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Archive for the tag “Greyfriars”

The elusive last Norman

Although Richard was found in Leicester five years ago, exactly where he was buried, and Henry I is close to being identified in Reading, Kingfinding is not always successful. As this blog shows, the 1965 excavation of the Faversham Abbey site to find King Stephen was unsuccessful.

It seems that his bones really were moved during the Reformation. Sometimes, there is truth in such a legend.

Descriptions of two important Ricardian books….

Here’s how Kent County Council describes the two important Ricardian books.

https://erl.overdrive.com/media/1389033

Richard III:A Small Guide to the Great Debate by Annette Carson

“Ever since the discovery of his lost grave in Leicester, the eyes of the world have been drawn to the twists and turns surrounding England’s King Richard III… Annette Carson, acclaimed author and expert on Richard’s reign (and one of the team who found him), has published A Small Guide to the Great Debate, a brief summary of the main arguments concerning his actions and reputation. Carson has researched and written extensively on Richard III. Her book Richard III: The Maligned King (The History Press, 2008) was revised in 2013 and sold out within 3 months. The print edition of A Small Guide was published on 1 July this year and is already stocked, in hundreds, by visitors’ centres at Leicester, Bosworth Battlefield and elsewhere. Written as a succinct, straightforward summary of the facts, this short handbook outlines how King Richard came to be portrayed as a monster-villain by the Tudors, and how a backlash in later centuries created the ‘Great Debate’ over his reputation, which still rages today. It also analyses the mystery of the ‘Princes in the Tower’, examining what people actually said and did at the time of their disappearance, and who profited from their removal. The book sets out all the main theories and arguments, together with their strengths and weaknesses, in a non-scholarly style, without imposing judgements and conclusions. An invaluable reference resource, it invites readers to weigh up the evidence and make up their own minds. Recommended for anyone interested in Richard III, for libraries and also as a reference for the media, A Small Guide sticks to the verifiable facts while offering insights you won’t find in conventional history books.”
https://kent.overdrive.com/media/1241128

The Last Days of Richard III and the fate of his DNA by John Ashdown-Hill

“The Last Days of Richard III contains a new and uniquely detailed exploration of Richard’s last 150 days. By deliberately avoiding the hindsight knowledge that he will lose the Battle of Bosworth Field, we discover a new Richard: no passive victim, awaiting defeat and death, but a king actively pursuing his own agenda. It also re-examines the aftermath of Bosworth: the treatment of Richard’s body; his burial; and the construction of his tomb. And there is a fascinating story of why, and how, Richard III’s family tree was traced until a relative was found, alive and well, in Canada. Now, with the discovery of Richard’s skeleton at the Greyfriars Priory in Leicester, England, John Ashdown-Hill explains how his book inspired the dig and completes Richard III’s fascinating story, giving details of how Richard died, and how the DNA link to aliving relative of the king allowed the royal body to be identified.”

NORTHAMPTON GREYFRIARS IN THE NEWS

Once upon a time, in Northampton, there was a horrid, huge, concrete bus station known locally as the ‘Mouth of Hell.’ It was, to the relief of many, destroyed earlier this year.

Now there are proposals for  a new series of shops, cinemas and even a trampolining centre on the site. While that is an improvement, one can only hope that there is a through archaeological investigation of the area before this can take place.

The ‘Mouth of Hell’ stood on  what was the old Greyfriars monastery, a large and important friary  in the medieval town centre. Leland describes  it as, ‘The Grayfreres House was the beste buildid and largest house of all the places of the freres, and stoode a little beyond the chief market place, almost by flatte north. The site and ground that it stoode on longid to the cite, whereupon the citizens were taken for the founders of it. There lay ii. of the Salysbiries buried in this house of Grey Freres. And as I remember it was told me that one of the Salisbyries doughters was mother to Sir Wylliam Par and his elder brother.’

Limited excavation  was done in the 1972 before the now demolished bus station was built, and some fragmentary burials and bits of tile, glass, pottery and metal were found. None of the burials appeared to be particularly high status and there were animal bones mixed amongst them. The church was located but its shape was unable to be defined, and the main buildings of the cloister joined the choir rather than the nave.

