Carlisle Castle is over 900 years old, built in the time of William Rufus, it can be found not too far from Hadrian's Wall.
In the 1470's Richard, Duke of Gloucester was Lord Warden of the West Marshes, he was responsible for maintaining England's boarder with Scotland and it was Carlisle Castle that Richard would use as his base.The Duke of Gloucester had many supporters in this part of England, and as we know many wore a boar badge of loyalty.
There are a number of emblem carvings inside the castle walls that are linked to the House of York, one being a boar, these carvings are said to have been made by prisoners held at the castle.
Below you can see a rather amusing depiction of Richard III by Victorian artist Sir John Gilbert. Gilbert has Richard looking
like an old man whose lost his walking stick. As usual Richard is depicted as malicious, here he has an evil eye, he is
crooked and sinister but with a penchant for black fur and funny hats, and it seems unable to walk unaided!
Christies of London had it up for auction and its final selling price was £2875.
The painting is oil on canvas and is entitled The Arrest of Lord Hastings, it is signed by the artist and is dated 1871.
An inscription on the back reads
''The Arrest of Lord Hastings''/'Gloucester: Thou art a traitor:/Off with his head! Now, by Saint Paul I swear,/I will not dine
until I see the same./Lovel and Ratcliff, look that it be done: The rest, that love me, rise and follow me.' Richard III Act III
This work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1836, a water colour by Gilbert with a similar title "The Arrest of Lord
Hasting by the Duke of Gloucester" was also in exhibited 1836 but in a less than grand Suffolk street exhibition.
Would I have bought it if I had more money than I knew what to do with? I would not!
Laurence Olivier was born on the 22nd May 1907, for me he is best remembered for his portrayal of King Richard III
and the haunted and incredibly handsome Maxim de Winter in Daphne de Maurier's Rebecca.
Olivier was brilliant in the role of Shakespeare's Richard, the "Winter of discontent" scene is a fine example of this man's talents. Olivier doesn't ignore the camera but uses it as a tool to talk to us directly, making us believe that we are actually in the same room as the fifteenth century king.
The close ups are particularly unnerving, resulting in the audiences intimidation being turned to hate.
I have never been able to work out whether Olivier took the film seriously. He is known for his dry humour and his big personality, I cannot make out if he is being funny. The scene at the window for instance he uses his eyebrows to great effect is a prime example or is he just playing Richard as a ludicrous villain as Shakespeare intended?
A review of this film when it was first released stated:
"this is a superb and bold achievement, most honourable to Shakespeare and to the actor-producer-director, something of a cinematographic miracle."
This is true, the only one who loses here is Richard himself.
Laurence Olivier is one of my favourite actors (Peter O'Toole in the Lion in Winter ranks highly too.) His stage performances are legendary, he was superb as Heathcliffe in Withering Heights and not a little bit naughty in his private life if his letters to Vivian Leigh are anything to go by.
Hampton Court and an interesting representation of the outcome of the Battle of Bosworth.
The famous battle in which King Richard III lost the crown of England to Henry Tudor can be seen carved in stone on part of a heraldic shield found in the moat of Hampton Court in 1910.
Click on the link to view a video of heraldic shield
You can see that the Tudors have represented the famous story of how Henry VII claimed the throne of England by having the crown carved on top of a hawthorn bush. The Hawthorn bush and the crown are highly symbolic representations of both the Battle of Bosworth, (the end of the Plantagenets) and Henry VII (the beginning of the Tudors.)
It is interesting, isn't it, that even after thirty years of a Tudor reign this dynasty were still trying to justify their weak claim to the throne of England.
The app 'A Year Ago Today' keeps popping up on my private Facebook timeline, evidently this is what was going on my page that day.
I am dead proud of myself.......A new book is out about King Richard III and with my photograph on the cover.
Its the nearest I will ever get to having anything to do with the Richard in print.
"A new book by Amberley Publishing, 'The Man who Killed Richard III: Who Dealt the Fatal Blow at Bosworth?' by Susan Fern.
