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Archive for the category “films”

PYKE NOTTE THY NOSTRELLYS!

If you watch a lot of a Hollywood ‘medieval’ movies, you would be forgiven in thinking that all medieval people, from the youngest to the oldest, ate like pigs at the trough, threw gnawed animal  bones on the floor, belched and yelled loudly at the dinner table, and merrily ate their dinners with filthy nails and mud smeared on their faces.

In fact, there were several books written about manners showing a very different code of conduct, particularly where eating was concerned. The Lytille Childrenes Lytil Boke, which was written about 1480, was a book of manners for Wars of the Roses era youngsters. Perhaps it was even used in the upbringing of Richard’s son, Edward of Middleham,  or the children of Edward IV and George of Clarence. In it, children are exhorted not to pick their noses, belch as a bean was caught in their throat, dig at their teeth with a knife or spit over the table. They were also told not to be greedy when the cheese arrived (I presume cheese must have been seen as  a special  treat since it is specifically mentioned). They were also cautioned not to laugh, grin or talk too much–a bit in the vein of the Victorian ‘children are to be seen, not heard.’

The Lytille Childrenes Lytill Boke, whose author is unknown, has recently been digitised by The British Library, along with many other classic, later works. The copy they have used for the digitisation has a name written inside it–‘Maria’ (most likely a Mary). I wonder if young Mary heeded the good advice and never burped at table or grabbed at a slice of cheese?

MEDIEVAL BOOK OF MANNERS DIGITISED–ARTICLE 2

 

 

 

 

A bearded Henry VII….?

 

Here is an interesting link about the death of Henry VII. It includes an illustration from the TV series The Spanish Princess, in which Henry seems to have sprouted a beard. Really? I don’t think so, somehow. All his portraits show him clean-shaven, including one painted when he was getting on in years.

But the article about his death is interesting and worth a read.

Genealogy with some bite

I had heard the rumour of the Queen’s descent from “Dracula” (Vlad III Tepes), through the Teck line, before and this picture from Pinterest gives an outline of quadruple descent, although the text is in Romanian and not every generation is detailed. How reliable is it?

What we know is that Vlad was born between 1428 and 1431 and died shortly before 10 January 1477, as recorded by a letter from Stephen of Moldavia. He reigned three times and fought the Ottoman Empire under Mehmet II, against whom he probably fell. The references to “Princess May of Teck” are, of course, Queen Mary who married George V, having been betrothed to his brother Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence.

Here is our version. Those connections that neither Genealogics nor Wikipedia confirm are in red. Will you say “fangs for the research”?

“The King” and Agincourt in (almost) black and white….

 

Not having Netflix myself, I went to my daughter’s house to watch The King. I enjoyed it very much, but have some gripes, not least a desire to keep scratching or wishing the characters would wash their hair…and the rest of themselves. I really don’t think the highest in the land went around looking quite so scruffy.

And the medieval period was a time of colour. They loved colour, the brighter the better…so why is the film relentlessly grey, dark and full of shadows? Even the trailer picture is like it (see above).

The actual battle scenes of Agincourt were conducted in mud, which maybe the clash really was (I’m not an expert on Agincourt), and the armoured soldiers from both sides pitched in like ants swarming over something they relished. What with grey armour and mud, it was absolutely impossible for them to know who was on which side. And what banners appeared were dull and virtually monochrome. Hardly anyone seemed to have identifying colours or badges. How the heck could they tell if they were killing the enemy or one of their own? It was just a huge, bloodthirsty scrum. And they all looked like this even before they collided in the mud!

Yes, yes, maybe medieval battlefields were like this, but I’m sure they had sensible ways of identifying each other – it wasn’t Towton in the middle of a snowstorm.

The illustration below is more or less from the period, and shows that contrary to wearing no identification, the armies on both sides wore easily discernible colours.

Agincourt 1415
Chroniques d’Enguerrand de Monstrelet (early 15th century)

Maybe the director’s desire to show the grim side of it all was allowed to overwhelm some obvious facts. Shame. But still, in spite of all that, an excellent film. I just wish that viewing it wasn’t like looking through really dark shades on a sunless day.

Timothée Chalamet was a revelation as Henry V. Perfectly cast, perfectly acted…and a perfectly achieved English accent. No one could have guessed that he is really American. I think we may look forward to a meteoric career…if there isn’t one, it will be a great shame. Here’s hoping he’s offered the right sort of role in future.

Robert Pattinson was wonderful as the Dauphin. There may not have been any carpet handy, but he chewed everything else. Brilliant. Welcome proof that the awful Twilight films weren’t the peak of his ability.

To see how the battle scenes were filmed, try You Tube.

A short film about the final plight of Richard II….

Well, here is an article that manages to blend my two favourite kings, Richards II and III, although overwhelmingly Richard II. It concerns actor
Mark Burghagen (BBC, Opera North, York Mystery Plays), who has produced a short film based around Richard’s plight after being usurped by his first cousin, Henry IV. Richard is pictured in his prison cell in Pontefract Castle, pondering his fall from power, and coming to terms with his own humanity.

“…Although Richard is frequently maligned in history books as a tyrant with inflated ideas of his own majesty, Burhagen takes a more sympathetic approach, believing that Richard was simply ‘the wrong man at the wrong time, pushed into the role of king too young (he came to the throne aged just 10 in 1377) and pressured by a gang of powerful, ambitious uncles’….”

