The old myth about Richard striking his heel against Bow Bridge on his way to Bosworth, and then his head on the same place when being carried ignominiously back to Leicester after the battle, is very well known indeed. As is the supposed prediction of this sequence of events by an old woman in the crowd watching the king’s departure.
I have always wondered how Richard would have struck his heel/spur in such a way, but now I’ve read the following:-
“….Bow Bridge was built of stone with five semi-circular arches, piers with cut-waters, and niches at intervals along both sides in which pedestrians could stand to allow vehicles to pass – this was because the bridge was 21m long but only 1.8m wide, leaving enough space for only a single waggon to cross at once….” See here.
1.8 metres is a little over 5′, so I guess the swaying gait of a horse would achieve the supposed incident. I should have guess earlier, of course, since those pedestrian passing places were rather necessary if one wished to cross without being crushed.
In this article , I read: “Its decorative ironwork bears the town’s coat-of-arms (a white cinquefoil on a red shield) interspersed with roses and the coats-of-arms of Richard III and Henry VIII.” I’m not sure about Henry VIII – what did he have to do with it? I imagine it is more likely supposed to be Henry VII.
The above links give much more information about the bridge, as does this one.
When reading the Yorkshire post I came upon the following sentence: “It’s thought that the white rose was adopted as a symbol in the 14th century, when it was introduced by Edmund of Langley, the first Duke of York and founder of the House of York, a dynasty related to the Plantagenet kings.”
Related to the Plantagenet kings? Well, yes, they were all related, but the implication seems to be that they weren’t Plantagenets themselves. As far as I’m concerned, the House of York was Plantagenet, as was the House of Lancaster. They were two parts of the House of Plantagenet, fighting each other.
But there is a school of thought that considers the true House of Plantagenet to have ended with the death of Richard II, who was, of course, the last king of the senior line of descent. He was the only surviving son of the Black Prince, who was himself the senior son and heir of Edward III, who was in turn the senior son of Edward II, etc. etc. It begins to sound like the Bible, with all the “begats”.
The Black Prince pre-deceased his father, and his brothers startled jostling for control of Richard, who was only a boy at that time. When Richard was married to Anne of Bohemia it was expected that he would produce an heir, thus continuing the senior line. But he and Anne were childless, Cue more jostling from the increasingly ambitious uncles. Especially John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who out-ambitioned the lot of them. Because he married the elder daughter of the King of Castile, Gaunt thought he had a right to the throne of that land, and demanded that he be addressed as “My Lord of Castile”. Gaunt also wanted the English succession to go to him and his line, should Richard die without issue, and he is believed to have persuaded/cajoled/forced the senile, failing old Edward III into agreeing to an entail that would ensure this. It is also believed that in due course Richard II disposed of this entail.
Then Anne of Bohemia died, and instead of taking another wife of a suitable age to have children, Richard married a little girl, Isabella of France. Not a wise move, because it would be years before she’d be considered old enough to consummate the marriage. Richard put peace with France above his own succession.
Richard’s rule was not popular among the nobility, and when Lancaster died, his son Henry Bolingbroke became duke. Well, Richard and Henry had never got on, in fact they loathed the sight of each other (or so it seems to me, even though they were thrown together as boys) and Richard banished Henry into exile (a long story). Richard then confiscated the entire Lancaster inheritance, which was yet another very unwise move, because Henry came back with an army. He caught Richard (whose next exceedingly unwise move had been to go off to Ireland with all his friends – he specialised in being unwise) on the hop, and disposed of him. Henry then usurped the throne as Henry IV. Thus the House of Lancaster took the crown.
