It is well documented how, through the treasonable and treacherous actions of Sir William Stanley at Bosworth, Richard lost his crown and his life. He was hacked to death after Stanley, who brought 3000 men with him, intervened at the crucial point when Richard, with his household cavalry in a heroic charge, came within a hair’s breadth of reaching Tudor and despatching him. There is a story that after Richard’s crown was found under a hawthorn bush, it was Stanley who crowned him.
Sir William seems to have been one of those people who can run with the hounds and play with the foxes, doing well under Edward IV, who made him Chamberlain of Chester and, interestingly, Steward of the Prince of Wales’ Household(1). Later Richard made Stanley Chief Justice of North Wales and finally Tudor made him Lord Chamberlain and Knight of the Garter. It is said that Stanley – step-uncle to Tudor and brother-in-law to Margaret Beaufort – was one of the richest men in England. Bacon estimated his income at 3000 pounds a year. Stanley was also step-father to Francis Lovell, having married Lovell’s mother, Joan Beaufort, widow of John Lovell, 8th Baron Lovell, but I digress!
Fast forward 10 years and it all ended ignominiously at Tower Hill, where Stanley was beheaded on 16 February 1495 for the treasonable act of communicating with Perkin Warbeck. Stanley was accused of telling Robert Clifford, who informed on him, that if he was sure Perkin was indeed Edward’s son ‘he would never take up arms against him’.
The question I am raising here is not so much about Stanley’s interminable fence-sitting, which is common knowledge – and a penchant he shared with his brother Thomas – but rather, did Sir William, an apparent dyed-in-the-wool turncoat, capable of the greatest untrustworthiness, actually possess a latent streak of honour, perhaps dating from the time when he was Steward to the Princes of Wales’ Household? Did his time there give birth to a fierce loyalty to Edward’s sons, that later emerged with such a passion that he risked all, absolutely all, when he joined the Perkin Warbeck plot? Did he grow fond of young Edward, later focusing this affection on Edward’s brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, whom Warbeck purported to be? OR, was he, as the historian Gairdner (2) suggested, merely attempting to secure his position in the event of an invasion?
(1) Ramsay, Lancaster and York, ii 482
(2) W A J Archbold ‘Sir William Stanley and Perkin Warbeck’ English Historical Review 14( 1899) pp 529-534. ‘On 14 March (year unknown) Gairdner suggested in a note to Archbold that Stanley may ‘simply have wanted to secure his position with both sides in case of an invasion’. I am grateful for this information which I have gleaned from Helen Maurer’s ‘Whodunit – The Suspects in the Case’.
… or the probable anniversary of the battle of Mortimer’s Cross:
Sunnes and Roses, a new album
by The Legendary Ten Seconds
Released on R ichard The Third Records on 31st December 2016.
Songs featuring Warwick the Kingmaker. Richard III, Henry VII, Lord Hastings, Edward Earl of March, Lord Fitzwalter, Sir Andrew Trollope, Lord Bonville and Perkin Warbeck
Instruments played by Lord Zarquon, Rob Bright, Ian Churchward, Ashley Dyer trumpet on ‘The Jewel’ and Ivy Curle flute on ‘Richard of York’
with the singing of Ian Churchward. Camilla Joyce, Elaine Churchward and Gentian Dyer
A Richard III Records Publication, Catalogue number R35
Recorded in Torbay at Rock Lee and Rainbow Starshine Studios.
CDs available from the Richard III Society (see below) and the songs in digital format on itunes, CD Baby and Amazon.
AT MORTIMERS CROSS THREE SUNS WERE SEEN
FOR THE UNEDUCATED WHAT DID THIS MEAN
THE EARL OF MARCH DECLARED “ A GOOD SIGN”
FOR THE THREE SONS OF YORK AT THAT TIME
All songs written by Ian Churchward except for Herald’s Lament written by Sandra Heath Wilson and Ian Churchward, and Middleham Castle on Christmas Eve written by
Frances Quinn and Ian Churchward
Sunnes and Roses, an instrumental.
List of the Dead, a song about several of the battles of the Wars of the Roses.
Towton, the bloodiest battle on English soil told in a song.
A Warwick, a song about Warwick the Kingmaker.
Battle in the mist, about the Battle of Barnet in music and verse.
