Monthly Archives: March 2015

Norman crossword

knigh21066 is a date that most people know.  It marks the Norman conquest of England – though it would have to be said that William had his work cut out in the opening years of his reign putting down rebellions in Exeter, the West Country, the Welsh Marches, Kent and ‘the North’ as has been covered elsewhere win this blog.  The Normans gave us castles, cathedrals  and a new influence on the development of English as well as a new set of people in charge although they used much of the administrative system that was already in place – hence words such as ‘wapentake’ and the shire system.

I’ve actually been working on my ‘Rulers’ page and to celebrate the fact that my brief biography of each monarch is nearing conclusion  (note the key word nearing) I’ve started to create some crosswords to add to some posts.  Open the page by clicking  ‘Rulers’ in the menu bar at the top of the page to read more about the Norman kings of England.

 

In the coming weeks I want to find out about King Stephen’s daughter Mary who became an abbess but was then abducted by a distant cousin and bore him two children before she was allowed to return to a nunnery; Hamelin de Warenne who was Henry II’s half-brother ( so a Plantagenet but married to the widow of King Stephen’s son William)   and also Sybilla who married Robert, William the Conqueror’s eldest son.  Apparently she was poisoned by a love rival.  It reads more like a soap opera than a history blog!

Click on the word ‘puzzle’ to open up the grid.  The clues follow on in the body of this post as I haven’t quite worked how to present them all in a pdf format (no doubt I’ll get there eventually).  The answers are at the bottom of this post.

puzzle

Across

3) Surname of Royal Family that came after the Normans, descended from Matilda.
5) William I defeated which king in order to claim the English crown?
7) William created his half-brother earl of which region?
8) William I’s mother.
10) Name of Henry I’s second wife.
11) King Stephen was created Count of _________ by right of his wife.
13) Henry I’s queen was known as Matilda but what was her real name?
14) The title which Henry’s daughter took when she married Henry V of Germany.
20) City where Henry I was initially crowned following the death of his brother.
23) Daughter of King Stephen who was elected an abbess at this important monastic house. She was abducted from here and forced to marry Matthew of I of Flanders ( another descendent of William the Conqueror).
25) King who usurped the throne from his cousin upon the death of Henry I.
26) Wooded area where William II met with an unfortunate ‘accident’. (3, 6)
27) William I whom we call ‘the Conqueror’ was often known during his life time as William the ______________.
28) Matilda’s son Henry was known as Henry _____________ until he came into the titles of his father and then his mother.
30) The name of King Stephen’s heir who died but not before his father had signed a treaty bypassing his claim to the throne.
31) Place where William I was born.
Down

1) Henry I’s legitimate heir drowned when which vessel sank as it crossed The Channel? (3, 5, 4).
2) Treaty of __________passed over Stephen’s heirs in favour of Matilda’s heirs bring the civil war of the period to a conclusion.
4) The name by which Henry I’s daughter was known during her childhood.
6) William I’s wife was known as Matilda of ______________.
9) Henry I’s illegitimate son Robert was an important baron during the civil war that raged between the king and his cousin. He was the earl of __________.
10) Matilda’s second husband was count of this territory.
12) William I’s half-brother who commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry.
15) Nickname given to William II on account of his florid complexion, hair colouring and temper.
16) Yorkshire town where Henry I was born in 1068.
17) Before they became Normans the people who settled in the region that became known as Normandy were known as what?
18) Nickname given to William I’s eldest son.
19) Abbey in Kent favoured for burial by the family of King Stephen. The royal monuments were destroyed during the Reformation.
21) Isabella, the wife and then widow of Stephen’s son William married for a second time. She married Henry II’s illegitimate half-brother who was called what?
22) The name of William I’s eldest son who went on to become Duke of Normandy after his father’s death.
24) The number of Henry I’s children who drowned in the disaster that killed his heir.
29) Stephen’s son William became Earl of this location when he married the daughter of William de Warenne.

puzzle

1 Comment

Filed under Crosswords, Eleventh Century, Kings of England, Norman Conquest

King James III lands

Prince_James_Edward_Stuart,_the_Old_PretenderOn the 23rd March 1708 King James III of England landed at the Firth of Forth.   History knows the king rather better as James Edward Stuart, the so-called Old-Pretender or the ‘baby in the bedpan.’

