Monday, 29 February 2016

Alice Mohun of the Mohuns of Dunster

No Meek Subservient She!

The Mohun family had benefited by siding with King John, their closeness to those who ran the country paved the way for an advantageous marriage.
The Mohun's had as a family member and ally William Brewer who had himself flourished in royal service under King John.

This new generation of Mohuns were born into a world that was being shaped by John's famous charter. 
If the story of King John losing the royal treasure in the murky, muddy waters of the Wash in Lincolnshire is to be believed, then the royal crown of England still lies there today, in reality, whether this crown of England was lost, stolen or sold, in 1220, Henry III of England was crowned for the second time, with a brand new shiny one. With a new and young king on the throne, the populous looked forward to a monarch governing the country with a fair, but firm hand. However, by 1237 his reign was being undermined by many of his powerful barons. The troubles that had begun in the reign of King Stephen, had continued to rumbling on, although controlled under Henry II, had soon flared up once more under his father King John.
Henry, as did previous monarchs regularly used council meetings to discuss affairs of state, in Henry’s reign these meeting resulted in the early formation of an English Parliament. During the thirteenth century these assemblies were always summoned by the king and generally he consulted only a small council, but by requiring the wealthy barons to help govern, Henry strengthened their powers and in time they came to call themselves the Great Council. These men grew to think that the king must consult the council and when decisions were made without their consultation they developed a sense of being excluded from the work of government in which they felt entitled to participate.  

The rest of Alice Mohun's story can be read on my website

Rosemary For Remembrance

"There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.There’s fennel for you, and columbines; there’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets"  

Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5

When Ophelia loses her mind, she begins handing out flowers to everyone around her and talks about the symbolic meaning of those particular flowers. Among them there is Rosemary, this herb has been linked to memory for hundreds of years, but its also symbol of love and remembrance, and is frequently used at at both weddings and funerals.

It was customary at one time, for the bride and groom to plant rosemary near the door of their new home on their wedding day.

​ However, the old saying 

"where rosemary flourished, the woman ruled"

may have seen more than a few husbands uprooting the plant, after all, it was he who was wearing the trousers, wasn't it?

More on this subject can be found on my website 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Alice Mohun and James Audley

By the end of 1264 James Audley replaced his brother in law, Peter de Montfort, (no relation to Simon) as Constable of both Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury Castles. He spent much of his time, as did his father, arbitrating between the English lords and the Welsh and was appointed one of the royalist members of the council of fifteen appointed to advise Henry in accordance with the provisions of Oxford. A year later he witnessed, as James of Altithel, the king's confirmation of the council's powers on the 18th of October 1258.


Audley was a supporter of Henry III and was with the king at the Battle of Northampton and the Battle of Lewes in 1264.
James Audley had married Ela, the granddaughter of William Longspree, the acknowledge illegitimate son of Henry II, but their relationship was not a happy one, and this may have been one reason why my ancestor, Alice Mohun, became Audley's mistress and the mother to his son James.

In 1237, Alice's first husband had died and it was not until 1245 that she remarried. That year, James Audley had witnessed a Charter issued by Alice’s father confirming the Soke of Mohun in Westminster to Alice and Robert Beauchamp and it maybe that it was in connection with this Alice had met Audley.
Alice gave birth to six children with Beauchamp and James Audley was the father of six children with Ela Longspree, but where Alice and James's son fits in (date wise) I am yet to find out.
James Audley gave a number of manors and land to Alice but she had to fight to retain them, which after his death she succeeded in doing.
James Audley appears in another of my family histories. His elder sister, Amice Audley, had married into my Whitchurch/Blanchminster family of Shropshire, and he appears in a dispute of the over the wardship of the Whitchurch heiresses with John de Warenne the Earl of Surrey.
The images below are of the remains of Bridgnorth Castle and the tomb of the William Longspree, the great grandfather of Alice's son James.

You can read all about the Mohun family on my website at

Three years after the Battle of Hasting

Little did I know, when I stayed in the Devon village of Instow this time last year, that from my hotel bedroom I would be looking across the River Torridge toward the suggested site of the second biggest punch up of the 1060's. From my photographs, you can see these fields behind the famous Appledore Shipyard.

