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The Rise of the Clans

Neil Oliver‘s

latest history series has been shown through December on Monday evenings (BBC1 Scotland) and twenty-four hours later on BBC4.

The first part, of three, showed how the power vacuum caused by the sudden deaths of Alexander III and his granddaughter was resolved through the clan system and John Balliol’s abdication so that alliances were formed behind the remaining claimants Robert Bruce and John “Red” Comyn, culminating in a brawl in the Dumfries Greyfriars, during which Comyn was fatally stabbed. Robert I’s reign, including his strategic triumph as he unexpectedly arranged a pitched battle at Bannockburn is also explored.

The second part explores how, after the reign of David II, Robert I’s son, Clan Stewart evolved from a branch of the (Norman) Fitzalans, who are now Dukes of Norfolk through their Howard marriage, to supply every Scottish monarch from 1371 and every English monarch from 1603, now through the Bohemian marriage of James VI and I’s daughter. The reigns of the first three Stewarts were narrated, the weaknesses of Robert II and Robert III, the absence and the authoritarian – Lancastrian? – royal style of James I together with the conflict between Robert III‘s sons were used to show how James’ assassination and the ensuing executions, organised by his widow Joan “Beaufort”, resolved this before the end of 1437. Gradually, from James I’s time, the Stewarts succeeded in gaining power from the MacDonalds, who held the Lordship of the Isles.

Finally, we focus on Mary, simultaneously the last Stewart and the first Stuart, through her marriage to Henry, Lord Darnley (of the Lennox Stuarts), and his mysterious death at Kirk o’Fields, up to her dethronement and exile. The clan chieftains played a significant part in her initial downfall, as they plotted to reverse Knox’s organic Reformation that had taken place during her absence. At this time, her half-brother the Earl of Moray allied himself to the Earl of Morton, the leading Douglas. Then, after marrying the (Hepburn) Earl of Bothwell, Mary fled south – and her life ended at Fotheringhay where Richard III’s had begun.

As usual, this evocative series features realistic dramatisations in which Oliver appears almost as a witness in some scenes. The detail exceeds that of his A History of Scotland and, as usual, nobody featured in the episodes is beyond reproach.

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Another royal murder mystery….!

King_James_I_of_Scotland_jpg-e1487678242974-536x372

King James I of Scotland

Well, it has to be said that Leicester has benefited immensely from the discovery and burial of Richard III, and his supposed “murder” of the boys in the Tower. Of which he was NOT guilty.

Anyway, maybe Perth can benefit too, because it has its own royal mystery. James I of Scotland died a very bloody, grubby death, his body being found with 28 knife wounds in a stinking tunnel. In 1437, he too was buried in a house of God, which was subsequently destroyed. Is he, like Richard, still waiting to be discovered?

If he’s found and reburied, I hope Perth will reap some reward. Maybe too, the truth of how he died, and who killed him, will be discovered as well.

Now a lost north-of-the-border king….

james-i-of-scotland

Well, we had Richard III, then they sought Henry I…and now it’s James I of Scotland. I wonder how many others will soon be on the list?

According to this article :

“A plan to search for the tomb of a Scottish king buried in Perth nearly 600 years ago has been unveiled.

“It will be part of a project to create a major visitor attraction in the city using virtual reality to tell the story of James I and the Stewart monarchs.

“James I was assassinated in Perth in 1437 and later buried at the Charterhouse monastery.

“But the priory was destroyed in the reformation 100 years later and no-one is sure of the grave’s exact location.

“The monastery where he was buried was built on his orders and was part of his great plans for Perth.

“Historians believe he wanted to create a complex on the scale of Westminster and move St Andrews University to the city to compete with Oxford.

“Dr Lucy Dean, from the University of the Highlands and Islands, told BBC Scotland: “Thirteen out of 18 of James’ parliaments take place in Perth. He is centralising his government here.

“I’m not sure whether Perth would have been the capital but it was definitely in the running for being the capital. [His] murder halted that idea in its tracks.”

“James I was assassinated on 4 February 1437 while he was in the royal apartments at the Blackfriars monastery in Perth.

“After a group of 30 conspirators were let into the building he tried to hide in a sewer, but he was trapped and killed by Sir Robert Graham.

“A pub and sheltered housing accommodation now stands on the site of his death.

“The area where he died is marked with a stone monument.

“Archaeologist David Bowler, who explored the site in the 1980s, said he was “very excited” by the plans to find the king’s tomb.

” ‘It’s something we’ve all been thinking about in Perth for many, many years,’ he said.

” ‘We’ve all known about the Carthusian friary and we want to know a bit more about where it is.’

