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Wenceslaus Hollar, by Gillian Tindall…

 

Until now, I have not encountered any of the books of Gilliam Tindall, but some of them look as if they may be of interest to us. The one I came upon is here, which I intend to get, because I have always loved the beautifully detailed work of Wenceslaus Hollar, about whom I am eager to learn more.

But Gillian Tindall has written other books which may be worth a look …

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And when did you last see your father?

This famous painting, which hangs in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, is so well known that it barely requires introduction.

It should be noted though that, contrary to some analysis, the fact that the children are wearing colourful clothing does not of itself make them “Royalist”.

Parliamentarians often wore colourful clothing too, and many of them wore their hair long – not cropped. Equally, supporters of the King often appear in portraits wearing black. Black happened to be fashionable, and it was also an expensive dye. So a suit of black implied your wealth, especially if cut from fine cloth. The mother of the children, standing in background, is wearing black.

Clothing was, in fact, more a matter of class distinction than political.

At the Battle of Marston Moor, one of the Parliamentary generals, Sir Thomas Fairfax (not this Royal ancestor), passed through the Royalist lines by the simple expedient of removing his “field sign” – without which he was indistinguishable from a Royalist officer.

It should be explained that up until the creation of the New Model Army (which wore red) regiments were clothed in whatever colours their colonel chose, so you could have regiments wearing (say) blue on both sides of a battle. Officers naturally wore their own clothes and equipment – nothing so lowly as uniform for them! Hence the “field sign”. This was usually improvised on the day. It could be something as simple as a sprig of barley worn in the hat, depending, of course, on what was available.

 

 

 

Hello John…meet John, and John, and John….!

I have moaned before about the prevalence of certain names during the medieval period. In particular the name John. So, on reading an essay entitled “English Diplomatic Documents 1377-99”, I was amused to find the following: “…on 25th June, 1382, John Harleston, knight, John Appleby, dean of St Paul’s, London, and Masters John Barnet and John Blanchard, doctors of laws, [were] sent to Brittany to conclude a truce agreement with Duke John IV…” Well, they wouldn’t have had any trouble remembering each other’s names, right?

The illustration above is taken from this interesting site about one of Henry VII’s diplomatic enterprises.

Richard III’s portrait is on the move….

From 8 June – 22 September 2019, Richard’s NPG portrait is on its travels to
the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester.

If you wander around the NPG site, you’ll find more about their portraits of Richard. Twenty-six in all. But you’ll also find the following:

“Richard III was the last Yorkist king of England. He was a staunch supporter of his elder brother Edward IV against the Lancastrians. However, after Edward’s death he steadily assumed power during the minority of Edward V, and was crowned king in his place.”

Steadily assumed power during the minority of Edward V? Surely this suggests a considerable period of time, with attendant scheming? Events actually ran away with Richard in a matter of days!

NOT AGAIN! THE LATEST FROM A CAIRO DWELLER …

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Richard Duke of Gloucester being offered the crown by the Three Estates at Baynards Castle, June 1483.  Painting by Sigismund Goetze at the Royal Exchange…(or according to some.. Richard in the actual act of ‘usurping’ the throne)…

I came across this article on a forum devoted to late medieval Britain.

Unfortunately I read it..5 minutes from my life I will never get back again… but as I was laid up with a bad head cold I had nothing  much better to do.  I should have been warned by the photo of a little girl in what looked like an attempt at Tudor costume and the words ‘I have no idea who this little girl is but she is adorable.  Little kids in this era were adorable and vulnerable too ..just like modern children..lets keep that in mind’.  This should have alerted me to the fact the writer was a writer of rubbish.  Nevertheless I cracked on.  As it transpired the article has more holes in it than a hairnet…and worse was to come.

John Howard, having been cheated out of his inheritance, which ‘seems to have stuck in his craw’ then went on to become ‘one of the first men to help the new king’s uncle usurp his throne and become King Richard III’.  When I challenged the word ‘usurp’ I received the reply of a emoji rolling on the floor laughing.  It  then became clear to me the quality of the author’s debating powers were going to be found somewhat lacking.  But casting that aside for the moment lets look at the word ‘usurp‘ as used by the author to describe the actions of Richard.  The late historian John Ashdown-Hill addressed this point very well.  “Definitions of the verb ‘usurp’ include include terms as to seize power by force and without legal authority…Richard III did not gain the throne by fighting a battle nor did he seize the crown.  He was offered the crown by the Three Estates of the Realm.  Later the decision of the Three Estates of the Realm was formally enacted by the Parliament of 1484′ (1) . Thus to describe Richard as a usurper is incorrect and a nonsense.”

