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Did ANYONE do the dirty deed in the Tower….?

If you go to this link this article you’ll find an interesting if challengeable article about “Perkin Warbeck” and whether he could or could not have been Richard of Shrewsbury. Well, there were enough people who thought he was, and to make Henry Tudor’s existence thoroughly miserable. Pleasant thought. The article also discussed who might really have disposed of the boys in the Tower, if indeed they were disposed of.

At the beginning, as an example of how important naming names can be to a lot of people, there is a comment about the novelist Patricia Cornwell paying a lot to try to prove the identity of Jack the Ripper, inspired by a now (apparently) debunked theory. Well, I’m as interested in Jack the Ripper as the next person, but to be honest, in his case I don’t know that I want to know who he actually was. The mystery is the thing, especially as the royal family itself is implicated in one of the other theories.

The Princes in the Tower
Arthur C Michael, English (1881-1965)

But when it comes to the boys in the Tower, I’m definitely interested in knowing who did what, simply because it matters when Richard III’s name is hauled around in the mire. I’m convinced he didn’t do anything to his nephews, but either got them away somewhere safe, or was caught up in the consequences of someone else’s conspiracy, during which they died.

So it’s always intriguing to read someone else’s thoughts on these thorny matters, and some hoary old myths always make an appearance of course. Including in the above link. The first is that Hastings was bundled straight from the privy council meeting to a convenient log and had his head lopped. No trial, no nothing, just instant retribution. Well, that’s silly. Of course Hastings had a trial. It’s Tudor propaganda that he didn’t. Anything to blacken Richard’s character. One thing’s certain, if Hastings hadn’t been plotting against Richard, he’d have survived. But he was, so he didn’t.

And if Richard were really evil, would he really have just sentenced Jane Shore, or whatever her name really was, to walk barefoot through the streets? I think not. She’d been up to her pretty neck in scheming against Richard…if he’d been a Tudor, she too would have been hauled off to that bloody log! So don’t blame Richard, look to the Tudors as the instigators of nasty things happening to women. They made a speciality of the art.

The Penitance of Jane Shore, 1824, by Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863)

Mancini is believable because he “had no axe to grind”. Well, not that we know of, anyway. But does he tell the truth? And he was an Italian without great command of English, so how much did he mishear/misinterpret? If there’d been a plot involving Hastings, to do away with Richard and put Edward V on the throne, Richard would have been pretty stupid not to secure Edward somewhere solid and safe. The Tower — in the royal apartments, not the deepest, darkest, dampest, direst old dungeon below the low water level of the Thames! And whatever else Mancini may say, he doesn’t actually accuse Richard of murdering the boys. How could he? No one knows even now what happened to them, if anything. They might well have been taken abroad…or they may have died of natural causes. There was always some disease or other circulating in medieval times.

Mancini’s thoughts on Richard III

Then we come to the “it’s Buckingham wot done it” bit. Well, I’m prepared he believe he did. He wanted to be rewarded more by Richard than he already had been, and when the riches weren’t forthcoming quickly enough, he raised a rebellion. Which was tied up with Henry Tudor, courtesy of John Morton, Margaret Beaufort, Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all…. The usual traitors in fact. Well, what I don’t think is that Buckingham rebelled in order to put Tudor on the throne. What? Why the heck would he? He was genuine through and through blue-blooded royal, Richard’s first cousin, why on God’s own earth would be conspire to put a Beaufort nonentity like Henry Tudor on the throne. I think it more likely that Buckingham found out the hard way that they weren’t supporting him, but he was supporting them. Not flaming likely, thought he, but then the British weather put paid to the entire enterprise, and he was captured, tried and beheaded. And good riddance to the ingrate! He was no loss to Richard, or to England.

18th-century portrait of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, from Wikipedia

Sir James Tyrell is considered next, because he apparently confessed to the boys’ murder later on in Henry VII’s ill-gotten reign. If Tyrell did confess, it was wrung out of him by means of the vast and novel array of implements in the Tudors’ extensive torture repertoire. Besides, there is a Tyrell family story, firmly believed, that the boys stayed briefly on their East Anglian estates and were then helped to escape to safety at Richard’s behest. If Sir James had murdered them, I think the Tyrells would have kept their heads down, not preserved a heroic story of their involvement in the boys’ escape.

Sir James Tyrell views the dead princes, from John Cassell’s Ilustrated History of England, Vol. II
London: W. Kent & Co, 1858.30.

