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Where the Bayeux Tapestry was always meant to be….

“….New evidence, published in the Journal of the British Archaeological Association, has confirmed that the Bayeux Tapestry was designed specifically to fit a particular area of Bayeux’s cathedral….”

The above quote is from an interesting article that tells us how they arrived at deciding on the actual spot in Bayeux Cathedral for which the great tapestry was always intended.

The close-up of the tapestry (above) gives a real idea of how beautiful, intricate and downright astonishing this work of medieval art really is. Such a pity it depicts the invasion and defeat of Saxon England!

The Crown Jewels of East Anglia?

Picture: Birmingham Museums Trust

This excellent EADT article suggests that a horde found near Tamworth about ten years ago included some crown jewels worn by Anna* or Onna, the (Wuffing) King of East Anglia and nephew of Raedwald. He is likely to have died in a 653/4 battle near Blythburgh, along with his Bishop, Thomas, fighting against Penda’s pagan Mercians. Tamworth is, of course, in Mercia and parts of the treasure can be seen there: in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as well as the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. All five of Anna’s children, including Ethelreda (Audrey) and Jurmin, his only son who died in the same battle.

* Male, despite his name, as were the C16 French warrior Anne de Montmorency and the historian Sharon Turner.

How Richard III changed Leicester….

Was it really only five years ago? Sometimes it seems like forever. And for me, the most affecting thing is still seeing Richard’s Book of Hours, which is thought to have been with him in his tent at Bosworth. I confess I had tears in my eyes. It just seemed so very personal to him. One of the prayers inside it reads: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, deign to free me, your servant King Richard, from every tribulation, sorrow and trouble in which I am placed…’  Yes, he was thrust into these tribulations, he didn’t seek them, and he paid a terrible price for shouldering the burden.

The day of his reinterment in Leicester Cathedral was truly momentous, as you’ll read here here

The discovery of Richard’s remains has made such a difference to Leicester. And rightly so. The city has taken him to its heart.

A tale of monarchs and national anthems

Anyone who has watched a Scottish rugby or association football match will be familiar with the Corries’ folk song O Flower of Scotland, which is played before their matches. The second line of the chorus (“Proud Edward’s army”) refers to Edward II, defeated at Bannockburn so that he never actually ruled Scotland although he may have technically been their King by marriage. I have chosen Barbara Dickson’s version.

The Netherlands’ national anthem, the Wilhelminus, is named after William the Silent, a Protestant monarch assassinated in 1584 during an ongoing independence war against the Spanish forces. Paradoxically, perhaps, it is sung lustily among a sea of orange flags at football internationals.

Can you think of any other monarchs mentioned in anthems?

A book to avoid if you uphold the truth about Richard III….

from the Rous Roll

When we buy a non-fiction book (in our case usually something to do with Richard III and the medieval period) we anticipate its arrival with some relish. This is how I felt when, after reading many praises for Peter Ackroyd’s History of England, I decided to buy Volume I online.

It arrived this morning, and I leafed eagerly through the pages, to get a feel of it before reading it properly…but when I came to Illustration 49 (of 51) it was an image of Richard III from the Rous Roll – just him, taken from the image above. Then I read the caption: “Richard III standing on a white boar; the white boar was his personal badge or ‘livery badge’. It may derive from the Latin name of York, Eboracum, since he was known as Richard of York.”

Um…oh no he wasn’t, Mr Ackroyd. His father was Richard of York, and so was his nephew, Richard of Shrewsbury, who was created Duke of York and became one of the boys in the Tower. Richard was always Richard of Gloucester, and then Richard III.

As you can imagine, my heart sank and my hackles began to rise as I sensed that I’d purchased a real turkey. I have indeed, because Peter Ackroyd goes on to relate in full the version of events according to the Sainted More, strawberries, withered arm and all. The murder of the boys in the Tower is taken for granted, but the possibility of Henry VII being responsible is “essentially a fancy”. Oh, right. Why, may I ask? Because his tricky, grasping, dishonest hands were suddenly lily-white? No, according to Ackroyd: “There can be little doubt that the two boys were murdered on the express or implicit order of Richard III.” Clearly this author has inside information that has been hidden from everyone else.

And there’s more: “There had been usurpers before, wading through gore, but Richard III was the first usurper who had not taken the precaution of winning a military victory; he claimed the crown through the clandestine killing of two boys rather than through might on the battlefield.” Really? Methinks Mr Ackroyd is too accustomed to composing eyecatching blurbs!

And Richard “set up a ‘council in the north’ to consolidate his power in that region. Excuse me? Richard was consolidating his own power? Um, where was Edward IV while all this was going on? Or was Richard now ‘king of the north’, and a law unto himself?

And Richard contemplated marrying Elizabeth of York…at least, he would have done if he’d been able to get away with it. No mention at all of the important Portuguese negotiation for both his own marriage and that of his niece. Indeed no, the only reason Richard didn’t rush her to the marriage bed was because he would not have been “able to marry the girl whose brothers he had destroyed”.

Polydore Vergil “states that Richard III was now ’vexed, wrested and tormented in mind with fear almost perpetually’.” In fact, Ackroyd is prepared to judge Richard solely on the traditional stories, which were (sorry to repeat it again) the work of the victor at Bosworth, in whose interest it was to blacken Richard’s name and memory as much as he possibly could. Henry VII was surely the best spreader of fake news in history!

Oh, and Richard was “buried without ceremony in a stone coffin. The coffin was later used as a horse trough and the bones scattered”. Really? No wonder Ackroyd thinks Henry VII was the best thing for England, they share a liking for telling stories!

The copyright for this abominable work of fiction is 2011. Oh, dear, a year later and Richard himself was able to refute claims of hideous deformity and being chucked in the Soar (Ackroyd missed that one, by the way.)

