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Archive for the month “Mar, 2020”

A king in a car park…now a king in your front garden….?

The burial places of kings continue to be located in the British Isles, and this latest one is in East Belfast.

“….four centuries after the death of a Gaelic lord, the site in east Belfast where historic records say he is buried is up for sale to developers.

“….Look around the place names in east Belfast and you might notice a theme: Connswater Shopping Centre, Connswater Bridge, Connswater River.

“….They are named after Conn O’Neill, the Lord of Upper Clandeboye, referred to by some as the last King of Castlereagh, who ruled from 1601 to 1619….”

To read more go to this article.

And then resort to your piggy banks, because the site is up for sale!

The Symbolism of the Wild Boar

For many people, seeing a picture of a boar means just seeing a wild animal or a very good meat to eat but for Ricardians it is totally different. The white boar is the emblem of King Richard III, who chose it at some point after he became Duke of Gloucester, when he was able to retain men and array troops. This happened when he was 17, so it is plausible that the choice was made around 1469. What inspired his choice is hard to say. There are many theories around this subject including the word “boar” in itself. In medieval times, the term “boar was spelt “bore” and there is a theory that it could be the anagram of “ebor”, the Roman name of the City of York. It is arguable but as a symbol, what does the boar represent? My personal curiosity pushed me to investigate further and what I have discovered is incredibly fascinating.

The symbolism of the boar changes depending on cultures and countries but many characteristics are common to them and unchanged in time. The boar is an animal that fights till its last breath when hunted, especially if she is a mother. Boars never give up, even if the enemy is clearly more powerful than they are. Fearless and hard to kill, they challenge predators and humans who hunt them. Because of this characteristic, they represent bravery, command, control and fighting spirit. As the meat of the boar is of very high quality, they also represent gatherings and generosity but abundance, courage, stubbornness and power too. It is interesting that the remains of boars have been found in tribal leaders’ burial places to symbolize heroes and warriors.

Many warriors chose the boar as their emblem, especially Anglo-Saxons and Norse leaders. For these cultures and especially in Beowulf, the boar represented ferocity in battle and loyalty to the king. It is possible that the story of Beowulf inspired Richard to choose the boar and his motto to express loyalty to his brother, Edward. Beowulf himself went into battle with a boar-head standard as the symbol of his power as a leader and as a sign of courage.

In Celtic and Arthurian myths, the boar is again the main character in many stories about boar hunting. Twch Trywth was a king who turned into a wild boar. King Arthur started chasing him across the Celtic lands but he went missing into the sea. For this reason, in a Welsh legend, the boar is seen as the antagonist of Arthur himself. Celts also consider the boar as a symbol of the marriage bed because they are believed to bring fertility and to represent virility and great sexual power, in this case a night of love and passion that led to pregnancy. As they protect their offspring to the death, they symbolize good mothering and defenders of honour, righteousness and justice. Celts also thought that the boar was a holy, mystical and mysterious creature and Druids associated him with the incarnation of spiritual power. Its head represents good health and incredible strength. Their flesh is the food of gods and warriors and it is a sacrificial animal. Many are the tales about this aspect of the boar. In the Philippines, eating boar’s meat means replenishment of life.

In Northern mythology, it is said that a wild boar was sacrificed to Freya, the goddess of earth and fertility. The sacrifice took place in midwinter so it is likely that the boar represented the sun and the sacrifice, the rebirth of the sun. Being a symbol of truth, it had a role in the swearing of sacred oaths. On Yule Eve, people put their hands on the boar to swear oaths to the king. After this, it was sacrificed to Freya and its flesh eaten to absorb its power. Today, for Yule Eve, people cook bread in the shape of a boar.

In Indian mythology, the boar is once again seen as the symbol of life and fertility but also as a saviour. Brahmin Vishnu saved the earth in the form of a wild boar. The demon, Hiranyaksha, the enemy of the gods, had sunk the earth into the ocean . The wild boar, Varaha, killed the demon and lifted the earth from the water with his tusks.

Indian tribes see the boar as an example of bravery, honesty, self-confidence and the ability to face problems. They also consider him as an emblem of assertiveness and confrontation, a way to face and overcome fears.

Many crests have the boar as a symbol. Apart from Richard III (the best known leader who adopted the boar as his own symbol) a boar’s head appears in the crest of the clan Mackinnon.

