About JuliaH

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.

Thomas and Katherine Howard – avarice personified.

Frances-HowardToday’s post is about the family of one of the most notorious women in English History.  Frances Howard, Countess of Somerset pleaded guilty in 1616 to murdering Sir Thomas Overbury in 1613 whilst he was a prisoner in The Tower.

Overbury was there because he had turned down the post of Ambassador to Russia.  He thought that he would be protected by Robert Carr, the Earl of Somerset.  Carr was the king’s favourite but he had more looks than brains so Overbury had been dealing with the administration that came Carr’s way.  Apparently Overbury even wrote the love letters that Carr sent to Frances Howard before they were married.  In any event the pair were no longer as close as they once had been because Overbury didn’t much like Frances Howard.  He described her, amongst other things,  as a base woman. I am teaching a day school in Halifax on Thursday 21st June about the ins and outs of the murder so shan’t be delivering a spoiler here apart from to say that poisoned jam tarts were involved and a deadly enema. Also to note that Robert Carr, Frances Howard’s second husband did not perform terribly well at his trial for murder because he insisted on representing himself and most observers were of the opinion he would have done better to keep his mouth shut.

ThomasHoward4HerzogvonNorfolk.jpgSo who was Frances Howard?   She was born on the 31 May 1590.  She was the grand daughter of the 4th Duke of Norfolk by his second wife, Margaret Audley – it was how that grand mansion Audley End came into the hands of the Howard family.  The fourth duke, Thomas Howard, was the man who aspired to marry Mary Queen of Scots in 1569 then managed to get himself caught up in the Ridolfi Plot of 1571.  He was executed in 1572.  As a traitor his lands and title were forfeit to the State but by that time the Tudors had become rather adept at removing wealth with one hand and returning it with the other in order to ensure that there weren’t too many grievances to be aired by rebellious subjects.  The fact that the Howards were Elizabeth’s cousins should also be added to the scales.

 

200px-Thomas_howard_suffolkAs it happens Audley End was not part of Elizabeth’s haul of booty when the 4th duke got the chop.  The estates there and around Saffron Waldon were part of Margaret Audley’s dowry so when she died they had passed straight into the hands of her eldest son Thomas Howard (born 1561), who was Frances Howard’s father.

Thomas Howard married his step-sister  Mary Dacre, the daughter of the duke’s third wife at his father’s behest whilst the duke was int he Tower  awaiting execution. Thomas was eleven or twelve when his father made his final arrangements but Mary Dacre died without having children.

Thomas then married Katherine rich neé  Knyvet  in 1583 – a distant cousin of Anne Vavasour’s  –  who was the widow of Richard Rich.  The couple went on to have ten children who survived to adulthood of whom Frances was one. Sources identify that Thomas Howard was a kind father but that he continued the old idea of marrying his children off early – there were plenty of them after all.  By the seventeenth century child marriages were becoming a thing of the past. Frances would marry her first husband, the third earl of Essex when she was just thirteen.

Thomas Howard being a second son, in between be-getting children and arranging advantageous marriages for them, had to earn his keep.  He was a Tudor sea farer with the likes of Sir Richard Grenville commanding assorted vessels in a variety of campaigns including ventures against the Spanish to Cadiz. As a result of this he was created Lord Howard of Walden in 1597.  From there he seems to have relaxed somewhat – Anne Somerset describes him as “fat and genial.”

When James I became king our Howard become the earl of Suffolk – now this a the bit where history can be a bit confusing.  Followers of this blog know very well that there had been plenty of earls of Suffolk already, the two that spring to mind being Charles Brandon and then Henry Grey but Thomas Howard’s correct designation is Thomas Howard 1st Earl of Suffolk – just think of it as the clock being reset because an entirely new family has taken the title.

The new countess was one of Anne of Denmark’s ladies-in-waiting.  She had served Elizabeth I in a similar capacity.

The earl of Suffolk became an influential member of the royal household between 1603-1614.  He then spent the next four years as Lord High Treasurer before being sent to the Tower for misappropriating funds – which simply means that someone found a way of toppling him from power and that the king allowed those people to do so.  It’s amazing that he managed to hang on to his job in the two years from 1616 to 1618 given that his daughter and son-in-law had both been found guilty of murder.

To make matters worse it wasn’t  just  the earl of Suffolk who’d been taking back handers.  Katherine had also been in receipt of a Spanish Pension during the peace negotiations between England and Spain.  It should be added that taking bribes, which is what “pensions” from Spain were wasn’t going to win friends and influence people even if James I did want peace with the Spanish. She also had strong Catholic sympathies. Popular opinion tended to exonerate the earl and place the blame for the bribery firmly on the shoulders of Katherine. The pair were fined £30,000 and imprisoned – which successfully toppled the Howard faction from power and, put simply, allowed the likes of the earl of Pembroke and the king’s new favourite George Villiers to take charge.

katherine kynvet

Katherine Knyvet or Knyvett depending upon the source (pictured above) had a reputation for avariciousness.  Edward Coke described her during her trial as running the treasury like a shop which is definitely taking the traditional backhander a bit far.  There were also some fairly colourful stories in circulation about her including that she was the one time mistress of Robert Cecil – I should add that I can’t find any primary source evidence of this. There were others and it would appear that she was also prone to using prior relationships with extortion in mind.  Katherine was purported to be a great beauty until small pox ruined her looks in 1619 when she was 55 years old.

The countess was ambitious for her daughters in terms of wealth and political power for the Howards. She encouraged Frances to seek an annulment from her first husband, the 3rd earl of Essex having encouraged the match in the first instance and having been absolutely furious when Frances refused to consummate the match when the young couple were deemed old enough to live as man and wife.  Katherine believed that a match with Robert Carr, the king’s favourite would build the Howard power base better than a familial link with the earls of Essex. She was one of the “respectable” women who attested that Frances was still a virgin so that her first marriage could be annulled.  The ballads of the time were firmly of the opinion that the countess had perjured herself with the statement.  It did not matter that the earl of Suffolk did not much like Robert Carr or that Carr had previously been at loggerheads with the Howard faction.  I can’t help wondering what James I’s queen Anne of Denmark felt about the matter. She did not much like Robert Carr and neither had James’ eldest son Prince Henry who had died suddenly in 1612 just before the whole Frances Howard scandal sprang to life.  I don’t suppose it mattered much to the countess either that Frances was besotted by Robert Carr for her it was a question power and its accompanying cash.

Katherine was similarly cavalier about her other two daughters, Frances’ sisters.  Elizabeth ended up married to William Knollys , a man old enough to be her father.  He was born in 1544 whilst she was born in 1583.  Her third surviving daughter, Catherine, was married to Robert Cecil’s son.

Frances Howard’s parents saw Fortune’s Wheel turn as their new son-in-law  Robert Carr fell from favour prior to his arrest for his part in the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, ironically enough, partially as a result of the death of Overbury.  There was no longer anyone to look after the administration or deal with the paperwork for him.  Carr did not have the ability to deal with it himself.  It turned out that James required more than a pretty face.  He needed someone to help run the country.

