The Burial Places of England’s Kings and Queens

This post began as an attempt to visit as many of the burial places of the kings and queens of England as I could. I was intending to photograph each of the burial places and put them into this post. I have now made it to the vast majority as you can see from this list that I’ve been ticking off. There is one typo, George II is Westminster not Windsor. IMG_1113   The only ones I’m missing are: Henry I, Stephen, John, Edward II, James II and George I. With Henry I, I have been to Reading but not to the Abbey as I was just going through the train station and didn’t have time for the detour. Unfortunately significant numbers of the burials are in St George’s Chapel Windsor and Westminster Abbey neither of which would let me take photographs. So this post has become somewhat denuded. Nevertheless I thought it was still worth posting because at worst it is a list of the burial places of the kings and queens and there are some nice photos of the ones that let me take photographs. This list begins with William I and go through to George VI.  I hope you find it interesting.

1. William I

b. c. 1028 d. 1087 Reigned: 1066-187 Buried Caen

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2. William II

b. c. 1056 d. 1100. Reigned 1187-1100 Buried Winchester Cathedral. William’s bones are said to be part of the mortuary chests seen on top of the screen, King Canute is also supposed to be entombed there.

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3. Henry I

b. 1086 d. 1136

Reigned 1100-1134

Buried Reading Abbey, there are no remains of his tomb.

4. King Stephen/ Empress Matilda.

King Stephen: b. c. 1092 d. 1154

Reigned 1135-1154

Buried Faversham Abbey, there are no remains of his tomb.

Empress Matilda: b. c. 1102 d. 1167

Reigned: For various parts of Stephen’s reign she was ruling significant proportions of the country, she controlled most of it for a time after King Stephen was captured at the battle of Lincoln in 1141. However she was never actually crowned.

Buried at Bec abbey but she was reburied in Notre Dame Cathedral in Rouen. The inscription reads: “Here lies Henry’s daughter, wife and mother; great by birth, greater by marriage, but greatest in motherhood.”

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5. Henry II

b. 1133 d. 1189. Reigned 1154-1189 Buried Fontevraud Abbey. His wife Eleanor of Aquitaine,  c.1124- 1204, lies beside him. henry and eleanor

5.1 Henry the Young King.

b. 1155 d. 1183

Reigned 1170-1183. A note on this. He was crowned during his father’s lifetime and died before he could ever rule in his own right. For more information see Henry the Young King blogspot

Buried Rouen Cathedral. The effigy is not contemporary.

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6. Richard I

b. 1157 d. 1199

Reigned 1189-1199.

Buried Fontevraud Abbey. He lies with his parents and next to Isabelle of Angouleme the wife of his younger brother King John.

Richard I

7. John

b. 1166 d. 1216

Reigned 1199-1216

Buried Worcester Cathedral. Unfortunately I haven’t been there. This is a copy of his effigy which is currently on display at the Temple church in London.

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8. Henry III

b. 1207 d. 1272

Reigned 1216-1272

Buried Westminster Abbey

9. Edward I

b. 1239 d. 1307

Reigned 1272-1307

Buried Westminster Abbey

10. Edward II

b. 1284 d. 1327

Reigned 1307-1327 with interruptions for more information

Buried  Gloucester Cathedral.

11. Edward III

b. 1312 d. 1377

Reigned 1327-1377

Buried Westminster Abbey

12. Richard II

b. 1367 d. c. 1400

Reigned 1377-1399, he was deposed before he died more information

Buried originally at King’s Langley, but moved to Westminster Abbey by Henry V.

13. Henry IV

  b. 1367 d. 1413 Reigned 1399-1413 Buried Canterbury Cathedral. Henry is buried with his wife Joan of Navarre c. 1370-1437. IMG_3952

14. Henry V

b. 1387  d. 1422

Reigned 1413-1422

Buried Westminster Abbey

15. Henry VI

b. 1421 d. 1471

Reigned 1421-1471 there were significant proportions of this time where he wasn’t actually king. For more information.

Buried originally in Chertsey Abbey but moved to St George’s Chapel Windsor by Richard III

16. Edward IV

b. 1442 d. 1483

Reigned 1460-1483, again there was a disruption in his reign for more information

Buried St George’s Chapel Windsor

17. Edward V

b. 1470 d. c. 1483, possibly.

Reigned April 1483 to June 1483 c. One of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ no one is sure what happened to him and his younger brother. For more information

Buried. Unknown but skeletons, at the time thought to be his and his brother’s, were found in 1674 and buried in Westminster Abbey. This is spurious.

18. Richard III

b. 1452 d. 1485

Reigned 1483-1485

Buried originally in Greyfriars in Leicester reinterred in March 2015 in Leicester Cathedral after his bones were found.

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19. Henry VII

b. 1457 d. 1509

Reigned 1485-1509

Buried Westminster Abbey.

20. Henry VIII

b. 1491 d. 1547

Reigned 1509-1547

Buried St George’s Chapel Windsor

21. Edward VI

b. 1537 d. 1553.

Reigned 1547-1553

Buried Westminster Abbey.

21.1 Lady Jane Grey

b. 1537 d. 1554

Reigned 10th of July 1553-19th of July 1553

Buried Church of St Peter ad Vincula Tower of London. I unfortunately don’t have a photo of the Church of St Peter ad Vincula, I’m not sure why I didn’t take one, but the photo below is of the monument that stands roughly in the place where Lady Jane, along with Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard and others, was executed.

