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So Master Porker picked up his bagpipes and let rip….!

taken from the site below

We’re all accustomed to the wonderful gargoyles adorning our churches, abbeys and cathedrals, illuminations on manuscripts and the beautiful carvings on misericords, but sometimes they are truly amusing.

On this occasion the apparently comedial figures are pigs playing the bagpipes. Yes, really. And not only in Scotland, I hasten to point out, because bagpipes are not the sole preserve of that country.

Thank you to the Facebook British Medieval History group for drawing attention to  this site which deals at delightful length with these highly intelligent, astonishingly talented pigs! Do they all derive from a living original? It’s a thought. Perhaps one day there strolled into town a Master Porker, complete with pipes, who proceeded to entertain everyone with his delightful music.

Oh, alright, that’s probably complete fantasy, but someone somewhere associated pigs with bagpipes. And other animals with other strange activities too, of course. But we’ll start with the pigs!

More truthful about Richard III than they realise….!


The Penny Dreadfuls

Well, the Penny Dreadfuls, a comedy group, may only be having fun and poking fun at Shakespeare’s Richard, but they’ve actually come closer to the truth than may be realised. Their version of Richard is more accurate than the Bard’s parody!



A caricature is putting the face of a joke on the body of a truth–Joseph Conrad
If Joseph Conrad was correct (and I believe he was), whatever could someone in the late 15th c have been trying to tell us about Henry VII in this amusing manuscript doodle? Especially as it came from  the Archbishop’s Register of the diocese of York.



That nose! That pinched  expression! Is the King depicted trying to smell out someone’s hard earned money? Did a scribe in York not think  terribly much of the new Tudor king?

And, just for fun,  here’s a more recent (early 20th c?) cartoon of Henry chowing down with good old Bishop Morton (by then  Archbishop of Canterbury), as they devise the idea of Morton’s Fork…

Henry VII taking a Chop with the Archbishop of Canterbury


Dismal Sewage

They say every writer should find a niche. Unfortunately, certain ‘popular historians’ seem to have leapt onto  ‘gimmicks’ than a niche and write all or most of their books in similar vein, often to the detriment of their work and a growing lack of credibility with each further tome.

A trend amongst several notable authors seems to be the cynical and sarcastic slagging off of the historical figures they write about, most likely to stir up controversy in the hopes of making sales—who knows? Any sense of being non-partisan or unbiased is thrown out the window pretty much on page 1.

 ‘Jack of All Trades’ history writer Desmond Seward (Demon Sewer? Dismal Sewage?) is a prime offender. Most of us will remember Demon’s jaw-dropping book on Richard III, titled, so menacingly…’The Black Legend’. (Oooh, shades of Sauron and Mordor!) Without tramping over old turf, this totally unbiased (choke) book contains such wonderful remarks as (paraphrasing here), ‘If he was two fingers shorter than Richard, Von Poppelau must have been a dwarf…’ In his updated version of the same tired tosh he chides Ricardians for seeking the truth about Richard because “…the White Legend continues to appeal to every Anglo-Saxon lover of a lost cause and, in particular, to lady novelists.” (Very odd application of ‘Anglo Saxon’ as well as showing an unpleasant Starkey-esque strain of sexism.) He also is a true believer in the words of the sainted Thomas More because he was, after all, a SAINT, so presumably infallible—yes, the ‘saint’ who burned people at the stake and poetically wrote long insulting tracts containing multiple references to faeces. True story. What a scholar. What a charmer.

Recently Sewer returned to the Wars of the Roses period with a new book, THE LAST WHITE ROSE, and continued in the same vein, with a combination of vitriol and errors. Edmund de la Pole was apparently haughty, pompous and unintelligent (the latter deduced apparently from his bad handwriting!) John, Duke of Suffolk was called a nonentity and given the wrong date of death. John of Lincoln was saupposedly devious, and even accused of abducting the young, hapless Lambert Simnel from his family! (Sewer appears to believe there really WAS a child ridiculously named after a cake, even although the surname is rarer than a blue moon and there is no record of any family by that name). Worst of all, however, is a supposed quote from Croyland about Elizabeth of Suffolk, complete with page number. It does not exist in Croyland, if anywhere at all, yet is masquerading as a quote from a primary source!!

I haven’t read all of Demon Sewer’s books, needless to say, but some of the customer reviews are noteworthy and often rather hilarious. Apparently any strong women in history are described as ‘viragos’ or worse. In his Eleanor of Aquitaine bio, not only does he seem to dislike Eleanor herself, he has a bit of a fixation with Richard the Lionheart’s homosexuality. Which is a bit odd, as there is no actual evidence that Lionheart WAS homosexual, and that theory of the mid-20th century is pretty much discredited today. In fact, there is some evidence that Lionheart, in his misspent youth, ravished his enemy’s wives and then gave them to his men!

Perhaps the funniest error Dismal made, though, was found in one of his other books, The King over the Water, which is about the Jacobites. Apparently, he wrote that  the maternal grandparents of Lord Derwentwater were Charles II and Moll Flanders. MOLL FLANDERS? She is a character in a novel by Daniel Defoe!

Maybe Dismal should write a book on Moll next. Non-fiction, of course.

A Demon Sewer and…Desmond Seward. Purportedly…but might not be….

King Henry VII – an ugly abomination

In the late 1930s it became fashionable for railways to “streamline” steam locomotives. The Great Western Railway could not be bothered to do a proper job, but as a gesture towards the trend modified one of their existing locomotives to the incredibly ugly condition seen above.


