A number of medieval treasures, including the Middleham Jewel, are to go on permanent display at the Yorkshire Museum in York to tell how the city once ruled the North of England, and will be unveiled today.
A number of medieval treasures, including the Middleham Jewel, are to go on permanent display at the Yorkshire Museum in York to tell how the city once ruled the North of England, and will be unveiled today.
Several years ago I was out at Bosworth to attend an author signing with one of my favourite Ricardian authors, Sharon Penman, who wrote the mighty epic The Sunne in Splendour. We were staying in the Royal Arms at Sutton Cheney, which has a public room filled with armour, memorabilia, paintings of the battle and of Richard and Tudor (I put the latter at my back!)
Our room was in an annexe that looked out over the fields. The light was grey, heavy; the soil of the field, newly ploughed, glistening after rain, looked red. Redemore. The Red Plain. In the distance the hedges wore little crowns of mist, and a single dark-winged crow sat on the fence, its shrill cry breaking a strange stillness. A haunting place.
We went to bed. In the night we heard rain drumming on the roof. We turned over,slept. In the early hours of the morning, I was woken by a ruckus overhead. There was crashes and bangs as if someone, or more like multiple someones, were streaming, charging over the roof of the building. I began to fancy them as hoofbeats and laughed at myself and my infamous imagination. It must surely be the hotel staff doing something in a room above us…but why the heck were they doing it pre-dawn when they had guests?
The sounds clattered away into nothingess. I went back to sleep. Later, when we got up and went to pack our things in the car, I looked back towards the building.
There was no upstairs room above ours.
This poem came out of that night….
THE WHITE ROSE
I walked upon Bosworth field,
the soil red beneath my feet
as rain pelted from a stormy sky
in a grey and stony sheet
Sutton Cheney’s stolid tower
was an upturned bucket in the mist
and the whole rolling landscape
a haunted vista twilight kissed.
Why do I feel such strangling sorrow
in that lonely, empty space
where amongst the bristling hedges
the small birds dart and race
soaring like souls into a sky
unchanged by the passing years,
still on this sullen summer’s day
pouring out its bitter tears.
I found a crooked, winding path
that crossed a farmer’s land…
so plain and oh so ordinary
you might dismiss it out of hand
But I knew that here was the place
where a banner once soared on high,
and a White Boar fighting rose and fell,
a betrayed man consigned to die
So history was written
and legends false and foul were born,
birthed out of blood and treachery
on a red-tinged summer’s morn
The victor writes the pages,
speechless dead cannot defend
but I swore I would speak for him
both now and till the end.
And when I returned later
to my little rented room
at midnight I heard thunder
like a banging drum of doom
or was it something greater
that tore across the brooding sky,
passing in flashes over Bosworth…
what does it really mean to die?
Westward like winter’s geese
I saw pale horsemen flying
while the echoes of ghostly horns,
drifted outward, fading, dying….
And on the rain-bright road
its petals teared with icy rain
lay a perfect snow-white rose…
King Richard rides again.
Art by Frances Quinn
Even for Richard, wild boar were a memory. Does this mean that because of their reintroduction to England, we can see what he never did? The above photograph was taken in the Forest of Dean, which isn’t far from where I live. My daughter and granddaughter had a confrontation with two adult boar and two piglets/hoglets, and that was bad enough. The thought of a whole gang as above doesn’t bear thinking about! The Forest is teeming with them, so walk there with caution.
Small wonder Richard chose such a ferocious creature as his emblem!
The above illustration is actually of Sir Bernard Burke dressed as Ulster King of Arms for a fancy dress ‘do’, but he really was Ulster King of Arms!
I recently posted about Anne Neville sharing a white boar badge with Richard, see this post , although hers was muzzled and chained. Or so is claimed in a tome entitled The General Armory by Sir Bernard Burke, C.B., LL.D. Ulster King at Arms. At the time I did not possess The General Armory, and came upon the reference in another work, but I was interested enough to acquire the Burke book. Eventually.
