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tudors photo

Where her fair breasts at liberty were let,

Whose violet veins in branched riverets flow,

And Venus’ swans and milky doves were set

Upon those swelling mounts of driven snow;

(Excerpt from ‘Mortimer and Queen Isabella at Nottingham castle’ by Michael Drayton 1563 -1631)

‘Her breasts were naked for the day was hot’

(Excerpt from ‘Armida entertains Rinaldo’ by Edward Fairfax d 1635)

In the previous post about Tudor boobs I had wanted to include a photograph I had seen of a short-lived fashion trend  from London in the 1960’s. I clearly remember having seen a woman photographed in the street wearing a dress which exposed her breasts. Sadly, I couldn’t find it – as you can imagine, a Google search for ‘woman’ and ‘breasts exposed’ manages plenty of hits! ( 9,610,000 last count) – unfortunately it wasn’t a very good way of researching my blog post.

Celia

I still keep noticing good examples of this trend for breast exposure in the Tudor period – I found this example (below) the other day in the Roxburghe ballads accompanied by ‘Celia’An excellent Ballad of a Prince of England's Courtship to the King of Frances Daughter, and how the Prince was disasterously slain ; and how the aforesaid Princess was afterwards married to a Forrester.

Come, my CELIA, let us prove,
While we may, the sports of love ;
Time will not be ours for ever :
He at length our good will sever.
Spend not then his gifts in vain.
Suns that set, may rise again:
But if once we lose this light,
‘Tis with us perpetual night.
Why should we defer our joys ?
Fame and rumor are but toys.
Cannot we delude the eyes
Of a few poor household spies ;
Or his easier ears buguile,
So removed by our wile ?
‘Tis no sin love’s fruit to steal,
But the sweet theft to reveal :
To be taken, to be seen,
These have crimes accounted been.

Come, my CELIA, let us prove,

While we may, the sports of love ;

Time will not be ours for ever :

He at length our good will sever.

Spend not then his gifts in vain.

Suns that set, may rise again:

But if once we lose this light,

‘Tis with us perpetual night.

Why should we defer our joys ?

Fame and rumor are but toys.

Cannot we delude the eyes

Of a few poor household spies ;

Or his easier ears beguile,

So removed by our wile ?

‘Tis no sin love’s fruit to steal,

But the sweet theft to reveal :

To be taken, to be seen,

These have crimes accounted been.

A mystery solved!

clash

As mentioned at the top of the post I was no closer to finding out who it was in the original 1960’s photo until I happened to chance across it in an unexpected place.

I was lucky enough to have seen the Clash when they came to The Top Rank Suite in Dale End, Birmingham (about 1978 I think)I have been a fan ever since.  The first Clash album is one of my favourites and I especially like the song ‘Janie Jones’  which is one of the best songs on it.

I have always played the guitar – excruciatingly badly I admit – but it keeps me happy. I was trying to play ‘Janie Jones’ and decided to look up the chords on-line , I also wondered why the song was called Janie Jones and looked that up too.

I came across this website telling the story of Janie Jones, who was a London Madam, pop star and friend to the Clash. Check out her 1965 single ‘Witches brew’ and notice the picture that is 8 seconds in.

Mystery solved! – this is the photo of Janie taken as she attended the 1964 premiere of the film ‘London in the raw’  – this is the image I recall seeing on TV sometime in the past.

So – for the first ( & possibly last) time ever I have an excuse to put a Clash video on a blog about the Tudors! This is a video from 1977 – around the time that I saw them, what a great band and what a great front man Joe Strummer was –

RIP Joe.

He’s in love with rocknroll woaahh
Hes in love with gettin stoned woaahh
Hes in love with janie jones
But he dont like his boring job, no…

An he knows what hes got to do
So he knows hes gonna have fun with you
You lucky lady!
An he knows when the evening comes
When his job is done hell be over in his car for you

An in the in-tray lots of work
But the boss at the firm always thinks he shirks
But hes just like everyone, hes got a ford cortina
That just wont run without fuel
Fill her up, jacko!

An the invoice it dont quite fit,
Theres no payola in his alphabetical file
This time hes gonna really tell the boss
Gonna really let him know exactly how he feels
Its pretty bad!

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the-tudors

It was completely inevitable that a Tudor themed blog was going to end up discussing aspects of the TV show “the Tudors”. You will no doubt be aware that for a variety of reasons this caused a bit of a stir – this piece by Clemmie Moore in the Daily Mail sets the scene nicely.  Perhaps I will go into our opinion of this program at a later date but I thought I would touch upon the subject of breasts for this post.

come-live-with-me

I had been looking at an illustration in R.E. Pritchard’s book ‘Shakespeare’s England’ and came across a picture of a wealthy and well dressed lady. The image was taken from the Roxburghe ballads – I was interested to note that the dress the woman is wearing is so low cut as to expose her breasts. As copies of this are freely available online (and are well worth browsing through if you have a spare hour or two) I had a look at some of the images, I have reproduced a few of them here.

As you can see – it is quite clear that the women depicted are either showing a great deal of cleavage (left) or have completely exposed their breasts. What is going on here? Could ‘The Tudors’ actually be more accurate than we have given them credit for?

p321-rxbrgh-2

There is a suggestion that it was not uncommon for women to bare their breasts in public and that the fashion for doing so was adopted following the example set by women from the upper classes. Liza Picard discusses women’s dress in her book ‘Elizabeth’s London’ and covers the issue of Tudor attitudes towards the display of female breasts.

Apparently, the French ambassador was surprised to see Queen Elizabeth I with her bosom completely exposed. Picard goes on to say that reformers deplored this fashion and saw exposed breasts everywhere. Exactly what they really saw may be uncertain though as what is considered ‘indecent’ tends to vary from person to person?

roxburgh-p-392

I wonder though, about the extent to which images from the ballads can be taken as evidence for frequency of breast exposure? It is quite well known that putting a half naked woman on the front of a magazine is likely to increase it’s sales. I was (briefly) tempted to call this post something like ‘Warning! Naked Tudor breasts exposed’ – I suspect it would have increased our hits! but how many people would have come back and do we really want/need lots of hits from people who surf the net looking for breasts? (see this re this subject).

I think it is likely that the publishers of the ballads were just as aware that sex sells and this is the reason they include lots of half naked women? I also wonder about how acceptable it really was to show breasts? I don’t recall seeing any painted portraits of Queen Elizabeth or other court ladies with exposed breasts – unless anyone can correct me about this?

This post has also been featured on this website which is well worth a look.

See also Tudor breasts exposed again & a tribute to the Clash’

e-geezer

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