The Magna Carta

To write about the Magna Carta is to tread already very well trodden ground. For a document that had little immediate impact, its mythology has echoed down the centuries.

I am not intending to write anything ground breaking or revelatory about the Magna Carta. This post is going to draw together my experiences with people and sites that hold together the thread of the history of the Magna Carta and explore the outline and background of the document’s story.

My interest in the Magna Carta began in year eleven at high school. As an Australian I didn’t get much of a chance to write about medieval history within the curriculum, but in year eleven we got to chose our own research project and I picked the Magna Carta. It was the first time I got to seriously research the medieval period and I still remember the pride with which I produced my 2000 word report. It only covered the basics, but it was a first step on a path that in many ways has ultimately led to this blog.

I’ve always found the Magna Carta interesting, because despite the reality of its actual contents it has come to be a symbol of Western style democracy. The Magna Carta was sealed (not signed) on June 15th 1215. It didn’t come out of nowhere, it was based on other charters from both England and the continent, but its legacy has been peculiarly enduring. The Rights of Man from the French Revolution are based on it, as is the American Bill of Rights and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. It is held up as a bastion of freedom against tyranny. All of this, I discovered when I began to research as a seventeen year old, has very little basis in the reality of the document.

The Magna Carta contains 63 clauses. Covering everything from fish weirs in the Thames and the Medway, to how heirs should be handled, to how specific people are to be treated. The two clauses that give the Magna Carta its formidable reputation at 39 and 40.

(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.

(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

These are proud words, but at the time (like the rest of the Charter) they had little to no effect. Apart from any other reason the Charter was repealed by the Pope by September 1215 and the rebel barons were excommunicated. It wasn’t until the Magna Carta was reissued in 1217 and 1225, under Henry III,  and when it first came into the King’s Statute Books, in the reign of  Edward I in 1297, that it began to have any real impact. Even so you only have to look at the rest of English history (the War of the Roses and  the Tudors for example) to show much effect it had on the power of kings to summarily imprison their subjects.

The Magna Carta was by the Barons for the Barons. It is an excellent reflection of what was concerning the nobility in 1215. It is worth remembering that none of the the clauses are given more importance than any other: fish weirs are just as important as not delaying justice. The Magna Carta was extracted from John under duress in an attempt to shore up their own authority. It was never intended to be catch all for every person and it is important to remember that it is a document born of war.

The conflict between King John and his barons was not one that was singular to John. His brother and father before him had all dealt with rebellious barons. It was under John however that it all came to a head in a perfect storm. A lot, but not all, of which was John’s fault. He took the throne in 1199 and it began badly as there was dispute over whether the throne should have gone to Arthur Duke of Brittany, the son of John’s dead elder brother Geoffrey. This was mainly important on the continent as Arthur was seen as a French puppet by many of the English.

Many of John’s failings in kingship were personal. He was inconsistent and could be very vindictive. Additionally after he lost the majority of the Plantagenet lands on the continent he had time to focus squarely on England, which the barons didn’t appreciate. It also didn’t help that he succeeded in having the whole country placed under interdict because he wouldn’t accept the Pope’s candidate as Archbishop of Canterbury. He was essentially bad at managing people and extremely suspicious. Even taking into account chronicler’s bias most contemporary accounts are reasonably consistent on John’s failings.

This led to revolt and ultimately in the Barons offering Prince Louis of France the English throne.

The role of the king and his lordship over the Barons was the core of the revolt. In 1214 in Bury St Emdunds 25 barons swore on the altar of St Edmund that they would try to force King John to accept the charter of liberties of Henry I, which was the precursor to the Magna Carta. The rough spot and the commemorative plaque can be seen in the photos below.

