The Influence of Tudor Fashion during the Stuart Period

In Tudor and Stuart Britain, fashionable clothing was highly valued by both men and women and not just by monarchs; the people who comprised the court also took an interest as well.[1] As is the case with today’s generation, outfits, shoes, and accessories were worn to express a specific message to the public and represent some kind of social status. During these periods, the more elaborate and, arguably, over-the-top designs wealthy people wore, the more respect they earned. However, according to David Kuchta, the interest in men’s fashion decreased over time, creating a “masculine renunciation.”[2] Instead of the traditional flashy clothing and jewelry, men’s dress leaned more towards modesty.[3] Kuchta argues that the lack of interest in clothing was due to a number of factors: “… [The] changing political, economic and social orders from 1550 to 1850.”[4] In 1666, King Charles II attributed to this newfound modesty because of different coats and vests he wore that resulted in the popularization of the three-piece suit. While men’s styles certainly varied over the years, the appreciation for male fashions was still highly present throughout the period and was not entirely based on modernity. Similarities in men’s clothing between the Tudor and Stuart periods can be found through many paintings and portraits of this time; this source of documentation allows us to compare and contrast the style from different time periods. Continue reading

More than Financial Gains? The Religious Reasons behind the Dissolution of Monasteries

Like most English monarchs, King Henry VIII held a great interest in his finances: more money meant more power. In comparison to his father who made £133,000 annually, Henry VIII received a rather low annual income of £80-90,000.[1] With a need for more money, Henry VIII’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, sought out a viable plan: to shut down all of the monasteries of England and Wales. With the establishment of the Court of Augmentations in 1536, all monastic properties including the money earned were transferred to it.[2] In total, the amount collected was reported to have been more than £130,000 a year.[3] The dissolution of the monasteries made Henry, as well as select members of the Privy Chamber, richer than ever, and Henry’s newfound wealth in theory gained for him more financial security for a war with France. Judging from the immense monetary gain, one would assume that the principal reason for the dissolution of the monasteries was financial, but some historians believe otherwise. Henry VIII may not have been the most devout leader, but a deeper look at the conditions of the monasteries could have provided enough religious reasons for their dissolution. Continue reading