Thomas Becket or Thomas A Becket? Which is right? Either? Neither?
A recent discovery in the archives of the Vatican has solved this for once and for all. The Latin translation of this valuable document has been painstakingly done by myself with the aid of a 1903 Preparatory School Latin Grammar Crammer and a Swahili to Latin dictionary with book worm.
Thomas A Becket was born in 1118, his cousin Thomas Becket in 1119. The two boys were brought up together and there was a great similarity in their appearance. The A of Thomas A Becket, stood for Alphonse, which he hated and rarely used.
Upon reaching adulthood at the age of about 14 the boys went their separate ways, Thomas A into marriage and fatherhood and Thomas into the priesthood. They had always enjoyed wearing things on their heads and the respective hoods seemed ideal! If Robin Hood had been invented then, one of them would have been sure to follow him!
Despite the reversal of fortunes of the father and uncle of the boys, Thomas rose rapidly through the ranks of the clergy whilst Thomas A held a good position as a clerk for King Henry II, both men putting their king before everything else.
Thomas Becket was nominated as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. Henry probably hoped that he would continue to put the royal government first, rather than the church but no, that was not to be. Thomas transformed himself into an aesthete and became, (in modern parlance), a bit of a Jesus Freak, growing his balding hair long, wearing sandals and only eating bran, thereby renouncing all worldly pleasures in his quest for greater spirituality.
King Henry was a religious man himself and frequently attended confession, going, instead of to the normal confessional, to a large, blue painted metal box with windows and a sort of devotional lamp on the top. He would come out of the box with a look of bewilderment, invariably saying ‘it is larger on the inside than it looks on the outside’. No one ever saw his confessor going into or leaving the confessional. Indeed, sometimes people seemed unable to see the confessional, as if it moved beyond their range of sight.
Henry became increasingly fed up with Thomas’s new found spirituality and unwashed feet and wanted a return to the old style arch bishop. He consulted for a long time with his confessor before approaching his government about getting rid of Becket. Holding up his hand for silence he began, ‘Who will…’ The rest of his speech was drowned out by a babble of voices all saying that they would. The king tried again. ‘Who will rid me of this…’ and again he was shouted down by an excited clamor of voices. If kings had been known to utter profanities, at this point he would have yelled, ‘FFS!!! Shut up and listen’, but decorous to the last his voice fizzled out with, ‘rid me of this turbulent priest.’
There was a mad scramble for the door as men rushed to do what they thought the king had bidden them to do, namely murder Thomas Becket.
Thomas Alphonse Becket heard of this as he was getting ready for bed and unshaven, night gown on, sandals untied, hair awry and feet unwashed he rushed to Canterbury Cathedral to warn his cousin, getting there just as the door to the blue confessional swung open and a man wearing a very long multi coloured scarf reached out, grabbed Thomas and pulled him into the confessional.
To Thomas Alphonse’s amazement, the confessional seemed to burp once or twice and dematerialize, never to be seen in that area again.
He was just trying to come to terms with that when armed men burst in and chopped the top off his head having mistaken him for his cousin, the missing Arch Bish.
Of course Thomas A died in agony in a pool of blood in his cousin’s cathedral, was buried as a martyr and sainted without anyone ever realizing that the wrong bloke had been killed.
As for Thomas Becket, he travelled in the dark blue confessional, with his learned priest confessor who turned out to be a very clever Doctor …
Or should I say … with his learned priest/confessor Who, who turned out to be some very clever Doctor chappie from the future.
The doctor sensibly steered the Time Machine/confessional in the direction of 1970s England and landed at Glastonbury during a festival, to the surprise of no one.
Thomas Becket embraced the drug culture of the age with fervour before having (another) epiphany, changing his name to Ian Duncan Smith and becoming a Conservative MP.
So, when someone asks ‘Thomas Becket or Thomas A Becket? Which is right? Either? Neither?’ the answer is BOTH!
Canon Ixus 115 HS instruction manual An afternoon breeze expels cold air, along with the fallen brown leaves.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe: CS Lewis (in Swahili) A bird flies sweetly on paper wings. Telling all of my love for you.
1903 Preparatory School Latin Grammar Crammer pp 7-14
The back of the credit card bill Eeny meany mackeracker Airy o and dominacker Chicker chocker lollypopper La pom poo
I was in the middle of a meeting. We were discussing why so many mediaeval castles were in ruins, dilapidated and falling down. Did those old kings just build broken castles, were they bad builders or was there some other reason that as yet had not been contemplated?
