1501 CE to 1600 CE

The fashion of Matthaeus Schwarz

Matthaeus Schwarz was a 16th century accountant - but an accountant with fashion sense. For over 40 years, the Augsburg, Germany resident commissioned watercolor paintings of himself, documenting his wardrobe and accessories, and revealing as much about his personality and ambition as his clothing choices. (photos and video)

Young scholars learn the alphabet in 17th century England

Throughout time, children have struggled to learn to write the alphabet. On its blog Collation, the Folger Library presents examples of not only 16th and 17th century writing manuals, but actual copy books of English children. One can almost see the clenched teeth of concentration in their work.

Lost Cortés letter found

A letter from Charles V to Hernán Cortés, proclaiming him Governor of Mexico, has been found in the State Archive in Naples. The letter is one of the oldest sent to the New World.

The weight of civic duty

Since 1954, John Mattick has carried the 16th century ceremonial sword  before the mayor at civic events in the Welsh city of  Carmarthen. Before that, his father carried it. Now it will be passed to his son. "It is a weighty thing to carry, and that's mainly why I'm having to give it up at my age," Mr Mattick said. (photo)

Rewriting Shakespeare

Many writers have re-interpreted the works of William Shakespeare, and a new project, The Hogarth Shakespeare, is just the latest. Launching in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, the series will commission prominent authors to create "cover versions" of the Bard's plays.

Elizabeth I's greatest secret

In what might be the strangest story of the year, author Steve Berry proposes that Queen Elizabeth I might have had an incredible secret: She was a man. The theory is laid out in a new book by Berry, The King’s Deception.

Excavations underway at St. Augustine, Florida

In 1565, St. Augustine was founded and became the first continuously-occupied European settlement in what would later become the continental United States. For the past 37 years, archaeologist Dr. Kathy Deagan of the University of Florida has spent her summers excavating the area of the "Fountain of Youth" and learn more about the early Spanish settlement. (video)

The Mary Rose sails again in her new home

More than 30 years after the Mary Rose was pulled from the Solent, the ship continues to delight and educate both scholars and visitors to her new museum. In her new home, the Mary Rose can be viewed through three-story glass walls which display the interior of the ship, complete with dim lighting and "and groaning sounds of the sea outside." Eleanor Williams of BBC News has a feature story.

Metal detector loot returned to Irish museum

The discovery of historic artifacts using a metal detector has begun a popular pastime in Britain and Ireland, but some enthusiasts are using their equipment to discover and keep, or sell, their objects without permission. One such hobbyist died last year leaving nearly 1000 artifacts to be returned to their rightful owner, the National Museum of Ireland. (photos)

The dark history of Tom Fool

Each year, a jester is chosen to liven up life at Muncaster Castle, near Ravenglass in Cumbria, England. The custom goes back centuries to Tom Skelton, believed to be the original Tom Fool, a real-life jester believed to have a murderous past. (photo)

Photos of the Mary Rose

CNN goes inside the new Mary Rose museum in Portsmouth, England. The Mary Rose was a warship that sank in 1545 during a battle with the French.

CW premieres "Reign" in fall 2013

The BBC has announced Reign, a new drama based on the teenage years of Mary, Queen of Scots, which will hit American TV screens autumn 2013. The series will star Adelaide Kane as Mary and will begin with 15-year-old Mary's arrival in France as the bethrothed of the French prince Francis.

Archaeologists search for the body of James IV at Flodden

On 19 September 1513, Scottish King James IV was killed at the Battle of Flodden in Northumberland, England, along with 10,000 other Scots. Now archaeologists are scouring the battlefield, hoping to find the remains of the king. The project marks the 500th anniversary of the battle.

Medici Family Afflicted by Rickets

Exhumed skeletons of the family members of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany show distinctive signs of rickets, some from early birth.

The history of smoking

“When they travel, have a kind of herb dried, who, with a cane and an earthen cup in the end, with fire and the dried herbs put together, do suck through the cane and the smoke thereof, which smoke satisfieth their hunger, and therewith they live four or five days without meat or drink,” writes John Sparke about native Floridians' use of tobacco, which was introduced to Europeans in 1564.

