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The Worst Name in the Ricardian World?

I recently found out that the famous explorer, Stanley (he of “Dr Livingstone, I presume” fame) had chosen his name as a tribute to the man who unofficially adopted him, which is fair enough.  It was just a shame that his adopted father’s surname was STANLEY.
But it gets worse, his choices for his christian names were HENRY (also after his ‘father’) and MORTON! Could there be a worse name to choose from a Ricardian perspective? His original name was John Rowlands, a much better name in my opinion. But let us give him the benefit of the doubt – surely this unfortunate choice of name must have been a sad coincidence?
But hold on, there are a few more coincidences at work here – I have read a little about his life and I found out he was born a bastard… in Wales! This is beginning to sound rather familiar – we all know another Welshman, of bastard stock, called Henry. And guess what!?  Henry VII and Henry Morton Stanley were both born on the same date – 28th January!! Neither were brought up by their mother for most of their childhood. Both crossed the sea to find a better life for themselves – Henry VII to England and Henry Morton Stanley to America.
Stanley later explored Africa, notably the Congo, but he was seen by some as unnecessarily cruel and admitted himself that he was thought of as ‘hard’. The Rev. J. P. Farler met with African porters who had been part of one of Stanley’s expedition and wrote the following: “Stanley’s followers give dreadful accounts to their friends of the killing of inoffensive natives, stealing their ivory and goods, selling their captives, and so on.”
Henry VII was also seen as a hard man, he also killed inoffensive people (eg Edward, Earl of Warwick) and he also stole from ordinary people (harsh taxes/Morton’s fork).

Do you see the resemblance between their pictures? No? OK, maybe that’s pushing it a bit too far!

Picture of Henry Morton Stanley             Henry7England

If you want to read more about Henry Morton Stanley click here

Image credits:  H M Stanley: See page ( for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Henry VII: By Unknown; NPG attributes to unknown artist, others suggest by Michel Sittow. (Uploaded by en:User:Isis and en:User:Andre Engels) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Book Review: Henry VIII – Tudor Serial Killer: His Victims and their Stories by Gerard Batten

Lucas Horenbout - Henry VIII - WGA11740

I was interested to read this book, first of all, because it seemed to me that the title is expressing the view of many Ricardians, who find it baffling that Richard III is seen by many as the archetypal murderous tyrant when clearly Henry VIII was far more murderous and tyrannical.

The book begins by examining whether Henry could be justifiably called a psychopath, and I think the answer is pretty unequivocal. The author cites a book which ranks Henry against a psychological spectrum designed to identify psychopathic traits, in which Henry scored 174 where the starting score for a psychopath is 168. He scored particularly high for emotional detachment and ruthlessness.

Henry’s health and injuries are also considered and the author points out that, if his behaviour deteriorated after his famous jousting accident, he was already showing some of those psychopathic tendencies before that.

About seventy of Henry’s victims and the reasons for their demise are explored, grouped according to these reasons. There is some overlap, but generally I feel this is quite a sensible way of organising the book – it tends to sort them naturally in a more or less chronological order as well.

There is a ‘Verdict’ given in Chapter 19 which states his good and bad qualities, but the author does seem to admire his strength and the effects of Henry’s break with Rome, stating that his negative characteristics contributed to his being able to force through his radical changes. This praise for Henry’s ‘freeing the English nation from the influence and power of a foreign potentate’ (the Pope) serves to reinforce the author’s own political agenda, as he is opposed to England being ruled by Europe, as a UKIP MEP.

He then goes on to cite the discovery of Richard III’s remains and the information revealed by his DNA’s analysis, speculating on how much could be discovered if other monarchs’ remains could be similarly examined.

Finally, there are two Appendices – the first listing all of Henry’s victims in chronological order and the second pointing out which English monarchs’ tombs have already been disturbed.

Mr Batten does not say much about Richard and, in the scant remarks he does make, he states that Richard ‘murdered his rivals’ to obtain the throne. However, when analysing the execution of Edward, Earl of Warwick (George’s son), he does point out that he was well treated by Richard. This pleased me until I read the end of the paragraph: ‘had Richard been quite the monster of Shakespeare’s play then we might have expected him to have done away with young Edward in 1483 along with the Princes in the Tower, (my italics) but he did not.’ His source for this view is Alison Weir.

All in all, the tragedies of Henry’s victims are brought home to the reader by becoming more personalised and I think this makes it worth a look.

The delusions of the Cairo-dwellers*

The fact that various foreign courts recognised Perkin Warbeck as Duke of York merely shows that he was a useful diplomatic tool against Henry VII. Even though he was personally known to Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, it is obvious that he was animposter. She was clearly telling lies for political purposes.