The topic turned to why castles were so often in out of the way places and so often were very hard to find. Why oh why could those old kings not have indicated the post code of their old broken castles on their old mediaeval documents?
I was thinking of these weighty issues as I left the meeting and not thinking at all about the young person who hangs around the house. He telephoned in a panic. The freezer in the student digs had broken down and there, rapidly defrosting, were 400 plus chicken nuggets. What could he do?
Having pondered the problem during the drive home, the 6 o’clock news, the glass of G and T, the dinner, I eventually turned to Google…
No hints or tips or conclusions how to use up four hundred plus of the world’s worst culinary mistakes.
Thinking, as only a satirist can, out of the box, I eventually came up with a cunning plan. ‘Baldric’ I called… (forgetting that I was not Blackadder)… ‘I have a cunning plan’.
Baldric gently explained that he was a screen character and he was the one who came up with the cunning plans, so that firmly scuppered, I went back to the drawing board.
It was hard and cold trying to sleep on that drawing board, but by morning I had a solution. I also had goose bumps.
For this you will need four hundred chicken nuggets and four hundred (plus) cocktail sticks.
Place cocktail sticks in nuggets.
Bake at 100 degrees Celsius for 7 hours until rock hard.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Spray paint the nuggets in a stone grey and brown paint.
Allow to dry.
Join nuggets together using the cocktail sticks.
Place on landscape of pretend grass.
Market as Ruined Mediaeval Fort for small children.
The above photo is one I built earlier.
The amazing simplicity and beauty of this interlocking system is that many other types of left over or prematurely defrosted food can be used this way, therefore creating whole villages and shires for sale on eBay.
One could also organise day trips to the ‘place’ and target wealthy people with more money than sense (except for the potential down side: get caught and imprisoned for fraud,) but some masterpieces are now changing hands for an amazing amount of money.
So by accident I had solved the problems discussed at the meeting. Castles were hard to find as they exist solely in toy boxes and appear ruined simply because the ‘builder’ ran out of chicken nuggets!
I realise now there have been clues right in front of my eyes, like the advert from a world renowned burger chain that reads ”Live like a King – 10 chicken nuggets for only £1.49”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
PS. Where can I get one of those black bears from?
** Μπους κουράζω loosely translates as ‘Bush Tucker’
Last weekend, Easter weekend, I went to visit my cousin Jess and her husband Jezz in Tamworth. Jess suggested that we drove to Shackerstone, about 20 miles away, to the Railway Museum and maybe to have a ride on the wonderfully restored steam railway.
My own inclination was to sit in a quiet country pub and drink copious quantities of Real Ale and so we went to the Railway Museum.
Thank you Jess.
Despite my slight reluctance, it was a very interesting and enjoyable trip and after picking up our cars at Shackerstone, we parted as I had to drive to London. This is when I realised where I was! Just fifteen days before King Richard III had been taken along this very route on his final journey, a procession from Fenn Lane Farm to the wonderful cathedral in Leicester, where he was to be interred.
In case you have not heard of this unusual event – it was not very well publicized and hardly any one knew about it – Richard III, a Mediaeval King, died in battle in 1485, came briefly among us and shared his secrets, told us what he ate and the illnesses he suffered, suggested to us his hair colour and body weight and wowed the ladies both young and old, before his time on earth again was over and he was returned to the soil from whence he came (or quite close to it anyway).
Driving along this processional Richard III route I noticed something strange and a little magical. Everywhere I looked trees were bursting into leaf; chestnut, crab apple, beech …taking on a vibrant green mantle along their branches, clothing themselves in leaf.
The Willow, Salix caprea, was covered with furry looking Pussy Willows, desirable for flower arranging but a bane to hay fever sufferers when the pollen starts to blow, but oh! how spectacular on this bright day.
Baby rabbits were hopping in the fields
and lambs frolicked with their mother
I really was enjoying all of the splendour of nature and felt what a pity it was that the hedgerows and fields had not been so abundant 15 days previously for the journey of the king. Even the flowers were showing their colours, shy violets peeping, primulas unfurling their primrose petals, jonquil escapees from gardens making little sunshine patches in the green.
