In 1497, Henry Tudor, who took the crown of England from Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, began to levy taxes on the Cornish people to pay for his wars in Scotland. This lead to what history calls the Cornish Rebellion of June that year.
The rebellion began with voices of unrest in the village of St Keverne where Michael Joseph An Gof and Thomas Flamank spoke out about these taxes and what they thought the people of Cornwall should do about it. The rebellion ended on the 28th June with the execution of James Tuchet, Baron Audley who lead the rebels to London.
At that time, and written in the Cornish language was a miracle play called Beunans Meriasek, it's theme was about the struggle between good and evil. In this play, evil is represented by King Teudar.
It's likely the Cornish were using this play to criticise the king in a subtler way than that of violence.
On this day in 1457 Henry of Richmond, later Henry VII was born at Pembroke Castle to Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor.
In 1455, at the age of just twelve years old Henry's mother, a wealthy heiress had married Edmund Tudor, the son of a commoner who had climbed into the bed of a queen of England. Margaret was soon pregnant.
Henry was born into a country that was divided by conflict and civil war.
Margaret Beaufort was just a child herself and Henry's birth did irreparable damage, this could account for the fact that she never gave birth again, however she turned out to be an influential and dominant figure throughout Henry's life. Margaret was also aware of her son's vulnerability and because of this sent him into the care of his uncle, Jasper Tudor. Following the Battle of Tewkesbury in the May of 1471 Jasper and Henry fled to Brittany and then finally into France. Henry spent, in total, fourteen years of his life in exile.
His return to England in 1485 has been much written about, and most of you will know that he was aided at the Battle of Bosworth by Thomas Stanley, his mother's husband and his brother William.
Henry of Richmond became king of England on the 22nd August in 1485.
I, of course, am a Ricardian and see Henry as a usurper, whose claim to the throne is a tenuous one to say the least, however, Richard and Henry's stories are real and to understand Henry, Richard and the Wars of the Roses it is always best to read widely with the aim to gain an understanding of both sides of story, therefore I add this paragraph taken from the Henry Tudor Society about Henry.
"He is a king often accused of being parsimonious, miserly, ruthless, severe and avaricious to the extreme, cold to his wife and cruel to friend and foe alike. The study of Henry’s life, from his beginnings through to the exile, and from his early reign to the tragic end, put forward a different man. It is this man, the real Henry, not the mythical Henry, that we aim to bring to the fore. A man who had an astounding tenacity to survive, to cling to his throne and to pass his crown to his son in a peaceful manner, something which eluded several monarchs before him."
Here a link to the Henry Tudor Society -
On the 14th of August in 1473 the birth of Margaret Pole, the daughter of George Duke of Clarence and Isabel Neville at Castle Farleigh, an estate not too far from Bath in Somerset.
This west country castle was once the ancestral home of the Hungerfords, a family who had sided with the Lancastrians during the Wars of the Roses and were punished for that with execution and the loss of their estates. Castle Farleigh was granted to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, however, in 1473 it was linked with the Duke of Clarence for it was here that Isabel gave birth to Margaret.
Isabel Neville died in 1476 and Clarence was executed two years later, Margaret lived out the rest of her childhood with her paternal cousins in the royal household. Six years following the accession to the throne by Henry Tudor she was married to Richard Pole by whom she would have five children - the four sons were thorns in the sides of Henry VIII. However, Margaret was a member of the young Katherine of Aragon's household during the reign of Henry VII and under Henry VIII she was governess to Henry's daughter Mary. During the troubles between Catherine and Henry and Henry and Mary, Margaret would stay true to their cause.
By the end of 1538, Margaret was in trouble and found herself embroiled in the fall out of the arrests of her sons Geoffrey and Henry Pole on a charge of treason. She was detained at Cowdray Park, the home of the Earl of Southampton. It wasn't long before trumped up charges were brought against her, and she was sent to the Tower where she was kept for just under two years. Poor Margaret was not treated well during her incarceration, the conditions were austere and inadequate for a woman her age let alone her status, the room was cold and damp and she suffered as a result.
Margaret Pole would die at the hands of an inexperienced executioner on the 27th May in 1541 - she was sixty-eight years old.
