Henry VII's ambitions were to rule in the French style - to better control and increase his income. He gathered around him bureaucrats - new men he could trust and who depended on him rather than the nobility of the court.
Henry VII's ambitions were to rule in the French style - to better control and increase his income. He gathered around him bureaucrats - new men he could trust and who depended on him rather than the nobility of the court.
W E ' V E M O V E D !!
I know, what a pain. But there's a bright new shiny site now at www.thehistoryofengland.co.uk which is much easier to use.
This is where new podcast episodes will be posted from now on - starting with 199 The New Men.
It's also where you can become a member! With the Members only Shedcasts you get your very own episodes, transcripts, extra materials . So I hope you'll sign up!
This website will stick around for a while - but sorry, no longer be updated...
In 1485 and 1486 Henry established the foundations of his reign through parliament, and established his household. The relationship between his wife and his mother would always be a matter of some debate.
Henry's first parliament would define much of the rest of the reign.
In 1487, Elizabeth finally left the political stage - banished to Bermondsey Abbey, with just 400 marks a year to live on. She was with her daughter Elizabeth of York at some key events, such as her confinements; and it is possible that she was not entirely unhappy with the move - though without doubt Margaret Beaufort and Henry would have been glad to see her go.
Traditionally the image has been of a placid Elizabeth happy to take the background and let her mother in law rule the roost. But there are plenty of indications that Henry and his mother pushed Elizabeth into a situation she found deeply uncomfortable.
The Spanish visitor and diplomat Pedro de Ayala noted it when he wrote home after visiting court:
"He [Henry] is much influenced by his mother and his followers in affairs of personal interest and in others. The queen, as is generally the case, does not like it."
"The Queen is a very noble woman and much beloved. She is kept in subjection by the mother of the king."
Elizabeth was the recipient of a stream of presents from her husband; but the estate he gave her at £1,900 a year, was simply inadequate for the expenses of a queen, and Elizabeth was always short - and therefore dependent on these handouts. Although Elizabeth and Henry are more often together than was probably normal for kings and queens - the king's mother was in constant attendance.
We will never know for sure; but it seems likely Elizabeth of York was forced into a secondary position and constantly subject to the rule of Margaret Beaufort.
When looking at how historians have dealt with Henry VII, the starting point has to be the story that Henry VII told about himself, and that his successors supported. Henry had to convince the English f his legitimacy, and his fitness to rule. On the first, his promise had been to marry and rule with Elizabeth of York. Once he'd seen Richard III hacked down at Bosworth, suddenly that looked less attractive. So Henry based his right to rule partly on his Lancastrian descent; but mainly on right of conquest. This sounds dangerous - and I sometimes wonder if all of this legitimacy stuff mattered as much as we think - he was on the throne, end of story. To some degree that's the approach Henry takes - he stakes his claim, and then stops talking about it, makes no effort to find the fate of the Princes - just let it go.
He does build the story of why the Tudors are fit to rule and here to stay, a myth later Tudors build on. One of them is about Henry's Welsh descent; not his Welshness specifically since foolishly that wasn't a great attraction to the Englishman of the time, but the patina of the glorious ancient king of the Britons, of the connections with Arthur and the Round Table. But secondly, of the uniting of Lancaster and York (albeit with Elizabeth as a junior partner) and therefore the bringing of peace to a war torn country. The symbol was of course the Tudor rose. The idea of a Lancastrian Red Rose had to be hastily resurrected, but once done, it could be combined with the White Rose of York and Bob's yer uncle.
Historians in the 16th such as Polydore Vergil and Edward Hall supported and enhanced this story; though Vergil also had the strength of mind to accuse Henry of avarice. But the definitive story came from Francis bacon in 1621-2. Actually, the reason Bacon wrote about Henry VII was very probably to convince his ex-boss James I to give him his job back, and use Henry VII as an example of statecraft, but none the less, his story survived all the way through - to now essentially. This is essentially:
In essence, Henry VII may not have been an exciting man, but he was effective, and laid the foundation of the glorious success of the Tudor dynasty.
It's taken a long time for this to be challenged. But there is a counter argument. Historians challenged the need for suppression of the nobility; historians now raise further questions:
First, let us start with Polydore Vergil's description of Henry:
His body was slender but well built and strong; his height above the average. His appearance was remarkably attractive and his face was cheerful, especially when speaking; his eyes were small and blue, his teeth few, poor and blackish; his hair was thin and white; his complexion sallow.
Second is the bust made of him by Torrignano around 1508-9, which has an immediacy and realism that gives a good impression of Henry towards the end of his life. It's worth noting that Henry died in 1509, and in 1508 he was already troubled by illness
Then there is Henry's death mask, which is, like Edward III, an actual wax death mask. But for some unfortunate reason, the nose was lost and had to be remodelled, which makes it somewhat suspect.
Now all of these are towards the end of Henry's life, when he was already ill. So there's one rather
remarkable survival, which is a sketch when Henry is much younger, by Jacques Leboucq.
His spirit was distinguished, wise and prudent; his mind was brave and resolute and never, even at moments of the greatest danger, deserted him. He had a most pertinacious memory. Withal he was not devoid of scholarship. In government he was shrewd and prudent, so that no one dared to get the better of him through deceit or guile.
This quality of quiet, self-contained authority comes across from other sources. In 1497, Italian visitors reported that
‘he evidently has a most quiet spirit’
In 1504 a Spanish visitor reported back to the most Catholic monarchs
‘Certainly there could be no better school in the world than the society of such a father as Henry VII. He is so wise and attentive to everything; nothing escapes his attention’
Henry was surprisingly active, especially his reputation as a rather dry, grey man. Like his son, he was mad for the hunt – a common enough passion among kings, but worth noting to combat the view of Henry as a grey bookish kind of man. In addition, he’s clearly a gambler – losing money at dice, tennis, archery. Now I am not suggesting for a moment that evidence of gambling is a good thing, but he clearly took part in sports, he is clearly not so reserved that he didn’t interact with his court and family.
