The King’s Champion is the central horseman in this illustration of an unidentified coronation banquet
We have all heard of the dashing King’s/Queen’s Champion riding fully armed into the coronation banquet, throwing down challenges to anyone who would dare to find fault with the monarch’s right to the throne. I did not know that there is a strong possibility that the Dymoke family, hereditary holders of the title, may have originated in the village of Dymock in my home county of Gloucestershire. Dymock village is also known for its wonderful spring displays of wild daffodils.
“The “King’s Champion” is an hereditary post and acts on behalf of the king (or queen) of England by challenging all-comers at their coronation to do battle if they dispute the king (or queen’s) right to be monarch. The post is now mainly ceremonial but was created by William the Conqueror in 1066 and has been held ever since by a blood relative of the first Champion.”
Queen’s Champion at the coronation banquet of Elizabeth I
“The powerful Marmion family were ‘Champion’ to the Dukes of Normandy in France and came to this country with William, Duke of Normandy, when he invaded England in 1066 and took the English crown to become ‘William the Conqueror’.”
“There is some doubt over how the name Dymoke came about. It’s possible the family lived in Dymock or at ‘Knight’s Green’ next to Dymock, and took the surname ‘de Dymoke’ from our village when surnames became established in England. It seems they left the area to return to live in Scivelsby, Lincolnshire in the 14th century but took the surname with them.
“The ceremony involved the Garter King of Arms reading out the challenge three times – at the entrance to the coronation banquet in Westminster Hall, in the middle of the hall, and in front of the throne. Each time the Champion in full armour and riding a charger threw down his gauntlet for any challenger to take up. None having come forward, the Champion had to reverse his horse out of the hall between the banqueting tables without doing any damage – no mean feat which, if done successfully, became known as ‘Doing a Dymoke’. “
King’s Champion, coronation banquet of George IV
“The involvement of the Champion is documented at every coronation since 1066 but the full ceremony was last used at the coronation of George IV in 1821. Since then the Champion has been recognised as the ‘Standard Bearer of England’ and carries the banner at the coronation.
“The current and 34th Champion is Lieutenant-Colonel John Lindley Marmion Dymoke, MBE DL, Royal Lincolnshire Regiment. In 1953 as the then Captain Dymoke he acted as Standard-Bearer of the Union Flag at the coronation service of our present Queen, Elizabeth II. His eldest son and heir is Francis Dymoke, a chartered accountant and estate owner.”
And as an amusing footnote: “The horse ridden by Dymock, the king’s champion, at the coronation banquet of George IV (1821) was hired from a circus. When greeted with applause, it went into its routine of tricks!”
In case you overlooked this splendid show-stopper in the previous illustration, here he is again!
The King’s Champion at the coronation of George IV…on his splendid performing horse!
Well, here’s a novel claim to fame – the Richard III bit, I mean!
An excerpt from an intriguing story:- “…The road to redemption led him back to the theatre. ‘To satisfy his creditors’, notes one biographical account, ‘he played leading roles in seven London playhouses and is reported to have been the last to perform Richard III on horseback at Astley’s Theatre’…”
I recently wrote about the method used to name that was apparently used to name the horses of medieval noblemen and kings, first by colour and then with an aristocratic family surname or title. White Surrey, if he ever existed, fitted this system.
So, still on the theme of horses, it may be of interest to read the following link, which tells of the horses of Henry V, how they were cared for, and by whom.
I do not doubt that the general information will have fitted the care of Richard’s horses as well. His Masters of the Horses were the Tyrell cousins, first Sir Thomas and then the more famous Sir James. They were followed by Sir Thomas Brandon.
One of the strangest phenomena to come out of the events of almost three weeks ago has been the continual bashing of Dr. John Ashdown-Hill by the usual group of denialists who populate the underworld of Ricardian history and rehabilitation. As we all know, Ashdown-Hill (along with other members of the Finding Richard project and Leicester University) found the remains of the last English king to die in battle and traced his DNA to 17th generation nephew Michael Ibsen.
