In 1642, six months before Edgehill, the first battle of the English Civil War, Charles I made two attempts to enter the city of Hull to seize control of its armoury but was refused entry on both occasions by its governor Sir John Hotham. The king’s army was forced to retreat, probably making their way to Hessle, a royalist stronghold, while the disgruntled king declared Hotham a traitor.
By the 22nd of August, King Charles moved on to the City of Nottingham. Here he raised his royal standard thus marking the beginning of the English Civil War.
It was on this day in 1685, that trials began in Winchester that have come to be known as the Bloody Assizes.
On trial were over one thousand men - rebels who took part in the Monmouth Rebellion. Nearly all would die the horrible death by hanging, disemboweling and quartering, others were transported to the West Indies.
The judges were Sir Henry Pollexfen, Sir Creswell Levinz, Sir Francis Wythens, Sir Robert Wright and Sir William Montague and at their head, Lord Chief Justice George Jeffreys.
Judge Jeffreys was a hard, bitter and vengeful man, who Gilbert Burnet in his History of My Own Time writes of Jeffrey.
"His behaviour was beyond anything that was ever heard of in a civilized nation. He was perpetually either drunk or in a rage, liker a fury that the zeal of a judge. He required the prisoners to plead guilty. And in that case he gave them some hope of favour, if they gave him no trouble; otherwise he told them, he would execute the letter of the law upon them in its utmost severity."
Whether you were old and female made no difference as Lady Alice Lisle would find out to her cost.
On this day in 1486 the death of William Patten, or as history knows him William of Wainfleet.
William was the eldest son of Richard Patten and Margery a wealthy Lincolnshire family from Wainfleet, he would be chancellor under Henry VI and bishop of Winchester during the entire period of the Wars of the Roses. His younger John also entered the church, working under the title of Dean of Chichester.
Wainfleet made his will on the 26th April in 1486 and was buried in the chantry chapel in Winchester Cathedral, a tomb he had had constructed.
On this day in 1100 the coronation of Henry I, the youngest son of William Conqueror, just three days after the death of his brother William Rufus.
On his accession to the throne, Henry issued, from the Norman Chapel in the Tower of London, the Charter of Liberties - the forerunner of Magna Carta. There were fourteen clauses in all and begins.
Henry, king of the English, to Bishop Samson and Urso de Abetot and all his barons and faithful, both French and English - greetings.
I, Henry, by the grace of God having been crowned the King of England, shall not take or sell any property from a Church upon the death of a bishop or abbot, until a successor has been named to that Church property. I shall end all the oppressive practices which have been an evil presence in England.
If any baron or earl of mine shall die, his heirs shall not be forced to purchase their inheritance but shall retrieve it through force of law and custom.
Any baron or earl who wishes to betroth his daughter or other women kinsfolk in marriage should consult me first, but I will not stand in the way of any prudent marriage. Any widow who wishes to remarry should consult with me, but I shall abide by the wishes of her close relatives, the other barons and earls. I will not allow her to marry one of my enemies.
So Henry started with good intentions, but did he follow them through? Well, that's a blog for another day.
Henry was England's king for thirty-five years but his reign ended in anarchy - the drowning of his son William, on board the White Ship in 1120, eventually led to the end of the mighty Norman dynasty.
Plymouth Breakwater is one of the largest freestanding seawater structures in the country it was built to protect Plymouth Sound and aid passage of naval vessels into the Tamar at Devonport. It was on this day in 1812 that its foundation stone of was laid.
The breakwater was built to the design of Scottish born civil engineer John Rennie using about four million tons of rock, It took two years to complete and cost one and a half million pounds.
On this day in 1534 Mary of Guise married Louis II Duke of Orleans.
The marriage was a short one, it lasted just under three years, however they did have two children the youngest, born after his father's death, survived only four months.
Mary and Louis's marriage was a love match, Mary would keep her last letter from Louis for the rest of her life.
The twelve years of King Edward's reign that followed Henry VI's death, were relatively stable, the city saw the redevelopment of St George's Chapel and a new great hall at Eltham Palace. Edward patronised the new invention of printing, the Recuyell of the Histoyes of Troye was the first book to be printed in England. Charles Ross, described Edwards court as "the most splendid in all Christendom." Edward developed a love of art much of seen in Bruges, at the home of his friend Louis of Gruthuyse.
Stability in his kingdom lead to Edward making peace with France. In the summer of 1475, on a bridge at Picquigny with a wooden barrier between them Edward and Louis XI came to an agreement. On the 29th of August 1475, the Treaty of Picquigny was signed.
A seven year truce and a marriage between the dauphin and Edward's daughter Elizabeth of York were two of the items agreed upon. Edward may have been pleased with his actions, but it was a move that greatly angered the Duke of Gloucester, his outrage is one of the first times we see the future Richard III vocally objecting to a decision made by his brother.
In the image below we can see the plant Genista Monspessulana or Planta Genista. We know it as French Broom, here we can see it along with the chap who liked to wear it, one Geoffrey of Anjou.
The House of Plantagenet is supposedly named after this plant, as legend tells us that Geoffrey wore a sprig of it in his hat. Geoffrey was Count of Anjou from 1129 to 1151 and husband of Matilda, daughter of Henry I, it was today in 1113 that he was born.
On the 16th of August 1819 at St Peter's Field in Manchester, mounted government troops charged into a crowd of over sixty thousand people who were peaceful campaigning for parliamentary reform.
Magistrates had panicked at the sight of the large crowd and had read the Riot Act from a window over looking the scene.
The Riot Act of 1715 went by the rather long title of "An Act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters." It was introduced a year earlier when the country was troubled by a number of serious disturbances with the intention of
"many rebellious riots and tumults that have been taking place of late in divers parts of this kingdom" and gave the warning
"Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the King." Percy Shelley writes of the massacre in his Masque of Anarchy
“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many-they are few.”
Out of the thousands gathered fifteen people were killed and 650 injured. You can read about them here.
On the 2nd August in 1894, Sir William George Granville Venables Vernon Harcourt, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary introduced the tax of Death Duty, we know it as Inheritance Tax.
This new law was introduced to raise money to pay off a four million pound government shortfall.
In the story of Downton Abbey, it was taxes and a medieval inheritance system that was the real root of the families troubles. Both together, these two things threatened to ruin the life that Earl of Grantham's ancestors had built up over many years.
Robert Crawley and his wife had daughters and no sons and because of the laws of primogeniture, none of them could inherit their father's title, house, or land. It was Robert's first cousin James and his son Patrick who stood to inherit, but when they died on the Titanic, it was Matthew Crawley, Robert's third cousin once removed, who became heir presumptive.
Primogeniture is centuries old however the taxation of a person's wealth at the time of their death dates from the the
end of the 17th century.
It's a good job a person wasn't taxed on the amount of names he had isn't it?
History is so interesting isn't it? Do you love the story of King Alfred's unsuccessful afternoon in the kitchen or King Cnut unsuccessful attempt not to get his feet wet? Maybe you're interested in when the Normans landing on our shores or the stories of an era closer to our time?