Greyfriars of Northampton  held several notable burials including Friar Bungay (famous in a play as a sorcerer who, with Friar Bacon, creates the Brazen Head to protect England–but in reality a notable scholar and mathematician !) and the 1st Duke of Buckingham, Humphrey Stafford, who was killed at the Battle of Northampton in 1460. He lost his life defending Henry VI in his tent, along with several other prominent Lancastrian lords. Buckingham was the grandfather of Henry Stafford, second Duke of Buckingham, who betrayed Richard III, and his wife was Anne Neville, the sister of Richard’s mother, Cecily Neville. (If the Duke were found, his y-DNA could be used to identify Henry Stafford’s bones if THEY ever turned up in Salisbury, possibly on another Greyfriars site!)

Below are the proposals for the Greyfriar’s site in Northampton. It might be worth contacting the relevant authorities in order to try to ensure that a proper archaeological assessment is given for this important friary, as some of the records for other medieval buildings around the town are scanty and rather poorly recorded.

http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/ground-investigations-begin-at-former-northampton-bus-station-site-1-7676318

hell

Sources: British History Online, the Franciscans of Northampton

Excavations at Northampton Greyfriars 1972, J.H. Williams

 

The Friaries and Priories of Ipswich

wolseys-gate-1

On the bottom left is the Buttermarket Centre, formerly the home of the Whitefriars or Carmelites. There were Greyfriars (Franciscans, whose name survives near Princes Street) and Blackfriars (Dominicans, based near St. Mary’s Quay).

The mid-“Tudor” Christchurch Mansion, on the bottom right, is on the site of the Holy Trinity Priory. Whether this was newly built or merely adapted, is presently uncertain. There was also a Priory of St. Peter and St. Paul, partially replaced by Wolsey’s Gate (above).

ButtermarketCentre Christchurch_Mansion

Why those who say Richard’s rediscovery was a hoax are wrong, even without the DNA

This is a fascinating analysis of the evidence supporting the fact that it definitely was Richard! Click here for full post!

 

Portrait of Richard III

Work begins in Reading

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/12/archaeologists-begin-hunt-for-remains-of-henry-i/mullaney_car_park-xlarge_trans++NJjoeBT78QIaYdkJdEY4CnGTJFJS74MYhNY6w3GNbO8

Of course, some people knew exactly where to find Richard III.

The Madness of Henry VI …

… but precisely what form did it take? It was clearly different in effect from that of Charles VI, his grandfather. Charles was reportedly violent on occasion and sometimes believed himself to be made of glass but Henry was more withdrawn. Both doubted the paternity of their children, although the sheer number of Charles’ offspring, including two English Queens Consort, make such doubts less reasonable in his case.

The two most influential Henry VI biographies nowadays are by Ralph Griffiths and by Bertram Wolffe, who included a whole chapter on Henry’s mental health. What would a professional in that field make of the available evidence? Henry’s physical remains are of no available as his brain no longer exists. By contrast, Richard III’s long residence in Leicester’s Greyfriars led to his skin, flesh and organs decomposing, leaving his skeleton to attest clearly and precisely to his scoliosis.

Richard III grew up during Henry VI’s first reign and his time as “King in exile”. It should be much easier to diagnose Henry given the increased awareness of mental health issues today.

Just one missing word mars a conclusion

I have recently perused the critical pages (180-191) of Michael Hicks’ latest work: “The Family of Richard III”, relating to the evidence of the remains found in the former Greyfriars.

He states that the mitochondrial DNA evidence only shows that the remains are of an individual related to Richard III. He doesn’t admit that the Y-chromosome tests prove the existence of at least one “milkman” between Edward III and either Richard III or (more probably) the family of today’s Duke of Beaufort. He states further that the other physical evidence only shows a man of the right age group, with scoliosis who died in battle at any time in the right century – suggesting Lord Richard de la Pole as a random alternative, although we know where he was buried (the Augustine Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro) and there is no evidence whatsoever that he could have been moved since 1525, apart from him being at least a decade older than his uncle at death. John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, also suggested, was seven years younger than Richard III.

