It is widely known that Elizabeth I was the only English monarch to be descended from John, 1st Duke of Norfolk, as her grandmother was a Howard, his granddaughter. There is a British monarch who can trace their maternal ancestry to this dynastic founder – Elizabeth II, who also shares the “Treetops” coincidence with her namesake.
Here is the evidence …
is that King’s reincarnation.
Sadly, the interviewer seems not to understand which of Henry’s marriage ceremonies were valid, or the difference between divorce and annulment, differences which were fully explained in a certain book a few years ago (2).
(1) Channel Four, Monday 6 April, 21:00.
(2) Royal Marriage Secrets, Ashdown-Hill, Chapter 10, pp. 95-113
The Champernownes (above), a Norman line whose alternative spellings include Chapman and Chamberlain, are surely Devon’s second family after the Courtenays of Powderham Castle, who hold the Earldom. From 1162, their (Domesday Book-cited) home was at Chambercombe Manor near Ilfracombe (middle right) but, by the early sixteenth century, this had passed to Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, father of Jane (below left).
The Champernownes Arthur Champernowne (1524-78) moved the family from Polsoe, near Exeter, to Dartington near Totnes, where the Hall (middle left) was built in 1560 and his descendants lived there – the previous building had been owned by the Holland Dukes of Exeter. Kat Ashley, his aunt, was Elizabeth I’s governess, Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh (above right) were among his nephews, Henry Norris (executed over the Anne Boleyn case) was his father-in-law and Sir Edward Seymour, grandson of the Protector Somerset, married one of his daughters, launching a line of baronets, so Arthur’s close family were at the centre of the “Tudor” political scene.
Arthur was a Vice-Admiral as well as an MP in the south-west, as was his grandson Arthur and his Georgian descendant Arthur (ne Harrington), who married a relative of Crediton’s General Sir Redvers Buller (below).
As this genealogy also shows, Champernownes married Courtenays at least once.
Henry VIII, known as the Hamilton Portrait and once owned by the Duke of Hamilton, this portrait used to be at Holyroodhouse. Philip Mould.
The deaths of all three Tudor kings were protracted and wretched. Whether this was down to Karma, bad luck (or good luck depending on what way you look at it) or just the lamentable medical treatments available at the time, I know not. Perhaps a combination of all three. But I want to concentrate here on the death of Henry VIII.
‘The Death of Kings’ by Clifford Brewer T.D. F.R.C.S is an interesting read and covers the death of Henry in detail. The title is self explanatory, the book being a ‘medical history of the Kings and Queens of England’. I have drawn heavily on the book for the information I quote here concerning Henry VIII, who by strange coincidence died on the 28th January being the date on which his father Henry Tudor was born.
‘Henry, long since grown corpulent, was becoming a burden to himself and of late lame by reason of a violent ulcer in his leg, the inflammation whereof cast him into a lingering fever, which little by little decayed his spirits. He at length begun to feel the inevitable necessity of death. Goodwin Annales of England.
Henry’s symptoms are too numerous to detail here and death must have come as somewhat of a relief to him after much suffering. The actual cause of death is still debated as is did he suffer from syphilis. Brewer points out there is no proof either way and that although , if he had, it could explain some of the ‘happenings in his reign’ there are points which contradict this. For example there is no evidence that his long term mistress Bessie Blount suffered from syphilis which she surely would have contracted from him (neither did their son Henry Fitzroy ever show signs of congenital syphilis). The same can be said of Mary Boleyn or any of his wives.
This is believed to be a bust of Henry as a child. What a mischievous little chap he was, the little stinker…..
He is recorded as having suffered from a bout of malaria with recurrences throughout his life although these did not seem to incapacitate him too much. Indeed he seems to have enjoyed robust health engaging in ‘strenuous exercise and indulged in many jousts and tournaments both on foot and on horse. He did how ever have two lucky escapes both of which could have been fatal. One was a jousting accident where his brother-in-law, the Duke Suffolk’s lance shattered his helm and he was very lucky not to be blinded or even killed’. Then in 1525 whilst trying to vault a very wide ditch using a pole, the pole broke and he was thrown headfirst into the mud where, unable either to get up or even breath, his life was saved by a footman. .
Henry in his prime…a portrait by Joos van Cleve c1530-1535
This jousting injury might account for the belated development of several symptoms. Henry was to alter in appearance and put on a considerable amount of weight, ‘his face become moonlike, burying his small eyes in a puffy face and accentuating his small mouth’. After the execution of Anne Boleyn, Henry became even more prone to fits of temper and instability. His great increase in weight made it difficult for him to take exercise. Henry also developed an ulcer on his leg and Brewer speculates that this ulcer, which was very offensive, ‘and a trial to his attendants’ could have been either a varicose ulcer or the result of an injury received whilst jousting which damaged the bone leading to osteitis. This could have led to further complications – amyloid disease in which a waxy material is laid down in the liver, kidneys and elsewhere. Not a pretty picture. Poor Henry.
Henry, as he got older, became subject of violent attacks of temper and periods of loss of memory. On leaving London on one occasion he ordered all the prisoners in Tower to be executed. His character become more and more unstable and by 1546 Henry had become grossly overweight, his legs so swollen, due to severe oedema, that he was unable to walk and he was moved from place to place by means of lifting apparatus.
