Tudor Family Portrait

Tudor Family Portrait

Tudor Family Portrait

Tudor Family Portrait

Excerpt

Tudor family portrait is the story of the Johnsons, an ordinary, middle-class family, living their everyday lives in sixteenth-century England. Few of them were remarkable people. None were poets or painters or musicians, and they left no mark upon their generation. And yet to those who knew and loved them, within the circle of their family and friends, they were of as much importance as all the great and famous people who ever lived. And for us who come after them, they are all the more interesting because they are ordinary men and women like ourselves. They knew, as we do, love and laughter, sickness and sorrow, and the intimate details of their lives -- the venison and green ginger that they ate, the red wine and potent ale they drank, the velvet gowns and ruffled shirts they wore, the carved furniture in their rooms, the conduct of their households in town and country, the occupation of their leisure hours, their comments on religion and trade and the affairs of state -- all this is revealed in what is surely the most magnificent collection of Tudor letters yet to see the light of day.

John Johnson was a merchant of the Staple, a most worthy, sober, diligent and orderly man. He kept and filed not only all the letters he received from his impetuous and charming wife, from his two brothers, from his relations, friends, business acquaintances, apprentices and servants, but also a copy of every single letter that he ever wrote, whether in English, French or Flemish, destined for London, the country or abroad. Nearly a thousand of these letters have survived out of a correspondence that was originally twenty times more numerous. We may sigh for those that are lost, but how much we have to be thankful for in the thousand that remain! Superbly rich in life and character, these letters chart the fortunes of a typical Tudor family, bourgeois in the finest sense of the word, and truly representative of the age in which they lived. They reflect as in a mirror all the fire and darkness and life of Tudor England.

The history of the Johnson Letters is a fascinating one. In the year 1553, the firm of Johnson & Company went bankrupt, and . . .

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