The missing word is “and”, whereas “or” is widely implied. Take the set of people known to share Richard III’s mtDNA, as per point one, descended from Catherine de Roet or her sisters, her brothers having died either too early or at too great an age. Take the set of 25-40 year-old men with scoliosis who ate a good diet and died in battle from 1450-1530, as per point three, excluding those who are known or widely believed to be buried elsewhere. Now, because the evidence really is mutually supporting, look at the intersection, not the union, of those two sets – as demonstrated in Appendix 1 of Ashdown-Hill’s “The Mythology of Richard III” (pp.176-181) – it leaves only Richard III himself and very few obscure relatives who probably died in infancy.

What really disappoints me is that I expected some serious counter-evidence, such as Lady de Roet’s identity or, better still, that of her mother, allowing us to identify and investigate more of Richard’s hitherto unknown cousins. It doesn’t, although it does (p.190) identify that Catherine de Roet bore Swynford and Beaufort sons so close together as to create confusion (see the Y-chromosome reference). Once again, has Hicks hedged his bets by conceding the opposing case in the middle of a paragraph?Hicksosaurus

BUCKINGHAM’S MYSTERIOUS BURIAL

Where lies Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham?
No one can say for sure, his final resting place is as elusive and entwined with myth and legend as Richard III’s once was.
Stafford, leader of the October 1483 rebellion against Richard, was turned in by one of his own men while hiding in a cottage, apparently in peasant dress, after heavy rain and the flooding of the Severn caused his uprising to fail. He was taken to Salisbury, where on November 2, he was beheaded in the Market Square.
He supposedly begged to speak with Richard, who was staying either at the King’s House in the cathedral close or at the priory at nearby Wilton. Buckingham insisted he had important information for the King. Richard refused to see him, this man he had called ‘the most untrue creature living’ and the execution took place as planned. It was unusual, as it took place on a Sunday, and on All Souls…and it was also the birthday of Edward V (which just may be significant considering Buckingham was named in regards to the Princes’ murders, if murdered they were, in documents both in England and on the Continent.
But what happened to the remains of this great traitor, himself of royal descent, who had perhaps even dreamed of wearing the crown of England himself?
A near contemporary report says he was buried in the church of the Greyfriars in Salisbury. This Franciscan Friary has now completely vanished and stood near to St Anne’s street and Brown street; a commemorative plaque has been set into a building near the presumed spot. This is the only document that mentions his resting place, and there is always the vague possibility they are confusing him with his grandfather, who was buried in Greyfriars in Northampton.
However, a mile outside of the city centre, in the sleepy village of Britford, another tomb claims to be Buckingham’s. A Victorian plaque above it declares that it is his grave. It is the only large memorial in the church—comprising the top of a large canopied tomb, which stands above a smaller tomb-chest capped by Purbeck marble. The chest does in fact bear a shield bearing one of the devices of the Staffords.
But the top of the tomb is probably a hundred years too early, and the chest may be too early as well…although the lid has some features that suggest it was 15th century. Perhaps the tomb was reused for Buckingham’s burial?
Certainly both the canopy and chest came from elsewhere, probably from one of the ruined friaries after the Dissolution. They were not always situated in tiny Britford church. So it could have been taken from Greyfriars.
A good case for the chest actually being Buckingham’s last resting place can be made by one fact—his daughter Anne’s husband, George Earl of Huntingdon, actually owned the manor at Britford. It may well have been Anne who had the tomb removed from the friary at the Dissolution and transported for safety to the village church.
However, it appears to be empty…
So where are Buckingham’s bones?
If you go to Debenham’s, the site of the Blue Boar Inn where Buckingham spent his last night alive, you can have a nice cream tea whilst looked at Buckingham’s not-very-flattering portrait and read a little information the tea room has written on him. They claim that a skeleton was found many years ago under the kitchen flagstones, missing a head and a hand, and that these bones were thought to be the remains of Henry Stafford. They also claimed that the decapitated Duke’s head was sent to London to be placed on ‘Traitor’s Gate’ hence the skeleton found had no skull.
These two stories are problematic. It is highly unlikely even a traitor of the calibre of the Duke would be given a lowly burial in an inn’s kitchen…and goodness knows what the innkeeper would have said! Richard tended to give his slain enemies proper burials, and no doubt he did likewise with Buckingham. There is also no evidence that Buckingham’s head went anywhere other than into the grave with its owner, albeit separated from his shoulders. I believe Traitor’s Gate did not even have this name in Richard’s era. This skeleton, if it existed at all, was probably an Anglo-Saxon or even prehistoric resident of Salisbury.
Another distant possibility is that Stafford was buried in a chapel out at Old Sarum castle, a mile or so beyond Salisbury. This once mighty castle was already ruinous at the time of the execution, but there was one chapel still in use in the 15th century, mainly for wayfarers. In Victorian times the chapel was excavated and a skeleton found  either near the high altar or in the ambulatory–of a man who had been beheaded, but who was also wearing a prisoner’s manacles. His head lay between his knees. This unusual burial was never mentioned as a candidate for Buckingham but was rather mysteriously thought to be William of Eu, who lost a duel at Sarum in the reign of William Rufus. However, it is  is unlikely to be William, for it would be very hard to fight a duel wearing irons…and, besides that, William of Eu did NOT die at Sarum, but although hideously mutilated after losing the fight, retired somewhere near Hastings and lived on for some years….
So there was a mysterious medieval burial at Sarum, high status by its position in the church but decapitated and wearing criminals’ irons …which, sadly, has now gone missing (the bones, that is; the irons are still owned by Salisbury Museum.)
Maybe in a lab somewhere there is a battered box marked ‘Sarum’ that could contain the elusive Duke. Or maybe he is still under the floor of the destroyed Salisbury Greyfriars like Richard was in Leicester Greyfriars, with roads and buildings above him. Perhaps one day someone will open that dusty box or discover a likely burial, decide to take a closer look and do some tests.
Any Staffords out there who can donate some dna?
duke