Historical Costume Contest winner announced

Earlier this year, Sandy Gowland of Old Time Patterns issued a challenge: create an historical costume. Some entrants used existing patterns, while others made their own. The winner was announced on May 25, 2013. The results can be viewed on the website.

The Shakespeare Conspiracy?

The world debate continues. Did William Shakespeare really write his plays or was it someone else? But Stanley Wells, honorary president of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and eminent Shakespearean scholar thinks he knows the truth and has gathered a small army of literary scholars to prove it: a new book William Shakespeare Beyond Doubt.

Period concert in Washington D.C.

On June 1-2, 2013, Cantare, Inc. will present Collegium Cantorum under the direction of Timothy Kendall in a program entitled Chance Encounter, 1506, Part II of the occasional series "The Fayrfax Concerts" presenting Renaissance choral masterworks by Pierre de La Rue (c. 1542-1518) and Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521) at two sites in the Washington D.C. area.

Anne Boleyn redux

In her new book, The Creation of Anne Boleyn, author Susan Bordo aims to "strip away all the 'sedimented mythology turned into history by decades of repetition' and to restore a restless, learned, freethinking and ambitious but nondemonic woman to the throne of the public imagination." Jennifer Schuessler of the New York Times has a review.

Mary Rose cannonballs early examples of armour-piercing rounds

The Mary Rose, the flagship of Henry VIII found on the ocean floor off the south coast of England, may once again change English history. Scientists studying cannonballs discovered on the ship have found them to be armor-piercing, a technology believed to have been created in the 18th century. (photos)

William Shakespeare, tax-evader

William Shakespeare may have been the world's greatest writer, but he routinely failed to pay his taxes. This is the conclusion of a new study by scholars from Aberystwyth University which shows that Shakespeare was "repeatedly prosecuted and fined for illegally hoarding food, and threatened with jail for failing to pay his taxes."

Face of "headless king" revealed

Four hundred years after his death, facial reconstructionists have revealed the face of France's 'Good King Henri IV' whose mummifed head is believed to have been discovered in an attic in 2008.

The science of discovery

Historians have long been fascinated by the creation of maps during the Age of Exploration. Of special interest are maps such as Waldseemüller and Ringmann's first map mentioning "America." The New York Times Science page looks at A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox, a new book on the subject by John W. Hessler.

Pondering Ponce de León

The State of Florida is celebrating its 500th birthday, including debates about the exploration of Juan Ponce de León, who landed on the peninsula on April 2, 1513. St. Augustine is the traditional site of the landing, but historian Douglas Peck believes otherwise.

Cottage wall plate "discovery of a lifetime"

Dorset auctioneer Richard Bromell had an Antiques Roadshow moment recently when he was told that a plate, "found hanging on a makeshift wire frame in a Somerset cottage" was a 16th century original maiolica, bringing over £500,000 at auction. (photo)

Medieval burial shows love that outlasts death

Two skeletons in a grave in Romania have been found buried together holding hands. The skeletons were probably buried between 1450 and 1550.

Generous donors complete funding for the Mary Rose Museum

The final UK£35,000 needed to complete the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, England's Historic Dockyard has been raised thanks to a plea by the Mary Rose Trust. Museum officials are "putting the finishing touches" on the museum's interior, including filling cases with artifacts receoved from Henry VIII's flagship. (photo)

Kent church: "Reputed to be the tomb of Richard Plantagenet"

A derelict church in Eastwell, Kent, England, may hold the final resting place of Richard Plantagenet, illegitimate son of King Richard III. A grave in St Mary's churchyard is marked with the inscription: "Reputed to be the tomb of Richard Plantagenet". Now scientists want to know the truth.

Shakespeare as educator

The works of Shakespeare have often been used to educate scholars throughout the world, but to historians in Titchfield near Southampton, England, the education may have taken place closer to home. Scholars there believes that William Shakespeare may have spent the years 1589-1592 working as a schoolmaster in the town.

Honoring Copernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus was honored recently when Google recognized the 450th anniversary of the scientists's birth with a Google Doodle. The Christian Science Monitor followed with a article which looks at the career of the Polish astronomer.