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Archive for the month “Apr, 2020”

My Questions About Richard III.

If Richard was planning to seize the throne all along why did he a.) start by getting everyone in Yorkshire to swear allegiance to Edward V and b.) set off south with only a modest retinue of 300 men? Given that he was in a position to raise most of the north in arms, wouldn’t it have been a good idea to do just that?

If we accept that Richard did not initially plan to seize the throne what made him change his mind? a.) An attempted ambush by the Woodvilles/Wydevilles? b.) The realisation that he ‘couldn’t work’ with Edward V? c.) The discovery of the precontract? d.) Or did he just wake up one morning and think ‘**** it, I’ve not got any supporters down here but I’ll take the throne anyway!’

Why did Elizabeth Woodville run off into sanctuary, given that the Woodvilles were (supposedly) innocent of any wrong-doing? As a woman and a Queen, no one was going to kill her, and by staying out and standing her ground, could she not have made Richard’s work a lot more difficult to achieve?

Why did Richard only send for his supporters when things had already kicked off and when it was actually too late for them to get to London to help him? Was he really that bad a planner or is it more likely that he was taken by surprise by some development?

Why did Anthony Woodville send off for an exemplification of his powers to recruit troops in Wales just at this particular time? Did he think Owain Glyndwr had come back or had he some other purpose for raising armed men?

 

(Reblogged from The Yorkist Age)

Peter Wilkinson, cameraman to the Queen….and (wishfully) to centuries of history….?

The background is of the Bosworth Re-enactment 2014 by Jim Monk. In the foreground is Peter Wilkinson

I have just watched an extremely interesting documentary called Camerman to the Queen, about the exceedingly talented and prudent royal cameraman, Peter Wilkinson, who is clearly not only brilliant at what he does, but is also the complete soul of discretion. He’s trusted by the Queen and royal family, blends in matchlessly and can be relied upon to achieve amazing records of her many engagements. Over 300 in a year, in fact. She’s a very diligent, attentive and dedicated lady, and he holds her in complete respect. Rightly so.

Peter began as an apprentice cameraman and graduated to become a news cameraman whose assignments included many truly momentous events in the 20th and, so far, this century too. Now he works out of Buckingham Palace itself, and is often the only cameraman to accompany Her Majesty. It’s his film that is shared with the press, all of whom receive the same, so there’s no favour. And no one is ever going to complain about the quality of Peter’s work. He’s a Member of the Royal Victorian Order, and reigns as supreme in his art and professions as Elizabeth II does in her realm. To read more about Peter, go to this interview

The documentary was very entertaining and well worth watching, and I was left filled with admiration for him. But then the thought began to creep in…if only he’d been around in the 15th century. What if he and his huge Panasonic had been there on 29th April 1483, when Richard, Duke of Gloucester, met the eldest son of Edward IV at Stony Stratford and took him under his wing? But not into his clutches, as propaganda would like us to believe. Richard had destroyed a plot by the boy’s maternal family to take over the realm…and probably put Richard himself to death.

What if Peter had been there when Richard’s evidence about the illegality of his brother Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville had led the Three Estates to ask Richard to be king? What if Peter was close by when the boys in the Tower were taken to safety? When Hastings was arrested? When Buckingham’s treachery was realised? When the lines were drawn for Bosworth? When Richard died so gloriously in the thick of battle? And when Henry Tudor was guilty of allowing the King of England’s body to be desecrated?

What if the above image were a still, taken from actual 1485 footage? Will someone please give Peter Wilkinson a time machine, so he and his trusty camera can dip into history at will? Just imagine what he might have to show us!

If we had his immaculate films to show how it had all really been, there’d have not been any Tudor propaganda. Not even slippery, deceitful Henry could rail against actual footage of what had really happened. And maybe, with proof positive before the nation, we wouldn’t have had to endure the cruel domination of the House of Tudor.

Oh, if only…

Things learned about most of our 15th-century kings….

The new year of 2020 commenced with this article dropping into my inbox. It’s an interesting list, each entry backed by an explanation, but I’ve limited my comments to the monarchs of the 15th century.

The thought of Henry VI requiring a sex coach is rather boggling, I have to say, but then he was a little, um, shy, shall we say? I have to feel sorry for him, although he was one of the worst kings England ever had to endure. He was the personification of incompetence, which is putting it mildly. And as for him accepting fatherhood of Margaret of Anjou’s child…. Words definitely fail me.

