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Margaret of Anjou (1430 –1482) - wife of Henry VI; a key figure in the Wars of the Roses & at times personally led the Lancastrians. She lost her son Edward, Prince of Wales, at the Battle of Tewkesbury.

"Yours as long as life endures..." This is the only surviving letter from Katherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife. She wrote this ill-advised letter to Thomas Culpepper, a gentleman of her husband's Privy Chamber.

Effigy of King Edward III at the White Tower - the earliest European death mask. Edward III reigned from 1327 to 1377; his surplus of sons eventually led to the conflict between the houses of Lancaster and York for the English throne.

Portrait of Elizabeth I commissioned by Robert Dudley

Anna of Austria, (1549-1580). Philip II of Spain is without a male heir when his son Don Carlos dies. Anna becomes his fourth wife, she is beautiful and young, they are married in 1570. She is connected to the powerful Habsbugs and this marriage unites the two most powerful empires in Europe. Both empires are Catholic, and this again puts pressure on the prevaricating Elizabeth to marry and secure the succession with a male heir. Maria has three sons but only one survives into adulthood.

Juana of Spain, Queen of Portugal, granddaughter of Juana of Castile, Great-Niece of Catherine of Aragon by lisby1, via Flickr

Robert Dudley (1533–1588), Earl of Leicester

Armor for the tilt of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, c. 1575.

Elizabeth I used 'text-speak' in a letter to her favorite, Robert Dudley ....