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'Tudor era' a misleading myth, claims Oxford historian

London, Tue, 29 May 2012 ANI

London, May 29 (ANI): An Oxford University historian has claimed that the idea of a "Tudor era" in history is a misleading invention.

According to Cliff Davies, his research indicted that the term "Tudor" was barely ever used during the time of Tudor monarchs.

There are also suggestions the name was downplayed by Tudor royals because of its associations with Wales.

Dr Davies said films and period dramas have reinforced the "myth" that people thought of themselves as living under a "Tudor" monarchy.

"The term is so convenient," said Dr Davies, of Wadham College and the university's history faculty.

But he claimed it is fundamentally "erroneous," the BBC reported.

During the reigns of Tudor monarchs - from Henry VII to Elizabeth I - he said there was no contemporary recognition of any common thread or even any recognition of the term "Tudor".

His years of trawling through contemporary documents yielded almost no references - with only one poem on the accession of James I recognising the transition from Tudor to Stuart.

There might also be suggestions that the use of "Tudor" was deliberately omitted - as monarchs, always sensitive to rival claims, wanted to assert their legitimacy.

"I do think that Henry VII was defensive about his past and wanted to downplay 'Tudor', which might have been used by his opponents," said Dr Davies, who specialises in 16th-Century history.

He said that in Welsh documents the name of Tudor is "celebrated" but it was "considered an embarrassment in England".

Henry VIII preferred to represent himself as the embodiment of the "union of the families of Lancaster and York," according to Dr Davies.

Dr Davies suggested that the idea of a distinct Tudor period of history was first established in the 18th Century by the historian and philosopher, David Hume.

This has proved a very "seductive" way of approaching history, he argued. It also helps to create the idea of a separate historical period, different from what came before and after.

But the text-book writers and makers of period dramas should re-think their terminology, as he said that talking about "Tudor men and women" introduces an artificial concept which would have had no contemporary resonance.

Dr Davies said that in the late 16th Century people in England would have understood the idea of living in the reign of Elizabeth I - but would not have identified her as a Tudor.

"The word 'Tudor' is used obsessively by historians. But it was almost unknown at the time," says Dr Davies. (ANI)


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