The 29th of January is the feast day of Gildas.
Gildas was a six-century cleric, his work is an important source for those interested in the legend of Arthur because he wrote of the events and the people of his own time and this fact makes him a contemporary of King Arthur. Four centuries later, Gildas or the followers of Gildas are mentioned in the tenth century Annales Cambriae or Annals of Wales where these followers rose up against King Arthur, refusing to acknowledge him as king.
We can place Gildas in the early history of Cornwall, and we know that he had many followers living Cornwall after his death. My 5x great grandmother was Patience Tregilgas whose family I have traced to a piece of land just outside Mevagissey in Cornwall called Tregilgas. Tre is Cornish for home and therefore this piece of land is the ancient settlement of some of the followers of Gildas.
“There shall be a true, sincere, whole and unbroken peace, friendship, league and amity, not only for the term of the life of each of our said princes … from this day forth in all times to come, between them and their heirs and lawful successors, heritable and lawfully succeeding …”
The above quote forms part of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace that was in signed on the 24th January of 1502 by James IV of Scotland and Henry VII of England.
The two countries agreed to end the intermittent warfare between them which had been waged over the previous two hundred years.
The illustrated thistle and the rose appear on the border of the treaty and represent the union of James's son to Henry's daughter, which was agreed upon in the treaty.
The thistle, James V's emblem, Tudor rose and the Marguerite, which is a daisy, represents Margaret.
The 21st January in 304 is the day stated as being the date of the death of St Agnes of Rome who willing went to her death rather than give up her virginity.
Agnes, whose name means pure in Greek and lamb in Latin, is said to have been just thirteen when she was persecuted for refusing to marry a wealthy Roman. She refused to do so stating that she would never accept any husband but Christ. For this Agnes was sentenced to be burnt at the stake.
The story of Agnes's martyrdom begins when the wood around her feet would not burn, another story states that as the flames rose they parted around her. How she actually died differs too depending on which account you read. In some texts, it is written that those in charge beheaded her or stabbed her in the throat.
St Agnes's bones are thought to lay beneath the high altar in the church of Saint Agnes Outside the Walls in Rome. A skull, which is said to be Agnes's, is preserved in a separate chapel in the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone in Rome.
‘I am disappointed by that stroke of death which has eclipsed the gaiety of nations, and impoverished the public stock of harmless pleasure.’
On the 20th January 1799, the death of Shakespearean actor David Garrick. He died at his home, the Adelphi Theatre, on this day in 1779 and was buried in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey. It is said that his funeral was a splendid affair and that his funeral procession, one of the greatest ever seen in London, stretched from the Strand to Westminster Abbey.
On the 19th January in 1643, Sir Ralph Hopton led his Royalist forces to victory at the Battle of Braddock Down, an area that lies between Lostwithiel and Liskeard in Cornwall.
Hopton’s forces spent the night of the 18th January camped near the village of Boconnoc, the following morning they woke to find a Parliamentarian army deployed at what is now Largin Farm on the east side of Braddock Down.
The Parliamentarian forces, under the command of Colonel Ruthven, were making their way into Cornwall from Devon.
More of a skirmish than a battle this clash of arms saw the surrender of a large number of Parliamentarians, the capture of five cannons assorted weaponry and, according to the Royalist, only two of their men were lost.
In the following, May Hopton's forces would again defeat the Parliamentarian forces at the Battle of Stratton.
“For he is the best student who does not read his thoughts into the book, but lets it reveal its own; who draws from it its sense, and does not import his own into it, nor force upon its words a meaning which he had determined was the right one before he opened its pages.” wrote Hilary of Poitiers.
Wise words don't you think? University students (and the rest of us) should take heed from this fourth-century bishop.
Hilary is the second term at Oxford and Durham Universities, it is named after the aforementioned bishop. The term runs from January to March and in which the Feast of St Hilary falls.
Catherine of Aragon died in the first week of January 1536 it was on this day she was laid to rest at Peterborough Cathedral.
