Tag Archives: Henry I

Henry II, Richard de Lucy and three pike.

de-lucy-coat-of-arms19 December 1154 – Henry II, also known as Henry FitzEmpress  was crowned at Westminster Abbey along with his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. Young Henry ascended to the throne after King Stephen’s death according to the agreement made at the Treaty of Wallingford that marked the end of the civil war that had raged between Stephen and Henry’s mother the Empress Matilda for nineteen long years. Henry’s coronation brought with it the promise of peace and incorporated England into a vast empire which Henry’s youngest son John would ultimately lose.

Henry was the first of the Plantagenets to rule England and in common with Stephen and his great grandfather William the Conqueror he issued a coronation charter promising to uphold English liberties.  This document was virtually the same as the one published by his grandfather King Henry I:

Henry, by the grace of God, king of England, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine and count of Anjou, to all the earls, barons, and his faithful, French and English, greeting.

Know that, to the honour of God and of the holy church and for the advantage of my whole kingdom, I have conceded and granted, and by my present charter confirmed  to God and to the holy church, and to all the earls and barons, and to  all my men all the concessions and grants and liberties and free customs which King Henry, my grandfather, gave and conceded to them.  Similarly also, all the evil customs which he abolished and remitted, I remit and allow to be abolished for myself and my heirs. Therefore, I  will and strictly require that the holy church and all the earls and  barons, and all my men should have and hold all those customs and grants and liberties and free customs, freely and quietly, well and in peace, and completely, from me and my heirs to them and their heirs,  as freely and quietly and fully in all things as King Henry, my grandfather, granted and conceded to them and by his charter confirmed them.  Witness, Richard de Luci, at Westminster.

Richard de Lucy would become the Chief Justicar of England.  He’d already proved himself as Sheriff of Essex.  It was Richard who cared for England whilst Henry was elsewhere in his empire.  Henry spent most of his life on the road travelling from one place in his kingdom to the next so it was essential that he had someone in England that he could trust.  It was de Lucy who worked with Henry against Thomas Becket and managed to get himself excommunicated for his pains. It was also de Lucy who administered English legal reforms of the period.

In 1179 de Lucy resigned his office and retired to Lesnes Abbey near Bexley in Kent which he had founded as part of his penance for his role in Becket’s murder.  He died there a few months later.

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Initial letter of Carlisle Charter showing Sir Andrew de Harcla

The de Lucy or de Luci family arrived with William the Conqueror and grew in importance during the medieval period.   They originated from the town of Luce in Normandy.  They would also became a key family in Cumberland.  Fans of Edward II’s  hero of the Siege of Carlisle Andrew de Harcla will remember it was a de Lucy who arrested him for conspiring with the Scots and brought about his execution at Harraby for treason.  One of Richard’s family called Reginald- after I posted I received a lovely comment informing me that Reginald was Richard’s son (see comments for text), but he almost certainly was related- married into the de Rumilly family from Skipton gaining lands at Egremont and from there it was a few short steps to Anthony whose father had married a Lucy heiress.  For a fuller description access Alexander Grant’s paper on the subject: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/67271/1/GRANT_04_LUCY_LINEAGE_NEW_EPRINT_REF_4_.pdf

The coats of arms for the Lucy family is three fish – which initially bewildered me as I discovered fairly swiftly that the fish in question are pike.  In Latin though, the pike is a Esox Lucius –  Lucius meaning ‘light’ and being a pun on the de Lucy name.

http://www.lucey.net/webpage4.htm

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Filed under Anglo-Scottish history, The Plantagenets, Twelfth Century

December 1st – a historical advent

henry-iIt’s that time of year again.  Sadly for me Cromwell appears to have received no interesting mail on December 1 1535 which is probably just as well for the rest of Tudor England.  I would have to say that in 1532 Sir Anthony Willoughby was suffering with the gout so sent his wife to talk to Cromwell because he wanted Cromwell to speak to the king on his behalf.  Whilst in 1533 Sir Christopher Garneys wrote to Cromwell thanking him “For his loving letters. Is eased of the unquietness he had by reason of a stroke given to a lewd person. Did it not out of malice, but for due correction. Cannot recompense Cromwell’s kindness, but will send him by next ship “a piece of wine of Gravys.”

Consequentially I have had to look a bit further afield for the historical equivalent of a chunk of chocolate.