Bury St Edmondsbury plaque 2bury plaque

Ultimately, with help from the French the barons backed John into a corner. The Magna Carta was agreed to by King John on June 15th 1215 at Runnymede. Runnymede was neutral ground as it is located half way between London (which had gone over to the barons) and John’s castle at Windsor. Also being a water meadow it was a naturally occurring in-between liminal space.

runneymede2runneymede

The photos above are from the water meadows at Runnymede. Finding them was a bit of an ordeal. We got the train to the nearest station expecting there to be signs. This is a mistake I have made too many times before in relation to medieval sites. After getting sent in the wrong direction twice and accidentally dragging my mother through a swamp on her birthday we found the meadows (though we still missed the physical monument to the Magna Carta). I had very wet feet, but it was worth it. Apart from anything else it is a gorgeous example of an English water meadow. There are plaques in the town to some of the barons involved in the Magna Carta. You can see the one to William Marshal below.

marshal gate

The Charter wasn’t an end though and as an attempt to abate civil war it was less than useful. It took King John’s death in 1216 to mark the beginning of the end of the conflict. He died, probably of dysentery, at Newark after losing his entire baggage train in the Wash (A tidal inlet in Norfolk and somewhere else I got my feet very wet walking to). You can see a copy of John’s effigy below (the original is in Worcester Cathedral) and a photo of the Wash as it looked in 2012, significant land has been reclaimed for farming.

King JohnThe wash2

John’s death did not mean the immediate end of the civil war. His son Henry III took the throne, but he was only nine and the formidable William Marshal was appointed Regent of England.

Henry III effigy

A copy of Henry III’s effigy (the original is in Westminster Abbey

Marshal

marshal2

William Marshal’s effigy in the Temple Church in London (arguably)

marshal the youngermarshal the younger closeWilliam Marshal the Younger’s effigy (arguably) in the Temple Church in London.

Marshal is a man I’ve written about a lot before (I wrote my honours thesis on him) and you can find out more about him here. Marshal was an elder statesman by the time he became Regent in 1216. He was probably in his very late 60s. He had stayed loyal to King John at personal cost, and his son William Marshal the Younger had fought on the Barons’ side. It has been argued that this family divide was intentional to make sure there was a Marshal foot in either camp. Regardless, with John dead, barons started coming back into the royal fold, including  eventually John’s half brother William Earl of Salisbury, who had jumped ship in the dying days of John’s reign. Ultimately more than 115 defected back, but it took some longer than others.

william longspeeThe effigy of William Earl of Salisbury in Salisbury Cathedral.

By the time John died Prince Louis was very much in England and not willing to give up his claim to the crown. Ultimately it took the Battle of Lincoln, which was so successful for the royalist forces that it was known at the Fair of Lincoln, winning the Battle of Sandwich (despite Louis’ ships being led by the pirate Eustace the Monk) and Marshal ultimately bribing the Prince to get him to go back to France. By the time Marshal died in May 1219 he left behind a, comparatively, stable England.

But where did all this turmoil leave the Magna Carta? Today there are four surviving copies of the original 1215 Magna Carta. One belongs to Lincoln Cathedral because Hugh of Wells the Bishop of Lincoln was present when the Magna Carta was sealed and made sure a copy was brought back to the cathedral

Lincoln cathedral

This copy is currently held in Lincoln Castle along with the 1217 Charter of the Forest which (in the name of Henry III, but under Marshal’s seal) was separated from the Magna Carta into its own individual document.

Lincoln castle2LincolnLincoln Castle.

Another copy is held at Salisbury Cathedral. It was probably brought by Elias Dereham, a priest of the Archbishop of Canterbury and has remained there ever since.

SalisburySalisbury Cathedral.

The final two copies are housed in the British Museum. One most likely originally came from Canterbury, the other is known as the ‘London Magna Carta’ and exactly how it ended up in London by the 17th century is unknown. Sadly the Canterbury copy is illegible. It did suffer some fire damage in 1731, but most of the damage was done in a failed attempt to restore the Charter in the 1830s. Sadly this copy is the only surviving 1215 copy that still has the original seal of King John attached, though it was severely melted in the 1731 fire.

british libraryBritish Library.

After the reign of Henry III the next key re-issue of the Magna Carta was by Edward I. In 1297 he issued (a revised version) officially into the English statutes. Interestingly enough I have actually seen one of the only surviving 1297 copies in Australia. It is held at Parliament House in Canberra. It is one of only four surviving copies and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. It was bought by Australia’s Chief Librarian for 12 500 pounds in 1951.parliament house canberra

Parliament House Canberra Australia.

