Monthly Archives: December 2014

A New Year’s Tudor Tragedy: Pourquoi has Henry VIII’s Canine Victim been Overlooked?

tudor dog

On a December day in 1534, an often-overlooked victim of Henry VIII met a sad end. But this was no overblown nobleman, crowing about his claim to the throne, no broken-hearted wife, turning over the past to see where she had gone wrong, and no devoted councillor unable to fulfil the King’s latest scheme. The death of little Purkey, or Pourquoi, Anne Boleyn’s beloved lapdog was to prove a foreshadowing of her own tragic decline. In the beast’s quaint tilted head and appealing eyes, Anne’s own dark orisons were echoed. In its plaintive bark, Henry heard shades of her winning laugh, and when the creature begged, elegantly dancing on his hind legs, it brought the King to mind of Anne’s graceful steps. So why exactly did the canine have to die?

Purkey was the gift of Honor, Lady Lisle, to the new queen in the winter of 1533. Having remarried to Arthur Plantagenet, illegitimate son of Edward IV, Honor was keen to advance her daughters from her first match. She accompanied Anne to France in the autumn of 1532 and was hopeful that such a gift would encourage the queen to place Katherine and Anne Basset in her household. Anne however, accepted the gift but kept the pretty girls at arm’s length, perhaps recalling her own rise to power from within the service of Catherine of Aragon. Anne adored little Purkey, keeping him often at her side and feeding him titbits from her plate; she was heart-broken when she learned of his death. A year later, in December 1534, he supposedly fell from a window and the King was charged with breaking the terrible news to his wife. In fact, this was because Henry himself was responsible for the animal’s execution. Imagining the scandal if he sent a dog to the block, let alone the practical difficulties, Henry solved the problem with a simple act of defenestration.

Earlier the same day, Henry had discovered the canine’s deadly secret. He was more than a lap dog, more than a consumer of bread and a chewer of chair legs or chaser after royal balls. Purkey was, in fact, a highly trained double agent in the service of the Calais-based Lisle and his English agent, John Husee. Between them, the pair had trained the dog up since he was a pup, using an elaborate system of sign language, allowing it to report court gossip to fellow canines and its masters alike. Thus, it could rouse the dogs of London to howl when Henry passed by, or bark whenever the King began a rendition of Greensleeves. More dangerous though, Purkey could scratch, bow and wink his little way through Henry’s latest French policy, sending the news directly to Husse, who passed it to Lisle, who informed Francis I himself. It took Henry a while to work out exactly who was acting as the leak in his household, but by strange co-incidence, it was a literal leak that led him to the culprit.

In spite of his attempts to keep the court clean, appointing a royal scooper to follow around his wife’s pet, Purkey was caught short after a Christmas banquet and relieved himself in the straw in his mistress’s chamber. Anne was absent at the time, but Henry witnessed the leak and lost his temper. According to a little-know letter written by Chapuys, the King was furious and railed at the animal. Purkoy panicked and, in the moment, reverted to sign language to offer his apologies. Convinced at first that the dog was suffering a fit, the King watched, before the terrible truth dawned. His wife’s pet was a spy and he had to go. At once, he seized the creature and the cruel deed was done.

Anne grieved Purkey’s loss. She had been preparing a special gift for him for New Year, a silver collar hung with dog biscuits fashioned from gold and studded with pearls. In the intensity of her emotion, she ruled that when New Years’ Day arrived, it should be devoted to the memory of her pet, requiring all her ladies in waiting to wear a similar collar and even insisting that Henry too should sport such an item. At first, Henry complied out of guilt, but by the following year, his relationship with Anne had changed so completely that he did not feel obliged to. On January 1 1536, Anne’s ladies wore the silver collars for the second time running, while the Queen spent the day on her knees, as masses were said for the soul of the beast. She was reunited with Purkey a few months later and Henry ordered the silver collars to be melted down and returned to the royal treasury. This was one New Years’ Custom he was not prepared to continue.



Aesop’s Fables

Feasop’s Ables

Asspop’s Foibles

Having read this, you now have Jeff R Vescent in your head. He’s going to sit back in there, stretch out his legs and have a look around.



Elizabeth Wydeville, Bigamist

Elizabeth Wydeville, looking particularly devious, cunning, sly, and already married
Elizabeth Wydeville, looking particularly devious, cunning, sly, and already married

Before Elizabeth Wydeville married John Grey, supposedly her first ‘husband’, both Richard, Duke of York, and Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (I refer, of course, to the ‘Kingmaker’), had urged the young woman to marry one Hugh John. It is often supposed that Elizabeth ignored their advice, as Lancastrian women usually did, but in fact, there is no evidence to suggest this. Rather, it appears that Elizabeth entered into a contract of marriage with Hugh John and then, craving greater wealth, married John Grey. Sensing that an even better match lay within her grasp, Elizabeth later used her magical powers to make John Grey die in battle, and then used love potions to snare the ultimate catch: Edward IV.

But alas, witches do not always think to read canon law or to tie up loose ends, and Hugh John was still very much alive. Thus, just as Edward IV was still the husband of Eleanor Butler when he and Elizabeth entered into their ‘marriage’, Elizabeth was still the wife of Hugh John.

