Friday, March 27, 2015

History Trivia - Charles I, King of England, Scotland & Ireland, ascends the English throne

March 27

1599 Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex and a favorite of Elizabeth I, became Lord Lieutenant General of Ireland during the Nine Years War. However, he was unsuccessful in defeating the rebel forces and returned to England in disgrace.

1625 Charles I, King of England, Scotland & Ireland, ascended to the English throne.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

History Trivia - William Caxton prints his translation of Aesop's Fables

March 26

 752 Pope Stephen (II) III elected; he was the first sovereign of the Papal States, crowned Pepin as King of the Franks, corresponded with the Emperor Constantine on the subject of the restoration of the sacred images, restored many of the ancient churches of the city, and built hospitals specifically for the poor near St. Peter's church where he is buried.

1484 William Caxton printed his translation of Aesop's Fables.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Scribbler Tales Volume Three now available on iTunes

Written by: Mary Ann Bernal
Narrated by: Roberto Scarlato
Length: 1 hr and 10 mins 
Unabridged Audiobook
When a highly classified schematic of a prototype engine is stolen, the evidence points to an inside job, in "Hidden Lies". In "Nightmare", Melanie's childhood demons carry over into adulthood when she returns to her ancestral home. Detective Newport races against time to apprehend a killer targeting prosecuting attorneys in "Payback". "The Night Stalker" is not a figment of Pamela's imagination as she tries to convince the police that her life is in danger.

Purchase on iTunes


History Trivia - Ptolemy XII, King of Egypt and brother of Cleopatra, drowns in the Nile

March 25

47 BC Ptolemy XII, King of Egypt and brother of Cleopatra, drowned in the Nile, probably with an assist by Julius Caesar, who thereby made Cleopatra queen.

421 City of Venice founded.

1199 Richard I was wounded by a crossbow bolt while fighting France which led to his death on April 6.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

5 things you probably didn’t know about the Plantagenets

History Extra

It was one of the most violent periods in history, famed for the Hundred Years’ War, the Peasants’ Revolt, and the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. Yet through the chaos of the Middle Ages, the Plantagenets rose to seize control of England.
This article was first published in November 2014

The dynasty ruled England and much of France during the medieval period - monarchs included Henry II, Henry III, Edward II and the boy king Richard II - and their hatred, revenge, jealousy and ambition transformed history.
Here, writing for History Extra, historian Dan Jones reveals five things you probably didn’t know about the Plantagenets…

1) The Plantagenets weren’t just kings of England

As the French-sounding name suggests, the Plantagenet dynasty originated across the channel, and both in blood and outlook they were decidedly continental. At various times Plantagenet princes ruled – or claimed to rule – Normandy, Anjou, Maine, Touraine, Aquitaine, Brittany, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Castile, Sicily and France.
In the 15th century Henry VI was actually crowned king of the French in Paris. The family maintained close links with the Holy Land through the crusades. This was a truly international project. Only after 200 years did English become the official language of law and parliament, and even by the time of Chaucer, most sophisticated courtiers still spoke and corresponded in French.
Despite this, however, the Plantagenets laid down the foundations of England’s laws, borders, language, public architecture and national mythology.

2) Bloodshed was an occupational hazard

Even before the bigotry of the Reformation descended, this was still a very violent age: Henry II’s great quarrel with Thomas Becket ended with the archbishop chopped down by four knights and his brains scooped out on the floor of a cathedral; the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 saw another archbishop beheaded in the street, and when Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, lost the battle of Evesham in 1265, he was hacked to pieces and his genitals were stuck in his mouth.
Edward II’s reign dissolved into an orgy of slaughter that ended with the king being forced from the throne and murdered, while his close ally Hugh Despenser the Younger was hanged, drawn and quartered in front of the queen, who feasted while she watched the bloodthirsty show.


3) They had to deal with drone warfare

We may associate the unmanned deployment of death from above with 21st-century US special forces, but drone warfare has a far longer history than that. During the 13th century there was a spate of devastating clashes between kings and their barons – the worst being a long-running feud between Henry III and de Montfort. In the course of all this, records show that the sheriff of Essex plotted to attack London using cockerels who would have firebombs attached to their feet.
There were a few basic flaws with this plan: cockerels cannot fly for very long distances, and feathers are somewhat flammable. So in the end there was no cockerel-led blitz. But it was an enterprising use of military technology, which is worth applauding for sheer chutzpah if nothing else.


