Monthly Archives: August 2015

Guido Fawkes and Nell the Fig: the Explosive Truth.

Nell

There once was a King named James

On whom history always blames

A number of quite heinous crimes

In foul and feeble semi- rhymes.

And yet perhaps the worst of all;

The one historians don’t recall,

Is a tale of something rather big,

Of Guido Fawkes and Nell the Fig.

Poor James had proved to be the worst

At following Queen Liz the first,

And Catholics hated his new foible

Of an English version of the Bible.

They met in secret, speaking treason,

Considering they had good reason

And cause enough to find the means

To blow the king to smithereens.

And one of them who talks the talk,

A gentleman named Guido Fawkes,

Became their chosen instrument

To blow up James’s Parliament.

Yet Guido’s heart was flowing over,

A-pounding in poetic clover,

For a filly in a powdered wig

Known to all as Nell the Fig.

She had him dangling on a rope,

With promises to make him hope

That in the coming days and weeks

He might slip in between her sheets.

And thus, when James’s foes conspired

They quickly saw what was required

A billet-doux from Mistress Nell

Could damn their foolish king to hell.

Poor Guido Fawkes received the note.

He donned his best beloved coat

His shiny shoes, his froth of lace

And dreamed of amorous disgrace.

For penned in Nelly’s crabby hand

A rendezvous for two was planned,

Where she would give unending pleasure

All day and night, at Guido’s leisure.

So filled with lust, the lucky fella

Set off at once to Nelly’s cellar

Which lay beneath the very boards

That housed the King and all his Lords.

“Sweet Nelly,” he cried out, “sweet Nell,”

For in the dark he could not tell

His Nelly’s face and Nelly’s end

From barrels set there by his friends.

And so he took his love’s advice;

He never needed telling twice;

To spark a light and strike a fuse

The better to embrace his muse.

And just as had been long expected

The hapless lover was detected

But not by Nelly’s beauteous face,

Instead he felt the guard’s embrace

So having sought a lovers’ bower

He found himself cast in the Tower

Protesting innocent intent

And not the harm they thought he meant.

Alas no words could save him now

And, forced to take his final bow,

He spoke his love for Nell the Fig,

Fruit seller at sign of the pig.

And as his friends were hunted down,

Accused of crimes against the crown,

Guido walked with limbs all loose

To place his head inside a noose.

Since then, historians have chosen

To paint his story all a-rosen

And claim him as a Catholic martyr

A sort of reputation barter:

They won’t admit the simple truth,

Of amorous and callow youth,

Guy cared nought for political measures,

But only hoped for Nelly’s pleasures.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason why Nelly’s true season

Should ever be forgot.

Sources:

Few

Far between.

Jeff R Vescent might be. Equally, he might not be. That is the question.

The Truth About Barbie

It is no secret that around August 22 of each year, I become pensive. Pensive at the thought of Richard III, England’s greatest and least understood king, dying miserably at the hands of his traitorous, treacherous enemies.

Mrs. Borden, I am sorry to say, does not fully understand my grief. She has been known to ask, ‘Why get so wrought up about a bloke who died 500 years ago?’ To which I can only say, ‘Would you not want people to mourn your death 500 years in the future?’

Still, in the interest of marital harmony, I have tried to direct my thoughts elsewhere. And hence, I began to contemplate Mrs. Borden’s new Barbie doll.

Owing to a fortuitous coincidence of a modest bequest from a distant relation and a rise in my salary (for I am appreciated at my office if not entirely at home), Mrs. Borden recently acquired one of the first Barbies to be produced, known to collectors (so Mrs. B tells me) as the Number One Ponytail. As I gazed upon this doll, I suddenly realised the truth.

Barbie was created as an homage to the Victorian practice of photographing the dead.

It is necessary for me to explain that since thumbing through an old family album and having a photograph of Great-Aunt Sallie in her coffin fall into my lap, I have been interested in postmortem photography.  As many sources on the Internet explain, the Victorians were avid practitioners of this art, even going so far as to prop up their dead with posing stands to make them look more lifelike, as can be seen here:

Two dead boys. Note the prominent posing stands.
Two dead boys. Note the prominent posing stands.

