Questions about Anne Boleyn’s Execution
Posted By Claire on August 9, 2020
In this latest edition of my Questions about Anne Boleyn series, I answer questions that I’m regularly asked about Queen Anne Boleyn’s execution, which took place 19th May 1536.
- What were the charges against Anne Boleyn?
- When was Anne Boleyn executed?
- Where was Anne Boleyn executed?
- Who was at Anne Boleyn’s execution?
- Which ladies attended Anne Boleyn at her execution?
- What did Anne Boleyn wear at her execution?
- How as Anne Boleyn executed?
- Was Anne Boleyn blindfolded?
- Who was Anne Boleyn’s executioner?
- What did Anne Boleyn say at her execution?
- Where was Anne Boleyn buried?
- Was Anne Boleyn’s head put on a pike?
- Were Anne Boleyn’s remains ever exhumed?
- What sources do we have for Anne Boleyn’s execution?
- What was the reaction to Anne Boleyn’s execution in Europe?
My article on the exhumation of Anne Boleyn’s remains can be found here.
And now for some fun – it is 2020 after all and we need fun! Here is a screen capture that my dear friend Sheena sent me of the YouTube closed captioning for the above video. What I’m actually saying is “crimson kirtle, an ermine-trimmed grey damask robe….” Ha!
107 thoughts on “Questions about Anne Boleyn’s Execution”
I don’t often read ‘historical novels’ but during lockdown I consumed two – one from Hilary Mantel (part -the -end of her trilogy on Cromwell) and Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens, Anne Boleyn (a king’s obsession).
Mantel takes us to the scaffold and Cromwell’s moment when he can no longer “now get up” but suffers and indeed dies there. And Alison too brings us to the moment when Anne comes to finally surrender her life to the French swordsman. Anne, we are told, believed Kingston when he’d said “there would be no pain”. Like Anne we too believe the moment of sword flashing through tiny neck brought ‘instantaneous and immediate oblivion”. But
we read, that moment comes with “choking explosion of searing pain and a dreadful warm gush of blood.” We learn that Anne is conscious of her head hitting the scaffold ‘with a painful thud’. She ‘experiences’ the full horror of her execution until her eyes dimmed and the merciful darkness descended. After reading this, I felt that things would never again be quite the same
for me. How could you, dear Alison, take us to this new place……. goodness.
I’ve got the third Mantel one to read in my pile and I flicked through Weir’s Anne Boleyn novel but just couldn’t read it, I’m afraid, and now I’m glad I didn’t read the end. How awful!
Hi Globerose, hi Claire, hope you are both well. How horrible! What a dreadful description and unnecessary. Thanks for the warning. I don’t believe Anne was conscious of anything but oblivion. I believe she heard the angles singing her home and Weir has it wrong. It would have been very quick and over instantly. Anne was a lady of faith we are told. Her spirit would go home and she rested in peace. I don’t know why some writers like over the top descriptions. It’s as if the readers are not considered intelligent enough to make up their own minds as to the information they want to filter or not. What a terrible description. Poor Anne.
Hi Claire and all, just looked up on Quora for a learned opinion. Found one George Corrent, MD>PhD, who says:
“When a large nerve or bundle of nerves is abruptly severed, there is an immediate wave of depolarisation of the nerve fibres that basically is like an electric shockwave. There is NO information is this nerve blast, probably not even PAIN.” Aha!
he goes on about ‘pithing a frog in the lab’, when the spinal cord is ‘pithed’ and the frog’s limbs spasm uncontrollably because, ‘the entire nervous system is firing uncontrollably and randomly.”
He suggests that, whilst there is nerve activity after the decapitation of the brain stem, these are, ‘random spasms of the facial muscles as they die.”
I’m going to trust our George MD, who sounds eminently reasonable to me. What do you think?
Hi Globerose. Since all sensation is felt by the brain and the head is at a ‘stroke’ suddenly removed, spinal cord first I wouldn’t think the brain would have time to register it. This is assuming the deed is done correctly and not a botched job. In Anne’s case I doubt if she even knew when it happened. She was on her knees on the plane of existence and then immediately welcomed into heaven. I like the guillotine for this reason. Sever the spinal cord at the base of the skull and death would be immediate + no human error.
I think I’ll trust him too! I actually find Weir’s description really distasteful. It’s really annoyed me!
In her book ‘The Lady In The Tower‘ which covers the last few weeks of her life starting with the fatal May Day joust, Miss Weir relates the theory backed up by medical evidence that seconds after the head is struck some feeling of conscience may still remain, and that Anne could well have been aware of her head leaving her body allowing her to see for a few ghastly seconds after the spectators in front of her, she mentions the victims of the French execution where one such head was slapped and the eyes registered annoyance and the victim of a car crash who was also decapitated and looked on with horror at his mangled body, this brief flicker of consciousness only lasts a few seconds before oblivion takes over but it is interesting, could the sudden shock of decapitation to the brain mean some level of consciousness remains for a few brief seconds? It was an awful way to die but then there were far worse ones and Anne compared to her contemporaries was very lucky, her death was quick almost neat you could say but yes for a split second she must have felt a sharp pain, but it would have been fleeting as the sword sliced her head of, one of her ardent admirers and champions of her innocence in the early part of the twentieth century, declared how he had been in touch with the dead queen and how she had described to him her death, she felt a pain in her neck and then no more, it was something she preferred to forget she told him, she appeared to him with the souls of dead children, and told him how she cares for them in the other world, I agree Weirs description of Anne’s death does sound ghastly, I have not read her book ‘Anne Boleyn The Kings Obsession‘ but have the sequel about Jane Seymour, we do not have to read about her execution in minute detail as we can well imagine the bloody horror of it, Miss Weir also thinks that Anne’s body when found could have been that of Catherine Howard yet the description of the remains found in the chancel do coincide with descriptions of the ill fated queen, of slender and perfect proportions with a narrow foot with tapering fingers, her skull was described as being petite and she was known to be exceptionally elegant, and in the records of St Peter she was buried in that same spot under the chancel, where her equally ill fated cousin was to join her much later with two Dukes, but Catherine Howard’s remains were never found and this is believed to be because she was only young and thus her bones dissolved in the limestone, however Weir believes Anne’s remains could be those of Catherine Howard’s as she was herself very petite, and she brings to attention the bones of an unidentified female who was quite tall and more mature, Dr Moët ascertained that Anne’s bones belonged to a woman between twenty five and thirty, well we do know she was around thirty five/ thirty six when she died so if that was Anne his readings were of scale, but then this was the Victorian age and so we cannot expect accuracy, I think the five foot three female with the elegant form Dr Moët described is our Anne as she was found where the Chancel records stated, and yet the unidentified body Weir speaks of is a mystery who is she?
I don’t see how that can be anything other than a thought exercise. Such a sudden massive blood loss would lead to immediate oxygen deprivation to the brain and equally instantaneous unconcsciousness. Though ‘life’ may continue for a fleeting moment consciousness would most likely not.
Anne was killed with a sword which was more likely to severe the spinal cord instantly. I have heard there may have been awareness of her head falling but its highly unlikely she felt any pain. I think I will have to settle for her feeling nothing because we can’t actually ask her. Medical opinion would support a painless death in the case of Anne, but whether an axe was that accurate is another matter. I am not really sure that’s the point, though with regards to Miss Weir: its her description which seems to be unnecessarily detailed. This is a real person she is speaking about and Anne’s death was upsetting enough without the extra details, accurate or not. It’s not Game of Thrones. Alison Weir has missed her calling. Maybe she should write horror or fantasy and come with a health warning, meaning her no disrespect. The best reconstruction for me was the Tudors. I liked the way Anne was remembering her childhood and a happy time in the gardens of Hever, that she was distracted by the flight of birds, her head falling to one side in mid air and the seen ended. It might not have been entirely historic but it captured something of the transition between this life and another world: her spirit floating to heaven if you wish. The music was beautiful as well and it was one of the most dramatic moments of the series. I don’t believe Anne felt any pain and the medical evidence seems to support that theory.
Yes I think your right there Michael, I cannot see how it’s possible that once the brain is deprived of oxygen any level of consciousness can remain, but the tales of the victims of the guillotine are interesting and the victim of the car crash in modern times.
Sorry I’m posting late; the discussion on Weir’s description was interesting, though. From brain scans of rats taken while they were euthanized by decapitation, scientists estimate that consciousness lasts 3-4 seconds after the head is removed (in some animals, like chickens, it can last longer). A person or animal would feel the initial stroke, so there could be a second of acute pain. If the Circle of Willis is severed by a posterior cut that then proceeds through the carotid arteries, as would seem the case from descriptions of Anne’s swift execution, loss of consciousness from hemorrhagic shock might take 1-2 seconds, rather than immediate oblivion. The more science studies decapitation, the more we realize it’s not the humane death people once believed it to be. That said, it’s also possible she could have fainted from the pain and terror even as the sword fell; we may hope that’s what happened.
What she perceived is anyone’s guess, as victims of traumatic accidents such as car crashes often experience time and events in a distorted way. Proprioception may have been affected, too; she might simply have felt that she was tumbling or falling before she lost consciousness, rather than experiencing the distinct sensations Weir describes, or she may have lost the ability to spatially locate herself at all. As a writer, I don’t condemn Weir’s interpretation, but it seems a bit of a stretch. All we can know of it is that she didn’t deserve to die in such a way. Rest in peace, Queen Anne.
Considering Anne’s death was a done deal so many weeks before the fact and given that there was time between her trial and execution it’s astonishing that no one gave a thought to the disposition of her body before the deed was done.
Hi Globerose. Thanks for the warning.
Hi Michael, the one thing which sticks out like a sore thumb here, apart from the obvious, one doesn’t normally execute the Queen on trumped up charges in the first place, that being the fact that a coffin or shroud wasn’t provided. I don’t believe they were normally, unless the family claimed the body, because a criminal was considered outside the grace of the Church, but executed Royals normally had some form of proper burial in a monastery, as with the murdered Henry VI, so one would have assumed a shroud at least would be provided. It’s particularly odd when you consider the almost morbid details Henry went into regarding the rest of the execution. The 23 pounds for the swordsman, the 8 pounds for the scaffold, the 20 for the poor and another for the executioner, the details are well known and taken great care over. Yet he didn’t think about the disposable body! Anne was buried as many others were in a dug hole in the chapel at Saint Peter’s but probably without any ceremony. We don’t know if prayers were said, possibly they were. Her brother was placed next to her and the others in the graveyard. Henry must’ve said something as the heads were not placed on the traditional spikes but four sources say body and head buried together and Anne definitely had a head when she was examined. Anyone taking that much trouble and personal interest in how his wife was executed, should have thought about how to bury her. It might be an oversight, it might be gross disregard. Henry seems to have shown much of the latter during these last weeks, so I am inclined to the latter. I don’t often criticise Henry Viii as much as I should, but this time I am going too. Henry, you are one son of a bleep and you need to be ashamed of yourself. That’s as much as I will get away with on a public forum without editing.
Anne’s poor distressed women had to carry her body, covering her head to find an arrow chest, which is about the right size, then place her in the shallow grave. Those poor women! The traumatic experience of seeing Anne killed in front of them and because of her last confession, they knew she was now innocent, then having to bury the poor lady, must have been something they couldn’t possibly have recovered from. They probably had nightmares long afterwards and nobody to care for them, they had to go on with life. That aspect of her execution is worse than the act itself, which at least was quick and painless! At least one would have provided a shroud if one had any decency. Horrible and traumatic and totally callous.
RIP Queen Anne Boleyn.
That was exactly what I was thinking. It would have already been decided that she would be interred in St. Peter ad Vincula and would of course need a coffin for that. Could the lack of proper burial accoutrements have been a final insult by the king and Cromwell to say she didn’t warrent such things or just an unexplainable innocent oversight? I believe and do hope it was the latter.