Regardless of how little immediate effect the Magna Carta had, it is a document that has come to symbolise the core of Western Democracy. It has become mythology in its own right and its reality has got quite lost in the monumental legacy. A legacy that (right or wrong) Rudyard Kipling summed up best.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
What say the reeds at Runnymede?
The lissom reeds that give and take,
That bend so far, but never break,
They keep the sleepy Thames awake
With tales of John at Runnymede.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Oh, hear the reeds at Runnymede:
‘You musn’t sell, delay, deny,
A freeman’s right or liberty.
It wakes the stubborn Englishry,
We saw ’em roused at Runnymede!

When through our ranks the Barons came,
With little thought of praise or blame,
But resolute to play the game,
They lumbered up to Runnymede;
And there they launched in solid line
The first attack on Right Divine,
The curt uncompromising “Sign!’
They settled John at Runnymede.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Your rights were won at Runnymede!
No freeman shall be fined or bound,
Or dispossessed of freehold ground,
Except by lawful judgment found
And passed upon him by his peers.
Forget not, after all these years,
The Charter signed at Runnymede.’

And still when mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the moods of kings,
And crowds and priests and suchlike things,
Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!

 

References:

Site visits in 2012, 2015 and 2017.

Magna Carta: Law, liberty, legacy by the British Library ISBN: 9780712357630

Blood Cries Afar: The forgotten invasion of England 1216 by Sean McGlynn ISBN: 9780752488318

https://www.bl.uk/magna-carta/articles/magna-carta-an-introduction

https://www.bl.uk/magna-carta/articles/magna-carta-english-translation

https://www.visitlincoln.com/magnacarta

https://magnacarta800th.com/events/st-edmundsbury/

https://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/magna-carta

https://www.aph.gov.au/Visit_Parliament/Art/Top_5_Treasures/Magna_Carta

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-05/australia-magna-carta/6072830

http://www.britannia.com/history/docs/kipling.html

The photos are all mine.

Peveril Castle

Peveril Castle perches dramatically on the edge of a craggy hill  looking over the town of Castleton and Hope Valley in the Peak District.img_0519

Peveril Castle

Castleton grew up around Peveril castle and and was first documented in royal accounts in 1196, but was probably there from around 1155 at least. By 1215 it had its own trade fair and it continued on through the centuries to survive as a local hub, even after the demise of the castle.

img_0541

The view over Castleton and Hope Valley.

Peveril castle itself was originally built, most likely of stone, by William Peveril shortly after 1066. However its most striking feature, the keep, was the work of Henry II. The castle came into Henry II’s hands in 1155 and is an excellent example of the common square keeps that he had built up and down the country.  Peveril came into royal hands after William Peveril’s son, also called William, firstly made an enemy of the powerful Earl of Chester and then of Henry FitzEmpress, who shortly became Henry II. In 1153 Henry had already promised to dispossess the younger William of his estates for treachery and plundering and give them to Chester. By 1155, when he carried out the threat, Chester was dead so Henry kept the castle for himself. The name however survived. Henry II used Peveril as a base to oversee the local area and keep the local barons, who had been used to more autonomy during the period of anarchy, in check. Even when he wasn’t there, and there were only a few guards left to man it, Peveril was a potent symbol of royal authority. It also served as an administration point for the Forest of the Peak.

Peveril was part of the Lordship of the Peak and it was given by Richard I to his brother John when Richard came to the throne in 1189. John however was forced to surrender it due to his rebellion. When John came to the throne himself in 1199 William Ferrers, the Earl of Derby, paid the huge sum of 2000 marks to claim much of the lordship for himself. John however refused to hand over the castles of Peveril and Bolsover, which he saw as the symbols of the authority in the area. He only conceded Ferrers’ right to them in 1216 when his authority was crumbling. However his castellan refused to hand them over and John told Ferrers he could take them by force, if he could. John died in 1216 and Ferrers managed to take Bolsover by force during the first year of the reign of Henry III, however he never attacked Peveril and the castellan moved out by negotiation. Ferrers, however had only been given lordship of Peveril until Henry III came of age. Initially, though, he refused to hand it over. He finally gave up and surrendered it to royal hands in 1223.

img_0551

Peveril Keep

Peveril stayed in royal hands until the 1372 when it was given to John of Gaunt, who was the Duke of Lancaster and the third son of Edward III. He was one of the most powerful lords of his time and he possessed many castles. As such he never saw Peveril as being a residential centre and began to strip lead from it to use in other castles. Slowly  the administrative functions of the castle began to drift elsewhere too and by the 16th century the castle was derelict.