Henry IV’s coronation sealed the moment the Plantagenets split, but they all remained Plantagenets. There were plenty of people in England who didn’t believe Henry, descended from Edward III’s third son, had any right to the throne, because there were descendants (the Mortimer Earls of March) from Edward III’s second son, Lionel of Clarence. Lionel had passed away some time before, leaving a daughter. The Mortimers would eventually be blood descendants of Edward III’s fourth son, Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York. Therefore the 5th Earl of March, who was a mere child, was deemed to have a stronger claim than Henry IV, who had usurped Richard II’s throne and probably seen to that unhappy king’s murder, and was only descended from Edward III’s third son, John of Gaunt. But slick Henry could easily see off an opponent who was less than ten years old!
And so the rebellious rumbles began and did not go away. They were still around when the House of Tudor eventually held the throne.
But did this dichotomy in the Plantagenet family make Henry IV any less of a Plantagenet than Richard II had been? I think not. They were both grandsons of Edward III as well as being first cousins, I cannot see that Henry suddenly ceased to be a Plantagenet and became solely a Lancastrian. The bloodline remained the same, the difference being that Henry was from Edward III’s third son, whereas Richard had been from the first and senior line.
Then, in due course, Henry IV died and his son Henry V came and went, until his son, Henry VI, a mere baby, ascended the throne. Henry VI reigned a long time, but was a disastrous king, far too weak and impressionable to rule England. He drifted in an out of mental illness, eventually requiring a Protector to be appointed to safeguard the realm. Along came the 3rd Duke of York, who was directly descended from the fourth son of Edward III, but also from the second son, Lionel, Duke of Clarence, through Lionel’s only child, a daughter. It was from her marriage to a Mortimer that in many eyes made the then Earl of March the rightful king when Henry IV usurped the throne. A subsequent marital union between York and March thus gave the 3rd Duke of York a very strong case indeed.
York felt (rightly in my opinion) that he had a better claim to the throne than Henry VI, but his ambitions were thwarted by the convenient (after years of barren marriage to Margaret of Anjou) arrival of Henry VI’s son. It was widely believed that Henry (who had been mentally ill at the time of the child’s conception) was in reality made a cuckold by his wife’s affair with Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset. Somerset was also descended from John of Gaunt, albeit through an originally illegitimate line, the Beauforts. Perhaps he and Queen Margaret decided he was close enough in blood for it to be OK? Who knows. Perhaps it was just passion.
York therefore encountered effective opposition from Margaret, Somerset and others at the Lancastrian court, even though he was better qualified for the crown. Thus he rebelled, and the so-called Wars of the Roses began. You either supported York, or Lancaster, or kept your head down and hoped to survive unnoticed.
The above paragraphs illustrate the very basics of what prompted the Wars of the Roses: the white rose for York and the red rose for Lancaster. We had three Lancastrian kings, then two (three if you count Edward V) Yorkist kings in Edward IV and Richard III.
Then came Bosworth, in which Richard III was cruelly betrayed by the Stanleys, who turned traitor mid-battle to support Richard’s opponent, Henry Tudor (Henry VII), whose actual blood claim to the crown of England was dodgy to say the least. Little more than right of conquest. His descent came through the Beauforts, who were the result of John of Gaunt’s extra-marital affair with Katherine Swynford and thus baseborn. Well, Gaunt managed to persuade Richard II to legitimize them, but when their half-brother Henry IV swiped the throne from Richard, he made sure to exclude the Beauforts from any claim to the throne. The line of succession would descend through his offspring, not his half-blood siblings.
This made Henry VII a mere Beaufort through his mother Margaret Beaufort, whose father was John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, the eldest of Gaunt’s Beaufort brood. But, it is thought Henry VII was probably also a Beaufort on his father’s side. There had been an affair between Henry V’s widow, Catherine of Valois (who died today in 1437), and the self-same Edmund Beaufort (third son of John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset) who was thought to have fathered Henry VI’s son and heir! Edmund was a busy boy between the sheets. I know that posterity has Owen Tudor as Catherine’s only love after the death of Henry V, but Edmund Beaufort is far more likely, as Harriss and Ashdown-Hill , inter alia, both said. It was also thought so at the time, and hasty moves were made in Parliament to regulate remarriages for queens of England. And Catherine’s first son, supposedly by Owen Tudor, was named Edmund. A coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.