To move on, did a Lancastrian faction try to rescue the boys in a botched attempt that ended with the boys’ death? Hmm, I’m afraid I have a problem with the thought of Lancastrians “rescuing” the sons of a Yorkist king. The Woodvilles would want to put Edward V on the throne, and possibly some disgruntled Yorkists, but not any Lancastrians, surely? Anything the latter did would be a cover for extinguishing the boys, not saving them. My opinion only, of course.

Next, if the boys died of natural causes, why didn’t Richard put their bodies on display? Well, perhaps he would if he could, but he didn’t have them. I think he spirited them away to safety, maybe through the Tyrells, but then something befell them. Maybe even a shipwreck on their way to Richard’s sister, their aunt Margaret in Burgundy. You can’t produce what’s lying at the bottom of the North Sea. And who would believe their uncle had acted for their safety anyway? Don’t forget we were soon to have the Tudor Propaganda Machine chugging along with supreme success. I’m sure it could have taught Saatchi & Saatchi a lesson or three in advertising!

Elizabeth Woodville, portrait in public domain, artists unkown

Did Elizabeth Woodville ever actually claim her children were legitimate? Not as far as I’m aware, and I’m sure that if she did, then her dear son-in-law, Henry VII, would have spread it with a thousand fanfares. He needed those children to be legitimate (and the boys dead!) because he was marrying the eldest daughter. Perhaps their mother’s silence was enough? Somehow I don’t think so. Henry would have wanted her to stand up on her hind legs and bray that she and Edward IV were legally married. She didn’t. Nor did Henry’s queen, Elizabeth of York, ever condemn her wicked Uncle Richard. Nor did the next sister, Cicely, who was married off p.d.q. to Henry’s half-uncle, John Welles, Viscount Welles. (Yes, she was this viscountessw’s inspiration.) For an interesting speculation tha Elizabeth Woodville eventually died of the plague, look here 

Bishop Stillington supposedly witnessed, or at the very least knew about, what passed for a clandestine marriage ceremony between Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV. I don’t recall hearing of him repeating the precious lines Henry endeavoured to drum into him, no doubt aided by a ruler over the devout knuckles. Nor did the family of Lady Eleanor Talbot, who seems to have been Edward’s first and very legal wife. How selfish of her not to have turned up her toes before her spouse moved on to Elizabeth. Thus Eleanor’s survivl for four years after the Woodville match, made the second ceremony bigamous. I don’t recall hearing the Talbots utter a single word, either to deny or confirm the first marriage. Like everyone else, they stayed silent as mice.

Lady Eleanor Talbot as she’s believed to have looked.

I can’t imagine that John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, set about murdering the boys so he could claw back the Norfolk inheritance (of the Mowbray dukes) from the younger one. Why would he when Richard had already returned the Mowbray inheritance to him two days after acceding to the throne?

John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk

As for John de la Pole murdering them, well, he’d have to murder Richard’s son, Edward of Middleham, as well. It begins to look like mass murder. And if Edward of Middleham was eventually murdered, as many think he was, I don’t believe it was John de la Pole’s doing. But yes—oh yes!—I believe it of Tudor, Margaret Beaufort, John Morton et al. It suited them very nicely indeed to rob Richard of his only legitimate child. I’ll bet they toasted themselves with the very best plonk for a job well done.

John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln – portrait tweaked by me from Man with a Red Cap by Titian. There do not appear to be any actual portraits of the earl

And when it came to Bosworth, another of their slimy creatures, Sir William Stanley (and sort-of/maybe/perhaps aided by his crafty fence-sitting brother, who incidentally, was also Henry’s stepfather) all but stabbed Richard in the back by turning on him at the vital moment. The Stanleys had pledged themselves to be Richard’s men, for Pete’s sake. With such friends, who needs enemies? I think it was a salutary lesson to Henry Tudor…who never trusted anyone, except his Mum. One of the best things he ever did was later in his reign to chop off Sir William’s Janus head! Pity he didn’t do the same to both Stanleys.

I couldn’t find a suitable likeness of Sir William, but here’s his brother, Thomas Stanley, Baron Shifty…er, sorry, Stanley.

Right, I’m well aware of how biased I am in favour of Richard III, but then this blog bears the name of the Yorkist colours and his portrait, both of which are a bit of a clue. The blog is quite clearly aimed at people like me, so posting something anti-Richard is unthinkable.

