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A MURAL FOR QUEEN ELEANOR

Stony Stratford is a small place today but in the medieval era it was along one of the main routes towards London and frequently visited by passing notables. Historically, it is primarily remembered for being the spot where Richard of Gloucester and the Duke of Buckingham finally met up with Edward V…beginning the dramatic chain of events that occurred  in 1483.

However, several hundred years earlier, Stony Stratford was the temporary resting place for the body of Eleanor of Castile, the wife of Edward I, who had died at Harby in Nottinghamshire. An ‘Eleanor Cross’ was set up at each place along the route taken by her funeral cortege, at Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Hardingstone near Northampton, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St Albans, Waltham, Westcheap and Charing. Only three are extant in modern times–the crosses at Geddington, Northampton, and Lincoln, although a few fragments from several other Eleanor crosses remain in various museums across the country. Most of the monuments were destroyed during the Civil War.

Edward I was a harsh King but he did seem to love his wife, with whom he had 16 children. Eleanor herself was not a popular Queen in her lifetime but was a rich heiress in her own right and an astute businesswoman. Her reputation has improved since the 17th century. It is good to see this rather forgotten queen commemorated by this new painting in the town where one of the crosses to her memory once stood.

 

ELEANOR OF CASTILE MURAL/VIDEO

 

ELEANOR OF CASTILE MURAL/ARTICLE

crossNorthampton’s Eleanor Cross–in need of TLC

ELCASStony Stratford’s New Mural

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John Ball and Colchester

Here are some of the panels just inside the door of the Colchester Playhouse, now a theatre-themed public house. They illustrate John Ball, after whom a minor town centre road is also named, becoming a priest, a prisoner at Maidstone and then participating in the 1381

Peasants’ Revolt (from 30 May), fighting at Blackheath (on 12 June) and then being executed at St. Alban’s on 15 July that year.

A “The Legendary Ten Seconds” Christmas

Murrey-and-Blue by The Legendary Ten Seconds to be released on 1st November 2017 which is the anniversary of when Richard, later Richard III, was created the Duke of Gloucester in 1461.

 

A concept album of songs by The Legendary Ten Seconds about the Wars of the Roses and England in the late fifteenth century.

 

Featuring the following songs:-

 

  • The Boars Head, a song inspired by the chapter in a book by Toni Mount about a medieval Christmas.
  • John Judde, who died at a battle at St Albans, another song inspired from Toni Mount’s book about life in medieval London.
  • The Medieval Free Company, inspired by a display of archery and medieval life of a Wars of the Roses reenactment group at Buckland Abbey.
  • Plantagenet Pavane, a stately dance usually in slow duple time but in true Legendary Ten Seconds style this instrumental is played in triple time.
  • Francis Cranley, a song about the main character in a Ricardian novel called The Woodville Connection written by Kathy Martin.
  • The Woodville Household, a song for the fifteenth century reenactment group who portray the retinue of Sir Anthony Woodville.
  • The Month of May, a fictional exchange of letters written during 1483.
  • John Nesfield’s Retinue, this instrumental is for the retinue of John Nesfield.
  • The Seventh of August, Henry Tudor lands at Mill Bay in August 1485 with his French mercenaries. A song inspired by a book written by Chris Skidmore.
  • The Dublin King, a song about Lambert Simnel and the battle of Stoke in 1487,

inspired after reading a book of the same name by John Ashdown-Hill.

  • Lambeth MS 474, an instrumental for the book of hours of Richard III
  • Shining Knight, written by Riikka Katajisto and Ian Churchward for all the Ricardian ladies who have fallen in love with Richard III of which there are very many.
  • Court of King Richard III, a new 2017 recording of the song which was originally featured on the Tant le desiree album. The version of this song features new bass guitar and singing.
  • White Surrey August 1485, another new 2017 recording of the song which was

originally featured on the Tant le desiree album which features a mix of new recordings and also old recordings of the original version of this popular song.

 

Album artwork painted by G Harman of Red fox illustrations.

 

Ian Churchward vocals, guitars and mandola.

 

Lord Zarquon keyboards, bass and drums.

 

David Clifford bass guitar on John Judde, The Medieval Free Company, Court of King Richard III and White Surrey August 1485.