Souvente me Souvene, an instrumental, the motto of the Duke of Buckingham.
Autumn Rain, a tale of Buckingham’s rebellion in the autumn of 1483
Good King Richard, a song about the reign of Richard III.
The King’s Daughter, an instrumental for Judy Thomson who lives in Chicago.
Heralds’ Lament, a song about the betrayal of Richard III at Bosworth
Richard of York, a song about Perkin Warbeck.
Middleham Castle on Christmas Eve, past and present merge into one another in this song.
The Jewel, the story of the Middleham Jewel performed in this tune.
Tewkesbury Medieval Fair, go back in time, yes you could be there in this song.
Here is some new information regarding the album:- The album in CD format can be purchased via the Richard III Society’s Sales Provider and prospective buyers should contact E-Mediacy, with the appropriate payment – including post and packing, as follows and quoting item reference M228: Richard III Sales c/o E-Mediacy 5 The Quadrangle Centre The Drift Nacton Road Ipswich, Suffolk IP3 9QR email for enquiries only not for orders richardiii@e-mediacy,com Members’ price: £6.00 (non-members’ £8.00) plus P&P £1.10/ UK £2.00 EU/£2.60 Rest of the World. Details of the how to make payment can be found on the Society Shop page of the Richard III Society website. Members will need to give E-Mediacy their membership number to obtain the discounted rate. For the time being the CDs of this album can only be purchased via the Richard III Society. A percentage of funds from the digital sales of this album will be donated to S.A.U.K.
Quote from the link below:-
“She [Philippa Langley] revealed at the end of the talk that she has now gathered a team to try and discover the truth behind the many stories and versions of what happened to the princes in the tower, and all she would say was that some of their findings so far have been gobsmacking. Let’s hope the festival invites her back in the future with the results. ”
Gobsmacking????? How tantalising! Bring it on, Philippa, we’re all waiting.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Shakespeare’s Richard III
I am currently watching the second instalment of Shakespeare’s history plays, concerning ‘The Wars of the Roses’ as interpreted by the BBC’s condensed and somewhat, contorted adaptation.
The first part of ‘The Hollow Crown’ covered Shakespeare’s history plays: Richard II, Henry IV, Part I and II and Henry Vth. It was, for the most part, an excellent production. A combination of strong casting, brilliant original material and interesting sets made it a joy to watch. Simon Russell Beale’s Falstaff was a triumph. He gave a mesmerizing performance which managed to capture all the facets of Falstaff’s complex character in little more than a look or a gesture.
The overwhelming sense of these plays was the great burden which kingship brought for the poor unfortunate who wore the crown. In another blog post I have written about this in detail, taking specific lines from each of…
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For lovers of medieval music, ‘Medieval Music in the Dales’ is to be held at Bolton Castle in Wensleydale on September 2-4, 2016.
If it’s too short notice for interested parties to attend this year, the organisers are holding it again next year, also in September.
There will be concerts, workshop, displays, dance, sessions, traders…and grand feasting!
Bolton Castle belonged to the Scrope family, and is the perfect setting for such an event. A quadrangular castle, with massive walls, Bolton was originally built by Richard le Scrope in the reign of Richard II.
The Scrope family seemed to have rather bad luck…and an unfortunate tendency to lose their heads. William Scrope, Richard II’s treasurer, was beheaded without trial, when Richard was deposed by Bolingbroke. the Archbishop of York, Richard Scrope, preached against the new king and led forces against him at Shipton Moor; and though in the end he called for a truce, he was taken prisoner and beheaded. Later, in the reign of Henry V, Lord Scrope of Masham was implicated in the rather flimsy Southampton plot, along with Richard of Conisbrough (Richard III’s grandfather), and executed.
The fifth Baron, Sir John, was a little luckier, serving both Edward IV and Richard III. He fought for Richard at Bosworth and survived, being pardoned by Henry VII after the battle (Sir John’s wife was related to Henry’s mother, Margaret Beaufort). He didn’t stay loyal to Tudor for long, though, and soon joined the Lambert Simnel rebellion. Henry pardoned him again, but told him he had to live no more than 22 miles from London, so he never returned to his northern home.
