History Jar Challenge 11 answers

This week’s challenge was to identify the eldest sons of the monarch since 1066 who did not become monarch in their turn. How did you do? And how many of you spotted the fact that I missed Richard II from last week’s list. His mother Joan of Kent never became queen because her husband the Black Prince pre-deceased Edward III.

William the Conqueror’s eldest son was Robert Curthose (1). William left Robert the duchy of Normandy, William Rufus the English crown and Henry of Selby £5000. Robert made several attempts to gain the crown but none were successful.

Henry I had only two legitimate children to survive to adulthood. Unfortunately William Adelin (2) was drowned off Barfleur in Normandy when the White Ship sank on 25th November 1120. Adelin simply means Atheling which is the Saxon term to identify royal princes.

King Stephen was Henry I’s nephew. He actually had three sons. The first Baldwin died whilst still a child but the second Eustace (3) was actually crowned in 1152 but he didn’t survive his father. He died in 1153. The crowning whilst his father was still alive was a bid by Stephen to ease the succession. Stephen, if you recall, was at war with his cousin Matilda about who should wear the crown. The papacy wasn’t keen on the idea though. Eustace didn’t take the news that Stephen was negotiating with Matilda’s soon Henry particularly well, withdrew from Stephen’s army and went on a bit of a fund raising spree, by which I mean looting and pillaging. On 10 August 1153 Eustace raided Bury St Edmunds. Eustace died soon after – the monks were keen to identify this as a result of the Almighty’s displeasure. Stephen’s third son succeeded his father as Count of Mortain and his mother as Count of Boulogne. He died in 1159.

Henry II’s eldest on was named William and he died whilst still a child. Henry (4), also known as the Young King, survived to adulthood, was crowned by his father as King of England in 1170 but since no real power was forthcoming rebelled. He died in 1183 – whilst rebelling against his father once more.

Edward I had many children including three sons who died in childhood or infancy – John, Henry and Alfonso are footnotes in history. Edward of Caernarvon was born in April 1284 and became the first English Prince of Wales. Since 1301 the title has been granted to the eldest son of the monarch. From this point forward I shall only reference heirs who lived long enough to be created and invested as Prince of Wales.

Edward III’s eldest son was Edward of Woodstock better known as the Black Prince (5). He predeceased his father meaning that Edward’s son Richard succeeded his grandfather in 1377.

We now arrive at the Wars of the Roses.

Henry VI’s son Edward (6) was created Prince of Wales the year after his birth in 1453. He was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4th May 1471.

Edward IV’s son Edward (7) was created Prince of Wales in 1471 but he is better remembered as one of the murdered princes in the Tower.

Richard III’s son Edward (8) was created Prince of Wales in 1183 but he died the following year at Middleham.

Henry VII who launched Tudor rule made much of the fact that his eldest son united the red and white roses. After all, Henry’s wife was Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV. Their first child, Arthur (9) was born in Winchester in 1486 enabling Henry to weave the story of his descent from Arthur – his claim to the throne was situated in legend. Unfortunately Arthur died in 1502 at Ludlow leaving his bride Catherine of Aragon to eventually marry Arthur’s brother Henry which led ultimately to the Henrician Reformation when no male heir was forthcoming.

James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603 when Elizabeth I died. One of the advantages of the new Stuart monarch was that he had a ready made family which included an heir and a spare. The heir was Prince Henry (10) – who became Prince of Wales in 1610. Two years later he went for a swim in the Thames and died soon afterwards of typhoid, although many suspected poisoning.

James II of England had two daughters from his first marriage to Anne Hyde. They were Protestant. However, James married for a second time to Mary of Modena- any heir would be Catholic. In 1688 the so-called “baby in the bedpan” was born. James Francis Edward is better known as the Old Pretender. He spent his life in exile and was barred by act of parliament from inheriting the throne following the Glorious Revolution – so I’m not counting him and can only apologise to any Jacobite sympathisers.

Queen Anne’s son William was created duke of Gloucester but never created Prince of Wales. He died shortly before his eleventh birthday.

George II’s son Frederick pre-deceased his father Frederick was estranged from both his parents.

George IV’s only legitimate child, Charlotte, died in childbirth in 1817 predeceasing both her father and grandfather.

Edward VII’s eldest son was created Duke of Clarence but not Prince of Wales – as his grandmother Queen Victoria was still alive. He predeceased her in 1892.

George V’s eldest so was Edward VIII (11)- created Prince of Wales in 1910. He abdicated in 1936 before his coronation – so I have added him to the list making him the eleventh person not to inherit the crown despite expectations to the contrary.

If you have any more ideas for quizzes – please let me know – I’ve really enjoyed the last two quizzes which were set by History Jar readers. Thank you.

Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy.

History Jar picture quiz 1 – answer – The Alfred Jewel

The first image in the History Jar’s new quiz is, of course, the Alfred Jewel which can be found in the Asmolean Museum in Oxford. The words around the end of the jewel read, “Alfred ordered me to be made.” The jewel is the ornate end of an aestel -that’s a pointer to you or me. The socket formed by the dragon’s head at the bottom of the jewel is where the ivory pointer would have sat.

The jewel was found a few miles from Athelney Abbey in Somerset in 1693 when it was ploughed up. Athelney Abbey is very near the site where King Alfred made his counter attack against the Great Viking army in 878. The king had been forced to retreat into the marshes in 877 and built a fort near Athelney before launching his counter attack.

Asser, who was Alfred’s chaplain, described the site as being a small island. And it was Alfred who is often credited with the founding of Athelney Abbey. However, there is a distinct possibility that there was already some sort of monastic foundation on the site as the name and the charter suggest enlargement rather than foundation.

William of Malmesbury writing later describes the abbey as poor but that the Benedictine brothers who lived there loved solitude. By the fourteenth century the quiet and solitude seems to have turned Athelney into a retirement home for royal pensioners. The archives contain a protest from the monks about Gilbert de Reagan who had been sent to the abbey to live as a pensioner. The monks replied that there were already two aged servants of the king living at the expense of the abbey.

In 1314 the abbey was used a prison for another Benedictine, William de Walton, who according to the Bishop of Lincoln, had been very wicked and should be kept locked in fetters in his cell at all times. Eventually William was returned to Peterborough Abbey, where he originally came from, as he had escaped a couple of times much to the consternation of the Athelney brothers.

In 1349 the plague hit the abbey killing two abbots in swift succession.

By 1536 the abbey was in debt to the Crown to the tune of £33 but that might have been because in 1497 the abbot had supported Perkin Warbeck against Henry VII and the abbey had been fined 100 marks. Cromwell’s commissioner found the abbot and his eleven monks to be leading good lives but on the 20th February 1539 the abbey surrendered.

https://www.ashmolean.org/alfred-jewel Follow the link for a closer look at the Alfred Jewel.

‘Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of Athelney’, in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 2, ed. William Page (London, 1911), pp. 99-103. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/som/vol2/pp99-103 [accessed 5 June 2020].

Hops – an unwholesome weed.


In 1426 an innkeeper in Kent was fined for putting a weed into the beer – hops. Jack Cade’s rebellion of 1450 was blamed on hops rather than the ineptitude of the government in at least one instance. The plant was perhaps looked on askance because it originated from the Low Countries. However, by 1597, John Gerard was advocating hops in beer as a remedy to keep the drinker healthy rather than merely as a thirst quencher.

In 1603 Parliament passed an act which forbade hop growers from adulterating their hop flowers with bits of stalk and leaves. By the seventeenth century there was no stopping the growth of hop farming. Indeed in 1710 another act was passed preventing the use of anything but hops.

Traditionally hop garlands and wreaths were hung up every year for good luck. Rather than adding them to beer in spring the new shoots can be eaten (I’ve not tried) – hence the name “poor man’s asparagus.” And of course, a pillow filled with dried hops will apparently send you to sleep. And having lulled you into a false sense of security now is probably a good time to mention that spring was a time for fasting and purging – putting a whole new meaning on the idea of spring cleaning. Hops were just one of the plants used to treat pests and parasites – yellow iris, red current leaves, wormwood and tansy were just a few of the ingredients added to the brew to give you a fresh start after the winter months.

I think I need to end on a more positive note! In 1406 John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, founded the Order of the Hop. He had just become the Count of Flanders and wanted his new subjects to feel appreciated. It was John who helped to popularise hops in Europe. Aside from hops John also commissioned many books, continuing the work of his parents. One of them – the Livre de Merveilles du Monde, contains some rather famous descriptions of journeys to exotic and strange places including Marco Polo’s account of his journey to China. However, the reason why its in this post is because as Celia Fisher explains that the frontispiece of the book depicts hops. The whole of the book is available to view online – just follow the link beneath the image at the start of this post.

Illustration from the Medieval Flower Book p62

Fisher, Celia. (2013) The Medieval Flower Book. London: The British Library

History Jar Challenge 11

The first official Prince of Wales was Edward of Caernarfon. Edward was born in 1284. Apparently Edward I had been having trouble with the Welsh who declared that they wouldn’t accept a prince who spoke English. He allegedly presented them with his new infant son who spoke no English as their new prince. In reality Edward invested his son with the title in 1301.

This week’s challenge comes courtesy of Michael – thank you for this challenge that will get everyone thinking. Name the eldest sons of English monarchs since 1066 who did not succeed their parent.