(Some skeptics will tell you that the subjects of these photographs were actually quite alive at the time, and that the  posing stands were used only to help living people stand still. Skeptics are everywhere, like cockroaches. I choose to ignore them. The Victorians gave us the light bulb, after all. Cannot they be credited with having sense enough to figure out how to hold a dead person upright?)

So eager were the Victorians to make their dead look presentable for what was often the only photograph of them, that they would not only use posing stands, they would also repaint their eyes in an effort to make them look more lifelike.

Which brings me back to Barbie. With her coffin-shaped box, her  exaggerated eye makeup, and–above all–her posing stand, what else could have inspired her creator, Ruth Handler, but Victorian postmortem photography?10055800_1_l

Can this be proven, skeptics (those insects) ask? Perhaps not, Ruth Handler, after all, had every reason to keep silent. Handler was an American, selling her doll to American children, who no doubt would have been ‘grossed out’, as the Americans say, to learn of Barbie’s true origins. So Ruth Handler dressed Barbie in a swimsuit and marketed her as a teenage fashion model, and let it be assumed that Barbie was in fact inspired by a German doll, Bild Lilli. And for decades, that has been the accepted story. It may always be the accepted story. Such is the power of conventional wisdom.

But I, gazing at my (I mean, Mrs. Borden’s) Barbie, know the truth. And now, thanks to the Internet, so do you.

Sources:

eBay

Etsy

My family photograph album, full of dearly departed Bordens

Jeff Borden found writing this post to be very therapeutic. Mrs. Borden says that it’s all uphill from here, until August 22 rolls round again.

 

The Black Dahlia Murder: The Truth.

138_64
Baby New Zealand White Rabbit. (Strictly speaking this picture has not a lot to do with this blog, but you may like some light relief to go ”aw” at.)

Hollywood. Tinsel Town. A town of smoke and mirrors, the epicentre of a global entertainment industry, but along with the glitz and the glamour, Tinsel Town has a darker side – one of dirty tricks, cover-ups and even murder

Hollywood is all about deception, always.

For more than a century Hollywood’s glamour, its people, its money has captivated people from around the world. Movies have as much power today as they did when they first hit the screens. When entering a cinema we are transported by from our humdrum existence to a world, literally as well as figuratively, much, much larger then real life as we gaze past the head of the person in front to the star who we are temporarily in love with.

With so much money and power flowing through the town many believe there were – and still are – people who would do anything to advance their interests and then cover it up in a passel of lies. That may be the clue to why Hollywood is so fascinating; you cannot believe anything about it and yet you want to so you do, you suspend disbelief to soak up what can only be described as Fairy Stories.

The ‘tradition’ of not letting the truth get in the way of a good story comes from Hollywood’s golden era, the 1930s and 1940s when names and biographies were invented for the ‘big names’ to portray the squeaky clean image that Hollywood required, with agents and producers working closely with Police to keep their stars out of trouble and their reputation unsullied. Indiscretions that broke every one of the Ten Commandments and invented another ten were not so much as hinted at, unless it was in the interests of the Powers That Be to so do.

It was into this place of outward glamour and clean living, bling, colour, sparkle and glitz that twenty two year old Elizabeth Short walked in 1946 hoping for an opening in films. She was an attractive, slim but well formed girl, with clear blue eyes and deep brown hair, her looks marred only by badly decayed teeth.

Like so many hopefuls, Elizabeth failed to find work as an actress and was employed as a waitress, (a job which does actually involve a fair amount of acting as I can testify from my own experience as a student.) She claimed she had been engaged to an airman who had died and whilst there is no evidence to suggest that she was ever a prostitute, she certainly used her blue eyes and charm to persuade men to lavishly subsidize her income.