The above image is considered to be that of Margaret Pole as she wears a tiny barrel charm on a bracelet which is taken to represents her father's death in a barrel of Malmesbury wine. This, of course, is a case of fabricating the evidence to fit the crime. Not only did this one tiny detail added weight to the vat of wine theory but it means that this portrait has been wrongly attributed.
Thomas Penn, in his book The Winter King, referred to Henry VII as a miser and stated that ‘money was dearest to his heart.’
In the image below we can see Henry with two of his ministers, Edmund Dudley and Richard Empson, no doubt discussing fiscal policy.
Richard Empson was in charge of recovering money owed to the king and was associated with Edmund Dudley in this capacity. When Henry VII died in the April of 1509 and his son ascended England's throne, both Empson and Dudley's days were numbered.
Henry VIII had both men arrested the day after he became king, and they were the first to fall victim to Henry ridding the court of men who were disliked in his fathers time, and who he considered would damage to his new reign.
Dudley, whose descendants would go on to do rather well in the reign of Edward VI and Elizabeth I, was thought to pay too much attention to feathering his own nest and both men were considered to be tough enforcers of the law.
Following their arrest they were convicted of treason in the October of 1509 and executed this day in 1510 on Tower Hill.
24th June 1497: John Cabot reached North America.
The first map to use the name America is known as the Waldseemuller Map, it was published in the April of 1507 by German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller in his Universalis Cosmographia.
The image below is the first map to show America as a continent, this too was created by a German cartographer known as Sebastian Munster. His work, Cosmographia was published in the mid sixteenth century and taken from book five of his works.
This proves that America was known to us in the time of Henry VIII.
So who actually discovered America?
Well, it was not Christopher Columbus in 1498 according to a number of historians. These scholars claim there are a number of others who may have discovered the country many years before. In 2008, Gavin Menzies, a British historian, claimed it was one Chinese Admiral named Zheng in the first part of the fifteenth century. Menzies claims it was Zhengs map of 1418, seen here, that Columbus used when he plotted his journey to the new continent decades after Zheng.
Over forty years ago in 1966, English scholar, Alwyn Ruddock, discovered a letter, dated 1498 written to Columbus by an English merchant who was named John Day. In it, Day said that it was ‘considered certain’ that the North American mainland had been ‘found and discovered in the past’ by seamen from the port of Bristol. Italian explorer John Cabot had visited Bristol the previous year, 1497, and left from there to eventually find Newfoundland. It was probably Cabot that Day was suggesting to Columbus who had 'seen' America. Ruddock also owned more papers suggesting that America had been reached as early as 1470. There is no way to confirm these facts as Ruddock, for some unknown reason, ordered all of these papers to be destroyed at her death.
Cabot indeed may have been in Bristol as the letters suggested as he had found an English investor to fund his journey, he had also received a patent from Henry VII. Another group of people in the running for the discovery, are the Scandinavians. When Columbus finally arrived in America the were already people living there, these were the descendants of the Vikings who had landed there between 970 to as late as 1066, Columbus would not have known that so we can see why he is credited.
By far the most interesting candidate is one Abu Raihan al-Biruni, who is being put forward as 'discovering' America without leaving his desk. Biruni was an Islamic scholar born in 973. He studied cartography, mathematics, astronomy, geography and geometry. He had worked out the latitude and longitude of his own town and began to collect similar co-ordinates for other places. Biruni used ancient Greek sources to compile data on hundreds of other places in world and then began adding calculations on other locations from all points of the compass.
If this is fact, then it can be said that he, in theory, discovered America a short time before the Vikings actually set foot in the country.
If any of these contenders for the title of the discovery of America are proven to be fact then Christopher Columbus can still be credited with being the first to initiate regular contact between the peoples of America and Europe.
This painting of Henry VII is an important and rare work, it is thought to be derived from the preparatory work of court artist Hans Holbein. A declaration by Mansion House Antiques & Fine Art dates it as the sixteenth century. Including the frame, which is a 'hand sculptured wooden gilt frame, enhanced with carved tulips, fruit flowers, English roses, acorns an inter-twining ribbon', it measures 63 inches by 51 inches, the artist is unknown.
You will recognise the sitter of this oil painting as King Henry VII and you will no doubt think 'where have I seen him before?' If you haven't already remembered, Henry's image forms part of what is known as The Whitehall Mural.