So, Lancastrians should tread with care! 🙄

A highlight from the quincentenary …

… of Richard’s accession was Channel Four’s 1984 “The Trial Of King Richard The Third”, presided over by Lord Elwyn-Jones. A YouTube poster has sliced it into 22 segments so enjoy the show, particularly part ten, in which a young Starkey implodes. Pollard and Lady Wedgwood (Pamela Tudor-Craig) also feature, as do Anne Sutton and Jeremy Potter.

The prosecution seemed to have a few obsessions:
1) Those bones just had to be the “Princes”. Never mind that Tanner and Wright couldn’t gender them and that science had moved on since 1933. Dr. Jean Ross conceded that point, whilst suggesting that Anne Mowbray was a close relative of her young widower, despite their nearest common royal ancestor being Edward I. She added that the teeth of the three corpses pointed towards the “Princes”‘ identity, although Anne Mowbray’s teeth are very similar to those of her grandfather “Old Talbot”, as John Ashdown-Hill went on to show.
2) The pre-contract, which is surely a matter of simple fact, just had to be contrived, despite Edward IV’s record with the Wydeville secret “marriage” to another older widow of a Lancastrian soldier. Starkey asserted that Edward V’s proclamation would trump any chance of illegitimacy or other weaker claim – that worked so well for Jane, his mother’s other descendant, didn’t it?
3) Even though Mancini described the Wydevilles and their allies “foregathering in each other’s houses”, there just couldn’t have been a plot, could there?

The jury unanimously returned, even on the balance of probabilities, a “not guilty verdict”. Given the work of Ashdown-Hill, Carson, Barrie Williams et al since 1984, we are able to assert that the bones can be analysed more scientifically (against Elizabeth Roberts’ mtDNA) and that the pre-contract, which explains so much, is even more likely, with a second likely witness identified.

Given all these advances in another 36 years, we wouldn’t have heard from Pamela Tudor-Craig, Jeremy Potter and Anne Sutton. Leading counsel for the defence would have stood up after the prosecution conclusion and submitted that there was no case to answer. Lord Elwyn-Jones could only have agreed.

Prince Charles ‘poised to solve 550-year-old royal mystery’ on throne….

Well, while it seems the Queen wants awkward bones to be left tucked up in their urn in Westminster Abbey, Prince Charles is more curious about the whole “Princes in the Tower” mystery. Maybe he’ll even probe enough to reveal the truth at last. I do hope so!

To read more, go to This Express article.

BUCKINGHAM’S CHOPPING BLOCK?

Recently it has come to my attention that Salisbury Museum holds a carved wooden box which, according to local legend, was fashioned out of the original headman’s block on which  Henry Stafford was executed on November 2, 1483. The carving of the box into its present shape took place in Victorian times.

Why anyone would think that a headman’s  block would convert to a nice ornament  I am not certain–but hey, the Victorians are known for their love of the Gothic and ghoulish.

Of course, chances are that the box is just part of the local legend and not The Block at all. It was supposedly found in the courtyard of the old Blue Boar inn, near a headless skeleton, sometime in the early 19th c. . Now the chances of the skeleton being Harry Stafford is rather remote, despite the story that he was imprisoned in the Blue Boar before his execution for treason. He may well have spent a miserable night there before being taken to the scaffold the next morning, but the most trustworthy accounts say  the execution took place in the Market Place, not in the inn’s courtyard. The Market Place would attract  the crowds and as the west  was brimming with Buckingham’s rebels, Richard would be keen to show them a traitor’s fate. And, as was usual, people needed to see that this great rebel was truly dead, otherwise rebellion could still be fomented in his name.

A  fragmentary skeleton from the Blue Boar’s courtyard did in fact exist,  but as disgraced as Harry Stafford was,  it is beyond unlikely that he would be buried under tiles near an inn’s scullery. Traitor though he was, he was of royal blood and Richard’s cousin. Salisbury being a place of very ancient occupation, the remains from the Blue Boar could have been from any period from the prehistoric onwards, or even those of a more recent murder victim.

There was no mention of any  ‘block’ at the time the skeleton was found, so this tale of the  headman’s block being found seems to have been a slightly later addition to the Buckingham legend. How one would tell exactly what it was meant to be after being buried for centuries is also debatable. I am sure it was not still running blood, ahem.

A radio carbon date could, of course, rule the carved box in or out–just like it could rule in or out those debatable Bones in the Urn.

block

The living Henry VII married the late Mary of York….!