 

Rob Bright guitar on John Judde, John Nesfield’s Retinue and The Seventh of August.

 

Pippa West vocals on The Boars Head, The Medieval Free Company, Francis Cranley and The Month of May.

 

Elaine Churchward vocals on The Seventh of August.

 

Camilla Joyce vocals on the 2017 versions of Court of King Richard III and White Surrey.

 

John Bessant lap steel guitar on The Dublin King and Lambeth MS 474.

 

All songs written by Ian Churchward except Shining Knight written by Riikka Katajisto and Ian Churchward.

 

All songs arranged by Lord Zarquon.

 

Recorded in Torbay at Rock Lee and Rainbow Starshine studios for Richard The Third Records.

 

THE MONTH OF MAY (1483)

Dearly beloved I greet you this day

So much has happened in the month of May

The stench from the street assaults my nose

How I do long for the scent of a rose

 

The news of the queen is very disturbing

Remaining in sanctuary so we are learning

The date of the coronation is set

One Sunday in June it’s not happened yet

 

Dearly beloved I greet you good day

So much has happened since the month of May

Of true honesty there’s nought to be had

And the stench from the Thames it is terribly bad

 

The news of Lord Hastings is very disturbing

Of his execution this we are learning

The date of the coronation draws near

Of its cancellation I really do fear

Where another Duke of Gloucester died

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To find the incongruous ruins of this Bury St. Edmunds building, stand on Fornham Road, facing the supermarket car park with the car dealership and the bottom of Station Hill behind you then walk a few paces to the left. St. Saviour’s Hospital dates from about 1184 and was probably founded by Samson, the town’s abbot to accommodate twenty-four residents but frequently had financial problems.

In 1446/7, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, who had been Lord Protector and Defender of the Realm to Henry VI by the same law under which Richard was to be invested, came here to await trial for treason. He died here “in suspicious circumstances” on 23 February, to be buried in St. Alban’s Abbey.

The Hospital was, predictably, dissolved in 1539 and the ruins consist of a large arch and some ground behind it, with several explanatory plaques.

Further reading: http://www.stedmundsburychronicle.co.uk/Rel-hospitals.htm

The True History of King Richard III (Part 2)

The Battle of St. Albans, 1455.

Having been two years in the womb, Richard was naturally a forward child, and in no time at all he was not only walking but wearing a little suit of armour. The Duke of York had this made for him by the village blacksmith,  an advanced craftsman who doubled as the castle armourer. This meant it could easily be adjusted as Richard grew.

Richard was not yet strong enough to lift what we call a two-handed sword, or a poleaxe, but he could manage what is politely described as a kidney dagger, and rapidly became an expert with it, through long hours of practice with the dagger in one hand and a rusk in the other.

The King at this time was Henry VI. As he was a Lancastrian he was obviously a very good man, but more than that he was saintly, so saintly that at times he didn’t know who he was or where. His wife, Margaret of Anjou, was by this time doing most of the heavy lifting. People didn’t like Margaret, even though she was Queen, as she was also French, and a woman, and had too much to say for herself. She also favoured men who weren’t the Duke of York, especially the Duke of Somerset, who hated York and was also grossly incompetent. This team had already comprehensively lost the war with France, and the Government owed the Duke of York a lot of money. This made York very cross.

York got together with his brother-in-law, Salisbury, and his wife’s nephew, Salisbury’s son, the Earl of Warwick. (It’s easier to refer to these two by their titles as the were both called Richard Neville, which was confusing even at the time.) There were other lords there too, but these men were less important and it might confuse you if I gave them names. Just imagine them grunting agreement in the background.

York and his friends had a few beers and they decided they must go to the King and tell him to get rid of Somerset. As the King had lots of people about him they didn’t trust, this meant that for safety’s sake they had to take an army with them.

York decided to take his youngest son Richard with him as a sort of mascot. The idea was that Warwick would hold little Richard’s hand and lead him onto the battlefield before things started, to exchange pennons with the King’s mascot.

However, when they got to St. Albans and met the King’s army, it soon became apparent that none of this was going to happen. The King wasn’t prepared to negotiate and he certainly wasn’t ready to hand over Somerset. He and his men were well dug in behind barricades in the centre of the town, and York and his friends were at something of a loss.

