). The desperate King persuaded his old enemies the Scots to join (unirsi) him, but they were defeated at Preston. King Charles was arrested and then executed at Whitehall in 1649. During his days in prison in Carisbrooke Castle, on the Isle of White, Charles was allowed to play bowl (bocce) outside.

Bonny Prince Charlie
The history of Scotland that fashinated so much writers like Sir Walter Scott, is sometimes as romantic as a novel. Scotland suffered from the efforts of the Stuarts to win back the throne. The first “Jacobite” revolt to get back the crown for James II’ s son, in 1715, was unsuccessful. The Stuarts tried again in 1745, when James II’ s grandson, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, famous as Bonnie Prince Charlie, landed (= sbarcò) on the west coast of Scotland. He persuaded some clan chiefs (= capi) to join him (= unirsi a lui) and these chiefs convinced their men to fight menacing to burn down (= radere al suole) their houses. Most clans did not join the rebellion, and nor did the men of the Scottish lowlands. At first Bonny prince Charlie was successful: his army (= esrcito) of Highlanders entered Edinburgh and defeated an English army in a surprise attack. Then he marched south. His success depended on English men who wanted to join his army. When the army was half way (= a mezza strada per) to London, however, it was clear that few of the English would join him, and the highlanders themselves were unhappy at being so far from home. The rebels moved back to Scotland. Early in 1746 they were defeated by the British army at Culloden, near Inverness. The rebellion was finished. The English army behaved with cruelty: many highlanders were killed, others were sent to work in America. Their homes were destroyed, and their farm animals killed. The fear of the highland danger was so great that a law was passed forbidding (= proibendo) highlanders to wear their traditional skirts, the kilt. The old patterns of the kilt, called tartans, and Scottish musical instruments, the bagpipe, were also forbidden. Some did not obey this law and were shot. After the Battle of Culloden Bonnie Prince Charlie fled (= scappò) Scotland and lived in France where he died age 67. He became a romantic hero for the Scots and the story of his escape with the help of Flora MacDonald, still captures the imagination.

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