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The University of Southampton

HIST3126 Fashioning the Tudor Court 1

Module Overview

The Tudors are still incredibly popular and with good cause. During this module you will explore the magnificent and murky world of Tudor court culture between 1485 and 1553. You will focus on the reign of Henry VIII but as appropriate, you will compare and contrast his court with those of Henry VII and Edward VI. You will consider five core themes linked to the court: artistic patronage and the creation of the royal image, architectural patronage, court entertainments and literary patronage, royal collecting including the development and dispersal of collections and court ceremonial including coronations, the order of the Garter and observance of the liturgical year. These cultural aspects of the Tudor king’s lives are inseparable from embedded the complex religious and political environment that they inhabited.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • court culture during the reigns of the male Tudor monarchs
  • the significance and impact of royal patronage during this period
  • the changing nature of court ceremonial in this period and the impact of the reformation
  • the social, cultural and financial impact and value of royal collecting
  • the ways in which court entertainment evolves and the extent to which it was influenced by developments at European courts
  • the impact of European craftsmen on the development of English court culture
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • participate effectively in group discussion
  • develop your time management skills
  • locate and use effective written and visual sources in the library and on-line
  • develop your presentation skills
  • research historical questions and communicate your findings convincingly and concisely in written reports
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • argue your case in group discussion
  • structure your ideas and research findings into well ordered presentations and essays
  • analyse critically a variety of primary written and visual sources
  • appreciate the context of the primary sources and express this in the gobbet exam
  • engage with the secondary literature and contribute to the debates relating to the historiography for this period


You will have the opportunity to assess how far court culture spread into the rest of society through a study of the role the nobility, an analysis of the Tudor home and an investigation into how they would have shopped for the Tudor wardrobe. As the module progresses you will be able to compare and contrast the courts of male and female monarchs and to assess the impact of the reformation. You will learn about Tudor court culture through the close study of a range of written primary sources including letters, inventories, accounts, household ordinances and narrative accounts. These will be supplemented by a detailed analysis of visual sources including portraits, miniatures and drawings as well as surviving artefacts including ordnance, textiles, armour, musical instruments, ships and plate. An indicative list of topics to be covered in the first semester of the module: 1. Context: the court of Henry VII 2. Creation of Henry VIII’s painted image 1: the careers of Hans Holbein and the Horenbout 3. Creation of Henry VIII’s clothed image 2: the role of the royal tailors 4. Creation of Henry VIII’s military image 3. from tilt yard to battle field 5. Court ceremonial: from dynastic ceremonial (coronations, funerals, christenings and marriages) to celebrating the liturgical year 6. The role of the courtier: favourites and rivals 7. The influence of the cardinal: Thomas Wolsey, the ‘alter rex’? 8. Royal building: Whitehall, Hampton Court and Nonsuch 9. Royal collecting: accumulating a collection and the 1547 inventory 10. In his father’s image: Edward VI

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • short presentations by students • group discussions including feedback from the tutor • detailed reading and analysis of the module texts Learning activities include • individual research and study prior to each class • preparing and delivering short presentations relating to specific aspects of the module • studying written and visual primary sources In this module learning and teaching activities focus on helping you to explore and investigate the ideas and themes outlined above. Throughout the module you will also engage in directed and self-directed study, for example through pre-seminar reading and through library research. The presentations (by you and your fellow students) and your reading will provide you with a broad overview of the secondary literature, using the bibliography provided at the start of the module. The discussion generated by these presentations will provide you with the opportunity to explore the relevant major historical debates on a weekly basis. In addition, you will study in depth a range of primary written and visual sources, including inventories, accounts, household ordinances, paintings and miniatures, as well as surviving objects. These sessions will allow you to prepare for the gobbet exam and the essays. Feedback on your progress and development will be given via seminars and group discussions. This will help prepare you for the essays, the gobbet paper and the examination. Responses from tutor and your fellow students to your presentation will also give you formative feedback.

Preparation for scheduled sessions160
Completion of assessment task100
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

S. Foister (2004). Holbein and England. 

S. J. Gunn and P. G. Lindley eds (1991). Cardinal Wolsey: Church, State and Art. 

D. Loades (1992). The Tudor Court. 

S. Thurley (1993). The Royal Palaces of Tudor England: Architecture and Court Life 1460-1547. 

J. Scarisbrick (1968). Henry VIII. 

D. R. Starkey ed (1991). Henry VIII: a European Court in England. 

K. Hearn ed (1995). Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630. 

D. Howarth (1997). Images of Rule: Art and Politics in the English Renaissance, 1485-1646. 

R. Marks and P. Williamson eds (2003). Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547. 

M. Howard (1987). The Early Tudor Country House: Architecture and Politics 1490-1550. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback  Non assessed oral presentations  Tutorials to provide consultation on assessed essays  Regular work with the primary sources to prepare for the gobbet exam


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Take-away exam 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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