Catherine was Henry VIII's first and 'true wife,' abandoned when she was no longer any use to him. In the furore that surrounded Henry's relationship with Anne Boleyn, it was said that Anne poisoned Catherine. Today, however, it is widely considered that she died of cancer, and most probably a broken heart.
Catherine had written of her fears to Charles V in the November of the previous year
"My tribulations are so great, my life so disturbed by the plans daily invented to further the king's wicked intention, the surprises which the king gives me, with certain persons of his council, are so mortal, and my treatment is what God knows, that it is enough to shorten ten lives, much more mine."
Henry did not attend Catherine's funeral, and in one last cruel act against his wife, he also forbade their daughter Mary to attend. It was written that the queens funeral waggon was
"was covered with black velvet, in the midst of which was a great silver cross; and within, as one looked upon the corpse, was stretched a cloth of gold frieze with a cross of crimson velvet, and before and behind the said waggon stood two gentlemen ushers with mourning hoods looking into the waggon, round which the said four banners were carried by four heralds and the standards with the representations by four gentlemen." and once inside the cathedral Catherine's coffin was "placed under the chapelle ardente which was prepared for it there, upon eight pillars of beautiful fashion and roundness, upon which were placed about 1,000 candles, both little and middle-sized, and round about the said chapel 18 banners waved.”
Below you can see the tomb of Catherine at Peterborough Cathedral if you look closely you can see that people are still leaving pomegranates in remembrance of her.
For someone like me who has trouble with dyslexia and the getting of numbers in the right order, the birth of Henry VII and the death of his son can be somewhat confusing. Henry VII was born on this day 1457, and on this day in 1547 his second son, Henry VIII died - that's exactly ninety years later.
Anyway, I seem to have got my sums right and the numbers are in the correct order so let's get on with a bit of information about the infamous Tudor king's final years.
Most of you will already know that Henry went into a physical and mental decline following a riding accident in the January of 1536. Henry was unconsciousness for two hours and his courtiers thought him dead. It was all downhill for the king after that, ulcerated legs, weight gain and an increased tendency to be irritable and quick to temper.
As his girth increased his courtiers began dressing in heavily padded clothes in an attempt to flatter him, and who can blame them, would you want to get on the wrong side of a grumpy monarch? Despite being grossly overweight Henry was still in search of a bride, on the 12th July 1543 he found one, the twice-married Catherine Parr. Catherine nursed, cared for and finally outlived him. On his death, he was succeeded by his son, Edward VI - he wasn't much fun either.
Henry was buried next to Jane Seymour, the wife who gave him his heir at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
There more about Henry in Tracy Boreman's article in this month's History Extra entitled Five things you (probably) didn't know about Henry VIII.
“Give great praise to the Lord and little Laud to the Devil" was a popular saying in the time of King Charles I, it was in reference to William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was beheaded on Tower Hill in London on this day in 1645.
William Laud was a supporter of Charles I, he believed that Charles had the God-given right to rule by divine right - a view strongly held by Charles himself. Laud was against Puritan reform of the church.
The charges brought against Laud was that he undermined the laws of England and therefore endangered the Protestant faith, however, these charges were never actually proved. Nevertheless, William Laud was convicted by a bill of attainder by Parliament instead of a jury and his execution planned for the 9th January.
Laud requested that he died by being beheaded rather than by hanging, he was buried in the chapel of St John's College, Oxford.
An etching of Laud's trial was produced at the time that quotes from Proverbs “The righteous are delivered from trouble and the wicked get into it instead" However Laud's was being praised right up to the mid 19th century, William Gladstone, who wrote a number of sermons that he would read to his servants on a Sunday said of Laud -
"Laud as a Churchman has lasted. He lives today. His opponents have mostly disappeared from off the earth. They have left consequences, but no representatives. Laud has both."
Born today in 1355 Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester to Edward III and Philippa of Hainault.
In 1388 Woodstock would lead a group of nobles known as the Lords Appellant against his nephew Richard II, an uprising the king never forgot.
He would be murdered whilst being held in prison in Calais more than likely on the order of the king.
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?
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