Monday, 28 September 2015

1066 Bits and Bobs with William the Conqueror

1066, the 27th of September. 

At last the wind has shifted, William the Conqueror's invasion force set sail for England.

1066, the 28th of September

William the Conqueror lands at Pevensey Bay this day in 1066.

As he sets foot on the beach he stumbles and falls, a collective gasp is heard, the Conqueror, knowing that his men believe this is a bad omen he shouts “See I already have England in my hands.”

Sunday, 27 September 2015

William Hobbes, Physician to Edward IV and Richard III

The Sergeant Surgeons were originally military surgeons, it was their duty to attend the monarch on the battle field. At the Battle of Dettingen in Germany in 1743 one John Ranby was the last man to perform this duty when he accompanied King George II into battle. 

The first person to be appointed to this position was William Hobbes in 1461.

It is today, the 27th September in 1488, that marks the death of William Hobbes, physician to both Edward IV and Richard III.

Hobbes proved to be one of the few trusted servants of the House of York. 

William Hobbes story can be  found on my Wars of the Roses blog on my website

Friday, 25 September 2015

Battle of Stamford Bridge

Today, the 25th of September is the anniversary of a fierce battle that was to play an important part in shaping our country, not Hastings, which was less than a month later, but the Battle of Stamford Bridge in the County of Yorkshire.

Five days before the battle, Harald Hardrada, King of Norway and his English ally Tostig Godwinson, who was angry because he had not been given the Earldom of Northumbria the previous year, sailed up the Ouse with over ten thousand men. 

Only four days after hearing of the invasion, Harold Godwinson marched the hundred and eighty miles to east Yorkshire and surprised the invaders at Stamford Bridge. Previous the the onset of the battle, Harold had tried to persuade his brother to return and fight for his cause, promising him the Earldom of Northumbria, but Tostig was not interested, as he felt sure that the invaders were in a strong position. 

For the story of an axe wielding Norsemen and an English hero in a boat please click on the link.


Melusine is a female spirit of fresh water, sacred springs and rivers. Her children are said to include the King of Cyprus, the King of Armenia, the King of Bohemia, King of Lusignan and the Duke of Luxembourg.
It is the later, that Jacquetta, mother of King Edward IV's queen, Elizabeth Woodville, is said to be descended, it is also said that Jacquetta inherited her 'magic' abilities from Melusine and was a practicing witch. Supposedly seen casting spells she is accursed of witch craft in 1469 but cleared the following year.

This account of Melusine story written was by Linda Foubister.

"The fairy, Melusine, was the daughter of the fairy Pressyne and King Elynas of Albany. One day, she and two of her subjects were guarding their sacred fountain when a young man, Raymond of Poitiers, burst out of the forest. Melusine spent the night talking with Raymond, and by dawn, they were betrothed, but with one condition. Melusine requested that Raymond promise that he would never see her on a Saturday. He agreed, and they were married. Melusine brought her husband great wealth and prosperity. She built the fortress of Lusignan so quickly that it appeared to be made by magic. Over time, Melusine built many castles, fortresses, churches, towers and towns, each in a single night, throughout the region. She and Raymond had ten children, but each child was flawed. The eldest had one red eye and one blue eye, the next had an ear larger than the other, another had a lion’s foot growing from his cheek, and another had but one eye. The sixth son was known as Geoffrey-with-the-great tooth, as he had a very large tooth. In spite of the deformities, the children were strong, talented and loved throughout the land.
One day, Raymond’s brother visited him and made Raymond very suspicious about the Saturday activities of his wife. So the next Saturday, Raymond sought his wife, finding her in her bath where he spied on her through a crack in the door. He was horrified to see that she had the body and tail of a serpent from her waist down. He said nothing until the day that their son, Geoffrey-with-the-great tooth, attacked a monastery and killed one hundred monks, including one of his brothers. Raymond accused Melusine of contaminating his line with her serpent nature, thus revealing that he had broken his promise to her.
As a result, Melusine turned into a fifteen-foot serpent, circled the castle three times, wailing piteously, and then flew away. She would return at night to visit her children, then vanish. Raymond was never happy again. Melusine appeared at the castle, wailing, whenever a count of Lusignan was about to die or a new one to be born."

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Autumn Equinox

The Autumn Equinox, or the first day of autumn occurs today.
This is when the north and south poles of the earth are not tilted towards or away from the sun, as at other times, but are aligned so as to give, the same amount of daylight in both of the earth's hemispheres.

The term equinox, derived from Latin, meaning equal night.
The full moon that appears in our sky nearest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon and this is when farmers would harvest their crops.