Let’s face it, Henry VII’s probable total descent through the Beauforts wasn’t much to brag about when it came to parking his behind on the throne with any real authority. He was not a Plantagenet, and that particular parking lot was not built on solid, unchallengeable ground. So he married Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV, who was a Plantagenet, and thus managed to make himself more secure on the throne by “uniting” the two warring Plantagenet houses. Not entirely secure, for there were pretenders throughout his reign, but he survived, dropped the pretence of being a Beaufort/Lancastrian, and instead set up the House of Tudor, which gave us a truly charming sequence of monarchs, I think you’ll agree. The only one worth her salt was Elizabeth.
So there you have my version of the bare bones of English Plantagenet history from Richard II to Richard III. To my mind, all the kings (between and including those two) were Plantagenets. They didn’t cease to be Plantagenet and suddenly morph into York or Lancaster. They all claimed direct descent through the many sons of Edward III, and thus to all the Plantagenet and Angevin Kings of England who’d gone before.
Dartington Hall, near Totnes in Devon and just southeast of Dartmoor National Park, represents a uniquely British form of historical contradiction. It is both medieval, having parts of a Grade I-listed late 14th century manor house, and modern, being the current home of the Schumacher College and formerly the site of a progressive coeducational boarding school which broke all the molds of English education and even attracted the attention of MI5. Today, it operates a hotel, restaurant and conference center, and has Grade II* listed gardens.
Our visit was prompted by the prospect of staying briefly in the house built between 1388-1400 by John Holland, first earl of Huntingdon and duke of Exeter. The Holland dukes of Exeter were themselves highly controversial figures and their history is closely intertwined with that of the Houses of York and Lancaster. We didn’t…
A Ricardian author, C J Lock, has long been interested in John F Kennedy and has kindly given permission to reproduce her post about the parallels between JFK and Richard III.
“On the anniversary of the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy , it struck me that there are many similarities between two of my personal fallen heroes – both of whom were brutally killed before being able to realise their full potential as leaders.
Both leaders were of the Catholic faith.
Both suffered the death of a young son whilst in power.
Both were accused of treason by those who killed them (Dallas press editorial accused Kennedy at the time of his visit to Texas – Richard laughably attainted by Henry Tudor after he dated his own reign from the day before he actually became king by usurpation).
Both had health problems which affected their spines. JKF suffered from a persistent problem after rupturing a disc in his spine and also had Addison’s Disease. He wore a protective corset which led to him remaining upright after the first shot in Dallas – making him a prime target for further shots where others may have crumpled forwards). Richard suffered from idiopathic scoliosis which we now know would have been barely discernible at the time he lived – both his clothes and armour being tailored to cover this condition. Very few knew of JKF’s health issues during his lifetime, either.
Both lost an elder brother before assuming power. (JFK’s elder brother, Joe Jnr, was originally the one groomed for Presidential power and lost his life in an aviation accident during WW2 – Richard’s elder brother was King Edward IV and was the heir of the York family after the death of the Duke of York at Wakefield in 1460).
Both came to power under a cloud of controversy – JFK’s father was seen to have “bought” votes which swung the result in his son’s favour. Richard assumed power after declaring his nephew (Edward’s son – Edward V should he have been anointed) illegitimate on the basis that Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was bigamous after he had already entered into a former clandestine marriage with Eleanor Butler.
In pictures, JFK can be seen fiddling with his small finger – portraits show Richard doing the same.
JFK did military service for his country and was wounded whilst rescuing the crew of PT109 – Richard also served in military service for his country and was wounded at Barnet.
Both suffered a major crisis early in their short reign – the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the Buckingham Rebellion in 1483
JFK picked the Texan LBJ as his Vice President which seemed an odd choice – Richard kept Lord Thomas Stanley on his council, despite knowing the man had shifting loyalties.
