Inside the Tudor Court

Inside the Tudor Court

Historian Lauren Mackay joins us on the third day of her  Virtual Blog Tour discussing her new book Inside the Tudor Court: Henry VIII and His Six Wives Through the Writings of the Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys. Lauren travelled to Vienna, Paris, Brussels, London, and Annecy to research the life of the enigmatic Eustace Chapuys, who spent sixteen years at the court of Henry VIII as the ambassador for Spain.

Finding Eustace Chapuys

Picture © Lauren Mackay

Picture © Lauren Mackay

Eustace Chapuys is one of our most vital Tudor sources. His observations continue to breathe life into the period, and yet Chapuys himself has eluded us. I have relied on Chapuys for longer than I can remember. He was always in my mind, the source I consulted, and I began to take an interest in him on a personal level. I found no full length biographies of the ambassador — theses focused on aspects of his embassy within the context of diplomatic process, but not his life. Without a true voice of his own, that is to say, a study of Eustace Chapuys the man, as well as the ambassador, myths and misconceptions have grown. The convoluted and flowery phrases in the translated Spanish Calendar, and the short, lifeless lines of the State Papers do no justice to Chapuys’ style and flair for language and narrative. I started with Vienna, where the majority of his papers are housed, as I had to see his original letters, hold his papers, and follow his lead.

From his letters, in their original form, a different man emerges. I ran my hands over places where Chapuys had spilled his ink, phrases he had crossed out. I touched the faded, caked wax and traced the lines of his seals. His writing changes depending on his recipient. To Charles V, his master, Chapuys tries to keep his writing neat, but his emotions swirl with every line. His writing becomes erratic as Chapuys gets lost in his own words, and by the end of the long letters he has dispensed with neatness entirely. In his letters to his friends, Nicholas and Anthoine Perrenot, Chapuys scrawls, with little thought for the reader. Only to Mary of Hungary, Charles V’s sister, does Chapuys strive for elegant writing and orderly sentences. Yet Chapuys wrote, I believe, with an eye to posterity. These letters are full of anecdotes, acerbic phrases, parables, history lessons, all with his own personal stamp. They transcend reports and offer a clear and detailed narrative.

Dispensing with neatness - Picture ©Lauren Mackay

An ink-spotted letter – Picture ©Lauren Mackay

Vienna was the Hapsburg capital, but there is no evidence that Chapuys ever visited. Not all the letters can be found there. They were once housed in Brussels, but some of the letters have been lost en route. In Brussels however, 18th century verbatim translations were made before the documents were moved, filling in the gaps. Chapuys visited Brussels, where Mary of Hungary resided, and served at her court throughout late 1539-1540. Coudenberg Palace is now mostly underground, having been built over throughout the centuries, but you can tour the underground site. The long, dimly lit tunnels slope steeply up and down, and it’s hard to get a sense of what the palace must have looked like, but Chapuys would have known the endless stone archways, stairs and halls. The market square of the town still has many buildings from the 16th century, and there is a sense of what it would have looked like in his lifetime.

But it was Annecy, a small town now part of France that captivated me. Chapuys was born in the once Savoyard town; sometime between 1489-90, and spent his formative years taking care of his family following his father’s death. Annecy, called the Venice of France, remained untouched by the wars, and we are able to walk in Chapuys’ footsteps, through his neighbourhood, to the churches he knew and the Town Hall he visited. His letters to his mother, and his will and testament can be found in Annecy; an insight into his personal life and a reminder that he was more than a source. Re-constructing Eustace Chapuys’ life has been a pleasure and privilege. My book aims to breathe life into the man we have taken for granted as a source.

Book Giveaway

We have one copy of Inside the Tudor Court: Henry VIII and His Six Wives Through the Writings of the Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys to give away courtesy of Amberley Publishing. Just leave a comment below by Sunday the 6th of April. Join Lauren on her blog tour for more articles, interviews and a chance to win a copy of her new book.

