I teach history courses for the Workers' Educational Association as well as giving talks on various history topics across Yorkshire and the Midlands as well as talks about the history and creation of cross stitch samplers and blackwork embroidery.
Good afternoon everyone, the store cupboard isn’t working quite as I planned so for the time being I think I shall do things a bit differently. By all means add quotes on the week’s topic in the comments box. Thank you to all who have done so thus far:
Here are are some reasonably well known quotes made by kings and queens of England and the United Kingdom. How many can you identify? Answers next week.
Which monarch said:
“The word must is not to be used with princes.”
“The important thing is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.”
“A subject and a sovereign are clean different things.”
“Hops are a wicked and pernicious weed.”
“I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”
“I can make a lord but only God can make a gentleman.”
“I always admired virtue – but I could never imitate it.”
I don’t mind praying to the Eternal Father, but I must be the only man in the country afflicted with an eternal mother.
“Mad is he? The I hope he will bite some of my other generals.”
Having been out for my hour’s walk yesterday with History Jar challenges on my mind – and no I do not feel the urge to take up jogging, thank you all the same -I now have a long list of challenges for the blog.
This week’s challenge is a two part challenge. Firstly, where have English monarchs and their consorts been buried since 1066? And secondly, the obvious answer is Westminster Abbey. There have been thirty kings and queens buried there according to the Westminster Abbey website. Without looking them up, how many of the 30 can you name?
Edward the Confessor was buried in the newly completed Westminster Abbey on 6th January 1066. He was placed before the high altar but on 13th October 1163 he was moved to a shrine which Henry III improved upon with the addition of mosaics but of course in 1540 the shrine was destroyed by Henry VIII’s vandals.
It’s Friday already! it’s time to consider the royal beasts that can be found on armorial bearing down the centuries – in particular the supporters. The idea of having two armorial supporters- one on either side of a shield of arms is usually credited to medieval engravers with a space to fill in a circular seal according to H Stanford London in 1953.
The lion of England is first recorded in evidence during the reign of Henry I when his daughter Matilda married her second husband, Geoffrey of Anjou from whom the Plantagenets are descended. From that time onwards lions appear on royal shields including that of William Longespée or Long Sword, Earl of Salisbury who was one of Henry I’s illegitimate sons.
It was probably during the time of Henry II that the two lions of the Conqueror were invented so that when he married Eleanor of Aquitaine – the lion of Aquitaine could be added to the royal coat of arms. Normandy had two leopards rather than lions.
Edward III reigned from 1322 until 1377. The beast most closely associated with him is the griffin as it was engraved on his private seal. It represented the qualities of guardianship and vigilance – so a polite statement that Edward III was in charge and caring for his country unlike his deposed father Edward II or mother Isabella of France.
Another of the beasts linked to Edward III on display during the coronation was the falcon and the fetterlock which was also associated with Richard II and both houses of York and Lancaster. Later Elizabeth of York used it as her badge as had her brother Richard, Duke of York. Another Tudor is also associated with the falcon – Elizabeth I- but hers is crowned and sceptred. It is a direction reference to her mother who used the falcon as her badge.
Richard II chose a white hart as his personal badge. It has links with his mother, Joan of Kent’s, white hind badge and is also a pun on Richard’s name. The white hart was not one of the royal beasts on display at the coronation in 1953 and given what happen to Richard II, it’s probably not surprising.
Henry IV and his son Henry V included a white swan amongst their armorial beasts – Henry IV’s wife and the mother of his children was the heiress Mary deBohun. The swan in question usually has a crown round its neck from which a chain is attached. Another Bohun beast to make into the royal stable was the white antelope but neither of these beasts featured as part of the display for the queen’s coronation.
Henry VI’s armorial bearings were the first English monarch’s to use supporters. They were a pair of de Bohun antelope such as can be seen on the gateway of Eton College which Henry VI founded. He also made use of the heraldic panther or panther incensed – i.e. with flames coming out of it’s ears and mouth. The panther is of course the third of the three heraldic moggies – lions, leopards and panthers. There were no panthers flaming or otherwise on display in Westminster in 1953. Presumably because its not a good auspice to be reminded of a king with mental health issues whose rule, though long, resulted in a bloody civil war ending by the monarch in question being bumped off whilst at prayer in the Tower.
