Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.

I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop...
It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

The not so private life of King Edward IV

The BBC History Magazine website reproduces an article which, being by background an historian of the later middle ages, caught my eye. I have copied the article and then added some comments of my own.

The secret intimacies of Edward IV: multiple marriages and a same-sex affair?

King Edward IV is remembered by many for his role in the Wars of the Roses, the 30-year struggle between the Houses of Lancaster and York for the English throne, and for his relationship with Elizabeth Woodville.

Here, historian John Ashdown-Hill re-examines what is known about the private life of the monarch, from his possible bigamy to secret same-sex intimacies, and questions many ‘facts’ traditionally assigned to the first Yorkist king of England…

My research on the story of King Richard III began in the 1990s, and focused initially upon the allegation that he was a ‘usurper’. That was a story which was later initiated by Henry VII, who seized Richard’s throne, killed him, and then blackened his reputation. But the truth is that Richard was offered the throne by the three estates of the realm on the grounds that his elder brother, Edward IV, had committed bigamy, making Edward’s children by Elizabeth Widville illegitimate. (Her maiden surname is commonly spelt ‘Woodville’, but contemporary sources suggest that Widville or Wydville were more commonly employed in the 15th century. I therefore use ‘Widville’.)

The story of Edward IV’s bigamy intrigued me. As a result, my initial research focused upon the true story of Eleanor Talbot – the lady who was formally acknowledged in an Act of Parliament of 1484 as “married” to King Edward. Although some historians have questioned Eleanor’s existence, I established clearly her identity, with the support of solid evidence. A picture emerged that supported the proposition that she had a relationship with King Edward IV. For example, the king appears to have given her land. Also he sent presents to her former father-in-law, Lord Sudeley, while Eleanor was alive – though following her death he changed tack and destroyed Lord Sudeley. It was also clear that the legality of Edward IV’s subsequent marriage with Elizabeth Widville had always been questioned.

A new date of birth?
My research on the bigamy accusations led me to investigate all the other alleged stories about Edward IV and his private life. Once I’d started, it rapidly emerged that, while most biographies of the king have traditionally claimed that he was born on 28 April 1442, most of them cite no source for that assertion. This is a problem, because some historians have used this birth date to back a claim that Edward himself was illegitimate.

A political story, promoted by the French government and other opponents of Edward IV after he became king of England, hinted that his mother had a love affair with an archer. As a result, it was suggested that the archer, rather than Richard Duke of York, was Edward’s biological father. Some modern historians have sought to back that claim by asserting that the Duke of York was not with his wife at the time of Edward’s conception. But of course, that claim is based upon Edward IV’s alleged birth date.

When I sought out evidence for the date in question, I discovered that actually only one 15th-century source mentions 28 April 1442. Unfortunately, that source erroneously claims that the day in question was a Monday. What’s more, another source offers a different date for Edward’s birth. In short, I believe we can no longer claim to know for certain precisely when Edward was born.

Who was Edward’s real father?
The allegations of illegitimacy have, of course, thrown Edward’s relationship with his theoretical father, Richard Duke of York, into question. However, letters written by the Duke of York to King Charles VII of France – attempting (and failing) to set up a prestigious marriage for Edward with one of the daughters of the king of France – indicate that the duke considered Edward to be his son. That point is proved even more clearly by the wording that the duke used. In the surviving letters, he repeatedly refers to Edward as his son and heir. In his own writing, Edward naturally addressed the duke as his father. His letters suggest that a good relationship existed between them.

Same-sex relationships
When the Duke of York was killed in 1460, young Edward was still unmarried – and remained so when he became king of England. Shortly after his accession, however, Edward became involved with the beautiful Eleanor Talbot, and the most likely date for their secret marriage seems to have been Monday 8 June 1461, when the itinerary of Edward IV, as published in my latest book, reveals that Edward was in the vicinity of Eleanor’s Warwickshire manor houses.

Eleanor had produced no children by her first husband, Sir Thomas Boteler, and she doesn’t seem to have become pregnant as a result of her relationship with the king. Edward IV therefore found himself confronted by a fruitless relationship. But about 18 months after his secret marriage with Eleanor, Edward encountered one of her first cousins, who may well have shared Eleanor’s good looks, and who also, it seems, attracted the king. The cousin in question was Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. A wealth of clear contemporary evidence suggests that Edward loved Henry and that the two men slept together.

This is by no means the only instance of an English king having a same-sex relationship. Earlier examples involved both Richard the Lionheart and King Edward II. Although Richard I’s same-sex relationship worried his father, Henry II, the intimacy took place in France, and aroused no hostile response in England. Edward II wasn’t so lucky. Likewise the relationship between Edward IV and the Duke of Somerset aroused opposition in some quarters. This led to an attack on the Duke of Somerset, which finally helped to break up his relationship with the king.

Another secret marriage?
Later accounts – beginning with the version of ‘history’ written by the Tudor grandee Sir Thomas More – suggest that, around this time, Edward IV took on a relationship with another young woman, Elizabeth Lucy. More even went as far as to claim that Edward IV was believed, in some quarters, to have secretly married Elizabeth Lucy. More offers a detailed story of how the young king’s mother supposedly knew of this relationship. He also asserts that Richard III’s subsequent claim to the throne was based upon the premise of Edward and Lucy’s marriage.

More goes on to say that the claim was false – making Richard III a usurper. While the offering of the English crown to Richard III was indeed based upon evidence that Edward IV had committed bigamy, the evidence clearly shows that the alleged first (and legal) wife of the young king was not called Elizabeth Lucy. She was, in fact, Lady Eleanor Talbot.