But all that pales in the avalanche of social media that expressed shock and dismay that he attended the reinterment in what appeared to be either a well-tailored tan or light grey suit rather than clothes of a “somber hue.” Oh, the cries of outrage that ensued! It was if he had shown up at the event dressed in a Zoot Suit or the ghost of Nancy Mitford had arrived with her list of Non-U items of dishabille. Of course, it took traditional Ricardians to dig out the notes of reinterment provided by the Cathedral in which it is clearly stated that “although entirely optional, we would encourage hats for ladies and gentlemen…This is a service of reinterment. It is not a funeral. So whilst we would not wish to advise the congregation to wear black, you may wish to observe a dress code that reflects a reserved colour palette.” No mention of “somber hues.”
Even today, as late as April 12th, denialists are still carrying on about his facial expressions caught on camera during the ceremony. One would think the act of rolling one’s eyes was akin to real estate mogul Robert Durst’s embarrassing gaffe of admitting mass murder on the final episode of “The Jinx.” In fact, we really don’t know the reason for his expression although it may have been due to mistakes made in the program.
All this is pretty funny but the outrage does get a little darker when Dr. Ashdown-Hill’s private life becomes a source of merriment – as if any of us know him personally and have any right to comment about such a subject. The internet is a haven for the Mrs. Grundys of the world and is often in an argy-bargy over everything from the color of gold/black dresses to whether a cat is walking upstairs or downstairs but this does seem to be a bridge too far…
There was an interesting post on one of the Ricardian Facebook Groups the other day regarding the type of horses Richard might have used for different purposes.
It was mainly about the ‘amblers’ he was apparently known to possess which moved in a different way to that which we consider is normal today (walking, trotting, cantering and galloping). They move in a way that to me seems similar to an Olympic walking race for humans, i.e. without the usual up=down motion that jolts the rider. This is called a gaited horse and here is a link to a video from You Tube that shows a modern gaited horse moving.
It would have been much smoother for long journeys which they had perforce to make in Mediaeval times and might have been even more important for Richard, whose back, because of his scoliosis would have been less able to absorb shocks.
Meanwhile, elsewhere I was researching the type of horse he would have had in battle: a destrier. There is a Facebook group called Destrier who supply mounted re-enactors for jousts, re-enactments, etc, and they directed me to a video of a bull-fighting horse, which they said is probably the nearest we have today to that type of horse – strong, agile and trained to respond to the slightest touch. Suitable breeds are Andalusian and Lusitano horses. I strongly disapprove of bull-fighting and watched it with trepidation, but I concentrated on the horse and it was amazing! I have since found a video of the same horse training so you can watch it without fear of seeing a bull tormented. (There is a bull in it at the end, but it isn’t harmed). This horse almost dances! Richard would have been awesome on a horse like this in his armour!
So what would Richard have ridden to hunt? The consensus seems to be a courser, which could also be used as a cavalry horse. It was strong, agile, steady and had stamina, not as refined or highly trained as a destrier, but cheaper.
……… in which Dr. John Ashdown-Hill, who located the mtDNA match, tells nerdalicious what these findings really mean, not what the Cairo brigade (eg Hicks, Dan Jones and their acolytes) are already twisting them to mean:
1) Given that Richard III is only four generations down from Edward III, whilst the Somerset samples are about twenty down, they are about five times as likely to contain the “milkman”‘s DNA. In the interview, he even mentions the John of Gaunt – John Beaufort “connection” as a possibility for the broken link, which would substitute the (mere gentleman) Sir Hugh Swynford for Gaunt.
2) One of the live Somerset “cousins”, descended from the 5th Duke of Beaufort, doesn’t match the others, suggesting that the broken link could be quite recent, as well as the extra one this shows.
On 16th September 1398, at Gosford Green near Coventry, there was a tournament involving a trial by combat between Henry of Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford and Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. Almost the entire nobility of England attended this event, including the king, Richard II, who had ordered the trial to settle a dispute (concerning treason) between the two magnates. It was to be a glittering occasion, everything our modern minds think of when it comes to medieval pageantry and jousting.