Edward IV’s lion supporter isn’t actually the lion of England – it’s actually the badge of the Earls of March – the white lion. Unlike the lion of England the white lion of Mortimer is not depicted with a crown and it is always shown sitting with it’s tail curled between its legs – in fact it looks a bit like a dog begging. It made it on to the list of 10 coronation beasts unlike the black dragon of Ulster which he also used as a personal badge on occasion.
Edward IV also made use of the black bull of Clarence or Clare which was another of the Queen’s royal beasts in 1953. He was making a statement about his claim to the throne in the use of these two supporters which belonged to Roger Mortimer, Earl of March and Lionel Duke of Clarence respectively. Lionel was the elder of the royal brothers and so it was work who should have inherited the throne rather than Lancaster which was descended from John of Gaunt. The black bull continued in use as a royal beast until 1603.
Richard III is famous for his use of a white boar.
Meanwhile the Tudors introduced some new species to the proceedings. Margaret Beaufort is often associated with the emblem of the portcullis but she also used the yale as a personal badge. The yale is a bit like a cross between a goat and an antelope – clearly mythical! Margaret’s is silver with golden spots. Mane, hoofs, horns and tusks are also gold. Interestingly the yale turned up earlier as a supporter for John of Bedford’s arms (Henry V’s brother famous for incinerating Joan of Arc.) This suggests that the yale was more antelope than goat as it would have had a link to the de Bohun antelope. When the earldom of Kendal was passed to the Beaufort earls of Somerset after Bedford’s death in 1435 the yale passed with the title into the Beaufort family.
Next we have the white greyhound of Richmond which reflects Henry Tudor’s title of Earl of Richmond inherited from his father Edmund.
The greyhound is swiftly followed by the red dragon of Wales because as followers of the History Jar know, Henry VII saw himself as the descendant of King Arthur – or at least that’s what he tried to convince his subjects in order to steer them away from the fact that he took his crown on the battlefield and that his wife Elizabeth of York was actually the person most people regarded as royal.
Mary Tudor chose an eagle as one of her armorial supporters but it’s not one of the coronation beasts in 1953 – again no doubt because of the unfortunate life of the monarch in question.
With the Stuarts the royal arms acquired the unicorn and the pairing of the lion and the unicorn as supporters of the royal arms with which we are all familiar.
And finally – the white horse of Hanover which has never been a supporter of the Royal Arms and is not often listed as a royal beast but which none the less made it into the ten royal beasts identified in 1953.
Having set a challenge about Royal Arms I thought I probably ought to post a little about the way in which arms and badges were used during the medieval period. Clearly a personal badge was originally designed so that people knew who was who on the battle field or tournament ground – either on a banner, a surcoat or a shield for instance but by the fourteenth century they had developed into something that was given out almost like a contract between a noble and the group of people who served him in a variety of capacities.
An affinity was a set of political and social connections – like an extended family- but with a nobleman at the centre of the web based on his links to royalty, personal patronage, family and territory. The noble would have a household and a set of retainers, or followers, who were sworn to provide the lord with help in terms of military service, political support etc in return for which they would receive protection; a leg up the social ladder and dating agency for their offspring; offices; land. As the fifteenth century progressed these retainers wore either his livery or someothe badge that associated them with their noble – the bear with the ragged staff is a well-known badge associated with the Earl of Warwick for instance.
A powerful lord like John of Gaunt would attract local gentry as well as family and tenants. The Gaunt affinity was particularly noticeable in Derbyshire for instance. This meant that men with a large affinity, such as the duke, effectively had an army that they could call upon whenever they needed one – something of increasing importance as the fifteenth century moved into the wars of the roses. Consider the impact of the Neville affinity in the escalation of feuding during the fifteenth century.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III’s personal livery badge was a white boar. Sometimes the badges were taken from a charge (an emblem from the shield) on a coat of arms but they might also be more personal than that – they could be to do with an event in the lord’s life or a play on the lord’s name. Richard II’s white hart is a pun on Rich hart.
Henry VII needed to stamp out the concept of the affinity as the bands of men that nobles could gather up as part of their affinity could be used for the king but also form armies that fought against him. The Statute of Liveries of 1506 forbade issuing livery badges to men of rank; they had to be domestic servants unless the livery was covered by a specific royal licence. Eventually livery badges were reserved only for those who were part of the monarch’s affinity and for household servants of the aristocracy. Henry made sure that everyone rocked the Tudor rose rather than their own personal livery. John of Gaunt’s livery chains of entwined “esses” ultimately became associated with chains of office rather than with the Lancastrian royal house.
