Little Bits of History

May 17

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 17, 2017

1521: Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, is executed. Edward was born in 1478 into a family with aristocratic ties and was the nephew of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of King Edward IV. As the eldest son of the second duke, he stood to gain the title. His father participated in a rebellion against King Richard III and was charged with treason. The second duke was beheaded without trial on November 2, 1483. At that point, all the family’s honors were forfeit. Edward remained hidden during the rebellion and possibly for the rest of Richard’s reign. When King Henry VII defeated Richard III at Bosworth in 1485, Edward was returned to his aristocratic holdings. He was able to attend Henry’s coronation as a Duke. The seven year old was given to Margaret Beaufort, the King’s mother, to raise.

Edward was educated and trained in various royal households and became a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1495. At the age of 19, he was a captain in the forces sent out to maintain order in Cornwall after a rebellion started there. He was known as a fancy dresser at court and at Prince Arthur’s wedding, is said to have worn an outfit costing £1500. He was also the chief challenger at the tournament the following day. Edward was part of the coronation ceremony for King Henry VIII and was part of his Privy Council. Edward received permission from his friend/king to rebuild the family manor house in the style of a massive crenellated castle. Edward served his King in both military and home endeavors.

Edward was one of just a few peers with substantial Plantagenet blood and had ties to much of the upper aristocracy. Because of these ties, Henry began to have his doubts and in 1520 the King ordered Edward to be investigated for possible treasonous actions. The King personally interviewed witnesses to gather information for a trial. The Duke was summoned to the court in April 1521 whereupon he was arrested and placed in the Tower. He was tried in front of a panel of 17 peers and was accused of listening to prophecies of the King’s death and intending to kill the King. Sir Thomas More complained that evidence supplied by servants were hearsay. This made no difference at the trial and Edward was found guilty.

He was executed on Tower Hill on this day. He was 43 years old. An Act of Parliament on July 31, 1523 stripped him of all his titles and family holdings as well as blocked the inheritance of any titles and holdings. John Guy, present day historian, concluded this was one of the rare executions of aristocrats in which the person was “almost certainly guilty”. Edward had four legitimate children. His son became 1st Baron Stafford and all three of his daughters married into aristocratic families, one marrying a duke, one an earl, and the last a baron. This three illegitimate children didn’t fare quite as well although Edward did manage to have his other daughter marry the half-brother of an earl.

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. – William Blake

It’s hard to tell who has your back, from who has it long enough just to stab you in it. – Nicole Richie

Betrayal is the only truth that sticks. – Arthur Miller

It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them. – Confucius

March 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 23, 2017

1540: Waltham Abbey is dissolved. The English Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy in 1534 which made the monarch also the Supreme Head of the Church of England, separate from Papal authority. The First and Second Suppression Acts followed in 1536 and 1539. This gave the monarch, King Henry VIII, the power to dissolve monasteries throughout his realm. At the time there were about 900 religious houses with about 12,000 people living there. One adult male in fifty was in religious orders at the time. It was assumed the income and assets from these establishments would increase the income of the Crown, many lands were sold off to pay for Henry’s military campaigns in the coming years.

Waltham Abbey lies about 15 miles NNE of central London. Archeological digs have shown the site has been in use for much longer than originally thought. Traces of rubble date back to the seventh century and radiocarbon dating of a burial site places it between 590 and 690 with a proposed original building date of 610 during the reign of King Saebert of Essex, a ruler noted for his church building. A second church was built in the late eighth century by King Offa of Mercia. In the twelfth century, the church and manor were overtaken by Tovi the Proud, an Anglo-Danish Thegn, aristocratic retainer of a king. He had a vision which led him to dig up a holy artifact from 150 miles away and transport the Holy Rood or Cross back to this church and it then became a pilgrimage site.

Tovi’s son had to sell the property to King Edward the Confessor and it was rebuilt by Harold Godwinson (the future King Harold II) and dedicated in 1060. The church was rebuilt again beginning in about 1090, reusing some of the materials but designed in the Norman rather than the Saxon fashion. It took about 60 years to complete and yet another rebuild was undertaken when Henry II gave the building to the Augustinians as part of his penance for killing Thomas Becket. In 1184, after beginning to rebuild again, the church status was increased and it became an abbey which increased the number of canons from 16 to 24. It was dedicated in 1242. The Holy Cross still brought many pilgrims to the Abbey, both aristocrats and commoners, but the nobles often stayed to hunt in Waltham Forest. This included King Henry VIII who was a frequent visitor.

Waltham was the last abbey to fall when Abbot Robert Fuller surrendered it and the estates to Henry’s commissioners. Fuller was pensioned off as were the prior and 16 canons. The choir master was paid off and given a job at Canterbury Cathedral. The Holy Cross disappeared without a trace. It was suggested the abbey become a cathedral for the Church of England but nothing happened. Today, it is in fact, part of the Church of England as a parish church and The Reverend Peter Smith is vicar. While the church remains, many of the outbuildings were destroyed in the dissolution. The Norman crossing tower and transepts collapsed in 1553 and a new west tower was added after the dissolution.

Well-beloved subjects! we thought that the clergy of our realm had been our subjects wholly, but now, we have well perceived that they be but half our subjects; yea, and scarce our subjects, for all the prelates, at their consecration, take an oath to the Pope clean contrary to the oath they make to us, so that they seem to be his subjects and not ours.

Alas, how can the poor souls live in concord when you preachers sow amongst them in your sermons debate and discord? They look to you for light and you bring them darkness.

