Royal History’s Biggest Fibs

Lucy Worsley, having covered the Wars of the Roses, the “Glorious Revolution” and Britain in India, has returned with a further series. This time, the episodes earlier this year having been about the Reformation, the Armada and Queen Anne, she covers the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, reversing the contemporaneous “spin” on the French Revolution, the… Continue reading Royal History’s Biggest Fibs

THE THREE HUNDRED YEARS WAR – Part 1: the Devil’s brood

Preface I conceived this article as a defence of King Henry V against the accusation that he was a war criminal. It became apparent, however, that my research was drawing me away from Henry’s campaigns towards a broader study of the origin and causes of the Hundred Years War. Soon, I was reading material going… Continue reading THE THREE HUNDRED YEARS WAR – Part 1: the Devil’s brood

Sometimes, it is hard …

… to know whether to take certain images at face value. Although we have often been told that snooker was actually invented in India during the late Victorian era, here is Phillip II with a cue in hand. Furthermore, the cue extension known as a “swan-neck” must surely have been named after Harold II’s wife.… Continue reading Sometimes, it is hard …

A tale of monarchs and national anthems

Anyone who has watched a Scottish rugby or association football match will be familiar with the Corries’ folk song O Flower of Scotland, which is played before their matches. The second line of the chorus (“Proud Edward’s army”) refers to Edward II, defeated at Bannockburn so that he never actually ruled Scotland although he may… Continue reading A tale of monarchs and national anthems

Does this later case explain Henry Pole the Younger’s fate?

In the years from 1518, before he left England again in 1536, Reginald Pole occupied a number of ecclesiastical ranks, including that of Dean of Exeter. During the early 1530s, just as Henry VIII sought his first annulment, Eustace Chapuys was pressing Reginald to marry Princess Mary, the cousin he eventually served from Lambeth Palace.… Continue reading Does this later case explain Henry Pole the Younger’s fate?

Ten medieval scandals….!

“….What are the scandals that made headlines in the Middle Ages? Kings and Popes would be involved in some of the craziest stories of sex and corruption that would make today’s news seem quite tame. From a cross-dressing prostitute to the trial of a dead Pope, here are ten almost-unbelievable medieval scandals….” Well, you’ll find… Continue reading Ten medieval scandals….!

A new interpretation of 1580s events

We all know that Mary Stuart was beheaded at Fotheringhay on 8 February 1587 and that the Spanish Armada sailed to facilitate a Catholic invasion of England in the following year, leaving Lisbon on 28 May and fighting naval battles in late July, at Plymouth and Portland. The traditional view is that Mary Stuart’s execution… Continue reading A new interpretation of 1580s events

Keeping it in the family

You will have seen him if you have been to Richard III’s final resting place. There are eight small statues on the main entrance (the Vaughan Porch, left) of St. Martin’s Cathedral but only one of them is wearing a doublet and hose, showing him to have lived a century later than the others. This is… Continue reading Keeping it in the family

A truncated reign and a truncated monarch

Right at the start of this series, Helen Castor (left) takes a black marker pen and illustrates the cause of the 1553 crisis on a large sheet of paper. Beginning with Henry VII, very few of his legitimate male descendants were alive at the start of that year – eliminating the obvious illegitimate cases, we… Continue reading A truncated reign and a truncated monarch

You only reign twice?

Edward of Caernarvon, who was born in 1284, was king of England for nearly twenty years from 1307 as Edward II. What of his childhood? In about October 1289, he was contracted to Margaret, known as the Maid of Norway and Queen of Scotland since 1286 when her grandfather Alexander III died. She was a year… Continue reading You only reign twice?