The bear and ragged staff was associated with the Earl of Warwick during the Wars of Roses but in the reign of Elizabeth I it was associated with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester who was the successor of the Earl of Warwick (via a circuitous route.)
The blue lion – or lion rampant azure- is associated with the Percy family.
The Prince of Wales feathers were first associated with the Black Prince when he chose them as a device on hearing about the bravery of the blind King of Bohemia.
The Stafford knot is associated with the Dukes of Buckingham.
The Talbot dog is associated with the Talbot Earls of Shrewsbury
The portcullis is associated with the Beaufort family and was used widely in Tudor iconography.
Livery badges issued by the livery companies of the City of London are of a later date.
Linked to the King’s beasts which is the name given to the carved heraldic creatures at Greenwich Palace this week’s store cupboard of quotes should be about Henry VIII – they can be primary, secondary – serious or not.
My own favourite tongue-in-cheek texts include 1066 And All That from which this particular quote comes :
Henry VIII was a strong king with a very strong sense of humour and VIII wives, memorable among whom were Katherine the Arrogant, Anne of Cloves, Lady Jane Austin and Anne Hathaway. His beard was, however, red.
And whilst we’re on the subject of Jane Austen her words about the Tudors in her History of England are also worth a chuckle:
His Majesty (Henry VII) died & was succeeded by his son Henry whose only merit was his not being quite so bad as his daughter Elizabeth.
If only I still had my Ladybird book of Henry VIII – I’m sure that I must have possessed one.
As last week if you have a quote you would like to share please add it to the comments so that the list of Henry VIII quotes grows.
My next post will be about books which don’t necessarily take history too seriously!
At the time of the coronation in 1953 there were a number of decorations set up in London composed of royal devices in their various forms. Amongst them, in Westminster Abbey, stood ten six foot tall royal heraldic beasts. Their inspiration was taken from the heraldic beasts at Hampton Court Palace originally placed there by Henry VIII, gaining them the name “the King’s Beasts.”
These beasts, and others like them may be found on coats of arms, heraldic badges used on the liveries and standards of various families and the two heraldic supports of a shield of arms.
The royal arms and their beasts have changed across the centuries – the Tudors added a royal beast, as did the Stuarts for example.
Royal arms can be seen in churches across the country. It became usual for churches to do this following the Reformation – and was a very visual way of the population being reminded exactly who was in charge. Royal arms can also be found in various stately stacks around the country as assorted nobility and gentry used their building projects to demonstrate their loyalty to their monarch.
Last week I set the first History Jar Challenge which was to name as many English royal consorts as you could since 1066. There are, I think, 38 of them. Not all royal spouses became kings or queens alongside the monarch in question. How did you do? There will be another challenge on Saturday!
William the Conqueror = (1) Matilda of Flanders. Following the conquest she was crowned as William’s consort in 1068.
William Rufus = unmarried.
Henry I =
(2) Edith of Scotland who became Matilda of Scotland upon her marriage to Henry. Henry I’s mother Matilda of Flanders was Edith’s godmother and it is said that at her christening she pulled at Matilda’s head dress signifying that one day she would rise to her godmother’s rank. She died on 1st May 1118 and is buried in Westminster Abbey.
(3) Adeliza (there are alternative spellings and pronunciations) of Louvain.
Stephen = (4) Matilda of Boulogne who was the niece of Edith/Matilda of Scotland.
The Empress Matilda was never crowned queen of England. And you will be delighted to hear that there aren’t any more Matildas!
Henry II = (5) Eleanor of Aquitaine
Richard the Lionheart = (6) Berengaria of Navarre
Isabella of Gloucester but she was never queen of England due to an annulment on the grounds of consanguinity.
(7) Isabella of Angoulême. She was crowned in Westminster in 1200 when she was 12.
Henry III = (8) Eleanor of Province
Edward I =
(9) Eleanor of Castile (after who the Eleanor crosses are named.)
(10) Margaret of France
Edward II = (11) Isabella of France – one of English history’s she-wolves.
Edward III = (12) Philippa of Hainhault. They married in 1328 in York Minster during a snow storm – which was unfortunate as the minster was without a roof at the time.