“….Edward III’s great-great-grandsons then fought in the 15th century War of the Roses which put infamous King Richard III on the throne….

“….Henry VII eventually took over from him, backed by his marriage to Mary of York, and produced Henry VIII, who created Protestantism via the 16th-century reformation….”

The above is an extract from this Express article

For Pete’s sake! The INFAMOUS Richard III? 🤬 And how the heck did Henry VII manage to marry Mary of York???? 🤔 He certainly kept that one quiet, especially as she died a number of years before he was heaved on to the throne with the help of a hodge-podge of miserable traitors. I didn’t bother reading the whole article…. A load of old codswallop as far as Ricardians are concerned. And as for all the great-great-greats – spare me.

Completing the Set (2006) – Henry VIII’s other “wives”

{as adapted from the Ricardian Bulletin: December 2006}

Introduction

The Ricardian article The Lancastrian claim to the throne (John Ashdown-Hill, 2003) showed Henry’s relationship to Catherine of Aragon, both descended from Blanche of Lancaster, the first wife of John of Gaunt. Genealogical conundrums (Wendy Moorhen, 2006) illustrated the descent of Anne Boleyn, her first cousin Catherine Howard and Jane Seymour, these four sharing Henry III as a common ancestor. Having once been told that all six were descended from Edward I, I was inspired to look for the other two.

Catherine Parr

Only two remain and I think Catherine Parr is the easiest of the sextet to trace. Figure 1 shows that Henry’s widow was the great-great-granddaughter of Richard, Earl of Salisbury and was a generation younger than her King – I like to call this an ‘overlap’. This “marriage” would surely have required a dispensation but the rules, so certain early in Henry’s reign and reaffirmed under Elizabeth, were in flux in the early 1540s. It would not have been a good idea to suggest to Henry VIII that a dispensation was required.

Anne of Cleves

If Catherine Parr is the easiest of Henry’s wives to locate then Anne of Cleves is the most difficult. I originally envisaged her descent as being through the Lancastrian-Iberian marriages. Then I was able to locate a new website (Genealogics!) and found her elsewhere. Anne and Henry VIII share descent from Edward I.

This time, the pedigree is necessarily in two parts (Figures 2a and 2b). Conclusion: The legend about Edward I as a common ancestor of the “wives” turned out to be true.

Notes

The original article was compiled before John clarified the positions of Henry VIII’s “wives” (see Royal Marriage Secrets, ch.10, pp.95-113 ). Please bear this in mind when reading the genealogy.

h/t Kathryn Warner

 

The Precontract that Gave Us King Richard III

One of the main reasons we now have an amazing King in the list of British monarchs is without doubt the precontract between Lady Eleanor Talbot and King Edward IV.

The turning point in the election of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as king of England was the discovery of a precontract between the former king and the representative of the noble and powerful family of the Shrewsburys.

Everything started in the early summer of 1460 when Eleanor and Edward met for the first time. She was 24, he was just 18. Edward fell in love with her and she was captivated by the charming new King. It seems that he had promised to marry her after bedding her and the wedding took place in secret, possibly in the spring of 1461 in the presence of Canon Robert Stillington who, on 1st November of the same year, was awarded by Edward an annual salary of £365 (around £235,000 today!). That was a regular contract of marriage so why do we refer to it as a precontract? The answer is that the term precontract has to be accepted with all the implications it had in medieval times: that is neither more nor less than an actual marriage. Precontract does not mean a “betrothal” but it is a legal term to indicate a marriage contract and it becomes a precontract only when a second marriage is arranged for one member of the couple while still married to the previous spouse. So the term precontract does not mean a contract arranged before a marriage but a contract arranged before a subsequent marriage. It is important to clarify this key point to fully understand the reason Richard, Duke of Gloucester, could become King Richard III.

If we consider the succession of events in the life of Edward IV, it is easier to understand why his brother, Richard, was the true and legitimate heir to the throne of England.

