Category Archives: murder

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 Black Dahlia Murder: The Truth.

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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?)