Sadly, there’s not a shred of contemporary evidence that a woman called Elizabeth Lucy ever existed – let alone that she had a relationship with Edward IV. The logical conclusion is that Thomas More’s allegations were simply part of the attempt made by Henry VII and his successors to ensure that the name of Eleanor Talbot was written out of history. Henry VII had initiated this process in 1485, when he repealed unquoted the 1484 act of parliament that had acknowledged Eleanor as “married” to King Edward. On that occasion, Henry VII stated specifically that his aim was “that all thinges said and remembered in the said Bill and Acte thereof maie be for ever out of remembraunce and allso forgot”.
However, surviving letters written in 1533 and 1534 by Eustace Chapuys, the ambassador of Emperor Charles V at the court of Henry VIII, show that Henry VII hadn’t succeeded in putting the story of Eleanor’s marriage to Edward IV “out of remembraunce” on the European mainland. Therefore ongoing work was required for the sake of England’s new reigning dynasty.

Thomas More also asserted that the king had a love affair with a “Mistress Shore”. But, as in the case of Elizabeth Lucy, not a single shred of contemporary evidence exists to show that Edward IV had anything to do with Mistress Shore. Unlike Elizabeth Lucy, however, Mistress Shore definitely did exist. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Lambert.

A marriage for her was arranged by her family, and her first husband was called William Shore. Unfortunately, that marriage proved difficult, and the young wife appealed to the church for its annulment. Eventually she married again. Before that, however, she had two love affairs: one with Lord Hastings, and the other with Edward IV’s step-son, the Marquis of Dorset. Curiously, a number of sources prove that her first husband, William Shore, was a supporter of Edward IV, and worked with him. However, no contemporary sources ever claim that Mistress Shore had a relationship with the king.

Heaps of illegitimate children?
The traditional story of Edward IV’s private life asserts not only that he had mistresses, but also that he produced heaps of illegitimate children. However, that too proves to be untrue. The king is recorded as only acknowledging one illegitimate child during his reign. It was a boy, but his name is unknown. Previous historians tended to assume that the boy in question was Arthur Wayte/Plantagenet, later Lord Lisle. However, the evidence clearly shows that Arthur was only finally acknowledged as a royal ‘bastard’ many years after the death of his alleged father. So he cannot have been the illegitimate child who was accorded formal recognition by Edward IV himself.
Curiously, however, one or two girls also seem to have been recognised as illegitimate daughters of Edward IV years later, during the reign of Henry VII. One possible explanation for this is that Richard III was offered the throne on the assumption that Edward’s children by Elizabeth Widville were illegitimate!

The power behind the throne
For all the question marks hanging over her marriage to the king, Elizabeth Widville seems to have exercised a great deal of influence over Edward IV. Despite later stories that he had many love affairs, from 1464 until his death in 1483, Edward seems to have been rather fond of his wife.
Elizabeth Widville was acknowledged as Edward’s legal wife during his reign, and her children were also officially recognised as the heirs to the throne. However, their status was always questioned in some quarters. Even members of the royal family – including the king’s own middle brother, George, Duke of Clarence – disputed their claims. One result was that George was imprisoned and executed – apparently on the orders of Elizabeth Widville herself. A contemporary report written by Italian diplomat Domenico Mancini certainly suggests that this was the case.

Elizabeth’s later conduct confirms that she took a strong role in politics. Following Edward IV’s death, with the aid of members of her own family, she attempted a coup to enable herself to act as regent for her young son. But in 15th-century England, regency powers were always assigned to the senior living prince of the blood royal – not to the mother. Thus when Edward IV died, according to English custom, power belonged in the hands of his surviving brother: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who would, of course, go on to become King Richard III…

 Image: Amazon

John Ashdown-Hill is a historian and the author of The Private Life of Edward IV (Amberley Publishing, November 2016). To find out more, click here.
To find out more about the author, visit www.johnashdownhill.com.

The Clever Boy would wish to add the following coments:

I have only read the article not the book, but it certainly raises some interesting questions

The questions raised by Ashdown-Hill about King Edward's date of birth and possible illegitimacy are interesting. King Richard III's DNA suggests something was wrong in his descent from King Edward III as well - historians tend to suggest Richard of Conisburgh was not the son of Edmund Duke of York, as in the post from Matt's history Blog Was Richard of Conisburgh Illegitimate? and  “Much Ado About Nothing?” – Pondering Richard III's DNA  from Unofficial Royalty.

The concern with dates and places of birth in fifteenth century lists suggests a keen interest in astrology and that was one of the contributory causes of the downfall of George Duke of Clarence in 1477-78, as it had been with the Duchess of Gloucester in 1441.

The allegation of bigamy makes me wonder if this somehow was a a ghost haunting King Henry VIII and the issue of remarriage and begetting heirs. As it was he was, by Catholic rules, a bigamist and by virtually everyone's rules one or other of his two daughters who succeeded to the throne was illegitimate.

I would have thought that King Edward would have had enough common sense not to commit bigamy because of its likely impact on the succession. It is possible that a relationship with Lady Eleanor Talbot/Boteler was one of those whereby you could be deemed to be married by exchange of personal vows and physical consummation, and one that the eighteen year old Edward stumbled into thinking he was merely having an affair, and which came back to haunt his family. Both Lady Eleanor and his recognised wife the former Lady Grey show distinct similarities in their social and political positions. Did the young King have a penchant for attractive widows, only to find himself snared in different ways by both ladies, and so unable to contract the more prestigious marriage that might be expected for him?

The possibility of a King Edward having a same-sex relationship with Henry Duke of Somerset is very interesting, but I am not at all sure I am convinced. Both men were certainly heterosexual at other times, the King producing a large family with his Queen and, it appears, some  illegitimate children, whilst Somerset's illegitimate son Charles Somerset is the progenitor of the line of the Dukes of Beaufort. 