The engine chosen? King Henry VII.

Clearly someone high up at Swindon Works was a closet Ricardian with a sense of humour.

The new titans of Bosworth….?

No words are needed, I think! Except to say that I doubt if Starkey and Schama ever see themselves in this light!

And here we have, Tewkesbury Medieval Festival 2021….I think….!


from the article quoted below

Well, it’s safely past April 1st now, but this post from the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival is too good not to preserve! The pictures it conjures are, well, hilarious. If only it were true! Anyway, here it is:-

“….Tewkesbury Medieval Festival are pleased to announce that for 2021, the 550th Anniversary of the Battle, Lady Avril M’Oron has agreed to sponsor a Royal Barge.

“….This stately craft, which will be constructed by Federated Oar-propelled Occasional Leisurecraft, to the finest standards, complete with velvet covered seats, and an awning of Cloth of Gold, will be used to transport King Edward along the Swilgate.

“….He will then be hoisted ashore at the far side of the Battlefield with a reconstructed Medieval crane and winch, based on the design of the crane and pulley that still exists in the Tower of Tewkesbury Abbey where it was used during the building. Dangling in full armour he will be lowered onto his steed, Mendax, thus reminding people of the cranes used in Laurence Olivier’s Film of Henry V. Galloping at full speed across the battlefield, King Edward will meet up with Queen Margaret – and the rest is history.

“….The Royal Barge will remain on the Swilgate during the battle and will be used by our highly trained medics as a field station should there be any injuries to anyone during the battle. The velvet covered seats can swiftly be converted into stretchers, and the Awning will provide welcome shade to anyone suffering from heat-exhaustion.

“….(Given we are running on corona time, we hereby declare an exemption to standard etiquette and have postponed midday!)….”

Social distancing according to Henry VII….

And we think we’re putting with a lot? Can you just imagine if we were under Tudor rule, with eighteen foot (six metre) swords? Right…it doesn’t really bear thinking about….

Hever Castle’s ‘New’ Richard III Painting (and Starkey’s Same-Old)

A ‘new’ late 16th century portrait of Richard III has recently emerged and gone on display at Hever Castle, home of the Boleyn family–and with it appeared the not-so-cuddly figure of the  perennially grumpy and bombastic Tudor historian, David Starkey. Since he is not an art  expert, the reason why he was commenting is slightly mysterious; one gets the feeling he was just  desperately wanting to get in yet another cutting (and now boring)  remark about Richard III (never having, it seems, got over his embarrassing televised defeat in the ‘Trial of Richard III’ way back in 1984.)

This time, he says the painting depicts Richard as a ‘murderous thug.’ Hmmm, am I the only one thinking this is a rather rich  comment coming from someone who idolises the blood-soaked tyrant Henry VIII? ( Starkey once wrote words to the effect, I’m paraphrasing  here but not far off, that ‘Henry just needed to be loved’. Pass the sick bucket.)

What the painting  really shows is an unskilled artist who lived close to 100 years after Richard’s death  who couldn’t paint hands and who  made a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy and added in a few embellishments, like flecks of grey hair, as  he went along. Having Kings’ portraits in a great house was common in this era and a little later, and there are many rather odd portraits, not just of Richard but other monarchs, from this era, as workshops went into production-mode and churned out ‘cheap knock offs’ for wealthy patrons.





In the article, much seems to be made of the extremely long fingers mysteriously indicating a ‘cruel nature’ (rather than the ineptness of the artists) but, if certain historians are going to look at non-contemporary portraits for indications of a person’s personality…what would one say about this one of Henry VII? Henry is ALSO depicted with long, strange fingers, a tight mouth, peaked features…and weak sloping shoulders!




And then there are these…two more of Henry VII, both extremely unflattering, and one of his son, Henry VIII, showing EXTREMELY weird-looking hands–and THAT one was actually painted in Henry’s own lifetime!


Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow (3)

It would seem that, according to the Daily Mail (third feature),  a certain most humble and lovable Tudor historian, has gone ahead and had a pricey and painful hair transplant. He announced this at the ‘Bad Sex in Fiction’  Awards. (Mind-boggling but also makes me wonder- why don’t we have the ‘Bad Gaffes in Historical Documentaries’ awards??? Equally hilarious, I am certain!)


Scroll Down for Dan Jones’ Hair


This ‘hair-raising’ experience  by Mr Jones can surely only lead to a new series on the Wars of the Roses, with more sinister, melodramatic music and another middle-aged actor dressed like 13th C King John playing the part of  15th C Richard III!

As for a title, as a nod to its presenter, maybe it could hair, I mean bear an appropriate name such as…hmmm… ‘Crowning Glory’? Of course, it must cover the Princes in the Tower; I am sure there would not be a dry eye anywhere in TV-land as the story is re-hashed… I mean re-told… about how the young  ‘hair to the throne’ and his brother ‘vanished into thin hair,’ undoubtedly due to the machinations of  Evil!Richard (TM) who, on top of the rest of his black evils, had the temerity to possess what seems a rather striking head of hair…

Of course, it must also be noted, for a sense of balance and fairness, that many things written about the Princes’ disappearance, were nothing more than bald lies….

But enough of this slaphead…I mean, slapstick silliness…

Surely Dan could have tried this remedy before the painful one!



Medieval Monk Ponders His Tonsure…


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