It’s very hard to say with hindsight, to be fair, Michael, and you may be right, given that Henry took off for the house of Nicholas Carew to have dinner and enjoy himself with Jane Seymour and her family and was somewhat pre occupied. Cromwell, on the other hand was on the spot and on the ball. If our collective theories are right, this was pre meditated and one would indeed know Anne would be interred in the Chapel of Peter ad Vincula in the Tower, where others executed were buried alongside those who lived and worked there. Remember it was a living city almost, with many people coming and going and the Church served the community. Not everyone was buried there. All Hallows, close by also served as a burial ground for the Tower. Planning to place Anne’s body in the Church, it would be necessary for at least a shroud or very simple coffin to be waiting. All that fuss over all of the other details makes this look rather shabby. I do hope it was a simple over sight as it makes Henry look even worse than he actually did to the wider community and important people abroad on the question of how legitimate this trial and execution of a Queen was.
Yes I agree he was meticulously planning her execution and also planning his coming nuptials at the same time, death and joy went hand in hand, he was being measured for his wedding suit yet could not organise a proper burial for his one time wife and crowned and anointed queen, it could have been an oversight caused by the glee of his forthcoming marriage yet it shows a dreadful lack of respect, she was crowned at Westminster Abbey with the crown of King Edward, she had all those honours heaped on her only to be buried in a common old arrow box afterwards, I should imagine her ladies did say a prayer for her as she was interred into the ground, it was the Christian thing to do maybe they found a chaplain, I agree her ladies must have been traumatised by the event, even though they had not been particularly close to Anne, it was a cruel age yet it was not common to see women executed especially your queen and mistress, her aunts to must have been very upset, Lady Shelton was her blood kin her fathers sister, still a relation even if they did not like each other very much, it was still shocking to witness the execution of your niece, they had to carry her blood soaked remains to the church and hunt around for a suitable coffin it must have been a truly dreadful task.
There are a good number of myths around the execution of Anne Boleyn, it’s great to do a video or article answering those questions because her execution is also often depicted incorrectly. I believe actresses are asked if they want to depict Anne blindfolded, which makes it very confusing as most people believe today that she wasn’t. I didn’t realise she was until a recent article cleared it up, but you can miss things even reading the sources. I suppose that shows how important it is to refer to the sources, even when you think you are confident you know what is known. There are even historians who still state that Anne was charged with witchcraft, which is well known that she wasn’t and this is one of the greatest misconceptions about her downfall. One historian even insists that Anne’s head was put on a spike, despite the evidence, based on what normally happened. Well, guess what most of those were men and it didn’t happen with Kathryn Howard, Jane Grey or Jane Boleyn either. No wonder people who are not up on history get confused. Seriously, these people are meant to be educated and educators. We don’t know all of the facts either, which is unfortunate. It would be nice to know more about the ladies on the scaffold, but they may well have been the same ladies as were with her in the Tower. There is a family legend that Anne gave a prayer book to Meg Wyatt, her cousin and friend, the sister of Thomas Wyatt the Elder, but this isn’t verifiable. The two books of hours at Hever Castle are also candidates for being with Anne during her last days in the Tower for her comfort and we are blessed because both have her inscriptions and signature inside of them. I don’t believe Henry would leave anyone around Anne who would give her any aid or friendship but her ladies, although spies were not entirely without feeling and this was still a very traumatic experience as testified to by the historical sources.
Anne Boleyn was the innocent victim of a conspiracy to be rid of her by a husband who had turned especially paranoid and brutal and a first minister who was both only too willing to do his duty and opportunistic in taking advantage of getting rid of a rival or two at the same time. Anne and the five men tried and executed a few days earlier were all innocent. It doesn’t matter if they were saints or sinners, swindlers, womanizers, rogues or sexual deviants or whatever else history has claimed on the slightest of evidence: they didn’t commit adultery with the Queen or plot to kill the King or anything else on the list of ridiculous indictments and certainly didn’t deserve these brutal deaths. There was only one reason behind this scandal, and I mean it was scandalous by the King, outrageous in the extreme: Henry Viii wanted a new wife and son and it was far too complicated to go through another divorce/annulment process. He would be made out to be an idiot and a liar because he had married Anne as the one who was his true love, the woman whom God had ordained would provide him with a son and who would save England after his marriage to Katherine of Aragon had been cursed. This marriage was the blessed marriage, the one true marriage enshrined in law and for which Henry had turned the world upside down. This was the marriage for which blood had been shred to protect. Now, if he annulled his marriage to Anne, Henry was admitting that he was wrong. Only by saying that Anne was a she Devil, capable of the most horrendous crimes and deception could Henry hope to walk away with his honour in tact. Henry needed a quick result. An annulment, if Anne refused to go quietly would take too long. Henry needed a quick escape and Anne was sacrificed for expediency. That’s the brutal reality of this horrific set of executions, they were for the convenience of the King. Even worse, Henry saw his friends and his wife and brother in law incarcerated, didn’t really care if they were guilty or not and then as they were tried and found guilty, he turned his back and moved on, days before they had drawn their last breath. The reactions to Anne’s execution speak for themselves, as does the shock and horror at the speed with which Henry remarried. I know Henry probably thought that he was free and so justified, but to his people it showed gross disregard for his late wife and her immortal soul and both disrespect and lack of good judgement for any kind of propriety before he rushed into a third marriage. There was shock and murmuring and people were generally horrified, not just because a crowned and anointed Queen had been publicly shamed and executed, but that the King rushed off and had married again less than two weeks afterwards. The whole thing leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
Hi Claire and Globerose. I don’t understand why Ms. Weir even felt she had to do that. Have her book sales dropped so much she has to sensationalize this tragedy in such a tacky way in order to Garner attention? I really doubt it.
Surely it was Kingston’s job to attend to the ‘management’, the practicalities of these executions and provide the scaffold and burial casket?
That’s actually what I thought, surely those details would have been arranged by him it appears no one thought of it – shocking!
That’s a good point, Globerose, he certainly would have known the orders of the King, delegated through Cromwell and as the person in charge of the Tower of London, it would be his job to ultimately oversee the practical things concerning prisoners, including the execution. How far that went to providing burial caskets or shrouds, I don’t really know, but certainly he must have been responsible for making certain remains were not just left there. Having said that, the remains of Guildford Dudley were placed on a cart and apparently left for some time because poor Jane encountered them before her final walk to her execution. They were covered, but still visible. I am just thinking what a gruesome subject but its the reality of state execution. It was his duty to make certain the Tower was secure, to keep it in good order in the absence of the Sovereign, it being a royal residence, to keep the prisoners secure and well ordered and he could be executed if they escaped, to oversee their needs and to supervise the execution. It doesn’t appear to have been specifically his duty to see to the bodies, which were normally buried quickly and without ceremony or casket as their graves were under the floor and shallow. I am only guessing, but coffins or shrouds were most probably down to the charity of others or if a family member was permitted to receive the remains. Remember, these people were traitors. I know that sounds callous, but its how they were looked upon, as not deserving the dignity of human rights, such as burials. It was, however, the first time a Queen had been executed and nobody had a clue if this was different. I am only guessing that the King gave the Lieutenant and Constable any orders and they carried them out. It’s unlikely that bodies were just left around because of heat and disease so one would think someone took responsibility for the remains of those executed.
It seems I read quite a while back that the remains of Mary Queen of Scots’ were left in a cellar or basement or some other unused place for sometime before finally being dealt with properly
Who brought up this subject? The Anne Boleyn files corpse special lol! Not as bad as not being actually buried. James iv was laid out in Syon House, although it was an Abbey at the time, and I think he was coffined but never actually buried for donkeys years after Flodden. His corpse eventually vanished. A number of stories arose, it went back to Scotland, it was buried in secret and so on but the mystery remained. Mind you Queen Katherine wanted to send his head, not his coat to Henry and she was disappointed, otherwise he would have been without a head. Yes, Mary was embalmed and placed in a lead coffin and then put in a cellar which was cold before being buried in Peterborough Cathedral. Her son James had her removed to a grand tomb in Westminster Abbey.
People used to collect bits of blood from the execution sites, dipping handkerchiefs into the blood of saints or martyrs or nobility. All sorts of things were collected. They took hair, bits of clothing, even body parts. A number of relics from execution sites still exist in reliquary boxes. From the execution of Charles I, for example, we have his shirt and gloves. He did get a coffin but when his followers tried to bury him in Saint George Chapel, Windsor, the Puritan army tried to stop them. There was a scuffle and the service was disrupted. The vault of Henry Viii was opened for his body because it was the most obvious one in sight, although the Parliament didn’t know whose it was. So Charles I was buried in between Henry Viii and Jane Seymour. I saw a collection of relics from the executions of a couple of Jacobite Lords a few years ago with all kinds of things. There was hair from them and a locked from James the old Pretender and a rosary and prayer book and family letters and miniature and some personal items. There was also a handkerchief dipped in the blood of the son. He is regarded as a martyr. Family members of people who were executed would rescue their head or shoulders or something and bury them in secret. For example, Meg Roper rescued the head of her father, Sir Thomas More and it is buried in her family vault. It was behind a grill but it was decided that it was more appropriate to rebury the head. The remains if Saint Robert Southall were gathered by his friends and now he is preserved in a glass coffin and shrine in Westminster Cathedral.
I read that when Henry V111’s coffin was opened he still had strands of red hair attached to his skull, I bet it was exciting actually seeing his remains, the description given of him was that he was exceptionally tall but we know that anyway, when King Johns body was discovered by some workmen in Worcester Cathedral the public once becoming aware of the find, excitedly took pieces of his remains, including a thumb bone which was later recovered and a stationers apprentice stole some of his teeth, the thumb bone was later recovered, and the teeth were gifted in 1923 to Worcester County Museum, also taken were the remains of some sandals and stockings, these were purchased by the composer Edward Elgar, grave robbing is not new but yes in the old days they were taken as relics from the execution sight, no one did with Anne Boleyn, but maybe it was so shocking to actually witness a crowned Queen be executed that the onlookers were just overcome by the horror of it all, they may have thought it distasteful to try to garner some relics, after Marie Antoinette was executed one of the crowd tried to dip his handkerchief into the queens blood, after Thomas a Becket was murdered his scene of death became a shrine for pilgrims, I love the story about Margaret Roper the devoted daughter stealing her beloved fathers head from its spike on Tower Bridge, she was proclaiming to the world he was no traitor but a martyr, in the London Dungeons there is a wax effigy of Margaret with her hands over a box which contains her fathers head, it is nice to know it was retrieved and lies now with members of his family unlike his mangled corpse that lies in its traitors grave.
I’m fascinated by the story from the 18th century when some ladies at Sudeley went exploring and came upon the upturned coffin of Katherine Parr and when it was opened for a very short period of time she was perfectly preserved. Imagine the experience of gazing upon the vidage not just of a queen from 200 yrs earlier but one of Henry Viii’s wives!
When president Lincoln was placed in his tomb in Illinois in 1865 shortly after his casket was stolen. It was recovered and returned. The son of one of the men who reinterred him remembered prior to reburial the coffin being opened and seeing the perfectly preserved remains. So that his remains cannot be stolen again he is now about 60ft down and covered in layers of rebar and concrete.
Hi Michael, yes, Katherine Parr was very well preserved when she was found, but because a number of people then came to see her, she sadly disintegrated with exposure to the air and not a lot of her now remains. However, a sample of her hair was taken and is preserved in the house. There is also a sample from Elizabeth and baby clothes. I would have liked to have seen King Henry and his coffin, which must have been huge. It all seems very grizzly but then again we have dug up most of Ancient Egypt and many of the people are well preserved. Meg Roper was very brave to rescue her father’s head and it does indeed say he wasn’t a traitor but a man of conscience. Fascinating stuff.
I love the forensic facial reconstructions they can do on skulls such as that of Richard III and members of the Mary Rose crew. Seeing them makes the history so much more real.
I too find it really interesting when those delicate ladies happened upon the tomb of Henry V111’s sixth and final long dead queen! Imagine the morbid fascination, there is a lock of her hair as Bq states in Sudely and it is a very light blonde, the castle is lovely there are indeed some items on display I cannot remember much as I visited some years ago, but I was fascinated by the place because of its connection to Katherine Parr, and you can wander through the gardens and see the shadowy images of the tragic queen with her feckless but handsome husband cavorting with their step daughter the young Princess Elizabeth in your minds eye, I too love seeing the facial reconstructions of long dead people, the one of Richard 111 did resemble his portraits and in the museum of London Thee is the face of a Roman lady whose tomb was found some years ago, the tomb is on display along with her remains, it was discovered she was a high born woman as her tomb was very ornate and she was wearing jewellery made from jet, workman found her I believe in Spitalfields during building work which is often the norm, she was around two thousand years old, fascinating to discover ancient tombs like that her home now is in the museum where visitors come to stare at her, she was not very old when she died possibly around twenty five, they could not determine the cause of death but it could have been a fever she caught maybe it was the chilly weather that brought it on, so different from the climate of her own sun baked landscape.
