The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Nine – Historical Tidbit

If you were to represent The Prince and the Pauper using a pie chart based on the topics discussed by Mark Twain, descriptions of clothing would take up a large portion of that chart. If you did the same thing for Chapter 9, it would take up the large majority. Mark Twain looooves describing what people are wearing. So for that reason, our Historical Tidbit for today is, of course….


Words like doublet, stockings, mantle, cloth-of-gold, and so many more clothing-related terms come up frequently throughout the story. So let’s explore these fashions a little further. Keep reading or watch the video below to get a look at Tudor fashions.

As stated earlier, Chapter 9 shows multiple moments where clothing is described. Below is one specific example of what Tom is wearing:

“He [Tom] was ‘magnificently habited in a doublet of white satin, with a front-piece of purple cloth-of-tissue, powdered with diamonds, and edged with ermine. Over this he wore a mantle of white cloth-of-gold, pounced with the triple-feathered crest, lined with blue satin, set with pearls and precious stones, and fastened with a clasp of brilliants. About his neck hung the order of the Garter, and several princely foreign orders;’ and wherever light fell upon him jewels responded with a blinding flash..”(p. 44)

What was the formal style for men?

What was the formal style for women?

Other notable clothing items


  • Caps decorated with badges, ribbons, and feathers
  • Slashed sleeves (revealing another fabric underneath)
  • Codpiece


  • Petticoats
  • Parlet (worn over corset)
  • Kirtle (underskirt)
  • Bumroll (padding around hips)
  • Leather shoes/boots
  • Silk/velvet slip-on shoes for indoor use

Tudor Sumptuary Laws

On the subject of royal fashions, it is also important to bring up the sumptuary laws. The word ‘sumptuary’ derives from the Latin ‘expenditure’. These laws were originally put into place during the reign of Edward the III (The Prince and the Pauper features Edward VI), and they applied to food, drink, furniture, jewelry, clothes, etc. These laws specific which nobles were allowed to wear certain clothing, fabric, and colors. These laws included, among other things, rules that only royals could wear purple, cloth of gold, and ermine. The penalty for breaking these lawas could be fines, or loss of property, title, or even life.

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Nine – Vocabulary

Have you ever used a phrase like “the vast majority” or have heard something like “In a vast desert like the Sahara…”? Sometimes we start using these common phrases, without necessarily thinking about what the individual words mean. Let’s break it down! Today our vocab word for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 9 is…


Mark Twain’s wonderful descriptive skills often create a picture in the reader’s mind of a number of different scenes from Tudor England. When describing facades, crowds, banquet halls, and other items related to royal life at the time, there is often no better way to describe them but “vast”. Keep reading or watch the video below to dive into this word.



(adj) very great in size, amount, extent/range

Often used before the word ‘majority’ modern day




  • Language of Origin: Latin
  • “vastus” meaning immense, extensive, huge; desolate, unoccupied, empty

Sentences/Additional Forms

  • Straightforward sentence: The astronauts in the space station stared down at the vast surface of Earth below.
  • Sentence from the chapter: “At nine in the evening the whole vast river-front of the palace was blazing with light.” (p. 42)
  • Other forms: vastly (adv.), vastness (n.)

But wait, there’s more!

How vast is space?

How many stars are in the sky? 100 thousand million in the Milky Way galaxy alone

How big is the (observable) universe? 93 billion light years (Going the speed of the fastest manmade object ever, it would take 4269 years to travel the distance of ONE light year)

How big is the sun? One million Earths could fit inside the sun

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The Prince and the Pauper Mad Lib

How are your grammar skills? Do you remember all your parts of speech? Mad libs are a great way to brush up on some of those skills, while having a little fun. We’ve created a Prince and the Pauper themed mad lib based on Chapter 1 – The Birth of the Prince and the Pauper.

Include your email below and fill in the form based on the descriptions listed next to each box. Then click the “Submit” button and your completed mad lib will be sent to your inbox! Enjoy!

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Eight – Fun Fact

Have you ever had a dream that appeared to tell the future? How about one that foreshadowed someone’s death? In Chapter 8, Henry VIII has a “troublous dream” that he interprets as on omen for his own passing. So is that possible? Do our dreams possess the capability to anticipate future events? The Fun Fact that we explore for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 8 is…

Can dreams predict death?