And all the foreign visitors, even the negative ones, admit that he knew how to throw a good party; ;Visitors duly reported on the magnificence of his court, the wonder of tapestries and art, the quality of the music – including Erasmus in 1499 for example. He was brought up in France, he impressed visitors with his erudition and learning and languages; and particularly they comment on how well they are treated personally by Henry. Henry Throws numerous celebrations and jousts, just like any other medieval monarch.
However, a Spanish visitor, De Ayala, in 1498 had some negative things to say, and the worst was this:
‘He likes to be much spoken of and to be highly appreciated by the whole world. He fails in this because he is not a great man. He spends all the time he is not in public or in his council in writing the accounts of his expenses with his own hand…’
Hate it or lathe it, people really didn’t seem to like Henry. De Ayala again:
His crown is, nevertheless, undisputed, and his government strong in all respects. He is disliked.
Bishop Fisher implicitly accepts this, and the suspicion and distrust that surrounded him in his later days in his funeral oration when he said
‘Ah King Henry, King Henry, if thou were alive again many a one that is present now would pretend a full great pity and tenderness upon thee.’
It is worth remembering at all stages and in all places that Henry had been through a troubled 28 years. As de Ayala wrote, 'The king looks old for his years but young for the sorrowful life he has led'; and it would not be surprising if the worry and uncertainty and vicissitudes of fortune had not had an impact on his outlook; you’d expect him to want to build his security against misfortune; you’d expect him to be careful and suspicious.
In summary, we have a man who by and large is no cypher, not someone you could ignore or overawe, who keeps and holds his own counsel, perhaps without any great intellectual pyrotechnics, but he’s none the less a well-educated, erudite man. He’s an active man, taking part in sports and celebrations and music. But none the less there is a strong sense of the dark side in Henry. Everyone agrees that his is obsessively avaricious; there is a quietness and stillness about him that is at once impressive, but also menacing. Bacon wrote that Henry was ‘infinitely suspicious’ and called him a ‘Dark Prince’, and this has stuck to Henry VII. Even if you judge him kindly, he is a man difficult to like and maybe even to get enthusiastic about.
And for some reason, and few ramblings from me.
I boobed every one. If you did the survey, and there was no option to add your email - please email me at email@example.com, and I'll enter you into the prize draw. Well spotted Robin. Classic marketing mess up by me.
It may be oversharing, but I lost my job recently. Now as it happens this is a very good thing - I am not looking for sympathy. Actually it has given me the chance to try to make a living at what I love doing - writing history podcasts. The purpose of this post is to tell you what's going on and ask a favour.
In a few short weeks, I will launch a new Members service on the History of England, for a most reasonable fee. Why should you become a member ? There are two reasons.
1) A number of you choose to support the website through donations so that I can keep it going. Here is anther way to do that
2) You will get something in return in addition to my gratitude. Every member will get access to a Members only podcast feed.
To begin with at least, the Members podcast will focus on English history. The amount of content will be about the same as you get from the free podcast. And there will be many exciting things...
It could also be that we look a bit more broadly; at European history such as the history of places like France and the Dutch Republic; or world topics and themes - hence the survey below.
There are two things I want to make absolutely clear;
I accept, gentle listeners, that you have been bombarded with survey's recently. Sorry. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Would you do one more for me? There are 5 questions in this survey; Essentially I want to find out a couple of payment things and pick your brains - this is where you can get a made-to-measure podcast by telling me what you want.
Just click here: oh go on then, I'll do your blessed survey
But you could win a coin!
I am going to try to bribe you to take part with another prize draw. You could win a silver Victoria 1880 Sixpence, or a George V silver sixpence. All thanks to Rob, once more. Everyone who completes the survey will be entered in the draw.
Thank you in advance, for everyone who takes part. And then - watch this space - more news to follow about the new Members service!
I wanted to make sure that you are all aware of my sister podcast, Anglo Saxon England podcast - some of you may not be. Essentially, many moons ago, when I was young, I started the History of England. It meant that I did my favourite period first, and I made a hash of it. So I went back to the beginning and started a new podcast, called the Anglo Saxon England Podcast. Here's the website, and it's on iTunes and so on.
I hope that is comprehensible! And that you give it a go.
15th Century European kingdoms were wracked by internal division as well as international war. By the end of the century, Rome was no more, Christendom was increasingly disunited and new monarchies were on the way.
The political Map of 15th Century Europe
A movable feast it has to be said...by the end Spain was united, Novgorod part of Moscow's new Russia of Ivan III, Bosnia and Albania submitted to the Turks; and of course the French had stolen England's rightful inheritance of northern and South Western France.
Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain were given the title of Catholic Monarchs, and through their Grandson, Charles V, would unite Spain - and create the enormous (and unmanagable) Hapsburg Holy Roman Empire
Pope Alexander VIth (left) and Julius II, the 'Warrior Pope'
In 1483, the gates of the Tower of London closed on two innocent and defenceless boys; one, Edward, 12, captured and the other Richard, 10, given up by his mother. As far as we know, neither of were seen outside the walls again. The London Chronicles accused Richard III of shedding 'Blood of Innocents'.
This week's episode talks about what we do know and what we don't, and presents the pros and cons of 4 possible answers. And then, see the results below of the debate and poll we had on who was responsible!
There were four options, as below...and sadly it appears that although the History of England Podcast listeners are firm friends of Richard, we also think he had the boys killed. And it wasn't terribly close either, as you can see from the chart. Much regret was expressed by many for choosing option A. Interesting debate though all round - especially if it was really so unbelievable that both could have died from natural causes. Maybe they did. And also maybe it was Livia...which made me laugh. It was fun - thanks to everyone who took part.
