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.

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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

Henry Tudor arrives at Mill Bay

henryvii
The 7thAugust 1485 saw Henry and Jasper  Tudor land at Milford Haven  in Mill Bay.  four hundred or so years later in 1840 small boys were prohibited from climbing chimneys and in 1914 Lord Kitchener proclaimed that our country needed us for the first time of the 7th August.

 

Henry Tudor was twenty-eight in 1485.  He arrived with 2000 mercenaries in an area of Wales where Jasper Tudor was Earl of Pembroke with allies, one of whom was Sir Rhys ap Thomas of Carew Castle.  According to legend Thomas was waiting at Mill Bay to great the Lancastrian claimant and having said that Henry would enter Wales over his dead body according to the story he lay beneath a bridge whilst Henry walked over the bridge – but this seems to be an interesting embroidery.

 

What is apparent is that the previous year several letters had crossed the Channel garnering support for an invasion and rebellion. They were all signed  H.R. so it was quite clear that Henry wasn’t simply returning to claim his father’s earldom in the manner that Edward IV had returned to England or, more famously, Henry IV.  The last person to simply arrive by ship and claim that he had a better right to be king than the person on the throne was Richard of York  – it hadn’t ended well for Richard III’s father mainly because the concept of deposing the anointed king who had been on the throne since his infancy was repugnant to most magnates at the time.

This spate of letter writing also meant that Henry was reliant on his Beaufort claim, which was tenuous to put it mildly. Depending on viewpoint the Beaufort claim was an illegitimate one and besides which Margaret Beaufort, Henry’s mother, was alive and well.  It is not surprising that Henry swore to marry Elizabeth of York and equally it is not surprising that Richard III would have wished to have prevented that particular eventuality.

It is unlikely that Richard would have married his own niece – he wasn’t a Hapsburg but it is telling that he arranged the marriage of her sister, Cecily, to the brother of Lord Scrope, a man within his own affinity and of far lesser rank – appropriate for an illegitimate daughter of royalty.  Skidmore suggests that Richard planned to marry Elizabeth to a cousin of John II of Portugal.  In doing that Richard would have weakened Henry’s strategy for kingship at a stroke. As it was the plan came to nothing.

Thomas ap Rhys probably received a letter from Henry and also Henry Percy the Earl of Northumberland.  Percy had helped put Richard on the throne but his family were Lancastrian by inclination. The Stanley family were probably involved and Margaret Beaufort undoubtedly stirred the pot on behalf of her absent son with the aid of her agent, Reginald Bray.

 

England spent the summer of 1485 ready for war.  On June 21 Richard signed a proclamation against Henry in Nottingham Castle – it stated that Henry was in receipt of French backing and then it attacked Henry’s claim to the throne by attacking his bloodline and legitimacy.  It was effectively a call to arms.  Commissions of array followed soon after.  Commissions of Array were letters sent by the monarch to sheriffs and men of authority in each county commanding their presence on the field of battle with a group of armed men – the medieval equivalent of Lord Kitchener’s Poster but in this case rather less successful.

On 29 July Henry and his fleet left the safety of Harfleur.  At sunset on the 7thAugust Henry set foot in Wales.  His landing at Mill Bay meant that it escaped the attention, albeit briefly, of Richard III’s observers. The chronicler Robert Fabyan stated that Henry fell to his knees and gave thanks to God.  Then, once all Henry’s mercenaries were offloaded his fleet sailed away – it was do or die for Henry Tudor.

A fortnight later at the Battle of Bosworth Henry Tudor, with his very tenuous claim to the Crown, became Henry VII – the last English king to gain a crown on the battlefield.

 

Skidmore, Chris. (2013) The Rise of the Tudors. New York: St Martin’s Press

 

Henry Stafford

478px-Lady_Margaret_Beaufort_from_NPGIn 1457 Margaret Beaufort, shown here in later life, along with her brother-in-law Jasper Tudor left Pembroke Castle.  They were on their way to arrange a marriage. The groom in question was Henry Stafford.  He was the second son of the Duke of Buckingham.