What a powerful and terrifying idea! Keep reading or watch the video below for more information.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“About five o’clock Henry VIII. awoke out of an unrefreshing nap, and muttered to himself, ‘Troublous dreams, troublous dreams! Mine end is now at hand:  so say these warnings, and my failing pulses do confirm it.’”  (p. 39)

This scene shows Henry waking up and sensing, both from his dreams and his weak pulse, that his end is near. We also see him losing his strength at multiple points throughout this chapter. And spoiler alert: he’s not wrong; he only has a limited time left to live.

Can dreams predict the future?

Dreams that predict the future are referred to as “precognitive dreams”. Supposedly they are dreams that give you information about the future you wouldn’t otherwise have. If you are like me, your mind automatically goes to the movie Minority Report and the “precogs”. But I digress. At this point, there is no scientific evidence that precognitive dreams exist.

However, there is research that suggests that up to a third of people have reported some type of precognitive experience. Some studies say that these numbers could be even higher. Some studies suggest that this could be caused by selective recall, meaning that we remember more of the events in our life that match up with events that happened in our dreams. Other explanations could be that they are caused by association of unrelated events, coincidence, or subconscious connections.

Can dreams predict death?

A researcher named Dr. Andrew Paquette studied this very question. From 1989-2014, he recorded the events of 11,779 of his dreams. Then he published an anlysis of these dreams in 2015, specifically focusing on those that were death-related. He had a total of 87 death-related dreams that featured 50 identifiable people.

By the time he did the study, 12 of the 50 identifiable people in his death-related dreams were already dead (24%). He also found that the date of these death-related dreams about the people who had died generally happened closer to their death dates than other non-death-related dreams about them. One of his dreams actually happened the same day the person died, and he claims he woke up certain that morning that that person had died!

Though these results are certainly very interesting to examine, there is still not any solid evidence that our dreams can predict the future, let alone death.

Signs of Death in Dreams

Despite having no significant evidence of the predictive power of our dreams, there are still a large number of people that place a lot of emphasis on dream omens. Here are a few omens that supposedly can signify death in dreams:

  1. Black
  2. Snakes
  3. Black cats
  4. Falling teeth
  5. Black bird
  6. Nursing baby
  7. Saving a drowning man
  8. Travel plans
  9. Repetitive nightmares
  10. Singing and dancing
  11. Drinking alone

If you’ve experienced any of these omens (I know I have!) I wouldn’t read too much into it. But it certainly is interesting to thing about!

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Eight – Historical Tidbit

Believe it or not, Henry VIII started out as a healthy, handsome, and strong young king. It wasn’t until later in life where he became the king most remember him for today — ornery, overweight, ill, and many-wived. So where did it all go wrong? Today our Historical Tidbit for Chapter 8 of The Prince and the Pauper is…


If you’ve ever done any exploration into the medical practices of the past, you probably agree that it’s shocking anyone even lived past childhood. Yet somehow, amongst plagues, infections, and terrifyingly unhygienic practices, people still survived! Unfortunately for Henry VIII, that luck eventually ran out. Keep reading or watch the video below to find out more about his failing health.

Chapter 8 shows multiple moments where we see his health start to fade. Below is one specific example:

“His voice failed; an ashen pallor swept the flush from his cheeks; and the attendants eased him back upon his pillows, and hurriedly assisted him with restoratives. ” (p. 39)

How did Henry’s health fail?

Henry started out very healthy and atheltic. Most people agree that the start of his failing health was a jousting accident. It happened on January 24, 1536, while he was still married to Anne Boleyn (his second wife). During a joust match, he was knocked from his horse, and the horse actually fell on him. As a result of this, he suffered a concussion. He also had an ulcer burst on his left leg, which had formed from a previous injury. He ended up getting ulcers on both of his legs, which led to many infections throughout the rest of his life.

What happened as a result?

There were many different ailments that happened as a result of this accident including:

  • He began to eat large amounts to compensate for pain (likely more than 300 lbs at death, maybe almost 400)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Some believe paranoia, anxiety, depression, and mental deterioration
  • Possibly suffered from Type II diabetes, syphillis, Cushing’s syndrome (endocrine problem), myxedema (caused by hypothyroidism)
  • Died January 28, 1547 (age 55) of renal (kidney) and liver failure

What were some other theories about his health?

Obviously now that we have a deeper understanding of the human body and diseases, scientists, doctors, and researchers can look back on the symptoms Henry was experiencing and can make some other guesses about what might have been happening.

One theory is that he was Kell positive (a rare blood group). “When a Kell positive man impregnates a Kell negative woman, there is a 50 percent chance of provoking an immune response in the woman’s body that attacks her developing fetus.” It is believed this this could possibly be what caused his wives to have so many miscarriages and so few healthy children.

Another theory is that he could have had McLeod Syndrome. “The disease generally affects only men and usually sets in around age 40 with symptoms including heart disease, movement disorders and major psychological symptoms, including paranoia and mental decline.” These symptoms match up with many of the descriptions of Henry in his later years, so it certainly seems possible.

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Eight – Vocabulary

In Chapter 8, we find out how the king approved royal documents in a time where literacy rates were low, and signatures would be mostly meaningless. So what would be used instead? Today our vocab word is…


The King’s Royal Seal was one of his most valuable posessions, and in Chapter 8 it goes MISSING…dun dun dun! The tradition of a seal still lives on to this day, most often by being pressed into hot wax on the back of a fancy envelope for things like wedding invitations. Keep reading or watch the video below for more information on the word ‘seal’.



(n) a material with a design stamped into it to approve documents

acts as a sort of signature




  • Language of Origin: Latin
  • “sigillum” meaning small picture, engraved figure, seal

  • Language of Origin: Old French
  • “seel” meaning seal on a letter

Sentences/Additional Forms

  • Straightforward sentence: The King used his royal seal to show he approved the document.
  • Sentence from the chapter: “The King dropped into inarticulate mumblings…gropingly trying to recollect what he had done with the Seal”  (p. 40)
  • Other forms: seal/sealed (v.) – to fasten/close securely

But wait, there’s more!

So when did we switch to signatures?

Signatures didn’t widely catch on until the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. At that time, education and literacy were on the rise. In addition, most agreements were made in writing. In 1677, something called the Statute of Frauds was put in place in England. It said that contracts must exist in writing and must contain a signature. Obviously this contributed to the rise in signature use. This practice was also carried over to colonial America.

What were some other ways that have been used to show approval?

  • Press a signet ring into beeswax
  • Signet rings in general
  • Cutting off a lock of hair
  • Slapping (or other traumatic acts)
  • Signing an “x”

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The Best Advice from The Prince and the Pauper

With the start of the new year, it’s always a time where people look to improve themselves, whether they intend on sticking to it or not. For this reason, we felt this would be a good time to explore the best pieces of advice that can be found in The Prince and the Pauper in Chapters 1-7, as well as what we would imagine would be the resolutions for some of the characters at this point in the story.

Piece of Advice #1: Learn Latin/Languages

” [Edward] ‘Know’st thou the Latin?’
[Tom] ‘But scantly, sir, I doubt.’
[Edward] ‘Learn it, lad: ’tis hard only at first. The Greek is harder;’ ” (p.6)

“ ‘ ‘Tis a pity, ’tis a pity!  Thou wert proceeding bravely.  But bide thy time in patience:  it will not be for long.  Thou’lt yet be graced with learning like thy father, and make thy tongue master of as many languages as his, good my prince.’ ” (p.15)

In Chapter 3, Edward gives Tom some advice about learning Latin. Apparenty it is only hard when you start off, and besides it’s way easier than Greek. Though I’m not sure this advice would make Tom feel more confident in his Latin studies, we still agree with the sentiment. This idea is reiterated in Chapter 7, when Tom is talking with Lady Elizabeth and Lady Jane. The fact that he is pausing his studies comes up in conversation, and one of the little ladies pops in to tell Tom (who she believes is Edward) not to be discouraged because he will soon be able to continue his studies, and then he will be able to master many languages.

Studying other languages has so many benefits as seen in our blog post about polyglots. Latin in particular can be beneficial in so many ways. It helps to develop a foundation that can support the learning of so many different languages – Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and more! It also helps with English vocabulary, since so many of our words stem from Latin roots.

Piece of Advice #2: Take time off of work for leisure

” ‘List ye all! This my son is mad; but it is not permanent. Over-study hath done this, and somewhat too much of confinement. Away with his books and teachers! see ye to it. Pleasure him with sports, beguile him in wholesome ways, so that his health come again.’ ” (p. 12)

In Chapter 5, King Henry VIII gives Tom (who he thinks is Edward) this solid advice. He believes that Edward has gone mad due to over-studying. So his solution is for Edward (really Tom) to take some time off of school to rest and rejuvinate.

I think this is powerful advice for people of any age to take. Too much time spent working (either in school or a job) can cause anyone to be burnt out. It’s important to work in time for leisure activities, or all we’ll all go mad!

Piece of Advice #3: If you can’t remember, pretend you do

” ‘Remember all thou canst—seem to remember all else.’ ” (p. 15)

In Chapter 6, Lord St. John gives Tom (who he thinks is Edward) this profound tip. At this point in the story, Tom has been given explicit orders from the King that he is no longer allowed to deny being the true prince. So Lord St. John elaborates on this command by given Tom the advice to try to remember all that he can, and when he doesn’t remember, just pretend!

Although this could be a dangerous tip at times (honesty is always the best policy) I think this little tip is in line with telling a little white lie every now and then. If one of your best friends is recalling a time where you watched a hilarious movie with them and you don’t really remember, just nod your head and laugh along! If your significant other surprises you by stating it’s your 5th year anniversary, pretend like you did not completely forget (and rush out to the store to get them a present ASAP!)

Character New Year’s Resolutions

Character’s NameNew Year’s Resolutions
TomTo make it through a royal dinner without embarassing myself
To convince Henry VIII not to rush the Duke of Norfolk’s death
EdwardTo get my throne back from that pauper usurper!
To open a school for the Christ’s Church boys
To swim in the river and play in the mud
King Henry VIIITo get my boy healthy again
To see the Duke of Norfolk’s head on a platter before I die

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Seven – Fun Fact

Chapter 7 contains one of my favorite scenes in The Prince and the Pauper. Mark Twain exaggerates Tom’s first experience with his many royal servants for a comedic effect. It all culminates in a moment where Tom begins to twitch and his eyes begin to water. He finally reveals that his nose itches, and he is unsure if there is a servant to perform that task for him. So naturally that led me to wonder…

Why does our nose itch?

Poor Tom sat their miserably before finally scratching his itch. So what caused it? Keep reading or watch the video below for more information.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“At that moment the muscles of his nose began to twitch, and the end of that organ to lift and wrinkle. This continued, and Tom began to evince a growing distress. He looked appealingly, first at one and then another of the lords about him, and tears came into his eyes. They sprang forward with dismay in their faces, and begged to know his trouble.

Tom said with genuine anguish—“I crave your indulgence: my nose itcheth cruelly. What is the custom and usage in this emergence? Prithee, speed, for ’tis but a little time that I can bear it.” None smiled; but all were sore perplexed, and looked one to the other in deep tribulation for counsel. But behold, here was a dead wall, and
nothing in English history to tell how to get over it.

The Master of Ceremonies was not present: there was no one who felt safe to venture upon this uncharted sea, or risk the attempt to solve this solemn problem. Alas! there was no Hereditary Scratcher. Meantime the tears had overflowed their banks, and begun to trickle down Tom’s cheeks. His twitching nose was pleading more urgently than ever for relief. At last nature broke down the barriers of etiquette:  Tom lifted up an inward prayer for pardon if he was doing wrong, and brought relief to the burdened hearts of his court by scratching his nose himself.” (p. 36-37)

I always enjoy this part of the book because this quote is followed up by Tom stating that his father doesn’t speak any languages except for maybe the language of the pigs. This causes everyone in the room to give him a shocked look, since for them it sounds as if he is talking about King Henry. So he needs to quickly apologize and blame his “sickness”.

What causes an itch (pruritis)?

The feeling of an itch is caused by irritation of skin cells or nerve cells associated with skin. The nerve endings that sense the itch (pruriceptors) can be stimulated though many different methods, including mechanical, chemical, or thermal means. Usually the cause of the itching feeling is related to inflammation, dryness, or damage to the skin, mucous membrane, or eye.

Why does it help to scratch an itch?

I’m no science expert, but from my very basic understanding of the sources I examined, here is the simplified explanation. Specific nerve cells called C-fibers send signals to our brain. These are identical to nerve cells associated with pain. When the signal reaches the brain, it causes a reflex of rubbing or scratching. The action of scratching/rubbing stimulates other receptors in the same area, disrupting the pruriceptor stimulation. This only causes temporary relief though, as many people know from personal experience.

What causes our nose to itch?