Her big break came on New Year’s day 1947 when she met Harry Blackstove Sr., a courtly, ‘old school’ magician and illusionist. In the town where deception was a way of life, mind over eye tricks such as his were elaborate and sought after. Among his especially effective illusions was one in which a girl lay on a divan, draped with a gossamer shroud and then seemed to float high in the air and then disappear as Blackstove pulled off the shroud. In another illusion, a woman stepped into a cabinet in front of many bright, clear, lights. When the magician suddenly pushed the perforated front of the cabinet backward the light bulbs protruded through the holes in the front of the box (to the accompaniment of the lady’s chilling screams). The cabinet was then rotated so that the audience seemed to see the lady impaled by splinters of filaments.

Great_Blackstone_at_the_Pantages

His ‘sawing a woman in half’ involved an electric circular saw some three or four feet round mounted on a swing-down arm. Blackstove demonstrated the efficacy of the device by sawing noisily through a thick piece of wood. Then a female assistant was placed on the saw table in full view, as wide metal restraints were clamped upon her middle section. The blade whirred and appeared to pass through her body, as ripping sounds were heard, the woman shrieked and particles of what seemed to be flesh were scattered by the whirring blade. When the blade stopped she, of course, rose completely whole and unharmed.

Goldin's_illusion_1_svg
Join the dots to get a straight line.

Harry was looking for a new assistant to tour with him, his previous lady accomplice being so ‘great with child’ that the restraint no longer did fastened and Elizabeth seemed perfect for the position. She gave a week’s notice at the diner and undertook a rigorous week of training with Harry for her new role.

She was perfect!

ElizabethShortBlackDahlia

Harry also had another assistant, a large New Zealand White rabbit that for reasons unknown he called Rampant. Rampant Rabbit was the atypical stage magician’s rabbit, adept at popping out of hats and from sleeves at the right moment.

Everything seemed good in the lives of Harry, Elizabeth and Rampant.

But on the morning of January 15, 1947, the unclothed body of Elizabeth Short was found on waste ground in Leimert Park, Los Angeles. Local mother Betty Bersinger discovered the corpse about 10:00 am. and first thought it was a discarded shop display dummy. When she realized it was a naked body she rushed to a nearby house and telephoned the police.

Short’s body was completely severed at the waist and drained entirely of blood. The body also had obviously been washed by the killer. The lower half of her body was positioned a foot away from the upper, and her intestines had been tucked neatly under her buttocks.

It did not take the coroner long to rule out suicide and a verdict of murder by person or persons unknown was recorded. Short soon acquired the nick name The Black Dahlia from newspapers in the habit of nicknaming crimes they found particularly lurid. It may have been derived from a film noir murder mystery, The Blue Dahlia released the previous year.

Black-Burgundy-Dahlia-Flower-350
What a black dahlia really looks like.

There’s never been a shortage of suspects in the Black Dahlia murder — but even after sixty eight years police have never been able to pin the crime on any of them.

Here is, however, a reason for that.

Elizabeth Short was NOT murdered!

The ‘sawing a woman in half’ illusion went badly, badly wrong. Rampant Rabbit, fed up with sitting in a top hat, decided to investigate and hopped out and spying what he thought was food, nibbled through the hemp rope that was holding the safety guard in place. The safety guard zoomed up, the circular saw buzzed down and with a whir and a shower of entrails, Elizabeth Short was no more.

The magician panicked. Had he telephoned the ambulance or the police he may have got away on a rap of accidental death, but all he could think of was the dead woman, a murder rap, the electric chair and his own death. Freezing like a rabbit in the headlights (not Rampant – some other rabbit) he was unable to think or function for hours and then suddenly had a brilliant idea. In this town of many murders and hidden crimes one more stiff on a vacant lot would not be a big deal, but a world renowned magician cutting a woman in half for real? Why, he would never get a booking again!

He carefully washed the dead girl and stripped her, not for any sexual reason of his own but to make it seem like a sexually motivated murder. Under cover of darkness he loaded his van with some large illusion ‘furniture’ and concealed the two bits of the Black Dahlia beneath the self same gossamer shroud that she had lain under for the illusion just that afternoon.

