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James Tyrrell’s Ancestor

You may know or suspect from a previous post in Murrey and Blue, that Sir James Tyrrell, Richard’s henchman, was a direct descendant of Sir Walter Tyrrell, the ‘Killer Baron’, who fled during a hunting expedition with King William II (Rufus) after shooting him with an arrow. It is not known whether this was an accident or murder on the orders of Rufus’ brother, Henry!

But you may not know that he is also a direct descendent of Sir John Hawkwood, through Hawkwood’s daughter, Antiochia, (by his first wife, whose name is unknown for sure but who was probably English). He was Hawkwood’s 2 x great grandson. You can see this on the family tree below (you may have to enlarge it to see clearly).

Tyrell family tree

 

So, who was Sir John Hawkwood? Well, he was reportedly the second son of a tanner from Sible Hedingham in Essex, Gilbert Hawkwood. However, it seems Gilbert was actually a land owner of some wealth. John Hawkwood was apprenticed to a tailor in London, but obviously wasn’t content with that career and became an archer, a longbowman, in the Hundred Years War under Edward III, and it is thought he participated in both the battle of Crécy and the Battle of Poitiers. He may have been knighted by the Black Prince but there are no written records and it is possible he was just styled a knight by convention in Italy at the time.

A little later, when free companies of soldiers began to form, Hawkwood joined the largest, The White Company or The Great Company, a gang of mercenaries who fought for various factions in France and collected bribes, ransoms and booty as they went. After two years, Hawkwood rose to be their commander and proved an expert in pillaging, blackmailing and duplicity. Eventually they arrived in Italy, where there were many city-states who were always in conflict with each other. This proved to be rich pickings for Hawkwood and his Company, as over the next thirty years he fought both for and against the Pope, Florence, Milan, Pisa, Siena and Perugia. He extracted huge bribes from all of them and such was Hawkwood’s military reputation that he never lacked for clients. This was even though over the years he betrayed them all!

Detail of fresco of Sir John HawKwood

(Image – Public domain)

He eventually signed a contract with Florence and remained there in a mainly defensive role for the rest of his career. He died on 17th March 1394, just before he could return to England as he was planning to do. Florence granted him an elaborate funeral and there is still a fresco there which commemorates him.

Fresco of Sir John Hawkwood

Image credit: By Paolo Uccello (Italian, 1397–1475) (Jastrow, own picture) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Richard II requested that his remains be returned to England and this was agreed, though there is no written record of his remains being actually buried in the Church of St Peter’s in Sible Hedingham, where there is also a monument to him.

Pic of St Peter's Church, Sible Hedingham

Image credit: Robert Edwards [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikim

Hawkwood’s reputation was one of ruthlessness, guile and intelligence. He was obviously a clever tactician as witnessed by his success and he must have been courageous to lead that sort of life. However, he did have a reputation for brutality and deviousness. He was known to have had two wives as well as several mistresses and illegitimate children, as many men did in that occupation. Conversely, he had Mass said before his campaigns. He is also described as showing honesty and fidelity. I wonder whether his 2 x great-grandson inherited any of these traits?

 

 

 

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A pastoral tale

This article investigates why, as the Mediaeval Warm Period drew to a close, Britain (and particularly England) developed differently to many nations of Southern Europe.

Sandbrook mentions two major cultural factors: the tradition of salting bacon because ham could not be dry-cured and the evolution of the wool trade through the systematic elimination of the flock’s only natural predator – the wolf – through a hunting campaign led by Peter Corbet, from a Shropshire family, under Edward I. Corbet, who fought at Falkirk, may even have given his name to this.

Sheep could now safely be domesticated and their numbers greatly expanded. In Florence, the Medici saw the banking system develop as a result. In England, the best evidence is all around us. Whilst the Woolsack (left) has been a dominant feature of the House of Lords for centuries, the wealth generated

by the wool and cloth trade is reflected in properties throughout the country, but particularly in East Anglia, the region generally closest to the European mainland and the other territories of the Hanseatic League. In particular, Lavenham (below), Hadleigh and Woodbridge still have many such distinctive timber-framed houses, the former having been regarded as a town in the late mediaeval and Early Modern eras.

As Sandbrook goes on to explain, in his review of Robert Winder’s “The last Wolf”, writers from Chaucer (who married into the de la Pole family of wool barons) to Eliot and Orwell wrote of the traditions of the wool trade. It continued long after Corbet’s 1281-90 campaign and was to benefit from the technological developments of later centuries.

Richard III and Lorenzo de’ Medici

I have just completed my new novel, Richard Liveth Yet (Book II): A Foreign Country, an alternative history story in which Richard, having won at Bosworth, continues as King of England and pays a visit to Florence at the invitation of Lorenzo de’ Medici.