Richard was very aware throughout 1484 and 1485 of the potential challenge from the only remaining source - Henry Tudor. Through his reign he pursued diplomatic methods to nullify the threat. The political situation initially helped him.
In France, the death of king Louis left a minority government run by Anne Beaujeu, Charles VIII's sister. Arrayed against them were the Orleanists, in the so called 'Mad War', so sought to bring Brittany to their side; this gave Richard the chance to offer military support to Brittany to help their long fight for independence, in return for the delivery by Duke Francis of Brittany of Henry Tudor to England. This came very close to success in 1484. Only a last minute flight from to France by Jasper and Henry Tudor saved them from capture.
Once in France, the political situation there played against Richard and for Tudor. For a short window, there was a real incentive for Anne and CVharles VIII to support an invasion by Henry against England, to de-stabilise possible support for the Orleanists.
During later 1484 and 1485 therefore, Henry Tudor prepared - gaining military support and a loan for his pending invasion. Henry Tudor wrote to leading magnates - very probably gaining secret support from the Stanleys and of course his mother Margaret Beaufort; and possibly corresponding with potential supporters such as Rhys ap Thomas in Wales and Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland.
Meanwhile Richard did everything possible to prepare against invasion, equipping ships to patrol the channel, an d working with his magnates - Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland; Lord Thomas Stanley and Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. The scene was set.
Henry Tudor, with his captains Jasper Tudor and John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, landed in Milford Haven on 7th August, landing in Wales to draw on the he Tudors' traditional support in Wales. They moved north along the Welsh coast, then struck through to the English Midlands arriving near Bosworth by 21st August. They probably numbered around 5,000.
Richard meanwhile learned of the landing by 11th August. Orders went out to his magnates to gather their forces, and Norfolk and Northumberland met him with their forces at Leicester, numbering between 7,000 and 10,000. But the Stanleys, though they gathered substantial armies, of maybe 6,000 men, refused to join Richard; and equally refused to meet Henry Tudor, and shadowed both forces.
The battle of Bosworth is covered in many places - you can do worse than go to the Wikipedia site, from where these maps are taken. On the morning of 22nd August, Richard took up positions on the edge of a rise, and the Tudors, led by Oxford march to the foot of the hill, and an exchange of artillery took place until Norfolk in Richard's vanguard charged down the hill to attack. During the fierce fighting, Norfolk was killed - when Richard spotted Henry Tudor and his bodyguard on horseback galloping towards the Stanley's position. In a reckless do or die charge, Richard swept down in a cavalry charge and came close to overwhelming Henry.
At this point the Stanley's finally chose their sides, and attacked the isolated King. Richard refused to flee; "I will die a king or win" he had declared. Stanley’s men hit before he could break through, and now the tables were turned. Richard’s horse was killed from under him. At some point he must have lost his helmet, and he was hit by several glancing blows that cut his scalp and took chips of bone off his skull. In agony he fought on, but a mounted man struck down with a dagger and pierced his skull. And then came a mighty blow from a heavy bladed weapon which opened his skull at the base of his head, and the last Plantagent king went to meet his maker. He died, wrote Polydore Vergil, 'fighting manfully in the thickest press of his enemies.' One of the Stanleys recovered Richard gold circlet from a thorn bush, and crowned Henry Tudor on the field of battle.
Richard's body was slung naked over a horse, his long hair tied under his chin, and taken to Leicester. There he was buried in Greyfriars Abbey in the chancel. The tomb bore the inscription:
I, here, whom the earth encloses under various coloured marble
Was justly called Richard the Third.
I was Protector of my country, an uncle ruling on behalf of his nephew
I held the British kingdoms by broken faith.
Then for just sixty days less two,
And two summers, I held my sceptres.
Fighting bravely in war, deserted by the English,
I succumbed to you, King Henry VII.
But you yourself, piously, at your expense, thus honour my bones
And you cause a former king to be revered with the honour of a king
When [in] twice five years less four
Three hundred five-year periods of our salvation have passed.
And eleven days before the Kalends of September
I surrendered to the red rose the power it desired.
Whoever you are, pray for my offences,
That my punishment may be lessened by your prayers
Unfortunately for Richard he was never able to simply concentrate of governing the realm; the hangover of his accession, the presence of Henry Tudor abroad - these things constantly took his attention away.
The death of Queen Anne and rumors of a mesalliance
Richard was plagued by bad luck. In April 1484, Anne and Richard's only son, Edward of Middleham, died. His tomb is at Sheriff Hutton, in the heartland of Neville country.
‘You might have seen the father and mother…almost out of their minds for a long time when faced with such sudden grief’
Anne clearly was not going to have another child. Richard had two bastards for sure, John and Katharine, but there was no talk of any attempt to legitimise them. Nope, the whispering was instead about the inconvenience of Anne's existence. But in fact Anne was ill; although she did her best to play her part at the Epiphany celebrations of 1484, on March 16th she was dead.
And then the tongues really began to wag. Had she been poisoned by Richard? The Tudor historians would have us believe he had; but even the Crowland Chronicle seemed to suggest such a thing:
"In the course of a few days after this, the Queen fell extremely sick, and her illness was supposed to have increased still more and more, because the king entirely shunned her bed, declaring that it was by the advice of his physicians that he did so. Why enlarge?"
And the tongues continued to wag - that Richard would marry his niece, Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and Queen Elizabeth. After all, it would unite the Yorkist lines, bolster Richard's legitimacy, give the Henry Tudor promise top marry her a real kick. But it's difficult to believe Richard ever genuinely contemplated such a thing - marrying his niece would surely have removed any remaining shred of credibility. But incredibly, the rumors were so strong, Richard was forced to publically deny it:
"In the presence of many of his lords and much other people showed his grief and displeasure and said it never came in his thought or mind to marry in such a manner wise."
