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Richard III, Henry VII, north, south…and a soupçon of Robin Hood….

Picture this, as Blondie once sang:-

“…[In 1486] many of the southern nobility and prominent gentry of the kingdom accompanied Henry VII on what an attendant herald described as the first progress of his reign. This took them to Nottingham and then after Easter onwards toward York.

royal progress

A royal progress (not in England, clearly)

“And by the wayside in barnesdale, a littil beyond Robin Hoddez stone, therle of Northumreland with a right a great and noble company, mete and yave his attendaunce upon the kiing – that is to say with xxxiii knightes of his feed men, beside esquires and yeomen. (BL, Cotton Julius B.XII, fo 10. An edition of this text is being prepared by Emma Cavell for the Richard III and Yorkist History Trust.)

“The herald knew that this was a tense political moment, for there had been risings in Yorkshire, whence, as the nervous author of the second continuation of the Croyland Chronicle was shortly to remark, all evil rose. The earl of Northumberland, who had only three months earlier been released from prison, was still on probation. He and his feed men had stood, although they had not been engaged, on Richard III’s side at Bosworth Field the previous August. Was there something pre-planned and stage-managed about the earl and his meyney [sic] coming to ‘submit’ and welcome his king at Robin Hood’s Stone, just as Robin Hood in the story had been pardoned and welcomed into the king’s service in Barnsdale? Or was the detail added by the herald himself, who was struck by the manner in which life on this royal progress seemed to have imitated art?

“Southerners, heralds, East Anglian gentry, or college bursars, were neither ignorant of what the north was really like, nor unaware that the Robin Hood stories were set in an imaginary north. The portrayal of the north as wild and unruly, and its inhabitants as savages, was, by the fifteenth century, a well-established literary convention. It was a convention, moreover, which could be called upon quit shamelessly for political propaganda when it suited governments so to do.”

thus

“…with Henry VII responding in 1489 to a localised tax revolt in the North Riding of Yorkshire (which had also led to the death of the Earl of Northumberland) with the claim that the rebels were intending to ‘rob, despoil and destroy all the south parts of his realm’. Men and women, one is supposed to believe, were lying awake at night in fear of these wild savages from the north. (See A.J. Pollard North, South and Richard III)

Northumberland's signature

Durham Cathedral, Northumberland’s place of burial. Plus his Garter stall plate and signature.

“There can be no doubting that a distinction was made conventionally between the north and south countries. By the fifteenth century the dividing line had broadly settled on the river Trent, especially as far as administrative boundaries were concerned…” (End of quote from Imagining Robin Hood: The Late Medieval Stories in Historical Context by A.J. Pollard. The illustrations are my inclusion.)

We have heard much about Richard III being mistrusted in the south, and of resentment of his appointments of his faithful northerners to plum positions. Was this true? Pollard says that the ‘portrayal of the north as wild and unruly, and its inhabitants as savages, was, by the fifteenth century, a well-established literary convention’. Literary, not literal. Did the south really fear its northern neighbours? Was that the reason for some of the defections from ‘northerner’ Richard at Bosworth?

If so, how clever of Henry VII to call upon the widespread love of the entire English people for their mythical hero, Robin Hood. There, on the Great North Road, by Robin’s stone, the forgiven Earl of Northumberland is received back into the favour of his king.

Robin Hood and Lionheart

Mind you, I do not see Henry Percy as Robin Hood. Nor was Henry Tudor a Lionheart. Cravenheart, more like, for he cowered away at the two battles in which he was in any way physically involved. But he was a brilliant manipulator. It’s written all over his portraits!

Henry VII - manipulator

Henry VII, Master Manipulator

PS. Regarding Robin Hood’s Stone: “A landmark named ‘the Stone of Robert Hode’…was located in the Barnsdale area, and once stood on the eastern side of the Great North Road, a mile south of Barnsdale Bar.”  From http://www.yorkshireguides.com/wentbridge.html

 

 

Who might this Yeoman of the Crown be….?

effigy-from-thames

In the book “Imagining Robin Hood”, by A.J. Pollard, there is an illustration of a brass effigy recovered from the mud of the Thames in the 19th century, during dredging. Pollard says it “has been identified as depicting a yeoman of the crown of Edward IV, whose duties were set down in the king’s household ordinances known as ‘The Black Book’. His armour emphasises the role of the yeoman as the royal bodyguard.”

The effigy is in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries, but the commemorated yeoman cannot be identified. Wouldn’t it be good to know?

You can read about the effigy, now with the Society of Antiquaries, here.

MEDIEVAL RING FOUND IN SHERWOOD FOREST

Recently, a metal detecting newbie had an amazing find just 20 minutes after beginning to metal detect in Sherwood Forest. He discovered a golden ring, though to be from the 14th century, which may be worth up to £70,000.

