Tag Archives: Richard I

A letter from Cranmer

Thomas_Cranmer_by_Gerlach_Flicke.jpgFirst of all, for those of you who follow The History Jar by email, yesterday’s post requires an update.  Rosie Bevan contacted me with the following information – “The relationship between Richard and Reginald de Lucy was uncovered in 2016. They were actually father and son. See Reginald de Lucy, Son of Richard de Lucy, King’s Justiciar: New Perspectives
Foundations (2016) 8:53-72 By Rosie Bevan and Peter G M Dale.” It’s true, history is always changing because new information keeps surfacing facts to careful research.

Today’s main even is that on the 20th December 1192 Richard I (a.k.a. The Lionheart) was on his way back home from the Crusades when Leopold V of Austria imprisoned him resulting in some hefty taxation in England to raise the ransom, brotherly misdemeanour from Prince John and an outbreak of ballads resulting in the legends of Robin Hood (cue stirring music and sounds of twanging arrows) and also of Blondel the Minstrel wandering around Europe trying to track down his royal boss (cue sounds of stirring music and sounds of twanging lute strings).

Inevitably I have gone for something more prosaic. On the 20th December 1535 Thomas Cranmer wrote to Lord Lisle better known as Arthur Plantagenet, illegitimate son of Edward IV.

Cranmer to Lord Lisle.
I understand that one Thos. King, now abiding in Calais, has left his wife Eleanor Saygrave, and lives with another woman, denying his former marriage. I have therefore sent my commissary to see them both punished, in which I desire your assistance. I hear there is good provision of wines with you. If so, I beg you will help me therein when I send to you. I am much bound to my Lady for her goodness to my chaplains. Ford, 20 Dec. Signed.

‘Henry VIII: December 1535, 11-20’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 9, August-December 1535, ed. James Gairdner (London, 1886), pp. 318-340. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol9/pp318-340 [accessed 17 December 2016].

Given that the Pope was threatening to excommunicate Henry VIII at this time for leaving Katherine of Aragon it seems a bit rich that Cranmer was writing about Thomas King running off with another woman and deserting his wife.

At this stage in proceedings I couldn’t tell you the circumstances of the marriage between Eleanor and Thomas but in Tudor households marriages were not a matter of love but of parental negotiation. Young people were not left to their own devices.  It was their parents and guardians who played a leading part in arranging marriages to strengthen alliances whether between kingdoms, estates or mercantile endeavours.  For more about marriage read the History Extra article here.

Calais was the last remnant of England’s continental claim.  It had been in English hands since Edward III captured it in 1347.  The Pale of Calais was about one hundred and twenty miles square.  It was, obviously, heavily fortified with the fort at Guisnes being of key importance.

Lord Lisle was the Governor of Calais.  He lived there along with his wife Honour Grenville.  Lisle had a reputation for being somewhat henpecked, a gossip and a purveyor of quail.  I don’t know what happened to Thomas King or how he came to live in Calais with a lady who wasn’t his wife far less how Cranmer came to be involved in the tale but it does give us a brief glimpse of ordinary life in all its messiness. And if anyone happens to know more about the story – please tell.

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Richard the Lionheart, Duke of Aquitaine

imagesRichard was born in Oxfordshire at Beaumont Palace in September 1157.  Records reveal that the cost of Queen Eleanor’s laying in was accounted at 20 shillings.

Though born in England, the second of four surviving sons, he was destined to inherit Queen Eleanor’s duchy of Aquitaine. He grew up in an atmosphere of courtly love, speaking the langue d’oc.  Today we think of him as a warrior but he was an accomplished musician thanks to his early years in Eleanor’s court.  Ralph of Coggleshall, records the fact that he ‘conducted’ the clerks of the Royal Chapel in song.

By the time Richard was ten his father (Henry II) had betrothed Richard to the daughter of Count Richmond of Barcelona.  Nothing came of this engagement but in 1168 when Richard was formally invested with the Duchy of Aquitaine he was betrothed to Princess Alys of France, the daughter of King Louis VII – his mother’s ex-husband- by his second wife. Presumably the laws of consanguinity did not account for such things.  What they did account for though was a father ‘knowing’ his son’s bride.  Alys came to Henry II’s court and eventually Henry made her his mistress which goes some way towards explaining Richard’s reticence when it came to honouring the engagement.

By 1173 Henry II’s relationships with all his sons had reached breaking point.  Henry expended huge amounts of energy creating an empire that stretched from the Welsh Marches to the Pyrenees.  He did not wish to do homage to King Louis VII so he gave his European lands into the keeping of his sons Henry, Geoffrey and Richard.  He even went so far as to have Henry crowned king of England while he was still living.  However, they were rulers in name only.  Henry retained the power.  His sons rebelled.  Queen Eleanor, perhaps tiring of Henry’s infidelities, her own lack of power and a mother’s need to protect her sons joined in the rebellion. Fortunately for Henry, Eleanor was swiftly captured and then subjected to fifteen years of captivity. Monarchs on the edge of his kingdom added their armies to the fray.

Young Prince Richard battled on, attempting to besiege La Rochelle despite the fact that King Louis unable to capture Rouen had sued for peace.  King William of Scotland had been roundly beaten at Alnwick.  Was it stubbornness?  Was it anger at his mother’s treatment?  Or was it simply because his father excluded him from the peace that he negotiated with King Louis?  In any event, it was 23 September 1174 before he threw himself on his father’s mercy.

In 1175 Henry set his son the task of quelling the Aquitanian nobles who had risen with Richard two years earlier.  Richard set about subduing nobles and towns one by one.  Limoges fell having been besieged for only two days.  He was accused, in Aquitaine, of being ‘evil to all men.’ Yet he succeeded where his father could not.  He went on to make the road through to the Pyrenees safe for travellers, thus furthering his father’s diplomatic allegiances with Spain.  In 1179 Richard sided with his father when his brothers Henry (the Young King) and Geoffrey (Count of Brittany) rebelled once more. Four years later Henry was dead of dysentery and Richard was heir to the English throne.

King Henry ordered Richard to hand over Aquitaine to Prince John.  Richard refused.  He held an ostentatious Christmas court at Talmont where he gave generous New Year gifts to his nobles.  He’d fought long and hard for the kingdom that was his mother’s and he had no intention of handing it over to his little brother despite the fact that allocating inheritances between sons in this manner was a normal procedure.  He showed no sign of backing down even when Henry openly toyed with the idea of marrying Princess Alys off to John and bypassing Richard altogether. Roger of Hoveden’s account shows that King Philip of France (Louis VII’s much long for son) would not agree to this. Eventually King Henry informed John that he could have Aquitaine if he could take it.

Inevitably these family tensions led to Richard coming to terms with the King of France.  It was this coming to terms that has given history pause for thought about Henry’s sexual orientation despite the existence of two illegitimate sons.  It was reported that Philip and Richard shared the same bed following a day of negotiations.  It was not regarded with the raised eyebrows of today and suggests instead a symbolic sealing of an agreement.

Richard was not the callow youth he’d been last time he’d rebelled against his father, nor was his father a well man.  Neither for that matter was Philip much like his father in matters of warfare.  Eventually the city of Le Mans was captured and Henry was forced to flee.

The king sued for peace.  He came to terms with the french king and Richard during a thunder-storm.  He was so shattered that his men had to hold him upright on his horse.  Some accounts describe a tear in Henry’s back passage that bled so much during the hours of negotiation that the blood streamed down his horse’s flanks.   Henry, vanquished and in pain, returned to Chinon a broken man having learned that John, the son for whom he’d gone to war, had betrayed him.  Henry died on the 6th July 1189.

Prince Richard, Duke of Aquitaine was now King  Richard I.  One of the first things he did was to give orders setting Eleanor free from her captivity.

tal3

Talmont

Resources:

For a full account of Henry II’s final campaign and encounter with his son visit: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/1189hoveden.asp

Jones, Dan. (2012). The Plantagenents. London: Harper Press

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Berengaria of Navarre

berengaria_tombDaughter of Sancho the Wise of Navarre, Berengaria was related to the royalty of Spain, England and France.

She was brought from Navarre to Sicily by her future mother-in-law, Eleanor of Aquitaine, in 1190 to marry King Richard I of England.  She was in her twenties at the time.

Richard was in Sicily on his way to the Holy Land to join with the Third Crusade having taken the cross in 1187.  He had been prevented from fulfilling his vow because of a Plantagenet power struggle with his father King Henry II and younger brother Prince John over control of Aquitaine.  His ally in his rebellion against his father was the French King Philip but by the time Berengaria arrived on the scene relations were souring between the two monarchs, not least because Philip expected Richard to marry the french princess Alys, a bride-to-be of some twenty years.  Unfortunately, Philip’s half-sister was an unsuitable match in Richard’s eye – not least because she had been Henry II’s mistress, not that this stopped Philip from pocketing some 10,000 marks in compensation.

Berengaria accompanied Richard and Richard’s widowed sister Queen Joanna of Sicily to the Holy Land.  Before their ship could reach Outremer it was separated from the main fleet and the royal women were ship wrecked off Cyprus.  The ruler of Cyprus, Isaac Comnenus, whose only redeeming feature seems to have been the love he bore his daughter, attempted to take them hostage.  This resulted in Richard leading an attack on Cyprus and capturing the island in less than a month.  As well as demonstrating his prowess in battle, Richard also captured a useful staging post.  Berengaria and Richard were married in May 1191 at Limassol. Berengaria was also crowned at this time and Richard gave her dower rights to all territories in Gascony south of the River Garonne.  The marriage had been delayed thus far because of it being Lent.

Why marry Berengaria?  Richard was the Duke of Aquitaine before he became King of England.  An alliance with Navarre went some way to off setting the expanding power of Castille and Count Raymond of Toulouse who was undoubtedly a thorn in Richard’s side.  It could also be that Berengaria’s reputation was spotless, a direct contrast to Alys.  Chroniclers of the time were generous in their praise of a queen who never came to England.  William of Newburgh described her as prudent and beautiful.

Both royal women accompanied Richard to the Holy Land.  They were at the Siege of Acre and remained there while the crusaders pushed in land and it was from here that they sailed when Richard and Saladin agreed their truce in 1191.  Berengaria and Joanna sailed to Brindisi and from there they travelled to Rome while Richard travelled home a different route and found himself a captive of the Duke of Austria.

Following his release, Berengaria did not join her husband.  The estrangement between husband and wife was never fully reconciled.  Perhaps because Richard needed to secure his empire from the machinations of Philip of France or possibly because Berengaria’s father was now dead and her brother, Sancho VII, had succeeded to the throne.  The Navarre alliance served Richard well during his crusading years.  Certainly he’d never bothered to demand the two castles that were Berengaria’s dowry.  Now however, Richard set about gaining what the marriage treaty guaranteed.  He even involved Pope Innocent III. The couple remained childless and spent very little time in one another’s company.  As he lay dying he sent for his mother, not his wife. Berengaria did not attend Richard’s funeral and remained in a small castle near Angers -in effect a penniless princess having failed to provide Richard with an heir.

Berengaria now entered into a long struggle with King John for her dower lands which were all in France.  In addition to her own dower lands in Gascony she was supposed to receive Eleanor’s lands in England, Normandy and Poitou after Eleanor’s death.  John, once named Lackland, was not forthcoming.   Fortunately, her sister, Blanche of Champagne took in the widowed queen and later King Philip gave her the city of Le Mans to rule. It was only in 1214 that John said he would settle the claim. This was, in part, due to Magna Carta and the fact that the Pope had excommunicated him but he never did pay what was owed.  King Henry III settled Berengaria’s claim when he came to the throne.

Berengaria lived in Le Mans and ruled there from 1204 until her death in 1230.  She ruled well and with determination, even tackling corrupt clerics.  The Bishop of Le Man once closed the door of the cathedral in her face as she arrived for a Palm Sunday service.  She also founded the abbey of L’Epau

 

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