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22. Mary I

b. 1516 d. 1588

Reigned 1553-1558

Buried Westminster Abbey

23. Elizabeth I

b. 1533 d. 1603

Reigned 1558-1603

Buried Westminster Abbey

24. James I

b. 1566 d. 1625

Reigned 1602-1625

Buried Westminster Abbey

25. Charles I

b. 1600 d. 1649

Reigned 1625-1649

Buried: St George’s Chapel Windsor

25.5 Oliver Cromwell

b. 1599 d. 1658

Lord Protector 1653-1658

Buried Westminster Abbey

26. Charles II

b. 1630 d. 1685

Reigned 1660-1685

Buried Westminster Abbey

27. James II

b. 1633 d. 1701

Reigned 1685-1688

Buried Church of the English Benedictines Paris, his tomb was looted during the French Revolution.

28. William III Mary II

William

b. 1650 d. 1702

Reigned, as King of England, 1689-1702

Buried Westminster Abbey

Mary

b. 1662 d. 1694

Reigned 1689-1694

Buried Westmister Abbey

29. Anne

b. 1665 d. 1714

Reigned 1702-1714

Buried Westminster Abbey

30. George I

b. 1660 d. 1727

Reigned 1714-1727

Buried Hanover Germany

31. George II

b. 1683 d. 1760

Reigned 1727-1760

Buried Westminster Abbey

32. George III

b. 1738 d. 1820

Reigned 1760-1820

Buried St George’s Chapel Windsor

33. George IV

b. 1762 d. 1830

Reigned 1820-1830

Buried St George’s Chapel Windsor

34. William IV

b. 1765 d. 1837

Reigned 1830-1837

Buried St George’s Chapel Windsor

35. Victoria

b. 1819 d. 1901

Reigned 1837-1901

Buried Frogmore Windsor

36. Edward VII

b. 1841 d. 1910

Reigned 1901-1910

Buried St George’s Chapel Windsor

37. George V

b. 1865 d. 1936

Reigned 1910-1936

Buried St George’s Chapel Windsor

38. Edward VIII

b. 1894 d. 1972

Reigned Jan 1936 to Dec 1936

Buried Frogmore Berkshire

39. George VI

b. 1895 d. 1952

Reigned 1936-1952

Buried St George’s Chapel Windsor

Fontevraud, Robert d’Arbrissel and Monasticism.

Fontevraud has appeared in some of my other posts because Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard I and Isabelle of Angouleme are buried there.

richard and is

Isabelle of Angouleme and Richard I

henry and eleanor

Henry II and Eleanor

It is, however, an absolutely fascinating place in its own right and one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen.

Fontevraud was founded in c. 1101 by Robert d’Arbrissel. The remains of his tomb can be seen below.

robert of A

Robert d’ Arbrissel was an enigma even in his own time. Fulke V of Anjou described him as a thunderclap of holy exhortation which lit up the whole church with its eloquence. Peter Abelard, a fascinating figure in his own right, called him “That outstanding herald of Christ.” But many contemporary churchmen viewed Robert as a danger to his own soul and the souls of his female followers. Robert was everything from a parish priest, to a student, to a hermit, but he has been remembered as the founder of Fontevraud.

Fontevraud was an atypical abbey even for its time because it was founded as a mixed community of men and women and the Abbess ruled over the whole community, male and female. This was exceptionally unusual. The fact that many of Robert’s followers were women was part of the reason he was distrusted, but was also in a way a product of his times. With older men marrying much younger women widowhood was common, but it is clear at Robert’s message and personality attracted not only widows but unhappy wives. Some of his followers were also former clerical wives cast aside in the newer push for chastity amongst the clergy. This was also a time where clerical celibacy was seen to imply a strict separation of men and women in religious life. An ideal that Robert definitively did not share. (Venarde, xi-xxix).

In fact it is quite possible that the majority of Robert’s followers were women. The only piece of surviving spiritual writing from Robert himself is directed to Countess Ermengarde of Brittany who was the sister of Robert’s main patron Count Fulke V of Anjou.

angers

The walls of Chateau d’Angers the home of the Counts of Anjou, though these were built after the time of Count Fulke V.

Ermengarde herself was fascinating. She was the daughter of Fulke the IV of Anjou, engaged but never married to Duke William IX of Aquitaine, the grandfather of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and then the wife of Count Alan IV of Brittany. She was her husband’s regent while he was on crusade from 1096 till 1101. She became dissatisfied with her marriage and attempted to end it through flight and an appeal to an ecclesiastical court, but she failed to get the annulment. It was shortly after this in 1109 that Robert wrote to her. She was described by poet-bishop Marbode of Rennes, who hated Robert, as powerfully eloquent, extremely astute and the glory of Brittany. In later life, after her husband retired to a monastery in 1112, she played an important role in the court of her son before following Bernard of Clairvaux to Burgundy. Bernard himself was an interesting figure, if very strange and in my opinion quite annoying, and I will write more on him in a later post. In Burgundy she became a nun before going with some fellow nuns to the Holy Land where her brother Fulke was King of Jerusalem. She returned to Brittany where she remained active at the court until she died in 1147. The extent of her relationship with Robert is unknown, it is possible that she visited Fontevraud but it can’t be proven. The letter he wrote to her just after she attempted to have her marriage annulled is very interesting.(Venarde, 68-69).

It is too long to go into great detail here, but a basic breakdown is possible.

1. The spirit of pride is bad

2. Do not trust or yield to every spirit

3. Take heart and be strong.

4. Do not regret too much that you are bound to an infidel husband. You can still benefit God’s people.

5. Don’t be too anxious about changes of place and appearance.

6. Fear not enemies of Christ for they will not harm you unless God allows it.

7/8. Do not get puffed up by good fortune or shattered by adversity, for those who fear God want for nothing.

9. Believe, love, hope in God, do good, settle in the land of your heart and feed on its riches.

10. Flee the wicked words of savage men in your heart.

11. Alms and prayer are good if done for God but profit nothing if done for the praise of mankind.

12. Many clerics are hypocrites

13. You can not get out of your own marriage but you should do what you can to get your daughter out her her’s as it consanguineous.