The castle was never besieged, so the ruinous state you see it in now is due to decay through time and the stone being repurposed for Castleton below.

img_0561

looking down on Castleton from the keep.

Peveril stands on a steep natural hill with the precipice-like Cave Dale to the back and one side and Cavern Gorge to the right. It commands the main high ground over Hope valley and was a symbol of authority for all the lords who held it. img_0530

a model of what Peveril would have looked like in around 1300.

img_0554img_0568

The landscape around the outcrop on which Peveril stands.

The path that you take up to the castle now leads you through the remains of what would have been the east gate. It was most likely built under Henry II in the late 1100s. It would originally have been a simply decorated arch.

img_0539This path is most likely the route through which Peveril would have been accessed for the majority of its existence. It is very steep but it would have just about been accessible to horses.  Upon entrance to the castle precinct it is the keep which immediately dominates the view.

img_0553

It stands at approximately 15m high. It would originally have had a parapet. It is less than 12m square and as such is much smaller than other similar keeps that Henry II had built all over the country. It is said to have cost around 184 pounds and to have been built of stone quarried locally. The spiral stair you can see in the photo above is roughly in the same spot that the original medieval stair, built of either stone or wood, would have stood. The keep would have housed a main public space on the first floor entry, and a basement storage area below. You can see the entrance door in the photo below, it is taken roughly where the floor of the main hall would have been. img_0566

You can see the line of the original pitched roof of the main hall still visible in the outline of the stone in the photo below.img_0558

You can see the basement in the photo below. The stair down still survives.

img_0564

The keep at Peveril was not the only hall. In the photos below you can see the view down from the keep to the area where the new hall and the west gate would have stood.img_0556img_0563

It is not known exactly when the new hall was built, but it was probably in the mid 13th century. It would have had a fire place and a kitchen and been where important people dined. Henry III stayed at Peveril in 1235 and if this hall was complete in time it would have been here that he held court. This area is also the site of the west gate. It would have led to a bridge over the gorge outside, but there are sadly no remains to be seen today. This would have been the other main access point to the castle, apart from the east gate.

Below you can see the area where the old hall and the chapel probably stood.

img_0550

There was also a small circular tower in this section which was built partly of roman stone, repurposed from a nearby Roman site. This was probably a 13th century addition and may not have had much functional defensive use.  The hall itself was most likely in this area in one form or another since the beginning of the castle, the remains today date to roughly the same time as the keep because it was built using the same stone. While it is not certain where the chapel was, we know there was one because of a document from 1264 which mentions it. There is a structure next to the hall that has Norman masonry and is facing roughly east west and has no other known purpose, so it has been interpreted as being the chapel.

This does not cover all of Peveril castle and it is a site well worth a visit. Although it is not one of the largest castles in the country it is certainly one of the more atmospheric and the position it commands is extremely dominating.

References: English Heritage Peveril Castle book and a site visit in 2012.

The photos are all mine.

Who am I? Medieval edition

Simple rules:

  1. There are four clues
  2. To see the next clue scroll down
  3. If you guess on the first clue you get four points, second clue three points etc.
  4. The fourth clue is always pictorial
  5. Some are harder than others and there is no particular order. Each question is weighted the same
  6. There are ten questions.
  7. The answer is after the final pictorial clue
  8. If you see the next clue you don’t get the point.

 

1.

a) Married twice

 

 

b) A patron of Fontevraud

 

 

c) A great heiress and Duchess in her own right

 

 

 

 

 

d)eofa

Answer: Eleanor of Aquitaine

 

2.

a) Born to the daughter of the Earl of Salisbury

 

 

 

b) Once won a pike

 

 

c) Regent of England.

