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.

Gilbert de Clare the 8th and last de Clare Earl of Gloucester

gilbert de clare.jpgThe 7th Earl of Gloucester, Gilbert, the Red Earl, was born in 1243. He took part of the second Barons War in 1262 which saw the barons rise against King Henry III.  He was one of Simon de Montfort’s supporters and took part in the Battle of Lewes.  They were turbulent times and although  de Montford effectively toppled the Crown  it wasn’t long before there was a falling out amongst the barons.  This resulted in Gilbert changing sides and fighting on the side of Prince Edward at the Battle of Kenilworth and the Battle of Evesham where de Montfort was killed.

 

When Henry III died whilst Edward I was in Sicily, de Clare found himself Guardian of England. On the  home front however, the story remained rather more complicated.  Gilbert was married to his first wife in 1253 when he was just ten years old.  She was Alice de Lusignan – King Henry III’s niece – a possible reason for the relatively leniency with which Gilbert found himself being treated by Henry III during the baron’s war.  Having said that the pair separated in 1267.  Apparently Alice had taken a shine to her cousin young Prince Edward who would one day be Edward I.  The marriage was annulled in 1285.

 

In 1290  Gilbert married the twenty-two year old Joan of Acre,  a daughter of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile (not sure how that works on the laws of consanguinity marrying the daughter of your first wife’s cousin –dispensation was required.)  The pair had a son also called Gilbert and three daughters; Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth. He died in 1295 and was buried in Tewkesbury Abbey.

 

Gilbert junior was born in 1291 and became the 8th Earl of Gloucester when he was four.  Just a reminder here – his grandfather was Edward I who had some seventeen children in total by his two wives.  Joan of Acre was born in 1272 whilst Edward was on crusade.  He was raised, in part, at court in the household of his grandfather’s second wife Margaret of France.

It is sometimes thought that he was in his uncle Prince Edward of Carnarvon’s household. In 1305 there was a dispute that resulted in Edward I cutting his son’s household.  The prince wrote to his sister Elizabeth to ask her to write to their step-mother to ask their father to restore two members of his household to him: one was Gilbert de Clare the other was Piers Gaveston.  The following year both men were knighted prior to war with Scotland at the so-called Feast of the Swans. However, and you probably shouldn’t be surprised by this, there was a second Gilbert de Clare who was approximately three years older than Prince Edward and it was he who was in the prince’s household.  The two Gilberts were cousins – but let’s not get into the genealogy.

 

Unfortunately once Edward of Carnarvon became king our Gilbert became increasingly disgruntled with the king’s relationship with Gaveston and in 1310 became one of the Lords Ordainers seeking to  reform the king’s household resulting in Gaveston’s exile from England in 1311 and his death in 1312 when he returned to England – Edward II having announced that Gaveston’s sentence was unlawful and effectively reducing the country to a state of civil war. Gilbert as a royal relation was able to smooth troubled waters between the two groups.  He would go on, with the demise of Gaveston to be one of Edward’s loyal supporters. Possibly one of the reasons for his dissatisfaction was that when he inherited his titles at the age of sixteen he was quickly immersed in border warfare serving in border warden roles and as Captain of Scotland.

 

On 24 June 1314 Gilbert was part of his uncle’s army in Scotland at Bannockburn.  He was killed. The body was sent back to England with due honour.   He was only twenty-three had no children so the de Clare estates were divided between his three sisters who were now co-heiresses.

There is a final sting in the tale of this post. In 1308 Gilbert married Maud or Matilda de Burgh, daughter of the Earl of Ulster. The pair did apparently  have a son called John in 1312 who did not survive long after his birth. However, when her husband died in 1314 Maud claimed she was pregnant so that the estates of the Earldom of Gloucester could not be split.  The law required that everyone wait for a posthumous  child to be born.  Three years later it was decided that she really couldn’t have been pregnant for twice as long as an elephant and the earldom was broken up between Gilbert’s three sisters.

Maud died in 1320 and was buried in Tewkesbury Abbey beside her husband who is pictured in one of the abbey’s stained glass windows as depicted at the start of this post.

 

Newcastle’s Lambs

battle of Marson moor.jpgAt the beginning of the English Civil War, in 1642,  William  Cavendish of Bolsover and Welbeck Abbey who was the Earl of Newcastle at that time gave Charles I £10,00 and raised a troop of 200 horsemen. In June of that year William was sent to secure Newcastle.  He was on his way to becoming the king’s general in the north and about to start a military dance with Lord Ferndinado Fairfax and his son Sir Thomas Fairfax that would only end in 1644.  Not that it was all plain sailing.  The slide to war met with opposition and not every local lord was keen on Cavendish’s recruitment campaign.

Cavendish summoned his tenants and the trained bands of the North. They came largely from Northumbria at the beginning of the conflict- remember he was also Earl Ogle – his mother was Catherine Ogle.  He kitted them out in a new uniform – the coats were undyed because, according to Margaret Cavendish’s biography of her husband, the soldiers asked for them to be left white so that they could dye them in the blood of their enemies.  They were also kitted out with caps of  so-called Scots’ blue.  The “whitecoats” or “lambs” had an identity that was immediately recognisable on the battle field.

