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How did the Black Prince’s funeral procession cross the River Darent….?

Dartford - medieval map

Does anyone out there know the answer to a puzzle that has cropped up in my research? Watling Street, the Roman road, was the main route between London and Canterbury, Dover, etc. This made it very important. Watling Street passed through Dartford, crossing over the tidal River Darent. But wait, there wasn’t a bridge there until the reign of Henry VI. There was a ferry. Does this mean that before then, every traveller on the road, royalty and all, had to use the ferry? The river was tidal, so did they have to wait for suitable water for the ferry to cross? I can’t see that wading across at low water would be advisable in all that mud…and certainly not for the royal hearse drawn by twelve horses that passed through Dartford in 1376! It all seems very unsatisfactory for one of the main roads in the land. And very undignified for the great Edward of Woodstock, known to us as the Black Prince, who was being mourned throughout the realm.

Yes, I know there were  other rivers to cross elsewhere in England, and other ferries instead of bridges, but I am concerned with this road, river and ferry.

In September 1376, the prince’s great funeral procession went through Dartford on its way to Canterbury. Depending on the size of the ferry, such a vast cavalcade would have taken ages to cross. Granted, Dartford was probably the first overnight halt out of London for this ponderous cavalcade, but even so, the bridgeless Darent must have caused a bottleneck second to none.

Researching (meaning my way of researching, which is pretty amateur) Edward of Woodstock’s funeral has produced only what he instructed in his will. Plus I know how long it took, i.e. arriving in Canterbury on the fourth day after setting out. But then, full stop. Oh, there is more available about the actual arrival at journey’s end, but that is not the part of the proceedings with which I am concerned. The actual mechanics of the first three days of the journey, if covered by anyone, have eluded me.

And when the funeral cortege halted, would the prince’s coffin be placed overnight in Holy Trinity church, which is right next to the Darent crossing? Or would it stop on the northern outskirts of the town, where there was a royal palace/house, with appropriate land/space for all the people and horses? Or was it a mix of both – the prince in the church, everyone and everything else in the royal house? To say nothing of filling up the rest of the town as well. Dartford must have bulged at the seams. All the royal family, all the higher nobility, lots of lower nobility, the denizens of Parliament, priests, and all sorts of other Toms, Dicks and Harrys.

Oh, questions, questions! I want to be accurate in a description of all this, and would love someone to “conjure” an earlier bridge into existence. A vain hope, I fear.

So, if anyone knows anything at all, please let me know.

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William the B … er, Conqueror

This piece, by Marc Morris in History Extra, describes the events that followed the previous usurpation from France. A lot more violent, indeed, than the early reign of the first “Tudor”, although his son and grandchildren changed that ..The Death of Harold at the Battle of Hastings, 1066.

GREENWICH PALACE – HUMPHREY DUKE OF GLOUCESTERS PALACE OF PLEAZANCE

Gloucester-Talbot-Shrewsbury-Book.jpegHumphrey Duke of Gloucester from the Talbot Shrewsbury Book

 

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A print by an unknown artist now in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich depicting the Palace c 1487.

Greenwich Palace, or Placentia as it is often known, was built around 1433 by Henry V’s brother, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, who named it Bella Court after he had been granted the Manor of Greenwich by his nephew Henry Vl.  There had been   been an even older palace on  that site, perhaps dating from the reign of Edward l.  Henry lV dated his will from his ‘Manor of Greenwich January 22nd 1408′ and the palace appears to have been his favourite residence.  However, the grant in 1433 of 200 acres of land was for the purpose of enclosing it as a park.  It would seem that Humphrey was pleased with the spot because 4 years later he and his ill-fated wife, Eleanor Cobham,  obtained a similar grant and in that, licence was given for the owners to ’embattle and build with stone’ as well as ‘to enclose and make a tower and ditch within the same and a certain tower within the part to build and edify’ (1)

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Part of the drawing of Greenwich Palace by Anthony van der Wyngaerde 1558 with Duke Humphrey’s tower on top of the hill.

Accordingly soon after this  Humphrey commenced building the tower within what is now the site of the Royal Observatory which was then called Greenwich Castle,  and he likewise rebuilt the old palace on the spot where the west wing of the Royal Naval College now stands which he renamed from its agreeable situation, Pleazaunce or Placentia although this name was not commonly used until the reign of Henry Vlll.

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Another view of van der Wyngaerde’s drawing of Greenwich Palace c 1558

Upon Humphrey’s death the palace was granted to his nemesis, Margaret of Anjou.  Margaret added embellishments including terracotta tiles bearing her monogram, filled the windows with glass and built a landing stage and treasure house (2)

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A view of Greenwich Palace from a print published by the Society of Antiquaries 1767

Later Edward IV enlarged the park, stocked it with deer and bestowed it as a residence upon Elizabeth Wydeville.  Greenwich has been mentioned as one of Elizabeth’s favourite homes and it certainly crops up regularly in Edward’s itinerary (3).  A joust was held there on the occasion of Richard of Shrewsbury’s marriage to Anne Mowbray and it was there at Greenwich  on the 19th November 1481 that Anne tragically died at the age of just 8 years old and a few short months later,  Edward and Elizabeth’s own daughter,  the 15 year old Princess Mary also died on either the 20th or 23rd May 1482.  The manuscript covering Mary’s death says she died ‘in the town’  but it is probable this meant the palace and presumably she would have ‘lain in the chapel of the palace with appropriate services and perhaps the attendance of her parents'(3).  A week after her death, on the 27th May,  Mary’s body was taken to the parish church of Greenwich on the first stage of the final journey to St Georges Chapel, Windsor.  Mary may have been visited by her father,  Edward lV,  a few days before her death.  He was at Canterbury on the 17th and back in London on the 23rd which may have been the day that his daughter breathed her last so clearly if he did indeed visit he did not linger.  Numerous Wydeville ladies were conspicuous among the mourners including Jane, Lady Grey of Ruthin, sister to the queen and Jacquetta, another sister’s daugher,  Joan Lady Strange, wife of George Stanley.  Another niece, Lady ‘Dame’ Katherine Grey, possibly the daughter of Jane Wydeville was also present.  Dinner for the funeral group was at the palace after which Mary’s body was taken from the church and begun its last sad journey to Windsor.  Mary’s funeral is more than adequately covered in The Royal Funerals of the House of York at Windsor by Anne F Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs.  It may well be that sisters-in-law Anne and Mary knew each other well and that perhaps  Greenwich Palace was being used as a royal nursery in much the same way as Sheriff Hutton was later  to become, although the age gap would surely have prevented them from being actual playmates.

 

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The Royal Window, Canterbury Cathedral.  Elizabeth Wydeville and her daughters.  Mary is shown as the last figure on the right hand side.  Greenwich was one of Elizabeth’s favourite homes and where her daugher Mary died in 1482.

Greenwich Palace  conveniently came into Henry Tudor’s hands when Elizabeth Wydeville was,  ummmmm,  retired to Bermondsey Abbey on an altogether frivolous charge. It is true to say that Tudor heavily rebuilt the palace between 1498 and 1504, renaming it Placentia, (the pleasant place),  and the result of which is that any reference to Placentia usually finds it referred to as a Tudor palace but it is the earlier years of the palace with its Lancastrian and  Yorkist links that I find the most intriguing.

 

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Modern plaque commemorating the ‘building’ of Greenwich Palace by Henry Tudor.  Visitors could be forgiven for mistakenly thinking , with no mention made of the earlier palace, that Tudor was reponsible for the building of Greenwich Palace from the onset.  

Later in its long history the palace was to see many important events including the birth of Henry Vlll in 1491.  Henry jnr spared no expense in beautifying Placentia and his marriage to Katherine of Aragon was solemnised there on the 3 June 1509.  Many sumptious banquets, revels and jousts were held there – in Henry’s ‘Manor of Pleazaunce’  – and both his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth were born there.  Details of these and other less salubrious events such as the arrest of Anne Boleyn are readily available to anyone who is interested in the Tudors and their shenanigans and I will not  cover them here.  The Tudors were emulated  by the Stuarts in choosing Placentia  as a favourite residence until Charles ll,  finding the old palace greatly decayed,  ordered it to be taken down and yet another new palace to be built.  Thus Greenwich or Placentia – whichever name you prefer arose, phoenix like from the ashes and a new chapter in its long history commenced.

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As a footnote to Greenwich Palace and its rich history, much excitement has been created by the discovery by archaeologists  working on the painted hall at the Old Royal Naval College  of the discovery of two room, thought to have been used as kitchen or laundry rooms from the old palace.  One of these rooms featured a lead-glazed tiled floor and wall cavities which may have been used to store food and drink or even ‘bee boles’ which would have housed beehive baskets or ‘skeps’ during the winter when the bee colonies hibernated.

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The cavities from Greenwich Palace believed to be for storing food, drink or even ‘bee boles’.

  1. Old and New London, vol 6 p.165 Edward Walford.
  2.  The London Encyclopaedia pp 345, 346.  Edited by Weinren and Hibbert
  3.  The Private Life of Edward lV John Ashdown-Hill pp 48,49,62,63, 87, 88, 114, 115, 117, 118, 119, 155, 157, 158, 188, 189, 190,191, 192, 204, 205, 206

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unlocking the secrets of the Black Prince’s effigy

Unlocking the secrets of the Black Prince’s effigy

A team of scientists and art historians has been attempting to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding the Black Prince’s tomb. In this short video you can find out what they were up to and what they are hoping to discover.

This investigation is one of a number of research papers and talks that are being prepared for The Black Prince: Man, Mortality & Myth conference on 16 and 17 November 2017. You can find out more about the conference here: https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/whats-on/event/blackprinceconference/

There will also be a free #YoungFutures conference in the build up to the event for 16-25 year olds. For more information visit: https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/whats-on/event/youngfutures2017/

#BlackPrince

Canterbury

A vist to Canterbury

One of our members visited Canterbury Cathedral and its environs recently. He found statues and tombs to the likes of Henry IV and Edward the Black Prince but he couldn’t find the remains of (Cardinal) John Morton. How ironic that, just as Richard III’s remains have been identified beyond reasonable doubt despite the lurid stories of him no longer being at the Leicester Greyfriars, the treasonous cleric really is lost and the ultimate responsibility accrues to the son of the “Tudor” usurper he supported.

Anyway, here are some photos:H4 Outside Tomb Window Window3 Window5

Pilgrimages Then & Now

The topic of pilgrimages recently came up & I thought to write about the history of & recent resurgence of one of the most popular pilgrimages in the Middle Ages, the Camino de Santiago. There are many different routes leading to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, but the most popular is the one almost all of them (except the trail out of Portugal) meet up with at some point: the Camino Francés.

The Camino de Santiago actually traces a much earlier path called “The Milky Way” which led to the end of the Earth (or Finisterre), but most pilgrims stop at the Cathedral in Santiago to pay respects at the tomb of St. James the Greater. During the Middle Ages, only 2 other pilgrimage routes were more popular: the one leading to Rome, & the one leading to the Holy Land.

Pilgrims came from all over Europe, at all times of the year. The more well-to-do were able to make their pilgrimages in the spring to fall, while the poor would most likely only get permission from their lords to go in the winter.

Vast numbers of pilgrims’ hospitals were established all along the route, and it was for the most part guarded by the Knights Templar. Remnants of Templar churches can be found all along the Camino Francés, most notably the round church at Eunate, just outside of Pamplona. None of the medieval hospitals are in operation as such today, but you can walk past ruins of them all along the Way. While the pilgrims’ hospitals are now gone, you can still find lodging in many convents & monasteries along the way, & even in some churches. Given the size of the ruins I have seen of these hospitals, however, I’d have to guess that the numbers of pilgrims they served were huge.

The pilgrimage to Compostela was widely known in England. Chaucer’s Bath of Wife made a pilgrimage there, according to the “Canterbury Tales,” while in real life, Earl Rivers made his own way to Santiago. It is unknown if Richard III ever journeyed to Spain, but he did make pilgrimages to Canterbury, Walsingham, & other religious sites in England. However, even today, the journey is not easy. It is physically, mentally, & spiritually grueling, & many times the hardest thing you have to battle is your own inner voice suggesting that you quit. Unlike medieval pilgrims, however, modern pilgrims do not have to contend with battles between Moors & Christians or worry about bandits stealing their horses.

At several places along the Way, pilgrims then & now encounter places made famous by the tales of Charlemagne & romanticized in “The Song of Roland.” In fact, the Valcarlos Route over the Pyrenees follows the route taken by Charlemagne & Roland, and ends at a small village called Roncesvalles (Ronceveaux in French), which has greeted pilgrims & held daily masses for them for over 1000 years.

If you want to get a feeling for how medieval people lived, or see first-hand places & things that Richard III would have been familiar with, walking the Camino Francés is a good way to do it. The towns you walk through, especially the smaller ones, are still on their medieval footprint. In areas where fighting was heaviest, the towns are situated on tops of steep hills, always a welcome site after a long, hot day’s walk, I can attest.

At the end of your journey, you reach the Cathedral in Santiago & are rewarded with your own Compostela with your name written in Latin on it, so long as you can prove you walked the last 100 kilometers. You are also allowed to give the statue of Saint James that sits behind the altar a hug, & then descend into the crypt where his coffin is. Being a few feet from the grave of someone who knew Jesus is a heady experience today, so you can imagine how medieval pilgrims felt about it. All pilgrims, ancient & modern, do get to use the scallop shell as their personal device or on their coat of arms, if they have one. Unlike medieval pilgrims, however, modern pilgrims do not get time off for good behavior from Purgatory or other indulgences.

