From Feud to Faction: English Politics 1450-1550

David Starkey looks at the early Tudor period.

Lady Margaret Beaufort at prayer
Lady Margaret Beaufort at prayer

In 1509 John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, delivered one of the greatest sermons of the century on one of its most notable women: Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII.

She was hailed as the model of the active female life as opposed to the contemplative, Martha not Mary. And like Martha, she busied herself with her household. In particular,

"if any factions or bands were made secretly among her head officers, she with great policy did bolt (i.e. sift) it out, and likewise if any strife or controversy, she would with great discretion study the reformation thereof."

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