Friday, 28 February 2014

Todays Mail

Look what came in the mail today!
It most defiantly is worthy of a blog post.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Wooden Swords, Hobby Horses, and Educating Richard

The War of the Roses was a war that lasted through many a childhood for children during the fifteenth century.  One child included was Richard, the son of Richard, Duke of York and his mother Cecily Neville, a great beauty deemed by many. The family was of high station, but this didn’t keep the war at bay for the household.  Most assume that if your family was well off, even in the time of war in the Middle Ages, they were spared some of the hardships associated with war, but that was not the case at all for the youngest son of York.

Richard was the last child of Richard and Cecily's. In my research I have found that sources deter between Cecily having 10 or 11 children, including one child born after him, which did not survive very long. Infant mortality and mothers others who gave birth during the Middle Ages, prove over and over, to be a very life threatening situation. The medieval person, and midwives included, had no knowledge of disease, germs, how to prevent infection or access to painkillers or antibiotics if a problem arouse. You could have a fairly smooth delivery but the risk for infection resulting in “child-bed fever” was exceptionally high due to lack of preventative hygiene.  The next hurdle for any child who made it past their first year which held its own mortality rate of 25%, was surviving childhood in where, mortality alone was a 50% survival rate.  Noting, these statistics varied socioeconomically and demographically as well.
The little castle toy (above) would have been a typical toy in the 15th C.
Richard’s early years were rather turbulent. It’s a surprise to some that because of the war and conditions, he made it through this time.  He definitely did not have a peaceful childhood like one would hope. Looking at all the experiences he went through, it is very easy to understand why some would conclude he might have been a bit of a control freak or a tad insecure in later life. [1] After surviving infancy swaddled and nursed by a wet nurse, memories he more than likely would not remember suggest that the chaotic world around him was constantly changing, for good and for worse.  When other children his age where playing with toys such as kites, spinning-tops, hobby horses or making castles out of wooden blocks, he was being shuffled around to escape the dangers of war with his mother.  We know from literature written later in the Middle Ages, primary after 1400’s most children were aware of their roles in the household at a young age.  But this documentation also stresses the importance of play in the household.  This aspect of play helped the children learn their duties.  Knowing this, Richard and his siblings might of had little toys similar to what a knight would have, a wooden sword, a castle with figures where his sisters had dolls. 

But even the aspects and the adventures he might have had during play, as a child could not prepare him for what was to come.  Cecily seems to have been more apart of his life than most parents during his childhood, more than likely due to war and the need to keep her sons safe. His father on the other hand, he saw not so much, it was a relationship that was rather brief, but expected during this time. At the age of seven during the battle of Ludlow, his father and older brother Edmund, fled to Ireland escaping pending Lancastrian forces.  Richard with his brother George, one of their sisters, and the Duchess Cecily were all taken as prisoners of war.  They were held at Wigmore, and then later moved to Tunbridge Castle by their mother’s sister whom had married a Lancastrian husband. His brother Edward (later Edward IV) had fled to Calais.
A manuscript showing very young children in the care of women.
Cecily escaped from Tunbridge after a short time and was able to gain safety for her small children in the chambers of John Paston. Meanwhile, war waged around them.  The adventures of childhood play more than likely limited because of the war for Richard and his siblings.  Cecily had been called to London, not two days after they came to the Pastons’ and the children were left in the care of servants. Edward had returned to London after his victory at North Hampton. Henry VI was now his prisoner. Due to this time, and on going war, relations with the immediate family were close and treasured. Because of this, it is important to recognize the early relationships Richard had as a child, specifically with Edward.  This closeness that he developed with his older brother is what made him into the honorable and loyal brother he is noted to have been. The relationship Edward had with his younger siblings, specifically with Richard was a close one, for he visited the children almost every day, if possible. Richard probably admired and looked up to him greatly as he grew older, like a mentor.