4) You didn’t have to call them ‘your majesty’

Not until Richard II’s reign, anyway. The usual forms of address for a king for much of the Plantagenet era were ‘your highness’ and ‘your Grace’. Richard, however, had a grander and more elaborate vision of kingship than many of his predecessors, and he introduced the terms ‘your majesty’ and ‘your high majesty’ to the court vocabulary.
During his later reign, there are vivid accounts of the king sitting in splendor on his throne after dinner and glaring around the room at his assembled courtiers. Whomever his gaze rested upon was to fall to their knees in humble appreciation of his royal awesomeness.
Eventually this wore rather thin, and in 1399 Richard was deposed by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, who took the throne as Henry IV and abruptly ended the unbroken succession of Plantagenet kings that had continued since the 12th century.

5) There’s a bit of Plantagenet in all of us

Well, most of us, anyway. According to calculations made by Ian Mortimer in his biography of Edward III, somewhere between 80 and 95 per cent of the living English-descended population of England shares some ancestry with the Plantagenet kings of the 14th century and before. In other words, there’s a pretty good chance that you are, on some level, a Plantagenet.
This is not, I should say, a mandate to start slaughtering archbishops; hanging, drawing and quartering your enemies or sticking your wife in a dungeon. But it’s pretty cool, all the same.

In case you missed it... Treachery: what really brought down Richard III

History Extra

David Hipshon, whose book on the controversial Yorkist monarch is out now, has a new perspective on the reason for Richard’s death at the battle of Bosworth in 1485
This article was first published online in April 2010

