More’s cryptic reference explained?

In his unpublished semi-satirical volume, More has the Lord Protector and Defender of the Realm, Richard Duke of Gloucester who was also Lord High Constable of England for life, call for some strawberries before the Constable’s Court could pronounce sentence on William Lord Hastings.
Many historians have struggled to understand the significance of the strawberries yet it is a detail surely too trivial to totally invent. Perhaps the fact that a Duke, Marquis or Earl would have strawberry leaves on their coronet explains the point in that Gloucester required assistance from a fellow peer? Although Gloucester was one of only two adult Dukes that June, the absent More wrote thirty or forty years later when Sir John Howard and his son had both been Dukes of Norfolk. Similarly, those present might have included Thomas Lord Stanley, later Earl of Derby. There were no Marquises in 1483.

By super blue

Grandson of a Town player.


  1. Many years ago I read a theory that Gloucester was allergic to strawberries; that he ordered them and ate them to induce an allergic reaction w hich he then showed as proof of Woodville sorcery, and accused Hastings of joining with the Woodvilles.


  2. I don’t think Richard needed to resort to any tricks to accuse Hastings of anything. Someone had just informed him of Hastings’ treachery, and that was enough. Whoever the informer was, Richard thought of him/her as totally reliable. Stillington? A messenger from Richard’s mother? Whatever, Richard was convinced of being justified in ordering Hastings’ arrest and swift trial. Hastings and the Woodvilles didn’t like Richard because they lost power to him. It wasn’t loyalty to Edward IV or his sons, it was pure self-interest and resentment. As you will have guessed, I think they all deserved what they got. Richard had right and the law on his side. Biased? Moi? You bet!


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