In October 1460, Richard’s father Richard, Duke of York and his mother, and Edmund, Earl of Rutland returned to London. Parliament came to an agreement and enacted an Act that would make the Duke of York, “Heir-Apparent” and Lord Protector for the whole duration of Henry’s life.  This case was probably not hard at all to present to Parliament, as Henry had repeated bouts of insanity multiple times during his reign.  Richard, Duke of York had rights to the throne as well, through his family line that ran down through second son of Edward III. Henry VI was only related through the third son.  This stated that Henry VI could still be on the throne, but he had to acknowledge that Richard Duke of York was the “Heir-Apparent.” This didn’t go over well, as Queen Margaret fled with her son to Scotland in opposition to the decision made by Parliament.

The family spent that winter and Christmas at Baynard’s Castle. It was apparently the last time Richard saw his father. The Duke and his son Edmund traveled to Sandal Castle and spent their holidays there.  As the festivities of the winter months continued, so did the threat of ongoing war and unbeknownst to Richard, his mother Cecily, and the other children, they were to never see their father or husband, or Edmund their older brother again. On December 31, Richard Duke of York fell in the battle at Wakefield, with his son Edmund and many of his loyal knights. The heads of Edmund and the Duke were stuck on different gates of the city of York. It is noted that the Dukes’ was placed on Micklesgate Bar with a paper crown, as a form of insult. [2]

News traveled to London about the devastation of the battle of Wakefield. Duchess Cecily was grief stricken, and terrified for the safety of her children.  Fearing harm would come to them, she put Richard and George on a boat and sent them to Holland out of harms way. According to “The History of Richard III” by George Buck, Richard and his brother George, eventually were sent to Ulrich, which at the time was the largest and most prestigious city in Holland. A move perhaps to be near their older sister Margaret whom was married to Charles the Bold of Burgundy. It was there they received a “Princley and liberall education.” Richard did not return for a good few years later, by then he was ready to become a knight.

[2] Markham, Richard III: His Life & Character Reviewed in Light.
Sources cited:

Monday, 17 February 2014

And What of the Princes?

It’s a question that has eluded historians from day one. Did Richard III kill his nephews or was it something bigger or a carefully planned plot to continue to tarnish the young king’s reign and reputation?
There are as I discovered, many theories old and new, credited, and not credited, by scholars that surround this mystery. Yet 500 years later, we are nowhere near closer to solving this mystery than they were in 1485.  When rumor broke out the first words about it spread across England, and even to the continent quickly; but this could have been a result of many things. Including Mancini’s visit to court and what he thought he discovered, and took back home.  Croyland Chronicle, to some the gossip paper, definitely spread the information that the princes were not where they should have been.  Was their fate by the hand of Richard, propaganda or a carefully planned plot by his rivals?

We do not have many good accurate contemporary sources for what happened to the princes. Dates are not consistent, and I wonder about the records of the guards in the tower as well? Were they educated? There is no recorded death of the boys by either the people whom they were in the custody of, church or a doctor.  Knowing this, here is a list of what we have:

Dominic Mancini, who left England in July, 1483, his statement:

'He and his brother were withdrawn into the inner apartments of the Tower proper, and day by day began to be seen more rarely behind the bars and windows, till at length they ceased to appear altogether. A Strasbourg doctor, the last of his attendants, whose services the King enjoyed, reported that the young King, like a victim prepared for sacrifice, sought remission of his sins by daily confession and penance, because he believed that death was facing him. Already there was a suspicion that he had been done away with. Whether however, he has been done away with, and by what manner of death, so far I have not at all discovered.'

The Croyland Chronicle, Spring of 1486, confirms these rumours:

'A rumour,' it states 'was spread that the sons of King Edward had died a violent death, but it was uncertain how'.

Robert Ricart, Recorder of Bristol made an entry in his 'Kalendar' for the year ending September, 1483:

'In this year the two sons of King Edward were put to silence in the Tower of London.'

Historical notes compiled by a citizen of London before the end of 1488 for the year ending November, 1483, record that:

'they were put to death in the Tower of London.'