Amend these crimes, I exhort you, and set forth God’s word truly, both by true preaching and giving a good example, or else, I, whom God has appointed his vicar and high minister here, will see these divisions extinct, and these enormities corrected.

I am very sorry to know and hear how irreverently that precious jewel, the Word of God, is disputed, rimed, sung, and jangled in every alehouse and tavern, contrary to the true meaning and doctrine of the same. – all from King Henry VIII

January 6

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 6, 2017

1540: Anne of Cleves marries King Henry VIII. Anne was born on September 22, 1515 in Dusseldorf, the second daughter of a Duke. The Duke was a moderate man influenced by Erasmus and followed a middle path during the Protestant Reformation. When the Duke died in 1538, Anne’s brother became the next Duke. Her elder sister married the head of the Protestant Confederation of Germany, the man known as the “Champion of the Reformation”. When Anne was 11, she was betrothed to the son of the Duke of Lorraine who was 10 – making it unofficial due to ages. The betrothal was cancelled in 1535. As the rage of religious confrontation swept the continent, the Cleves family was divided with the new Duke backing the Lutherans while his mother was a “strict Catholic”. The Duke was thus in conflict with Emperor Charles V and thought to thus be allied with King Henry VIII of England.

Thomas Cromwell urged the King of England, looking again for a wife, to accept Anne of Cleves as his next spouse. Artist Hans Holbein the Younger was sent overseas to paint a portrait of Anne and her younger sister, Amalia. Either of these women were suitable for the King and Henry had entreated the portraitist to paint the women as they actually looked without flattering them in any way. The pictures were painted and arrived for the King’s approval. Negotiations continued via Cromwell. Henry enjoyed educated, cultured women who could converse easily. Anne was uneducated, culturally inept, and although an adept needleworker and game player, could only read and write German. But she was seen as gentle, virtuous, and docile – which was a good match for the volatile King.

Anne was described by contemporaries as tall and slim, of middling beauty, assured, and with long blonde hair. She was on her way to meet her fiancé and dressed accordingly in the English fashion, but with a French hood to accentuate her beauty. It was noted that she looked old for her age. The couple first met privately on New Year’s Day 1540 at Rochester as she journeyed to Dover. Henry was disguised as he entered her presence and boldly kissed her. She did not think highly of this brash man, not recognizing her future husband. He was disappointed in his future wife. He then told her who he was, but never really felt good about this marriage after this point. The two met officially on January 3 and married on this day.

The marriage was doomed from the start. Although as soon as Anne landed in England, she conformed to Anglican ways, it wasn’t enough. Their first night as a married couple was not successful and the next day Henry told Cromwell the marriage had not been consummated. Henry claimed she stunk and had an unsightly body and he was even more put off by her than before. The marriage went from bad to worse and on June 24, Anne was banished from the Court and on July 6 she was told of her husband’s decision to reconsider the marriage. It was annulled on July 9 without Anne ever having been made Queen Consort. Later that same month, he married his next wife. Anne received a generous settlement and was allowed to live out the rest of her life, unlike most of Henry’s wives. In fact, she outlived all the others, dying in peace on July 16, 1557, just weeks before turning 42.

Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife. – Franz Schubert

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher. – Socrates

A good husband makes a good wife. – John Florio

The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret. – Henny Youngman

Wedded Bliss

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 11, 2012

King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon

June 11, 1509: King Henry VIII marries Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. Catherine was born in Madrid on December 16, 1485. Her first husband was Arthur, Prince of Wales. Arthur was Henry VII’s eldest son. The two youngsters were married on November 4, 1501 – just ten days after they first met. By April 2, 1502 Catherine was a widow. She was just sixteen, her husband was only fifteen when he died suddenly, succumbing to some unknown disease. Catherine had also been ill, but she recovered.

After his older son’s death, Henry VII was intent on not returning the dowry to Catherine’s parents. Henry, Duke of York, was now in line for the throne, a job he was not prepared for. Catherine was betrothed to the younger brother who was only ten years old at the time. The marriage was delayed due to a number of reasons, not least of which was the groom’s age. The dowry payment was at issue. Catherine maintained her first marriage was not consummated. The Pope needed to grant permission for the couple to marry because of the familial relationship between the royals.

By the time they married, Catherine was 23 and Henry was soon to turn 18. On June 24, the newlyweds were anointed and crowned together by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The new King (Henry VII had died on April 21, 1509) and his Queen celebrated their marriage and coronation at Westminster Hall. In 1510, they had a stillborn daughter. In 1511 a son was born but he died 52 days later. Catherine had two more sons who died. Finally, her daughter born in 1516 survived. Mary would one day become Queen of England. Catherine had one more daughter who died shortly after birth.

Since the Tudor line was new to the throne, Henry VIII wanted a male heir. He was afraid of another Civil War after his death unless he could provide a replacement King. Catherine’s six pregnancies left him with one daughter and his wife aging. Henry looked to Anne Boleyn to replace Catherine. His attempt to get his marriage annulled failed. Catherine was banished from the castle and Anne was secretly wed. Henry’s desire to have a son led him to marry six times and begin a new religion. Edward VI did succeed his father to the throne, at least for a short time.

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. – Barnett R. Brickner

In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage. – Robert Anderson

It destroys one’s nerves to be amiable every day to the same human being. – Benjamin Disraeli

All marriages are happy. It’s the living together afterward that causes all the trouble. – Raymond Hull

Also on this day:

Epicurean Feast – In 1939 the US President serves the King of England hot dogs.
Limelight – In 1892, a new filming industry opened in Australia.
Great Barrier Reef v. Endeavour – In 1770, Captain Cook ran aground.