Edward Coke another Jacobean administrator and canny political operator did not much like the Howards or the power that they wielded.  The fact that Frances had played an active part in Sir Thomas Overbury’s murder was a means to bring down both Robert Carr.  The Spanish pension business toppled the earl of Suffolk once and for all.  Coke even sent Sir John Digby to Madrid in an attempt to incriminate the earl still further prior to the earl and countess’s trial.

Even better from Coke’s point of view was the fact that recognising the growing power of George Villiers over the king the Suffolks had encouraged a young man called Monson to supplant Villiers in the king’s affections.  It was Villiers who first told the king that the Countess was taking bribes through exchequer debts.  There was no sign of George falling from favour not least because Monson had been so irritatingly obvious that he had been told to get out of the king’s sight. Their involvement in the plan to put Monson in Villiers place was enough to ensure that the Howards had made a very powerful  enemy.

Suffolk’s fall from power and subsequent trial should have meant that he stayed in prison until a £30,000 fine was paid but a mere ten days after sentence was passed he found himself at home.  The fine was later reduced to £7,000.  What he had lost was his political power. Interestingly when he had been bought low Villiers was prepared to let bygones be bygones as it was he who arranged the interview between James I and the earl of Suffolk reducing the fine.  Historians believe that the slate would have been wiped clean had Howard not sought to avoid the king’s wrath by putting his property into trust in an attempt to save them for his family in the event of the worst happening.  In 1623 the earl’s youngest son, Edward, married George Villiers’ niece – meaning that the Howards were now part of the Villiers’ affinity.  Times had well and truly changed.

The earl died in 1626.  His widow lived until 1638.

And finally, France’s maternal great grandfather was Sir Henry Knyvet of Charlton in Wiltshire. Sir Henry had six children. Frances Howard’s great uncle Thomas played a part in the foiling of the Gun Powder Plot and became a baron.  Margaret Knyvet married into the Vavasour family.  Her daughter Anne would cause a scandal when she became pregnant by the earl of Oxford and then moved in with Sir Henry Lee despite being married to someone else as seen in previous posts.  Alice Knyvet married into the Dacre family.  Catherine married firstly into the Paget family and then into the Carey family – demonstrating where Frances’ mother got her hard-headed attitude to marrying her children from. Henry Knyvet who was Sir Henry’s eldest son married  three times and was an MP.

Somerset, Anne. (1997) Unnatural Murder: Poison at the Court of James I. London:Weidenfeld and Nicholson.

Sir Henry Lee

henry lee.jpgSir Henry Lee (1533–1611) was  Queen Elizabeth I’s self-appointed champion.  The family originated from Buckinghamshire although his mother was a Wyatt from Kent.  As is usual with the Tudors, Lee was related somehow or other to some very important people including the queen herself as well as to William Cecil and to Robert Dudley. He was also man who served all the Tudors from the age of fourteen beginning with Henry VIII without being slung in the Tower for his pains.

In 1554 he married Anne Paget to avoid the Tower or worse. She was the daughter of William Paget.  Paget’s early patron was Stephen Gardener – the family were Catholic.  Paget went on to support the Earl of Somerset during the minority of Edward VI so found himself in the Tower when Somerset fell from power and when he managed to extricate himself from that bind he promptly got himself into another one when he signed the document that set Henry VIII’s will aside and put Lady Jane Grey on the throne.  It seems odd then that Lee would marry the man’s daughter but Paget was a survivor and he was swift to seek a pardon from Queen Mary.  By 1556 he would be Lord Privy Seal.  From Lee’s point of view Paget was a man of influence and he was also a Catholic which was quite important because Lee was a Protestant.  Anne Paget and Henry Lee were not happily married. It can’t have helped that their two sons died young.  There was also a daughter from the marriage.

Paget retired from court life when Elizabeth I became queen in 1558 but Sir Henry Lee found himself in the ascendant. The year after Elizabeth became queen he was sent to France on official business thanks to William Cecil (could that have been a case of who you know rather than what you know?) He did what all Tudor gentlemen were required to do: i.e. went to war against the Scots and became an MP.   The picture at the start of the post is in the ownership of the National Portrait Gallery.  It was painted in about 1568, probably when Lee was on a trip to Antwerp.  The blackwork lover’s knots and armillary spheres could be a reference to his loyalty to Elizabeth though art historians are more perplexed about the pose of the ring through the red cord.  In 1569 he was part of the force that put down the Northern Rebellion.  As well as being the royal champion – a position he held from 1559 until 1590 he also became the master of the armoury (he was master of the armoury during the Spanish Armada), master of the leash and Constable of Harlech Castle. Despite this and his relationships with men such as Dudley and Cecil, not to mention his friendship with Sir Philip Sydney, Lee does not really seem to have played a very important political role in the shifting tide of Tudor court life. Lee’s role was more about providing the entertainment – up to 8,000 people attended the Ascension Day jousts (40 days after Easter Sunday) that he organised.  He was also regarded as something of a peacemaker – it was he who tried to persuade the Earl of Essex to seek Elizabeth’s pardon in later years.  In 1580 he even managed to get a loan out of the queen – perhaps he shouldn’t have been trying to build four stately mansions at the time.

AnneVavasourPerhaps Elizabeth wouldn’t have been so keen on lending money if she had realised that her new lady-in-waiting, Anne Vavasour, would one day lead her royal champion astray – she being at least thirty years his junior. In 1584 , three years after Anne disgraced herself by becoming pregnant by the earl of Oxford, Lee jousted against Anne’s brother Thomas.  Anne would be described as Lee’s “dearest dear.” Lee clearly wasn’t too bothered by the feud that the Vavasour and Knyvet families were running agains the Earl of Oxford on account of Anne’s meteoric fall from grace.  And, in all fairness, we don’t know when Anne and Lee began their relationship.  It is only in 1590 that Anne Vavasour turns up in the Ditchley records but as Simpson explains the purchase of Ditchley in 1583 could be explained not only as a home  located in reasonable proximity to an important official role (Steward of Woodstock) but also as a home for his lady-love.  By 1585 Lee was living separately from his wife as identified through the will of Anne Paget’s mother.  The 1592 Ditchley Portrait is usually regarded as Sir Henry Lee’s apology to Elizabeth for living with a married woman – not that she seems to have held it against him.

 

When Lee died he left a will that made provision for Anne.  One of the witnesses was Edward Were, the illegitimate son of the Earl of Oxford.  The will and an explanation of it can be read here: http://www.oxford-shakespeare.com/Probate/PROB_11-117_ff_326-8.pdf 

 

Simpson, Sue. Sir Henry Lee (1533–1611): Elizabethan Courtier

By Sue Simpson

Anne Vavasour – scandal, bigamy and a portrait

Queen-Elizabeth-I-The-Ditchley-portrait.jpgAnne was born in about 1560 to 1653 – she was a girl remember- to a Yorkshire family.  When she was somewhere between eighteen and twenty, she became one of Elizabeth I’s ladies-in-waiting.  Her links with   the Kynvet family through her mother were probably what landed her a plum job at court. Her sister would also serve the queen and cause almost as much scandal as Anne.