In total there would be seven divisions of Whitecoats. Their first action might have been against the trained Bands of Durham who seemed to have had a falling out with the men left by Cavendish whilst he went on to Newcastle to secure it for the king.  The earl went back to Durham and smoothed ruffled feathers.  One of the men from the Durham trained bands stated that he liked the earl well enough but not his soldiers.

At first the Royalists dominated the war in the north. They first saw action at Tadcaster and the following year (30 June 1643) at the Battle of Adwalton Moor. The battle initially went against the royalists because of the position that Fairfax held on a ridge and because Newcastle didn’t have enough musketeers but ultimately there was a final push of pike led by the wonderfully named Colonel Posthumous Kirton – you may not have royalist sympathies but what’s not to love about the name Posthumous Kirton! Kirton’s attack ultimately caused the Parliamentary left wing to collapse. The war continued and Newcastle’s Regiment of Foot fought where it was required in the North, Yorkshire and the Midlands, but there is surprisingly little information on its exact movements.

The Whitecoats saw action at the sieges of Hull and Gainsborough as well in 1644 of York – when they were being besieged and repulsed the Parliamentarian forces when they breached the walls at St Mary’s Tower by mining it. The tide had turned against the Royalists in 1644 when the Scots became involved.  This was why Newcastle was forced back into Yorkshire.

Rupert of the Rhine arrived to relieve York on the 1st July 1644 but took charge of the army and insisted on fighting the Parliamentarians.  On the following morning he led his own men out onto Marston Moor between Tockwith and Long Marston. The Whitecoats joined Rupert at 4pm having spent the day looting what was left on the Parliamentarian siege line.  The earl arrived in his carriage.  Aside from a little skirmishing the two armies faced one another and waited.  Rupert will have been able to work out that his army was smaller than that of Parliament – by some 10,000.  By 7 pm the Royalists decided that there wasn’t going to be a battle that day so settled down for the evening.  There was also a thunderstorm.  At which point the Parliamentarian army attacked.  It didn’t all go Parliament’s way.  Thomas Fairfax had to make his way through the Royalist lines on his own at one point. Victory really belonged to Oliver Cromwell who turned his wing in an arc behind the Royalist force.

Marston-Moor.jpg

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 16.59.48.pngAt the Battle of Marston Moor Newcastle’s Regiment of Foot were killed almost to a man.  They remained in formation in the centre of the Royalist line  and it is thought defended White Syke Close. The Parliamentarians recognising their bravery asked for their surrender but the regiment refused. By the time the Whitecoats died the battle was already lost – their deaths were futile. They were buried in mass graves where they fell.  If you walk the route of the Battle of Marston Moor White Syke Close is marked on the ordinance survey map. Alternatively take advantage of a Country File walk which outlines the battle and leads you on a circular walk,  https://www.countryfile.com/go-outdoors/walks/marston-moor-north-yorkshire/  The Battle Fields Trust website has information about the battle and the site today.

It is thought that William Cavendish was the last Royalist commander left on the battle field.  Personally brave but not necessarily charismatic he arrived in Scarborough the following morning where he boarded a vessel bound for Hamburg.  He had £90.  Upon arrival he borrowed £160 and set off for Paris and Henrietta Maria. At the family seat of Welbeck Abbey his daughters would have to face a Parliamentarian force, hide the family plate and get some of their father’s art collection to safety.

The image of the Battle of Marston Moor was painted in 1819 by Abraham Cooper.   He painted a second image of the battle in 1824 entitled  Rupert’s Standard.

 

I would politely remind you that I am not a battle field historian although I can describe key moments in some of the battles of both the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War.  I can also tell you that it is incredibly easy to get lost on Marston Moor even when armed with a map and book of war walks – although a couple of  fully costumed re-enactors emerging out of the morning mist is certainly enough to make you sit up and pay attention.

The Book of Sport V The Player’s Scourge

prynneThe Book of Sport was issued initially by James I.  It identified the need to go to church in the morning and enjoy yourself in the afternoon.  Charles I reissued it in 1633.  The Norton Anthology of English Literature states that Charles probably republished the text in response to William Prynne’s Histrio-Mastix.

Histrio-Mastix was subtitled the Player’s Scourge or Actor’s Tragedy.  It had taken Prynne the better part of ten years to write the book which was essentially an attack on the theatre, Christmas and dancing.  Prynne was not complimentary about women actors – in particular French ones and unfortunately this was taken as an insult on Henrietta Maria rather than french actresses.  Prynne was hauled up in front of the Star Chamber on charges of seditious libel in 1634.

I’d like to say that the judges in the case were measured.  Unfortunately Prynne found himself being pilloried – twice.  He was imprisoned for life, fined £5,000, his book was burned by the hangman, chucked out of his university, had his ears cut off and was stopped from being a lawyer.

Unfortunately despite the heavy hint to stop writing Prynne continued and wrote a series of anonymous pamphlets which his friends arranged to have published for him.  When it was discovered that he had been writing inflammatory things about the Church and Archbishop Laud the rest of his ears were cut off and  his cheeks were branded with the letters SL and his nose was slit.

And where does the Book of Sport fit in?  Charles was essentially saying that by conforming to the Church of England and going to church in the morning you were entitled to enjoy yourself in the afternoon in appropriate and proper pursuits.   The Book goes on to suggest that if Puritans didn’t like English laws and the Church’s canons that they were free to clear off elsewhere.

