Today I'm delighted to be part of historian and author Toni Mount's book tour for the latest installment of her fantastic Sebastian Foxley Medieval Murder Mystery series, The Colour of Lies, which is the 7th book in the series. Over to Toni:
St Bartholomew’s Fair
In my latest Seb Foxley medieval murder mystery, The Colour of Lies, set in London in the 1470s, the adventure plays out against the background of St Bartholomew’s Fair and the trouble begins with the theft of three exceptionally valuable items from a merchant’s stall: unicorn horns.
The great trade-fair took place just outside the walls of the city of London every summer. King Henry I had granted a charter for the fair to Rahere, who had once been his court jester, in order to raise money for the Priory of St Bartholomew that Rahere founded for the benefit of his soul. The fair began in 1133 and was last held in 1855, by which time it had become such a rowdy and drunken event, the authorities closed it down for good. Each year, the fair opened on the eve of the feast of St Bartholomew, the 24 August, within the priory precincts at West Smithfield, beyond Aldersgate, north of the city. After the priory was dissolved by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s, the fair continued to be held on land owned by the parish of St Bartholomew the Great.
Originally, it was a three-day cloth fair but gradually extended until, at its longest, it lasted for two weeks during the seventeenth century. It was so popular that even in 1348, when it is recorded that the Black Death broke out at St Bartholomew’s Fair and lasted until the next fair the following year, there is no record that the event was called off or even curtailed. By the fifteenth century, all kinds of goods, such as pewter, leather and more exotic wares, were being sold, as well as woollen cloth, linen and luxury textiles, with merchants from all around England and across Europe coming to trade.
Apart from business, folk also came to enjoy themselves and be entertained by all kinds of sideshows: jugglers, acrobats and fire-eaters as well as wild animal shows, freak shows and performances by both mountebanks (literally those who mounted a bench – a term applied to itinerant actors) and puppeteers. It was traditional for the Lord Mayor of London to open the fair on St Bartholomew’s Eve with the odd custom of pausing on the way to accept a cup of wine at Newgate Gaol before continuing to Smithfield. He went in procession, accompanied by members of the Merchant Taylors Guild with their standard cloth-yard ruler, made of silver, to check that all traders were using the correct measure in selling their cloth. The west gate of the fair was to the north of St Bartholomew’s Church (there is still an entrance from Smithfield to the road still called Cloth Fair today but both gate and gateway have been removed). At this gate, the proclamation was read, declaring the fair open. At night, the gate was closed to protect the goods against theft.
Over the centuries, not surprisingly perhaps, conflict arose between the priory and the city authorities. By the 1400s, the fair had become such a large event, it extended well beyond St Bartholomew’s precincts, as far south as St Sepulchre Church, north to the gate of St John’s Priory and west to Holborn Cross and the city had no intention of permitting the prior to collect tolls and fees for stalls set up outside his jurisdiction. The tolls collected were pickage – a fee paid for the privilege of breaking the ground to erect a tent or booth – and stallage – a tax paid for setting up a market stall. In 1453, agreement was made:
That on occasions when Bartholomew Fair is held, pickage and stallage levied in Westsmythfeld outside the precinct of the priory... should thenceforth belong to the mayor and commonalty without objection being raised by the prior, and that the same tolls taken within the close and precinct of the priory should be the property of the prior and convent... without challenge by the civic authorities. It was further agreed that the mayor and commonalty, and their successors, should exercise the scrutiny of weights and measures, and of goods exposed for sale at the fair outside the precinct of the priory, as well as within the said precinct, the prior and his successors being at liberty to join the mayor in his yearly visit for the purpose within the precinct...
However, with the fair no longer confined within the priory walls, the closing of the gate at night would have given no protection to the majority of stalls outside and it was up to the stall-holders to protect their property, either sleeping on site or employing someone to keep watch. Crime was always a problem at any fair – hence the setting for Seb Foxley’s initial investigation in The Colour of Lies. The proclamation read out before the fair commenced each year stated:
All manner of persons are straitly charged and commanded to keep the peace, and to do nothing in the disturbance of the said fair as they will answer to the contrary, at their perils; and that there be no manner of arrest or arrests, but by such officers as are appointed. And if any persons be aggrieved let them repair to the court of Pie-Powder, where they may have speedy relief according to justice and equity.
Special ‘Courts of Pie-powder’ were set up at every fair and market and were said to be the lowest and at the same time most expeditious courts of justice known to the law of England, and so called from the dusty feet [pieds poudres] of the suitors. A complainant had to bring his case to the court immediately and it had to be heard, deliberated upon, determined and acted on within the day or, at St Bartholomew’s, before the fair ended, when participants would be gone. Pie-powder courts were intended to deal with commercial crimes, such as selling faulty or shoddy goods or giving short measure or not having the appropriate licence to trade, overseen by the common sergeant and an under-sheriff. But the fact that justice was done so swiftly meant other crimes were also brought before the court, rather than held over to be dealt with by the law courts. Thieves, drunkards, brawlers, beggars and con-artists were all subject to its punishments. Most often this required the payment of fines and/or humiliation in the stocks or pillory where passers-by could throw dung or mouldy cabbages at the miscreant. There was even a special set of stocks for female offenders, called the ‘thews’.
In The Colour of Lies, the reader can enjoy the bustling activity and atmosphere of the medieval fair as Seb’s wife, Emily, and her fellow silk-women set up their stall, Seb has dealings with a Bohemian glass-seller and delights in a puppet show put on by a friendly Dutchman. There are all manner of rare things for sale and acrobats, fire-eaters and dancers to entertain but, as readers have come to expect from the Seb Foxley medieval murder mysteries, there is always a serpent – or two – in paradise.
As part of the launch of The Colour of Lies, Toni's publisher, MadeGlobal Publishing are offering a prize for one lucky winner, seven mugs - one for each of my murder mystery books. To participate all you need to do is go to MadeGlobal's website (for that click HERE), enter your name and email to be added to the prize draw. The winner will be notified on or around 1 June. The giveaway is open worldwide!
More about Toni:
The Colour of Lies, is the seventh Sebastian Foxley medieval murder mystery. Toni's first book was published in 2014 but in the 5 years since she has had five more non-fiction, plus eight murder-mysteries published and recently signed contracts for four more fiction and non-fiction books taking me well into 2021. She regularly writes for both the RIII Society Ricardian Bulletin (Toni is a member of their Research Committee too) and Tudor Life magazine for the Tudor Society, runs he own weekly history class locally, volunteers at Gravesend Library, leading the Creative Writing group and has written a collection of online courses at www.medievalcourses.com.
Toni Mount can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.
Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou: A Marriage of Unequals by Amy Licence.
Published by Pen & Sword, 2018.
In this dual-biography about King Henry VI and his Queen Margaret of Anjou, the author analyses both characters, Henry VI and his queen – separately and as a couple, analysing the challenges they faced, actions and the decisions they made, and how Henry’s mental health prevented them to rule the kingdom successfully. This dual-biography focusses not merely on the Lancastrian King and Queen but also at those involved in their lives, their only child, allies and enemies and ofcourse their involvement and cause of the Wars of the Roses.
A bit of a downside of the book are the typos, which doesn't change the meaning of the text, and the lack of an index.
Amy Licence’s writing style is both easy to read and engaging. Overall, Henry VI & Margaret of Anjou: A Marriage of Unequals is a well-written, informative and enjoyable read about less popular but nonetheless, interesting subjects. I recommend it to everyone interested in history and in particular to those with an interest in the Wars of the Roses.
I was given a review copy by the publisher, Pen & Sword. Personally I do not review books I have not enjoyed.
Without encountering any obstacle at sea, the 28-year old penniless exile, Henry Tudor and his approximately 4000 followers had sailed from the port of Harfleur and safely arrived after a 6-day’s journey at Mill Bay, along the rocky Pembrokeshire coastline, on 7 August 1485.
Henry owed a lot to his cousin Charles VIII who had given his support to Henry’s enterprise by grants and loans. Henry also borrowed heavily from one of Charles’ main councillors, Philippe Lullier. Further loans were given by local French Merchants. As a guarantee for these loans Henry had given up his personal belongings but also had to leave behind John Bourchier and Thomas Grey, Marques of Dorset as a security for his repayments. Henry’s army, commanded by the young Phillibert de Chandee (who was likely a distant kinsman of Henry) consisted of mostly French and Breton men, who were provided by the French King Charles VIII, including the vise-admiral Guillaume de Casenove and the marshal of France Philippe de Crevecoeur. Additionally, four hundred English exiles, including his uncle Jasper Tudor, John de Vere, Earl of Oxford and some prominent Woodvilles, under the command of Richard Guildford and a thousand Scots, under the leadership of Alexander Bruce of Earlshall, were present on the flotilla of around thirty ships.
Preparations had been going on for their arrival and amongst those waiting on the shore was Jasper’s half-brother and Henry’s uncle, the 26-year-old David Owen, the illegitimate son of Owen Tudor who had spent the first years of his life with Henry at Pembroke Castle.
Henry’s mixed sense of relief and anxiety was obvious. He then ‘kissed the ground meekly, and reverently made the sign of the cross upon him’. Soon after their landing Henry also decided to knight eight of his foremost followers – his uncles David Owen and John, Lord Welles, Philibert de Chandée, James Blount, Edward Courtenay, John Cheyne, Edward Poynings and John Fort.
Their first task was to climb up the steep sea cliff, followed by the decision to go the village of Dale and its castle and set up camp in the village. According to Henry’s biographer Bernard André, Henry, perhaps especially mindful of his French troops, reprimanded his men not to do anything to others, ‘either by word or by deed, which you not wish to have done to yourselves’. Rules of war were crucial if authority was to be maintained and order kept.
Both Jasper and John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford inspected the French troops in order to determine what gear and weaponry they were short of. It was probably, the constable of Pembroke, Richard Williams, who hastened 200 miles over 4 days to King Richard at Nottingham to bring him the news about their landing.
Their ultimately successful Bosworth campaign had begun.
Jacquetta of Luxembourg died at the age of around 56 when she died on 30 May 1472. She was the eldest daughter and second child of Peter I, Count of Saint-Pol and Margaret de Baux. Jacquetta had five brothers (Louise (who was beheaded in Paris in 1475 for treason against Louis XI), Thibaud, Jacques, Valeran and Jean) and two sisters (Catherine and Isabelle) Jacquetta married twice, first on 22 April 1433 to John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford (younger brother of Henry V) The marriage was childless and the Duke died after only two years of marriage. Secondly she married to the former chamberlain of her late Husband, Richard Woodville, later Earl Rivers, at around 1437, without the King’s permission. Together they had 14 children, most importantly Elizabeth Woodville, Queen consort of Edward IV, Lewis Woodville, died in childhood, Anne Woodville, Anthony, 2nd Earl Rivers, John, Jacquetta, Lionel, Bishop of Salisbury, Eleanor, Margaret, Martha, Richard, 3rd Earl Rivers, Edward Woodville, Lord Scales, Mary, Countess of Pembroke, Catherine, Duchess of Buckingham and Bedford (through her marriages to Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford.
A recent visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam got me interested in Isabella of Bourbon (1434-1465), second wife of Charles the Bold. While visiting the Special Collections in the museum about the Middle Ages and Renaissance I came across several statues which were taken from Isabella's tomb many years ago.
Isabella of Bourbon was born in 1434 as the second daughter of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon and Agnes of Burgundy, a daughter of John the Fearless. Isabella became her parent's eldest surviving daughter after the death of her older sister Mary in 1448 and as part of a truce Isabella was married to her cousin Charles, Count of Charolais, alias Charles the Bold (her mother Agnes being a sister to Charles's father Phillip the Good. Charles married Isabella at Lille, France on 30 October 1454, as his second wife. Their marriage was reported to be a happy union. Caused by her early death, not much is known about Isabella's life. She died of Tuberculosis in Antwerp on 25 September 1465, aged only 31, leaving behind her husband and their 8-year old daughter Mary.
Isabella was buried in the Church of St. Michael's Abbey in Antwerp and her funeral monument was erected twelve years after her death by the order of her daughter Mary. Originally the monument was decorated by 24 weepers or pleurants with a bronze effigy of Isabella surmounted in the center. The weepers were ancestors and mourning family members, of which only two have been identified as her 14th Century ancestors from the royal house of Wittelsbach, Albrecht of Bavaria (her great-grandfather )and his father Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria (her great-great-grandfather). The weepers were dressed in earlier fashion than the time of Isabella's death because they are copies from two earlier not surviving tombs and they symbolize the importance of the Burgundian dynasty.
During the Iconoclastic Fury in the 16th Century, Isabella's monument was stripped of its decorations and the weepers vanished. Ten of the weepers turned up in Amsterdam and in 1691 the mayor purchased ten of them from a man called Pieter Vos. The weepers are attributed to the Flemish Northern Renaissance sculptors Renier van Thienen and Jan Borman, who are also attributed to have made the tomb effigy of her daughter Mary. Isabella's biggest legacy was her daughter Mary and her offspring. Isabella and Charles the Bold's only child became the heiress of Burgundy at a very young age and went on marrying the future Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I with whom she had two surviving children, Margaret of Austria and Philip the Handsome. Philip became the father of many children who would in the future be kings and queens across Europe, including Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
Today, 4 April, in 1483, marks the death of Henry Bourchier, Earl of Exeter, 1st Viscount and 5th Baron Bourchier and Knight of the Garter, at the age of around 78. He was the eldest son of William Bourchier and Anne of Gloucester and a maternal great-grandson of King Edward III. Henry was a Yorkist supporter and held the post of Lord High Treasurer with intervals from 1455 until his death. Henry Bourchier was married to Isabel of Cambridge (daughter of Richard, Earl of Cambridge and Anne Mortimer and so sister to Richard Duke of York, making him an uncle of Edward IV and Richard III) Henry and Isabel had at least seven children. Henry and his wife (a year later) were buried in Beeleigh Abbey (Essex) and after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, they were reburied in the Parish Church of Little Easton (Essex) in the Bourchier Chapel.
And the winner of the Wars of the Roses Colouring Book Contest is ROSIE SIMONS!
Congratulations Rosie, you will receive Dmitry Yakhovsky's graphic novel
Thank you Ashley, Brianna, Katherine, Mandy, Rosie and Sam for sending us your coloured Richard III pages for the Wars of the Roses Colouring Book Contest! They all look lovely. As a thank you for joining you will all soon receive a unique colouring page in your mailbox.
For those who purchased The Wars of the Roses Colouring Book, we look forward to seeing your artistic creations and would be happy to share anything you would like to send us.
Richard III received most of the votes on Facebook when we asked followers what colouring page they would prefer to colour for the contest. Below you can click on the page, save and print it. To join the contest you can send a picture of your Richard III colouring page until 27th of March. We will then display all the colouring pages of the contestants and announce the winner. The winner will ofcourse be rewarded with some great prizes, SEE BELOW! And as a bonus we will send a special colouring page to everyone who participates. So get creative and send us your Richard III colouring page by email or through a private message on FACEBOOK. Email address is: email@example.com
The winner will receive:
2 limited edition signed prints
(Isabel Neville and Richard III's Final Battle)
The medieval graphic novel The Shadow of the Cross
From reknowned artist Dmitry Yakhovsky
Save image and Print!
Toni Mount is a popular writer and historian; she is the author of Everyday Life in Medieval London and A Year in the Life of Medieval England (pub Amberley Publishing) and several of the online courses for www.medievalCourses.com
Her successful ‘Sebastian Foxley’ series of medieval whodunits is published by MadeGlobal.com and the latest book in this series The Colour of Murder is now available as a paperback or on Kindle.
Visit Toni's website for more info: www.tonimount.com
The paperback release 22 January and Kindle release 1 February 2018
In February 1478, London is not a safe haven, whether for princes or commoners. A wealthy merchant is killed by an intruder; a royal duke dies at the Tower but in neither case is the matter quite as it seems. Seb Foxley, an intrepid young artist, finds himself in the darkest of places, fleeing for his life. With foul deeds afoot at the king’s court, his wife Emily pregnant and his brother Jude’s hope of marrying Rose thwarted, can Seb unearth the secrets which others would prefer to keep hidden? Join Seb and Jude, their lives at hazard in the dangerous streets of the city, as they struggle to solve crimes and keep their business flourishing in this new Sebastian Foxley medieval murder mystery: The Colour of Murder.
This unique e-book in the bestselling Sebastian Foxley Medieval Murder Mystery Series is free to download. With personal letters from all the main characters, including Seb, Emily, Jude and even the wonderful Jack, this collection of letters will add to the lives and stories of those involved in the intrigue, drama and excitement of these historical thrillers set in Medieval London. You can find them HERE
Join Toni further on her blog tour next month for more great articles
Just as the 2nd part in the series, Betrayal is a novella. For The Wars of the Roses Catalogue Toni wrote a very interesting article about the Medieval Goldsmith. Enjoy!
The Medieval Goldsmith
In medieval times, goldsmiths were organised in guilds and were usually one of the most important and wealthy of the guilds in a city. Their patron saint, Dunstan, was renowned as a skilled metal worker who had once got the better of the Devil, tweaking his nose with a pair of red-hot tongs. The guild kept records of members and the marks – hall marks – they used on their products which, when they survive, are very useful to historians. In England, the London mark is recorded in 1300 and the London Company of Goldsmiths received their first royal charter in 1327. Leo of Rozmital visited London in 1465 and remarked on the huge number of goldsmiths in the city:
The masters alone, without the journeymen, amount to four hundred but they are never idle for the size of the city and its wealth provides them with work in abundance.
Goldsmiths often acted as bankers since they dealt in gold and had sufficient security for the safe storage of valuable items. Goldsmithing often included silversmithing as well, but the brass workers and workers in other base metals, such as copper and tin, were normally in a separate guild since the trades were not allowed to overlap. Lead workers were different again – they were plumbers. Many jewellers were also goldsmiths, designing settings for the customer’s stone of choice.
William of Gloucester
Royal patrons were often the goldsmiths' best customers. Henry III [1216-72] was always sending his accounts into the red with his extravagant spending sprees, buying gold and silver plate, jewelled chalices and crosses for his favoured religious foundations as well as jewellery for his own use. From 1240 onwards, Westminster Abbey became the focus of his lavish spending as he venerated St Edward the Confessor, rebuilding the saint's shrine in the abbey as well as creating a splendid mausoleum for himself and his royal descendants. Henry's accounts show that William of Gloucester was his favourite goldsmith, working as a supplier of raw materials, the designer and artist of fine items and acting as a royal clerk. William first appears in the records in 1251 when he was paid for his labour and the precious metals he used to repair some crystal candlesticks and make a gold cup for the king.
Later in the year, William supplied almost £60 worth of jewels and eleven garlands of goldwork at more than £5 each for a royal wedding in York when, on Christmas Day, Henry's eleven-year-old daughter Margaret married ten-year-old Alexander III, King of Scots, in St Mary's Abbey. A year later, William became the King’s Goldsmith officially and more lucrative commissions followed: 110 marks for a golden crown to be a gift to the King of Norway; a set of six cups for Henry’s half-sister and items for the king including rings – over 141 in one year alone – brooches and girdles; chalices, censers, crosiers and mitres as religious gifts; dishes, saucers and goblets for the royal table.
Other commissions were for Henry’s daughter-in-law, Eleanor of Castile and the Bishop of London who ordered a bejewelled mitre and matching crosier. In 1257, William was involved in the design and minting of gold pennies – the first English gold coins – and a new Great Seal for the king’s use as well as a silver image of Katherine, the king’s youngest daughter, for her burial in Westminster Abbey in that year. But William’s biggest commission was the golden shrine for St Edward’s tomb in Westminster. For the last three years of his life, William worked on little else and this sumptuous project was not quite finished when he died in 1269. It must have been a most impressive example of the goldsmith’s art.
But William’s life had not been all plain sailing: as a citizen of London, he had sided with Simon de Montfort against the king in the Barons’ Wars of 1264-5, despite being exempted by the crown from taxation as one of the perks of his royal office as King’s Goldsmith. His decision to support the barons is not easy to explain since one of de Montfort’s greatest complaints against King Henry was the monarch’s over-lavish spending on luxuries... a situation which must have benefitted William considerably. After de Montfort was defeated at Evesham by the royal army in 1265, William was imprisoned at Windsor for his part in the rebellion but, within two years, he was back in favour, working at Westminster and wealthy enough to buy up properties in London and manors in both Kent and Essex.
Sir Edmund Shaa
Edmund Shaa [or Shaw] was born in Cheshire but was apprenticed in 1450 to a London goldsmith, Robert Butler, completing his apprenticeship in 1458. Just four years later, in 1462, he received a grant for life as Engraver to the Tower of London and other English and Calais mints, an office he held for twenty years. He was a successful goldsmith all his life, having a shop, a warehouse and working houses in his will. There is no evidence that he traded regularly overseas, and, unlike many goldsmiths, he doesn’t seem to have acted as a moneylender. However, like other wealthy Londoners of the time, he did lend money to Edward IV in 1468 and, subsequently, made several private loans to the king, including the huge sum of £240 made in 1469.
Shaa was elected alderman of Cripplegate ward – the Goldsmiths’ ward – in July 1473 and became sheriff the following year. He was Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company twice and Prime Warden in 1476. In 1482, having been the unsuccessful mayoral candidate the previous year, Shaa was elected Lord Mayor and was in office when Edward IV died and throughout the tumultuous period leading up to the usurpation of Richard III. It is for his role at this time that Shaa is mainly remembered. According to Sir Thomas More, writing around 1515, it was his brother Ralph Shaa, a Cambridge graduate, doctor of theology and canon of St Paul’s, who preached a sermon at Paul’s Cross, claiming that the then Duke of Gloucester was the only lawful claimant to the throne. Ralph had formerly been a popular preacher, but so hostile was his audience on this occasion that his death in the following year was said to have been due to chagrin at the cold reception accorded to his sermon.
As Lord Mayor, Edmund Shaa was involved in the ceremonies of the coronation of Richard III, and he was subsequently knighted and sworn on to the Privy Council. The value of his commercial dealings with Richard and of the grants he received suggests the king was keen to secure his support. Shaa survived Richard’s downfall without any difficulty but died on 20th April 1488 and was buried in the Mercers’ chapel, St Thomas of Acon, but left legacies to his parish church of St Peter’s, Westcheap, and to the inhabitants of Cripplegate ward, including 400 marks for the rebuilding of Cripplegate itself in that section of the city wall which was the goldsmiths’ responsibility.
In his will, he made arrangements for prayers to be said for Edward IV, Edward’s sister Anne, Duchess of Exeter, and Lord Herbert but, wisely, he makes no mention of Richard III. Shaa held Essex properties worth over £50 per annum when he died, including Ardern Hall and Horndon House, as well as a large house in Wood Street, London. He bequeathed over £4,000 in cash, plate and jewels as well as personal and household effects and all the tools belonging to his workshop. He was survived by his wife, Juliana, a son, Hugh, who died childless a few years later, daughters Margaret (married to a mercer, Thomas Rich) and Katherine (who married William Brown, another mercer), as well as four sisters.
In his will, Edmund specified sixteen rings to be made of fine gold engraved with sacred images, to be given to named mourners. He says that his ex-apprentices, John Shaa and Raff Lathum, ‘understand right well the making’ of these rings. John was his nephew and inherited all his uncle’s property after the death of Edmund’s childless son, Hugh. John went on to become Master of the Mint, an MP, a knight and Lord Mayor of London.
Her successful ‘Sebastian Foxley’ series of medieval whodunits is published by MadeGlobal Publishing and the latest book in this series The Colour of Betrayal is available as a paperback or on Kindle and was launched on October 2nd 2017.
Catesby and one of Richard III closest friends and advisors. Catesby had been captured at the Battle of Bosworth or soon after.
Just before his execution Catesby made his last will, leaving its fulfilment entirely to his wife, 'to whom, I have ever been true of my body.' He wished his wife to restore all the land he had wrongfully purchased, and to divide the rest of his property among their children. 'I doubt not, the king will be good and gracious lord to them; for he is called a full gracious prince, and I never offended him by my good and free will, for God I take to my judge I have ever loved him.' And even more remarkable he wrote : 'My lords Stanley, Strange, and all that blood, help and pray for my soul, for ye have not for my body as I trusted in you. Perhaps suggesting he had surrendered to the Stanleys who had promised him protection but broke word and handed him to Henry for execution.
Catesby lands were confiscated but eventually in 1496 restored to his son George. Catesby was buried in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin and Leodigarius in Ashby-St-Ledgers.
Cecily of York, Viscountess Welles died on this day (24 August) in 1507, at Sandown or Hatfield, at the age of 38. She was the 3rd surviving daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. As so many of her time, Cecily is a little known woman and only some key events in her life are known. In 1474 a marriage alliance was agreed between Edward IV and James III of Scotland, Cecily was betrothed to the future King James IV . But by 1479 the alliance collapsed and the marriage plans were off. On 15 January 1478 Cecily was present at the wedding of her 4-year old brother Richard to the 5-yearl old Anne de Mowbray, Countess of Norfolk at St. Stephen’s Chapel in Westminster. In 1480 Cecily, along with her sister Mary, was named Lady of the Garter, the oldest and highest British order of chivalry. Cecily would marry three times, first to Ralph Scrope (the marriage was annulled on the accession of Henry VII, her future bother-in-law) secondly she was married to John Welles, 1st Viscount Welles, uncle of the half-blood to Henry VII (John was a son to Lionel Welles and Margaret de Beauchamp. Making Cecily sister-in-law to Margaret Beaufort) and thirdly to Thomas Kyme, an obscure squire, who it is said she married for love and without the King’s permission. For this Cecily was banished from court but after the intervention of Margaret Beaufort some of her lands were restored to her, but only for a lifetime and not for her to pass on to her husband or children. It is not clear where Cecily was buried, according to Hall's Chronicle Cecily died and was buried in Quarr Abbey, Isle of Wight and according to others she was buried in Hatfield or Kings Langley.
Preparations had been going on for their arrival and amongst those waiting on the shore was Jasper’s half-brother and Henry’s uncle, the 26-year-old David Owen, illegitimate son of Owen Tudor who had spent the first years of his life with Henry at Pembroke Castle.
Both Jasper and John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford inspected the French troops in order to determine what gear and weaponry they were short of. It was probably, the constable of Pembroke, Richard Williams, who hastened 200 miles over 4 days, to King Richard at Nottingham and told him the news about their landing. Good news also came, the people of Pembroke ‘were ready to serve Jaspar ther erle’.
- W.H. Blaauw, ‘On the effigy of Sir David Owen’, pp. 25, 38, 39, vol. 7, History and Antiquities of that county, The Sussex Archaeological Society, vol. 7 (London 1854).
- Fabyan, p. 672.
- Harleian 78 fo. 31v.
- Vergil, p. 216
- Debra Bayani, Jasper Tudor, Godfather of the Tudor Dynasty, p. 187-208 (MadeGlobal Publishing 2015)
This coronet is said to be the only medieval British royal crown still surviving. This, however, is not true, there is another crown worn by Blanche, daughter of Henry IV, at her marriage to Louis III, the Elector Palatine, in 1402, and still exists in Munich. Naturally this fact does not make Margaret’s crown any less valuable and interesting.
There is a possibility that Margaret wore her crown already in 1461 at the coronation of her brother Edward IV when she was 15 years of age and that it was adjusted for her in 1468 when she wore it at her wedding to Charles the Bold on 3 July in Damme, near Bruges. It is very notable that this crown is incredibly small, with a diameter across the base of just under five inches, and a maximum height of just over five inches. The size does not make it any less splendid than it is. Between each rose appear letters covered with transparent green, white and red enamel forming the name Margarit(a) de (Y)o(r)k and the initials C and M adjoined with a knot appear repeatedly. The white rose of York with a diamond wreath in the front, corresponds with the enamelled coat of arms bearing the arms of Burgundy, France and England quarterly, which symbolises the marriage. Furthermore the circlet is made of gilded silver, ornamented with precious stones; a diamond cross, adorned with two edgings of pearls and surmounted by eight large fleurons; the one in the front is quadrifoliate (4 leaves)with a large ruby in a claw setting and mounted on a white rose, the other seven quinquifoliate (5 leaves) ornamented with pearls and sapphires. Below this is a small gold rose ornamented with emeralds.
So how did her crown ended up in Aachen? It is known that Margaret travelled to Aachen on a few occasions and it’s recorded that she spent some time here on 22 July 1474 and that either on this occasion or another, she donated her crown to the admired statue of the Virgin Mary of the cathedral. A child-sized crown was also constructed for the Christ Child, this, unfortunately does not exist any longer. Up until now, the crown serves as jewellery during the procession with relics.
Isabella of France, wife of Edward II
Philippa of Hainault, wife of Edward III
Anne of Bohemia, wife of Richard II
Isabelle of France, second wife of Richard II
Joan of Navarre, wife of Henry IV
Katherine of Valois, wife of Henry V
Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI
Elizabeth Wydeville, wife of Edward IV
Anne Neville, wife of Richard III
The fourteenth- and fifteenth-centuries were frequently characterised by dynastic uncertainty and political tensions. Scholars have recognised that the kings who ruled during this time were confronted with challenges to their kingship, as new questions emerged about what it meant to be a successful king in late medieval England. This book examines the challenges faced by the queens who ruled at this time. It investigates the relationship between gender and power at the English court, while exploring how queenship responded to, and was informed by, the tensions at the heart of governance.
Ultimately Queenship in England questions whether a new model of queenship emerged from the great upheavals underpinning the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century polity.'
“An interesting and accessible exploration of medieval queenship in relation to gender expectations.” – Amy Licence, author of Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII’s True Wife
“A very readable and thoroughly researched book that looks at the role of late medieval Queens of England in an original way.” – Toni Mount, author of A Year in the Life of Medieval England
Margaret of Anjou’s queenship was controversial in her lifetime and the queen herself a notorious figure both in life and in death. Her tenure as consort, which formally lasted fifteen years, and her political activities as the effective head of the Lancastrian party, which ended only with Henry VI’s final defeat in 1471, exemplifies the tensions between gender and power at the heart of governance. Yet what is often forgotten, or insufficiently recognised, is how conventional Margaret’s queenship was for the first decade or so of her tenure. Like Isabella of France, who has also been depicted as a ‘she-wolf’, Margaret did not actively set out to usurp her husband’s role, nor did she relish the prospect of the conflict that was a consequence of partisan politics. Instead, like Isabella, Margaret largely conformed to contemporary expectations of the queen’s roles and the spheres of activity in which the queen was thought to participate. However, her husband’s breakdown and the diplomatic and political crises of the mid fifteenth-century led to the Wars of the Roses and a crisis of kingship and, perhaps by extension, to a crisis of queenship. This crisis affected not only Margaret but also her successors, Elizabeth Wydeville and Anne Neville, both of whom were consorts of Yorkist kings.
However, Margaret’s marriage was not especially popular among the nobility and commons for several reasons. Firstly, there were complaints that the queen had arrived in England without ‘any peny profite, or foote of posession’, and this led to the view that England had been deliberately ensnared by the wiles of the crafty French, whose corrupt practices were well known. Margaret was also criticised, and has been subsequently, for allegedly favouring the interests of her homeland, in pressuring her husband to cede Maine and Anjou to the French in 1445-6. Given the context of the Hundred Years War, in which ownership of territories on the continent was fiercely contested by both the English and the French, that this claim could seriously damage the queen’s reputation is obvious. However, it has been suggested that Margaret was actually pressured by both her father, Renee of Anjou, and by the king of France to encourage Henry VI’s decision to cede Maine and Anjou, and ultimately it was the king who bore responsibility. That Margaret’s marriage was unpopular, at least in some circles, is demonstrated by a statement from 1447, two years after the queen arrived in England, in which the keeper of Guildford gaol allegedly wished that the queen was drowned and the king hanged, for nothing had gone right since they had married. Over the years, criticisms directed at Margaret only increased, rather than decreased. The following year, a farm labourer was apprehended for questioning Margaret’s claim to be queen of England, given that she had failed to provide her husband with an heir. Contemporaries experienced great anxiety when their queen seemed unable to conceive, and during the uneasy diplomatic and political circumstances of the late 1440s, it is unsurprising that Margaret was ridiculed and criticised on account of her childlessness.
Margaret’s position on the eve of the Wars of the Roses, therefore, was a difficult and ambivalent one. On the one hand, she had admirably conformed to contemporary expectations of queenship, in succeeding in the traditional spheres of intercession, household management and patronage, which was afforded by her apparent closeness with the king. But her childlessness seriously undermined her position and contributed to criticisms of Henry VI’s legitimacy as king. Even when she provided her husband and the wider realm with an heir in the autumn of 1453, it did not greatly strengthen her position or shore up support for Henry’s kingship. This was also affected by the aggressive posturing of the duke of York, who complained that the royal couple and the duke of Somerset had ostracised him. York’s aggressiveness, and the king’s inertia, meant that Margaret was compelled to play a more politically active role than her contemporaries, and perhaps she herself, expected.
In her political actions, however, Margaret was highly circumscribed because, like Isabella of France, her actions had to be seen to be legitimised and sanctioned by her husband. Given Henry VI’s mental deficiencies, however, it was difficult for Margaret to secure the much-needed legitimacy. Any authority that she wielded was entirely dependent on her husband and this authority was significantly diminished in the aftermath of the first Battle of St Albans in 1455 and the establishment of York’s protectorate shortly afterwards. Nonetheless, the queen positioned herself as the head of an anti-Yorkist power base in 1456 and, considering her actions in the context in which they were taken, this ultimately leads to the conclusion that she had very little choice. It is crucial to state that, during these years, Margaret was careful to exercise authority with reference to her husband and son, and she represented herself as concerned with seeking her son’s rightful inheritance to the throne.
The politically active role taken on by Margaret of Anjou overshadowed the conventionality of her first decade as England’s queen, in which she effectively conformed to contemporary expectations of queenship and how its incumbent should behave and act. Her husband’s breakdown and the toxic combination of political and diplomatic tensions at court, however, compelled the queen to actively wield authority as the head of the Lancastrian party, but it is worth stressing that this authority was legitimised by publicly declaring that her concerns were for the restoration of her husband to the throne and for her son to succeed him as king. Like Isabella of France, Margaret may have initially been successful in her actions as a result, but the effectiveness of Yorkist propaganda and the gradual destabilisation of the Lancastrian party contributed to increasing criticisms of the queen and the Lancastrians more generally. Whether we can speak of a crisis of queenship during the late 1450s and early 1460s, it is apparent that Margaret’s successor and rival, Elizabeth Wydeville, was faced with difficult questions when she became queen following her marriage to the first Yorkist king, Edward IV.
Elizabeth’s husband had usurped the throne of England and it was, therefore, important for her to play an active role in legitimising Edward’s status as king. Margaret of Anjou had been criticised for her political actions and for her alleged partisan activities. As a result it was crucial for her successor to distance herself, consciously or otherwise, from Margaret’s controversial model of queenship. To do so, and to legitimise her husband’s claim to the throne, Elizabeth presented herself as traditionalist and as the ideal.
As a case in point, Elizabeth enjoyed a more modest income than her predecessor as part of Edward IV’s reforms to the royal household. Her expenditure was also more restrained than Margaret’s had been; the Lancastrian queen, as mentioned earlier, had spent lavishly on gifts for those in her favour. The queen was also effective in her household management and was determined to ensure that her rights and prerogatives were not threatened. Therefore, when she learned that Sir William Stonor was usurping her rights in the forest of Bernwood, she warned him to desist immediately. In reproaching Stonor, Elizabeth demonstrated her concern to ensure that her own interests were not threatened, while displaying a concern for the security of her tenants residing in the area.
Both Elizabeth and her family, traditionally, have been identified as scheming and avaricious. However, it was not Elizabeth’s fault that she had so many siblings, and contemporaries expected that one should seek to advance the interests of one’s kin where possible; it was something of a moral obligation. Dislike and resentment of the Wydevilles among the nobility has probably been exaggerated, because there is no evidence, aside from the earl of Warwick, that the Yorkist nobility resented marriages between their families and that of the queen’s. Wider criticisms of the Wydevilles have also more specifically led to accusations that Elizabeth was cold, greedy and arrogant; even her appearance has been attacked. However, her contemporaries generally praised Elizabeth’s conduct. In 1472, William Alyngton, speaker of the House of Commons, lauded the queen’s ‘womanly behaveur’ and ‘greate constance’ during a time of trouble. This praise contrasted markedly with contemporary criticisms of the ‘strong-laboured’ and ‘manly’ Margaret of Anjou.
In almost every respect, Elizabeth Wydeville was the ideal late medieval queen, and her conduct was generally praised by her contemporaries. She consciously distanced herself from the controversial model of queenship espoused by her predecessor, and instead followed a more traditionalist, and idealised, version of queenship that restored an element of stability to the disordered realm and contributed to perceptions of Edward IV’s legitimist rule. However, her husband’s death in 1483 made Elizabeth’s life difficult. In a demonstration of pragmatism, she reached an accommodation with his brother and successor, Richard III, who had usurped the throne in place of her son, Edward. Ultimately, Elizabeth went on to see her daughter become queen of England as the wife of the first Tudor king. Edward IV’s consort had become queen as the wife of a usurper; her queenship likewise closed with a usurpation.
Elizabeth’s successor, Anne Neville, was also the wife of a usurper. Her position, however, was the more difficult of the two, because Elizabeth’s husband had been widely accepted as king when he seized the throne in 1461. Richard III was not, and his reign was undermined by political dissent and intermittent rebellion. Elizabeth’s successes in childbirth, moreover, confirmed divine approval of Edward’s seizure of the throne and evidenced the prosperity of the House of York. Anne Neville had given birth to a son, Edward, several years before she became queen, but the prince’s death in 1484 and the queen’s subsequent childlessness contributed to wider concerns that Richard’s exercise of rule was not lawful.
There is little surviving evidence of Anne’s queenship, but it appears that her model of queenship was also traditional. Unlike her two predecessors, Anne did not exercise authority either formally or informally; instead, she remains a shadowy figure. She dispensed patronage at Queen’s College, Cambridge and appears to have been interested in St. Winifred; it is possible that Anne acted as patron for William Caxton, who published a life of the saint. In her piety, Anne was entirely traditional. There is very little evidence of Anne’s household management or her activities as either intercessor or patron. Possibly, this is due to her increasing marginalisation at court, which was exacerbated by the death of Prince Edward and Richard’s concerns that his wife’s barrenness undermined his position as king. Rumours circulated that Richard intended to marry his niece, Elizabeth; Joanna of Portugal was also a mooted bride.
Anne Neville’s inability to exercise authority as queen was largely due to the circumstances in which she and her husband had come to the throne. Richard’s reign was one of the shortest in post-Conquest history, and Anne predeceased him by five months. The brevity of her tenure, therefore, did not allow Anne to develop her own lasting model of queenship. Richard’s reign was undermined by political dissent and rebellion, thus making it highly important for Anne to produce heirs with which to legitimise her husband’s rule. Her failure to do so only contributed to his weakening position. In the eyes of her contemporaries, Anne’s barrenness rendered her insignificant. Although other consorts, such as Anne of Bohemia, could make up for their childlessness with successes in other areas, such as intercession, there is little evidence that Anne Neville did so. She appears to have been a loyal helpmeet and consort to her husband, but in other areas her influence was highly limited.
The queenships of Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Wydeville and Anne Neville differed markedly from one another, in part due to the contrasting fortunes of the monarchs they married during the political and dynastic turbulence of the Wars of the Roses. Margaret was compelled to actively wield authority as a result of her husband’s incapacity, but increasing criticisms of her actions demonstrated the fraught relationship between gender and power during the late fifteenth-century. Her successor, Elizabeth, consciously distanced herself from Margaret’s militant model of queenship, and instead conformed to traditional expectations of queenship by contributing to her husband’s legitimist rule, in bearing children and in enjoying success as an intercessor, patron and lord. Anne Neville’s queenship is shadowy, partly due to the brevity of her tenure and partly due to the lack of evidence. She did not enjoy the successes of her predecessor and, unlike either Margaret or Elizabeth, was not an effective political actor.
In the name of god, Amen. I Jasper Duke of Bedford and Erle of Pembroke make
my testament and last Will in this forme folowing furst I bequeath my soule to almightie god to our blessed
lady the moder the virgine Mary and to all Saintes my body to be buried in the monasterie of our Lady
of Keynesham in a place convenient Where I will that my Tombe be honorable made after thestate that
it hath pleased god to call me to And therupon to be employed an hundred markis Item I will
that certeyne my Lordshippis Maners landes and tenements with their appurtenances which I have in fee
simple aswele in the Counties of Notingham Derby and Warwyk as in the Marche of Wales and ellis
where the some of fourty pounds yerely of the same with licence and agreament of my soverayn lord
the king to be amorteysed for the fyndyng of iiij preestis to syng perpetually in the saide church and Monastery
aswele for my soule and for my faders soule as for the soules of the noble memorie Kateryne some tyme
Quene of England my moder And of Edmund late Erle of Richemonde my brother and of all
other my predecessours Item I will that in defaute hereof some or ij benefices of the value of xl
or l poundes yerely above all charges of the patronage of my saide soverayn Lord of myne or of any
other where the same may bee best obteyned by speciall labor and meanes of me or myne executours
be impropried to thabbot and convent of the saide Monastery perpetually for the tyme being to thentente
v or vj preestis shalbe founde daily to syng in the saide Monasterye aswele for my soule as the
soules aforesaide Item I will that in defaulte of both the premisses and c li to be delyvered unto the saide
Abbot and Convente by myne executours in redy money to thentente that ij preestis shalbe perpetually
founde in the saide Monastery to syng daily for me And the soules above rehersed according to an offer
made by the saide Abbot and Convent in that behalf And the suretie herof to be dyvysed by my
counsell lernede. Item I bequeath to the saide monasterie my best gowne of cloth of gold for vestment
to be made to the honor of God and his blessed moder Item I will that the day of my internment
at Keynesham there be distributed amonge every poor man and woman that will take it ijd a pece and
lykewise at my monethis mynde Item I bequeath to the monasterie of blessid sainte Kenelme of Winchecombe toward the bilding of the same xxli and my long gowne of crymesyn velvett to
make a coope there to the honor of god and the sainte Item I bequeath to the church of Thornebury
toward the reparation of the same xli Item I bequeath to the saide church a gowne of blak velvett
13th Earl Of Oxford
1st Earl Rivers
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Agnes Of Burgundy
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