Not content with calling Richard a usurper,  John Howard, later Duke of Norfolk is next in line to be  maligned by the statement regarding Anne Mowbray, (the 4 year old heiress of John Mowbray who died just before her ninth birthday)  ‘All that John Howard could do was wait and hope something happened to Anne…’!  This is quite an offensive thing to say as well as ludicrous as no source has come down to us informing us of Howard’s personal thoughts on this matter and which I very much doubt would have been ‘hoping’ for the death of a small child. Incidentally, he was raised to the Duchy of Norfolk whilst the “Princes”, including the previous in suo jure Duke, were known to be alive – see p.78 and pp.117-124 of The Mythology of the “Princes in the Tower”, also by Ashdown-Hill.
Howard later went on to fight and lay down his life for his king aged 60 years old.  This colossus of a man could easily have wormed his way out of fighting, as others did, with his age as an excuse.  He did no such thing and its a great pity that we have modern day pip-squeaks having the brass neck to  disparage such a man.  The author needs to hang their head with shame but I doubt if that will happen any time soon.

As we go on we see Lady Eleanor Butler nee Talbot – a lady of the nobility and daughter to the great John Talbot lst Earl of Shrewsbury a, sister to the Duchess of Norfolk and a lady known for her piety – described as one of King Edward’s ‘side pieces’…(I know,  I know..my guess is this is a stab at  ‘bit on the side’ but your guess is as good as mine).  She was in actual fact no such thing,  being the legal wife of Edward who married her in order to get her into bed.   Surely Eleanor deserves more respect than this….as I said pip-squeaks and all.

The writer then follows up with a message touching on the execution of Lord Hastings to prove her point that Richard was a Bad Man.   I say ‘touching’ in a very loose way as she makes no attempt to explore,  let alone mention,   what reasons were behind the execution only pointing out, unnecessarily,   that Hastings  was executed ‘even though he was one of the most richest and powerful men in the country’..what has this got to do with it?   Furthermore…’Richard had him dragged out and beheaded on a log’. Presumably Dickens, who was unborn, or More, aged five at the time, cannot be taken seriously as eye-witnesses?  Is it not about time this myth was debunked?  Three accounts survive of the dramatic events at the meeting at the Tower that day – those from  Historical Notes of a London Citizen 1483/84, Mancini and Croyland (2) – none of which mention the infamous log.

 

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A log, something that Lord Hastings was NOT beheaded on…

Hastings was probably, as Carson points out, executed under the Law of Arms (3), having tried to eliminate the Dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham and been judged by the Constable’s Court, Gloucester being Lord High Constable at the time. In much the same way, Rivers, Vaughan and Grey were judged by the Earl of Northumberland, the designated Vice-Constable.

 

  1. The Mythology of Richard III chapter 6 p74 John Ashdown-Hill.
  2. Historical Notes of a London Citizen 1483/8, English Historical Review, Vol. 96. p588 Richard Firth Green,   Mancini p.89, Croyland  p.479-80.  I am indebted to Peter Hammond and Anne Sutton for their very useful book, Richard III The Road to Bosworth Field, a complete and handy reference to all the primary sources covering Richard’s reign.
  3. The Maligned King p.98, but Carson’s other book illustrates the powers of the Constable and Protector and the documents assigning the role to Gloucester.

A different portrait of Anne Neville….

Here is a portrait of Anne Neville that isn’t seen very often. It’s not contemporary, of course, but shows her looking fresh and healthy, with no sign at all of the wilting Anne who is so often referred to. It also shows her with a fringe, which I’m certain she would not have. She lived in an age when women shaved their foreheads high, so a little fringe would be an abomination to her!

I found the illustration at this website which is an excellent place for endless information. I certainly recommend you to visit it.

A modern masterpiece: a carved wooden version of the Bayeux Tapestry….

We all know the Bayeux Tapestry, and marvel at it. Now it has a smaller twin that can be admired just as much. The following passage is from this article.

“. . .Grandfather hand-carved 230FOOT wooden scale model of Bayeux Tapestry to help get over the death of his teenage son (despite missing three fingers on his left hand)

“Jason Welch, 43, decided to create his Bayeux Tapestry replica to help get over death of his 16-year-old son Ricky 

“Self-employed wood carver spent two years working on the project in his workshop in North Creake, Norfolk

“Managed to complete incredibly intricate carvings despite losing three fingers in a farming accident when aged 19

“But he now says the 230ft scale model is gathering dust in the shed as it is too big to put on display in his home. . .”

A lot more about this fabulous work can be found online, if you simply Google “carded Bayeux Tapestry”. There are umpteen photographs that reveal just how dedicated, skilled and sensitive Jason’s work is. Marvellous.

A fleeting trick of the eye….

Forensics - collage

Occasionally, an image glimpsed quickly on TV appears to be something it is not. This happened to me when I first saw the TV trailer for the series Catching History’s Criminals: the Forensics Story on the Yesterday channel.

Being inured to the old, old propaganda that Richard III was the first criminal in all Creation, predating Satan himself, the black-and-white image I glimpsed—very briefly, and then only in close-up—appeared to be the one that went the rounds when Richard’s skull was used to re-create his true appearance. The one where the skull had his NPG portrait superimposed. So, I watched the programme, fully expecting another biased item that condemned him for the boys in the Tower, etc. etc.

Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be nothing of the sort. It wasn’t even about Richard! It was about a woman, Isabella Ruxton, who was murdered in the 1930s. The picture shown was, like the one of Richard, her skull superimposed on her photograph. The pose was the same as Richard’s, but the thing that spooked me initially, was the left eye. It seemed so like Richard’s left eye in the NPG portrait that I really was convinced Isabella was Richard.

Forensics - Richard III and Isabella Ruxton

Maybe it does not seem so evident to you but, to me, that fleeting out-of-the-blue glimpse on a TV screen was very convincing.

 

It is so good to clear this matter up

Here is a piece about a pearl and diamond pendant, formerly owned by Marie Antoinette and was sold recently in Geneva.
Anyone who heard BBC news coverage during the week of this event may well have learned two things:
1) “She ordered it before she was executed.”
Really? How do you order a pendant posthumously and where do you put it without a head?
2) “She was the last Queen of France.” – except for two others, including her own daughter (technically). There were also three Empresses up to 1870.

Edward of Middleham: the prince of Richard III

 

Edward in the stained glass at St Mary and St Akelda in Middleham

Edward of York, better known as Edward of Middleham, was the only legitimate son of King Richard III and his Queen, Anne Neville.

Edward was thought to have been born in Middleham Castle in December 1473, but this date is not certain. The historian Charles Ross wrote that this date “lacks authority” and was of the opinion that Edward was probably born in 1476. A document in which the Duke of Clarence thought that the marriage between his brother and Anne was invalid confirms that the child was not born at least until 1474. The Tewkesbury Chronicle estimates that he was born in 1476 so when he died he was probably 7 and not 10, as many think. No doubt he was already born on 10th April 1477 as priests of York Minster were asked to pray for King Edward’s family including his brother Richard and his family (wife and son).

For almost everyone he is Edward of Middleham, as he was probably born in the Nursery Tower of Middleham, today known as the Prince’s Tower in the west wing of the castle and it is thought he died there too. He grew up in Middleham with a wet nurse called Isabel Burgh and a governess, Anne Idley, married to one of Richard’s favourite courtiers.

During his short life, Edward was given several titles. On 15th February 1478 Earl of Salisbury, on 26th June 1483 Duke of Cornwall, on 19th July Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and above all on 24th August 1483 he was named Earl of Chester and Prince of Wales. He received this last title in York with his father himself performing the ritual. The solemn ceremony was held in the Archbishop’s Palace and was followed by four hours of banqueting. Edward walked along the streets of York to the delight of people.

It has always been said that Edward was not a healthy child. It seems that he was so sick that he went to York in a litter and not riding a horse as he was meant to do and he couldn’t even be present at his parents’ Coronation. Because of this, probably Richard decided to organise this solemn ceremony in York where the child was named Prince of Wales.

Edward was the only legitimate child of Richard but he had at least one half-brother and a half-sister. As it is likely that these two children grew up in Yorkshire, it is possible that Edward didn’t feel lonely as a child.

Unfortunately, we have no official portrait of Edward apart from a few drawings and stained glasses. The most famous is in St Mary and St Alkelda Church in Middleham, where he appears dressed as the Prince of Wales along with his father and mother. His physical appearance is not clear as he is different in the images we have of him. It is likely he was a fair haired child with blue eyes and a lean body shape.

As Prince of Wales, Edward was expected to be king after the death of his father but fate had decided otherwise for both of them. In April 1484, Richard and Anne were at the castle of Nottingham to enjoy a respite from their royal progress, when the news of Edward’s death arrived. The reactions of the poor parents is described in the Croyland Chronicles as they were almost bordering upon madness. This means that the death was sudden and unexpected and this explains the fact that they had left him in Middleham, as they didn’t suspect an imminent death.

 

The cause of death is not sure, it seems he suffered with tuberculosis but a sudden death is not typical of this illness. So possibly the cause was something completely different and it is very unlikely we will ever know.

A mystery surrounds the burial of Edward. Many think he was buried in Sheriff Hutton in a tomb of alabaster representing a child. Some investigations have proved the tomb is empty so there is a theory that the child was possibly buried somewhere in the church, along with the mortal remains of the Neville family’s members. Due to its age, it is not possible to see any inscriptions and it is very likely the tomb dates from much earlier than 1484. The theories around the actual location of Edward’s tomb are many and varied. Some people think it could be in Coverham, others in Jervaulx Abbey where, as a child, Edward rode horses with his father, others even it is in York. Some are of the opinion that any place he might be was a provisional resting place. At that time re-burials were very common so it was not impossible that Richard had in mind a different location but, as protecting his son’s body from being desecrated or displayed was apparently Richard’s desire, we can just hope nobody will ever disturb Edward’s eternal peace.

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