Then little Richard suggested to Warwick that if they (and Warwick’s men) sneaked around the back alleys and gardens, they could take the enemy in the flank and surprise them, And because no one had any better ideas, that’s what they did.

The plan worked wonderfully, and soon Warwick, Richard and a host of followers were cutting their way through the Lancastrian leadership. As they charged they cried ‘A Warwick! A Warwick!’ which confused the Lancastrians, who thought they were in St. Albans – as they were.

Richard, of course, was very small, but he was just the right size to run between men’s legs and stab them in the groin through the gaps in their armour. In no time at all he had killed the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Clifford, and the Duke of Somerset in just this fashion. Whereupon the enemy lost heart and surrendered, much to Richard’s disappointment. He had really enjoyed stabbing those lords and now wanted to stab Henry VI.

His father forbade this. York was now quite content because Somerset was dead, and he and his friends were in a position to force the King to allow them to form his government. When Richard had a tantrum over this decision, York gave him a severe ticking-off and sent him to bed without supper.

Interlude


It is now time for a little housekeeping and explanation. The political situation between 1455 and 1459 is too boring and complicated to go into here. Suffice it to say that sometimes the Duke of York was in power, and sometimes the Duke of Somerset and Queen Margaret were. Of course, this Somerset was not the one Richard had killed, but his son, who most confusingly had the same title. Similarly King Henry VI was sometimes insane, and sometimes what passed for ‘normal’ in the case of Henry VI. In other words, he wasn’t actually catatonic, and gave the impression that he was merely unworldly, and in fact quite holy. Had he been a friar, he’d quite possibly been made a saint while he still lived, but as a king he was more in the way of an inconvenience, often signing things he was not supposed to sign, and quite frequently granting the same thing to two different people.

Richard had a number of brothers and sisters alive at this time. The eldest was Anne, who was no longer at home, being married to the Duke of Exeter. The idea of these arranged marriages was to build alliances with other noble houses, but unfortunately Exeter hated both Anne and her father, the Duke of York. (This is no reflection on Anne or York. as Exeter hated everyone except Lord Egremont, and was always going around annoying people and getting thrown into the Tower.)

The next eldest were Edward and Edmund. Everyone knows Edward, who was later to become King Edward IV. He was very tall and good looking, and all the ladies liked him, so he always got extra chips on his plate when he lined up for dinner. Eventually, as a direct result, he became rather fat. No one knows much about Edmund, though he was probably similar to Edward, but nicer. These two lived in their own establishment, which may have been at Ludlow, where they were mercilessly bullied by a boy named Croft. Or, as they called him, Bonzo. Later this same Croft became a faithful servant, which probably proves something about bullies.

Next was Elizabeth, who was married to the Duke of Suffolk. If you’d met Suffolk in the street, you’d have thought him a moderately prosperous turnip farmer with no more wits than he needed for the job. But he was in fact a duke, and Elizabeth must have loved him as they had lots of babies together.

Then there was Margaret, of whom little needs to be said except that she was exceptionally tall. Had the House of York put out a ladies’ football team, Margaret would have played centre half. Then there was George, who shouted a lot and tried to be a bully. Then Richard himself. These three were in the nominal care of their mother. However the Duchess Cecily was very devout. She spent most of her time kneeling in the chapel, praying for the souls of her deceased children and also praying that she would have no more, just in case it turned out to be a three year pregnancy.

They were not always at Fotheringhay. Sometimes they would move to Ludlow, or to Berkhampstead, or to Baynard’s Castle in London, which must not be confused with Barnard Castle, a place they did not own. Occasionally they even went to Sandal, which is in Yorkshire, although not very deep into the county. Although the Duke of York had ‘York’ in his title, he actually owned very little of Yorkshire. Indeed, much of the county belonged to Henry VI (in his role as Duke of Lancaster) or to various other nasty Lancastrian persons, like Lord Clifford for example. This had been set up just to confuse foreigners.

