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A book on Medieval warfare, not only Renaissance….

a book on medieval warfare - not just Renaissance

Um, I don’t think Edward III and the Black Prince are Renaissance, but the book might be interesting. Perhaps it more concerns the build-up to Renaissance warfare?


Hey diddle diddle, it’s Richard III….!

hey diddle diddle

Sometime ago I read that the words of the old Hey Diddle Diddle nursery rhyme were in fact a reference to the story of Richard III. There are other theories, of course, including this of Elizabeth I:

“The story goes that Elizabeth, was often called a cat for the treatment of her court, the mice. When Elizabeth’s cousin Lady Catherine Grey eloped with Edward Seymour represented by the dish running away with the spoon, Elizabeth was not particularly impressed. The ‘dish’ and ‘spoon’ of the rhyme are sometimes said to be the Queen’s private server and food taster, but this theory too lacks evidence.” (This extract is from

The suggestion that the rhyme might be to do with Richard’s so-called usurpation of the throne connects Sir William Catesby with the cat (the fiddle being to kill the boys in the Tower), the Kingmaker with the cow (no idea about the moon!) Francis Lovell with the dog, and Richard himself as the dish running away with the spoon (anointing spoon at his coronation). Why the Kingmaker is in there, I can’t imagine, for he was dead and gone by 1383, which is when the presumed events of the nursery rhyme took place.

Mind you, if you go here, you’ll find Richard’s name cropping up in all sorts of places, including Humpty Dumpty! See also here.

A Google search for Hey Diddle Diddle or Humpty Dumpty with Richard III will bring up numerous sites that repeat/debate/pooh-pooh the likelihood of the rhymes’ origins in Richard’s story.

Humpty Dumpty - RIII

The king in the above illustration is presumably Henry VII?

Anyway, it’s all an interesting theory, but I do not know how much faith to place in it. Take a look, and see what you think.









The complex alliances at the siege of Roxburgh

Today marks the 555th anniversary of the dramatic conclusion of this siege, being a Bank Holiday in most of Scotland. Tomorrow in 1900, the late Queen Mother was born, in London or Hitchin, but of Scottish parentage.

We posted about the siege last year but what about the underlying events?

James II’s mother was Joan “Beaufort”, whose grandfather may well actually have been Sir Hugh Swynford, but Henry V’s apparent cousin. Both James and Joan ensured that the House of Stewart, together with the loyal “Red Douglas” clan, was definitely Lancastrian by affilliation. Consequently, the “Black Douglas” faction and the MacDonald Lords of the Isles tended to support the Duke of York and his family. In the years before the siege, James had overcome the Black Douglases, applying his cannon at Threave, with similar results.

Curiously, the summer of 1460 saw the Scottish army besiege a Lancastrian garrison at Roxburgh, thereby contributing to the first dethroning of Henry VI the following March. The normal alliances were resumed a few years later.

Bang, bang, you’re dead…. !


How intriguing that guns were used fairly early on in medieval times, but only today has a portion of evidence been discovered in England. Illustrations have long since been proof, but to actually have a piece of the action at last is quite a discovery.

There is another article on the same matter, but the link would not work here, so I have copied it in full below:

From The Yorkshire Press

Exploded fragment of War of the Roses gun goes on show at new Richard III exhibition

First published Friday 13 March 2015 in Features Last updated 13:03 Friday 13 March 2015 by Matt Clark

A new Richard III exhibition in York shines fresh light on the King’s reign. And it features a remarkable artefact that has changed the way historians interpret the War of the Roses. MATT CLARK reports.

BLINK and you’d miss it, but tucked away on the top floor of Monk Bar is one of the most important finds in the history of warfare. It may not look much, but this exploded fragment of a barrel is from the earliest hand gun found on a medieval battlefield anywhere in the world.

This is the evidence academics had been waiting for to prove that guns were used during the War of the Roses, and tomorrow it will go on public display for the first time.

“Handguns had been around for less than a century by the time of the Battle of Towton in 1461, and these fragments show just how unreliable they were,” says Sarah Maltby, of York Archaeological Trust. “We can tell that this weapon effectively blew apart, almost certainly in use, so we can only imagine the horrific injuries – and possible fatality – its owner would have suffered.”

The piece was found by detectorist Simon Richardson at Towton, the scene of the most barbaric battle ever fought on English soil, which led to the crowning of Edward IV, the first Yorkist king, and Richard III’s elder brother.

Part of the killing field was known as Bloody Meadow, with good reason. But for Simon it offers rich pickings. Over the years he has discovered hundreds of artefacts.

But nothing like this.

“It’s a very rare find,” he says.

“The only known gun fragment from that period found in Europe.

It’s also very important because it’s right on the cusp between armies using longbow and gunpowder weapons. This is from the beginning of the modern era of history.”

At first Simon didn’t know what he had unearthed. He’d found a lead ball so had a notion that guns might have been used, but nothing prepared him for this.

“It was a big lump of bronze that had been caught by a plough and brought up from really deep. At first I thought it might be from a steam engine, when I realised what I’d found I was overwhelmed, it was a bit more than wow.”


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