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The Conisburgh Manorial Court Rolls….

Conisburgh Manorial Rolls

I’m afraid I wouldn’t be capable of reading the original entries in these rolls. My interest, as those who know me are only too aware, is the late mediaeval period, specifically Richards II and III). I would dearly like to be able to understand the source material for “my” period, but haven’t the know-how. But, if you go to the third link below, you see modern translations. Excellent for us all.

Isn’t it amazing to think such a complete record has survived? If only—if ONLY!—the same could be said of all the records for Richard III. Unfortunately, the Tudors did a very thorough job of making things “disappear”. Including Richard himself, but he’s been found again now, and it’s Tudor reputations that are on the line. Hooray!

To see much more about the rolls and the translations, go here.

Starkey on home territory

This BBC documentary was actually very good and it worked because Starkey spoke about a subject he knows inside out – the Reformation and Henry VIII, relating it to current affairs. From Luther’s theses, indulgences and translating the Bible, first into German then English, he moved onto Tyndale‘s efforts to smuggle it into England and Henry’s efforts, through More, to stop him. Then came Wolsey, Campeggio and the King’s “great matter”, followed by More’s downfall and Anne Boleyn’s rise, reminding us how Henry had three Catholics and three Protestants executed on the same day, whilst always actually remaining a Catholic.

Indeed the quality of this programme demonstrates why Starkey should concentrate more on broadcasting about Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, not interpreting the “Roses” period on an “incomplete records” basis through a “Tudor” prism. Quite apart from Henry VII liking the accounting reference, he is the main reason that the records are now incomplete!

Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 Loyalty Lineage and Leadership by Hazel Pierce.

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Those looking for an in-depth assessment of the life of Margaret Pole need look no further. Hazel Pierce has more than adequately supplied it in her biography of Margaret – Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 Loyalty Lineage and Leadership.  Covering Margaret’s life from early childhood – orphaned at five years old,  Margaret’s earlier needs were catered for by her uncle Edward who supplied her with the necessities – well –  it was the very least he could do under the circumstances – her marriage to Sir Richard Pole – Pierce opines this was a happy one – her widowhood  – the restoration to her  of her brother Edward’s Earldom of Salisbury  by Henry Vlll and finally, her violent death at the hands of an inept axeman aged 67.



George Duke of Clarence – Margaret’s father ‘a myghty prince semley of person and ryght witty and wel visaged’.  At her birth in 1473 he stood third in line of succession to the crown of England.

I must confess that on reaching the end of the book my view of Margaret had changed slightly and not perhaps for the better.  I was left slightly  confused – was she merely obstinate, stubborn and hardheaded,  foolishly pressing Henry’s buttons to the limits – unwisely as it transpired – or was she driven by the rememberance of her noble lineage, indeed more noble than Henry’s,  the present occupier of the throne?   Did she feel honour bound , even duty bound,  after the judicial murder of her brother, Edward the Earl of Warwick, to fight Henry tooth and nail over property matters, a fight that raged for 10 years?  Did this lead to Henry nurturing a dislike for her which would later influence the decision to execute her?  Undoubtedly she infuriated Henry when she encouraged his daughter, the rebellious  Mary,  aiding and abbeting her in her refusal to return her jewels when her father needed them for his new wife, Anne Boleyn.  Margaret seems to have suffered from a nervous breakdown when she and Mary were forcibly parted but later regained her strength and resolve when standing up to the most strenuous of interrogations ,  her courage shining  through in the comments made by one of these interrogators,  Sir William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, who according to Pierce was sympathetic to Margaret’s younger son Geoffrey, but disliked Margaret.  He later wrote ‘we have dealid with such a one as men have not dealid with to fore us,  Wee may call hyr rather a strong and custaunt man than   a woman


William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton by Hans Holbein.  The face of the man who interrogated Margaret over 2 days.


Warblington Castle, Hampshire,   Margaret’s principal residence where she was interrogated by  Sir William Fitzwilliam and Thomas Goodrich Bishop of Ely.

Fortunately for Pierce – and for us – plentiful records have survived that cover Margaret and her sons’ lives ( had the human shredders from the reign of Henry Vll long since departed this mortal coil?)  that have enabled Pierce to write a cracking good book and her meticulous attention to detail must be applauded.  I found it difficult at times to put this well researched and balanced book down.