It was then that I began to wonder a strange and wondrous thought. Maybe Richard had not missed all of these miraculous happenings. Maybe he had caused them! Fifteen days before there had been no leafy buds, no lambs or baby rabbits, no flowers and now there were! What had changed?
HE had traversed this route.
Could Richard III be causing miracles to happen?
I stopped the car and tried to access Google. Of course I couldn’t. Richard may be able to make miracles happen in nature, but even he cannot get an internet connection in rural Leicestershire!
Later, safely in a hotel room, I found the Facebook pages I was after. Fans of the dead king were convinced that he should be canonised for his unerring goodness. Maybe they were right! Maybe this mere man, just a normal king, did have magical or miraculous powers.
He, Richard, was most certainly the instigator, the very cause of the splendiferous nature display I enjoyed and witnessed that day. I consulted Wikipedia on how to make this king into a Saint and consequently wrote (not emailed) to the Pope. Although the Pope does not make someone a saint – the designation of sainthood only recognises what is already there – I hope that he will respond favourably and try and progress this.
Miracles happened all along this saintly man’s processional route. His sainthood cannot be denied.
I hope to go to his tomb in Leicester Cathedral next week. I need a miracle to cure this ingrowing toenail.
(Source material is unavailable.
Cotton material and a bit of velvet material is available.)
King Richard III, the last king of England to die in battle, was found under a car park, apparently buried there by Henry VII. Since Monday the 22nd of March, Leicester’s streets have been flooded by Ricardians, tourists, town folk, the curious and even the occasional Tydderite.
While on my lunch break, I found a man looking sad and depressed in Town Hall park, looking as if he’s been through the ringer. I wondered if he needed some help (and I needed a story). When asked if he was having a problem, the man looked up at me and said:
“I’m a descendent of Richard III and no one gives a shit. You see, a couple years ago, I ran across a genealogy chart that connected me to kings! I always thought I was special. I mean look at me, I don’t even need the cables to put the cars up on my tow truck, I just push them up there myself! I’m tall and good looking and have offspring all over the place, just don’t tell my girlfriend that. I joined a couple of Facebook groups hoping to find some cousins but nobody cared. They told me to read some books or something, I don’t know, I don’t read books! Books are boring. They said they were something like history groups! What’s a history group? I’ll tell you what it is! It’s a place where geeks go to play and are all jealous of people like me. They are asking me all sorts of stuff like where I got my info from! Uptight book types think they’re better than me. I don’t want to talk about history I want to talk about my uncle who was a king but no wants to hear it. I came down here this week hoping I can meet some cousins or something and still nobody gives a shit! I mean I am special right? It’s rare that you find someone who’s related to a king. I thought they would ask me my opinion on this whole reburial thing, I mean, I think I should have a say in this. Some lady handed me a paper and told me to join these FB groups about moving Uncle Dick to York because that’s what he wanted. After a sulk and a pint or two, I think I’m going to look into that. Do you know where the Blue Boar in is? Maybe I’ll find someone there?”
I gave him directions, grabbed a Richard III shake and went on my way.
Jeff Fuel is recovering in a very dark hotel room somewhere in Leicester after overdoing it at The Friary Pub celebrating the reburial of Richard III. He’s occasionally waking to eat ice cream and giggle over John Ashdown Hill’s heroic eye roll. He swears people were cheering all over the place but no one believes him.
Jeff Jefferty Jeff had to step in and put all the bells and whistles on this article because Jeff Fuel wasn’t functioning correctly when found behind the Friary. Just don’t tell him about my fee of 50 pounds I took from his wallet.
He had worked for Leicester city council until his – I could hear the quote marks around the next word, “accident”… and then … but I get ahead of myself. I will begin at the beginning.
I was sitting in the waiting room of a famous burns unit somewhere in England having lost a fight with a chip pan, when this small and elderly man came in hobbling painfully on two sticks, his face and hands as badly deformed by the scars of burns as the face of the racing driver Nicki Lauder.
The only vacant chair was by me and the man came slowly towards it and with difficulty sat down and rested his sticks. He turned his head towards me and I realised he was trying to smile an acknowledgement or apology for me moving my paper to make room for his bottom and I gave a warm smile in response.
The clinic was running late and as gradually we began talking I noticed that his voice was young and that the apparent age was caused by his disfigurements.