JFK was famously unhappy at the failed “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba for which planning was underway before he became President – Richard was famously unhappy at the failed invasion of France during his brother’s reign.
Both suffered a scandal towards the end of their reigns involving beautiful blondes. (JFK was involved with Marilyn Monroe – there were rumours that Richard was designing to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York).
Both were killed in the heartland of their enemies. JFK had never been popular in Texas – Richard died in Leicestershire, the Lancastrian heart of the country (and he’s still there!)
Both were in power for less than three years.
Both killed by treachery.
Both killed on the 22nd day of the month.
Both killed by fatal trauma to the head.
On the last day of JFK’s life – Jackie Kennedy was handed red roses at Love Field airport – where the symbol of Texas is the yellow rose. The red rose is recognised as the symbol of the House of Lancaster before Henry Tudor usurped the throne.
The man arrested for the murder of JFK – Lee Harvey Oswald, was killed by Jack Ruby, on the basis that he wanted to save Jackie Kennedy the distress of having to sit through a trial. The Duke of Northumberland, who famously did nothing at Bosworth, was killed whilst collecting taxes in Yorkshire for Henry Tudor. It is rumoured he was killed by those loyal to Richard’s memory because he did not engage in the battle. There is now speculation that he did not join battle because he could not – and not because he had previously been unhappy with Richard’s dominance in the north. (But this is only very recent thinking).
After JFK’s autopsy, samples taken went missing, including his brain. When Richard was discovered in 2012, his feet were missing.
Mystery and speculation have followed these two men through history as debate after debate rages on who actually killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy – and what actually happened to the Princes in the Tower whose final resting place, at whatever time they may have died, has never been discovered (unless of course you count the unidentified remains currently contained in an urn in Westminster Abbey).”
This new book looks at the characters, motivations, events and nomenclature of the Wars of the Roses, as we now know them. It confronts the great cliche that the series of battles began in 1455 and ended in 1485, demonstrating convincingly that it was still in progress decades later. Despite the fame of the Henry Payne mural of the two Dukes choosing their roses in the Temple garden (from Henry VI Part I, Scene II Act 4, now in the Commons’ East Corridor of the Palace of Westminster)
Not how it really happened – Ashdown-Hill
it challenges the myth on which it is based. The author goes on to illustrate the events of many later conflicts which ought to be considered as part of the series, devoting a whole chapter to a reinterpretation of one in particular.
My only criticism is that this linear extension could have encompassed other later events.
My sister was looking up names to choose one for the hero of her novel and so I thought I’d check out the meaning of Richard. I have added my own words in italics
Wikipedia says: The Germanic first or given name Richard derives from German, French, and English “ric” (ruler, leader, king) and “hard” (strong, brave), and it therefore means “powerful leader”. Nicknames include Dick, Dickie, Rich, Richie, Rick, Ricky, and others (Dickon!)
Richard is a common name in many Germanic languages, including English, German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Dutch.
Behind the Name says:
Richard means “brave power”, derived from the Germanic elements ric “power, rule” and hard “brave, hardy”. The Normans introduced this name to Britain, and it has been very common there since that time. It was borne by three kings of England including Richard I the Lionheart, leader of the Third Crusade in the 12th century and Richard III, famous prince of blessed memory. Famous bearers include two German opera composers, Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and Richard Strauss (1864-1949), as well as British explorer Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890) and American musician Little Richard (1932-).
Someone had added another meaning in this comment:
“Ri” = King (Gall, Gaelic, Celtic, and Modern Irish)
“char” = Fiery, wind of life breathing in and out your head; Soul
“d” = Demarcation of divinity, definite article “the”.