Unfortunately rather than being a chaste ornament in the court of the Virgin Queen, Anne was chased and caught by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford – one of Elizabeth I’s favourites.  He was approximately ten years older than Anne and already had something of a reputation for naughtiness not to mention an unfortunately scandalous marriage of his own.

Anne and Edward de Vere had an illegitimate son which came as a shock to the other ladies she shared her chambers with as she had successfully managed to keep her pregnancy secret.  Edward couldn’t marry Anne as he was already married to Anne Cecil the daughter of William Cecil.  The fact that the pair didn’t get on is neither here nor there. Nor is the fact that he was widely regarded as a cuckold

The day after Anne became a mother she was packed off to the Tower. Presumably Anne was relieved that Elizabeth hadn’t shouted and thrown things at her in the way that she had at Anne Shelton when she’d married John Scudamore on the quiet.  A flying candle stick broke the poor woman’s fingers.

Edward de Vere, who does not come out of this shining with the glow of a hero, was caught trying to leave the country.  He was also invited to spend some time considering the error of his ways in the Tower.  This happened in 1581.  De Vere wasn’t allowed back to court for the next two years.

The consequences of the affair were that Anne’s reputation was ruined. De Vere had no part in the raising of his son – named Edward Vere – although he did leave him some land.  The child was actually cared for by the earl’s cousin Sir Francis.  There were assorted duels as a consequence of besmirched honour that resulted in the death of a number of servants mainly because Anne’s uncle Sir Thomas Knyvet wasn’t terribly happy about the way things had turned out. And finally, posterity was given a poem entitled Echo which is credited not only to the accomplished, if somewhat troubled, Earl of Oxford but also to Anne herself.

 

Anne was now in need of a respectable spouse so she was married off to a sea captain called Finch or Field depending on the source.  It appears to have been a marriage of convenience as the couple did not have a child.  At about the same time she married Anne also became the mistress of Sir Henry Lee who was the queen’s champion.  Lee did not hide his affection for Anne.  He even had a suit of armour that was decorated with Anne’s initials and love knots – clearly Lee was taking a lesson from his old master Henry VIII.  Sir Henry had his own wife at home in Ditchley in Oxfordshire.  Eventually Anne had a second son called Thomas in 1589, the year before Sir Henry’s wife died.  The boy belonged to Sir Henry although he took the name of Anne’s husband.

After Sir Henry was widowed the pair lived together at his home in Ditchley along with Anne’s two sons.  Henry gave Finch/Field a pension – presumably to stay at sea and not make trouble. Lee was on the best of terms with the likes of Robert Dudley and with William Cecil.  Despite the fact that he was co-habitting with a married woman who had done a stint in the Tower he was also on such terms with Elizabeth that she visited him at Ditchley.

Sir Henry presented Queen Elizabeth I with the life sized portrait of herself pictured at the start of this post in 1592.  It co-incided with Elizabeth’s visit to Ditchley and is about the monarch’s forgiveness of his behaviour.  The entertainment included jousting and a series of noble portraits – the best of which was Elizabeth standing on top of the world like the sun after a storm bringing calm weather. Just in case she needed a hint Lee wrote a sonnet to the “prince of light” and reminded Elizabeth that she could take revenge but that she does not take revenge.

 

Elizabeth duly forgave Lee for falling into a “stranger lady’s thrall” and posterity acquired one of the best known portraits of Elizabeth.  The image of Anne  shown below is dated to 1605.

AnneVavasour.jpg

Sir Henry died in 1611.  He left Anne £700 but his heir- and cousin- challenged Anne in the courts over the inheritance.  In 1618, despite her husband being very much alive and well, Anne  married for a second time to a man called Richardson.  Lee’s cousin promptly took her to court on charges of bigamy.  Anne was required, in 1622, to pay a fine of £2000 and to do public penance. The former was excused when Queen Anne , the wife of James I, interceded on her behalf.

The picture of Anne Vavasour shown here is by Robert Peake the elder. She would live until 1560 and although the Church drew the line at allowing the unmarried couple to snuggle up for eternity in a shared tomb, Anne can be found on Sir Henry Lee’s monument in Spelsbury Church

anne vavasour.jpg

 

 

History in the garden

I can tell summer is nearly here because I’m disappearing historic down cul de sacs without a second thought.  Today’s post is about plants – it’s easy to think that  historical figures trotted around gardens that looked very like our own but it was only in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that many of the plants we think of as typical of an English country garden were introduced thanks to people like the Tradescants.

However, that aside -and this is my horticultural rhetorical question of the evening- what did the Romans do for us? to quote a certain well known film. The answer is that they gave us ground elder, that’s what they did and quite frankly I rather wish they hadn’t.  This garden nightmare is currently making my life slightly difficult because it does not matter what I do to get rid of it, the ground elder keeps coming back. Ground elder (Aegopodium podagraria) was introduced by the Romans, to supply their soldiers with fresh vegetables – think of it as a sort of centurion version of spinach.  I shan’t be trying any of my harvest given that having failed with hand weeding I have turned to chemicals. Rather amusingly it is also known as bishop’s weed because it was used by medieval monks as a cure for gout.

Further research revealed that the Romans also gave us the celandine. Rather than being edible like ground elder the celandine offered a cure for warts and corns when its juice was applied.  Even more surprising it turns out that before the Romans arrived on the scene the British countryside lacked foxgloves, walnuts and nettles – and here was me thinking that the Romans only introduced dock leaves to ease the tired tootsies of the marching masses.  The nettles were a form of central heating – i.e. thrash yourself with a nettle and you will soon warm up.  It’s also a cure for rheumatism and sciatica – please don’t try rolling in nettles at home.

Jumping forward to Elizabeth I, lauded as the Empress of Flowers, a garden just wasn’t a garden unless it had an artificial mound where folk could sit and watch other folk hunting deer in the deer park.  It was a time of mazes, fountains and patterned parterres created by borders of box hedge -another Roman offering.  You might even want to smell the roses which were you’ve guessed it, another Roman introduction.  Elizabeth would have been able to walk along gravelled paths looking upon the order and feeling calmed after a hard day yelling at her councillors and boxing their ears as she was prone to doing when she flew into a rage.

The thing about the knot garden though is that it requires a high level of maintenance so not only is it a garden delight, it also has the benefit of  showing off its owners wealth.  The most famous of this kind of  knot garden has been recreated at Kenilworth.  It was originally created in 1575 when Elizabeth visited Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester on one of her progresses.  Dudley turned the visit into an extended marriage proposal  – which is quite a long way from trying to rid one’s garden of ground elder which is what prompted this post.

In addition to all of the above if you were a truly dedicated Tudor garden lover you would require a lawn on which to play bowls; a banqueting house in which to enjoy pudding and other intimate entertainments (yes – you can raise your eyebrows); of yes and lets not forget that all important deer park.

Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire boasts a rather impressive walled herb garden and although it was established in the twentieth century it’s a reminder that the wealthy didn’t just use their gardens for entertainment and to show off their wealth, they formed a part of the larder as well as offering medication for all kinds of ailments.