AbeBooks UK apparently had a number of copies for sale, but there was some disgruntlement among purchasers (among whom I numbered) that most of the offers proved to be one or other of three print-on-demand volumes, broken up into chunks of the alphabet. My copy turned out to be R-Z. Not one of the listings at AbeBooks made this clear, and customers had been bitten. But then I approached one of the sellers, Anybook Ltd, who seemed to ask more than the others, but it soon transpired that they really were offering the complete Armory.
https://www.anybook.biz/how-it-works.php Anybooks Ltd is a clever idea. They acquire books that libraries no longer want, and sell them on to all the folk who do want them. Then a generous share of the profit goes back to the libraries. Everyone’s happy. I certainly was. And they were also very helpful and approachable, so I thoroughly recommend them to anyone interested in acquiring books.
Right, enough of that. The Armory is a very heavy work, originally published in 1884, and the author, Sir Bernard Burke, is also of Burke’s Peerage, so I imagine he knows what he is talking about. I say this because his statement about Anne Neville and the White Boar was challenged, many believing Boar had to be a ‘typo’ for Bear. Why? Because Burke states the White Boar , chained and muzzled in gold, was an ancient cognizance of the House of Warwick. I cannot find such a cognizance, except the Warwick Bear and Ragged Staff, which, always features a lopped tree trunk (the ragged staff) as tall as the bear. Maybe Anne chose the bear on its own and decided on white. But maybe that’s not so, and she went for a White Boar instead. I would not care to argue with Sir Bernard on a subject he clearly knew inside out. Anyway, suffice it that in The Armory, she definitely chose a muzzled, chained White BOAR.
The book (my copy of which is in excellent condition, except for the cover, which is a little shabby, as advised by Anybooks) is a vast enterprise that is a registry of armorial bearings from the earliest to the then present time (late nineteenth century). It explains heraldry, then lists all the monarchs, orders of knighthood, families and at the end supplies mottoes, and the names of those who possessed them. I have browsed through it (reading in detail would be a gigantic exercise requiring youthful eyes, gritty determination and the will to grapple with the weight) and found it fascinating. Choose any person from history, and there he or she will be, with details of arms, crests and so on.
Anyone interested in history would, I’m sure, find this work of great benefit. I recommend its acquisition…but beware the lurking trap of the three volumes of print-on-demand.
We always hear about the badges of medieval families, e.g. Richard III’s white boar, the Warwick bear and ragged staff, the Stafford knot, Richard II’s white hart and so on and so on, but what about the ladies? Maybe they didn’t ride into battle with the banners streaming (well, there were some notable exceptions, of course), and mostly they seem to have used their family’s badges, but they also had their private personal badge or device, perhaps on a ring to seal their private letters.
It’s possible to identify some of these badges. Richard II’s queen, Anne of Bohemia, had a sprig of rosemary, which is why such sprigs appear along with Richard’s device on the Wilton Diptych. His mother, Joan of Kent’s badge was a white hind, and it was from this that Richard II, derived his white hart, also adding the crown and chain around its neck. (See Richard II and the English Royal Treasure by Jenny Stratford.)
Joan of Navarre, the second queen of Henry IV, used ‘an ermine collared and chained, with the motto ‘à tempérance’. Elizabeth Talbot, Duchess of Norfolk, was believed to have chosen the blue borage flower as her badge. (See Eleanor, The Secret Queen by John Ashdown-Hill.) Her mother, Margaret Beauchamp, Countess of Shrewsbury, chose to play upon her name, and had the daisy/marguerite. Margaret of Anjou had a swan (see Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses by John A. Wagner) and a daisy (see The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, by Sir Bernard Burke, page lvii.
I have now learned that according to the same page of the latter book, Anne Neville’s badge was a variation of the white boar of her husband, Richard III.