History Jar picture quiz

A new quiz to keep you interested this week as we take a break from the store cupboard of quotes. I’ve chosen a number important historical artefacts that tell the story of England – some of them date before 1066. What famous historical item is this?

History jar challenge 10 – monarchs whose mothers were not queens of England

Complete set of Players cigarette cards depicting kings and queens of England.
Can you spot the queen of England who was barred from attending the coronation of her husband?

I should have been clear that I was dating this from 1066. How did you do? I think there’s 15 clear cases of monarchs whose mothers were not queens of England and a further 3 who became queen after their children were born – but they were queens of England.

William the Conqueror’s mother was Herleva (1). Apparently Duke Robert the Devil or the magnificent depending on your view point spotted her doing the laundry by the river and the rest is history as they say.

Technically William Rufus’s mother wasn’t queen of England when he was born – Matilda of Flanders (i) only became queen in 1066 following the conquest and Rufus was born sometime between 1056 and 1060. She was very definitely queen of England by the time Henry I was born at Selby in 1068 – so I shall leave it up to you to count William Rufus in or not depending on your frame of mind.

King Stephen’s mother was Adela of Normandy (2), a daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders. She married Theobald III of Blois.

Henry II’s mother, the Empress Matilda (3) was never crowned so technically wasn’t the ruler.

Henry IV’s parents were John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III and his wife Blanche of Lancaster (4) – who very definitely wasn’t queen of England.

Henry V’s mother was Mary de Bohun (5) who died before Henry IV usurped Richard II’s throne.

And then we arrive at the Wars of the Roses – Edward IV and Richard III’s mother was Cecily Neville (6 and 7), the daughter of the 1st Earl of Westmorland and her husband was Richard of York.

Henry Tudor who became Henry VII was the last scion of the House of Lancaster, certainly his claim to the throne couldn’t be described as very strong bloodline wise but he did win the Battle of Bosworth – his mother was Margaret Beaufort (8), descended from John of Gaunt and Kathryn Swynford. The Beaufort children from the union were retrospectively legitimised by Richard II and then excluded from the throne by Henry IV.

James I of England but VI of Scotland’s mother was, of course, Mary Queen of Scots (9).

If you’re being picky Anne of Denmark (ii) was queen of Scotland when she gave birth to Charles I – he was too sickly to initially travel to England with the rest of the family but like Matilda of Flanders she was crowned once her husband took the throne.

James II’s wife was Anne Hyde (10 and 11) she died in 1671 before James ascended the throne in 1685. Therefore their daughters Mary and Anne are on the list and since Mary reigned alongside her husband William of Orange he also features. William of Orange’s parents were William II of Orange and Mary Henrietta (12) a much loved daughter of Charles I.

When Queen Anne died in 1714 her nearest Protestant relation was her third cousin George of Hanover – he was a grandson of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen – so the daughter of James I and Anne of Denmark. George’s mother was Elizabeth’s daughter Sophia of the Palatinate better known as Sophia of Hanover (13). She was Queen Anne’s heir but predeceased the monarch by two months.

George II’s mother was Sophia Dorothea of Celle (14) – the marriage with George of Hanover had not been happy one. On being told that she was to marry George, Sophia threw his picture at the wall declaring she wouldn’t marry “pig snout” – sadly she wasn’t given any option in the matter. His family didn’t like her overly much and she didn’t like them or her new husband. It was apparently perfectly acceptable for George to take a mistress but Sophia’s relationship with Count Philip Cristoph von Konigsmarck resulted in his death and her incarceration for thirty years in Ahlden where she died.

George III was possibly married bigamously to Queen Charlotte in which case George IV shouldn’t have been king anyway, and nor should William IV but that’s an entirely different story and so far as the record is concerned their mother was the queen of England and George III’s only spouse…despite what other documents might suggest.

Queen Victoria’s father was George III’s son Edward, Duke of Kent. Her mother was Victoria of Safe-Coburg-Saalfield (15).

And finally King George VI was Duke of York when our current queen Elizabeth II was born – her mother was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (iii) who became queen in 1936 when her brother-in-law abdicated. The coronation took place in 1937.

Old maps

I love old maps – compass roses, dragons and fantastic beasts as well as miniature landmarks have always made me smile. Though I must admit to being very disappointed when told recently that no historic English map has ever carried the legend “here be dragons.” These days I especially like old maps if they have field names on and parish boundaries. And it’s so much easier to find your location as well thanks to the National Library of Scotland who have a free searchable database. Why not give it a go?