There are many good online sources where you can research & plan your own Camino, if you feel called to go.

Proof of Edward IV’s ‘lost’ granddaughter?….

In everything I’ve ever read about Cicely/Cecily, daughter of Edward lV, and her last marriage, to Thomas Kymbe/Keymes/Kyme/Kymbe, various spellings, there is a question mark over their supposed children. No proof, no further history and so on. Yet today, on reading Perkin, A Story of Deception by Ann Wroe, in the Epilogue about Perkin’s wife, Lady Katherine Gordon, I came upon something that surely must prove the existence of at least one such child, a daughter, Margaret.
Katherine Gordon took several husbands after Perkin /Richard Duke of York, the last being Christopher Ashton of Fyfield, Berks. In her will, she left to her ‘cousin’, Margaret Keymes, ‘such of my apparel as shall be meet for her by the discretion of my husband and my said executor’. I quote Wroe: “Margaret was the daughter of Cicely, Edward IV’s second surviving daughter, who had taken Thomas Keymes or Kyme as her second husband. This marriage ‘to an obscure man of no reputation’, as Vergil called him, had made Cicely at outcast among the royals. Evidently, at some point, Katherine had befriended her and her daughter. The term ‘cousin’ though, suggested either a blood tie or that general cousinage of royals that Richard Plantagenet (Perkin) had claimed, in 1493, with half the crowned heads of Europe. Katherine’s claim to be cousin to Margaret [Keymes] could have only come through her first husband (Perkin), assuming that he had been the prince he said he was. It was perhaps a tiny signal that she still believed in him.”
If this really is in Katherine Ashton/Gordon’s will, surely it verifies that at least Cicely and Thomas had this one daughter, if no more children? Unless, of course, Wroe is wrong, and there was another Margaret Keymes, totally unrelated to Cicely.
Wiki says: “Two children, Richard and Margaret (or Margery) are mentioned in the enhanced copy, dated 1602, of the heraldic Visitation of Hampshire (1576) made by Smythe, Rouge Dragon pursuivant at the College of Arms, indicating that they lived, married, and had offspring. The children of the princess and her last husband were granted no royal titles or styles, nor did they enjoy any royal favours, lands, or positions at court, nor, indeed, any public recognition whatsoever. Over the centuries any memory of them has been obscured, and thus the veracity of their historical existence is now difficult to substantiate.”
Wiki, I know, but if Margaret Keymes was Cicely’s daughter and is in Katherine Ashton/Gordon’s will, then she is surely verified?
The picture below is a tweaked version of a likeness in the Royal Window, Northwest Transept, Canterbury Cathedral.
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The “Lincoln Roll” and the desperate sandbagging of the Cairo residents

You have probably heard of the “Lincoln Roll”. It resides at the John Rylands Institute of the University of Manchester. It shows the strength of the de la Pole claim to the throne (John of Lincoln being of that family) and the weakness of the “Tudor” claim, having been featured in Dr. Thomas Penn’s BBC2 “Winter King” documentary last year.

You have also probably noticed the progressive and accelerating collapse of the traditional fairy tale about Edward IV’s sons but the denialists are trying to resurrect it. Just last year, Amy Licence tried to link Richard III’s visit to a shrine in Canterbury with a guilty conscience for a particular “crime”, forgetting Richard’s heightened religious mindset. So her headline was “Shock as deeply religious King visits shrine”, along the lines of “Dog bites man” and “Exclusive: Pope is a Catholic”.

The latest sandbag is the attempt by one David Durose, a soi-disant “Tudor”ist, to interpret the Roll to prove that Edward’s sons died in c. 1483. There are just a few problems here:
Sloppy or convenient (Armstrongesque) translations of the Latin – if I had sons of twelve and ten, it would be very premature to call them youths. It also bypasses them through their illegitimacy.
It is clearly written in two different hands, much like the Croyland Chronicle was by a succession of writers. Much of the second part post-dates Lincoln’s death in mid-1487, detailing Henry VII’s children (of whom only Arthur had been born) and possibly even citing Edmund of Suffolk’s 1513 execution.

The “Lincoln Roll” was surely drafted, quite possibly on the continent, to publicise the claim of his younger brother, Lord Richard, who planned an invasion from France in the years before his death at Pavia in 1524-5. One of Richard of Shrewsbury’s possible subsequent identities, “Perkin”, was long dead by then but neither he nor his brother were relevant to Lord Richard. Having said that, this is the same Durose who wrote of Catherine de Valois addressing Parliament about her “remarriage”, many years after she died and centuries before a woman actually addressed Parliament about anything.

Another sandbag fails. Back to square one?

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