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Edward I and nursery rhymes go together….um, no, they don’t….!

 

Edward I, Westminster Abbey

Well, I associate Edward I with many things, but not children’s nursery rhymes. I can imagine him being used to frighten them witless, but not to sing and chant with humour. Anyway, according to this site two of our oldest rhymes are due to old Longshanks. I find it hard to believe the Dr Foster explanation! Would anyone with a least a single grey cell dare to refer to Edward as Dr Foster?Not if they wanted to keep their heads on their necks.

Anyway, here are the two rhymes said to be associated with Edward:-

“….Baa Baa Black Sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
One for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

“….Not surprisingly this rhyme is all about sheep, and the importance of sheep to the English economy. Until the late 16th century the final lines of the rhyme read “And none for the little boy who cries down the lane.” It was changed to the current version in order to cheer it up and make it into a song more suitable for children.

“….In medieval England, the wool trade was big business. There was enormous demand for it, mainly to produce cloth and everyone who had land, from peasants to major landowners, raised sheep. The great English landowners including lords, abbots and bishops began to count their wealth in terms of sheep, with some flocks totalling over 8,000 animals, all tended by dozens of full-time shepherds.

“….After returning from the crusades in 1272, Edward I imposed new taxes on the wool trade in order to pay for his military ventures. It is believed that this wool tax forms the background to the rhyme. One-third of the price of each bag, or sack sold, was for the king (the master); one-third to the monasteries, or church (the dame); and none to the poor shepherd (the little boy who lives down the lane) who had tirelessly tended and protected the flock.

“….Doctor Foster
Went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain
He stepped in a puddle
Right up to his middle
And never went there again

“….Although first published in 1844, the origins to this rhyme may date back more than 700 years, to the time of King Edward I. Edward was known by several nicknames, a powerful man, over six feet tall he was often referred to as Longshanks, but he was also recognised as a clever and learned man and hence earned the title Dr Foster; the origins of the Foster part are lost in time. Not a great fan of the Welsh, no doubt Edward was visiting Gloucester due to the town’s strategic position at a major crossing of the River Seven into Wales….”

“….The story goes that the king arrived during a storm and mistaking a shallow puddle for a deep ditch steered his horse in that direction. Both horse and rider became trapped in the mire and had to be hauled out; infuriated and no doubt embarrassed by the humiliation, he vowed never to return to the town….”

Yes, it’s Edward I from “Braveheart”. Say no more – he’d terrify me!

 

The castles of Lancashire….

 

taken from the article mentioned below

I have to admit that when I think of England’s many castles, I don’t always think of Lancashire. But this article names and features no fewer than twelve.

So read and enjoy!

 

The good neighbours of Richard III country…!

 

Do you think HE will deliver in person????

“…The Richard III Hotel [Middleham] will deliver home cooked meals to the elderly who are self-isolating in the Middleham area. Call 01969 623240….”

From this article

Well done the hotel !!!! And everyone else who’s upped and done their bit!

The Isle of Dogs declared independence….

 

The following story is from the Archives of The Hindu newspaper, and was published in March 1970. It arrived in my emails this morning.

…The Isle of Dogs has followed Rhodesia — it proclaimed unilateral independence yesterday [March 1]. The Isle of Dogs, in the heart of London’s dockland area, is a narrow peninsula jutting out into the Thames estuary. Tired of the Greater London Council’s failure to improve their housing conditions the 10,000 inhabitants of the peninsula decided to “break away and govern” themselves. The head of the movement, Mr. Fred Jones, called a news conference to outline his “State’s” policy. “The people lead a dog’s life in the Isle of Dogs. That is why we have declared unilateral independence,” he said. A citizens council would be formed, he said. “We are capable of governing ourselves.”

….It was, of course, a blood-less revolution. The most militant action of the day was when some of the “rebels” captured London transport buses which had “illegally” entered the isle.

….The Isle of Dogs got its name because King Richard III and other kings had dog’s kennels built there….

A little digging unearthed the following reference:

The Universal Magazine. East London History Society. June 1795. “…It [Isle of Dogs] is opposite Greenwich in Kent; and when our sovereigns had a palace near the site of the present magnificent hospital, they used it as a hunting-seat, and, it is said, kept the kennels of their hounds in this marsh. These hounds frequently making a great noise, the seamen called the place the Isle of Dogs.…”

This, of course, is contrary to my findings here.

But the thought of a Declaration of Independence is worth a mention! And to read even more about this momentous occasion, go to this article.

A hitherto unknown fact about Henry VII….!

While reading Terry Jones‘s Who Killed Chaucer? I came upon a truly astonishing sentence. So astonishing that I have to share it with you. “…Henry VII, mysteriously, paid half a mark to a friend for eating coal…”

Well, I find that hard to believe. No, no, not the bit about the coal – the fact that Old Miseryguts had a friend !!! 😂

The illustration above has been tweaked a little by me – to make him look less grim, of course. But apologies to the artist. (The original is below.)

 

The worst king in our history….?

This article is from 2015, but I’ve only just seen it. Amazingly, Richard III doesn’t even get a mention among the “worst kings in history”! So, either the list compiler slipped up, or they’ve finally realised he was one of the good guys!

Oh, and no question who took first place! Rightly so.

The chance to see living history at the Battle of Evesham….