So you might be wondering why I started this post with an image of Elizabeth I- it’s the Hardwick Portrait.  The dress was probably a New Year’s gift from bess of Hardwick to Elizabeth.  As well as all kinds of sea monsters – there are also a number of different flowers including irises.  It’s a reminder that flowers had meaning.  The blue and white of the iris had once been associated with the Virgin Mary.  It’s meaning goes back even further though, the goddess Iris was the personification of the rainbow – the link between Heaven and Earth.  So Bess was saying with her use of the lovely flowers which can still be seen at Hardwick Old Hall that the queen was  as chaste and innocent as the Virgin Mary and that the queen was her people’s conduit to Heaven.

 

Bolton Priory

bolton.jpgI often refer to Bolton Priory, standing on the edge of the River Wharfe,  as Bolton Abbey – it’s a fairly common mistake but the fact is that Bolton was home to a priory of Augustinian Canons.  They had originally set up home at Embsay having travelled to Yorkshire from Huntingdon in 1120.  The Augustinians were not only monks they were all also ordained priests.

It had a varied history which the History Jar has skirted in other posts.  In 1154 Lady Alice de Romille, the owner of nearby Skipton Castle, gave the land where the priory now stands to the Augustinian order.  The story goes that Lady Alice’s son Egremond had drowned in the the Strid, where the Wharfe narrows  it heads downstream.  The land near where Egremond drowned was given to the monks – Wordsworth waxed lyrical on the subject. A cynic might think that the real reason for the support of the Augustinians was that Henry I was keen to promote them and his aristocracy were keen to get in their monarch’s good books.

There was a Bishop’s Visitation in 1267 when Archbishop Gifford came to check the monastic accounts and to ensure that the inhabitants were following the Rule of St Benedict. The Victoria County History reveals that everything was not running smoothly Brother Hugh de Ebor’  rather than living in poverty and  money which he had handed to a member of his family in York for safekeeping.  There were also charges of incontinence.  Generally speaking the visitation did not go well.  the cellarer was not fit for office, the monks talked too much, a novice called John de Ottele wasn’t keen on some of the rules and had no desire to enter the monastic life and the sick weren’t looked after.   Gifford was the broom that undertook a clean sweep, appointed a new prior and told the malefactors to buck up their ideas.

Unfortunately a later visitation, made in 1280, reveals that monks were buying clothes and shoes that failed to meet the monastic ideal.  A number of them had private property.  The monks also seem to have continued with unnecessary chatter. The Bishop told them to stop gossiping and start paying more attention to divine service.

The Augustinians got on with running their priory until the fourteenth century at which point the Anglo-Scottish Wars went rather badly for the English when Edward II took over from his father and demonstrated a singular lack of skill at the Battle of Bannockburn. Scottish raiders did some serious damage to the buildings. An existent priory account roll details the cost of repairing the vandalism.  The site was temporarily abandoned in 1320 after a skirmish at Myton-on-Swale called the “White Battle”the previous year when some 12,000 Scots led by the Earl of Moray arrived on the scene.

The Black Death did not help matters.  The hay day of Bolton Priory was over but this did not prevent the Augustinians from returning to their monastery and beginning building work.

Building work was still going on at the Dissolution funded from the extensive sheep farms that the monastery owned.  The accounts also reveal that the monks owned a lead mine.  A new tower was begun in 1520 which was not yet finished.  The land was initially acquired by the  Clifford family as their ancestors were interred there but it then passed into the hands of the Cavendishes – where it remains to this day.

Ultimately a wall was built across the east end of the nave in the monastery church so that it could function as a parish church.

The image from the start of the post was painted by Turner in 1825.  It is in possession of the Tate.

 

Butler, Lionel & Given-Wilson, Chris. (1979) Medieval Monasteries of Great Britain. London: Michael Jospeh

 

‘Houses of Austin canons: Priory of Bolton’, in A History of the County of York: Volume 3, ed. William Page (London, 1974), pp. 195-199. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/vol3/pp195-199 [accessed 9 June 2018].

Day schools at the Whitworth Centre, Darley Dale 2018/19

The History Jar  is pleased to offer the following day schools at the Whitworth Centre, Station Road, Darley Dale, Derbyshire, DE4 2EQ

Day schools begin at 10.00 am and finish at 3.30 pm.  Handouts are provided.  Each course costs £26.50 which is inclusive of a buffet lunch.  For this reason courses must be booked and paid for at least a fortnight before the date of the course.

If you do not use Paypal please contact me at thehistoryjar@gmail.com for alternative methods of payment.

 

  1. Monday 24 September 2018

Holbein – an artist’s view of Henry VIII and his court 

320px-Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger,_Around_1497-1543_-_Portrait_of_Henry_VIII_of_England_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgFind out about the artist, the symbolism of his portraits and the people who sat for him from German merchants to the monarch.  Meet Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell as seen through the eyes of Holbein.  Explore the political messages behind Henry VIII’s portraits as well as the story of his search for a new bride following the death of Jane Seymour.

Holbein- an artist’s view of Henry VIII and his court.

Day school at the Whitworth Centre including buffet lunch.

£26.50

 

2)   Monday 22 October 2018:

Gloriana – a life in ten pictures

elizabeth-1-rainbow-portraitAn overview of Elizabeth I’s life and reign using a few of the two hundred pictures associated with the monarch from the Clopton Portrait to the Ditchley Portrait.  Find out more about the iconography behind Elizabeth’s portraits, the so-called “mask of youth” and the cult of Gloriana.

We will explore Elizabeth’s early years; the scandals of Thomas Seymour and Robert Dudley; Wyatt’s Rebellion; the marriage proposals; an overview of foreign policy; some of the key plots against her; religion and the question of succession.

Gloriana: a life in ten pictures

A day school at the Whitworth Centre inclusive of a buffet lunch.

£26.50

3) Monday 26 November 2018

Christmas from the Romans to the Victorians

medieval-christmas-3.jpgF

rom Pagan traditions to puritans, the Plum Pudding Riots and Charles Dickens. This day school offers a brief biography of Christmas covering everything from cake to Saturnalia.

Christmas from the Romans to the Victorians

A History Jar day school at the Whitworth Centre including a buffet lunch

£26.50

4) Monday 21 January 2019

Isabella of France- the she-wolf, her husband and their lovers. 

isabella of franceThe only queen of England to order the execution of a king. Find out about Isabella’s arranged marriage to the most handsome man in Europe and the consequences of his disastrous infatuations with his favourites.

Follow Isabella’s progress she turned from a loyal wife, a political mediator and mother to four children into ‘she-wolf’ leading the most successful invasion of England since the Conquest. We will also explore how she came to have possession of her husband’s heart – in a silver casket.

We will explore the role of Roger Mortimer, the queen’s lover and the impact of the Earl of Kent’s rebellion. We will also consider her punishment and rehabilitation at the court of her son, King Edward III.

Isabella of France- the she-wolf, her husband and their lovers.

