Hans Holbein the Younger was one of the foremost portrait painters to work in England during the Tudor period (and perhaps ever), and it's his paintings that shape how we see the court of Henry VIII. Discussing his time at the Tudor court on In Our Time were Susan Foister (the National Gallery), John Guy (Clare College, University of Cambridge) and Maria Hayward (University of Southampton).
Back in June of this year the BBC did a three part series about the Spanish Armada and how (astonishingly) England wasn't conquered by Spain in 1588. It was billed as "part dramatisation, part documentary" so I was a bit concerned in advance that it wouldn't be my cup of tea. But it turned out to be on the right side of the line for my tastes - a selection of set pieces but mostly a straightforward documentary series.
Shakespeare's Mother: The Secret Life of a Tudor Woman was partly a biography of a specific woman - Mary Arden, the mother of William Shakespeare. But there's not really enough surviving detail about her life to get the full picture from, so the gaps were filled in with more general information about the sorts of lives women (and men) of the time lead. The presenter, Michael Wood, did a good job of stitching the two sorts of information into a coherent whole, so it didn't feel disjointed or patchy.
Cleopatra: A Timewatch Guide was on BBC4 back in February as part of a short run of programmes cobbled together from old Timewatch footage interspersed with some narration by a current presenter (and modern footage of talking heads) tying it all together. The presenter in this case was Vanessa Collinridge, who I'd not seen present anything before (which is a shame for her, as I'm judging her based on this ...).
The title of the Channel 5 documentary The Spy Who Brought Down Mary Queen of Scots was a little misleading - it wasn't about Francis Walsingham (the titular spy) per se, instead it was about the Babington Plot in 1586, Walsingham's role in that and the consequences for Mary Queen of Scots.
Last Saturday was clearly the best day to hold a study day - there were three different ones on that date that J & I between us found interesting. The one I chose to go to was organised by the Tyndale Society who are a group whose primary interest is in the life and works of William Tyndale (who translated the Bible into English in the early 16th Century). I'm not a member of the Society myself, I just spotted a poster advertising the study day a few weeks ago & signed up for it.
Henry & Anne: The Lovers that Changed History was a two part series on Channel 5 - I found out about it because it's presented by Suzannah Lipscomb who was one of the talking heads on the programme about The Last Days of Anne Boleyn that I liked so much last year (post). The first part covered the successful part of Henry VIII & Anne's relationship and the second part looked at the unravelling of that relationship.
The third and final episode of Treasures of Ancient Egypt covered the period from Ramesses II through to Cleopatra. In terms of the history of the period this can be seen as a long slow decline from the height of New Kingdom power through several foreign dynasties to the annexing of Egypt by the Roman Empire.
One of the programmes we watched this week was something originally from 2007, but repeated this summer - A Tudor Feast. It was a one hour standalone programme, and the main presenters have gone on since to do several serieses about farming in various historic programmes (including Wartime Farm which we watched last year (post) and Tudor Monastery Farm which we're watching at the moment but I haven't yet written about).