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Archive for the tag “monarchs”

History isn’t “horrible”, it’s essential….!

Richard III – from ‘Horrible Histories’

“…Imagine knowing the entire list of British monarchs by heart at age 10. Imagine knowing about cavemen courting rituals or what soldiers ate during World War I. Imagine becoming so invested in the life of the infamous King Richard III of England that you joined the Richard III Society, a group dedicated to finding his bones and solving the mystery of what happened to his nephews over 500 years ago…”

The extract above is from this study breaks article which, as you might guess, is all about ‘Horrible Histories’!

It made me think, because I did know my English/British monarchs by the age of 10…by 8/9 in fact. There was a chart on my bedroom wall and it faced me when I sat up in bed. I noticed Richard III even then, because he was so different from the rest. Slender, dark-haired, troubled…or so it seemed to me. The other kings/queens seemed more or less expressionless (except for Henry VII, who looked out of the chart in that rather crafty, sideways manner we know and love so well!)

A present-day friend tells me: “There was a frieze over my classroom door { at the same age} with them all on from Alfred, including the years. I did the research and writing, although none of us could reach where it was placed.”

There’s no doubt that history lessons used to entail knowing our stuff. Nowadays, it seems, they’re taught that the world didn’t exist before World War I. Medieval? What the heck is that? So, the likes of ‘Horrible Histories’ are to be welcomed, because they introduce modern children to the past. It’s their past, after all. They should know how their country developed to become what it is today…and realise that it wasn’t a process that came into being magically in the year 1900!

PS: And if help is needed to remember history and its facts, then there’s nothing better than a good song. So try this one.

The signatures of England’s kings and queens since Richard II….

from https://twitter.com/usefulcharts – Matt Baker @usefulcharts

Well, it has to be from Richard II, because I believe he was the first monarch to actually sign anything. But I’m not stating that as if it’s carved in stone! And the signatures I’m concerned with here are from Richard II to Henry VII, because their reigns cover the period in which I am most interested.

I have always been fascinated by the handwriting of our monarchs. Not so much the recent ones, or indeed those after the first Tudor, but certainly the Plantagenets (including York and Lancaster). The above image is, as the caption states, the work of Matt Baker. His page is fascinating, with charts for all sorts of things. Well worth a visit.

Anyway, to the signatures. Can we, as amateurs, read anything into the way these monarchs wrote their names?

The first one is, as I’ve already stated, Richard II. Well, it’s not a very confident signature. More the hand of someone who is trying hard to be something he is not. In my opinion. He spent his reign in turmoil, and wanted peace when his aristocracy wanted war. Never the twain…

Henry IV comes next. Hard to say what his moniker tells us. It looks shifty to me, as if the only thing he’s going to really give away is the R at the end. But then, he usurped Richard’s throne, and maybe it always weighed upon him. Certainly I don’t think he was a happy man.

Then Henry V. Heavens, that’s a bold, businesslike signature, with a firm line underneath. Definitely not a man to mess with.

Henry VI is very neat, and those two loops are identical. Absolutely. Very measured, when I would have thought measured was one of the last things he was. He was too fragile for that. I think so, anyway.

Edward IV’s looks as if he wrote it when under the influence. It’s hard to make out his name amid all those illegible letters. He was a man who did not relish the mundane chores of being king, and to me his signature looks impatient.

Edward V should be next, Not Richard III. Edward’s boyish signature is…um, very long. Certainly not that of someone who was ready to be king. Which he wasn’t, of course. Ready, I mean. And then he didn’t become king anyway, as we know.

Richard III’s signature is precise and thoughtful, as is his writing in general. He was clearly educated, intelligent, and not one to rubber stamp anything. He’d go through the small print. And he was also innovative, prepared to cut through red tape and make the law fairer to the common man. So nothing like Shakespeare’s awful caricature.

Henry VII’s resembles the tracks of a large, very guarded spider. Finding the actual man in among all those loops would never be easy…which is probably the way Henry wanted it. His character was as hooded as his eyes. He was in there somewhere, but he didn’t let many people inside. Another usurper who always had to glance over his shoulder.

The above are my opinion, and no doubt many of you disagree. I’d like to hear your comments!

Films about the monarchy in Britain….

Not that I think William Wallace counts as part of the British monarchy. I don’t believe Old Longshanks would have had any of that! Anyway, to read an article about films concerning various kings and queens, go here.

But where’s King Arthur?????

Our monarchs and the months of the year….

 

Lists can be very interesting, and someone has delved into the connection between our monarchs and the months of of the year. To see January, go here . February follows here.

Roll on March.

Five important royals who didn’t ascend the throne….

BlackPrince

Edward of Woodstock, known to history as the Black Prince

Would these be your five? Or do you have other suggestions?

PS Who can spot their deliberate mistake?

The royal art of hoping to die in your bed….

A royal medieval funeral

Well, I was at a temporary loose end, pondering what to do to while away a Saturday afternoon…and what did I come up with? Why, assembling scenes of the deaths of monarchs of England. Of course. The devil makes work for idle hands, and mine were indeed idle.

So here are our kings and queens, from Edward the Confessor to Elizabeth I. The line was drawn at the Stuarts, Georgians and so on, in whom I am just not particularly interested. Some of the monarchs who did interest me were most reluctant to divulge their death, funeral or burial scenes, and for them I had to settle for tomb effigies and the like.

The only trouble is…well, when push comes to shove, so to speak…a monarch dying in a bed is, well, someone dying in a bed. It’s difficult for even the most talented artist to come up with something different. At least Elizabeth I seems to have opted for the floor at the foot of her bed, which was indeed an innovative move.

Some of the scenes are the stuff of myth or legend, for example the death of Henry VI…by a murderer who couldn’t be anyone other than Richard of Gloucester. And then there’s the death of Edward V and his brother, smothered so vilely in their beds on the orders of that same Richard. Another is the illustration of a remarkably svelte Henry VIII commending his son, Edward VI, to rule in his place. Did Henry really lose that much weight before dying?

Anyway, here goes:-

Edward the Confessor, 1042-1066, and Harold Godwinson, 1066 If Harold did indeed die in this way. The Bayeux Tapestry is certain he did. 

William the Conqueror, 1066-1087 and William Rufus, 1087-1100 

Henry I, 1100-1135, and King Stephen, 1135-1154

Empress Matilda, 1141, and Henry II, 1154-1189

 Richard I, the Lionheart, 1189-1199, and King John, 1199-1216

 Henry III, 1216-1272, and Edward I, 1272-1307

 Edward II, 1307-1327, and Edward III, 1327-1377. Was Edward II really killed in such a horrific way? And what was the truth about Alice Perrers and Edward III’s rings?

 Richard II, 1377-1399, and Henry IV, 1399-1413

Henry V, 1413-1422, and Henry VI, 1422-1461 Yes, Henry VI’s murderer just has to be Richard of Gloucester. And just look at those evil spurs! Only Beelzebub would have such things!

 Edward IV, 1461-1483, and Edward V, 1483. I won’t bother with the break in Edward IV’s reign. As for the deaths of the boys in the Tower. Well, Richard again, of course. No one else in the whole wide world had even a teensy motive for being rid of them. Right? 

Richard III, 1483-1485 – the best of them all!

Henry VII, 1485-1509 and Henry VIII, 1509-1547

Edward VI, 1547-1553, and Queen Jane Grey, 1553

Mary I, 1553-1558, and Elizabeth I, 1558-1603

The following site is also quite interesting for royal deaths and mourning:- http://www.gutenberg.org/files/44379/44379-h/44379-h.htm

 

 

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