Boars are social animals but they don’t trust strangers. All their actions aim at success and they pursue their goal even at the cost of their life. Notwithstanding their poor eyesight, they have a powerful sense of smell and hearing. The symbology of this is that we should look beneath the surface at all those things that can trouble us and push ourselves to uncover the truth hidden by lies.

 

 

Was there a monstrous serpent and treasure hoard near Ludlow…or not?

 

We all know Thomas of Walsingham. Well, not personally, of course, although sometimes it seems like it. He was a very busy fellow, and did not always record simple ‘history’, but included some strange stories as well. In the year 1344, he recorded a ‘remarkable tale’ about John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, 7th and final earl of his line.

Warenne was one of the nobles who disapproved of Piers Gaveston, but wavered about killing him and was eventually part of Edward II’s party. He and his brother-in-law, the 9th Earl of Arundel, were the last two nobles to stay loyal to the king after Isabella and Mortimer took over. When Arundel was executed, Warenne went over to the queen’s side. He had no children, and was eventually succeeded by his nephew, the 10th Earl of Arundel. He died in 1347 at the age of 61, after making strenuous efforts to produce a legitimate heir of his own! He was estranged from his first wife, kept a mistress who gave him illegitimate children, and then married again to a young wife who gave him no children at all. Well, we can’t say the earl didn’t try!

This story has often been wrongly told of Bromfield in Herefordshire, but is actually much more likely to have been Bromfield, just north-west of Ludlow in the Welsh Marches. Why? Well, for one thing the latter was held by John de Warenne, which the former was not. Bromfield in Herefordshire had been in the hands of the monks of Bromfield Priory since the time of the Confessor, and the whole strange tale I am about to relate took place on the property of John de Warenne, and purports to relate exactly how the earl became quite as rich as he was. Not that he was ever a poor man, you understand.

It seems that a Saracen doctor came to Warenne, to tell him of a terrible serpent (dragon?) that lived in a cave near Bromfield. The Saracen begged permission to kill and remove the awful creature, which was about to terrorise the entire area. The earl, naturally enough, agreed to the request. Well, wouldn’t you? I mean, who wants a pesky huge, mean-hearted serpent on the loose on your land?

The Saracen said that he would perform his task alone, and after warning everyone to stay away from the cave, which posed mortal danger to anyone who did not know what they were doing, he went secretly to slay the monstrous serpent. Later, task done (or so he said) he returned to say he had rid the area of the threat.

Now, we all know that serpents and dragons in caves are there to guard huge treasure hoards, right? Yes, indeed, and it was soon around the area that this serpent too had been guarding such a treasure. No longer afraid of the cave, some local men went to search it…and after a while found the evidence they sought.

In the meantime, however, the earl’s men got wind of what was going on, and told him. Angry to think he was being swindled out of this huge treasure, he sent his men to get the treasure, which he took into his own coffers. And that, my friends, is how John de Warenne became as dizzily rich as he reputedly was.

Now, some accounts of this story say that the Saracen continued to warn of dangers in the cave, that he knew about the treasure and even said it was there! It’s said he intended to go back for it himself. But that seems unlikely to me. If he knew there was a hoard in the cave, why not go and get it in the first place? Why invent a mighty serpent guardian? And certainly why, when he came back a lauded serpent-slayer, would he tell the locals what was hidden in the cave?

Well, to be fair, perhaps he had indeed fought, killed and disposed of the beast. Who can say? But only a daftie would let slip that there was a huge hoard of gold or whatever just waiting to be found. He’d have been trampled in the rush!

I don’t know the truth of it, of course. Maybe there is a more comprehensive version of the tale? If so, I would like to hear it. In the meantime, if anyone tells you there is a monstrous serpent guarding a cave near you, don’t believe it. Just get to that cave pdq and get the treasure before someone else does!

A National Emergency Library….

I hope this is of use to at least some of you.

“….To address our unprecedented global and immediate need for access to reading and research materials, as of today, March 24, 2020, the Internet Archive will suspend waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in our lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners. This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later….”

To find out more, go to this link

 

The Crown Jewels of East Anglia?

Picture: Birmingham Museums Trust

This excellent EADT article suggests that a horde found near Tamworth about ten years ago included some crown jewels worn by Anna* or Onna, the (Wuffing) King of East Anglia and nephew of Raedwald. He is likely to have died in a 653/4 battle near Blythburgh, along with his Bishop, Thomas, fighting against Penda’s pagan Mercians. Tamworth is, of course, in Mercia and parts of the treasure can be seen there: in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as well as the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. All five of Anna’s children, including Ethelreda (Audrey) and Jurmin, his only son who died in the same battle.