Henry I died on December 1 1135.  He’s the king who popped off having indulged in a surfeit of lampreys. He’s also the chap with the huge number of illegitimate children but only one legitimate son who inconveniently drowned when the White Ship sank.  Henry then forced his barons to recognise his daughter Matilda as the heir.  Of course they promptly changed their minds upon his demise and selected her cousin Stephen.  This resulted in England’s first civil war. The war raged for nineteen years – the years “when Christ and his apostles slept.”  Cheery or what.

300_2511351Coming forward in 1420 this was the day when Henry V marched into Paris – good for the English less amusing for the French.

More positively  and somewhat outside my usual period but rather more positively the first female British MP, Lady Nancy Astor, took her place in the House of Commons. In America, in 1955, Rosa Parks famously started the bus boycott when after a long day she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a non-coloured passenger.

‘Henry VIII: December 1533, 1-10’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6, 1533, ed. James Gairdner (London, 1882), pp. 599-613. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol6/pp599-613 [accessed 19 November 2016].

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King John’s women

king_john_stag_3231934bKing John is rather famous for his somewhat ‘droit de signeur’ approach to the wives and daughters of his nobility. Records provide the somewhat incredible information about the woman who paid John a large number of hens to spend one night in her husband’s bed. There’s the rumour of the poisoned egg sent to the woman who spurned his advances. Church describes John as a ‘rake.’  Medieval chroniclers were rather less kind.

This post, however, is about John’s official women. First came Alice of Savoy, daughter of Humbert III of Savoy. John was only seven when a marriage was arranged by his father King Henry II. Henry wanted to provide John with wealth and lands as there was none for him within the Angevin Empire at that point. The marriage would also, of course, extend the territory of the empire to include Savoy and Piemonte – a win-win situation for Henry especially as he was prepared to throw in some castles that had been promised to John’s elder brother Geoffrey but as father and son were at loggerheads Henry felt no compunction about giving them to John who was his favourite son. Alice made the journey over the Alps but died before the marriage could go ahead.

John’s next foray into matrimony was to Isobel of Gloucester. She was the granddaughter of Robert of Gloucester – the natural son of Henry I making the pair cousins, as Henry I’s legitimate daughter Matilda was John’s granny. This gave John room to divorce Isobel because the marriage should have been prohibited within the third degree of consanguinity. The divorce occurred as soon as John had sufficient power- ie when he became king- to end the marriage so Isobel who is also sometimes known as Hawise. Once again Henry had arranged the marriage to ensure that John was in a position of wealth. Isabel’s brother had died leaving Isobel and her two sisters in a position where they would inherit the title and the lands of Robert’s son William of Gloucester. Henry made arrangements that meant that Isobel got the lot and her sisters and their spouses were by-passed. Relations between the two fathers were not good. Bristol Castle which had been in the hands of Earl William was taken by Henry and just for good measure he made the earl a prisoner. The earl died whilst in captivity and Henry II realised that the money from the estates could be enjoyed without the need for any marriages to occur. The Gloucester inheritance found itself under the wardship of the king who took the money. John didn’t actually get married to Isabel until Richard I came to the throne.

And now matters get a bit peculiar to modern eyes. Once John was king he quickly arranged the annulment of his marriage. Isobel of Gloucester found herself without a husband and without her estates. She was still part of John’s establishment. His records show that he supported her household. She lived in his castles – well she had nowhere else to go as she wasn’t permitted to marry anyone else. It even looks as though John’s household was composed for sometime at least of his discarded wife and his new wife Isobel of Angouleme.

Fortune looked up for Isobel in 1214 when John needed money to try and win back his French territories. John essentially sold Isobel and the Gloucester lands with the exception of Bristol Castle to the highest bidder Geoffrey de Mandeville the Earl of Essex. Geoffrey had to find 20,000 marks to be paid in instalments…so Isobel became a sort of hire-purchase bride with a toy-boy groom.

isabella_angoulemeWoman number three was Isobel of Angouleme.   Mathew Paris the chronicler described her as a Jezobel and most of the other chroniclers are equally vitriolic. She was twelve when she was married to John who was in his thirties and he had virtually kidnapped her in order to prevent her marriage to Hugh of Lusignan. It is generally accepted that the marriage was one of the triggers that resulted in the war which resulted in John losing most of his French territories. Suffice it to say the marriage was a tempestuous one. John is purported to have been besotted by his young bride but it apparently didn’t stop John taking lovers and Isobel encouraging her admirers. The chroniclers tell some lurid tales including the tale of the man becoming a tad too friendly with Isobel and being hanged over her bed as a friendly warning. The unhappy pair were married for sixteen years. Five children were born of the marriage – two sons and three daughters.

