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Archive for the month “Jul, 2020”

A LITTLE KNOWN IMAGE OF RICHARD

Quite accidentally I stumbled over a reference to a genealogical manuscript of English kings, made in around 1500, which interestingly finishes with a drawing of Richard rather than the current king of the time, Henry Tudor.  The depiction of Richard is not one that normally is seen with any frequency.

Here is what is written about the book:

World Chronicle with the Descent of the Kings of England from Adam and Eve to Richard III

This manuscript, produced in London around 1500, traces the genealogy of the kings of England from Adam and Eve to Richard III. The manuscript was made in the manner of William Caxton (circa 1422–92), the first English printer. Written in English, on vellum, the volume still has its original brown calf binding. Illustrations are mostly large compositions in pen and ink and include images of the Last Judgment and the fall of the rebel angels, the Creation, the fall of Adam and Eve, and Noah’s ark. Also included in the manuscripts is a series of genealogical chains, which are decorated with 68 medallion portraits. Among the kings and emperors portrayed are Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, King Arthur, and William the Conqueror. Secondary decorations include initials decorated with gold filigree, and others rubricated in red and blue ink.
Picture of Richard III in genealogical manuscript from 1500:
richard
(Thanks to Stephanie Brooke for bringing this item to my attention.)

So Master Porker picked up his bagpipes and let rip….!

taken from the site below

We’re all accustomed to the wonderful gargoyles adorning our churches, abbeys and cathedrals, illuminations on manuscripts and the beautiful carvings on misericords, but sometimes they are truly amusing.

On this occasion the apparently comedial figures are pigs playing the bagpipes. Yes, really. And not only in Scotland, I hasten to point out, because bagpipes are not the sole preserve of that country.

Thank you to the Facebook British Medieval History group for drawing attention to  this site which deals at delightful length with these highly intelligent, astonishingly talented pigs! Do they all derive from a living original? It’s a thought. Perhaps one day there strolled into town a Master Porker, complete with pipes, who proceeded to entertain everyone with his delightful music.

Oh, alright, that’s probably complete fantasy, but someone somewhere associated pigs with bagpipes. And other animals with other strange activities too, of course. But we’ll start with the pigs!

A WHITE BOAR MOUNT DISCOVERED

A beautiful mount bearing Richard III’s boar has been found by a metal-detectorist in the West Country. Quite a few  boar badges have turned up here and there over the years, but this mount, which probably was fastened on a sword-belt, seems rather unique–and is very impressive, still retaining parts of its silvering and painted red background. As it was found in the vicinity of Devon, could it have been dropped by someone riding with the King to ‘mop up’ after Buckingham’s rebellion?

There is a good article on the mount here:

 

RICHARD III BOAR MOUNT

 

boarimage

 

 

Edward IV, Dame Eleanor and the Phantom Web of Impediments

Introduction

The precontract (i.e. prior marriage) between Edward IV and Eleanor Butler, née Talbot, has long been a subject of debate, but what has not previously been claimed is that Edward and Eleanor were so closely related as to have been unable to make a valid marriage without a special dispensation from the Pope.  Recently, however, a writer using the pen name of Latrodecta has claimed (https://ricardianloons.wordpress.com/2018/09/08/the-trial-that-should-have-happened-in-1483/#comment-454)  that they shared a relationship within the prohibited degrees, viz. “3rd degree consanguinity, 3rd degree affinity”.

Latrodecta has identified this impediment as arising from Edward’s mother Cecily Neville being the first cousin of Maude Neville of Furnivall, the first wife of Eleanor’s father, John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, and the mother of Eleanor’s older half-siblings. The claim is apparently that – despite the relationship involving no blood tie between Edward and Eleanor – it counts as an impediment of both consanguinity and affinity because half-siblings are included in the prohibited degrees of kinship. The author further claims that “Corroboration can be found in the dispensation granted for the marriage of his son [i.e. Edward IV’s younger son] and her niece [i.e. Anne Mowbray] – the relationship between her sister [i.e. Elizabeth Talbot Duchess of Norfolk] and Edward would have been the same” (that is to say, the same as between Edward and Eleanor herself).

I shall return to these claims, but first it will be necessary to explain these two types of impediment, what they are and how they were calculated at the period under consideration.

