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Tales of a Ricardian Traveler – Debunking a Myth at Dartington Hall

RICARDIAN LOONS

Lady on Horseback Lady on Horseback, mid-15th c., British Museum

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…

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JFK Parallels

Photo of John F Kennedy

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.

Portrait of Richard III

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).”

C J Lock is the author of ‘The Gloucester Chronicles‘ and ‘Desmond’s Daughter‘.

Image credits (JFK): By Cecil Stoughton, White House [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

RIII:See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“The Wars of the Roses” by Ashdown-Hill

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

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.

A Rose by (Any Other) This Name…Richard

White rose

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

Richard

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.

This Gentill Day Dawes

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!

Sources:

Aitone & Dr. Tony Bentley: “Concert for a King – music from the time of Richard III”, Leicester, 24 March 2015.

Alison Hanham & B.M. Cron: “Slain Dogs, The Dead Man and Editorial Constructs”, The Ricardian Vol. 17, 2007 http://www.richardiii.net/downloads/Ricardian/2007_vol17_hanham_cron_slain_dogs.pdf

John Stevens: “Music and Poetry in the Early Tudor Court”, Cambridge 1979.

The Fayrfax MS, GB-Llb Add. MS 5465
http://www.diamm.ac.uk/jsp/Descriptions?op=SOURCE&sourceKey=1237

White roses as Richard passes by….

A-cascade-of-white-roses-made-from-upcycled-materials-is-to-be-created-by-students-of-Bosworth-Academy

This sounds very beautiful indeed. Well done all concerned at Desford.

http://www.hinckleytimes.net/…/white-roses-tribute-rain-dow…

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