Although Richard was found in Leicester five years ago, exactly where he was buried, and Henry I is close to being identified in Reading, Kingfinding is not always successful. As this blog shows, the 1965 excavation of the Faversham Abbey site to find King Stephen was unsuccessful.
It seems that his bones really were moved during the Reformation. Sometimes, there is truth in such a legend.
Towton is regarded by many historians as the worst battle to ever be fought on English soil in terms of the number of combatants, casualty figures, conditions on the day and treatment of those captured during the rout.
It is always extremely difficult to gauge the reality of the medieval battlefield due to a number of factors. There were other, more ancient battles that were recorded in annals and chronicles which talk of massive numbers of combatants and bloody routs – Boudicca’s last stand on Watling Street in 60-1 AD, the Battle of Brunanburgh in 937 AD and the Battle of Hastings in 1066 for example but how reliable were the figures recorded at the time or later by chroniclers and historians?
Without reliable eye witness accounts and archaeological evidence of mass grave pits, it is difficult to establish exactly how many troops were present, how many were actually killed…
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I suppose it was only a matter of time before ‘they’ made a link between Richard and Jack the Ripper. Nay, I jest! The articles below concern a search for the grave of one of the Ripper’s victim. And who is searching? Why, the same experts/scientists who found Richard. (Or should I say ‘helped to find’ Richard?) Writer Patricia Cornwell is funding the exercise.
Well, we had Richard III, then they sought Henry I…and now it’s James I of Scotland. I wonder how many others will soon be on the list?
According to this article :
“A plan to search for the tomb of a Scottish king buried in Perth nearly 600 years ago has been unveiled.
“It will be part of a project to create a major visitor attraction in the city using virtual reality to tell the story of James I and the Stewart monarchs.
“James I was assassinated in Perth in 1437 and later buried at the Charterhouse monastery.
“But the priory was destroyed in the reformation 100 years later and no-one is sure of the grave’s exact location.
“The monastery where he was buried was built on his orders and was part of his great plans for Perth.
“Historians believe he wanted to create a complex on the scale of Westminster and move St Andrews University to the city to compete with Oxford.
“Dr Lucy Dean, from the University of the Highlands and Islands, told BBC Scotland: “Thirteen out of 18 of James’ parliaments take place in Perth. He is centralising his government here.
“I’m not sure whether Perth would have been the capital but it was definitely in the running for being the capital. [His] murder halted that idea in its tracks.”
“James I was assassinated on 4 February 1437 while he was in the royal apartments at the Blackfriars monastery in Perth.
“After a group of 30 conspirators were let into the building he tried to hide in a sewer, but he was trapped and killed by Sir Robert Graham.
“A pub and sheltered housing accommodation now stands on the site of his death.
“The area where he died is marked with a stone monument.
“Archaeologist David Bowler, who explored the site in the 1980s, said he was “very excited” by the plans to find the king’s tomb.
” ‘It’s something we’ve all been thinking about in Perth for many, many years,’ he said.
” ‘We’ve all known about the Carthusian friary and we want to know a bit more about where it is.’
“Leaders of this project, which also includes a “virtual museum” depicting Medieval Perth, hope the city could benefit from the discovery of the tomb in the same way Leicester did when Richard III’s remains were found.
“Richard Oram, professor of Medieval history at the University of Stirling, said: ‘If we were to actually locate where the royal tomb was within this complex – we saw what that did to Leicester with the rediscovery of Richard III.
” ‘A lot more people know Richard III than James I but we’re looking to try and change that. So if we were successful that would be a huge added bonus to the project.’ ”
There is more to be read here.
One of the most fascinating (and bloody) periods of English history is The Anarchy, when Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I (he who might well be found sometime soon in the ruins of Reading Abbey) fought her cousin Stephen of Blois (thought to be in Faversham Abbey) for the English throne. Battles raged across the land and barons, without permission, threw up adulterine castles everywhere and lived lawlessly. The times were so turbulent that it was said ‘Christ and His Saints slept.’
Matilda’s forces captured Stephen in 1141 and she came very close to being crowned, but violent crowds of Stephen’s supporters on the way to London stopped the Coronation from taking place. Then her biggest supporter, her half-brother Robert of Gloucester was captured at Winchester, and the only way to free him was to trade Stephen’s freedom for Robert’s.
In 1148, Matilda retreated from England for good and left the fighting to her son, Henry FitzEmpress, the son of Geoffrey Plantagenet–the future Henry II. In 1153 Henry and Stephen came to an agreement after the Siege of Wallingford, in which Henry was declared Stephen’s heir as the latter’s eldest son Eustace had died. The next year, Stephen died and Henry took the throne.
Matilda is generally not listed as one of the rulers of England but some believe that she should be. Although never crowned, she was Henry I’s heir and before the High Altar of All Saints, Northampton, Henry rallied his barons to swear loyalty to her and to support her claim to the throne. They swore at the time, but as often happened in the Middle Ages, the oaths were quickly broken once Henry died. The idea of a female ruler was not a popular one, although there was no legal impediment to it, as England, unlike France, did not have a Salic Law.
