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If you have watched …

… Channel Five’s http://www.channel5.com/show/secrets-of-great-british-castles, let me reassure you of something.

There really was a king named Richard III and Dan Jones has simply forgotten to mention him.

Episode 2 was about Cardiff Castle, where Richard and Anne have a window devoted to them (seasons-greetings-2016-a-2).

Episode 3 was about the structure at York, or Clifford’s Tower as it is now called, which Richard frequented during his dozen years as Lord President of the Council of the North, whilst the city walls had borne the detached heads of his uncle, father (the Duke of York) and brother. Then again, “King Richard, late mercifully reigning upon us was, through grete treason, piteously slane and murdred to the grete hevynesse of this citie”., as their macebearer John Spooner recorded soon after Bosworth.

So Richard played a very real part in the history of both cities.

There have been a few interesting parts to this series – the “Black Dinner” with James II and the Douglases at Edinburgh Castle, Curthose held and Llewellyn Bren executed at Cardiff, the witchcraft charges against Joan of Navarre and Eleanor Cobham at Leeds, John starving various enemies to death at Lancaster and elsewhere, together with Robert Aske’s execution and Margaret Clitherow’s death in York, although Henry of Huntingdon could have been mentioned in conjunction with the latter. There has, however, been too much posing by Jones in his leather jacket, T-shirt and jeans firing arrows and trying on armour as the camera focussed on the other historians, includding Hutton, Morris and Capwell being older than him, together with too much dramatisatisation of Jones’ tendentious interpretation of events. The myth of Catherine de Valois and Owain Tudor, from the Leeds episode, is another case in point.

It isn’t that difficult to make a favourable reference to Richard III, surely? Then again, given what Jones has said about John and Edward II, perhaps it is better this way.cliffordstower

On changing one’s mind

This recurring feature  was drawn to my attention by the Doc.

If only certain historians hadn’t boxed themselves into a corner over the years with statements about Richard III that his physical discovery is disproving even as we speak …

Victoria and Flora

http://www.itv.com/hub/victoria/2a4229a0001Victoria

It is more interesting to watch a drama about a much later monarch when one is better informed than before. Lady Flora Rawdon-Hastings, the lady in waiting who appeared to be pregnant but was suffering from a cancer that proved terminal after a few months, was the sister of the 2nd Marquess of Hastings and 7th Earl of Loudoun, the senior descendant of George Duke of Clarence via Catherine Pole’s marriage to Francis Baron Hastings:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_of_Loudoun
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_successions_of_the_English_crown

Jenna Coleman, who plays the young Queen, has been photographed with Prince Henry and some newspapers are speculating about them. An addled historian in Hampshire has suggested that any relationship would have amounted to incest, even though her character died at least eighty years before he was born,even if she obtained a dispensation before filming began.

The programme, by the way, is rather good so far.Hicksosaurus

 

Richard and “Incest”- a further rebuttal

The recent suggestion by a well-known academic that Richard committed incest when he married Anne drew to my mind at least three examples at the highest levels of society where people had done something similar without any criticism.

I was confident that there were many other examples at gentry level. However, as I no longer spend my days with my nose in the pedigrees of Lancashire and Cheshire gentry families, I was not able to give chapter and verse.

However, quite by chance I have found just such an example, from Yorkshire.

“Alice de Scriven was succeeded [as Prioress of Kirklees] by Elizabeth de Staynton, daughter of John de Staynton of Woolley and his wife Joan de Wollay, by whom he had four daughters, Isabel, Elizabeth, Joan and Alice. On John de Staynton’s death his widow Joan married Hugh de Toothill near Rastrick, who, with the consent of his wife, caused Isabel and Joan to marry his two sons, and placed Elizabeth and Alice in Kirklees Priory to be brought up as nuns, so that his two sons might enjoy the whole of the Staynton estate at Woolley, which under their father’s will had been left to his daughters in equal shares.’

