Month: April 2016

Z the end of the Alphabet and the end of my story on The Plantagenet’s

I have made it through to Z and I really couldn’t think of anything with a ’Z’ Plantagenet related so would just like to thank everybody who has followed my series this month on one of the most amazing families that has ever ruled England.

I hope I have been able to provide you with a little insight to how this family worked and sparked an interest for you to further investigate. There are many interesting facts that surround the Plantagenet’s unfortunately too many to cover in this month.

If you have enjoyed my blogs it would be great to keep in touch so be sure to subscribe to my site. I have planned some really interesting and gruesome topics in the next few months so don’t miss out.

Thanks again,

 

Rob

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Young King Henry

Henry was the second eldest son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and was born on 28 February 1155. He married Margaret the daughter of Louis VII in 1160. William who was Henry’s older brother who should have been King died of a seizure whilst at Wallingford Castle in 1156 and was buried in Reading Abbey at the feet of his great grandfather Henry I.

Crowning of Henry in 1170 by Roger, Archbishop of York. At the celebration banquet afterwards, the Prince is waited on by his father the King.
Crowning of Henry in 1170 by Roger, Archbishop of York. At the celebration banquet afterwards, the Prince is waited on by his father the King.

Henry II arranged for the Young King to be crowned in 1170.

He spent a lot of his early adult life traveling to tournaments throughout the country where he became renowned for his skill which may have been attributed to his training from William Marshal.

Henry was getting frustrated with his lack of power and land and in 1173 the young king, with his brothers Geoffrey and Richard, encouraged by their mother Eleanor to rebel against his father.  The rebellion failed and Henry and his father reconciled the differences the following year.

Tomb and effigy of Henry in the Rouen cathedral
Tomb and effigy of Henry in the Rouen cathedral

In 1182 he took up arms against his brother Richard and later against his father again. The following year at the age of 28 whilst in France he suddenly died of dysentery in 1183.

X- for Cross – Eleanor Cross

I struggled to think of anything beginning with X so I am going to take it as a cross and the romantic story of Edward and Eleanor. As we are nearing the end of this Plantagenet journey I thought it would be fitting to end with a story of true love.

Edward I, Edward the Hammer of Scots, Edward who conquered the Welsh was also a man that had a soft heart for his family and his dearest beloved and beautiful wife Eleanor of Castile.

Eleanor effigy
Eleanor effigy

Eleanor’s Cross, in fact twelve crosses, are memorials that Edward erected following the death of his wife as she was travelling to meet him in Scotland in 1290. The twelve crosses were placed in towns along her cortege from Lincoln to Westminster. The most famous in folk etymology is chère reine — “dear queen” in French then to become Charing Cross. Although I would love to believe this, Charing was a hamlet that pre-dated Eleanor’s death and only the cross part thus now known as Charing Cross is true.

The other eleven crosses were placed at: Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Hardingstone near Northampton, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St. Albans, Waltham, Cheapside. Unfortunately only three remain today Geddington, Northampton and Waltham Cross.

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Eleanor was the daughter of the king of Castile and came to England when she about 12 years old in 1254 to marry Edward the future king of England. She provided Edward with up to 16 children which seven of whom survived into adulthood. She travelled with Edward on all his campaigns and went on crusade in 1270. Whilst on crusade Edward was wounded with a poison arrow and it is said that Eleanor’s grief and worry over Edward was so immense she had to be removed from the room he was being treated in.

Me at Eleanor Cross in Charing Cross
Me at Eleanor Cross in Charing Cross

The monument at Charing Cross was constructed in Victorian times in front of the entrance to the station. The original monument was a five minute walk up Whitehall.

William Wallace

Wallace was born around 1272 and became the leader of the Scots revolt against the English and legendary figure for his beliefs and bravery. In 1297 Wallace took a band of thirty men to avenge the death of his wife Marion. It is said that the night before Wallace was seen at his wife house and the sheriff men surrounded the house but Wallace managed to escape. However his wife was taken from the house killed by the sheriff’s men.

