Here is an extract that I found interesting. It’s from a 1968 booklet titled Discovering London 3: Medieval London, by Kenneth Derwent, published by Macdonald, and while it doesn’t condemn Richard, a previous paragraph states that the disappearance of Edward V and his brother “were disposed of” and that “the circumstantial evidence points most strongly to the Duke of Gloucester”. Well, I have a huge quibble about that!
Anyway, to the extract:-
“RICHARD III. Brother of Edward IV and uncle of Edward V. Ruled from 1483 to 1485.
“After his brother’s death, the Duke of Gloucester stated that Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville had not been legal, since the king had been previously betrothed to a Lady Eleanor Talbot. In those days betrothal was as binding as marriage, and if this were so Edward’s subsequent marriage would be invalid and the children of it illegitimate. On these grounds Parliament offered the crown to Richard of Gloucester who, after modestly declining for a while, accepted it.
“In 1485 Richard III, as he was known, was defeated and killed at the Battle of Bosworth, near Leicester, by Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, who claimed the crown by reason of a distant descent from John of Gaunt.
“Richard was buried at Greyfriars, near Leicester, but no trace of his grave remains.”
Well, I have some more quibbles, of course. The word “modestly” implies falsity, when I think Richard really did hesitate about accepting the crown. Or am I being unduly picky? And, of course, Henry Tudor was NOT the Earl of Richmond.
But my main reason for posting this extract is that in 1968 Kenneth Derwent was right about where Richard had been laid to rest!
Finding the original town plans of London, before the Great Fire of 1666, is always intriguing, and very rewarding indeed for those of us who love all things medieval. So, in this respect, I welcome the Tudors. I already have books of London maps, published by the London Topographical Society, of our capital in the Elizabethan, Georgian and Regency periods, and very detailed and rewarding they are.
But now I find that the British Historic Towns Atlas, in association with the London Topographical Society, publishes foldable maps, in the same form as Ordnance Survey Landranger maps, and so on. Intrigued, I purchased the Tudor map of London, which reveals the city in about 1520, which is much closer in time to the reigns of Richard III and Henry VII. It is a very beautiful thing, and led me to browse the streets just for the sake of it.
If you go to their website you will find their range of maps, but most, if not all, are later than Tudor. Mostly 19th century, in fact, as York, which dates from 1850. Bristol is a series of detailed chronicological articles available on line. You will have to delve through the website in the hope of finding what you want.
But the 1520 map of “Tudor” London is excellent. I recommend it.
Ambling around the internet, I came upon the following. This passage is from The Sporting Review, ed. by ‘Craven’, edited by John William Carleton and contains a delightful description of what it was like for early tourists to sail down the River Tamar and visit the sights along the way. I have taken this particular passage because of the anecdote/legend that appears at the end, concerning Sir Richard Edgecumbe/Edgcumbe.
“. . . .The Tamar now becomes most interesting, winding along like a gigantic snake, every turn bringing some picturesque village or ancient mansion in sight; the lofty hills on either side covered with foliage, amidst which we saw the gothic pinnacles of Pentillie Castle. Every minute brings some fresh object of beauty, until we reach the noble woods of Cothele: here we landed at the Lime-kilns, and soon found a shaky nook, where we partook of our luncheon; then with renewed strength we set off on foot for Cothele House.
“Its embattled walls and massive arched doorways give it the appearance of a feudal castle. It was built by Sir Richard Edgcumbe in the early part of the reign of Henry Vii. The Earl of Mount Edgecumbe, to whom it now belongs, most kindly allows visitors to see the interior, with its antique furniture that has remained untouched for centuries.
“We entered under a massive arched-doorway, and found ourselves in a large court surrounded by buildings; from this we passed into the hall, where we felt as if we had left these modern times, and been carried back to the days of feudalism. The walls are hung with every kind of ancient arms—coats of mail, shields, helmets, gauntlets, arquebuses, bows and arrows, spears, swords, etc. At the upper end of the hall is the figure of a warrior armed cap-à-pie.
“We next visited the dining-room, hung with tapestry. Well could we picture the good old hospitality of those bygone times, when the table groaned beneath barons of beef and haunches of venison, and in the huge open hearth blazed piles of wood, while tankards of Burgundy and loyal toasts passed around. Alas! For these degenerate days of dinners à la Russe, and thin French wines, which cool instead of warm the heart of man.
“The chapel inspected, we ascended the broad oak staircase, which polished floor rendered the ascent rather perilous; on the walls were portraits of many of the ancestors of the Edgecumbes, but time has nearly obliterated their features. We were shown the room where Charles II. Passed several nights. Nearly all the rooms are hung with tapestry.
“After spending some time in visiting all the nooks and corners of this interesting olf house, we bid it adieu, and passed down an avenue of chestnuts to the river’s bank, where stands a gothic chapel almost concealed in the thick woods by which it is surrounded; it was built by Sir Richard Edgecumbe, who was comptroller of the household of Henry VII. There is an inscription on the walls from Carew’s Survey, which explains the reason for its erection.
