Brazen by Katherine Longshore: Classroom Ideas

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Brazen by Katherine Longshore is teeming with history — and that’s the focus of today’s post. Ideas for classroom discussion, essay topics, and project ideas inspired by Brazen:

henry viiiDiscussion & Essay Topics:

  • Discuss why you think the King really forbid his son and Mary Howard from consummating their marriage. Was it really paranoia? What would have been more political or strategic reasons?
  • Consider if Henry FitzRoy had survived; how do you think the future of the English monarchy might have been different (or the same)?
  • After Henry FitzRoy’s death, it was suggested multiple times that Mary be wed to Thomas Seymour. What would have been the social/political reasons for her family to encourage this match? Why do you think she refused so adamantly? (Mary never remarried.)
  • Discuss bravery as a theme in Brazen.Who do you think is really brave? What defines acts of bravery?
  • In Brazen,the author suggests that Mary and Henry FitzRoy were truly in love. Study the real lives of Mary and Henry FitzRoy, and discuss whether you think they may have actually had genuine feelings for each other. Why or why not? Support your argument with historical evidence.

Project Ideas:

  • brazenChart the travels of the King’s court between 1533 and 1536 (during which Brazen takes place). Show on a map when and where the King and his court traveled during those years. Study why the King’s court traveled.
  • Very little is known about Mary Howard, especially after the death of Henry FitzRoy and her departure from court. Imagine what her later years might have been like, after finally being granted some rights to her late husband’s lands and wealth. Write a short story from Mary’s perspective about her life as a widow, away from court.
  • The book that Mary, Margaret and Madge pass back and forth was inspired by the real-life Devonshire Manuscript. Create a replica of what you imagine this diary would look like — complete with their notes and scribbles.
  • Create a Tudor family tree, and explore the marriages and children that made up the extended royal family.

For the comments: Share your ideas for using Brazen in the classroom!

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