On researching Lorenzo, I became intrigued by the number of parallels and similarities between the two leaders.

Lorenzo was about four years older than Richard and, in common with him, was given great responsibility at a young age. He was sent on diplomatic missions, which included meeting the Pope. Like Richard, he had a brother who was considered very beautiful, where he was seen as plainer, shorter and less attractive and both of them lost their brothers too soon (three of them in Richard’s case).

The Medicis’ main rivals for power in Florence were the Pazzis, who murdered Lorenzo’s brother, Giuliano, in the famous Pazzi conspiracy.  Of course, Richard’s York family’s rivals were the Lancastrians and the rivalry took the form of battles rather than covert assassinations.

They both enjoyed hunting and hawking and both were patrons of the arts: in Richard’s case this was mainly through music and architecture, whereas Lorenzo patronised the Renaissance artists such as Botticelli, da Vinci and Michelangelo, and encouraged art and culture, even writing poetry himself, written in his native Tuscan. As we know Richard was the first English monarch to swear allegiance in English, had his laws written in English and even owned a bible translated into English.

They were both seen as intelligent – Lorenzo was thought to be the most intelligent of his siblings – and they both encouraged education and enjoyed books and learning.

They diverge in their family life in that Lorenzo and his wife, Clarice, had ten children (though not all survived) whereas Richard and Anne had only one, who died young. However, they both knew the grief of losing children and both their wives pre-deceased them.

Both were courageous – Richard in battle, and in particular during Bosworth’s final moments, and Lorenzo when he went himself to Naples, which was enemy territory after the Pazzi conspiracy, to settle the resulting war with the Holy See through diplomacy.

Both took their deceased brother’s child(ren) into their household after their death (in Richard’s case, I am now referring to George’s death).

Both of them were praised by their respective favoured cities after their death. As we know, York’ said: ‘King Richard, late mercifully reigning over us, was through great treason . . . piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city.’ They also referred to him as the ‘most famous prince of blessed memory.’

As regards Lorenzo, on his death (also at a young age of 43) the Signoria and councils of Florence issued this decree:

‘Whereas the foremost man of all this city, the lately deceased Lorenzo de’ Medici, did, during his whole life, neglect no opportunity of protecting, increasing, adorning and raising this city, but was always ready with counsel, authority and painstaking, in thought and deed; shrank from neither trouble nor danger for the good of the state and its freedom….. it has seemed good to the Senate and people of Florence…. to establish a public testimonial of gratitude to the memory of such a man, in order that virtue might not be unhonoured among Florentines, and that, in days to come, other citizens may be incited to serve the commonwealth with might and wisdom.’

Finally, I think there were some similarities in their appearance also.

What do you think?

Pic of Lorenzo de' Medici

Pic of reconstruction of Richard III's head

Photo of Lorenzo: Public Domain / Photo of RIII reconstruction © Copyright Mike Searle and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The Making of Richard III’s Coat of Arms for his Tomb

I was quite amazed to find out last week, when visiting Leicester Cathedral, that the small coat of arms that can be seen on the front part of the tomb was made by a skilled craftsman called Thomas Greenaway, who is one of only a handful of people who use the 16th Century craft of Pietra Dura (Italian for ‘hard stone’). This is a highly specialised way of making a picture by a method that is a kind of cross between a jigsaw puzzle and a mosaic. It originated in Florence and is still taught there today. The shield is not painted or made out of some plastic material, but is composed from three hundred and fifty small pieces of semi-precious stones – in this case Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan, Duke’s Red limestone from Derbyshire (which is very rare) and Yellow Chalcedony from Italy. Each lion is composed of twenty pieces of stone and the claws are Lapis Lazuli.  All the pieces are precisely cut to shape and fitted using traditional sixteenth century techniques and the Coat of Arms took two months to complete. Click on the picture below to visit Thomas Greenaway’s site to find out more.

 

Richard III Shield - Picture

There is a great five minute video of how the tomb was carved, polished, moved and laid, including the making of the Coat of Arms here.

Thanks to Thomas Greenaway for permission to use this picture of the shield.

Richard III and the White Boar

Picture of Richard III's white boarBy 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.

Picture of Freyr with Gullinbursti

Freyr with Gullinbursti

(Eduard Ade [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Herakles’ third labour involved the capture of the Erymanthian Boar.

Piture of Herakles and boar

Herakles and the Erymanthian boar

Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Pic of boar in mud

Boar wallowing 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.

Augen_zu_und_schlafen

Baby wild boar (‘marcassin’ in French)

(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.

Young_Wild_Boar_(5696463735)

Young boar (known as a ‘rousse’ in French)

(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.

Pic of Il Porcellino

(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!

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