He burbled on. I was only half listening but I felt he was lonely and was saying yes and no, hopefully in the right places. His voice continued – ‘generally, we repaired places of historic importance straight away – blah blah – if they are beyond repair then they should be replaced on a like for like basis – burble blah – like for like means same materials, design and level of craftsmanship’…
and so on and so on – and I was wishing fervently that my name would be called when my ears perked up – ‘Greyfriars, that was the one,’ he was saying.
I knew the name! Some history bloke had written a book a bit ago and said it was important. The man and I were talking in February 2013 and by that time Greyfriars was very, very important, suddenly shooting to global fame with the discovery of a medieval king, Richard III, in the car park the previous year. Just the day before there had been a news conference confirming that the DNA had proved that the remains were indeed that of the long dead king.
‘We found him,’ he said, ‘me and the team, we –‘
At that point my name was called and it was my turn to see the consultant. ‘Wait for me,’ I said, ‘We can go for a coffee after you have been seen.’ His eyes looked hopeful and then resigned. He did not expect that he would get either the coffee or to tell the rest of his tale, but tell it he did over enough coffee to refloat the Titanic.
His name was Dimitri Shukla (– my parents took the idea of United Nations into their own hands, said Dimitri whose father is second generation Indian and his mother Russian. ) He worked as overseer on site for Leicester City Council, his main area of responsibility being historic monuments and carparks. Car parks! That was where the problem had started.
It was in the spring of 2011 and the carpark of the council office worker’s building in the centre of Leicester was pitted deeply with pot holes following the icy conditions of the long winter of discontent and bitter cold of 2010 and 11.
The city’s finances were in a mess (a bit like my own) with far more going out than was coming in and no way to make the books look better in the foreseeable future. Revenue was desperately needed. Tourists were bored with Leicester and the only thing of interest to see was a crisp factory.
Dimitri and his team were told to ‘make good’ the council workers car park as the workers, social service personal, were revolting. His words, not mine.
Work began on 1st April 2011. Dimitri looked into the distance as he told the next bit, obviously still worried about telling his tale. He and the three man gang were to remove the existing tarmac and resurface. No sooner had the digger started when the shovel uncovered a bone, two bones, a whole skeleton. ‘‘We felt awful’’ he said with a shudder, ‘‘The JCB had punched a hole in this poor skeleton’s head and there he was all naked and boney and laying there. I called the boss at Glenfield and he said not to go offsite. One of the office workers came towards the window and then suddenly all the blinds were drawn.
“We were all sat round and not allowed offsite and there was this bloody thing in the hole we had dug, with its empty sockets just staring at us and that mouth grinning like he was laughing. Lost a tooth, it had. Laying all twisted and broken up a bit I reckon.’’
Dimitri was getting very worked up so I suggested a bite to eat and a chat about something else. The food – pastrami and gherkin with mustard mayo on rye – he accepted but the offer of another subject he rejected. I was glad. I wanted to hear the rest of the saga.
‘’The boss, Mr M, arrived and saw the body – the skeleton. I told him we had to call the police. I watch Time Team. They always call the police when they find human remains but Mr M said no, he’d call his superior and we must just wait.
‘it didn’t seem right. It was all wrong. This human laying there dead and us not telling the police or a pastor or someone.
‘’Waited most of the bloody morning, we did and then Mr M gets a call and another call and then three other suits from Glenfield all turn up and start looking in the hole and talking and arguing. Me and the lads, we needed a drink and we needed a p**s, but no, we weren’t allowed off site.
‘’Jase (I gathered Jase was one of the workmen) gets out his phone and one of them suits just dives at him and chucks it in the hole with the bones, then he says to put a tarpaulin over it and to go home and not say nothing to no one.
“Jim and Jase went in the van together and Stuey set off on his bike. My car was in for its MOT and it’s not far to the bus so I was about to set off walking when Mr M catches me up and pulls me round sharpish and says ‘Dim, you not to tell anybody this or you are finished here. No reference. No job. No future. No nothing.’
“ I was shocked. Mr M isn’t a bad sort for management and I just didn’t know what had had got into him. He looked scared sh*tless himself. Grey under his South of France tan.
“ Just then there was a squeal of breaks and Stuey went sailing past the gate, his bike following in a rainbow wheeled arch. Thud. Screeches, yells, shouts screams. Me and Mr M, we rushed for the gate and there was Stuey without a head in a mangled mess on the bonnet of a Skoda. Police. Ambulance. Sirens. The rest is a blur. A nightmare. Cops asking questions, Mr M saying we aint seen anything, protecting himself or protecting me? I don’t know. I remember Mr M saying he’d give me a lift back to the house I share with me mam and I remember her fussing and making me some tea in Great Grannies old Samovar that she only uses for special occasions.