I too, Christine & Michael, absolutely LOVE to see facial reconstructions – I find it thrilling beyond belief when human remains, through science/artistic skill, suddenly re-forms itself and we see the approximation of the living face of a long lost ancestor.
Talking of the Mary Rose, Michael, I recently watched a prog with my sister when it was revealed (from about 10 skeletal remains) that four of the crew were from the Mediterranean and one, though born here in England, had North African heritage (they named him Henry).
Thank you souch for that information Globerose. That is really interesting.
Sudeley is indeed beautiful and we visited last year and the year before and there are many relics and interesting things, brought together by the grandmother of the present owners who are American and have done wonders with the house which was left in ruins for two centuries after playing host to Charles I. There are a number of items from Charles I, his ring, letters, gifts he gave his sons and ivories depicting the Court of Louis XIV. In the collection is the book by Katherine Parr, Lamentations of a Sinner, baby clothes from her little baby, Mary Seymour who vanished from history aged two or three. There are many personal items belonging to everyone who lived at the Castle, Lady Jane Grey, Lady Elizabeth and of course Katherine and her husband. The nineteenth century new effigy of Katherine is beautiful, it looks cream but is actually pink if you look in the right light. She is in repose and people leave flowers on her hands which are in prayer. The family used to have a pet badger and you can watch home movies with him. The oldest part of the Castle, the Banqueting House, the ruins in the grounds was a luxurious structure built by Richard iii as Duke of Gloucester. It was knocked down after our English Civil War by the Parliament because Charles I was given shelter there. The gardens and orchards are very peaceful. If you have mobility problems or a disability you can park just through the gate and go in half price. Go into shop and they will let you through. Here you will also find the loo and cafe and ice cream although there is another at the house. Last year it was very nice because we were there when younger members of the family arrived and the owner was doing one of the state rooms for visitors. They were having a wedding. All these teenagers came in and started hugging anyone in sight: it was very weird but very nice. We were the only two in the state rooms and we got introduced to the family members. I felt very important. Unfortunately, it meant the main cafe was closing half an hour early for them to set up but the small one was open. It was lovely to speak to the owner because she has done so much to bring together the collection at Sudeley.
I am also a fan of facial construction, because you get much more information and there are so many interesting individuals from the past. I remember Meet the Ancestors when the Roman lady was found and her facial reconstruction. She was a noble lady and she had fabulous cheek bones. There is a reconstruction based on x ray descriptions of Eleanor Talbot at Sudeley and one made of Richard iii, which is different from the actual one done in Leicester. Its based on one of his portraits. Caroline Wilkinson worked for forensics before doing these historic facial reconstruction and her work is excellent. His face was at Bosworth on the day we went for three days before touring the country and they had the video on how it was made. Since then his hair colour has changed twice after the DNA break down. At the King Richard Iii Centre in Leicester there is a three D model of his bones and the wounds in a scanner. Its amazing as you can interact with it. The work on the crew of the Mary Rose brings the men to life and this art is one of the best moves forward in historical analysis. When you see the person come to life you really feel you are meeting them. The most fascinating facial reconstruction was on the oldest person ever found in this country, several thousand years before B.C. His bones were also analysed and we also know his origins and skin colour and hair type now as well. His bones were found 50 years ago but have been preserved very carefully and this analysis had to be done very carefully. The facial construction showed a black man with a very African style hair doo, long hair, very striking features and about 40 years old. He was a strong individual, well built and had good muscular features. This was unexpected because they assumed he was European but his origins were from an area we would know as the Congo. His people moved to Europe and then a small group got stuck here during the Ice Age. He was the last one known to live here. It was a fascinating revealing and a very informative programme. It goes to show, our assumptions are not always correct. His genetic make up was unique as well and very few people shared it. It’s believed he may have remained here but didn’t have any descendants, although others of his tribal group did. So there we are, the first people in Britain were Black not white. Not that I would really expect anything else from that time period around 12,000 B.C, the last Ice Age. This might be the time when the last pre modern people went to America and became one of the many groups of Native American Indians. This would be from the Ice Age area around what we call France. This is one of two conflicting theories which explain flint finds over many parts of the Continent. It’s all fascinating stuff and its what makes our subject so wonderful to study. I am not one for digging people up, but it would be great to do a facial reconstruction of Henry Viii.
Actually if Dr Moret made skeleton measurements and they were accurate, the from those and possibly from descriptions and her most accurate portraits, without destructive methods, one could possibly make a facial reconstruction of Anne Boleyn or the lady believed to be her. An artist did one a few years ago, based on one of her portraits. Now I know the portraits are controversial and there is a lot of debate on whether or not they are authentic or not, but it would still be an interesting research project. Many years ago I was studying Charlemagne and really wanted to dig him up and do a facial reconstruction. The authorities in Aachan probably think he has been disturbed enough. He was originally buried in a huge Roman sarcophagus, now in the Museum there, but not where the sources said. He was meant to be in the entrance hall of his palatial Chapel but no recess or vault has been found there. It was confirmed that his original resting place was under the Dome, under the Four Apostles on his ceiling, then his tomb was hidden in a recess in the walls because the Vikings came in 890 A.D and were afraid of him, even though he died in 814. In about 1000 his descendent Otto the Great excavated the walls and found him, sat on his famous throne, sitting up, presumably he was arranged like that to scare the Vikings. His tomb was made and restored and rested behind the high Alter. There Charlemagne rested until 1204 when along came Frederick Hohenstoufen whose grandfather, Frederick Barbarossa had made a beautiful golden shrine for Charlemagne. The Church had now been extended and later windows like those in La Chapel in Paris were added. Frederick H placed the lid upon the shrine and oversaw his formal internment in his final resting place. Today the beautiful shrine stands high above the Sanctuary behind the High Alter. In front is a second shrine to the Virgin Mary with holy relics in. The tomb was opened in the nineteenth century and measured and he was indeed well over six foot tall and well built. I don’t think they would want to open it again. Mind you, one never knows. The right experts can be very persuasive. After all the three skulls of the Wise Men in Cologne Cathedral were studied about ten years ago.
That is very impressive. Frightening a viking at anytime would be a difficult task but for Charlemagne to be able to do so 75 years after his death is amazing. I knew he was formidable in life but I had no idea he had this effect. Thank you for that bit of history.
You are welcome, Michael. Its amazing how a reputation can scare people. Vikings like most people were afraid of ghosts, even warriors. The only way to make certain he was dead was to burn his body. Fortunately, they could not find him and left fearing he was still alive. Imagine if they had found him sitting up with his crown on and well preserved! I can just imagine them running out screaming. Charlemagne had a reputation as a feared warrior, respected by the Vikings but feared as well and stories about him being alive still frightened them. Are you not allowed out over there?
A reconstruction was done on one of the victims of Pompeii a young woman, it was fascinating to watch, I too remember ‘ Meet The Ancestors’ I loved it, and wished they would show it again as you say it does really bring these people back to life, they suddenly become real flesh and blood people not just a pile of old bones.
Hi Christine. I just found some episodes of ‘Meet ythe Ancestors’ online. I don’t think that series aired here. I’ll watch them this weekend since I’m still stuck indoors.
Just watched one this morning. There are loads of them. Watched some of the episodes of Royal Heritage. They are as good as I remember. Really enjoyable. It’s great all this historic stuff is online now. Anyone can access it and it’s educational.
One thing which always bugs me about Henry having Anne executed is her coronation. I know he didn’t have the foresight we have and expected Anne’s baby to be a Royal Prince but even so, here he was publicly saying this woman isn’t an ordinary woman, she is now transformed into a sacred semi divine person whose body is sacred. Anne had an unusual coronation. She was crowned with the male and female crowns, as a Sovereign would have been, and yet, as he executed her he was saying none of that counted anymore, she is merely my subject, not my wife and Queen and I can do as the law allows with her. The contradictions in these three years is absolutely staggering and Henry’s spin is so arrogant and beyond belief, as to be totally unfathomable. Only Henry could devise a way to explain his way around it. That’s why I think Cromwell was permitted to paint Anne in such terrible and dark language and imagery. That’s why the charges against her were so outrageous. She might not have been accused of witchcraft but the hidden meaning was clear, she blinded him with deceitful looks and lies and was so evil that she only wanted to become Queen in order to carry on her lustful and perverse life style. Henry wanted to paint himself as a victim. Unfortunately, Anne was of such character that nobody who knew her well believed him, even if he was able to persuade his immediate friends of her guilt and abroad there was shock and the news was incredulous. Henry then did something even more shocking. He married again less than two weeks afterwards and this time his people murmured about him.
In regards to Anne’s coronation I don’t think he was in his right mind at the time. I don’t mean that as a medical observation but that he was acting like a young man in love for the first time. At this time he could not not have seen the obstetric difficulties that would trouble his reign. I think he believed marrying Anne was the right decision that would solve all his problems of begetting an heir and ‘thtew caution to the wind’.
Oh I agree with you there, Michael, of course he believed he was about to be blessed and everything was right and of course nobody was able to tell if Anne would be fertile or not and Henry only marked the repeat of the birth problems he faced with Katherine after two miscarriages. I believe Henry was on cloud nine as they say at the time of coronation but he saw things differently three years later. Its the way he spun everything to come out as being wronged by Anne and almost tricked into making her Queen. What grates with me is how easily Henry put all that to one side and walked away from the woman he had turned everything upside down to have, moving on to wife no three without blinking an eye lid. He convinced himself he was right in this brutal act as well, because he couldn’t allow anyone to know he had been wrong. Henry Viii didn’t make mistakes, he was on some holy mission and the wife was in the way of that mission. Anne was meant to be the one to give him his sons, he was passionately in love with her, but things didn’t work out. However, Henry would have to admit he was human and had been wrong if he simply annulled his marriage to Anne. He would look foolish. The terrible events of May 1536 were spun by Cromwell to give him the way out of an unwelcome and now unhealthy marriage without the King looking as if he was foolish or had made human errors. That’s the brutal truth of Anne’s execution. She was in the way of him making a fresh start quickly and saving his reputation. What gets me is, how did he square Anne’s semi divine status gained at her expensive and elaborate coronation with her simply being someone he could dispose off? Maybe I am over thinking this but it seems that Henry made things up as he went along and had a way of turning the law and situations to his advantage. He believed half of the rubbish he came out with and he thought everyone else should as well: in other words Henry believed and acted in whatever way was convenient to him. I believe he acted and believed everything as it was in 1533,_but he was able to put it all aside as meaningless in order to rid himself of a wife who was now inconvenient in order to act as if he was yet again marrying for the first time. In July 1536 Parliament passed yet another Act of Succession, this time declaring both Elizabeth and Mary as illegitimate and the children of Jane only as his true begotten heirs and that Jane alone was his only true wife. Jane was convenient, Anne inconvenient.
I’m glad you found them Michael, if your televisions like ours over here in the uk weekend summer viewing is rubbish, I don’t have sky I cancelled that some years ago as it was getting too costly and you mostly watched repeats anyway, but yes it’s nice to watch something good at the weekend, il have to search for them as well because I did enjoy that series very much thank god for you tube.
Hi BQ. I’ve said this before. The only thing important to Henry was himself and his siring an heir. Anyone and anything was expendable in this quest.
I just read an article on BBC.com about a viking helmet originally discovered by workmen diggng trenches for sewage in the 1950’s and on display at Preston Park museum since 2012. It was recently ‘re-discovered’ and said to be the first Anglo Scandinavian helmet to be found in England. It has been dated to the 10th century. Great photos in the article. It is in an amazing state of preservation.