The list of approved actives included:

“such as dancing, either men or women; archery for men, leaping, vaulting, or any other such harmless recreation, nor from having of May-games, Whitsun-ales, and Morris-dances; and the setting up of May-poles and other sports therewith used: so as the same be had in due and convenient time, without impediment or neglect of divine service: and that women shall have leave to carry rushes to the church for the decorating of it, according to their old custom; but withal we do here account still as prohibited all unlawful games to be used upon Sundays only, as bear and bull-baitings, interludes, and at all times in the meaner sort of people by law prohibited, bowling.”

I must admit to being slightly puzzled by the inclusion of bowling – never having considered it a hot-bed of sinfulness for the “meaner sort” but perhaps I missed something.  The Puritans of whom Prynne was one, as you may have already deduced, declared the Book of Sports to be The Devil’s Book as all recreation, presumably including bowls, was sinful.

For Puritans, and Presbyterians come to that, strict observance of the Sabbath was politicised.  Some non-conformists chose to leave the country, others chose to write pamphlets on the subject. Prynne’s first trial didn’t make many waves but his exile to the Channel Islands in 1637 caused a bit of a furore as did his return in 1640.  The second trial when his writings against Laud had been punished had turned him into a Puritan martyr.

Helmer, J. Helmers. (2016) The Royalist Republic: Literature, Politics and Religion in the Anglo-Dutch Public Sphere, 1639-1660

 

 

 

Margaret Beaufort – the pictures

BeaufortLadyM_CU_SJ_170smI tend to think of Lady Margaret Beaufort looking rather austere in a wimple and black gown as pictured left.   Melanie Taylor, art historian (https://melanievtaylor.co.uk) very kindly told me about the image of Margaret at prayer which hangs in St John’s College, Cambridge.  It was painted by Rowland Lockey who was Nicholas Hilliard’s apprentice.    He was born in 1565 and his best known picture is probably that of Sir Thomas More and his family.  The image of Lady Margaret was presented to St John’s in 1598 by Julius Clippersby – Roy Strong says it was Juliana Clippersby who gave it to the college, making it less of a primary source than you might have imagined on first looking at it.  It certainly accounts for the abundance of Tudor royal images and coats of arms.

 

margaret-beaufort hever.jpgA quick check on the National Portrait Gallery website revealed eighteen images associated with Henry Tudor’s mother in their collection.  They all picture her dressed as a widow. There are other portraits dotted around the countryside including the one at Hever Castle pictured left which features an expensive cloth of state, trademark widow’s wimple, black frock and prayer book.  We tend to think that the black dress she is most commonly associated with is akin to a monastic habit but in actual fact the fabrics and dyes made her clothing some of the most expensive available.  The robes she wore were the same quality as those worn by Henry VII’s queen and during one Christmas celebration they wore identical garments.

Let’s make no mistake here.  There was a degree of nunliness (is that even a word?) about the king’s mother especially during her last decade. Despite the fact that her last husband Lord Thomas Stanley was very much alive Margaret had taken a public vow of chastity in 1499 and thereafter the pair lived separate lives. Margaret was enrolled in the lists five religious houses- Charterhouse, Croyland, Durham and Westminster are listed by the Catholic Encyclopaedia.  Essentially she took vows under canon law that enabled her to continue living in the public sphere rather than the secluded world of a nunnery.

Her friend and confessor John Fisher developed this image of her in his sermon about Margaret entitled A Mornygne Remembrance.  He compared her to Martha, a woman of action, but who combined her capabilities with prayer, fasting and abstinence.  Records of her gifts and patronage also develop the theme of piety.  She helped found the Cult of the Holy Name of Jesus in England during this period – the letters IHS which are so common in churches today were little used before this period (Unfortunately her patronage of the cult meant that it was very markedly Catholic which proved somewhat of a problem during her grandson’s reign.)  In her later years she attended several masses daily that caused her back problems. Please, no one comment on the possibility of a guilty conscience – draw your own conclusions – pious woman or maniac murderer of princes wishing to atone – take your pick. Since Fisher didn’t break the confessional its all circumstantial!

Tomb-of-Lady-Margaret-Beaufort-Countess-of-Richmond-and-Derby-at-Westminster-Abbey.jpgIt turns out that there is only one original known likeness of the redoubtable matriarch of the Tudor family – her funeral effigy cast by Italian Master Pietro Torrigiano. He also  created the wonderful sculpture of Henry VIII as a little boy and the bust of Henry VII. The face was probably taken from her death mask – so not one of her better days. Interestingly as well as the Beaufort arms the Stafford knot features in the imagery around her effigy.

All the rest of the images of Margaret were created during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries at a time when all those new manor houses with their brand new long galleries required populating with portraits demonstrating loyalty to the monarchy.  The images may have been created from an original now lost or perhaps from the effigy in Westminster.

 

Unknown-woman-formerly-known-as-Lady-Margaret-Beaufort-Countess-of-Richmond-and-Derby.jpgThe portrait that I’m particularly fond of is purported to be Margaret Beaufort in her youth but unfortunately the headdress doesn’t match to the correct period but to a time closer to the beginning of the sixteenth century.  The National Portrait Gallery identifies it as an Unknown Lady. Despite that you can see how the folded hands, the rings on her fingers, and headdress would lead to the idea that it was Margaret Beaufort. The portrait has been in the National Portrait Gallery since 1908.

