murreyandblue

A great WordPress.com site

Archive for the tag “horses”

The King’s Champion and his circus horse….!

King's Champion between lines of walkers at a coronation banquet

The King’s Champion is the central horseman in this illustration of an unidentified coronation banquet

We have all heard of the dashing King’s/Queen’s Champion riding fully armed into the coronation banquet, throwing down challenges to anyone who would dare to find fault with the monarch’s right to the throne. I did not know that there is a strong possibility that the Dymoke family, hereditary holders of the title, may have originated in the village of Dymock in my home county of Gloucestershire. Dymock village is also known for its wonderful spring displays of wild daffodils.

Dymock's wild daffodils

Dymock’s wild daffodils

The following is taken from http://dymockchurch.net/King%27s%20Champion.html

“The “King’s Champion” is an hereditary post and acts on behalf of the king (or queen) of England by challenging all-comers at their coronation to do battle if they dispute the king (or queen’s) right to be monarch. The post is now mainly ceremonial but was created by William the Conqueror in 1066 and has been held ever since by a blood relative of the first Champion.”

Queen's Champion - at coronation banquet of Elizabeth I

Queen’s Champion at the coronation banquet of Elizabeth I

“The powerful Marmion family were ‘Champion’ to the Dukes of Normandy in France and came to this country with William, Duke of Normandy, when he invaded England in 1066 and took the English crown to become ‘William the Conqueror’.”

“There is some doubt over how the name Dymoke came about. It’s possible the family lived in Dymock or at ‘Knight’s Green’ next to Dymock, and took the surname ‘de Dymoke’ from our village when surnames became established in England. It seems they left the area to return to live in Scivelsby, Lincolnshire in the 14th century but took the surname with them.

“The ceremony involved the Garter King of Arms reading out the challenge three times – at the entrance to the coronation banquet in Westminster Hall, in the middle of the hall, and in front of the throne. Each time the Champion in full armour and riding a charger threw down his gauntlet for any challenger to take up. None having come forward, the Champion had to reverse his horse out of the hall between the banqueting tables without doing any damage – no mean feat which, if done successfully, became known as ‘Doing a Dymoke’. “

King's Champion - coronation banquet George IV

King’s Champion, coronation banquet of George IV

“The involvement of the Champion is documented at every coronation since 1066 but the full ceremony was last used at the coronation of George IV in 1821. Since then the Champion has been recognised as the ‘Standard Bearer of England’ and carries the banner at the coronation.

“The current and 34th Champion is Lieutenant-Colonel John Lindley Marmion Dymoke, MBE DL, Royal Lincolnshire Regiment. In 1953 as the then Captain Dymoke he acted as Standard-Bearer of the Union Flag at the coronation service of our present Queen, Elizabeth II. His eldest son and heir is Francis Dymoke, a chartered accountant and estate owner.”

And as an amusing footnote: “The horse ridden by Dymock, the king’s champion, at the coronation banquet of George IV (1821) was hired from a circus. When greeted with applause, it went into its routine of tricks!”

In case you overlooked this splendid show-stopper in the previous illustration, here he is again!

King's Champion - Coronation Banquet of George IV

The King’s Champion at the coronation of George IV…on his splendid performing horse!

 

Advertisements

Dyer or Dire?

Many of you will remember the episode of “Who do you think you are” in which Danny Dyer was revealed as a descendant of Edward III. In this new two part series, he “meets” a few prominent ancestors, some even more distant.

The first episode began with Rollo, ancestor of the Dukes of Normandy, which saw Dyer visit Sweden, although Danes and Norwegians also claim that Viking dynast, to learn sparring with a sword and shield. Then he went to the Tower to talk about William I and Dover Castle for Henry II, discussing his rebellious sons and his mixed relationship with Becket. At every stage, riding a horse, jousting or dyeing (Dyeing?), he was accompanied by a professional genealogist (Anthony Adolph, in a cafe opposite Buckingham Palace) or a historian, if not one of television’s “usual suspects”. At the end, Dyer visited France to learn of a slightly different ancestor – St. Louis IX, although Margaret of Wessex is another canonised forebear.