My only real recollection of this time is from my infant school days and the celebration of the Harvest Festival, where we all had to bring some form of food from home, a celebration of the food grown on the land. I can always remember, as I grew up, being disappointed that the vast majority of the food was tinned, and the school hall wasn't filled with baskets of apples, pumpkins or a couple of marrows, all nicely laid out on small bales of hay. My children were encouraged to bring tinned or packet food to all their Harvest Festival celebrations, and now, quite rightly, nothing goes to waste and the food that has been put on display is usually made into parcels and given to people in need.

Monday, 21 September 2015

The Great Tower Ashby de la Zouch Castle, Leicestershire.

On Sunday we took a trip to the one time home of William, Lord Hastings, who was executed on the order of Richard III a short time after a confrontation at the famous council meeting of June 1483.

From the ruins of the tower it is easy to see the four different areas making up the living accommodation. At the top, there are the remains of a wonderfully ornate fireplace, the centre piece of the Great Chamber. No doubt, when winter guests arrived it would be filled with wood, cracking and sparking. I wonder if Hasting was positioned in front of this fire when he plotted (allegedly) against the king.

The second level, with its large arched window, is the parlour.

Level three, with the three arched windows was the kitchen and four would be the basement filled with wood and maybe vats of wine

The room at the top of my second image is what is thought to have been Hastings study. (I didn't get as far as that, there were a number of nesting pigeons who were rather aggressive, and insisted I go no further.)

William Hastings, in 1474, was licensed by Edward IV to fortify two sites in Midlands, this castle he created from an existing manor house, the second, at Kirkby Muxloe he never finished. It was built out of red brick, and much like Tattershall Castle, in Lincolnshire in style.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Battle of Bosworth Sand Sculpture.

The late fourteenth century saw the widespread use of plate armour, this meant that swords changed from a slashing and chopping weapon, to a sword with a sharply pointed blade.
The medieval soldier would have been much practiced at hand to hand combat, he would have known where exactly to place his sword, as seen in the sculpture, for maximum effect. These vulnerable areas were the groin, armpit and the throat, a place uncovered for flexibility.
The halberd and the poleaxe were also popular, by the fifteenth century the broad axe, a weapon a bit like the Viking axe, were being used too.
All these weapons could be used in a different way against plate armour, to cut through, punch through, or crush the poor medieval soldier.
The lance, as seen here being used by the mounted soldier, were not exactly like the lances used in jousting, they were more like spears, they were long and made to be used with one hand, and of course the ends were sharpened to a point.
Interesting, and I learnt this yesterday, a lance also refers to a unit of soldiers, who would surround a nobleman as he went into battle. The Lance was usually made up of squires, other mounted soldiers and of course the knight himself.

Here's another photograph I took yesterday when we visited the Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester. 

Friday, 18 September 2015

Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon

On this day, in 1556, Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon died in Padua, Italy.

A number of 'ailments' have been suggested as the cause of the Earl's death, fever, syphilis, falling down a flight of stairs, even poisoning.
Edward Courtenay had Yorkist blood flowing through his veins, his grandmother was Catherine of York, daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Catherine had married William Courtenay, Earl of Devon by 1496.

Courtenay's story continues on my website

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Today in 1386/7 King Henry V was born. 

I know little but the basic facts of Henry's life as my historical interest leads me away from this era via the family feuds of the Percy's and the Neville's and eventually to the Wars of the Roses. 

The first thing that springs to mind when I think of Henry V is his appearance. 

You can read more about Henry V on my website

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Mini History Blog: Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

On this day in 1859 Isambard Kingdom Brunel Died.

 If you have ever travelled to Cornwall via the Great Western railway then you will know of Brunel's network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts. I've never forgotten the twice yearly trips my family and I made to my grandparents, one minute it was light, then it was dark, then it was light again. The highlight of the trip would be crossing over his bridge over the Tamar.

I used to be apprehensive, stating that the bridge was so old that it might collapse under our weight. My dad always reassured me, stating that it was built by a talented engineer and that if it had lasted as long as it had we would get a few more crossings yet!
He was right of course, its still standing over thirty years later.

As well as bridges, tunnels and railways, Brunel was responsible for the design of several famous ships. The Great Western, launched in 1837, was the first steamship to cross from Bristol to New York. His ship the Great Britain, launched in 1843, was the world's first 'iron-hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam-powered passenger liner.'

Brunel was a heavy smoker he suffered a stroke and died, aged 53, in 1859, the year his Great Eastern, the biggest ship ever built at that time, was launched.