(source: 2/16/14)

Looking at these contemporary sources, almost all the notes with the exception of Ricart and Mancini are well after the time Richard died. But in who’s favor was Mancini and Ricart. Mancini was asked to go home, meaning he might have fallen out of favor with Richard and his court, an negative account of this would be justified as means to dirty his reputation.  Ricart, I am unsure of. Bristol is in the South-West of England, was this area where he was having political upheavals? Also noted this statement, it is made right before Buckingham’s rebellion. It is also mentioned that Buckingham had motivation to find an end to the princes as well. He had a son/heir and thought himself too, to be inline for the throne.  His biggest roadblock was Richard, which he tried to get ride of in October and hoping he had support from Henry Tudor to overthrow. His cause wasn’t very successful, as he lost his head.
Henry Tudor (Henry VII)

What about that guy from across the sea, Henry Tudor?  There are many interesting facts that you could possibly point the finger at him.  First, Henry did not announce that the boys had been “murdered” until July of 1486, nearly a year after Richard’s death. (source:  2/15/14). Henry also appealed quite quickly Titulus Regius, faster than paint could dry, and had all documents regarding this destroyed.  What if he had documents of what really happened to the princes, also, personal documents of Richards? Destroyed them, pointed the finger at Richard? Or even better yet; if he didn’t know what happened to them, or had no involvement; what was the point behind getting Titulus Regius appealed by Parliament, if the princes were still alive? If the princes were alive, and not illegitimate they would be a threat to the crown. He got Titulus Regius appealed so he could marry Elizabeth of York, but in order for him to think his crown was surely his he had to have known the princes were out of the picture.  So therefore, he had to have known something.  He also had Elizabeth Woodville put in a monastery later in life. Hypnotizing, she probably knew too much and was becoming a risk to his throne and reputation. It’s all very circumstantial, but it also shows the twists and the pull that a new king and those who are under him, can manipulate a situation to his favor. Perhaps he was doing just this.

Now another interesting twist, in 1502, Sir James Tyrrell, confessed to the boys murders, with the aid of two other accomplices.  Sir James Tyrrell was one of Richards’s men, with Brackenbury.   In Starz “The White Queen” Richard is seen as still in town when the boys disappeared. This is not historically accurate but to the viewer it adds guilt to Richard’s character.  But it is not what happened.  Richard was not in town at all, he was touring the country and gaining support for the problem of Henry Tudor, and trying to get funds for a campaign against him.   It is suggested that he gave orders and those orders were sent to London. This is one theory, if he was the one responsible.  This is what Tyrrell confessed to.  But his confession was drawn out by torture, meaning that the statements made about his involvement and who ordered the murders; Richard III, might not be entirely true. They were thwarted out of him by means of torture, questioning their validity.  He made the statements under duress, meaning force or threats were meant to make him do something. In a court of law this confession would have been thrown out, as it was made under these circumstances, and questioning again its validity. (source: 2/15/14).  Even, despite further questioning, it was noted that he was unable to say where the bodies were, claiming that they had been moved, but by whom? ( 2/15/14) Looking at the context of when and how the confessions where made, under torture/duress, and Tyrrell knew he was going to die, said what they wanted to hear suggesting it was not a genuine confession. The last thing Henry VII wanted to hear was that someone knew about his involvement in the princes’ unfortunate end. More questions can be raised by the means of how the message/orders were sent to Tyrrell, also raise an interesting question. It’s the Middle Ages; they did not have email or telephone. They relayed on foot solders or horseback, word of mouth, and paper to deliver a message. What if that message was intercepted? What if that message was changed, what if the message was totally illegible by the time it got to the tower? Did the receiver even know how to read?

What if Margaret Beaufort had one of her “visions” and through lord Stanley who was more than likely in London at the time, paid the guards, or even tried to orchestrate the whole thing to look like Richard was responsible? Margaret had very strong motivations, as she wanted her son on the throne from day one.
As time went by, many have written accounts of Richard’s short reign and involvement with the princes, started with him being accused of the wrong doing, from accounts by Shakespeare and Sir Thomas More, whom both were employed by the Tudors. It is now perceived that these accounts were Tudor propaganda, to glorify the reign of the Tudors and discredit the young king, and justify Henry VII success at Bosworth. Later accounts shifted to either defending Richard, or putting him out to dry.  One of the first to try to redeem him was Horace Walpole. He looked at the evidence that was available and carefully analyzed what or how it could be used in context to the disappearance of the princes and Richards involvement.  In his book, Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of King Richard the Third, he writes:

