Monthly Archives: January 2016

Stir Wars: The Sauce Awakens

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, the dark forces of history were gathering. Preying on the innocent readers of historical fiction, or those unsuspecting viewers enjoying a BBC costume drama, the dark lords of misinformation planted such dangerous seeds as Richard III invented bail, or that Edmund Tudor was a rapist, or Catherine Howard was a slut. Worse still, in some small enclaves of resistance, these darth(in)vaders even managed to penetrate dedicated groups and equip them with anachronistic armour. But as the edifices of civilisation crumbled, there were those who could not hold their tongues.

It was a period of civil war. Rebel historians, striking from a hidden base, won their first battle against the evil didactic empire. Setting down their traditional weapons of facts and evidence in favour of the salty-edged tongue of satire, they managed to gather forces and unite under the iconic banner of Double History. From the safety of anonymity, they infiltrated social media groups, to a mixture of derision and applause, using humour to expose the ignorant and easily-influenced, to draw all true history lovers back to the way of the light. And the force was strong with them. For months they fought to liberate their people and restore freedom to the galaxy. But all warriors need rest, so, pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, they retired to gather their strength and plan their next move.

Now the time has come for the rebels to rise again. It’s a time of uncertainty; unrest grips the internet as the influence of the dark lords spread, but a glimmer of hope remains in the heroic forces of the resistance. The group of freedom fighters are stirring, watching the boiling pot of misinformation and awakening the skill and strength needed to forge a new future. From the crucible of darkness, Double History rises again, to challenge the historical faux pas, the deliberate blinds, the misinformation, exaggeration, assumptions, bias and romanticism rife among facebook pages. Love them or loathe them, the Jeffs are here to stay, reminding us that history must be constantly challenged, questioned and proven. That it is not a discipline for the faint-hearted or the lily-livered.

Fight us or join us. If there is a topic you would like the Jeffs to write about, or a common myth you would like to see given the Double History treatment, write it in the comments below and you may see your idea featured on the blog.

 

Jeff. R. “Skywalker” Vescent has awoken.

Burns Night

Hag

 

Burns’ Night.

Held this time of the year to honour the birth of the Scottish poet Rabbie (Robert) Burns as it has been every year since 1667.

Sixteen sixty seven?

I can hear the exclamations of disbelief from here!

Surely Rabbie Burns was not born until 1759?*

But desist in your cries of disbelief until you have read the writings of this ace researcher Jefferty Jeff.

The Great Fire of London was a huge conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London, from Sunday, 2nd to Wednesday, 5th September 1666, consuming all in it’s path. Citizens buried their cheese to avoid having an over abundance of Welsh Rarebits with their stews and Welsh rare-bits put on their skirts and hurried away from the overabundant Thameside stews.

Miraculously no one was killed during the fire, though this was not due to any fast thinking action by Mayor Bloodworth (whose blood was worth nothing after that debacle), though Mistress Pycke did get a nasty singe on her second best kirtle and Samuel Pepys was nearly caught (again) by the long suffering Mistress Pepys, with his breeks down and a (ahem) lady in his arms.

The spin doctors of the day wanted to put a positive slant on this disaster and to ”celebrate the miraculous escape of the citizens and the ‘purifying by fire’ of the squalid areas” they suggested that an annual celebration thanks giving supper should be held. Today we would call it a charity fund raiser, but that is today and in those days people were honoured to pay mega bucks to attend a Mamlsey and dug-up cheese party.

And why was it celebrated on 25th January? The man who succeeded the indecisive Bloodbath (oops, sorry! Bloodworth!) as Mayor in October 1666 was Sir Richard How, married to a lovely lady called Anne, but with eyes only for Sarah Lewington whose date of birth was 25th January and as a sop to (hopefully) please her and gain her lust decreed that not only would she be guest of honour at the first Burning Supper, but it should be held on her birthday.

As is well known, at Burns Night Suppers a poem is read, one that dates back and refers to the original Great Fire, that started in Pudding Lane, during a race between apprentice pudding makers to get the suet puddings cooked fastest.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm

Over the years fewer and fewer people attended and as a fund raiser really it sucked until one day a young and little known Scottish poet, Robert Burns, suddenly  died, to every Scottish person’s dismay. His fan  was still mourning fifty years later when  an enterprising Haggis salesman from Glasgow hit upon the idea of revitalising his flagging haggis sales, drumming up whiskey sales for his cousin Hamish (no, not that Hamish, another Hamish) and holding a supper on the Burning Night Celebration date,  25th January, which by coincidence was the date of birth of this little known Scots poet…

and so we have Burns (or Burning) Night celebrations to this very day.

* (A few people will no doubt be thinking that is very accurate time, one minute to eight in the evening.)

Source material:

A picture of a haggis on Facebook

Mma Ramotswe, Number One Lady Detective

The Fire Brigade.

Jeff jefferty Jeff does not want to be associated with this work and denies any knowledge of ever having written it and even if tortured you will not get him to say he did it. The copyright below is a lie.