 

Davis, David J.  (2013) Seeing Faith, Printing Pictures: Religious Identity during the English Reformation. 

 

Sir Henry Stafford’s will

BeaufortLadyM_CU_SJ_170smHenry Stafford was the second son of Humphrey Stafford, First Duke of Buckingham. I’ve posted about him before.  The post can be found here.   Henry was Margaret’s second husband (discounting John de la Pole).  Their marriage began when she was fourteen and covered the period of Henry Tudor’s minority – initially in the care of Jasper Tudor and then, after Towton,  Sir William Herbert.

On the 14th April 1471, Sir Henry took part in the Battle of Barnet against the Earl of Warwick’s forces.  Warwick having turned his coat and reached an agreement with Henry VI’s queen Margaret of Anjou.  The official record does not record how Margaret Beaufort felt about her husband taking up arms on York’s behalf.  Clearly Edmund Beaufort’s visit to the couple at Woking in March did not go as planned! Nor for that matter do we fully know why Stafford chose to support the Yorkist king rather than the Lancastrian one on this particular occasion.

Sir Henry was wounded and returned to Woking (which he and Margaret had acquired through royal warrant in 1466 – it had formerly been in Beaufort hands) where he was cared for by Margaret. He died on the 4th October 1471.

He had written his will on the 13th April 1471 – a hasty realisation of what might follow.  It was witnessed by the parish priest of Woking, a man named Walter Baker.  He also gave 10 shillings to the church for tithes – noting that he may have forgotten to pay them or even withheld them previously. Another 20 shillings were given for building work in the church.

The bequests that the will contains are few.  He left Henry Tudor new velvet trappings for four horses, Reginald Bray – his man of business- a “grizzled horse”  and £160 for masses to be said for his soul. The copy of the will held by St John’s College, Cambridge includes the gift of another horse to his brother John – who Edward IV had created Earl of Wiltshire.  He left everything else to his “entirely beloved wife Margaret, Countess of Richmond, she thereof to dispose her own free will for ever more.”  Another, downloadable, copy of the will can be found in the National Archives at Kew.

Halsted, Caroline (1845)  Life of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, mother of King Henry the Seventh. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=PF9iAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Jones, Michael and Underwood, Malcom. (1992)  The King’s Mother. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Licence, Amy. 2016 Red Roses. Stroud: The History Press

 

 

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D970211

Margaret Beaufort

478px-Lady_Margaret_Beaufort_from_NPGI’ve blogged about Henry Tudor’s mother before and am always surprised at the reaction she seems to provoke including that it’s obvious that she was responsible for the murder of the princes – by which people do not mean that she was stalking the corridors of the Tower of London beating small boys to death with her psalter but that she “must” have reached an accommodation with the Duke of Buckingham who she was seen talking with during a “chance encounter” on the road prior to the rebellion which led to his execution (and he was family after all)  in 1483. I have also been accused of being biased against her as well as biased in her favour in the same post.  To which my response was – eh?

The main problem for Margaret would seem to be the question – Who gains?  And quite obviously, her son Henry Tudor became king of England.  Couple that with means, motive and opportunity and Margaret Beaufort has to be included on the suspect list -she was after all Lady Stanley by this point and had a prominent position at court until she blotted her copy books and found herself under house arrest.  Even if she didn’t have access to the Tower, the Duke of Buckingham did and Lord Stanley was part of Richard III’s circle of power (though not part of the inner circle.) Everyone in power or with money had access to the kind of men who would kill children – even women if they had trusted servants.  It was not until Josephine Tey’s wonderful book entitled The Daughter of Time which was published in 1951 that anyone pointed the finger at Margaret although there had been doubts about Richard III’s involvement for centuries.

Henry Tudor didn’t launch an inquiry to find out what had happened in 1485 – nor was there any religious rite for the pair of princes which seems odd given that he had to revoke their illegitimacy in order to marry their sister Elizabeth – so it would have been only polite to mark their demise.  But then who wants to draw attention to their presumed dead and now legitimate brothers-in-law and the fact that your own claim to the throne is a tad on the dodgy side?  Edward IV didn’t want Henry VI turning into a cult so why would Henry Tudor want Edward V turning into a cult? And there is also the fact that having a mass said for the souls of the dead is one thing but what if one or more of the boys was still alive – it would be a bit like praying for their immediate death.  Which brings us to Perkin Warbeck.  Or was he?  No wonder the story continues to fascinate people and excite so much comment.

However, back to Margaret Beaufort and the point of today’s post.  Strong women in history often get a bad press both during their life times and in the history books – assuming they manage to get out of the footnotes because until fairly recently history was written from a male perspective – and Victorian minded males at that – women were supposed to be domestic and pious, they were not supposed to step out from the hearth and engage in masculine activities nor were they supposed to be intellectually able (the notable exception to this rule being Elizabeth I.)