31st March: The Anne Boleyn Files Author Q&A
1st April: Anne Boleyn: From Queen to History, author summary of the book
3rd April: On the Tudor Trail- Retracing the steps of Anne Boleyn, extract from Inside the Tudor Court
4th April: Tudor Book Blog, author interview
5th April:, extract from Inside the Tudor Court
6th April: Le Temps Viendra: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, extract from Inside the Tudor Court, plus a brief guide to following in Chapuys’ footsteps in his home town of Annecy.

Read more:

Eustace Chapuys Inside the Tudor Court by Lauren Mackay

In the Shadow of the Throne: Thomas and George Boleyn with Lauren Mackay

Inside the Tudor Court – The Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys with Lauren Mackay


Meet the Author

Lauren-Mackay-02Lauren Mackay is an historian whose focus of study goes beyond familiar historical figures and events to lesser known individuals, as well as beliefs, customs, and diplomacy of the 16th Century.

Lauren completed her Master of History with University of New England, and is currently researching her PhD on Thomas and George Boleyn in the English Reformation, with University of Newcastle in Australia. Lauren has given several talks based on her research in the United Kingdom and Australia, and her debut book, ‘ Inside the Tudor Court: Henry VIII and his Six Wives through the Life and Writings of the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys’ is out now.

Visit Lauren’s website at

Lauren on Twitter

Lauren on Facebook Inside the Tudor Court



49 Responses

  1. Joanne Dinsmore

    The book looks fascinating! I’d love to read it.

  2. Lisa

    Have always been facinated with the Tudors and all the royal courts. I would absolutely love to win this book, It would be like Christmas Morning to me. Good Luck to All

  3. Joni McKeen

    As an avid follower of the Tudor history, I am intrigued by your angle. Can’t wait to read more.

  4. Judi Hall

    This book looks so fascinating to me….I love EVERYTHING about the Tudors and British History!!! Can’t get enough information about that period of History! !!!

  5. Sherri Buete

    How wonderful! I’m excited to see your groundbreaking work on Chapuys, especially given his close relationship with Mary I during her difficult young adulthood. He was surely an enormous influence in her life. I look forward to reading the book!

  6. Deanna

    I’d be interested to read this book, although in general I am not a fan of relying heavily on such a partisan man’s biased view of the tudor court.

  7. Stacey Clay

    This book looks absolutely fabulous! Such a great look at history through the eyes of someone who was a large part of it.

  8. Kelly-Marie

    Your book i am sure will be amazing. I myself am a lover of Medieval history and I am keen to give it a read. I wrote a little poem and posted it earlier on King Henry the Eighth (little revised)

    King Henry the Eighth
    to seven wives he was wedded
    One died, secret leaded
    two divorced, two behead
    one ran and never severed

    Enjoy 🙂

  9. Marlaine

    I’d love to read this book!!!! I’m a big fan of Elizabeth I and her family 🙂

  10. Margaret

    I love history and particularly the history of Great Britain. I’d love to win but I’ll read the book anyway.

  11. Charlie Fenton

    I would really love to win and read this book. Everyone always thinks of him as the man who called Anne the concubine but he was more than that, I would also like to read about his relationship with Katherine, Mary and the other queens 🙂

  12. hazel laurie

    This look amazing, I have many books on The Tudors, and would love to read this as well as add it to my collection. I am soTudor obsessed, that I actually got a Tudor Rose tattooed on my arm last week! Love it! X

  13. Wendi Harris

    Can not wait to read this book! Chapuys was a fascinating character who witnessed so many monumental events with a very individual relationship with the Tudor family. Looking forward to enriching my knowledge of the period!

  14. Ellen Penick

    I’m an avid student of the Tudor period, and I have seen Chapuys quoted by so many historians. I’d love an opportunity to find out more about him!

  15. Diane Marceau

    I can’t wait to read the book. Sooo addicted to The Tudors

  16. Allison Joiner

    After reading your article about Eustace Chapuys I am keen to know more about this man and what he did within the Tudor Court! I have always been a keen follower of the Tudors!

  17. Jolene Mcclish-Gomez

    I love everything about Henry the Eighth and his wives…..I try desperately to get my hands on every bit of book out there on him even if it doesn’t shed new light on the subject. I even started a genealogy family tree for King Henry which was quite fun.