© 22.1.16  Jeff Jefferty Jeff

The Much-Maligned King

Saint RichardWith the great historical discoveries we’ve had over recent years, there has been some major re-thinking on the history and reputation of one of England’s most hated and maligned kings – and rightly so.

While his mortal remains are now at rest this king’s legacy of evil and wickedness is still debated by eye-rolling, loony historians, fan-girls and sane history buffs on every Facebook page you come across (yes, I’ve checked, he even gets into groups dedicated to historical women *groan*).

He has, throughout, history, been demonised and vilified by historians and non-historians alike. Words such as “tyrant”, “monster” and “murderer” have been slung at this king for more years than I’d like to count.

The main beef for many is the propaganda levelled against this king by subsequent dynasties; the misrepresentation of his actions and the accusations of murder which just refuse to go away.

And mud sticks.

So it’s about time he was given the rights that all Englishmen have – the right to the “assumption of innocence until proven guilty”.

No, of course I’m not talking about Richard III! The man killed his nephews, why on earth should he be allowed to be presumed innocent?holbein henry

I’m referring to that great man of the Renaissance, the Hercules of England, Europe’s very own Alexander; Henry VIII, of course.

With this in mind I thought I would take a new look at the main accusations, strip away the propaganda and look at the deaths involved in their proper light; one at a time, rather than as one great killing spree.

Does responsibility lay at the king’s door?

Were the deaths justified for the good of the realm? Should I leave Cairo and move to more bridal climes? (Oops, sorry, that last was a personal question, not relevant – much – to this essay.)

The first person I looked into was Catherine of Aragon. Of course, Henry is not accused of killing her; but he is accused of treating her shamefully. Catherine married Henry having sworn that she’d never slept with her first husband Prince Arthur, Henry’s older brother. Catherine made thiCatherine_aragons declaration only after Arthur was safely dead – and therefore could not dispute it.

What was her motivation?

Well, Henry was a young, handsome – ok, gorgeous – 18-year-old Adonis who also happened to be king of one of the most powerful kingdoms of Europe, whereas she was a penniless Spanish princess who had been more-or-less abandoned by her own family. So, of course, she only said this out of her love for Henry, rather than any selfish reasons.

There was one problem with Catherine’s declaration; Prince Arthur had once sworn otherwise, declaring one morning, after leaving Catherine’s chamber, that he had “spent the night in Spain” (something no one bothered to tell Henry until many years later). Quite an unequivocal statement from a Prince who had no ulterior motive.

Poor Henry was a devout Catholic and knew that marrying his brother’s wife was a mortal sin and when he finally discovered the truth, what choice did he have but to divorce? And why would he do it with such vehemence and hatred? Surely it’s hard to be kind to someone who has endangered your immortal soul by making you commit such a heinous sin? Henry would have had to be a saint to be able to forgive. And it’s certainly not his fault that Catherine of Aragon stuck to this fib – through thick and thin – but neither is it Henry’s fault that he stuck to his own guns and fought to the very end to obtain a divorce.

So, now, we come to Henry’s “victims”.

Anneboleyn2Let’s look at Anne Boleyn first.

If Anne Boleyn was innocent of the crimes she was accused of – of sleeping with other men, including her brother and of planning the king’s death – then she is a true martyr and Henry is a monster worse than Darth Vader. However, thanks to the Daily Mail, we now know beyond any doubt that Anne did have an affair with her brother, George Boleyn. A French poem, written a few days after Anne’s execution by a Frenchman living in England, proves unequivocally that Anne slept with her brother.

And if one of the charges is true, then surely they all are?

And if Anne was sleeping around, what else could he do but execute her? Imprison her? Maybe, but an example from French history suggests the dangers in doing that. In 1314 the wives of France’s 3 princes were accused of adultery and imprisoned. However, the princes found obtaining divorces difficult (to cut a long story short) and all 3 ruled successively as kings of France, but were unable to  produce the much-desired legitimate male heir and the Capetian line died out.

With such an example from just a couple of hundred years ago, can Henry really be blamed for wanting a swift conclusion to his marriage?

And, to be honest, this same argument stands for Henry’s execution of Catherine Howard the poor chap is proof of the adage that lightning CAN strike twice in the same place).

One of the most heinous crimes that Henry is accused of is, of course, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. And well, to be honest, I’ll give his accusers that one. Poor Margaret. But, then, every king is allowed one over-reaction; Richard III has Lord Hastings, Henry gets Margaret Pole.

thomas moreAnd then there’s Thomas More…

Well, I have a theory…..

Sir Thomas More was Henry’s friend. What if he committed an unforgivable betrayal. I’m not referring to his refusal to swear allegiance to the Act of Succession, rather I’m referring to his abominable, slanderous book about Richard III.

We all know Henry loved his mother dearly, and spent most of his childhood sat on her lap, listening to her stories about her childhood, her father and her wonderful uncle, Richard. We always think of the Tudors hating Richard III, but in Henry’s time the slanderous, legend blackening work of Shakespeare is still decades in the future. What if Henry knew of the gentler side of Uncle Dickon? What if he saw him as the loving uncle of a fatherless teenage girl, who gave her gifts and danced with her at Christmas.

