Tag Archives: Edward iv

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.

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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.

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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…..

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Sauces: Wiki with a side order of Alison Weir

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Photos: Wiki

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baby Brothers

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Two loving brothers

A little while ago I wrote an article about how badly middle children were treated in the Middle Ages. I got to musing on this point again this week, mainly because my baby sister was being her usual grandparent-cum-babysitter-hogging self.

I was, of course, being unfair to my baby sister; I know this because my mum-cum-grandparent-cum-can’t-babysit-because-your-sister-might-need-me told me so.

This got me running for the history books – my own form of escapism – and I decided to look into younger siblings throughout history. I was amazed at how loyal, loving and unspoilt baby brothers were in Medieval times (does the sarcasm come across ok? IT SHOULD!).

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Helpful Henry I

Baby brothers were always very helpful, loyal and supportive. Look at Henry I. On his death  William the Conqueror left Normandy to his eldest son Robert Curthose, and he left England to his second son, William II Rufus.

Henry, who was son no. 3, was supportive of this and in no way resentful. Staying in England, he followed his older brother, William, everywhere. It must have been some sort of hero-worship, as Henry was always close by. In fact, he was so close to William that he was with him when William was ‘accidentally’ struck by an arrow in the New Forest.

Henry was so distraught by his brother’s death that he forgot his duty to look after his brother’s body. Not knowing what he was doing, he rode wildly away and somehow managed to find himself in Winchester.

Luckily this was where the Royal Treasury was held.

Henry came to his senses in Winchester and decided the sensible thing was to take control of the Treasury and get himself crowned at Westminster Abbey as soon as possible. He knew this what was William would have wanted. After all he’d spent most of his reign arguing with their older brother, Robert, so he wouldn’t have wanted him to be king.

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Robert Curthose, Henry I’s ‘guest’

And then there was Robert…..

Having taken on the onerous duties of kingship, Henry realised what a hard and difficult life it was. He didn’t want any one else to have to go through the hardships he was enduring, not even his brother the Duke of Normandy. After an hour-long battle – oops, I meant ‘discussion’ – at Tinchebray Henry very kindly took over the running of Normandy and sent Robert to Devizes Castle – and Spa – for the next 20 years, and then onto a hotel called the Cardiff Castle.

Of course, one of the better younger brothers was John, brother of Richard I. When Richard went on crusade to the holy Land, John did his best to look after Richard’s kingdom, even though he hadn’t been asked. He kept Richard’s enemies quiet by plotting with them – although he was never going to go through with the plots. He looked after some castles – such as Nottingham – so that Richard’s civil servants had their hands free to do other tasks.

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Durnstein Castle, Richard I’s holiday home in Germany

Even more helpfully John, knowing how onerous it was to run a country, tried his best to use his own money – and that of the king of France – in order to extend Richard’s holiday in Germany. Richard was having such a good time that John felt it a shame his holiday would ever have to finish.

There were, of course, younger brothers who took advantage of their older sibling’s generosity. Edward Bruce, for example, liked the idea of having a crown of his own and asked his older brother, Robert, to help him claim one by giving him an army to invade Ireland. Unfortunately, Edward got carried away and lost his head.

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Distracted Duke Humphrey

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, also asked older brothers, Henry V and John Duke of Bedford, to help him carve out a little country for himself after he married Jacqueline de Hainault. Jacqueline had been chased out of her own country by her husband (her other husband, not Duke Humphrey) and her uncle.

Humphrey tried his best to win the country back for Jacqueline, until he got distracted by Jacqueline’s lady-in-waiting, Eleanor de Cobham.  Humphrey lost interest in his wife’s Dutch lands and legged it back to Ol’ Blighty and, on finding out he wasn’t actually married to Jacqueline as she already had a husband, married Eleanor.

And now we come to the best little brother of all……

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Edward IV making the most of his leisure-time

He was loyal and faithful throughout his brother’s two kingships. Richard of Gloucester did everything for his bog brother Edward. He hero-worshipped him; followed him into exiled; ran the North of England for Edward so that Edward had more leisure-time.

He was a model baby brother and that didn’t end with Edward’s premature death at the age of 40 (probably because he didn’t have enough leisure-time).

Richard obviously thought that Edward had died from over-work. He blamed all those around Edward who had not told the king to ‘take a rest’ regularly. When he came to London to commiserate with his beloved sister-in-law, Richard punished those he blamed for his brother’s early death.

Edward’s mistress, Jane Shore, who obviously had failed to make sure Edward was in bed nice and early, was made to do penance and walk through the city barefoot. Richard was so mad at Edward’s best friend – for not making sure the king took his ease after a hard day’s work – that he relieved the man of his head.

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Edward V being saved from working himself to death

The grieving Duke then turned to his little nephews.

Richard couldn’t bear the thought of little Edward V having to go through the life his father had endured.

One afternoon, when taking tea with Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Richard came up with a plan for helping Edward. Elizabeth was reminiscing on her wedding day, and how the sun was shining, how no one knew about it – she even mused on how much fun it was, keeping the secret. Richard jokingly said ‘it’s a wonder Edward hadn’t done that before’ and giggled.

Then he turned pensive and ….. well, you know the rest.

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Jeff R Sun still has no babysitter

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Sources: Cairo in Spring by JAH; Cairo in Summer by A Carson; The Best Spa Resorts in Germany by Richard T Lionheart; The best Spa Resorts in the UK by Robert C Hose; How to Invade a Country Without Success by Edward Bruce and Humphrey Gloucester

Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tewkesbury – the bloody aftermath.

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Although the Battle of Tewksbury was fought on 4th May in the year 1471, this current weekend is the time chosen to re-enact the battle. This may be due to the majority of the population of the UK sleeping off the excesses of the May Day Beltane festivities on the actual date or may originally have been an error on behalf of the organisers. This year on that date they had booked the eminent Dr Don Ashtray Pill to give a talk on armour and sartorial elegance (which many visitors found could also have been an error.)