Really, it seemed the only thing that could wipe the account clean would be to meet and defeat his rival Henry Tudor in battle.
We arrived at the delightfully named St Bees in Cumbria on the North West coast of England, and we found a load of things – a saint with all the delightful myths you’d expect, a Norman Priory and a mystery. And a remarkably detailed local village website to satisfy any historical soul.
St Bees is based on a Norse name which meant ‘Church town of St Brega’. In tradition, St Brega was an Irish princess, who arrived in 650 on the Cumbrian shores; in the 9th century, the wave of Danes that hit England was mirrored by a similar wave that hit Ireland, and later Cumbria. Brega apparently was being forced to marry a norseman, and fled across the sea instead, and lived as an anchoress. You'll notice the date problem - if you accept the myth, 650's far too early! Anyway, the myth continues - she asked for land for a convent; the local lord offered as much land as would be covered by snow the next day. Now in Cumbria, that would normally mean more land that you could handle, but in this case it was Midsummer’s day how they must have laughed! But of course the lord intervened, and instead it snowed the following day, and so the priory was founded.
The debate is about whether or not St Brega existed or not; scholars point out that the relic of her cult, a ring, has spookily similar origins in Anglo Saxon. But I'll leave all that to people who know what they are talking about.
It took a while for the Normans to arrive in Cumbria; 26 years after Hastings they turn up, in 1092. They founded a Benedictine priory on an existing site somewhere around 1120, and here are some pictures, in the rather severe red stone of Cumbria. Much of the church has been restored; the west doorway in particular has the Norman design I love, and the chapel looks to be early to my untutored eye. The rood screen is rather magnificent, and the whole church something of a joy
Inside the church is also a history nut’s dream - wonderful displays of local archaeological finds, really well explained with displays. The coffin covers like this one were interesting enough; this one is apparently from 1150-1200, and it's thought the symbols such as the bowmen relate to the occupant's life; it's noting that only the grandest would have had their own coffin, the rest of us would have had a communal grave marked with a cross.
Then there's the amazing preservation of 'St Bees Man', discovered on a dig in 1981. They discovered a lead coffin, and inside a man wrapped in a shroud soaked in resin. The quality of the preservation was incredible - including liquid blood found in the lungs. The poor bloke had died a violent death - punctured lung and fractured jaw amongst other things. The latest thinking links the body to the Teutonic Crusades in Lithuania; since it's thought that the body is that of Anthony de Lucy, killed on crusade in 1368. His sister Maud is buried with him; she took over his lands on his death, and died in 1398.
But there's more. little St Bees produced two Archbishops - Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury and Edwin Sandys, Archbishop of York, both int he time of Elizabeth I. Grindal, which sounds like something out of Harry Potter, founded a school, Ste Bees, which looks ;like something out of Harry Potter, founded in 1538. It's most famous 'old boy' is Rowan Atkinson, though rather sadly it closed in 2015.
St Bees is also the start of Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk, on which my son and I are embarked at the time of writing. So there you go, I have taken to posting my holidays. But do go and find out more at the brilliant village website.
Part of the story to counter the propaganda of the Tudors is the view that Richard promised to be an exceptionally good ruler. The brevity of Richard's reign make an assessment difficult - and yet despite this it is possible to point to real innovation and achievement in law and justice, and to substantiate Richard's desire to protect the more powerless in his kingdom.
Richard and the coronation oath
There was little radical about Richard III, who saw his responsibilities very much in the time honoured tradition, and had not changed significantly since the time of King Edgar and Dunstan:
First, that the church of God and the whole Christian people shall have true peace at all time by our judgment; Second, that I will forbid extortion and all kinds of wrong-doing to all orders of men; Third, that I will enjoin equity and mercy in all judgments
Richard appears to have been traditionally pious - or somewhat more than was traditional. Certainly his behaviour as Duke of Gloucester and as king demonstrated his commitment. He was keen to impress on the clergy their responsibilities. In 1484 he published an open letter to his bishops:
"...amongst other our secular businesses and cures, our principal intent and fervent desire is to see virtue and cleanness of living to be advanced, increased and multiplied, and all other things repugnant to virtue, provoking the high indignation and fearful displeasure of God, to be repressed and annulled."
Richard made the traditional donations and grants to religious institutions, and of education - particularly Queen's college Cambridge.
Richard brought with him the reputation of good governance from the north, and indeed claimed the throne by sitting on the king's throne in Westminster hall and delivering a lecture to the king's justices. After Buckingham's rebellion, Richard issued a proclamation:
"the king's highness is fully determined to see due administration of justice throughout this his realm to be had and reform, punish and subdue all extortions and oppressions in the same. "
This interest continued through his reign, and forms the most commonly referenced basis for the image of Good King Richard - particularly in his one parliament of 1484.
It is not clear which of the acts were initiated by Richard, and which from the lords and commons; but then Richard at all times had power of veto, and therefore surely claims credit anyway. There were xxx particularly relevant acts from the 16 enacted at the parliament.
Fairness in land purchase: buying land in days medieval was complicated by the principal that the King was in theory the only landowner in his kingdom. Despite a well established market for buying and selling land, law was therefore complex and open to abuse; in particular feudal fines and dues were often hidden from the buyer - which could even include the land being entailed away. Richard's parliament sought to ensure that buyers of property had effective title to land they bought, and that all fines and dues had to be made fully public.
Protection from extortion: Medieval justice was appallingly open to abuse by the rich and powerful. Lords and magnates might pay an 'approver' to bring an accusation; the defendant could be imprisoned immediately, and his goods seized and sold. The act allowed bail to anyone accused of felony, protecting them from imprisonment and having their good seized before conviction.
Reducing corruption: rules introduced and strengthened governing the behaviour of officials in court cases; property qualifications were introduced for jurors, so they could resist undue influence.
