All three Tristan Quilts are the only known surviving examples of medieval quilts.
One of my favourite tales of Middle Ages is that of Tristan and Isolde, the doomed love affair between the Cornish knight Tristan and his Irish princess Isolde, which incidentally, the Arthurian legend of Guinevere and Lancelot is thought to be based on.
The couples tale is represented on this quilted bed cover, and is made up of fourteen different scenes from their story. There are two sections of the quilt, one at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the other in the Bargello in Florence. There is a third piece, but this is held by a private owner.
All three Tristan Quilts are the only known surviving examples of medieval quilts.
The image below depicts the grizzly death of Ganelon who was a knight who betrayed Charlemagne's army to the Muslims which lead to the Battle of Roncevaux Pass.
Ganelon's name is said to derive from the Italian word inganno, meaning fraud or deception. The most famous appearance of Ganelon is in The Song of Roland, a poem based on the above-mentioned battle in 778, where he is a well-respected Frankish baron and Roland's own stepfather and Charlemagne's brother-in-law. According to this Chanson de geste Ganelon was married to Charlemagne's sister and had a son with her.
Ganelon resents his stepson's boastfulness and great popularity among the Franks and success on the battlefield. When Roland nominates him for a highly dangerous mission as messenger to the Saracens, Ganelon is so deeply offended that he vows vengeance. This vengeance soon turns to treachery as Ganelon plots an ambush at Roncesvaux. In the end, justice is served when Ganelon's comrade Pinabel is defeated in a trial by combat, thus Ganelon is torn limb from limb by four fiery horses.
On the 19th May 1499, thirteen year old Catherine of Aragon was married, by proxy, to twelve year old Arthur, Prince of Wales at Tickenhill Palace, a manor house that formed part of the princes estate.
The actual wedding would take place on 14th of November in 1501 at St Paul's Cathedral, when Henry VII's heir would be of age.
The sweet chestnut tree in the image below is reputed to have been planted to commemorate the couple's marriage in the manor gardens. If the story is true, then this year the tree will be five hundred and eighteen years old.
Its branches have been allowed to grow, its longest branch, which stretches down a slope has an elbow and touches the ground, is forty four feet from the tree's trunk and reaches to its furthest extent of 77 feet. Sweet chestnut trees were introduced to England over two thousand years ago and can grow to a massive size, many have large hollow trunks.
Catherine and Arthur's 'tree' can be found in the grounds of the Georgian Kateshill House, that now stands in what was the 15th century Tickenhill estate.
“A butcher's dog has killed the finest Buck in England” was a reference to Cardinal Wolsey part in the execution of Edward Stafford
Cardinal Wolsey had obtained great power and wealth rather quickly and Henry was soon dependent on him and the advice he gave, this of course angered the nobility and other men of rank who considered that Wolsey was punching above his weight.
Envy and jealousy played their part in the downfall of Buckingham as it later would with Wolsey, there was a least one person who succumbed by pointing the finger of suspicion at the Duke and he made his feeling quite plain in a letter sent to Wolsey accusing Buckingham of treason.
Was Buckingham part of a plot to kill the king, Thomas More suggested his conviction was based on hearsay others considered him guilty as charged.
A J Pollard wrote of Buckingham's fate
"Buckingham was not executed because he was a criminal, but because he was, or might become,
dangerous: his crime was not treason, but descent from Edward III"
Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham climbed the steps to the scaffold at Tower Hill on the 17th May in 1521.
In 1216 England was going through an unsettled period, because of this Henry III's first coronation at Gloucester Abbey on the 28th of October was rather a hurried affair. Four years later the political situation had quietened somewhat and the Pope had given permission for a second coronation ceremony, this took place at Westminster Abbey on 17 May 1220.
Henry III was the first English king to be crowned as a child, he was just nine years old, but his reign would be a long one, he was king of England for fifty-six years, a reign where the social and political landscape of England would be changed irrevocably.
I feel Henry's time as our countries monarch was one of the most important and significant reigns in our history and as I have said on more than one occasion his achievements have been much overlooked. Henry III improved the educational system in England, he was a lover of art and architecture and it was Henry who ordered the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey in the Gothic style we see today.