He seemed to drive for hours looking for a dark and lonely place to dump her but at saw that Leimert Park was deserted. Getting out he looked this way and that and seeing no one he dragged the legs out and carefully put her intestines under her bottom – he was a very neat and tidy man. He was just dragging the top half into position when a police car siren could be heard somewhere near, so he left it where it lay a short way away from the legs and jumping in his van fled the scene.

As for Rampant, he went on to father 14,003 babies who in their turn have populated the United States with a further 2, 749, 307 rabbits, all of whom have a passion for hemp – the rope variety of course!

rabbit-antibodies-polyclonal-antibodies
Rampant rabbit relaxing after living up to his name.

Source material

Hemp rope making for intermediates (Adult education night school course)

Hemp by B. Stoned (purchased by accident.)

Fifty years in the saddle by Major Bumsaw

Trying to get tidy by Ina Mess

Insect Bites by Amos Kito

The photograph of the Black and Burgundy Dahlia was taken from the website http://www.fiftyflowers.com

© Jeff Jefferty Jeff August 12th 2015.

(Aha! The glorious 12th, when all self respecting game birds hide. This is my sort of game bird .blend_fam2 Anyone for some Famous Old Grouse?)

The “Tudor” Propaganda of William Shakespeare

Tudor propaganda is a word that is sometimes thrown about, and it´s usually associatedShakespeare_Droeshout_1623 with two names, Thomas More and William Shakespeare, both of them in certain quarters seen as nothing but tools of the reigning Tudor monarch at the time. The purpose of the propaganda probably doesn´t even need to be mentioned, but I will do it anyway; it is to blacken the memory of Richard III. Here I will focus on the alleged propaganda distributed by William Shakespeare through his play Richard III, thought by some to have been written to please, or maybe even commissioned by, Elizabeth I

This has caused rift between what would otherwise have been sane people where one side will claim to be the voices of reason and ask why Elizabeth I, the 5th Tudor monarch on the throne, would towards the end of her reign, feel the need to blacken a king that had been dead for over a century and therefore couldn´t make a claim for the throne even if he wanted to, when she obviously had more pressing matters at hand, such as real live pretenders to the throne and the problem of succession to solve.

Then we have the other side, who will see much more sinister forces at work, for reasons that remain unknown, aiming to utterly discredit “their” king with withered arms, limp and a hunchback and not to mention a murderous mind.

Feeling somewhat uncomfortable by the constant bickering back and forward I, Jeff Sixwhotsitdorf, decided to dedicate myself to an extensive and – as it turned out – ground breaking research into the subject, and what I have found is astonishing.

It has come to light that the so called propaganda had nothing to do with Elizabeth I what so ever. She in fact tried to stop the play, being slightly clairvoyant herself and also having access to the astrologer John Dee she predicted a future where a limping, hunchbacked and generally crippled king opened the door for herself being portrayed with a ridiculously white face, huge wigs and an unstable temperament. She did not want to see that happen, for she actually was vain, that much is true.

But “hell hath no fury like a man whose ancestors has been offended” (ancient saying carved into the wall of a cave that was once passed by by Etruscan migrants, later changed and used for his own purposes by the 17th century playwright William Congreve).

There was simply no stopping Shakespeare. But what was it that had actually happened?

Carefully studying the appropriate sources show us that at one point – at the time very young – Richard Plantagenet once passed through the little village Stratford-upon-Avon, during the mid-15th century so small that you could pass it without noticing. But there it was, and there was also a man by the name of Geffron Shakespeare, father of Hugh Shakespeare and brother of Richard Shakespeare, one day to be referred to as the great grandfather of The Bard.

Geffron had a small establishment serving travelling parties a hearty meal, and this is where his path was to be crossed by a young future king on his way to Southampton for further distribution to the continent, away from the ravings of war (the party had gotten slightly lost due to their drunk guard).

