The royal art of hoping to die in your bed….
Well, I was at a temporary loose end, pondering what to do to while away a Saturday afternoon…and what did I come up with? Why, assembling scenes of the deaths of monarchs of England. Of course. The devil makes work for idle hands, and mine were indeed idle.
So here are our kings and queens, from Edward the Confessor to Elizabeth I. The line was drawn at the Stuarts, Georgians and so on, in whom I am just not particularly interested. Some of the monarchs who did interest me were most reluctant to divulge their death, funeral or burial scenes, and for them I had to settle for tomb effigies and the like.
The only trouble is…well, when push comes to shove, so to speak…a monarch dying in a bed is, well, someone dying in a bed. It’s difficult for even the most talented artist to come up with something different. At least Elizabeth I seems to have opted for the floor at the foot of her bed, which was indeed an innovative move.
Some of the scenes are the stuff of myth or legend, for example the death of Henry VI…by a murderer who couldn’t be anyone other than Richard of Gloucester. And then there’s the death of Edward V and his brother, smothered so vilely in their beds on the orders of that same Richard. Another is the illustration of a remarkably svelte Henry VIII commending his son, Edward VI, to rule in his place. Did Henry really lose that much weight before dying?
Anyway, here goes:-
Edward the Confessor, 1042-1066, and Harold Godwinson, 1066 If Harold did indeed die in this way. The Bayeux Tapestry is certain he did.
William the Conqueror, 1066-1087 and William Rufus, 1087-1100
Henry I, 1100-1135, and King Stephen, 1135-1154
Empress Matilda, 1141, and Henry II, 1154-1189
Richard I, the Lionheart, 1189-1199, and King John, 1199-1216
Henry III, 1216-1272, and Edward I, 1272-1307
Edward II, 1307-1327, and Edward III, 1327-1377. Was Edward II really killed in such a horrific way? And what was the truth about Alice Perrers and Edward III’s rings?
Richard II, 1377-1399, and Henry IV, 1399-1413
Henry V, 1413-1422, and Henry VI, 1422-1461 Yes, Henry VI’s murderer just has to be Richard of Gloucester. And just look at those evil spurs! Only Beelzebub would have such things!
Edward IV, 1461-1483, and Edward V, 1483. I won’t bother with the break in Edward IV’s reign. As for the deaths of the boys in the Tower. Well, Richard again, of course. No one else in the whole wide world had even a teensy motive for being rid of them. Right?
Richard III, 1483-1485 – the best of them all!
Henry VII, 1485-1509 and Henry VIII, 1509-1547
Edward VI, 1547-1553, and Queen Jane Grey, 1553
Mary I, 1553-1558, and Elizabeth I, 1558-1603
The following site is also quite interesting for royal deaths and mourning:- http://www.gutenberg.org/files/44379/44379-h/44379-h.htm