Margaret’s eldest son, Henry Montague seems the most sensible of the lot although prone to letting his mouth run dangerously away with him from time to time.

Geoffrey, the youngest,  is perhaps the one that took after his maternal grandfather, the mercurial George Duke of Clarence, a loose cannon, but at the same time likeable and charming , with friends  that tried to save him, but perhaps lacking the courage of George. He tried to suffocate himself with a cushion, which,  not surprisingly failed, and his wife was terrified that he might reveal too much if interrogated –  indeed he feared this very thing himself.

Reginald – ah Reginald! – he was the fly in the ointment, safely on the Continent, he managed to survive assassination attempts on his life and was complicit, via his writings, in the downfall of the Pole family.  Reginald survived to become a Cardinal and later Archbishop of Canterbury under Mary Tudor.  For me a further question arises over Reginald’s rather cavalier attitude to his family back in England.  Opposed to Henry’s religious changes in 1537 he sent a message warning that if his mother supported these opinions  ‘mother as she is myne, i wolde treade appon her with my feete”    Reginald seems not to have  give a flying fig over the survival and fates of his family.  If so why?  Perhaps a grudge of some sort, an axe to grind?  Pierce added that Reginald’s actions are so well known that they do not need including in her book.  So that is another story.


Margaret’s son, Reginald Pole, consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1556.

And so around spun the fickle wheel of fortune, until they, with the exception of Reggie, were totally undone,  disaster and tragedy overtaking them all , with even Montgue’s young son, Henry Pole the Younger, disappearing from sight forever once he entered the Tower of London with his father and grandmother.  Poor little blighter.

Although this book does answer many question about Margaret and her family it does leave me with one – did the Poles contribute to their own demise, all in some way stretching Henry’s patience to the limit OR was it always inevitable that Henry would in the end,  annihilate the last of those who had the royal and noble Plantagenent blood coursing through their veins?


The Salisbury Chantry, Christchurch Priory, Dorset.  Margaret’s intended resting place.  Margaret was in eventuality buried in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, at the Tower of London alongside Henry’s other victims.






















A Yorkist chronicler under Henry VII’s nose?

“Hearne’s Fragment” is a relatively little-known source on late fifteenth century England. It is mysterious in origin, missing in part and not entirely accurate in detail, perhaps using old-style years?

To begin with, it gives Edward IV’s birth year as 1440 and errs in those of his brothers as well, although there is another possible explanation for this. It describes Edward’s early life and first reign at some length but says little about Richard’s “constitutional election” (Gairdner) and reign. It also relates how history is being destroyed and rewritten during Henry VII’s reign (Chapter 16): “Oftimes it is seen that divers there are, the which foresee not the causes precedent and subsequent; for the which they fall many times into such error, that they abuse themselves and also others, their successors, giving credence to such as write of (from) affection, (partiality) leaving the truth that was in deed. Wherefore, in avoiding all such inconveniences, my purpose is, and shall be, [as touching the life of King Edward the Fourth] to write and shew those and such things, the which I have heard of his own mouth. And also in part of such things, in the which I have been personally present, as well within the realm as without, during a certain space, most especially from the year of our Lord 1468 unto the year of our Lord 1482, in the which the forenamed King Edward departed from this present life.”

This source writes about Hearne’s Fragment and names the most likely writer: Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. Thomas Howard was born in 1443 and served the Yorkist cause from before the 1469 rebellion. He was given the courtesy title of Earl of Surrey in 1483 and accompanied his father to Bosworth, after which he was imprisoned but restored only to the Earldom in 1489 to undertake various diplomatic duties, such as attending the new King’s daughter’s marriage to James IV. Ironically, he led the English army at Flodden only ten years later, when James was the principal casualty, and was rewarded with the restoration of the family Duchy. He died in 1424 but not before accompanying Henry VIII’s other sister to France for her wedding and presiding over Buckingham’s trial.

As for the absence of material about Richard’s reign, the explanation is surely obvious?

Richard’s act lost in flame….