The two lords would appear in their most dazzling armour and colours. Mowbray’s armour was German, and his horse was “barded with crimson velvet embroidered richly with silver lions and mulberry trees”. His shield was the white lion of Mowbray on red ground. Bolingbroke’s armour was from Milan, and he was “mounted on a white courser, barded with green and blue velvet embroidered sumptuously with golden swan and antelopes. But all this glamour was beside the point, because danger was the order of the day, and death was to be the arbiter.
But first, some background. Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, died in Venice in 1399. His full clutch of titles was 1st Duke of Norfolk, 1st Earl of Nottingham, 3rd Earl of Norfolk, 6th Baron Mowbray, 7th Baron Segrave, Knight of the Garter and Earl Marshal (I know of no more) and he was born on 22 March 1366, making him 32 in 1398. His activities during the later years of the reign of RII contributed to the eventual downfall of that unfortunate king.
Mowbray had once been close to Richard, a favourite, but became estranged, even going over to mix with the king’s enemies, known as the Lords Appellant. It is thought that his defection was born of jealousy over Richard’s clear preference for another favourite, Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland, Marquess of Dublin, and 9th Earl of Oxford, also a Knight of the Garter. De Vere raised an army for Richard against the Appellants, and was trounced at the Battle of Radcot Bridge. He fled into exile, and died on 22nd November 1392, in Leuven in what is now Belgium. Richard was distraught.
Mowbray had found himself on thinner and thinner ice, and then a quarrel arose between him and the king’s first cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, son and heir of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the greatest magnate in the realm.
Bolingbroke (once a Lord Appellant himself) was 31, and would, of course, eventually see to Richard II’s downfall (and probably his demise as well). He would usurp Richard’s throne for himself, as Henry IV.
The two men accused each other in the King’s presence, and Richard ordered a trial by combat. Bolingbroke was generally reckoned to be the innocent party, and received more support than Mowbray. The protagonists were to meet in single combat on Monday, 16th September, 1398, at Gosford Green, near Caludon Castle, which was Mowbray’s Coventry residence.
Richard II was generally frowned upon for allowing the matter to reach such a point, and his closest advisers felt that great ill could result if it went ahead. But, it seemed, the king was determined to let the two lords slug it out in the lists.
The following is paraphrased from the Chronique De La Traison Et Mort De Richart Deux, Roy Dengleterre, 1846 translation by Benjamin Williams:-
At daybreak on the 16th September, Mowbray took leave of the king and after hearing three masses at the Carthusian monastery of St Anne’s, near Coventry, rode to his tent, near the lists at Gosford Green.,
The world and his wife would be present, for it was an amazing occasion, news of which had been proclaimed far and wide.
At the tent, his esquire, Jacques Felm of Bohemia, began dress him in his armour.
The Constable and Marshal, with 20 followers, all armed and wearing livery of short doublets of red Kendal cloth, with silver girdles bearing the motto: “Honniz soit celluy qui mal pense”. They entered the lists at eight o’clock, together with many who can come from overseas to witness the duel.
At nine o’clock, Bolingbroke arrived, with followers on six chargers. He presented himself at the barrier of the lists, and the Constable and Marshal went to meet him, to formally request that he identify himself. He replied that he was the Duke of Hereford, come to prosecute his appeal in combatting the Duke of Norfolk, who ‘is a traitor, false and recreant to God, the King, his realm, and me’.
The Constable and Marshal required him to swear an oath, and asked if he would enter the lists at that point. He said he would and ‘placed forward’ his shield, silver with a red cross, like that of St George. Then he closed his visor, crossed himself, called for his lance, and rode through the opened barrier to his pavilion, which was covered with red roses. Then, as was the custom, he alighted and went inside to await his opponent’s appearance.
Next, Richard II arrived, accompanied by all the nobles of England, Archbishop Walden of Canterbury, and the Count of St Pol. The king had with him full 20,000 archers and men-at-arms in great number.
The king ascended to the royal stand, which was very handsomely adorned in royal array, and once he was seated, the king of the heralds cried out, ‘Oyez, oyez, oyez! Behold here Henry of Lancaster, Duke of Hereford, appellant, who is come to the lists to do his duty against Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, defendant; let him come to the lists to do his duty, upon pain of being declared false.’ This proclamation was called out three times.