Margaret Beaufort began life as a typical heiress – tainted by the apparent suicide of her father the Duke of Somerset- Once her father died she was handed over to a guardian, in this case the Duke of Suffolk.  Suffolk effectively gained control of Margaret’s wealth and also had the power to arrange her marriage – which he duly did – to his own son John de la Pole.  This marriage would be dissolved before Margaret left childhood. Margaret never considered herself to have been married to John.  The fact that it was dissolved on the orders of no less a person than Henry VI demonstrates that she was a pawn on a chess board – just as most other heiresses were at this time.  There was also her links to the Lancastrian bloodline to be considered. Her great grandparents were John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford (and no I’m not exploring the legitimacy of the legitimisation of their family in this post) but at the time of her marriage to Tudor there were male Beauforts available who would have taken precedence in such matters.  Margaret was also descended from Edward I via her maternal grandmother Lady Margaret Holland but that’s neither here nor there for the purposes of this post other than to note it was another source of Margaret Beaufort’s wealth.

Her lot was to marry and produce children. To this end Henry VI arranged a marriage between Margaret and his own half-brother Edmund Tudor who he had created Earl of Richmond but who now needed the money to go with the title.  When the pair married on 1st November 1455, she was twelve.  Edmund was twenty-four.  By the following year Margaret was a widow and two  months after that a mother.  Let’s not put modern morality on Edmund’s actions.  Had Margaret died before she became a parent her estates and income would have reverted to her family rather than to her husband.  It was in Edmund’s financial interests to begin married life as soon as possible. It is probably for this reason that Edmund chose not to defer consummation until Margaret had matured somewhat.

Humphrey Stafford duke of buckingham.pngIn March 1457 Margaret married for a second time (or third if you’re being pedantic) to the Duke of Buckingham’s second son- Henry Stafford.  This was a marriage that had been negotiated by Margaret’s mother Margaret Beauchamp of Bletsoe.  Jasper Tudor may also have been involved as he escorted Margaret from Pembroke and had his own financial interests to consider.  The Duke of Buckingham (pictured left) was a powerful political ally in that he was as powerful as Richard of York (pictured right).richard-plantagenet-3rd-duke-of-york-2  It was a marriage that would protect Margaret’s interests but which would separate her from her son who was now in the guardianship of Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke.  After the Battle of Towton in 1461 young Henry would be placed in the care of the Yorkist Herbert family.  Margaret would never have another child – even if she could visit this one on occasion whilst he was resident with the Herberts before he and Uncle Jasper fled across The Channel in 1471 following the short-lived second reign of Henry VI.

It was during this marriage that Margaret Beaufort began to develop the skills that would help her son to the throne.  Sir Henry Stafford, was a third cousin and some eighteen years older than her.  Although he was a Lancastrian and fought on the loosing side at Towton he soon sued for pardon.   During the 1460s Sir Henry rose in the Yorkist court.  He demonstrated the necessity of being politically realistic.  In 1468 Margaret and her husband entertained Edward IV at their hunting lodge near Guildford.   For whatever reason Sir Henry fought against the Lancastrians at the Battle of Barnet and eventually died of the wounds he received there.  Pragmatism would see Margaret into another marriage and into a role at the courts of  Edward IV and Richard III.

Margaret, rather like the redoubtable Tudor Bess of Hardwick, had a very businesslike approach to marriage – as is demonstrated by her marriage to Thomas Stanley.  Bess married for money whilst Margaret married for security, access to a power base, and, it would appear, for the chance to bring her son safely home from exile.   Who can blame her?  She been married off twice in her childhood due to her wealth and family links.  The man she regarded as her first husband, Edmund Tudor, had died whilst in the custody of his enemies albeit from plague.  Her second husband had relinquished his Lancastrian loyalties demonstrating real-politic and then died of wounds sustained in one of the intermittent battles of the period.  Why would Margaret not marry someone close to the seat of power who could keep her, her inheritance and potentially her son safe?  The fact that she married only eight months after the death of Sir Henry Stafford is not suggestive of undue haste, rather a desire to ensure that she had a role in the decision making.

The other thing that Margaret learned during her time as Lady Stafford was the importance of loyal servants not to mention a network of contacts.  Reginald Bray began his career as Sir Henry’s man but would go on to become Margaret’s man of business, trusted messenger and ultimately adviser to Henry Tudor.  So far as the contacts are concerned she had an extended family through her mother’s various marriages and  her own marriages.  As a woman of power i.e. Lady Stanley she had influence at court.  She knew people and it would appear from Fisher’s biography had a capacity for getting on with them (not something that modern fictional presentations tend to linger on.)

In 1483 Margaret was heavily involved in the Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion against Richard III.  Her agent was Reginald Bray. Polydore Virgil – the Tudor historian- made much of Margaret’s role at this time. During the reign of Edward IV  she had petitioned for Henry’s return home as the Earl of Richmond now, in the reign of Richard III, she plotted to make her son king.  She arrived at an accommodation with Elizabeth Woodville so that Princess Elizabeth of York would become Henry’s wife – making it quite clear that by this point Elizabeth Woodville believed her sons to be dead.  Autumn storms caused Henry’s boats to turn back before the rebellion ended in disaster but he swore that he would marry Elizabeth of York.  Not only would such a marriage reunite the two houses of Lancaster and York but it would legitimise Henry as king – should the situation arise.  Pragmatic or what?

As a result of her involvement with the 1483 plot Margaret found herself under house arrest and all her property in the hands of her husband.  Her wealth wasn’t totally lost and Lord Stanley connived to allow her continued communication with her son.  Margaret was no longer a pawn on the chess board she had become an active player – and furthermore knew how to play the various pieces to best advantage and to hold her nerve.