The ring, with a heavy golden band and a deep blue rectangular stone, appears to be a man’s, and has an engraved image of  a naked Christ-child and of a ‘female saint’ (the newspaper’s words–I would imagine it is the Virgin Mary.)

The find was not far from the ruins of the Palace of Clipstone, also known as King John’s Hunting Lodge, and is may have fallen from the finger of some dignitary on business at the palace. Many kings and nobles visited Clipstone, including Richard Lionheart in 1194, after his return from captivity and subsequent siege of Nottingham castle, which had been held against him by supporters of John. The King held a great council here, which included many notables including the King of Scotland. If there is any truth to the legend that Robin Hood met Richard, it would probably have been around Clipstone, as the king went hunting on his second day at the palace.

Edward I also convened Parliament in Clipstone, and it was while here that his Queen, Eleanor of Castile, began to show signs of the illness that would kill her a few days later while the royal party was on the road to Lincoln.

By the late 15th century, the palace began to become ruinous, as the king preferred to lodge elsewhere, and by 1525 it was in a very poor, abandoned state.

Sherwood, of course, also had many roads through it  so the ring could have merely been dropped by a passerby. There were also two monasteries right in the heart of the forest, Rufford and  Newstead, and several more on the periphery, as well as several small castles like the little-known Tickhill, all of which would have had visitors arriving from various directions.

Treasure hunter finds medieval ring in Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest

 

ring

Robin Hood in Richard’s Era

It was in the 15th century when the legends of the infamous outlaw Robin Hood first began to be written down. Although most of our versions today have Robin existing in the reigns of Richard Lionheart and King John, the late medieval ballads state that the King was one of the Edwards, probably Edward II. However, the 1599 play George A Green actually sets the action in the reign of Edward IV! The Lionheart/John versions first appear in the later 16th century and captured the general imagination thereafter.

The first mention of  Robin Hood  as a possibly historical figure was in 1420, in  Andrew of Wyntoun’s Orygynale Chronicle (although prior to that, the character had been mentioned in the 1300’s in Piers Plowman.)

Andrew of Wyntoun wrote:

Lytil Jhon and Robyne Hude

Wayth-men ware commendyd gude

In Yngil-wode and Barnysdale

Thai oysyd all this tyme thare trawale.

The ballad Robin Hood and the Monk is the earliest surviving traditional ballad and dates from about 1450, while  Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham from circa 1475, the latter, in particular, giving us many of the modern  elements of the legend we know today.

At the time, Robin was also a popular figure in traditional May Day celebrations, and there is some evidence that plays about him were performed in the Paston household in the late 15th century

Undoubtedly, Richard III, Edward IV and other nobles of the day were all very familiar with the tale…and it is interesting that the 15th  rebels  against Edward, Robin of Redesdale and Robin of Holderness,  both adopted this name. It appears that the Christian name was frequently used as an outlaw’s pseudonym,  and the similar sounding Hobbehod or Robbehod was sometimes given to a convicted murderer or cutthroat.

In 1490, during the reign of Henry VII, there was even a complaint brought all the way to the Star Chamber of men behaving badly while dressed as figures from the Robin Hood legend! (They tried to defend  themselves by claiming they were only trying to raise money for the church!)

The demise of the famous outlaw, according to legend, was not by the hand of his enemy the Sheriff, but by being bled to death by the treacherous prioress of Kirklees priory in Yorkshire. This appears in the fragmentary  ballad ‘The Death of Robin Hood’  which was collected in the Percy Folio and is probably 15th c in origin. It is the only Robin Hood ballad to contain a hint of mysticism, where an old woman washing at the stream  calls curses on Robin’s head shortly before his death.

Recently I had the pleasure of being able to look around the ruins of Kirklees Priory  and view the purported gravesite of the famous medieval outlaw, both of which are on private land and  seldom open to the public. Sadly, today, ruins and grave are in poor condition and in need of extensive conservation. The topmost room of the gatehouse (below,left top)  is where Robin Hood was supposed to have breathed his last, after shooting his famous final arrow to the nearby rise where the ‘grave’ now stands.

kirk2kirk1grave

At least this question seems to have been answered:
https://murreyandblue.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/another-historical-anachronism/

Remembering …

David Baldwin

… the Leicestershire author and historian David Baldwin, who died from cancer earlier this month. He lectured at Leicester and Nottingham Universities but will be principally be remembered for works that included:
His biography of Richard III, which was among those suggesting (correctly) where to find Richard, although it slightly underplayed the significance of Edward IV’s bigamy.
The Lost Prince, in which he argued cogently that Richard of Eastwell was Richard of Shrewsbury, the former Duke of York.
Robin Hood: The English Outlaw Unmasked, in which he identified Hood as an adherent of Simon de Montfort, which would explain the Friar Tuck anachronism.
Henry VIII’s Last Love, about that King and Lady Katherine Willoughby.