“All that afternoon, all that evening, the phone was ringing, anonymous callers, breathers, scarers frightening poor mam, laughter, deranged laughter. It was a nightmare, the memory of the bones, the thought of mangled Stuey, the calls. I wept. I’m not ashamed to tell you I wept and wept and me mam she just sat there and stroked my head like I was a baby.
“Worse was to follow.
“Central News came on the television. Jase and Jim had been killed outright in a hit and run incident on the way home.
“Three of us – dead.” Tears formed in his lashless eyes and one oused it’s way down his scarred and withered cheek.
“The knock came at the door at 7 p.m. I knew it would be ‘them’ waiting to get me but it was Mr M battered, blooding heavily one finger hanging by a lump of flesh. Mam, she pushed past me to get the poor man off the doorstep – she was proud of her clean doorstep – genuflecting at her iron crucifix in the Prie Dieu as she went.
“What happened next is in tatters, in fragments in my mind. A shot, Mr M goes down with a bullet through his head jolting mam, the crucifix fell from the Prie Dieu impaling her through the jugular and a bottle came whizzing past my ear.
“Jesus saved our mam” he said, “Saved her”.
“You mean she lived with a heavy cast iron crucifix through her jugular?” I asked incredulous. Dim looked bewildered…
“No. Not mam. She was dead long before she hit the ground but Jesus saved her from seeing her little Dimitri Varunovitch like this. He was merciful to her, was Jesus.”
For once I was speechless but gathered myself enough to ask about the bottle. “It hit the wall and seemed to implode” he said, “I know nothing more. Months later I came out of a coma and found my body…” he indicated his battered livid and red scarred flesh, “I’ve been moved from hospital to hospital ever since. I’m still in one.”
He paused. “I didn’t remember my name at first and no one knew it as I was unrecognizable so when the horror came back into my mind I decided to stay unknown. They call me John Smith now.
“Last year they announced on the news that they had found that dead king, but Mr. Jeff, it was a hoax. It was me and the lads that found him and they tried to shut us up by any way they could till they got the maximum publicity. They need the money, you see. Money is all it is about.
Two men in hospital uniform approached the table. “Ready, Mr. Smith? Time to go home.” I saw their identification badges. Nurses from a psychiatric hospital.
“Has he been weaving his tales again?” one asked of me, “Great story teller is our John,” and they took him by both arms and walked him out of the room.
Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff has recovered from the burn to the hand, but has not attempted deep fat frying since. Mr Shukla aka Mr Smith was never heard of again (except occasionally on Facebook someone who may be Mr Shukla under an assumed name insists that the dig was a hoax.)
A bag of Walker’s crisps.
A bag of McCoy’s Crisps
Finding Richard III, the unofficial account; by eminent mediaevalist Dr Don Ashtray-Pill
Thomas Grey, 7th Baron Ferrers of Groby, 1st Earl of Huntingdon, and 1st Marquess of Dorset (1455 – 20 September 1501), was a nobleman, courtier and the eldest son of Elizabeth Wydeville and her first hubby, Lancastrian John Grey of Groby. Her second marriage was to Edward VI, improving Grey’s status at court and in the realm as the stepson, whoring partner and friend of the King.
Despite his inexhaustible sexual prowess with ladies of court and of the night (of the knight?), through his mother’s non stop endeavours, he made two materially advantageous marriages to wealthy heiresses – his first wife being Anne Holland, daughter of the King’s sister Anne of York and the second to Cecily Bonville, by whom he had 14 children.
Thomas later went on to become the great grandfather of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey who completely lost her head over religious issues.
As has already been mentioned, Grey – Dorset – is known to have many lovers, the best known being Elizabeth Shore. Others include Jane Shore a supposed sister of Elizabeth, Elizabeth Lambert, Jane Lambert and lots of other women who all also included Hastings as their beau.
In his later life Grey was haunted by the memory of lovers whom he had thrown over and the ghosts of those who had died. He named fifty previous lovers as ghosts who would never leave him in peace night or day and was so troubled that he was constantly attended by priests, who performed exorcisms to rid him of these shades. This was described in great depth in the Wriothesley Chronicles – ‘A Chronicle of England During the Reigns of the Tudors’. Wriothesley’s Chronicle was written by Charles Wriothesley (Call me Risley) of the College of Arms in London and has a whole section devoted to the “Fifty Shades of Grey”.
Historical writers in the 21st century stole the title of this section for a book and subsequent film based very loosely on Thomas’ life and one particular love hate relationship with a ‘lady’ and the rest, as they say, is history.
* Blind man’s buff Blind man’s buff or blind man’s bluff is a children’s game, a variant of tag in which the player who is “It” is blindfolded. The traditional name of the game is “blind man’s buff”, wherein the word buff is used in its older sense of a small push.
Jeff Jefferty Jeff is currently researching the history of internet dating by joining as many dating sites online as possible. Mrs JJ has indicated that she will be seeking a divorce and the two small people that hang around the house are currently eating blackberry and apple crumble from Sainsbury’s. Mrs Shonas is no longer in the picture, having gone to visit the late Arthur’s brother Jonas Shonas and found true love and happiness.
It has often been queried by historians, proper historians that is, with degrees and everything, why Mary I had such a desire to kill. Her nick name, given to her after her death, was Bloody Mary and that was not because of the heaviness of her menses! but because she had the reputation of being a persecutor and cold blooded killer of those of the Protestant faith.
Mary was the eldest child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon his first wife (or should that just be ‘wife?’ That depends which side of the argument you are, pro or anti Anne Boleyn and the other four.) Mary became monarch after the death of her brother Edward, the sixth king of that name. She reigned for just five years from 1553 to 1558. During this time she condemned 257 Protestants to die the terrible death of being burned alive. Legend has her responsible for 50,000 deaths but this is slightly inaccurate by 49,713 souls and must have been a misprint. Printing was still, in real terms, in its infancy and these typos did happen from time to time. Her father killed 57,000 people who refused to recognise him as the rightful head of the church and Mary had a long way to go to catch up with that!
Mary was determined to return England to Catholicism, the religion of her childhood, and married Catholic King Phillip II of Spain. Despite the well known saying ‘no one expects the Spanish Inquisition’ after Mary married Phillip the populace of England certainly was expecting the Spanish Inquisition (or would that then be the English Inquisition?) and many accepted the Catholic faith to avoid the comfy chair.
Despite the inaccuracy of the numbers, the question still remains, was she a cold blooded killer or did she in fact have a reason for her manic killing spree? That 257 represents about one a week during her reign, a lot in a country still under populated because of war, famine and the plague.
New evidence came to light last year which may shed light on this. A copy of a map was found in the back of a book in a library in Cornwall, England. Previously only two extant copies of this map were thought to be in existence, but this third turned up and blew academic research sky high. It had Mary’s signature in her own hand along with words in Latin in a different hand. Translated the words say, ‘’I will kill all pigs’’, on the face of it a strange thing for Mary to put her name to. She was Catholic, not of the Jewish or Islamic faith.
The strange words may now have been given meaning following research by a *Dr Don Ashtray-Pill, an independent historian and the author of many books on mediaeval history. Dr Pill found that Mary was fascinated by what today would be called Geography but was more commonly described as Cosmographia during her lifetime. In 1545 she obtained a rare copy of ‘Wonders of the sea and rare animals, as they are found in the midnight lands in the sea and on the land’ by Sebastian Münster. (Sebastian’s brother is credited for being the founder of the family on which the 1960s CBS television programme ‘The Münsters’ was originally based.)
‘Wonders of the Sea…’ was printed in many languages including English, Czech, French Italian and Latin. Mary’s copy was in Latin. It was so popular that 24 editions were produced in 100 years, the success mainly being due to the fascinating woodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger, Urs Graf, Manuel Deutsch and others.
The inclusion of Holbein’s work made Mary look at the Holbein oil painting anew and she noticed with distaste that whilst Holbein was a skilled and painter, her friend ‘Cremuel’ (as her father’s concubine Anne Boleyn called him) had been painted looking fat and greedy ‘like a hog’. It was pointed out to Mary that he could hope for no better as he was not only guilty of treason, but was known also to be a Protestant.