To share a bed with Somerset, and in that sense to literally sleep with him, may have been a political gesture - it showed that Somerset was taken into royal favour and trusted ( he had been the Lancastrian commander at Towton ) and was calculated to show the young King's independence of and indeed to irritate the Nevilles. In that it succeeded. Until relatively recently for two men to share a bed whilst travelling was no more than a practical matter, and need not imply any sexual relationship

If the two actually did have an affair - well that could explain why, given that Somerset could be held accountable for the death of Edward's father and  brother, that the King was so willing to forgive him and take into his favour, and that this was not just not just a political one in eye for Warwick. Edward had few scruples when eliminating others, including his brother Clarence, if they were seen as a threat, although lesser Lancastrian supporters might be received into favour - not least his future Queen Elizabeth. The King and Duke were part of the wider cousinage that linked the Crown and nobility. Such an affair is not impossible one must suppose, but more evidence or interpretation is required.

As to King Richard I being homosexual I do have to ask if that story true - there seems no clear report earlier than late 1940s with John Harvey's book The Plantagenets: he cites Richard doing penance for a whole range of sins, including that, but this may refer to one incident in the past rather than a consistent life-style choice ( to be horribly modern). The largely all-male world of military life led by Richard may have led to such encounters without denominating them as his sole preference. 

Ashdown-Hill's questioning of the historicity of Jane Shore is interesting as she is so well established in tradition, as in the story of her pleas ensuring the survival of King Henry VI's foundation of Eton. To some to suggest that Thomas More could ever be wrong will send out shock waves...

So I suppose the answer is to read the complete book and see what I think then...

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Animating the Antikythera mechanism

The Lead Education Officer at the Museum of the History of Science here in Oxford shared this piece about the Antikythera Mechanism which may well be of interest to readers:

The Antikythera Mechanism is the oldest mechanical work to survive, and is dated to between 205 and 100 BC. It is, however, incomplete.

The Museum of the History of Science has the oldest working geared mechanism to survive - a complex Persian astrolabe dating from 1222 AD.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Anglican squabbles

The BBC News website has had a couple of reports about the decision of Philip North, the Anglican suffragan Bishop of Burnley to withdraw his acceptance of the Bishopric of Sheffield. The more recent version can be seen via the link below:

Church of England at war after Bishop Philip North's U-turn
Why is there so much anger among Anglicans after Philip North chose not to be Bishop of Sheffield?

As the articles point out Bishop North, previous to his elevation to Burnley, had withdrawn under similar pressures from accepting the Bishopric of Whitby, the usually Anglo-Catholic suffragan of the diocese of York.

Several thoughts come to my mind about this sorry state of things in the Church of England, of which I was once a member.
Firstly there is the rigid feminist and liberal intolerance that is now entrenched amongst so many of those who have chaplaincies and deaneries - read the article - and those they support and encourage. There are no enforceable safeguards to protect the consciences and opinions of traditionalist Anglo-Catholics, Evangelicals or anyone else who objects to the foisting of women clergy upon what still claims to be part of a fractured but historic Church. That failure to give proper safeguards contributes to the creeping decay of the Anglican Church - and it really ought to offend the tender consciences of those very liberals who doubtless claim it everywhere else save in the organisation they belong to...

Secondly, Anglo-Catholics really should wake up and smell the incense ( or lack thereof ) and do the sensible thing and seek the Roman option either directly or through the Ordinariate. One Anglican friend told me recently that the present trend in Rome inhibits him from making the move. I heard what he said, but it really should not deter - things and people and office holders change...

Thirdly, I feel sorry for Bishop Philip North, whom I have met occasionally through Pusey House and when he was at Walsingham. I gather that his ministry as Bishop of Burnley has been widely appreciated by Evangelicals as much as Anglo-Catholics and that he has been very successful in working with church youth groups.

The last time I encountered him was before he became a bishop at a study day at Pusey House on the proposal to establish the Ordinariate back in, I suppose, 2010. He was then arguing that the established and recognised nature of the Church of England enabled him to reach people he would not be able to do were he to join the Ordinariate. He was, therefore, not attracted by that project. He may just have had a point - a point - but now the squawking elite in the Church of England are preventing him reaching the people of the Sheffield diocese. It is not an especially Anglo-Catholic minded one, but with some notable if isolated centres ( or so it used to be) and he surely has a right to be heard there.

Whalley Abbey martyrs of 1536-7

The blog Supremacy and Survival last year had these posts about Pilgrimage of Grace martyrs from Whalley Abbey in Lancashire, which I am re-posting today as this year, not last, is the anniversary of their deaths. What was March 1536 - up to the 25th - is, since 1752 in England -  now March 1537. The Pilgrimage of Grace had been in the autumn of 1536. 

The two posts are The Last Abbot of Whalley Abbey: John Paslew and William Haydock of Whalley Abbey


The remains of Whalley Abbey
The River Calder is at the bottom of the picture and the foundations of the church in the centre

Image: webbaviation.co.uk

Whalley was a Cistercian house, originally founded at Stanlow on the Cheshire banks of the Mersey and moved due to that site being unsuitable to Whalley in 1296, being refounded by its patron Henry de Lacy Earl of Lincoln.

There is an illustrated online account of the history of the foundation and buildings at Whalley Abbeyand the much more detailed account from the VCH Lancashire vol ii  ed. William Farrer and J Brownbill (London, 1908) can be read at Houses of Cistercian monks: The abbey of Whalley

As the Lacy family were lords of Pontefract I have an additional interst in the history of Whalley, and from the names in the list of abbots it is clear that quite a few Yorkshiremen joined the community. If my memory serves me right a monk called John of Pontefract was killed by a fall from the buildings when the abbey was being built. 

One other surviving link with the abbey are the vestments rescued by the Towneley family and now on display at their ancestral home, Towneley Hall in Burnley. The museum's web page has a piece about them at Whalley Abbey Vestments

At Towneley Hall are a chasuble and dalmatic or tunicle (the third item of the set is in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow), which are the only High Mass set to survive from medieval England. Originally made about 1390-1420 or 1415-1435 (depending upon your expert) and remounted late in the fifteenth century, they were rescued from Whalley by the recusant Towneley family. The red fruits on the ground textile are probably pomegranetes.