Feral_goatThe boy, only aged eight, starred at the innkeeper, who was slightly disfigured due to an unfortunate run-in with an angry bull in childhood, and started mocking him, maybe out of exhaustion from the long journey because history – at least some versions of it – has taught us that Richard was an epiphany of chivalry.

Geffron had since long had quite enough of that sort of behaviour and chased the boy out into the yard. Little Richard (a name later adopted by a performer of the kind of music that would have gotten him burnt at the stake during this time) was dancing around Geffron in a taunting manner with the result that Geffron in his agitated state tripped over a goat which out of sheer fright retaliated with a pair of well-placed horns in the region of Geffron´s bottom that sent him flying to the other end of the well trampled road.

If fate had been kind, it would have allowed Geffron to land relatively soft by the side of the said road. This did not how ever happen. Geffron got stuck in a pane less window of the local baker, head halfway into the oven. Local chroniclers confirm that this was not a pretty sight.

The Plantagenet party scrapped the kids together (the older brother George had been laughing like a madman through the whole debacle) and fled the scene, while the family of Geffron Shakespeare, once the initial shock had abated, swore to seek revenge.

This would eventually tear the family apart, with Geffron´s son Hugh feeling increasingly humiliated by his father´s spectacular demise. He would in time study at Morton College in Oxford, a time during which he in took the opportunity to change his name from Shakespeare to Sawndare, explaining his decision by stating that his former name was of “vile reputum”.

Geffron´s brother Richard though, the great grandfather of William, decided to make good on his vow to revenge his brother and joined the ranks of Henry Tudor, with such success that he was later granted land in Warwickshire by the new king Henry VII and also laid the foundation for the application made by Shakespeare´s father and later Shakespeare himself for a coat of arms.

But William Shakespeare was, like all great artists, a person of a moody nature and Kathryn_Huntersometimes his glass wasn´t even half empty, it was smashed against a wall of a bakery in Stratford. It was during one of these periods he decided to get even once and for all, if not with the actual little brat that had ended the life of his great grand uncle, but also alienated his distant cousin Hugh from the rest of the family, so at least with the posthumous reputation of the brat in question.

He sat down with his pen and paper and gave the last of the Plantagenet king all the crippling features that once a bull had given Geffron Shakespeare during his early years. And he laughed and laughed, convinced that he had for many centuries into the future blackened the reputation of Richard III.

It should be said that Elizabeth I was utterly disgusted by the play, and had she known it would come to somehow have been thought of something she herself had ordered, she would have thrown a tantrum.

Jeff Sixwhotsitdorf,

still in a state of being astonishingly astonished

Sources:

The forgotten grave stone of an unknown relative of someone you´ve never heard of (and for good reasons!)

The backside of a black cow

The front of a very old goat

The very hazy table of ancestry of William Shakespeare

The bottom of a wine bottle

Scribblings on a handkerchief thought to once have belonged to William Congreve, ranging from the quote above via “hell hath no fury like a squirrel who lost his nuts” to the more famous “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”

The last meal of a dissected carrot

The phone call no one ever made (me neither)

The content declaration of Ramen Noodles, mushroom flavour

A dream I had

The dark alley medium I found online

Documentary evidence… hidden in plain sight

Plain sight is often the best place to hide something, as Mr Dingle-Bell can attest vis-à-vis the chocolate hobnobs. Or rather, he can’t attest as he fails, quite regularly, to see them nestling in their jasperware container with the sliver lid – right there on the sideboard! So it has been for 500 years and more when it comes to the most blatant clue as to the (approximate) time and (approximate) venue of the secret wedding between Edward Earl of March (not then King Edward IV, nor indeed King Edward the Any Number) and the recently widowed (for she would have to have been, or the marriage would have been bigamous, and that would be too much of an historical oddity to bear) Eleanor Butler nee Talbot.

In this instance, the ‘plain sight’ is the Parliamentary Rolls of 1459, recording the words and deeds of the so-called ‘Parliament of Devils’. (Mr Dingle-Bell keeps hoping to stumble over the record of the ‘Parliament of Zombies’ but, as I tell him, he can find that in any modern edition of Hansard.)

The clue is hidden (in plain sight) is an item describing how Henry VI – with ‘knightly courage’ – pursued the victorious (but traitorous and despicable) Earl of Salisbury from Staffordshire to Wales. xxx days on the road, never stopping (except, quite sensibly, on Sundays) the King kept up his relentless pursuit “…not sparyng for eny ympedyment or difficulte of wey, nor of intemperance of wedders, jupartie of youre moost roiall persone…”

I’ll let that rest for a moment…

Intemperance of wedders

I must have read that five or six times, skimming back and forth, looking for unambiguous evidence that, though the Earl of Salisbury was victorious he was most unrepentantly traitorous and despicable, when – quite suddenly – I felt a cold shiver on the back of my neck. When I came back to my desk after admonishing Mrs M* (who does for us) for failing to close the door behind her, the full enormity of those three words hit me like a very large thing that suddenly hits you, leaving you breathless and strangely exhilarated but – above all – enlightened.

intemperance – lack of moderation or restraint; wedders – do I really need to spell it out?

The King and his party came across a secret wedding while they were on the road and he did not let it stop him in his pursuit of the traitorous and despicable Earl. Why was such a seemingly trivial occurrence noted, let alone memorialised in such an important document? It could only be because of the identity of the bride and groom. The King could not stop his journey to see what was going on, nor attempt to persuade either party out of their venture, nor arrest the individuals concerned for marrying without license. He had other things on his mind. Places to be, people to behead. (Though I’m sure he’d have done that with a most decidedly heavy heart, leaving the dabbing of fingers in puddles of blood to his less restrained because, well, French, queen.) Yet this secret wedding must be recorded! Had it not been for everything else that was going on – battle, treason, cowardice etc etc – he might have been able to do something about it. He might have been able to stop it, to haul the handsome young man and the comely woman to their feet (for I am sure they were kneeling in the snow – too romantic!) and shake some sense into them. The reason he could not (ie his pursuit of the aforesaid despicably victorious earl) meant the incident must be recorded so that if at any time in the future questions were raised, he could, in all honesty, throw his hands in the air and say, “I was in a hurry. There’s nothing I could have done!”

Dame Eleanor Butler, carrying the Wrong Roses.
Dame Eleanor Butler, carrying the Wrong Roses.

Somewhere between Blore Heath and Ludlow, the King passed a church, chapel, cathedral or alehouse where, to his astonishment, he saw the young Earl of March kneeling in the snow, plighting his most earnest and desperate troth with the recently widowed (or, alternately, bigamous but, either way, comely) Eleanor Butler!

So, finally, we have the evidence required to put the debate to rest once and for all. Edward the Not-Yet-IV and Dame Eleanor Butler were married (where any passing King could see them) somewhere between Staffordshire and the marches of Wales, sometime between 23 September 1459 and xxx days later. One would have to guess the wedding took place closer to Ludlow than Blore Heath, as young Edward was off on his hols to Calais soon after that. Poor Eleanor! A honeymoon in Calais would have been the icing on the cake.

Given the circumstances, one simply must readjust one’s thinking about Edward’s motives and why he failed to acknowledge the marriage, as things rather got away from him after that. Rather than deliberately setting out to dupe the poor, innocent, widowed (or possibly bigamous) noblewoman some years his senior, it simply slipped his mind in all the excitement. By the time he remembered, it was too late! For he was already secretly married again to a poor, innocent, (indisputably) widowed commoner some years his senior and, as they sometimes say in the talkies, in a bit of a bind.

Poor Eleanor was left shivering in the doorway of a church, chapel or alehouse somewhere within, say, a day’s ride of Ludlow, newly married but not yet (alas!) consummated (for a quickie up against a tree seems rather more Elizabeth Wydeville’s style than Eleanor Butler’s) and weeping into her hankie.

Unconsummated? you say. Well, yes, that would be the fly in the ointment, so to speak. For whereas we now have documentary proof the wedding took place, there is nought but a veil of silence when it comes to the honeymoon.

Sadly, the relevant record makes no further mention of the matter. Edward simply vanished out of Eleanor’s life and the young cruelly jilted widow (or bigamist) made her sad way, wedding dress trailing in the snow, to a nearby convent where she shut herself away … forever.

Edward, as we know, went onto bigger and better things, perhaps sparing the odd moment or two to wistfully recall the comely (or bigamous) widow he left behind in that doorway, somewhere near Wales.

*When i spoke with Mrs M about this over a nice cup of tea in the kitchen, she said, “I always knew there was something going on with them two. I could feel it in my waters!” She’s a wise, if simple, soul and always knows where the biscuits are.

_________________________________________________________________

JEF Dingle-Bell (Mrs) is delighted to be able to bring to a close the continuing debate about whether or not this marriage took place. She plans to write a book about it some time in the near future. Perhaps she will call it Eleanor, The Bride in the Snow but she remains open to suggestions. In the meantime, she is rather busy finding a new hiding place for the chocolate hobnobs. Mr Dingle-Bell may be rather slow when it comes to locating biscuits, but he’s like a cat when it comes to sneaking up behind her and reading over her shoulder.

Sources

http://www.waitrose.com/shop/Browse/Groceries/Food_Cupboard/Biscuits_and_Crackers

http://www.mcvities.co.uk/products/hobnobs

Raven, Michael, A Guide to Staffordshire and the Black Country, the Potteries & the Peak

Lapat Rai, Josiah C Wedgewood: The Man and His Work

Rolls of Parliament

Brenda van Niekerk, How to Make a Swiss Roll: Step by Step Instructions and Recipes

https://www.wanderable.com/honeymoon-destinations/france/calais

Mrs M’s waters

Medieval Bride, Autumn/Winter 1459

 

Edward IV’s marriage and the small matter of the supposed pre-contract – new and explosive evidence

There continues to be much controversy and speculation about the marital status of King Edward IV, with arguments flowing back and forth like indecisive armies across a battlefield. I believe, however, that I may have stumbled across evidence that could settle the debate once and for all.

While following a family history lead in a little-known archive in the Midlands (I am not at liberty yet to say exactly where), I came upon a letter tucked inside the folds of another document, which apparently had not been opened or looked at for centuries.


I have not published this exciting finding anywhere else yet, as I am not entirely sure of it contents, but I wished you, gentle readers of Double History, to have first sight of the new evidence and perhaps help in its decipherment.


The evidence in question is a hitherto unknown letter from one of the Paston family who appears to have been present at Grafton around the time of the wedding of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.


Here is an illicit photograph of the letter in question:

11817169_10153478014548638_8766178518686871167_n

The writing would appear to be a typical c15th cursive hand as used in many familiar documents of the period. What I think I can make out so far is as follows:

Righte [?worshipfull Syr],
As yt hath pleased Godde thys day, my Ladye Elizabethe Grey, daughter of Syr Richard [?Woodville] and ye duchesse of Gloucester hath [?marryed] the Kynge. He was asked by ye priest was he not marryed before, then quoth he “No, by my trothe.”
And then ??? did the priest asked my lorde the Kynge “Not even unto Eleanor Butler?” and Hys Majestye [?replyed straightway] ?? not to Eleanor Butler, for she is an [???]. And all presente there ?? ??.
God send you good speede yn alle matters. Written at Grafton the morn next after [?Anthony and ??.Your ?? cousin
?? Paston

Any help deciphering the remaining parts would be gratefully received.

Sources:
The Paston Letters (collectable magazine edition, in weekly installments from Patel’s newsagents on the corner, missing No 3, 7, 15, 18-23 and the deluxe binder)
Palaeography for Dummies

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Jeff de Cuisine is a scion of the Northamptonshire de Cuisines. He has traced his Cuisine ancestry back to the Roman writer Apicius. His favourite cheese is Blue Stillington.

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