I confess to sympathising with Richard II. Like Richard III, I think he was a man ahead of his times. Certainly he was out of place in 14th-century England, when the nobility always thought in terms of financial gain through war and fighting. He preferred peace, making a monumental clash inevitable.

“The Secret Garden” with a connection to Richard III….

 

Well, the link below is about the 450-acre Duncombe Park estate and house, which has provided the backdrop for the latest film version of The Secret Garden. The interest for Ricardians can be found in the following extract:-

“….This impressive medieval fortress was built in stone in the 13th century and has passed through the hands of several noble families – it was once owned by King Richard III.….”

To read more, go to this page.

The real life of the last Stuart

Television history is rarely focused upon Anne (left), except as the final act of the Stuart drama like this or her unfortunate reproductive history in this series. Discussion is, therefore, reduced to the cliches of her fragile family, her weight and her fondness for brandy. She is also omitted from most dramatisations of the time, such as Lorna Doone or By the Sword Divided. Anne was the first Queen Regnant of England to have given birth, albeit through the reigns of her uncle, father, sister and brother-in-law but not her own. She was also the first Queen Regnant of England to be widowed, (except by a few minutes).

The Favourite, a rather bawdy film with Olivia Colman (below left), Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone that is very appropriately named from the awards point of view, ought to be very refreshing from this perspective. To become pregnant on fifteen to twenty occasions requires a husband, George of Denmark, the Oldenburg great-nephew of her great-grandmother and Duke of Cumberland who shared half of her reign. However, he seems to have been omitted from the film, which concentrates on Anne’s friendships with Sarah Churchill and Abigail Hill, the latter’s cousin, whilst implying rather more about their friendships than the evidence bears out.

Although she was, as she knew before succeeding, the last eligible Stuart, Anne oversaw the formal Acts of Union that crystallised her great-grandfather’s plans, the Act of Settlement that excluded her half-brother and other Catholic claimants and the last refusal of Royal Assent to a Bill. Jeremiah Clarke composed a march for George in 1707, the year before the Consort died, a piece now known as the Trumpet Voluntary. Despite the good will that seemed to flow from the “Glorious Revolution”, William III was widowed for about eight years and failed to remarry – it was this, together with the Duke of Gloucester’s death in 1700, that surely led to the inevitable Hanoverian succession to Anne in August 1714.

Films about the monarchy in Britain….

Not that I think William Wallace counts as part of the British monarchy. I don’t believe Old Longshanks would have had any of that! Anyway, to read an article about films concerning various kings and queens, go here.

But where’s King Arthur?????

A constitutionally important “Tudor” servant

Sir Richard Rich

We tend to have rather a negative view of Sir Richard Rich, or Baron Rich of Leez as he became in February 1547, nowadays. In this, we are somewhat influenced by Robert Bolt’s portrayal of him, as a “betrayer” of More, together with the history of Trevor-Roper. One Bolt line, memorably delivered by Paul Scofield as More, was “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world, but Wales?”, as Rich (John Hurt) becomes Attorney-General for Wales a few (film) minutes before More is executed. More is also quoted as saying that Parliament could make Rich King if it so wished.

Leez Priory

Rich, a lawyer, protege of Wolsey, Colchester MP, Speaker and Solicitor-General, was certainly involved in many of the events of the mid-“Tudor” period such as the prosecution of More and Fisher, accounting for Catherine of Aragon’s assets at Kimbolton Castle, supporting Cromwell in the Dissolution, quite possibly a personal hand in Anne Askew’s (unprecedented and illegal) torture, executor of Henry VIII’s will, the attempted prosecution of Bonner and Gardiner and the Seymour brothers’ fatal division. He then resurfaced under Mary I as an enthusiastic persecutor of heretics in Essex, before dying, nine years into the next reign, at Felsted where he donated money to the church and famous school in the village.

His descendants were granted the Earldom of Warwick and were heavily involved, on both sides, in the Civil War – one great-grandson, the Earl of Holland, fought for the Crown at the 1648 Battle of St. Neots and was beheaded the following March with the Duke of Hamilton (captured at Preston) and Lord Hadham (taken at Colchester).

NOW WE HAVE ROBERT–WHY NOT RICHARD?

Netflix will soon be showing a new medieval series, ‘OUTLAW KING’, about Scotland’s Robert the BRUCE. While I have no idea how good the script is or how close the series will stay to the historical record, the costumes and hair styles seem more appropriate to the time than many recent offerings. It’s not overtly laughable, anyway.

However, once again, I am left wondering–why not a film or series about Richard? I truly thought one would spring  up  in the aftermath of his finding. No, we have just been inundated with more Shakespeare, both on TV and in the theatre. Yes, there was the TV series,  The White Queen, which at least gave us a more sympathetic and attractive  Richard (as well as one close in age to the real man) but it really wasn’t about him but about the women of the Wars of the Roses, particularly Elizabeth Woodville.

It is time a dramatic epic about Richard’s life was filmed, instead of yet more Shakespeare complete with grotesque prosthetic humps a la the recent Benedict Cumberbatch offerings. Last I heard, the movie/TV rights to Sharon Penman’s Sunne in Splendour were still available…

 

outlaw king

 

 

outlaw

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