Pete’s time-travelling underpants – the history: Tudor Trouble

Hi all,

I've explained the words in
bold in 'Tudor Trouble' below in plain English. Thanks to Barford for helping me.


  • Sayest thou - In Tudor England there were two words for ‘you’ - ‘thou' and ‘ye’. Confusing, huh? If you were talking to one person you knew really well on their own, you would call them ’thou’. If you were talking to more than one person or if your were talking to one person who you didn’t know at all or who was really important, you’d called them ‘you’. When using ‘thou’ thy would -st to the end of any doing word - fro example, ‘sayest’, ‘thinkest’, ‘dost’. Those Tudors were crazy.

  • Codpiece - Dunno why they had these things. A codpiece was a padded bit of material that you, um, tied around your, um, crotch. They just look a bit silly.

    Points - These are kind of leather shoe-lace type things that Tudor men used to attach their doublet to their hose. I guess it’s a bit like those braces (the elastic things your grandad uses to hold up his trousers, not the ones for your teeth).

  • Summer Progress - Auntie Cheryl tells me that a lot of kings and queens, but especially Henry the Eighth, liked to tour around the country mooching of other rich people in the summer. They claimed it was a way to escape London and see the country, but it sounds to me like a fantastic scam to save money.

  • Pomander - These things looked like really weird baubles for your Christmas tree. The one I had was a sort of metal ball with holes in it that had a ball filled with funny-smelling oil in the middle. It smelt worse than that awful perfume Dad buys Mum every Christmas.

  • Sumptuary laws - Now this one just seems barking. Apparently they were laws that said what people could wear, what they could eat and lots of other rules about what they could buy. So, Lord Fortescue was allowed to eat more food than someone who wasn’t as rich as him, but not as much food as the king. He could also wear clothes which people poorer than him weren’t allowed to wear (even if they had the money to buy them).

  • Thomas Cromwell - Yeah, it seems I made a bit of a mistake here. Thomas Cromwell was an important man who advised King Henry the Eighth. I thought he was Oliver Cromwell, who was a leader of some guys called the Roundheads about a hundred years later. These Roundheads fought against King Charles the First and then had him executed. Apparently, Oliver Cromwell then made himself kind of king, but didn’t call it that (he called himself ‘Lord Protector’). Anyway, it’s not that guy. Thomas Cromwell was buddies with the king, as far as I can tell.

  • Master of the Rolls - Now I thought this meant that Cromwell was in charge of the sandwiches (the bread rolls), but apparently not. He was one of the most important judges in the country and was in charge of the rolls (the rolled up papers) that they made notes on in the courts.

  • Sir Thomas More - This guy had a major falling out with Henry the Eighth, which is obviously not a good idea. He had been Henry’s closest adviser, like Thomas Cromwell later, but disagreed massively with Henry when the king wanted to make changes to the way the church worked in England. Auntie Cheryl says that at this time the Church in England was Catholic. Because the Pope, who’s in charge of the Catholic Church, said Henry couldn’t divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, Henry wanted to change things so the Pope wasn't in charge anymore. Henry managed to do this (and made himself in charge of the Church of England at the same time) but Thomas More was very angry about it and continued to argue against it. Henry decided this was treason and had him executed (that’s the short version).

  • Papist - This was a name used for people who were Catholics and it was generally an insult. It basically means someone who is loyal to the Pope. Being accused of being a ‘papist’ was pretty bad news for Lord Fortescue.

  • Will Somers - This guy was Henry the Eighth’s favourite jester. His job was to make Henry laugh when he was feeling down. He must have done a good job, as Henry didn’t chop his head off!

  • State rooms - These were rooms in some of the big posh houses, like Pootlebury Hall, that were kept out-of-bounds to most people and only used on special occasions.. Sounds a bit like Granny’s living room to me.