Outlawing forced taxation: It had been long common for kings to force their richest subjects to loan them money; Edward IV had taken the practice of forced loans to the limit, by simply forcing these men to give him money with no promise of returning the money. These were called 'benevolences'. Effectively this is taxation without representation in parliament. Richard outlawed the practice.
Helping printing thrive: the parliament passed a number of protectionist acts; but Richard specifically excluded printing, helping printing survive and thrive rather than suffer unduly high prices from lack of competition and imports.
"Every person…that find himself grieved, oppressed or unlawfully wronged do make a bill of complaint, and put it to his highness and he shall be heard, and without delay have such convenient remedy as shall accord with his laws. For his grace is utterly determined his true subjects shall live in rest and quiet and peaceably enjoy their lands, livelihoods and good, according to the laws of his land, which they be naturally born to inherit."
In this communication to the City of York, Richard signaled that the poor who could not afford justice must be given free access. These were not just words; he established one John Harrington in a court in the White Chamber of Westminster palace to run the court 'in the custody, registration and expedition of bills requests, and supplications of poor persons', which would later in Tudor times become known as the Court of Requests.
Polydore Vergil, was a Tudor historian extremely hostile to Richard. When he wrote:
"he [Richard] began to give the show and countenance of a good man, whereby he might be accounted more righteous, more mild, more better affected to the commonalty"
He implicitly recognises that Richard achieved much in his short reign - while seeking to question Richard's motives. There can be no doubt that Richard was desperate to seek support. But many of Richard's acts as king - in justice, religion and concern for the poor and powerless - have evidence from his earlier life too. Some, such as the 1484 parliaments attempt to reduce corruption in the law, was specifically aimed at the very lords he sought to win over - surely an example of doing the right thing rather than following pure expediency.
It seems more than likely that Richard was ruthless in his ambition - in his ambition to be king no matter what, but also ambitious to be a good and worthy king who lived up to the oath he made before God at his coronation.
And if you care to listen - here's both the result read by the History of England's chief returning officer, and the prize draw and winners!
Something of a surprise if I say so myself, but congratulations to Richard...
Remember that everyone who 'liked' the History of England page and voted can win an original Edward IV Halfpenny and a replica Richard III gold Angel; plus 2 consolation prizes for losers - some original medieval cut coins.
I am sorry to bug you again, but can I beg a boon? Could you nip along to survey.acast.com and take 5 minutes to fill it out? They share the results with me and it’s really useful and interesting.
There is also a draw for £200 worth of Amazon vouchers to boot.
Thank you very much in advance for those of you who can find the time.
Richard sought to start the reconciliation of the factions in the realm. But despite his triumphant progress through the Kingdom to York, trouble was brewing - including from the most unlikely quarter
You can see this article below and short descriptions of other major players on a page on this website - just visit 'Major Players in 1483'.
Henry Stafford (1455-1483) was the senior Stafford line. In 1458 his father died, and then his grandfather, great pillar of the Lancastrians, was killed at the hands of the Yorkists in 1460. Buckingham made his peace with the Yorkist regime, marrying Catherine Woodville, sister of the Queen. With income of £3,000 a year, Buckingham was as rich as any other magnate, and after the Readeption was for a while a close member of Edward's household.
Buckingham had a particularly fine heritage. He was descended from both John of Gaunt, and Thomas of Woodstock, the latter being the fifth son of Edward III. So he had royal blood, a claim to the throne if a suitable number of people popped their clogs. There’s a rather famous point in 1483 where Buckingham reportedly says that he’d forgotten his royal lineage until John Morton reminds him. Unlikely.
In 1483, Buckingham had some gripes. One was his claim on the Bohun inheritance. There had been two famous heiresses Mary and Eleanor. Mary Married Henry IV, and sister Eleanor had married Thomas of Woodstock, and her half of the lands had come down to Buckingham. So, when the Lancastrian line came to an end at Tewkesbury, Buckingham claimed the balance. This was a dispute never resolved -as far as edward was concerned, the land was irretrievably part of the royal lands. But the main problem was his distance from the power and influence that as a royal duke he would have expected. But in 1475 he appeared to fall out of favour with Edward IV, sent home early from France, and from then was excluded from real political power under Edward, despite a brief re-appearance as High Steward to oversee
Although Buckingham was married to a sister of queen Elizabeth, he had been married when he was but 10 years old, and when Catherine was 14; from there he'd spent his wardship in Elizabeth Woodville’s household. For some reason, Dominic Mancini reports that Buckingham was livid at having been made to marry a Woodville, such an appallingly lowborn person; so low born she’d not bought a dowry with her. This assertion is rather difficult to deal with; we have absolutely no other evidence to support the claim; he and Katherine have plenty of off spring, there’s no obvious sign of estrangement. There’s a titchy bit of support for the statement in the fact that Katherine wasn’t at the coronation of Richard in which Buckingham played such a leading role.
Nonetheless, Buckingham appears to have seen Gloucester as the main route back to the limelight in 1483, and to have been keen to see the Woodvilles unseated from power and influence.
In terms of his personal characteristics, it is of course hard to judge. But volatile might be one; the suspicion he flared up and stormed off in France and wasn’t forgiven. He appeared to find it difficult to hold on to loyalties and inspire confidence, but none the less appears to be a good and persuasive speaker. But these are just stabs in the dark – we can’t be sure.
If you want to know more,there's a very good article here.
The time has for the Richard III podcast episode and vote. 3 of the no doubt many possible interpretations of the events of 1483 - did Richard plan to usurp the throne; was he driven to it by fear and events and the situation; or did he step into a breach to save a kingdom?
You vote on the FaceBook Page, which looks like this - click on the pic to link to it. Voting ends on 29th July, and hopefully I'll be able to tot them up on holiday and let you know the results. Exciting!