Princess Joan was sent off to marry Hugh de Lusignan but somehow after John’s death Hugh married the mother rather than the daughter when Isobel returned to Angouleme in 1217, perhaps not surprising given that Joan was still a child. In England the regency council was not amused and stopped the queen’s pension. There was eventually a trade off. England got Joan back in 1220 whilst Isobel got her money and dower land.

Isobel and Hugh went on to have a further nine children. She died in 1246.

Church, S.D.  King John: New Interpretations

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Medieval Monastic Orders- part I

imagesDuring the later Anglo-Saxon period all monasteries were Benedictine. Benedictine monks follow the rules written by St Benedict in the early sixth century (535-540) for his monastic foundation at Monte Cassino. The rule covers what monks are and aren’t allowed to do as well as regulating their days and nights with regard to Divine worship, study, manual labour and prayer.  However, as the medieval period went on many monks, such as the Benedictine in the manuscript image to the left of this paragraph developed a reputation for behaving in a decidedly unmonastic manner.

By the eleventh century, Cluny Abbey, which followed the rules of St Benedict, as indeed did X889_727_CWBernhardBoxevery monastic order that followed, chose to reinterpret the rules. The order applied itself to the liturgy rather than educational and intellectual work expanded. In England, William Warenne founded the Cluniac abbey at Lewes just after the conquest. William the Conqueror requested more Cluniac monks to come from their mother abbey in Cluny to England but was unsuccssessful in the first instance. Gradually though more Cluniacs did arrive. William Rufus, not known for his piety, encouraged the Cluniacs to come to England as did his brother King Henry I who funded Reading Abbey which interestingly was inhabited initially by Cluniac monks but did not go on to become a Cluniac establishment. The royal family continued to support the Cluniac order. King Stephen founded the Cluniac priory at Faversham which became notable as the burial place for his family. In Yorkshire Pontefract was a Cluniac establishment. Despite this early popularity the Cluniacs did not prosper as an order in England as the centuries progressed not least because all Cluniac houses were daughter houses following the rule and direction of the mother-house in Cluny and thus aliens.  Whilst the Plantagenets held a huge European empire it wasn’t a problem but as English monarchs found the size of their continental domains dwindling they didn’t want monks who looked to Europe for direction and preferred to sponsor home-grown talent.

images-101The Cistericans, pictured left, were founded in 1098 by the monks of Citeaux who believed in austerity and hard work – again a reinterpretation of the rule of St Benedict and reforms designed to counter perceived laxity in other monastic houses. Their habit was made from unbleached wool. These were the so-called ‘White monks.’ They arrived in the south of England in 1128. In 1132 Walter Espec gave the white monks land at Rievaulx – the rest as they say, is history. Fountains Abbey is also a Cistercian foundation. Unlike the standard Benedictine monks they refused gifts and rights of patronage – in short anything that would have made them easily wealthy. Instead they cultivated the wilderness. An emphasis was placed upon labour. The great Yorkshire abbeys acquired land and farms over the next two hundred years extending south into Derbyshire and north into Cumberland. In 1147 Furness Abbey was founded. At that time Furness was in Lancashire rather than Cumbria as it is in present times.

The next influx of monastic types were the Charterhouse monks or Carthusians as they should be more properly named. ThisDP808069 order was developed by the monks of Chartreuse. The first monastic foundations for this order were in Somerset at the turn of the twelfth century. They lived in isolation. Each monk had a cell and a cloistered garden. They did not see one another, even for Divine service as each stall was screened – together but alone. They arrived during the reign of King Henry II as part of the monarch’s penance for the death of Thomas Becket. The Carthusians restricted the numbers of monks in each priory to 13 monks composed of a prior and twelve monks and eighteen lay brothers. There was a vow of silence and they were vegetarians. The order did not really take off until the fourteenth century by which time monasticism was suffering on account of the Black Death: changing economy and social structures. In Yorkshire the Carthusians established Mount Grace Priory in 1398. Today its ruins remain the best preserved Carthusian monastery in England. The seated Carthusian on the right is an early eighteenth century portrayal and can be found in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Of these orders only the Carthusians do not have nuns as well as monks.