The vestments from Whalley Abbey, preserved at Towneley Hall

Image: New Liturgical movement

The front of the chasuble

Images:college holycross.edu

There is more about the vestments at What Might Have Been - The Whalley Abbey Vestments at Towneley and details of some of the embroidery panels

There can be little doubt but that Abbot Paslew and probably Dom William wore these vestments.

Today Whalley Abbey is the Diocesan Conference Centte for the Diocese of Blackburn and the quite considerable remains of the monastery and grounds are accessible to visitors, and the surrounding countryside very attractive. The anniversary of the martyrdoms of the abbot and one of his monks and the survival of the vestments areminder of the human and cultural cost of the events of the sixteenth century.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Imperial gifts to British godchildren

The news agency Royal Central has the following story:

A set of silver gilt and cloisonné enamel which stirred interest in the antique world since it was recently consigned as going to auction, sold today for £20,000. This champlevé cutlery set told a story that links the future Tsarina of Russia's visit to the Yorkshire town of Harrogate in 1894, where she had gone to take a cure.

Princess Alix of Hesse and the Tsarevich Nicholas of Russia, an official photograph in Coburg at the time of their engagement, 1894.

Eduard Uhlenhuth [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Princess Alix of Hesse was advised to take a 'cure' in Harrogate in 1894 for sciatica, a complaint from which she had been suffering for some time. One of Queen Victoria's favourite grandchildren, the Queen was present in Coburg in April 1894, for the wedding of Alix's beloved brother, the Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse, Ernst Ludwig, to Princess Victoria Melita "Ducky" of Edinburgh, daughter of her second son, Prince Alfred, Grand Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and his wife, Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia. Among the many guests, at what was one of the great gatherings of European royalty in the last years of the 19th century, were Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and the Tsarevich Nicholas, the future Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

The couple became engaged while at Coburg after which the Tsarevich Nicholas returned to Russia and Princess Alix left for England. It was agreed that she would begin to undertake Russian lessons while in Windsor and visit a spa town to use the sulphur baths so as to as to try and alleviate her sciatica. Quite why Harrogate was chosen is not entirely clear; however the Yorkshire town was famous for its healing waters, and its popularity for the visiting aristocracy had grown considerably during this period, also becoming highly fashionable with the British elite. Alix left for Harrogate in late May 1894, accompanied by the Russian lectrice, or 'reader' to her sister, Elisabeth, Grand Duchess Sergei of Russia and her lady-in-waiting, Baroness von Fabrice.

Alix spent her time at Harrogate quietly, using the baths, visiting the surrounding towns, during which she also took her Russian lessons. She stayed at Cathcart House, a 19th-century boarding house which allowed her a certain degree of privacy as she was staying incognito, under the alias of 'Baroness Starckenburg' - Starkenburg being one of her lesser titles as Princess of Hesse, referring to the historical area surrounding Darmstadt, the regional capital. Cathcart House still stands today and is split up into flats - a brown plaque was unveiled in 2007 by the Sanctuary Housing Association to commemorate the house's history and its links with Princess Alix. Despite travelling incognito, her identity was guessed by the townsfolk of Harrogate, and the interest in her, especially in the light of her recent engagement to the Tsarevich, made it difficult for her to go out unobserved.

The brown plaque on Cathcart House, Harrogate, unveiled in 2007*

 Betty Longbottom [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

During Princess Alix's stay in Harrogate, her landlady Mrs Allen gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, whose names were chosen by the honoured guest who was to become their godmother - Nicholas and Alix. Princess Alix attended their baptisms in the close-lying St Peter's Church. She bought little gifts in Harrogate for the christening of the babies, but the commitment as godmother was not forgotten, even after her marriage. The following year, she sent two little cutlery sets for the boy and girl for their first birthdays, and it was thought that the gifts for the girl Alix could no longer be traced. Until now.

The cutlery sets were made by Grachev, and each contained a knife, fork, spoon, napkin ring, salt cellar and spoon. The godmother of the two Allen children was now since November 1894, the Tsarina of Russia and the gifts that were sent to the children were fittingly imperial.

Alix took her role as godmother remarkably seriously, and her gifts did not cease as the children grew older. Presents from Russia continued to be sent, with special occasions being remembered, such as confirmations and 21st birthdays. The boy Nicholas's son, Michael Allen, gave the gold Faberge cufflinks that his father had received from the Tsarina in 1910 for his confirmation to the Royal Pump Room Museum in Harrogate, together with the gold pins that he had kept. The gifts continued, even into World War One.

On her return from Harrogate, Princess Alix went first to the house her sister Princess Victoria of Battenberg had rented at Walton-on-Thames, where she was joined by the Tsarevich Nicholas; shortly afterwards, they continued to Windsor Castle as the guests of Queen Victoria. It was an idyllic time for them both, probably the happiest of their lives. The Harrogate visit coincided with the period of her engagement, and both she and Nicholas would reflect on this happy time in their lives, for the rest of their lives.

*The Clever Boy would draw attention to the numerous errors in the plaque - which are to be regretted and should be changed.
He would also add that he recalls in the 1970s seeing on local television in Yorkshire the godson with various items that had been given to him including cufflinks in the form of the Imperial Eagle and a cross on a chain for the neck. He recalled the problem caused when the Princess insisted on adding her and her fiancé 's names to those of the twins after their birth had been registered; I think the Registrar agreed when it was pointed out that this was at the request of the Queen's granddaughter.

Also in the late 1970s I visited the Pateley Bridge Museum in Nidderdale, close to Harrogate. There alongside British coronation and jubilee mugs was a coloured enamel beaker with the monogram and crown of Emperor Nicholas II from his coronation in 1896. Slightly bemused by this I commented on it to a volunteer who told me such beakers did occasionally turn up in Nidderdale. This made the penny ( or kopeck ) drop - an enterprising local dealer must have imported a consignment of such mugs knowing of the local connection with the new Empress. A corner of Yorkshire that is forever Imperial Russia?