* Male, despite his name, as were the C16 French warrior Anne de Montmorency and the historian Sharon Turner.

How Richard III changed Leicester….

Was it really only five years ago? Sometimes it seems like forever. And for me, the most affecting thing is still seeing Richard’s Book of Hours, which is thought to have been with him in his tent at Bosworth. I confess I had tears in my eyes. It just seemed so very personal to him. One of the prayers inside it reads: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, deign to free me, your servant King Richard, from every tribulation, sorrow and trouble in which I am placed…’  Yes, he was thrust into these tribulations, he didn’t seek them, and he paid a terrible price for shouldering the burden.

The day of his reinterment in Leicester Cathedral was truly momentous, as you’ll read here here

The discovery of Richard’s remains has made such a difference to Leicester. And rightly so. The city has taken him to its heart.

News from around the tomb….

We remember the tragic helicopter accident that cost the life of much-loved former chairman of Leicester City Football Club Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. What with the discovery of Richard III’s remains and the club’s surge in victories, it was a truly devastating blow.

He donated toward Richard’s reinterment in Leicester Cathedral, and now, thanks to his foundation, the revamp of Leicester Cathedral itself is to receive £800K. He was, and remains, a true friend of Leicester.

From here :-

“….A charity foundation named after Leicester City’s former chairman is donating £800,000 towards the restoration of the city’s cathedral.

“….Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was killed in a helicopter crash near the football stadium in October last year.

“….After his death the football club renamed its existing Leicester City Foxes Foundation after him….”

Margaret Beaufort married John of Gaunt….!

 

wood carving of Sir Christopher Urswick in Urswick School’s musuem

I always thought Starkey was a waspish prig (his public opinion of those who support Richard III is just as derogatory!) but having read this article, I think he’s slap-dash as well. Certainly he can’t be checking what goes out to herald the latest of his lectures – this one will no doubt manage to be another anti-Richard diatribe. It’s based around Christopher Urswick, and here’s a quote from the above link:-

“Born in Furness, Cumbria, in 1448 Christopher Urswick had a remarkable life….He was a priest but and [sic] became a confessor of Margaret Beaufort. She had married King Edward III’s son, John of Gaunt, when she was just 13. Not long after she gave birth to his child, Henry, she was widowed.”

I had no idea that Margaret and her son were that old…or that such an extra skeleton lurked in their capacious cupboard. Henry VII would have been cock-a-hoop to claim Gaunt as his father! But I wonder if Gaunt was aware of this extra wife and son?

Visit to Rayleigh and Hadleigh – 20th July 2019

via Visit to Rayleigh and Hadleigh – 20th July 2019

The “Devilish Dame” of Lincolnshire….

Christians and Saracens, found on Pinterest

According to https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=hdovAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA342&lpg=PA342&dq=elizabeth+devilish+dame&source=bl&ots=ZZGPTAz6n6&sig=ACfU3U00pw4KiBMUmlu-OBTeW7AFdQIeXQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj2ipLJwPvlAhVYSxUIHblZCHQQ6AEwAnoECAwQAg#v=onepage&q=elizabeth%20devilish%20dame&f=false in the middle of the 14th century, Sir Thomas Holand of Estovening (Estoveninghall, Estovenhall) Manor in the parish of Swineshead in Lincolnshire, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Piers Tempest.

Swineshead, Lincolnshire, from http://www.swinesheadhistory.com/

Elizabeth was apparently known as the “Devilish Dame”, and the unfortunate (or exceedingly wise!) Sir Thomas spent most of his time in the Holy Land, coming home only every seven years.

I have, as yet, been unable to discover why Elizabeth earned this epithet. Was she accused of being a witch? Did she call up tempests (sorry!) or raise demons? Or did she simply have such a vile temper that her husband preferred to face the Saracens? Whatever, one may read what one will into Sir Thomas’s almost permanent absence from England.

Witch raising a storm, 1562. From Olaus Magnus Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus, Antwerp. (Coloured black and white print).

Incidentally, Swineshead Abbey “….is famous for the poisoning of King John after his baggage train had been washed away on the tide at Sutton Bridge. It is debatable whether any treasure was actually lost in this accident and there is an excellent book by Richard Waters called ‘The Lost Treasure of King John’, in which the author puts forward a number of different scenarios as explanation for the supposed loss…”

available from Amazon

 

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