David Baldwin’s penultimate (68th) birthday coincided with Cardinal Nichols’ ecumenical service at the start of Richard’s reburial week. His death occurred on 6 April, or 25 March (ie Lady Day and the first day of the year) under the Julian calendar.

THE GREEN MAN–SPIRIT OF MEDIEVAL REBELLION?

You see them everywhere, leering down with seemingly pagan glee from the height of church naves, or looking down  from the broken walls of  monasteries such as Fountains.

Often quite fierce of aspect,  sometimes more calm and wise, leaves surround them and tendrils of foliage spurt from nose and mouth in riotous abundance.

Green Men–origins unknown, and many a theory on their origins, from prehistoric deities of the forest carved by secret worshippers or by those who wanted to placate the ‘old gods’ as well as the new, to purely Christian figures that represented resurrection with their symbols of  returning life from wintry death–Jesus, according to some, was also Lord of the Vine.

A new theory has recently been put forward that has a slightly different slant. Could they  really be the spirit of England? A symbol of rebellion as the Saxons fell under the ‘Norman Yoke’ after 1066?

With Robin Hood perhaps being another aspect of the infamous Green Man, there may be something in it….

 

https://aeon.co/essays/why-1066-wasn-t-all-that-england-s-endless-resistance

Another historical anachronism

Richard III, as we know, was originally buried by the Leicester Greyfriars or Franciscans, with whom his family had something of a connection.

In an earlier era, the (fictional) Friar Tuck is portrayed as an associate of Robin Hood, resisting Prince John’s assumption of power in Richard I’s absence.

Richard I died in 1199. The first Franciscan order was established in c.1209, only arriving in England in 1224 through Agnellus of Pisa, two years before St. Francis’ death.

A good thing he was fictional.

Robin Hood as you have never met him before….

Robin Hood - Vampire Lord

This is my review of J. P. Reedman’s excellent story ROBIN HOOD – VAMPIRE LORD:-

Was Robin Hood real? Or a fantasy? J.P. Reedman’s Robin is definitely fantasy. More than that, he is fantasy that becomes entangled with horror. The title, ROBIN HOOD – VAMPIRE LORD prepares you for what follows, when the Robin we all know and love falls victim to the vampire Abbess of Kirklees, who wants him as her mate into eternity. Except that she neglects to ask him if this is what he wants too, and simply goes ahead to prey upon him anyway. Only too successfully. Before he knows it, Robin is one of the undead. And he hates himself, even as he struggles against his vile new need for blood. For him, the death of others is now the only way to preserve his own life, but the very idea revolts him. Can he fight against the dreadful fate bestowed upon him by the False Abbess? From somewhere he finds the strength to defy her, and his punishment is to be incarcerated in a stone coffin, so that soon, to the world outside, he is but a memory . . . and then a timeless legend. But Robin lives on, undead and buried, and awakens in a strange land, where Vlad the Impaler, Dracula, is the prince. Robin soon discovers he has a very eerie affinity with Vlad. I will not say more about this unusual story, except that it is Robin Hood as you have never met him before. If you have a fancy for Robin Hood of the Otherworld, this is definitely for you.

Now I like a good spooky story, especially when Hallowe’en is in the air. So, hoping for some hairs to stand on end, I took my Kindle with me on a recent break at 14th-century Dartington Hall in Devon. Come dusk, I went alone into the empty great hall, where every step echoes, and the sounds of the rest of the building are muffled. Then I became immersed in this shiversome story of vampires and the true eternity of Robin Hood. Hmm, all very well and good to give myself the heebie-jeebies, but afterwards I had to get from the great hall, along the screens passage and out beneath the porch to . . . .the wide, dark courtyard, where the lights of the lodgings on either side shone through the night. Suddenly it was a l-o-n-g way to the East Wing, my husband and the safety of our room.

It is with some honesty that I say my feet fair flew!

The book can be purchased at Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Robin-Hood-Vampire-Lord-J-P-Reedman-ebook/dp/B00KDIM34K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1414774385&sr=1-1&keywords=robin+hood+-+vampire+lord and at Amazon.co.uk http://www.amazon.co.uk/Robin-Hood-Vampire-Lord-J-P-Reedman-ebook/dp/B00KDIM34K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414774493&sr=8-1&keywords=robin+hood+-+vampire+lord

Just make sure the doors and windows are locked when you read it . . .

PS – I also came out of that great hall with a ghost story of my own to write.  Thank you Dartington, and above all, thank you J P Reedman!

 

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