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Gloucester on 28th October, 1378, 1483 and 1967….

from Gloucester Archive

28th October is a notable day for me because of three events in Gloucester’s history:-

(1) It was the day my second favourite king, Richard II was in Gloucester and Tewkesbury—well, he was from 20th October 1378 until mid-November, so had to be in one or the other on the 28th.

A young Richard II from the wilton Diptych

(2) It was also one of the days in 1483 when the treacherous Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion against Richard III floundered and failed. 

Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham

(3) Most important of all, of course, it was the day I was married in 1967 (not actually in Gloucester, but right outside).

Very late 1960s!

 

Right, back to 1378 . This was another difficult year for England, and for Parliament. Demands for ever higher taxes made holding Parliament in London a rather hazardous matter, and so the venue was moved to Gloucester instead. The citizens of that city being deemed less militant? Anyway, the MPs met close to the abbey/cathedral in a half-timbered house that is still called Parliament House.

from www.yourlocalweb.com

RII was eleven years old at the time, and is recorded as having stayed at Llanthony Secunda Priory, where he was seen in the gardens. The priory was (parts of it still are) just outside Gloucester city walls, close to the Severn.

Llanthony Secunda Priory

Gloucester had a special significance for young Richard, because his great-grandfather, Edward II, was buried in the abbey. All his life, Richard held Edward in special regard, and strove without success to have him canonized.

Tomb of Edward II

When Parliament rose, Richard and his retinue rode north to Tewkesbury, and thence out of “my” area.

On to 1483. Richard III, of course, had been Duke of Gloucester. And yes, I’d have liked him to be interred in Gloucester Cathedral. Well, he was ours, in a manner of speaking. And he certainly wasn’t unpopular here, far from it.

For a timeline of 1483 see here It’s OK for the dates, but be warned, it’s anti-Richard. For example for 12th October 1483 it says “Richard writes to Russell, calling Buckingham ‘The most untrue creature living’ (next to himself, I suppose)”. Oh, excuse me while my sides split. But the dates are useful.

Richard III

The town of Gloucester had reason to be grateful to Richard. After his coronation on 6th July 1483 he went on a royal progress accompanied by Buckingham, and on reaching Gloucester on 29th July he granted it a charter that stayed in force until 1974. This gave the city the status of a county, allowed it to have a Sheriff who could hold a County Court, and allowed the election of a mayor, aldermen and a coroner. See here.

Extract of the charter granting rights to Gloucester, GBR/I/1/22 held at Gloucestershire Archives. Reproduced by kind permission of Gloucester City Council

Richard also presented what is said to be his own personal sword (the so-called Mourning Sword) to the City, which still has it.

The Mourning Sword – my photograph

On 2nd August 1483, when they both left Gloucester, Buckingham parted company from the king and made his way over the Severn into Wales and his own lands. He had with him, supposedly as his prisoner, a treacherous Lancastrian serpent by the name of Bishop John Morton.

John Morton at Canterbury – from www.kyrackramer.com

It will probably never be known exactly why the Duke of Buckingham rose against his cousin, Richard III. That Morton whispered in his ear in the Garden of Brecon is not in doubt! The man responsible for the odious Morton’s Fork surely had a forked tongue as well! See https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Morton#ref185463

I’ve tweaked a painting by Edmund Leighton entitled “Call to Arms”

Buckingham had been grandly rewarded, and was doing very nicely from the new king. What his motive was for turning on Richard is a mystery, and may simply have been that he fancied being kingy himself. What I doubt very much is that he rose in support of Henry Tudor. Never! Buckingham’s claim to the throne was much better, and he probably thought Tudor was helping him, not the other way around.

But then, I don’t think our duke was over-endowed with grey cells, just with ego. Henry, on the other hand, was as crafty as they come.

Henry Tudor

But that’s not the point now, because I’m concerned with 28th October. When Buckingham commenced his rebellion, he left his castle in Brecon and made for Gloucester, which was the best place to cross the awkward River Severn. It also provided the most direct route in England, and to wherever the duke intended to go from there. To take London while Richard was elsewhere in the realm? But one big thing seems to have been overlooked. That autumn was one of the worst in living memory, and the Severn (as well as all other rivers, especially in the west) was in flood. And how. It’s a beast of a river, believe me, even when it’s at normal levels.