Consanguinity and Affinity

Consanguinity and affinity are the chief types of relationship that, under canon law, can produce a diriment (nullifying) impediment to a marriage. Of these, consanguinity is the easiest to understand as it is a simple blood tie: where there is no common ancestor, there can be no impediment of consanguinity. Impediments of affinity arose in those days from sexual intercourse (now only from marriage).[1] The two sexual partners were deemed to have become, as it were, ‘one flesh’. Latrodecta should therefore not have been the least bit surprised to have ‘seen a case where the bridegroom had to obtain a dispensation because he’d already slept with his future mother-in-law’.

It is a common, indeed almost ubiquitous, misconception amongst ordinary historians that the relationship thus formed barred the couple’s respective blood relatives from marrying each other, but this is not so.[2] Prior to 1215, the impediment of affinity had, it is true, been slightly complicated by the rule that a person’s second partner contracted affinity not only with the consanguines of the spouse but also with his or her closest affines (i.e. their new step-kin); at no time, however, had any couple shared a relationship of affinity without one of them having had a prior sexual relationship to cause it; two virgins could never be each other’s affines. Hence, when St. Augustine asked of Pope Gregory: ‘Is it permissible for two brothers to marry two sisters, provided there be no blood ties between the families?’ the great pontiff had replied: ‘This is quite permissible.’[3] The rules had been further simplified by the Fourth Council of Lateran (1215 AD), which had abolished the impediment between certain blood relatives of a person’s two spouses.[4] The unifying principle of the remaining impediments is encapsulated in the maxim affinitas non parit affinitatem (‘affinity does not beget affinity’).[5]

By the 15th century, therefore, there were no longer any step relationships that created impediments other than those (such as stepfather and stepdaughter) that just happened to involve direct affinity. In fact, it was almost de rigueur at this period for a widow and widower to cement their own union with at least one marriage between the offspring of their former marriages.

In the late Middle Ages, both consanguinity and affinity created an impediment to marriage up to the level of third cousins (another rule brought in by the Fourth Lateran Council).[6] The method of calculation in use at the time – the so-called Germanic method – is extremely simple to use.

Edward and Eleanor: Consanguinity

To check for an impediment of consanguinity, one simply draws up two direct-ancestry trees, one for each party to the proposed marriage, with the prospective bride/ groom at one end, their parents (1st-degree consanguines) in the next row, after them their grandparents (2nd-degree consanguines), then their great-grandparents (3rd-degree consanguines), and lastly their great-great-great-grandparents (4th degree consanguines).[7] Then one stands back, looks for any names common to both trees and counts the generations from each partner up to the closest match in any given line. Most often, the common stock, as it is called, (stirps in Latin) will be a couple, but it can also be a single individual, as would occur if an ancestor had married twice and the bride was descended from one of those marriages and the groom from the other. This is what is meant, and all that is meant, by half-siblings counting in the same way as full siblings: the only relevant half-siblings are those who link the couple via their shared ancestor.

I have carried out this very exercise for Edward and Eleanor, highlighting any common ancestors in red. As can be seen, there are none.

Note that Maud Furnivall, identified in the above article as the route to the alleged 3rd-degree impediment, appears on neither Edward’s nor Eleanor’s table; this is because she was only a collateral relation of Edward and no blood relation of Eleanor at all.

Let us now turn to the assertion that the dispensation for Anne Mowbray and Richard of Shrewsbury corroborates this alleged 3rd-degree consanguinity. There are, I fear to say, two problems with this, one of them terminal. First (to be picky) the Anne Mowbray dispensation is for consanguinity in the 3rd and 4th degrees (i.e. one of them was 3 degrees removed from the common stock, and the other, 4 degrees),[8] whereas an even 3rd-degree consanguinity between Edward and the Talbot sisters would have resulted in an even 4th-degree consanguinity between little Richard and Anne. But rather more seriously, Latrodecta has overlooked the salient fact that all children have two parents. As the following consanguinity chart for Richard Duke of York and Anne Mowbray clearly shows, they were indeed related in the 3rd and 4th degrees but Anne’s relationship to Edward’s family lay on her father’s side and in no way involved her Talbot ancestry.

Edward and Eleanor: Affinity

Now let us turn to affinity. By sexual union, the consanguines of the one partner become the affines of the other. So, for instance, if Harry’s previous partner was Sally’s second cousin, then Harry and Sally would be related by affinity in the 3rd degrees. The check for affinity therefore works on the same principle as for consanguinity,[9] except that the bride/groom needs to compare her/his consanguinity tree with that of the prospective spouse’s previous partner(s). This exercise I have carried out for Edward and Eleanor by drawing up this chart showing Sir Thomas Butler’s ancestry. Unfortunately Thomas’s chart is not complete in all areas, and not 100% verified in others, because much of his ancestry is relatively humble and not recorded, but it is highly unlikely that any of these obscure Cheshire ancestors would feature on the table of Edward of March. In short, there was no affinity between them either.