Anne’s cognizance is interesting, and I wonder if she chose it by chance before her marriage (after all, it was a badge of the House of Warwick), or whether she only adopted it once she was Richard of Gloucester’s wife. Or, indeed, whether Richard himself decided to use it because it was a Warwick badge and he wished to honour the great lord whose daughter he was to marry. Those who deride Richard, will no doubt claim that such was Anne’s subordination to her cruel husband, that it was her only way of showing how confined and bullied she was. On the other hand, those who know Richard was nothing whatsoever like the fictional monster, may see it as her way of stating her love and faith in him. I am of the latter persuasion, of course.
Finding an instance of Anne’s boar has defeated me. I can’t even find a boar that has been assigned to Richard, yet might actually be Anne’s. Maybe someone out there knows all this and can point directly to such an illustration? In the meantime, I will confine myself to the boar you see at the top of this article. It has a crown around the neck, if no muzzle and chain.
As a source of information about badges and so on, the great work by Sir Bernard Burke is a gold mine. See it at Amazon. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Scotland-Comprising-Registry-Armorial-Bearings/dp/0788437216/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471783806&sr=1-1&keywords=sir+bernard+burke+armory
I have just ordered it, and am looking forward to a great deal of delving.
I lived in Bewdley from 1976 to 2011 and discovered that there was a charter given to the town by King Edward IV in 1472 and that in 1972 the town had held some very successful Quincentenary celebrations.
I found a book called “Bewdley: A Sanctuary Town” in the town library. This stated that King Edward IV had granted the charter in recognition of the fact that the bowmen of Bewdley had fought for his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 and that he had also made Bewdley a sanctuary town. In those days my knowledge of the Wars of the Roses was very limited due to the fact that while studying our country’s medieval history I had not been very attentive at school.
Some years later, having joined the Richard III Society and being infinitely more informed on the subject, I was very pleased that the town I lived in had a Ricardian connection. Indeed it had more than one Ricardian connection. Tickenhill Palace, which is just outside the town, was part of Edward’s Mortimer inheritance and would have almost certainly belonged to Richard when he was King. It is also famous because Henry Tudor’s son Prince Arthur was staying at Tickenhill when he was married by proxy to Catherine of Aragon. The dreadful “Tudors” having acquired the Yorkist Kings’ Mortimer inheritance
In Ribbesford Church, which is the church associated with Tickenhill, there is a window that has fragments of medieval glass. There is very definitely a boar and something that could be a falcon and fetterlock. The boar is a St Anthony boar and in a discussion with Geoffrey Wheeler, a prominent member of the Society, we decided that it probably wasn’t anything to do with Richard. However, since then I have discovered that Richard took the St Anthony boar as his badge when he was younger and his motto in those days was “Tant le Desiree” which means” I have long desired this” or “I have desired this so long”. So possibly the boar at Ribbesford has something to do with the young Richard.
Bewdley was on the road to Ludlow as there was a ford across the River Severn so it is possible that the York family stayed at Tickenhill on their way to Ludlow. Leland says that in 1483 King Richard III gave 20 shillings towards the building of the first Bewdley Bridge. Is it possible that he came to Bewdley on his Coronation journey? It is not that far from Worcester.
I attended a Heritage Open Day at Bewdley Guildhall and saw King Edward’s charter for the first time. A friend of mine, Graeme Wormald, was there on that day and he introduced me to the then Town Clerk David Flack. Graeme told us that he had been Mayor of Bewdley when the charter had been found. It was found, when the old Borough Council offices were being converted into flats, in a pile of boxes, which had been damaged because they had been stored in a damp shed. Some workmen found the charter along with others given to the town by King James I and Queen Anne. All the beautiful colours that would surely have been on them were washed away. They were rescued and we are very lucky to have what remains today.
Fortunately David was very interested in history and when I told him about the society he agreed that the Worcestershire Branch could visit the Town Clerk’s office to view the charter. I liaised with him and this resulted in Pat Parmenter, the Worcestershire Branch Social Secretary, arranging the branch AGM at the George Hotel in Bewdley and booking a time beforehand to view the Edward IV Charter at the Town Clerk’s office.