 

Sir Thomas Vaughan (executed 1483)

If you try to research Sir Thomas Vaughan on the internet you may become quite confused. Some sites suggest he was of the Tretower branch of the Vaughans. Highly unlikely, you might think, given that that family were strong Ricardian Yorkists. Others link him with the Vaughan family of Hergest Court. There were of course several Vaughan families in Wales

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Vaughan, written by Professor R. A. Griffiths, should have removed this problem of identification. The fact is that Vaughan was the son of Robert Vaughan of Monmouth and his wife Margaret. Thomas Vaughan entered royal service under the Lancastrians and was granted the status of naturalised Englishman at the urging of the Earl of Somerset, which suggests that the Beauforts were his original patrons. Later he served as councillor of Jasper Tudor.

However, he was with the Yorkists at Ludford Bridge and subsequently attainted. Returning with the Yorkists in 1460, he recovered his office of Master of Ordnance and was also made Keeper of the Great Wardrobe. After Second St. Albans he fled abroad with all or part of the Yorkist treasure, but was captured by French pirates. Edward IV subsequently contributed £200 towards his ransom.

Vaughan continued in Edward’s favour and was given a number of important offices over the years. His role was by no means confined to Wales. For example, he was Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex in 1466-67. This may reflect his marriage to Eleanor, daughter of Sir Thomas Arundel and widow of Sir Thomas Browne, since this lady had significant landed interest in South-east England.

As is rather better known, Vaughan was also a key member of the Prince of Wales’ household, and was involved in the delegated government exercised by the Prince’s Council in the Marches of Wales.

Vaughan should not be thought of as an ‘obscure Welshman’ or simply as a grey-haired innocent killed for simple loyalty. He was a man of considerable influence with his own mansion in Westminster, and by no means to be written off as insignificant.

Although it is sometimes suggested that the Welsh gentry came to prominence as a result of Tudor favour, Vaughan’s career is proof that a Welsh gentleman could gain considerable advancement under the Yorkists, and indeed under the Lancastrians.

We do not have sufficient information to say whether Richard III was justified in executing Vaughan, but what is clear is that Vaughan was a figure of significant importance, whose career perhaps needs to be looked at in more detail, instead of his being regarded as a footnote to Anthony Woodville.

At some point Vaughan was interred in Westminster Abbey where his tomb may still be found.

 

 

 

“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.

12 surprising facts about the Wars of the Roses

Thanks to Matt Lewis:

http://www.historyextra.com/article/military-history/12-facts-wars-roses?utm_source=Facebook+referral&utm_medium=Facebook.com&utm_campaign=Bitly

Poor “old” Richard….!

Reece Dinsdale

Oh, dear, yet another actor well in his fifties, playing Richard, who was just in his thirties! I suppose they have to do this, so that Shakespeare’s daftness about Richard fighting in the 1st Battle of St Albans (when he was still only two) can appear more likely to the gullible!

What do I think of it so far? Rubbish!

The Lonely Death of Duke Humphrey

Humphrey.jpg

{Humphrey of Gloucester’s quarters marked by a plaque, now near Bury St. Edmunds’ Tesco and opposite the railway station.}

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, was the youngest son of Henry IV (Bolingbroke) and so the youngest brother of Henry V, with whom he fought at Agincourt.After the death of Henry V, he became Protector (in England) for his nephew Henry VI, although his powers were always limited, and at times superseded, not least when his elder brother, Bedford, came home from France.

Humphrey was a man of pronounced opinions, and was not always noted for his responsibility. For example, his actions in trying to take power in Flanders, on the basis of a very dubious marriage to Countess Jacqueline of Holland,Zeeland and Hainault, helped drive a huge wedge between England and its principal ally, Burgundy.

By 1441, Jacqueline was long gone, and Humphrey was married to his sometime mistress, Eleanor Cobham. It was through this lady that his enemies opened their attack against him.

Why did Humphrey have enemies? It is simplistic to speak of a ‘war party’ and a ‘peace party’ at court. There was a range of opinions, and most people recognised that the long, losing war with France needed to be settled by negotiation. The burning question of the day was how far should concessions be made. Humphrey was not inclined to make any concessions at all. He strenuously opposed the release of the Duke of Orleans (in English custody since 1415) and seems to have taken the view that nothing much would do except the implementation of the Treaty of Troyes in full. Given the military situation in France at this time (and indeed for some years before) this was totally unrealistic. Humphrey appears to have thought that ‘one last push’ would do it. That a powerful English army, sent into France, would win another Agincourt and the supporters of Charles VII would just give up.