The pair married on the 3rd January 1458 at Maxstowe Castle. The marriage had been agreed by April at the latest the previous year but there was the inevitable dispensation to apply for and besides which Margaret possibly didn’t want to hurry the match because when she started married life as Mrs Stafford she relinquished the care of her infant son, Henry, into the care of Jasper Tudor.

Henry was twenty years or so older than Margaret who was nearly fifteen when she married for the third time. This means that Henry was born in 1425 (ish).  He was a second son of Ann Neville (daughter of Joan Beaufort- only daughter of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford for those of you who are interested in these things- and Ralph Neville- earl of Westmorland).  We don’t no the exact date or place of his birth, without much in the way of titles or estate but what he did have was a powerful father, the Duke of Buckingham.  Margaret’s wealth would keep the couple very comfortably- both of them seem to have liked expensive clothes if the household accounts are anything to go by but it was Stafford’s father who would keep Margaret safe.

Household accounts and personal letters show that the marriage was a happy one. The couple travelled together and appear to have always celebrated their wedding anniversary – which was not standard practise. Margaret began to fast on St Athony Abbott’s day.  He was the patron saint of people who suffered from skin complaints and it would seem that Henry Stafford suffered from St Anthony’s Fire. She continued to venerate the saint after Henry’s death, again suggesting that the couple had a loving relationship according to Elizabeth Norton.

 

Henry fought at the Battle of Towton on the Lancastrian side but was pardoned by Edward IV on 25 June 1461 and then demonstrated loyalty to the house of York. Five years later, although he never became more than a knight suggesting that Edward IV possibly didn’t totally trust the Staffords, given who Margaret Beaufort was this isn’t entirely surprising, gave the couple Woking Old Hall as a hunting lodge. It became one of the Staffords’ favourite homes.  In December 1468 Edward IV  visited Old Woking Hall to hunt and to dine with Henry and Margaret.

 

Meanwhile the household accounts reveal that Henry suffered from poor health through out the period.  He sent to London for medicines frequently.  “St Anthony’s Fire” or erysipelas was believed at the time to be a variety of leprosy but is now understood to be a form of alkaline poisoning sometimes caused by ergot (the stuff in bread that caused folk to hallucinate).  In addition to an unpleasant rash  Henry would also have suffered from a burning sensation in his hands and feet.

This didn’t stop him from fulfilling his role as a medieval noble. He took part in jousts and battles. In a rather tense family situation he was with Edward IV on 12 March 1470 at the Battle of Losecoat Field. The Lancastrian forces were led by Sir Robert, Lord Wells who just happened to be Margaret Beaufort’s stepbrother. The Lancastrians were defeated and it fell to Henry to break the news to his mother-in-law Margaret Beauchamp of Bletsoe by that time Lady Welles that her step-son had been executed (bet that was a cheery conversation).

During Henry VI’s re-adaption (1470-71) Margaret Beaufort was reunited with her brother-in-law Jasper Tudor and her son Henry Tudor. She travelled to London, met with Henry VI and forwarded her son’s cause. In order words she demonstrated that aside from being a devoted mother that she was Lancastrian to the core. This may have caused some disagreement with Henry Stafford who remained loyal to the Yorkist cause even when he was visited by the Duke of Somerset in a bid to win his cousin-in-law over to the Lancastrian cause.

On 12 April 1471 Henry Stafford was in London, where he’d previously attended parliament,  to welcome Edward IV back to his capital.  He joined Edward at the Battle of Barnet on the 18 April. The Earl of Warwick was killed but Stafford was so badly wounded that he was sent home. Henry never recovered from his injuries.  He lingered another six months before dying on 4 October 1471 having made his will two days earlier.

In his will he bequeathed thirty shillings to the Parish Church at Old Woking, a set of velvet horse trappings to his stepson, Henry Tudor suggesting a fondness for the young earl of Richmond.  Stafford had been with Margaret when they visited the Herbert family who held Henry Tudor’s wardship during the first years of Edward IV’s reign (bought for the whopping sum of £1000). The couple had travelled from Bristol where Henry Stafford held land.  There was a bay courser to his brother, the Earl of Wiltshire, another “grizzled” horse  to his receiver-general, Reginald Bray who would go on to become Margaret Beaufort’s “Mr Fix-it” and general man of business.  £160 for a chantry priest- a respectable one- to sing Masses for the repose of his soul.  His body was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Pleshey near Chelmsford. The rest of his estate went to “my beloved Margaret”.