That appeared to be that, the Branch had explored the Ricardian connection as far as it possibly could and Ralph Richardson, the Worcestershire Branch Chairman, wrote to David Flack and asked permission to include Bewdley in the new publication of Ricardian Britain. David very kindly agreed. However, that was not all.
The Worcestershire Branch always mans a stall at the Tewkesbury Battlefield re-enactment. The 2003 re-enactment was slightly different because Dr Michael Jones, the author of “Bosworth 1485 Psychology of a Battle”, was attending to give several lectures based on his book. It had been arranged that we would take it in turns to man the stall and to attend some of the lectures.
The first lecture was entitled Medieval Battles and Chivalry: A Code of Conduct? which set the scene for his second lecture Richard III as Military Commander: The Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury. Dr Jones said that in medieval times there was no regular army but that men fought for the lord of the manor near to where they lived or could be ordered to fight when the King instigated a commission of array.
Throughout medieval times Kings and great lords were too grand to know who had actually fought for them in any particular battle. They would obviously remember the names of the nobility but not the humble soldiers. Edward IV was no exception to the rule perpetuated by his predecessors. There was however one exception, King Richard III.
This was evidenced by the fact that in 1477, while still Duke of Gloucester, Richard “made an endowment to Queens College Cambridge that not only honoured the memory of his father and brother Edmund, killed at Wakefield, but also remembered by name the relatively humble soldiers who had fought and died under his standard at the civil war battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury on 14 April and 4 May 1471. Richard’s bond with these former servants went beyond the contemporary norms of due respect and gratitude. Here he showed a keen personal regard for them”. Dr Michael Jones: Bosworth 1485 Psychology of a Battle Tempus Publishing Page 101.
The remainder of the lecture was equally as fascinating and so I did not think of the significance of Dr Jones’ words until I returned home that night. I had always assumed that Edward knew that the Bewdley bowmen had fought in the vanguard at Tewkesbury with Richard and that was why he rewarded the town with a charter, but obviously this was not the case. So the only other explanation was that someone had told him and that someone must have been Richard.
The next morning, back at the re-enactment, I asked Dr Jones if he thought that my deduction was right. He said that he thought that it was and it was good to have some other evidence of what he had been saying at his lecture.
Later on in the year Bewdley Civic Society had another heritage day and the council regalia and all the treasures that belong to the town were on display, including the Edward IV Charter. Again Graeme and David were there and I told them about the Dr Michael Jones lecture and they were very interested. I started to actually read the charter and was very disappointed to see that the charter had been granted after “humble supplication” from the Burgesses of Bewdley and no mention of Bewdley bowmen fighting for Richard Duke of Gloucester. However, Graeme assured me that this was the way that charters were applied for, and the fact that the charter also says “on account of certain considerations very moving to us” is a clue to his reasons for granting the charter.
I believe that this proves that Richard was an unusual man for his time. He appeared to care about the people under his command and obviously wanted to reward them for their efforts on his behalf during what was an extremely hard task leading the vanguard at Tewkesbury. The 1472 Charter had allowed Bewdley to hold a market and this would have increased the prosperity of the town and made it a flourishing market town.
It is a great shame that the Charter didn’t survive in its original glorious colour like the King Richard III Gloucester Charter but at least it was saved when it could so easily have been thrown away.
As I mentioned before Leland says that Richard contributed 20 shillings towards the building of the first Bewdley bridge in 1483, so even when he was going through a huge upheaval in his life and indeed the country was in turmoil, he found time to donate money to the town whose bowmen had helped him to success in the Battle of Tewkesbury twelve years previously.
A coin from the Lord Protectorate period… Does it shed any light into the state of affairs in May and June of 1483? Read more to find out…
“And in another isle toward the south dwell folk of foul stature and of cursed kind that have no heads. And their eyen be in their shoulders.” – Sir John Mandeville (14th c.)
Today’s blog focuses on the long-standing myth and rumor that, upon Edward IV’s sudden and unexpected death on the 9th of April, 1483, Richard secretly conspired to usurp the throne from his nephew, the 12-year old Edward V. The rumor finds dramatic presentation in Shakespeare’s play, but some contemporary chroniclers say it had been in circulation from the very beginning of the boy’s 11-week reign.