Vote on the Facebook page Closing date is 29th July. You can just put Knave, Fool or Saviour; or you can add your every thought. Whatever feels good. And to help, below and a few thoughts about what each means.
Everyone who votes AND likes the page will go into the prize draw, with 3 fab prizes to be won...
Jane Shore lives among the list of the most famous mistresses - along with the likes of Roseamund Clifford, Alice Perrers. Like Alice, Jane lives and loved at the very centre of political power for a while - but unlike Alice, left an attractive reputation.
Visit the Queens of England podcast site at www.queensofenglandpodcast.com
Hop along to the Richard III debate here!
Jane married William Shore a London mercer, but the marriage was annulled in 1476, at her request, because of his impotence.
Edward IV claimed to have three concubines: the merriest, the wiliest, and the holiest harlot in his realm. Jane qualified as the merriest; according to Thomas More:
'a proper wit had she, & could both read & write well, merry in company, ready & quick of answer, neither mute nor full of babble, sometime taunting without displeasure & not without disport’.
'For many he had, but her he loved, whose favour to say truly … she never abused to any man's hurt, but to many a man's comfort. … And finally in many weighty events, she stood many men in great stead, either for none, or very small rewards, & those rather gay then rich: either for that she was content with the deed itself well done, or for that she delighted to be asked to help, & to show what she was able to do with the king'
Edward's death on 9 April 1483 left her in need of a new protector; and different chronicles link her with two great rivals - the Woodville, Thomas Grey, marquess of Dorset; and Edward's closest friend, and chamberlain William, Lord Hastings.
However, she fell foul of the pious Richard III and was forced through the streets of London to do penance:
'In which she went in countenance & pace demure so womanly, & albeit she were out of al array save her kyrtle only: yet went she so fair & lovely … that her great shame wan her much praise’
Jane found her protector in the king's solicitor, Thomas Lynom who married her. Lynom was dead by 29 July 1518; and Thomas More paints a picture of her penury; but if the Thomas Lynom who was active in Wales after 1518 was her son, it could well be poetic licence - something with which More was well acquainted. It's not sure when Jane died - but her memory is still alive and kicking in various historical novels!
The reign of Edward V is one of the great controversies of English history. This episode is as uncontroversial - just what happened. Then in 2 weeks time - we have the big debate and prizes, at THoE Facebook Page. It all starts with the death of Edward IV on 9th April 1483.
Richard III is one of English History's great controversies. Despite his image as the king's right hand man, a fine upstanding example of loyalty and competence - was he really an ambitious schemer who saw a chance to be king? Or was he a man driven by fear and events? Or yet, was he a man who, faced with a disastrous revelation about the heir to the throne, stepped forward to take up the burden himself?
The picture on the left is of St Paul's Cross. This was a place by the old St Paul's cathedral where speakers and preachers were often heard. It's hear, on 22nd June 1483 that a man called Ralph Shaw preached on the text of 'The bastard slips shall not take root' - and revealed to Londoners that Richard was the real heir, and should take the throne instead of his 12 year old nephew, Edward V.
Hopefully this timeline below will help you follow events through and get them all in order; and form your own view! You can also see the Timeline in the 1483 Timeline page in the Richard III section.
|Timeline of Events: April to July 1483|
|APRIL||6th||False reports of Edward IV's death reach York|
|7th||Edward gathers the Queen and Royal Councillors at his death bed, urges Hastings and Dorset to make peace which they do.|
|9th||Edward IV dies|
|11th||Royal Council meet in London. Woodvilles win the argument to crown Edward immediately on 4th May, with Gloucester as merely leader of the council not Protector. Agree to limit the size of Edward V's retinue to 2,000|
|14th||News of Edward's death reaches Rivers and Edward V in Ludlow|
|?15th||Confirmation of news of Edward's death reaches Gloucester at Middleham from Hastings. Hastings urges Gloucester to take control of Edward V before he reaches London|
|?16th+||Gloucester writes to Rivers, suggesting they meet on the road to London|
|Gloucester writes to the Royal Council; pledging allegiance to Edward, consoling the Queen, but also stating his right to the Protectorship|
|Buckingham's letter reaches Richard, suggesting they travel together|
|19th||Funeral of Edward IV; buried at Windsor|
|21st||Gloucester carries out a funeral service at York for Edward and pledging allegiance to Edward V|
|Buckingham receives Gloucester's letter & replies that he will meet at Northampton|
|23rd||Gloucester leaves York, having heard from Rivers that they should meet at Northampton on 29th.|
|24th||Rivers and Edward V leave Ludlow|
|29th||Rivers reaches Stony Stratford; heads north to Northampton to see Gloucester, while Edward V, Grey & Vaughan stay at Stony Stratford. Buckingham arrives at Northampton in the evening, joining Gloucester and Rivers.|
|Edward Woodville sails with the Fleet and £10,000 of royal treasure|
|30th||Gloucester and Buckingham seize the King and send Rivers, Grey and Vaughan to captivity at Sheriff's Hutton. Gloucester writes a calming letter to the Royal Council|
|MAY||1st||Hastings assembles lords and magnates in London, reads Gloucester's letter and assures then that Rivers, Grey and Vaughan's cases would be heard by the Royal Council, and wins them to acquiescence.|
|The Woodvilles attempt to raise an army against Gloucester in London - but fail. The Queen flees with her family to the Sanctuary at Westminster Abbey|
|Chancellor and Archbishop of York panics, and takes the Great Seal to the Queen in Sanctuary.|
|2nd||Gloucester at Northampton. Sends Rivers to Sheriff Hutton, Grey to Middleham, Vaughan to Pontefract. All in captivity.|
|4th||Gloucester, Buckingham with Edward V between them enter London with 500 men. Greeted by the Mayor and Alderman and happy smiling people. Gloucester brings carts of arms which he claims to have been gathered by the Woodvilles.|