On the other hand, the fact that the Chancellor of France announced that the Princes had been murdered is proof positive that they were, and that Richard III did it. The Chancellor couldn’t possibly have been telling lies for political purposes.

Elizabeth Woodville clearly retired to Bermondsey because she was tired of court life and wanted to pursue religion. There is nothing odd about her choosing to live in a male monastery rather than a nunnery where she could have been part of the community. The fact her son Dorset was clapped in the Tower at about the same time is just coincidental. And of course, she wanted her lands to go to her daughter, Elizabeth of York. Henry’s Council making the decision to give the lands to Elizabeth of York was just a rubber-stamp.

Richard III may have been granted the throne by Parliament, but he was a regicide and a usurper. On the other hand, Henry VII was a rightful king, confirmed by Parliament. His killing of Richard III does not make him a regicide, nor does his taking the throne make him a usurper. Even though he had no sort of hereditary claim to the throne – it doesn’t matter.

Edward IV made a secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. How romantic! But he would never have dreamed of making a previous secret marriage. It’s absolutely impossible. OK, there’s an extant Act of Parliament that said he did. But obviously all the evidence was forged, and the Parliament was scared of Richard III.

Thomas More said the Princes were buried exactly where the famous bones were found. He also said that priest dug them up and moved them somewhere else, but we’ve forgotten that bit. Also it would be the obvious thing for Richard to demolish a stone staircase and dig down ten feet to get rid of them. Dumping them in the Thames would have been too simple. The bones couldn’t possibly be anyone else’s as no one else ever died on the site of the Tower, ever.

Owain Tudor was definitely secretly married to Katherine of Valois, even though there is no evidence of the marriage. On the other hand, Edward IV was definitely not secretly married to Eleanor Talbot, even though there is an Act of Parliament that says he was.

Eleanor Talbot had lands that were not dower, not inherited and not bought. However they were not very valuable. They were probably a gift from the Magic Bunny, as they couldn’t possibly have been given her by Edward IV.

If Edward IV or Henry VII executed anyone, it was necessary for the safety of the throne. But when Richard III executed anyone, it was murder. (Because Edward IV and Henry VII gave everyone a fair trial before an unprejudiced jury – they invented fair play.)

Richard III had to murder Edward V and his bro., because they were a potential threat to his throne. Yes, we know he had them declared illegitimate, but so what? On the other hand his nephew Warwick, who was legitimate, and the son of an elder brother, was no threat to Richard at all, and so he left him alive. Of course when Henry VII became king, Warwick suddenly became a threat to Henry because of his incredibly strong claim to the throne which was not at all barred by his father’s attainder. So eventually, Henry was forced to kill him. But he gave him a fair trial first, even though Warwick hadn’t done anything, so it makes it OK.

Richard III was planning to marry Elizabeth of York. It was such an obvious thing to do, as it would have strengthened his claim ever so much had he married his illegitimate niece. We don’t believe the evidence that he was planning to marry Joanna of Portugal as the sources for it are foreign. They were obviously making it up. Croyland said he was planning to marry Elizabeth and Croyland was a well-informed royal clerk. He just didn’t get to hear about negotiations with foreign powers – OK? Or maybe Richard changed his mind, you know, while Anne was dying. That would be just like him. Anyway it’s in More and Shakespeare too, so that makes it fact.

* and we do mean denialists

Pavia, a battle that changed Europe

The Battle of Pavia, 1525 (Bretwalda Battles)

Kindle ebook


Author: Stephen Lark

Published by Bretwalda Books, April 2014


For me, this little book’s initial attraction was that it features the rise—and eventual fall—of the noble de la Pole family of England, centring specifically on the sons of John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk and Elizabeth Plantagenet, sister of both Edward IV and Richard III. It is the youngest son, Richard de la Pole, known to history by the sobriquet White Rose, who is of consequence here. Well, he is if the reader is, like me, deeply immersed in the Ricardian aspects of these events. But from the White Rose I have been lured into the broader, more intricate political wheeler-dealering in Europe that culminated in the famous battle at Pavia in Italy. A long way from home for poor Richard de la Pole, the last Yorkist claimant to the throne of England.

The de la Poles owed their political importance to a believed decision made by Richard III in 1485. Widowed and without a legitimate child, the king is said to have chosen his eldest nephew, Lincoln, as his heir. This changed everything for the de la Pole brothers. From the moment of King Richard’s bloody demise at Bosworth Field, the Earl of Lincoln became the rightful king, with a claim far greater in blood and legitimacy than that of the usurper, Henry VII, who set about ridding himself of the de la Poles, one by one.