With regard to the elder, his disappearance is no kind of proof that he was murdered: he might die in the Tower. The queen pleaded to the archbishop of York that both princes were weak and unhealthy. I have insinuated that it is not impossible but Henry the Seventh might find him alive in the Tower. I mention that as a bare possibility - but we may be very sure that if he did find Edward alive there, he would not have notified his existence, to acquit Richard and hazard his own crown. The circumstances of the murder were evidently false, and invented by Henry to discredit Perkin ; and the time of the murder is absolutely a fiction, for it appears by the roll of parliament, which bastardized Edward the Fifth, that he was then -j- alive, which was seven months... (Walpole pg. 70)

Walpole looked at the evidence presented and basically exonerates Richard’s innocent to the murders.  There simply was no proof.  But he also points out the murders might have even been invented to discredit Perkin who was one of the famous impostors who threatened Henry VII’s reign and started a revolt.  This trend seemed to follow to present day and most historians either defend Richard, or flat out place the blame on him in regards to the princes’ outcome. If Richard had won that day at Bosworth it is hypothesized that we might have answered to what happened, but his time was cut short. Richard ruled too short of a period to fix problems that arose during his reign in a timely manner.  He suffered tragedies of his wife and son’s death, rebellions, and Henry Tudor attempting to invade multiple times.  Time was and has been his biggest enemy. 

Yes, he was stressed, Richard III (portrayed by Aneurin Barnard)

There are some who believe the princes may have survived. We have all heard of the impostors, Perkin Warbeck, Richard Plantagenet the mysterious bricklayer, and Lambert Simnel.  David Baldwin’s book The Lost Prince, the Survival of Richard of York, discusses these cases in depth.  It adds a very interesting twist to the mystery and provides a lot of information.  It also helps paint an interesting picture of Henry VII.  Its on my must read NOW! List.  An article published by “The Times” by Geraldine Norman in March 1983, raised a suggestion that according to art historian, Jack Leslau, the two sons of Edward IV were still alive throughout the reign of Richard III, and continued to live, under new assumed identities.  He does not mention the famous impostors.  Leslau’s claim is based off a painting by Hans Holbein, the Younger that depicts a portrait of Sir Thomas More and his family.  His analysis of all of the depictions in the painting is lengthy and complex. Through careful examination, and art theory, he concludes that Edward was said to become Sir Edward Guildford and Richard became Dr. John Clement. Clement it is also noted had gentile or noble birth and he came out of nowhere. He was married to More’s adopted daughter, Margaret. The analysis of the painting is over 100 pages long and goes into theory, clues, arrangement of symbols use of certain flowers, inscriptions, colors, use of gloves and other symbolism's in the painting that led to his conclusion. Some historians question the validity of his claim.

Do bones hold a story or an answer? Today, questions have been raised involving the bones that are in the urn in Westminster that were found during renovations in the Tower underneath a staircase in the 1600’s. This is the only physical evidence we have that could lead to clues, as to what happen, or not to the princes. But apparently, the ministry and the Queen have ruled they will not be DNA tested or examined as noted in an article from an article in The Guardian ( Who the bones belong to, may never be known or what fate befell them.

In conclusion, but moving forward with all the data we have: accounts, literature, the pile of hearsay, and what we know of medieval society; as one who studies the period, it is difficult for me to place blame pretty much on anyone, specifically Richard.  But I really want to blame Henry Tudor out of revenge.  To me, even with a law background, and history background, there just is not enough evidence to sway someone, this way or another. Too much circumstantial and defiantly way to much libel and slander to go around. But, looking at his rivals, they could have been culprits as well and for good reason.  We now know what the Tudors were capable of.  The common medieval man, probably just as much if not worse. For it was the people who placed the blame on Henry VII for the sweating sickness in 1485, and said it was a “sign” that he was not the true king, haha! That simple statement alone demonstrates how misleading, and in what context information can be to the general populous of medieval society. It’s another reason why Shakespeare’s account of Richard III gets tossed out the window at my house. He was hired by the Tudors, and wanted to stay in favor, so he defamed Richard III the best he could with a pen, and wrote him into history as a complete monster. A monster, he was not.  Anxious maybe, nervous at times, stressed oh he more than likely was.  A murderer of little boys? That still remains in question.  After all, it was the Middle Ages.