There is popular acceptance of men such as Edward IV and the Earl of Warwick – politics and violence in the fifteenth century were suitably manly pastimes. It was an era when “good” men did “bad” things to maintain stability. We know that Edward must have ordered the murder of Henry VI following the Battle of Tewkesbury but he has not been vilified for it – you can’t really have two kings in one country without the constant fear of civil war.  He ordered his own brother’s execution – but again he is not vilified for it – after all George Duke of Clarence had changed sides more often than he’d changed his underwear by that point.

By contrast Margaret Beaufort, despite Fisher’s hagiography, has not always been kindly portrayed in recent years – words like “calculating” are hardly positive when it comes to considering the child bride who became a kingmaker thanks to her own marriages and her negotiations with Elizabeth Woodville.  Come to think of it Bess of Hardwick has had more than her share of bad press in the past as have women like Elizabeth Woodville and Henry VI’s queen Margaret of Anjou.  Ambitious women, whether for power or money, were not and are still not treated kindly by posterity – possibly because they stepped out of their allotted role and refused to behave as footnotes.

DO I think she did it?  In all honesty?  I don’t know but probably not. I don’t have any evidence that says she did and neither does anyone else. I would also politely point out that she did not have custody of the two princes nor was she responsible for their safety.  Did she benefit from their deaths – yes- but she would have been a fool not to and no one has ever accused Lady Margaret Beaufort of being one of those. There were plenty of other people who could have arranged their deaths and been on the scene to benefit much faster than Henry Tudor who was in Brittany at the time. But as I said at the start of the post people do feel strongly on the subject – here’s a picture to give you a flavour.

Picard-Beaufort-Princes-300x229.jpg

https://www.royalhistorygeeks.com/why-margaret-beaufort-could-not-have-killed-the-princes-in-the-tower/  It’s worth looking at the comments -for every argument made in the History Geek post there is a counter argument.  For those of you who want to see the argument that she could have had the princes killed go to: https://mattlewisauthor.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/margaret-beaufort-and-the-princes-in-the-tower/

I shall be talking to the U3A Burton-On-Trent, Rolleston Club on 27th February at 10.00 am on the topic of Lady Margaret Beaufort.  There’re bound to be questions!

Licence, Amy. 2016 Red Roses. Stroud: The History Press

Jones, Michael and Underwood, Malcom. (1992)  The King’s Mother. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Charles I and his parliament 1625

charles i full lengthMost of Charles I’s problems with Parliament during the first years of his reign stemmed from financial difficulties. Sir Thomas Crewe, the speaker at Charle’s first parliament, was delighted not only that Parliament had been summoned but that Charles expressed the desire to regain the Palatinate.

Charles soon found the whole process frustrating.  He understood Parliament to be for the provision of money.  He did not understand why Parliament which had agreed to England’s alliance with other Protestant countries against the Hapsburgs  refused to grant him the money to go to war against Spain. Parliament had been enthusiastic in its support of the Palatinate and Elizabeth of Bohemia, the so-called Winter Queen, but was critical of the Duke of Buckingham as a commander and felt that whilst war was desirable there should be a better plan than the vague proposals presented.  In addition to which taxes had been levied only shortly before and it seemed to many Parliamentarians that the money had not been used wisely.  There had been no account given Sir Robert Philipps stated  of money or men and there was already a heavy burden on people- “We no yet of no war nor of any enemy.”  Taking these three things into consideration Parliament did not vote Charles tonnage and poundage for life as had become normal with the ascent of a new monarch to the throne but for a year only.

edward-coke.jpg

Sir Edward Coke (former Attorney General and Chief Justice) – whose daughter Frances had been married off to Viscount Purbeck – George Villiers brother John.  The marriage had lasted less than a year before Viscountess Purbeck ran away with Sir Robert Howard whose father was the Earl of Suffolk – it is hard to know which George was more offended about, the fact that Frances had run away from his brother or that she had run to the son of his political rival.

Sir Edward Coke, who had been James I’s Chief Justice had fallen from favour (thanks to Bacon and Buckingham) and now used his legal knowledge to advantage in Parliament.  He noted that tonnage – the tax levied on the tuns of wine imported into the country and poundage – the tax on imports and exports- equalled £160,000 annually and was within the gift of parliament rather than being a royal right. Parliament wanted to discuss the book of rates which needed reform. The question of monopolies needed addressing (Coke argued that only new processes/items should require licences and that the practise of introducing new license requirements for “old”  things was illegal).

There was also the question of Buckingham’s competence to consider. Buckingham had been the power behind the throne since 1618. Since 1621 his  impact on royal policy and his monopoly of offices meant that he was a de facto prime minister – even though the office hadn’t yet been invented.  This would end only with his assassination in 1628.

george villiers

George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham also known as “Steenie.”

 

Limited royal funds gave Parliament leverage over the king.  MPs felt that they held a financial carrot, or possibly stick, by which they could make Charles enforce the recusancy laws. Charles actually refused to sign the bill that granted him subsidies for a year.  He regarded them as his right and he maintained that he was entitled to them for his lifetime.  He claimed that it was his right to collect the customs dues until such time as Parliament passed the necessary bill. He did not regard himself as doing anything illegal.