On seeing the fates of his elder brothers, Richard de la Pole wisely skipped to France and stayed there. He fell in with the French King, Francis I, and became widely regarded as the true King of England. Francis saw in him a very useful weapon with which to prod and threaten the Tudors, who always feared a Yorkist challenge. Francis intended to aid the White Rose in an invasion of England, but first had other things to attend to.

France had designs upon parts of Italy which she believed were her property. Richard de la Pole joined Francis in this, and the scene was set for what was to come, including the swift and inexorable advance of the Renaissance. Everything, from religion and printing, to art and science, and much more, seemed to coalesce in a short period. Add this to the Italian wars, and the powder keg is primed.

The Spanish Habsburgs were powerful across Europe, and their army, joined by the garrison of Pavia, confronted the French outside the city on a February morning in 1525. The French were decimated, and Richard de la Pole, the White Rose, was left dead on the field. With him died the de la Pole claim to the English throne. There is no doubt that had he lived, he would have endeavoured to return to England in the hope of applying a Yorkist crowbar between the throne and the tenacious Tudors. But it was not to be. Pavia put paid to everything.

All this is related precisely in this book, and yet in full detail. I was impressed by the depth of the author’s knowledge. Not only does he write compellingly, but commands a wealth of invaluable research about the lead up to, and outcome of, the Battle of Pavia, which conflict is the undoubted star of the show.

And being Stephen Lark, he starts his book with a tantalising ‘hook’ concerning the marriage of a mysterious lady, Marguerite de la Pole-Suffolk. Then he leaves us wondering . . . until, at the very end, he explains a little more about her, offering the fascinating and exciting information that not only was she— Ah, but I think to tell more would be a spoiler. All I will say is that I venture to hope the author might delve a little more into Marguerite’s story

I am not a historian, but enjoy history, especially when it concerns events that touch in some way upon King Richard III. This book comes with my recommendation. I hope other readers enjoy it as I did . . . and that afterwards they realize how very much more they know than before they started. As I do.



Edmund, Earl of Suffolk

……….. was beheaded on the last day of April 1513, having left England in 1501 but returned by misadventure the following year. Evidently his departure, in the aftermath of his cousins’ executions was motivated by his desire to remain alive, whilst his demise did not end “Tudor” paranoia over those with a better lineal claim to the throne than themselves.

The four Geoffrey Poles

The first of these was Welsh, a potential descendant of the princes of Powys who died in c. 1479 (1). He married Edith St. John, half-sister of the younger Margaret Beaufort and they had one son (Richard) and possibly a daughter (Eleanor), although the latter could have been his daughter by Bona Danvers. Richard was a half-cousin of Henry VII and was knighted for his service during and after the battle of Stoke. He married Margaret, daughter of the Duke of Clarence, by which he had five or six children.

The second (2) was Sir Richard and Lady Margaret’s youngest son, ie the grandson of the first, who lived at Lordingham in Sussex. His elder brothers were Henry (Baron Montagu), Reginald (later Cardinal Pole) and Sir Arthur. He married Constance Pakenham, whose father previously owned Lordingham. Reginald, in exile, protested at Henry VIII’s break from Rome and self-pronounced annulment of his first “marriage”. He may have plotted with Montagu and Sir Geoffrey – either way both were arrested. Sir Geoffrey’s servants were threatened with torture and he gave evidence against Montagu, who was executed in January 1539. Sir Geoffrey, reckoned to be insane, retired to his estates and then to exile. He returned on Mary’s accession and died in November 1558, the same month as Reginald.

The third was Sir Geoffrey of Lordingham’s son (c.1546-91), one of nine children, married to Catherine Dutton. With his brother (Arthur), he was involved in the 1562 Fortescue plot against Elizabeth. Both were imprisoned and Arthur died in the Tower about a decade later. Geoffrey may have been released, to die in Antwerp.

The fourth was the son of the third. Born in c. 1577, he was assassinated in the Farnese palace in Rome during 1619 as the last of his male line (3). His brother Arthur had suffered the same fate in 1605. As members of an English Catholic family in continental exile, it is possible that Arthur’s death was connected to the Gunpowder Plot that was attempted later that year. Was there involvement of intelligence agents that James I had inherited?




A policy of Lancastrian and “Tudor” monarchs ………..

……… but why?

The delayed burial of Arthur Pole?

As many of you are aware, Bisham Abbey has been a sports centre of sorts for many years now but the Priory was the burial place of the Earls of Salisbury (and later also of Warwick). There is a mystery on it’s website:

(Sir) Arthur Pole was another of Richard III’s great-nephews and managed to die of natural causes before his family became embroiled in an apparent plot that saw his brother, mother and cousin executed and his nephew disappear without trace. It is clear that he was alive in 1527, is thought to have died in 1535 and been buried in 1539. Four years between death and burial is an excessive delay in any case but there are possible explanations: he died later, was buried earlier or that the remains are those of his eldest brother Henry, Lord Montagu – who was beheaded on 9 January 1539.