Many sources list Edward V, Jane and Edward VIII as monarchs of England, despite the fact that they were never crowned and their legitimacy to the position was disputed–so, if that is considered correct, why then is the Empress Matilda excluded from the list, as designated heir to Henry I?
Matilda is, of course ancestor to the line of Plantagenet kings that followed on from her son, and through her maternal side, they also have a line of descent from both King Malcolm of Scotland and the royal House of Wessex via St Margaret. Both claimants were, therefore, among Richard III’s ancestors.
An interesting post on the subject of Matilda from the FB page ‘House of Plantagenet History & Geneology’ :https://www.facebook.com/groups/41546823396/permalink/10154937093853397/
Car parks have become Aladdin’s caves for archaeology and things as wonderful as the remains of Richard III. Coventry’s lost history is now coming to light. Be patient with the Coventry Telegraph site, I found it as much a pain for ads and slowness as the Leicester Mercury!
Once upon a time, back in the Middle Ages, a large, thriving Welsh city existed between Monmouth and the village of Trellech. Its size was astounding for the day—it had 10,000 inhabitants (for comparison London had 40,000.) Another 10,000 souls may have lived in a shanty town along its edges.
What makes Trellech’s size particularly startling is that it reached this number in a mere 25 years, meaning that vast numbers of people must have been flooding into the area. This was undoubtedly something to do with the powerful de Clare lords, who held the local lands and used Trellech for smelting iron for their personal army.
Then…something happened. It possibly began with a devastating raid over poaching deer, which destroyed a large portion of the town. Then the Black Death roared in during the 1300’s, causing the population to drop dramatically. More trouble followed in the early 15th century when Owain Glyndwr was on the rampage in those debatable borderlands. By the time of the Civil War, the city had been completely abandoned, and soon nature reclaimed what was once its own, and grass grew over the walls of once mighty Trellech.
By modern times, it was mainly known through a few medieval documents and in local legend, its precise location lost and subject to much speculation, with many believing it was sited under the modern village of Trellech.
No one seemed terribly interested in definitively locating it and finding out if it was as extensive and important as claimed, although some earlier surveys were indicative. But then an enthusiastic young archaeologist, intrigued by the story of the lost city, decided to use his life savings to buy the fields where folklore said Trellech stood.
And it turned out, when the trenches were dug, that legend, this time, was correct.
The project is ongoing, so if anyone is in the area and wishes to join in this summer, there are details in the second link.
Besides the archaeological site of the city, the nearby village of Trellech is itself worth a visit, with its Holy Well dedicated to saint Anne, the Grade I Church of Saint Nicholas, a castle motte called the Tump, a 16th C pub, and three enormous Bronze Age standing stones (Harold’s Stones) which are aligned on the Midwinter sunset.
Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450 by Elisabeth Crowfoot, Frances Pritchard and Kay Staniland, published by Boydell Press, in association with the Museum of London. ISBN 978-1-84385-239-3 (First published in 1992 and reprinted numerous times since then, lastly in paperback in 2016, which is the version I have.)
Before I proceed, I will say that among the sites that provided contributions to this work is Baynard’s Castle (excavated in 1972), which was, of course, a very important residence of the House of York. The book’s coverage ends at 1450, but I am sure the site will still be of interest to those of the murrey-and-blue persuasion.
The sites covered are mostly along the northern bank of the Thames, in the old city, and were excavated over a period of about twenty years. Archaeologists have discovered all sorts of clothing and textiles that speak of their owners’ status. The list of finds includes “knitting, tapestries, silk hair-nets and elaborately patterned oriental, Islamic and Italian fabrics….beautifully made buttons, buttonholes and edgings which display superb craftsmanship and a high level of needlework skills.”
I purchased the book because it was referred to when I was reading something else, and I am very glad to possess it. The intricate detail and beautiful illustrations are breathtaking. There are some astonishing reconstructions of complicated designs, built up from small fragments. They reveal some exquisitely delicate, decorative silks, brocades and other fine fabrics. At Baynard’s Castle, the most exotic piece retrieved was a Chinese twill damask woven from silk. Oh, to know to whom that belonged!
The samples of knitting are almost moving. There it is, good old stocking stitch, exactly as we knit it now. Looking at the fragments, the medieval period melds with the present, as if there were no intervening centuries. I felt I could sit amicably side by side with a 14th-century goodwife, our needles tapping away…producing the same result. Perhaps she would knit one of a pair of gloves, and I the other. I know, the weaving and other handcrafts are still the same as well, but it was the knitting that touched me.
If I have a criticism, it is that I would have liked more colour photographs. Determining the details of various forms of warp and weft is not always easy when shown in grayscale. At least, maybe they are to someone with weaving experience, but not to someone who seldom ventured beyond knitting.
(Please note that the book to which the above link takes you is illustrated with an earlier cover than the one which will arrive, which has the cover pictured at the top of this page.)