The second episode did feature some real historians: Elizabeth Norton, Chris Given-Wilson, Tobias Capwell and Tracy Borman. The opening scene had Isabella on the Leeds Castle drawbridge shouting at Edward II (Dyer): “Git aht ov moi carsel” (you may need Google Translate, but not from French). We were shown an image of Hugh le Despencer’s grisly execution, without pointing out that there were two of that name, followed by Edward’s confinement in Berkeley Castle, forced abdication and the legend of his even grislier end. Henry “Hotspur” Percy, who died in battle at Shrewsbury, followed as Dyer tried on late mediaeval armour. The next scenes concerned Sir John Seymour at Wolf Hall, inveigling his daughter into Henry VIII’s world, as Dyer dressed up and tried “Tudor” dancing. We then moved on to Helmingham Hall as Catherine Cromwell married Lord Tollemache, whose successor met Dyer, his cousin, again. The series concluded with a “sugar banquet” as the star’s family joined in, dressed as Elizabeth I’s contemporaries.

Both programmes were informative about mediaeval life, such as the “silver pennies” bearing Dyer’s image and the West Ham badge, although his stereotypical East London patois grates a little. It brought to mind Ray Winstone as Henry VIII (“I have been betrayed!”) or Nick Knowles‘ egregious Historyonics.

da Vinci and the RAF centenary

Leonardo di ser Piero “da Vinci” (below left) was nearly six months older than Richard III, having been born in the Republic of Florence on 15 April 1452. Over his lifetime, which ended in 1519, he is best known for his paintings, such as The Last Supper or la Gioconda. However, he also left us a number of remarkable engineering and other sketches, depicting human and animal biology, geology and devices, including flying machines. The anatomical diagrams would have contributed towards the quality of his portraits in the same way that Stubbs studied the physiology of horses.

On the right is his 1488 design for a flying machine. In this, the centenary of the Armistice and of the RAF, it is interesting to compare it with aircraft from the First World War and to note that Leonardo also theoretically described a parachute, a concept with which later pilots would be very familiar.

An example (left) is the (French) Nieuport Fighter. 

Gloucestershire Wassail Carol

gloucestershire_wassailAs we take down our Christmas trees and put away our recordings of “Santa Baby,” perhaps some of the readers of the Murrey and Blue are preparing to stroll forth on Twelfth Night to sing the  charming “Gloucestershire Wassail” song for friends and neighbors this January 5th of the new year 2017.  This is the traditional day in which folks raise the wassail bowl and wish good health and happiness to all of mankind.  And it is followed the next day by the Epiphany when the son of God, Jesus Christ, is proclaimed to all the world.

I had never heard this particular carol until I purchased a cd several years ago called “An English Country Christmas” which included choral groups from The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford to The Choir of Queens College Cambridge to The Oxford Girls’ Choir.  It also featured two soloists:  the folk singer Ian Giles and the sweet-voiced English soprano, Sara Stowe.  Her lilting rendition of the “Gloucestershire Wassail” – a carol of medieval origin but taken up by the Victorians – is sung acapella while punctuated by bells and Mathew Spring’s zitherlike hurdy-gurdy.  It  is so strikingly ethereal that I soon floated away on a magic carpet of music to the medieval court of Richard the Third on that last Christmas of 1484 before tragic circumstances brutally ended his reign and swept in the harsh, modern age of wolfish Tudors.  Surely, it was such a splendid Christmas of costume and dancing and thrilling music that scandalized the pious priests who either witnessed it or cattily reported upon it.

From what little research on the carol that I could find, the composition is a traditional one that was collected by the great composer Vaughan Williams in 1912.  Its lyrics were a delightful mystery to me but this stanza provided a clue:

And here is to Dobbin and to his right eye

Pray God send our master a good Christmas pie

And a good Christmas pie that we may all see

with the wassailing bowl we’ll drink to thee.