 

 

d) IMG_3421

Answer: William Marshal

 

3. 

a) Died in Rouen

 

 

 

b) Ordered what is known as an early census

 

 

 

 

c) Was a bastard in many senses of the word.

 

 

 

d) Bayeux Tapestry 7JPGAnswer: William I

 

4. 

a)  Known as a great writer and thinker of the early medieval period

 

 

 

b) Had a son called Astrolabe

 

 

c) Was castrated for his great passion for one of his students (it’s a little more complicated, but that’s the gist)

 

 

 

d)IMG_7444

Answer: Abelard 

 

5.  

a) The illegitimate daughter of a king of England

 

 

 

b) Married to a foreign Prince

 

 

c) Helped broker a peace between her husband a Prince of Wales and her father King John

 

 

 

 

d)joanna close

Answer: Joan of Wales

 

6. 

a) An Irish lord

 

 

 

b) Buried in Ferns

 

 

c) The reason the Normans came to Ireland

 

 

 

 

d) Diarmut grave

Answer: Diarmait mac murchada

 

7.

a) The second oldest son of a King.

 

 

 

 

b) Died in 1183

 

 

 

c) Known as reckless and crowned in his father’s life time.

 

 

 

 

d)IMG_7222Answer: Henry the Young King

 

8.

 

a) A medieval writer who liked to travel

 

 

 

 

b) Descended from Nest, a well known Welsh princess.

 

 

c) Known for his descriptions of Wales and Ireland

 

 

 

 

d)IMG_5579Answer: Gerald of Wales

 

9.

a) 12th child

 

 

 

 

b) Knight of the Garter

 

 

 

 

c) Arguably the last Plantagenet.

 

 

 

d)IMG_5855

Answer: Richard III

 

10.

a) Married at a very young age

 

 

 

b) Daughter of Alice de Courtenay

 

 

c) Remarried when her husband died and her children with her second husband reaped great benefits at the court of Henry III

 

 

d)Richard IAnswer: Isabel of Angouleme

 

 

So how did you do?

1-10: Not too bad, maybe read a little more

11-20: Absolutely getting there, excellent effort

21-30:  Brilliant, you really know your medieval figures!

31-40: Are you sure you didn’t check the next clue? No? Didn’t just have a pile of lucky guesses? No? Well then, exceptional effort!!

 

Medieval Quotes Advent Calendar 19th of December

Roger of Wendover 1201

“How the king and queen of the English were crowned at Canterbury.

King John kept Christmas at Guilford, and there he distributed a number of festive garments amongst his knights; and Hubert archbishop of Canterbury, striving to make himself on a level with the king, did the same at Canterbury, by which he roused the indignation of the king in no slight degree. Afterwards the king set out to Northumberland, and exacted a very large sum of money from the inhabitants of that county. He then returned to Canterbury in company with his queen, and on the following Easter-day they were both crowned at that place ; and at the ceremony the archbishop of Canterbury was at great, not to say superfluous, expense, in entertaining them. On the following Ascension-day at Tewkesbury the king issued a proclamation, that the earls and barons, and all who owed military service to him, should be ready with horses and arms at Portsmouth, to set out with him for his transmarine provinces at the ensuing Whitsuntide; but when the appointed day came, many of them obtained permission to remain behind, paying to the king two marks of silver for each scutcheon.”

From Roger of Wendover Flowers of History Volume II. Pg 201

https://ia800503.us.archive.org/35/items/rogerofwendovers02roge/rogerofwendovers02roge_bw.pdf

Medieval Quotes Advent Calendar 16th of December

Two shorter quotes for the price of one today. Both about Isabel de Clare and William Marshal

 

1.

William Marshal speaking to his retainers in Ireland about his wife Isabel de Clare who he is leaving nominally in charge of his lands in Ireland, which he holds though marriage to her, while he goes back to serve King John.

“My Lords, here you see the countess whom I have brought into your presence. She is your lady by birth, the daughter of the earl who graciously, in his generosity, enfieffed you all, once he had conquered the land. She stays behind here with you as a pregnant woman. Until such time as God brings me back here, I ask you all to give her unreservedly the protection she deserves by birthright, for she is your lady, as we all know; I have no claim to anything save through her”.

