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Collingbourne’s nice little pad in Wiltshire….

 

Bradfield Manor, Hullavington, Wiltshire

I came upon this article, in Wales Online, not because of the gross over-claiming of expenses by certain members of the Welsh Assembly, but because one member of said Assembly happens to live in a beautiful and historic Wiltshire manor house.

Toward the end of the article you’ll find the following:

“….The historic building [Bradfield Manor, Hullavington] was once the home of Edward IV and later William Collingbourne, who conspired against Richard III in 1484 and was beheaded for writing a defamatory rhyme…the older wing of the home dates back to the 1400s, while the newer wing is 200 years old, linked by a medieval dining room….”

Well, we all know that Collingbourne was responsible for the scurrilous couplet The Catte, the Ratte and Lovell our dogge rulyth all Englande under a hogge (Various slightly different spellings and words are to be found, but this is the gist of it.)

It was anti-Richard III, who was king at the time of its writing. The “cat” is William Catesby (whose badge was also a cat), the “Rat” is Richard Ratcliffe, “Lovel the Dogge” is Sir Francis Lovell, Richard’s great friend. All three were among his most trusted confidants. He relied on them. The “Hogge”, of course, is Richard himself, whose badge was the white boar.

Collingbourne was eventually arrested, tried and sentenced to death by being hanged, drawn and quartered. Tradition (anti-Richard, of course) has it that he was executed merely for “making a small rhyme”, but the truth of it was that Collingbourne had been encouraging Henry Tudor to land at Poole and topple Richard from the throne. Now, that’s high treason by anyone’s standards, so Collingbourne deserved what he got, but traditionalist historians will always blame it on Richard’s over-reaction to a harmless little couplet!

Richard III didn’t often have people executed, in spite of the manufactured reputation he has acquired because of his enemies’ propaganda, so Collingbourne must have done a lot more than sit down one day and compose some cute little words.

Whatever, the fellow once lived in a beautiful house in Wiltshire!

Doggeing “Tudor” footsteps?

Michele Schindler’s seminal biography of Francis Viscount Lovell, one of the trio named in Colyngbourne‘s doggerel, is published today. Hopefully, it will go towards solving the great mystery of his fate.

Could he really have suffocated in a Minster Lovell chamber, after the estate was given to Jasper “Tudor”? Could he have ended his days in Scotland, under a safe conduct complicated by the Sauchieburn rebellion, or was that a red herring?

Colyngbourne was the rat….!

Colingbourne's buddies

The following passage is from The Darlington and Stockton Times

“The rat, the cat and Lovel our dog,
Rule all England under a hog.”

“This seemingly innocuous verse was in fact a searing criticism of those in power at the time it was written in 1484, and was found pinned to the door of St Paul’s Cathedral and other prominent places all over London. The rat was King Richard III’s confidante, Sir Richard Ratcliffe, the cat was Speaker of the Commons William Catesby, and Lovel was Viscount Lovel, who had a reputation for being the king’s ‘lap dog’ or ‘yes man’. King Richard’s emblem was a white boar, hence the reference to a hog.

“The poet was ultimately unmasked and found to be wealthy landowner William Collingbourne, a fierce opponent of the king, and he paid a heavy price for writing those few words as he was put to death for treason.”

Oh well, yet another writer who doesn’t realise that it wasn’t the verse that got Colyngbourne executed, but the treasonous plotting in which he was involved!

Here is the truth. Colyngbourne set himself against Richard III from the outset. He seems to have been caught up in Buckingham’s rebellion, apparently in favour of Henry Tudor. Clearly the fellow preferred a Lancastrian with no claim at all to the throne, to a king who was legally and truly on the throne.  

On 10 July, 1483 or 1484, Colyngbourne contacted Richard’s enemies, including Henry Tudor, “to declare unto them that they should very well to return into England with all such power as they might get before the feast of St Luke the Evangelist” (which was 18 October) and “to advise the French king, that negotiations with Richard were useless as the new King meant to make war on France.” He urged Tudor to invade and land at Poole. (Which Tudor did indeed try to do—unsuccessfully—during Buckingham’s Rebellion in October 1483). 

Colyngbourne was certainly stirring up dangerous trouble against Richard. His motives aren’t really known. He could simply have been in a miff for having lost positions, including that of being steward of the Wiltshire lands of the king’s mother, the Duchess of York. This position went to Francis Lovell, which probably accounts for the latter’s inclusion in the infamous lampoon. 

Whatever Colyngbourne’s reasons, he paid the price of communicating with and encouraging the exiled Henry Tudor to invade Richard’s realm and land at Poole. No king could let this pass without punishment, so Colyngbourne was arrested, tried, (rightly) found guilty and executed on Tower Hill. 

Yet even today, writers repeat that it was the verse that cost him his duplicitous life. According to Tudor author Edward Hall, Colyngbourne was executed “for making a small rhyme”. This was a charge that was picked up on by later writers, until Charles Ross corrected it, saying that Hall had carefully suppressed “the fact that the real indictment against him was that he had been encouraging Henry Tudor to land at Poole”.  

If I’d been Richard, I’d have condemned such a traitor as well! 

Wikipedia gives a fair account of Colynbourne’s activities.

 

 

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