Myers, A.R. “The Character of Richard III” published in vol. 4, issue 8, 1954 accessed: 2/15/14

Saturday, 15 February 2014

An Interesting Find

Painting depicting Edward IV and Richard, Duke of Gloucester at court This 15th Century painting shows Richard (second left) at court with his brother King Edward IV. (From Who was the Real Richard III, 

and this one: "Family Portrait of the More family"

This painting is interesting because apparently, contained in the painting, it has clues proving that Richard III did not kill the Princes in the Tower. More information can be found at: I guess I found something fun to look into? In Hans Holbein, The Younger, a Guide to Research, it is suggest that the two princes assumed other identities.  A report done by Jack Leslau after the unveiling and cleaning of the portrait reviewed clues that Leslau argues that Holbein put clues in the painting, and other messages in the painting that suggest that the Princes were not murdered by Richard III. Edward became Sir Edward Guildford, and Richard became Dr. John Clement a physician who married More's adopted daughter Margaret. (source: Michael, Erika. Hans Holbein the Younger: A Guide to Research. Routledge, c. 1997 Google ebook version)

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Richard, .. Richardus Rex, oh how you haunt me….or I should say, visit me…?

Some fiction fun for you all:

It was a nice day, I just had had a perplexing conversation with my grandma and my aunt, in the kitchen.  I guess I am "chosen" for all this incredible crazy stuff because I am from a line of “warriors” they said. That was it. Great, nice bit of info there.  That's why I was the one picked for cancer.  Oh lucky me.... I look at my genealogy and go “Gawd what one?” So many to choose from. Oh Yay! for those "warrior genes."

I kept walking down the path.  The park was nice. Sun warm on my face, not to crowded either. I take a seat on the bench under an oak tree. I crack open my book I have, and not even there for five minutes and I hear a,

“Andy?” comes a voice in a strangely familiar British accent. My head turns around.
“Holy ….. what the? Why and now, are you here? Richard.. Really?” I say startled. Of course I reconize him, how could I not.
“Do you know where my shoes are?” He asks. I look at his feet. Just socks.  Seriously, this is the first thing he blurts out to me? Can I dig myself a grave now?
“Um…. I haven’t the slightest idea, I am so sorry….how did you find me?” I asked.
“Your family, and I know others have come to ask things of you.” He told me.  Did he really want the list? Mom, Grandpa, people I don’t even know, that dead guy from Warwick Castle…. The list goes on. But he had a point.  I have always been a walking target for “messages.” Lucky me.

“What if I cannot find what you are seeking? I mean, I feel bad you are missing your shoes, but is there something else I can help you with?  I asked as he sat down next to me. He gazed across the lawn. He seemed at peace, but troubled and saddened at the same time. Dressed in some armor and breeches, he looked pretty slick. His hair was a little tousled. The words “bed head” came to my mind.  He looked at my book I was reading. He raised a brow.

“What is that you are reading, my dear?”
“A book…….” I stared at the cover, Here be Dragons. My favorite book, the book that changed my life. “Here be Dragons, you’d like it.” I mentioned.
“Humm… Tristan and Isolde is getting old.” He stated.  I set the book on his lap.
“Here take it, I have two copies.” He looked surprised. I smiled. I am glad I made him happy. There was some silence as he browsed  through the pages. 
“Can you write to me?” he asked.
“Um.. I guess? A Letter?” I asked. He nodded.
“Anything, works letters, write my story and … help me find Anne.” He said at last. I knew Anne was in Westminster, but where I wasn’t too sure. 
“I know you can help me. You are not like the others, and you have a gift. I know you can find her. I miss her terribly.” He said with a sigh.  Yeah, yeah, I can see, feel dead people, as I call it.  He continued,
“I have been trying to get you to listen to me for a while, now.  You’re a stubborn girl.”  I laughed, but he was very right.
“I am glad you found all this out and sorted it out. It was a nice gift for me this year on my birthday.” I didn’t know what to say. I sat there awestruck. God how did he know all this stuff.
“You had been talking to mom?” I asked.
“Perhaps.  You should have believed her.” He said smirking at me.  His eyes were like mine. This was crazy weird.  I looked at my book once again.
“Don’t loose that book, its lucky.” I reminded him.
“I won’t, I wouldn’t want to cross you. I treasured all my books.” We laughed together….