He is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in London.

Did you know, that in 1843, while performing a magic trick for his children, Isambard Kingdon Brunel accidentally inhaled a half sovereign coin, which became lodged in his windpipe.
The effort to free the coin seems comical now, but it wasn't then. It involved a machine devised by Brunel ( I'm not too sure that it was designed for this purpose) to shake it loose, eventually it did. The first attempt to free the coin by using as special pair of forceps didn't!
Thank goodness this great man didn't choke to death, or we would not have had that wonderful bridge that spans the banks of the Tamar between Devon Cornwall or all those tunnels on the Great Western Railway.

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Adventures of Sir Renaud de Karihaes and his Trusty Steed Leinosus

Episode Six: Part One

Home For a While

You may or may not be aware of our hero, Leinosus the Horse's daring do's in recent months. Well, Leinosus, on the 11th of July arrived just in time to save the day. Anyway this lead to his master, Sir Renaud de Karihaes, taking the castle and therefore securing if for his liege the king. 

You can read about Leionsus's latest adventure, or rather the result of his latest adventure on his very own website at:

Boasting of the Killing of a King

Rhys ap Thomas: The Fatal Blow?

When the remains of Richard III were found in 2012, it was discovered that he had sustained a number of injuries during the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 where he fought for his crown. 

On examination, it was found that a wound to the bottom of the skull presented a gaping hole, where a halberd had cut part of it away, this wound was not fatal. The wound that would have ended the kings life was one to the base of the skull where a blade penetrated it.

In my blog I write of the evidence that might prove the Welshman did strike the king. 

Richard III: The Legendary Ten Seconds

I was asked by Ian Churchward, one of the members of the band The Legendary Ten Seconds to review their album Richard III and here it is. 
 I have to admit, I was a little bit apprehensive as I inserted the disc into my CD player, I thought that I might have to listen to something akin to the dull tones of monastic chanting or that I would feel the urge to get dressed into a cheesecloth dress and dance around my kitchen flinging flowers in the air. However, I was pleasantly surprised, the music on this album does not fit into the first category and neither did I find myself rushing out to by an album by Donovan!
My review continues on my website at

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Mini History Blogs: Alice Montacute...I was attained for treason...

Alice Montacute the only woman attaind during the Wars of the Roses. 

And forasmoch as Aleyse the wyf of the seid Richard erle of Salesbury, the first day of August, the yere of youre moost noble reigne xxxvij at Middleham in youre shire of York… falsely and traiterously ymagyned and compassed the deth and fynall destruccion of you, soverayne lord; and in accomplisshment and executyng therof, the seid Aleise, at Middleham aforeseid the seid first day of August… traterously labored, abetted, procured, stered and provoked the seid duc of York, and the seid erles of Warrewyk and Salesbury, to doo the seid tresons, rebellions, gaderynges, ridynges and reryng of werre ayenst youre moost roiall persone, at the seid toune of Blore and Ludeford: to ordeyne and establissh, by the seid auctorite, that the same Aliese… for the same be reputed, taken, demed, adjugged and atteinted of high treson.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Thomas Vaughan, Chamberlain to Edward V, story continues.....

The Beaufort Patronage 
Wales and London

The exact link between the Beaufort's and particularly Edmund Beaufort and the young Thomas Vaughan is not known, he may or may not have known Vaughan personally, it may be that as a young boy he was placed as a page in one of Beaufort’s households, but as he grew into adulthood it was Edmund Beaufort, along with Adam Moleyns, Bishop of Chichester, who sponsored his claim for denizenship, this granted Vaughan rights that all Englishmen had, that is protection under the law, being able to own and dispose of property and take legal action in the English courts. 

In the years that Thomas Vaughan grew from a boy into a man, Edmund Beaufort had made a name for himself in France as a commander of English forces following his alleged affair with the widowed Catherine of Valois, it has been speculated that the baby born to Catherine in 1431 was Beaufort’s, an idea based on the fact he was named Edmund! This ‘dalliance’ with the queen did not harm Beauforts career, he was continually given important posts in France, created Earl of Dorset and Knight of the Garter in 1438. He controversially replaced Richard Duke of York as Lieutenant of France in 1447, resulting in great animosity between the two men.
By this time Thomas Vaughan was in his early twenties, he had worked his way up the administrative ladder eventually being responsible for managing and receiving all the revenue of estates in Abergavenny. 

My blog contiunes on my website 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Surnames, DNA and Family History

The book I ordered, co written by Turi King, the scientist who worked on Richard III's DNA has arrived.