Tommy Cooper

Tommy Cooper

Here’s how to gloss over the important facts! This is an item in the Leicester Mercury online:-

It says: Richard’s act lost in flame.
(by Leicester Mercury/ posted: August 17, 2015.

“According to Nigel Cawthorne’s book on The Strange Laws of Old England, Richard III signed an Act bastardising all the children of his brother, Edward IV.
“It was never repealed. Instead it was ripped from the files of the Chancery and burned, on the advice of all judges of England, so ‘no memory might remain of it.”

So, Richard just upped one day and made his nieces and nephews illegitimate, and the judges of England promptly upped, ripped and burned it????? Just like that, as Tommy Cooper might have said? It’s like having Chapter One, and then turning the page to find “The End”!

First the fairytale; then decide which Richard it’s supposed to be about….

Richard longing for the north - 1

OK, ‘having a go’ at Richard, will earn a response. Well, why not? All’s fair in love and war. So the above is an imagined image of Richard III. That’s Richard as imagined by his myriad living supporters.

I’m sure the diatribe below has been posted for some time at TALBOT (Sir Knight)1 The section dealing with Eleanor Talbot is just under halfway down the page. And talk about biased! It is copied below in its entirety.

Oh, and before you begin, be careful to sort out which Richard is being referred to, for fear you think Richard III should have resembled the Black Prince! Oh, the writer means Richard II. He of Bordeaux. But as it’s Richard this, Richard that, Richard whomever, it’s all very confusing. The Lionheart wasn’t shoe-horned in. Well, not that I spotted.

Wagging-finger comment is also made about a lack of documents in our Richard’s reign, as if there never were any. Why? Because he acted illegally, of course. Everything is “convenient” to him. Bound to be, of course. This is Richard the…Sec— No, First. Wrong again, Richard the Third! The arch villain himself? Our Dickon!

Right, here we have the real arch villain, Henry VII.


Oh, dear, would you purchase a second-hand courser from him? Let alone let him rule the land! Oh, I’m being very biased here, of course, but then this blog is Murrey & Blue, so hardly likely to glorify Henry! And my business today is to refute the description of events as it appears at Tudorplace.

So, after all Richard’s blatant skulduggery, chicanery and neglect of proof about anything at all, comment at Tudorplace is also made about Henry VII destroying all documents. What documents? There weren’t any according to the first part of their nonsense. Oh, except one copy of Titulus Regius that managed to survive. Survive what? Why, Henry VII’s purge of countless documents from Richard’s reign, of course. No comment is made about this expunging of priceless papers relating to the true history of the land. Nor is mention made about why Henry might have felt moved to such a criminal act. If everything Richard III did was illegal, or at best iffy, surely Henry would have shouted it aloud? But no. First a big bonfire, then a convenient silence. And being a Tudor silence, it was no doubt threatening as well.

Anyway, only read on if you think you can restrain your gut from busting.

Eleanor TALBOT (B. Sudeley)

Died: 30 Jun 1468

Notes: Most historians are today skeptical of the Eleanor Butler story, chiefly because it was Richard III‘s SECOND attempt to establish the illegitimacy of Edward IV or his descendants. The first attempt, incredibly enough, was a claim that Edward himself had been illegitimate. This story probably rested ultimately upon the fact that Edward had been born outside England, in Rouen. There could, then, have been some doubts as to the circumstances of his conception and birth, as there had been with Richard II who had been born in Bordeaux, and who had against whom there had also been charges that his real father had not been the Black Prince but a “certain lady-faced priest” who was a member of Richard‘s mother’s household. In Richard‘s case, his lack of close resemblance to the magnificent and warlike Black Prince made it easier for people to give some credit to these rumors. What defeated this first claim by Richard was, of course, that in order to establish Edward‘s illegitimate, Richard perforce had to claim or imply that his own mother, Cecily duchess of York, had committed adultery–and she was still alive in 1483. By some cosmic coincidence, moreover, Richard dined with Cecily in her London residence at Baynard’s Castle on the evening of the day Richard‘s partisans had first advanced the claim of Edward‘s illegitimacy. Many historians have expressed the wish they had been a fly on the wall in the dining room that night. Whatever happened, the story was withdrawn the next day and the Eleanor Butler claim was then substituted for it. It is odd that given the clandestine circumstances of Edward IV‘s real marriage, to Elizabeth Woodville, Richard never tried to establish that it was unlawful, except to claim that it was doubtful because Edward had not consulted his barons about it, as a King should do. The only attempt to undermine the Woodville marriage was made through the claim that Edward had previously agreed to marry Lady Eleanor Butler, a daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury. Nor has the text of such a marriage contract ever been discovered. When, in 1483, people began to ask if she couldn’t be questioned about the matter, Richard‘s partisans explained that she had taken the veil after Edward abandoned her, and had subsequently died–very convenient, one must say. It’s significant that no members of the Butler family were ever interrogated on the matter, nor did the Church ever issue any declaration that the Woodville marriage was invalid.