The period of this transaction is the 14th Century, and the source is The True History of Robin Hood by J.W. Walker, 1973 reprint, page 116. I know nothing of the author, but have no reason to think him a Ricardian, or to suppose that he invented these marriages in order to mount a future defence of Richard III against an accusation which at that time had not been made.

 

 

 

Eleanor again

John Ashdown-Hill’s Eleanor, the Secret Queen was first published in 2009, detailing Lady Eleanor Talbot’s family and early life, the circumstances in which she married Edward IV, her similarities to his mistress Elizabeth Woodville (they were dark haired, older and widows of Lancastrian-inclined men), canon law and how it affected Edward’s relationships and children together with the Clarence attainder, Stillington’s translation to Bath and Wells in 1461, his imprisonment and Titulus Regius 1484. Then it described the attempted cover-up of Titulus Regius (before a copy emerged through Buck), Catesby’s execution, More’s attempt to write another lady into the story, Chapuys’ knowledge of the case and the emergence of remains that may be Lady Eleanor in Norwich, judged by her age, status and the dental evidence. It proved the marriage almost completely to the satisfaction of most open minds.Eleanor

Seven years later, it has been reissued in paperback with even more evidence. We can now know, with confidence, exactly where and when Edward married Lady Eleanor. Our attention is additionally drawn to the circumstances of her death and the arrest of two of her sister’s servants a few weeks later, such that there are reports of their executions, whilst the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton leads to further deductions about the dental evidence in Norwich. The case for the 1461 marriage is now proven, even if her corpse cannot yet be conclusively identified.

Edward IV and why I feel a song coming on

cliff richard

One of Cairo’s biggest trolls claimed, last week, that the Fourth Lateran Council banned secret weddings, thus Edward IV’s June 1461 marriage to the dark-haired, older, Lancastrian widow Lady Eleanor Talbot could not have been valid.

There are only two problems with this claim, from the clown who confused “June” with “youth”, had Katherine de Valois addressing Parliament after she died and Bishop Leslie of Ross meeting “Perkin Warbeck” thirty years before his own birth. The first is that those who understand canon law* disagree with the impact of the Fourth Lateran Council, at least in fact if not intent. The second is that Edward’s 1464 secret ceremony was also with an older Lancastrian widow, who probably had dark hair. If the claim was true then this “marriage” would also, of necessity, be invalid.

So Edward IV either married at least twice – there may be other cases we do not know about – or not at all. He was either a bigamist or a bachelor “until his dying day” but his children were illegitimate either way.

Ned Four

  • Royal Marriage Secrets (Ashdown-Hill, p.20)

TWO BRIDES FOR TWO BROTHERS

 

‘Did Richard III Marry His Sister?

 

Lurid headlines blared off a rag on sale during Richard’s re-interment week in March 2015. A certain anti-Richard professor was, once again, insisting that because Isabel Neville was sister to Anne Neville and married to Richard’s brother George, that made Richard Isabel’s ‘brother’ and therefore his union with Anne ‘incestuous’ under the laws of the time.

This claim appears to have little foundation. There were several other notable marriages where two royal brothers married two sisters. In 1236, King Henry III of England married the young and beautiful Eleanor of Provence, daughter of Raymond Berenger and his clever, refined wife Beatrice. A few years later, in 1243, Henry’s brother, Richard of Cornwall, married Eleanor’s equally attractive younger sister, Sanchia.

No accounts from the time suggest anything was considered irregular about either marriage due to two brothers marrying two sisters. There was some worry about the legality of Henry’s marriage, but this was because he had previously made a proxy marriage to Joan of Ponthieu. The marriage was not consummated, as Henry was eager to state (he and Joan probably never met) and hence was swiftly annulled.

Interestingly, there was another pairing of two brothers and sisters involving the Provencal daughters of Raymond Berenger, only these marriages took place in France rather than England. King Louis IX married the eldest of the four girls, the clever Margaret or Marguerite, and some time later, when she was of age,  Louis’s brother Charles married the youngest one, Beatrice.