The snag with this theory is that England did not have the resources (in men and money) to put such an army in the field. The crown was hugely in debt, and Parliament was reluctant to find money for ambitious ventures on the scale required. (In addition, there is really no reason to think that even another Agincourt would have made Charles VII give up. His armed forces had gone from strength to strength, and the French had amply proved their resilience.)

Henry VI was strongly in favour of peace at almost any price. His preferred advisers (Suffolk and Somerset) took a similar view, but undoubtedly felt threatened by Humphrey and his supporters. The King’s uncle was still popular in certain circles (notably London) and he and those who thought like him were apt to categorise any concession to the French as treason – or at least the next thing to it.

(The parallel with Richard II and his dispute with his Uncle Gloucester, Thomas of Woodstock, in the 1390s is almost complete. Except that Humphrey had at least seen serious action in the field, which was more than could be said for Woodstock.)

Eleanor Cobham consulted astrologers. There was nothing wrong with this, as it was common practice among the upper classes. Where she made her mistake was to ask Thomas Southwell and Roger Bolingbroke to cast a horoscope for Henry VI. They predicted he would die in July or August 1441. This was ‘imagining the death of the King’ and counted as high treason. How the powers-that-be learned of the matter is unknown, but governments generally have spies. Southwell was lucky to die in prison, Bolingbroke (the principal of St Andrew’s Hall, Oxford) was hanged drawn and quartered and Margery Jourdemayne (who had provided Eleanor with potions to help her conceive) was burnt at the stake, presumably because her actions were considered treasonable.

As for the Duchess herself, she was made to perform a Jane Shore style penance through the streets of London on three occasions, then imprisoned for life. She was also forcibly divorced from her husband by the church authorities.

Although there was no suggestion that Duke Humphrey was personally involved in the matter, the outcome of these events was that he became a pariah at Court, and much of the obstruction to the King’s peace plans were removed.

However, Gloucester’s enemies still did not feel secure. In particular, the proposed cession of Maine (as part of the package that would eventually bring Margaret of Anjou to England) was highly controversial and was likely to lead to opposition which Gloucester would be well qualified to lead. The Parliament of February 1447 was likely to provide a suitable platform. Suffolk (or someone close to him) decided that a pre-emptive strike against Humphrey would be the thing, and the only suitable method was an accusation of treason.

The Parliament was moved at short notice from Cambridge (where Humphrey had some support in the University) to St. Albans. When Gloucester arrived he was greeted by two knights, John Stourton and Thomas Stanley (apparently the father of that Thomas Stanley). They persuaded him to go straight to his lodgings instead of attending the King. Later that day, a group of peers, headed by Somerset, arrested him, and his request to be allowed to see Henry VI were denied. Over the next few days forty of his followers, including his natural son, Arthur, were arrested.

Although Yorkist chronicles suggest that Gloucester was murdered, it seems more likely that the shock brought on a major stroke or a similar medical event. He lay in bed for three days, unresponsive, before dying on 23 February 1447.

Eight of his followers, including his son, were found guilty of treason, but were quite literally reprieved on the gallows and given pardons. It is highly unlikely they were guilty of anything. The allegations were that Gloucester had been planning a rising in Wales, or that alternatively he had planned to kill Henry VI during the Parliament, make himself King and free his wife. Neither seems credible.

Had Humphrey not died when he did, it’s unlikely he’d have been given a fair trial, as some of his property was granted away several days before his death, and much more on the day of it. He was rich and therefore a target for the land-hungry. The Duke of York, outside the ruling clique and with considerable property, no doubt took due note. It is hardly surprising that York grew increasingly suspicious of the likes of Suffolk and Somerset – he had good reason.

On the last day of the Parliament, Eleanor Cobham was declared legally dead, to ensure she had no possible claim on Duke Humphrey’s estate. It is interesting to note that Edward IV was not the first to think of such a device.

Sources:

Conquest; Juliet Barker.

The Reign of King Henry VI; Ralph A. Griffiths.

 Henry VI; Bertram Wolffe

 

 

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