A History Jar day school at the Whitworth Centre including a buffet lunch

£26.50

 

5) Monday 18 February 2019

 Joan of Kent- Princess of Controversy

joan of kentFind out about Joan’s childhood in the aftermath of her father’s execution for treason including her life at the court of Philippa of Hainault.

The marital escapades of the Fair Maid of Kent are documented in Froissart. We will explore medieval marriage through Joan’s clandestine relationship with Thomas Holland; her bigamous but politically strategic marriage to William Montacute and her third marriage to the Black Prince – making her the very First Princess of Wales.

We will also consider Joan’s importance as the mother of the child king Richard II despite her lack of  official status, her reputation for piety and her popularity with the peasants.

Joan of Kent- Princess of Controversy (Whitworth)

A History Jar day school at the Whitworth Centre including a buffet lunch

£26.50

 

6) Monday 18 March 2019

The Hollow Crown – the life and death of Richard II

Richard_II_King_of_England.jpgMeet the boy king whose face is the first realistic portrait of a monarch. Learn about his coronation, and his regency council as well as the way in which he faced the Peasants Revolt.  Explore how his nobles, the so-called Lords Appellant, rose in revolt and the ways in which Richard took his revenge before being toppled from power and starved to death in Pontefract Castle.

 

 

The Hollow Crown – the life and death of Richard II

A History Jar day school at the Whitworth Centre including a buffet lunch

£26.50

7) Monday 22 April 2019

Tudor Blood – the taint of royalty

tudor roseTrace the Tudor family tree to meet the less well-known men and women with a claim to England’s crown and find out how their blood condemned them to tragic ends.  From Lady Jane Grey, her sisters and her nephews to Arbella Stuart and the Lady Margaret Clifford who was condemned for using astrology to predict Elizabeth I’s death.  Find out what happened to the fifth Earl of Derby when he refused to plot against Elizabeth I.

Tudor Blood – the taint of royalty

A History Jar day school at the Whitworth Centre including a buffet lunch.

£26.50

 

8)  Monday 20 May 2019

William Marshall

WilliamMarshalExplore the life of a real knight errant beginning with his rise from penniless younger son to tournament champion, hero and astute politician who played a role in the  Magna Carta.  Find out about his relationship with King Henry II and all of his sons concluding with his role as regent during the early years of King Henry III. Religious, chivalrous, honourable and fiercely ambitious – the stuff from which legends are made.

William Marshall

A History Jar day school at the Whitworth Centre including a buffet lunch.

£26.50

 

9) Monday 17 June 2019

 The Vikings

danish longboats

Pillage, conquest and extortion.  The Vikings’ reputation may be deserved but chronicles, sagas and archeological record reveal some unexpected truthes.  Their legacy can be seen in the people, places and kingdoms of the north.  Meet Ragnar Hairy-breeks, Ivor the Boneless, Harold Bluetooth, Eric Bloodaxe, the Repton Warrior and Emma of Normandy.

Explore the history of the Vikings in Great Britain from the first raiders on England’s eastern shores in the late eighth century; their impact on the monasteries, the forging of Viking Kingdoms in Ireland and Yorkshire, conflict with the Anglo-Saxons and the practicalities of inheriting a kingdom in the tenth century.

The Vikings

A History Jar day school at the Whitworth Centre including a buffet lunch.

£26.50

Please contact me if you have any queries.

The king of Spain’s beard

francis-drake.jpgNow, I know this isn’t necessarily going to be popular but Sir Francis Drake is one of my heroes.  He has been since I was a child and I’m not about to change tack now.  The problem with the global circumnavigator (the Golden Hind is smaller than some modern bath tubs) is that he was also a privateer – or put another way a pirate licensed by the queen for a spot of pirating which is apparently quite different from being a lawless thug who deserves to be strung up.

Our story begins in September 1568 when Francis was approximately twenty-eight.  Francis, he had elven younger brothers not that it has anything to do with the story, was on a moneymaking expedition with his cousin Sir John Hawkins.  They’d been doing a spot of trading with Spanish settlers which was illegal because the Spanish wanted their settlers to buy all their goods from approved sources. Inevitably there had also been a spot of light piracy on the side.  Their little fleet of vessels put in to San Juan to carry out some repairs.  A Spanish fleet also arrived.  Drake and Hawkins thought they’d arrived at a “live and let live gentleman’s agreement” but the Spanish had other ideas.  Drake was lucky to escape.  It was the start of a lifelong animosity.

He was very good at being a pirate.  Hutchinson identifies the fact that for every £1.00 invested with Drake there was a £47.00 profit. No wonder Elizabeth I gave him a knighthood.

large-drake-knighted2.jpg

As the relationship between England and Spain deteriorated Drake occupied ports, burned towns and pinched lots of loot.  Philip in Spain was not amused.  One of the reasons, apart from adding to her treasury, that Elizabeth was pleased to encourage Drake was because Spain had its own financial difficulties and for every carrack and galleon that Drake captured there was another ratchet of financial pressure to be twisted on Spain.  The bigger Philip’s financial problems the more likely that any projected invasion would have to be deferred.

Unfortunately Pope Sixtus V was quite keen on re-establishing Catholicism in England and, even though he was as almost famously tightfisted as Elizabeth I, he stumped up the cash – well he promised 1,000,000 ducats for the venture provided the invasion was successful.  Until that time the money was held by a middle man.  In any event the Enterprise of England was underway.

Walsingham received news of Philip’s planning and preparations in February 1587. In assorted coastal locations across the south various officials suffered from palpations at the thought of the Spanish landing on their doorstep- let’s just say there were one or two false sightings. John Hawkins and Francis Drake argued that it was time to take the war to Spain rather than sitting around waiting for them to turn up – their arguments were entirely militarily sound but undoubtedly the lure of profit held its own siren call.

Walsingham and the earl of Leicester supported the idea. On 25 March 1587 Elizabeth I agreed that Drake could go and do nasty things to Spanish vessels on the pretext of supporting Dom Antonio, a claimant for the Portuguese Crown which Philip II had collected for himself.  She sent off the Elizabeth Bonaventure, the Golden Lion, the Dreadnaught and the Rainbow.  The rest of the vessels under Drake’s command were financed by private investors hoping to turn a profit (think of London Merchants as being a bit like modern hedge fund investors.)  The Merchant Adventurers even had an appropriate contract for the occasion which is somewhat eyebrow raising to a modern reader.

It was all very hush hush because, after all, England was not at war with Spain.

Vessels sailed from London to Plymouth.  The entire fleet sailed on the 12 April, Drake having penned a cheery note to Walsingham, prior to his departure. Once his vessels were out of sight over the horizon Elizabeth changed her mind and ordered him home because piracy is as we all know a very wrong thing, as is setting fire to other people’s boats.  She sent a fast pinnace with the new orders to Drake…it never reached him, perhaps because its crew was too busy engaged in piracy on their own behalf.

Drake, meanwhile, was bound for Cadiz. The original plan was that he should aim for Lisbon but Cadiz was the Armada’s supply base. There was also only one entrance channel to the harbour and it passed directly beneath the gun strewn city walls. It would take a daring commander to assault the ships at anchor there.