Mary mused on these words but it was not until several years later that she understood what the speaker was really trying to say. In the meantime Mary’s hatred of Protestantism grew and grew. She blamed the rise of the bastard faith on everything bad that had ever happened to her, her parent’s separation, her mother’s downfall, her father’s alienation of her, her lack of rights and privileges as the daughter of a king….she even blamed her short stature on Protestantism, though that was more likely to have been genetic as her great uncle, Richard of Shrewsbury, also had dwarfism https://doublehistory.com/tag/dwarfism
The map that was found in the book in the library in Cornwall is known as ‘Islandia’ and was created by Abraham Ortelius, a Flemish map maker and geographer, recognized as the creator of the first atlas, the ‘Theatre of the World’. In his later life he was appointed official geographer to the man who was Mary’s husband, Philip II of Spain. It is considered that the map may have been specifically commissioned for Mary by her husband due to her fascination with anything geographic, a rare sign of communication if not affection between the two. The excerpt of the map (above) shows sea monsters that some believed inhabited the surrounding waters. Mistakes about marine life have ranged from inaccurate assumptions about the behavior of known species to fanciful depictions of animals that “might” exist.Some speculate that this monster-riddled map is aimed at dissuading Europeans from moving to an island that the current settlers preferred to keep to themselves! These beasts in the seas all have their own story and none more pertinent to Mary than the story of the the Sea Swine or Sea Hog described by Olaus Magnus a few years earlier and I quote:
”After pointing out that a “monstrous Fish” appeared off the coast of England in 1532,
Olaus Magnus wrote, “Now I shall revive the memory of a monstrous Hog that was found afterwards, Anno 1537, in the same German Ocean, and it was a Monster in every part of it. For it had a Hog’s head, and a quarter of a Circle, like the Moon, in the hinder part of its head, four feet like a Dragon’s, two eyes on both sides of his Loyns, and a third in his belly inkling toward his Navel; behind he had a Forked-Tail, like to other Fish commonly.”
Olaus Magnus then went on to compare the beast to heretics, Protestants, who, he believed, lived and behaved like swine. The naturalist had been born a Catholic, but his homeland of Sweden was Protestant by the time he produced his monster filled map.
When Mary heard of this she embraced the idea that Protestants were swine, hogs or pigs, with fervour and decreed that if unrepentant they should be cooked like swine – roasted on fires – which does not say a lot about her knowledge of cookery but does explain why 237 Protestants were burned during her reign.
And on that sombre note Jeff ”Jefferty” Jeff will go and eat a cheese sandwich, having rather put himself off the lovely pork chop that he treated himself to earlier. For some reason Jefferty does rather fancy a Vodka and Tomato juice – strange that!
The Munsters: TV programme
Sea Monsters by Joseph Nigg
Blurry and Moo – Blog by Richard Ian
The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens: Michael Ashley
Facebook page ‘Richardian’
A few other Facebook pages that I cannot be bothered to name
Since Mrs JJ flounced off at the end of last year and went to stay with her mother, I have found something wonderful. I have complete and absolute unilateral control of the television remote control and no longer have to be subjected to hour after hour of repeats of repeats of repeats of QI or never ending programmes about women giving birth.
I sat down one night with a glass of homemade Elderflower Cordial that Mrs JJ had left in
the pantry and despite this cordial being maybe 110% proof (how did she do that?) I flicked through the channels on the TV, finding a film called Braveheart was just starting.
It is a film that I have never seen, to the incredulous amazement of my fellow Jeffs, but after fetching a plate of cheese and pickled gherkins I sat down to watch with enjoyment as Mel Gibson, cast as a fictitious character called William Wallace, swash buckled his way through the scenes.
Feeling mellow I reflected how similar this film was to the life of real person in history with a similar name and wondered why this should be.
For days I hunted through articles and journals and even took a trip to Rome to hunt for clues to this strange matter. It was in Rome, most glorious and historic of cities, that I found the answer, an answer so strange as to defy belief but believe it I must. I have seen the evidence. I have the photo copies and now you will have the story.
Braveheart is a 1995 epic historic fantasy film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson plays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. Except for the actual existence of a king of that name and regnal number and a war of that name, the whole of the plot is made up. (Scots are not made up of course and did exist in Mediaeval times and still exist today. My cousin Jeff’s wife is a Scot.)
Uilliam Uallas, however, was a mild mannered, scholarly land owner in Scotland who was born about 1270. As a child he liked pressing wild flowers and catching butterflies with his mother’s hessian hair net, but he longed to be more manly and masculine to attract the attention of the sweetest girl he had ever seen. This was not to be however, as after his father’s death he was sent to live with his uncle and continued his education in Rome.