 

History of William Marshal Volume II. pgs 177-179. ISBN: 0905474457

 

2. William Marshal and Isabel de Clare’s wedding in the house of Richard Fitz Reinier

“She was married under a favourable star, that worthy, beautiful lady of good breeding, that courtly lady of high birth. Who bore children whose fortunes were so promoted by the Lord our God in his providence, as we see now and have seen in the past.”

History of William Marshal Volume II. pg 485. ISBN: 0905474457

An Easy to Evil Medieval British Quiz.

The way this quiz works.

It’s pretty simple. You see the question with a photo underneath and underneath the photo you’ll find the answer. There’s twenty five questions so keep track of how many you get right and how many you get wrong and see how you do at the end. There’s also a poll at the end so you can see how you compare to everyone else if you’re interested.

As the title suggests, it starts off easy and gets much more complicated. There are five sections: Easy, Medium, Hard, Difficult and Evil.

Enjoy.

Easy

1. What year was the Magna Carta sealed?

IMG_3377

Answer: 1215.

Photo: Part of Runnymede the water meadow where Magna Carta was signed.

2. What year was the Battle of Hastings?

Bayeux Tapestry 35

Answer: 1066

Photo: The Battle of Hasting in the Bayeux Tapestry.

3. Henry II fought with which Archbishop of Canterbury?

henry close

Answer: Thomas Becket.

Photo: Henry II at Fontevraud Abbey.

4.  Eleanor of Aquitaine was the mother of which Kings of England?

eofa

Answer: Richard I and John I. You get a bonus point if you said Henry the Young King as well.

Photo: Eleanor of Aquitaine Fontevraud Abbey.

5. William the Conquerer commissioned which survey in 1086?

IMG_6144

Answer: Domesday Book

Photo: A recreation of the Domesday Book from in the National Archives.

Medium

 6. Which crusade did Richard the Lionheart fight in?

Richard I

Answer: Third Crusade

Photo: Richard the Lionheart and Isabel of Angouleme. 

7. King John married his daughter Joan to which Welsh Prince?

llew coffin 1

Answer: Llywelyn Fawr or Llywelyn ap Iorwerth. Either is correct

And I wouldn’t be deducting points if you spelt either wrong.

Photo: Llywelyn’s coffin.

8. William Marshal married which heiress, the daughter of Richard Strongbow?

IMG_3419

Answer: Isabel de Clare.

Photo: William Marshal’s effigy.

9. King John lost his baggage train in which inlet?

IMG_0401

Answer: The Wash

Photo: Part of The Wash as it looks now.

10. Empress Maud purportedly escaped through King Stephen’s army and the snow from which Castle?

IMG_5026

Answer: Oxford Castle.

Photo: 1800s drawing from Cardiff Castle of the escape.

Hard

11. William the Conquerer is buried in which town?

IMG_7063

Answer: Caen.

Photo: William the Conquerer’s tomb.

12. Which King was born in Winchester Castle?

IMG_4161

Answer: Henry III.

Photo: Great Hall of Winchester Castle.

13. How did the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle famously describe the Period of Anarchy 1136-1154?

IMG_7239

Answer: It was a time “that Christ and His saints slept.”

Michael Swanton, (ed) & trans, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, London: Phoenix Press, 2000, p. 265. You get the point if you got a variant of this, there’s different translations.

Photo: The current tomb of Empress Maud, one of the antagonists of the Period of Anarchy.

14. Name the children of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

henry and eleanor

Answer: William, Henry, Matilda, Richard, Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joanna, John.

If you got all of them but not in order have a point, but you get a bonus point if you got them in order.

Photo: Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

15. What year did Henry the Young King die?

IMG_7222

Answer: 1183.

Photo: Henry’s non contemporary tomb at Rouen Cathedral.

Difficult

16. Name the three places which hold the only four existing copies of the original Magna Carta.
IMG_0476

Answer: Lincoln, Salisbury Cathedral and The British Library (the British Library has 2).