Conclusion

There was no relationship preventing Edward Plantagenet and Eleanor Butler from marrying each other.  Readers do not need to take my word for this: there are plenty of sources available online that set out the different prohibitions and methods of calculating degrees of relationship in use by the Catholic Church at different periods. To be sure one has the correct understanding, all that is needed is to perform a few test calculations on couples whose ancestry and marriage dispensations are both known. Or some may wish to begin, as Edward IV’s councillors must have done in 1464, by checking for (non-existent) common ancestors on the trees of Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville and Sir John Grey.  


[1] The impediment of affinity arising from extramarital relationships was also to be gradually abolished.  The first step was taken in the 16th century by the Council of Trent, which limited its effect to the 2nd degree (first cousins), but it was not until 1917 that this impediment was wholly confined to the consanguines of previous spouses. 

[2] The most notable recent intrusion of this error into late-fifteenth-century English history is Michael Hicks’ claim that Clarence’s marriage to Isabel Neville prohibited Richard’s marriage to Isabel’s sister.

[3] Mary O’Regan, ‘Marriage Dispensations According to St Augustine’, Ricardian Bulletin, Autumn 2008, pp. 34-35.

[4] https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/lateran4.asp, canon 50.

[5] Thomas de Charmes, Theologica Universa ad Usum Sacræ Theologiæ Canditatorum, vol. 7 (1765), p. 357.

[6] https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/lateran4.asp, canon 50.

[7] A particularly clear explanation is given in the 1917 Catholic Encyclopaedia under ‘Consanguinity (in Canon Law)’: ‘Mode of Calculation’ (https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04264a.htm).

[8] ‘Dispensation . . .  notwithstanding that they are related in the third and fourth degrees of kindred’ (Calendar of Papal Register Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, ed. J. A. Twemlow, vol. 13 [London, 1955], p. 236).

[9] Again, The Catholic Encyclopaedia gives a useful summary under ‘Affinity (in Canon Law)’ (https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01178a.htm).

The only extant example of a boar pendant on a tomb effigy….?

 

The only extant example of a Yorkist Boar Pendant
Church of St Barlok, Norbury, Staffordshire

It’s the usual story. There I was, rambling around looking for something completely different, when I happened upon the above photograph, which is of the tomb effigy of Ralph Fitzherbert, who died 1483, a supporter of Richard of Gloucester. As you will see from the caption, it is “the only extant example of a Yorkist Boar Pendant”.

The History Jar is about Ralph (died 1483) and his father Nicholas (died 1473), both of whom supported the House of York. The pendant on Nicholas’s effigy is a lion, and is believed to show Edward IV’s recognition of his descent through the Mortimer Earls of March. Ralph wears the boar emblem of Richard of Gloucester, who did not become Richard III until a few months after Ralph’s death. Both father and son are buried in the same church in Norbury, Staffordshire.

There is more information about Ralph on Wikipedia.

Is it really the only such boar pendant?

Richard III started the monarch’s messenger secret service….?

So Richard was the first to set up a King’s/Queen’s Messengers service? I didn’t know that. We’re all aware of “diplomatic bags” and such like, but it’s only now that I learn it was all due to Richard. He employed a certain John Norman, in whom he clearly placed great trust.

Dominic Winter Auctioneers
Lot 422 (Military, Aviation & Transport History, 16th May 2019)
King’s Messenger Badge
Sold for £1,650

Alas, it seems the Messengers are under threat now, “to save money”. Another slice of history to be consigned to mere memory? Shame! See https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/624485/Queens-Messengers-cut-axe-heroes. And also To read more, go to
this article and lots and lots of other links. Just search Queen’s Messenger.

However, according to Wikipedia, the messenger service can be traced much further back than Richard. But I much prefer to credit him with it!

Richard III versus James I of Scotland….?

Illustration from the link below

The following extract is from this article in the Daily Record :-

“….Fortuitously for us, Henry VII killed Richard III (the king in the car park) who was discovered in Leicester. A nice piece of synergy, and the basis for a much bigger story of Scottish royal political dominance in Great Britain….”

Well, it might have been fortuitous for Perth (the one in Scotland, of course), but Bosworth was a catastrophe for England, inflicting the monstrous House of Tudor upon us for well over a century. So Scotland is welcome to its discovery, complete with Tudor connections!