On 22 August 1485, on a battlefield in Bosworth, Leicestershire, King Richard III was dealt a death blow by the man who had sworn loyalty to him only a few months earlier. He was Rhys ap Thomas, a Welsh lord, master of Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire. For his service that day he was knighted on the field of battle by Henry Tudor. With the discovery of Richard's skeleton, it is now possible to answer this question of who dealt the fatal blow to this iconic English king. Richard III's wounds bear a striking resemblance to the contemporary poem which describes how he died and names Rhys ap Thomas as the man who dealt the fatal blow.
Rhys ap Thomas’s life had been inextricably linked with both Richard and Henry; all three young men grew under the shadow of the Wars of the Roses, suffering losses and betrayals. Ironically on his death Rhys chose to spend his final days at the Grey Friars in Carmarthen, being buried by the monks as Richard had been almost forty years before, perhaps in an act of remorse. This is the story of the man who helped forge the course of British history."
Here is my original image
When ever the subject of the Princes in the Tower comes up, there are always lots of interesting responses regarding the find of skeletal remains of two children under a set of steps in the Tower of London which many still consider to be that of the two sons of Edward IV who disappeared in 1483.
These remains eventually ended up in an urn in Westminster Abbey with the following inscription
'Here lie interred the remains of Edward V King of England, and Richard, Duke of York, whose long desired and much sought after bones, after above an hundred and ninety years, were found by most certain tokens, deep interred under the rubbish of the stairs that led up to the Chapel of the White Tower, on the 17th of July in the year of our Lord 1674. Charles the second, a most merciful prince, having compassion upon their hard fortune, performed the funeral rites of these most unhappy princes among the tombs of their ancestors, anno domini 1678.'
But it is the remains found under a stair case by workmen in 1674 that are still thought to be that of the two princes Edward and Richard of Shrewsbury.
Why is that?
What is interesting is the intense focus on this set of remains, they are only one, among a number of children's remains, that have been found in the Tower of London over the years that are said to be of Edward and Richard. Others include remains found when Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower, remains found when the tower's moat was drained in the mid nineteenth century and in 1789 the two small child size coffins that were found walled up in a 'hidden space' next to the vault holding the coffins of Edward V and his Elizabeth his queen.
The real answer to this question is quite simple and pretty straight forward.
Sir Thomas More's in his The History of Richard III says it was so.
....."About midnight (the sely children lying in their beddes) came into the chamber, and sodainly lapped them vp among the clothes so be wrapped them and entangled them keping down by force the fetherbed and pillowes hard vnto their mouthes, that within a while smored and stifled, theyr breath failing, thei gaue vp to god their innocent soules into the ioyes of heauen, leauing to the tormentors their bodyes dead in the bed."
but here's the interesting bit......
..... "Whiche after that the wretches parceiued, first by the strugling with the paines of death, and after long lying styll, to be throughly dead: they laide their bodies naked out vppon the bed, and fetched sir Iames to see them. Which vpon the sight of them, caused those murtherers........... to burye them at the stayre foote, metely depe in the grounde vnder a great heape of stones....... Than rode sir Iames in geat haste to king Richarde, and shewed him al the maner of the murther, who gaue hym gret thanks."
Thomas More is not only responsible for the fact that Charles II and everybody else considers these remains to be that of the two princes but that King Richard III from then on was the princes murderer.
The 'story' that the remains are of Edward and Richard, stems partly from the work of Professor William Wright and Dr George Northcroft who published their findings in ‘The Sons of Edward IV. A re-examination of the evidence on their deaths and on the Bones in Westminster Abbey’ This work ought be treated with caution, DNA aside, I wonder how it can be suggested that they were, in life, the princes, if they never established the sex of the skeletons? In 1986 it was pointed out that a couple of important facts from the study were not mentioned. Firstly, there were indications in "existing and unerupted teeth" that suggested that one of the skeletons was a female and secondly the age gap between the two remains were less than three years of the princes.
IF these two boys they met their deaths at the Tower, who in their right minds would place the bodies under the noses of all who were in the present at the time, without being seen and within a limited time frame? Others feel the same, suggesting there were better ways to get rid of the bodies than to hide them somewhere in the Tower itself.
I don't know why More wrote what is written here, or what his motives were, I don't know what happened to the two princes in the summer of 1483, they may well have been murdered, but equally they might not have been.
What I do know is that it has never been proved that the two sons of Edward IV were dead at all.
I also don't believe it is their remains at Westminster Abbey.
It has taken me a while but I am now able to talk about William Shakespeare without harping on about the fact that he is solely responsible for Richard III's bad press. I can now read and enjoy his plays for what their are, just plays.
Shakespeare in his day was a poet with a living to make he certainly wasn't considered a historian by the people around him he was simply writing what Elizabethan theatre goers wanted to hear and see. The Elizabethans liked their
"villains to be villainous," the audience had a "constant demand for a really bloody gangster play just as today there is a similar demand for a sadistic gangster film. Shakespeare's Richard is nothing but a royal gangster who had been
presented to him ready made by Tudor chroniclers"
said V E Lamb writing in 1959
Shakespeare wasn't concerned with historical accuracies, he just made the facts fit his plays. In The Betrayal of Richard III it is suggested that it was of no consequence to Shakespeare that he presents Richard as a monster, a grown man who was "reveling in the bloodshed at the Battle of Towton" when in fact he was an eight year old exiled in Utrecht, or that he makes Margaret of Anjou wander around the Palace of Westminster in 1483 foretelling Richards downfall when she actually had been in France since 1475. None of these were actual facts, Shakespeare simply used what he knew to make his plays more exciting. After all we have seen it done today, you have only got to watch any television series or film to see that. Shakespeare portrayed Richard III as the villain his public loved to hate, a murderous, lying, ruthless hunchbacked king.
I read recently that the English take their religion from Milton and their history from Shakespeare how true is that. Not only have I fallen into that trap, but many accredited historians have done the same such as James Gairdner, a British historian who studied the early Tudor period relating to Richard III, Henry VII and Henry VIII. As an introduction to his work entitled Lancaster and York he writes
"For the period of English history treated in this volume we are fortunate in possessing an unrivalled interpreter in our great dramatic poet Shakespeare. A regular sequence of historical plays exhibits to us not only the general character of each successive reign but nearly the whole chain of leading events from the days of Richard II to the death of Richard III at
Bosworth. Following the guidance of such a master mind we realise for ourselves the men and actions of the period in a
way we cannot do in any other epoch"
There are many of us who are in someway to blame for Richard III being portrayed for over 500 years as a wife poisoning, niece lusting, nephew murdering tyrant. The Tudor usurpers who needed to blacken his name so that they could hold onto his crown, historians like Gairdner for perpetuating the lie and the likes of me, only a few years ago, for not thinking for myself. I should have read and listened to all points of view before making my mind up, but I see now that we cannot wholly blame William Shakespeare for Richard's undoing.
Standing proudly in the Fenlands of Lincolnshire are the ruins of the Abbey of Crowland, and as autumn brings its misty evenings, or winter its old crisp mornings, standing among the abbeys broken arches you cannot help but think of the forthcoming Christmas festivities.
Today, Crowland Abbey joins in the fun of Christmas just like any other religious establishment, on the 6th December it had its Christmas Craft and Food Fare when mince pies were eaten and maybe a drink of mulled wine was sampled. That very day in 1484, the second Christmas of King Richard III's reign, people celebrated
St Nicholas's saints day.
On that day, our ancestors believed this Saint Nicholas brought gifts such as nuts, fruits and marzipan sweets, and with these gifts the ability to foretell the events of the following year. While most of the Fenland community where knocking back the Christmas ale, Crowland Abbey was not so festive. Within the abbey the monks were busy with local and national affairs, on one hand they were trying to keep talk of a local dispute quiet and on the other being quite vocal in its criticism
of Christmas in the court of King Richard III.
Whoever it was that put ink to parchment, had much to say on the subject of the shenanigans going on
at Richard's Christmas parties. The writer of the famous Croyland Chronicle states that he was unable to account for many of the activities in the court at this time “because it is shameful to speak of them” even Queen Anne and Elizabeth of York were considered "vain" because they had more than one party outfit. Richards best buddy, Bishop Thomas Langton, joined these medieval party poopers by stating "‘sensual pleasure holds sway to an increasing extent.’
What on earth did this mean?
Did Richard kiss the lovely Ann more than once under the mistletoe I wonder?
Not one of the writers made any attempt to elaborate on any of the events they were writing about.
All the criticisms of Richards "wild parties" came from the clergy who were very quick to point out that Richard saw himself as a " good, learned, serious and virtuous man" while also pointing out that he had called his brothers court "licentious and morally corrupt." The University of Leicester School of Historical Studies quite rightly points out ‘compared with the wild parties that were held at Rome during the reign of Pope Alexander VI, the English court under Edward IV and Richard III was a 'model of virtue’.
Surely, even the pious, like Richard, should not be frowned upon for having a good time, obviously there was more to these statements than meets the eye.
Perhaps these people were just a tad miffed and just bit disgruntled at not to being invited. Did they
watch from a distance or listen enviously to tales told the following morning of how Catesby, Lovell and Ratcliffe danced in silly animal party hats or King Richard drank way too ale and threw iced cakes at the Earl of Warwick.
In reality of course, all these damning words were written years later. Those who pooh poohed the kings festivities were not irritated because a invitation hadn't landed on their door mat, they were spouting propaganda, words they thought their new king wished to hear, words that would keep them safe in the new Tudor era. History suggests that the events at court in 1484, as written in the Croyland Chronicles, were written two years later in 1486, by someone who was educated in law and who was privy to information within the court.
The Benedictine residents of Crowland Abbey had at their head one Lambert Fossdyke who had been Abbot at Crowland since January 1484 and who was a Bachelor of Law and it was such a man with a degree in law who was considered to be the writer of these malicious rumors about Richard III.
John Russell, Bishop of Lincoln, is commonly thought to be the author but it could just as well have been Fossdyke dictating to one of his monks?
A wonderful Victorian painting by Henry Reynolds Steer.
My interest in Leicester's history runs along side my interest in Richard III and through this painting I can glimpse the city
as it was in the time of my great great grandparents.
In Steer's painting, I wonder if that is my great great grandmother buying apples or maybe that is my great great grandfather bringing fabric he made on his stocking frame into the city, its a nice thought, but I know that the lives my ancestors lived in Leicester were not, in reality, what the Victorian artist painted or those who purchased them wanted to see.
Most towns in England, from as far back as the medieval period, had a troupe of musicians called Waites who played
their instrument through our towns at night, and woke the inhabitants on cold and dark winter mornings by playing under
heir windows. Their other duties included welcoming royal visitors at the town gates and playing at important events. Their
name may originate from instrument they played called a Wayte Pipe.
You can see Leicester's Waites depicted in the image above, finely dressed in their red and gold livery. They stand at Market Cross, at the junction of High Cross Street and High Street, the buildings you see here were gone by the mid 1800's as are the Waites themselves, they ceased playing in Leicester in 1947.
However, this is not the end, in 2002 Leicester's Waites were back and the position is currently held by the Longslade Consort, a small group of musicians who play early musical instruments, you can see here at Leicester's Guildhall.
Alexandra Buckle, an expert in medieval music who is also liturgical adviser to the committee planning the reburial of Richard III has reconstructed how an authentic medieval reburial service would have been conducted. Dr Buckle said that a reburial was a major event in the fifteenth century and she was quite surprised to find 'how widespread it was.' The work Dr Buckle has done shows that a reburial was not an ordinary affair but a separate service. She goes on to say
'This service provides an evocative picture of the medieval world, full of pomp and piety, with prayers that the dry bones being re interred would be spared the wrathful judgement of God.'
Richard III would have been respectfully reburied this way if there was anyone left to recover him following his death at Bosworth. But his family were all gone and anyone left who respected him would, quite rightly, be frightened for their own lives under the new Tudor regime to attempt anything, and as we now know Richards body was tossed into a hastily dug grave, covered and forgotten.
We can see what to expect from a medieval reburial ceremony from the reburial of Richards own father, Richard of York, who died in Battle at Wakefield in 1460. York was buried at Pontifract and his head placed on a spike over Micklegate Bar in York with his remains later taken for reburial at Fotheringhay. This reburial would have involved many people, three masses were known to have been sung for his soul and prayers were read, York's body would have been sprinkled with holy water before he was laid to rest, followed by a banquet were meats of capon, heron and swan were served.
The mortal remains of King Richard III lie with the University of Leicester until Sunday 22nd March when his last journey for reburial begins.
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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