It was at the palace of Whitehall that Holbein created his largest and most important royal commission, in which Henry VIII was portrayed with his Queen Jane Seymour and his parents, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. It was probably painted on the wall of Henry's privy chamber and no doubt dominated it. It is said to have faced the door and any visitor would have been immediately overwhelmed by the life-size image of Henry VIII confronting them, one visitor wrote
"was so lifelike that the spectator felt abashed, annihilated in its presence"
It is not known when the mural was commissioned, but it is thought to have been during Henry's marriage to Jane Seymour and completed after her death in 1537. The Palace of Whitehall burned down in the January of 1698 and Holbein’s mural burned along with it.
Thirty-one years before the fire, Charles II commissioned Remigius van Leemput to copy of the mural, and thank goodness he did.
Born on the 20th September 1486, Arthur, Prince of Wales, was the boy on whom all Henry VII's hopes and dreams were pinned.
So important was it to Henry that Elizabeth give birth in the Hampshire town of Winchester, that he risked both their lives by rushing to get them there. This journey caused Elizabeth to give birth early, fortunately the queen delivered a healthy baby boy at St. Swithun’s Priory
“afore one o’clock after midnight.”
The new heir to the Tudor throne of England was named Arthur, after King Arthur the victorious fifth century warrior, who lead the Britons into battle against Saxon invaders. Henry was quick to see the parallels between himself and Arthur, after all had he not lead the true line of the blood royal in a battle against those who had no right to the English crown?
To Henry, Arthur as a perfect English hero, who Chretien de Troyes, the French poet, had written so eloquently about three centuries earlier. Henry was not the only one to be inspired by the chivalric tales of King Arthur, Thomas Malory's wrote the about this 'West Country' king and it was in his work that Winchester was the suggested site of King Arthur's Castle.
Prince Arthur was baptised four days after his birth in Winchester Cathedral, and for a while at least, Henry's new Tudor garden was filled with healthy red roses.
Did you know that on the 16th September 1485, following his victory at the Battle of Bosworth, the Yeoman of the Guard,
the bodyguard of the English Crown we know as Beefeaters, were established this day by King Henry VII.
Confusingly, there are to different groups of soldiers that perform a service within the Tower of the London, that is the aforementioned Yeoman of the Guard, and the Yeoman Warders. The Yeoman Warders are can trace their origins back to the time the Tower of London was a prison when Henry I sent the Bishop of Durham there in 1100. You can read that story here
The Tower of London stands proudly on the banks of the River Thames, guarding our nations capital as it has done
for the last nine hundred years. The tower has been a Royal Palace, a fortress, a place of execution, an arsenal, a Royal Mint, it has of course been a prison holding prisoners such as William the Count of Mortain in 1106 and the Kray twins in 1952 before being taken else where. So with its thick stone walls, its armed guards and huge towers you would expect it to be secure, and of course it is. Every evening, the main gates of the Tower of London are secured by the Chief Yeoman Warder and his armed guard. This event, that has taken place every night without fail for over 500 years, is called the
Ceremony of the Keys.
The Chief Yeoman Warder in his distinctive red coat and Tudor hat emerges from the Byward Tower carrying The Queen’s Keys and a lantern, he walks into Water Lane and is joined at Traitor’s Gate by his armed guard, a salute is given then they proceed to the outer gates. The Chief Yeoman Warder proceeds to lock the series of large gates, outermost first and walks back along Water Lane and back towards Traitor’s Gate, where he is stopped by a sentry and asked to prove his identity.
After confirming that he carries The Queen’s Keys, he walks through the Bloody Tower archway to where the main body of
the guard is assembled. The guard present arms, the Chief Yeoman Warder raises his hat and calls
“God Save Queen Elizabeth” followed by an Amen from the guard. The keys are then taken to the Queen's House for safekeeping accompanied by the Last Post.
This wonderful ceremony has only been delayed once when during WWII a bomb knocked the warders off their feet. It has never been cancelled.
The word Stannary means 'belonging to tin mines' and is taken from the Latin word Stanum.
The areas in Cornwall, where tin was extracted, were known as Stannaries and the law that affected them were known as Stannary Law. These Cornish Stannaries form part of the Duchy of Cornwall, an estate which was created by Edward III in 1337 when he granted his son, Edward, the Black Prince Duke of Cornwall.