Much as I hope it will bring a gratifying leap in Perth’s income, I can’t really agree that the discovery of the grave of James I of Scotland will compare with that of Richard III. But I do wish Perth well ! Truly.

Tour the world’s twelve greatest museums from the comfort of your armchair….

 

The  Great Court of the British Museum was developed in 2001 and
surrounds the original Reading Room
Image from Wikipedia

Well, these days some of us might be stuck at home rather a lot, and even if we aren’t we may not find a museum of other attraction actually open. So the advent of “virtual yours” is a great help. There we are, in our comfortable armchair, sauntering around the like of the British Museum, the Guggenheim or the Rijksmuseum at our leisure, and without having to wait for the queue to shuffle on. We can even enjoy our coffee without condemnation!

This site has twelve such tours for us to enjoy, so it’s recommended for our “armchair tourism”!

And I cannot end this without referring again to our post about the amazing Waterford Museum in Ireland, which also has a virtual tour. I’m still impressed, not least for the exceedingly lifelike figure of Edward III. The old king really could be sitting there, waiting for us.

So don’t despair you’ll suffer from museum deprivation, it’s amazing what modern science can do to help.

To be Bl(o)unt …

Most people are aware that James Blunt’s real surname is Blount. This is an influential name in late mediaeval, “Tudor” and Stuart times. Bessie Blount was another mistress of Henry VIII and bore him Henry Duke of Richmond, who married Lady Mary Howard but died without issue, to be buried at Framlingham. Walter Blount, who lived through the mid-fifteenth century, was made Baron Mountjoy, although his male line became extinct in 1679. There were also two families of Baronets, although both of them are extinct, the second as recently as 2004. James Blunt, a former Captain himself, comes from a military family, with an 1855-born great-great-grandfather who died of dysentery during the Boer War, a great-grandfather and a great-great-uncle who fell during the Great War and a cousin who died in an air accident in 1940.

The latest common ancestor of the two major mediaeval branches was Sir John Blount of Sodington, who died in c.1358 and whose principal male line (marked by his grandsons Sir John and Sir Thomas) and  leads to one of the baronetcies (Blount of Sodington). By tracing his agnatic descent, but ignoring the three titles which must be culs de sac, is it possible to connect him with the modern line?

It isn’t actually possible to do so with a single reliable cyber-source such as Genealogics as Sir John’s untitled descendants appear to expire in 1821, or 1825 for an American-based branch. However, there are other options to explore as Leo van der Pas would err towards omitting people. We have James’ ancestors back to c.1580 but they don’t connect just yet, although this Telegraph article, in two parts, helps. It describes a lineage back to Viking settlers from the tenth century – fighters, of course.

The Mayflower

Below is William Halsall’s 1882 portrait of the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor. It is obviously imagined as the original ship was almost certainly broken up at Rotherhithe in 1624, a more extreme case than 

the “Streatham portrait“, which post-dates it’s purported subject’s death by about forty years. From the spelling of the title, the background is evidently Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, not Drake’s Devonian city. Halsall, who was originally from Kirkdale in Liverpool, spent most of his working life in Boston.

The Mayflower and the Speedwell met at Southampton in July 1620 as a reaction to the religious situation in England. For the two hundred or so Puritans that travelled on this journey, life was easier in many ways under James VI/ I than it had been during the previous century – they were no longer significantly persecu.ted, although many were financially marginalised. Within thirty years, the next generation of Puritans were to rule Britain with James’ son executed and his grandson displaced, but the Leiden Communion of refugees that left Delftshaven on the Speedwell under Captain Reynolds four hundred years ago today were as unhappy with their place in society as were Christopher Jones’ crew on the Mayflower. Jones appears to have been a Harwich man of about fifty, as this Harwich Society plaque implies (right), although Coggeshall also claims him, having been master and part-owner of the Mayflower for eleven years. The dissenter William Bradford, author of the History of Plymouth Plantation, was one of his passengers

Jones sailed from Rotherhithe to Southampton in mid-July to meet Reynolds’ crew, both ships carrying a number of animals. The Speedwell had sprung a leak crossing the North Sea and needed repair so the ships finally set sail on 5 August and finally sighted land – Cape Cod as it now known – on 9 November. Eighteen days later, being unable to settle in Virginia, some of the party sailed in search of a permanent base. Thus began the permanent settlement of European people in North America, following the attempts of Bartholomew Gosnold.

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