As Hugh John was a rather obscure person, Elizabeth thought that her guilty secret was safe. But one person had found out–young Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the frail young boy with the misshapen back whom Elizabeth had always treated with haughtiness and scorn. How he found out we cannot know; perhaps he heard Elizabeth babbling the truth during one of the satanic rituals she regularly engaged in. All we do know is that he learned the truth, because when he fathered his own bastard child (long before he married Anne, and long before he had even thought of marrying Anne), he decided to name him ‘John’–an unmistakable signal to Elizabeth that he knew of her marriage to Hugh John. Yet he was too loyal to his beloved brother Edward to speak the truth aloud during Edward’s lifetime.

You may ask: Why does history not mention the precontract between Elizabeth Wydeville and Hugh John, which surely impelled Richard to assume his rightful crown? The answer is elegantly simple: it did, but when Henry Tudor usurped the throne, Hugh John, now in his employ, took care to eradicate all mention of his precontract from history during one of the popular ‘Destroying Evidence Favourable to Richard III’ bonfire parties that took place during the early years of Henry Tudor’s reign. Thus, Elizabeth’s shameful secret–about a precontract which she could have easily ended simply by writing a ‘Dear Hugh John’ letter–has been covered up until now. But as my granny always said, better late than never.


John Ashdown-Hill, Eleanor the Secret Queen

Paul Murray Kendall, Richard the Third

David Macgibbon, Elizabeth Woodville

My Gut Instinct

Jeff Borden still grieves about the fact that Edward IV chose to marry an English commoner instead of a French princess, since such marriages usually worked out so well.

A very merry Christmas to you all! Richard and the Brussels Sprout.

Merry Christmas to you all.


I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, and most of all healthy, New Year.

When Mrs JJ flounced off to her mother’s last week, she took with her the key to the cupboard with all the baubles and dangles and sparkly things and streamers and bunting and angels sans wings, so Christmas was looking bleak in the Jefferty-Jeff household until I came across a large and knobbly thing with a ‘use by 25th December 2014’ sticker on it. It also had a sticker on saying ‘Reduced to 83p.’ Mrs JJ, despite her faults and playing bridge and being bad at cooking (and that occasional funny smell,) is a most remarkably thrifty lady. She often spends pounds saving money.

Assuming by the use day date that this is one of her more bizarre ideas for Christmas decorating I have improvised to make the humble home look as festive as possible and I want to share my ‘Thing’ that adorns the hall in Chez Jefferty with you all and invite you to raise a glass of red with me to celebrate.2014-12-22 14.53.18

Do any of you realise that is was Richard the III who made Brussels Sprouts a traditional English Christmas meal food? When he and Edward had to flee to the Low Countries they had no money. Edward even had to pay for the sea voyage with the coat off his back. Desperately hungry they made their way to Brussels, sleeping in ditches and eating where they could. Some days the only food they could find were small cabbages – sprouts up a stalk of a Brassica.

That Christmas was cold and they were hungry and lonely and they were sitting around the fire cooking snow for Christmas dinner when someone tripped and dropped the small cabbage they were all sharing into the cooking post. After weeks of cold, hard and half-frozen small cabbages the taste of the overcooked, mushy, smelly green thing was such a welcome change that they vowed to take some back to England and always have them for Christmas day for ever more.

Eating sprouts at Christmas became law in 1479 and despite the Puritans trying to get the law abolished in the late sixteenth century, the statute still exists and that is why still we all have to eat Brussels Sprouts at Christmas!



Original source material and references:

Morrison’s own ‘Orange and Lemon Jelly Slices’ (85g)


Phillippa Gregory.

A Christmas card my Aunty Pat sent me.

A car parking ticket from the city centre.

Santa Claus and all his Elves.

The Radio Times Chistmas (2013 edition.)

© Words and picture: Jeff Jefferty Jeff December 24th 2014




How Richard III Invented the Christmas Present

While much is made by Tudorites of what they in their foul-mindedness regard as Richard III’s excessive attention to his niece during the Christmas of 1484, few recognise the true significance of this event.


A Victorian re-creation of the joyous festivities  of Richard's Christmas court
A Victorian re-creation of the joyous festivities of Richard’s Christmas court

Newly released from sanctuary, where she had been held as a bargaining tool by her selfish mother, her hopes of a great marriage blasted by her father’s folly in entering into a precontract, young Elizabeth of York sorely needed some cheer at Christmas. Richard, despite his own heartache as he witnessed his beloved Queen Anne wasting away from consumption, could not stand by and watch his niece’s gloom. As Paul Murray Kendall has pointed out, ‘often Richard scattered small gifts like a benevolent agent of Providence’, and the Christmas of 1484 was no exception. He ordered that a gown be made of the finest silk to match that worn by Queen Anne, carefully wrapped the completed garment in a package, and presented it to young Elizabeth on Christmas morning. How Elizabeth’s eyes shone! In her gladness of heart, she did not even realise that Richard had started a custom that survives today–the giving of Christmas presents.

Sadly, Elizabeth was to never know another Christmas like that of 1484. She spent the Christmas of 1485 in dread and gloom, knowing that her beloved uncle lay dead in a car park and that she would soon be bartered in marriage to Henry Tudor to bolster his weak claim to the throne. Her worst fears proved true, for her miserly, cruel husband not only eradicated the Plantagenets, but the fledgling tradition of giving Christmas gifts–destroying all of the unused Christmas gift tags, gift wrap, and gift bags left behind at Richard’s court at the same time he destroyed Titulus Regius.