Tin mining in Cornwall is ancient, and employed men in remote and outlying areas away from the main towns, and therefore they had their own rules and regulations. The early Earls and Dukes of this distant county reaped great rewards from mining and since early times the mines and the men working them have been protected by the crown. This institution had its its head wardens who were governed by the Lord Warden of the Stannaries.
The writ appointing the Lord Warden covered the
"just and ancient customs and liberties of miners, smelters and merchants of tin."
The first to hold this title was William de Wrotham who was given this title on the 20th November 1197 during the reign of King Richard I. In 1198, juries of miners at Launceston, stood before Wrotham to swear by the law and practice of the tin mines.
Over the years, Royal Charters issued by Edward I in 1305, Edward IV in 1466, and Henry VII in 1508 have changed and
added to the laws within the Stannaries. King John, often seen as a selfish and greedy king, was not slow to see the attraction of the Cornish tin industry. In 1201 he issued the first charter to the Stannaries. By 1214, production of tin had risen to six hundred tons, the result of this saw many men, who once worked on the land, move to mining. One of the clauses of Magna Carta was that no lord shoud lose the service of his men whether he dug tin or not. Henry III confired his fathers charter, and
the Stannaries soon had their own taxation, no acknowledged lord and were 'a law unto themselves.' By the end of the 13th century the Stannaries were under the control of Richard, the second son of King John and his son Edmund as the Earls of Cornwall.
In 1225, Richard, at just sixteen, was granted the County of Cornwall and all its tin works, and following that the Earldom of Cornwall. Later Edward I granted privileges to tinners to be tried by their own courts and benefit from the exemption of taxation.
The above image records one John Gurney’s appointment as Vicewarden of the Stannaries for Devon and explains the differences between the courts in Cornwall and Devon.
In the first twelve years of his reign, Henry VII had successfully put down a number of major threats. They had all come from the Yorkist opposition, the de la Poles the sons of Elizabeth of York, Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, pretenders to the throne.
In the June of 1497, the rumblings of a new threat to Henry's reign could be heard in the most western part of England that was not of a dynastic nature, it was a tax riot that turned into full scale rebellion. When Henry imposed yet another subsidy on the people to finance his war against the Scots, there was outrage in the county, traditionally it was the northern counties that bore the brunt of this taxation.
Poverty among the tin workers and labourers of Cornwall was rife, Michael Joseph An Gof, a blacksmith from the Cornish village of St Keverne was the first to rouse his village to rebellion and Thomas Flamank, a lawyer of Bodmin whose father Sir Richard Flamank was Cornwall's royal tax collector, were inciting rebellion in Bodmin urging the people to march and take their grievances to the King. They began to march peacefully to London, picking up supporters on the way. Thomas Flamank spoke at public meetings against the imposition of this tax. He compiled a “Declaration of Grievance" listing the Cornish complaints about English rule. The Cornish became a disciplined army of around 15,000 men, effectively led by Gof and Flamank.
These 'rebels' hoped to boost their numbers with men from Kent, but no support was forthcoming forcing the rebels to backtrack and head back towards London. When they arrived at Deptford Bridge they were confronted by archers protecting an important crossing point over the River Ravensbourne at Deptford.
It was on the 17th June that men of Cornwall faced the King's forces at Blackheath.
Just outside London, Michael Joseph An Gof, Thomas Flamank and their followers were forced into battle against the King’s army in the Battle of Deptford Bridge. The armies of Henry VII stormed the bridge at dawn the following day, the bridge was taken leaving between 200 and 2000 men dead.
Gof and Flamank, two brave Cornish leaders were hanged, drawn and quartered ten days later on the 27th and their heads displayed on London Bridge, although they were offered a degree of leniency as the drawing happened after they were dead.
No doubt both men hoped that their efforts were not in vain, and that
'They shall have a name perpetual and fame permanent and immortal'
Sadly this is not the case, both Gof and Flamank have been largely forgotten by history, over shadowed by men of equal bravery and events deemed to be greater than theirs. London, it seems, has made some effort to remember them and their plight, there is a plaque in their memory near the entrance to Greenwich Park.
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.
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