14. Don’t disclose all your plans to all your household and friends, many are self serving.

15. Exercise caution and discretion in all things.

(Venarde, 68-79).

Fontevraud also rose out of a period of change for monasticism in general. There was the beginnings of a shift in the way monasticism was practiced. The Cistercians rose out of a reaction against the interpretation of benedictine monasticism which created great wealth and power for the institutions, not the monks themselves necessarily. The best example of this was the monastery of Cluny which was founded  in 910 and financed by Duke William I of Aquitaine. Cluny created a number of brother and sister houses which answered directly to Cluny. By Robert’s time it had gained exceptional wealth.

musee de moyen age

The Exterior of the Musee du Moyen Age in Paris. Which was originally the Paris townhouse of the Abbots of Cluny.

The Cistercians were a reaction against the opulence and focus on wealth that Cluny represented. They favoured a strict adherence to the rule of Benedict and Bernard of Clairvaux was one of the leading lights. The Cistercians wanted to go back to the basics and their monasteries were heavily focused on self sufficiency, simplicity and were often remote and agrarian.

riveauxRiveaux Abbey, a Cistercian abbey in England.

Robert’s Fontevraud was different again. In c. 1101 Robert settled his followers at what would become Fontevraud. Until that point he had been an itinerant preacher, albeit with a significant number of followers including a number of noble women. In fact he departed to continue preaching by c. 1103 having seen the beginning of permanent monastic settlement and appointed two female superiors. However it was not until October 1115 that an Abbess of Fontevraud was appointed after Fontevraud has been recognised by papal authority. Robert’s intentions for this mixed community were never exactly clear, except for working towards spiritual excellence. Despite this when he died on February 25th 1116 and was buried at Fontevraud, Fontevraud and the daughter houses it had established were, as described by Venarde, “Well on the way to becoming the wealthiest order of monasteries for women in Roman Catholic Europe.” (Venarde, xxii).

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The statutes of Fontrevraud are reasonably clear but they don’t conform exactly to specific monastic orders. Sisters and brothers lived and worshipped together. The women were guided by the rule of St Benedict, but the statutes don’t make clear whether the male members are to follow Benedictine or Augustine rule. So they are neither monks nor cannons, they are simply called brothers and Robert makes clear they are in the service of and obedient to the women of Fontevraud. (Venarde, 84-87).

There were a number of interesting women who became Abbesses of Fontevraud, Petronilla the first Abbess being one of them. She was a noble widow who became a follower of Robert’s and he personally appointed her the first Abbess of Fontevraud. Another was Matilda of Anjou. She was abbess from c. 1150 -1158. She is remarkable because if not for one of the most interesting accidents in the medieval period she would have been Queen of England. She was the daughter of Fulke the V of Anjou, the brother of Ermengarde and patron of Robert, but she was married to William the only legitimate son of Henry I. William drowned on the White Ship in 1120 along with much of the young nobility of England and France. Matilda could have remained at court and she did for a time. Henry I was more than happy to have her and he would have married her off again. In the end though she took vows at Fontevraud in c. 1128 and became Abbess there in c. 1150.

Many of the early Plantagenets were patrons of Fontevraud, as evidenced by the fact that four of the them are buried there. Indeed Eleanor of Aquitaine spent her last years there and died there in the 1204. She was a great patron of Fontevraud throughout her life. One of her surviving charters is evidence of her patronage. In this charter she gives the abbey and the “nuns serving God there” the “rent of one hundred pounds, in perpetual alms, from the provosture of Poitiers and the vineyard of Benon, particularly what is received from Marcilly.” (Epistolae).

Fontevraud as a complex of buildings has gone through many changes since it was built. The church was begun to hold the body of Robert and is Romanesque in style with a Byzantine influence. It dates from successive periods in the 1100s. You can see the interior below.

roof font main hallside chapel

You can see the spectacular grandeur of Fontevraud’s exterior built in the beautiful creamy local tuffeau stone in the photos below.

IMGFont church est_8136 Font long

When it was built much of the interior would have been painted.  Some of the early paint remains in fragmented sections.

Font paint

Some of the later paintings can be seen in more detail. As can be seen in the  chapter house photo below, which was painted and remodelled in the 16th century to show the wealth and prestige of King Francis I.

font side chapel painting

 Probably my favourite of all the buildings is the kitchen. It  dates to the early 1100s though it has been remodelled. It is built of the more heat resistant charente stone. It is also built in the Byzantine Romanesque style brought back from the crusades.

font kitchen from back

font kitchen

The interior is constructed so one embrasure was used to make hot coals and the meals were cooked in the embrasures away from the prevailing wind to prevent the blowback of smoke. The central chimney got rid of both smoke and vapours.

font kitcehn inside font kitchen inside

The fact that anything of Fontevraud survives at all is really saying something because it was deconsecrated in the revolution and  Napoleon decided to use it as a prison in 1804 and it remained one for a long time. In fact the last prisoners left in 1985.  The abbey was completely restored in the 20th century and now is also used for a variety of art installations such as the two that can be seen below. The first was in the dormitories and the second was in the cloister and could be walked on, giving you different perspectives of an ancient building.

Font Dorm

Font art

The gardens are also absolutely worth visiting.

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Font garden

It is a truly beautiful place with a fascinating history. A place where the calm seems to have seeped into the stone.font cloisterI went to Fontevraud so I could see Eleanor of Aquitaine’s tomb but it is much more than that. It is truly one of the most incredible places I have ever been.

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Bruce L. Venarde. Robert of Arbrissel. ISBN: 9780813213545.

Eleanor of Aquitaine Charter to Fontevrault, 1185 at http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/885.html, accessed 26/9/2010.

Other sources include the signs at Fontevraud, and my university course notes on monasticism.

The photos are all mine.

Richmond Castle

Richmond Castle in North Yorkshire is one of my favourites and this is at least partly due to the relatively intact St Nicholas’s Chapel which dates to the late 11th century. It was in this chapel that I came the closest I have ever come to telling off another tourist. I was standing there marvelling at the fact that it had survived, that it had the original circular windows, the original barrel vaulted ceiling and the remains of a tiny bit of the original paint. Then a woman came in with two friends and she just stood there complaining that the windows were too small and didn’t let in enough light. I didn’t tell her off, but it was a near thing.

So St Nicholas’s Chapel is where I’m going to start. It was built in the late 11th century and is an excellent, if a bit mutilated, example of a castle chapel.

st nic chap 2

In this photo you can see the beautiful round windows and the edge of the barrel vaulted ceiling. These windows would have been the backdrop to the altar and there may have been a pane of stained glass in the central window.

Around both sides of the room was a bench and an arcade with columns. The bench would have been used as a seat and although the columns have been torn away you can see the remaining stubs in the photo below.

IMGst nic chap 3_1151

The walls would have been painted, probably in yellow or cream with red to mark out the lines of masonry. Some of the red paint survives and can still be seen, just, in the top of the arches.

st nic chap 5

St Nicholas’s Chapel is one of the earliest parts of the castle, but Richmond’s origins are a little obscure. It was definitely one of the castles erected in the aftermath of 1066, but there are conflicting sources as to exactly when it was built. It was probably founded by Alan Rufus in around 1070. He was related to the Conquerer and he’d commanded the Bretons at the Battle of Hastings. Count Alan had the earliest surviving parts of the castle built, including long stretches of the stone curtain wall, the great gateway in the ground floor of the keep and Scolland’s hall.

Scoland's hallsIMG_1147IMG_1137You can see Scolland’s Hall, the entrance to the keep at the bottom of the great tower and some of the curtain wall in the above photos.

Scolland’s Hall is itself a fascinating part of the castle. It is named after one of the constables of the castle who died between 1146 and 1150. The hall itself dates to the late 11th century making it, apart from the great tower of Chepstow Castle, perhaps the earliest surviving domestic interior in England. It is two stories and the great hall and solar would have been raised up on the first floor above the undercroft. You can see the sockets in the walls where the beams supporting these rooms would have been. IMG_1168 IMG_1167

After Count Alan died in 1089 Richmond castle passed to his two younger brothers in turn and then eventually to his nephew, who was also called Alan. He was the first to style himself as Earl of Richmond. He also married the daughter of the Duke of Brittany, harking back to the first Alan’s origins. Unfortunately Earl Alan died before he could inherit the Duchy of Brittany.  His son Conan however managed to claim it and it was Conan who probably built the great tower of Richmond Castle.

tower richmond

The Great Tower of Richmond Castle.

Unfortunately for Conan he was eventually forced to turn his Duchy over to Henry II and he betrothed his daughter Constance to Henry’s third son Geoffrey. Their marriage was a perfect example of the complexity or heiresses and marriage which I have discussed at length in an earlier postGeoffrey himself is probably my favourite of Henry II’s sons and if he hadn’t died tragically in a tournament in 1186 the 12th and 13th centuries could have been very different because John may never have been king.

The honour of Richmond was a bone of contention between Henry and Geoffrey with Henry continuing to with-hold it even after he allowed Geoffrey to marry Constance and become Duke of Brittany. Henry was never adept at sharing power and this is what largely cost him his relationship with his sons and his wife.

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Henry II

The castle itself didn’t play any more major roles until 1207 when the constable Roald was at odds with King John. Roald refused to state the value of the castle’s contents for taxation purposes so King John stripped him of his office and forced him to buy it back with 200 marks and four palfreys. The castle was also caught up in the conflict when the north of England rose up against King John in 1215. There isn’t any record of a siege at Richmond when King John retaliated, but Roald was captured and kept imprisoned in the castle until 1216.

The honour and castle remained the possession of the Dukes of Brittany throughout the 12th and 13th centuries but it was repeatedly confiscated by the King and there was actually some work done on it by Henry III and Edward I. In fact it is likely that Edward I finished the so called Robin Hood Tower which stands over the St Nicholas Chapel. You can see the remains of the tower on the right.IMG_1155

By 1538 Richmond was declared derelict. It became an object of fashionable tourism in later years and was painted by many artists including Turner. It was repaired in the early 19th century to stop it actually falling down. It was leased to the army from 1854 and Baden-Powell commanded there in 1910. The castle passed to the Ministry of Works around 1931 and eventually became the property of English Heritage in 1984.

Richmond castle has a long hisory. It is a beautiful castle with some of the most interesting and early surviving castle structures in England, especially the St. Nicholas Chapel. But, if tiny scraps of possibly 11th century paint and barrel vaulting aren’t your thing then the view from the top of the great tower alone is well worth the visit.

IMG_view from the top 21132 view from the top

The information from this post comes largely from the signs at Richmond Castle and the English Heritage Guide Book. The photos are all my own.

Marriage Alliances of Noble Women 1180- 1250: Part 2 Eleanor of Aquitaine

Due to the fact that the majority of interest seems to have been in Eleanor of Aquitaine from part one of this series I am going to begin my investigation of individual women with her. There has been so much written about Eleanor of Aquitaine and I am the first to admit that there isn’t that much new to say, but she is one of my favourites from this time period so I’m always happy to write about her. eofa

Eleanor of Aquitaine’s effigy at Fontevraud Abbey.

Royal marriages changed the political face of the country and ensured the transmission of states between families. They also formed alliances that helped to stop wars, start wars and disseminate culture between different countries. The royal bride who had the most profound effect on England during this time period was Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor of Aquitaine was married to Henry II from 1152-1189. [1] Her marriage was made for political reasons, on her side as well as Henry’s, but it did later come to involve affection and it appears there was some form of initial attraction on both sides. Her marriage to Henry II also changed English politics. She brought the Duchy of Aquitaine to the English Crown and thus was instrumental in the creation of the Plantagenet Empire on the continent. The Plantagenets ruled substantially more of what we would now consider France than did the French. Eleanor was also the mother of the three kings: Henry the Young King ,who was crowned during his father’s lifetime but died in 1183, Richard I and John I. Richard and John were both kings who made strong marks, good and bad, on the political landscape. Medieval English queens did have authority, but it was largely ceremonial and dependant on their husbands. They had their own unique status, as they were the only ones beside the king who were officially anointed and appointed by God as part of the royal authority.[2] Medieval queens also had their own land in the shape of their dower lands, which were given to them by the king on their marriage. However, how much say the queen had in the running of these lands was dependant on the queen herself and the amount of authority the king allowed her. [3] The queen was also often at the cultural centre of the court.  Even contemporaries who were not otherwise remarkably complimentary of Eleanor of Aquitaine acknowledged the immense cultural downturn the court took in her absence.[4] Patronage was another area in which queens could have great influence.  An example of such patronage is Eleanor of Aquitaine’s 1185 charter to the abbey of Fontevraud. In this charter she gives the abbey and the “nuns serving God there” the “rent of one hundred pounds, in perpetual alms, from the provosture of Poitiers and the vineyard of Benon, particularly what is received from Marcilly.” [5] Fontevraud

Fontevraud Abbey.

It was primarily because of her background that Eleanor of Aquitaine was able to wield a little more real authority than some other queens of England, though she was still subject to the power of her husband. She was born in c 1124 and was a great heiress in her own right. [6] Her father was Duke William X of Aquitaine and when he died on pilgrimage in c 1137 he left Eleanor as the ruler of one of the biggest and most powerful duchies in Christendom. Contemporary writer William of Newburgh described the duchy as “very extensive” and stretching “from the borders of Anjou and Brittany to the Pyrenees.”[7] In dying William X left Eleanor very vulnerable, because she became a desirable marriage prize.[8]  A little over a month after her father’s death, probably to ensure her own protection, she married Prince Louis the heir to the French throne and the future Louis VII. However for the next fifteen years of her marriage, despite her title as Queen of France, she would have little control over Aquitaine, as Louis took it for himself and installed French administrators.[9] Her marriage was annulled in 1152 and she found herself once again a vulnerable heiress. She married Henry the young Duke of Normandy and the future Henry II of England only eight weeks after the annulment of her previous marriage. This marriage would eventually begin her time as Queen of England, and help to establish her as a woman of authority and power as well as a duchess in her own right.[10] St Denis St denis

 St Denis Cathedral where Louis VII is buried with the majority of the Kings of France. Eleanor would have been very familiar with it.

In the first twenty or so years of her reign as Queen of England Eleanor did have power and involvement, but it was not that dissimilar to the traditional power of a queen. She did originally have some say in the running of Aquitaine, but it was more a position of advising Henry II rather than having a free reign to run the Duchy she had inherited.[11] She also acted as a regent both in England and in various parts of the continental domains. Additionally Eleanor and Henry II seem to have acted in some sort of partnership for the first decade or so of their marriage. This is illustrated with Henry II’s campaign to try to enforce Eleanor’s rights in Toulouse in 1170. This was not a campaign that was particularly advantageous to Henry and it was one that Eleanor had also persuaded her previous husband to undertake.[12] Eleanor also had eight children, including five sons, with Henry II and this helped to increase her standing because she was fulfilling the main role of a queen. Eleanor was not a queen who was just left at home to bear children while the king was out fighting wars. She was present with Henry and without Henry all over their disparate empire and seems to have been very involved in the culture as well as the political side. [13]

henry close

 Effigy of Henry II at Fontevruad Abbey.

However it is also important to note that Eleanor was not necessarily well liked in her new kingdom. Gerald of Wales, a contemporary writer, describes her as having a reputation of “sufficient notoriety,” citing her apparent “carnal knowledge” of Henry’s father Geoffrey of Anjou as evidence.  While it is unlikely this particular accusation was true it does show that Eleanor was very much at the mercy of a masculine world where she was subject to ridicule by male chroniclers. This was a world in which independent authority by a woman, however powerful, was very difficult.[14]

Also her role during the reign of Henry II was curtailed by her fifteen years of imprisonment for her part in her sons’ rebellion. Henry forgave his sons due to their relative youth and the fact that he needed them, but he never forgave Eleanor. The imprisonment was relatively comfortable and it began in the 1174. She was not released until Henry II’s death and Richard I’s ascension to the throne in 1189. In this period she had little influence.  She lost her dower lands and most of her revenues, losing even the traditional trappings of power for a queen. What she did receive she could not dispose of as she wished.[15] Despite the appearance of some autonomy, any power Eleanor did have during the reign of Henry II, like other queens, came courtesy of her husband. She was able to work in partnership as long he allowed her to. So most of her authority came from any influence she might have had over Henry II and his actions. Her acting as regent, while it was a position of significant power, was not independent power.[16] This changed abruptly when Henry II died in 1189.  Eleanor’s certainly shaped the political situation in England with her involvement in the reigns of her sons. It can be seen specifically in her actions in the governance of the kingdom while Richard was on crusade. It was her backing that gave legitimacy to Walter de Coutances, Archbishop of Rouen, when he was appointed as the joint authority with Chancellor Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, who had been left nominally in charge. de Coutances was primarily appointed to check Longchamp’s excesses.[17] Eleanor also mediated in any arguments between the justiciars who were sharing authority in Richard’s absence. Eleanor was also one of the few people who had some influence on Prince John who, as Richard’s most likely heir, caused significant trouble when Richard was out of the country. Eleanor was also not in England all the time that Richard was absent because she traveled across the Plantagenet Empire, helping to hold it together and to bring Richard his new wife Berengaria of Navarre.[18]  In 1191, despite the fact that she was in her late 60’s, she traveled to Navarre, in the modern day Spanish and French borderlands, to bring Berengaria back to marry Richard in Limassol in Cyprus.[19]