EoY portraitThis is the intimate picture of Richard III that Henry grew up with, knowing him and loving him as a favourite great-uncle. And then his friend presents him with a manuscript saying “I’ve put together some ideas, have a look at it, just let me know what you think.”

Of course, Henry reads it and goes ballistic. How dare More write such hateful things about this great king, this hero, this Son of York, this man who saved the kingdom from the disasters that would, almost-definitely, have befallen the land had a child-king been allowed to live …. er, I mean, to reign?

Henry had no choice, More brought it on himself. Henry had to have him executed in order to prevent More’s slanderous work from reaching a wider audience. It was the only way to prevent publication.

It’s not Henry’s fault the “facts” still got out…

By Jeff R Sun

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Jeff R Sun has been supporting the Richards for years – I’m thinking of changing my allegiance to the Henrys. All advice appreciated.

If you would like to be the first to see the Jeffs’ latest blog posts, please like the Double History Facebook page.

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Photos: Wiki

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Sources: Measly Middle Ages; Terrible Tudors; Slimy Stuarts; Wiki; Daily Mail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Father of Edward of Lancaster: A Tale of Three Edwards

In his magisterial Wars of the Roses, historian Dr John Ashdown-Hill demonstrated beyond doubt that Henry VI could not have been the father of Edward of Westminster. The fact that he did so without offering any evidence makes his feat even more dazzling.

So who was the father of this misbegotten so-called prince? Although Dr Ashdown-Hill propounded the theory that Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, was the father, I find myself in the humble position of having to disagree, for once, with him. But I shall do so gently and respectfully.

Edward of Lancaster. Certainly illegitimate.
Edward of Lancaster. Certainly illegitimate.

As we know from Dr Ashdown-Hill’s equally magisterial Royal Marriage Secrets, Katherine of Valois’s sons Edmund and Jasper were fathered not by Owen Tudor, as those hidebound historians tied to tired ways of looking at things would have it, but by Edmund Beaufort. Why else would the eldest boy have been named “Edmund” instead of “Owen”?

Thus, logic dictates that we look for a man named Edward as the father of Edward of Lancaster. One name springs forth instantly: Edward, Earl of March.

Now, an objection, and a quite reasonable one at that, immediately comes to mind: Edward, Earl of March, born in 1442, was too young to father a child in 1453. But I would propound that Cecily, Duchess of York actually had two sons named Edward: one the legitimate offspring of Richard, Duke of York, the other the son of a lowly archer. The legitimate son was born in 1430, the date given by Sir Thomas More in his History of King Richard the Third, which goes to show that even a stopped clock tells the time right twice a day. Thus, as a randy twenty-three-year-old, the strapping Earl of March was more than ready, willing, and able to serve the beautiful, frustrated, and very French queen in any way she deemed necessary. Need I say more?

Margaret of Anjou, Lancastrian harlot
Margaret of Anjou, Lancastrian harlot

But tension was building not only between Lancaster and York, but between Legitimate Brother Edward and Illegitimate Brother Edward. As the 1450s wore on and Illegitimate Brother Edward approached the age of manhood, he brooded not only upon his base birth, but upon his older brother’s seduction of the beautiful queen. Consumed by jealousy, in 1459, he killed his brother.

Edward IV, looking guilty, as well he should
Edward IV, looking guilty, as well he should

Illegitimate Brother Edward had always lived out of the public eye, and he bore a remarkable resemblance to his dead brother. So Richard, Duke of York, who had come to rather like his wife’s bastard, and who did not wish to air his dirty laundry in public, hit upon a plan. He and Illegitimate Brother Edward would manufacture an excuse to flee abroad, stay a few months, and then return, with Illegitimate Brother Edward assuming the role of Dead, Legitimate Brother Edward, Earl of March. Their opportunity came in October 1459, at Ludford Bridge. When Illegitimate Brother Edward returned the following summer in the guise of his dead older brother, no man was the wiser, although a few marvelled at his youthful appearance and concluded that his exile must have been a very pleasant one.

But one woman was the wiser–Margaret of Anjou, who somehow had learned of her lover’s death. From that point on, she was determined to destroy the fake Earl of March, who had killed the father of her darling boy. Not until she was a prisoner and her son lay dead on the field of Tewkesbury would England be safe from her wrath. In the interim, countless lives were lost. We could blame this on  Margaret of Anjou’s lust for vengeance, Illegitimate Brother Edward’s lust for power and status, and Legitimate Brother Edward’s just plain lust –but we shall not. Instead, we shall blame it on young Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, who somehow managed to plan it all in order to put her own whelp on the throne.

Sources:

John Ashdown-Hill, Royal Marriage Secrets

John Ashdown-Hill, The Wars of the Roses

Sir Thomas More, The History of King Richard the Third

A dream I had before my dog woke me up to be taken outside. Damn dog.

Jeff Borden has been resting over the past few months. He is feeling much better, thank you very much.