There are many other points in this book with which anyone of common sense will disagree. Those who have really studied Richard III, will know that he has indeed been cruelly maligned by history. He did not do all those things of which he was accused…and if he had Hastings executed without delay, you can bet your bottom dollar it was for a damned good reason. Richard didn’t execute people left, right and centre…there are quite a few he should have topped, but he was lenient! Which makes him a black-hearted, villainous monster, of course.

Anyway, I regret being swayed into buying this book. It is nothing but traditionalist garbage! I hardly dare turn its pages to my other favourite king, Richard II. No doubt Henry Bolingbroke gets the laurels and is patted on the head for having that other Richard murdered. Ah, but that’s different. It was OK to kill Richard II. So, in 1399 there was a Richard usurped by a Lancastrian Henry, and then another such thieving Lancastrian Henry happened along in 1485. Neither of the Richards (both married to Annes, by the way) usurped anything, but they both get the blame for everything.

Just plains facts about Richard, without traditionalist trimmings….

Well, it makes a change to find an article that doesn’t damn Richard III with every other word. This one simply states the known events without launching into Richard’s so-called dark plans, twisted nature and evil acts.

It isn’t quite flawless, because it omits to say that Henry Tudor won at Bosworth because Richard was betrayed, The switching of allegiance by Sir William Stanley was the sole reason Tudor emerged victorious, and is a known fact, not invention. It should have been mentioned.

Plus ca change …

Here is an Evening Standard article about Clauvino da Silva (left), a Brazillian gang leader who tried to escape from prison disguised as his own daughter, but his “feminine walk” was unconvincing and he didn’t leave the prison. He seems to have hanged himself the following day.

Things turned out differently for William Maxwell, the 5th Earl of Nithsdale, who proclaimed James “VIII/III” at Dumfries and Jedburgh but was captured at the Battle of Preston in 1715 and sentenced to death by beheading, to be carried out on 24 February. With the help of his weeping Countess, he escaped from the Tower disguised as her equally lachrymose maid, the day before his execution had been set. Both lived on in Rome, he until 1744 and she until 1749.

Digging up Britain’s Past

This Channel Five documentary has just completed a second series, with Alex Langlands and Raksha Dave, late of Time Team, in place of Helen Skelton. One particular episode was about Auckland Castle, where the “Prince Bishops” of Durham have lived for centuries and where archaeology is being carried out around the building.

One of these influential Bishops was William Bek who, surprisingly for a cleric, co-commanded the English army against William Wallace at Falkirk, shortly after Wallace and Moray’s victory at Stirling Bridge. Consequently, Langlands and Dave visited a few other venues associated with the story, including those in Scotland.

The series has also covered the lost Roman town of Silchester and HMS Invincible, as well as the Catterick garrison and Sudeley Castle.

THE HORNE DANCE AT ABBOTS BROMLEY

Every September on Wakes Monday, which follows  Wakes Sunday, an unusual dance takes place in the small Staffordshire village of Abbots Bromley. A company of dancers bearing huge, ancient reindeer horns, accompanied by a Fool with a pig’s bladder, a Maid Marion who is a man in female dress, a Hobby  Horse, a Triangle Player, a Musician, and an Archer played by a young child, dance throughout the village then journey out  across the nearby reservoir to Blithfield Hall, stopping and performing  along the way.

How long this dance has taken place is unknown but it is assumed to be medieval. There was a right to hold a fair granted to the village of Abbots Bromley in 1221 and a carbon date from one set of antlers goes back to 1065–before the Norman Conquest. As the antlers are from reindeer, they (or the animals that bore them)must have been imported from Scandinavia, as reindeer are not believed to have been extant in Britain at this period. The first official mention of dancing is in 1532 when the Hobby Horse is mention (the old Hobby Horse, a bit decrepit, hangs in St Nicholas’church), and  a later account of the 1600’s describes the dance as we know it. The participants wear ‘Tudor’ style costumes today.

The last performance takes place before the Bagot family of Blithfield Hall, which is not normally open to the public. The Bagots have lived at the hall since the 14th C, although the structure is mainly Elizabeth with a 19th C  Gothic facade. The Bagot family are related to the Earls of Stafford and hence the Dukes of Buckingham; in 1195 Hervey Bagot married  Millicent, the daughter and heiress of the Earl of Stafford.

http://baggetthistory.com/stafford.html

 

 

A possible search for the remains of Francis Lovell….!

The above illustration is take from this site, which is not only about this startling news, but also displays the wonderful reconstruction above.

Here are the opening paragraphs of the article:-

“….THE undiscovered body of a 15th-century nobleman could secure the future of a historic village church.

“….The final resting place of Francis Lovell, a key ally of Richard III during the War of the Roses, has never been proven, but some believe his remains lie within the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall, near Witney.

“….Community stalwart, Graham Kew, is now urging Historic England to survey the site, which is next to St Kenelm’s Church in Minster Lovell.…”

How exciting. We all know the old story of Francis’s remains having been found walled up in a room at the hall, but this is new. It actually makes me wonder if there was a grain of truth lurking in the old legend – that Francis was hidden away, but after death, not before, and in the church, not the hall. But that’s just me letting my imagination run. Here is a similar case.

Although it is said in the article that Graham Kew is now urging Historic England to survey the site, it is stated later on that so far Historic England don’t know anything about it. But I’m sure the necessary approaches will be made, hopefully have already been made.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Francis were found? He is one of the key figures in Richard III’s story, and very popular with modern Yorkists.

And in case you do not know of this book about Francis:-

“….Author Steve David, who launched his book on Francis Lovell at the village’s Old Swan hotel in May, believes the nobleman returned to his ancestral home in the village and hid from Henry VII….”

 

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