Parliament was adjourned on account of an outbreak in Plague in London but reconvened in Oxford on 1st August 1625.  Charles once again insisted that Parliament was called to aid him in his war against Spain.  He estimated that the war would cost £700,000.  Parliament felt free to discuss where the king’s income was being wasted and mismanaged and the fact that Buckingham had so many different offices and monopolies.  Charles promptly dissolved parliament in order to avoid difficult questions about the Duke of Buckingham, it had sat for only two weeks.

Essentially Charles’ first parliament identified the difficulty which faced England during this period. Charles was applying the theory of absolute monarchy to his interactions whilst Parliament, with Common Law behind it, increasingly saw itself as a representative body – which is odd really as Charles did not have all the powers of an absolute monarch.  Nor could Parliament be described as representative of the whole population.  Charles clung to what he believed was his by right and royal prerogative  whilst Parliament clarified and expanded on what they believed to be their rights and privileges.

Taken together with the Thirty Years War, conflict over religion and the radical viewpoint of some of the members of Parliament it is not surprising that Charles’ determination upon personal rule was ultimately destined for disaster.

 

 

 

English Civil War- Course beginning in Derby -March 5th 2019

Oliver_Cromwell_by_Samuel_CooperI’m pleased to say that the venue in Derby has been lovely – although it does mean numbers are limited to a maximum of 15 as although the room seats more it quickly becomes crowded once the tables are in place.  So if you would like to find out more about the English Civil War please book your place as spaces are going rapidly. If you do not use Paypal please contact me for alternative methods of payment.

St Mary’s Parish Centre is sited between Darley Lane and Arthur Street, overlooking the Derby inner ring road (A 601 – St Alkmund’s Way) though it cannot be reached directly from the ring road. The address is,  St Mary’s Parish Centre, Darley Lane, Derby DE1 3AXPlease follow the link for exact directions:

http://www.stmarysparish.co.uk/#howToFind

It has the advantage of a car park and is not too far from the town centre.

 

Tyranny and Civil War

Charles_I_in_Three_Positions_1635-367 weeks commencing Tuesday 5th March

10:00am- 12.00pm

Charles ruled as an absolute monarch for eleven years, fought a civil war and was executed by Parliament in 1649. Meet Mad Madge Cavendish, Sir John Gell and the Duke of Newcastle amongst others as the story of England’s most turbulent decade unfolds.  Prepare for rioting, iconoclasm and sieges!

Tyranny and Civil War (Derby- St Mary’s Parish Centre)

7 weeks commencing Tuesday 5th March 10:00am- 12.00pm Parking at St Mary's Centre. We are in the room at the top of the slope on the right hand side of the foyer.

£50.00

Margaret Bostock Cavendish and daughters

250px-william_cavendish_c1547Have you noticed the way that wives simply don’t count in the historical record unless they bring oodles of cash or have heirs and spares?   Sometimes it really does look like “his story.” There certainly aren’t any pictures  of Margaret or her daughters so this post will have to make do with William Cavendish.  Margaret was William’s first wife.

Anyway, Margaret Bostock was born in Whatcroft in Cheshire. Margaret’s father, Edmund, came from a family that claimed its descent from the Norman Conquest.  She married William in 1532 as Cavendish began his career in the employment of Thomas Cromwell.  She died on 9th June 1540, the day before Cromwell was arrested. It should have made for a grim year for Sir William, instead he was promoted and sent to Ireland to survey the king’s lands.

The couple had five children but only three survived to adulthood:

  • Catherine married Thomas Brooke, the son of Lord Cobham which sounds very grand but he was son number four or five. Lord Cobham, a soldier and courtier, fathered fourteen legitimate children.  He was an associate of the Seymours and would benefit from the dissolution of the monasteries. When she married Thomas, Catherine became the sister-in-law of William Parr who was married to Thomas’s sister Elizabeth.  William was Queen Katherine Parr’s brother.  It demonstrates that William Cavendish or rather Bess of Hardwick  was upwardly mobile, associated with the New Learning of the period and knew how to find a husband which would improve those all important social and career prospects.  Even more noticeable, on further inspection, is the chain of kinship connections that Bess of Hardwick wrought between her children and the Cobhams.

Thomas managed to get himself sentenced to death twice – once for treason and then for piracy and was charged with a murder in Blackfriars.  He got himself caught up in Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554 (it was a family affair given that Cobham was Wyatt’s cousin) and on his release set off for a life of adventure on the high seas – by which I mean piracy which didn’t amuse the Spanish very much. eventually he was re-arrested and sent back to the Tower where he was sentenced to death.  On this occasion he didn’t have to rely on the clemency of the monarch – he pleaded benefit of the clergy.  All of which is very Elizabethan, he could even claim a degree of kinship with Sir Walter Raleigh but there’s no sign of Catherine in the tale.

 

  • Mary died in 1547
  • Anne married Sir Henry Baynton in 1561. The Bayntons were a Wiltshire family.  The marriage was arranged by Bess of Hardwick, Anne’s step-mother. Sir Henry was actually the brother-in-law of Bess’s new husband William St Loe. Like Lord Cobham, Baynton’s father was a courtier to Henry VIII and had been present at the baptism of Prince Edward.