A loud purr went off next to my head. Daylight. UGH! And a cat on my head. Are you kidding me?? I sat up in bed.  Really?... REALLY? Now Richard? I flopped back on the pillows.  Great, I now have another bugging me for things.  But I think I like this one more than most, and now I know why.  And so it begins.

Note: Lack of shoes or barefoot in the Middle Ages symbolizes “innocence.” Coincidence?

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Medieval Illumination

A very stylized art form of the Middle Ages, illumination. Just Google and you find hundreds of styles and different images and scripts used through out time. This is my version and attempt of story telling, the medieval way. I may color and do some gold leaving on the king and his steed in the future. Enjoy!
Detail of picture:

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The King and his Horse

One of the most important aspects of chivalry is the knight and his horse.  Without these two, chivalry or even the knight of the Middle Ages, would be somewhat very less interesting. For it was the loyalty, honor, and bravery of the knight and his trusted steed, that became legend and the subject of many stories and fables.  This image is what inspired Chaucer’s “A Knight’s Tale” and many other medieval writer’s inspirations.  It was also what became the main symbolic aspect of the medieval tournament.

The standard tournament or model for such event, arose from Roman times as depicted through early works of art, but was further developed and branded during the 1160’s and 1170’s and through such works as The Life of William Marshal and many of the works of romances by Chretien de Troyes, who was renowned for his works of chivalry and courtly love romances.

Throughout the Middle Ages, chivalry and the knight was an important symbol to secular society.  Tournaments were knights would showcase their skills, were a height of popularity in Tudor times, as well during the time of Edward IV and Richard III. References are slim but they did hold these events.  It is entirely possible that Richard himself was trained to participate as well. But we do not know, nor have the evidence at hand to know if this really happened or not, least I have not come across it of late.  (Richard competing in a tournament, would be like jackpot in my book!) We know from historical record that Edward paid for Richard to be tutored in the ways of knighthood up at Middleham Castle, while he was staying with Richard Neville, the “King Maker.” 
Aneurin Barnard as Richard, Duke of Gloucester 
There are records that in 1465, when Richard would have been 14 years of age, he began his study of arms under Warwick. His age corresponds to the average age of when most youth of noble linage would enter the tutelage of one who would prepare them for the ways of taking up arms whether it be for warfare or for sport. It is noted, Edward IV paid “for costs and expenses incurred by him on behalf of the Duke of Gloucester,” while Richard was at Middleham. It is presumed that Edward IV was thinking of the future of his throne when he made this move.  He knew Warwick’s reputation, as it was beyond excellent, and he needed as many allies as possible on his side to maintain the throne and keep the peace in the land. Henry VI was still alive, dethroned, but alive. That alone was enough of a threat.  He needed allies, and ones of blood were the best kind. So by training Richard in the finest art of warfare to the highest degree and preparing him for the most honorable position of knighthood, later becoming a knight of the Order of the Garter, was a perfectly planned move.  The skills and expertise later won Richard his renowned reputation on the battlefield as well as being an excellent equestrian.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of tournaments and the “big picture” is the contribution that Richard started while he was king; he started the College of Arms. The College of Arms still exists today and housed the heralds and their work.  The heralds kept track of the genealogy aspect of the noble families that bore their crests, as well as the use of arms in battle and on the jousting or tournament field. The heralds have been known to be of use since the twelfth century. In 1484, the heralds were granted a charter to have their services housed in London, by Richard III.  When Henry Tudor came to power, he dismantled the heralds giving their authority of their order to his mother, Margaret Beaufort. It wasn’t until 1555, that it was reestablished. The heralds whether they are in funeral processions, or other stately events also were present at tournaments. There they confirmed and recording participation in events and proved proof of genealogy of the competitors during these events. They were also quite noticeable because their tabards were of the royal coat of arms, which distinguished them from other members of court and signified their importance.