Photo: Part of Lincoln Castle.

17. Ida de Tosny, the wife of Roger Earl of Norfolk, had a son out of wedlock before she married the Earl who was he?

IMG_3084

Answer: William Longsword Earl of Salisbury and bastard son of Henry II.

Photo: His tomb.

18. Which castle did William Marshal, according to the Brut y Tywysogion, subdue with a “vast army” in 1204?

The Rev. John Williams, (ed), Brut y Tywysogion, London: Longman, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1860, p. 261

IMG_5706

Answer: Cilgerran Castle.

Photo: Recent wicker statue of Marshal at Cilgerran

19. How much was King Richard’s ransom?

riveaux

Answer: 100,000 silver marks and 200 hostages. You get the point if you got the monetary amount.

Photo: Riveaux Abbey, a Cistercian foundation. Cistercian foundations had to contribute part of their wool clips to the ransom.

20. Canterbury Cathedral was begun in which decade?

Canterbury Cathedral

Answer: 1070s

Photo: Canterbury Cathedral

Evil

21. Which illustrious figure ‘processed’ through the Temple Church in London for its consecration in 1185.

temple church

Answer: Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem.

Photo: Temple Church in London.

22. According to the History of William Marshal what three things did King Stephen threaten to do to the young William Marshal while he was the King’s hostage?

IMG_3421

Answer: Hang him, catapult him at the walls of his father’s castle and crush him with a millstone.

A.J Holden & David Crouch (eds) S. Gregory, trans, History of William Marshal, Volume I, London: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 2002, p. 31.

You can have the point if you got these in any order but you have to have all three to get the point.

Photo: William Marshal

23. The Bayeux Tapestry is how many metres long?

Bayeux Tapestry 16

Answer: 70.34m, but you can have the point if you said 70.

Photo: My favourite scene in the Bayeux Tapestry with the Hand of God coming out of the sky.

24. Which papal legate played a significant role in the Magna Carta negotiations and in the Regency of Henry III?

IMG_6033

Answer: Guala Bicchieri. You can have the point if you only got Guala, or said Gualo. It is a variation of the spelling and often only Guala or Gualo is written.

Photo: Facsimile of Salisbury’s Magna Carta in the Temple Church.

25. Who did Geoffrey of Monmouth describe as “an accomplished scholar and philosopher, as well as a brave soldier and expert commander”?

.

IMG_2472

Answer: Robert Earl of Gloucester and oldest illegitimate son of Henry I. The passage is from Geoffrey’s dedication of his work History of the Kings of Britain.

http://www.yorku.ca/inpar/geoffrey_thompson.pdf pg 2.

Photo: Monmouth Castle. Geoffrey was born somewhere in the region of Monmouth

The End

So that’s it. How did you do?

1-5: Well you’ve got some basics down pat. Good start.

6-10: You know more than basics, well on your way.

11-15: Good work, beginning to build a wealth of obscure facts.

16-20: Impressive. You know you stuff.

21-25: Incredible effort. You may know more about this period than is sensible 🙂

26-27  remember the two bonus points: Speechless. Incredible. You definitely know more than you need to about this specific period and area.

27: If you got them all… Sure you didn’t write the quiz?

Now if you feel like it put your results in the poll below.

The photos are all mine.

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

IMG_7063

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.

IMG_4320

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.”

IMG_7239

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.

IMG_7222

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.

IMG_5993

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.

IMG_5872

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.

  IMG_3650

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

Marriage alliances 1180-1250: Part 3 Joan of Wales.

joanna close

joanna far

Joan’s tomb. It now lies in Beaumaris parish church with this inscription above it.

This plain sarcophagus, (once dignified as having contained the remains of Joan, daughter of King John, and consort of Llewelyn ap Iowerth, Prince of North Wales, who died in the year 1237), having been conveyed from the Friary of Llanfaes, and alas, used for many years as a horsewatering trough, was rescued from such an indignity and placed here for preservation as well as to excite serious meditation on the transitory nature of all sublunary distinctions.

