3
Feb

Death of John of Gaunt

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn   in Events in History

Death of John of Gaunt

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster

Death of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster – ancestor of the Lancastrian Kings and the Tudors

The death of John of Gaunt occurred on 3 February 1399 at Leicester Castle.

He was the third surviving son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault.  He was born on 6 March 1340 in Ghent, which why he was called ‘of Gaunt’.

His first wife was Blanche, the daughter of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster. They married in 1359.  His father gave him the title Duke of Lanacster in 1362 after the death of his father-in-law.   Their eldest son surviving infancy was Henry Bolingbroke, who would later become the Lancastrian king Henry IV.

After Blanche’s death in 1369, he married the Infanta Constance of Castile in 1371.  She died in 1394.

With Katherine de Roet he is the ancestor of the Beaufort family.  The children were born when Katherine was his mistress.  However, Katherine and John married in 1396 and the children were legitimised.  Their half-brother Henry IV barred the Beauforts from the succession to the throne.  The later fact was conveniently forgotten by Margaret Beaufort and her son Henry Tudor, when he aimed to become king (Henry VII).  Katherine and her relationship with John of Gaunt is the subject of Anya Seton’s unforgettable novel Katherine.

More information:

Richard Cavendish, ‘Death of John of Gaunt‘, History Today (2 February 1999). [accessed 3 February 2013]

John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, Encyclopaedia Britannica

Dorothea Preis

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2
Feb

Battle of Mortimer’s Cross

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn   in Events in History

Battle of Mortimer’s CrossBattle of Mortimer’s Cross, Herefordshire – Edward on the way to the throne

The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross was fought on 2 February 1461 in Herefordshire,  It was an important battle in the Wars of the Roses.

In the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross the Yorkists were led by 18-year-old  Edward, Earl of March (later Edward IV).  They intercepted a  Lancastrian forces led by Owen Tudor and his son Jasper into England.  The Lancastrians outnumbered the Yorkists considerably and were better mounted and armed.  The Yorkists were encouraged by a parhelion, a meteorological phenomenon in which three suns appear.  This is the origin of Edward’s badge ‘The Sun in Splendour’.

Unfortunately the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross is not very well documented.  The fighting must have been ferocious in adverse weather conditions in the middle of winter.

After the battle Owen Tudor was captured and executed in Hereford, along with other prisoners of rank.

To find out more:

Mortimer’s Cross, Richard III Foundation.

Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, Battlefields Resource Centre.

Jennifer Young, ‘The Mortimer’s Cross Parhelion: How a Meteorological Phenomenon Changed English History’, Decoded Science (2 October 2011).  URL:  http://www.decodedscience.com/the-mortimers-cross-parhelion-how-a-meteorological-phenomenon-changed-english-history/3437  [accessed 26 January 2015]

Dorothea Preis

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The Virgin Widow by Anne O'brien Anne O’Brien, The Virgin Widow. Mira Books, Australia 2010. ISBN 9781741 1685767 (477 pages)

As a Ricardian of nearly a decade, I am familiar with the outline of Anne Neville’s short life, and the way her father “Warwick, the Kingmaker” used her as a pawn in his power dealing after losing the role of advisor to Kind Edward IV, and her eventual marriage to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, whom she had known since childhood.
This is a fictional account by Anne O’Brien, told in first person from Anne Neville’s point of view. It covers the few known facts but adds interpretations of the author’s own, most of which did not sit well with me. For instance, I have no reason to believe Margaret of Anjou or her son were utter monsters with an implied incestuous relationship. However, I realise that fiction allows the author to do as she pleases,
and if one wants facts one leans towards nonfiction. What pleases this author is to write in the genres of historical fiction and romance, according to popular book website Goodreads If I had realised any dialog from the romance genre would appear, I would have passed on reading it. In fact, wincing while reading through
these embarrassing scenes was a new experience for me as my usual reading matter never requires wincing.
As it happened, my husband and I read this one aloud together, discussing our impressions as we went. Neither one of us enjoyed this telling, but ploughed through it dutifully, as we felt we owed it to poor Anne Neville whose story is not often the main attraction. And we kept hoping the payoff would make it worth our while.

I believe it is generally an accepted historical fact that Anne escaped from her brother-in-law and legal guardian George, Duke of Clarence, and briefly lived in hiding as a serving woman in a tavern owned by Lancastrian supporters until tracked down and rescued by Richard. That episode is retold in this book by having Clarence himself banishing her to his own kitchens where she is only found and saved, by clever thinking on her part, from being sent to a cloistered convent for life so that he can claim all of her lands. The real story is much more compelling and I did not see why the author would alter it.