Edward IV married Eleanor Talbot with a regular contract of marriage. The nature of this marriage was a secret one, so the sources we have cannot be contemporary but date to about twenty years later. When Edward married Elizabeth Woodville (possibly on 1st May 1464), Eleanor was still alive even though retired as a tertiary of the Carmelite Priory in Norwich. This implies that the second marriage of Edward was adulterous. It also means that the second contract was invalid and Edward was a bigamist. This invalidity could not be changed by the death of the first wife before any children of the second marriage had been born, so there is no justification for Edward’s behaviour and it is undeniable that the consequence of the precontract was the immediate bastardisation of all the issue of the marriage between him and Elizabeth Woodville. The validity of a marriage depended on the existence of a contract, not on the birth of children so it didn’t matter that Edward and Elizabeth had ten children, both boys and girls. The fact that Edward V and Richard of York were born after the death of Eleanor Talbot (she died on 30th June 1468) is not relevant because they were offsprings of an invalid marriage, ergo the king’s bastard sons.

The precontract was known to the Council thanks to the witnessing of Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells. He claimed he had celebrated the wedding of Edward and Eleanor and this declaration could be a factor in his arrest in 1478 as, apparently, the bishop had previously revealed the secret marriage to George, Duke of Clarence, who afterwards claimed to be the true heir to the throne. On 8th June 1483, Stillington unveiled the precontract’s existence to the Council during a meeting at which Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was not present. The possible reason for his absence could be that Stillington had already informed Richard about the precontract.

Many wonder if there was written proof of the precontract’s existence but so far nothing has been found and it is very unlikely anything will come to light. The first reason for this is that it is possible every proof in favour of Richard’s legitimacy to the crown was destroyed by the Tudors to strengthen their very weak claim to the English throne, and second because no proof of evidence was normally produced to invalidate a marriage. The authority of a bishop’s word was enough both for the Council and Church to accept the precontract as a fact. A false declaration for a man of God in medieval times was a warrant of eternal damnation in Hell. From then on, the Council started to consider Richard of Gloucester as the successor to his brother and the approval of the three Estates of Parliament to declare Richard king is proof of this. Edward V signed his last official document on 9th June 1483.

For centuries, historians have investigated the person of Robert Stillington and his role in the events of that crucial year, looking for a possible proof of bribery from Gloucester and Stillington’s corruption. This has been in vain. Nothing that could prove either or both has been found and Richard III never rewarded Stillington for his key role in his accession to the throne. Stillington was eventually handed over to Henry VII and died in prison after having being involved in the plot to place Lambert Simnel on the throne.

Other additional elements that could indicate the existence of the precontract were the fact that Edward IV declared public his marriage with Elizabeth Woodville only in September 1464, a couple of months after the death of Joan, Eleanor’s sister-in-law (possibly a witness of the first marriage?). Other elements are the sources. Over the centuries, historians have tried to give their personal opinions on the matter and many convey that the precontract was indeed a fact.

The Crowland Chronicle and the Titulus Regius state that Eleanor Talbot was indeed Edward’s wife and the Crowland writer uses the word matrimonium referring to the two of them. No source refers to Eleanor as Edward’s mistress.

THE RISE AND FALL OF WILLIAM LORD HASTINGS AND HIS CASTLE OF KIRBY MUXLOE

Reblogged from

A Medieval Potpourri sparkypus.com

 

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The atmospheric ruins of Kirby Muxloe Castle, showing the moat, the gatehouse and the only tower to near completion ..

Kirby Muxloe Castle, lies in Leicestershire countryside,  in ruins, the unfinished project of William, Lord Hastings.  Hastings was the epitome of a successful and powerful  15th century lord.  But as with other nobles of those turbulent times, success run cheek by jowl with downfall, dishonour, betrayal  and death.  Hastings’ life is well documented elsewhere and I want to concentrate more upon Kirby Muxloe Castle but to tell the story of the castle its necessary for a brief summary of Hastings life to be told too.

Hastings,  c1430-1483,  had been raised to be  a loyal Yorkist from youth,  his father, Sir Leonard Hastings having been a retainer of Richard Duke of York.  He first begun his rise and rise to power and fortune after the Battle of Towton 29 March 1461 where he was knighted.  Soon after as a mark of the closeness between him and Edward IV he was made Chamberlain of the royal household and in 1462 he was further rewarded with the granting of ‘full power to receive persons into the king’s grace at his discretion’.  Grants and lands,  removed from defeated and disenfranchised Lancastrians, enabling him to support  his new status were swiftly bestowed upon him.