Joan of Wales was the illegitimate daughter of King John.  She was born in c. 1190 and died in 1237. All we know about her mother was that her name was Clemence.  In 1206 her father King John gave her in marriage to Llywelyn ap Iorweth Prince of North Wales. She was roughly sixteen and he was in his early thirties.

llew coffin 2

Llywelyn’s sarcophagus.

The sarcophagus is now found in Llanrwst parish church. Llewlyn was buried beneath the high altar of Aberconwy Abbey, but about forty years later Edward I wanted the land the abbey stood on to build Conwy Castle. So the monks moved the coffin containing Llywelyn’s body by river to the newly built abbey at Maenan. During the dissolution of the monasteries the coffin was moved for safe keeping to St Grwst’s church where it was forgotten about and was found covered with rubbish some 200 years later. it was then moved to this chapel in Llanrwst parish church. No one knows what happened to Llywelyn’s body.

llew

Statue of Llywelyn in Conwy. Obviously not contemporary. Also much smaller than it looks in this photo.

Llywelyn was later known as Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the great). He was the most powerful Welsh Prince of his time and in many ways a serious threat to the English Crown. At this point Wales was still independent of England, although their princes swore featly to the English kings. Joan was sent to a country she didn’t know, whose language she didn’t speak, with a man she had never met before as a bargaining chip from John to try and quell the Welsh. Joan continued to be an important part of English and Welsh negotiations throughout her entire marriage. Joan occasionally acted as a mediator between the two and on one occasion was forced, through circumstance, to beg King John for leniency towards her husband.[1]  Interestingly Joan’s illegitimate birth was not the stigma to the Welsh that it had been to the Norman French. Illegitimate children were even allowed to inherit in Wales as long as their father acknowledged them. However Joan managed to obtain a papal decree in 1226 from Honorius III which declared her legitimate as neither of her parents had been married at the time of her conception, but it clearly gave her no right to the English throne.

One of the most controversial aspects of Joan’s marriage to Llywelyn was that she committed adultery with William de Barose in 1230. De Barose was found in her bedroom.  De Barose was hanged and Joan was placed under house arrest for twelve months, after which, according to the Chronicle of Chester, Llywelyn took her back and restored her to all her former positions and titles. [2] Their marriage seems to have been one of affection, not many men of the period would have ever forgiven a wife who committed adultery.  Llewlyn was certainly distraught when she died. A Welsh chronicle the Brut y Tywysogion described Llywelyn’s actions at Joan’s death in February 1237. It said “in honour of her [Joan] Llywelyn son of Iorworth had built there [where she was buried] a monastery for barefooted monks which is called Llanvaes in Mona”.[3] So this was one marriage that did seem to have worked emotionally as well as politically. Additionally tradition has it that when they stayed at their hunting lodge at Trefriw Joan found the steep climb to the church at Llanrhychwyn too arduous so in c. 1200 Llywelyn had a church built for her much closer to their hunting lodge. The Church of St Mary’s now stands roughly on the same spot and stain glass windows, not contemporary,  depicting Llywelyn and Joan can be seen in the church in Trefriw. st mary's st mary's stained glass

St Mary’s Church in Trefriw and the stain glass windows. Unfortunately I couldn’t get inside the church as it was locked when I was there.

Joan’s is one of the nicer stories of noble marriages of this time period. Even though she was traded like coin for an alliance and spent much of her marriage trapped between her husband and her father, her marriage itself seems to have been one of at least some affection. Joan also had the advantage of being a little older than some of the other daughters who were used to cement alliances, many were only young girls when they were sent off. Some were even raised in foreign courts. As harrowing as being sent to an alien land where you didn’t speak the language would have been Joan was dealt a better hand than than many of her contemporaries and that says something about the way these women were used during this period.

The next post will look at another noble woman whose marriage turned out for the better. Isabel de Clare was a great heiress and her marriage to William Marshal brought to prominence a man who would have an indelible affect on England.

[1] W.L Warren, King John, London: Eyre and Spottiswode, 1961, pp. 197-198. [2] The Chronicle of the Abbey of St Werberg at Chester. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=67180 [3] Anonymous, Brut y Tywysogion, (ed.) & (trans.) The Rev. John Williams, London: Longman, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1860, pp. 325-327.

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