It was while in Rome that Uilliam met the Medici family through a contact of his Uncle and lodged with them until his return to Scotland around 1291. He stayed mostly at their estate at Mugello, just 37 km from Florence and a day’s jaunt away from their town house in Rome. By road now the journey takes about four and a half hours but in baking summer sun it seems longer than a day and certainly no jaunt, particularly when undertaken with a car sick Mrs JJ and two small people in the back seat.
Uilliam’s greatest friend there was Salvestro de’ Medici, son of Averardo, who interestingly are cited as being the possible 18th and 19th great grandfathers of Princess Di. Salvestro was a young man fascinated in what we today would describe as physics or physical science but then was described as natural philosophy.
The Medici’s were up an up and coming yuppy family, famous for pickling gherkins, and although they were initially considered very nouveau riche and crass, their patronizing of artists and natural philosophers made them more acceptable among the old money; it also kept them abreast of the latest in ‘scientific’ experiments and gadgets. Among the papers in the family archives are Salvestro’s designs for what we would later describe as a helicopter and scuba diving equipment, designs that later would be reworked and credited to Leonardo da Vinci.
Also among the family papers are pages and pages of equations and one is amazing.
E = mc²
along with margin notes in Salvestro’s writing saying in Mediaeval Italian: time travel is possible, at least in one direction.
The page claims conclusively that Time Travel in both directions is possible, not only possible but probable! and consistent with the theory of relativity.
And Salvestro knew this and would have told his friend Uilliam who was desperate to be a manly man to woo the girl he loved (manly men were in big demand then*) and didn’t know how to go about it.
A third page article that I found online in the Cornish Guardian dated December 1995 gives the rest of the story.
So piecing together all of this evidence, it is clear that Uilliam time travelled forward to 1995, watched a fantasy film, thought ‘I can do that’, went back to Rome and spent hours weight training until he resembled the swash buckling hero of the movie, grew his hair long and didn’t shave too often and then journeyed back to his lands in Scotland….and the rest, as they say, is history.
Uilliam Uallas is better known of course by the modern spelling of William Wallace and is commemorated in Blind Harry’s epic poem The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace.
The opening lines of The Wallace
Our antecessowris that we suld of reide, And hald in mynde thar nobille worthi deid, We lat ourslide throu verray sleuthfulnes, And castis us ever till uther besynes. Till honour ennymyis is our haile entent, It has beyne seyne in thir tymys bywent. Our ald ennemys cummyn of Saxonys blud, That nevyr yeit to Scotland wald do gud, But ever on fors and contrar haile thar will, Quhow gret kyndnes thar has beyne kyth thaim till. It is weyle knawyne on mony divers syde, How they haff wrocht in to thar mychty pryde, To hald Scotland at undyr evermar, Bot God abuff has maid thar mycht to par. Yhit we suld thynk one our bearis befor, Of that parablys as now I say no mor. We reide of ane rycht famous of renowne, Of worthi blude that ryngis in this regioune, And hensfurth I will my proces hald, Of Wilyham Wallas yhe haf hard beyne tald.
(Auto correct went slightly insane whilst typing that. Auto correct is currently under sedation in a darkened room and ‘hops two bee buck son’)
And that is the end of my tale, until Wallace comes again from the past, or will it be the future, or can he indeed do that at all now he has been hung, drawn and quartered not to mention castrated?
No! I said NOT to mention castrated!
Watch this space.
* Jeff Jefferty Jeff considers himself manly man, though maybe a little inclined to chubbiness. He is currently separated and looking for a suitable woman for friendship and to share his interests. Knowledge of how to use a tin opener and microwave is essential.
Cornish Guardian newspaper online
Brave heart- film
Microwave cookery for one: Belinda Bellend
The Medicis: Scrap of old paper I found in Aunt Rose’s trunk
Nat West bank Statement (from the personal collection of Jeff Jefferty Jeff)
How to get a quicky divorce from a flouncing wife: public interest article, the Guardian.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
James Randi, stage magician and scientific skeptic, best known for his challenges to paranormal claims and pseudoscience
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
Jason Kingsley, my next door neighbour
Jeff, what are you on? Can you get some for me
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
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?
Paul Daniels: magician
I will ask the lovely Debbie McGee.
No comment, no comment at all.
Spokesperson for the Fortean Times
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”