Richard I

Richard’s effigy in Fontevraud Abbey. The effigy beside him is that of Isabel of Angouleme. She was the wife of his brother John and another heiress who will be discussed in a later post.

Eleanor’s influence was most apparent when Richard was captured and held for ransom in 1193 on the way back from crusade.[20]   Richard had been taken by Duke Leopold of Austria and the ransom set was the exorbitant 100, 000 silver marks, plus 200 hostages from his vassals’ families.[21] Richard’s lands had already been heavily taxed to help pay for his crusade and now they were squeezed even harder to raise a ransom that was twice England’s annual revenue.[22] One of the ways Eleanor raised the ransom was to approve, with Walter of Coutances,  a levy of one quarter of all moveable goods, a percentage of all knights’ fees and significant contributions of gold and silver from the churches. The only churches that were exempt were the Cistercians and Gilbertines, who were too austere to have gold and silver. From these she demanded a percentage of their wool clip. Her integral involvement in these levies is illustrated by the fact that the treasure was stored with her seal on it as well as Walter of Coutances’.[23] riv2 riveaux

Cistercian abbeys like Riveaux were exempt from providing gold for the ransom.

Richard I also placed great importance on his mother’s role in keeping his kingdom together. This is very well illustrated in the letter that he wrote to her in 1193, requesting her assistance in ensuring that Hubert Bishop of Salisbury would be made Archbishop of Canterbury. Firstly in this letter he describes Eleanor as by the grace of God “Queen of England.” Which clearly shows that he considers her authority paramount. Additionally he thanks her for the “faithful care and diligence [she gave] to [his] lands for peace and defense so devotedly and effectively.” He goes on to say that her “prudence and discretion” is the “greatest cause of [his] land remaining in a peaceful state until [his] arrival.”[24] This independence of action is further illustrated in another letter of Richard’s, regarding the appointment of Hubert.  He appeals to “his dearest mother Eleanor, by that same grace Queen of England, greetings and the inviolable sincerity of filial love”. He appeals to her to ensure that the justiciars the bishops of Canterbury Church, and anyone else she believes needs to be involved, instate Hubert of Salisbury as Archbishop of Canterbury. The fact that Richard I assumes that Eleanor will have the influence and power to achieve his request, indicates the power and independent authority that she wielded during his reign.[25] Henry II married Eleanor as a royal bride mainly for political reasons, they barely knew each other when they were married, but she made an indelible mark on England primarily in holding the country together. The next post in this series will be about Joanna Princess of Wales. She was the wife of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, know as Llywelyn the Great, and the illegitimate daughter of King John.

[1] Marie Hivergneaux, “Queen Eleanor and Aquitaine 1137-1189”, in Bonnie Wheeler & John Carmi Parsons, Eleanor of Aquitaine Lord and Lady, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, p 55.

[2] Lisa Hamilton, Queens Consort, London, 2008, pp. 1-3.

[3] Anne Crawford, The Letters of the Queens of England, Stroud, 1997, pp. 8-9.

[4] Lisa Hamilton, Queens Consort, London, 2008, pp. 8-9.

[5] Eleanor of Aquitaine Charter to Fontevrault, 1185 at http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/885.html.

[6] Desmond Seward, Eleanor of Aquitaine, London, 1978, pp. 13-14.

[7] William of Newburgh, The History of English Affairs, trans. PG, Walsh and M.J Kennedy, (eds), William of Newburgh History of English Affairs, Warminster, 1988 pp.129-131.

[8] Melrich V Rosenberg, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Massachusetts, 1937, pp. 4-5.

[9] Desmond Seward, Eleanor of Aquitaine, London, 1978, pp. 21-23.

[10] Ibid., pp. 63-69.

[12] Ralph V Turner, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Padstow, 2009, p. XVIII.

[12] Ibid., pp. 123-125.

[13] Ibid., pp. 139-141.

[14] Gerald of Wales, The Death of Henry II and Comments on the Angevin Family, at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/geraldwales-dip1.html.

[15] Ralph V Turner, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Padstow, 2009, pp. 233-237.

[16] Richard Barber, Henry Plantagenet, Ipswich, 1964, pp.182-183.

[17] Ralph V Turner, “The Role of Eleanor in the Government of Her Sons,” in Wheeler and Carmi Parsons, (eds) Eleanor of Aquitaine, pp. 79-83.

[18] Crawford, Queens of England, pp. 32-34.

[19]. Anne Crawford, “Berengaria of Navarre,” in Anne Crawford, The Letters of the Queens of England, Stroud, 1997, pp. 43-45.

[20] Ibid., pp. 299-301.

[21] Andrea Hopkins, “Eleanor of Aquitaine,” in Andrea Hopkins, Six Medieval Women, London, 1997, pp. 56-57.

[22] Alison Weir, Eleanor of Aquitaine By the Wrath of God, Queen of England, London, 1999, pp. 229-230.