The battle was the culmination of what became known as the Wars of the Roses with Edward, the fourth king of that name, leading his troops to victory in a fight that led to the death of Edward, son of Margaret of Anjou and the pious, mild and unstable Henry VI, thus putting an end to the Lancastrian hope of restoring this line to the throne. Ultimately Henry also lost his life, apparently due to melancholy caused by the death of his son, but in reality possibly by murder, made possible due to the death of his son.

Many leading Lancastrians lost their lives that day. It was the sudden move of the Duke of Somerset’s men which marked the beginning of the end for the Lancastrians. Unsupported by the other two divisions Somerset drove his troops in the centre with disastrous consequences.

They lost.

Panic ensued amongst the Lancastrians fleeing to Tewkesbury and hoping to escape but many of the nobles and knights, including Somerset,  sought sanctuary in Tewkesbury Abbey.  The Abbot of the Abbey then was John Strensham, who had been appointed in 1468. He was assisted in this ministry by Benedictine Monks Fra Declan O’Shea who came originally from Dublin and Brother Anthony Marris from Lincolnshire. Although friendships in monastic orders were frowned upon, the three men had known each other since seminary days and had a close rapport and enjoyed drinking their ‘own brew’ together.

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The ‘own brew’ made at Tewkesbury Abbey.

King Edward attended prayers in the Abbey shortly after the battle and took communion from Strensham and his assistants and later allowed the Prince of Wales and others slain in the battle to be buried within the town and Abbey, but this leniency was not to last.

It was perhaps rather silly of those seeking sanctuary to not check official list in the ”Lonely Planet Guide to Sanctuary” that the Abbey was an officially sanctioned place of sanctuary before fleeing there.

It was not.

It is, however, doubtful whether this would have deterred Edward even if it had been and it is likely that after the battle he had decided that the only way to end the war was to brutally remove the Lancastrian leadership once and for all.

Two days after the battle, Somerset and other leaders were dragged out of the Abbey

COL; (c) City of London Corporation; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Actual footage painted whilst this atrocity was being perpetrated. It takes real skill to get people to pose like that whilst in the grip of a red rage.

and were ordered by the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Norfolk to be put to death after perfunctory show trials. These trials were described by a contemporary Greek chronicle writer as the Μπους κουράζω** trials. The  cries of those being dragged from the abbey were pitiful. They had believed they were safe, but a red rage had taken over the men charged with the deed and they were not about to spare lives or feelings, even for members of the cloth. John Strensham the abbot was among the number who were violently handled and he could be heard yelling from the outside.

Raucously he called his assistants Brother Anthony and Fra Declan to help him…

“Ant, Dec! I’m a Celebrant. Get me out of here.”

It is unknown whether he had to do any Μπους κουράζω** Trials.

Source material:

Due to sampling rather too many (hic) glasses of Benedictine (hic) source material is not available today but will be served with a glass of hic hic… I feel a little sleepy. Please hicsuse me. Hic.

Shweet.

PS. Where can I get one of those black bears from?

Hic.

** Μπους κουράζω loosely translates as ‘Bush Tucker’

 

© Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff: 8th July 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Medieval Origins of the Phrase “Cheeky Nando’s”

 

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The has been a recent upsurge of social media banter over the confusion of our American cousins surrounding the phrase “a cheeky Nando’s”. http://www.theladbible.com/articles/the-struggle-is-real-for-americans-to-understand-what-a-cheeky-nando-s-is

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Many assume that this is modern street slang which relates exclusively to the restaurant chain of that name. As used by younger British men, this is indeed the case. But like so many pieces of popular culture, the phrase actually has medieval origins and has changed its meaning over the centuries.

For some years I was, like many of us, under the impression that the phrase dated from the 1530s. Professor Aloysius “Corpus” Christie, in his 4-volume “Lads Nights Out in Tudor England” (London, Faber and Faber, 1958) quotes “Thommo” Cromwell as writing “The Kynge be styl undere ye habytte of sneakynge offe to Hever at hys nappe tyme with Mystresse Boleyn, that ye courtiers banter amonge themselves ‘Hys Grace be offe ageyne for an cheekye Nan-doze. Epycke! ‪#‎Bant‬ Boleyn'”.

However, recent research demonstrating conclusively that ‘Barnet’ is an anagram of ‘Banter’ pushes the phrase back further still, to 1471. A recently discovered codocil to “The Arrivall” relates how Edward IV having left “hys best mate Banthony Woodville” in charge of London, took his troops into action “agaynste ye Bantcastrian army where due to ye fogge and being totallye slaughterede after an nyghte in ye ale house, they were totallye slaughtered on ye fyelde of battaille. I didst near pysse mynself laughing! Nyce one! Ledge! ‪#‎warwickthebantmaker‬“.

Although this passage pushes documentary evidence of ‘lad’ culture back to 1471, it is unlikely to provide the origin of “cheeky nando’s” since the phrase fails to appear anywhere within it. The original Nando, of course, may have been Fernando I, ruler of Portugal from 1369-71. This was a time when the Iberian peninsula was in ferment, with the rival claimants Henry of Castile and Pedro the Cruel fighting a series of vicious wars in which the enlisted the help of English and French allies, banking on the animosity between the two powers attendant on the rivalry most famously expressed through the Hundred Years War.

It is my contention that matter would be settled by the discovery of a letter from John of Gaunt to his brother the Black Prince reading “Prinno, thou absolutte ledge! Whilst I embroil mynself in ye warre of Castile (and a few of ye Spanyshe chyckes as well, if thou knowst well my meaninge) it wouldst be welle epycke couldst thou rayse an army in Portugal ledde by Cheeky Nando, to take Henry in ye flanke. But notte in ye Dutche sense! ‪#‎lisbant‬ ‪#‎dukeofbantcaster‬!”