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THE STALL PLATE OF WILLIAM HASTINGS, ST GEORGE CHAPEL, WINDSOR c.Geoffrey Wheeler

1280px-William_Hastings,_1st_Baron_Hastings

Manticore badge of William Hastings c.1470

He seems to have been blessed with the trait of being able to run with the hounds and play with the foxes as he managed to stay on friendly terms with his brother in law, the great Richard Neville,  Earl of Warwick,  known later as the Kingmaker, after Warwick become disenchanted with Edward IV.  Rosemary Horrox suggests that Warwick  may have seen Hastings as ‘the acceptable face of Edward’s court circle, but it is certainly not evidence that Hastings had supported the earl’ (1).  Indeed when Edward went into exile in the Low Countries Hastings accompanied him, thus strengthening even more the bond between them.

Hastings extraordinary power and privilege stemmed from this closeness to the king and was known and commented upon  at the time,   a servant of the Pastons observing  ‘what my seyd lord Chamberleyn may do wyth the Kyng and wyth all the lordys of Inglond I trowe it be not unknowyn to yow, most of eny on man alyve’ (2). No doubt this would have led to clashes with the Queen, Elizabeth Wydeville, and her delightful  family, including her sons, despite one of them, Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset being married to Hastings step daughter, Cicely Bonville.    Later, Edward knowing death was approaching, pleaded with his bosom pal Hastings and his stepson, Grey,  to put their differences behind them and work together for the benefit of Edward’s young son.  Edward died at a comparative young age, 42, a death which came out of the blue for some.  Hastings, no doubt alarmed at the appalling thought of his enemies, the upstart and voracious Wydevilles getting it all, sent a letter to Edward’s brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester, warning him of  the Wydeville plots.  Hastings seems to have got on well with Richard, as he had with Warwick.  Gloucester,  having been warned,  took control of the situation and with a minimum of bloodshed took  up his role of Lord Protector as set out in the late king’s will.   Croyland Chronicler reports Hastings ‘as bursting with joy over this new world’ (3)   The rest is history, and  the mystery of why Richard,  known for his fairness, had Hastings removed from a council meeting at the Tower of London and beheaded on the 13th June 1483 can only be speculated upon.  After his death Richard dealt kindly with his widow, Katherine Hastings nee Neville,  granting  permission for Hastings to be buried close to his  late friend and king, in St Georges Chapel, Windsor , as requested in Edward’s will and allowing her to keep her husband’s lands and  which leads me to Kirby Muxloe….

kirby muxloe

The Western Tower with the Gate House to the left..with thanks to Bobrad for photo.

On the 17th April 1474 Edward IV had granted Hastings, by then a very wealthy man.  licence  to fortify with walls and battlements  four of his properties plus enclose large areas of land to create hunting parks around them, one of these properties  being Kirby Muxloe (4) There was already an earlier medieval manor house there  but I have been unable to ascertain what condition it was in when building  of the castle commenced.  Its most likely that whatever condition it was in the intention would have been to demolish it at some stage as completion of the castle neared its end.  Indeed its known that some repair work was carried out on the old house while building of the new castle was taking place.   The foundations of this old house can still be seen today.  Its an indication of Hastings fabulous wealth that he had not completed Ashby de la Zouch Castle, intended to be his main seat, before work commenced on Kirby Muxloe in 1480.  The plans were for a rectangle courtyard surrounded by a moat  with a tower at each of the four  corners.   The gatehouse and one tower were nearing completion when news reached the builders of Hastings execution.    This must have thrown the workmen and craftsmen into disarray and its not beyond probability some of their number would have downed tools at that stage although  Katherine Hastings continued the work on a much smaller scale until finally giving up altogether the following summer.

Hastings had employed master mason John Cowper who trained as an apprentice  in the building of Eton College.  It is from Eton that Cowper would have come across the  method of bricklaying known as ‘diaper work’ – patterns made from dark bricks built into lighter brickwork – and used   it in the design of the walls at Kirby Muxloe.  The initials WH (although not the initials of his wife..really Sir William!), the maunce or  sleeve from his coat of arms, a ship and a jug are among designs  incorporated  into the diaper work.   Cowper was  also familiar with Tattershall Castle and may have based the gate house at Kirby on Tattershall’s great tower.  All that remains of what would have been a massive gatehouse is the base.  The remains of a  wooden bridge that led to the gatehouse and drawbridge were discovered in 1911  and are preserved in the  moat.   On entering through the gate  two rooms are to be found, both with fireplaces, one of them likely intended as a porters lodge.     Two spiral staircases, both made of brick lead to the first floor with rooms containing  fireplaces, latrines and  windows.  The floors above were never completed.

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Example of the diaper work at Kirkby Muxloe.  