So there’s Buckingham, banner unfurled, riding at the head of his reluctant army of Welshmen, who weren’t inclined to fight against Richard in the first place. They reached the river…. Suddenly the duke turned to look back and his army had melted away. Yikes! He’s practically on his own, and by now he knows Richard has been alerted and is on the way on the English side of the river. The king will not be pleased…or in a forgiving mood. Time to panic, methinks.

Severn in flood, 2007

So Buckingham turned tail…at least, his horse did…and off to the north he fled. Then it’s into the hands of a “friend” named Bannaster. Oh dear, another nasty shock, capture and being bundled down the English side of the Severn toward Salisbury, where a trial awaited. Richard refused to listen to his cousin’s abject pleas for a chance to explain himself. Which is as well, because Buckingham’s son afterward said his father had concealed a dagger about his person and intended to drive it into Richard however he could.

Here’s more about this Bannaster connection. “….Buckingham’s rebellion began – and failed, largely because his Welsh tenants decided they liked him less than Richard III.  Robbed of this crucial support, he fled to a friend’s home but the friend, Ralph Bannaster, turned him in and, on 31 October, Buckingham was taken to Sir James Tyrell and Christopher Wellesbourne, staunch supporters of Richard III….”

This betrayal by Bannaster is still remembered (see here) by the name of a house in Finchampstead in Berkshire. It’s thought that the Berkshire property is actually a confusion with another property closer to the northern Welsh borders, where Buckingham fled when he realised the game was up. The name of the betrayer isn’t questioned, it was definitely a Bannister/Bannaster/Bannastre. You will also find more at http://www.gnosallhistory.co.uk/horns_inn.htm

Duke’s Head, Gnosall, from http://www.gnosallhistory.co.uk/horns_inn.htm

And Henry Tudor? Well, he sailed for England with French backing, and lurked off shore like an animal sensing a foe. Henry was a great lurker. When he heard the uprising had collapsed, he scuttled back to France. Tomorrow was another day, as someone on celluloid once said.

The Old West Gate over Severn, Gloucester, over which Buckingham had hoped to advance

Right, that was Buckingham’s fate, but what had been going on in Gloucester during all this? The city had known that if the Severn should miraculously recede again, and the crossing were sufficiently exposed, they were going to be invaded by a rebel army. They didn’t know if the rains had long since ceased upstream and in the Welsh mountains, where the Severn began. If there was no flood water coming downstream, then the river would go down again, perhaps too quickly for comfort.

The Western Prospect of Gloucester, showing crossing and branches of the Severn

Gloucester was the king’s city, and I think the inhabitants must have flocked to the abbey and every other available church to get on their knees and pray the Severn stayed nice and high, even though it flooded the lower parts of the town. Nice and high at nearby Tewkesbury as well, because that was the next crossing, and was ticklishly close to Gloucester.

Tewkesbury Abbey surrounded by flood water in Gloucestershire as the river Severn burst its banks. 27 Nov 2012 . Concerns have been raised that there will be further flooding as the River Severn is expected to reach its peak in Gloucester later. The Environment Agency said the river would be at its highest level since the mass flooding of 2007, when much of the county was under water.

Neither town wanted to be caught up in Buckingham’s antics. They probably took to their knees again, this time in praise, when it was known Buckingham had been captured and executed, because their first prayers had been answered! The danger was past.

Oh dear, there they were on 28th October 1483, on their knees while the autumn rain came down in stair rods…fast forward 484 years, still in Gloucester, and there I am, on my knees in a church on my wedding day while the autumn rain came down in stair rods. Yes indeed, and guess what? The Severn was in flood then too! The autumn of 1967 was as bad as the one in 1483.

Not that my marriage proved as disastrous as the duke’s uprising! It lasted until my husband Rob passed away in 2015.

Today in 1441….