Image result for Nicholas II Coronation mug

Enamelled Mug from the celebrations of the Coronation of the Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra in 1896

Image: Pinterest

Wednesday, 1 March 2017


The Château de Lusignan, situated in Lusignan in the modern dèpartement of Vienne, was the seat of the Lusignan family, Poitevan Marcher Lords, who distinguished themselves in the First Crusade and held the crowns of two Crusader kingdoms, the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Cyprus, and also claimed the title King of Armenia.

Lusignan was constructed, occupying a natural strongpoint: a narrow promontory that overlooked steep valleys on either side. It was already so impressive in the twelfth century that a legend developed to the effect that its founder had faery aid, in the guise of the water spirit Melusine, who built it and its church through her arts, as a gift for her husband Raymondin.

Lusignan at its height in the early fifteenth century, is illustrated in the Très Riches Heures of Jean, Duc de Berri, for whom it was a favorite residence until his death in 1416. It rises in the background of the miniature for the month of March, clearly shown in perspective, with its barbican tower at the left, the clock tower - with the exterior chute of the garderobe to its right - and the Tour Poitevine on the right, above which the gilded dragon flies, the protective spirit of Marc Lacombe.

After the Duc de Berri's death, Lusignan became briefly the property of the Dauphin John, who died in May 1417, and then passed to his brother, Charles, the future King Charles VII.

The village which developed into the town of Lusignan grew up beneath the castle gates, along the slope; it formed a further enceinte or surrounding fortification when it too was later enclosed by walls. Lusignan remained a strategically important place in Poitou, in the heart of France. About 1574, during the Wars of Religion, a plan was made of the castle's defences which is now in the Bibliothèque National. In the following century Lusignan was reinforced in the modern manner by Vauban for King Louis XIV. It was a natural structure to be used as a prison, and later housed a school.

The château was long used as a local quarry of pre-cut stone before it was razed by the Comte de Blossac in the nineteenth century, to make a pleasure ground for the town. Today the remains are largely portions of the foundations, some built into steep hillside, part of the keep, the base of the Tour Poitevine, cisterns and cellars, and remains of a subterranean passage that probably once led to the church.

With acknowledgements to the article on the château on Wikipedia

To those points I would add that the depiction of this and, over the succeeding months, other châteaux associated with the Duc de Berri and his family, indicate a delight in their possession, and convey the fact that these medieval castles, however defensible, were essentially homes in the country, replete with medieval domestic comforts and surrounded with agriculture and other peaceful pursuits.These are residences, more than they are fortifications. The same sense is conveyed, for example, by surviving images of English castles in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

The plough oxen in the foreground are a reminder that for centuries the ox was the beast of burden in Europe, and their use continued later than one might expect. I have, for example, seen a photograph of someone still ploughing with oxen in Wiltshire in about 1900.

As with the other scenes in the manuscript the landscape is perhaps unnaturally tidy, altough the ploughman in the foreground is wearing patched clothing, and the grey and green tones do convey something of the climate and mood of March as the farming year demands hard work from the husbandmen.

The wayside shrine at the cross roads in the middle distance is an indication of the type of monument which may well have been common, but of which we have few surviving examples - although more modern examples are still to be found in Catholic areas of Europe.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

A poetic reflection for Shrovetide and Lent

Today I found myself quoting T. S. Eliot's "Little Gidding" from the " Four Quartets"

Looking it up online it seemed to me to be very apposite at the beginning of Lent, so here for others to reflect upon is the complete text:

Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart's heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul's sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time's covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable Zero summer?
If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.
It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. There are other places
Which also are the world's end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city--
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.


Ash on an old man's sleeve
Is all the ash the burnt roses leave.
Dust in the air suspended
Marks the place where a story ended.
Dust inbreathed was a house-
The walls, the wainscot and the mouse,
The death of hope and despair,
This is the death of air.

There are flood and drouth
Over the eyes and in the mouth,
Dead water and dead sand
Contending for the upper hand.
The parched eviscerate soil
Gapes at the vanity of toil,
Laughs without mirth.
This is the death of earth.

Water and fire succeed
The town, the pasture and the weed.
Water and fire deride
The sacrifice that we denied.
Water and fire shall rot
The marred foundations we forgot,
Of sanctuary and choir.
This is the death of water and fire.

In the uncertain hour before the morning
Near the ending of interminable night
At the recurrent end of the unending
After the dark dove with the flickering tongue
Had passed below the horizon of his homing
While the dead leaves still rattled on like tin
Over the asphalt where no other sound was
Between three districts whence the smoke arose
I met one walking, loitering and hurried
As if blown towards me like the metal leaves
Before the urban dawn wind unresisting.
And as I fixed upon the down-turned face
That pointed scrutiny with which we challenge
The first-met stranger in the waning dusk
I caught the sudden look of some dead master
Whom I had known, forgotten, half recalled
Both one and many; in the brown baked features
The eyes of a familiar compound ghost
Both intimate and unidentifiable.
So I assumed a double part, and cried
And heard another's voice cry: "What! are you here?"
Although we were not. I was still the same,
Knowing myself yet being someone other--
And he a face still forming; yet the words sufficed
To compel the recognition they preceded.
And so, compliant to the common wind,
Too strange to each other for misunderstanding,
In concord at this intersection time
Of meeting nowhere, no before and after,
We trod the pavement in a dead patrol.
I said: "The wonder that I feel is easy,
Yet ease is cause of wonder. Therefore speak:
I may not comprehend, may not remember."
And he: "I am not eager to rehearse
My thoughts and theory which you have forgotten.
These things have served their purpose: let them be.
So with your own, and pray they be forgiven
By others, as I pray you to forgive
Both bad and good. Last season's fruit is eaten
And the fullfed beast shall kick the empty pail.
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
But, as the passage now presents no hindrance
To the spirit unappeased and peregrine
Between two worlds become much like each other,
So I find words I never thought to speak
In streets I never thought I should revisit
When I left my body on a distant shore.
Since our concern was speech, and speech impelled us
To purify the dialect of the tribe
And urge the mind to aftersight and foresight,
Let me disclose the gifts reserved for age
To set a crown upon your lifetime's effort.
First, the cold fricton of expiring sense
Without enchantment, offering no promise
But bitter tastelessness of shadow fruit
As body and sould begin to fall asunder.
Second, the conscious impotence of rage
At human folly, and the laceration
Of laughter at what ceases to amuse.
And last, the rending pain of re-enactment
Of all that you have done, and been; the shame
Of things ill done and done to others' harm
Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
Then fools' approval stings, and honour stains.
From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire
Where you must move in measure, like a dancer."
The day was breaking. In the disfigured street
He left me, with a kind of valediction,
And faded on the blowing of the horn.