Dominic Mancini, an Italian cleric and diplomat who was sent to London to report intelligence back to the French king Louis XI, wrote in 1483 that the fear of usurpation found root even before Richard left his castle in Yorkshire to accompany the young king to London for his coronation. Mancini…
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Richard III fascinates people because his story has so many profound mysteries. Take, for instance, the case of the disappeared Princes in the Tower. Or the execution of William, Lord Hastings. These two events have filled up hundreds of pages of speculation in books, have spawned endless social media threads, and remain the subject of heated debates in historical societies. They’re like the two giant elephants in the room whenever the topic of Richard III crops up.
Nevertheless, there are certain facts that are known about Richard. One of those is that he adopted the White Boar as his personal badge while he was Duke of Gloucester, a title given to him at age 9. We don’t know exactly when he adopted it, but it would be reasonable to assume that he would have had to pick a badge (or several) as soon as he was retaining men into his…
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By Sodacan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
We all know that Richard’s cognizance was the white boar with gold tusks and bristles but there are several theories as to why he chose this as his personal symbol. There are also a large number of interesting associations which connect the boar to Richard.
There is one theory that the white boar had already been a royal badge of the Honour of Windsor, although I don’t believe there is a reliable source for this view.
A second theory is that, as it seems, Edward III (from whom Richard was descended) had a blue boar as his cognizance and it is possible Richard inherited this but, as the youngest son, needed to difference it, making it white to represent loyalty and purity of heart. Also, white was already a colour associated with York in the white rose.
Another idea suggests that Richard might have seen a carving of a boar on a pew at the Church of St Mary and All Saints in Fotheringhay, where he was born, and this is what prompted him to choose it as his cognizance.
A fourth theory is that it was a pun on the word Ebor (a shortened version of Eboracum, Latin for York). This may have been true and is certainly possible. There is also the possibility that the Latin name, Eboracum (based on the native British name for the site, which originally meant ‘Place of the Yew Trees’) was corrupted by the Anglo Saxons and subsequently had the meaning of ‘place of the boar’. Even more interestingly, although Market Bosworth in Leicestershire was named from the Old English Bosa (a surname) + Old English worð ‘enclosure’, Husbands Bosworth in Leicestershire asserts that the name ‘Bosworth’ comes from the Old English word Bar (from bar ‘boar’) + worð, therefore meaning ‘Boar enclosure’.
But what of the creature itself? The wild boar has appeared in many cultures throughout the ages as symbols of luck, fertility and prosperity. The Celts considered the boar to be one of their most important sacred animals.
A magical boar called Gullinbursti was given to the Norse fertility god, Freyr, by the dwarves. Its bristles were so bright they would light up the night sky.
(Eduard Ade [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Herakles’ third labour involved the capture of the Erymanthian Boar.
Adonis was killed by a boar and Odysseus is recognised (while disguised) by the scars he had received when hunting a boar in his youth. Interestingly, in Irish and Egyptian mythology, the boar is explicitly linked to the month of October, the month of Richard’s birth.
It is supposed that the boar was extinct in the wild in England by Richard’s time, although there have been later attempts to re-introduce it. Even if Richard was not familiar with it as a game animal in England, he may well have encountered some during his time in Burgundy and France, where they are still living in the wild. Recently, there have been various escapes of captive wild boar and one of the largest groups know living in the wild in England is in the area around Gloucester, Richard’s Dukedom.
The boar was considered a formidable adversary for the hunter, as it would not try to run when cornered, but charge the hunter, not even pausing if it had been speared by a long pike. Apparently it goes for the groin and serious injuries and even death could result for the hunter. Thus hunting it was also seen as a kind of initiation into manhood. It is intelligent and fiercely brave, especially when defending its family and perhaps this was why Richard chose it.