Wallace

The events themselves may not be so romantic and may fit more with a film Mel Gibson may appear. It is more likely that the attack was premeditated and was in the name of John Balliol who had been stripped of his authority as king of Scotland the previous year.

Wallace continued his attacks on the English and more and more Scots joined his cause and they drove the English out of Lanark, Perth and Stirling by August 1297 then spread onto Northumberland and Cumbria.

Edward I was campaigning in France when he heard the news about the Battle of Stirling Bridge and the defeated English. He returned to England and began assembling an army to take to Scotland. On Tuesday 22 July 1298 Edward I army crushed Wallace’s forces. Wallace continue guerrilla warfare against the English until August 1299 where he went to France to seek aid in his fight.

Wallace Trial

He returned to Scotland in 1303 and was made an outlaw by Edward I the following year. Wallace was betrayed and handed over to the English where in August 1305 where he was taken to the London.  His trial took place at Westminster Hall (now part of Westminster Palace) and was found guilty of treason. He was then chained to a hurdle, a piece of fencing, which was dragged through the street by two horses from Westminster to the Tower of London. The distance of about two and half miles where people were able to ridicule and throw stone and dirt, he was then taken to Smithfield via Aldgate a further three miles for continued humiliation.

william-wallace-big

Then at Smithfield he was hanged until near death before being cut down. Then in good old medieval fashion his penis and testicles were cut off and burned in front of him. Then his stomach sliced open and his internal organ cut out and again thrown in a brazier in front of Wallace to burn. The hangman then cut open Wallace’s chest and by hand pulled out his heart. It is not recorded if his heart was still beating at the time which was the aim of a skilled hangman to achieve. Finally Wallace was decapitated and quartered with his quarters sent to Scotland and his head put on a pike on London Bridge.

Usury – Moneylending in Medieval England

Usury is the lending of money at high interest rates something that was damned as sinful in medieval England. There many religions condemning the practice with similar statements such as ‘Those who charge usury are in the same position as controlled by the Devil’s influence. Those who persist in usury, they incur Hell’.

Usury 1 Usury 2

However, Jews carried out the practise in England by disguising interest payments. Noblemen and barons would lend money to Jewish communities to lend out to other citizens. The interest rates were around 30 to 40% and this made repayment of loans difficult for peasants who would often took out loans. If the noblemen recalled the money lent to the Jews and they were unable to pay they would have them murdered. In order to make the business profitable and spread the risk the Jews would lend across society.

Usury 4

Edward I borrowed money to fund various campaigns at home and in France until he had borrowed all the money the Jews had and then had them expelled from England. As it was only Jews who had circumvented the law Edward then turned to Italian financial lenders who by the 13th century had realised the profits in the lending markets and was becoming a growing industry.

Thomas Becket

Thomas Becket was born circa 1119 the son of a middle ranking London citizen. He was educated in London and Paris. He joined young Henry II in 1154 as his chancellor after serving ten years in the household of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theobald Bec. He became close friends with Henry and supported him on taxing the church to raise funds for campaigns in Toulouse in 1159.

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In 1162 Henry secured Becket in the position of Archbishop of Canterbury. This he thought would be advantageous having such a close ally heading up the church of England. Henry expected Becket to continue his support for the King however Becket resigned his position as chancellor and took on the church’s values and defended its position vigorously.

Becket denied demands from the king that convicted felons in the ecclesiastical courts be handed over for punishments by the lay authorities. Thomas also prohibited the marriage of Henry’s brother William to the countess of Warenne on ground of consanguinity.

The relationship between Thomas and Henry broke down with Becket forced into exile after a trial for misappropriation of funds whilst he was chancellor.

Henry confiscated Becket’s property and exiled his supporters. Thomas returned after six years abroad. He threatened England with interdict following the archbishop of York crowning Henry’s son, Henry the Young , as king of England in 1170. Becket excommunicated the bishops who had carried out the coronation.