 

The children of Charles I and Henrietta Maria

The_children_of_Charles_I_of_England-painting_by_Sir_Anthony_van_Dyck_in_1637Henrietta Maria became a mother for the first time in 1629.  She had been married for four years but had been only pregnant for six months when she went into labour.  The Greenwich midwife was summoned.  Upon discovering who it was and that the baby was breech she promptly fainted and had to be removed from the bedchamber, unlike Charles who insisted on staying and resolved to save his wife rather than his unborn child when asked saying, “He could have other children, please God.”  The baby was born alive but having been hastily baptised died and was buried with all ceremony in Westminster Abbey. Henrietta went on to have nine more children of whom six survived infancy. The five eldest are pictured above in the portrait after Van Dyck.

A year after the death of her first child, Henrietta was pregnant once again. Madame Peronne, Marie de Medici’s midwife was sent for along with other Frenchwomen – although they were captured en route by pirates based in Dunkirk  but released after some negotiating.

charles IIOn the 29th May 1630 Henrietta gave birth to another baby boy in St James’ Palace.  Like his short-lived brother he was called Charles. The baby was baptised into the Anglican church – another flouting of the marriage treaty. In truth, as Whittaker points out, this was not actually the case.  Whether Henrietta Maria’s children would be raised Protestant or Catholic had been left deliberately vague.  The treaty only said that they would be in their mother’s care until the age of thirteen.mary-stuart

On the 4th November the following year the Princess Mary Henrietta was born, followed in 1633 by James, 1635 by Elizabeth and in 1637 Princess Ann joined the nursery but died three years later.  All of them were born in St James’ Palace and on each occasion Madame Peronne and the french nurses were summoned. In 1640 Henry was born at Oatlands in Surrey and in 1644 Henrietta Ann known as Minette arrived on the scene – a child of war.

For those of you who like to know these things:

Mary married William II of Orange.  She’d been given the title Princess Royal in 1642, a year after her marriage had been celebrated.  She was nine and her husband was six years older. The following year Henrietta Maria took her daughter to Holland – and purchased guns and mercenaries for Charles I.  No matter what one thinks of the monarch who raised his standard in Nottingham that same year it is hard not to feel sympathy for the father who rode along the cliffs of Dover waving his hat until his wife and daughter were out of sight. William III was born in 1650 a few days after his father’s death.  Mary was only nineteen. William III married his cousin Mary the daughter of James II. For more on Mary click here.

james2James was the Duke of York from birth and after the death of his elder brother became King James II.  And yes, he’s the pretty child in the dress with the red jacket between Mary and Charles. He married Anne Hyde, who was Protestant, when she became pregnant.  His daughters Mary (who married her cousin William III of Orange) and Anne would rule in their turn after James was deposed in 1688 following the birth a male heir James Francis Edward who became History’s Old Pretender. When Anne Hyde died James, who was a Catholic, took a Catholic bride, Mary of Modena.  The birth of  James Francis Edward who would undoubtedly be raised a Catholic proved too much for the English gentry and the Glorious Revolution of 1688 followed. For more about Mary and the problems that led to the Glorious Revolution click here.

elizabethElizabeth died in Carisbrook Castle in 1650. I have posted about her short life  before.  Click here to open a new window.

henry stuart oatlandsHenry, who was the Duke of Gloucester died in 1660 from smallpox.  After 1649 he was a potential heir to the throne.  Prior to his execution Charles I explained to Henry, who was just eight years old, that he must not let Parliament crown him as the kingdom belonged to his brother Charles. After the execution of Charles I it was suggested that the two children, Elizabeth and Henry, should be allowed to join their sister Mary in Holland but instead of this they were put into the custody of the Earl of Leicester at Penshurst in Kent. From there the pair were sent to the Isle of White. Elizabeth did not want to go, her health was failing. She died on 8 September 1650.  After the death of Elizabeth there was talk that Henry would be allowed to join his aunt Elizabeth of Bohemia – the Winter Queen- but nothing came of it.  In the end Henry petitioned the Council of State himself.  Cromwell agreed to release Henry into the care of his sister Mary.  From Holland he journeyed to Paris.  Unfortunately by then Henry was very Protestant and fell out with his mother who was very Catholic. He became a  successful career soldier joining his brother James in France’s military campaigns.

henrietta anneMinette who had been born in Exeter on 16th June 1644 married Philip of Bourbon, the Duc d’Orleans having been taken from England to France in 1646. She and her mother lived in exile in the Louvre and she was raised a Catholic. Minette’s marriage caused some raised eyebrows as Philip was a bisexual and there were also suggestions that Minette’s first child Marie was not fathered by Philip who had his own share of sexual scandals. On her death bed she would say that she had never been unfaithful to the Duke.  The Duke, however, had become increasingly jealous of Minette’s admirers and imported his own lover into the familial home. Minette had a series of still born children, her mother died and relations with her husband deteriorated still further. Small wonder that Minette turned to art collecting, gardening and engineering diplomacy between England and France. Both Charles II and Louis XIV trusted her knowledge and her skills which she used to help facilitate the secret Treaty of Dover in 1670. She died the same year on 30th June believing that she had been poisoned.

Porter, Linda. (2016) Royal Renegades. London: Pan MacMillan

Whitaker, Katie. (2010) A Royal Passion London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson