For some reason, don't know why, my interest in English and British history starts with the Anglo Saxons. Not before. Don't ask me why - no idea. I love Ancient Greece, Rome etc etc - but no interest in the British stuff. Sorry.
Fortunately, Richard Norton does! yay! so here we are, part 1 of a 2 part overview of the Romans in Britain by Richard Norton....
Any of you follow the Rex factor Podcast? I'd not been there for a while and I was reading about K B McFarlane and his famous quote that Henry Vth was ‘The greatest man that ever ruled England’, and I thought of them.
It's a good result; I mean it's wrong (clearly Alfred the Great should have won), but none the less, an intelligent choice. And really good to see the Saxons so high up on the survey, and the Tudors NOT at the top of the list.
Anyway, if you've not tried it, the Rex Factor's jolly good, give it a go.
This is a personal view by David Ford (though spoken by me), prompted by the episode on Heresy. David talks about some of the impacts the church had in the medieval world, why heresy arose, and some of the myths that appeared over the church's response.
Hello everyone, this is David here, from what is laughingly being referred to as holiday…although hopefully with the approach of Christmas really will become holiday!
I just wanted to say Hi, and say that I’m still not sure when I am going to come back but I suspect it’ll be later rather than sooner…but also to say that a few people have got in touch with me about guest episodes. So with a bit of luck there’ll be something on the airways.
This one following is from Isaac Meyers, then. Now when I was a lad, I ate the James Clavell books, I just ATE them. The best historical novels bar none, makes even the beloved Bernard look like a no hoper. And Shogun induced a period of Japanese mania as I remember, and through that I learned that the base story was true, about some English bloke tipping up on the shores of Japan and making a go if it all.
So when Isaac contacted me and suggested a guest episode, I was more than delighted. So, here it is, and there’ll be more soon!
With John Wycliffe and the Lollards in the 14th century, heresy finally came to England. Up to this point, rural England had been notable for avoiding the religious turmoils that sprung up from time to time through the continent.
William Sawtry was very probably the first person in England executed for heresy by being burned., He was not to be the last.
William Sawtry was a parish chaplain in Norfolk. He was a vigorous preacher, spreading an unusual message; he declared that he would rather venerate a living monarch, or the bodies of the saints, or a confessed and contrite man, than any crucifix; that priests should preach or teach rather than say canonical services; and that money used for pilgrimages would be better spent on the poor. Most significantly, he also held that real bread remained on the altar after the words of consecration - not the body of Christ.
Initially, Sawtry was taken in 1399 to the presence of Bishop Henry Dispencer, the Bishop of Norwich who had dealt so firmly with the Peasants revolt. He started off defiantly, but a few weeks later he was persuaded to abandon these beliefs, and he abjured them publicly at Lynn, swearing never again to preach or hold them.
Sawtry then moved to London, and despite his promises not to preach his heretical views any more, that is exactly what he did. So in 1401, he was hauled before a full convocation of the church at St Pauls in front of no lesser person than Archbishop Arundel. What followed was typical; Arundel questioned him closely and aggressively, trying to trick Sawtry into admitting his heresy. Sawtry responded with clever evasions and replies that could be interpreted several ways. For several hours Sawtry avoided answers that could incriminate him, but Arundel was relentless pushing him harder and harder for hour after hour.
Eventually, Sawtry could avoid him no longer; following ther consecration, he said the bread at the altar, quote ‘remained true bread, and the same bread as before’.
Arundel had won – he had his man. William Sawtry was convicted as a heretic. He made no plea for mercy. Instead he loudly prophesied imminent ruin for clergy, king, and kingdom. On 26 February he was ceremonially stripped of his priestly orders before a large congregation at St Paul's, to whom the archbishop expounded the condemned man's offences in English. He was then handed over as a layman to the secular powers. His execution was authorized by direct royal command, because there was no formal law, and and soon afterwards burned at Smithfield, quote
‘bound, standing upright, to a post set in a barrel with blazing wood all around, and thus reduced to ashes’
The Lollards had their first martyr. Sawtry was reviled by orthodox chroniclers but honoured by his underground co-religionists: one such, William Emayn of Bristol, in 1429 called Sawtre ‘a holy man … worshipped in heaven’, and he later figured prominently in Foxe's protestant book of martyrs.
Chief of Prince Hal's men was Henry Beaufort. the second of four illegitimate children of John of Gauntand Katherine Swynford. He seems to have been marked out for a clerical career from the start, going to Peterhouse, Cambridge and Queen's College, Oxford. Advancements and positions came quickly, and in 1397 he was chancellor of Oxford University, and by 1398 Bishop of Lincoln. A liaison with Alice Fitzalan, Archbishop Arundel's niece. In the autumn of 1402 he was appointed to the king's council, and in 1403, he was appointed chancellor of England for two years. By 1404 he had progressed to the richest see in Europe - Winchester.