On 22 August 1485, in marshy fields near the village of Sutton Cheney in Leicestershire, Richard III led the last charge of knights in English history. A circlet of gold around his helmet, his banners flying, he threw his destiny into the hands of the god of battles.
Among the astonished observers of this glittering panoply of horses and steel galloping towards them were Sir William Stanley and his brother Thomas, whose forces had hitherto taken no part in the action. Both watched intently as Richard swept across their front and headed towards Henry Tudor, bent only on eliminating his rival.
As the king battled his way through Henry’s bodyguard, killing his standard bearer with his own hand and coming within feet of Tudor himself, William Stanley made his move. Throwing his forces at the King’s back he betrayed him and had him hacked him down. Richard, fighting manfully and crying, “Treason! Treason!”, was butchered in the bloodstained mud of Bosworth Field by a man who was, ostensibly at least, there to support him.
Historians have been tempted to see Stanley’s treachery as merely the last act in the short and brutal drama that encompassed the reign of the most controversial king in English history. Most agree that Richard had murdered his two nephews in the Tower of London and that this heinous crime so shocked the realm, even in those medieval days, that his demise was all but assured. The reason he lost the battle of Bosworth, they say, was because he had sacrificed support through this illegal coup.
But hidden among the manuscripts in the duchy of Lancaster records in the National Archives, lies a story that provides an insight into the real reason why Thomas, Lord Stanley, and his brother William betrayed Richard at Bosworth during the Wars of the Roses. The records reveal that for more than 20 years before the battle, a struggle for power in the hills of Lancashire had lit a fuse which exploded at Bosworth.
Land grab
The Stanleys had spent most of the 15th century building up a powerful concentration of estates in west Lancashire, Cheshire and north Wales. As their power grew they came into conflict with gentry families in east Lancashire who resented their acquisitive and relentless encroachments into their lands.
One such family were the Harringtons of Hornby. Unlike their Stanley rivals the Harringtons sided with the Yorkists in the Wars of the Roses and remained staunchly loyal. Unfortunately, at the battle of Wakefield in 1460, disaster struck. The Duke of York was killed and with him Thomas Harrington and his son John.
The Stanleys managed, as ever, to miss the battle. They were very keen, however, to pick up the pieces of the Harrington inheritance and take their seat at Hornby, a magnificent castle that dominated the valley of the River Lune in Stanley country.
When John Harrington had been killed at Wakefield the only heirs he left behind were two small girls. They had the legal right to inherit the castle at Hornby, but this would pass to whomever they married. Stanley immediately sought to take them as his wards and to marry them as soon as possible to his only son and a nephew.
John Harrington’s brother James was equally determined to stop him. James argued that his brother had died before their father at Wakefield and so he himself, as the oldest surviving son, had become the heir, not John’s daughters. To make good his claim he took possession of the girls, and fortified Hornby against the Stanleys.
Unfortunately for Harrington, King Edward IV – striving to bring order to a country devastated by civil strife – simply could not afford to lose the support of a powerful regional magnate, and awarded the castle to Stanley.
However, this was by no means the end of the matter. James Harrington refused to budge and held on to Hornby, and his nieces, regardless. What’s more, the records show that friction between the two families escalated to alarming proportions during the 1460s.
In the archive of the letters patent and warrants, issued under the duchy of Lancaster seal, we can see the King struggling – and failing – to maintain order in the region. While James Harrington fortified his castle and dug his heels in, Stanley refused to allow his brother, Robert Harrington, to exercise the hereditary offices of bailiff in Blackburn and Amounderness, which he had acquired by marriage. Stanley falsely indicted the Harringtons, packed the juries and attempted to imprison them.
Revolt and rebellion
This virtual state of war became a real conflict in 1469, when, in a monumental fit of pique, the Earl of Warwick – the most powerful magnate in the land, with massive estates in Yorkshire, Wales and the Midlands – rebelled against his cousin Edward IV.
The revolt saw the former king, the hapless Henry VI, being dragged out of the Tower and put back on the throne. Stanley, who had married Warwick’s sister, Eleanor Neville, stood to gain by joining the rebellion.
There were now two kings in England – and Edward was facing a bitter battle to regain control. In an attempt to secure the northwest, he placed his hopes on his younger brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester, the future Richard III.
This had immediate consequences for Stanley and Harrington, for Richard displaced the former as forester of Amounderness, Blackburn and Bowland, and appointed the latter as his deputy steward in the forest of Bowland, an extensive region to the south of Hornby. Even worse, from Stanley’s point of view, the castle of Hornby was in Amounderness, where Richard now had important legal rights.
During the rebellion Stanley tried to dislodge James once and for all by bringing a massive cannon called ‘Mile Ende’ from Bristol to blast the fortifications. The only clue we have as to why this failed is a warrant issued by Richard, dated 26 March 1470, and signed “at Hornby”.
It would appear that the 17-year-old Richard had taken sides and was helping James Harrington in his struggle against Stanley. This is hardly surprising as James’s father and brother had died with Richard’s father at Wakefield and the Harringtons were actively helping Edward get his throne back. In short, it seems that the Harringtons had a royal ally in Richard, who could challenge the hegemony of the Stanleys and help them resist his ambitions.
The Harringtons’ support for Edward was to prove of little immediate benefit when the King finally won his throne back after defeating and killing Warwick at the battle of Barnet and executing Henry VI.
Grateful he may have been, but the harsh realities of the situation forced Edward to appease the Stanleys because they could command more men than the Harringtons and, in a settlement of 1473, James Harrington was forced to surrender Hornby.
Richard ensured that he received the compensation of the nearby property of Farleton, and also land in west Yorkshire, but by the time Edward died in 1483 Stanley had still not handed over the lucrative and extensive rights that Robert Harrington claimed in Blackburn and Amounderness.
A family affair
One thing, however, had changed. The leading gentry families in the region had found a ‘good lord’ in Richard. He had been made chief steward of the duchy in the north in place of Warwick and used his power of appointment to foster members of the gentry and to check the power of Stanley.
Only royal power could do this and Richard, as trusted brother of the King, used it freely. The Dacres, Huddlestons, Pilkingtons, Ratcliffes and Parrs, all related by marriage to the Harringtons, had received offices in the region and saw Richard, not Stanley, as their lord.
When Richard took the throne he finally had the power to do something for James Harrington. The evidence shows that he planned to reopen the question of the Hornby inheritance.
This alone would have been anathema to Stanley but it was accompanied by an alarming series of appointments in the duchy of Lancaster. John Huddleston, a kinsman of the Harringtons, was made sheriff of Cumberland, steward of Penrith and warden of the west march. John Pilkington, brother-in-law of Robert Harrington, was steward of Rochdale and became Richard III’s chamberlain; Richard Ratcliffe, Robert Harrington’s wife’s uncle, was the King’s deputy in the west march and became sheriff of Westmorland. Stanley felt squeezed, his power threatened and his influence diminished.
With Richard at Bosworth were a close-knit group of gentry who served in the royal household: men like John Huddleston, Thomas Pilkington and Richard Ratcliffe. They were men whom Richard could trust, but they were also the very men who were instrumental in reducing Stanley’s power in the northwest.
By Richard’s side, possibly carrying his standard, was James Harrington. When Richard III sped past the Stanleys at Bosworth Field he presented them with an opportunity too tempting to refuse.
During the 1470s Richard had become the dominant power in the north as Edward’s lieutenant. He served his brother faithfully and built up a strong and stable following. The leading gentry families could serve royal authority without an intermediary. The losers in this new dispensation were the two northern magnates, Henry Percy and Thomas Stanley.
Richard challenged their power and at Bosworth they got their revenge. When Richard rode into battle, with Harrington by his side, loyalty, fidelity and trust rode with him. Like the golden crown on Richard’s head they came crashing down to earth.

Richard's chivalry: the gallant exploits that killed a king
The fateful charge of knights at Bosworth may have been a risky strategy but it chimed perfectly with Richard III’s concept of himself: the chivalric ‘good lord’ fighting his enemies with his faithful companions at his side.
Richard’s father, the Duke of York, who was adopted as a four year-old orphan by the great warrior-king Henry V, evinced an old-fashioned, almost archaic, concept of chivalry. He had been killed when Richard was only eight but had left a powerful impression on the young boy.
In 1476 Richard presided over a solemn ceremony, redolent with pageantry and symbolism, in the reburial of his father at the family seat at Fotheringhay. An endowment of four priests at Queen’s College Cambridge specified that they should pray “for the soule of the right high and mighty prince of blessed memorie Richard duke of Yorke”. Richard III believed that his father had died fighting to restore the realm to its former glory after years of corruption and ineptitude.
After his father’s death at the Battle of Wakefield, the family had been forced to flee to the court of Philip the Good of Burgundy, where an almost fantasy world of courtly etiquette and chivalric exploits was fostered.
The young Duke of Gloucester possessed a 12th-century romance of the perfect knight, Ipomedon, and in his copy he had written tant le disiree, “I have desired it so much”. The motto he used, loyaulte me lie, “loyalty binds me”, has that same sense of a craving for a lost idealism.
The Harringtons – like Richard, their lord – were to pay a heavy price for the failed horse charge at Bosworth and the Yorkists’ subsequent defeat.
After the battle, Stanley received possession of all the Harrington properties and became earl of Derby. His brother, the impetuous and treacherous William, betrayed a king once too often and was executed by Henry Tudor in 1495.
Henry himself set about dismantling the capacity of the magnates to raise their own troops and to wield their own power. Private armies were abolished and the Tudor monopoly of authority began. From henceforth this power could only be challenged by Parliament or by the rebellion of commoners.

10 things you need to know about the battle of Bosworth

The battle of Bosworth, in which Richard III was killed, was the last significant clash of the Wars of the Roses. Here, Chris Skidmore MP, the author of Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors, summarises 10 need-to-know facts about the battle that heralded the end of the Plantagenet dynasty and marked the birth of the Tudor age.
This article was first published in August 2014
History Extra

For many, 22 August 1485 remains one of the key dates in British history. Yet what exactly took place in the early hours of the morning (the battle was over by noon) still remains tantalisingly elusive.

Nevertheless, many myths surrounding Bosworth remain prevalent – stirred by the imaginings of Shakespeare, whose famous words, “A horse, a horse, a kingdom for my horse”, placed in the mouth of the defeated Richard III, are occasionally still recounted as part of the narrative description. Despite decades of research into what exactly happened at Bosworth, and where exactly the battle was fought, it seems truth remains inconvenient when it comes to telling a good story.

That shouldn't stop anyone knowing the basic facts of one of the most famous battles in English history, however. So for anyone interested in knowing as far as possible 'what happened', here are 10 key things to bear in mind:

1) The battle of Bosworth wasn't actually fought at Bosworth

It only became known as the battle of Bosworth from around 25 years after it was fought. Instead, contemporaries knew it as the battle of 'Redemore', meaning place of reeds. Other names for the battle included 'Brownheath' and 'Sandeford'.
The site of where the conflict took place has now been located two miles from the battlefield centre, close to the villages of Dadlington and Stoke Golding. The landscape would have been a marshy plainland (later to be drained), across which ran a Roman road.

2) It is hard to imagine the scale of battle sometimes

Richard III's army, at around 15,000 men, was approximately three times the size of Henry Tudor's army at just 5,000 men. Meanwhile the Stanley brothers (Henry Tudor's step-father, Thomas Lord Stanley, and Sir William Stanley) had around 6,000 men between them. These numbers meant that the battle site would have had to stretch across several miles.