You can see Henry is still only a child, he was thirteen, as he is crowned for the second time in the above image.
It was on this day in 1943 that news came through that the mighty Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany had been breached. 617 Squadron of Lancaster bombers led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson had succeeded in this by using the ‘bouncing’ bombs developed by Dr Barnes Wallis.
The History of 617 Squadron writes:
"Perhaps the most famous RAF squadron currently flying, 617 Squadron was formed at Scampton on 21 March 1943 specifically to undertake one operation - Operation Chastise - the breaching of dams vital to the German war effort. The Squadron's Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, was given free reign to comb other Lancaster squadrons for the crews he thought could best undertake the mission. For weeks, not even Gibson was told of the unit's task, only that low-level flying over water was essential, and training was undertaken in around the dams and reservoirs of Derbyshire. Chastise called for the breaching of three enormous dams in the Ruhr - the heart of German industrial production - by dropping a specially designed mine at exactly 60 feet (18.29m) and a speed 220 mph (354 km/h). Nineteen specially modified Lancaster carried out the attack during the night of 16/17 May 1943, successfully breaching the Mohne and Eder dams, butfailing with attacks on two others, the Sorpe and Schwelme. Wing Commander Gibson repeatedly flew over the Mohne and Eder dams to draw fire away from the attacking aircraft and was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry. Thirty-two other members of the Squadron were also decorated but a total of eight aircraft and their crews were lost during the night.
The unit was retained to carry out highly specialised attacks, many of which employed the 12,000lb (5,448kg) 'Tallboy' and 22,000lb (9,988kg) 'Grand Slam' bombs. The Squadron received Lincolns in September 1946 and Canberras six years later with which the Squadron took part in Operation Firedog in Malaya before disbanding on 15 December 1955. On 1 May 1958, No 617 reformed at Scampton equipped with Vulcans, a type that remained on strength until 31 December 1981 when the unit disbanded. The following year, the Squadron reformed with Tornado GR1s at Marham, initially in the strike role, but latterly in the maritime strike mission based at Lossiemouth.
Number 617 continued to fly the Tornado GR1 until it was replaced by the updated GR4 and it was with these that the squadron carried out the first attacks with the RAF's stand-off weapon - Storm Shadow - during Operation Telic in April 2003.
But what happened to the squadron after the mission?
The Cornish town of Stratton, that lies close to the boarder with Devon, was a manor owned by my ancestors in the early 12th century, its history, and theirs is quite fascinating. Stratton was the head of its hundred (a division of the county for judicial purposes) which is a good indicator of its importance in the north of Cornwall. It had a thriving agricultural and leather trade.
By the 17th century there was little to show that my ancestors ever lived there, however on the 16th May 1643, a civil war battle, the Battle of Stratton, took place at the base of Stamford Hill, less than a mile north of the family's castle.
The battle raged for most of the day, but by the end of it Henry Grey, Earl of Stamford, had lost half of his forces enabling the Cornish Royalist army to march across the border from Cornwall to Devon. It was a Royalist victory, and a quite remarkable one considering the three thousand Royalist troops, under Sir Ralph Hopton, faced Grey's Parliamentarian army that numbered over five and a half thousand.
By July, Hopton had lead his forces in two more battles, one at Crediton and one at Landsdowne, where Hopton was injured. A year later he successfully defended Devizes from an attack by William Waller's forces and two years after that he had taken up a defensive position in the Devon town ofTorrington, a battle that marked the end of Royalist resistance in the West Country.
Henry Grey's failure at Stratton and the surrender of the City of Exeter after a three month siege effectively ended his career as a Parliamentary commander.
On the 15th May in 1537, Sir John Hussey of Sleaford in Lincolnshire and his cousin Thomas Darcy were tried for treason at Westminster after being implicated in the Pilgrimage of Grace.