Richard is a divine king chosen by God and blessed with an equally divine soul from God living in his head that lives and breathes the will and power of God. The name precedes Christianity back to ancient Gall, which means it isn’t in the Bible and isn’t Christian per se. Still, as the Gall, Gaelics, and Celtics fell to Rome and converted to Catholicism, these meanings were carried on in tradition. Most famously Richard the Lionhearted devoted much of his reign and life to the crusades to preserve Christian holy sites, relics, and history. However, the name still bears traditional meaning in regard to Druid and Goth beliefs.
Richard came from the Norse as Ryker but then was assimilated into Gall, pre Julius Caesar before any Roman is known to set foot on the shores of Western Europe. “Richard” is first known recorded use was in 44 A.D. as either a minor king or general that fought valiantly but eventually lost during the Roman invasion or Roman-Gaelic war. Then I found this:
Top Definition on Urban Dictionary
Tall, almost towering, large features, arms, legs. Beautiful heart. Kind, usually reserved about sharing his feelings. Although he is able to communicate well, he feels much more deeply than he speaks. Only those that are close to him will ever really know him. Will see ‘it’ through even if he is unhappy, his commitment unwavering. Will make many mistakes believing he has made a ‘wise’ choice. Realizes logic does not bring happiness. Falls in love only once, usually shocking (completely different upbringings) to him. When he does find her, he is relentless in his pursuit. However, it is not calculating, unconsciously he maneuvers his actions to allow himself to be with her. A strong, powerful force, a positive energy, other men are always questioning, “what’s so great about Richard?” Spiritual leader. Excellent lover, very good with his entire body, making women fantasize about him regularly. A very thick, yummy kisser. Richard is a kind, good, lovely, beautiful, sweet, aggressive, sensitive man with a consecrated heart. Richard is super sexxy!
I wonder if she had a particular Richard in mind!
And finally on She Knows they have the same ‘strong ruler’ definition and then use numerology to say this:
Soul Urge Number: 1
People with this name have a deep inner desire to use their abilities in leadership, and to have personal independence. They would rather focus on large, important issues, and delegate the details.
Expression Number: 7
People with this name are excellent at analyzing, understanding, and learning. They tend to be mystics, philosophers, scholars, and teachers. Because they live so much in the mind, they tend to be quiet and introspective, and are usually introverts. When presented with issues, they will see the larger picture. Their solitary thoughtfulness and analysis of people and world events may make them seem aloof, and sometimes even melancholy.
For fans of historical music one of the highlights of the reinterment festivities in Leicester earlier this year was “Concert for a King”, an evening with music from the time of Richard III performed by the a capella group Aitone and guest instrumentalist Susan Burns, with contemporary texts read by Dr. Tony Bentley. It took place at the Holy Cross Priory Church and one of the songs performed there under the amazing Tree of Life that sprouted from a nest of planta genista, its branches thick with white roses, was “This gentill day dawes” (also known as “This day day dawes” or “The lily white rose”).
This carol is one of the pieces of polyphonic music preserved in the Fayrfax Manuscript, a collection of own compositions and those by other composers compiled by Dr. Robert Fayrfax, organist of St. Albans and Gentleman of the Chapel Royal under Henry VII and Henry VIII. Among the other composers are Gilbert Banaster, William Newark and William Cornysh, successive Masters of the Children of the Chapel Royal. Interestingly they’re all considered Renaissance composers, even though Banaster spent most of his time in office serving the Yorkist kings Edward IV and Richard III, who some historians still see as the last warlords of the Middle Ages. He was made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1475 and Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal in 1478 and died in 1487, only two years into Henry VII’s reign.
This association with the Tudors and the Renaissance, as opposed to the supposedly medieval Yorkists, also applies to the carol itself. It is considered too sophisticated to be much older than the end of the 15th century and because Fayrfax enjoyed the patronage of the Tudor court and it sits alongside songs referring to the union of the houses of Lancaster and York and the welfare of Prince Arthur, Henry VII’s eldest son, it is usually billed as an example of early Tudor music. It even found its way into the soundtrack of “The Virgin Queen”, a TV Series about Elizabeth I.