Sir Richard Edgecumbe’s chapel in the woods at Cothele.
“ ‘Sir Richard Edgcumbe was driven to hide himself in those thick woods which overlook the river, at that time being suspected of favouring the Earl of Richmond’s party against King Richard III. He was hotly pursued and narrowly searched for, which extremity taught him a sudden policy—to put a stone in his cap and tumble same into the water, while these rangers were fast on his heels; who looking down after the noise, and seeing his cap swimming thereon, supposed that he had desperately drowned himself, gave over their further hunting, and left him liberty to shift away and ship over into Brittaine, for a grateful remembrance of which delivery he afterwards builded in the place of his lurking a chapel.’ ”
Tomb of Sir Richard Edgecombe, died 1489 – Morlaix
No, this post is NOT about Game of Thrones, but has been provoked by an article that, in general, is indeed about the goings-on of the above TV drama. This article attracted my attention because of the third of the quoted paragraphs below. But it is advisable to read all the quotes, for the background information.
“….Before the Middle Ages, abortions were allowed because they weren’t really considered abortions. From a medieval perspective, without a soul there was no human life, and souls weren’t understood to develop until sometime between four and 17 weeks.
“Because of this, women held quite a lot of control over their early pregnancies. We might note how this attitude accommodated the high rate of miscarriage in the first trimester, especially before modern nutrition and medicine. A lot can go wrong all on its own in those early weeks, and medieval midwifery and medical science left it to a woman and her advisers to decide how she wanted to handle that risky time. An abortion after the period in which souls were considered to develop was considered sinful, and might or might not be criminal, depending on where one lived, though prosecutions in the Middle Ages were rare.
“We may see the result of such family planning in the life of a famous medieval queen mother, Margaret Beaufort. Married and cohabiting at an unusually young age for an Englishwoman, Beaufort bore the future King Henry VII when she was just 13 and the delivery nearly killed her. Often widowed, Beaufort married twice more but never had another child. It is entirely possible that she sustained such significant injuries and scarring during her first delivery that she was unable to conceive or carry to term again. But it is equally possible that she or her medical advisers were convinced that it was harmful for her to try to carry another child to term, and so took precautions to ensure that she did not…”
Now you see why I have posted this. I have always accepted that Margaret Beaufort simply couldn’t conceive again. But what if she knew it would probably be fatal if she did? What if she took contraceptive action, such as it was in the 15th century?
The following quote is an interesting glimpse of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the “Kingmaker”, in the spring of 1470, when it was prudent for him to leave England for a while. It is taken from Devon, its Moorlands, Streams & Coasts by Lady Rosalind Northcote, published 1908 by Chatto & Windus.. See here :-
“….In 1470 Dartmouth was a step in the retreat of Warwick, ‘the King-maker,’ when Edward IV pursued him as far as Exeter. Warwick embarked here for France, and his arrival in those unsettled times must have created much bustle and excitement amongst all the gossips of the place. The Earl was ‘in danger of being surprized, whereupon leisurely (for his great spirit disdained anything that should look like a Flight) he retired to Exeter, where having dismissed the Remainder of the troops that attended him, he went to Dartmouth, and there, with many ladies in his company and a large Retinue, he took ship and sailed directly to Calais’….”
The ladies, of course, included Warwick’s heavily pregnant elder daughter, Isabel, wife of George, Duke of Clarence. Stormy weather was to keep the ship she was in from entering Calais, and tragically, on 17th April, she went into labour and lost the baby.
But, before that sad outcome, what was Dartmouth like when Warwick was there? (Some sources claim he sailed from Exeter, but Dartmouth seems more likely to me.) Well, the town had a castle, that’s for certain. Dartmouth grew where the River Dart empties into the English Channel, and was a thriving port and safe harbour.
In 1388, French raids during the Hundred Years War had led to the commencement of a castle. In this year Richard II commanded the mayor of Dartmouth, the privateer and merchant, John Hawley, to oblige the citizens to provide a “fortalice”. For much more information about Hawley, look here. Incidentally, Merriam-Webster claims fortalice to be a 15th-century word. Clearly that’s not so. It’s 14th century at the very least.
“In 1462 Edward IV awarded them [townsmen] £30 annually for 20 years towards the cost of Dartmouth’s defences, including the laying of a massive iron chain across the River Dart to stop marauding ships getting through. But it was almost 20 years before work began on a new tower and a bulwark, or strongpoint, purpose-built for artillery. In 1486 Henry VII demanded completion of the gun tower ‘with all godly haste’.
“The defences were eventually completed around 1493, and the gun tower became the heart of Dartmouth Castle. It contained the winding mechanism for the river chain, which was secured close to a defensive tower at Godmerock on the opposite bank.”
Well, marauding ships may have been kept out, but if a chain was operating in 1470 (as distinct from the eventual gun tower mechanism), it didn’t stop Warwick from getting in! Who in his right mind at Dartmouth Castle would raise a chain of any sort in the face of a great lord of Warwick’s power and reputation? The better part of valour, and all that….