[23] Ralph V Turner, “The Role of Eleanor in the Government of Her Sons,” in Bonnie Wheeler and John Carmi Parsons (eds) Eleanor of Aquitaine, Lord and Lady, New York, 2003, pp. 83-85.

[24] Richard I Letter to Eleanor of Aquitaine, 1193, at http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/148.html.

[25] Richard I Letter to Eleanor of Aquitaine, 1193, at http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/149.html.

A Good Death

For the male nobility in the 12th and 13th centuries there was a right way to die. I am not talking about death on the battlefield, though that was acceptable too. I am talking about what was done when you knew you were dying. The best way to explain the differences is to examine the deaths of three important medieval figures. Henry the Young King who died in 1183, Henry II who died in 1189 and William Marshal who died in 1219. henry yk charter This is a charter from Henry the Young King from page 29 Stenton, FM. Facsimiles of Early Charters from Northamptonshire Collections. London: J.W Ruddock and sons. 1930. Henry the Young King was the second son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II. His elder brother William died in infancy though so the Young King was the heir to England, Anjou and Normandy. To read more about the life of the Young King see this excellent blog http://henrytheyoungking.blogspot.com.au. Suffice for now to say that he was crowned in his father’s lifetime, a common practice on the continent but a new practice for England, but was given very little real power. Henry II did not share power easily.

Henry the Young King was seen by his father as a spendthrift and was actually in rebellion against him when he died. The Young King had run out of money for the rebellion and he and his mercenaries had sacked the church of St Mary de Roche Andemar, stripped the tomb of Saint Andemar and carried away all the church’s treasures. When he became sick so soon after it was seen by some as divine retribution. The Young King however wiped all his earthly transgressions clean in his rather spectacular deathbed acts of repentance. Once it became clear that he was dying of a fever and a ‘flux of the bowels’ he repented of his sins and did it in a way that would now be seen as theatrical. Firstly he received absolution of his sins from a bishop and had his knight William Marshal agree to take his cloak, sewn with the crusader cross, to Jerusalem and fulfil his crusader’s vow. Secondly he put aside his fine garments and had himself laid on haircloth and had his men place a noose around his neck. He said “By this cord do I deliver myself, an unworthy, culpable, and guilty sinner, unto you, the ministers of God, beseeching that our Lord Jesus Christ, who remitted his sins to the thief when confessing upon the cross, will, through your prayers and His ineffable mercy, have compassion upon my most wretched soul.” Thirdly he had his men draw him from his bed by the cord and lay him on a bed strewn with ashes. Finally he commanded that two large stones were to be placed under his head and feet. With the mortification of the flesh complete to signify his repentance he died.[1] He was only 28.

The Young King’s death is one of those ‘what if’ moments in history, if he’d survived Richard the Lionheart may never have been king. This was a ‘good death’ because he had completely been freed from his sins, he had correctly repented, he’d died with his faithful men around him and he done it all in a manner befitting a king.

henry and eleanor henry close The photos are of the effigies of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II in Fontevraud Abbey and a close up of the effigy of Henry II. Henry II’s death was very different to his son’s. Henry was one of the most interesting and important kings of this period. He was King of England, Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou and Lord of Ireland. He also held Aquitaine by right of his wife and he held Brittany, though he had invested his son Geoffrey as its Duke. When he died his two remaining sons, Richard and John, were in rebellion against him and he did not die well.

History of William Marshal goes into detail.  “Death simply burst his heart with her own hands. Death’s discipline was a cruel one. A stream of clotted blood burst forth from his nose and mouth.”[2] It then goes on to say that “nobody had anything to cover his body, so he lay there, so poor and deprived of everything, without a stitch of linen or wool on him.[3] History continues that “all those who were standing around him and who were supposed to watch over his body, when they saw the King was dead, each and everyone appropriated for himself those possessions of the King they were meant to guard.[4] Roger of Hoveden confirms Henry’s sordid death saying “After his death, having plundered him of all his riches, all forsook him; so true it is that just as flies seek honey, wolves the carcass, and ants corn, this crew followed not the man, but his spoils.” [5] His loyal men were forced to clothe him in borrowed robes, as there was nothing else left. He was 56. King Henry died messily, without due ceremony and had his possessions stolen. This complied with none of the ideas of honour, or loyalty or generosity that were meant to be part of any noble death, especially a royal one. The next two photos are of the effigy of William Marshal which can be found in the Temple Church in London.IMG_3421IMG_3419

Our final death is that of William Marshal. Marshal was at the deathbeds of both Henry the Young King and Henry II. Marshal succeeded in life where both of them fell. He survived to die of old age. Marshal was approximately seventy-two when he died, which was very old for the medieval period, and he stage managed his final days. We have an extraordinarily detailed account of his deathbed due to the fact that his son had a biographical poem, History of William Marshal, commissioned. History of William Marshal devotes 1285 lines to Marshal’s death, from the first mention that Marshal is dying, until the end of the services after his death.[6] It is one of the most moving and detailed points of the narrative. Both the men responsible for History, the one who commissioned it, William Marshal the younger and the one who contributed his recollections, John of Earley, were at Marshal’s deathbed so there is no reason to doubt its authenticity especially when the level of detail is considered. Marshal’s death was conducted from his mansion in Caversham, where he went to wait out his final illness saying he “preferred to die at home than elsewhere.”[7] Marshal was Regent for the very young Henry III when he realised he was dying. So his first act was to very carefully handover Henry III and the realm into appropriate care.[8]
Marshal died surrounded by his family and his loyal men. The best example of the latter was John of Earley. It was Earley that Marshal sent to collect the cloths he had bought in Jerusalem over thirty years before, that he had “brought back with [him] from the Holy land, to be used for the purpose which they [would] now serve; [his] intention [had] always been that they [would] be draped over [his] body when [he was] laid in the earth.”[9]  We know his wife Isabel was there with his daughters because when he had a desire to sing, but didn’t want to for fear of being called a madman, his knights suggested that his daughters and his wife might sing for him. The daughters came and sang but Isabel was too overcome with grief. [10] He also made sure to die with humility, joining the order of the Templars just before his death. He was made a Templar and Aimery de Saint-Maur, head of the Temple declared, “Marshal, listen to me: it pleases me that you surrender to God and set aside your worldly goods so as not to be separated from Him and his faithful servant. I can tell you that in life as in death you have known higher honour in this world than ever any other knight had, both in respect of your valour, it is true, and your wisdom and loyalty.”[11]