So far, so good.  Part two of Medieval Monastic orders will cover the canons and part three will cover friars.

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Edgar the Atheling

Edgar_the_ÆthelingEdgar is Edward the Exile’s son born in 1050 or 1051.  On his father’s death in February 1057, probably by poisoning, he and his great-uncle King Edward (the Confessor) became the last remaining male descendants of Cerdic (essentially the founder of the royal house of Wessex) – hence the Atheling title meaning of ‘noble  or royal blood.’ As such Edgar was an appropriate candidate for the English crown.  King Edward took Edward the Exile’s family into the English court and cared for them.  Had Edward lived a little while longer Edgar might have been the natural heir to the crown just as his father had once been viewed in a similar way.

On King Edward’s death in January 1066 Edgar was a contender for the throne. Initially he was supported by the Earls Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria at the Witan (council) which met to select the king.  However, across the Channel, Duke William of Normandy was making his own claim to the crown based on his relationship with Edward, promises made and a certain well-known oath made by Harold. In reality a youth without experience either leading men nor of war was not an ideal choice for a country about to be invaded.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings the Witan selected Edgar to replace King Harold who famously died during the battle. Technically Edgar rather than King Harold was the last pre-conquest king of England but he was never crowned and besides which spent most of the nominal two months he was king on the run from Duke William.  Eventually he submitted to William in Berkhamstead in December 1066.

Edgar lived in William’s court where he was well treated but was, understandably,  kept by William as a hostage to his new subjects good behaviour.  He went to Normandy with the duke in 1067 but when he returned in 1068 he became involved with the earls Edwin and Morcar once more and soon found himself up to his neck in insurrection.  He fled to Scotland very soon afterwards – unlike the folk of York who had to live with the consequences of William’s irritation.

However, Edgar did have a secret weapon that kept him firmly on the political map – his sister Margaret, blogged about in an earlier post, who’d won the heart of King Malcolm (Canmore) of Scotland when the Atheling’s family fled to Scotland in 1067.  Malcolm agreed to support Edgar in his bid for the English throne.  They didn’t have long to wait.  In 1069 the people of the north rose against William once more – history repeated itself.  Edgar fled once more into Scotland.  This process was repeated once more by which time everyone must have been heartily fed up – there wasn’t much left in some parts of the North either.  The Domesday Book shows a marked drop in the value of rents from pre-conquest to post-conquest revenues in many parts of Yorkshire.  Though as with everything there are two sides to every story. One of William’s sidekicks – a chap called Alan the Red- who’d acquired rather a lot of real estate probably ensured his own lands weren’t terribly badly ‘harrowed’.  Not withstanding this salient point it is always worth mentioning that William the Conqueror was allegedly troubled on his deathbed by his unfriendly actions in the north (its a good story anyway though not necessarily fair to William.)

Eventually King Malcolm III signed the Treaty of Abernethy (1072) and that was the end of Edgar’s Scottish sojourn. The Atheling was forced to seek protection from King Philip I in France – Edgar was not a lucky lad.  En route to his new host he was shipwrecked and had to flee back to Scotland.  Malcolm sat his brother-in-law down and had a long chat with him then waved Edgar over the border into England into William’s hands.

The Conqueror treated the troublesome atheling well. He received a pension of £1 a day from 1074 onwards.  Clearly the relationship between Duke William and Edgar must have eased further over time because Edgar went to South Wales campaigning on William’s behalf. He was present at William Rufus’s coronation, went on diplomatic missions for William II and became embroiled in the unseemly squabble over the English crown that raged between William and his elder brother Robert.

In the end Edgar sided with Robert once too often after having spent most of his adult life steering difficult political waters to remain on good terms with everyone.  William Rufus is the king who had the unfortunate accident with an arrow in the New Forest. The English crown should have gone to his brother Robert (known as Curthose) but, hey, little brother Henry was right there while Robert was abroad.  Having got his hands on the crown and the royal treasury he did what anyone would do in the circumstances…became King  Henry I.

Edgar, who had been on a crusade with Robert was at the Battle of Tinchebray in 1106 – it didn’t do Robert much good- he was captured and imprisoned for the rest of his life.  On the other hand Edgar was welcomed back to court by Henry I who had handily married Edgar’s Scottish niece Edith.  Edith – who clearly wanted to win friends and influence people dropped the Saxon Edith and became the Norman Matilda.