Here are some of the causes of a nose itch:

  1. Seasonal allergies – common
  2. Rhinitis (inflammation of the nose) – common
  3. Allergic contact dermatitis (nose contacts allergen) – common
  4. Dermatofibroma (swelling/lump in skin) – rare
  5. Chronic allergies – common
  6. Insect bite – common
  7. Normal episode of itchy skin (pruritis) – common
  8. Viruses – common
  9. Sinusitis – common
  10. Nasal polyps (non-cancerous growths in nose) – common
  11. Migraines – less common

Ways to get rid of a nose tickle

  1. Saltwater nasal spray
  2. Neti pot
  3. Drink more fluids
  4. Avoid triggers
  5. Avoid irritating the nose further
  6. Humidifier
  7. Check for irritants
  8. Take medication

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Seven – Historical Tidbit

Do you ever feel like you wish someone would pick up your cup and just hand it to you? Or wish that someone would dress you in the morning? How about someone to help you go to the bathroom? Too far? If you answered yes to all of these questions then you might do well in a royal palace. Personally, this sounds like a nightmare to me, but I wanted to find out more about the people who did these roles. The Historical Tidbit for Chapter 7 of The Prince and the Pauper is focused on…


There are many different types of servants constantly butting in to force their service upon Tom in The Prince and the Pauper. Most of the time he is just annoyed, which adds to Mark Twain’s satire. But I wanted to look into these servants a little bit more. Keep reading or watch the video below for more information.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 7 that mentions a number of different servants.

“…for the great post of Diaperers…Tom’s cupbearer was present…My Lord d’Arcy, First Groom of the Chamber, was there, to do goodness knows what; but there he was—let that suffice. The Lord Chief Butler was there, and stood behind Tom’s chair, overseeing the solemnities, under command of the Lord Great Steward and the Lord Head Cook, who stood near. Tom had three hundred and eighty-four servants beside these…”. (p. 35)

What were some servant roles?

In the time of King Henry VIII, there were two main departments that controlled most of the palace operations. The first was the Lord Chamberlain’s department. This group took care of the staterooms or the “seen” areas of the palace. They would focus on the rooms where important people woudl gather and discuss business. The other department was the Lord Steward’s. This department focused on the “below stairs” areas like the kitchens.

Some of the different roles that fell under the responsiblity of the Chamberlain include:

  • Laundress – ensure clothes, sheets, towels, and tablecloths wre clean
  • Chambermaids – tidy up and make rooms ready, prepare fires
  • Groom of the chamber – help put on outer clothes
  • Groom of the stool – helped the king use the toilet 

Some of the roles that fell under the responsiblity of the Steward are:

  • Cook – kitchens and food prep
  • Servers – served food
  • Cupbearers – held cups
  • ‘Spit-boys’ – turned meat on spits in front of the fires
  • Tasters – tested all food/drink for poison

What were the perks of being a servant?

There were many perks to being a servant in Henry VIII’s (and Edward VI’s) household. First of all, you get free food. Palace food was good even for the servants! They also had a ration of candles, wine, and beer. Additionally, they had free lodging. The accommodations where the servants stayed had varying levels of luxury based on the position that they had. Sometimes these rooms (often the more luxurious ones) had their own ‘ensuite’ toilets and chimneys. For those servants without their own toilets, they had access to the “Great House of Easement”, a toilet block that could seat up to 14!

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Seven – Vocabulary

The vocabulary word for Chapter 7 in The Prince and the Pauper is a versatile one. It is a verb that can be applied to behavior, physics, music, leadership, and all with slightly different meanings. Today we dive into the word…


The word ‘conducted’ comes up in The Prince and the Pauper fourteen times! For this reason, and for the somewhat unique way in which Twain uses it in the story, it became an ideal choice for a vocab word focus. Keep reading or watch the video below to get more information about the word.



(adj) led by a guide
(v) organized and carried out

train conductor
conductor (orchestra/choir)




  • Language of Origin: Latin
  • “conductus” meaning to guide, accompany, and show the way
  • “conducere” meaning to lead or bring together; contribute, serve,
  • “com” = with/together and “ducere” = to lead

Sentences/Additional Forms

  • Straightforward sentence: The committee was conducted to a private meeting room in order to discuss the issue.
  • Sentence from the chapter: “He was presently conducted with much state to a spacious and ornate apartment, where a table was already set for one.” (p. 35)
  • Other forms: conducting (v.), conductible (adj.); conduct (n)

But wait, there’s more!

Below is information about some jobs that involve conducting:

JobDescriptionResponsibilitiesAverage Salary
Train Conductorwork aboard trains and coordinate the daily activities of train crewsOversee loading/unloading of cargoOversee safe and orderly transport of passengersCheck passengers’ ticketsTake payments from passengersAssist passengers as necessaryAnnounce stations$58,780
Music Conductordirect musical performances by orchestras and choral groupsunify performersset the tempoexecute clear preparations and beatslisten critically and shape the sound of the ensembleto control the interpretation and pacing of the music$49,132

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