Henry was furious when he heard the news and uttered the infamous words:

‘Will no-one rid me of this turbulent priest?’ Four knights overheard and took it upon themselves to assassinate Becket.

On 29th December 1170 at Canterbury cathedral Becket was murdered by the four knights. An account of the attack by Edward Grim a monk who was visiting Canterbury at the time is as follows:

The murderers followed him; ‘Absolve’, they cried, ‘and restore to communion those whom you have excommunicated, and restore their powers to those whom you have suspended.’

He answered, ‘There has been no satisfaction, and I will not absolve them.’

‘Then you shall die,’ they cried, ‘and receive what you deserve.’

‘I am ready,’ he replied, ‘to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace. But in the name of Almighty God, I forbid you to hurt my people whether clerk or lay.’

Then they lay sacrilegious hands on him, pulling and dragging him that they may kill him outside the church, or carry him away a prisoner, as they afterwards confessed. But when he could not be forced away from the pillar, one of them pressed on him and clung to him more closely. Him he pushed off calling him ‘pander’, and saying, ‘Touch me not, Reginald; you owe me fealty and subjection; you and your accomplices act like madmen.’

The knight, fired with a terrible rage at this severe repulse, waved his sword over the sacred head. ‘No faith’, he cried, ‘nor subjection do I owe you against my fealty to my lord the King.’


Then the unconquered martyr seeing the hour at hand which should put an end to this miserable life and give him straightway the crown of immortality promised by the Lord, inclined his neck as one who prays and joining his hands he lifted them up, and commended his cause and that of the Church to God, to St. Mary, and to the blessed martry Denys. Scarce had he said the words than the wicked knight, fearing lest he should be rescued by the people and escape alive, leapt upon him suddenly and wounded this lamb who was sacrificed to God on the head, cutting off the top of the crown which the sacred unction of the chrism had dedicated to God; and by the same blow he wounded the arm of him who tells this. For he, when the others, both monks and clerks, fled, stuck close to the sainted Archbishop and held him in his arms till the one he interposed was almost severed.

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Then he received a second blow on the head but still stood firm. At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living victim, and saying in a low voice, ‘For the Name of Jesus and the protection of the Church I am ready to embrace death.’

Then the third knight inflicted a terrible wound as he lay, by which the sword was broken against the pavement, and the crown which was large was separated from the head. The fourth knight prevented any from interfering so that the others might freely perpetrate the murder.

As to the fifth, no knight but that clerk who had entered with the knights, that a fifth blow might not be wanting to the martyr who was in other things like to Christ, he put his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to say, scattered his brain and blood over the pavement, calling out to the others, ‘Let us away, knights; he will rise no more.’

Stephen – King Stephen of England

Stephen was the final king of England before the start of the Plantagenet dynasty. He was king  from 1135 and during his reign there was a civil war known as The Anarchy. The war came about over an argument on who should succeed Henry I on his death as the King had no living son and for his daughter Empress Matilda to take the throne, as he had wanted, would be unprecedented and there was widespread opposition to her husband Geoffrey Plantagenet.

King Stephen
King Stephen

On Henry’s death Stephen, the grandson of William I (William the Conqueror), had himself made King. Matilda invaded England arriving in Arundel in 1139. Stephen was eventually defeated and captured at Lincoln in 1141. Matilda now had control of the country however due to opposition she was never crowned. She returned to France and her son Henry took up the fight.

In 1153 Eustace, the only legitimate son of Stephen, died whilst pillaging church possessions. It was claimed his death was from the wrath of God. Stephen then agreed in order to keep the peace that Henry would be the recognised heir to the throne.

Stephen fell ill with a bowel disorder and died in Dover on the 25 October 1154. Henry II was crowned the king of England on the 19 December 1154 in Westminster Abbey. And from that day on was the start of the amazing Plantagenet dynasty.

Henry II - The first king of the The Plantagenet dynasty
Henry II – The first king of the The Plantagenet dynasty