Great news, no solar farm for Bosworth after all….!

“….A 64-hectare solar farm near the Battle of Bosworth site has been rejected by local councillors after a long and public discussion on the matter.

“….Councillor Jonathan Collet posted the news on his Twitter account, writing, ‘Absolutely delighted that my motion to protect the Bosworth Battlefield site and reject an application for a large Solar Farm in Sutton Cheney was passed at Hinckley & Bosworth Council Planning Committee this evening by 15 votes to 0 opposed.’….”

“….The proposal was struck down on the grounds that tourism to the area would be affected by a solar farm near the historical site. Both Historic England and The Battlefield Trust opposed the solar park….”

This is excellent news for everyone, especially Ricardians, who strive to protect everything connected with Richard. And other important historic sites too, of course, but he’s our prime objective.

Well done Hinckley & Bosworth Council Planning Committee! Who wants an eyesore like the illustration sitting next to them? Especially near a site as important as Bosworth.

To read more, go to this article.

Richard’s silver boar only makes it to Number Two 🤨….!

 

Richard’s silver boar badge makes it to number two on this list, second only to a golden aestel of a horse’s head, which is believed to be part of a pointer for reading books.

The boar should be first, of course. No question. But I don’t think we need to be told it’s a male. That fact is rather obvious. 🙂

To see all five on the list, go to the Leicester Mercury

Get it right about medieval horses….!

We definitely do have set beliefs about medieval horses, mostly incorrect. Just because we see illustrations of medieval lords riding what look like ponies too small for them, we think it must be the fault of the illustrator. But no, for journeys they really did have small trotting horses that could keep going on and on and on, with a swift steady gait that was comfortable for both horse and rider. To our modern eyes it looks a little silly, but they knew what they were doing.

It’s the same with similar illustrations that show them riding with straight legs, especially knights in armour etc. But that was the way they rode, and very sensible it was too, enabling them to “stand” in the stirrups with great ease.

Richard II, King of England, presiding at a tournament, 1377-1379 (15th century). Watched by the king, mounted knights in armour joust with lances. In the pavilion on the left musicians play trumpets while in the one on the right the audience observes the combat.

As you can no doubt tell, I’m not a rider, and can only describe what I see, but if you go to this video you’ll see someone who definitely knows it all telling you about medieval horses. Thoroughly recommended.

Edwardtide—a Celebration of Edward the Confessor, Saint and King….

From https://www.westminster-abbey.org/worship-music/services-times/edwardtide

“….Remembering St Edward, 13th-18th October 2020….During Edwardtide, we celebrate the life of St Edward the Confessor, King of England 1042–1066 and the re-founder of Westminster Abbey. St Edward was canonised in 1161, and to this day, pilgrims come to pray at his shrine…”

The above extract is from the website of Westminster Abbey (specifically from this page), and as I am not over-endowed with knowledge of such things, I had cause to wonder about a church festival of which I had not heard. It was also known as the Octave of St Edward the Confessor, and is still celebrated at Westminster Abbey, as the above link will tell you.

Well, as the name Edwardtide suggests, this isn’t just one day, but a week during October, from 13th to 18th, the 13th being the day in 1163 when the Confessor’s (uncorrupted) remains were translated within the newly rebuilt Westminster Abbey in the presence of both Thomas Becket and Henry II. Then, in the reign of Henry III, a dazzling new shrine was built especially for him. Today, 15th October, we are in the middle of Edwardtide!

Until I looked into this, I didn’t even know that a Confessor was a particular type of saint—one who suffered for faith and demonstrated sanctity in the face of worldly temptations, but was not a martyr. I suppose that over the years I had become so accustomed to references to “Edward the Confessor” that it never occurred to wonder why he was so termed.

Edward’s remains were inspected several times during the medieval period. Henry I and his wife Matilda (of Scotland, Edward’s great niece) had the tomb opened, and “Bishop Gundulf, who was present at the time, was said to have plucked a hair from Edward’s long white beard, for which he received a severe reprimand from the Abbot of Westminster”. I should think so too. Mind you, Henry II removed Edward’s burial robes and purloined his pilgrim’s ring, which wasn’t very devout. With Henry III full respect returned when that king built the wonderful shrine.