So in becoming a Templar Marshal ended his life in humility and honour in just about the most eye-catching way possible. In dedicating himself to the Templars he was marking himself as pious, dedicated and humble. He was making sure that his image after death was the correct one of humility and piety. His wife Isabel was also present when he took the vows of a Templar. We know this because one of the vows of a Templar is chastity, so moments before he took the vow he said to Isabel  “Fair Lady kiss me now, for you will never be able to do again.’ She stepped forward and kissed him, and both of them wept.” [12]

Marshal was also overtly generous in his final days, firstly in saying to his son “give a portion of my wealth to all the poor you can see [in London] who have come to receive alms; make sure the distribution is such that it may be spoken of before God. And there is another thing I want to remind you of: give food and drink to one hundred of the poor, along with garments to clothe them and shoes.”[13] It is interesting to note though that he was overtly generous, he wanted make sure that his generosity was seen. Possibly because it was an attribute that was expected of a man in his position and it is how he wanted to be remembered. He also gave money in his will to a number of religious foundations. He provided for his knights too. One of his clerks wanted to sell off the robes that had been put aside for the knights’ Whitsuntide gift, but Marshal said “Hold your tongue, you wretch” “It will be Whitsuntide very soon, when my knights should indeed have their new robes for I shan’t be able to give them robes again.”[14] He went on to tell John of Earley to distribute the robes, “and, should any man fail to get his share, send immediately to London and see to it that you get more splendid ones, so nobody can complain.”[15]

When Marshal actually died he had done everything he was supposed to. He had taken leave of his family, he had said how he wished his possessions to be distributed, he had expressed piety and charity and God had absolved him of his sins. The Abbot of Notley performed the “ceremony of absolution”.[16] Also the papal legate had given him remission of all his sins for taking up the Regency in the first place.[17] Marshal’s death was, apart from dying in the holy land on crusade, probably the best way a medieval noble man could go. He died well: humble, pious and just a little bit theatrical. These three deaths represent very different ways of dying. Medieval dying need not be a reflection on a life. In death you could redeem yourself, but while dying badly held some shame it did not negate a good life.

 

[1] Roger of Hoveden, The Annals of Roger of Hoveden Volume II, pp. 26-27. [2] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, pp. 397-461. [3] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, pp. 429-431. [4] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, p. 399. [5] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, pp. 401-409. [6] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, p. 413. [7] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, p. 433 [8] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, pp. 438-439. [9] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, p. 439. [10] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, p. 423. [11] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, p. 451. [12] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, pp. 420-421. [13] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol II, p. 279. [14] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol I, p. 463. [15] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol I, p.463 [16] Holden & Crouch, (eds) History Vol I, pp. 463-464. [17] Roger of Hoveden, The Annals of Roger of Hoveden Volume II, p. 111. Roger of Hoveden. The Annals of Roger of Hoveden Comprising the History of England and Other Countries of Europe from A.D 732 to A.D 1201. (trans.) Henry T. Riley, Volumes I & II. London: H.G Bohn. 1853. Anonymous. History of William Marshal. (ed.) AJ. Holden. (trans.) S. Gregory & (notes.) David Crouch, Volumes I, II & III. London: Anglo-Norman Text Society. 2002.

Book Preview: The Kings and Their Hawks, Falconry in Medieval England.

flacon

 

This is a fascinating book about medieval English kings and the noble, but largely forgotten sport of falconry. It is a surprisingly good read and has beautiful depictions of falconry from breviaries, illuminated manuscripts and tapestries.

flacon 2

flacon 3

Falconry was an important part of life for medieval nobles. Admittedly I have mainly read the chapters regarding falconry from the reign of William I to  the reign of Henry II as these were the parts I required for my novel. During Henry II’s reign he was often described as travelling with his hawks and was hawking at key moments in his life. For example when Thomas Becket was summoned to Henry’s court to answer a charge of contempt Becket had to wait because Henry had stopped to hawk along the river banks.

Hawks also played a role in William I’s life. He is depicted in the Bayeaux tapestry as carrying a hawk that had possibly been brought by Harold Godwinson as a gift.

flacon bayeaux. JPG

Eyries of hawks were also listed as assets in the Domesday Book, which was written under the orders of William I.

Hawking and falconry in general was very much part of the life of the nobility. Different birds were seen as having different characteristics, for example goshawks were generally flown at ducks, pheasant and partridge. Goshawks were seen as the lower bird, often used for hunting for food rather than just for sport. Whereas Sparrowhawks were seen as a more noble bird and were often used to hunt prey like teal.

Falcons like the gyrfalcon would come from places like Iceland and could take down cranes and herons. The gyrfalcon was the most highly valued bird by the English Kings and King Haakon IV of Norway sent Henry III three white and ten grey gyrfalcons in 1225 as a gift.

These falcons could also be very productive. In c. 1212 King John’s falcons bagged seven cranes in one day and nine in another.

This book gives a truly interesting insight into medieval falconry, both the birds themselves and the men who flew them.

Title: The Kings and Their Hawks

Author: Robin S Oggins

ISBN: 9780300100587