Margaret Beaufort must have been devastated. In addition to losing a husband that she appears to have loved, her son, now the only surviving Lancastrian claimant to the throne, had gone into precarious exile in France and Margaret was once again without a protector.

Norton, Elizabeth. (2011) Margaret Beaufort: Mother of the Tudor Dynasty Stroud:Amberley Press.

Great Malvern Priory and Henry VII

IMG_7791.jpgHenry VII stamped his presence as King of England on Great Malvern Priory. His is the least of the medieval windows.  His son destroyed the monastery.

The window is called the Magnificat Window and tells the story of the Incarnation and scenes from Christ’s life including his presentation at the Temple and turning water into wine.

The bottom lights, or panes, depict the donors and send a significant political message alongside the joys of the Virgin Mary. The key donor is King Henry VII.  He is pictured along with his queen, Elizabeth of York.  Sadly her image is lost. There are tiny Tudor roses as well as the Tudor heir, Prince Arthur. Pictures of Arthur are rare so this is a treasure, that Worcester Cathedral copied.  The window was placed in 1501 or early 1502 to celebrate the Tudor success of an heir married to a Spanish princess. Arthur, the red and white rose combined, died in 1502 at Ludlow a few months after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so the grand window with its less than subtle political message, trumping the Plantagenet west window of Richard, then duke of Gloucester, is rather flawed.

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Two other donors feature.  There is Sir Thomas Lovell on the far left, then Sir John Savage, his image is gone as well, and finally Sir Reginald Bray.

Lovell, a Norfolk man, was attainted by Richard III but under Henry VII, having fought alongside him at Bosworth, became chancellor. In 1487 he fought with Henry at the Battle of Stoke and in 1489 he became Constable of Nottingham Castle.  He had links with the Malvern area. He was also an executor for Margaret Beaufort. He died in 1524 having served Henry VIII but increasingly sidelined by the rise of Wolsey although in 1506 it was Lovell who went to Dover to collect Edmund de la Pole and transport him to the Tower.  It is said that Lambert Simnel attended Lovell’s funeral.

Sir John Savage, another of Henry VII’s privy council, commanded the left wing of Henry Tudor’s army at Bosworth.  He was also the nephew of Margaret Beaufort’s husband Thomas, Lord Stanley. The Savages were a Cheshire family with strong connections to Macclesfield. They were also linked to Malvern Chase being keepers of Hanley Castle. Savage and his father were both Sheriff of Worcestershire.

IMG_7792.jpgSir Reginald Bray was a Worcestershire man and as Chrimes observes it is unlikely that Henry VII, if he had been the key donor of the window, would have placed Savage, Lovell and Bray alongside his son – or himself for that matter.  Far more likely then that Bray and his fellow privy councillors paid for the window which Henry VII graciously permitted (Chrimes: 337). To find out more about Bray double click on his name.

Chrimes, S.B. (1999) Henry VII (The Yale English Monarch Series)

Wells, Katherine. (2013) A Tour of the Stained Glass at Great Malvern Priory.  Friends of Great Malvern Priory.

 

 

Brough Castle

DSCN0958You can see Brough Castle as you travel into Cumbria through Westmorland along the A685.  For years it was a key landmark meaning we ‘were nearly there.” Having said that it was many years before I discovered that the name of the little river that runs past Brough is Swindale Beck – and no that’s the moat in the first photograph rather than the beck.

The river runs alongside the flat open space that is very obviously Roman.  In fact Brough used to be the Roman fort of Verterae.  Unsurprising then that William Rufus chose the site for his own fortifications.

DSCN1031From there the tale of Brough Castle is very similar to many others in the region with the perennial seesawing between the English and the Scots.  It was a handy stopping off point as well for English monarchs on their way north to administer justice in Carlisle or to do a spot of Scot-bothering.  Edward I and Edward II both stayed in Brough; though clearly the Scot-bothering skills of father and son were markedly different.  The village of Brough was burned by the Scots in the aftermath of Bannockburn in 1314.