Cokayne says Eleanor was a sister of Sir John Talbot, (She was – he was her half-brother, and became the 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury. viscountessw) but the pro-Richard III camp has her as a daughter of an Earl of Shrewsbury. (She was! viscountessw). Exactly which Earl is not made clear, unfortunately. (Oh, yes it is – she was the daughter of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, by his second marriage! viscountessw)

The author of all this confusion clearly doesn’t know the 1st Earl from the 2nd. A grand mix-up is masquerading as fact. viscountessw)

In 1449 or 1450, Eleanor married Sir Thomas Butler (son of Ralph Butler, Lord Sudeley), who died some time before Mar 1461. In the political turmoil surrounding the change of monarchs then, the widowed Eleanor‘s father-in-law took back one of the two manors he had settled on her and her husband when they married, but he did not complete the required paperwork by obtaining a licence for the transfer of title, and the new King, Edward IV, seized both the properties.

The exact course of events is uncertain, but it seems that Eleanor went directly to King Edward to ask him to return her property. Edward (who, though barely out of his teens, already had a reputation for womanizing) was more interested in her than in her property. It is said that Edward made a legally binding contract to marry her. According to the French political analyst, Phillippe De Commines, the priest who later came forward and testified to having performed the ceremony was Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells. Edward married Elizabeth Woodville (who, amazingly, also went to Edward about the return of her property! What a coincidence. viscountessw) in 1464, and it was later suggested that one reason the marriage was not announced publicly was the danger that Eleanor would come forward with the news of her earlier marriage to the King. Stillington rose to be Chancellor of England, along with other lucrative posts.

Lady Eleanor Butler died in a convent, and was buried in the Church of the White Carmelites, Norwich, England. Some years later, the priest in question (Commynes is the only source who identifies him as Stillington) is said to have told King Edward‘s unstable and untrustworthy brother, George, Duke of Clarence, about the pre-contract. Clarence was already on the verge of rebellion against his elder brother; Edward now threw both his brother and Stillington into the Tower of London. Clarence was tried before Parliament (with Edward himself as his accuser) in Jan 1478, convicted of treason, and sentenced to be executed.

There has been speculation that the reason Clarence was killed privately in the Tower (whether he was really drowned in a “butt of Malmsey” wine or not) may have been that Edward wanted to ensure that he did not have an opportunity to disclose in public the secret that would make his brother’s children illegitimate and himself the next in line for the throne. Stillington‘s imprisonment was to be a warning. Only after Edward‘s death did he come forward publicly with that evidence, this time offering it to the future Richard III of England, to prevent Edward IV‘s son from being crowned as Edward V. Richard then took the throne.

No records survive of the meeting of the Parliamentary lords on 9 Jun 1483, where Stillington is said to have presented the evidence of the pre-contract, including documents and other witnesses. The Duke of Buckingham is supposed to have told Morton afterwards that he had believed that evidence when he saw it but had later changed his mind. When Henry VII came to the throne, he ordered all documents relating to the case to be destroyed, as well as the act of parliament by which Richard was enabled to claim the throne; so efficiently were his orders carried out that only one copy of Titulus Regius has ever been found.

After Richard‘s death, Tudor “historians” – including Sir Thomas More in his History of Richard III – named Elizabeth Lucy as the woman Stillington testified he had married to Edward. (Rubbish! viscountessw) Elizabeth Lucy (who may also have been called Elizabeth Wayte) was probably the mother of Edward IV‘s bastard son Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle. An autopsy has revealed that a corpse most likely (Not known for sure if the remains are hers. viscountessw) to be Eleanor Butler had borne no children. Thus his two daughters must have been from a different mother.

