24 December’s Tudor Treats


It’s Christmas Eve and that means it’s the last day for our Advent Calendar treats!

I do hope you’ve enjoyed these history-themed treats. A big thank you to all those who contributed to make it a wonderful Advent Calendar.

Today, on the Anne Boleyn Files Advent Calendar, we have a special Christmas message.

Simply visit the Advent Calendar by clicking here.

Then, why not enjoy another historical treat by heading over to the Tudor Society? Find out who is hiding in the very Christmassy Coughton Court today.

Simply go to https://www.tudorsociety.com/advent2020/!

And in case you missed the daily Teasel’s Tudor Trivia videos from Advent last year, here is Teasel’s 24th December treat:

And, if you want even more Tudor history goodness, then here is today’s “on this day in Tudor history” video:

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23 thoughts on “24 December’s Tudor Treats”
  1. Sir Thomas Cornwallis was a clever statesman and invaluable to the services of Edward V1 and Mary 1st, but what I do not find favourable about him was his actions regarding the young nine days queen Lady Jane Grey, I know this was Tudor times and they fought dirty, but to declare for one queen then when her rivals support was growing to denounce her and change sides, I find reprehensible, but all her supporters did sadly also, at Bosworth Stanley did the same to Richard 111, it was all about survival and keeping ones head on ones shoulders, little by little Jane’s supporters deserted her like the rats that fled the sinking ship, he later was one of those on Mary’s council who supported the decision to have the Lady Elizabeth imprisoned in the Tower, even though there was no proof she was involved in Wyatt’s plot, he did have a remarkable career and by the standards of the day lived to a very great age, so he did very well.

  2. I too have heard the tradition of the Yule log being carried inside and burnt throughout the twelve days of Christmas, and it is true it does date back to pre Christianity, Christmas in fact is an old pagan custom, the celebration of light over dark, it was traditional to hang greenery around the homes, be they the great lords castle the kings palace or the humble dwellers cottage, it represented the coming of the spring and summer when all things grew and the barrenness of winter had gone, later on Christianity was incorporated into this old festival and the 25th became the day of Christ’s birthday, in fact scientists believe his actual birthday was somewhere around in September, because the old Roman calendar was changed, the great star in the east was a collision between Saturn and Jupiter, but of course to the superstitious it was believed it was a sign of great divinity, in Ancient Greece the story of the abduction of Persephone by Hades explained the dark winter months when nothing grew, and in the summer when she was released her mother the earth goddess decreed that the earth be bountiful again, her sojourn in the underworld left the earth bleak and barren, I do love Victorian Christmas traditions, like the decorating of the tree which Prince Albert brought to England when he married Queen Victoria, in those days little candles were clipped onto the boughs and lit and baked biscuits sometimes iced would also be hung on the trees with baubles and peppermint candy canes, we are the only country to have the Christmas cracker on the table, introduced by Tom Smith also in Victorian times, they were originally called Bon Bon’s, and like today filled with tiny toys and sweets, we also have Boxing Day, another holiday unique to Britain, I read once that it was so called because the gifts people exchanged were inside boxes, and they were given on that day, A traction from Tudor times is the twelfth night cake which was a fruit cake and iced and decorated, it was the forerunner of our Christmas cake which is also a fruit cake and first topped with marzipan and then iced, I love the sixpence in the Christmas pudding tradition, that possibly could have been a Georgian or Victorian tradition, so many Christmas traditions some that are very ancient, like the Yule log, I find them all most enjoyable, particularly the Yule log that of course instead of dragging in from the forest and setting alight, is now a chocolate Swiss roll, filled with buttercream and covered with ganache and chocolate frosting, and in Tudor times their gifts were exchanged on New Year’s Day, each courtier would send the king something worthy of their own status, if they were very rich they would give their monarch something expensive like gold plate and goblets, a lady might sew and embroider some velvet or silk gloves, Queen Katherine of Aragon sent Henry V111 a gift when they had formerly separated and he was with his sweetheart Anne Boleyn, the kings rage was terrible and refused to accept it, poor Katherine she really could not accept the fact that her marriage was over and also her status as his queen, in the Tudor court there was great festivities with mummers and feasting and dancing and entertainments laid on, during Henry’s reign when he was married to his fifth wife he retired to bed, no doubt feeling his age as his child bride flitted around the hall with his fourth wife, after she was confined to her quarters during investigations into her past, that Christmas must have been a bleak joyless affair, I have enjoyed your videos very much Claire it’s a shame about Michael, as I said in another post I hope he’s well, maybe we will hear from him in the new year.

  3. Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year. Take care and enjoy this festival of good will and peace upon earth.

    Love to all at the Anne Boleyn files.

  4. Sir Thomas Cornwallis obviously did the right thing in changing his coat for Mary but I know what you mean, Christine, this sort of thing sticks in the throat.

    Thomas Lord Stanley had form as did his brother. They turned up late to support Edward iv when he was restored in 1471. Stanley was on one hand loyal as long as there was a reward in it and then disloyal if someone else could reward him. Richard rewarded him but remained suspicious of him because of the treason of his Mrs, Lady Margaret Beaufort. Richard’s policies reduced the status of the likes of Stanley as he stopped their pet projects that were unfair to ordinary people. However, he depended on the support of such men. Mary was herself dependent on the support of those around her vast estates in East Anglia and Jane was dependant on the very fickle Council, half of whom were not entirely happy. That was the problem with more than one rival calling themselves King or Queen, divided loyalty. People shifted loyalty if someone looked as if they may have the upper hand because of the need to survive. They also had their own self interest at heart. Mary gained the upper hand without bloodshed and within a few days. Jane took the keys of the Tower and made certain nobody got out to support Mary. Unfortunately, she probably didn’t have all of them as somehow the Council shuck out and abandoned her to support Mary.

    I was wondering if Sir Thomas Cornwallis was an ancestor of General Cornwallis from the War of American Independence.

    Hi Christine, I do hope the Christmas Star wasn’t as a result of a collision between Saturn and Jupiter as the explosion would have caused a Deep Impact event and dire consequences for the Solar System. I think you mean a conjunction, when the two planets are at their closest point in the sky and appear as a twin planet to the naked eye, while remaining at a far distance from each other. A collision would have wiped out much of the Earth.

    1. Hi Bq it was a programme on the tv years ago about the solar system and the star in the east, so I probably have forgotten most of what was said but I do remember the scientists theory about the two stars Saturn and Jupiter, you are right the explosion of two planets colliding would have had the impact of a nuclear bomb, wiping out most of earth and causing long term effects on the galaxy, so it possibly was a conjunction, I recall now they called it a ‘coming together’ of the planets which caused the huge star which the ancients believed was the sign from god heralding the birth of Jesus, a comet is believed to have fallen into the earth millions of years ago the impact which caused all life to die including the mighty dinosaurs, and for years the earth was covered in a dust cloud it was a bleak dark and lifeless dying planet, and then suddenly life began to appear, fascinating when we consider the beginnings of life and how old the earth really is, hope you had a lovely Christmas, I cooked a little partridge for myself instead of the usual pheasant, made a nice change and one of my presents was Claire’s The Illustrated Lives Of The Kings And Queens Of England, it certainly is a lovely book.

  5. Hi Christine, although the Saturn and Jupiter conjunction (just think of conjunctivitis if you forgot, nothing remotely like it in meaning but the word is similar) is a popular theory for both scientists and the people, it is only one of many about the Christmas Star.
    Certainly in the dark skies of Judiah 2000 years ago it would have been visible and bright and appeared as one star fir miles. Anyone who was well educated as indeed the Magi certainly were, being high priests from Persia or India, known all around the Ancient World for their knowledge and expertise, would have read the charts and known about such a conjunction and it’s meaning months or even years in advance. Sumer and Iran and Iraq were well known for their astronomy. Astronomy was also mixed with magic, maths and medicine and astrology for centuries. It is only with more conventional wisdom that correctly we separated the two and know astrology is nonsense. But the Ancients and even the Tudors didn’t think that way as yet. Kings were born under such signs and one such significant thing about the star of David or the Christmas star was that it rose in Leo. This was the significant sign of the House of David, the Kings of Judiah. Jesus and his family belonged to this royal family, they had their blood and so did their many relatives but it was also to Bethleham that they travelled for tax purposes and this was the birth place of King David who of course was originally a shepherd and attended the Court of Saul, so he probably cared for the Royal flocks. Now this was significant because shepherds visited Jesus. We know from the fact that the sheep were outside on the hills near Jerusalem two historic facts.

    The first is the time of year, July to September, so no way was Jesus born in December. It was too cold even in Israel for this.
    The location, near Bethleham in the south, thus near Jerusalem. Its obvious that Mary and Joseph settled down for a bit, probably with relatives as it was here the Wise Men visited them and they were part of an extensive family. Forget about stables, that’s a mistake in the English. Cave or extension is more correct and every house in the area had one for storage, animals or even unexpected guests. Nobody was refused hosting in the Ancient World and its the same there now. The animals were kept there and it was warm and secure.
    The King was in residence, so probably more likely it was late September or early October as the Royal family would have gone to Masada or another Summer retreat during the heat. The flocks of sheep near Jerusalem were Royal flocks, so another significant link to the crown.
    The Magi lost sight of the star so we know it was a planet because it set, just as they do now.
    Seven planets could be seen with the naked eye, the same as today.
    The telescope was only invented in the early seventeenth century so we could only really understand the conjunction in 1621.
    Liverpool has a monument to one of the greatest astronomers of all time, Hershal who with his sister, saw the Transit of Venus.
    Mars is also brilliant in the sky close to the moon at present. Looks even better than the Christmas Star.
    The clues above helped scientists work out the possibility of the conjunction as the Christmas Star but it was only one theory.
    There are many others. I have a good little book with them all in.
    I went to a lecture on it years ago and I found it fascinating.
    Of course there’s the old fashioned one which may be true as well, that it was a one off Super natural event meant specifically to mark the birth of the Messiah.

    1. The story of the three Kings or Wise Men is big in Ethiopia where paintings exist from the very early Middle Ages and show them in Eastern dress, with three different ages represented.
      Tradition has it that the shrine in Cologne Cathedral contains the bones of the wise men. There are actually three male skulls. One is from a young man, one from a middle aged man, one from an older man. The clothes they were wrapped in are of Eastern origin and date from the shroud is from the third century when the original casket of their remains dated from. The remains eventually were brought from the Holy Land to the Cathedral by Frederick Hohenstaufen who was there in the twelfth century. The shrine is very beautiful and it does have something going for it. It’s an interesting story and there are many more one could tell.

      Hope you all had a good Christmas and a Happy New Year.

        1. Cheers, if you want any more useless information, just ask, happy to oblige.

          Today is 850 years since Thomas Becket was murdered on the accidental orders of Henry Ii in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights who got away with it.
          Henry did public penance, being flayed and walking barefoot to the site of the murder.
          Thomas was canonised in 1154.
          He was declared a traitor and his tomb dismantled in 1538 by our favourite King, Henry Viii.

          His tomb was somewhat restored and he was declared a saint again by Edmund Bonner.
          Relics found were placed in a new shrine in 1920 and the original place marked with a candle. Most of his bones are missing, probably destroyed.
          Henry Viii took for himself a beautiful ruby ring left by King Louis vii of France in the 1180s.
          The current debate on clerical discipline would have been recognised by both Henry and Thomas.
          Henry ii was one of the richest English Kings. He was the richest person in England because of his personal inheritance and taking over all rights to all English lands outside of the Church.
          Thomas was also Chancellor of England and came from a humble but well educated background.

  6. Hi Christine, I know you like the Clare and Despenser families of the Middle Ages and you like reading about them. Very little until now has really been done on these two powerful families except on the household accounts of Elizabeth and the Fighting Bishop, Henry Despenser, the crown enforcer. Now four have been written in the last year.

    Her Good Estate. THE LIFE OF ELIZABETH DE Burgh, Lady of Clare by Frances Underhill
    Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward ii by Karen Warner
    The Clare Sisters, Powerful Pawns of the Crown by Karen Warner
    The Rise and Fall of a Medieval Family.. THE Dispensers by Karen Warner.

    Karen Warner is an expert on the time of Edward ii and the Despenser family. She has an excellent website. I thought you might like to check them out. Most are also in paperback and kindle.
    The Despenser Tombs in Tewkesbury Abbey are magnificent and the chapel of Isabella Beauchamp is beautiful. She was the daughter of yet another Despenser and the grandmother of Anne and Isabella Neville. They were the wives of Richard iii and George Duke of Clarence.
    Another lovely chapel belonged to the original Gilbert de Clare, the patriarch.

  7. Thank you Bq that’s most interesting, I hope you have a happy new year and pray god the next one will be better than this most dismal of years.

    1. And you. The two Hughs, the Older and Younger got a dreadful reputation because one was an enforcer of royal authority and that’s never popular, but the Younger went down as the lover of Edward ii and was blamed for his failure.
      Of course we have to remember that Hugh the Younger was tried and executed in a horrible manner by Isabella, in revenge for actions that she had accepted as Queen. His reputation was obviously subject by the propaganda under Isabella. It’s always difficult to balance myth and reality when someone has been maligned because of their sexuality and harsh behaviour. Karen Warner does that beautifully.
      Happy New Year.

      1. I forget to mention Sir Hugh the Judiciary who was the father of Hugh the Elder (thank goodness Karen Warner has included a Dramatics Persone with every chapter) who served Henry iii for many years but who was also a close friend of Simon de Montfort. He sat in his Parliament at Lewes and took Lord Edward, the future Edward I prisoner. Sir Hugh had had enough of King Henry iii and sided with his friend at the Battle of Evesham. He was killed, with his son, the three knights being buried before the High Alter at the Evesham Abbey where today you can see the Bell Tower and the memorial to Sir Simon de Montfort. Simon praised Sir Hugh highly and this was praise indeed coming from the greatest magnet in the land. He was said to be temperate, just and effective and efficient and very much respected. He is often overlooked in the lives of his son and grandchildren.

        I am also here to predict Claire’s next article. Social media can be a minefield of nonsense and brutality but occasionally you follow historians as I do and engage in active debates and historical interest. An old very badly damaged portrait has turned up and speculation has arisen that it may be Anne Boleyn. However, it is very much in need of reconstruction. It’s very interesting and the research should be interesting. However, above part of it is a coat of arms which has caused much debate and controversial debate. Why? The alleged art historian claims it is the personal coat of arms of Anne Boleyn made in 1536 to confront Henry Viii. The actual arms are generic and clearly French. There is nothing unique about it and nothing to indicate it is for Anne or the Boleyn family. The so called historian is adamant that this was made for Anne and stated research articles will be published and stated an article was attached but no such article was linked to. When asked what documentary evidence backed the identification or challenged on links to her article or future research they were dismissive and defensive and had nothing to back it up. I can imagine an article coming on for Claire as if anyone would get to the bottom it’s our Claire. Looking forward to the debate and further research.

        1. Oh wouldnt it be fantastic if an authentic portrait of Anne were to turn up, hopefully by Holbein because he was a genius for capturing the true likeness of his subjects, surely in some dusty neglected attic somewhere in an old stately home or Castle, there resides a lost forgotten portrait of one England’s most notorious queen consorts? I to am looking forward to Claire’s next post, you mention Hugh the elder I must admit I do not know much about him, but Simon de Montfort was a legend in his lifetime and his names rings out today from the medieval history books, I think I have a few de Montfort’s in my family tree, possibly a nephew or niece of the great ‘Simon’, I must tell you tonight at 7 the Antiques Roadshow is filming from Forty Hall estate in Enfield where I live, try to watch it, the house and surrounding gardens are beautiful though wild, Enfield has connections to the Tudors so I think you will find it interesting, still no word from Micheal I must admit I’m rather worried, I do hope he hasn’t succumbed to the dreaded covid, take care and stay safe.

        2. The problem is that it is a very badly damaged portrait and it actually looks Italian.
          Asking this so called historian questions gets people blocked on Twitter so it’s not good news. I would be made up if it was so but his research isn’t published yet and he is very defensive about his sources. His claim is a bit suspect to be honest and his refusal to answer genuine questions is very odd.

          I would love it to be so but it is early da ys and the portrait is very much damaged. We will have to wait and see. It’s very disappointing that he has such a bad attitude to people asking questions.

  8. Hi, Christine, yes, Enfield is lovely and a documentary on the original old palace which was a lovely place. Henry Viii was very fond of it as a retreat and I believe Cardinal Wolsey had close connections to Enfield.
    Simon de Montfort was one of the greatest magnets of the Middle Ages and he practically ran the country under Henry iii, who had married his sister Eleanor to him, somewhat reluctantly. It was a love match according to some experts and it was controversial, but Simon also had more wealth than Henry to whom he leant a great deal of money. Simon fell out over the terms of repayment and the payment by the King of Eleanor’s dowry and over several things with Henry who was volatile and that escalated into war. Simon de Montfort was also a Crusader and son of a Crusader, he was a local champion, Earl of Leicester and a legend in his own time. His Barons Parliament wasn’t the Revolutionary Commons Parliament of legend but it was a start and his articles lay the foundations of our eventual democracy. He was of course connected to Kenilworth being Earl of Leicester, as was Robert Dudley who was given the Castle as Earl of Leicester. The palace was a favourite of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Philippa of Hainault and other Medieval Queens as part of the Queens Royal Estates. By having these properties the Queens could act with some independence and have their own establishment to act in local matters. They also derived an income from these establishments. Anne Boleyn was given the biggest and most expensive Queens Estates by Henry Viii than any Queen before or since. Simon was off course killed and his body violated and dismembered after his death and his body was gathered and laid before the High Alter but his head was sent by Mortimer to his wife as a trophy. She returned it to the Monastery at Evesham. The monastery was one of the last dissolved in 1539 and it didn’t surrender peacefully. The Abbott and monks were martyred or imprisoned. Only the Bell Tower and gateway can be seen today. The park in which it is enclosed held the fishing farms of the monks and the gardens show paintings of how the Monastery looked, the life of the monks and the tomb of Simon and Despenser. Now there is only a small rose garden on the spot of the alter and a plaque to explain about Simon de Montfort and his importance for later Parliament history.

    1. The medieval period did indeed produce some remarkable men, William the Marshall for one who practically held the country together for King John, Simon de Montfort and of course there were some remarkable women to, Eleanor of Aquitaine for one, those of us who love history know their stories but what I feel sad is that many people today do not even know they existed, their names having long been forgotten like old school text books, not everyone has a passion for history so that is understandable, yet these remarkable men and women by their very deeds did help shape the country into what she later became, Henry V111 laid the foundations for the Royal Navy which later became the mightiest in the world, yet he is remembered by many as being a wife murdering tyrant, how many people in London walk past its many hundreds of statues without bothering to read the inscriptions carved into them, the great deeds they achieved, how many people know of the many sacrifices their ancestors made to keep their country safe from foreign invaders, some people are churlish when it comes to voting, they take it as no big deal, not realising the grim struggle of the suffragettes, and the fact that one of its members died sacrificing herself by throwing herself in front of the kings horse, some time ago a survey was taken and many youngsters knew nothing of the two world wars and as for Churchill, some thought he was the dog on the television advert, a great injustice I feel for the man voted the nations greatest Englishman.

      1. You are right, Christine, we don’t know our real history.
        Unfortunately we don’t have enough mediaevalists who really know their stuff and are well known.
        Henry ii should get the credit for our legal system.
        Henry iii, pathetic as he was, introduced the Kings Courts and judges who heard it everywhere on the same terms. Today we call it the High Court and circuit judges.
        Henry Viii should be thanked for the navy and coastal defence. He should also be thanked for naval college and doctors.
        Elizabeth should be thanked for exploring, even if it was at a cost.
        Mary should be thanked for female rule and naval finance and Russian contacts.
        The great Queens of the Middle Ages were consorts but many had individual power. Eleanor of Aquitaine was some gal.
        Eleanor of Castile came a close second and there are many others.
        When asked once whom I thought was our greatest monarch I said Edward I and was given a blank look.
        I would recommend Marc Morris. A Great and Terrible King. EDWARD I. and the Forging of Britain.
        As a Scot his treatment of them wasn’t acceptable but then he was invited in as an arbiter to decide on the many claims after Alexander iii fell over a cliff while going home from a party on his horse in a storm. With the Maid of Norway, his grandchild dead and his wife miscarrying, the throne of Scotland was empty. Edward was invited to make a choice. He chose John Baliol but he was a puppet. The lords also did Edward homage for their lands, including the Bruce. They got money and privilege. Edward committed atrocities in Scotland and Wales but they did the same. He built the magnificent Castles in Wales and ended the Princes brutally but in England he was seen as heroic. His ambition was a united kingdom and his legal reforms were fair to most people. Edward was tall and a real Kong. We know how much he loved Eleanor because of the Crosses he made to her. Edward was even thrown out of a monastery hospitality suit because he was sleeping with his wife. He should have been in a separate part. When discovered the monk ordered Edward out. Edward reissued Magna Carta. It was his first legal action. There was a lot going for him, despite his ruthless reputation.
        There was also Joan of Kent, the remarkable English wife of Edward the Black Prince and Philippa of Hainault the wife of Edward iii or as her biography by Karen Warner calls her The Mother of the English Nation because of all her sons. Few people today who are not really into history have heard of them.
        It’s very sad. America will forget history one day. The destruction of so many statues and Donald Trump will erase history.

  9. Yes I must admit I adore Eleanor of Aquitaine she was described as being the most beautiful queen in Europe, but added to that she was also intelligent strong willed and brave, a very formidable lady, I have two biographies of her, one by Alison Weir, and the other by Marian Meade, I prefer Meades book but Alison is very passionate about her subject to, she said when she decided to write about her she was told by many scholars and historians there was not much info to go on, but she nevertheless went ahead, like Anne Boleyn we do not know what she actually looked like but we have the later portraits of Anne to go on ,and there are many descriptions of her by her contemporaries, so we can visualise her in our minds eye, with Eleanor she is simply described as being very beautiful and fair, but as Weir explains fair does not necessarily mean she was blonde, the term fair used in early times meant beauty, she could have been a raven haired temptress or a fiery red head, she was also said along with being gifted with beauty and brains, to be rather loose in her morals, but attractive women are so called as more temptation is there, there was a scandal attached to her but there is not really any proof that she enjoyed an incestous affair with her uncle, Raymond of Antioch and we know she did have an affair with her father in law, Geoffrey of Anjou who was very handsome and a known womaniser, of course this happened before she became Henry’s queen, one other man was said to be besotted by her, a troubadour in her fathers court who said years later how much she had affected him, she had stolen his very heart he said and he never forgot her, one other contemporary declared what would he give to have England’s queen lie in his arms, what made their marriage break down is a mystery, many have surmised it was Henry’s many affairs that finally took its toll on her, but queens knew that their husbands had mistresses, it was acceptable and Eleanors own father had had lovers and she had a bastard brother, in fact she was descended from a very immoral family, being a high born medieval woman she knew that was the norm amongst the nobility and kings, but she was a tempestuous woman and such women do rebel against what is considered acceptable in society, it could be that Henry did not show her much affection as she grew older, she was older than him by about nine years, maybe he became rather cruel and critical of her, he had taken by then a lady called Rosamund de Clifford, the daughter of Walter de Clifford a knight as his mistress, he was said to have fallen deeply in love with her, she became known as fair Rosamund and many legends have woven around herself and Eleanor, including the one where the queen in disguise visited her in her secret bower the king had built for her, and had tortured her before killing her, Rosamund is said to have given the king two sons, but that myth has been debunked, Henry’s bastard son called William Longespee because of his great height, was said to have been her and the kings son, but his mother was Ida de Tosny a high born lady who for some time had become Henry’s ward, it is now known that Rosamund did not have any children and it is said she developed a canker in the breast, she retired to Godstow Abby to atone for her sinful life and the nuns had cared for her till death, today we would call her ‘canker’ breast cancer, Henry also had an affair with Princess Alys of the Vexin who was his sons Richard betrothed, an act which possibly fuelled by his mother, made him turn against his father, in fact Henry 11 although siring many sons an act which would have made Henry V111 very envious, suffered through his love for them, in the end he died lonely and sad, after hearing that his favourite John had been amongst those who had betrayed him, Henry 11 was a great king, he ruled over a vast empire and as you mention was responsible for the judicial system, creating the trial by jury in the courts which continues to this day, he was enigmatic and at first was a perfect match for the fiery Eleanor, theirs was a great love affair, but it was doomed just like Henry V111’s and Anne Boleyn’s, however for all Eleanors wrong doings against her king and husband, she only suffered imprisonment and lies now with her family in Fontevraud Abbey, side by side with the husband whom she had once loved and then turned against,, in fact their bones are lost only the effigies remain, Richard Coer De Leon lies at his father feet, the last act of a penitent son, a most interesting family, when I think of Eleanor I think she was almost born in the wrong century like Anne Boleyn, both forceful enigmatic women who knew what they wanted and went out to get it, i do recommend Marian Meades biography Bq if you havnt already read it, I picked it up for just 50p from the charity shop where I worked a great bargain, charity shops are the place to find many a great book.

    1. Hi Christine, I read Margaret Meade some time ago. Her biography is still considered one of the best.

      I think the affair with Raimonde of Toulouse, her Uncle was a bit of dirty gossip because Eleanor at the time was Queen of France and Toulouse wasn’t part of France as we know it today. There was a bitter rivalry between the Counts and the Capets. Louis Vii wasn’t a particularly ambitious King, but that tension was there just the same. The rumours began when Eleanor and Louis were on Crusade because she spent time with her Uncle out of courtesy, so of course they were having an affair. I remember Jean Plaidy used the scenario in her novels on the Plantagenets, but there isn’t any real evidence of an affair with her Uncle. The majority of historians dismiss the story and even the existence of Rosamunda Clifford and perhaps that wasn’t her real name. I know one who did though by reconstruction of King Henry’s illegitimate children, John Gillingham and his views were big when he published his biography of Richard I and Henry ii. Henry, according to Gillingham, who was speaking pre publication at a conference, wasn’t quite the dog everyone else claimed him to be. He only acknowledged two or three illegitimate children, two sons and one daughter. Gillingham believed he had four. One other son was with Alyes, but he only puts one child with Clifford, the two other kids with one other mistress but the entire sexual history of this lot is shrouded in mystery. I feel sorry for Alyse because she was the sister of the future King of France, Philip Augustus and was brought to the English Court as a very young girl to marry Richard. Unusually, Alyse became a political pawn because Henry ii wanted the Vixen between Normandy and France and it wasn’t granted. He usually married his children in the cradle and as young children but he constantly put off the wedding between Richard and Alyse. We know Henry had a perfect relationship with his four sons to the extent that they rebelled and Richard went to war with his father. The forced peace practically choked him. What little we do know about Henry and Alyes can be written on a postcard but he did threaten to divorce Eleanor and marry the girl himself. He had a very brief affair, which Professor Gillingham said amounted to rape or at least very persuasive seduction, her pregnancy and Richard denouncing her. Richard renounced his long-term betrothal and it took quite some negotiations and time for him to persuade Phillip to free him from the arrangements. Alyse must have felt humiliated and ashamed but her pregnancy was covered up. She was eventually returned to France and married off. She was married to William iv, Count of Pontheiu, an important military commander. They had two daughters, Marie, their heir and Isabella and one stillborn son. Marie was the maternal grandmother of Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I. Richard was still betrothed to her in 1191 when he married Berengaria of Navarre. It was only then that the engagement was annulled. The fate of her illegitimate child isn’t well known. Alyse was also very closely related to Richard being the child from the second marriage between Louis Vii and Constance of Castile, so therefore she was the half sister of Marie and Alix, the daughters of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Louis, Eleanor being his first Queen. Two sons of course became crucial to the service of Richard and John, Geoffrey who became Archbishop of York and Chancellor of England and William was known for his military service. The mother of William has been identified as Ida of Tonsey and he was later the fore parent of the Bigod Earls of Norfolk. Marc Morris identified the connection in his book on these Earls. Unfortunately poor Rosamunda is now believed to have died childless, she certainly couldn’t have been the mother of either of Henry’s known sons as above, but then we have a mysterious third son, another William, mother unknown born in 1166 or 1176. The latter date is too late for Rosamunda as she was certainly out of the picture by 1170 after Eleanor had her last child and her relationship with Henry broke down. Only John Gillingham noted that she was the possible mother of this mysterious illegitimate son, who doesn’t seem to have been raised at Court. This was about ten years ago but the position doesn’t appear to have changed. Of course Henry Viii only acknowledged one illegitimate child, Henry Fitzroy by Bessie Blount born at a critical time after his wife, Katherine of Aragon had her last miscarriage. However, debates go on around a number of potential other illegitimate children, including Catherine Carey and one Thomas Stukley who was born in 1520 and so fits his pattern. Henry seems to have ceased production of any illegitimate children, real or imagined after his affair with Anne Boleyn began in earnest. Henry I famously had between 39 and possibly as many as 60 illegitimate children, even acknowledging most of them. Medieval Kings had little problem not only acknowledging both sons and daughters born out of wedlock but providing for many of them. John of Gaunt, third son of Edward iii famously acknowledged, made legitimate and finally married the brood by Katherine le Rote. The Beaufort clan became the most powerful and influential family in England. John had many legitimate sons to succeed him, including the future Henry iv, but it was his Beaufort sons and his daughter Joan who were the power brokers of the future. The Dukes of Somerset became famous during the wars with York and his sons and Joan was the grandmother of Richard iii and Edward iv through her marriage to Ralph Neville, Earl of Salisbury. John, the eldest son of Gaunt was the paternal grandfather of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor. I find it odd that Henry ii didn’t acknowledge more children if he had them with his mistresses, especially as they were later a weapon against Eleanor. It’s also ironic that both sons went on to be loyal to both Richard and John as well as useful to Eleanor. However, illegitimate siblings were beholden and couldn’t inherit so they were far less of a threat than legitimate brothers. In any event illegitimacy didn’t seem to be a problem when it came to marriage. While Prince x would be married for an alliance with Princess y in the most prestigious way possible, land, money and power, a son or daughter of a King was still the son or daughter of a King and therefore a good marriage prospect. They often married into noble families or the younger children of royal families. They were still useful in order to form alliances. Mary Howard, sister to the Earl of Surrey, daughter of the third Duke of Norfolk famously married Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset Henry Viii only acknowledged illegitimate child. Richard iii had two illegitimate children both born before his marriage to Anne Neville and we don’t know who their mothers were, although several candidates have been suggested. John died in the reign of Henry Vii but the circumstances are unknown. Katherine was married to William Herbert. She died in her 20s. So as you can see the identification of a mother for royal bastards in the Middle Ages isn’t an exact science. Obviously these Kings were either too thick to remember with whom they had their children or the records have been lost or mangled. Simply giving a woman estates and cash for services rendered isn’t enough to formally identify them as mothers to illegitimate acknowledged children of Kings. Unless historians can identify a known mistress and the lady is known to have born them their children, it’s really guesswork. The further back we go, the harder it becomes, but there’s still clues, even if they do often lead to a brick wall.