Richard II =
(13) Anne of Bohemia. She died of plague in 1394 at Sheen Palace. Richard was so devastated that he ordered that the palace be demolished.
(14) Isabella of France who was a child at the time of her marriage. Following Richard II’s usurpation by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke she returned to France.
Henry IV =
Mary de Bohun who died before Henry became king.
(15) Joan of Navarre became queen upon her marriage to Henry in 1402 but she wasn’t crowned until the following year.
Henry V = (16) Katherine of Valois who would marry Owain Tudor following Henry’s death.
Henry VI = (17) Margaret of Anjou (another she-wolf)
Edward IV = (18) Elizabeth Woodville (and this is not the time to discuss whether or not Edward was a bigamist)
Richard III = (19) Anne Neville
Henry VII = (20) Elizabeth of York
Henry VIII = famously married six times. He believed that he had only ever been legitimately married to Jane Seymour and Katherine Parr – one because she produced a son and the other because he died before she could be toppled from the rather tenuous position as Henry’s spouse.
(21) Catherine of Aragon
(22) Anne Boleyn
(23) Jane Seymour
Anne of Cleves – not crowned because Henry took against her.
(24) Katherine Howard
(25) Katherine Parr
Edward VI = unmarried
Lady Jane Grey was never crowned although she was proclaimed queen.
Mary I = (26) Philip II of Spain. The Spanish Match as it was known was deeply unpopular. Although Philip became king he had very little power.
Elizabeth I = unmarried
James I = (27) Anne of Denmark
Charles I = (28) Henrietta Maria
Charles II = (29) Katherine of Braganza
James II =
Anne Hyde who died before James became king.
(30) Mary of Modena
William III and Mary II who were married to one another.
Anne = George of Denmark – was raised to the English peerage prior to Anne becoming queen but was never crowned as prince consort.
George I = Sophia Dorothea who never became queen of England because George divorced her for adultery before he became king of England. She spent the remainder of her life locked up in Ahlden Castle in Germany.
George II = (31) Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach
George III = (32) Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. There is a possibility that he married bigamously.
George IV =
Maria Fitzherbert – who was Catholic and therefore the marriage was against the 1701 Act of Settlement and the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. This marriage was deemed to be invalid.
Caroline of Brunswick. It wasn’t a happy marriage. She was forcibly barred from attending George’s coronation so was never crowned.
William IV = (33) Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
Victoria = (34) Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Edward VII =(35) Alexandra of Denmark
George V = (36) Mary of Teck
Edward VIII was proclaimed king but never crowned, preferring to abdicate in order to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson.
The regular post has moved to a midweek time to accommodate the weekly history challenges. Let’s hope I can stay organised.
I’ve been doing some gardening today, making the most of the lovely weather. At this rate I’ll have the tidiest garden ever. Today I did some weeding and planted some seeds that I’ve found lurking in the back of a cupboard. Apparently heartsease populate walls, rockeries and paths easily. Time will tell. Anyway, heartsease as I know it has many different names including Jack-behind-the-garden-gate; kiss-behind-the-garden-gate; Kit-run-around; godfathers-and-godmothers; herb trinity and herb constancy to name but a few.
The name heartsease comes from the days when if you were suffering from a broken heart you could take an infusion of the pretty little plant to treat your woes. I don’t suggest that you try it. In Victorian times when courting couples couldn’t speak openly the flower represented happiness and if you gave it to someone the meaning might be that the recipient occupied the giver’s thoughts – presumably leading to the kiss behind the garden gate.
Gerard’s herbal reveals other medicinal uses for the pansy or heartsease:
It is good … for such as are sick of ague, especially children and infants, whose convulsions and fits of the falling sickness it is thought to cure. It is commended against inflammation of the lungs and chest, and against scabs and itchings of the whole body and healeth ulcers.’
So back to the history – the pansy was Elizabeth I’s favourite flower, and as a consequence it was everyone else’s as well. For Elizabeth the humble heartsease was not linked with kissing behind gates, it represented chastity- an important facet of being the Virgin Queen. In medieval times, prior to the Reformation, it was linked with the Virgin Mary. The colours of the heartsease, white, yellow and purple relate to purity, joy and mourning respectively which relate in turn to the Virgin’s life.