What I find shocking about Katherine Parr is that when some workman came across her tomb they treated it so disrespectfully, they threw her poor remains onto a rubbish heap and people came to gawp at her, I do not believe these men knew she was Queen Katherine Parr and of course after her tomb being opened decay set in , remarkably when she was first discovered prior to those dreadful workmen, her skin was still intact with her teeth and nails, her hand was described as smooth with the weight and plumpness of the living, her face was said to be beautiful with perfect features and her portraits bear this out, she had a soft round face with a small nose and mouth, there are two lockets containing strands of her hair but as mentioned, one was very blonde almost Nordic looking, I did some research and the other locket said to contain her hair is auburn so which is the real one? Hair colour cannot change from blonde to auburn or auburn to blonde, I do not think there were hair dyes in those days and if there were, surely only courtesans would use them or those women who worked in taverns, not a queen surely a woman from the highest echelon of society? Her portraits do depict her as having auburn hair though, maybe the blonde hair is that belonging to her baby daughter who mysteriously disappeared from history, many children are born with light blonde hair so it is just possible the locket containing the blonde strands are those that belonged to little Mary Seymour, Katherine herself has a lovely tomb now worthy of a queen consort, she was a brave and intelligent woman, kindly respected by those who knew her loved by all of her step children, even Mary who had different religious views, she lived a turbulent life when she married King Henry V111 and could have gone down in history as his third queen to be beheaded, but fortune was on her side, and she did find happiness brief though it was with Thomas Seymour, at least we know know she is at peace in the tranquil beauty of the grounds of Sudeley Castle and that hopefully she is reunited with her husband and baby daughter.
You’re not the only one it bothers. I cringe when I read about it. This period in history was the the so called ‘age of reason’ when science seemed to dominate so I guess it’s possible she was just seen as a bag of bones that could be treated as any other old object. Just a guess.
The Ladies who found her first and the reverend showed her respect and arranged for the samplers to be taken and they recorded everything. The well preserved Queen began to deteriorate afterwards. Those workmen who came around were not respectful at all. I am sure that not only did they disrespect her bones but she also lost some bones as well. It was awful reading those reports. Now very little remains of the poor Queen. Such a shame. Her tomb is beautiful but the poor Queen was treated so badly by people who just wanted to gawp. Her hair probably was reddish. Her portraits show reddish blonde. The sample of Mary Seymours hair is very fair. I doubt that Queens dyed their hair, although courtesans did. They used wigs and hair pieces as time went on, but I doubt people of high status changed their hair colour. Mind you, you never know.
The way people treated discovered bones and lost coffins is horrible. It’s because of the way certain discoveries were handled that regulations came in regarding exhumed bodies and digs and licensing. When the coffin of little Anne Mowbray was found in the 1960s, although she was treated with care and respect, the press were invited and her remains all over the papers before the Duke of Norfolk had been consulted. It was horrible and like a circus. She was only a child of about 8 or 9 and was the wife of Richard, Duke of York, one of the Princes in the Tower. She was a cousin of the Howards who gained the title after it became extinct as it was crown property. Afterwards, her bones were replaced and moved to her original burial place, but the fact the press were there was horrendous to her living relatives and the law was changed to protect finds and digs and exhumed bones in the future. Now archaeology operates under strict conditions, even if the remains are found accidentally. They are practically kept secret. Then any reburial has strict protocols as well. The Looney Tunes who wanted a huge legal fight over Richard iii knew they were going to lose. The University and the Finding Richard Iii Project had a licence with strict limitations on it. The law said his reburial would be in the nearest appropriate concentrated ground and that was Saint Martin’s Leicester Cathedral. Interesting although the debate was, the Court cases were ridiculous, disrespectful and a waste of public money. The so called Plantagenet Alliance were totally delusional and personally I am glad they lost. The delay did give the Cathedral more time to make a beautiful space for his remarkable tomb of course, but honestly, what a carry on.
I read online about how Anne Mowbray’s remains were treated. Unconscionable.
I have been watching a load of documentary films on Tutankhamen and the latest research on his treasure. The two tiny coffins of his children with the two tiny mummified remains of his two daughters, still born are really beautiful. They were in the same coffin as their father. I was all teary seeing them.
Howard Carter set the benchmark of archaeology.
I believe the current Duke of Norfolk at the time she was discovered was outraged at the way the discovery of his long dead ancestor was turned into a media circus.
I agree with you about Carter. Very methodical and meticulous in both uncovering and recording finds. Such a difference from the way archaeology was done previously when artifacts were just pulled out of the ground and and so much information was lost. It would have been hard not to get emotional when seeing those two tiny caskets. The death of children, no matter the era or the circumstances is a sad thing.
New Talking Tudors podcast episode:All Things Jane Seymour with Adrienne Dillard.
Hi Christine. From what I read people were outraged at her treatment and rightfully so and as BQ mentioned that’s why the current standards were put in place, to prevent such a spectacle from occurring in the future.
At least Anne’s remains were studied by scientists and scholars and then laid out in state before she was reburied in Westminster Abbey. It was the photos in the press which caused outrage. They were quite shocking because they were partly mummified by natural means and she had red hair. Her teeth were studied and were in good form, save for one which was genetically missing, which linked her to her cousins. She was only five when she married Richard, younger son of Edward iv and sadly she died when she was eight. Unfortunately, it isn’t certain why she died so young but her bones showed early signs of disease, the same bone disease believed to be inherited by Edward V and others of the House of York, which was also fatal. The press were overly zealous and the workmen possibly called them as well as the scientific team. Fortunately, she was also laid in a shroud and it was remembered that she was a little girl who was once alive and surrounded by candles, her little body lay awaiting her new tomb. She was buried with honours again in Westminster Abbey and a new stone with her plaque was made the story complete. Her story was a sad one, a little girl, a rich heiress whose heritage was owned by others, Duchess of Norfolk and York and her future soon over at the tender age of eight. She was originally buried in the Abbey in 1481 in the Chapel of Saint Erasmus, but in 1502_she was moved to make way for the Lady Chapel of King Henry Vii. She was buried in the Convent Church in Stepney until 1965 when the farce of her finding began. Workmen accidentally broke into her grave vault and seeing the heavy lead coffin hurled it up, upside down. The workmen didn’t have any idea what to do so they called everyone, the coroner, the police and the press and a Museum. The press arrived first. Pictures were taken and eventually the police arrived. They weren’t much use either, calling the Dean of Westminster who allowed the coffin to be opened a day or two later. The body was mummified and word got out that a mummy had been found. A feeding frenzy began even as the scientific team took charge of the bones and began the examination. The coffin was full of mud and so were her unfortunate bones. The pictures showed her covered in dirt and mud and then the problem became worse when the coffin was cleaned and her name was found. That’s when the Duke of Norfolk saw her picture in the newspaper and her relatives were furious. The Queen and the Duke had her remains removed to Westminster. The scientists were allowed six months to examine her, but a legal wrangle went on because her living relatives should have been consulted first and the Dean had no right to allow her coffin to be opened. In the meantime Anne was moved to the Jerusalem Chamber in Westminster Sanctuary and wrapped in fresh linens. Final notes were made and a proper semi Catholic service was arranged as she had been buried originally as a Catholic. Prayers were said for the little girl and she was buried again in Westminster Abbey. A service was also held in the restored Saint Stephen Chapel, originally where the Parliament Chamber is now, where Anne and Richard were married.
Anne’s inheritance is an interesting one because it was purchased by Edward iv and should have reverted to her heirs Lord Berkley and John Howard, later 1st Duke of Norfolk who was killed at Bosworth. However, Edward did some legal giggery pokery and if Richard and Anna had no children, the estate came to the crown. On Anne’s death this was the case although her husband held the Norfolk title. Richard was deprived of it in 1484, having vanished with his brother Edward. However, here is more legal sumersaults. In June 1483,_Edward and Richard of York were declared legally illegitimate. One week later, Uncle Richard of Gloucester was offered the crown and became Richard iii. The estate and title of Norfolk are now crown property again and King Richard can dispose of them. Why?
Two reasons…the manoeuvres by Edward iv were wrong. Richard iii as a known champion of fairness would not have approved. The rightful heir was John Howard and Richard in making him Duke of Norfolk Richard iii was restoring him to his rightful inheritance.
The status of a bastard in Medieval society deprived them of the rights of automatic inheritance. Prince Richard and his brother had been legally made bastards. Not only were they excluded from the crown, which may not seem fair, but at the time it was right, but they couldn’t automatically inherit a title either. In some cases, through wills and other legal proceedings they could inherit property if they were the only heir, but not a title. Children could be made legitimate through Parliament and Papal decrees which meant they had all legal rights. This was how the Beaufort mob came to have so much power. Whether or not they were ever lawfully excluded from the crown is open to interpretation. Richard of York lost his rights to the title of Norfolk when he was declared illegitimate.
Richard iii made his cousin and great supporter, John Howard, Duke of York in 1484, after his first Parliament confirmed the title of his own Kingship and illegitimate status of the two Princes, his nephews. Some historians claim this proved they were dead and that was why the title was transferred but that fails to understand the complexity of Medieval inheritance laws and customs or the legal trickery Edward iv used to control the Mowbray inheritance. When Richard iii gave the title of Duke of Norfolk to John Howard he was merely restoring it to Anne’s legitimate heirs.
Anne’s remains were sadly mishandled because of a lack of regulation and proper procedures, the workmen made a catalogue of errors, not out of disrespect but because they didn’t know what to do. It was the clergy who made the unforgivable decisions to allow an unprotected casket to be opened and not only studied in less than perfect conditions, but the press to gather around, the free access to everything and the bones were even handled in front of them. In the face of pressure from her descendent, more acceptable arrangements were made and her burial was discussed. Should she have a Catholic funeral? A compromise was arranged, in light of her original Catholic burial.
This began the movement for tightening and strict regulations for future burial finds, accidental and deliberate authorized digs, and nobody can be removed now without proper licences and the coroner being informed. There are strict protocols to preserve finds and bones in the grounds before they are removed and the press are normally kept well away until an appropriate moment. In 2016 after the publication of a book on Edward iv by John Ashdown Hill he included a picture of a facial reconstruction of little Anne Mowbray done a couple of years earlier from the published scientific study. It is a very fresh faced little girl who looks up at you, bringing her truly back to life.
I’ve always been impressed by how Phillippa Langley made sure the remains of Richard III were treated properly. In the book she co-wrote with Michael Jones ‘The King’s Grave’ one of the photos is of Richard’s skeleton laid out on a table and shot obliquely so as not to show his face directly. This is something she insisted on.
Going back to little Anne Mowbray. Not knowing what to do is no excuse. This is a former living human being. I would think that respect for the dead wad part of our ingrained nature but apparently not. The clergy’s response in this case is unexplainable and unacceptable. Of everyone involved they should’ve known better.
I’ve seen the reconstruction done on her. She was a very cute little girl. Seeng that makes it even harder to know that she died so young.
I know, it’s like looking at one of my nieces, so real. The workmen at least tried to get the best advice who to report to, but then obviously got caught up with the press. The Dean really should have known better, that was totally unacceptable. The coroner should have stopped them.
I too have seen the reconstructed face of little Anne Mowbray her hair was dark red with beautiful fine dark eyes and long dark lashes, poor little girl, I wish they could reconstruct the faces of Henry V111 and Elizabeth of York as they were said to be a handsome pair, Elizabeth’s portraits show her to have been a real blonde beauty and Henry V111 had lean regular features though he had bad teeth, which probably ruined his countenance somewhat, it is certainly fascinating when these famous historical characters are brought back to life by reconstruction because paintings alone cannot do that, however talented the artists were like Holbein, reconstruction means you really are staring at the face warts and all of a once living breathing person.
Sorry I meant Henry V11.
There is a fantastic death mask and a bust from when Henry was in his later years, which really showed him as he was. It’s a vision of a much worn out man in his mid fifties who was much older looking. The bust is considered the best likeness in his prime.
A bed which is at Hever Castle, I believe, found in Chester was DNA tested and is the marriage bed of Henry Vii and Elizabeth of York. The Paradise Bed shows scenes from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve and mythical beasts and birds and is very beautiful with lovely carvings. They would make a striking couple. A facial reconstruction would be fantastic.
Yes iv seen the death mask of Henry V11 he resembled his mother Margaret Beaufort, his son Henry V111 seemed to take after his mother’s side of the family Edward 1V as well as his elder brother Arthur, at Hever Anne Boleyn’s bedroom is on show along with her bed , I t would be great if we could have a reconstruction of Henry and Elizabeth, especially Elizabeth because she was considered very beautiful.
The York side of the family were all handsome and beautiful and Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth’s mother was a beautiful woman as well. Henry was tall and physically attractive like his grandfather and he aspired to be like him. Unfortunately, Edward iv also led a very decadent life style, had several mistresses and grew fat in later life. As a couple, though Edward and EW were handsome as were Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York. Both women would make very striking and beautiful in a facial reconstruction.
I would love to do a facial reconstruction for Charles Brandon because so many of his portraits vary. I know he was 61 when he died but with the computer one can de age someone so we might get an idea how he might have looked in his thirties. Brian Blessed comes to mind when I think of Charles in his prime. He made an excellent Brandon.
I agree with your comparison but I wonder if Charles Brandon was as loud?
A description of Brandon as Great Master, that is the person who controlled and was responsible for everything at Court during the 1540s, has him with a great booming voice, confident in ordering everyone about. His portrait at his wedding showed a stocky man, with beard, looking very brash, despite the trouble it caused. He is often described as having a huge laugh and of course he swung a lance with expert ease. I think he knew when to moderate his tone but I can well imagine him striding around the place, just as the younger Henry did, slapping everyone on the backs, voice booming away and calling for a servant to bring him an ale. Yes, I can see him being the double of Brian Blessed. I thought Harry Caville was good in the Tudors, but he doesn’t fit how I imagine him looking. I bet we would all be rather surprised. All we know was he was handsome, looked rather like the King and was taken as his twin brother and was his boom companion. Other than that, looks wise, we have little to go on save his wedding portrait, all the others being very contradictory. Interesting to find out one day.
My husband and I met Brian Blessed in Waterstones a number of years ago, shortly after his first assent up Everest. He was signing a book about the mountain and his experience. Apart from two other people, we were the only ones there, sadly, but we had him all to ourselves for a good ten minutes. I had my picture taken, getting a huge cuddle. He is a very interesting man. He was telling us about how difficult it was and his struggle with the oxygen. The first time he didn’t make the final up to the summit but he went nearly up there. He returned to Everest and went to the Summit a couple of years later. He is getting on a bit now but I really think he is still a great guy and a good actor. Definitely, Charles Brandon lol.
I had forgotten about his ascension of Mount Everest. I remember thinking at the time I was very impressed that he was attempting to do something like that in his fifties. How neat that you both got to meet him.
I’ve rediscovered a series I found in 2016: History Cold Case. So many more have been posted since then. They are digital transfers so have excellent audio and video.
Another brilliant series, Michael. I have had an upgrade to a more sophisticated TV package and digital box and you can get YouTube on the TV and Netflix as well as Sky. I found an older documentary on the Romanov Princesses because its not available on demand anymore on YouTube which is great because now I can watch on a large screen. I just thought, the Anne Boleyn videos are on there so I will be watching in large screen. Excellent. Meet the Ancestors Revisited is on PBS this week, going back to the sites they filmed and seeing if anything new has been found since. Its on every evening.
I will have to watch ‘Meet The Ancestors’ on you tube because I did love that when it was first aired, I too love Brian Blessed he was fabulous in ‘I Claudius‘ how fortunate you were to have both met him Bq! Charles Brandon was said to be handsome but studying his portrait he looks quite jowly with a strong nose, those disgusting long beards they wore that were so fashionable at the time does hide the features a lot though, a facial reconstruction would be great, in fact I wish they could reconstruct all the historical figures of the Tudor court it would be so interesting, he was a lifelong friend to Henry V111 and unusually never lost favour with him, he was a bit of a womaniser and was married four times, he left his second wife and returned to his first then when she died by whom he had two daughters, he married Princess Mary, so Mary married a much more experienced man than her he had definitely been round the block a few times! He appears a bit of a rogue and yes he was said to have resembled King Henry, I thought Henry Cavill who played him in ‘The Tudors’ was far too pretty to portray the real Charles Brandon, he probably had a lot in common with the king they both loved jousting and womanising and being in their cups most nights, it says a lot for him that he was always held in deep affection by the king even forgiving him when he married his favourite sister, he had quite a few children but sadly lost two of his young sons to the dreaded sweat, he certainly was a fascinating colourful figure and lived a long life by Tudor standards, eventually dying in his bed, an achievement for those associated with a King Henry V111.
I love that, Christine, Henry Caville was too pretty ha ha! He acted the part well though and I think everyone watching fell in love with him. A number of people believe Brandon probably helped Henry with his early love life because the Prince and young King looked up to the older, more experienced man and was extremely close to him. They were really good friends and I don’t believe they ever lost that. It must have been devastating when Brandon died in 1545,_just a month after the sinking of the Mary Rose. I think King Henry was reminded of his own mortality when his oldest friend died and he wasn’t the same since. Charles was thought to be less intelligent than the older nobility, but he at least died in his bed of a short illness, at a good age for the time, surrounded by beautiful women, his wife and daughters. That’s more than most of the others did. That was indeed fortunate in the world of Henry Viii. The two men shared a love of athletes, the hunt, dancing, women, pageantry, the tournament, at which both excelled and tennis. They were extremely competitive with each other and with their fellow courtiers and that shaped and deepened their friendship. Brandon was no fool, though, he made certain he did what the King wanted when it was important to do so and stayed humble when it was expedient to do so. He was the King’s man, through and through and everybody knew it. He was the King’s right hand man when it came to disposing of rebels, alongside Norfolk. He was also a family man and that’s a quality which stands out reading his letters. His beard must hide good features and a strong face.
It must have been really hard for Katherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk to later watch her two beautiful, clever sons die within hours of each other in 1551_of the dreaded Sweat. Henry and Charles were 16 and 14 years old, both very clever and both rising as their father had as companions of the new young King, Edward and at his Court. They were home from Cambridge University when the dreadful disease struck and they died within three hours of each other, their distressed mother at their side. They were the hope of the Dynasty, which was now extinct in the male line. Charles had two surviving daughters via Mary, the eldest of whom Frances now became his heir. Her husband was later made Duke of Suffolk in her name. She was the mother of three daughters, her own sons having died in infancy, Jane, Catherine and Mary and they would be destined for trouble when it came to the English crown. Katherine must have been utterly distraught after her children died. She would, however, a few years later find comfort in her second husband, Richard Bertie and have a son and daughter by him. Her own life was long and full, dying in the 1580s.
I ran across a very interesting YouTube channel called ‘The People’s Profiles’. It’s all biographical documentaries that appear to have been produced specifically for this channel. They range from ancient personages to modern. Very well produced. Most are an hour or less so not exhaustive but the subjects are well covered. I’ve watched 3: Edward I, Boudicca and Harald Hardrada..
That sounds interesting. I was watching a two part documentary from about four years ago on the four daughters of Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra, in their own words. The number of photos and home videos that they took is amazing. IT was on YouTube and is called Lost Russian Princesses and the letters from them to their mother when she was very ill show how they yearned just to be loved. The way they all protected Alexei, their brother is amazing. They were so beautiful. When I read the full story of how they were killed, it is really hard because they didn’t die instantly. Those horrible men used bayonets to kill them. The mystery of the missing bodies caused all kinds of false claims afterwards, but we now know that no one survived. Maria was the missing daughter, not Anastasia. The son, Alexei, was also missing in 1992 when the first bodies were found. In 2003 the bodies of Maria and Alexei were found in a different location. How anyone can stand over screaming children and young people and just keep striking them down is beyond me? The guards were becoming close to the girls and they were removed and arrested. A cold blooded killer was appointed to guard them and kill them. Within a few days the White Guards would have liberated them. Nicholas was an ineffective leader and autocrat who was insensitive to the reality of his people and their problems but he wasn’t a monster. He was a Tsar and they were all the same. However, his children were innocent and not responsible for his mistakes. At least we put Charles I on trial, even if it was a farse because he didn’t recognise the authority of the court. We didn’t send him to the end of the earth, murder him and dispose of his body in the woods. Nobody even admitted to the fact that the family had been killed until the 1960s. The official report was hidden for decades. The Tsar it was admitted had been executed but what happened to the family was a mystery. They were just disappeared. A few people knew that they dead, but it was really hushed up. I have read several books and seen several documentaries but this is the first time I have seen one which recorded the feelings and thoughts of the girls and their family.
I thought the murder of the Romanovs was dreadful, and I wished Britain had offered them sanctuary when the troubles began because they were cousins to our royal family, I have seen photos of them and they were a handsome looking family, the daughters were beautiful, I remember the crazy old lady who claimed to be Anastasia, there was a documentary on her and for years she fooled this American couple that she was one of the Tsar’s daughters, as soon as I saw her I thought no way! She did not remotely resemble the Romanovs and there was a man who claimed she was his relation instead, looking at them both I could see the facial likeness and yet this American couple could not, eventually a DNA test was carried out, our Prince Philip providing a sample and it was proved beyond doubt that this old lady was not related to the Romanov’s, there was a documentary on them years ago and it showed their tragic ending where they were all in a room and Tsar Nicholas and his wife had their arms round the children, they died in a shower of bullets really dreadful, I did not realise they didn’t die instantly as you say Bq, how can anyone keep shooting at poor children especially and they were all so beautiful, they must have been very hardened men, Tsar Nicholas reminds me a little of the French King Louis who went to the guillotine , he to it appeared was indifferent to the sufferings of his people, getting back to the Romanovs, was it not the Tsarina Alexandra who was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria ? I would love to see that documentary on the princesses’s maybe I could get that on you tube.
If Britain had tried to help it would have put the country in an untenable position. Russia had pulled out of the war because of the revolution and if England had interfered it would have opened up another front of fighting against the Communists. If you haven’t already seen it I recommend the movie ‘Nicholas and Alexandra’s. 1971. It stars Michael Jayston and Janet Suzman. Tom Baker plays Rasputin. Find the full length version from 1999. It’s 3 hrs long.
I have a large format paperback book on these Romanov’s. It’s from 1998. It was put out by the State Hermitage and State Archive of the Russian Federation.
The Romanov’s we’re a very close knit family and good parents but Nicholas was a terrible ruler. He said he never wanted to be tsar. It’s too bad they weren’t of the lower classes then perhaps under a different tsar the Communists could not of taken hold and millions would have been spared their brutality over the next 70+ years.
King George offered sanctuary in 1917 when the family were still at the Alexander Palace but the girls were ill with scarlet fever and had to shave their heads. Afterwards he had changed his mind because of the political situation Michael described. Soon afterwards they were moved to Siberia. The movie Nicholas and Alexandra is brilliant. He was out of touch and even though he made a Duma, he dissolved it and made it comply with his wishes. That was the beginning of the end as was the war.
King George offered sanctuary in 1917 when the family were still at the Alexander Palace but the girls were ill with scarlet fever and had to shave their heads. Afterwards he had changed his mind because of the political situation Michael described. Soon afterwards they were moved to Siberia. The movie Nicholas and Alexandra is brilliant. He was out of touch and even though he made a Duma, he dissolved it and made it comply with his wishes. That was the beginning of the end as was the war.
The documentary is on YouTube as are a number of related documentary films.
The full length version of , Nicholas and Alexandra’s is available to rent on YouTube for $3.99 U.S.
Thanks Bq and Michael, I have heard of that movie, I’m not sure but it could have been the programme I saw years ago and got a bit muddled over time and thought it was a documentary, tragic what happened to them and as Bq mentioned the children were innocent, why assassinate them?
I believe to remove any claimants to the throne later on down the road and also to remove any witnesses who could inform the outside world ad to what took place. Hundreds of the nobility were murdered by the reds, not just the royal family. Lenin and his cadre were very thorough about clearing the way for the communist party and removing all possible opposition. I too wish the children had survived as you say, they were innocent. Much of the information about the face of the family was a secret for decades.
Should read ‘fate’ not face.
Lenin gave the order to kill the entire family because his brother was hanged by Alexander iii, the father of Nicholas ii and he vowed revenge. Lenin took over the Provincial Government after he was brought back from exile. He determined to exterminate Nicholas and his family. Some wanted a trial but that suggested Nicholas wasn’t responsible for the crimes of 1905 and might be innocent and the Reds could not allow that. Nicholas wasn’t in the Winter Palace during the terrible events of October 1905 but he wasn’t very demonstrable of remorse and apparently indifferent. He was a poor Tsar. The people also blamed his wife but not the children. The Government didn’t want to kill the children but Lenin was determined to wipe them out and many more people were also killed. For the reasons Michael has stated, the Reds wanted them out of the way, that is the cruel reality of this terrible murder. They also feared that the White Army was on the way to free and maybe restore them. It was dreadful. Those poor children and young women, innocent and the deaths were covered up for so long.
A number of stories following that Anastasia had survived and there have been a few documentaries on this but it was because two bodies were missing in 1992 when they were found. Later the bodies of Anastasia and Alexis were found. Maria was believed missing at one time but now all five children and the Tsar and Tsarina are identified and buried in state. They are regarded as holy martyrs by the Orthodox Church in Russia and as Saints. Two ladies thought they were Anastasia and Maria but this was disproved. It was a terrible secret for over 70 years and one I doubt the Russians are proud of.
Another mysterious death and one which might never be solved except through a physical forensic examination and even then with few signs on the body and probably none on the bones is the murder of King Edward ii. Despised as a King and a man, betrayed and taken prisoner by his wife and Sir Roger Mortimer and held at Berkeley Castle, his death in September 1324 sent shock waves around the country but even now we really don’t know for certain how he died.
Theories are death via a horn and a red hot poker into his entrails and rectum burned out his bowels and he died in agony and not quickly or quietly, which most historians now discount.
Strangulation or suffocating him in his bed and in a weakened state and unlikely to leave many signs and would be quick and quiet.
Death by natural causes, typhoid as he was getting the stench and water from a drain pit where dead carcasses were put down.
The King escaped to Ireland and then to Italy for the rest of his life.
The traditional story was written down much later and reflects on the fact that Edward was openly homosexual and a weak King. However, it would take a long time to die in agony and although marks may be avoided using a cattle horn through which the poker was inserted, the death of a King would be more likely to be quick and quiet.
Strangulation of some kind is favoured today because they didn’t use a coroner or jury or examine him. He was pronounced dead the same night and the news taken to his son straight away. The only people to view his body were those in the Castle, probably in on his death and he wasn’t seen by a family member until he was embalmed several weeks later. His body was obscure in his casket and he was buried in Gloucester Cathedral.
Edward could have died as they intended from disease and his body ushered out quickly for fear of infection. Again the same conditions apply as above. Natural causes are the official causes of death but nobody believed it.
Ian Mortimer and Paul Docherty claim Edward escaped and years later Edward iii received a letter from the Papal Legate which claimed his father was alive and living in Italy as a hermit. Edward iii would have been too embarrassed to acknowledge his father was alive and his own reign would now be insecure. He did apparently investigate but concluded it wasn’t true. But could it have been? It seems unlikely.
One thing is very certain, Edward ii died in very mysterious circumstances and the most likely cause was murder. His body wasn’t examined by medical or religious personnel and no inquest was held. He was hastily examined and declared dead by those in the Castle and later identified by an obscure relative. He was buried in Gloucester Cathedral with a Mass and everything and has a tomb there but was his corpse switched? Is the body in Gloucester really that of King Edward ii and if so would we be able to determine his cause of death by modern forensics? Who killed him and why?
The who seems straightforward. Roger Mortimer seized power as did his widow, Isabella and they ruled for a number of years before their son, Edward iii crept through an underground tunnel at Nottingham Castle into their rooms and took them prisoners. Isabella was pardoned and Mortimer was blamed for everything, held as a traitor and hanged. However, it was only Isabella who had the authority to order the killing of an ex King and it was only her who could arrange things. Lord Berkley might claim he knew nothing but he was the custodian of the Castle which is in his family today. Whoever was given the order had no choice but Isabella and Mortimer were the responsible ones. His body was hidden, no coronary report was made, no inquest jury, no identification until his body had decomposed and his family did not witness his body’s preparation. Even a living King could be switched by a dead body and by the time of any identification days later, this might be difficult. Edward was an embarrassment to the new regime and he was a deposed King. They didn’t usually live very long. Of course he was done away with.
That would be an interesting mystery to solve. Also, how did William Rufus die? We hear hunting accident but I suspect he was killed by his brother Henry.
Do we know exactly how Richard II died? I’ve heard ‘most likely’ starvation. If true an awful way to go.
I read a book a while back about the archaeology of royalty in England and it mentioned at one point that Edward II tomb was opened (a very long time ago) by antiquarians to see what he was buried with and from what they described from the clothing to the items buried with him he was definitely given a kingly burial.
Yes, Rufus was out hunting in the New Forest which is in Hampshire, in the South of England, a deer park by Royal decree, when he was killed by a stray arrow and his brother, Henry ascended to the the throne but that’s all we know. Suspicion did fall on Henry but nothing was ever proved. That and the death of Richard ii, of starvation, again with no signs on his body and also King Henry vi, probably murdered in a similar way. He was officially killed in the Tower on 21st May 1471,_either by being strangled or stabbed or he died officially of haemorrhoids bursting, which if they bleed and become infected, especially then, complications can cause death. He may have been killed on 21st, but some sources give dates as diverse as 24th and 26th May. The murder has often been blamed on Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who was nineteen, also present in the Tower on 21st and 22nd, but you can bet your bottom dollar Edward iv gave the orders and as Constable of England Richard carried the order to the Tower. Henry was the last of his line, his son having died at Tewkesbury but he had been removed from the Tower once and restored, forcing Edward into exile: there was no way he was going to be left alive to be used again. Margaret was held in captivity but returned home a number of years later. With two Dynasties fighting for the crown you had to choose sides with care as defeat could mean execution. Edward saw to it that his reign wasn’t disrupted a second time. Some reports say the body was laid out and his skull bled. Did he therefore receive a head wound? Was this an accurate description? Did it just appear to bleed? Did his brain haemorrhage? His body was placed in a monastery but a cult grew up around him. Richard iii had him removed with honours to his present tomb at Windsor. It is said a cult still followed him.
There are quite a few interesting and mysterious deaths of important people and much that forensic science could tell us but of course the dead should really be left to rest in peace and we must respect that wish. Still, if the opportunity arose, then maybe one day we might know the truth.
There is absolutely no doubt that Henry was murdered on orders from Edward but whoever actually dispatched him I don’t think is possible to know. The bursting, infected haemorrhoid theory I really doubt. If this was the case I would think saying he died after a short illness would have sufficed as a reason but what was given was that he died of melancholy. That just sounds like a lie used to cover-up something nefarious.
I’m of two minds about Henry’s murder. On the one hand it’s so tragic because he was gentle kind soul but on the other he was born into a position he could not fulfill because of his mental illness and the people of England suffered terribly. I never realized how bad things were under Henry VI until I read Helen Castor’s book on the Paston letters. England needed a change and though I don’t think the Duke of York would have made a great king his son Edward wasn’t too bad. Finally some stability and strength on the throne again.
I agree, Michael, his mental illness was well documented and ironically he was more secure in the Tower, and not just as a prisoner, but in himself as he was watched, had a strict regime, no responsibility and had his needs met and was left in peace. I doubt he knew what was going on in 1470 and wanted to be back in the safety of his room. He wasn’t always ill and there are times when he was effective but most of the time he made disastrous decisions. It was very much about his Beaufort relatives and he excluded York who was actually doing a good job as Protector. However, things did get really bad. Edward made a reasonable King, although there were some issues, but his rule was stable certainly in his second period.
Haemorrhoids was code for someone was murdered in the Ancient World. A number of people died of hemorrhoids after falling out of favour. Melancholy was depression and it could be useful to describe Henry vi death because he was depressed. However, it was well-known he had suffered foul play. Sad really because he was a very good man in himself, but his misrule ironically led to the war he didn’t want.
When we know his father was that great King Henry V the victor of Agincourt it’s very sad he was mentally deficient and therefore unfit to rule, I agree about starvation Michael being an awful way to die, I just hope little King Richard 11 was smothered to death, that would have been much kinder than depriving him of food and drink, the little princes in the Tower were possibly smothered to death to, its a much kinder way to kill innocent children than by starvation or the sword.
I wish we had an opportunity to ask Richard III about his nephews and he would have to answer truthfully. It’s so frustrating that in 2 yrs he never mentioned them, not even in passing. It’s possible they died of disease but probably not. It would be nice to know for sure so that if it was proven that their uncle was not responsible in any way then that black mark by his name could be erased like the corrections being done for Anne Boleyn.
Starvation is horrible. Richard ii wasn’t a child. In 1400 he was a rather nasty and terrible person who wasn’t particularly liked, not that that excuses his murder. He was a tyrannical adult with overwhelming visions of grandeur and he had driven his own nobles to oust him. He was a terrible ruler and it was only a matter of time before he was replaced. He definitely wasn’t a child. Richard ii was probably just as mad as Henry vi but nobody came close to diagnosing him. He had been hardened after facing down the Peasants Revolt at 14 and the Parliament which was allowed to arrest and execute several members of his Court. Ten years later he had his revenge. Bolingbroke was the son of John of Gaunt and was exiled for ten years by Richard ii. He was popular with the nobility and overlooked for the young Mortimer heir. Henry iv was a suspicious person and didn’t trust anyone. He was a harsh man but he kept control because of his own will. He
even thought his own son was plotting against him. Henry V was a different kettle of fish. He was a warrior and had already taken to the field of battle. He had defeated Hotspur, that is Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. He had fought against Gwendyr and he looked like a King. He was very shrewd and ruthless. He was charismatic but hid his intentions and even he had to put down a plot and executed three nobles on the Eve of sailing for France. He was a hero King because of the conquest in France and his brothers were left to run both. Henry vi was only nine months old when he inherited the thrones of England and France and he was the only person crowned in both. His minority saw the chaos of the last years of the wars with France. He was not showing any signs of the mental problems that plagued him after 1453 but he was not a decisive man. He had also just suffered the trauma of the murder of the Duke of Suffolk and the loss of France. This triggered his long illness and he didn’t even notice the birth of his son. Rumours that he wasn’t the father went around but Henry had no problems recognising his heir after his recovery. It was a terrible thing to die from starvation, although the end is meant to be peaceful. If he had have been suffocated that would be merciful. However, its not correct that Richard ii was a child or innocent. He was responsible for the brutal execution of hundreds of people. He was also 31 when he was allowed to die. Yes, it was cruel and a terrible death but probably inevitable.
If the boys in the Tower, 13 and 9, the two children of Edward iv, who were innocent, were killed, then its thought that they would be suffocated as they slept. Unfortunately, here we don’t have any answers as they vanished. The bones in the Urn in the Tower were assumed to be their bodies but the authorities made a right mess of things. The forensic examination in 1933 was flawed because they were told that these were the Princes bones. Unfortunately the examination was flawed in a number of areas and the bones contaminated. The animals with the human bones were mixed in and several bones are missing. This meant a mixture in the results. The debate on the bones is split. The Queen will not allow a new investigation. Today we can find out more because of the DNA from Richard iii, but that would not tell us about who, if anyone, killed them. A new investigation would be very helpful and welcomed. We are left with a mystery. We do not have enough evidence for their murder or their survival. They may have been killed on the orders of Richard iii or they may not have been killed. They were declared illegitimate but in the future might have been a threat, but we are left with an unknown question in 1483. They could have died of natural causes but neither Richard or anyone produced a body. It might sound horrible and the killing of two innocent children was, but Henry Vii had just as much reason to kill them as anyone else. His claim relied on the fact he was married to the York heir, Elizabeth and her brothers were dead. The Duke of Buckingham was another suspect and one who was capable of doing the deed. Richard made a mistake in not showing them in public but then again Warwick was shown by Henry Tudor and a rebellion followed. A rival was not a good thing to have around, even young people because the throne was not secured. They could have been smuggled out very easily and remember a number of people claiming to to be the Princes turned up. Here is a real mystery and one not likely to be resolved soon. The most merciful manner of death was suffocating a person in their sleep but any form of murder, especially of children, is horrendous.
By the way I am not saying Richard ii deserved his fate, just that it was inevitable.
P. S I have to say that is one of the reasons why I have been a fan of the truth behind the false accusations against Anne Boleyn, because Richard iii was maligned by history. I think he thought not speaking about them was the best way to go, probably because they were an alternative to the present reign and because a cult may have grown up around them. It was a risk either way I think. He could not have them in public either way and silence seemed to be the best way forward. There were many difficulties but Richard had to make a decision and that gave way to the rumours which plagued his regime in London at least and which those given to their own ends, that is Stanley capitalised on. It was a great pity that the man who was actually one of the best Kings, especially as far as ordinary people were concerned, had his reputation destroyed because of his silence. He was a good and just King, impartial and his laws show that. I think he will be cleared one day, but unfortunately we have to wait for a modern investigation. Anne Boleyn was accused of the most dreadful crimes and it has been many centuries to look at the ridiculous charges and show that they are nonsense. It’s a bit more difficult with no evidence one way or another to prove someone didn’t commit murder after 500 years. I have admit, that is one of the most important things about history.
I must admit, I don’t know much about Richard 11 only that he was said to be a tyrant and he did betray the peasants, he came to the throne young and young rulers are often hopeless, the picture of him shows an angelic golden haired child but he did grow up imperious and haughty, it probably was inevitable that he was murdured, the English crown appears steeped in blood, so many monarchs being usurped and killed over the centuries, the Plantagenets were called England’s bloodiest dynasty and it was only the unification of the white rose of York and red rose of Lancaster, caused by the marriage of Henry V11 and Elizabeth of York, that people were able to hope for and look forward to peace at last.
Hi Christine, hope you are well. Yes, when you think about it we have had a long history of blood thirsty monarchs. The turbulent years of the so called Wars of the Roses, did see some of the greatest losses of life in war prior to the two world wars. For example Towton saw approximately 28,000 men killed in one day which isn’t just the highest number killed on an English battlefield but is only comparable proportionately to losses on the Somme. Of course there wasn’t fighting all the time, but for such a short period, two separate periods, 1455 to 1461 and 1464 to 1471 there was fighting on and off over a total of sixteen years, there were several battles and skirmishes all over Britain. A relative period of stability following until 1483 with periods of small scale rebellion during the first year of Richard iii, but of course this was followed by Bosworth. People on all sides looked forward more in hope I agree than with any sense of reality following the marriage of Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York. Unfortunately, not everyone was satisfied to allow peace and members of the House of York had different ideas. Henry was soon having to defend his newly acquired crown, was almost assassinated in York, found himself having to hunt down old adherents of Richard iii, some still on the run and he was soon back on the battlefield. In one of the weirdest and one of the most debated conspiracies in our history, a boy claiming to be either a York Prince or the Earl of Warwick appeared in the North and Midlands. He was the puppet of John de la Pole, often believed to have been the heir of Richard iii. He was crowned in Ireland and supported by an Irish and Flanders Army provided by Richard’s sister, Margaret of Burgundy, he invaded England. At the Battle of East Stoke which is in Staffordshire, in June 1487, Henry and the Earl of Oxford took to the field, well actually across a marshy river. The conspiracy was defeated and a strange boy was found on the Battlefield. His name was given as Lambert Simnel, which was probably invented, but he was obviously meant as a diversion by the now dead Yorkist commanders. The Government claimed that part of the conspiracy was to release the real Earl of Warwick who was about ten or eleven years old. This boy, Edward, son of the late George, Duke of Clarence, had attended the coronation of Richard iii before moving to Middleham in Yorkshire. He had been in the Royal Household when Henry first arrived but in 1486 in the middle of the rumours about the return of a York Prince, he was placed in the Tower. Rumours had spread that he had died (a bit familiar yes?) and Henry had him brought out and processed to Mass at Saint Paul’s Cathedral. John de la Pole and his family were present and his father, the Duke of Suffolk warned him to be cautious and do nothing foolish. He spoke with the boy and the next day vanished. He had fled to begin his conspiracy with Francis Lovell, the best friend of the late King Richard. The plot was laid to ambush Henry in York. When that failed, the conspiracy around Warwick/Lambert Simnel was developed. The captured boy was sent to work in the kitchens and later lived as a Royal falconer. John de la Pole died on the battlefield and Lovell vanished from history. To this day its still very unclear as to the end game and the real identities of those who were meant to replace King Henry and even the official version has contradictions. At least four other sources contradict the official version and each other.
Sadly for young Warwick, Henry was shaken by this threat so early in his reign and he wasn’t going to take any chances. The young boy returned to the Tower, in close confinement and wasn’t to emerge until his escape in 1499. His recapture with the Pretender Richard of England, known as Perkin Warbeck, left Spain on edge and at the insistence of their Ambassador, both men were tried for treason and executed. Spain only wanted one claimant on the throne that their Infanta Catalina of Aragon was going to sit upon one day. It was the price for her marriage to Prince Arthur. Warwick was popular as well. During his brief outside trips and the rebellion people in London and the South cried.. “A Warwick! A Warwick!”. Henry Tudor had only been on the throne less than eighteen months and although he had secured an heir, the baby Prince Arthur, much depended still on his relationship with the nobles and his marriage to Elizabeth.
The marriage with Elizabeth of York was indeed one with the hope of unity and peace and despite the problems which plagued the reign early on, it was a successful marriage. I am not going to romanticize their union as a love match because I believe it was one of mutual convenience. Henry was fulfilling a sacred vow and Elizabeth gave legitimacy to his forceful taking of the crown. A rich tapestry of propaganda did the rest. Imagine everything being covered in a new and powerful political symbol, the white rose and the red in one rose. Not that the House of Lancaster actually used a red rose but there we are. It was indeed a great hope that the civil wars would end and after East Stoke that was the state of affairs in the main. Elizabeth was an intelligent and supportive consort and she was well liked, graceful and beautiful. She also had a strong and forceful as well as a charitable character. She was fertile, quickly giving him several children and by 1500 she had born Arthur, Margaret, Henry, Mary, Edmund and Elizabeth. Despite the plots and threatening attempts by Richard of England, the future of the Dynasty was very secure. Henry turned out to be a much better ruler than many people thought. He made good alliances with Scotland and Spain, he made treaties with France after a successful encroachment to teach them a lesson, his taxation and commercial policies were sound, he enriched the crown, he built the beautiful Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey, although he moved tombs to make way for it, he gave his blessing to the Cabot brothers expedition to the New World and he attacked corruption. He had a darker side as well, through his use of fines and obligations and financial penalties in London through his enforcement agents, of whom Epsom and Dudley were the most infamous. However, it was really after the death of Elizabeth and Prince Arthur in 1502 and 1503 that Henry became withdrawn and paranoid. His greatest achievement was that he died in his bed, albeit from a long and horrible illness and passed the succession on to his son in peace and security for the first time in almost a century.
I must say, I’ve read far more good things about Richard than negative. And there is nothing in his behavior prior to the death of his brother Richard that would have pointed to these actions in any way. I wonder if he had lived longer and had become more secure on the throne if maybe he would have talked about it. Perhaps the someone at court and they would have written it down. If he had nothing to do with his nephews disappearances it’s very sad that this incident has ruined the reputation of a man who from what I can tell seemed mostly good.
As to Richard II I completely agree that his deposition was inevitable. He became so bad that If it wasn’t Henry Bolingbroke somebody else would have taken him out.
There are a number of good theories and Matthew Lewis and David Baldwin have both written books on what may have happened if they survived.
The Survival of the Princes in the Tower: Mystery, Murder and Myth is excellent and Matthew has a Blogg as well.
The Lost Prince. The Survival of Richard of York by David Baldwin. It’s much easier to make a case for the survival of Richard because of the claimant Perkin Warbeck, the name given in the official version who threatened Henry for several years. Edward is more problematic. However, the information is very interesting and well worth looking at.
Richard ii was convinced that he was semi divine and he humiliated his own nobles and they grew resentful. He might have thought he was semi divine but he obviously didn’t know how to use his own power effectively unless it was to crush a rebellion with force. Only two or three other Kings lost total control of their Parliament or allowed nobles to be executed without their authority. It ended badly for all of them..Charles I, Edward ii, Richard ii, Henry vi and it almost ended the same way for Henry iii. I definitely believe Richard ii had potential and showed spirit against those involved in the Peasants Revolt in 1381 but then he grew into someone who thought he was invincible. When he realised he wasn’t, he lost control. You are probably correct, whoever took over were going to leave him to die. It was a horrific way to go and they could have arranged something more merciful, but that wasn’t Henry iv. He introduced the English laws against heresy because of the rise of a cult called the Lollards and he dealt ruthlessly with them. He threatened anyone who might be a rival with disinheritance and he was strong but ruthless. He was also probably paranoid. However, he had the support of most of the nobility and somehow hung on to pass the crown on to his son. The House of York, however, wasn’t going away. They waited in the background.
Thank you for the book referrals.
Richard II sounds like Charles I over two centuries later.
Henry IV is one of those guys who knows his own devious paranoid personality and assumes everyone thinks as he does and has to protect himself from them. These people should never be in a leadership position. At least his reign was short.
I heard in a documentary a couple of years ago that it was under Henry IV that French ceased being the primary language of the court and English came into fashion. I don’t recall the program but it was something I found on YouTube.
That actually sounds about right. English during the fourteenth century was becoming more and more in general use and literature. This was the century of Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales which are in English. English experts believe that there was a radical change in the way English was used in major documents. It also changed as a language as well. I would not be surprised if many nobles had ceased speaking French. Richard ii regarded himself as an English King and in fact he had two English parents. The Black Prince, Edward, his father and Joan of Kent were born in England and both close relatives. They shared a grand parent. Richard may be rightly criticised for many things but be was certainly a promitor of England as the Mantal of Mary and the country given by God. His own symbol was the blue robes of the Virgin Mary, his banner in the Wilton Dyptic being received from her hands. Her angels wear his colours. He has a tiny jewel on the banner with a map of England set in a silver sea. He received his crown in the picture from Saint John and Edward the Confessor, to whom he was devoted. His promotion of England as a blessed land was his one positive attribute. The literature of England can be seen more and more in English and we would see many more classics in the next fifty years. I am not surprised if Henry iv promoted it as the language of the Court.
One interesting thing about Henry iv is that he wasn’t buried in the Westminster Abbey but at his own wish he and his second wife, Joanne of Navarre were buried in Canterbury Cathedral. She was his second wife, not the mother of his children, but her step son, Henry V had her charged with witchcraft and locked her up. His mother was Mary de Bohen, the daughter of the Earl of Hereford and Joan Fitzalan, so two English nobles. She was 25 when she died before her husband became King. She was buried in the Church of Mary de Castro in Leicester. The noble families had certainly cut links with France centuries ago and although a proper education included French, still an official language, I suspect that it was falling out of use.
I did some quick checking and Henry iv did become the first English King to use English in his official documents as did Henry V as part of his administration. French wasn’t banned but it became the secondary language rather than the first.
I really appreciate the clarification and putting into context the change in court language. That is much more information than was mentioned in that documentary. Thank you BQ.
You’re very welcome. It’s amazing how languages and usages have developed and how we identify with and through our use of language. The elevation of the native English of course transformed our society quickly and beyond recognition, possibly contributing to the growth of a national identity, commercial language, the Reformation, demands for social reforms and access to law, literature, entertainment, administration, Government and eventually religious observance and the translation of the Holy Bible. With translations of other works into English, the printing of Books into English, everyone knew the knowledge for life and it must have transformed the way we lived every day life, medical texts, instructions on how to plough and farm the fields or cook certain foods, prepare for certain feasts, make remedies or building something and so on. It’s amazing how the language travelled around the world and transformed even our political ideas and influence.