When this was done, the Constable and Marshal went to Mowbray, who had made his appearance before the barrier of the lists. He was sworn to his oath, they opened the barrier and he entered the list, saying ‘God speed the right!’
It was ordered that the contestants’ lances be brought and checked, to be sure they were the same length. When the lances had been returned, it was announced that the men’s chargers should be loosed, and that each man should perform his duty. Bolingbroke advanced seven or eight paces, but Mowbray remained motionless.
At that breathless, heart-stopping moment, the King rose and cried a halt. This amazing snapshot-in-time is a favourite subject for artists.
The crowds cried out in astonishment as he ordered the bemused contestants to their seats. There they remained for two hours, until it was decreed that although both men had appeared valiantly, prepared to defend their honour, the King had decided that Bolingbroke should quit the realm for ten years. There was uproar, but eventually it was also announced that Mowbray was to be banished from England for the rest of his life.
Unlike the above illustration, the two men were not permitted to meet, but had to come separately into the King’s presence, where they swore to obey his command. And obey they did, which is how Mowbray came to die in Venice. Bolingbroke hadn’t long left the country when his father, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster died, and Richard seized all Lancastrian property lands. Thus he gave Bolingbroke a cast-iron reason to come back to England and demand the return of his heritage. Then he, Bolingbroke, took all Richard’s lands…and his crown, throne and life as well.
So, those far-off events on 16th September 1398 had far-reaching consequences, and led to the usurpation of the House of Lancaster.
Well, I recently read that Edward III paid “not quite $1,200” for Sir Robert de Clynton’s war horse. Right. Very helpful. I have no idea how that would translate to today’s dosh. Anyway, while searching for more on the subject, I came upon this site which is interesting, if not always easy to work out. It’s all very well to know how much was paid for something in, say, 1284, but how much would that be now? What would the ratio be?
The author admits to difficulties, and that the prices are things that he’s located but not necessarily researched. That’s fair enough. I wouldn’t be able to research them either! I have trouble enough with today’s currency without floundering around converting it into what it would possibly have been hundreds of years ago.
But I hope the site is helpful to some of you, at least!
I must state from the outset that I could not find any contemporary likenesses of Henry Holand, so the above is of him as played by an actor unknown to me.
The life of Henry Holand, 3rd Duke of Exeter—*actually 4th Duke, by my calculations, see below—has never been of particular interest to me, but I did think that he was murdered at sea, and his body dumped in the water. It was believed that as he was a tiresome Lancastrian, he fell victim to Yorkist retribution. Specifically, the retribution of his former brother-in-law, Edward IV. At least, that was my impression. Apart from that, I also understood that Henry Holand was a very unpleasant person.
Henry was born in the Tower of London on 27th June, 1430. At his baptism he was carried from the Tower to Coldharbour, and then taken by barge to St. Stephen’s Westminster, where he was christened. (I mention this because we all know Coldharbour, and its Ricardian connections.)
Henry Holand married Anne of York, who was born in 1439 at Fotheringhay. She was the elder sister of Kings Edward IV and Richard III, and it was her mitochondrial DNA that proved the remains discovered in Leicester were those of Richard III.
When Henry was aged 19, in 1449, he became 3rd Duke of Exeter and Lord High Admiral. The Holands had started as Ricardians—Richard II—but had then Lancastrian supporters of Henry IV. Henry Hoiland supported Lancastrian Henry VI when the Yorkist Edward IV came to the throne. The duke was thus attainted after the Battle of Towton on 29th March 1461, and fled to exile in Scotland.
His estates had been forfeited, but Holand regained many of them when Henry VI was returned briefly to the throne. But then the estates were forfeit again when Edward IV surged back to power.
Meanwhile, Holand’s wife had managed to obtain all his estates for herself. Such are the perks of being Edward IV’s sister. An Act of Parliament passed in 1464 meant that “such gifts and grants that the king made to Anne, his sister, wife of Henry, Duke of Exeter, were to all intents good in law to the only use of the said Anne.” (Tower Records). Edward granted her the Holand castles, manors, etc. in Wales, Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Wilts to herself for life, with the remainder to her daughter by the Duke of Exeter.