Father: John TALBOT (2° E. Shrewsbury) (Wrong – it was the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury! viscountessw)

Mother: Elizabeth BUTLER (C. Shrewsbury) (Wrong – it was Margaret Beauchamp! viscountessw)

Married: Thomas BUTLER (B. Sudeley)

Associated with: EDWARD IV PLANTAGENET (King of England)


  1. Dau. PLANTAGENET (Who this? viscountessw)
  2. Dau. PLANTAGENET (Who this? viscountessw)

Here endeth the Tudorplace version of events. I do not intend to respond to any challenging comments (should there be any) because there is no point. I hold my opinion and those in the opposite camp hold theirs. I’m not about to budge. They are equally entitled to their views, but a slanging match is NOT going to happen here.

On the preservation of sources beyond our shores

Our post on Thursday ( showed that Jehan de Wavrin’s comments on the relative sizes of George and Richard in 1461 are available to us because Wavrin’s “Recueil des croniques et anchiennes istories de la Grant Bretaigne” (p.357) was composed in Burgundy. It was, therefore, beyond the reach of the “Tudor” agent known as the Human Shredder, whether he was Polydore Vergil or Robert Morton.

Similarly Dr. Anne Sutton (in the June 1977 Ricardian) has rediscovered Richard’s 28 June 1483 letter to Lord Mountjoy in Calais, enclosed a copy of the Three Estates’ petition to Richard – and perhaps the evidence Stillington gave to them is available?. The record of Richard’s remarriage plan surfaced in Portugal, thanks to Barrie Williams. Evidence relating to the “Simnel” coronation remained in Ireland.

Is a pattern emerging here? I wonder what else the archives of the rest of Europe have to tell us that England’s own could but can no longer?

Polydore Vergil’s destruction of evidence.

The claim that Polydore Vergil destroyed a large amount of evidence while compiling his history is often derided. Indeed, in certain circles it is the basis of running jokes – I rather think these people think it is an allegation invented by the Richard III Society, or perhaps by ‘romantic lady novelists.’

In Jeremy Potter’s book, Good King Richard? the source of this story is identified. ‘The most serious charge was made as early as 1574 by John Caius of Cambridge, who vouched for the fact – which he boldly claimed to be a matter of certain truth – that Polydore Vergil had committed to the flames as many ancient manuscripts as would have filled a wagon, in order that the faults in his history might not be discovered.’ (Good King Richard? p.101).

Who was John Caius? Born in Norwich in 1510, he was an eminent physician who served three English monarchs in that capacity. (Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.) He is considered a founder of Gonville and Caius College Cambridge, as he paid for the college to be extensively restored. He remained a Catholic all his life, but there is no evidence to show that he was either a member of the Richard III Society or a romantic lady novelist.

Although Potter does not footnote his source, from the context it appears that this information came via the Victorian editor of Vergil’s work, published in 1844.

The powers of the Constable of England

We know that Edward IV made the Duke of Gloucester Constable of England for life in 1471, when he was restored but deprived of the services of John Tiptoft (Earl of Worcester) and Richard, Earl Rivers, both of whom had been executed during the Warwick-Lancastrian revolt. So he was definitely Constable in the aftermath of Edward’s death. He was definitely Lord Protector of the Realm as well – we know this because none of his adversaries sought to prevent him from taking the post, even though the Human Shredder managed to destroy Edward’s codicil that appointed him.

Now here is the 1351 law on treason:
Note that it includes the Lord Protector as from 1459, when the Duke of York was appointed to that position. Henry VI’s council set an important precedent by defining offences against the Protector as treason in the same way that those offences against the King would be.

Now here are the powers Edward granted to Rivers in 1469:,+ordinationibus,+actibus%22+1467+Rivers+%22Edward+IV%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Yn4EVYzmDM33oATFmoLgCQ&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22statutis%2C%20ordinationibus%2C%20actibus%22%201467%20Rivers%20%22Edward%20IV%22&f=false

Will someone tell me if I am going too quickly for those slow on the uptake in Alexandria?

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