Despite denying being a part of the rebellion, Hussey was accused of
'conspiring to change laws and depose the king, and that he abetted those who made war on the king in October 1536'
Hussey's links with Darcy stem from their Lincolnshire roots, but it was his association with his cousin and the risings in Yorkshire plus his suspected Catholic sympathies, (the Catholic accusations made against him were based on the fact that both Hussey and his wife, Anne Grey had attended Henry VIII's daughter Mary) that made the case against him, therefore he was guilty by association and his failure to put down a rebellion that threatened Henry.
John Hussey was charged and tried for treason and found guilty by the House of Lords. There is some confusion as to where Hussey was executed, however on the 28th June, Henry VIII wrote to the Charles Brandon the Duke of Suffolk stating
'... am sending Hussey for you to behead in Lincoln as soon as possible after his arrival...'
and by the the first week in July Thomas Cromwell wrote to Thomas Wyat that Hussey had been executed at Lincoln. I think that we can safely assume that Hussey was executed in his home county of Lincolnshire.
Before Hussey went to the scaffold Thomas Cromwell offered him his
"lyffe, landes and goodes"
if he would inform on those involved in the rebellion, but Hussey had already testified that he knew nothing.
Hussey was executed in Lincoln on or about the 8th of July 1537 at St Mary's Guild Hall also known as John of Gaunt Stables.
There are a number of written accounts of John Hussey's death which are collected together in E Mansel Sympson's book "Lincoln, A Historical and Topographical Account of the City". One quote is from antiquarian John Leyland who reports
'Lord Hussey's house at Lincoln on the west side of the street, in the suburbs of Wickenford, out of whose bow window he went to execution"
So ended the life of a man who was a loyal Tudor courtier and who had fought with Henry VII at Stoke.
Hussey's cousin, Thomas Darcy, was executed on Tower Hill a week before.
On the 14th May in 1264, Henry III forces were defeated by the armies of Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Lewes in Sussex. This battle was one of two main battles in the conflict known as the Second Barons War and at this point, Montfort was riding high.
King Henry III is said to have been intelligent and quick to master the problems of administration and government, he was also seen an "uncomplicated, almost naive man, and a lover of peace," yet all this is hardly mentioned, historians preferring to write about Simon de Monfort who not only stole Henry's crown but also his limelight.
The dissatisfaction of Henry's barons culminated in the Second Barons War in 1263. It was Simon de Monfort who lead the rebellion against Henry, and after the Battle of Lewes both the king and his son Edward, later Edward I, were captured and it was de Montfort who ruled in his name.
Eventually, de Montfort lost the support of many of Henry's disaffected barons, this along with Edward escaping his captors and raising an army was the beginning of the end for de Montfort. After the Battle of Evesham, Montfort met a grizzly end and Henry regained his throne.
The 8th of May in Cornwall: Hal an tow and the Furry Dance - One big party but two pagan festivals.
The Furry Dance, which is also known as The Flora or Floral Dance, takes place in Helston on or around May 8th every year. Pre Christian in origin, it is a celebration of spring, and one of the oldest British customs still in performed.
On this day much dancing takes place, with children dancing hand in hand up and down the Cornish streets but it is the midday dance is perhaps the best known: it was traditionally the dance of the gentry in the town, and today men wear top hats and tails while women wear pretty spring dresses.
On the same day, the Hal an tow event takes place, it is a pageant that takes the form of roaming mystery play with historical and mythical themes that represent good versus evil, such as George and the Dragon, as seen here. This event is also based on the seasons but it is quite distinct from the Furry dance.
This festival was suppressed in the nineteenth century owing to the over exuberance of merrymakers and later became associated with drunkenness. The Hal an tow was revived by the Helston Old Cornwall Society in the 1930's and has since merged with the Furry Dance celebrations as one festival.
After ten years in the workplace I became a mother to three very beautiful daughters, I was fortunate enough to have been able to stay at home and spend my time with them as they grew into the young women they are now. I am still in the position of being able to be at home and pursue all the interests I have previously mentioned. We live in a beautiful Victorian spa town with wooded walks for the dog, lovely shops and a host of lovely people, what more could I ask for.
All works © Andrea Povey 2014. Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of Andrea Povey.