Another case of brothers marrying sisters in English royalty concerns John of Gaunt and his youngest brother Edmund of Langley. Gaunt took Constance of Castile as his second wife, while  Edmund of Langley wed Constance’s sister Isabella…and from this latter union was born Richard of Conisbrough, the father of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, and grandfather to Richard III and his siblings.

Isabella and Edmund were said to be an ill-matched pair…but there were no suggestions at the time that their marriage was considered incestuous because two brothers had married two sisters.

Indeed, such unions did not seem all that uncommon or frowned upon at all….

seven

So Richard SEIZED the throne, did he….?

Skidmore and Pinnochio

“I’ve spent four years writing a biography of Richard III, which will be out in April 2017, so I’m looking to give the audience a taster of some of the research that I’ve conducted into Richard’s life, focusing in particular on why he decided to seize the throne in June 1483.”

Seize the throne? SEIZE the throne…..????????  What happened to the facts of the matter? Clearly the forthcoming book will be a little short on such things! Bah Mr Skidmore! Stick to the day job.

http://www.historyextra.com/article/feature/york-and-winchester-history-weekends-5-minutes-chris-skidmore

Richard III – From Villain to Hero

bosworth field

Yesterday, I came across this interesting poster from the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Center on my Facebook feed.  As a true-blue Ricardian, I was impressed with the title ‘Richard III – from Villain to Hero’ which shows a sea change in how this much maligned king is suddenly being portrayed before the general public.  One of Bosworth Field’s experienced guides, John Whitehead, will be giving the lecture and opening it up to the floor for questions.  His talk will include the causes of the Wars of the Roses, Richard’s reputation and his reevaluation in the 20th and 21st Centuries, particularly in light of the discovery of his remains.

The talk will be on Wednesday evening, June 29, 2016 at 7:30pm in the Heritage Room.  Cost is 6 pounds.

It’s events like this that make a Yank in NYC burn with jealousy!

Of course, when dealing with Facebook – which brings so much light to this endlessly fascinating subject – there is a downside.  And that is the comments section.  While Ricardians and others expressed enthusiasm for the talk, the traditionalists chimed in, enraged at the revisionism occurring around Richard’s dukedom and reign:

I thought we had already been told the truth, until Ricardians decided that all the history that we know about Richard is Tudor propaganda because it doesn’t fit with their version of what Richard should be, well I am sorry, but I think all Ricardian history trying to tell us that Richard was a good man is just Ricardian  propaganda.  It works both ways.”

Talk about propaganda and lies, Richard was an expert.”

And let’s not forget the amusingly eccentric comments:

“Is Bosworth related to the Bosworths of Oklahoma?”

Apparently, the only subject in worldwide history that is closed to revisionism or reevaluation is King Richard the Third.  No matter how much is unearthed about his life, no matter what the Vatican archives turn up, no matter how brilliantly one historian tracks his timeline while another scholarly historian follows the last days of his life, he is, in the words of Broadway lyricist Yip Harburg, “a bounder, a rounder, a rotter and a lot’er dirty names.”  And that phrase must be written in stone and shoved under the nose of every person who dares question the shoddy treatment doled out to the last English king to die in battle.  Unfortunately for traditionalists and their running dogs, the attempt to stand in the way of younger and less hidebound historians brings to mind another fine lyricist who turned 75 this week.   His warning was prescient then and is now:  the times they are a’changin’.

Get used to it.

“People, politics and Community in the Later Middle Ages”

(and symposium books in general)

I purchased this book, edited by Rosenthal and Richmond, for thirty pence but the cross-Atlantic postage was at least nine times as much. One of the eleven chapters, the first by Arthurson on the First Cornish Rebellion, was exceptional and many of the others were interesting.

This collaborative book, which was based largely on the 1985 International Congress on Mediaeval Studies at Western Michigan University but also on a symposium at Keele the same year, fits the pattern of several others. Perhaps they should be available as e-books more often, or even e-chapters? It might save both the vendor and purchaser on postage.

 

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