So, chain or not, away the Kingmaker went! He’d return to England again on 13th September, landing at Dartmouth, and then meet his end at the Battle of Barnet on 14th April, 1471, almost exactly a year after his daughter lost her baby in a ship off Calais.
Michele Schindler’s seminal biography of Francis Viscount Lovell, one of the trio named in Colyngbourne‘s doggerel, is published today. Hopefully, it will go towards solving the great mystery of his fate.
Could he really have suffocated in a Minster Lovell chamber, after the estate was given to Jasper “Tudor”? Could he have ended his days in Scotland, under a safe conduct complicated by the Sauchieburn rebellion, or was that a red herring?
We all know that the Sweating Sickness arrived in Britain with Henry Tudor’s invading army in 1485. Thank you very much, Harri! Well, I have to wonder why there wasn’t a widespread belief that the Sweating Sickness was God’s condemnation of the vile usurper! That was one propaganda move Henry Tudor was very careful to avoid.
Unfortunately, the Yorkists missed an opportunity. If Tudor had lost and scuttled back to wherever in France or Brittany, his busy publicity guys would have been very quick indeed to point a superstitious and effective finger at Richard, for being the object of God’s towering displeasure!
Over the years there has been lots of fiction written about Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville and of course Richard III. However, there is one one figure in their story who often gets a mention, but is rarely portrayed as a living person, with the events long after her death in 1468 taking the forefront instead. This, of course, is Eleanor Boteler, or more correctly, Eleanor Talbot, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury. Possibly the only novel in which Eleanor has played a major role is John Crowne’s THE MISERY OF CIVIL WAR, which first appeared in 1680! (In this work, very strangely, Eleanor dies at Edward’s hands at Barnet, after first cursing him!)
In SECRET MARRIAGES, a new short novel, Eleanor takes the forefront through most of the book, although some chapters are from Edward’s point of view and still others from Elizabeth Woodville’s. Amongst other things, the novel covers Eleanor’s heritage, which has been rather ignored by certain ‘historians’, many novelists and the general public (when the latter know about her at all). I recall one blogpost where someone stated ‘Ricardians say she was the daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury’. Well, ‘Ricardians’ don’t ‘say’ anything–for that is exactly who she was without question! And her ancestry is far more complex than just being the Earl’s daughter–few seem aware, in fiction or otherwise, that Warwick was her uncle by marriage, and Anne and Isabel, his daughters, her cousins. Eleanor’s mother was Margaret Beauchamp, half-sister to Warwick’s wife, Anne Beauchamp. She also had distant royal descent–certainly not a ‘nobody’ as some have tried to make her.
She had living relatives of high status too. Her sister, to whom she seemed close, was none other than Elizabeth, the Duchess of Norfolk, mother of Anne Mowbray, who was married as a child to Richard of Shrewsbury, the younger of the ‘Princes in the Tower,’ but died at a young age. (Her coffin was found in the 60’s in a demolition site which stood on top of the medieval remnants of the Poor Clare’s convent. Interestingly, this was not Anne’s original burial site; she’d been interred in Westminster Abbey, but good old Henry VII had shunted her body out to the nuns when he pulled down St Erasmus’ chapel to build his own chapel.) Anyway, Duchess Elizabeth attended the Coronation of Richard III, and there was no protest from her or her family that Eleanor had been ‘slandered’ or the story ‘made up.’.
SECRET MARRIAGES also tries to give a picture of where, with the the scanty surviving evidence as teased out by the late Dr John Ashdown-Hill, Eleanor may have lived and where the marriage with Edward may have taken place (thought to be sometime around June 1461). One likely candidate is scenic Burton Dassett in Warwickshire, with its fine church filled by interesting medieval carvings. The story goes on to show Eleanor’s patronage of Corpus Christi College in Cambridge (a carving of a Talbot hound still adorns the buildings) and attempts to recreate the bustle of medieval Norwich and the House of the Carmelites where she was laid to rest, now sadly destroyed save for a ruined archway, although the magnificent and perhaps unique entrance portal still survives, although not in situ, inside the Courts of Justice across the river.
Hopefully, SECRET MARRIAGES, can bring Eleanor Talbot a little more into the light–the Queen who might have been. And for the naysayers about Edward’s first marriage, look at Edward IV’s history with Elizabeth Woodville–he kept that marriage secret for months after it took place. Do you really think he might not have done the same thing before?
This bed is far too beautiful for Henry VII. In my opinion, anyway. As to finding it in a hotel…well, what if you were snuggled there, anticipating your cooked breakfast next morning, when Henry’s ghost clambers in beside you???? Lawks!
I have moaned before about the prevalence of certain names during the medieval period. In particular the name John. So, on reading an essay entitled “English Diplomatic Documents 1377-99”, I was amused to find the following: “…on 25th June, 1382, John Harleston, knight, John Appleby, dean of St Paul’s, London, and Masters John Barnet and John Blanchard, doctors of laws, [were] sent to Brittany to conclude a truce agreement with Duke John IV…” Well, they wouldn’t have had any trouble remembering each other’s names, right?