Unopened, please note!

Here you will find a very interesting account of the only surviving copy of an illustrated Anglo-Norman verse Life of St Edward the Confessor sponsored by Henry III and originally written in the late 1230s or early 1240s. At the above site it is described as “a masterpiece of mid thirteenth-century English illumination”.

Page from the Life of St Edward the Confessor

Edward ruled from 1042 until the fateful year of 1066, and was a member of the House of Wessex and our penultimate Anglo-Saxon king before the Normans arrived.

He was a successful king, “energetic, resourceful and sometimes ruthless” but problems began because he had no heir. He gradually withdrew from matters of state and  took up a more secluded and pious life of prayer. He died on the night of 4-5th January 1066, and on the 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, was buried before the High Altar in Westminster Abbey. A century later he was canonised and became one of England’s national saints until supplanted in the mid-13th century by St George. His feast day is 13th October, which is the first day of Edwardtide.

His shrine was wonderfully decorated, and studded with gold, jewels and all manner of holy objects. It was a sight o see and drew pilgrims in their thousands, some of whom stole the jewels. For a much more detailed description of the burial and the shrine, and the replacement of the jewels, go to this article.

‘Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor. Shrine, etc, from the S.W’, in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London, Volume 1, Westminster Abbey (London, 1924).

Another king who revered the Confessor was Richard II, who is depicted with him in the illustration below, from the matchless Wilton Diptych, of which you can read more here

Edward the Confessor as depicted on the wilton Diptych, with Richard II kneeling in the foreground. Richard was the saint’s great admirer.

So, ladies and gentlemen, Edwardtide is now explained. It may not be one of the major Christian festivals, but it certainly exists!

Pooh to the rescue in 1066….?

From Ticia Verveer – Archaeologist

Here’s a real giggle. Just imagine if, on that day in 1066, these little friends had turned up to interrupt the proceedings. The Battle of Hastings would definitely not gone in William the Bastard‘s favour, and we’d have kept our King Harold Godwinson. No brutal interference from across the Channel!

But, alas, it didn’t happen.

The “new” Bayeux Tapestry is the work of Ticia Verveer.

A very witty, slightly rude take on the BBC’s The Hollow Crown series….

The caption of the above illustration gives a mild flavour of what follows in this review and this one and  of the BBC’s The Hollow Crown series. The reviews are the work of Hello Tailor, and really had me giggling. They’re sharp and witty, but naughty too, so be warned.

They’re also the work of a Scottish gentleman, and include all the expected digs at the English, but we can deal with them. Just remember Old Longshanks, right? 😁

Oh, and in the picture above, James Purefoy is the one on the right, Bolingbroke is on the left! (Just being picky!)

 

Was the Black Prince a control freak where his wife was concerned….?

by Henry Justice Ford (1860–1941) from The Book of the Happy Warrior published in 1917

Before I start, I must apologise for the decidedly uncontemporary illustrations. They are an indulgence, I fear. The one above, of the Prince of Wales (known to posterity as the Black Prince) in armour at an army camp, his hands clasped behind his back, seems to me to probably capture him exactly as he was…all the time! Not a man to argue with.

For aeons beyond recollection, men have been the top dogs. What they said, went. And if they were princes, boy did it went! I think it’s safe to say that Edward of Woodstock was just such a man. He decided everything, as Joan of Kent discovered when she became his Princess of Wales.

Joan of Kent by Cheryl Crawford of Crawford Manor Dolls

Joan was reputedly the most beautiful, charming, seductive and enticing woman in England, and had already proved herself in her first marriage by producing two strong sons and two daughters who lived to adulthood. There was something about her that got men going, as the phrase has it, and Edward of Woodstock was no exception. She was his cousin, he called her Jeanette and he was clearly head over heels in love with her…perhaps he always had been, which was why he’d left it so long to get married. He wouldn’t have any other woman but his Jeanette. He was thirty-one and she was thirty-three, and they were married at Windsor on 10th October 1361,

However, although Edward of Woodstock was notably extravagant with gifts to others, he wasn’t with Joan. His mother, Queen Philippa {pingback to 24/6} , wasn’t particularly lavish toward her either, giving her a corset that had to be mended at a cost of £6 13s 4d! That was a lot of dosh back then, so either it was a corset studded with jewels (not comfortable!) or it was practically beyond redemption and required picking apart and rebuilding from scratch! Literally.