|Gloucester summons lords and magnates to swear loyalty to Edward V|
|10th||Meeting of the Royal Council. Gloucester rewards followers, calms nerve with the appointment of neutral men to key positions, turns Great Seal over to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Installed as Protector by the Royal Council. Coronation of Edward V delayed to June 24th.|
|However, Council refuses Gloucester's request to accused Rivers, Grey and Vaughan in treason, and criticise him not failing to treat Elizabeth with the dignity of a queen.|
|13th||Writs for a parliament on 25th June issued in Edward V's name.|
|15th||Buckingham handsomely rewarded by Gloucester, with appointments that made him the most powerful man in Wales|
|JUNE||5th||Anne, Duchess of Gloucester arrives in London|
|?8th||Phillippe de Commines claims that Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells presented a case to Gloucester, or Gloucester's associates, about Edward IV's pre-contract to Eleanor Butler. A letter from Simon Stallworth makes mention of it in the royal council.|
|10th||Gloucester writes to York and asks for troops to save him from the Woodvilles' plots|
|13th||Hastings, Morton, Stanley seized from the royal council, and accused of treason. Hastings executed immediately without trial.|
|16th||Richard surrounds Westminster Abbey & sanctuary, threatens to seize Edward Vs younger brother, the Duke of York, from Elizabeth Woodville. The Queens hands over her son to Gloucester, and he is taken to the Tower|
|17th||Writs issued delaying Edward Vths coronation to 9th November. However, many missed their target, since the lords and commons assembled on 25th|
|22nd||Ralph Shaw, Canon of St Pauls, preaches a sermon advancing Richard's claim as the only legitimate heir of York, based on the old story of Edward IV's bastardy, and a new claim that Edward's sons were bastards due to a prior marriage|
|24th||Buckingham advances the same claims to the Mayor & Aldermen of London at the Guildhall|
|25th||Lords & Commons called to 'Parliament' assemble - though legal status as a parliament not clear. Buckingham presents the petition developed by Stillington for Richard to be king, based on bastardy of Edward IV's children.|
|Rivers, Grey and Vaughan executed on Gloucester's orders|
|26th||Delegates of lords and knights duly visit Richard at Baynard Castle, and urge him to take the throne|
|Gloucester sits in the King's chair at the Court of the King's Bench in Westminster hall|
|28th||Official letter to the Captain of Calais announces that his oath of loyalty to Edward V is no longer valid due to his illegitimacy|
|JULY||3rd||By now, troops from the north have arrived at London. Mancini claims there to be 6,000.|
|6th||Coronation of Gloucester as Richard III|
It was critical that the heir to the throne, the young Edward, was tutored and governed to be brought up to be a successful king - and so Rivers was given the job, in Ludlow on the Welsh borders, and there was time. Then in 1483 the king fell ill. There's A bit of a fly by about the main players too this week - what is that stuff about the Woodvilles all about?
Edward's life didn't start that well of course - born in the Sanctuary of Westminster, with Dad overseas, a fugitive. But once things were back on track, he emerged again in 1473, when Edward was installed with his own household at Ludlow Castle. His maternal uncle Rivers was appointed his Governor; Lord Richard Grey, Edward’s half-brother his Treasurer, and Thomas Vaughan his Chamberlain. Sent away at the age of 3 - life was tough. He had civic duties too - at the age of 4, he returned to Westminster to be keeper of the realm while Edward IV was on campaign in France. Free sweets for everyone!
Edward began his formal education, under the strict guidance of rules laid down by his father King Edward IV. There's a nice letter that survives - you can see it on the War of the Roses section of my website, here.
Now, we don’t get much of an insight in the young Edward Vth; just a little glimpses, through Dominic Mancini, the Italian who visited England in 1482-3 and wrote a famous description of the political events. He said of the young Edward:
‘He had such dignity in his own person, and in his face such charm that however much they might gaze, he never wearied the eyes of beholders."
Well that’s nice, isn’t it? And again:
"This context seems to require that I should not pass over in silence the talent of the youth. In word and deed, he gave so many proofs of his liberal education, of polite, nay rather scholarly attainments far beyond his age; all of these should be recounted, but require so such labor, that I shall lawfully excuse myself the effort. There is one thing I shall not omit, and that is, his special knowledge of literature, which enabled him to discourse elegantly, to understand fully and to disclaim most excellently from any work whether in verse or prose which came into his hands, unless it were from among the more abstruse authors.’
Essentially, Rivers seems to have done his job well, and if Mancini is to be at all trusted, here was a young man who shared Woodville's interests. At key points in 1483 when his father died, Edward was to show that he felt close to his uncles, Rivers and also Richard Grey.
Anthony Woodville (1440-1483) is in many ways an impressive character; a man of many parts, many talents and interests - a renaissance man, and very much more than a man obsessed by political power - this is no Warwick the Kingmaker. As the eldest son of Richard Woodville, first Earl Rivers, and Jacquetta of Luxemburg, Anthony was the brother of the Queen Elizabeth Woodville. Renaissance man he might have been, but the Woodville inheritance was very unimpressive in terms of income - part of the reason the peerage looked down on the Woodvilles so much. However, things were helped when he married and became Lord Scales in 1460; although his new wife legally brought him no rights to her lands, in common with the king and Duke of Gloucester, Anthony managed to bend the laws, and ended up retaining them - eventually they ended up with his brother Edward Woodville, to the loss of the heirs of the original Lord Scales. It's a point worth remembering; although Anthony Woodville is in many ways and attractive character, like any other magnate he was utterly ruthless in matters of land and inheritance - the papers of his agent apparently show him to be a hard headed business man. He became Earl Rivers when his father died at the hands of Warwick in 1469.