CNV00005-5In terms of ownership, the Castle left royal hands in 1204 when King John granted it to Robert de Vipont along with Appleby Castle and shortly after that gave Robert the title Lord of Westmorland – with the right to be held in perpetuity by his heirs which was of key importance to Lady Anne Clifford’s claim to her estates.  Robert’s son was a minor when he died so for a while the castle was held by Hubert de Burgh.  De Vipont’s grandson, also named Robert died at the Battle of Lewes in 1264 fighting alongside Simon de Montfort against the Crown which was fine until the following year when the monarchy headed up by Henry III (King John’s son) won the Battle of Evesham and demonstrated how underwhelmed he was by people demanding parliaments by seizing Robert de Vipont’s estates even though he was already dead.

DSCN1033Leaving aside legal wrangles, reforms and negotiations the estates and title were ultimately returned by the Crown to Robert’s two daughters who were co-heiresses. Their names were Isabella and Idonea.  Isabella was the younger.  Her husband was Roger de Clifford. Idonea was about nine when her father died and she went on to have two husbands but spent most of her life in Yorkshire.  Her son pre-deceased her so when she died  and was buried in Roche Abbey her entitlement to the lands and estates of Westmorland reverted to her sister and the de Clifford family.

CNV00016-8The Clifford family spent time and money making Brough more secure.  They built a tower and a hall block.

The Wars of the Roses saw the Ninth Lord Clifford die at Dintingdale the day before the Battle of Towton, Easter 1461, with an arrow in his throat and the flight of his young son and heir into obscurity.  During this time the Clifford properties were held by Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick.  Once Henry Tudor defeated Richard III the Tenth Lord Clifford came out of hiding and the Cliffords regained their estates.

Then in 1521 there was a very merry Christmas party – so merry in fact that Brough Castle caught fire and was ruined.  I suppose it makes a change from the Scots burning places down for the owners to do it themselves.

CNV00013-8Brough was only restored in 1659 when Lady Anne Clifford came into the inheritance she’d been fighting for most of her life.  She rebuilt Clifford’s Tower – only for it to burn down again in 1666 which must have been rather irritating for Lady Anne who didn’t die until ten years later. After that and because Lady Anne’s descendants weren’t as keen on old castles as she was it swiftly returned to being a ruin having been used as a sort of quarry to repair Appleby and Brough Mill at various times.

Brough remained in the hands of Lady Anne Clifford’s descendants until 1923.  Lord Hothfield handed it over to the Ministry of Works who placed helpful signs on the building:

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Salter, Mike. (2002) The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria. Malvern: Folly Publications

Henry Tudor…takes a festive oath

 

elizabeth of yorkA Christmas romance – how lovely…

 

Edward IV died unexpectedly in April 1483. For Elizabeth Woodville this was a disaster, especially when her brother-in-law Richard became the Protector. Now is not the time or the place to look more closely at the possible permutations of what happened to young Edward V and his brother Richard in the Tower or what Richard’s plans and rationale were for claiming the crown himself; suffice it to say rather a lot of mud was slung at the time and has continued to be thrown since.

 

Elizabeth Woodville took herself, along with her remaining children, into sanctuary at Westminster. Whilst she was there she and Margaret Beaufort – presumably working on the principle of the enemy of my enemy is my friend in Elizabeth’s case- came up with a plan to marry their children. Henry Tudor, Margaret’s Lancastrian son and dubious claimant to the throne would marry Elizabeth of York the eldest daughter of Edward IV. There was the small issue of Edward’s possible pre-contract in marriage rendering the princess an arrival on the wrong side of the blanket but by this stage in proceedings there were no other Lancastrian claimants and it was Richard who was suggesting the legitimacy of his nieces and nephews was open to question in order to claim the throne for himself.

 

henryviiIt was against this backdrop – Jane Austen never came up with a romance like this one- that on Christmas Day, 1483, at Rennes Cathedral in Brittany, where he was in exile but writing and receiving lots of letters that Henry Tudor took an oath that he would marry Elizabeth just as soon as he got his mitts on the crown. The rest as they say is, er, history.

 

The Shepherd Lord – part deux

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

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

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

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

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

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