28 January: A remarkable date in Tudor history

History is full of coincidences and ironies.  The date of 28th January is one such coincidence – 28 January 1457 and 28 January 1547 – two dates 90 years apart.  The former the date of birth of the first Tudor despot, the later the date of his son’s death, the most tyrannical Tudor monarch of all.

Royal 2 A XVIII f.28 JanuaryCalendar page for January with additions from three different handwritting: 1. the obit of Catherine de Valois and the date of marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York (black ink); 2. the date of birth of Henry VII (in Latin – faded brown ink); and 3. the obit of Henry VIII (brown ink at bottom of folio), from Book of Hours (The ‘Beaufort/Beauchamp Hours’), Use of Sarum,  (England (London), after 1401, before 1415) shelfmark Royal 2 A XVIII f.28 January

Below are close-ups of the entries for the birth of Henry VII and the death of Henry VIII.

Royal 2 A XVIII f.28 January - Birth of Henry VIINatale d[omi]ni Henrici filij Emundi comitis Richemondie ac d[omi]ne M[ar]rgarete vxoris sui filie Joh[ann]is nup[er] duc[?is] Somersete anno d[omi]ni millio cccc quinquagesimo sexto. Born Henry son of the Earl of Richmond and Margaret his wife daughter of John, Duke of Somerset 1456.  (Latin text kindly transcribed by Rob Ellis of Medieval London)

Royal 2 A XVIII f.28 January - Death of Henry VIIIThe xxviijth [28th] daie of January deceassd the noble prynce Henry the eight the yere of owr lorde 1546.

Although Henry VII’s date of birth was 1457, and Henry VIII’s date of death 1547, the years above of  1456 and 1546 are correct because these are contemporary entries written at times when the old Julian Calendar was still in use in England.  Until 1752, the 1st January was not the start of the New Year, but instead the change to a new year started on Lady Day (25th March).  Thus English documents written prior to 1752 will have any dates between 1st January and 24th March written in the Old Style.  Modern historians either have to adjust these dates to the New Style or ‘double date’ the entry to show both old and new date (e.g. the above dates would be dated ‘1456/7’ and ‘1546/7’).

Egerton 2572 f.7 Henry VIIHenry VII from Guild Book of the Barber Surgeons of York
(England, N. (York?), 2nd half of the 16th century)
shelfmark Egerton 2572 f.7.

Egerton 2572 f.8 Henry VIIIHenry VIII from Guild Book of the Barber Surgeons of York
(England, N. (York?), 2nd half of the 16th century)
shelfmark Egerton 2572 f.8.

Harley 1498 f.98 Henry VIIHenry VII giving the manuscript to the monks of Westminster
from Indenture for Henry VII’s Chapel (England, S. E. (London), 1504)
shelfmark Harley 1498 f.98.

Royal 2 A XVI f.3 Henry VIIIHenry VIII praying in his bedchamber
from The Psalter of Henry VIII (England, S. E. (London), c1540-1541)
shelfmark Royal 2 A XVI f.3.

All images on this page are from the British Library’s collection of Medieval Manuscripts and are marked as being Public Domain Images and therefore free of all copyright restrictions in accordance with the British Library’s Reuse Guidance Notes for the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.

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You may also be interested in the following posts
– Prince Arthur, Prince of Wales
– Tudor Coronations
– Henry VIII – Images of a King: Part 1
– Henry VIII – Images of a King: Part 2 Henry in Love
– Henry VIII – Images of a King: Part 3

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