Review of The Mythology of Richard III by John Ashdown-Hill

I have read several of JAH’s books and always find them thoroughly researched and informative. That’s not to say that I always agree with his conclusions, but mostly I do.

His latest book concerns both the ancient myths surrounding his life, death and burial and more modern, newer myths which have begun since his remains were discovered.

He is systematic and clear in his explanations and his arguments are always logical. He also includes many photos and illustrations to clarify his points.

I am an avid reader of anything Ricardian and I thought I knew most of the mythology surrounding Richard, but there are in depth analyses of myths in this book which I had not been aware of or which give more detail with well-documented evidence.

One is the claim that Richard was not legally married to Anne Neville because of the lack of a suitable dispensation. I remember reading earlier this year, in the BBC History Magazine’s Richard III special edition, that Richard’s marriage to Anne was incestuous, by reason of his failure to obtain a dispensation to cover his 1st degree affinity to Anne (because his brother had married her sister, which made her technically, his sister too!). John Ashdown-Hill effectively disputes this and shows that the author (Hicks) was mistaken about the 1st degree affinity and that a dispensation had been received for the less serious degrees of affinity (by reason of Anne’s first marriage to Edward of Lancaster, who was distantly related to Richard). It is clearly illustrated with pedigree charts.

A second section I didn’t know about was JAH’s meticulous research into the male bearers of the same mitochondrial DNA as Richard.  This is to refute claims that the remains found were not actually Richard’s.  He researches which of them could have possibly been buried in the Greyfriars, at the same period in history, dying in battle in the same way and being of the same age at death as Richard. It must have taken an age to research all the different family lines and find out about their deaths! He sets all the information out very clearly and convincingly.

This book is a godsend for Ricardians who want evidence to refute the perpetuation of myths about Richard and I heartily recommend it.

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