Old Maps Online www.oldmapsonline.org is a gateway to historic maps from around the world

Some counties have their own archive – https://www.cumbriacountyhistory.org.uk/resources is just an example and is really helpful for tracking down information, quite a lot of which is freely available. Time perhaps to do some desktop research.

A reminder to for those of you who are helping out with home schooling. Local history is an important part of the primary history curriculum – it’s always good to find out what once stood where the school did, or your house – have things stayed the same or have they changed? Having looked at some historic maps why not encourage the child to make a map of their own with the things that are important to them. It’s an example of where topic work in primary school learning covers more than one subject developing from historic maps and local history we’ve branched out into art work and for fans of Winnie the Pooh and The Hobbit into fiction and presenting information in different forms. Most of all – their maps can proudly carry the legend “Here be dragons!”

History jar podcast episode 3 – P for Plantagenets

Episode 3 of the podcast is now available it covers the reigns of kings from Henry III to Richard II.


With many thanks to Andrew Durrant of This is Distorted


And the legal bit:

This podcast uses sounds from free sound which are licensed under creative commons:

Ambient battle sounds by pfranzen at https://freesound.org/people/pfranzen/sounds/192072/

Beheading SFX by Ajexk at https://freesound.org/s/271984/

Toilet flushing by lorenzgillner at https://freesound.org/s/274448/

History Jar Challenge week 10 -monarchs whose mothers weren’t queens of England.


published by John Player & Sons, after Unknown artist
colour relief halftone cigarette card, 1935
NPG D48131
© National Portrait Gallery, London

I was delighted to discover that the National Portrait Gallery has a set of royal portrait cards dating from 1935. Interestingly a number of queens are also depicted but I’m not giving you any clues on this occasion.

This week’s challenge has been set, with thanks, from Michael. Please identify “English Monarchs whose mothers were not queens of England.” There are a surprising number and take us away from assorted fortifications and battles for the time being.

Store cupboard of quotes – week 9 answers

Dan Jones is a leading historian who has written several books about the Plantagenets. The Hollow Crown is a Sunday Times best seller and his book The Plantagenets: the Kings who made England is a must have for anyone with an interest in medieval England. In these quotes he wrote about the following monarchs.

  1. “ King John sent instructions to the royal servant Hubert de Burgh, who was serving as Arthur’s jailer, demanding that he should blind and castrate his prisoner.”
  2. “Had Henry III been richer, less beset by other problems and a more competent military strategist, securing Sicily for his second son might have resembled the masterful pan-European geopoliticking in which his grandfather Henry II might have specialised. Unfortunately, he was none of those things. He was a naive fantasist with a penchant for schemes.”
  3. “Henry I was, as one contemporary chronicler put it, “the man against whom no one could prevail except God himself.” The fourth son of William the Conqueror, he enjoyed an exceptionally long, peaceful, and prosperous reign of thirty-five years, in which royal authority in England reached new heights. After his father’s death in 1087, England and Normandy had been split apart. Henry ruthlessly reunited them.”
  4. The Holland family traced their own royal ancestry through Henry IV’s sister Elizabeth. In January 1444 the most senior Holland, John, earl of Huntingdon, was promoted to duke of Exeter, with precedence over all other dukes except for York—another elevation specifically credited to his closeness in blood to the king. John Holland died in August 1447, and his son Henry Holland eventually succeeded to his duchy.” 
  5. “Pope Pius II, watching England from afar, would later describe Henry VI in this phase of his life as “a man more timorous than a woman, utterly devoid of wit or spirit, who left everything in his wife’s hands.”
  6. While Edward IV was accustomed to fighting on foot, Warwick was said by one chronicler to prefer to run with his men into battle before mounting on horseback, “and if he found victory inclined to his side, he charged boldly among them; if otherwise he took care of himself in time and provided for his escape.” 
  7. “ Richard the Lion-Heart had been the first nobleman north of the Alps to take the Cross in Autumn 1187. His departure to the Holy Land had been delayed almost two years by his quarrel with his father.”
  8. “He had the Plantagenet temper in perhaps the most potent form. It is said that in a fit of rage Edward I once literally frightened a man to death.” 
  9. and 10. Perhaps most surprising of all, the deposed and imprisoned King Henry was not murdered. This had been the fate of the two Plantagenet kings who had lost their crowns before him: Edward II died while in custody at Berkeley Castle in 1327, while Richard II was killed at Pontefract in 1400, the year following his deposition. Ironically, Henry’s survival was perhaps a mark of his uniquely pitiful and ineffectual approach to kingship—for it was much harder to justify killing a man who had done nothing evil or tyrannical, but had earned his fate thanks to his dewy-eyed simplicity. Permitting Henry to remain alive was a bold decision that Edward IV would come to regret. But in 1465 it must have struck the king as a brave and magnanimous act.”