However, there are some problems with this interpretation. The manuscript has been dated to around 1500, but the carol’s composer is unknown, so it must have been around long enough before that date to become popular despite not being the work of a well-known musician or for its origin to have been forgotten. But its most intriguing aspect are the lyrics:
In a gloryus garden grene
Sawe I syttyng a comly quene.
Among the flouris that fressh byn
She gadird a floure &, set betwene, The lyly whighte rose me thought I sawe. The lyly whighte rose me thought I sawe
& ever she sang:
‘This day, day dawes.
This gentill day, day dawes. This gentill day dawes
& I must home gone. This gentill day dawes. This day, day dawes.
This gentill day dawes
& we must home gone’.
In that garden be flouris of hewe:
The gelofir gent, that she well knewe,
The floure de luce she did on rewe & said, ‘the white rose is most trewe
This garden to rule be ryghtwis lawe’.
The lyly whighte rose me thought I sawe.
& evyr she sang:
‘This day, day dawes.
This gentill day, day dawes. This gentill day dawes
& I must home gone. This gentill day dawes. This day, day dawes.
This gentill day dawes
& we must home gone’.
No doubt Ricardians will immediately notice the “lyly whighte rose” image. This is usually considered a reference to both the Virgin Mary and Henry VII’s queen, Elizabeth of York, while the rest of the lyrics are seen as an expression of courtly love or an aubade, a love song where lovers have to part at dawn. However, when Elizabeth of York married Henry Tudor the white rose of York was merged with the red rose of Lancaster into the bi-coloured Tudor rose to symbolise the union of the two houses and, supposedly, the end of the Wars of the Roses. The white rose of York was instead adopted as symbol of resistance by the Yorkist pretenders Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be Richard of York, one of the Princes in the Tower, and Richard de la Pole, who was nicknamed “White Rose” and continued to press his claim to the English throne well into the reign of Henry VIII. Would it be appropriate to use this symbol to describe Henry VII’s queen, let alone opine that it is “most trewe to rule be ryghtwis (righteous) lawe”?
And what about the other flowers in the garden? They’re usually not mentioned or their significance is thought to be lost, but is it? Alison Hanham, who has analysed a number of poems which she believes have been misinterpreted, identifies the “gelofir gent” (gillyflower or clove pink) as the device of Elizabeth Woodville and the “floure de luce” (fleur-de-lys) as that of Henry VI’s queen, Margaret of Anjou, whose coat of arms contained the royal arms of France. According to her radical reinterpretation “This gentill day dawes” is not an expression of courtly love, but a farewell song sung by Margaret of Anjou, who acknowledges the victory of the house of York and that she “must home gone” to France.
Aitone have come up with yet another interpretation. At their concert in Leicester they suggested that the carol may have been composed for the coronation of Richard III, who unlike Edward IV or Henry VII was already married when he became king and honoured his wife with a joint coronation. In this case the song would be an aubade after all and the queen who is planting the white rose of York next to Elizabeth Woodville’s gillyflower and Margaret of Anjou’s fleur-de-lys would be Anne Neville. Of course, Anne had previously been married to Margaret’s son Edward of Lancaster and the fleur-de-lys also featured in both his and Richard’s arms as well as the royal arms of England. Sadly we will never know, but given how few mementos of Anne’s short life have survived it would be nice to think that this was one of them.
I leave you with three very different versions of this beautiful and mysterious carol. The first is an authentic interpretation by The Sixteen and Harry Christophers, which was somewhat confusingly published as part of their Eton Choirbook series.
The others are “Lily White, Comely Queen” and “Gloriana”, two very modern interpretations curtesy of the enchanting Mediaeval Baebes from the soundtrack of “The Virgin Queen”. Enjoy!
Aitone & Dr. Tony Bentley: “Concert for a King – music from the time of Richard III”, Leicester, 24 March 2015.