Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’

1
Jan

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

We wish all our readers a very happy New Year, may all your wishes come true.

It cery certainly promises to be an eventful year for Ricardians anywhere.

(Photograph of the fireworks in Sydney taken by Rob Chandler; obtained through Wikimedia Commons)

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25
Dec

CHRISTMAS IN CAMBRIDGE

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

For the festive season here is a special – a segment of  ‘Carols from King’s’ in 2010 at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, a chapel which was close to Richard’s heart. Beautiful singing in a beautiful setting.

King’s College Chapel, Cambridge (photograph:  Dorothea Preis)

On a visit to the King’s College Chapel in Cambridge more than 20 years ago, I bought a postcard showing “The Kings who built the Chapel”.  In spite of Henry VIII being depicted as the crowning glory, it was the inclusion of Richard III which made me buy the card.

King’s College was founded by Henry VI in 1441.  After Edward IV came to power very little was done to continue and it “suffered severely from [his] hostility”.[Ross, p.135] This changed dramatically, when Richard became King.  He gave instructions that “the building should go on with all possible despatch”.  The result was that by the end of his short reign part of the chapel was in use.[‘History of the Chapel’]

His strong support for the construction of King’s College Chapel was part of Richard’s close and long lasting attachment to the University of Cambridge.  While his connection to Oxford seems to have been cordial enough, his attachment to Cambridge was much closer.  He and his queen Anne Neville had an especially close relationship to Queens’ College, to which they made their first endowment in 1477.

Queens’ was originally founded by Margaret of Anjou and further supported by Elizabeth Woodville, who came to be regarded as a co-founder, which explains the name.  During Richard’s reign, when he made further grants to the College, Queen Anne was also considered a founder, but that was “conveniently forgotten when political circumstances changed in 1485.”[Ross, p.135]  However, Richard is not entirely forgotten:   the badge of the college includes till this day a silver boar’s head.  [‘The College Badge’, Queens’]

When recruiting, Richard displayed a marked preference for Cambridge rather than Oxford graduates.[Ross, pp.132-134]

The special attachment Richard felt to Cambridge was reciprocated by the university and they regarded “King Richard and Queen Anne as liberal benefactors”, who “deserved the annual mass which the university formally established in their honour on the morrow of their state visit in 1484”.[Ross, p.136}

Enjoy the beautiful music.  And may your holidays be happy and peaceful!

Sources:
‘History of the Chapel’, King’s College Cambridge.  URL:  http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/chapel/history.html Date accessed: 27 July 2010 – This also includes a sketch showing the different construction phases.

‘The Heraldic Arms’, Queens’ College Cambridge.  URL:  http://www.queens.cam.ac.uk/general-information/historical-fun/queens-college/the-heraldic-arms Date accessed: 1 August 2010

‘The colleges and halls: King’s’, A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3: The City and University of Cambridge (1959), pp. 376-408. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=66649 Date accessed: 11 March 2010

Charles Ross, Richard III.  Methuen, London, 1988

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24
Dec

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Wishing all our readers a very merry Christmas and lots of happiness and peace for the New Year.

The preparations for the holiday season lead us to consider what Richard’s Christmas would have been like, whether it would have been anything like ours.

You would have looked in vain for a Christmas tree in Richard’s family home at Middleham Castle.  For many cultures green branches have symbolised new life and hope for a long time, however, the first record of a Christmas tree can only be found in 1521, in Germany.  The first record for candles on a Christmas tree dates from 1611, when Duchess Dorothea Sybilla of Silesia is reported to have decorated her tree in that way (1).  While it seems that the Christmas tree was introduced to the British royal family by the early 1800s, its use only became widespread in Queen Victoria’s time (2).

And Richard’s son Edward would not have anticipated the arrival of Santa Claus with impatience.  Santa Claus is based on St Nicholas (3) (whose feast day is 6 December, when he leaves sweets and little presents in the shoes of German children).  However, Santa Claus is the predominantly American term for the figure called Father Christmas in England.  His association with Christmas can in Britain only be traced back to the 17th century (4).  While we see Christmas above all as a time for the family to celebrate together, in medieval times it was a time for communities to celebrate together (5).  Nor would the cook at Middleham have served turkey, these were only introduced into Europe from America in the 1520s, and the first record in England dates from 1541 (6).  As you can see, Richard’s Christmas would have been quite different from what we see as typical today. 

adorazione_del_bambino_-_beato_angelicoFra Angelico, Adoration of the Child (1439-43)

The season of Advent would have been strictly observed as a time of fasting, and Christmas Eve in particular was a day without any meat, eggs or cheese.  Only after mass on Christmas Day everyone could enjoy an unrestricted meal again (7).  The Middleham peasants would have expected their lord to provide them with a Christmas meal, often bread, cheese, pottage and two dishes of meat (8).  If you were a nobleman, however, you might be treated to a boar’s head as the main course, served with rosemary and an apple or an orange in its mouth.  If no boar was available [by the 16th century its domesticated equivalent had to be used to keep up with demand (9)], there was goose or venison.   At Middleham you might even have been served swan, smothered in butter and saffron,  as Richard would certainly have been granted the King’s permission –  they are still royal property today (10).

Mince pies did still contain minced meat and at least three spices (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg)  representing the three gifts given to the Christ child by the Magi (gold, frankincense and myrrh).  The pie shell had an oblong shape to represent Christ’s crib, which is why no medieval person cut a mince-pie with a knife (11).   Our Christmas pudding of today goes back to the medieval ‘frumenty’ (from the Latin word for corn ‘frumentum’), which was made of thick porridge, wheat, currants and dried fruit.  If available, eggs and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg were added (12).