“Leaders of this project, which also includes a “virtual museum” depicting Medieval Perth, hope the city could benefit from the discovery of the tomb in the same way Leicester did when Richard III’s remains were found.

“Richard Oram, professor of Medieval history at the University of Stirling, said: ‘If we were to actually locate where the royal tomb was within this complex – we saw what that did to Leicester with the rediscovery of Richard III.

” ‘A lot more people know Richard III than James I but we’re looking to try and change that. So if we were successful that would be a huge added bonus to the project.’ ”

There is more to be read here.

Those accident-prone Stewarts

bloody-coronation-1024x683As this excellent article reminds us, there were eight pre-union Stewart monarchs, or nine if you exclude James VI, who had already reigned in Scotland for nearly forty years before inheriting the English throne. Of these, excepting the two Roberts, only two turned up for a pitched battle with against an English army and only one was actually killed by English troops and the other by accident. A third delegated his fighting duties, although he was quite ill and died within three weeks. Two of them managed to be killed by fellow Scots and another lived in exile in England for twenty years before being beheaded for frequent plotting.

The strangest thing is that, throughout this period, the Scots throne always passed that monarch’s heir, whether six days old or fifteen and no matter in what circumstances they died. One of them, James I, married Richard III’s apparent cousin, James IV married his great-niece and Mary died at his birthplace.

Richard wasn’t the only king to die horribly….

death-of-riii

Richard III’s body is brought back to Leicester. Artwork by Victor Ambrus

We all know the grim, but glorious way poor Richard met his death, his body maltreated at the callous behest of Henry Tudor – who was destined to die in his own bed. He isn’t listed in the link below, but his was not an easy death.  

A lot of other monarchs died wretchedly too, as you’ll read – be warned though, Richard is reckoned guilty of all the usual ‘crimes’.  

http://metro.co.uk/2015/03/26/richard-iii-and-13-other-kings-and-queens-who-died-a-grizzly-death-5118520/

 

More Royal marital irregularity

Edward IV was not the only British late mediaeval king to play fast and loose with canon law. The other case dates from a century and a quarter before 8 June 1461 and had consequences for that king’s heirs; in particular his grandson:

Today in 1337, a first son, John, was born to Sir Robert Stewart, the Paisley-born High Steward of Scotland, and Elizabeth Mure at Scone. Sir Robert was heir presumptive to his uncle, David II, but David was eight years younger and widely expected to have children of his own. He was, indeed, to marry twice but failed to leave any heirs – although being imprisoned in the Tower for eleven years after the 1346 battle of Neville’s Cross didn’t help much, Sir Robert couldn’t have predicted this in 1336, when he undertook a marriage of sorts to Elizabeth Mure.

In the aftermath of Neville’s Cross, as Guardian of the Realm to his absent uncle, Sir Robert and Elizabeth sought to regularise their position under canon law through a dispensation and married properly in 1349. By this time, many of their four sons and six daughters had already been born and they were, arguably, legitimised by the marriage, which ended six years later when Elizabeth, now formally Lady Stewart, died. Sir Robert swiftly married Euphemia Ross, by whom he had two more sons and two daughters and is reckoned to have had eight illegitimate children as well. Jean Stewart, a daughter from his first marriage, married Sir John Lyon of Glamis, from whom the late Queen Mother was descended.

Shortly after this second marriage, David II was ransomed under the Treaty of Berwick, which was a Scottish town until Richard of Gloucester’s 1482 invasion. Joan “of the Tower”, his first wife and Edward III’s sister, died in 1362 and David married Margaret Drummond in 1364, whom he “divorced” in 1370 although this was reversed by the Pope. Although they had been on bad terms, David II died in 1371 and Sir Robert succeeded him as Robert II, to reign for nineteen years.

John, the eldest of his fourteen children, was created Earl of Carrick and was influential during his father’s reign and succeeded him as Robert III in 1390, to be crowned on his birthday. His reign was largely dominated by his brothers, Robert Duke of Albany and Alexander Earl of Buchan. His elder son, David Duke of Rothesay, died in 1402 in Albany’s custody at Falkland Palace. In 1406 he sent his younger son, James, to France only for English pirates to capture him.

Robert III died when he heard this and the new prisoner in the Tower succeeded as James I. He was held there for about seventeen years and returned with Joan “Beaufort”, Henry V’s apparent cousin, as his queen. Albany’s son and successor, Murdoch, two of his sons and his father-in-law were executed for delaying James’ release and the Lancastrian policy of religious persecution was adopted.