Two of these cannot explain why a Pole brother was buried in a Priory about a year after it was demolished. It would seem logical to conclude that he was buried earlier.

Whatever happened to Henry Pole the Younger? (2011)

I am not sure that every Ricardian will have survived watching the first two series of BBC2’s “The Tudors”, as first mentioned here, with its historical anachronisms, miscasting in some roles, confused chronology and obsession with bedroom scenes. Nevertheless, the third series is showing signs of improvement, particularly with its focus on the Pole family.

Last Friday, a plot involving the various Poles resulted in three of them being arrested in 1538. It is easy to blame Tudor paranoia for Plantagenets being persecuted during the reigns of the Henries but Hazel Pierce (Lady Salisbury’s biographer) concedes that there probably was a plot on this occasion. So who was involved?

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (and niece of Richard III): shown being arrested – finally beheaded, messily, in May 1541 after Sir John Neville’s revolt.

Henry Pole, Baron Montagu: her eldest son, also shown being arrested – beheaded in the winter of 1538/9.

Reginald Pole, a Deacon (or sub-Deacon) and Cardinal: in exile on the Continent, seems to have conceived the idea of sending a foreign army to dethrone Henry – survived to become a priest and then an Archbishop under Mary.

Sir Geoffrey Pole: her other surviving son, arrested but not portrayed in the series. His servants were threatened with torture and he gave evidence against the other conspirators. Released and survived for twenty years.

Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter: grandson of Edward IV and arrested but not portrayed and executed with Montagu.

Henry Pole the Younger: son of Montagu, the boy shown being arrested – last seen in the Tower in 1542, aged between 15 and 21.

Thomas Courtenay (became Earl of Devon): son of Exeter and arrested with his father but not portrayed. Unlike the Younger Pole, he was released during Mary’s reign and contemplated marrying either her or Princess Elizabeth. Went into exile and died in 1556/7.

Henry Pole the Younger should be of interest to all Ricardians. We are often asked: “If the bodies found in the Tower in 1672 are not Edward IV’s sons, who are they?” Although defence counsel are never obliged to name an alternative culprit, of course, IF the bones are human, male, youthful and late Medieval to early Renaissance, some of them could well be his remains. As a Clarence great-grandson, his nuclear DNA (if it could ever be of use) would be similar to that of Edward of Westminster and Richard of Shrewsbury. That he was not executed with his father and Exeter would tend to suggest that his age would be towards the bottom of the range given above.

One reason for caution is that that part of the Tower was substantially rebuilt during the time of Anne Boleyn and we know that she died some six years before his disappearance

24-25 February

What an interesting week this is.

On 25 February 1475 Edward, son of the Duke of Clarence and Isabel Neville, was born.  He already had an elder sister, Margaret, although two other siblings died in infancy. By his third birthday, Edward had lost both his parents and his father’s attainder barred him from succeeding to the Dukedom or the crown, however he did receive his maternal titles as Earl of Warwick and Salisbury. He became a ward of the Marquess of Dorset, then Constable of the Tower, leading to rumours that he was held there at some time.  When the Three Estates petitioned Richard III to take the throne in 1483, Edward joined his household at Sheriff Hutton and is rumoured to have become Richard’s heir the following year.
On the accession of Henry “Tudor”, he was moved to the Tower and left it only three times: once for display in 1487, once in November 1499 to be tried at Westminster for plotting with his possible cousin “Perkin Warbeck” to escape and the following week to be beheaded at Tower Hill. By 1492, he was the only known remaining legitimate Plantagenet as Margaret had married.

On 24 February 1525 Richard de la Pole, the “White Rose” soi-disant Earl of Suffolk, was killed at the siege of Pavia fighting for France. He had been born in about 1480 to John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, and Elizabeth of York. He left for France and then Hungary in 1504, first with his brother Edmund but then alone when Edmund was captured by subterfuge and subsequently executed. Richard then took a command in the French army and planned an invasion of England, but this was deferred after a treaty. He then moved to Lorraine, thwarting an attempted assassination by a “Tudor” agent (Alamire) and then took part in the 1523-5 phase of the Italian (Valois-Habsburg) Wars  under Francois I.
His years in Lorraine are intriguing in that someone claiming to be his daughter (Marguerite) was born there. Although Richard came from a large family, only Edmund of his siblings is known to have had issue- and his daughter became a nun.

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