The boar is mainly nocturnal and hides out in a shallow dug out hollow of leaves and branches in the daytime. Boar society is matriarchal and the leading female leads a group of related females and their young (the group is called a sounder) foraging for food. They also like to wallow in mud.
(By Richard Bartz, Munich Makro Freak (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)
The males are mainly solitary and are driven out by the females when they are approaching maturity to ensure the gene pool is mixed. And, of course, Richard was also sent away from his family when he was growing up, to learn how to be a warrior (and he also found his mate there).
Boars are omnivores and eat everything from grass to frogs to crops to mushrooms to fish. The young are striped and are extremely cute.
(By 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)
As they grow their coats turn a reddish colour and finally darken to a dark brown.
(By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Young Wild Boar Uploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)
Their tails are not corkscrew-shaped, like those of domestic pigs, but straight and they have large curved tusks which protrude from their mouths. They really do foam at the mouth when angered.
In mainland Europe where they are still found in the wild, they are often a nuisance, because they dig up crops and wreak destruction. In France, where the boars’ only natural predator (aside from man), the wolf, is extinct, it has allowed the boars to go unchecked and they impact on farmers and others. In neighbouring Spain and Italy, where wolves still survive, boars are not so prolific or destructive. They are still hunted in Europe, no longer with spears or bows and arrows, but guns. Boar meat is considered a healthy alternative to pork as it is less fatty, richer and has more essential amino acids. The boar’s head was apparently a favourite Christmas dish in mediaeval times, and there is a well-known carol that mentions it: ‘The boar’s head in hand bear I…’
There are many examples of depictions of the boar in art and one of the most famous is Il Porcellino) the nickname means ‘The Piglet”) in Florence. This is a bronze boar which is popular with tourists who rub its nose for luck – it is said that if you do you will return to Florence.
(By RalfSkjerning (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)
I have just read a very interesting book called:The Golden-Bristled Boar by Jeffrey Green, which I highly recommend. Its subtitle is: The Last Ferocious Beast of the Forest. Here is our final parallel with Richard for he was the last warrior King of England, showing the same ferocious bravery as the boar, charging his attackers and refusing to run, and ultimately being slain and dishonourably treated ‘like an hogge’ by his enemies. His family, too, was all but wiped out in England but, like England’s native boar, York or Ebor is rising again!
In all my travels to England, I had yet to visit Fotheringhay, the place where Richard III was born on October 2, 1452, and where his grand-uncle, father, mother and brother Edmund are buried. So, when planning our latest trip this past October, I made it a high priority that my husband and I should visit this important Yorkist site; my main goal was to set eyes on the carved Boar that dates from Richard III’s lifetime. My interest in the boar was because Richard had adopted the white (or silver) boar as his personal badge while he was a young teenaged (or preteen) duke of Gloucester. It is located within St. Mary and All Saints church, only a few hundred yards from the castle remains. Much to my surprise, many visitors overlook the carved boar because it is not easy to locate, and it is not even mentioned in the church’s guidebook.
We were traveling by car from Leicester to Bury St. Edmunds, and Fotheringhay was an easy detour along our route towards East Anglia. It was our first foray into Northamptonshire, and we were excited to be visiting the place where not only the Yorkists had a major family home, but also the place where the Woodvilles had their home base. We were planning visits to other places historically significant to the Wars of the Roses: Ely Cathedral; Croyland Abbey; Cambridge; and Bury St. Edmund. But, for me, the boar was the paramount thing.
Many writers have described the pleasant perspective that greets the eye when approaching Fotheringhay, and they were not wrong. The church is situated in a very large field, at the top of a hill. From miles away, one can see the octagonal lantern at the top of its tower, and can catch a glint of gold from the falcon-in-a-fetterlock flagpole.
The fetterlock-and-falcon symbol was adopted by Edward III’s fifth son, Edmund of Langley, first Duke of York, and became perhaps one of the more predominant cognizances of the house of York, even to the point that Langley used it for the groundplan for his renovation of Fotheringhay Castle.