Even a urbanite like me could surmise that Dobbin refers to a working horse and that perhaps all the other living creatures named are horses as well.  But then I came across the beautiful illumination above which clearly shows that the carol mixes horses with cattle.  Each of the animals’ body parts are wittily toasted – Colly and her long tail, Fillpail and her left ear and Broad May and her horns – which shows, even in medieval times, the English love and reverence towards all the beasts of the field.  And the song also pays tribute to the lord of the castle who receives gifts of beef, pie, corn and beer from his devoted people.

Returning once more to our favorite King, I’d like to think of him during a very different time – at home on a snowy evening in Middleham during the Christmas season, surrounded by family and friends like Francis Lovell, when he was still the beloved Duke of Gloucester and before the death of an errant brother would send his life into a tailspin.   A muffled knock comes to the door and he turns from his pretty wife and calls to his young servant to answer it:

Then here’s to the maid in the lily white smock

Who tripped to the door and slipped back the lock

Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin

For to let these jolly wassailers in

For those who would like to hear Miss Stowe’s version, I include a You Tube link.  I hope it works but sometimes  copyright laws intrude on our enjoyment.  If it doesn’t work, I encourage everyone to go to You Tube and simply type in “Gloucestershire Wassail”.  It should come up like this:

christmas-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the king’s horses (Richard’s too?)….

King's horses - Paolo_Uccello

I recently wrote about the method used to name that was apparently used to name the horses of medieval noblemen and kings, first by colour and then with an aristocratic family surname or title. White Surrey, if he ever existed, fitted this system. 

So, still on the theme of horses, it may be of interest to read the following link, which tells of the horses of Henry V, how they were cared for, and by whom.  

http://www.agincourt600.com/are-there-eyewitness-accounts-of-the-battle-of-agincourt-2/ 

I do not doubt that the general information will have fitted the care of Richard’s horses as well. His Masters of the Horses were the Tyrell cousins, first Sir Thomas and then the more famous Sir James. They were followed by Sir Thomas Brandon.  

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Masters_of_the_Horse

 

Richard III and White Surrey….

Bayard

Once again, while rooting around for information that might be of use in a book I intend to write about figures in the court of Richard II, I have found an interesting snippet. This time my thoughts are jolted with regard to the name of Richard III’s horse, White Surrey.

I have never particularly liked the name, and know that there is some doubt about its veracity, but even so, it is what we all call the great white courser he rode at Bosworth.

Anyway, my interest in Richard II centres on his Holland half-brothers . . . and so I have been going through “The Hollands, Dukes of Exeter, Earls of Kent and Huntingdon, 1352-1475” by Michael M.N. Stansfield, which is the most detailed work about this family that I have found so far.

In 1399, Richard II made a very ill-judged expedition to Ireland, and while his foolish back was turned, the exiled Henry of Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, soon to be Henry IV, invaded England and took over. Among the lords who were with Richard in Ireland was his half-nephew, Thomas Holland III (viscountessw note: his father and grandfather were also called Thomas), Earl of Kent, who had taken his wife and a lot of property with him. When news of Bolingbroke’s invasion reached Ireland, a very hasty return to England was soon underway. This return was bungled, and Richard’s party was soon in Henry’s hands. The unfortunate king would be deposed and executed, the Epiphany Rising of his remaining supporters would be betrayed, and they too would met unpleasant ends.

Meanwhile, the Countess of Kent had been left behind in Ireland, in charge of her husband’s property. When she too returned to England, bringing his goods and belongings with her, she was apprehended and the property seized.

What has this to do with White Surrey, I hear you ask? Well, simply that in a passage about the nature of these goods, I came upon the following:-

“Some idea of a lord’s travelling accoutrements can be gleaned from the inventory of possessions seized with Thomas III’s  widow Joan when she landed at Liverpool, back from Ireland, on 13 January 1400. She brought very little in gold, but a fair amount of silver tableware, 205 lbs 12oz in weight. This went to the royal exchequer and was used to pay some of Thomas III’s debts to Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Lincoln. Equipment for a travelling chapel was also seized, valued in total, books, frontals and all, at £43 8s 4d. Also taken were six horses, three of them coursers and three trotters, with names of aristocratic association such as Bayard March, Lyard Exeter and Bayard Perrers. Their harness and gear, for war and the hastilude, stabling equipment, tents for living in the field, armour for the earl, or perhaps his brother, a chest of arrows and the necessary impedimenta to carry it all completed the possessions brought back from Ireland by the countess.”