Obliged to play cards during the holidays to supplement her meager allowance , made to wear furs taken from the skins of ermines and other lower animals, and forced to assume the role of a royal consort instead of a bastard niece, Elizabeth pined away until she finally  left this world in 1503, joining in death the man who had presented her with her first and only Christmas gift.


Paul Murray Kendall, Richard the Third

Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Jeff Borden wishes you a Merry Christmas, if it’s possible to have one in a world devoid of Plantagenets.

1536: A Joust, A Secret, and Two Dead Queens

On January 7, 1536, Katherine of Aragon died alone and forgotten at Kimbolton Castle. Years of suffering neglect and outrages to her dignity had worn her down. Whether she was Henry VIII’s true wife and rightful Queen of England no longer mattered. She was dead and Anne Boleyn was his only wife now.

Henry and Anne dressed in yellow for the “mourning”, and jousts were scheduled to celebrate the death of the old harridan. Free at last from threat of war and expecting his long awaited heir, Henry’s life was finally looking up. His most beloved Queen Anne was pregnant, and doctor and fortune teller alike had reassured Henry that she was carrying his son. His daughter Mary had been placed in the household of her younger sister, and he had a new mistress in Jane Seymour. We can only imagine how triumphant Henry was feeling that morning as he prepared for the joust.
H and A yellow
The gallant king rode into the tiltyard, making a pass before the spectators, so that all could observe his chivalry and massive codpiece. What happened next remains unclear. Perhaps the horse was startled by a noise (or that codpiece),or maybe the poor beast foundered under the tremendous weight of the man. Whatever the cause, founder it did and down they went, horse and rider, in a horrifying spectacle of twisted metal, broken bones, and blood.

Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk  and Henry’s greatest friend, ordered the king removed to a private pavillion, while Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, summoned a priest. He ordered a doctor to be brought to the pavillion, but  all of them were drunk on the free wine flowing from fountains.  Thomas Cromwell, the son of a blacksmith, summoned the king’s armorer to remove the mangled armor from the king’s body. This achieved, they made a horrifying discovery. Henry VIII was dead.

henry armor

The Wars of the Roses leapt to the minds of the two dukes. Henry’s heir had not yet  been born.  The  country had much loved poor old Queen Katherine, and did not like Anne. For two hours they plotted. Cromwell, a man of low cunning, was quick to lend his help. He knew of a man in Flanders, probably descended from one of Edward IV many illegitimate children, who so strongly resembled Henry that they could be twins. He was a bit heavier, and of ill temperament, but  he would only have to impersonate the king until Anne delivered the heir. They agreed that this would be best, and in a moment of rare accord, the dukes decided to carry out this deceit.

Brandon, who matched Henry in size and stature, took the king’s place on a litter, bandaged so as not to be recognised. He was carried to the king’s bedchamber, and Cromwell forbade any to enter, except for four men. The Groom of the Stool, Henry Norris, Francis Weston, William Brereton, and the queen’s brother, George Boleyn,  Lord Rochford. A musician, Mark Smeaton, was summoned so that his music would keep anything from being overheard. Then disaster struck.

Anne miscarried Henry’s heir. The plan, already in motion, could not be changed. Brandon, again disguised as Henry, retreated to Richmond. There the imposter was trained by him to imitate Henry’s mannerisms. Norfolk had the impossible job of securing the queen. Anne now wished to reveal all, that she might reign as Regent for Elizabeth. This would never do, and so Cromwell devised a skillful plot to be rid of not only the troublesome queen, but the unfortunate witnesses as well.  He accused them of perversions and treason, and in a strike that can only be described as lightening fast, brought about the executions of Anne Boleyn and the rest.


It would be often remarked upon, and recorded that the king changed dramatically in 1536. Gone was the charming chivalrous prince, and in his place a suspicious and cruel tyrant. Henry’s daughter Mary had been removed from her father for a lengthy time, and if she noticed anything, she failed to comment.  The imposter had no trouble fathering a son, but his rages and displays of emotion would have terrible consequences. Anne of Cleves suspected that something was not right. Henry looked nothing like the portrait she had seen of him. The Tudor propaganda machine went to work, and Cromwell turned the words around. Not long after, Cromwell went to the block, in a scheme planned by his coconspirator, Norfolk. Norfolk then was imprisoned, and sentenced to die. Of all involved, only Charles Brandon, ever faithful, kept the secret and the king’s trust. Henry VIII died again on January 28, 1547.



Countless facebook pages and groups- Tudor Dynasty, Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor, What Really Happened, Not Just Tudors, and many more!

Tom Tucker, a descendant of Henry VIII armorer (sorry man, I know I wasn’t supposed to name names, but people want to know about the armor)

My own family history, especially you Uncle Jeff!

“The Imposter”

my dentist


Some more about me, Jeff “the wiz” Berlin

Well, after an enjoyable interview with I am currently on assignment. It is top secret and if I told you where and what it was, you would be astounded. Suffice to say, it is a big deal, and I am in grave danger.



Middle Child Syndrome – Middle Ages Style

The general belief is that Middle Child Syndrome occurs when the middle child of a family feels hard done by – they feel that they get the blame for everything, that what they do is never good enough and that life is, basically, unfair. They particularly feel that younger siblings ‘get off lightly’ and that older siblings are ‘the Chosen One’, as far as their parents are concerned.