Henry Holand returned to England in 1469, still supporting Lancaster, and was wounded at the Battle of Warwick.
Then, on 14th April, 1471, he fought at the Battle of Barnet, at which the Lancastrians were beaten, and the great Earl of Warwick, the “Kingmaker”, was killed.
Sir James Ramsey, in his book, Lancaster and York, vol. ii, p. 370, states that Henry Holand was in the Tower of London until June of 1475. On 21st June, 1471, a bill of 6s. 8d. was paid to William Sayer, purveyor to the Tower of London to feed “Henry, called Duke of Exeter”, for seven days from 26th May, and again 6s. 8d. for the week beginning 31st May. Rymer, vol. xi, p. 713.
Henry Holand and Anne had parted in 1464, and were divorced on 11th December, 1467. They had one child, a daughter, also named Anne. Then the Duchess Anne married Yorkist Sir Thomas St Leger in 1474-ish. Another daughter was born of this second match, on 14th January, 1476, and they called her Anne as well! So, we have Anne of York, Lady Anne Holand and Lady Anne St Leger.
On learning that his wife was pregnant, St Leger engineered a legal settlement that would enable his child, Anne St Leger, to inherit everything in the event of his wife’s death and the death (without issue) of Lady Anne Holand. I’ll bet Henry Holand appreciated that!
Henry must have been a brooding presence for his ex-wife. In 1475, around the time that she realised she was expecting St Leger’s child, Henry Holand had redeemed himself enough with Edward IV to volunteer (and be accepted) by that king for an expedition/invasion of France. This venture began at around the time Anne realised she was expecting St Leger’s child.
It was on the return voyage from France that Henry’s body was found bobbing in the Channel (or on the beach at Dover, according to another version).
Everyone scratched their heads and spread innocent hands as to what had befallen him. Edward IV may or may not have had a tiresome Lancastrian eliminated—he wasn’t above such things—but there was someone else with a good reason to dispose of Henry Holand.
Thomas St Leger was also on the expedition to France, and had been prominent in the proceedings. “St Leger played a key role in ending the Hundred Years’ War when he signed the Treaty of Picquigny with Louis XI on 29 August 1475.” At this time he knew he was to be a father, and had accomplished the settlement that could so greatly benefit his child’s future. Thanks to his foresight, little Anne St Leger might one day inherit the entire Holand fortune!
But while Henry Holand was still alive, there was a chance he’d return to complete favour, remarry and produce more legitimate offspring. Perhaps male. And that the king might decide he should have his inheritance back. The way politics were at that time, heaven knows who might occupy the throne? Another Lancastrian, perchance? Oh, no, I don’t think Thomas would have relished that scenario. So, as the English forces were returning to England from France, St Leger could have found an opportunity to see that Henry Holand was despatched to the hereafter. Heave-ho, over the side you go!
Well, that’s my theory. Far-fetched? I don’t think so. It’s a possible explanation for Henry’s immersion in the Channel.
Yes, there were others who loathed the very sight of Henry Holand, a man who seems to have signally lacked the famous Holand charm. But St Leger’s situation was different. He had a very personal reason to want Holand out of the way for good and all. Of course, let it not be forgotten that St Leger himself would one day become a treacherous brother-in-law. In 1483 he rebelled against Richard III, and paid the price.
*And I haven’t forgotten the asterisk at the beginning of this post. Why do I regard Henry Holland as the 4th Duke of Exeter? Because it is my belief that his grandfather’s (John Holand, 1st Duke of Exeter, d. January 1400) eldest son, Sir Richard Holand, who died at the end of 1400, survived the 1st Duke’s death long enough to be considered of age, and had thus inherited the right to his father’s titles—as much as Edward IV’s eldest son was Edward V! I know the 1st ~Duke had been demoted and attainted at the time of his death, but the title was resurrected and then given to his second son, another John. I still think this would have made the 2nd Duke actually the 3rd. OK, so I’m an amateur and don’t know what I’m talking about!