The first official Prince of Wales was Edward of Caernarfon. Edward was born in 1284. Apparently Edward I had been having trouble with the Welsh who declared that they wouldn’t accept a prince who spoke English. He allegedly presented them with his new infant son who spoke no English as their new prince. In reality Edward invested his son with the title in 1301.
This week’s challenge comes courtesy of Michael – thank you for this challenge that will get everyone thinking. Name the eldest sons of English monarchs since 1066 who did not succeed their parent.
I should have been clear that I was dating this from 1066. How did you do? I think there’s 15 clear cases of monarchs whose mothers were not queens of England and a further 3 who became queen after their children were born – but they were queens of England.
William the Conqueror’s mother was Herleva (1). Apparently Duke Robert the Devil or the magnificent depending on your view point spotted her doing the laundry by the river and the rest is history as they say.
Technically William Rufus’s mother wasn’t queen of England when he was born – Matilda of Flanders (i) only became queen in 1066 following the conquest and Rufus was born sometime between 1056 and 1060. She was very definitely queen of England by the time Henry I was born at Selby in 1068 – so I shall leave it up to you to count William Rufus in or not depending on your frame of mind.
King Stephen’s mother was Adela of Normandy (2), a daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders. She married Theobald III of Blois.
Henry II’s mother, the Empress Matilda (3) was never crowned so technically wasn’t the ruler.
Henry IV’s parents were John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III and his wife Blanche of Lancaster (4) – who very definitely wasn’t queen of England.
Henry V’s mother was Mary de Bohun (5) who died before Henry IV usurped Richard II’s throne.
And then we arrive at the Wars of the Roses – Edward IV and Richard III’s mother was Cecily Neville (6 and 7), the daughter of the 1st Earl of Westmorland and her husband was Richard of York.
Henry Tudor who became Henry VII was the last scion of the House of Lancaster, certainly his claim to the throne couldn’t be described as very strong bloodline wise but he did win the Battle of Bosworth – his mother was Margaret Beaufort (8), descended from John of Gaunt and Kathryn Swynford. The Beaufort children from the union were retrospectively legitimised by Richard II and then excluded from the throne by Henry IV.
James I of England but VI of Scotland’s mother was, of course, Mary Queen of Scots (9).
If you’re being picky Anne of Denmark (ii) was queen of Scotland when she gave birth to Charles I – he was too sickly to initially travel to England with the rest of the family but like Matilda of Flanders she was crowned once her husband took the throne.
James II’s wife was Anne Hyde (10 and 11) she died in 1671 before James ascended the throne in 1685. Therefore their daughters Mary and Anne are on the list and since Mary reigned alongside her husband William of Orange he also features. William of Orange’s parents were William II of Orange and Mary Henrietta (12) a much loved daughter of Charles I.
When Queen Anne died in 1714 her nearest Protestant relation was her third cousin George of Hanover – he was a grandson of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen – so the daughter of James I and Anne of Denmark. George’s mother was Elizabeth’s daughter Sophia of the Palatinate better known as Sophia of Hanover (13). She was Queen Anne’s heir but predeceased the monarch by two months.
George II’s mother was Sophia Dorothea of Celle (14) – the marriage with George of Hanover had not been happy one. On being told that she was to marry George, Sophia threw his picture at the wall declaring she wouldn’t marry “pig snout” – sadly she wasn’t given any option in the matter. His family didn’t like her overly much and she didn’t like them or her new husband. It was apparently perfectly acceptable for George to take a mistress but Sophia’s relationship with Count Philip Cristoph von Konigsmarck resulted in his death and her incarceration for thirty years in Ahlden where she died.
George III was possibly married bigamously to Queen Charlotte in which case George IV shouldn’t have been king anyway, and nor should William IV but that’s an entirely different story and so far as the record is concerned their mother was the queen of England and George III’s only spouse…despite what other documents might suggest.
Queen Victoria’s father was George III’s son Edward, Duke of Kent. Her mother was Victoria of Safe-Coburg-Saalfield (15).
And finally King George VI was Duke of York when our current queen Elizabeth II was born – her mother was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (iii) who became queen in 1936 when her brother-in-law abdicated. The coronation took place in 1937.
22 May 1455. First Battle of St. Albans— York and his allies, the Neville earls of Salisbury and Warwick, win control of the king and kill their chief enemies: Somerset, Northumberland, and Clifford.
23 September 1459. Battle of Blore Heath—Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, defeats a Lancastrian force trying to block his junction with York.
