Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Richard of Gloucester as Lord of the North

For a long time I have wanted to write a post about Richard of Gloucester and his remarkable career in the North. However, it has been a task I have put off as too daunting. Now I find I am saved the trouble, by this long but rather wonderful post in another place.

Richard was a man who was willing to give verdicts against his own followers when justice demanded it. There may have been another late medieval English noble who was equally enlightened in this respect, but if there was I have not so far come across him. Certainly, such individuals were a rare breed.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Obit - Constance of York

28th November 2016 marks the 600th anniversary of the death of Constance of York, Lady Le Despenser and Countess of Gloucester, who was, among other things, the heroine of my novel Within the Fetterlock.

Constance was a fascinating woman who had a very interesting life, although she was far from being a saint. Granddaughter of Edward III, cousin of Richard II and Henry IV, aunt of Richard, 3rd Duke of York and Great-grandmother of Queen Anne Neville (and Isabel, Duchess of Clarence.)

She was many descendants to this day.

Constance was buried in Reading Abbey very close to the tomb of her ancestor, King Henry I. It is possible that the investigations currently being undertaken to locate King Henry will locate Constance too. 

 Requiescat in pace

Monday, 22 August 2016

Sir Roger of Clarendon

Not a lot of people know that Richard II had a paternal half-brother. This was Sir Roger of Clarendon, born at at unknown date to Edward of Woodstock, the 'Black Prince' and one Edith de Willesford.

He was almost certainly older than Richard II, and in 1372 received an annuity of £100 from Edward III.

In 1402 Roger was arrested, accused of conspiracy against his cousin, Henry IV. He may have been guilty of spreading rumours that Richard was still alive. He quite possibly believed that he was. In any event he was executed at Tyburn - which suggests he was hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason.

My main source for this is Plantagenesta


This is yet another memorial of Bosworth, when we remember before God the loyal men who died there, and especially King Richard III.

Rest in Peace.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Richard of Conisbrough, Earl of Cambridge

Today is the anniversary of the execution in 1415 of possibly the most obscure member of the House of York, Richard of Conisbrough, Earl of Cambridge.

It is unfortunate we know so little about Richard. Even the conspiracy against Henry V which led to his execution is rather obscure and the available documentation begs as many questions as it answers.

Richard spent his life in relative poverty (for one of his class) and we rarely find evidence of his activities. Yet every sovereign of England from 1461 (bar Henry VII) is descended from him and his equally obscure wife, Anne Mortimer. So, in a way, he had the last laugh.

I don't suppose he felt much like laughing 601 years ago today though!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Tia Rescue

Once more I find myself mentioning my favourite charity Tia Rescue.

Tia do a brilliant job rescuing unwanted greyhounds and lurchers and also shire horses. They are unfortunately struggling for cash at the moment.

How you can help:

Send a donation.
Sponsor a greyhound (or other rescued animal)
Give a home to a greyhound or lurcher. (These dog make wonderful pets).
Visit the new cafe and visitors' centre. See the dogs.

Read their website for details.

Tia are located down a country road, but they are actually quite handy for the A1 or M18 if you are in that neck of the woods. Quite near to Doncaster or Bawtry.

The address?

Tia Rescue
Mill Race Farm,
Wroot Road

I know that all donations, however small, will be much appreciated right now.

(Almost forgot. They have a 20 acre field which is available for hire for events, etc. They also allow camping.)

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Edward, The Black Prince

I came across a conversation today where people were regretting the early death of the Black Prince, because apparently everything would have been much better had he lived.

Unfortunately, even people interested in English history tend not to appreciate that at the end of Edward III's reign England was 1. losing the war with France (badly) and 2. almost bankrupt.

So unless the Black Prince was secretly a magician who could conjure gold out of the air - paper currency being a thing as yet unknown - he would have struggled with the same issues Richard II and his Council faced - that is, how to raise money without upsetting the easily-upset English taxpayer. And if you look at Edward's track record with his taxpayers in Gascony, it would probably not have been pretty.

A rather similar conversation can be had around Henry V. It is true that at his death the English military position had not collapsed (as it had in 1377) but the problems with money had already started. Parliament was not for splashing out. Not even for Henry V. Poor old Henry VI never had a chance - arguably his followers did extremely well to hold on to as much as France as they did for as long as they did.

If I am going to regret anyone's early death it would be Edward IV's. Had he lived another ten years Richard of Gloucester could have continued happily in Yorkshire, Henry Tudor would be a mere footnote in history, and a whole lot of sorrow would have been avoided.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Constanza, Duchess of Lancaster

In this excellent blog post Kathryn Warner refreshes our understanding of Constanza, Duchess of Lancaster, with her usual eye for false myth.

However, one particularly interesting fact arising from the post (in that it relates to the House of York) is that Pedro I, King of Castile, (Constanza's father) was six feet tall with light blond hair!

This will be a shock to those who mistakenly believe that all Spaniards are dark-haired. (They are not and never have been.) It is also an indication that Catherine of Aragon's light colouring may not have come purely from her Lancastrian ancestors, but also from her Spanish ones.

Moving lightly on, we should recall, of course, that Constanza's sister, Isabella, or Isabel, married Edmund of Langley, first Duke of York. So the House of York will have inherited these genes as well. (It seems likely that Langley himself was also blond or auburn-haired and he was almost 6ft tall himself.)

It seems strange then that it is often assumed that Edward IV inherited his (supposed) blond colouring and stature from the Nevilles. Especially as I have yet to see evidence that the Nevilles were particularly tall or particularly blond.