Henry towards the end of his life showing the abnormality on the side of his nose which might indicate a gamma that had healed with scarring..by Cornelis Metsys line engraving 1545.
‘Towards the end of January 1547 he begun to suffer from periods of partial unconsciousness alternating with periods of alertness. He was probably passing into a uraemia coma. Realising he was dying he sent for Cranmer but by he time he arrived he had lost the ability to speak. Grasping Cranmer’s hand in his, he pressed it when asked if he repented his sins. This was taken as Henry’s repentance and he ‘died in grace’ ‘ …ummm I don’t think it quite works like that! . However, his huge and offensive body was transferred, with some difficulty, into his coffin. He was then taken to Windsor to be laid to rest beside Jane Seymour. However that is not the end of the story for it is said that his coffin burst a leak and the church was filled with a ‘most obnoxious odour’. And so Henry passed ignobly from this life and into history and the short reign of his son Edward Vl commenced. As it transpired Edward’s death was to be perhaps even more awful that that of his father. But that dear reader is another story.
Henry’s coffin in the vault he shares with Jane Seymour and King Charles I, St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Here is also a link to a an interesting video.
Anne Boleyn and then Katherine Howard thought they had married Henry VIII. Then he annulled them both, as he did with his first and fourth weddings, such that they were deemed to have been invalid from the start. However, he had these second and fifth Queens executed for treason in that they committed adultery whilst married to him, even whilst maintaining that they were not. Similarly, Henry absolutely insisted that the dispensation he obtained in made his first ceremony with Catalina de Aragon (above right) completely valid.
Perhaps Henry picked up this habit from his father who insisted that the rebel he sent to Tyburn in 1499 was guilty of treason, which could only apply if he was an English subject, whilst calling him “Perkin Warbeck” from the Low Countries?
Erwin Schrodinger (below left) would, of course understand perfectly. “My cat is alive and dead”. “Anne Boleyn and I were validly married and were not.” “”Perkin” was an English subject and a foreigner.“
The first part dealt with the Peasants’ Revolt, which resulted in Simon of Sudbury‘s beheading and Borman travelled to St. Gregory’s in his home town to view the preserved head. She spoke about the animals kept in the various mini-towers and the Royal Mint that coined “Long Cross Pennies”, introduced by Henry III. We saw the Beefeaters, including a retirement party for one, before scholars at Eton and King’s College commemorated their founder, Henry VI, at the “Ceremony of the Lilies and Roses”. Then came the mystery of the “Princes”, as Borman used Domenico Mancini’s correct forename whilst taking him at face value a little too much, although she did note that More was five in 1483 and wrote three decades later to please Henry VIII. The seventeenth century discovery of remains of some sort was mentioned and a new exhibition on the “Princes” was launched, even as counter-evidence has emerged and been clarified.
Part two focussed on Henry VIII’s first and second “marriages”, together with the dramatic end of the second. Part three moved on to the twentieth century with the shooting of Josef Jakobs and other German spies, together with the 1913 visit of the suffragette Leonora Cohen. Rudolf Hess was also held there, as were the Kray twins later. The concluding part dealt with the role of the Constable, the ravens and the interrogation of Guy Fawkes and other prisoners, together with the tale of the more privileged, such as Raleigh, and the audacity of Colonel Blood’s attempt to steal the Crown Jewels, so soon after many of them had been recreated.
The picturesque little Gloucestershire town of Thornbury is not in the Cotswolds, but down in the Vale of the River Severn, between Bristol and Gloucester. Caught between the Cotswold escarpment and the Severn estuary, it is an area of rich farmland, with orchards for cider and perry, and pasture for the production of cheese.
Everyone knows about nearby Berkeley Castle, with its grisly tales of red hot pokers, and perhaps a lot of people know there was once a castle at Gloucester, to guard the first bridge over the tidal river. Not so many will know that there is also a Thornbury Castle, or that it is now a luxury hotel.
You drive down through Thornbury’s beautiful High Street and into Castle Street, toward the originally Norman church of St Mary at the bottom. And there, behind the church, is the castle and its magnificent grounds.
Actually, Thornbury was not always a castle, for it started as a manor house, where Richard II, stayed there on this day, 26th August 1386. There the king met the Cornish writer John Trevisa, who was working on his Polychronicon and the state of the royal prerogative. Richard was to request him to write a history of English kings, from Brutus to his, Richard’s, reign.
Henry VII very graciously gave Thornbury to his uncle, Jasper Tudor, whom he elevated to become Duke of Bedford. Jasper died there on 21st December, 1495. In his bed, at the age of 60-something. Not, as Wikipedia would have it, in 1521, beheaded for alleged treason by his “distant cousin” Henry VIII. Henry appropriated Thornbury and spent part of his “honeymoon” there with his new queen, Anne Boleyn. We all know the honeymoon period was soon over!