  18. Anne Neale

    Love anything Tudor this is another book I need / want / must read xx

  19. Rebecca Ward

    This looks fascinating, I have always wanted to read more about Chapuys!

  20. lena

    I think is great that is book about Chapuys. He was well informed person on the tudor court and we have many information about the live of Henry VIII and his wifes, because Chapuys wrote to Charles V. I hope I will can read this book

  21. Janine

    This book is a must for my Tudor fiction and non-fiction library, which I have been building, reading and re-reading for over 20 years. Am looking forward to reading it and than giving it a proud place on my Tudor shelf, where it will be easy to find for reference and re-reading.

  22. Heather Kramer

    What a great subject for a book! Tudor gossip is fascinating from all angles. Thanks for posting (:

  23. Cathy Miller

    I am very interested in the Tudor’s since I did the family tree and found out that Margaret is my very great grandmother and Henry VIII is a very great uncle…I could learn a lot with this book.

  24. Gail Ribaudo

    Have been interested in the Tudor’s for years starting with Henry VIII then moving on to Anne, and now the culture and climate of the court. Would love to win this book and read a first-hand account of the times. Luck to all.

  25. Nicole Toy

    This looks like a wonderful book. I’ve been hearing so much on Chapuys in the class I’m taking. I’d love to read it.

  26. Jennifer vines

    I’m such a Tudor nerd!! Would LOVE to add this book to my collection!!

  27. Jennifer C.

    I love hearing about the Tudor court! Every new point of view is much appreciated! 🙂

  28. Phillipa Connolly

    I am researching Tudor history for a book I’m writing on Anne Boleyn I’d be fascinated to read Laura’s take on Chapuys’ point of view of Anne.

  29. Sara Lunt

    Very Interesting. I would love to see these letters in more detail!

  30. Debbie George

    What a fascinating & diligent young woman to have discovered a new angle on Henry the eighth. I will read this book whatever & it would make a fabulous new film or drama series/documentary. It’s so interesting to see history through another person’s eyes, especially a foreigner who lived amongst us.

  31. Elena Estella Green

    Would love to win this intriguing book.

  32. Mary Christensen

    I LOVE everything TUDOR! I hope I win, I never win anything!

  33. Mary Heneghan

    I am looking forward to reading your book, Lauren. Chapuys has given us so much of what we know about the Tudors. Even though Anne Boleyn was not his favourite person, he still could observe the happenings at court and report without fear of ending up in the Tower.

  34. Rita Boggiano

    An enthusiastic reader of 16th century history, having only caught up these last five years as my daughter studied the subject at school. I unfortunately did not cover the subject at great depth at school. It would be a great please to go back in time by reading the works of Eustace Chapuys.

  35. Kathy B

    I’m loving this virtual book tour! This book sounds amazing and I look forward to learning about Chapuys!

  36. Paula

    Henry the 8th. What a character. 6 wives? or was it 3. Hard to know given some marriages were annulled, some were not recognised by the church, and of course, some ended in separation….of head and body. Fascinates me the lengths he went to, to secure the woman he wanted. Great reading.

  37. Aimee C

    I have been obsessed with this book since I heard of its conception! I would be over the moon to win a copy to add to my Tudor collection which has grown quite large over the years. I am anxious to hear Laurens view point and what she has discovered.

  38. Rhiannon

    I’d love to win this book as been waiting to buy it for ages and haven’t been able to everything crossed I win! 🙂

  39. Isioma W

    The Tudors have always interested me and so has history in general. Any book on this kind of stuff will always catch my attention, like this book has. As an avid reader, writer, and learner of such things, I NEED to read it! I want to learn more!

  40. Denise Duvall

    I know virtually nothing about Eustace Chapuys. Ms. MacKay has done an enormous amount of research into this key figure, who has observed and documented many events in Henry’s court and has been used as an eyewitness to events for hundreds of years. This book may shed light on prejudice against his views.

  41. Eliza

    Thank you for the opportunity to win this interesting book!