There are three conditions which often look alike
Yet differ completely, flourish in the same hedgerow:
Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detachment
From self and from things and from persons; and, growing between them, indifference
Which resembles the others as death resembles life,
Being between two lives - unflowering, between
The live and the dead nettle. This is the use of memory:
For liberation - not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past. Thus, love of a country
Begins as an attachment to our own field of action
And comes to find that action of little importance
Though never indifferent. History may be servitude,
History may be freedom. See, now they vanish,
The faces and places, with the self which, as it could, loved them,
To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern.
Sin is Behovely, but
All shall be well, and
All manner of thing shall be well.
If I think, again, of this place,
And of people, not wholly commendable,
Of not immediate kin or kindness,
But of some peculiar genius,
All touched by a common genius,
United in the strife which divided them;
If I think of a king at nightfall,
Of three men, and more, on the scaffold
And a few who died forgotten
In other places, here and abroad,
And of one who died blind and quiet,
Why should we celebrate
These dead men more than the dying?
It is not to ring the bell backward
Nor is it an incantation
To summon the spectre of a Rose.
We cannot revive old factions
We cannot restore old policies
Or follow an antique drum.
These men, and those who opposed them
And those whom they opposed
Accept the constitution of silence
And are folded in a single party.
Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us - a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.


The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one dischage from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre of pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.


What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always--
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

A Lenten thought

Last night I had a slightly curious thought - I rather doubt if I would call it a vision, and I don't think it was a dream - that was perhaps in some ways seasonal....

I was somehow looking from a slight distance across a churchyard at my own grave in which my body was newly interred and a voice was pointing out to me the slightly shadowy figures of various historical figures in whom I have a research interest and who were standing around the grave to welcome me into their company.

It was slightly strange, but oddly comforting. Intriguing.

Friday, 24 February 2017

More on Heirs Apparent

Yesterday evening I gave the second of my talks to the Oxford University Heraldry Society on the arms and appurtenances of Heirs Apparent.

Last November I spoke about the Prince of Wales and his English and Scottish titles and emblems. This time the lecture was a clockwise tour of Europe from France through the Low Countries, Scandinavia, Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary, the Balkans, Italy, Portugal ( with a quick look at Brazil ) and ending up in Spain.

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Arms of the Dauphin

Image: Wikipedia

Standard of the Tsesarevich

Image: Wikipedia

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Arms of the German Crown Prince

Image: Wikipedia

In the last part of the lecture I spoke about the titles and arms of the Prince - now Princess - of Asturias. This originated in Castile with a suggestion of John of Gaunt in 1388, and is based upon the English and french precedents of the Prince of Wales and the Dauphin. Since 1975 and in recognition of the other constituent realms of Spain other titles for the heir to the lands of the Crown of Aragon, including the Kingdom of Majorca, and that for the Kingdom of Navarre were revived with appropriate arms for the present King and these have now been inherited by HRH Princess Leonor.
The arms and titles are outlined at the online articles Prince of Asturias and Coat of arms of the Prince of Asturias

As the weather was very blustery the attendance was small and I have been asked to repeat the lecture in the autumn. This will be in Christ Church on October 19th, 5pm for 5.30pm.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Humphrey Duke of Gloucester

Today is the 570th anniversary of the death at Bury St Edmunds of Humphrey Duke of Gloucester (1390–1447), prince, soldier, and literary patron.

The excellent concise life of him by G.L.Harriss in the Oxford DNB can be accessed here,
and there is another illustrated account here.  The full length biography Humphrey Duke of Gloucester by K.H.Vickers from 1907, which is still useful, can be viewed on Project Gutenberg here.

Humphrey Duke of Gloucester
A sixteenth century copy by J.Le Boucq in a manuscript at Arras


The youngest son of King Henry IV he received his Christian name as a tribute to the family of his mother Mary de Bohun.

I have posted previously about the Duke and the events of 1425 in particular in Stand off on London Bridge.

On Matt's History Blog

One of the recipients of Humphrey's patronage was the abbey at St Albans, and it was there that he had chosen to be buried:

Duke Humphrey sponsored by St Alban before the Blessed Sacrament and Christ as the Man of Sorrows circa 1430-40



Duke Humphrey and his second wife Eleanor Cobham
From the Benefactor's Book of St Albans 1431

Image: Wikipedia  

Duchess Eleanor was disgraced and imprisoned after a witchcraft scandal in 1441. Her life and downfall are set out, again with skill and economy, by G.L. Harriss in the ODNB at Eleanor (c.1400–1452). Her alleged principal necromancer Roger Bolingbroke was an Oxford man, principal of St Andrew's Hall. He may well fit in with the contemorary Oxford tradition of astrology - and the risk of serious charges ensuing if politics, let alone the succession to the Crown, was addressed.  There is an account of him and the prosecution at Roger Bolingbroke and a more detailed one with extracts from a contemporary chronicle at  ExecutedToday.com » 1441: Roger Bolingbroke, “hanged, hedyd, and quartered" Eleanor herself, divorced from the Duke, and sentenced to perpetual imprisonment died at Beaumaris castle in Anglesey in 1452.