Did Elizabeth Woodville die of the plague? Well, we will never know, but it’s possible. As is the possibility that she was helped on her way by her son-in-law, who’d just had enough of her. Like the murderous Tudor line he sired, Henry VII was inclined to get rid of those he didn’t like. Unlike the king whose throne he usurped. Richard III should have done away with far more, including Henry’s pesky mother! But he didn’t, and paid the price of his honourable conduct.

Richard is actually dealt with quite well in this article. He isn’t routinely blackened, as has been the tiresome tradition, which failed to ever look properly at his record.

Henry VII’s bed bought for a couple of thousand pounds? Oh, well…whoever asked that low price must be kicking themselves. I wonder what Elizabeth of York felt as she lay there gazing up at the canopy, being bonked by her uncle’s killer? Did she participate in the proceedings? Or simply think of England?

Apart from the above examples, the rest of the article leaves the 15th century and deals with later kings and queens, so I will let you read them all and form your own opinions. As for my above comments…well, I just couldn’t resist…!

 

 

 

A strange perspective

This image was drawn to my attention on Instagram. Quite apart from the dubious nature of the “Tudor” descent of those monarchs, as attested to by several historians, the timeline is being stretched somewhat, from Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press to the Gunpowder Plot and even the Great Fire of London. Those of you who watched Adam Hart-Davis’ What did the Tudors do for us a few years ago will recall that he included Caxton, who worked with  (x.1483).

Bone Detectives start with Thanet’s Bronze Age secrets….

I have just watched the first episode of Bone Detectives: Britain’s Buried Secrets, featuring Dr Tori Herridge and the delightful Raksha Dave, whom I remember from Time Team, but who is now much in TV evidence. In this new series we’re promised episodes from different periods and different places all over Britain, but this first one was from the Isle of Thanet.

Thanet, of course, is no longer and island, but it was still detached from the rest of Kent as late as Tudor times, when the Wantsum Channel had to be crossed by boat. Earlier than that, it was broad enough to be a strait.

It is suggested that in the Bronze Age, and probably before then too, Britain was thought to be a sacred island of the dead, and seemed to shine out of the sea with its pure white cliffs. The name Thanet may be derived from a goddess of death (I didn’t quite catch the name) and the Wantsum Channel might have been the Styx? Whatever, to get to Thanet, one had to cross water.

The Thanet place of interest in this first episode was Cliffsend, where a housing estate is now but early in this decade there was only large sandy field. The only thing remaining from the field is a single mature tree. There is, apparently, no evidence at all of people actually living here during the Bronze Age, but they did come to what became Cliffsend in order to honour the dead.

When the present housing estate was due to be built, archaeological excavations took place, to investigate the area before it became impossible. What was found astonished everyone. There was a many-barrowed cemetery from around 2000 BC, each barrow about 20m in diameter. There was no sign at all of true settlement, but a lot of broken pottery, animal bones, broken quern stones and so on, which suggested many feasts and ceremonies which must have been to do with death and the dead. Oh, no! Not the dreaded rituals again, complete with processional ways! But in this instance I think the conclusion is probably correct.

The dig became exceedingly interesting and original when it came to a mysterious pit, some 50m NE of the cemetery. Human skeletons were found in it, with right at the bottom, those of two neonatal lambs. Then, on top of them, was the carefully arranged skeleton of a very elderly woman. She was on her left side, curled up tightly, holding a small piece of chalk to her lips in her left hand. Her right hand was more extended, with her index finger pointing toward one of the nearby barrows. There were two more neonatal lambs in her lap, and she had been killed by sword blows to her head.

Now, in the Bronze Age swords were very rare, and probably for ceremonial use only, which suggests that the manner of her death was sacrificial. And not necessarily that she was unwilling to die, because her finger pointing to the barrow might well indicate a plea to the dead for their help with some situation then besetting the area. Her life might well have been the price to pay. Which is guesswork, of course, but there has to be some reason for the way she points. And what is the piece of chalk to her lips all about? That must remain a mystery.

Anyway, the old lady and the four lambs were not alone in the pit, for there were four more remains, two teenaged girls, two juvenile girls, and a mature man, although he was only a partial skeleton and a little distance away, so may not have been really connection with the others.

Some of the bones were sent for testing, and it turned out they were older than the old woman! How very, very strange. Now, if I tell you more, it will spoil the programme’s “punch lines”, so you will have to watch it to find out. But I do recommend this first episode. It bodes well for the rest of the series. You can watch the series on Channel Four at 8 pm on Saturdays, but also find out more on Goodreads

My final comment is on the programme’s sponsor, Tilda (rice), which declares it’s proud to help promote “escapism on 4”. Um, escapism? I’m not sure that a documentary about Bronze Age burials comes under that heading!