  10. I read Plaidy’s book on Eleanor and Henry 11, it was called The Revolt Of The Eaglets I think, Henry did have a son called Geoffrey and Plaidy puts his mother as being just an unimportant wh*re, one of many women of low social standing whom the lustful king bedded, it could be that’s who she was, he was also the son whom Henry said was his true and loyal son, his other sons he said, were the bastards, he was also with him on his deathbed, Plaidy also in her book had Eleanor noticing some silk which had become unravelled and she followed it back to Rosamund’s bower, where the mistress of her husband was doing needlework, but this is a myth her children were playing in the gardens, she described the bower as being charming and surrounded by lovely roses, a more romantic scene you could never imagine, but this is just fable, Eleanor and Rosamund probably never came face to face, if she did actually exist as you mention, and I doubt of Eleanor would have stained her hands with her blood, she had servants to carry out an unpleasant task like that, i believe Rosamund did actually live, in my family tree Walter De Clifford is a distant ancestor and Rosamund was one of his daughters according to Wikepedia and other sources, but know she certainly never had any children, she is remembered in legend as The Rose Of The World, and is thus described as being a sweet natured girl fair and lovely, it is difficult to ascertain which mothers the illegitimate children of kings were, Henry 1st holds the crown for having sired the most many, his favourite was his eldest, Robert of Gloucester yet it is not known whom his mother was, Alys of the Vexin was pregnant by Henry 11 and then tragedy struck and she lost her baby, I too have sympathy for her because she should have been married to Richard and eventually Queen consort of England, Henry abused his position of trust,
    I believe she was mistreated by the king who was her ward and should have been caring for her, seeing to her welfare and education and preparing her for when she would be Richards wife, and instead he abused her, she was very young and today we would called Henry a paedophile, Alys featured in the movie The Lion In Winter with the late great Katherine Hepburn as Queen Eleanor, it’s one of my favourite movies it was sad and quite comical to, really fine acting from a brilliant cast, with Henry V111 he was known to have several bastard children as you mention, but there isn’t no definite proof he sired them, Catherine Carey could well have been his but there is no proof and never will be, however in portraits of Catherine she does resemble the Tudors a little, Henry V111 was said to have fathered a John Perott as well as Stukely who you mention and a girl whose mother was a laundry maid, her name was Ethelreda Malte and she was in the Tower with Elizabeth who could well have been her half sister, Henry’s bastard Fitzroy had other siblings and his mother gave birth to a daughter who is also believed to have been Henry V111’s, for all he had such trouble siring heirs with his six consecutive wives, he did not do to badly with other women, if they were actually his of course, sadly he only ever acknowledged Fitzroy and bestowed on him such honours it was believed at one time he was going to make him his heir, Charles 11 was another king with the same misfortune as Henry V111, he could not sire an heir on his queen Catherine of Braganza yet he had plenty of bastards with his many lovers, so Catherine sadly was the one with the problem as is so obvious with her inability to conceive, Lady Diana Spencer was descended from James 11 by one of his mistresses as indeed, there are many people today walking around with a drop or two of royal blood in them.

  11. Yes, a genealogist recently found a document that named the mother of Geoffrey as a wh*re and did name her, but I forgot again her name.
    Alyse most probably did lose her child through a miscarriage, still birth or very shortly afterwards as they are not noted and Henry would surely have acknowledged them. I don’t condone any of these King’s fathering children all over the place, especially with wh*res, especially when they are married, but I give them one thing in their favour, they acknowledged them and provided for them, which is more than Henry Viii did, except Henry Fitzroy.
    Rosamund is dated as dying in about 1176 and because Henry had an illegitimate child in 1175, he was assigned to Rosamund. Morgan was, however, Welsh. His mum wasn’t known but he served in many legal capacities for Richard I and John. Rosamund wasn’t killed by Eleanor, I am certain of that. The problem is, that like many women, even those of noble families, we have few records about them. I am sure you know far more than most because Walter de Clifford is an ancestor. Like most women she didn’t leave many traces.

    Rosamund was educated in a nunnery and died in the same nunnery. There is no doubt that she was the mistress of Henry ii for a number of years but its doubtful now that they had children. Another complication in tracing her is her father. Originally he was Gautier or Walter FitzRichard Walter son of Richard and his name was changed because of his properties in England. Clifford Castle is in the Wye Valley and here his power base stems from. His wife Margaret bore him several children and his powers grew with their weddings. Rosamund has been connected to many legends and thus we have much recorded many years later and history has become myth and so on.

    Henry ii also had a famous illegitimate brother called Henry of Warrene who served him in many capacities, legal, administrative and military. He had an illegitimate daughter called Margaret who became a nun.

    I don’t believe we could call Henry ii a paedophile even by today because she was of marriage age when he was rumored first to have had her as his mistress and there was no kevidence at the time. Alys was born in 1160 and came to England in 1169 but was kept as a ward and moved to the household of Eleanor. In 1177 when she was 17 the trouble started because Henry had said he would divorce his treasonous wife, Eleanor. Louis xii asked the Pope to put England under Interdict unless the marriage proceeded. Henry made various promises but no wedding followed. Eleanor kept a close watch on Alyse at this point. Rumours ran riot that she was Henry’s mistress by 1183. Nobody actually knows for certain but she was associated with being his mistress by force between 1177 and 1183. She was an adult then, so well past the age of consent and should have been married. It’s more likely that she was coerced into being Henry’s mistress, he may have raped her and then discarded her after she lost her child. She was under his protection and he used his powers to assault her. The poor girl was then a pawn and was still being used as a pawn aged 29 before she was finally freed to marry after Richard wed someone else. She was mistreated and Henry abused his powers and Alyse. She was then caught up in the feud between Henry ii and Louis and then Philip ii and Richard i. She was rejected by Richard because of his father’s actions. Alyse was the innocent victim of power politics and dirty international tricks.

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