As a middle child myself I can tell you that it is not a feeling, it is a FACT! Life is unfair! The middle child gets the blame for EVERYTHING! The older sibling is the ‘Chosen One’, he is perfection personified and you get sick of hearing ‘why can’t you be more like your brother?’ And don’t get me started on the younger sibling, they’re ‘too young to know better, so you should’; I learnt this the hard way – my baby sister (also called Jeff – yes all 3 of us were named Jeff, our parents thought it funny – and all of one year younger than me) threw a slipper at me for no reason, I dodged and a window took the blow meant for me. So what happened? I – yes me! – got into trouble for getting out of the way and ‘making’ the slipper break the window.

So when I look through history, I tend to look for the Middle Child syndrome sufferers and can spot them a mile off. George, Duke of Clarence is, of course an extreme example, but there are others….

Such as Richard I.


This poor chap got the blame for everything. In the eyes of history he could do nothing right.

Take the Crusades. Most kings are lauded for their crusading fervour and praised for their achievements in the Holy Land – King Louis IX of France was even made a saint because of it. But Richard? He gets accused of deserting England, despite the fact he left his mother – the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine – holding the fort with a hoard of skilful, experienced administrators to help. St Louis also left his mum in charge when he went on Crusade, but you don’t hear anyone moaning about him deserting France – he was, of course, the eldest child.

As if that isn’t enough, the blame goes on…

On his way home from the Holy Land, Richard – whilst still under the protection of the Church, as a Crusader – was kidnapped by Duke Leopold of Austria and subsequently imprisoned and held for ransom by Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. And Richard got the blame! If anyone else had got kidnapped, there would have been outrage against the kidnappers, but no! All you hear is ‘how could Richard I allow himself to be kidnapped?’ Our poor Lionheart is accused of bankrupting the country to pay his ransom – like he could have had anything to do with that decision – the poor chap was in chains!

It gets better (or worse, especially if you’re a middle child)…..

Then there is baby brother John.


Whilst Richard was imprisoned, John rebelled and made a bid for his brother’s throne. Was this John’s fault? No, of course not. He was the baby. Richard should have known better than to go on Crusade – and get himself kidnapped – thus leaving temptation in John’s way and forcing him to rebel.

And don’t get me started on how selfish and inconsiderate he was for dying aged only 40, before he’d produced an heir…..

So what are the last words the history pundits say about Richard, the middle child? ‘If only his older brother, Henry, had survived I’m sure he would have made a better king.’

It says it all…..

Sauces: Thousand Island, BBQ, Tommy K, Sweet Chilli

Jeff R Sun, middle child.



Reasons Why Richard III Loved the North, with Specific Reference to Yorkshire, his most Beloved Country

I had planned another serious blog for today, exploring the differences in looks, personalities and characters of Richard of Shrewsbury and Perkin Warbeck, but due to my particularly unfortunate personal circumstances this week, I have decided to take a light hearted look at the reasons why Richard of Gloucester who became Richard III, liked the North of England.

My week has been terrible. Mrs Jefferty Jeff discovered my attraction to Mrs Shonas and having had a hissy fit, flounced off to stay with her mother. Imagine Margaret Beaufort crossed with Ivan the Terrible and you will have some idea of Mrs JJ in a temper.

But, to the blog: I am doing this as a little test for you, gentle reader. One of the facts is fictitious, the rest are fact*.  The first person to give me the correct answer will win – er –  I  will leave it at that. They will win!! – they will  have the honour, pleasure and prestige in knowing they have won a global completion and will be mentioned in despatches.

Reasons why Richard of Gloucester liked the North, with specific reference to Yorkshire, his most beloved county.

The Yorkshire Pudding: The earliest recorded recipe for Yorkshire pudding dates from 1437 when the batter-based dish was cooked beneath a shoulder of mutton to catch the dripping. It was designed to be a cheap and filling dish for poorer families, and was often served on its own before the meat course. However, times have changed, and on National Yorkshire Pudding Day earlier this year (2014) one Dales hotel created the world’s most expensive Yorkshire pud, made with truffle and gold leaf, and on the menu for an eye-watering £500. When Richard was doing his knightly training at Middleham he will have been introduced to the humble ‘Battyre Pudding’. It often featured on the Kingmaker’s menus, such as the sumptuous feast he put on to rival the sumptuous feast of Edward iv, out–sumptuousing his King by the number of courses, variety of dishes and sheer extravagance of presentation.

The North York Moors: a special place, forged by nature, shaped over generations – where peace and beauty rub shoulders with a rich history and a warm welcome.

Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. It is located approximately three miles south-west of Ripon in North Yorkshire near to the village of Aldfield. In Richard’s day it would have been located approximately three miles south-west of Ripon in North Yorkshire near to the village of Aldfield. Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for over 400 years. There is no contemporary evidence currently available to suggest that Richard ever went there, but it is assumed by this author that he would have done as everyone else visiting Yorkshire always does. I did in 1994 when Mrs JJ and I were on honeymoon.



The Yorkshire gene: Sir Bernard Ingham made a rather more unusual observation when talking about what makes the iconic Yorkshire  – the ‘Yorkshire gene’. He said: “Of course, the gene is being weakened by the diaspora of families and inter-marriage with lesser mortals. But in its pure form it is to be found in the wonderful stubborn awkwardness of the true Yorkshireman.”  (Oh, don’t I know it.)

Names we will probably know of people who exhibit this gene are Alan Bennett, the original Calendar Girls, double Olympic gold medallist Andrew Triggs Hodge, Jeff Boycott ** and Nick Clegg. As the reader knows, these people are never ever wrong even when they are wrong! In amongst his retinue Richard had men by the names of Benitte, Terigs, Hoge, Clegg, Boicote, Ennyss and Hylle, proving conclusively without further research that he knew the ancestors of all the famous names today. (If you wish to check this out for yourself please look at any genealogy forum. It is always possible to find someone there who is related to everyone, most often to every member of the European royal family. Richard III has 14,000,210 direct descendants, rivaling only Cleopatra with 18,987,675)

Saint John Fisher (c. 19 October 1469 – 22 June 1535) was an English Catholic Cardinal-Priest, Bishop, and theologian. He was a man of learning, associated with the intellectuals and political leaders of his day, and eventually became Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. There is extant an interesting letter from Fisher to Richard asking if his sole was clean. It is assumed that Fisher meant soul, but with a name like Fisher one cannot be sure.


(Picture here reproduced with the kind permission of no one.)

Wensleydale is the valley (dale) of the River Ure on the east side of the Pennines in North Yorkshire, England. Wensleydale lies in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – one of only a few valleys in the Dales not currently named after its principal river, but the older name, “Yoredale”, can still be seen on some maps and as the Yoredale series of geological strata. The village name ‘Wensley‘ is a derivative of Woden’s ley, or meadow of the pagan Woden, while the valley itself takes its name from the village which was formerly a market town.

The valley is famous for its cheese, with the main commercial production at Hawes.

Wensleydale Cheese: Wensleydale cheese was first made by French Cistercian monks from the Roquefort region, who had settled in Wensleydale. They built a monastery at Fors, but some years later the monks moved to Jervaulx in Lower Wensleydale. They brought with them a recipe for making cheese from sheep’s milk. During the 14th century cows’ milk began to be


Wensleydale with cranberries

used instead, and the character of the cheese began to change. A little ewes’ milk was still mixed in since it gave a more open texture, and allowed the development of the blue mould. At that time, Wensleydale was almost always blue with the white variety almost unknown. Nowadays, the opposite is true, with blue Wensleydale rarely seen. When the monastery was dissolved in 1540 the local farmers continued making the cheese right up until the Second World War, during which most milk in the country was used for the making of “Government Cheddar”.  Richard of Gloucester mention the ‘Chees’ in his letter to his ‘most entyrely belovid wyfe’ Anne Neville just after their marriage. The letter will be familiar to you so I will not reproduce it in its entirety, but in it he reassures her that they will soon be ‘hom in Midleam’  where they can ‘see the mores and eet the chees’.

Wallace and Gromit is a British stop-motion comedy animation. Created by Nick Park of Aardman Animations, the series consists of four short films and a feature-length film. The series centres on Wallace, an absent-minded inventor and cheese enthusiast, along with his companion Gromit, a silent yet intelligent anthropomorphic dog. Wallace was first voiced by veteran actor Peter Sallis, but this role has been handed down to Ben Whitehead as of 2011. Gromit remains quiet, communicating only through means of facial expressions and body language. They are included here because of their love of Wensleydale Cheese and because the spirit of Richard was sitting on the sofa next to me enjoying watching it on television one night.  I tried to change to a serious documentary about the ‘Cousins War’*** but Richard got the hump and left.

I am very sure that Richard III never saw this village sign, but I just had to share it as my final reason for Richard liking Yorkshire. Any county that can have such wonderful town and village names as Fry Up, Litle Fry Up, Wet Wang, Booty Lane, Giggleswick, Penistone, Rimswell, Shitlingthorpe and Slack Bottom deserves to be liked by a Mediaeval King.


And leaving you with that final chuckle, Jeff Jefferty Jeff goes away to see Mrs S, chuckling with mirth.

* I  lost track. Maybe one of the facts is fact and the rest are fictitious or one of the fictions is nonfiction and one of the….. Oh. Judge for yourself! You are all highly intelligent otherwise you would not be reading my blog.

** Jeff Boycott is actually Geoff Boycott. I changed the spelling of Jeff both for comedic effect and to protect the innocent.

*** I am not at war with my cousins. I get on rather well with them all.

© December 17th 2014 Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff.



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The Lost Love-Child of Richard III and Elizabeth of York.

Jeff book


As if there are not beguiling mysteries enough out there, I must press upon your patience once more to relate a little adventure of mine, which has uncovered yet another unexpected truth at the heart of Yorkist family politics. On awakening one morning, I decided to take a stroll and set out from Piccadilly after breakfast with little more than a potted-meat sandwich tucked away in my inside pocket. By teatime I found I had wandered across several county borders into Norfolk, and I came to my senses amid the bulrushes of the Fens with a pair of curlews engaged in some ritual mating dance at my feet. Seeking a bed for the night, I was fortunate enough to find the Biggerump Inn, standing alone in the falling darkness, where I was offered the corner of a stable. Dining on braised lamb in the Inn’s delightful parlour, my fancy was taken by a shelf of old-looking books, which I fell to perusing once my meal was finished. One of the smallest, and most battered, was a little book in a leather binding (see above); a funny little foible, but I have a taste for funny little foibles and, as I turned its pages, it was clear that the content pre-dated the cover by some centuries.

