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How and why the House of York laid claim to the throne….

Richard, 3rd Duke of York

Here is an article from English Historical Review, 1st June 1998, telling of how and why Richard, 3rd Duke of York, laid claim to the throne of England. The root cause was an entail to the will of Edward III, who was admittedly in his dotage at the time. The entail, which excluded a female line from ascending the throne, spoils that otherwise excellent king’s legacy as far as I’m concerned. But then, I’m a modern woman who doesn’t hold with the denying of rights simply because the ones being denied are the female of the species! Or the denial of anyone’s true and honest rights, come to that. True and honest being the operative words.

The mastermind behind this entail was Edward’s 3rd son, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who sought to eliminate any claim from the descendants of his 2nd eldest brother, Lionel. Those descendants were, of course, through the female line, which line happened to be the one from whom Richard, 3rd Duke of York, was descended. Gaunt’s purpose was to see that his own line took precedence. It did in the end, but not in a way old Edward III could have foreseen, and not through the entail. Instead it took the form of Gaunt’s son and heir usurping and murdering his first cousin and rightful king, Richard II, heir of the great Black Prince. Gaunt’s son took the throne and became Henry IV, the first Lancastrian monarch.

John of Gaunt

So it seems that gallant Gaunt leaned on his dying father to achieve his own ambitious ends. But that’s the House of Lancaster for you! And it was Gaunt’s double-dealing chicanery that eventually led to Richard, 3rd Duke of York, claiming the throne that was his by right. And it all led to what we know as the Wars of the Roses.

However, there just might be some doubt about the entail’s existence. According to Penny Lawne’s biography of Joan of Kent: “…In preparation for his [Edward III’s] death he drew up his will, one of the witnesses being Sir Richard Stury, and in an entail specifically designated Richard (II) as his successor…” There is no mention of excluding any female line, but then, Lawne is very pro-Gaunt throughout, so I suppose the nitty-gritty of such an entail was better omitted. Unless, of course, all the entail ever really did was designate Richard of Bordeaux as the old king’s successor. In which case, where did the story of Gaunt’s pressure and interference come from? Ah, well, later in her book, Lawne lays the blame at the feet of Walsingham, who “held Gaunt in particular contempt, convinced he wanted the throne for himself, and repeated virulent gossip and rumours current about the duke…” Walsingham, it seems, even went so far as to portray Gaunt trying to persuade the Commons to discuss the succession, and was so intent upon removing opposition that he requested a law be passed to forbid a woman from inheriting the throne, “which would obviate the claim of Lionel’s daughter Philippa, who arguably held the most legitimate claim to the throne after the prince’s son”. So, this business of excluding females’ claims was due to Gaunt browbeating the Commons, not to Edward III’s entail?

Well, not being a fan of John of Gaunt, I am quite prepared to believe he put the screws on his dying father, in order to ensure the House of Lancaster becoming heir to Richard II’s throne, in the event of Richard childless demise. But I can also believe he’d go to work on Parliament. Gaunt was ruthless when it came to furthering his own family, and how better to achieve this than paving the path to the throne? Either way, he tried to see the succession go to the House of Lancaster.

Richard, 3rd Duke of York, quite rightly, did not think the House of Lancaster had any business wearing the crown. He was descended from Lionel, Duke of Clarence, and truly believed his (senior) line had precedence. I believe so too. Maybe it was through the female line, but it was perfectly legitimate, and until the demise of Edward III and that pesky entail (or Gaunt’s other forceful activities), there had not been a bar on women taking the throne. Yes, they had to stand back while their brothers took precedence, but if those brothers died, then they themselves had every right to be crowned. Lionel of Clarence only had one child, a daughter. His right passed to her, not to his conniving next brother, Gaunt.

Richard of York WAS the rightful king.

Now, of course, it has all been changed, and women can take precedence even if they have a younger brother(s). The line goes through age, not gender. And about time too!

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Naughty, fun-loving Henry and the young dancing lady….?

HENRY AND MODEL OF OLD LONDON BRIDGE

We all have this picture of Henry VII being a Scrooge, and I don’t think it’s inaccurate. But it seems he had his more red-blooded moments. Yes, truly. I have happened upon the following article, which quotes from his personal accounts.

Just why did he make the following grants?

“Item to the young demoiselle that daunceth, £30”, 25 August 1493 (BL, Add. MS 7099, p.11)

“Item to a litell mayden that daunceth, £12”, 13 January 1497 (TNA, E 101/414/6, f. 59r)

Hmm. £12 is enormous enough, but £30 is astronomic! Just for dancing? My suspicious mind suspects there was a little more to it. Naughty Henry? Well, anything is possible. Anyway, the whole article makes interesting reading.

Shakespeare borrowed the work of others….

bard's inspiration

“A 16th-century manuscript hidden in the depths of the British Library and decoded using plagiarism software has been pinpointed as a previously unknown source for Shakespeare’s plays.

“A Brief Discourse of Rebellion & Rebels by George North, a minor figure in Queen Elizabeth’s court, is, according to its finders and decoders, the source of more than 20 monologues and passages by the Bard.

“They claim that it inspired Richard III’s villainous determination, the character of King Lear’s Fool, the treatment of Jack Cade and the breeds of dog Macbeth compares to men.”

Well, yes, we’ve known for some time that the Bard borrowed from the work of other people, but this is apparently a new discovery. The comparison of North’s work and the opening soliloquy of Richard III is pretty convincing.

  • A Brief Discourse of Rebellion
    To view our own proportion in a glass, whose form and feature, if we find fair and worthy, to frame our affections accordingly, if otherwise she have by skill or will deformed our outward appearance and left us odible to the eye of the world…
  • Opening soliloquy in Richard III
    But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks/ . . . I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion/ Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature…

Does it matter? It’s up to your own perspective on such matters. Read on here and to learn about George North himself, go here. There is still more about this here.

Gloves? Or bare hands….?

enforcer

BBC TWO: Henry VIII’s Enforcer: The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell, information concerning which will be found here.

This programme is very interesting, and I recommend it, but it’s not the content that has prompted me to write this, rather the treatment of an ancient copy of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “History of the Kings of Britain”.

I have commented before that some ancient books and papers are treated as if they will shatter if someone breathes upon them, while others – in this case a really old copy of Geoffrey of Monmouth – are almost manhandled. Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor of the history of the church at Oxford, was, I thought, rather enthusiastically bare-handed with the precious pages.

Why no white gloves and bated breath? What, exactly, makes the difference between gloves and no gloves? It seems to me that not so long ago, they were worn every time. But not now.

Aha, puzzle no more. The British Library has already answered my question here! So many apologies to the good professor!

 

white-glove

 

Two great calendars, in spite of Henry VII spoiling August on one….!

bl-illustrated-manuscripts-calendar-2017

I have just bought this British Library “Illuminated Manuscripts” calendar for 2017. It’s gorgeous, and the illustrations are magnificent reproductions. I bought it from Amazon – couldn’t find it on the British Library site.

If you follow the link, you can see small pictures of all twelve illustrations. August’s picture is of Henry VII adoring the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, but it doesn’t look in the least like him. More like Edward IV! And anyway, August is only one month out of twelve. Right? So don’t let him put you off. It’s still a great calendar to enjoy.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/British-Library-Illu…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

There is another gorgeous calendar available, again at Amazon, but this time from the Fitzwilliam Museum. http://tinyurl.com/zlms8yp. This time I haven’t spotted any sneaky Henrys.

fitzwilliam-calendar

 

 

“Extra! Extra!: Richard III Lyth Buryd at Lecitor”….

Miniature of Richard III

The above miniature is taken from http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/02/page/2/ There are some interesting illustrations of family trees and so on about halfway down the following page, beginning with the heading “Extra! Extra!: Richard III Lyth Buryd at Lecitor.”

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