I am fascinated by what is known about Anne Neville, in that she was used by her scheming father to forge precarious alliances and that she had no say whatsoever  about marrying Eduard, the Prince of Wales, the Lancaster heir. Then just a few years later she married the man who probably killed him. Her mind and heart must have been scrambled in those days; not knowing whom to trust or believe. Your closest loved ones willing to use you, however they could, to their own advantage. It is so monstrous that I can barely imagine what her emotional life would have been like. Dying so young almost seems like a reprieve!

Many Goodreads readers give this volume high marks, so it may be enjoyable to some people. To me it was too slow, too bland, too embarrassingly ‘bodice—ripper cliché’ in some parts, and just far too long. I was yearning for it to be over long before it was, and that is rare in my reading life. My husband soldiered on reading
aloud, however, and it finally came to an end, seemingly arbitrarily, before her second husband was even made King.

We would not recommend this book to anyone except the most diehard Ricardian with no other book at hand. There are so many wonderful Ricardian books available that I would really have to say ‘don’t bother!’ That said, there was little revelling in graphic violence, vile language or detailed sex scenes, and I appreciated that.
Leslie McCawley

28
Jan

Birth of Henry Tudor

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn   in Events in History

Birth of Henry Tudor

Henry Tudor (portrait at National Portrait Gallery, London)

Birth of Henry Tudor

On 28 January 1457, Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke Castle in Wales, the son of Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, and Margaret Beaufort.  Edmund Tudor was the son of Owen Tudor and Henry V’s widow Catherine of Valois.  Margaret Beaufort, was a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt (third son of Edward III) and his third wife and previous mistress Katherine Swynford.   The children of this relationship, the Beauforts, were disinherited by Letters Patent of King Henry IV from any claim to the throne. After defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August 1485, he took the throne as Henry VII.

Read the History Today article on ‘The Birth of Henry Tudor”.

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28
Jan

Death of Charlemagne

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn   in Events in History

Death of Charlemagne

15th century picture of Charlemagne

Death of Charlemagne – the end of the first and most powerful Holy Roman Emperor

Charlemagne (Karolus Magnus, Karl der Große) died on 28 January 814 at Aachen.  He is buried in Aachen Cathedral.

Karl, from the Carolingian family,  was born on 2 April, either in 747 or 748.  Nor do we know where he was born.  Aachen and Liège are possible, but other towns have also been suggested.  His parents were Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon (history has given her the rather unflattering nickname ‘Bertrada Boadfoot’).

After Pepin’s death on 24 September 768, the realm was divided between his two sons, Karl and Karlmann (Carlman).  The relationship between the two kings did not go smoothly.  Then Karlmann suddenly died on 4 December 771 of natural causes.  Karl seized the whole realm, which he extended during a number of wars.

On 25 December 800, he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III in Saint Peter’s Basilika in Rome. This was the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted until 1806.

Traditionally the story went that the Pope unexpectedly put the crown on Karl’s head, while he was praying.  However, modern research has shown that this romantic version is highly unlikely.  As the position of the Pope was fairly weak, it was probably Karl himself who sought the honour.

Under Karl, the Carolingian Empire was at its largest and most powerful position (the extent is shown on this map on Wikimedia Commons).

After his death, Karl was buried in Aachen Cathedral.  He was succeeded by his only surviving son Ludwig (Louis).

More information on Charlemagne from Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Other articles of interest:

Peter Munz, ‘The Imperial Coronation of Charlemagne’, History Today, Volume 9, Issue 7, 1959.  URL:  http://www.historytoday.com/peter-munz/imperial-coronation-charlemagne  [accessed 3 October 2010]

Kim Rendfeld, ‘Bertrada: Queen Mother and Diplomat’, Kim Rendfeld – Outtakes from a Historical Novelist (21 May 2013).  URL:  http://kimrendfeld.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/bertrada-queen-mother-and-diplomat/  [accessed 22 May 2013]

Dorothea Preis

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25
Jan

Marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn   in Events in History

Marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

Ruins of Sopwell Nunnery, St Albans (© D Preis)

Marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

On 25 January 1533, Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn in secret, possibly at Sopwell Nunnery in St Albans. This is suggested among others on the blog The Tangible Past.

Henry was very much attracted by Anne’s charm and wit.  To be able to marry her, Henry wanted to divorce his first wife Katherine of Aragon, to whom he had been married for 24 years.  This meant he also had to break with the Church of Rome, who did not accept his reasons for a divorce.  Their marriage was only annulled on 23 May 1533, when Thomas Cranmer declared it null and void.  On 28 May 1533 he declared the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn valid.