I flicked through the pages. It seemed to be some sort of prayer book, written in a fifteenth century secretary hand, with the occasional illuminated initial letter in red and gold. I have seen many similar books before. The first page bore many inscriptions, dating through from the 1400s to the seventeenth century, and one name in particular caught my eye. I had heard of Severus Larke on a previous occasion: the Larkes were a well-known Suffolk family, connected with Wolsey and the court of Henry VIII. Yet this individual’s hand was quite distinct; he had made a few notes in the margins beside prayers, initialling them with an elongated “S” and a small bird with distinctive stubby wings. And as I traced his comments, most of which were amendments to prayers or names of individuals to pray for, I recalled where I had heard his name before. Severus Larke had, for a brief period during the autumn of 1483, acted as confessor to Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV.

By this point, Elizabeth was a widow. She had fled into sanctuary with her children following the death of her husband. Her sons had been taken and Richard III had been crowned, so her future looked very uncertain. Larke was working in the service of one of the Pastons, I believe, which had taken him to London for a few months on legal business and, somehow, he ended up lodging in Westminster. As I yawned before the roaring fire, I passed the hours in trying to decipher something of his hand, and form an impression of his character. It was but fancy, and I met with little success, until I reached the end pages, which he had used to record his thoughts. Mostly they took the form of prayers and lists, payments owing and in one case, the number of his master’s dogs that needed feeding. And then, there was a strange line. Strange in that it was dated, very specifically to September 29, 1483. The line read “Prayers to be said for the Princess for the safe arrival of her child.” The word “Princess” was scored through in ink of a lighter colour.

This threw me into a state of bafflement. I could not recall a Princess that might have been pregnant in the autumn of 1483. Elizabeth Woodville was too old, having borne her last child three years earlier. Richard III’s Queen, Anne Neville, had borne a single son, who was then somewhere between the ages of seven and ten and there were never any reports of a second pregnancy. Equally, she would have been referred to in the text as “Queen” or “widow” or “dowager,” but not Princess. The only Princesses I could think of were the daughters of Edward IV, then in sanctuary with their mother. The eldest, Elizabeth of York would have been seventeen. Within months, Richard would pass an act of Parliament, Titulus Regis, declaring them illegitimate. This might account for the word being scored through, as Elizabeth’s royal status was retracted. Could it have been possible that it was she to whom Larke’s prayers referred?

So I twiddled with my pipe and thought about the dates. Elizabeth and her daughters had entered sanctuary in June 1483 and left it on March 1, 1484. This was a period of nine months but it couldn’t have corresponded exactly with a pregnancy, as Elizabeth of York must have been well enough, recovered and churched, to emerge on March 1. Nor is it likely that she conceived in the cramped confines of sanctuary, under the watchful eye of her mother. Therefore, she must have been pregnant when she entered sanctuary and given birth late in 1483 or early in 1484. And I began to wonder who the father of this child might be, this hypothetical child, whose absence from the records suggests it did not survive. The only man in London to whom Elizabeth’s name was attached prior to her marriage to Henry VII was her uncle Richard, the future Richard III. Tracing back his movements, I discovered that Richard was present in the city early in 1483 to attend a session of Parliament, leaving for the north in February. If he had impregnated Elizabeth of York that month, he would then have departed without being aware of her condition. We know that he had two acknowledged bastards; the scarcity of records about them suggests there may have been more, about whom we do not know. Yet perhaps not even Richard ever knew about this other child.

Elizabeth’s pregnancy would have become apparent by late March or early April. In the light of this, Edward’s early death can be interpreted in a different way entirely. I never accepted the theories that the robust Edward, even with all his feasting and whoring, had succumbed to a chill caught whilst out fishing. The possibility now arises that Edward was informed by his wife of his favourite daughter’s condition and the shock broke his health. Such a scandal was unprecedented and must be covered up. After Edward’s death, Richard began to travel south. Aware that he was the father of the child, Elizabeth Woodville could not allow him to know about the pregnancy, so before he was even half way, she fled to sanctuary, which she knew would offer the cover she needed until the child was born. If it was conceived in February, the delivery date would have been in November 1483. If it had been a boy, the child would have been an important Yorkist heir, a replacement for the lost Princes in the Tower. It also meant that the potential match being proposed between the Princess and the exiled Tudor was not anticipated to become a reality in the immediate future, suggesting that Elizabeth Woodville had no faith in Henry’s planned invasion of the autumn of 1483. Either that, or Henry had been informed of her condition and was coming to avenge her honour, in the style of his favourite French Romances. But he failed to live up to these legends. The weather drove his ships back and the next thing we know is that Elizabeth Woodville and her daughters emerged at the start of March. If Elizabeth of York carried her child to term, in this world where still births, miscarriages and infant mortality, were common, it seems most likely that it did not survive. Only one or two servants would have known of its existence, including confessor Severus Larke.

This theory also makes sense of the oath Elizabeth Woodville required Richard to swear in 1484. Before she set foot outside the safety of Westminster, she required him to make a public promise to protect her daughters and arrange suitable marriages for them. Of course she did, given that she knew Richard had already seduced her eldest girl. Richard was probably unaware of the pregnancy but had his deflowering of his niece on his conscience. This also makes sense of the rumours that date from Christmas 1484 about a potential flirtation between Richard and his niece. Except this was not a new flirtation, it was the tail end of a dangerous affair from early 1483, which the oath had firmly put an end to. To Richard, Elizabeth of York was but a conquest from his days as the Duke of Gloucester. Now that he was King, he had his own reign and wife to concern him, and Elizabeth was relegated to the status of an old flame, whose future he must arrange, to a Prince of Portugal. No doubt Elizabeth felt used and rejected. It is no surprise then, that she was eager to go along with her mother’s plan to wed her to Henry Tudor. She had borne her uncle’s child in secrecy and, but for the prayer of the royal confessor, jotted indiscreetly into his book, the matter would never have come to light.

It was that very indiscretion that led to the dismissal of Severus Larke from the royal profession. The emergence of the women in March 1484 coincided with Larke’s return home; first to Ipswich, then on to a position of confessor in a noble Norfolk household. No efforts were made by the royal family to retain his services and, ten years later, he appears in the Assize court records as living a profligate life, keeping a mistress who bore him a bastard. He was in danger of losing his position, in addition to the payment of a large fine but the case was never concluded. Only two weeks later, in October 1495, he was granted a royal pension by none other than the new Queen, Elizabeth of York, and retired to Bungay in Norfolk, just two miles east of the Biggerump Inn. He retained this pension and the queen’s favour until his death in 1498.  Perhaps it was in recognition of his services in the past, or perhaps it was made to ensure his silence. With this thought, I strolled out into the deep Norfolk night and smoked a particularly good pipe of woody tobacco, musing on the inconsistencies of history and the eternal frailties of woman.



Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Arthur Conan Doyle, Geoffrey Willans, Shakespeare, Tobias Smollett, Jonathan Swift, George Orwell.


Jeff R Vescent is now accepting marriage proposals.

Cecily, the Duchess of Death

Whilst reading The Maligned King, Annette Carson’s splendid rebuttal of the Tudor Myth about Richard III, I was especially struck by her suggestion that Edward IV had been poisoned.

Ms. Carson makes a compelling case for the involvement  of the Wydevilles and William, Lord Hastings, in the death of the king by poison, and I would refer the reader to her masterly recitation of the evidence. Yet I would propose another suspect for consideration: Cecily, Duchess of York.


Why would Cecily, Duchess of York, want to poison her own son? First, for revenge. After Cecily’s favourite son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, was killed at Wakefield, her next son, George, Duke of Clarence, took over the role as favourite.  When Edward gave into the nagging of his shrewish queen, Elizabeth Wydeville, and murdered Clarence, Cecily naturally longed to avenge his death. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and Cecily was willing to bide her time until an opportune time to poison her son arose.

By 1483, Edward’s death was necessary not only to salve a mother’s anguish, but for the good of the nation. Edward was no longer the golden boy he had been when he came to the throne: he was obese, lazy, debauched, and cruel–a precursor, in fact, of his dreadful grandson, Henry VIII. Indeed, so much like Henry was Edward, he already had two wives–Eleanor Talbot and Elizabeth Wydeville, How many other women might Edward in his lust have “married” simply to bed them? Perhaps Edward, and not Henry, was the most-married monarch in English history.

But I digress.

Terrified of England turning as corrupt and degraded as the monstrous (and quite disturbingly fat) creature who sat on the throne, Cecily knew she had to act, and did. At the same time, she secured a promise from Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who after the deaths of Edmund and George had become her new favourite son, that he would not allow Edward’s sons to come to the throne were Edward to meet an untimely death. After much thought and prayer, Richard agreed, although of course he was unaware just how soon that untimely death would come.

Cecily, then, had acted not only to avenge a private wrong, but to secure the public good by placing England into the hands of a wise, just ruler: her third favourite son, Richard III, who not only lived an upstanding life, but was as spare and lean in body as the starkly beautiful Yorkshire he so loved.

Finally, one may be asking by now, does Cecily’s role as poisoner absolve the Wydevilles of guilt? Certainly not. The truth is, we have no idea of which poison reached Edward first: that prepared by the Wydevilles, or that prepared by Cecily. Given the huge appetites of the king, in fact, it is likely that the Wydevilles poisoned one dish and that Cecily poisoned another, and that both poisons acted at the same time to dispatch the gluttonous king. But while the Wydevilles acted out of self-interest and greed, Cecily acted out of unselfish love for England. We owe her our grateful thanks–except in one respect.

She failed to poison her grandson, the future Henry VIII, after she realised how like in character he was to his debased forebear. Instead, the pious and noble, but increasingly senile, duchess became tragically confused and poisoned Arthur.**


Annette Carson, The Maligned King

John C. Dening and R. E. Collins, Secret History

A Ouija board

**Mind you, it took a while for the poison to take effect.

Jeff Borden’s eyes still well with tears when he thinks of Richard’s tragic death at the battle of Bosworth and of Anne Boleyn’s death at the hands of her syphilitic, vicious, and enormously fat husband.  He is at present working on a novel about the union of Richard III and Anne Boleyn in the afterlife.

Henry Tudor’s Forgotten Bride

There have been many debates about the legitimacy of the Beauforts, and their claim to the throne. However slim his claim undoubtedly was, Henry VII took the throne of England through conquest. His marriage to Elizabeth of York added weight to the Tudor’s right to rule, and their children indeed had royal blood. Henry VII repealed Titulus Regius, and all was well,  the Tudor claim upright and solid. However, recent discoveries prove that all of the children of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York were, themselves, illegitimate.


Henry Tudor lived in exile with his uncle Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke from 1471 to 1485. A strong young man, with a young man’s appetites, he was not idle in these years. While his mother, the redoubtable Margaret Beaufort, worked tirelessly to return Henry to England, bargaining and negotiating with Edward IV to guarantee the safety of her son, Henry was pursuing interests of his own.

Thought to have fathered at least one illegitimate child in Brittany, Roland De Veleville, it has been long accepted that Henry Tudor was of loose morals while living in exile, taking pleasure where he found it, and moving on.  One young woman, Louise Boulonga , captured Henry’s heart. From a letter recently discovered from Jasper Tudor to Margaret Beaufort, we now know that Henry was married to Louise in February, 1483.

When Edward IV died unexpectedly in April, 1483, things changed dramatically. The young prince Edward was declared illegitimate by his uncle, the morally upright Richard III. Many Yorkists fled to Brittany to join Jasper Tudor and his wayward nephew, while Elizabeth Woodville took her daughters, and the royal treasury, to sanctuary. One who joined the Tudor camp was Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset. Dorset was Elizabeth Woodville’s son, and carried with him a plan that had been schemed up between his mother and Margaret Beaufort. The women decided, in a hag’s agreement, that Henry Tudor would invade Richard’s peaceful England, and steal the throne. A marriage between Henry and Elizabeth of York was plotted, to ensure support from Yorkists who could be bought with promises of reward. But Henry was married already. What to do?

EoY portrait

As Jasper and Margaret plotted, schemed, bribed, and possibly even killed to ensure this plan would succeed, Dorset was finding out about Mrs. Tudor. Despite Jasper forcing Henry to announce a betrothal to Elizabeth of York  at Rennes Cathedral on Christmas morning, 1483, Dorset could not help but learn that Louise and Henry were man and wife. Horrified at the duplicity and lax morals of the man, Dorset notified his mother. Elizabeth Woodville came to an agreement with Richard, whom she knew was far too honest a man to have ever killed her son, and exited sanctuary. Her daughters became beautiful white roses to adorn Richard’s court, and Dorset attempted to leave Tudor’s camp. Jasper intercepted him before he could return to England and go running off at the mouth about all he had learned.

Margaret Beaufort was not to be deterred. Convinced that her son was destined by God to be king of the world, she continued nonplussed, as if all was still as had been agreed upon. No letters between Margaret and Elizabeth Woodville have ever been found, so it can be assumed that they simply did not discuss it. Her son was forced by Jasper to leave his beloved Louise, who was heavy with child, and  invaded England on Margaret’s orders in 1485. Despite a lackluster performance on the field of battle, Henry defied all odds, and emerged victorious at Bosworth Field, August 22, 1485. Treachery prearranged by Margaret, and Richard’s unflinching valor, led to the end of the true Plantagenet kings of England. It also sealed the fate of poor Louise.


Margaret Beaufort knew that a foreign  queen would never do. The memory of Margaret of Anjou was still too fresh in the mind of England, and grief for their righteous king too strong.  She knew Elizabeth Woodville to be a grasping and greedy woman, and Dorset was still held in exile. So the hags once again struck a deal. Elizabeth of York would indeed marry Henry VII. Neither party was happy about it, and a more miserable match is hard to imagine. Although Henry Tudor applied for papal dispensation twice, careful examination of these papers shows no process for the annulment of Henry’s first marriage! On January 18, 1486 Elizabeth of York entered into a bigamous and invalid marriage, much as her mother had done years before, and Louise Tudor drifted into historical obscurity.

We do not know what happened to Louise, nor the child she carried. Although Professor S.B. Chrimes of Cardiff University asserted in a 1967 article that De Veleville was not Henry Tudor’s natural child, he and other biographers are silent about Louise and the child she carried. Dorset eventually returned to England, but Henry Tudor was too distrustful of his mother in law to believe she would keep the secret. She was imprisoned in Bermondsey Abbey in March of 1487, pronounced dead, and was never seen again. Margaret Beaufort accomplished her goal to be one of the most maligned women in history, and Henry Tudor’s son, Henry VIII, was a bastard.

henry portrait


Chrimes S.B

Weir, Alison “Elizabeth of York”

Gregory, Phillipa “The Red Queen”, “The White Princess”

Some guy named Jeff


2 historians who prefer not to have their names attached to this article

Thomas More, who came to me in a dream.

About the Author- My name is Jeff “the wiz” Berlin. I am an active agent in an international spy agency , and a pinball enthusiast. My family is directly descended from Anne Boleyn, and has had to change our name several times to avoid Tudor vengeance. We have long worked behind the scenes to dispel Tudor propaganda, but the program “The Tudors” has undone all of our good work. My cousin Jeff failed to kidnap Jonathan Rhys Meyers and force him into exile in 2006, so that is pretty much all his fault.