Bayard March, Lyard Exeter and Bayard Perrers were (I imagine, but cannot be certain) the three coursers, and in the notes to this passage, Stansfield clarifies that Bayard meant bay-coloured, and Lyard referred to being dappled with white or silver-grey. March, Exeter and Perrers are clearly  references to noble titles or families. Exeter, for example, refers to Thomas III’s uncle, John Holland, Earl of Huntingdon and Duke of Exeter.

As for White Surrey, in 1483 the title of Earl of Surrey was held by John Howard’s (Duke of Norfolk) son and heir, Thomas. I almost wonder if the horse could have been a gift to Richard from one or other of the Howards.

It seems possible that by naming their horses in such a fashion, aristocrats were following an accepted norm, and suddenly I feel I understand Richard III’s choice of White Surrey for his great courser.

Perhaps someone knows much more on this subject. If so, I will be delighted to learn.

(The above illustration is from Black Rose Studios)

More useful than ever

This is the story of a triple murder in Seattle. The trial took place in 1998 and the victims were two drug dealers and their dog, Chief. The case was also featured on an episode of CBS Reality’s “Medical Detectives” that British viewers may have seen on several occasions; most recently on the early evening of Monday 4th or 11th this month. It was established that DNA from other mammals, or almost any animal, is of as much forensic use as is human DNA. It helped that Chief was of a short-haired breed so his blood flowed easily over the killers.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/652373/Dog-DNA-helps-convict-2-in-murder-of-couple-pet.html?pg=all

Remember that human DNA was used to solve crime (the 1980s Pitchfork murder case in Leicestershire) before it could be used to conclusively identify historical individuals such as Richard III. So, thanks to the late Chief from Seattle, should you own a dog apparently descended from a Crufts champion or a horse apparently descended from a Derby winner, logic suggests that this can be proven one way or the other and not just from a pedigree on paper.

Furthermore, whichever species are in that Westminster Abbey urn, we can learn more about them.

Not to be missed …

John Ashdown-Hill’s piece in “History Extra”, defusing a few persistent myths:
http://www.historyextra.com/article/richard-iii/6-myths-about-richard-iii?utm_source=Twitter+referral&utm_medium=t.co&utm_campaign=Bitly

Richard’s Horses

There was an interesting post on one of the Ricardian Facebook Groups the other day regarding the type of horses Richard might have used for different purposes.

It was mainly about the ‘amblers’ he was apparently known to possess which moved in a different way to that which we consider is normal today (walking, trotting, cantering and galloping). They move in a way that to me seems similar to an Olympic walking race for humans, i.e. without the usual up=down motion that jolts the rider. This is called a gaited horse and here is a link to a video from You Tube that shows a modern gaited horse moving.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4eiYN0c5WE&feature=youtu.be

It would have been much smoother for long journeys which they had perforce to make in Mediaeval times and might have been even more important for Richard, whose back, because of his scoliosis would have been less able to absorb shocks.

Meanwhile, elsewhere I was researching the type of horse he would have had in battle: a destrier. There is a Facebook group called Destrier who supply mounted re-enactors for jousts, re-enactments, etc, and they directed me to a video of a bull-fighting horse, which they said is probably the nearest we have today to that type of horse – strong, agile and trained to respond to the slightest touch. Suitable breeds are Andalusian and Lusitano horses.  I strongly disapprove of bull-fighting and watched it with trepidation, but I concentrated on the horse and it was amazing! I have since found a video of the same horse training so you can watch it without fear of seeing a bull tormented. (There is a bull in it at the end, but it isn’t harmed). This horse almost dances! Richard would have been awesome on a horse like this in his armour!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJiaSHwOkcs

So what would Richard have ridden to hunt? The consensus seems to be a courser, which could also be used as a cavalry horse. It was strong, agile, steady and had stamina, not as refined or highly trained as a destrier, but cheaper.

Picture of knights fighting onDestriers

Depiction of Destriers

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: