Monthly Archives: October 2015

Halloween Special: An interview with the ghost of Richard III.

As the evening of 31st October approaches, spirits the world over are preparing for Halloween. Jacquetta is sharpening her pointy hat and her daughter, another descendant of Melusine, is winding in a string attached to a ring (ouch!) to ensnare another sex slave. But what of Richard, former Duke of Gloucester and now revered king and guest of the Dean of Leicester Cathedral? We caught up with the ghost of Richard III sitting forlornly on a bench outside an ice cream parlour not far from the Cathedral. He agreed to answer a few questions if we would buy him a sorbet.

Richard, what’s it like to be a sex symbol 500 years after you died?

It’s a nightmare! Anne gets in a strip every time one of those brides starts swooning.

What do you think is your greatest achievement while alive or dead? Other than being the victor at Bosworth? I won, you know. How many people go there to lay a Red Rose??11899728_479447468895637_1236857115_n

My other greatest achievement is surely after my death {{sigh}}. If I had this many supporters while alive, there’s no way that wormy weakling Hank would have unhorsed me! Who cares if a lot of what they say is made up? That’s politics!

How did you come up with the idea of bail?

I invented bail – or did I?

Which is your favourite Stanley?

Matthews.

Do you like strawberries?

Despite stories to the contrary I have never eaten one. We are sitting outside an Italian ice cream parlour which claims to be selling Richard iii’s Strawberry Sorbet. I have been in there so many times to try it, but each time the call out the priests and the holy water and the exorcism routine   and back to the crypt I’m banished.

Have you any idea what Buckingham wanted to discuss before his death?

Yes. (Despite prompting Richard refused to elaborate and just did that naughty trick he has of dematerialising and reappearing a few times saying mwah hah haha.)

Tell us honestly, did you fancy your niece?

Oh, that again. I’ve said this before. I’ll say it again. It was dark, the candles were flickering, she was wearing the same dress as my wife and I was horny. A natural enough mistake to make, surely?

Did you plan to marry your niece?

I started that rumour. I had to. They wanted me to marry that ugly Joanna of Portugal and I had to find some way to get out of it. Imagine going to bed with that every night. After they heard the rumours her family made certain that the name of Richard was never mentioned as a prospective husband again. Round one to me I think.

Were you responsible for the thunder clap the moment the ‘Richard III’ character was struck down at Bosworth this year? I can’t take credit for the thunder clap -that was that show- off Margaret Beaufort’s doing (she steals my thunder too). I can take credit for THE clap. Should have listened to Eddie’s warnings -he would know.

What do you have to say about Hastings?

Hastings! My favourite battle – what other Hastings could you possibly mean?

What do you think of ‘The Head’? The best answer I can give to that is that I hope that someone someday does a reconstruction of the head of Dr Caroline Wilkinson that makes her look like a cross eyes moron with a weight problem.

Are you happy with everyone giving you white roses or do you want a bunch of daffodils or an orchid for a change? Atishoo!

Philippa Langley claims “In the second parking bay, I just felt I was walking on his grave.” Did you do any thing to make Philippa feel this way?
My ears seem to have decomposed over the centuries and I misheard. I thought it was Phillippa Gregory. I wanted to scare that woman so much that she stopped writing fantasy stories about my family and affinity.I’ll tell you something funny Mozart tells me every day. He lays in his grave making a strange noise and until someone says, ‘What is that noise?’ so the grave yard worker always says, ‘Oh, it’s just Mozart decomposing.’ How we laugh and laugh.

Do the people of the South have trouble understanding your northern accent? Mebe. There’s nowt as quair as folk.p308834570-5

Copyright http://www.ians-studio.co.uk/sales/

Do you have any plans for another exhumation and reburial?
Maybe a wrong choice of phrase, but over my dead body. All those fans throwing knickers and roses at me! I could have been killed.

What happened to the princes? You remember you asked if people in the South had difficulty understanding my accent? That’s what happened to the princes.

Which foot do you miss the most, your left or your right?  When I was alive I was really attached to both of my feet, but I am delighted I no longer have them. ULAS were excellent and very thourough with their research but it was embarrassing to have people read about my worms and my liking for eating swan. Just imagine how much fun they would have had discovering that I had Athlete’s Foot, Veruccae and a large corn.

Which of the Woodvilles did you despise the most? Which Woodville do I hate the most? Well Jaquetta the witch of course! If she hadn’t caused Bedford’s death with her spells and married that lusty Woodville fellow, none of this would have happened! I’d be on the throne to this day! Instead they bred their own army. Disgusting, I say! Nothing like MY dear sweet and frail innocent Anne! Harlot!

What was the worst thing ever dumped on your head – council worker’s Volvo or that hideous tomb? You ask that of a man who had a Victorian Sewer dug through his feet?

It is said that you haunt the Cathedral and that this is a picture of your ghost. Is this true? What? That? Do you seriously think I would stoop that low?

stream_img
Richard denies that this is a picture of his ghost.

Do you have any plans for another exhumation and reburial?
Maybe a wrong choice of phrase, but over my dead body. All those fans throwing knickers and roses at me! I could have been killed.

Which nickname do you prefer? Dick, Dickey, Rickayyyyy?  I heard my favourite sister whisper, ‘ I really like dick’ so let’s go with that…

At that moment another Jeff  handed me Richard’s gelatto and with that Richard disappeared leaving me holding a rather soggy cup of Strawberry Sorbet.

stream_img

Advertisements

Medieval History’s Strange Phenomenon of Repeatedly Dying

We all know that many strange things happened in Medieval History; killer eels and disappearing princes spring to mind.

But, to me, the strangest thing was not one particular event, but the fact that so many people seem to have died more than once.

Edward_II_-_British_Library_Royal_20_A_ii_f10_(detail)
Edward II, died in 1327, came back to life Edward III by 1338

Take Philippa of Clarence, the daughter of Lionel, Duke of Clarence and granddaughter of Edward III. I was reading about her the other day. She was born once, in 1355. But when did she die? apparently, she died in 1378, 1381 and ….. 1382. Now that’s a lot of deaths for one lady – and can you imagine the funeral expenses?

And we, of course, have the famous example of Edward II, murdered in Berkeley Castle who, for almost 700 years, died in 1327. But now, he seems to have died much later – and in Italy. How can you be dead in 1327 and yet still be alive to say ‘hello’ to your son in 1338?

And it isn’t just deaths.

Several Medieval people have numerous birth dates. Prince John of Eltham was born on the 15th and 25th August 1316. Richard of Conisbrough, son of Edmund of Langley – and another grandchild of Edward III – was born in 1375, 1376 and, finally, in 1384.

Which makes him 9 when he was born?

Something strange was definitely going on….

There are even phenomenon where Medieval people took part in events before they were born.

who3
The TARDIS pictured in 1020s France

William de Warenne, who fought with William the Conqueror at Hastings, actually fought a battle the year before he was born. Can you imagine the size of his sword?

This pre-natal battle of William’s has had me in a quandary for many years. Until last Saturday night when I sat watching a programme on BBC1 and had a bit of a Eureka! moment. Yes, that had to be it! What if, Dr Who visited Mr de Warenne sometime after Hastings. they probably got on well, got to drinking and the good Doctor has this idea:

Dr W: “Hey, I have an idea. In the future there’s going to be this thing called Wiki. It will be where everyone goes for their info. It’s totally trustworthy, but I’ve got a brill idea of how to mess with people’s minds”.

Mr W, of course, bored with a sudden lack of battles, fighting and bloodthirsty killing, replies: ” I’m in! Wait! What are we doing again?”

Dr W replies: “I’m taking you back in time [cue Huey Lewis music] to before you were born. You get to fight a bloody battle, and I get to mess with 21st century minds.”

“It’ll be a right laugh” says the good Dr.

This theory, of course, doesn’t work for the multiple deaths – unless220px-Bela_Lugosi_as_Dracula,_anonymous_photograph_from_1931,_Universal_Studios Wiki editors are too freaked out. But then, maybe Bram stoker was onto something with Dracula…..?

Vampires did tend to die twice – the second time with a stake through their hearts. Although that doesn’t explain Philippa of Clarence dying three times. Mmm, maybe they used the wrong kind of steak in 1381?

But that doesn’t explain the multiple birth dates.

Wow! This is getting confusing!

Mind you, they did have a habit of giving the same name to more than one child in Medieval England. Maybe that caused confusion, so they couldn’t actually remember which year the surviving child was born, hence Richard of Conisbrough was a still squashed into a cradle in 1384!

And then there are those who have no known death date. The Princes in the Tower and Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Richard III….. maybe, just maybe, they are still walking around….somewhere…..

*

If you would like to be the first to see the Jeffs’ latest blog posts, please like the Double History Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Double-History/370098793163839?fref=ts

*

Sauces: Wiki with a side order of Alison Weir

*

Photos: Wiki

*

Jeff R Sun has spent too much time in the sun, I think. It burns!

 

 

 

 

 

 

1066 and all that jazz

 

hastings
This sums up the incorrect version of the battle of Hastings that we always been led to believe. Here, for the first time, the truth is revealed.

William was totally fed up. Not only did they keep being rude about his mother but they kept spelling his name wrongly. William might have been the son of the unmarried Duke Robert of Normandy and his mistress Herleva but it was cruel of everyone to call him William the Bastard and remind him at every opportunity.

In the middle of the 11th century, despite his total lack of interest in all things political, William was part of a power struggle for the throne of England, held by his relative Edward the Confessor (who had been given his name because of his habit of turning up at sheep dog trials and confessing,) who named the powerful English earl Harold Godwinson as the next king on his deathbed in January 1066.

William didn’t much care. He and Harold had long been rivals but in another, far more interesting sphere: fighting with marrons.

Marrons came in two varieties in England and in what is now called Continental Europe, edible and inedible. The edible type, sweet and nutty, could be used in many different ways in the kitchen and for many communities the marron was the sole source of carbohydrate. Aunt Bessie’s oven chips had not yet been invented and the potato was still an unknown root vegetable in an unknown part of the world. William and Harold did not fight with the edible variety – both of their mother’s had separately put a stop to the boys fighting with food many years before – but they fought with the inedible variety of the humble marron.

The game was itself was simple: two players, each with a marron threaded on a thong of rawhide, take it in turns to hit each other’s marron, until one marron is destroyed. The first player holds out their marron at arm’s length, hanging down, ready to be hit, the thong wrapped around his hand to stop it being dropped.

The opponent, the striker, also wraps his marron string round his hand, then takes his marron in the other hand and draws it back for the strike. Releasing the marron he swings it down by the string held in the other hand and tries to hit his opponent’s marron with it.

But this year, William was despondent. Harold across what he called the Sūð-sǣ (South Sea) was busy being king and wouldn’t play with him, his courtiers kept being rude about his mum and the marrons were small and hardly worth playing for.

Harold, however, was equally fed up. Marron season was here and what fine huge conkers they were and here was he stuck at the head of an army somewhere in Geordie land fighting some Danes to ensure that his kingdom did not become overrun with chubby Danish comedians called Sandi.

Sandi-Toksvig_2363071c
Here’s one I made earlier. (Serving suggestion only.)

Harold’s ministers were adamant that their new king could not have time off, so Harold hatched a plan and calling for his scribe sent a quick parchment to his old adversary William the Bastard, challenging him to a marron fight on the south coast in a couple of weeks time and upon it’s receipt William gathered the usual band of mates he took on stag parties and they set sail.

Historians have made much of William gathering an army to cross the water and Harold leading his war band to the area, but the truth was far less blood thirsty. It was just a friendly meeting between two groups of young men, intent on having a good time with old mates; the usual, wine, women and song, with marron fighting thrown in.

After carousing through the south eastern coastal villages full of good ale and mead, the two groups of men met at Senlac Hill. (Senlac later gave its name to a laxative tablet made of Senna. If you have trouble with constipation, please do not rely on laxatives for long periods as dependency can develop. senaSeek advice from your doctor about retraining your bowel. This is a public service announcement.) Anyway, as I was saying, the drunken, carousing groups of young men met at Senlac Hill and there, after more mead and ale had been consumed, the marron battle started, William against Harold.

It was Harold’s turn to aim first, but shock and horror! Live footage embroidered rapidly at the scene shows that Harold was cheating. He had two marrons!

Bayeux_Tapestry_scene57_Harold_death
This footage, embroidered by the marron championship correspondents live from the scene, clearly shows Harold cheating.

William’s men saw red. They saw other colours too, but predominantly red and furiously angry and totally tanked up on the alcohol, they broke every marron championship rule in the book and beat the shit out of Harold and his friends. In the affray Harold got a red hot poker shoved in his eye and William lost some of his clothes and damaged his ring. Then one of William’s friends took things too far, (there is always one), and skanked Harold with a broken mead jar.

Harold died.

The party broke up after that and the hung-over men slunk away to vomit behind bushes and sleep off the effects of the day.

William woke up later with the horrid, horrid memory of what had happened. Oh MERDE! What could he do? As hastily as his pounding head would allow he opened an eye and then, much later, another. Groaning he sat up. Bodies were all around him, dead, dying, sleeping, groaning, spewing Saxons, Normans. All a great jumble of stinking hungover men. It looked like a battle field.

A battlefield?

As fast as his inebriated brain would process it, he realised that was the answer. Deny it was a stag party and insist that it had been an intentional invasion. The murder of the king could then be passed off as him having been killed in rightful combat!!

He tried to smile. It didn’t work. Some hangovers are like that. Not smiling he called the embroiderers to him and with a hefty pay off he got them to tweak a few bits of their tapestry interpretation of the day showing him not as William the Conkerer, but William the Conqueror.

William became king, but forever mourned the best marron fighting partner he had ever had. Under Norman rule, Angle-land became  très Frenchified, altering the language forever although here in England we now call marrons ”conkers

Source material:

A bit of old hessian I found in the garage

A small square of calico

Linen

I read a few books too.

Conkers-Featured

© Jeff Jefferty Jeff 6th October 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food, memorials to the dead and c15th PTSD – unravelling a long-forgotten mystery

dh

I recently perused a discussion on social media about whether medieval soldiers suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Opinion was divided between those who felt that Medieval men were, after all, men and therefore would respond to things as men do today, and those who felt that projecting modern ideas backwards 550 years is unjustified.

It is true that the term PTSD is of modern origin. But if we assume that men reacted to combat then as they do now, the emotional and mental health problems would be familiar to our ancestors. Reading in contemporary sources about the aftermath of the battle of Towton (29 March 1461), I was struck by the way the contemporary sources referred to often to the date (one early name for the battle was “Palm Sunday Field”). And then I discovered a little-known chronicle written by a monk of French origin named Brother Paul d’Houxbois source talking about the veterans suffering from what he termed “the marche paine”: “Those menne that foughter uponne Palme Sundaye Fyeld do say they oftentymes have euill dremes and see before them agayne and agayne what terrors they sawe uponne thatte daye. This do menne call ‘the marche payne’.”

His description chimes with that given by the American Psychiatric Association, which detailed the symptomns of PTSD as including “intrusive, recurrent recollections, flashbacks, and nightmares” (American Psychiatric Association:1994).

What distinguishes d’Houxbois from other chroniclers is that he goes on to propose a remedy. In all probability, d’Houxbois had some medical training – medieval doctors and surgeons frequently recommended a regimen of diet, rest or exercise. For “the marche payne” he recommended “a paste made of almandes and sucre mixed with rose water, whyche can balance the evyl humoures and restore reste to the tortured soule”.

The idea was also taken up by the wealthier survivors or the families of the dead, and a trend began of memorialising the higher-status victims by producing ‘subtleties’ (as the decorative centrepieces of c15th banquets were called), often consisting of the coat of arms of the person being memorialised rendered in ‘marchpaine’. Within a few decades, the original therapeutic reason for ‘marchpaine’ had been forgotten, and it had become merely a sweetmeat or delicacy for the rich (the same fate that befell such therapeutic substances as brandy, opium, cocaine and truffles).

References:
American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
D’Houxbois, Br. P et Sr Marie de la Baie – “Chronique de la grande concurrence de cuisson Britannique, 1457-62” (unpublished)

Jeff de Cuisine has been attempting to treat his own psychological problems with a diet consisting exclusively of truffles, marzipan, brandy, opium and cocaine, with which he has successfully transmuted his anxiety into bankruptcy and arrest.

If you would like to be the first to see the Jeffs’ latest blog posts, please click ‘follow’ or like the Double History Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Double-History/370098793163839?fref=ts