Charles II had balanced the political and religious beliefs of his subjects with all the acumen of an accomplished juggler.  Yes he’d relied heavily on the financial largesse of his cousin the French king.  Yes, he’d promised to convert to Catholicism at some point in the future (he was actually received into the Catholic church on his deathbed) and yes his queen Catherine of Braganza was Catholic but he didn’t alienate his people.  By contrast brother James managed to irritate most of the population irrelevant of their religious beliefs mainly because he failed to learn from his father’s errors and tried to turn the clock back to a time when people did what the king told them to do.  The final straw came in 1688 when James’s young bride Mary of Modena gave birth to a baby boy.

Rumours swiftly spread that Mary had given birth to a stillborn child and that a healthy baby had been smuggled into the palace in a bedpan.  Now – I don’t know about you but it would have to have been one heck of a bedpan or a very small baby for no one to spot the deception.  In any event the arrival of baby James prompted the new arrival’s more mature brother-in-law, William of Orange, to kick James Senior off the throne. It’s always nice to encounter a close and loving family.

Little James  grew up in France at the chateau of St-Germain-en-Laye. He was declared King James III of England and VIII of Scotland on his father’s death in 1701.  His title was acclaimed by the Pope as well as Catholic Spain and France.  Unfortunately Protestant England refused to play ball and even when King William died the country preferred James’ big sister Anne who was safely protestant though undesirably female – as we all know kings are better than queens except when they’re catholic or when they’re called Elizabeth Tudor.

In 1708 James attempted to claim his kingdom.  He decided the best bet was to invade Scotland where he would have been King James VIII (just in case you weren’t already confused enough). It was not a rip roaring success.

James returned to Scotland for a second time following the Jacobite uprising in 1715 – a rebellion against the new king (George I) who was German, a little on the podgy side and who didn’t speak a word of English.  His main qualification – you’ve got it- was the the fact that he was protestant.  James had actually turned down the opportunity of getting the crown by invitation when he’d refused overtures which came with the proviso of converting to C of E.

By February 1716 James had left the country once again never to return.  Sentimental types took to toasting the ‘king over the water’ – which sounds vaguely like some kind of Tolkienesque elf but that’s because my reading habits are far too eclectic.

 

5 Comments

Filed under Eighteenth Century, Kings of England

Elizabeth of Lancaster and Sir John Holland

elizabeth_of_lancasterI’ve found a new author – well, she might not be new but she’s new to me- Anne O Brien.  I’ve just guzzled ‘The King’s Sister’ a novel about Elizabeth of Lancaster, the third child of Blanche of Lancaster and John of Gaunt.

Her story is an everyday tale of the Plantagenets – so there’re two arranged marriages, treachery and a spot of skulduggery for starters.

John of Gaunt arranged a marriage between Elizabeth and John Hasting’s the third Earl of Pembroke in 1380.  She was seventeen, he was eight and got on, in the novel at least, very well with Elizabeth’s little brother Henry of whom more anon.  It isn’t perhaps surprising that she was more attracted to John Holland a son of Princess Joan and her first husband (the one she married when she was twelve before her family married her off to a second more important husband but that’s a different story) who had been married for a third time to the Black Prince and was mother to King Richard II.  John Holland had a reputation as a ladies man and a champion jouster – or in other words a knight errant- as well as gaining a reputation as a soldier in the field in both Scotland and Spain.  Apparently, according to the records of the time, he was smitten with Elizabeth of Lancaster’s great beauty.  He followed her day and night…so what would you do if you were a hormone ridden teenager – remain loyal to the child to whom your father has married you off to or run away with the handsome half brother of the king?   Elizabeth’s marriage to the young Earl of Pembroke was annulled.

The relationship between Elizabeth and John Holland is a tempestuous one in Anne O’Brien’s novel but the historical reality is not without its ironies.  John’s half brother was Richard II.  Elizabeth’s brother was Henry Bolingbroke a.k.a. Henry IV.  I should imagine that the family get together after Henry deposed and imprisoned Elizabeth’s brother-in-law was a tense one.  Although John gave his fealty to the new king he remained loyal to Richard in Pontefract – and despite Richard’s notorious temperamental streak – he’d been good to his half-brother and wife.  John Holland had been created First Duke of Exeter and been rewarded with other posts and estates.