On 29th April Drake arrived, held a council of war, lowered his flags and sauntered in battle formation toward the harbour entrance. The citizens of Cadiz only realised that they had sighted a hostile force when Drake opened fire and then raised his flags once more.  Panic erupted. Cadiz’s mayor tried to send the town’s women and children to safety in the castle but it’s captain had the gates shut causing further pandemonium.

Meanwhile Spanish galleys tried to lure the English warships onto the sandbanks that surrounded Cadiz with no success. During the next two days Drake and his men sank or fired a variety of Spanish vessels as well as Geonese merchantmen.

The Spanish militia was sent for in a bid to prevent the English gaining access to the inner harbour and they also attempted to send fireships out amongst the English fleet. These were promptly towed off whilst the English burned something like 13,000 tons of shipping and as usual looted where possible. The Spanish claimed they had lost twenty four vessels but one of Drake’s men put the total closer to sixty.

One of the key successes to the venture  was the loss to the Spanish of the wooden staves that had been destined for the manufacture of barrels which would have held the Armada’s fresh water and salted meat.  Poor provisioning was one of the key reasons for the number of Spanish deaths associated with the Armada.

During the action there was even time for an exchange of prisoners with the English offering their recently captured Spanish prisoners in return for English galley slaves.  Drake took the opportunity to ask about the size of the Armada and when told that it was more than two hundred warships in size is alleged to have shrugged his shoulders and said that it wasn’t such a lot. You might not like the man or his methods but you have to admire the swash in his buckle.

Drake and his fleet eventually sailed off and spent the rest of the month looking for Spanish vessels to capture. On the 14 May he was off  Lagos but the town was too strongly defended to be attacked so he went on to Cape Sagres where he ransacked various churches and a fortified monastery. He continued to be a nuisance in the shipping lanes. On 27 May he celebrated  his success in his usual understated style;

“We have taken forts, barques, caravels and divers other vessels.”

Drake was clearly a man with one eye on his own press cuttings.

On the 18th June the San Felipe was sighted.  It had cargo worth £108,049 13s and 11d in precious jewels, silks and spices.  Elizabeth’s share in the profit  from the capture was £40,000.  Drake was not arrested for piracy as soon as he arrived back on English shores (I can’t imagine why!) Elizabeth was heard, somewhat gleefully, telling the French Ambassador that Cadiz had been destroyed. The inference being that if it had happened once it could very well happen again.

Drake would go on to be hailed as an English hero for his part in the Armada Campaign – his alleged game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe is part of national folklore.  Inevitably after the first part of the battle in which the English fleet chased after the Spanish Drake couldn’t help but revert to form. Drake shadowed the Spanish fleet with a light burning at his stern as a guide to the following English fleet. Unfortunately the light went out. Once a pirate always a pirate.  The Spanish ship Rosario was in dire straits and Drake couldn’t resist taking it as a prize which was unfortunate as without the light to give some indication of what was happening the rest of the English vessels ran the risk of running straight into the back of the Spanish  fleet which is what Lord Howard of Effingham aboard the Ark Royal almost did. Drake would later claim that he had gone off to investigate a strange vessel which turned out to be a German merchant but Lord Howard wasn’t totally convinced.  Hutchinson makes the point that court marshalling the queen’s favourite pirate probably wasn’t on the cards either. Martin Frobisher was less circumspect in his account noting that Drake wanted the spoils of war for himself but that he, Frobisher, was going to get his share.

And just for the record, despite what most folk might think, it was not Sir Francis Drake who commanded the English fleet during the Armada it was Lord Howard of Effingham. So why you might ask is Sir Francis on my list of heroes? I’ve even posted about him before now (click here to open new page) Well, I would have to say that the actual historical man isn’t.  Quite frankly he sounds like a bit of a chancer albeit a lucky and a courageous one with a strong sense of self.  The Sir Francis who I admire is the romantic and literary creation, or perhaps propoganda, of post-Armada England.  He is brave and chivalrous and probably rescues kittens stuck up trees before helping braces of little old ladies across the road.  The popular perception of Sir Francis Drake is that of the plucky Englander with a heart of oak and virtues to match – his heirs can be seen on any repeat of Dad’s Army – overcoming adversity through bravery and guile.  He is representative of a long line of almost mythical defenders of an Island Nation.

With Elizabeth the concept of a Medieval European empire of the kind ruled over by Henry II, dreamed about by Edward III and written about by Shakespeare in his history plays was finally consigned to the History books.  Mary Tudor may have died with Calais written on her heart but her sister and her closest advisers set about creating something new  during Elizabeth’s forty year reign. Elizabeth and her government painted a picture of a Protestant sea-faring nation standing David-like against the Catholic Goliath in its Spanish guise. England’s new band of brothers would be sea farers.  This, undoubtedly, was playing fast and loose with the truth but I do like a good story, and besides, my Dad told it to me – which is, of course, how History turns into folklore.

 

 

Hutchinson, Robert. (2013) The Spanish Armada. New York: Thomas Dunne Books

 

 

Yan, Tyan, Tethera and other sheep related historical facts…and a cross stitch sampler

yantyantether.jpgTraditionally shepherds counted their sheep in scores – or lots of twenty – twice a day, morning and evening, just to check that they hadn’t lost any in the night.    When the shepherd got to twenty he or she would place a pebble in their pocket and start again and so on until they ran out of sheep or pebbles.

There are various regional versions of sheep counting but my own favourite is Cumbrian sheep counting. Some sources believe that this form of counting goes back to the Vikings – and given that there are studies that suggest that iconic Cumbrian sheep,the Herdwick, was introduced by non other than the Vikings it is easy to see how this conclusion was arrived at.

Others identify this particular form of counting as a Celtic form of counting – Brythonic Celtic if you want to be accurate.  The ancient kingdom of Rheged of which Cumbria was a part was Celtic and for those of you who like unexpected links – was once ruled by Coel Hen – or Old King Cole (the merry monarch).

There is also a theory that sheep counting, which is rhythmic, is the reason that counting sheep is supposed to send you to sleep: yan, tan, tethera, methera, pimp, sethera, lethera, hovera, dovera, dick, yan-a-dick, tyan-a-dick, tethera-dick, methera-dick, bumfit, yan-abumfit, tyan-a-bumfit, methera bumfit, giggot.  It’s also hugely repetitive with only the light relief of number fifteen as a diversion.