So wrong he may be right (2) – William Cowper

Here we have the poet and hymnwright William Cowper (left), who we referred to in our previous article but couldn’t find the evidence for the Essex anniversary in February. The usual sources have been a little troublesome but we know from Lord David Cecil’s The Stricken Deer that he was the great-nephew of an Earl and that his mother was a Donne from Norfolk. From this clue, further research revealed a direct female line to Mary Boleyn, giving Cowper the same mtDNA as Elizabeth I.

Among Anne Donne’s more distant relatives was another poet and Dean of St. Paul’s, the great John Dunne (right) from a Welsh Catholic background. Donne, although married with many children, seems to have had no grandchildren or uncles on either side so this descent couldn’t be direct or immediately collateral.

There’s a dentist in … Hertfordshire

{with apologies to the Barron Knights}

Back in August of last year I drove over to a dental practice in St Albans for my annual check-up. Yes, it is a long way from where I live in Yoxford but the dentist and I go back a long way. I have actually been his patient since 1982 so my visits if not the favourite days on my calendar at least have a social side with an opportunity to catch up on things. In a break in proceedings in which some conversation took place his nurse/assistant, Nicky, happened to mention she lived in Hinxworth. I was familiar with the village as a close friend of mine used to live there many years ago but I was sure it had cropped up in a totally different context in more recent times. The best I could come up with was that it was something to do with the church but I was not sure what.
Thinking about it on the drive back I decided that it must have a Ricardian connection as I could not imagine how it could have been mentioned in anything else I had read. Bearing that in mind I came to the conclusion it must be referred to in one of John Ashdown Hill’s books but which one? On arriving home it did not take long to find the reference in The Private Life of Edward IV. Hinxworth Church has the tomb of none other than “Jane Shore” or Elizabeth Lambert to use her correct name. As you are no doubt aware she was an alleged mistress of King Edward but as John points out in his book there is no real evidence of an affair. She is also alleged to have had relationships with Lord Hastings and the Marquess of Dorset before eventually going on to marry Richard’s solicitor, Thomas Lynom. She was obviously a very popular lady in the 15th century!
I have to confess to being intrigued by the events surrounding her marriage to William Shore. She initially petitioned the Bishop of London with regards to the annulment of her marriage on the grounds of non-consummation. He in turn referred the matter to the Pope no less. The Pope not surprisingly referred the matter back to local bishops who then appointed a team of “experienced local women” to visit William Shore and perform a “physical examination” on him. We can only guess at what this entailed but it appears the unfortunate Mr Shore failed the examination as the marriage was annulled.
Unfortunately I have not as yet been able to discover how Elizabeth Lambert came to be buried at Hinxworth, there does not appear to be anything connecting her to that part of Hertfordshire. Also not having visited the church I am curious as to how she is referred to on her tomb. I assume it would not be as Jane Shore as that was an invention a long time after her death.

THE ANCIENT DOORS OF ENGLAND.

UPDATED POST ON sparkypus.com A Medieval Potpourri https://sparkypus.com/2020/05/14/the-ancient-doors-of-old-england/

IMG_5945.jpgENGLAND’S OLDEST DOOR – TO BE FOUND IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY OPENING ON TO THE CHAPTER HOUSE.  

Are doors not fascinating?   If somewhere you haven’t been before, do you like me, always wonder what’s on the other side?  Of course if the door is ancient even more so.  The above is the oldest door in England and it was once thought the remnants of hide on the door were from some unfortunate soul  who had been flayed.  As it turns out recent investigation has proven its animal hide.  Oh the relief.

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An intriguing door beckons at the top of a flight of worn steps at Wells Cathedral.

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More gems from Wells Cathedral..

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‘ENTER ME IF YOU DARE’..Old photos of the doors of the cell known as “Little Ease’ in the Tower of London..

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Another old photo of an equally forbidding doorway in the Tower..

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The Sacristy door from Tewkesbury Abbey has a terrible tale to tell.  It is covered with remnants of horse armour recovered  from the Battle of Tewkesbury…

image.pngWe are fortunate so many ancient doors have survived in churches..such as this example in St Edward’s Church, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire.

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Bodiam Castle, Sussex.  Two for the price of one!

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The details around a door could be wonderful.  I have not been able to trace anything more  about this door/carving other than it is from an old Manor House.  Who could resist a peep inside those doors..?  Photo taken approx 1880.