In 1400 he was involved in the so-called ‘Epiphany Plot,’ also known as ‘the Three Earls Plot’ which sought to overthrow Henry, kill him and his sons, and return Richard II to the throne.  The plot was betrayed and John fled but was captured at Pleshy Castle in Essex.  He was fortunate to get so far.  Twenty-nine of the conspirators were executed at Oxford.  John was  was executed by Joan Fitzallan, the Countess of Hereford who had a grudge against Elizabeth’s husband.  Holland had executed her brother (the Earl of Arundel) several years before without going through the niceties of an entirely fair trial.

Henry IV used attainder to impoverish his sister and his nieces and nephews in the short term.  So not what you might call a terribly happy-ever-after for the couple although there is more to Elizabeth’s story and her children because they remained close to the crown and eventually regained their titles if not all of their estates.  As for Richard II, well he apparently starved himself to death very soon after the failed uprising in January 1400.  The chroniclers didn’t believe it either!

As for me I’m pleased to report that there are five other novels by Anne O Brien…as well as a list of places for me to visit that are associated with the Plantagenet princess who broke the rules and ran off with her handsome knight only to find herself embroiled in deadly family politics.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Fourteenth Century

The Shepherd Lord – part deux

IMG_3926Henry Tudor’s victory at Bosworth saw a change in fortune for the House of Lancaster and its supporters.  Henry Clifford emerged from skulking in the shadows and in a matter of weeks was established as one of Henry VII’s great lords possibly because the good folk of Yorkshire had a soft spot for Richard III so didn’t take too kindly to the man who’d usurped his throne.  As for the Earl of Northumberland, he was doing a shift in the chokey for not arriving to support Henry in time at Bosworth. Consequently there were few people for Henry Tudor to trust so Henry Clifford with his family history and the role that his brother had played on the continent was in the right place at the right time.

Clifford swiftly took on a series of administrative roles as well as touring the countryside punishing Yorkists.  Eventually the role the king allotted to him became more representative of the traditional role of sheriff – administering the law and collecting taxes.  It was a job that was to keep Henry out of mischief for the rest of his life along with showing his loyalty to the king every time a pretender to the crown showed his head and attacking the scots as deemed appropriate by the rules of border warfare.

In 1487 Henry got married.  Anne was a distant relation of his own as well as being related to Henry VII ( a cousin of some kind)  which just goes to show that medieval family trees are complicated things.  Henry acquired more lands in the north, acted on behalf of the king and developed an interest in astronomy and alchemy.  According to legend he was illiterate which is possible but unlikely. The one thing we can be sure of is that he valued learning.  He supported scholars in Oxford and also provided places for children at Giggleswick.  He also supported the monasteries at Shap, at Bolton and at Gisborough.

To all intents and purposes Henry seems to have been very pious – presumably he made confession about the number of mistresses he is supposed to have kept at various times. Lady Anne complained about the number of baseborn children he’d fathered.  Gossip was ratcheted up a gear after the death of his first wife and his marriage to Lady Florence, Marchioness Pudsey who was considerably younger than him. He also seems to have conducted pretty unneighbourly warfare with his neighbour who responded in kind.

The next time wider history clapped eyes on Henry Clifford was in 1513 at the Battle of Flodden.  He even made an appearance in a ballad of the same name in which he is portrayed as a heroic captain.  At home things were less of a story and more of a nightmare.  He was almost estranged from his son whom he kept on such short pursestrings it caused Henry VIII to tell Henry Clifford to be more generous.  He also seems to have had a bit of a tempestuous relationship with his second wife Lady Florence who brought a lawsuit against her spouse for not letting her live with him.  On the other hand Henry publicly accused Florence of having an affair with one of his household servants Roger Wharton – presumably Florence felt that what was good for the gander was also good for the goose!  It was definitely not a happy family.

When Henry Clifford died in 1523 and was buried in Bolton Abbey the Cliffords had survived the medieval period and were rising ever further in the Tudor world but who would have thought that less than twenty years later Henry Cliffords final resting place would be dissolved along with all the other monasteries in England and Wales.  Times were changing in more ways than one.

1 Comment

Filed under Sixteenth Century