Well, I don’t know that all the facts are correct in this article. For instance, Richard’s effort (i.e. his going into battle at all against HT) was ‘futile’??? Sorry, but Richard went into that battle quite rightly certain he would triumph.
And he went into battle in a raging temper because he knew the Stanleys were doing the dirty on him? Hmm. He may have been justifiably suspicious of them, but he didn’t find out how faithless and slippery they really were until well after the battle had commenced. Only then did he realize victory wasn’t certain after all, and that’s when his fury erupted! He fought like a demon and got within a hair’s breadth of Henry Tudor, who never entered the fray, but lurked timidly behind his bodyguards. That was Tudor’s policy on a battlefield—never endanger one’s precious self by mixing it with all those nasty knights.
And, sadly, Tudor was the one who died in his bed. But Richard is the one who died in glory, admired by all, even his enemies, for the courage, ferocity and skill of his fighting. No one could ever look at Tudor and say, “Wow! Now there’s a great knight!” Everyone thought it of King Richard III.
But the article is interesting for all that.
Once again, while rooting around for information that might be of use in a book I intend to write about figures in the court of Richard II, I have found an interesting snippet. This time my thoughts are jolted with regard to the name of Richard III’s horse, White Surrey.
I have never particularly liked the name, and know that there is some doubt about its veracity, but even so, it is what we all call the great white courser he rode at Bosworth.
Anyway, my interest in Richard II centres on his Holland half-brothers . . . and so I have been going through “The Hollands, Dukes of Exeter, Earls of Kent and Huntingdon, 1352-1475” by Michael M.N. Stansfield, which is the most detailed work about this family that I have found so far.
In 1399, Richard II made a very ill-judged expedition to Ireland, and while his foolish back was turned, the exiled Henry of Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, soon to be Henry IV, invaded England and took over. Among the lords who were with Richard in Ireland was his half-nephew, Thomas Holland III (viscountessw note: his father and grandfather were also called Thomas), Earl of Kent, who had taken his wife and a lot of property with him. When news of Bolingbroke’s invasion reached Ireland, a very hasty return to England was soon underway. This return was bungled, and Richard’s party was soon in Henry’s hands. The unfortunate king would be deposed and executed, the Epiphany Rising of his remaining supporters would be betrayed, and they too would met unpleasant ends.
Meanwhile, the Countess of Kent had been left behind in Ireland, in charge of her husband’s property. When she too returned to England, bringing his goods and belongings with her, she was apprehended and the property seized.
What has this to do with White Surrey, I hear you ask? Well, simply that in a passage about the nature of these goods, I came upon the following:-
“Some idea of a lord’s travelling accoutrements can be gleaned from the inventory of possessions seized with Thomas III’s widow Joan when she landed at Liverpool, back from Ireland, on 13 January 1400. She brought very little in gold, but a fair amount of silver tableware, 205 lbs 12oz in weight. This went to the royal exchequer and was used to pay some of Thomas III’s debts to Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Lincoln. Equipment for a travelling chapel was also seized, valued in total, books, frontals and all, at £43 8s 4d. Also taken were six horses, three of them coursers and three trotters, with names of aristocratic association such as Bayard March, Lyard Exeter and Bayard Perrers. Their harness and gear, for war and the hastilude, stabling equipment, tents for living in the field, armour for the earl, or perhaps his brother, a chest of arrows and the necessary impedimenta to carry it all completed the possessions brought back from Ireland by the countess.”
Bayard March, Lyard Exeter and Bayard Perrers were (I imagine, but cannot be certain) the three coursers, and in the notes to this passage, Stansfield clarifies that Bayard meant bay-coloured, and Lyard referred to being dappled with white or silver-grey. March, Exeter and Perrers are clearly references to noble titles or families. Exeter, for example, refers to Thomas III’s uncle, John Holland, Earl of Huntingdon and Duke of Exeter.
As for White Surrey, in 1483 the title of Earl of Surrey was held by John Howard’s (Duke of Norfolk) son and heir, Thomas. I almost wonder if the horse could have been a gift to Richard from one or other of the Howards.
It seems possible that by naming their horses in such a fashion, aristocrats were following an accepted norm, and suddenly I feel I understand Richard III’s choice of White Surrey for his great courser.
Perhaps someone knows much more on this subject. If so, I will be delighted to learn.
(The above illustration is from Black Rose Studios)