Humphrey lived in the style appropriate to the son, brother and uncle of Kings, and some hint of that can be seen not only in manuscripts he owned but also in the rare survival of a piece of plate from his collection:

A cup bearing the arms of Duke Humphrey and his Duchess Eleanor,
now in the possession of Christ's College Cambridge

Image: Project Gutenberg


Duke Humphrey from the Talbot Shrewsbury Book 1443-45
BL Royal MS E VI f.2v.

Image: Wikimedia 

It was Humphrey who built the first royal residence at Greenwich in the years after 1428 and which was to be taken over by his nephew King Henry VI and his Queen Margaret. renamed the Palace of Placentia and rebuilt under King Henry VII it was to remain an important royal residence until the Civil War, and then, after the Restoration and possible plans for a new royal palace there, to become eventually the great Naval complex we see today. 

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Greenwich Palace

Image: National Maritime Museum


St Saviour's Hospital Bury St Edmunds
The hospital built in 1184-5. This is the lower half of the west range, which was 100ft long


St Saviour's Bury St Edmund's where Humphrey died was the largest of the six hospitals in Bury
and there is the VCH Suffolk account of it here.  A small part of the buildings survive near Bury St Edmunds railway station.


The tomb of Humphrey Duke of Gloucester at St Albans, adjacent to the shrine of the saint


The coffin and crypt of Humphrey Duke of Gloucester at St Albans
The painted crucifix is of great interest. Whether it still survives I do not know.


Thre is an illustrated article about the Duke's tomb, and something about the circumstances of his death and burial, in the article about it as Monument of the Month in May 2010 for the Church Monuments Society here 

He has another enduring monument in Ocford - Duke Humfrey's Library, which still uses the older spelling of his name. A book collector and patron of Italian humanists Humphrey made two substantial gifts to the University of  Oxford. In 1439 he gave 129 manuscripts and in 1444 another 134. Oxford responded by adding an extra storey to the Divinity School they were building to house these and their other books and named it in the Duke's honour. The building was not completed until 1488, but it still retains his name. There is more about it, with links, at Duke Humfrey's Library.
The remainder of his library had been promised but went instead to King Henry VI's foundation in Cambridge of King's College. Humphrey's interests and importance in this reception of contemporary culture are considered in the life by Harriss in the ODNB linked to above.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Alternative facts - a century on

The BBC News website has this interesting story about false news in the Great War and how it was manufactured for propaganda purposes. It can be viewed at  The corpse factory and the birth of fake news and is subtitled How did a gruesome story fool the world 100 years ago?

As we know, and as the author of Ecclesiasticus observed, there is nothing new under the Sun* and the debate about Fake News and Alternative Facts is a continuing one...

* No pun intended.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

What Newman might have said about Brexit...

As the Brexit juggernaut rumbles up into half throttle I am led to think, as someone who voted Remain - and who nevertheless has precious little love for the way the EU runs itself - and as the whole organism shows increasing signs of political and institutional failure, that staying in and seeking to reform it or waiting for it to disintegrate and then reconstructing it on more sensible lines would have been a better choice for the British people.*

Which long sentence leads me to paraphrase Bl. John Henry Newman and observe that ten thousand difficulties do not amount to a single doubt in my mind but that we should be IN Europe, not OUT.

* A German friend once observed of a piece I was writing "You write very long sentences John." Coming from someone whose native language delights in compound words I took it as quite a compliment.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Medieval Eucharistic Doves

The latest edition of the online journal Medieval Histories includes the following article which may appeal to readers:

Image result for Eucharistic Dove. Sold at Sotheby's January 2017: detail. © Sotheby's

French Eucharistic Dove from Limoges c. 1215 – 35

 Sold at Sotheby's January 2016

Image© Sotheby's

The price went soaring when Sotheby’s sold a Eucharistic Dove from 13th century Limoges

When Sotheby’s estimated the price of the Eucharistic Dove from Limoges to $ 200,000 – 300,000, they got the price all wrong. It went for $ 792,500, but then such doves are extremely seldom guests at international auctions.

Many such Eucharistic Doves or Peristeria are known to have been made at Limoges in the early 13th century. These doves were widely exported and approximately fifty can still be found in collections in both private and public collections. Such doves functioned as portable tabernacles containing the consecrated host. Suspended above the altar, they sent a clear message of the dogmatic fusion between the Holy Spirit and the Incarnated Christ. They also served to keep the consecrated host safe from mice, notoriously able to crawl into any small opening.

Made of champlevé enamel and partly gilt copper, the life-size dove would add considerably to the visual sense of mystery encapsulating the priests and acolytes, celebrating mass. In the back, a tear-shaped flap gives access to a small cavity, which would hold the consecrated bread. Exactly how they were suspended is debated as 19th-century jewellers excelled in repairing the doves. One in the National Gallery of Art in Washington is standing in the centre of a walled or crenellated city, the Heavenly Jerusalem. This is also the case with the dove in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The chains might be suspended from a crown, above the dove; small holes in the crown might make it possible to suspend a cloth from it, resembling the Biblical Tabernacle. This would veil the dove.

In 1973, the art historian Marie-Madeleine Gauthier recorded 42 known enamelled doves, which she dated according to specific designs of the plumes, as either made between 1200 and 1220 or alternatively 1215 – 1235. The later doves are more simple in the decoration than the earlier ones. Especially, the plumage of the wings might be divided by a more simple band. The present dove belongs to the last period.