It was Langley who projected a college at Fotheringhay, and it is believed he built a “large and magnificent” choir adjoining the ancient parish church in the town that huddled close to the castle, near the River Nene. Langley’s son, Edward of Norwich, second Duke of York, obtained a charter in 1412 for its endowment, to include a master, 8 clerks, and 13 choristers. In 1415, the duke obtained a royal license to enlarge the foundation, but did not live to see it built. It was his nephew, Richard, third Duke of York, who carried his uncle’s designs into execution and on the 24th of September, 1435, he signed by commission a contract with William Horwood, freemason of Fotheringhay, for the rebuilding on a scale and in a style exactly corresponding to those of the choir erected by Langley.
Edward IV carried on his father’s interest in the church, and gave it new windows of stained glass to the cloisters, along with the windows in the college which were ornamented with shields of arms. He also gave it a new charter, 300 acres of land, and various privileges and liberties, amongst many grants of income from estates and lands in surrounding communities. The goal was straightforward: it was to be a Yorkist shrine of a grand scale and suitable for the remains of his father and brother Edmund when they were reinterred here in July of 1476.
The lavish scale of the shrine is exemplified by the design of the hearse delivered to Fotheringhay to anticipate the final resting place of the Duke of York and the Earl of Rutland. It was originally designed in 1463. “The hearse and its many pennons and banners were mainly the work of John Stratford, the king’s painter. He made the ‘majesty cloth’ of Christ sitting in judgment on the rainbow, a symbolic scene which was to hang over the effigy [of the duke] before the ‘eyes’ of the dead man.” [Sutton/Visser-Fuchs] The hearse was decorated with 51 gilded wax images of kings and 420 gilded wax images of angels. As if that were not grand enough, the hearse was “dusted” with painted silver roses, over which a gilded single great sun, Edward IV’s personal badge, dominated.
The church at Fotheringhay must never have seen a grander day than that of 29 July 1476. This is when an enormous procession led by the king’s youngest brother, Richard, duke of Gloucester, arrived with the funeral cortege. It must have been quite a colorful sight, as a multitude of banners were carried, many depicting religious subjects, such as the Trinity, Our Lady, St. George, St. Edmund and St. Edward – the saints revered by the house of York. Also depicted were heraldic symbols of importance to York: the white hart, the white lion, the falcon-in-fetterlock, and the white rose.
Behind Richard, who was chief mourner, came several distinguished magnates: Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland; Thomas, Lord Stanley; Richard Hastings, Lord Welles; Ralph, Lord Greystoke; Humphrey, Lord Dacre; and John Blount, Lord Mountjoy. The bodies of the dead were accompanied by 3 kings of arms (March, Norroy, Ireland); 5 heralds (Windsor, Falcon, Chester, Hereford); and 4 pursuivants (Guisnes, Comfort, Ich Dien, Scales). Scores of nobles and their household officers on horseback formed a long cortege, and 400 “poor men” on foot carried torches. According to financial records, tents erected outside the church, could accommodate seating space for 1,500 people. And guests attending could expect to be fed very well by the King’s generosity, as this was an opportunity for him to display his munificence to the subjects of his realm. [Sutton/Visser-Fuchs]
When we entered the church last month, it was with this history in mind. As I walked to the north porch entrance, I imagined the spectacle of all the tents and the hundreds of people being fed. I imagined cups of small ale being raised in honor to the Duke, perhaps people telling stories about his life, and how the surviving children resembled their father in looks or deed.
But my goal was to see the boar. I had read about it in David Baldwin’s text, and he described it as being near or within the pulpit. It’s impossible to miss the pulpit, as it is remarkably colorful and elaborate, when contrasted to the rather plain white walls of the interior:
In 1821, H.K. Bonney, archdeacon, made the following observation about the pulpit during his site survey of Fotheringhay, which was undergoing renovations at the time: “The pulpit is original and in good preservation. It is hexagonal, supported on one pillar, and adored with carved panels inserted in a border of tracery. Above are the remains of the canopy, which probably was surmounted by a high crotcheted pinnacle; but which has, since the reformation, given way to a large sounding board. On examining the canopy, whilst it was under repair, some of the ancient gilding, that covered this part of the pulpit, was discovered.”