Wool is historically one of England and Wales most important industries.   Dre-fach Felindre in the Teifi valley was once the centre of a thriving woollen industry, earning the nickname ‘The Huddersfield of Wales’ – the two don’t have many other similarities.  It is now home to the National Wool Museum of Wales. We visited one very wet summer’s day to find out more about sheep farming and the production of textiles and in its turn it inspired me to create the cross stitch sampler at the start of this post with its varous methods of counting and various sheep or wool related images including the teasels which were once grown in industrial quantities to tease the tangles from the wool.

medieval sheepIn medieval England wool was produced for export to the Low Countries where weavers were prepared to pay best prices for English wool. Even before that time sheep had been important – the Domesday Book reveals that there wherefore sheep than any other kind of animal. From the thirteenth century onwards wool generated huge wealth for the country and it explains why from Yorkshire to the Cotswolds not to mention East Anglia there are so many magnificent churches. Let’s not forget that Norwich was once England’s second city based entirely on the wealth generated from wool. The Merchants of the Staple are one of the oldest corporations still in existence. The Cistercians built their great monasteries on the wealth of wool based on their use of the grange system – or specialist farms.  By the fourteenth century there were something like 150,000 sheep in Yorkshire alone.  The sheep in question turn up in sculpture and manuscripts.  Interestingly whilst sheep milk and sheep cheese was important to the agrarian society of the time meat was a later addition to the sheep’s versatility with mutton finding it’s way onto the menu.

Mutton, incidentally, comes from a sheep which is more than a year old.  Sheep of course can be ewes, rams, tups, hoggets or wethers.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  Cheviot sheep with their startled ears and dense wool have been around since the fourteenth century whereas the blackfaced suffolk sheep with their black legs, faces and downturned ears have only been recorded since the eighteenth century.  An article in Country Life identifies twenty-one native breeds of sheep and provides a handy identikit summary for sheep spotters.  It can be found here http://www.countrylife.co.uk/out-and-about/dogs/shaggy-sheep-stories-21-native-british-sheep-breeds-recognise-153367

french sheep illustrationInevitably  it wasn’t long before someone came up with the bright idea of taxing wool – let’s not forget that the Lord Chancellor sits on a woolsack.  Edward I was the first monrch who slapped a tax on wool.   Henry VI licensed the export of  Cotswold Sheep such was their value.  Even Henry VII got in on the act in 1488 with his own wool act in Wakefield and the west Riding encouraging skilled foreign workers to settle in the country to promote the wool industry.  He also prohibited sale abroad as detrimental to the making and finishing of cloth . In 1523 dyers found themselves coming under regulation thanks to Henry VIII and  the Capper’s Act of 1571 required every male in the kingdom aged six and above to wear a wool hat on a Sunday.  A three shilling fine could be levied for anyone not conforming to the sartorial requirements.  And that’s before we get to the Dissolution of the Monasteries or the land enclosures which troubled the Tudors (e.g. Kett’s Rebellion of 1549).  No wonder Sir Thomas More had something to say about sheep in Utopia – that the sheep ate the men.  Or put more simply the big landowners kicked their tenants and little men off the land so that their herds of sheep could increase in size.Luttrell Psalter sheep

James I was persuaded by Sir William Cockayne to launch a project designed to boost the earnings of those involved in the manufacture of undyed cloth setting up a dyeing industry to do the job at home. The government was promised £40,000 p.a. from increased customs through the importing of dyestuffs. James gave control to Cockayne and the new company was given permission to export in 1615. It was clear by 1616 that Cockayne had not the resources to buy the cloth from the clothing districts and hold it until it could be marketed. Matters became worse when the Dutch banned the import of cloth. Merchants went bankrupt, weavers rioted, cloth exports slumped and the industry stagnated. By 1617 James abandoned Cockayne and the Merchant Adventurers regained control.  It should also be noted that James wasn’t without his own share of riot and rebellion related to sheep and enclosure – the Midland Revolt of 1607 demonstrates that problems didn’t go away for a few years before returning with a vengeance during the eighteenth century.

Times change and by the mid seventeenth century there was a requirement to be buried in a woollen shroud to help keep the wool market going (The Burying in Woollen Acts) This act of 1666 required all the dead to have woolly shrouds apart from plague victims and presumably that was because no one wanted the job of checking to see whether the deceased was complying with the law – families were liable to a five pound fine if the shroud was anything other than English wool.  The law was in force for about a century although it remained on the law books for much longer.

James I banned the sale of untreated wool to Flanders and ultimately the ban on sales of wool was not lifted until 1824. In 1698 there was even an act that meant that farmers with flocks of sheep near the cost had to give an account of the numbers in their flocks to prevent wool smuggling.

In 1699 it was forbidden that any of England’s colonies should export wool anywhere other than England – so it was sold to Enlgish markets and then sold on elsewhere.  It doesn’t take a genius to see why the colonists felt somewhat out of sorts about the matter. And of course wool is one of the reasons behind the Highland Land Clearances that began in about 1750 and lasted for the next century.

If you like the sampler pictured at the start of this post and you do cross stitch it is now possible to buy and download it from the HistoryJar shop which can be accessed at the top of the page or by clicking on the link.

 

William Cecil

William_Cecil_Riding_a_MuleDavid Cecil, William’s grandfather had turned up at Bosworth on the victorious side. he went on to become one of Henry VII’s newly formed yeomen of the guard.  His son meanwhile settled down to the business of being a Lincolnshire gentleman with court connections.

William, born in 1520, went to Grantham Grammar school and then onto stamford Grammar School and from there to Cambridge where he blotted his copy books by falling in love with, and marrying, an inn keeper’s daughter.  Mary  Cheke- William’s youthful fling died in 1544, two years after their marriage.  They had one son with whom William appears not to have got on very well all things considered.

The son, Thomas, did not have the same administrative brain as his half-brother Robert. Cecil is supposed to have said that Thomas wasn’t fit to govern a tennis court, not that it stopped him from becoming the 1st Earl of Exeter.

In 1545 William married Mildred Cooke. Two years later William became part of the administrative department for Edward VI’s protectorate.  He had been at university with Ascham. Rather unexpectedly William turns up at the Battle of Pinkie and seems to have got on well with the Duke of Somerset as he became one of his private secretaries.  Unfortunately Somerset would fall from power in 1549 – the resulting associating meant that Cecil got to spend some time in the Tower on the wrong side of the bars but on his release he became the secretary of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. It was during this time that he became Elizabeth Tudor’s man of business or more specifically her estate agent.

Then Edward VI died and Cecil found himself on a sticky wicket once more.  He was part of the regime attempting to usurp Henry VIII’s will and place Lady Jane Grey on the throne rather than Mary Tudor.  He managed to extricate himself by signing the device which made Jane queen as a witness and Mary Tudor issued him with a general pardon suggesting some shady doings which helped to thwart Dudley.

During Mary’s reign Cecil was sent on a couple of diplomatic missions and continued in his role as a member of Parliament.  His wife’s convinced Protestantism doesn’t appear to have held him back.

In November 1558 Elizabeth ascended to the throne and made Cecil her principal Secretary of State.  He held the post for the next forty years and whilst he complained bitterly about his royal mistress on occasion he served her loyally throughout. Elizabeth recognised him as her “alpha and omega.”

In 1563 he purchased Theobalds House in Hertfordshire.

Much has been written about Cecil or Lord Burghley as he became in 1571.  It was he who sought to send Robert Dudley as an Ambassador to Spain shortly after Elizabeth ascended the throne, it was he who was sent from court in disgrace after the execution of Mary Queen of Scots and it was he who helped to re mint the coinage to make Elizabeth’s economy much more secure.  He did become Lord Treasurer in 1572 after all.