From 1436, a plan to depose or kill James was formulated and it involved Walter, Earl of Atholl and Caithness, a septuagenarian son of Robert II’s Ross marriage. It seems highly likely that he was motivated by a disbelief in the validity of the Mure marriage and thus the legitimacy of the offspring of it. The “Avignon” conspirators killed James I at the Blackfriars in Perth during February 1436/7 but his son was crowned and the House of Stewart survived. The surviving Robert_II_of_Scotland Robert_III,_King_of_Scotlandplotters, including Atholl, were tortured and executed.

So were John of Carrick, his siblings and descendants legitimate? It seems never to have been determined by the Church except through the 1347 dispensation. Carrick’s line has ruled Scotland ever since and England from 1603, except for the interregnum whilst Henry VII, a scion of bastardy himself, married his daughter Margaret to the senior Mure-Stewart: James IV.

That petition:
“The kings of France and Scotland, bishops William of St. Andrews, William of Glasgow, William of Aberdeen, Richard of Dunkeld, Martin of Argyle, Adam of Brechin, and Maurice of Dunblane. Signification that although Elizabeth Mor and Isabella Boutellier, noble damsels of the diocese of Glasgow, are related in the third and fourth degrees of kindred, Robert Steward of Scotland, lord of Stragrifis, in the diocese of Glasgow, the king’s nephew, carnally knew first Isabella, and afterwards, in ignorance of their kindred, Elizabeth, who was herself related to Robert in the fourth degree of kindred, living with her for some time and having many children of both sexes by her; the above king and bishops therefore pray the pope that for the sake of the said offspring, who are fair to behold (aspectibus gratiose), to grant a dispensation to Robert and Elizabeth to intermarry, and to declare their offspring legitimate.

To be granted by the diocesan, at whose discretion one or more chapelries are to be founded by Robert.

Avignon, 10 Kal. Dec. 1347

Of well-connected Archbishops

Before the English Reformation, Archbishops were often related to the King, a spare brother from a branch of the Royal family. There were commoners, increasingly so as the years went on. Then the Reformation ensured that the clergy were no longer required to be celibate.

Focussing particularly on the province of Canterbury, there have been three Archbishops of clear Royal descent since 1536:
1) Reginald, Cardinal Pole (1500-58) – a great-nephew of Richard III and a Catholic who wasCardinal_Reginald_Pole ordained late in life, consecrated in 1556 and died on the same day as Mary I, his cousin.
2) Charles Manners-Sutton (1755-1828) – descended220px-Charles_Manners-Sutton_(1755–1828),_Archbishop_of_Canterbury from Anne of Exeter, he was the grandson of the 3rd Duke of Rutland and served from 1805.
3) Justin Welby (1956-) – has been Archbishop since 2013 and was previously thought to be the first incumbent of partial Jewish descent. Earlier this month we learned, through a Charles Moore article following a DNA test, that his biological father was Anthony Montague Browne, a descendant of James I and Joan, traditionally surnamed Beaufort. Ironically, the paternity of Joan’s father is now at issue and she may have been a Swynford.JustinWelby

Subject to that question, this trio of primates would have Edward III as a common ancestor

 

Chaucer, “The Kingis Quair” and Richard III

https://e-royalty.com/featured-articles/the-first-great-english-poetry/

Geoffrey Chaucer, having married Phillippa de Roet, was to be Richard III’s great-great uncle by marriage. He was also the grandfather-in-law of Richard’s sister, Elizabeth. James I married Joan Beaufort, Chaucer’s niece, the cousin of Richard’s paternal grandfather.

Another “Lancastrian” widow

Last week, we saw how Joan of Navarre, the widow of Henry IV, was imprisoned for witchcraft and only released after Henry V, her stepson, died. We were also reminded how legislation was passed just a few years later to prevent royal widows from marrying during their sons’ minorities – this was aimed at Catherine de Valois, widow of Henry V, who died before her eldest son attained his majority in mid-1437.

Joan “Beaufort” (c.1404-45) was the daughter of John, Earl of Somerset, whose mother was definitely Catherine de Roet and whose father was either Sir Hugh Swynford or John of Gaunt. Joan married James I, the prisoner or hostage of the three Lancastrian Kings for eighteen years, who was eventually killed at the Whitefriars in Perth in 1437. Two years later, she married another James Stewart, this one known as the “Black Knight of Lorn” but was soon arrested by the authority of her son’s regents and died under siege at Dunbar Castle.

So this Joan “Beaufort”, even though she wasn’t a lineal  Lancastrian (because she was unrelated to Blanche of Lancaster, whoever her grandfather was) and wasn’t living in England, fell victim to the same suspicions as the Navarrese and French Queens Dowager of England.

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