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Two doors from Rochester, the second one known as the “Gandalf’ door and thought to be just 30 years younger than the oldest door at Westminster Abbey (see above) – well whats in a decade or two?

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OLD HALL, LAVENHAM.  TIMBERFRAMED AND BUILT IN THE 1390s.

Some doors, as above, have survived in more humbler buildings and can still be come across today…..just waiting  for someone to give them a gentle push open and wander in.

Did Richard of Gloucester’s marriage take place in 1477…?

The following article concerns information found in the thesis The Medieval Tournament: Chivalry, Heraldry and Reality An Edition and Analysis of Three Fifteenth-Century Tournament Manuscripts, 2 Volumes, by Ralph Dominic Moffat, August 2010. See https://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/1430/1/Ralph_Moffat_PhD_2010.pdf

The four extracts (A-D) below are attributed to Oxford, Bodleian Library Ashmolean MS 856, fols 94r -104r : English narrative of the ‘justs royall’ held to celebrate the marriage of the Duke of Gloucester, 1477.

This long thesis is of interest because these ‘justs royall’ were recorded as being in celebration of the Duke of Gloucester’s marriage. As far as I am aware there was only one Duke of Gloucester in 1477—Richard, brother of King Edward IV. But he is generally believed to have married Anne Neville closer to 1472, when the dispensation was issued, and when his son died in 1483, the boy was 10 years old and had been born in December 1473. So what were these royal jousts in 1477? Delayed marriage celebrations? If so, they were very delayed. Or perhaps a narrative written later about celebrations that took place several years earlier?

(A) “….There is mention in the codex of the challenges to various chivalric combats being proclaimed (fols 23v and 78r ). A vivid illustration of this process is provided in an account of the ‘justs royall’ held to celebrate the marriage of the Duke of Gloucester in 1477: the King […] did call such Officers as were then pr[e]sent and Commanded them to publish and shew the said petit[i]ons and Artycles in all places convenyent Theis Articles were received by the said Officers of Armes and according to his high Commandment were first published in the white hall by […] Clarenceux King of Armes and Norroy King of Armes who read the Proclamation Guyen King of Armes Winsor Herauld Chester Herauld being pr[e]sent in the said Hall […] From hence the said Officers of Armes went to the Citty of London where the same day the said Articles were p[ro]claymed & published in fower severall [sic] places of the said Citty at the Standard in Cheape at Leadenhall at Grace Church and at London bridge and by Clarencieux Norry and Guyen Kings of Armes all on horsebacke also the Marshall of the Kings Trumpetts was w[i]th them & did sound at every of the places in þe Citty.[7]

[7] Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ashmolean MS 856, fol. 94r

(B) “….The mention of the death of the Bastard of Burgundy’s horse whilst being guarded by the heralds (fol. 62v ) is more evidence of their importance as arbitrators. In a narrative of the tourney for the marriage celebrations of the Duke of Gloucester in 1477 it is stated that one of the participants was able to ‘disvoid a ribb of the polron [shoulder defence]’ of his opponent but ‘never sought him where hee was disarmed For the which the Princesse of the feast and all the Herauldes noted for the which prudent behaveing there was awarded him for the best Tourney[er] without’.[12] Thus it is evident that in all types of chivalric combat the heralds’ role as chivalric arbitrator was paramount….”

[12] Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ashmolean MS 856, fol. 101r

(C) “….As part of the celebrations of the marriage of the Duke of Gloucester in 1477 one of the King’s squires ‘came horsed and Armed for the Tourney and two Knights bore two Swords before him accordinge to the Articles before rehearsed’.[16]

[16] Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ashmolean MS 856, fol. 99r

(D) “….In an account of the ‘justs royall’ held to celebrate the marriage of the Duke of Gloucester in 1477 it is noted that ‘Earle Rivers rewarded the said Kings of Armes and Heraulds with Twenty Markes.[197]

[197] Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ashmolean MS 856, fol. 94r

Reading mss is not my strong point, but I imagine the above information is absolutely correct. So, can anyone explain about this marriage tournament in 1477?

Heralds Sound The Advance. A painting by Hugh St Pierre Bunbury published by the Boys Own Paper in January 1914.

 

A bearded Henry VII….?

 

Here is an interesting link about the death of Henry VII. It includes an illustration from the TV series The Spanish Princess, in which Henry seems to have sprouted a beard. Really? I don’t think so, somehow. All his portraits show him clean-shaven, including one painted when he was getting on in years.

But the article about his death is interesting and worth a read.

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