The use of our common language is also a powerful thing for ordinary people because the language of law was Latin and not the familiar Latin of the Mass, which most people understood at a rudimentary level and knew by heart, but the high Academic Latin of scholarship. That didn’t stop our Medieval ancestors from taking their neighbours to Court or negotiating their way through complex legal rules or filing their claims and proving wills and so on, because evidence shows in some cases they were more legally savvy than us. It was just as well because if someone built a Mill close to your land, you needed to know the boundaries and to be able to sue them if they flooded the land. There was far more regulation in this period than today and not even the EU had so much influence over work as our own national and local legal codes. But, the Court documents were still in Latin and the laws themselves in Latin so lawyers were kept busy as were translators. Access to law would become more and more open as reforms came in. The Court of Appeals for example was set up for ordinary people and in English. A number of proceedings were introduced to help ordinary people negotiate through English Law Courts under Richard iii and eventually it was only for the benefit of lawyers that anything was in Latin.
I don’t know why but of interest is the fact that in his personal library collection Richard iii had a copy of a Lollard Bible in English. I doubt Richard iii was sympathetic towards Lollards, although none were persecuted under his brother or himself, but he did encourage foreigners to come to England to publish books and he abolished taxation on importing Books. Edward iv had of course introduced through William Caxton with the Printing Press in 1478. By the time of Henry Viii a number of titles had begun to appear in English, although they were still very expensive and in England we were reluctant to publish an English Bible, even though Common Language Translations appeared in France and Spain. I believe this was to do with the fear of heresy which would become more dangerous if unauthorised English Bibles were published and people interpreted them for themselves, because they would be full of errors. How it never occurred to anyone that if an Authorised English Bible had been made by the English Church, then it would not have been full of errors and that it could be regulated and taught is a complete mystery. Not that translations of Scripture didn’t exist entirely. Primers in English taught children the prayers and parts of Scripture and the Mass and some partial translations had been done in the earlier Middle Ages but they were out of date. The Bible was considered too Holy and Sacred and the Word of God was taught by those who knew its meaning. That was one reason for not translating into the common tongue. Another of course was abuse. Even Henry Viii complained about “that precious jewel” the Word of God being jangled in ale houses. Even when it was first authorized it was with a number of restrictions. However, within 150 years of English being used more widely in administration, that’s exactly what happened, Henry Viii gave his reluctant consent to an English translation based on Tyndale and Miles Coverdale, so full of their beliefs, to be published. Ironically he didn’t realise its author.
Just read that researchers have claimed to have solved the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. If their findings are correct they make perfect sense. Rather than me trying to explain just Google ‘Roanoke mystery solved’ many articles pop up.
Thanks, Michael, I might check that out. Scientists claimed the same thing a number of years ago when a number of books appeared. I might remain sceptical for now but it would be great if they had. The lost colony which vanished without a trace, except of course it didn’t, bones were left behind. To me, its perfectly obvious, the colony failed, fell victim to diseases and famine and conflict and the survivors moved on elsewhere and abandoned the place. That’s what usually happened. Even James Town suffered periods of near extinction. There is evidence of starvation and cannibalism among those struggling to survive. It took a number of attempts before the colony finally took off and survived into a more modern town and city. Several reconstructed faces and archaeological studies have shown the various struggles of James Town over its first 100 years and the periods of prosperity and starvation, rise and fall. One reconstruction was done of a 14 year-old girl who had died of starvation. The scientists were shocked because her bones had been cut and scrapping marks were on the long bones. Her flesh had been cut off. This was not some prehistoric Ancient ritual of defleshing, it was evidence that her flesh had been removed for eating. This poor girl had died of starvation and then her starving relatives had eaten her. It was shocking, especially in a Western Christian Community of the seventeenth century because it was totally taboo, disrespectful and we naturally feel disgusted at such pagan acts. However, it also shows the total desperation of this community on the edge of extinction that they were prepared to cook and eat their dead, leaving only their dry bones for burial. Her face was so haunting and moving and we can only mourn her fate and humanity.
Cannibalism was widely practised in many cultures but not out of desperation. It was a way of giving strength to the community left behind as part of the funeral rites and the entire community partook of the feasting on their remains. Certain parts of the body represented ideas from the spiritual realms and had more powerful blessings to pass on. Very rarely does cannibalism ever involve killing people and cooking them alive. It is almost exclusively a ritual after death by natural causes and one which had great symbolism for the whole community. In the case of James Town and in fact the Old Kingdom in Egypt, however, it was the sheer desperation of hunger which led to this barbaric practice.
Mind you if one wants horrible death tales, invented or not, the story of Emperor Wu Zeiten of China in the ninth century, the high point of their Medieval history, is full of them. The only female Emperor in Chinese history, Wu rose from being a high born courtesan, the formal concubine to the Emperor or rather to his son, to being the consort of the heir and then Emperor. She murdered the real Empress and her hand maiden and you don’t want to know how, she was accused of killing her own children to blame the Empress for it, but it was more likely they died of infant illnesses and she had at least three of the heirs executed or forced to commit suicide in order to become Empress. On the death of her father in law, as Empress she soon took control because her husband was an idiot and also in very weak health. All of her sons died in mysterious circumstances, her daughters thrived and even though she was Regent for three sons, they didn’t last long. Eventually Wu took full control and ruled for 50 years in total, 32 as sole ruler. She took the name Emperor Wu Zeitan which means Ruler of Heaven and she could be totally ruthless.
However, that’s just one side of the coin and many of the tales were written by patriarchal scribes who wanted to undermine the importance of her reign. Wu oversaw a cultural renaissance. She ruled a peaceful Empire for the most of her time and a secure one. She encouraged Buddhism and built many Buddhist Temples and entire regions were dedicated to the worship of Buddha, rock cut caves sheltered a Buddha in each of them. She encouraged foreigners to come to China and trade flourished. She oversaw a renaissance in literature, art and history and science. Women had high status and rights during her period and women wrote books and she introduced printing on a modern scale. She appointed a female Prime Minister and in her tomb are jewels from India, Afghanistan, from Persia and many other kingdoms. Another tomb of a noble woman has a beautiful crown which is priceless and she wasn’t a Princess. Wu oversaw grain storage and production to provide for times of famine and with the ordinary people she was popular. Wu reformed the legal system and anyone could make a complaint against any official and they would be guaranteed a full investigation and protection against revenge. Wu was ruthless against anyone who crossed her, however and she was known to have executed several noble officials and rivals and those who deserved it, but she was also fair in ordinary justice. She is said to have repented of her sins in later life and had a golden tablet made with the words of her hope for pardon on them and it was taken up to a high point and thrown down as a symbol of repentance and forgiveness. It was found by a farmer 1300 years later. Wu retired aged 82 and her grandchildren succeeded her. Her name was tarnished and yes she was ruthless but many of the stories about her are greatly exaggerated. Her diplomacy and cultural renaissance, her wisdom and the success of her reign have been forgotten. It was written that her reign was a disaster for China but it was actually the opposite and underwent one of her more successful and prosperous periods and a time of renaissance and religious tolerance and revival. One of the hidden talents of history.
The name of that Chinese Empress sounds familiar. I watched a documentary on her a few years ago. Her tomb had been located but not cut into yet. The archaeologists were discussing what may be found inside and I remember them expecting to see a large scale model of her empire, or at least part of her empire with the rivers filled with mercury. I forget where they got this information, it may have been from contemporary documents. The possible presence of mercury was one of the factors holding up the dig.
It was watching the documentary, which was from a couple of years ago, which reminded me about her. They were at her tomb but its extremely difficult to dig in China and its unlikely they will actually get inside her tomb, although the outside areas and underneath can be dug. The information on mercury is possibly from the tomb of the First Emperor. The army which guarded his tomb has been discovered of course and is world famous, some came to Liverpool in 2018 and 2019 and it was brilliant. You needed to book two weeks ahead. We went down and got a discount not available online. We booked for September on the way out and returned. The archaeologists mapped the mountain under which his tomb is believed to be and they got huge mercury readings all over the mountain. An ancient map and plan says that rivers of mercury were used and it makes perfect sense as it was the elixir of life. Chin took it daily to extend his life. Its also poisonous if taken for too long or in high doses. Ironically he probably ended his life in this way. The guy was a complete nightmare by our standards, he sent scholars to dig the wall and die there, he killed thousands of peasants in the same way, banished scholars, but he was a great warrior and unified most of the original states of China. His tomb was kept secret and those who built it were killed and put inside. He probably has jade and copper and jewellery as well. He kept a few elite scholars alive for his own personal information. He was and is seen as god and that’s why its forbidden to explore his tomb. If you want to dig tombs, Egypt has plenty, that’s probably the attitude, China isn’t going to let its Emperors be disturbed. Mind you, who can blame them? Would we go to Westminster Abbey and dig up our Kings? Its only done occasionally in order to find and rebury them, as with Richard iii, whose old tomb was lost and under a carpark. He was then buried properly. The vault is sealed so he can’t be dug up again. I really can’t see anyone being in a Royal Tomb in China any time soon, at least not that of an Emperor. The underground tomb in the documentary belonged to the grandchildren and nobles of the Wu Dynasty, but the team could only translate the inscriptions, not open the burial vaults. The walls and inscriptions had some interesting information about how people may have died and their status and beliefs. The beautiful jade headdress came from the tomb of a noble, although it must be very rare. Imagine the headdress of Wu Zeitan. There was a noble found completely buried in jade. Completely wrapped in jade! He was brought to Liverpool with the exhibition on the Terracotta Army. One of the Terracotta warriors looked like and was stood in the same pose as Bobby Fimino, when he scores a goal for Liverpool lol. I didn’t realise he was that old. You can see many people you may know, probably everyone sees different people, because their faces are so individually made. There was a long freize as well, showing the funeral of Chin and the making of the Tomb. Occasionally a dig is allowed but very few actual bodies are ever removed for study. The Jade Warrior may be an exceptional find because he was unique. I imagine a chariot burial, with actual horses and Jade armour and rivers of Mercury and lots of bronze objects and silks in the Tomb of an Emperor. I imagine a headdress and silks on the body of Wu and Buddhist inscriptions and jade jewellery and bronze vessels and offerings of many kinds, maybe human sacrifices and her servants guarding her and another Terracotta army, smaller than that of Chin and her life in texts everywhere. I think they will find mercury in large amounts, flowing as rivers, representing life. A map in an antichamber is very possible. I imagine preserved flowers as well as in the Tomb of King Tut. It would be dangerous going in with large quantities of mercury, but I imagine they have got some idea from records and measurements as well. As usual, of course, the reign of a female autocratic ruler has been maligned, even if she was cruel and ruthless, she obviously did a lot of good for the country as a whole.
Back I the early 2000’s some of the Chinese artifacts came to the Portland Art Museum including a couple of examples of the Terra Cotta warriors. So very life like. Somewhere I have a nice softcover book of the exhibit but I have moved since then and have no idea where it is. I have only seen photos of the made burial suit. Head to toe thousands of individual Jade plates held together with gold wire. Quite beautiful. China has such an exceptionally long history. It could take centuries to unlock all of its secrets. Even longer under a communist regime.
Yes, the Jade warrior is beautiful, the plates are almost as if they were made yesterday. China was more advanced than most nations, certainly anywhere in the West, probably invented a number of things that were later lost in the West, which men in the nineteenth century reinvented as their own, but which China and India had centuries earlier. China had highly sophisticated weapons of mass destruction, the battery, although it actually came from Mesopotamia, but a more sophisticated version, motorised vehicles, smelting and printing, gunpowder, rockets, just about everything else you can think of much earlier than the West. Her long history, her sophisticated writing and numerical systems and science have really only started to be understood. Her history will indeed take centuries to unlock, but at least we are starting to see some of her wonders today. There was a wonderful documentary on the Forbidden City on a year or two ago and the advanced technologies used to build it. I love all these documentaries where they get an idea of what something originally looked like and they press a button and 3D reconstructions appear on the screen. If you visit today, you get a tablet and hold it up and how it was comes up on the screen. Its like walking around China’s biggest and sacred City 300 or 400 years ago. Amazing stuff.
Just saying study other things other than Anne Boleyn, you are so retared and weird. You should study Berengaria the Great, Joanna of Naples Phillip of Anjou and more, Idiot.
At least I can spell and punctuate. Retired? Retarded? But, yes, I relish being weird. Thank you!