Popular entertainments were liturgical dramas, performed in church, as well as carols (13), which were more communal songs sung at specific feasts rather than in church (14).   Though this was probably changing already, as only 50 years later Martin Luther wrote carols specifically for the church (15).  Christmas gift-giving was usually between people with a legal relationship, such as tenant and landlord (16).

A popular drink was wassail, which comes from the Old English words waes hael, meaning “be well,” “be hale,” or “good health.”   Wassail is a strong, hot drink (usually a mixture of ale, honey, and spices), which was put in a large bowl, and the host would lift it and greet his companions with waes hael, to which they would reply drinc hael, which meant “drink and be well” (17).

And so we wish all of you waes hael for the festive season and the new year!

Notes:

1   “Weihnachtsbaum”. de.Wikipedia. Retrieved 14 December 2009.

“Christmas tree” Wikipedia. retrieved 14 December 2009.

3   Alison Sim, Pleasures & Pastimes in Tudor England.  Sutton Publishing, 2002.  P. 85

4   “Santa Claus”. Wikipedia.  Retrieved 8 December 2009.

5    Sim, p. 85

6    Melissa Snell, “Medieval Christmas Traditions”About.com:  Medieval History.  Retrieved 8 December 2009.

7    Sim, p. 85

8    Peter Hammond, Food & Feast in Medieval England.  Sutton Publishing, 2005.  P. 34

9   Hammond, p. 18

10  Jane Gilbert, “A Medieval Christmas”Time Travel Britain.com.  Retrieved 8 December 2009.

11   Richard Rutherford-Moore, “Christmas traditions in the time of Robin Hood”. BBC Nottingham Feature, December 2002.  Retrieved 8 December 2009.

12  Gilbert

13    Snell

14    “Christmas”Wikipedia.  Retrieved 8 December 2009.

15  For example the lyrics for the popular carol “Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her”, based on Luke 2, 9-16, were written in 1535, the melody in 1539, both by Martin Luther.  Evangelisches Gesangbuch, hymn 25.

16  “Christmas”

17    Snell

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23
Dec

RICARDIAN CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

   Posted by: Isolde Martyn    in Branch News, Meetings, News

At the December general meeting of the NSW branch Isolde and Julia entertained us with a variety of sketches with Ricardian themes.  And then it was our turn to get into the swing of things and sing our branch-own Christmas songs.  Here is one of them:

Oh, little town of Middleham,
How still we see thee lie.
But lying more than half a score,
King Richard to decry.
Mancini, Rous and Morton
And Hall and Holinshed
And Henry Tudor added to
The tales to help them spread.

Then Henry’s Polydore Vergil
Had Richard painted blacker,
But Sainted Thomas was a still
More modacious* attacker.
Then up rose Willy Shakespeare,
He too the truth foreswore,
Now we persevere until we hear
Their rotten lies no more.

*Never heard of the word? Neither had we but, being good Ricardians, we realised research was needed and came to the conclusion it is an adjective from the word MODALITY –the capacity to express the speaker’s confidence in the statement he or she is making.
So this might be the
mot juste for Sir Thomas’s history if you believe that he believed it.

(Words: Isolde Martyn and Eileen Larbalastier, a former member.  Photo:  Dorothea Preis)

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5
Jan

The Twelfth Days of Christmas (Tudor Style)

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Medieval Miscellany

Henry Tudor’s Christmas Wish List

On the twelfth day of Christmas my mummy sent to me
Twelve Woodvilles scheming,
Eleven lords rebelling,
Ten acts of treason,
Nine rumours brewing,
Eight tame historians,
Seven pots of French gold,
Six spies of Morton,
Five malmsey butts,
Four Papal pardons,
Three suns of York,
Two little princes,
And a crown in a hawthorn bush.

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4
Jan

The Eleventh Day of Christmas (Tudor Style)

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Medieval Miscellany

Henry Tudor’s Christmas Wish List

On the eleventh day of Christmas my mummy sent to me
Eleven lords rebelling,
Ten acts of treason,
Nine rumours brewing,
Eight tame historians,
Seven pots of French gold,
Six spies of Morton,
Five malmsey butts,
Four Papal pardons,
Three suns of York,
Two little princes,
And a crown in a hawthorn bush.

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3
Jan

The Tenth Day of Christmas (Tudor Style)

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Medieval Miscellany

Henry Tudor’s Christmas Wish List

On the tenth day of Christmas my mummy sent to me
Ten acts of treason,
Nine rumours brewing,
Eight tame historians,
Seven pots of French gold,
Six spies of Morton,
Five malmsey butts,
Four Papal pardons,
Three suns of York,
Two little princes,
And a crown in a hawthorn bush.

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2
Jan

The Ninth Day of Christmas (Tudor Style)

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Medieval Miscellany

Henry Tudor’s Christmas Wish List

On the ninth day of Christmas my mummy sent to me
Nine rumours brewing,
Eight tame historians,
Seven pots of French gold,
Six spies of Morton,
Five malmsey butts,
Four Papal pardons,
Three suns of York,
Two little princes,
And a crown in a hawthorn bush.

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1
Jan

The Eighth Day of Christmas (Tudor Style)

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Medieval Miscellany

Henry Tudor’s Christmas Wish List

On the eighth day of Christmas my mummy sent to me
Eight tame historians,
Seven pots of French gold,
Six spies of Morton,
Five malmsey butts,
Four Papal pardons,
Three suns of York,
Two little princes,
And a crown in a hawthorn bush.

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31
Dec

The Seventh Day of Christmas (Tudor Style)

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Medieval Miscellany

Henry Tudor’s Christmas Wish List

On the seventh day of Christmas my mummy sent to me
Seven pots of French gold,
Six spies of Morton,
Five malmsey butts,
Four Papal pardons,
Three suns of York,
Two little princes,
And a crown in a hawthorn bush.

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