(Image: King Richard III and his family in the contemporary Rous Roll in the Heralds' College. Left to right: Anne Neville, Queen of King Richard III; King Richard III; Edward, Prince of Wales, their son. ) [1]

So why where tournaments important? Besides working on skill and equestrian expertise; knights alike could tone their skills so when it was time for battle, they knew what they were up against.  It was also a place to display and build a reputation for their houses, as well as training.  It is uncertain that Richard III actually competed in any of these events, but it is known that Edward IV held them, and Henry VIII did participate, hence his famous jousting accident that caused him pain in later years of his life.

One of the most famous events of these tournaments, was jousting.  Which involved two-armored knight on horseback.  While on horse back, the knights charged each other very fast, using lances and the goal was to either break the opponent’s lance or unhorse him.  Jousting was very popular in England and Germany through out the Middle Ages.  It was highly popular in France until 1559, when King Henry II was killed in a jousting tournament. It was discontinued in France as a sport as a result. Horses used in these events were not light breeds such as Arabians, or Thoroughbreds of today, but heavier breeds similar to warm-bloods chargers and “Destriers.” Chargers were bred for aglity and stamina and the destriers were similar but larger to Andalusians, but not as big as today’s draft horses.  Kind of in the middle.

15th-Century Manuscript Illumination of a 
Knight in Armor from the Codex Capodilista
In the tournaments and also on the battlefield the horses wore it’s riders herald or coat of arms on his blanket or “caparison”, had armour on his head called “chanfron.” The rider almost all the time had spurs to help drive the horse forward, as well as saddle and bridle.  The different colors and the overall display was one that was very appealing to many, espeically the sepectators of the sport aiding in its popularity. Later in the 15-16th century armor even had branched off to specific uses, even one for tournaments. Modifications were made to the suits to help with lance blows and helms were fashioned for more movement and better overal fit.  Tournaments were mostly held on Mondays, Tuesdays and other days of the week with the exception of Fridays and Sundays. As well as put on during the year, except during the 40 days during Lent.  Announcment of such events were made about a fortnight before, or two weeks.  At the end of the day, the patron or whom ever put on the event celebrated the days festivities with food, banquet, prizes and various forms of entertainment. It was an event that many would not want to miss. Because of the festivities surounding such events, it is prehaps why its allure and importance still remains today and is an important symbol of midieval life and culture.  Adding to its perservation, the contrubitions made by King Richard III, with the housing of the Heralds aided directly its preservation for years to come and is probably why we know of it today.

1. Original from the Rous Roll, by John Rous, 15th century. Image is printed in: Jesse, John Heneage (1862) Memoirs of King Richard the Third and Some of His Contemporaries: With an Historical Drama on the Battle of Bosworth (PDF), London: Richard Bentley, pp. p. X Retrieved on 10 April 2009. (Accessed: 2/6/2014)
2. Halsted, Caroline A. Richard III: As Duke of Gloucester and King of England. Vol. 1 Longman. London, England. c. 1844. Pp. 109- 116
3. Jones, Robert. Knight, The Warrior and World of Chivalry. Metro Books, New York, New York c. 2011
7. Email from Amy Licence 2/7/2014

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


(Some courtly love inspired poetry.)
c. John William Waterhouse

How do I honor thee?
My Lord of faith and virtue, 
Soul mate of my heart,
Keeper of my mind.
You defend my honor.
A noble knight you are,
If you were to be lost,
It would never be forever.
I await your return,
A return so long overdue.
A return to my heart.
From a heart which loves,
For a love that is so true.
~ A. C. McMillin c. 1996

*Stay posted, there will be a feast for your eyes with this poem soon. :)