A History of England


Part 2

Henry VIII

The Tudors

The most famous Tudor king was Henry VIII, who was very pleased with his army.  He was especially proud of the archers; so much so that he commissioned a radio programme about them.  One of its most fervent listeners was his American wife, Catherine of Oregon, who used it to help her speak English properly.  Henry is known for having 6 wives, the 5th of whom, Catherine Howard, must have been a but thick when he proposed, as she mused: “Let’s see; divorced, beheaded, died, divorced – I wonder what comes next?”  Well, she did come from a Norfolk family.


 Bloody Mary

 When Henry’s son Edward popped his clogs aged 15, the nation wept: “Oh bugger, it’s bloody Mary!”  After shortening Lady Jane Grey by a head, she decided that anyone who wasn’t a Catholic would go to hell and thought it would be a kindness to help them on their way by relieving them of their worldly goods and their heads.  To be fair, several hundred Protestants escaped the axe by being burned at the stake instead.

The Virgin Queen


Her half-sister Elizabeth continued with the family tradition of chopping off people’s heads, often with the “Raleigh Chopper” brought back from America by the intrepid explorer.  She became known as the Virgin Queen after agreeing to sponsor a new rail service, thus making it easier for James Stuart to travel to England when it was his turn to be king. 

Enter the Jocks


James decided to open Parliament on bonfire night, which with hindsight probably wasn’t one of his better ideas; an even worse one was inviting Guy Fawkes to the ceremony.  Yet another bad idea was to have a son called Charles I, which was asking for trouble as everyone knows what happened to him

Jolly Olly


Oliver Cromwell, who decided he was not warty enough, had another one tattooed on his face.  He banned Christmas, dancing and Facebook, saying they were all the Devil’s work (though in the last case he might have had a point).  He named himself Lord Protector and declared that running the country by nepotism should be banned.  To ensure that this law would be continued, he named his son Richard as his successor.

Nell Gwynn


Ricky didn’t fancy the job, so they drafted in Charles II.  He had to promise not to be a Catholic, but had his fingers crossed at the time, so that was all right then.   This period was called the Restoration, and the main thing he restored was the old royal tradition of having mistresses all over the place.


In 1665 there was an outbreak of man flu, but as the world was ruled by men they called it the Great Plague.  This was followed soon afterwards by the Great Fire of London, which started in a bakery, thus introducing the concept of toast.  

William of Orange

More bloody foreigners


Charles II finally snuffed it, having produced dozens of children.  Unfortunately, none of them was legitimate, so his kid brother James took over.  James did have a child, Mary, but she batted for the other side.  The answer was to marry her off to a man who was as camp as Christmas.  He was a foreign dandy who used too much artificial suntan and was known as William of Orange.  This meant that while they did what they pleased (but not with each other), England would have a king and queen when the time came. 


  The time came rather sooner than expected.  James went on a weekend break to Paris, so William and Mary said, “He’s abdicated!”  They slipped across the channel and took over, only arguing over who had the nicest robes.  Now we were ruled by a ruddy Dutchman, for God’s sake.  William is most famously remembered for winning the Battle of the Boyne, though hardly anybody in Ireland remembers this now..