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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Has no one ever heard of research any more?

I just had to post this. As an historian I am constantly amazed at the misinformation being touted as 'history' both on television and in books. 

First there was the Tudors, a television programme here in England with the usual wonderful acting and equally wonderful costumes. Of course the title was wrong because this series was not about the Tudors, it was specifically about King Henry VIII who was only one of five Tudor monarchs. Perhaps the inventors of this programme did not know that.

Well, according to this tv programme, Henry's sister, Margaret was sent to marry the ageing King of Portugal. NOoooo! His sister, Mary was sent to marry the ageing King of France. Then she married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, but had no children with him. Well, if she hadn't, there would have been no nine day wonder called Jane Grey. But never mind.

Henry's sister, Margaret, who was not even included in this programme, married the King of Scotland, James IV, making him Henry's brother-in-law NOT his cousin as he kept saying. Charles Brandon, when widowed married Catherine Willoughby and no they didn't separate and he didn't have a French mistress.

Then we have Victoria, the wonderful programme about Queen Victoria, where we have people being hanged, drawn and quartered, a barbaric sentence for those found guilty of treason. The last person to suffer this was about 100 years before Victoria; during her reign the drawing and quartering was carried out after death.

Now, let's come to some recent books I have read. The first was a tale of a King of Wales - Wales never had a king, it was and still is a principality. Not so bad, a fictional King of Wales, except the earl mentioned in the story had a throne, a realm and a kingdom. Noooooo! Only Kings, Queens and sometimes princes and princesses have those. Still, it was a good story.

The next was a timeslip novel, where the modern girl not only turns up at the door of a 17th century castle in modern clothes and is given hospitality and a bed for the night, but then she overhears a plot against King James I because he was Catholic! Noooooooooooo! James was Protestant, anyone with a modicum of historical knowledge knows that. He padded himself out wherever he went because he was terrified of Catholic plots against him.

Now I have started to read a book where a mulatto, i.e. person of mixed race, is a barrister at the Inns of Court in London. Nooooo! Never would a person of mixed race have been accepted, but worse than that, far worse, is the fact that the barrister is in Newgate Prison, thinking about the Old Bailey. Nooooo! The Old Bailey, central criminal court, was built on the site of Newgate Prison after it was demolished. The story is set in 1819 - the Old Bailey was opened in 1907.

Please, please, please, if you are going to write a screenplay or a novel involving English history, make sure you get your facts straight. It is not that difficult. You don't even need to open a book nowadays, you can simply google it. It is an affront to historians.

I have read from people who are supposed to be historians, that people in the middle ages had nice white teeth because there wasn't any sugar, I kid you not. They also had baths every day. Yeah, right.
Please, get it right before you publish.

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