Other such doves can be found in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Walters Art Museum and the Burrell Collection in Glasgow. Other fine examples may be found in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


Eucharistic Doves Christine Descatoire (Curator – Museum of the Middle Ages, Cluny)


McLachlan Elizabeth Parker 'Liturgical Vessels and Implements' in The Liturgy of the Medieval Church, ed. Thomas J. Heffernan, and E. Ann Matter. Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University, 2005. pp. 398-399, fig. 6.

Enamels of Limoges, 1100-1350.
Boehm, Barbara Drake, and Elisabeth Taburet-Delahaye, ed.
New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996. no. 105, pp. 318–19.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Kirk O’ Field 450 years on

450 years ago today at about 2am an explosion at the house at  Kirk O’ Field on what were then the outskirts of Edinburgh - the site is now occupied by the main quadrangle of Edinburgh University - apparently killed the 21 year old King Consort Henry, better known to history as Lord Darnley, together with his servant. Further examination showed that they had in fact been strangled, probably whilst seeking to flee the planned explosion.

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 Henry Darnley aged 17 in 1563


There is an online account of his life at Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and the excellent biography by Elaine Finnie Greig in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Stewart, Henry, duke of Albany [Lord Darnley] (1545/6–1567)’, (2004) can  be read at here

I have extensively adapted, corrected and supplemented a post from the website Royal Central about Lord Darnley, as he is best known. It was written by Peter Anderson:

Around 2:00 am on the 10th February 1567 the area around Kirk O’ Field in Scotland was rocked by two large explosions. Following them, two people were found dead in a nearby orchard. One was Lord Darnley, and the other his valet.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was born in Temple Newsham in the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1545 the son of Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox and his wife Margaret (nee Douglas). Brought up a Roman Catholic, he had claims to the thrones of both England and Scotland through his parents. Matthew had been third in line to the Scottish throne. However, having sided with the English at the time of the Rough Wooing - the attempt to marry King Edward VI to the infant Mary, Queen of Scots he fled to England. Margaret was the daughter of Margaret Tudor, one of the sisters of Henry VIII, who married, as widow of King James IV and mother of King James V, Archibald Douglas.

What I had not realised was how much Darnley can be accounted a Yorkshireman, not only being born at Temple Newsham but apparently brought up there or at Settrington in the East Riding until he travelled to France in 1559.

He received a very good education, and in 1559 he was sent to the French court where his cousin Mary, Queen of Scots who had married the Dauphin Francis had become Queen Consort of France following the death of King Henry II. Though Mary became Queen of Scotland, she had ruled through regents as she was only seven days old when her father died. Her husband  King Francis I and II died in 1560, and she returned to the Scottish Court.

Some five years later, in mid-February 1565, Henry was presented to Mary at Wemyss Castle. Contemporary accounts detail Mary’s pleasure at the sight of Henry, and they were married July 29th  in Mary’s private chapel in Holyrood. However, he was leaning towards Protestantism in his faith and did not accompany his wife to Mass after the wedding.


Queen Mary I and King Henry of Scots 1565

Image:Art Fund/ Hunterian Museum Glasgow

After the wedding, Mary soon saw a different side to Henry, one that was disruptive at court sometimes due to drinking. Though the Scottish Parliament had consented to the couple ruling together, Mary would not give Henry the right of Crown Matrimonial, so in the event of her death, he would continue to rule solely as King. In addition to his displeasure over this, Henry also did not like the attention paid to his wife by her private secretary, David Rizzio. Mary had become pregnant, and there was a little question of who the father may be.

Seven months into the pregnancy, Rizzio has knifed and killed in front of Mary, by confederates of Henry who then fled to England, though Henry protested his innocence. Mary gave birth to a child christened Henry James; later he would become James VI of Scotland and then James I of England. Following the birth, it appeared the couple were heading for reconciliation, despite Henry’s continued insistence of wanting the Crown Matrimonial.

Henry was murdered eight months after the birth of his son. Weeks before he had been ill with smallpox and was recuperating with his relatives. However, Mary brought him to be near her at Kirk O’ Field, a two-storey provost’s house fairly close to her residense at Holyrood.

Mary was implicated in his death, rightly or wrongly , married the Earl of Bothwell who was thought to be one of its masterminds, deposed, imprisoned, escaped and and fled to England - and so her extrordinary and tragic life took its course to the block at Fotheringhay.

The scene at Kirk O'Field - a contemporary drawing done for William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth I's Secretary of State

Image: Wikipedia 

The Daily Telegraph last August had a report on the identification of his skull and a facial reconstruction based upon it which can be read in  Face of Lord Darnley revealed - Mary Queen of Scots' 'lusty and well proportioned' husband


Henry Lord Darnley in 1560

Image: Daily Mail

Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley

The figure of King Henry from the tomb of his mother the Countess of Lennox in Westminster Abbey 

Image: Westminster-Abbey.org 



The painting is in Quuen Mary's Outer Chamber at Holyroodhouse and is part of the Royal Collection. Their website says of the painting:

This painting was commissioned by Darnley’s parents, the Earl and Countess of Lennox, who kneel beside the tomb of their son, with their grandson, the future James VI and I in front of them and Darnley’s brother, Charles Stewart, behind them.

On the tomb are two reliefs, one showing the murder of Darnley and his page as they are dragged from their beds. The other, showing their bodies lying in the garden. In the corner is an inset picture of the encounter at Carberry Hill (15 June 1567); Mary is seen surrendering to the insurgent lords, supporters of the Lennox family. In the distance Bothwell can be seen riding from the field according to the terms of the Queen’s surrender. He fled to Denmark where he was imprisoned and later died.

This picture should be read as a damning indictment of the part played by Mary, Queen of Scots, in the murder of her husband and of her association with the Earl of Bothwell and as a cry for vengeance on Darnley’s murderers. The meaning is driven home by the succession of inscriptions, some of them now illegible. The section referring to Mary’s part in Lord Darnley’s murder may have been erased by her son, James VI.

Indistinctly signed: Livinus Voghelarius...
Presented to Queen Caroline