According to an 1841 treatise by John Henry Parker, the pulpit was presented by Edward IV “as his arms and supporters are carved upon it”. These were carefully cleaned and restored by Archdeacon Bonney in 1821, “whose zeal in antiquarian researches is deserving of the gratitude of this [the Oxford] Society” he wrote. In 1890, C. A. Markham wrote that the pulpit at Fotheringhay was a good example of a paneled oak pulpit of the Perpendicular style, albeit of a design uncommon in Northamptonshire. Markham asserted the pulpit was “erected soon after the year 1440, when the body of the church was built”.
At first I walked around the pulpit several times, admiring the painted panels, but I did not see any carvings as described by these men. After my fifth go-about, I finally realized I had to walk up the pulpit steps in order see the carvings. So glad I did so, because it is there that I found the object of my search:
No doubt, this was the panel described by Markham as the shield of arms bearing France and England quarterly, surmounted by an imperial crown, and supported on the dexter side by lion rampant quadrant for the Earldom of March, and a bull for Clare; and on the sinister side by a hart, showing the descent from Richard II who took that device, and by a boar for the honour of Windsor possessed by Richard III, the silver boar being his badge.”
I have been researching the use of the boar badge for several months now, and I’ve always been curious about the statement that it was originally from the honour of Windsor. I have yet to locate any confirmed usage of a boar associated with Windsor. Some heraldic experts suggest that the boar was one of the badges of Edward III. Again, I have yet to confirm that. The oldest surviving Garter stall plate at St. George’s, by coincidence, does depict a boar’s head as a crest, but not the full creature.
Also, I think it odd that Markham would conclude the carving dated to the early 1440s under the supervision of the third Duke of York, Richard III’s father. That does not make sense to me since I am not aware of the house of York employing the boar as one of its badges. Yet, it is uncontested that Richard, his son, chose the boar probably when he was in his early teens or pre-teen, and was charged with arraying troops. (Badges were depicted on standards to identify the lord commissioned with the array.) So, the first confirmed Yorkist use of the boar would be somewhere in the mid-1460s, and that coincided exactly with when initial designs for the hearse had been made, in anticipation of the reinterment.
That the boar was designed and made during Edward IV’s reign would lend important information about its iconography. The message conveyed here seems to be that the King announces his descent from the Mortimer line which held the earldom of March and used the cognizance of the white lion. Edward IV is also announcing his claim to be Richard II’s legal heir by depicting that deposed king’s well-known hart cognizance. The black bull of Clarence flanking the dexter side would represent Edward IV’s brother, George, who employed that device as one of his badges. And Edward IV included his youngest brother, Richard, by portraying his badge of the white boar. It’s as though the three sons of York are illuminated here, and they are shown within a unified scheme, with the brothers’ badges being of equal size and support. At the time of the reinterment in 1476, this may have seemed literally true; sadly, only two years would pass, much would change with George’s execution. How times change.
Much to my surprise, I discovered recently that there had been yet another carved boar in the church at Fotheringhay that also dated to the 15th century. The choir that had been built there by the third duke was dismantled and its furniture sold to various purchasers in 1553, during the reign of Edward VI. Some of those choir stalls still exist in the neighboring church of Hemington. According to written accounts, those stalls had misericords depicting a falcon-inside-fetterlock, a rose, a feather issuing from a ducal coronet, a grotesque, and a boar.
Although I wasn’t aware of the Hemington boar when we were at Fotheringhay, I was able to find a photo of the boar on-line:
So, perhaps Markham was right that there was a boar carving in Fotheringhay in the 1440s. And possibly, one could speculate that Richard III as a young lad, might have first set eyes on the boar while he lived there during his first 7-8 years of life, and possibly was impressioned with its symbolism well before he was arraying troops. It would make for an interesting story.