The nobleman who died in 1521 was Edward Stafford, the 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and yes, he was executed for treason. He was the son of Henry Stafford, the second duke, whom Richard III rightly called “the most untrue creature living”. Rebellion against Richard resulted in the second duke’s execution in Salisbury in 1483. So his son hated the House of York, and supported the Tudors. Much good it did him, for they hacked his head off anyway.
So you will see that Thornbury has had its share of royal visitors. No doubt there have been more, but I only give a flavour of the history that attaches to this beautiful house. Yes, it is now a castle, having been rebuilt by the above-mentioned Edward Stafford. It was sold in 2017, and so must now be under new management.
A stay there would be a delightful experience, I’m sure, but a word of warning. Jasper Tudor’s ghost is said to wander around of a night…
Oh, and even worse, there is a room called the Duke’s Bedchamber, and it is where Henry VIII supposedly slept. Rather you occupy it, my friends, than me!
Here is a link to the hotel’s website. It contains some wonderful aerial views of the castle and grounds. Worth looking at!
There are times when researching the past is, for a woman of today, a very insulting experience. This morning at the hairdresser I dipped into a book called Medieval Maidens: Young Women and Gender in England, 1270-1540. (No Hello, Heat or OK for me!)
Yes, I knew before I started that I wouldn’t like a great deal of what went on for women back then, but I came upon some details I would rather not have known concerning the ladies who waited on queens. By ladies, I mean quite high-ranking women, like the Countesses of Oxford and Worcester, and Dame Katherine Grey.
Here is the passages that caught my eye:
“Women servants sometimes played a role at meals and feasts, but one more closely bodily and intimate than the service of food. At Elizabeth of York’s coronation feast two of her ladies, Dame Katherine Grey and Mistress Ditton, ‘went under the table where they sat on either side [of] the Queen’s feet all the dinner time’. It is difficult to see what purpose this could have served other than to convey an impression of feminine presence, but it is powerful as an expression of lowly but intimate service.
“Throughout the meal, served to the queen by Lord Fitzwalter as sewer and by knights, the Countess of Oxford and Countess of Rivers ‘kneeled either side of the Queen, and at certain times held a kerchief before her Grace’, to collect her spittle and wipe her mouth.”
“A few decades later the countesses of Oxford and Worcester stood by Anne Boleyn at her coronation feast and intermittently ‘did hold a fine cloth before the queen’s face when she list to spit or do otherwise at her pleasure’, and she too had two gentlewomen under the table at her feet.”
Ew. . .
Are we to take this at face value? They actually did kneel under the table by the queen’s feet? I looked online to see if I could find any contemporary illustrations that would confirm this, and only found one. It’s of a woman scrambling around on her knees to serve a group of men.
Or did it mean they knelt before the table as in the illustration that follows? But no again, for this woman is serving food, and Phillips specifically says that particular honour was left to men. At great royal do’s anyway. And this woman here could hardly dump the roast peacock and sprint around to attend to the queen’s spittle! So I guess that under the table meant just that. Underneath it.
Hey, now here’s a warming thought. If high-ranking ladies were expected to perform such tasks, wouldn’t it be nice to think of Margaret Beaufort having to kneel under Anne Neville’s coronation feast table? Ready to wipe the royal nose or whatever? Oh, joy.
Today we accept having to wipe the mouths and noses of our children, and of invalids and the very old and frail, but would we do that for healthy young women. . .???? It just goes to show how very different life was then. We like to have a romantic notion of court life, but there was so much about it that simply does not sit with our modern sensibilities. Fancy having to kneel under the table throughout a meal. Did they have to vie for space with the king’s hounds? Margaret would certainly win that scrap!
And then there is the close stool. I know it was regarded as an honour to be in charge of this for the king, and so the queen too, I imagine. But having to wipe their bottoms for them as well? I’m told that part of the reason for this was the awkwardness created by their rich, voluminous robes, and maybe so, but the thought revolts me. I’m a modern woman, without any real idea how very strict and inflexible etiquette and rules were for our predecessors. I wouldn’t last five minutes at a medieval court. Bow and scrape to those who consider themselves my superiors? No wonder the grandest women resented having to show deference to Katherine de Roët, the governess who made it to being Duchess of Lancaster! Catch her spittle for her? They’d rather do the spitting!
(Katherine may be the lady in blue and ermine kneeling at the front of this illustration. And other ladies in the scene may have considered themselves far superior!)
I’d see all these folk in Hades first. Um, well, I’d see Hades, but probably by my intractable self. The only person I’d be prepared to bow to would be the monarch herself/himself. The rest can go whistle! Right, I wouldn’t last long.
One thing I will say. If anything, this under-the-table grovelling demeaned the queen or king as much as, if not more than, the one doing the grovelling. But then again, this is my modern-day sensibility creeping in. I don’t view it in the same way they did back then, when all grovelling came from those below the monarch.
The book I mentioned at the beginning of this article is very interesting and full of details, with many actual cases. That women were second-class citizens I had always known, but it didn’t occur to me that such high-class women would be expected to perform such disagreeably menial tasks. Yes, we’ve come a long, long way since then, but, ladies, we’re still second class citizens in many ways! I do trust that in another 500 years our future selves will look back on the 21st century and marvel that women now are still paid less than men for the same work, and so on.