Woodville interests were in some ways traditional - war, religion, family & wealth, the tournament. At the first he had some success, but was an occasional player - or at least according to his station; he was in London in 1470 when the Bastard of Fauconberg attacked, took part in Edward IV's campaign in France, was one of Gloucester's commanders in the Scottish campaign, that sort of thing. The rest, he often seemed to take a little further than was absolutely necessary - and maybe this is why he stands among the Woodville clan. In religion, he was famously found to wear a hair shirt when he died; everyone was so impressed it became an object of veneration and pilgrimage (I must remember to donate my string vest to someone in my will). And in a decade when the story is one of grasping, power mad Woodvilles, it's head was wasting valuable networking time by going on crusade and pilgrimage - in Portugal, Santiago, Rome and Italy.
He was also a famous jouster; the most famous was in 1467 when he jousted with Antoine, the Bastard of Burgundy for 2 days at Smithfield. On the first day, when they fought on horseback, the Bastard's horse was killed; on the second, when they fought with axes, Woodville held his own and the joust was declared drawn. Next year, at the marriage celebrations of Margaret of York, he broke eleven lances with Adolf of Cleves. Despite that hairshirt thing, he was a full and enthusiastic participant in the whole pageantry of the joust; so for example in the marriage celebrations of Anne of Mowbray to Richard of York, he fought in the habit of a white hermit.
In his literary interests, Woodville was a little more exceptional. He was clearly interested in the Italian Renaissance; he translated “Les Dictes Moraux des Philosophes” whilst in the Prince of Wales’ household and had his “The Dictes and Saying of the Philosophers” printed by Caxton in 1477, and was thus not only a writer but an earliest patron of Caxton and the new fangled invention.
Woodville at one point said that the vicissitudes of life had led him to devote his life to God. Maybe this sense of perspective, with a tinge of fatalism was why in the second reign of Edward, he did not take up the opportunity to become the leading political figure he could have become. But in 1483 he wielded enormous influence through the job of tutor and governor of the young Prince of Wales, the future Edward V.
In 1483, there was no sign of any animosity between Gloucester and this particular Woodville - indeed rather the opposite. Rivers had asked Gloucester to arbitrate in a dispute he had, which implies closeness and trust; Rivers was one of the commanders of Gloucester's Scottish campaign.
A few quotes might give a misleading impression of Edward IV. Dominic Mancini:
He was licentious in the extreme. Moreover it was said that he had been most insolent to numerous women after he had subdued them, for, as soon as he grew weary of dalliance, he gave up the ladies much against their will to the other courtiers. He pursued with no discrimination the married and the unmarried, the noble and lowly, However, he took none by force.
The Croyland Chronicler also waded in on Edward’s passion for
Boon companionship, vanities, debauchery, extravagance and sensual enjoyments.
Here’s Mancini again.
In food and drink he was most immoderate; it was his habit so I have learned to take an emetic for the delight of gorging his stomach once more. For this reason…he had grown fat in the loins
No one challenges the idea that Edward was a good time king. But Edward was also an active leader and governor. He was immersed in the daily business of governing his kingdom; he fostered trade, brought the royal finances under control. He is also credited with starting towards the direction of the modern state - using the royal household to manage rather than the cumbersome Exchequer and Chancery. Edward was probably not a great innovator; it would be left to the Tudors to create the bureaucracy that serviced the early modern state, but he was a master at the art of medieval kingship - managing his great men and barons, balancing their needs and ambitions, providing confidence and leadership.
Calls were heard from all over the political spectrum today to pull back from the brink as this influential community entered the lists. A little late. But hey, better late than never.
The results of the poll shocked political leaders, though Johnson, Cameron nor Corbyn felt able to comment. It sent a clear message - 56% said remain; just 14% voted to leave.
30% sadly made some inappropriate comment, with an unhealthy degree of interest by foreign listeners over the weakness of the pound and the resulting benefits for foreign visitors. There was no comment from the Palace on whether or not the suggestion to reclaim the throne of France was under serious consideration.
The History of England Podcast community is a group of people who eat cake and listen to the Podcast while doing something dull - ironing, cycling, commuting, walking. Or as effective cure for insomnia.
Edward IV fancied himself as a latter day Edward III, and with his love of the Garter tradition on the one hand and his determination to gain revenge for French support for Lancaster, a European adventure looked on the cards.
Here's the promised map...
By Marco Zanoli (sidonius 12:09, 2 May 2008 (UTC)) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3977827
They had a complicated relationship - Edward, Clarence and Richard; Clarence and Richard had often been left together with Cecily and Margaret while Edward was with his father. In the 1470s, things came to a head.
George's reputation has been shaped to a degree by Shakespeare, and the famous line 'false, fleeting, perjur'd Clarence'. Well, much as we might point out that Shakespeare was a thoroughly dull sort of chap, but anyway his job was to entertain, not give a history lesson, for once he might well be on the money. Clarence's behaviour as a rebel with Warwick against his own brother had been outrageous; Edward had forgiven, though unlikely he'd forgotten. Clarence could have sat tight and thanks the stars for his luck; he did not such thing. The fight between Clarence and Gloucester for Warwick the Kingmaker's inheritance demonstrated his greed, his defence of Thomas Burdett arrogance and stupidity, in his murder of Ankarette Twynho, brutality.
More ink has been spilled about Richard, so I won't go on. At this point, Richard has very much showed his worth to his brother. He refused to be seduced by Warwick and Clarence, stayed steadfastly loyal to Edward. He'd fought by his side at Barnet and Tewkesbury and proved himself. At 5 foot 8, relatively slight build, Richard had developed Scoliosis and therefore his shoulder may have looked higher than his left; but whatever his physical stature, he'd shown himself loyal and effective. in 1471 he was therefore handsomely rewarded by Edward and given the Neville lands in the north, and leadership in the north over Percy.
Here's a quick and easy family tree which helps illustrate the point about the Warwick inheritance
Shed based History enthusiast, allotment owner, dog walker