Edgar died in 1125 having spent his latter years away from court. He was probably due a few quiet years!

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Monks, Money and Borgia woolly hats

DSCN3074The Austin Canons of Carlisle found that their church sometimes felt very overcrowded by ecclesiastic types in vestments with  diverse official roles and an eye on the coffers.

Henry I granted landed in Carlisle in 1102 for the foundation of a priory in Carlisle.  It was funded by four churches in Northumberland as well as the wealth of Walter the Priest who endowed the priory with all his lands when he entered holy orders.  Slowly other landowners began to make endowments and with the continued support of the king the Austin Canons continued to build their home.  It was completed by 1130.  They had three years in which to enjoy sole ownership of their new home.

The foundation of the bishopric within the priory church of St Mary in 1133 meant that the priory church  now became a cathedral.  The first Bishop of Carlisle, Adelulf had previously been the prior of Nostell Priory near Wakefield.  He tried to ensure that the revenues of the monks and the bishop were kept separate.  At a conclave in Drax he sent a messenger to ensure that  it was clearly understood that what the monks did was one thing but that what the bishop might do was entirely separate on account of the bishop having a role more like a parent within the ecclesiastic community.  Just to add a drop of confusion to the discussion – rather like adding an extra thread to a ball of wool that already has its share of tangles –  the Commons of Carlisle referred to the priory as the abbey but there was never an abbot appointed to be subordinate to the bishop.

This shared ownership presented something of a difficulty.  As the Victoria History of Cumberland edited by James Wilson explains:

The bishop’s supremacy over his cathedral church cannot be questioned. It has been already pointed out that the bishop and his chapter formed one ecclesiastical corporation and held the lands and spiritual possessions of the church of Carlisle in common. When a division of the property was made and the see became an institution in some measure separate from the priory, care was taken to define the relationship of the head of the diocese to the corporate body occupying the church which represented the unity of his diocese and contained the seat of his jurisdiction. There is little doubt that at the outset the appointment of the prior was in the patronage of the bishop, and perhaps of the king when the bishopric was void. When the terms of the arrangement for the separate endowment of the see were complete, this privilege seems to have been relinquished to the chapter in compensation for the redistribution of emoluments. At all events it was not until 1248 that the canons had the liberty of electing their own superior. On 25 November in that year, Pope Innocent IV. granted protection and confirmation of possessions to the prior and convent, and especially the chapelry of the church of Carlisle, with all offerings, tithes, and parish rights belonging to the said church, except the offering at Whitsuntide, all the land formerly belonging to Walter the priest, which King Henry gave and confirmed by his charter, and other possessions. The pope also granted to the canons the right of electing the prior and prohibited the bishop from disposing of their emoluments without their consent.

Clearly the monks had sound business heads on their ecclesiastical shoulders but they weren’t the only ones.  The bishop maintained some control over the Austin Canons.  He had a say in the selection of the sub-prior and cellarer, the two principal officers of the house. And things didn’t always go smoothly Prior Adam de Warthwyk received a stern lecture from Bishop Halton and later on Prior John de Kirkby was excommunicated by Bishop Ross which puts a whole new meaning on being sacked!  Some priors even resigned their posts and perhaps it’s not surprising since the bishop had the power to carry out a visitation. Given the canons’ church was the bishop’s cathedral it is easy to imagine some of the petty grievances and slights that resulted in the full weight of the Churches authority being bought down on the monks.  Prior Warthwyk was charged with negligence and remissness in the discipline of his house contrary to the statutes of the order.  His  household was much too expensive, he only consulted with Brothers Robert Karlile, William de Hautwysil, and William de Melburne, order was not preserved among the brethren, the business of the house was not transacted, and its goods were wasted beyond measure by his expensive entourage; the list- or rather rant- went on at some length.

 

Quite what the Bishop would have made of the canons being allowed to wear hats on account of the cold is a matter of historical speculation.  In 1258 Pope Alexander IV- the Borgia Pope- permitted the Canons of Carlisle to where caps in the choir on account of the northern cold. How this concern for monastic pates occurred is not a matter of the historical record but its nice to know that while Alexander was busy poisoning people, fighting wars, keeping bees and dallying with mistresses – though possibly not in that order- (yes- I’ve watched the series) that he had time to carry out his pastoral responsibilities for the Austin Canons of Carlisle.

 

As well as being the priory church and the cathedral, it also served as the parish church of St. Mary, Carlisle, from the date of its foundation.  Once again finances became an issue when the problem of endowing a dedicated vicar arose.  The citizens of Carlisle made a complaint that the sacrist of the priory, to whom the issues of the parish were committed, had neglected the cure of souls and that insufficient ministrations were supplied to the people.  The Bishop of Carlisle gave judgment in favour of the priory, because he said that the canons were able to serve the church through their own chaplains under the care and direction of the prior.  No one mentioned the fact that the bishop may have lost some of his revenue and powers had a third ecclesiastic been appointed to the aisles of St Mary’s.

The smallest cathedral in England was once larger than it is now but its choir and chapels must have echoed with the hiss of political intrigue and the sound of ruffled feathers – though of course at least the monks had warm heads.

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St Bartholomew the Great and the Jester.

DSC_0165The jester is called Rahere and he provided entertainment at the court of King Henry I.  He even features in his very own poem by Rudyard Kipling –

Rahere, King Henry’s Jester, feared by all the Norman Lords

For his eye that pierced their bosoms, for his tongue that shamed their swords;

Feed and flattered by the Churchmen – well they knew how deep he stood

In dark Henry’s crooked counsels…

Apparently he was deeply moved by the death of Prince William on the White Ship and set off in search of spiritual enlightenment.  Certainly he managed to contract malaria during a pilgrimage to Rome and during his illness experienced a vision featuring St Bartholomew who rescued him from a winged monster.  On his return to England Rahere built an Augustinian priory dedicated to St Bartholomew and in 1133 the monks were permitted to hold a fair on their land.  The St Bartholomew’s Fair continued until the Victorian period.  It is said that the jester turned canon used to juggle again during the fair.  Rahere died in 1144 and his tomb can still be seen inside the church, which today is the oldest church in London.

DSC_0169

The Tudor gatehouse looks incongruous, not least because the doorway is the thirteenth century entrance to the church which was pulled down upon the dissolution of the monasteries.  It is surrounded by architecture from other periods and is only a stone’s through from Smithfield Market but as you go through the doorway, into the graveyard and head down the path towards the current entrance of the church it feels as though you’ve stepped out of time.

 

 

 

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Surprising Connections

After a while, if you study medieval history as you struggle to untangle who is who it’s perfectly possible to believe two things: first, that all the leading families in the land were related and second, that there were only a hand full of names available. Take Matilda for example. Most famously there’s the Empress Matilda – also known as Maud – there’s even room for confusion there. And then it’s worth taking a look at her mother, also a Matilda- Matilda of Scotland. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Matilda was a good Norman name while the Scottish princess who King Henry I married was baptised by the name Edith. It’s no wonder that I sometimes get very confused about who was who. I know some people study the medieval history of the English monarchy with a family tree at their side. I can see why.

I’m going off track. My surprising connection is much more recent and doesn’t involve anyone royal. Did you know that Josiah Wedgewood -the fine china maker- was the grandfather of Charles Darwin? So the sale of tea services and dinner plates funded the theory of evolution. How wonderful is that?

I should point out that I discovered this surprising fact whilst watching an interesting programme about the River Trent.

It’s set me thinking about other unexpected connections- a sort of historical six degrees of separation. That’s the theory that everyone is a maximum of six steps away from any other person in the world. Obviously once you’re outside six generations it wouldn’t count and monarchs would be a bit of a cheat on the grounds that there are any number of verses to help people remember their links- I resorted to a wooden ruler with the rulers on when I was at school as an aide memoire. I still have it.

I am going to add surprising connections as a category to this blog because I love the unexspectedness of the link. I can’t add a picture at the moment because I’m typing on my iPad and apparently I need another app for that. I will tackle that learning curve tomorrow.

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Castles, pele towers and bastle houses on the borders.

castleCastle building began with the Normans –  motte and bailey affairs – or in straight forward terms a huge pile of earth topped off with a wooden crown of  wall and keep.  The aim was to dominate the landscape and afford themselves protection (keeping their fingers firmly crossed that no one turned up with the equivalent of an early medieval box of matches).

The key to Cumberland is Carlisle Castle which was begun by William Rufus during the eleventh century.  It’s history reflects the political upheavals of the medieval period as well as the fact that the border between England and Scotland was sometimes apt to shift quite dramatically!

In 1122 Henry I ordered that it should be strengthened with stone.  By the time of his death it was still unfinished and making the most of the civil war between Stephen and Matilda, King David of Scotland moved into Carlisle and finished the building.  He died in Carlisle Castle in 1135.  Carlisle was regained by the English.

Henry II commanded that there should be further strengthening which was just as well because William the Lion of Scotland  attacked Carlisle twice with a large force in an attempt to regain the territory that his brother had lost.

King John stayed in the castle on several different occasions reflecting the fact that having lost his continental possessions he was the first Plantagenet king who really turned his attention to the north and the northern English barons – it wasn’t a happy relationship leading as it did to rebellion and for a time Carlisle ending up in the hands of the Scottish again – the town made no resistance to Alexander III but the castle garrison did.  It fell to the Scottish because miners sapped the south curtain wall.  The Scots also bombarded it with missiles but when John died in 1216 the Scots withdrew.  The fact that the roof of the castle needed repair by the mid thirteenth century demonstrates that the borders did undergo a period of peace.

That all changed with the death of Alexander III.  Edward I visited Carlisle many times, eventually dying at Burgh-By-Sands on his way to yet another campaign against the Scots.  The next two hundred and fifty years were pretty turbulent if you happened to live on the border and this is reflected once again in the Castle’s history.

July 1315 – Robert Bruce besieges Carlisle but it is ably defended by Sir Andrew Harclay who tried to establish peace but got himself hung, drawn and quartered for his efforts.

It was during this period of increased militarization that Hexham Goal was built and also Thirlwall Castle which used dressed stone from a rather large nearby wall… It is situated near the Tyne-Irthing Gap a way used by Scottish raiders so its strategic position is immediately obvious.  Some miles down the road, Aydon Castle turned from being a manor house into a fortified manor with its own barmkin wall.

In fact, those who could fortify their dwellings did so on both sides of the borders.   Peles or peel towers dot the border region and the Eden Valley.  They were not built to stop raiders they were built to keep families and their livestock safe during incursions.  They tend to be rectangular with a barrel-vaulted basement and two further stories above including a roof with a beacon to summon help.  The Vicar at Corbridge had his own pele tower and there’s one in the grounds of Carlisle Cathedral.  In other locations churches included fortified protection for local villagers in their design creating a landscape of romantic looking ruins today but which reflect the difficulties of living on the border until the two kingdoms came under the rule of one monarch.

Bastle Houses are very similar to peels but built on a smaller scale – they tended to be owned by better off tenant farmers. Most of them were built in the Sixteenth Century and lie within 15 miles of the border.

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Carlisle Castle and medieval Scots

david_malcolm151aIn 1092 William Rufus (William II) established a motte and bailey fortress in Carlisle.  The castle was strengthened with stone during the reign of Henry I but fell into Scottish hands during the reign of King Stephen.  He was somewhat occupied in a nineteen year-long civil war with his cousin the Empress Matilda, the daughter of Henry I and heir nominated by him.  These years were the years of the nineteen long winters.

King David I of Scotland came into the war on his niece’s side- he knighted Matilda’s son, the future Henry II in Carlisle.  The Scots strengthened the city’s defences as well as those of the castle.  He died in Carlisle Castle in 1153 and was succeeded by his grandson, Malcolm (known as Malcolm the Maiden), who lacked the strength to hold the Cumbrian and Northumbrian lands that he grandfather had maintained.

Scottish claims to the castle didn’t die with David though even though they signed the Treaty of York in 1237 giving up their claims to Cumberland and Northumberland.

1174 William the Lion crossed into England with up to 80,000 men and besieged the castle for three months.  Thanks to his grandfather’s building work, the castle remained in English hands.

1216 King Alexander II of Scotland took Carlisle from King John who was having problems with his barons at the time.  Upon the accession of Henry III, Alexander gave the castle back once he had been suitably compensated.  Carlisle castle has remained in English hands there after with one or two slight hiccoughs.

In 1596 Kinmont Willie Armstrong, a notorious border reiver, was rescued by the Bold Buccleuch much to Queen Elizabeth I’s irritation.

 

Following the fall of Carlisle in 1645 after a year-long siege during the English Civil War the city and castle were occupied by a Parliamentarian force  led by General Leslie and his Scots.There was also a brief occupation in 1745 by Bonnie Prince Charlie.

 

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Filed under Anglo-Scottish history, Border Reivers, Carlisle