12-13 October 1459. Heavily outnumbered, the Yorkist lords abandon their men and flee from the royal army at Ludford Bridge; Richard of York goes to Ireland whilst the earls of Warwick, Salisbury, and Edward Earl of March go to Calais. The Battle of Ludford Bridge is virtually bloodless. The sack of Ludlow followed.
10 July 1460. Battle of Northampton— Warwick captures Henry VI and control of the government.
30 December1460 Battle of Wakefield— defeat and death of Richard of York, Earl of Salisbury, and York’s second son, Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Rutland.
2 February 1461 Battle of Mortimer’s Cross—Yorkist victory in Wales.
17 February 1461. Second Battle of St. Albans—Margaret of Anjou defeats Warwick and reunites herself and her son with Henry VI.
27-28 March 1461. Battle of Ferrybridge—Lancastrian attempts to prevent a Yorkist crossing of the River Aire.
29 March 1461. Battle of Towton— Edward IV wins throne and Henry VI and his family flee into Scotland.
16 October 1461. Battle of Twt Hill— Yorkist victory in Wales
25 April 1464. Battle of Hedgeley Moor—Yorkist victory in the north.
15 May 1464. Battle of Hexham— Yorkist victory leads to the execution of Henry Beaufort, the Lancastrian duke of Somerset.
26 July 1469. Battle of Edgecote Moor—William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, and other Yorkist lords are defeated and executed by the Earl of Warwick who turned against Edward IV.
12 March 1470. Battle of Losecote Field—Edward IV defeats rebels operating under the direction of the Earl of Warwick and George Duke of Clarence. Both men will now flee to France where Warwick will reach an agreement with Margaret of Anjou – fully turning his coat.
14 April 1471. Battle of Barnet—Warwick is defeated and killed; Margaret of Anjou and Prince Edward of Lancaster land in England at Weymouth.
4 May 1471. Battle of Tewkesbury— Prince Edward of Lancaster is killed on the field. Henry VI, a prisoner in the Tower, is murdered shortly afterwards.
22 August 1485. Battle of Bosworth Field—Richard III is defeated and killed; accession of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, as Henry VII.
16 June 1487. Battle of Stoke—Henry VII defeats Yorkist supporters of Lambert Simnel.
I finished last week’s challenge at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Henry IV successfully passed his throne to his son and grandson – it says something about the change in society that when Henry VI became king that he was a baby.
The relationship between king and barons had changed but it remained true that a king or his representatives needed to be victorious in battle and be able to control the various extended Plantagenet family members who held political power. Henry VI was unable to do this and the claims of the house of York became of increasing importance resulting eventually in the Cousins War which Sir Walter Scott renamed The Wars of the Roses.
I am conscious that not everyone is wildly enthusiastic about castles – we will come back to them eventually but it’s time for a change in this week’s challenge so that we can get back to something more manageable…ish
How many key battlefield sites – so battles rather than OS references- can you identify taking place on English soil between January 1066 and 21st July 1403? So we’re covering the battles of the Norman Conquest, the key battles of the Anarchy -not every little squabble or we’ll never get to the end of the list; the Barons Wars, the Scottish Wars of Independence and we conclude with the Glyndwr Rising. The Battle in 1403 you should know if you’ve been following the store cupboard of quotes.
As much as anything it’s an opportunity to consider the medieval period and the evolution of the relationship between monarch and parliament as well as considering the way in which english monarch sought to dominate Wales and Scotland. Henry II laid claim to Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
We used to refer to the period after the Romans left Britain as the Dark Ages we now refer to them as Earl Medieval. Thus the medieval period stretches from the collapse of the Roman empire to the Fifteenth Century – which is Late Medieval. Throughout the time period I have identified in the challenge above English kings sought to control Wales and Scotland. From 1337 onwards they were also engaged in the Hundred Year’s War to gain control of France by right of inheritance through Isabella of france, the mother of Edward III.
Throughout this period, the warfare which was almost continuous in some respects, many aspects of warfare remained the same but it was also the period that saw the longbow and then the canon. Armies were composed of infantry and cavalry and they were formed from feudal due or paid mercenaries. The structure of the army reflected the social structure in the wider world – which did not really lend itself to continuous year round warfare – rather to periodic seasonal hostilities depending upon the political situation. There were other seasonal factors involved as well – such as the weather. Communications weren’t necessarily that brilliant- there are several instances of armies stumbling unexpectedly across one another. Armies might have marched but there was lots of manoeuvring, lots of negotiating and quite a few sieges as well as hostage taking. Battles were basically the last resort…and I am obviously simplifying.
Pontefract Castle is often described as the “Key to the North.” With that in mind, how many castles can you identify in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Westmorland and Northumbria. I shall list my thoughts in alphabetic order next week but must admit that I’m taking a will leap into the dark- or even oubliette- with this particular challenge.
I will be returning to the Midlands, Wales and the rest of England in due course but we might take a break from wall to wall castling in between times.
If you’re looking for a good book on the architecture and history of castles then Castle: A History of the Buildings that Shaped Medieval Britain is the book for you.
This week I am sticking with an ecclesiastical theme. In 1529 there were more than 800 monastic houses in England and Wales. By 1547 when Henry VIII died there were none left thanks to Thomas Cromwell’s organised approach to the administrative processes that dissolved them between 1536 and 1540. The first wave of suppressions came in 1536 with the dissolution of smaller monastic houses valued at less than £200 per year. Having said that many, particularly the nunneries, received a stay of execution because there was nowhere else for the inhabitants to go. The Second Act of Suppression followed in 1539 which saw all monastic houses whatever their size or value being closed. By 1540 fifty monastic houses a month were being suppressed and dismantled.
I’m not expecting you to list all of them! Indeed, 200 of the monastic houses were friaries which brings the number down to a more modest 625. Of those, 200 were nunneries.
Firstly can you list 23 of the monastic houses – one for each letter of the alphabet with XYZ counting as one rather than 3?
And secondly how many can you name? I’m not totally sure how many I can think of, so its a bit of a challenge for me as well. You do have a slight head start as my post about cathedrals listed former abbey churches which were turned into cathedrals at the time of the Reformation.
Have you checked out the History Extra website? It’s the home of the BBC History Magazine so contains some interesting articles as well as a podcast and information about historical tv and film. Here’s a link to get you started – it’s about clerical abuses of the kind that Thomas Cromwell’s commissioners were looking for as they set off to compile the Valor Ecclessiasticus.
There are actually 18 cities in England and Wales without an Anglican cathedral which comes as a bit of a surprise as I learned at school that in order to be a city then a cathedral was required. Equally there thirteen towns with Anglican Cathedrals that do not have city status – just goes to prove that the stuff you learn as a child isn’t necessarily correct…
Your challenge for week 4 is to name as many cathedrals in England and Wales as you can – location rather than which saint is involved – though if you can think of location and exact name please do so!
A cathedral is, of course, the main church in a diocese – or administrative area under the pastoral care of it’s bishop. It is where the bishop has his or her cathedra or throne.
There are three groups of cathedrals. Many cathedrals were once part of a monastic foundation. When Henry VIII closed them down in the 1530s many were re-founded as cathedrals which means that quite often the last prior or abbot of an abbey became a cathedral’s first dean. This kind of cathedral is a New Foundation Cathedral whereas Old Foundation cathedrals were never part of the monastic scene – they were run by secular canons i.e. they were part of the wider world and they were in place before the Reformation. There are nine Old Foundation Cathedrals in England and Wales. The third group are Modern Foundations which were created in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. A cathedral in this group is sometimes called a parish church cathedral. The modern foundations reflect the way in which populations changed due to industrialisation and urbanisation.
Having been out for my hour’s walk yesterday with History Jar challenges on my mind – and no I do not feel the urge to take up jogging, thank you all the same -I now have a long list of challenges for the blog.
This week’s challenge is a two part challenge. Firstly, where have English monarchs and their consorts been buried since 1066? And secondly, the obvious answer is Westminster Abbey. There have been thirty kings and queens buried there according to the Westminster Abbey website. Without looking them up, how many of the 30 can you name?
Edward the Confessor was buried in the newly completed Westminster Abbey on 6th January 1066. He was placed before the high altar but on 13th October 1163 he was moved to a shrine which Henry III improved upon with the addition of mosaics but of course in 1540 the shrine was destroyed by Henry VIII’s vandals.
At the time of the coronation in 1953 there were a number of decorations set up in London composed of royal devices in their various forms. Amongst them, in Westminster Abbey, stood ten six foot tall royal heraldic beasts. Their inspiration was taken from the heraldic beasts at Hampton Court Palace originally placed there by Henry VIII, gaining them the name “the King’s Beasts.”
These beasts, and others like them may be found on coats of arms, heraldic badges used on the liveries and standards of various families and the two heraldic supports of a shield of arms.
The royal arms and their beasts have changed across the centuries – the Tudors added a royal beast, as did the Stuarts for example.
Royal arms can be seen in churches across the country. It became usual for churches to do this following the Reformation – and was a very visual way of the population being reminded exactly who was in charge. Royal arms can also be found in various stately stacks around the country as assorted nobility and gentry used their building projects to demonstrate their loyalty to their monarch.