When in January 1410, Henry, prince of Wales, displaced Arundel as head of the council, Bishop Beaufort and his brother Thomas headed the administration. Thomas became chancellor while Bishop Henry opened parliament. For the two years of the prince's administration, until November 1411, Beaufort followed a policy of fiscal solvency and friendship with Burgundy.
In March 1410 his elder brother John died, leaving his widow, Margaret, with three young children. Thomas of Lancaster the king's second son then managed to marry the widow, therefore enjoying the lands that formed the greater part of the young Beauforts' inheritance. Bishop Henry tried to impede the marriage, and refused to surrender to Thomas his brother's treasure for a while but in the end was forced to give way.
In November 1411 Henry IVth asserted himself one last time, and Beaufort was out on his ear. But after his death in 1413, Beauforth was back, made Chancellor and he was back in power. Beaufort would remain as the leading political figure unmtil his death in 1447, the most staunch and relentless supporter of the Lancastrian dynasty.
Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (1382-1439)
The Beauchamp family was almost destroyed by Richard II in 1397–9 and saved only by the accession of Henry IV. His father had died in April 1401, leaving his lands concentrated principally in the west midland counties of Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Over the years, he rebuilt the fortunes of the family, participating in the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, after which he was made a knight of the Garter. From 1408 to 1410 he travelled abroad, visiting Rome and the Holy Land and returning via eastern Europe and was a renowned jouster. In May 1410 he was named a royal councillor but in November 1411 he suffered the same fate as Beaufort when Henry IVth re=-asserted himself.
The younger Henry enters our story full time as he leads to fight to Glyn Dwr. And for the alternative Prince of Wales after the failure of the French invasion the light went out of his rebellion. It wasn't all over yet - Harlech and Abersytwyth still stood - but without external help things looked pretty desperate.
In 1405, yet more rebellion in England, this time from the north led by an Archbishop; and the crowning glory of Glyn Dwr's diplomacy led to the arrival of the French on the shores to wipe the English out in Wales
In 1405 Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland rose in rebellion, the thought of his son in his mind. He was joined by the Earl of Nottingham and Norfolk - Thomas Mowbray, son of the exiled one - and Archbishop Richard Scrope. John of Lancaster, son of the king, and Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland were up to the challenge.
By the time Henry arived in the north, the rebellion was over. But his attitudes had hardened - there had to be an example to stop the constant rolling programme of rebellion. And to universal horror on 5th June 1405, the King had the Archbishop executed as a traitor.
The end of the rebellion?
From 1406 to 1409, Glyn Dwr was to see the glory of his revolt fade. But for the moment, he still held the great castles of Aberystwyth and Harlech stood as symbols of Welsh defiance. While they were there., there was life in the rebellion yet.
The battle of Shrewsbury of 1403 is one of those battles that deserves to be more remembered than it is - along with Lincoln in 1217 for example. The issue at Shrewsbury was who would rule England - Henry IVth or the Mortimers and Percies.
In 1402 and 1403 Glyn Dwr's power and influence grew and he scored some dramatic successes that made the world look up and take notice. As Glyn Dwr looked for foreign allies, Henry was forced to look north, and look closely at the loyalty of those around this.
As he looked around after dust of the Epiphany Rising had settled, Henry began to realise that he had problems that would make his life difficult; a mega fall in royal revenue, a restricted group of magnates to call on. Plus, things were stirring in the West...
The reputation of Henry IVth has changed through history - where he's remembered at all! So we look at that - we are left with those that think Henry was inadequate, and those that he did the best job possible in the circumstances. And then we deal with the first challenge of Henry's reign - the Epiphany Rising.
The famous image of Henry is this one. It hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London, and to all intents and purposes it looks as though we are now into the period of authentic likeness, which started with Richard II; prior to Richard all the images we have of kings are 'identikit', stylised images of how a king should look. BUT it turns out that this image is also fake. It was created as part of a series in late Tudor times - 1590-1610 ish. Now by this time, the concept of true likeness was still important; so they made great efforts to find some true likeness they could copy. However in the case of Henry IVth we might suspect that they didn't manage it; but what they seem to have done is make sure at least that his dress is as authentic as possible - in this case it looks very similar, apparently, to contemporary images of Charles VIth of France.
So we should probably be relying more on this image, which his tomb at Canterbury Cathedral. It is pretty much contemporary - 1420-30, by a Derbyshire firm, created in Alabaster.
Having said that, I'm not sure he looks as good - a bit like a small town bank manager, could be in Dad's Army or such like. His figure on the tomb has the interlinked S's of the house of Lancaster - ancestry was important to them.
As it happens, the tomb was opened in 1832. Apparently Henry's features were very well preserved including a deep, and full beard, of a deep Russet colour.