Whilst much is made of Elizabeth’s foreign policy which often seems to include marriage negotiations involving either herself or in later years Arbella Stuart or on occasion the grand-daughters of Lady Margaret Clifford it was Cecil who initially recognised the importance of the New World in terms of economy and it was he who identified the importance of playing Spain and France off against each other in order to maintain a balance of power.  Cecil like Elizabeth was keen to avoid a war.  In short he was there to protect Elizabeth and the realm by always being in the background organising that things went as smoothly as possible.

Alford suggests that Cecil was much more than an administrator.  It was Cecil who put Sir Francis Walsingham in post in 1568 and he seems to have had a knack for plots and double agents of his own.

Aside from plotting, administration and a Renaissance line in poetry writing, Cecil also enjoyed, of all things, gardening.  He employed John Gerard who wrote Gerard’s herbal and the enterprising Tradescants were employed by William’s son Robert.  It was tradescantia who popularised tulips in England. Which leads me to my happy discovery of the day pertaining to Cecil, Elizabeth I and gardens.

In 1599 Sir John Davies described Elizabeth I as the Empress of Flowers who prized a beautiful garden.  This in its own turn meant that Elizabeth’s chief courtiers were green fingered themselves – or at least employed some rather good garden landscapers. Robert Dudley and William Cecil competed with one another to produce gardens that would impress.  Cecil liked “fountains and walks” in his gardens and imported lemon trees as well.  He also had a maze garden.  The designs became ever more ornate as he tried to outdo Robert Dudley who pulled out all the stops in 1575 at Kennilworth.  I must admit to loving the idea of a garden rivalry!

Cecil died on August 4th 1598

Alford. Stephen. Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I 

Martin,  Trea. Elizabeth in the Garden: A Story of Love, Rivalry and Spectacular Design

Halifax Day schools 2018/19

orange box directionsI am pleased to be able to offer the following courses at The Orange Box, 1 Blackledge, Halifax, HX1 1AF.

 

Courses run from 10.00 am until 3.30pm with a half hour break for lunch as well as a short break in the morning and the afternoon.

The information contained in this post may also be found on a separate page which is bookmarked at the top of the blog.

1)  Thursday 27th September 2018   10.00 am – 3.30pm

Inconvenient Wives

The story of Robert Dudley, Amy Robsart,

Lettice Knollys and Elizabeth I

Amy Robsart exhibited 1877 by William Frederick Yeames 1835-1918

Explore the scandal Elizabeth I’s relationship with “Sweet Robin” at the beginning of her reign and the events surrounding the death of Amy Robsart.  We will use the accounts of various ambassadors as well as William Cecil’s words on the subject.  We will chart Dudley’s relationship with Amy and assess the evidence, including the Cumnor coroner’s report as part of an exploration of the different theories about her death.

We will then consider Dudley’s proposal to Elizabeth at Kennilworth Castle in 1575 as well as his relationship with Francis Howard and second marriage to Elizabeth’s own cousin, Lettice Knollys and its consequences.

Inconvenient Wives The story of Robert Dudley, Amy Robsart, Lettice Knollys and Elizabeth I

 

Inconvenient Wives The story of Robert Dudley, Amy Robsart, Lettice Knollys and Elizabeth I

£20.00

2) Thursday 25th October 2018    10.00 am – 3.30pm

Gloriana: a life in ten pictures

 

elizabeth-1-rainbow-portraitAn overview of Elizabeth I’s life and reign using a few of the two hundred pictures associated with the monarch from the Clopton Portrait to the Ditchley Portrait.  Find out more about the iconography behind Elizabeth’s portraits, the so-called “mask of youth” and the cult of Gloriana.

 

We will explore Elizabeth’s early years; the scandals of Thomas Seymour and Robert Dudley; Wyatt’s Rebellion; the marriage proposals; an overview of foreign policy; some of the key plots against her; religion and the question of succ

 

 

Gloriana: a life in ten pictures

A day school at the Whitworth Centre inclusive of a buffet lunch.

£26.50

 

3) Thursday 29thNovember 2018  10.00 am – 3.30pm

The Conqueror’s women

adela.jpgFind out about the formidable and influential, Matilda of Flanders, wife of William the Conqueror and her daughters.

It is said that William was faithful to his queen throughout their marriage but their courtship was not without its drama.  Later their relationship would be tested when Matilda chose to support their rebellious eldest son Robert against his father.

The pair had nine or ten children of whom six were daughters about whom popular History knows little. One was given to the Church prior to William’s invasion of England another become the mother of King Stephen. We will explore the role of aristocratic women, including the nuns and Saxon ladies who may have embroidered the Bayeux Tapestry and investigate the scandal of Constance  who may have been murdered by her own servants.

The Conqueror’s women

£20.00

4) Thursday 21stMarch 2019  10.00am -3.30 pm

Isabella of France –

the She-Wolf, her husband and their lovers.

 

isabella of france.jpgThe only queen of England to order the execution of a king. Find out about the arranged marriage to the most handsome man in Europe and the consequences of his disastrous infatuations with his favourites.

Find out how Isabella turned from a loyal wife, a political mediator and mother to four children into she-wolf leading the most successful invasion of England since the conquest. We will also explore how she came to have possession of her husband’s heart – in a silver casket.

 

We will explore the role of Roger Mortimer, the queen’s lover and the impact of the Earl of Kent’s rebellion. We will also consider her punishment and rehabilitation at the court of her son Edward III.

Isabella of France – the She-Wolf, her husband and their lovers.

£20.00

5) Thursday 25thApril 2019  10.00am -3.30 pm

Joan of Kent

 princess of controversy and first Princess of Wales

 

joanplantagenetFind out about Joan’s childhood in the aftermath of her father’s execution for treason including her life at the court of Philippa of Hainault.

 

The marital escapades of the Fair Maid of Kent are documented in Froissart. We will explore medieval marriage through Joan’s clandestine relationship with Thomas Holland; her bigamous but politically strategic marriage to William Montacute and her third marriage to the Black Prince.

 

We will also consider Joan’s importance as the mother of the child Richard II despite her lack of  official status, her reputation for piety and her popularity with the peasants.

 

Joan of Kent – princess of controversy and first Princess of Wales

£20.00

6) Thursday 23rd May 2019  10.00am -3.30 pm

Thomas Fairfax- A Yorkshireman’s Civil War

 

thomas fairfaxWe will explore Fairfax’s role in the Bishops’ War and the Fairfax position in the escalating dispute between King and Parliament before following his progress from Seacroft Moor to Adwalton.

We will chart Fairfax’s swift progression through the first and second civil wars from local politics to the national scene. From there we will move on to the trial of the king, regicide and the establishment of a republic. We will consider his role at Colchester and Burford.

We will explore Fairfax’s relationship with his wife Anne the key political figures of the period and also Fairfax’s literary contributions.

 

Thomas Fairfax- A Yorkshireman’s Civil War

£20.00

 

 

What people have said about other courses I have taught:

“Very enjoyable,” “interesting,” “learnt a lot,” “brilliant course as usual with this tutor.” “knowledgeable,”  “fascinating.”

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