Six towers were intended, four at each corner and two midway in the perimeter walls.  The surviving foundations of these towers can still be seen.  The West Tower is the only complete tower to survive, square in shape and comprising of three floors, a spiral staircase and latrines.

Luckily the building accounts for the castle have  survived.  They were written in a mixture of Latin, French and English by Hastings’ steward Roger Bowlett.  So we know that a Flemish man called Antony Yzebrond in charge of the manufacturing of the huge amounts of bricks required  was paid 10d a week, a man called John Powell was redirecting a brook to feed the moat, another man, Hugh Geffrey,  was building a cart track for the carriage of stone while John Peyntour was sent to gather crab apple trees to be used as grafting stock.  Were these gentlemen present when the shocking news arrived of the demise of their master we will disappointingly never know.    After Hasting’s widow, Katherine,  gave up her  valiant attempt to complete the work the  following year  Kirby Muxloe was abandoned, used as farm buildings for a  while before being finally  given up  to the elements.

 

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Gatehouse with replacement wooden bridge…

It is interesting to compare the rise and fall of Hastings to that of the building and fall of Kirkby Muxloe.  Whatever led to the execution of Hastings – did he betray Richard? Who in turn betrayed him?   – Catesby perhaps?  Was he perhaps bitter that he was not given the awards he had hoped for by Richard, Richard being a different kettle of fish to his brother Edward,  as he watched the rise and rise of Buckingham..Or  was it that Richard blamed him for keeping the pre contract between Edward and Eleanor Butler nee Talbot a secret from him..a secret that was the catalyst for the fall of the House of York.  Its sad to reflect that if Hastings had survived those initial very dangerous days his presence at Bosworth alongside Richard may well have led to a completely different outcome.

 

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William Hastings, first Baron Hastings’ signature..

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Doorway in the gatehouse leading to possibly a porters lodge.

 

I give a massive thank you to John Goodall and his most informative Guidebook on Ashby de laZouch and Kirby Muxloe.  Also to Rosemary Horrox for her article Hastings, William, first Baron Hastings to be found on the Oxford DNB.

  1. Hastings, William, first Baron Hastings Rosemary Horrox Oxford DNB
  2. Paston Letters 1.581
  3. Croyland Chronicle Continuations,159
  4. License to crenellate: Although never mandated by the monarchy nor a common practice until after 1200, applying for a license to erect a castle or to fortify a standing residence indicated not only that the applicant had the self-confidence to approach the king, but also demonstrated that he possessed the financial and personal status that came with the ability to build a castle. For many lords, receiving the license to crenellate was accomplishment enough, so they felt no urgency to complete the process with an outlandish expenditure of money that could result in bankruptcy. Just having the royal license proved they were qualified to move in the circles of the rich and famous and that the monarch recognized their social status.  Lise Hull Kirby Muxloe Castle – Quadrangular Glory in Brick and Water

     

TWO KINDS OF EXECUTION

Bishop John Fisher, born in Beverley, Yorkshire in October, 1469, was Margaret Beaufort’s confessor, a similarly dour man who liked to stick a skull on the altar at mass to remind you of mortality. He noted, marvelling, Margaret’s habit of weeping and wailing in emotional distress behind closed doors, as well as in public–such as at her grandson’s Coronation. Apparently, those tears were not tears of joy…

After Margaret’s death, which came very shortly after Henry VIII became king, John Fisher gave an eulogy for the late Margaret and proceeded to execute her will.

Little did he know that in the future, Henry, whom he had tutored as a boy, would execute HIM.

Fisher was an aged man when sent to the Tower for treason; whilst there, he complained of a lack of food and of cold and illness. The Pope tried to save his life, by making him a cardinal, but Henry did not care a jot for that –he said if the cardinal’s hat was sent to England, Fisher would have no head to put in it.

Originally, he was to have been hanged, drawn and quartered but this was commuted to beheading. After his death his body remained lying where it had fallen, until the head was removed to be spiked on London Bridge…

FISHER

A further secret marriage …

has been contracted between Princess Beatrice of York and property developer Count Edoardo Mapozzi. Unlike the cases of her sister and cousins the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, we cannot easily trace a common ancestor for the couple.

Of course, despite those who still claim that Edward IV’s 1461 secret marriage didn’t happen, Louis XIV, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Andre Previn and Ed Sheeran have all done so. One historian must be so frustrated at being unable to write about them.

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