I purchased this book as an aid in helping me better understand who exactly I am. I was born in Cornwall, lived there on and off and spent the long summer holidays with my grandparents and I consider myself to be Cornish even though half of what makes me me originates from the Leicestershire and Yorkshire.

This fact has always fascinated me.

The book, whose two other authors are George Redmonds and David Hey is entitled Surnames, DNA, and Family History has a section on Cornwall, and piece on the Tre prefix.
My 5x great grandmother was Patience Tregilgas, whose ancestry I am hoping to trace to a small patch of land, just outside Mevagissy, the home of the "Tribe of Gidgas" or followers of St Gildas, a 6th century monk. Another ancestor, my 3x great grandmother's surname had the Cornish Pen prefix, she was Jane Pentreath, whose family member Dolly Pentreath, was one of the last fluent speakers of the Cornish language. So no doubt I will find this section interesting.

I am hoping too that the book touches on the subject of 'Nature verses Nurture', as my paternal ancestor Joseph Taylor was not who I thought he was.

His story can be read here.
I am hoping to start the book by next week, I'll keep you posted.
If you wish to know more here is a summary.
"This book combines linguistic and historical approaches with the latest techniques of DNA analysis and show the insights these offer for every kind of genealogical research. It focuses on British names, tracing their origins to different parts of the British Isles and Europe and revealing how names often remain concentrated in the districts where they first became established centuries ago. In the process the book casts fresh light on the ancient peopling of the British Isles. The authors consider why some names die out, and how others have spread across the globe. They use recent advances in DNA testing to discover whether particular surnames have a single, dual or multiple origins and whether various forms of a name have a common origin. They show how information from DNA can be combined with historical evidence and techniques to distinguish between individuals with the same name and different names with similar spellings and to identify the name of the same individual or family spelt in various ways in different times and places.
Clearly written and illustrated with hundreds of examples, this book will be welcomed by all those engaged in genealogical research, including everyone seeking to discover the histories of their names and families."

Monday, 7 September 2015

Mini History Blogs: The Vittoria the first ship to Circumnavigate the World.

The first voyage round the world ended in 1522 with the return of the Vittoria to Spain.

The Vittoria was one of Ferdinand Magellan’s five ships, she arrived back at the Spanish port of Sanlucar de Barrameda, after she had become the first ship to circumnavigate the world.
The Vittoria was commanded by Juan Sebastian de Elcano, who took over the command of the vessel after the murder of Magellan in the Philippines in April 1521.
The journey was a difficult one, and only Elcano, 17 other Europeans, and four Indians survived when it finally reach Spain. 

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Photo Page Updated

Ludford Bridge, Shropshire, 2012. 

I have updated my photography page on my website, it is now in the form of a slideshow. I feel this is less confusing than my previous attempt at showing off my photos!

Love Libraries, Love Books

On this day, the first free lending library was opened. What was Charles Dickens involvement:

Read my blog: Libraries, Thank goodness for men like John Potter.

John Potter, Mayor of Manchester, must have been proud of himself when his library opened its doors for the first time.

Potter pictured below, set up the library under the provisions of the Public Libraries Act of 1850, he spearheaded a campaign to purchase the building and the 18,028 books that filled the shelves. The money, £4156 of which paid for the books, was raised from all areas of society, from a committee of working men to Prince Albert.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Mini History Blogs: The Coronation of Richard I

King Richard I was crowned this day at Westminster Abbey in 1189. The Bodleian Library in Oxford hold's an account of the coronation that gives the names of those who were in attendance and a description of the event.

In the account, the chronicler records Richard as the Duke of Normandy and writes how he lead the procession with "triumphal chanting." Richard took the oath and then anointed himself, taking the crown from the alter on which it sat. According to the chronicler, the crown was so heavy that two earls helped support it above the kings head.

Interestingly, during the ceremony a bat flew around Richard's head and a strange pealing of bells could be 'evil omen' writes the chronicler.

It is easy with hind sight to say that the recorder of the coronation was correct in his assumption, but as it turned out he was.

Richard I was a selfish and cruel king and a favourite of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. He only spent six months of his ten year reign in England claiming it was 
"cold and always raining" 
he bankrupted the treasury to fund his hobby.....crusading.
He famously said
 "I would sell London itself if only I could find a rich enough buyer."
Richard's brother, later King John, was left to pick up the pieces. Could you run a country effectively with an empty treasury? John, was not perfect by any means, he was seen as the evil villain, a view which continues to this day. Richard however still remains an iconic figure.
A hero king? A good king?...........I think not!