However, as Anne did not produce the looked-for male heir, after approx. 1000 days of marriage, Henry ordered Anne’s execution.

You might find Suzannah Lipscomb‘s article on this marriage of interest.

 

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24
Jan

Marriage of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn   in Events in History

Marriage of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault

Effigies of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault

Marriage of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault

On 24 January 1328, Edward III married Philippa of Hainault at York Minster.  Their marriage lasted 40 years until Philippa died in 1369.  They had twelve children and through them were the ancestors of both the House of York and the House of Lancaster as well as the Tudor line.

Find out more about this marriage from Anne O’Brien’s blog ‘Royal newly-weds 14th century style‘.

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23
Jan

Meeting of Richard’s only Parliament

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn   in Events in History

Meeting of Richard's only Parliament

Westminster Hall in the early 19th century

Meeting of Richard’s only Parliament

The meeting of Richard III’s only parliament at Westminster in the presence of the King began on 23 January 1484.  It had been summoned on 9 December 1483 and would be dissolved on 20 February 1484.

Attending were 37 Lords and 10 Judges (including the Attorney General) as well as 296 members of the Commons. It was opened by a speech from Chancellor Russel.  This parliament ratified Richard’s title by Titulus Regius.  The rebels from the October 1483 rebellion were attainted.

Of interest are the 15 public statutes of this parliament, which included ending benevolences, protecting land purchase rights, reforming the justice system, preventing commercial dishonesty in the cloth trade, protecting English merchants, and preventing fraudulent collection practices.  However, while trying to limit the activities of foreign merchants in England, the statutes included a proviso, exempting all merchants and craftsmen concerned in the book trade from the scope of the Act.

Richard’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Catesby was chosen to be the speaker of the Commons; and the receiver of petitions was Thomas Barowe, who had been in Richard’s service since at least 1471, who was also Master of the Rolls.

References:

Christopher Puplick, ‘He Contents the People Wherever He Goes:  Richard III, his parliament and government’The Chronicles of the White Rose:  Journal of the New South Wales Branch of the Richard III Society, Vol.2 (2008/09), pp.14-32

Anne Sutton, ‘Richards III’s Parliament’, Richard III Society.  URL:  http://www.richardiii.net/2_3_0_riii_leadership.php#parliament Date accessed:  14 May 2013

Susan L. Troxell, ‘The Tenth Coin: Richard III’s Parliament and Public Statutes’, Ricardian Register, Vol.44, No.4 (December 2013), pp.8-16

D. Woodger, ‘The Statutes of Richard III’s Parliament’, The Richard III Society of Canada (September 1997).  URL:  http://home.cogeco.ca/~richardiii/  Date accessed:  17 Nov. 2011 (under ‘Newsletters and Papers’)

Dorothea Preis

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18
Jan

Marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn   in Events in History

Marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York

Henry VII (portrait at National Portrait Gallery, London)

Marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York

On 18 January 1486, Henry VII  (Tudor) married Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.  It seems Henry needed to be urged by Parliament to make good his promise to marry Elizabeth, before actually doing so.  Plans for Elizabeth’s coronation were only made in September 1487 and she was finally crowned on 25 November 1487, more than a year after giving birth to their first son, Arthur.

Elizabeth died on 11 February 1503 at Richmond Palace.  Henry died six years later, on 21 April 1509, also at Richmond Palace.  They are buried next to each other in Westminster Abbey.

Reference:  Rosemary Horrox, ‘Elizabeth (1466–1503)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.  (online accessed: 27 January 2011)

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15
Jan

Marriage of Richard of Shrewsbury and Anne Mowbray

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn   in Events in History

Marriage of Richard of Shrewsbury and Anne Mowbray

Marriage of Richard of Shrewsbury and Anne Mowbray, by James Northcote

Marriage of Richard of Shrewsbury and Anne Mowbray

On 15 January 1478, Edward IV’s younger son Richard of Shrewsbury was married to Anne Mowbray, the only child of John de Mowbray, 4th Duke of Norfolk (died 17 January 1476) and Elizabeth Talbot (sister of Eleanor Talbot).  The wedding took place in St. Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster.  The bride was 5 years old, the groom 4.  She died on 19 November 1481. Her heirs would normally have been her cousins William, Viscount Berkeley, and John, Lord Howard, but by an act of Parliament in January 1483 the rights were given to her husband Richard, with reversion to his descendants, and, failing that, to the descendants of his father Edward IV.

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