Edward had decided views on everything, including his wife’s appearance. It began even before their marriage, with him making suitable changes in how she and her children by her first marriage presented in public. In Penny Lawne’s excellent biography Joan of Kent, starting on page 140, the list of materials, embroideries, furs and so on involved may seem impressive, but are actually modest by the royal standards of the day. And there’s no record at all of any jewellery being given to Joan. He gave far more to his sisters.

The prince even seems to have had a hand in Joan’s wedding dress. Well, not literally, I imagine…although you never know. Maybe not in public! His hand was in the design. The material was red cloth-of-gold, with threads of gold woven on a web of silk. Beautiful, yes, but not as lavish with jewels as the churching gown the queen had worn. Everything for Joan appears to have been low key. Why?

Was Queen Philippa perhaps disapproving of the match? Hence the damaged corset and modest wedding gown?

Philippa of Hainault – from Mary Evans Picture Library

Joan had a chequered marital history and there was always a question over whether or not she was actually free to marry the Prince. She’d been married to Thomas Holand, who started off as seneschal to the Earl of Salisbury but became Earl of Kent. Unfortunately she was also married to the Earl of Salisbury, at the same time perhaps, but that’s another story. The Salisbury match was set aside by the Pope, so that should have been that. Now, with the Prince of Wales’s marriage, Thomas was definitely dead, but Salisbury was still very much alive and kicking, so was he her real husband after all? This must have plagued many a mind at the time, including the king and queen. And the prince’s next surviving brother, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who had an eye on the succession for himself. Now, if he could prove Joan committed bigamy with Edward…

Was the Prince of Wales only too conscious of this stumbling block? Did he want the marriage to be low key because of it? Or was he just an over-assertive man who thought he knew it all…and got away with it every time because he was a prince? I don’t think there’s any doubt that he loved her, but he just couldn’t help interfering and pushing her around.

I’d like to say it couldn’t happen today, but unfortunately bullying know-alls are still thick on the ground…. All right, all right, I know some of them are women, but the vast majority are men!

 

There were only two English Queens of France . . . .

 

Mary Tudor – attributed to Jan Gossaert – Wiki Commons

It is a fact that there have only ever been two English queens of France. We’ve had a few French queens, of course.

The two we sent over there, Eadgifu, daughter of Edward the Elder, and Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VII, were both offspring of men who seized the throne:-

” . . . .Mary’s dad was Henry VII who as plain old Henry Tudor turned up at Bosworth in August 1485 and captured the crown of England from Richard III in one of the most famous battles in history.  Her mother was Elizabeth of York who had a better claim to the throne than Henry but who ended up consort rather than regnant when the victor of Bosworth married her after establishing his own hold on power first . . .

from Wikipedia

“ . . . .Eadgifu was the daughter of Edward the Elder who became King of England in 899 on the death of his very famous father, Alfred the Great.  But despite the unifying work done by Alfred, Edward still had to battle for the crown as his cousin – son of Alfred’s older brother Aethelread – also reckoned he was king.  But within a few years, Edward was in control and had even expanded his power.  Eadgifu was his first child by his second wife, Aelfflaed, who married him in the same year he became king . . . .”

If you read this article you will be able to read a lot more about these two ladies.

But I fear I cannot help a parting Yorkist snarl about Henry VII. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. He only won at Bosworth because Richard III was betrayed. What honour is there in THAT??? None. The Tudors’ power was based on treachery, and the fact that Henry spent his reign needing his back watched night and day (by his own personal bodyguards, no less) was no more than the wretch deserved. I just wish they’d failed in their duty!

 

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