If anyone finds such a document, let me know.

References:
Christie, A: “Lads Nights Out in Tudor England” (London, Faber and Faber, 1958)
The “Nuts Magazine” pullout supplement on the Black Prince’s Navarette Campaign, 1367 (two pages stuck together after a lager spillage)
The Arrivall of King Edward IV

Jeff de Cuisine refuses to stoop to eating in chain restaurants, but after finishing this blog entry is off to a nice little bistro most people don’t know about for a quick supper followed by a classical concert. ‪#‎royalalbanthall‬ ‪#‎ludwigvanbanthoven‬

Elizabeth’s Secret Marriage (part 1)

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Was Elizabeth Tudor Mrs? ?

Why did Elizabeth I never get married?

This question has been long pondered by historians.

Many posit that her father’s or – more likely – her mother’s marital experiences put her off the whole idea. Her father – Henry VIII for those who were unsure – married 6 times, but never seemed to find that marital bliss he so obviously, and desperately craved.

Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, married only once, but it didn’t end well – to say the divorce was acrimonious is perhaps a mild understatement. And the way it ended cut off her chances of ever having a successful 2nd marriage, if you get my meaning.

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Anne Boleyn, with head

So there were obvious reasons for Elizabeth to remain a spinster her whole life – and who would blame her? Her father was a serial monogamist and her mother was a head short because of this, poor woman.

However, new evidence has come to light to suggest that the reason Elizabeth never married was because she already was – married, that is.

I know!

Why didn’t we know this?

We all know secret marriages come to light eventually, and usually at the most inconvenient times. It doesn’t usually take 500 years.

But we all know Elizabeth was clever and she had ample experience, within her own family, of how secret marriages could cause considerable – shall we say – ‘fallout’?

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532 years – coming, ready or not!

Elizabeth’s own great-grandfather, Edward IV, secret married Eleanor Butler, before he scandalously, secretly married Elizabeth Woodville. This led to no one knowing who he was actually married to and his sons running away to Burgundy, playing the longest-ever recorded game of ‘hide and seek’.

Luckily the wonderful Richard III stepped into the breach and saved the country from utter anarchy. Nonetheless, to this day no one is really sure who Edward was married to and the question regularly causes ‘fisticuffs’ on Facebook’s reputable history pages.

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Cuddly Henry VIII

And if that wasn’t enough of an example for Elizabeth, there was the one of step-mother no.2 – sorry, no – it was stepmother no.3.

(It’s so confusing, haven’t a clue how Henry managed to keep up with so many wives – maybe that’s why the last 2 were called Catherine? But that’s another story…)

So, yes, stepmother no.3 (no.4 for Mary Tudor, of course, and no.2 for Prince Edward), the unfortunate Catherine Howard who ‘forgot’ she had married (or promised to marry, at least) Francis Dereham – until he reminded her. Sadly, Catherine was already married to Henry when she inconveniently remembered her first wedding.

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Poor Catherine Howard (I know this is Jane Grey – but you get the idea?)

 

Henry didn’t take kindly to being 2nd.

In a fit of pique, Henry lopped off her head and introduced Elizabeth to stepmother no.4 (no.5 for Mary Tudor and no.3 for Prince Edward), Katherine Parr.

And what does all this mean? Well, if Elizabeth was ever going to get married secretly, she wasn’t going to tell anyone – ever!

But there was a secret marriage – apparently.

So there was I the other day, minding my own business, sitting in Costa Coffee, drinking a cappuccino (with chocolate sprinkles, of course) and reading. I think I was reading The other Boleyn Girl, by that excellent historian whose name quite escapes me for the moment.

Anyway, this chap came and sat on the next table, looked over to me and smiled. Then he looked round, leaned over and went ‘pssstttt!’. He had to do this a good few times before I stopped deliberately ignoring him.

I looked at him.

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Bishop Stillington? 

He whispered, behind his hand ‘I know a secret about her daughter’, nodding to the book in my hands.

‘Who? The writer?’ I replied, with a bemused (I hoped, rather than scared) look on my face.

‘No, the queen, Elizabeth. She was married you know. None of this Virgin Queen stuff is true, she was well and truly married.’

‘Who are you? How do you know?’ I asked., still not falling for it. Then he said something that totally made me trust him.

‘Oh, I’m Bishop Stillington, from Bath – and Wells. I have a letter. I found it in the attic. From Elizabeth to her husband.’

‘Really?’ I asked. I was totally drawn in. It had to be true. How could you not believe or trust a man with the name Bishop Stillington? Well, if he was lying, I wouldn’t be the first one to have been taken in by him, would I?

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The letter? We’ll have to wait and see..

 

‘Do you want to see it?’

‘See what?’ I asked, bemused and not a little discomfited.

‘The letter – I can show it to you’ Bishop Stillington replied. ‘You’ll have to meet me….’

So, the meet was set up. I’m meeting Stillington behind the bike sheds on Tuesday at 10.30 am – to see the letter (I hope, gulp!).

Look out for my update.

Yours truly, Jeff R Sun (looking forward to Tuesday with trepidation)

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Photos taken from Wikipedia

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Sources: The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory; Eleanor the Secret Queen by John ‘eye-roll’ Ashdown-Hill; I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles; The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George; Carry on Henry VIII; The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell.

 

The Bald Truth Behind the Execution of Clarence

George, Duke of Clarence, trying a bit too hard to compensate
George, Duke of Clarence, still alive at this point.

I have spent several years, now, musing on the reasons for the execution of George, Duke of Clarence. What that final act made Edward IV take the drastic, permanent action of executing his own brother?

He was convicted of treason.

Yes.

What did he do? What was the piece of straw that finally broke the camel’s back? What was that final, totally unforgivable crime that George committed? What was that one step too far?

  • Was it the fact George took the law into his own hands with the execution of Ankarette Twynho?
  • Was it the murder and witchcraft accusations that he levelled against Edward’s queen, Elizabeth Wydevile, following the death of his wife, Isabel?
  • Was it the rumours of Edward’s illegitimacy?
  • Was it George’s discovery of Edward’s previous secret marriages – to Eleanor Butler and Eleanor Talbot?

Or was it a deeper, more dangerous secret? Something that, if discovered, could have toppled the monarchy itself – nay England, even?

Sitting in a cafe this morning, quietly drinking my cappuccino, eating a toasted tea cake and playing an addictive, well-known game (involving sweets) on my phone, I overheard a little boy having a joke with his dad.

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15th Century light bulb

And I had a light bulb moment.

Once the waitress had changed the bulb – and I was no longer in the dark – I started writing, fleshing out my theory.

And I now know – beyond any unreasonable doubt – why George, Duke of Clarence, brother of the king and Richard, Duke of Gloucester (perfection personified), was executed.

We all know Edward was the golden child of the York family. He was the most courageous and dashing personification of manhood that ever walked the earth. He was the most glorious of the ‘3 Sons of York’ (forget Edmund, for the moment – otherwise the argument doesn’t work and Mortimer’s Cross was fought for all the wrong reasons).

And Edward’s wife, Elizabeth Wydevile, was the most beautiful woman in the realm – nay, Europe – nay, the known world.

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The Perfect Princes

Their family was full of golden children; blonde-haired, blue-eyed angels who would not have looked out of place among the Gods of Olympus.

In short, the family was perfect.

Except.

As Edward grew older, one fatal, irreversible flaw appeared. No, it wasn’t his weight – that could have been easily solved with a sensible diet and exercise. And besides, kings had been overweight in the past – take Louis the Fat, for instance.

No, this was something that had never happened to a king – to God’s anointed – ever before.

It was at this point, on Facebook (the fount of all knowledge) that I saw a picture which totally convinced me of my theory.

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Richard, the true Golden Son of York

It was a sign that I was on the right track.

Edward wasn’t York’s Golden Boy.

He didn’t have the luscious locks.

And this is what Clarence had discovered.

One morning, walking in on Edward early and surprising him at his toilette, George was taken aback by what he saw.

A reflection of the sun shining from Edward’s head.

And George couldn’t resist the same joke I had heard the child say to his father this very morning:

‘Oh look! There’s a hair on your head. Fooled you!’

Edward’s Groom of the Stool was combing over the bald spot – and George’s fate was sealed.

Edward called the guard and George’s feet didn’t touch the ground – until he was safely locked in his prison cell.

This also explains an obscure comment I once found whilst perusing ‘The Children’s Guide to the Croydon Chronicle’. This stated that Edward’s residences were ‘sparsely thatched’. I have spent many a year trying to decipher the exact meaning of this phrase, but now I know.

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Edward’s comb-over would have looked something like this.

Edward was going bald and George discovering that truth was the final straw.

What else could Edward do? No king in history had ever gone bald.

Think on it. Name one – you can’t can you?

That’s because it has NEVER happened. It’s unheard of – and Edward had to protect his secret at all costs.

For England!

 

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Sources:

Ellison Weird, The Children’s Guide to the Croydon Chronicle; Steve Cole, Cows in Action – the Pirate Mootiny; HP Spicy BBQ Sauce; Ivy Hair Issues, Washing Instructions for Wigs.

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia and Google Images.

After writing this post, Jeff R Sun has realised how grateful he is for his full head of luscious locks.

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10 Ways to Identify a Saint or a Sinner in the 15th Century

Religion was very important to people of the 15th Century. In many ways, it controlled their lives; told them what to eat and when they could eat it, who they could marry and when, who could get into heaven and who couldn’t.

Okay, perhaps religion should have a big say on that last one, at least.

Religious piety was given great prominence as a way of deciding who was ‘good’ and who was ‘bad’, especially on the stage that was the Wars of the Roses. So here are 10 ways to identify which is which.

220px-Cecily_neville1. You may have been involved in the highest level of politics in your younger years; such as being married to the country’s Lord Protector, being mother of 2 kings, and related to most of the protagonists in the Wars of the Roses, but following strict religious observance in your later years, will make you saintly. Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, springs to mind.

2. Being a Yorkist, of course, makes it easier to be saintly.  You could be mistaken for thinking that this is because, for the majority of the Wars of the Roses, they were on the winning side. However they were, eventually, the losers and yet still are considered highly pious, which highlights how incredibly remarkable a family they must have been.

3. You would have thought that being young and ‘disappeared’ may automatically make you saintly. However, Edward V and Richard Duke of York have a lot to overcome in order to make the saintly list. Yes, they were only children, imprisoned in the Tower of London and declared bastards by their uncle. However, they were a threat to that wonderful Uncle, who they would have had killed as soon as they reached adulthood. I have also heard say that they were ‘snivelling brprincessats’. And the fact we don’t actually know, for certain, that they are, as yet, in fact, well, DEAD makes it difficult to conclusively declare them saints. Plus, they were part of the despicable Woodville – or Wydeville – clan, which, unfortunately, is an instant disbarment from sainthood.

4. A way to become saintly is to die young in battle. Edmund Earl of Rutland was only 17 and killed by Clifford at – or after – the Battle of Wakefield and his head put on a spike above Micklegate Bar in York. Apparently Clifford justified this ‘murder’ as Edmund’s father – the Duke of York – had, apparently, killed Clifford’s father at the 1st Battle of St Albans. Of course it helps if you’re also a member of the York family as

5. Dying young is no defence against you being a sinner. Edward, Prince of Wales was only 17 when he was killed in battle at Tewkesbury. Of course, it doesn’t help that he was a Lancastrian, that his father was catatonic when he was born, that – at 7 years old – he ordered the beheadings of 2 of Warwick’s men after the 2nd Battle of St Albans, that he was married to Anne Neville first, nor that he fought to reclaim his father’s crown from the Yorkists.

III6. Founding religious houses and colleges almost automatically make you a saint. Richard III funded religious colleges at Middleham, and was in the process of setting one up at York Minster on his death. He was noted for his piety, so much so that his usurping of his nephew’s throne, the execution-without-trial of his brother’s friend, William Hastings, the subsequent disappearance – and possible murder – of his 2 nephews and the summary executions of his brother’s stepson and brother-in-law after a sham trial, doesn’t even put a dent in his piety. Of course, it does help if you are killed in an all-or-nothing battle for your life and crown.

DH17. Founding religious houses and colleges is not nearly enough to make you a saint if you are the Lancastrian mother of Henry VII. Margaret Beaufort had the gall to call herself ‘My Lady the King’s Mother’ when she was in fact – well – the king’s mother. She founded Christ’s College Cambridge and funded the restoration of churches. However, she helped to organise the royal household, supported her daughter-in-law’s sister when she fell out of favour with the king and supported her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth of York, in arguing against sending her granddaughter to a marriage in Scotland whilst still a child. Of course, it doesn’t help that Margaret Beaufort was a woman, a Lancastrian, adored by her son, the miserly Henry VII and loved by her grandson – the monstrous Henry VIII.

8. Of course, being a Lancastrian who married into the Yorkist, or a Yorkist who joined the Lancastrians, automatically prevents you from ever becoming a saint. To betray the Yorkists and fight for the Lancastrians in the last battle makes you the greatest traitor in history and a sinner beyond redemption – just ask the Stanleys. Conversely, having being married to a Lancastrian – who was killed in battle against the Yorkists – and then marrying the Yorkist king, and providing a male heir, automatically makes you the greatest traitor in history and a sinner beyond redemption – just ask Elizabeth Wydeville or Elizabeth Woodville (either should be able to confirm my point).

henry7bust9. Being an adult king murdered by your ‘replacement’ king automatically makes you saintly. Henry VI, alone, defies the rules. He failed at everything except being highly religious. His piety was so impressive that calls for his canonisation were made as soon as he was dead. And yet he was a Lancastrian.

10.  The final, most irredeemable example of a sinner in the 15th Century is, of course, Henry VII. That he was exiled from your home, and separated from his mother, from an early age. That he was Lancastrian heir following the deaths of – well – everyone else. That he was an able king who brought stability to a war-ravaged country. That he was a family man who loved his wife dearly and grieved for her deeply. All this is nothing compared to the fact he defeated Richard III and won the Wars of the Roses for the Lancastrians. What bigger sinner could there be in the 15th Century?

Jeff R Sun is continuously attempting to give clarity to the confusing parts of the Wars of the Roses. If you are still in doubt, please follow this basic premise: York, good; Lancaster, bad. Sticking with this simple rule, you won’t go far wrong, nor get shouted at, or be accused of trolling, on Facebook.

Sources: Wikipedia; Facebook groups galore; the Nile, which I live near; The Sunne in Splendour; The White Queen; The Red Queen; Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody; the Queen of Hearts; The Daughter of Time; Kind Hearts and Coronets.

Jacquetta, The White Queen and a look at Witchcraft

Much has been said in popular fiction about the claims that Jacquetta of Luxembourg was a witch and did witchy things, engendering a whole generation of believers in the magical power of this feisty woman. A TV series exploited these claims and took her spell making to a whole new level. Was Jacquetta capable of ‘blowing up a storm’ or ‘ensnaring Edward IV’’ for her daughter Elizabeth? Who was Jacquetta and why were these claims taken so seriously – claims still believed in some quarters and discussed today?

Jacquetta of Luxembourg was born in 1415 or 1416 and was the eldest daughter of Peter I of Luxembourg and his wife Margaret of Baux. The Luxembourgs claimed to be descended from the water deity Melusine through their ancestor Siegfried of Luxembourg (922-998).

Raymond rides off on a slope backed camel-horse cross breed when he finds Melusine  in magic water that does not pour out when the door is opened. Illustration from the Jean d'Arras work, Le livre de Mélusine (The Book of Melusine), 1478
Raymond rides off on a slope backed camel-horse cross breed when he finds Melusine in magic water that does not pour out when the door is opened. Illustration from the Jean d’Arras work, Le livre de Mélusine (The Book of Melusine), 1478

At the age of 17, Jacquetta was married to the much older John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, at Therouenne. The Duke, died in 1435, worn out after only two or three years of marriage to his beautiful young wife. He was the third son of King Henry IV of England.

Sir Richard Wydeville was commissioned by Henry VI of England to bring Bedford’s young widow to England. During the journey, the couple married in secret without seeking the king’s permission. Despite the king’s ire and the large fine they were made to pay, the marriage was long and very fruitful. Jacquetta and Richard had fourteen children, including the future wife of Edward IV, Elizabeth Wydeville. Richard was so exhausted by begetting children that in 1469 that he voluntarily threw his neck against the blade of one of the Kingmaker’s men severing his own head, ensuring that Warwick would get the blame for his decapitation.

Through her daughter Elizabeth, Jacquetta was the maternal grandmother of Elizabeth of York, wife and queen of Henry VII. She is, consequently, an ancestress of all subsequent English and British monarchs, including Elizabeth II, and seven other present-day European monarchs. It is unknown whether the present day descendants have inherited Jacquetta’s insatiable desire to ‘procreate children’ although the more tawdry of tabloids do speculate on the subject frequently. Shortly after her husband’s aforementioned suicide, Thomas Wake, a follower of Warwick’s, accused Jacquetta of witchcraft. Wake brought to Warwick Castle a lead image “made like a man of arms . . . broken in the middle and made fast with a wire,“ and alleged that Jacquetta had made it to use for witchy things and sourcery (sic). He claimed that John Daunger, a parish clerk in Northampton, could attest that Jacquetta had made two other images, one for the king and one for the queen. The case fell apart when Warwick released Edward IV from custody, and Jacquetta was cleared by the king’s great council of the charges on February 21, 1470.

In 1484, Richard III in the act known as Titulus Regius, brought the allegations of witchcraft against Jacquetta up again and claimed that she and Elizabeth had procured Elizabeth’s marriage to Edward IV through witchcraft. No proof or evidence was ever supplied by Richard to support these claims. The methods for them so doing were explored at length in a novel and popular TV series, which also claimed the witchy pair were able to blow up winds and storms.

''It was a dark and stormy night..."
”It was a dark and stormy night…”

Witchcraft in the Middle Ages was a controversial crime that in the eyes of the law was bad as poisoning, though given the choice of a belly full of arsenic or a few herbs and mystic words, I would go with the herbs and spells any day but that may be because I live in the 21st century.  If one was accused of witchcraft, the charges could be dropped by a relative’s defence in a trial by combat or by twelve people swearing an oath of the innocence of the accused .

With the rise of Christianity witchcraft became a superstition, and persecution of witches persisted through the Middle Ages. In the 5th century AD, Christian theologian St. Augustine of Hippo (that is Hippo the place; he was not a saint of hippopotamuses) had

No comment.
No comment.

said that all pagan magic and religion were invented by the devil and that the devil’s purpose in inventing magic was to lure humanity away from the truths of Christianity, a view still adhered to in the time of Jacquetta. Witchcraft was feared and was a part of every day life and the every day beliefs of most people.

If Jacquetta did embrace witchcraft, is this the type of practice she enjoyed?
If Jacquetta did embrace witchcraft, is this the type of practice she enjoyed?

Two “types” of magic were said to be practised during the Middle Ages, white or good magic and black – the “bad” type of magic (maleficium).  Black Magic had more of an association with the devil and satanic worship.  If someone fell ill of unknown causes, someone’s cow stopped giving milk, a hen went off the lay, a woman could not conceive, this was all said to be caused by a witch who practiced black magic. Not the same witch necessarily. No one could do all that much before breakfast and still go to the market unless they were really magical and indeed a witch. Witches were often portrayed as old, warty and ugly women, often with gigantic hooked noses, because the church wanted them to be the targets of dislike and hatred.  Of course, those who allegedly practiced witchcraft had a wide range of appearances. Jacquetta was said to be very beautiful, though it is not known if she had a huge hooked nose, warts and wore a black pointy hat.

But was witchcraft possible and did ‘witches’ genuinely exist then? It is possible that the effect of having a spell cast on one was enough to trigger the desired result. The placebo effect is a universally acknowledged phenomenon. In essence, if you think something is going to make you better, it probably will. The term placebo, meaning “I will please,” dates back to the 18th century By contrast, the placebo’s darker cousin, the nocebo and is taken from Latin for “I will harm”. It was first formally recognised in the 1960s to mean something that rationally should have no effect but actually causes a deterioration in health. There are many anecdotal examples of the nocebo effect at work. For example, a nocebo response may explain the phenomenon of the voodoo curse in which a victim dies only because a belief in the power of the witch doctor has been so ingrained that, after he has been hexed, the target simply cannot believe that he will live. Other cases have been reported in which a patient has died after having been given a terminal prognosis; only for a post-mortem to reveal no such fatal disease was present. Although not thoroughly understood, physiological explanations of the nocebo effect have been proposed. It has been shown, for example, that a patient’s anticipation of worsening pain causes an increase in anxiety which triggers the activation of cholecystokinin that, in turn, facilitates pain transmission. This response generates a vicious circle of anxiety and pain which may be one explanation of the nocebo effect.

I, therefore, suggest that the belief in magic in the Mediaeval period was so engrained as to make spells actually appear  to work, but that Witches and Witchcraft existed no more then than they do today. To get a broad view I petitioned various experts on the subject to see what their answer was to the question ‘Could witches and witchcraft have existed in the Mediaeval period?’ The results are in the table below together with my comments.

Expert Opinion My comment
James Randi, stage magician and scientific skeptic, best known for his challenges to paranormal claims and pseudoscience  ¿Qué ? James Randi was unable to comment personally as he is still trying to decide exactly what his husband’s name is. This comment was left by his husband.
David Blaine, American magician, illusionist and endurance artist What the f*** do you want, ar*e w*pe. F*** off and quit bothering people. Regrettably I telephoned the wrong David Blaine.  I should have realised by his address being at a notorious traveller site.
Doris Stokes, medium There is someone with me who is looking for his brother.  Initial  letter J. I had to contact Ms Stokes through a medium.  I was not satisfied by the response.
Meg (of Meg, Mog and Owl) Of course witches exist. Although I am only a character in a book I am a witch so that proves it. Words fail me.
Miranda Aldouse-Green   The Goods of the Celts No Oh
Jason Kingsley, my next door neighbour Jeff, what are you on? Can you get some for me (Oh!)
The ‘Magic Circle’ Representative I think you misunderstand the difference between magic and witchcraft.  If you want a one word answer then that word must be no. I’m losing the will to go one here.
The White Witch: the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe I think, therefore I am. Witches will always be here. That’s a bit better, except she is also a character in a book.
The three witches of Baelmore No comment That may be because they were part of a dream one of the small people who hang around the house once had.
Witchsmeller Pursuivant – character: first series fifth episode of Blackadder I was incinerated at the end of the episode which proves that I am actually a witch to be able to still talk.The play writers didn’t think of that cunning plan, did they? Brilliant, Witchsmeller, just brilliant. Now everyone is confused.
Dumbledore, character in Harry Potter. Naturally all magic people exist. I am getting the message now.
The Wicked Witch of the West: character in Oz How much will you pay me? Nothing.
Paul Daniels: magician I will ask the lovely Debbie McGee. No comment, no comment at all.
Spokesperson for the Fortean Times No That is succinct
My own late Aunt Rose (via a sceance) Is that really you, Jeff? You’ve got fat. Thanks Aunt Rose

Summing up it seems that the only people who believe that witches and witchcraft actually existed in the Mediaeval period are characters in books, TV series and films  so therefore I conclude that Jacquetta and all other people accused of witchcraft are ‘not guilty’ as charged and are free to leave this pseudo courtroom. It remains only for us to judge whether Jacquetta was a nymphomaniac, had a degree of erotophilia or was just simply highly sexed. Next week I will be holding a séance to see if I can contact either of her husbands to comment on this matter.

Sources: Barsky AJ, Saintfort R, Rogers MP, Borus JF. Nonspecific medication side effects and the nocebo phenomenon. JAMA. 2002;287:622-7. DOI: 10.1001/jama.287.5.622

My phenomenal memory

A comment on Facebook

Philippa Gregory (author): ”The White Queen”

The White Queen (author) : ”The life and times of Philippa Gregory”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malleus_Maleficarum (very interesting!)

©Jeff Jefferty Jeff February 2015

Richard, Perkin and a genetic mutation.

Double History. Examining the similarities and differences of the physical characteristics of Perkin Warbeck, alleged pretender to the throne and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York.

This article begins in a nondescript bar in a nondescript village on yet another nondescript island in the Mediterranean. I will not name the island as :-

I had no interest in actually learning the name of it or anything more than the way to the nearest hostelry

and

It is a small place and I want to spare the blushes and the reputation of the man I am about to describe.

Mrs JJ and I were on a ‘round the Med cruise’, eighty four islands in seven days or something like that, accompanied by the two small people who hang around our house. That day the liner had put into the harbour of a whitely painted, aloe planted, domed and pointed, picturesque kind of place. Mrs JJ took the boys, (or was one a girl? I was never quite sure,) to buy what she described as souvenirs and mementos and what I described as overpriced plastic mass produced cr*p, while I ambled about town trying not to make it look too obvious that I was headed for the nearest glass of, mug of, plate of, kind of place.

Instinct (or was it desperation?) soon led me to the sort of place I desired and gratefully I sank into an outside chair and scanned the menu. My eyes took a while to acclimatize to the dim light filtering through the rubber tree canopy of the Taverna but then I saw a fierce Backgammon game was in progress between the smallest man I had ever seen and a loud dark haired Islander. I tried not to stare but the small man, who was obviously winning the Backgammon match, was so striking in appearance with stark white, long hair, pale, pale skin and when he removed his aviator shades, and I saw his opaque eyes, one out turning, almost pinkish in colouring  and seemingly lashless, my eyes could not help but be drawn to him.

He looked familiar, but I knew I did not know him.

I ate my food and drank my drink and pondered the strange pale man and later, talking with Mrs JJ, she suggested that he may have been an Albino and may also have the condition Dwarfism.

Mrs JJ is clever like that.

I didn’t think too much more about the unusual man and several years passed, years of working and saving and eighty four more islands in seven more days and then I was asked to write an article about one Perkin Warbeck. Despite my university lectures I could not for the life of me remember who Perkin was and, like everyone else, my first stop was Google and second stop was Wikipedia…… and there I saw HIM! Not the man in the Taverna, but all the features were the same, overlarge head on narrow shoulders, light, light hair, pale see-through eyes – eyes looking in different directions.

.Perkin_Warbeck

My immediate thought was Perkin is an Albino Dwarf! and, although I know it is not the correct way to do research, I began to look for original evidence, hitherto overlooked, to back my supposition.

Of course, I did not find any chroniclers saying ‘that Perkin kid was a pale midget of a bloke’ but tantalizing

clues I found aplenty :-Capture IMP (3)

The ‘picture’ is a screen shot I took one day. Sadly I did not make a note of what I had snipped it from, but you will see from the varying descriptions that Perkin seemed to be a small, fey, almost ethereal sort of man

The word Imp, used by Fabyan, I find particularly telling. The word imp traditionally has connotations of  something IMPlanted or grafted on, as can be seen in the screen shot (below) from an 1836 dictionary and what could be more implanted than a lookalike Richard of Shrewsbury. In addition, the word IMP is used for a mischievous small person. This usage has faded and risen throughout the centuries but was in common usage (together with the alternate versions, impi and impa,) in mediaeval period.

.Double history. 1836 dictionary clip IMP

From the electronic Middle English Dictionary. (The print MED, completed in 2001, has been described as “the greatest achievement in medieval scholarship in America. I am not going to argue with that! I wish that all historical fact writers (particularly those with double barrelled names) would actually bother to look stray and strange words up in there rather than positing whole theses on one word incorrectly understood. )

Imp, impa, impi, impe (n.) Also imppe, himpe & (in place names) im-. Pl. impes, impen.

1.(a) A branch of a tree; a shoot, sprig; a sucker shoot; (b) a scion, a graft; (c) a young tree; a sapling, a seedling; also fig.; (d) a tree; (e) ~ garth (yerd), a garden or nursery where seedlings or graftings are grown or cultivated; ~ tre, a grafted tree, an orchard tree.

2.(a) The offspring of a noble family; (b) ?a representative

  1. 3. A small, fey and mischievous person of doubtful origin.

The more I looked at the facts the more the facts shouted back at me that Perkin was small and very pale. Everywhere he went he was looked at, stared at and pointed out for the fairness of his face and then it hit me. Not many people ever doubted seriously that he was Richard, the sixth child and second son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydeville.

That was when my mind froze. If Perkin was an Albino Dwarf then Richard of Shrewsbury must also have been an Albino Dwarf. Immediately I started sifting facts, looking through books, searching the internet and reference section of the library for any mention of Richard’s appearance, any contemporary picture – learning all about Dwarfism, Albinism, anything I could lay my hands on – noting, jotting, drinking tea and puzzling.

Albinism (from Latin albus, “white”; also called achromia, achromasia, or achromatosis) is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of tyrosinase a copper-containing enzyme involved in the production of melanin.

Albinism results from inheritance of recessive gene alleles and is known to affect all vertebrates. While an organism with complete absence of melanin is called an albino an organism with only a diminished amount of melanin is described as albinoid.

Albinism is associated with a number of vision defects, such as photophobia, nystagmus and astygmatism.

Dwarfism is a medical disorder. In men and women, the sole requirement is having an adult height under 147 cm (4 ft 10 in) and it is almost always classified with respect to the underlying condition that is the cause of the short stature. Dwarfism is usually caused by a genetic disorder; achondroplasia is caused by a mutation on chromosome four. If dwarfism is caused by a medical disorder, the person is referred to by the underlying diagnosed disorder. Disorders causing dwarfism are often classified by proportionality. Disproportionate dwarfism describes disorders that cause unusual proportions of the body parts, while proportionate dwarfism results in a generally uniform stunting of the body. Disorders that cause dwarfism may be classified according to one of hundreds of names, which are usually permutations of the following roots:

rhizomelic = root, e.g., bones of the upper arm or thigh

mesomelic = middle, e.g., bones of the forearm or lower leg

acromelic = end, e.g., bones of hands and feet.

micromelic = entire limbs are shortened

But what of Richard of Shrewsbury? Was there any evidence or hint that he could also be short? Did he also have pinkish eyes or white hair? There are no contemporary pictures of Richard but a stained glass window in Canterbury Cathedral does show him with bright gold hair and what appears to be a squint. He also looks unusually short against the lectern.Richard_of_Shrewsbury_Royal_Window_Canterbury

I searched in vain for a contemporary reference to his appearance, but as with Perkin, I found little concrete evidence to back my thesis and concluded that even the most outspoken and daring of chroniclers is unlikely to have put ‘King Eddie and Liz Double U’s second son was a bit of a squirt who could easily be mistaken in candlelight for a miniature ghost’.

Rui De Sousa, a nobleman who had seen him in 1482, later said of him, ‘he had seen him singing with his mother and one of his sisters and that he sang very well and that he was very pretty and the most beautiful creature he had ever seen…’

Then it hit me! (I was getting bruises from all of these things hitting me!) There was evidence but of a circumstantial type. Richard of Shrewsbury was still with his mother and sisters at an age when most strong and healthy young lads had been sent to do knightly training in another household. His mother had the principal say in his upbringing, unlike all other royal sons who had a living father or elder brother who were more paternally reared. Cloth for the clothes of ‘The Right high and myghty Prynce the Duke of Yorke’ are recorded in the Calendar of Patent Rolls, cloth whose measurements do not increase throughout the years as if the prince stayed the same size. (Similar records of cloth for growing children show a greater yardage year by year indicating growth in the child, but Richard’s yardages remain constant.) His ‘beauty’…….

I may never be able to find the one piece of evidence proving beyond all reasonable doubt that Perkin Warbeck and Richard of Shrewsbury were Albino Dwarfs, but I am satisfied in my own mind that this is at least a reasonable supposition.

Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff is tired now and wants a cup of tea and a nice home made biscuit.

Happy 2015 to you all and happy reading.

Source material:

The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy Ian Arthurson   The History Press, 2009

http://www.web-books.com/Classics/ON/B0/B869/TudorsC03.html

“Ocular straylight in albinism”. Kruijt B et al. 2011.

Clumber Spaniel Keeping, Showing and Breeding (1984)

Littell’s Living Age, Volume 75 edited by Eliakim Littell, Robert S. Littell

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/perkin_warbeck_rebellion.htm

Fabyan’s Chronicle: Robert Fabyan (a cloth-merchant who liked colourful stories) Circa 1460- Circa 1512.

Bolognaise source/sauce

On the Tudor Trail (blog): Natalie Grueninger

“Saucy girls” Calendar: 1984

Hastings, the man, the myth and legend: Jeff Jefferty Jeff. (Manuscript still to be written.)

The Lost Prince: David Baldwin

A New English Dictionary of the English Language: A to K, Volume 1 1836 Charles Richardson

‘Onken’ family size yoghurt pot

The British Occupation of Iraq: Andrew Lycett

Henry the Seventh by James Gairdner (pub. 1899)

Five go Adventuring Again: Enid Byton

Mutation in and Lack of Expression of Tyrosinase-Related Protein-1 (TRP-1) in     Melanocytes from an Individual with Brown Oculotaneous Albinism: A New Subtype of  Albinism Classified as ‘OCA3’ Raymond E Boissy et al 2014

Smoking seriously harms you and others around you

Scouting for Boys (1939 edition)

The Burial of Edward V: Jeff Jefferty Jeff. (A work in progress.)

Cucumber sauce recipe: Delia Smith

Cumberland source

Anne Boleyn, the myth, the legend, the superstar. Jeff Jefferty Jeff. (Manuscript still to be written.)

Cumberbatch, Benedict

Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City.

https://doublehistory.wordpress.com/category/duchess-of-york/  

The Maligned King: Annette Carson

© Jeff ‘Jefferty Jeff January 3rd 2015