The Stowe Inventory of the Wardrobe identifies many of Elizabeth’s clothes in 1600 as well as her new year’s gifts which included many hand embroidered items. Elizabeth herself hand embroidered gifts for her own family, most famously Katherine Parr’s prayer book cover stitched when Elizabeth was eleven-years-old, which includes pansies or heartsease.
Look closely at any number of Elizabeth’s portraits including the Pelican Portrait, the Hardwick Hall portrait and the Rainbow Portrait for example and you will find pansies.
With self-isolation and social distancing becoming a way of life some of you have said that it would be good if I could become a bit more interactive. I admit that this isn’t particularly interactive but it’s a start! Others of you have said that you need something to think about and someone suggested a quoting activity.
Your history challenge this week– should you choose to accept it- is to name as many of England’s royal consorts as you can (no cheating). According to my ruler that lists all the monarchs- not including the Empress Matilda or Lady Jane Grey there have been 41 kings and queens of England. But who were they married to? Answers next Saturday.
Store cupboard of quotes – Add your favourite quote about history in the comments. Let’s see what you come up with! Ideally add the quote and who said it. By all means say why you like it. There are no prizes I’m afraid, just the satisfaction of doing it. My favourite quote about history is actually from Winston Churchill, “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
In future I will add a quote challenge on a Sunday but I thought it would be good to make a start. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.
Edith of Scotland, or Matilda as became upon her marriage to Henry I on Sunday 11th November 1100 was an example of how a medieval queen was supposed to behave. One bishop described her as a mother to her people. Weir makes the point that traditionally she has been seen as a pious queen without much of a political role but as with much of history, over time this view has been reappraised.
She advised the king, attended his meetings and worked for the reform of the Church as well as working with Anselm and maintaining a balance between her husband and his principal cleric. There are thirty-three charters in her own name. Her seal, pictured above is the earliest seal in England for a queen. It is in the hands of the British Library.
It was Matilda in 1103 who persuaded Henry to repeal the curfew laws introduced by his father. The idea had been to stop Saxon plotting. At eight o’clock every night the curfew bell tolled and people were required to damp down their fires – it also prevented fires in towns made largely from wood.
In addition to being pious, caring for the poor and interceding on behalf of the wider population it was also essential for a medieval queen to have children. On 31 July 1101 she gave birth to a daughter called Euphemia who did not live for long. By the summer of the same year she was pregnant again. We know this because Henry summoned the Abbot of Abingdon, a renowned physician, to care for his wife. On 7th February 1102 Matilda gave birth to another girl who was baptised as Aethelice (Adelaide) but she is known to history as the Empress Matilda. The year after that William was born.
There was another son called Richard. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle says that he died young whereas other sources state that a second son of Matilda’s called Richard drowned with the sinking of the White Ship. The fact that Henry also had an illegitimate son called Richard doesn’t much help matters.
After the birth of a male heir (and possibly a spare) Matilda had no more children. William of Malmesbury says that the king and queen stopped sharing a bed by common consent. Perhaps Matilda wasn’t terribly impressed with Henry’s love of the ladies. Princess Nest gave birth to one of Henry’s children in 1103. Weir speculates that Henry may have been put off from the wife he was described as ardently desiring because of the fact she spent so much time caring for the ill and the poor. An early example of social distancing perhaps? Weir goes on to suggest several other possible reasons – all in the realms of speculation but it is evident that the couple fell out over Church matters when Anselm was forbidden to return to England in 1104.
Despite this, Henry appointed Matilda as his regent when he went to Normandy that summer. Weir observes that William the Conqueror left his wife as regent and Henry now did the same – demonstrating that both men respected their wives abilities to maintain order in their absence. Henry gave Matilda the “power to judge crime.”
In 1110 Matilda’s daughter henceforth known as the Empress Matilda left England to marry Henry V- the Holy Roman Emperor.
Matilda died on the 1st May 1118 at Westminster Palace and buried in the abbey where she had spent much time in private prayer during her lifetime. She is also associated with Waltham Abbey and Malmesbury as both of them were part of her dower. Henry did not attend the funeral as he wasn’t in England at the time of her death.
Following Henry I’s death Good Queen Maud’s reputation took a bit of a battering when her nephew by marriage, Stephen of Blois, insisted that she had been a nun when Henry married her which meant that Matilda’s daughter, the Empress Matilda, was not the legitimate heir whatever her father said.
Weir, Alison (2017) Queens of the Conquest. London: Jonathan Cape