3) At the same time, Richard had an impressive military arsenal

One account mentions 140 cannon, while the archaeological searches of the battlefield have found more than 30 cannonshot – more than any other discovered on a European medieval battlefield.


4) Henry Tudor had landed in Wales on 7 August, and had marched more than 200 miles into England

Richard III had been 'overjoyed' to hear of his landing, confident that he would defeat the 'rebel'. So confident was the king that he even delayed leaving his base at Nottingham by a day in order to celebrate a feast day.

5) A novice when it came to battles, Henry Tudor remained stationed at the back of the field, while his forces were led by the Lancastrian general, John de Vere, the earl of Oxford, who also led Henry's vanguard

In between the two forces was a marsh, which Oxford managed to navigate around, keeping the marsh on his right, before launching an attack against Richard III's vanguard, led by the aged John, duke of Norfolk.

6) It was Oxford's crushing of Richard's vanguard that began to turn the battle for Henry: Richard's troops began to desert him

In particular, his 'rear guard' – 7,000 men led by Henry Percy, the earl of Northumberland – stood still, and 'no blows were given or received', suggesting that Northumberland's men were kept out of the action. Perhaps they were unable to cross the marsh.
Alternatively, tales of Northumberland's treachery were rife. Later he was killed by his own supporters for 'disappointing' Richard. Whatever the cause, the fact that the rear half of Richard's army did not engage in battle left the king in real trouble.
Click here to read 'Treachery: What really brought down Richard III'.

7) Richard was offered a horse to flee the battle, but refused

“God forbid I yield one step”, he is reported to have said. “This day I will die as a king or win”. Richard spotted Henry Tudor's standards and decided to charge towards him with his mounted cavalry, perhaps some 200 men in total, wearing the crown over his helmet.

 8) The battle around the standards was brutal

All accounts attest to Richard's strength in battle. Even John Rous, who compared Richard to the Antichrist, admitted “if I may say the truth to his credit, though small in body and feeble of limb, he bore himself like a gallant knight and acted with distinction as his own champion until his last breath”.
Richard knocked down Sir John Cheyney, who at six foot eight inches was the tallest soldier of his day, while Henry's standard-bearer Sir William Brandon was killed. Richard's own standard-bearer, Sir Percival Thribald, has both his legs cut from underneath him, but still managed to cling to the king's standard.

 9) It was only when Henry was in 'immediate danger' that the Stanleys – or rather Sir William Stanley – came to his aid, crashing into the side of Richard's men and sweeping them into the marsh

Sir William had nothing to lose if Richard had won – he had already been declared a traitor days previously. His wily elder brother, Thomas Lord Stanley, despite being married to Henry Tudor's mother, Margaret Beaufort, seems to have thought best to stay out of the battle altogether. When Henry was crowned on a nearby hill, one source reported that it was Sir William Stanley, rather than his brother, who placed the crown on Henry's head.

 10) Thanks to the discovery of Richard's remains, we now know in detail how Richard must have met his end

One report puts his death down to a Welsh halberdier – the halberd being an axe-like weapon on the end of a six-foot long pole. The king's helmet seems to have been cut away (there are cut marks on the skull's jaw suggesting that the helmet's strap has been cut off) to expose his head.
Several gouge marks in the front of the skull seem to have been caused by a dagger, perhaps in a struggle. Then the two wounds that would have killed Richard include the back part of his skull being sheathed off by what seems to be a halberd; if this did not kill him, a sword blade thrust from the base of the skull straight through the brain certainly would have done the job.
Richard was then placed on the back of a horse, trussed up like a hog (his insignia) with his 'privy parts' exposed, to be taken to Leicester, where his body was put on public display.
In conclusion, Bosworth remains a battle with an enduring appeal: it is not simply a tale of defeat and victory, but also of treachery and intrigue. But as recent discoveries have shown, the battle's own history remains very much a living one, with our understanding of where the battle was fought and how exactly Richard III died being completely transformed in recent years. The story of Bosworth, 529 years on, remains very much alive.
Chris Skidmore is author of Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2013) and is currently writing The Lives of Richard III (forthcoming, 2015). He will be at our History Weekend in Malmesbury in October, giving a talk titled Richard III: Inside the Mind of England’s Most Controversial King.