Medieval Free Company

If you go to the Medieval Free Company‘s website, you will find the following:-

“….The Medieval Free Company is a group of families and individuals who all share a common interest in medieval history. We specialise in the recreation of the lifestyle of a group of mercenaries during the Wars of the Roses period. Everything within the camp is recreated, through research, with as much historical accuracy as possible using materials and methods that would have been available at the time. Our focus is on authentic living history camps and archery with traditional English longbow….”

They are living history, and among their fixtures this summer, on 1st/2nd August, Lammastide, they are re-enacting the Battle of Evesham at which Simon de Montfort was defeated in 1265. The anniversary event will take place at Evesham Crown Meadow, Abbey Road, WR11 Evesham.

Definitely one to put in your diary!

The above was written some months ago, before all the Covid 19 restrictions, so it’s best to check that the event is still scheduled. It may be one for next year!

 

The true identy of the Black Death….?

Miniature out of the Toggenburg Bible (Switzerland) of 1411 

Last night I cheered myself up by watching the PBS documentary The Mystery of the Black Death. No, that opening sentence was facetious, because I have to say that the programme was actually very interesting. And rather uncanny in that it was stated the pestilence started in Italy, then Spain, and then gradually spread through the rest of Europe. Eerily familiar in present circumstances, right?

This documentary traced the progress and symptoms of the Great Pestilence, which has traditionally been identified as bubonic plague. No! Bubonic plague didn’t follow the same pattern as the Great Pestilence (not named the Black Death until later on). The buboes of bubonic plague were absent in all contemporaneous descriptions of what struck Europe in 1347/51. And rats couldn’t have been to blame because there weren’t any at that period.

Well, there were a few, of course, but nothing like the teeming hordes we all envisage. There are small hints of this ratless society, e.g. the fact that dovecotes were built with “nesting” spaces going right down to the ground. This wouldn’t have happened had rats been much in evidence. Rats climb, yes, but medieval people wouldn’t have made it so inviting and easy by providing rat feasts at ground level.

Another indication was that although owls eat rats, no rat bones have been found in the regurgitated pellets of medieval owls. Loads of mouse bones, and so on, but no rats. Why not? Presumably because there were no rats to eat.

So the programme delved into what else other disease it might have been. It concluded that the Black Death was spread by human touch, not rats or fleas, and that it was mostly likely something closely related to ebola.

Whether you agree with the reasoning or not, the programme is very interesting, and I recommend it. But not if you’re squeamish!

If you cannot receive PBS UK, you can see more here.

Lancastrians unfairly condemn another King Richard….

 

taken from the article referred to below

The article that prompts this post is the first of three concerning the history of the House of Lancaster. There are some sweeping statements that are eminently challengeable, but then it’s Lancastrian about Lancastrians, so bias is bound to be present.

The first Lancastrian monarch usurped the throne of his first cousin, Richard II, whom he then had murdered, and he had to justify this dreadful act for the rest of his life. There was, of course, a later Henry (VII) who represented the House of Lancaster and killed the incumbent king, Richard III by treachery in battle. So Lancastrian Henrys seemed to specialise in taking thrones by ridding themselves of the Richards who were already the anointed kings. Biased? Moi? Well, it goes with the territory if you happen to support the other side.

The article claims that Richard II and his cousin, Henry (to be IV) formed a “strong bond” as boys. Well, they were first cousins, but I don’t think they were ever that close. Henry was forever being held up as a shining example of manly strengths and virtues etc, whereas Richard was “…pampered…the coming saviour…compared himself to Christ…had a mean streak…[and] ever inflating ego”. Furthermore “…whilst Richard swanned about court with his young councillors pandering too him, Henry Bolingbroke was fighting in tournaments, learning the art of war, building his prestige”.

Right, well that’s Richard neatly encapsulated as a self-centred weirdo par excellence!

Apparently “Within four years of his reign thousands of angry peasants, led by the rebel leader Wat Tyler, stormed London.” This was Richard’s fault? No, he was a boy of fourteen, it was the magnates and royal advisers who were in charge. Especially Henry’s father, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who was loathed across the land. But mustn’t mentioned that.

Anyway, this is a flavour of the article, which goes on to rip Richard apart while raising Henry on an ever higher pedestal. Like Richard III, Richard II is almost always bad-mouthed by historians, but I don’t think he was the dangerous, tyrannical prat he’s made out to be. On the contrary, there was far more to him than meets the casual eye, and his motives have been misunderstood. He tried hard to change the status quo in England, but in the end he failed. And he deserves better than this pro-Lancastrian article.

One thing. A typo, I trust. “Henry was popular, a military leader and willing to listen to the ascent of parliament, he was everything Richard wasn’t.” One wonders exactly how high Parliament ascended….

 

 

What was a Mattins of Notre Dame….?

from the British Library

When my research unearthed a will in which the lady left her “Mattins of Notre Dame” to her daughter, I had pause to halt. I’m not well versed in such matters, and had no idea what, exactly, a Mattins of Notre Dame was. I did know, of course “….the canonical hours of Matins (after midnight), Lauds (before dawn), Prime (at daybreak), Terce (mid-morning), Sext (midday), None (afternoon), Vespers (sunset) and Compline (before bed)….” But Matins could hardly be left to someone in a will! So what was the item in question?

Poking around on Google led me to this British Library site . As the link tells you, it concerns books, mainly medieval prayer-books. Books of Hours.

So was the Mattins of Notre Dame simply a Book of Hours? Or was it a very specific Book of Hours? If anyone knows the answer, please say!

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