It has been claimed today that the fields between the Devon villages of Appledore and Northam is the site of what could be called a rematch between the sons of King Harold and the Norman conquerors.
Author Nick Arnold claims that these west country fields
"played host to the bloody battle of 1069."
Mr Arnold goes on to say that
....."More than 3,000 people died in the resulting clash, Mr Arnold said, after 64 longships "crammed with armed men" led by Godwine and Edmund arrived at Appledore on 26 June 1069.
Their army, which arrived from Ireland, met a fighting force made up of Normans, Bretons and English. They were met and roundly defeated by forces led by Brian of Brittany in a day-long battle. The showdown settled once and for all who would rule England"

A research paper will be republished by the Battlefields Trust. I will be looking forward to reading it.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Adventures of Sir Renaud de Karihaes

Sir Renaud Ruins the Evening

As the working week draws to a close and the skies over Karihaes Castle begin to fade to grey, Lady Karihaes busies herself lighting fires and candles, for Sir Renaud has promised that he will spend the evening at home with her rather than at their local, the Pig and Whistle, with his friends. She is looking forward to partaking in a glass or two of wine, munching on a few nibbles and reading the latest edition of the Medieval Woman and in particular an article entitled The Middle Ages: A New Era for Hats, while Sir Renaud browses though the new seasons plant catalogue.

What is going on here? Find out all about Sir Renauds latest adventure in my latest blog

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Richard II

February 13th 1400 is traditionally thought to be the date of death of Richard II.

Many would argue that Richard's deposition by Henry Bolingbroke was justified, however his lonely death in a dungeon 
in the bowels of Ponitfract Castle in Yorkshire, supposedly by starvation, was murder. And just as Henry Tudor did, nearly eighty five years in the future, Henry Bolingbroke would have to work hard to prove that he was the rightful king and not a usurper who had taken the throne illegally.

Richard II had inherited the throne of England at the age of ten. Four years later, in 1381, he successfully ended the 
Peasant Revolt, but followed this great achievement with extravagances and favouritism, all of which alienated a number of high ranking lords.

You can read more about Richard II's sad demise on my website at

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Medieval Mistresses

Dunster Casle as it is today
Contrary to what we have been forced to believe, medieval women were effective administrators and fierce defenders of their property, doing what ever was necessary to protect the rights of their offspring.
Alice Mohun, the last in the line of my Mohun ancestors, was just such a woman.
Alice, was the mistress of James Audley, Marcher Lord and one of the council of fifteen men nominated by the Provisions of Oxford. Audley had granted Alice the land and rights of the manor of Horseheath in Cambridgeshire, but on his death in 1272, Alice was forced to fight Audley's legitimate children's claim on the estate in court. It was not until 1278 that she finally received the lands, but on her sons death in 1286 it was lost and reverted to James Audley's youngest son Hugh. However, by 1313 it had reverted back to Alice's grandson James and on his death to his son William Audley, whose memorial brass you can see below.

As you can see, nearly all of the figure of William remains, but much of the surrounding decoration is long gone, apart that is, from a cute little angel appearing out of a cloud.

A mistress Alice may have been, but she saw to it that her child received his share of his fathers estate.

You can read more about the family of Mohun on my website at

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Arrests as Stoney Stratford 29th April 1483

Sheriff Hutton, Middleham Castle and Pontefract Castle 

If Richard, Duke of Gloucester's initial intention was to execute Anthony Rivers, Richard Grey and Thomas Vaughan, after arresting them at Stoney Stratford in 1483, why not send them straight to Pontefract Castle instead of holding them separately for over eight weeks in three different castles?
This question has puzzled me for years.
The reason why I believe Gloucester chose to do this can be found on my website in Chapter Ten of my blog on Sir Thomas Vaughan which is entitled:

Sheriff Hutton, Middleham Castle and Pontefract Castle ..........Why?
It begins
"There are those who believe that Vaughan, Rivers and Grey were not granted a trial and were murdered on a direct order of Gloucester......."

My blog continues at 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Battle of Mortimer's Cross

2nd February 1461
Two armies met not too far from Wigmore at Mortimers Cross, in Herefordshire, and it was in this battle that the future king would give those around him a glimpse of man he was set to be. The appearance in the sky the night before the battle of a Parhelion was, to Edward, a visual representation of the Holy Trinity and that God was on his side. 

It has been said of Edward that he was not particularly superstitious, but his men were and Edward possessed the presence of mind to use the three bright suns to his advantage. Edward would show he possessed courage and the military skill as well as intelligence.
The battle itself lasted into the afternoon, eventually the Lancastrian troops were pushed back and retreated southwards, many of their men lost their lives drowning in the freezing water as they crossed of the River Lugg, Jasper Tudor realised his cause was lost and fled back to Wales.
Shortly after the battle Edward heard of the capture of Owen Tudor, he called on his Welsh ally Roger Vaughan and ordered him to Usk Castle, where it is said Tudor was held captive. Owen Tudor was summarily executed, beheaded in Hereford market square, it was Roger Vaughan who swung the axe. Edward was a king in the making, for now, there would be those whose indiscretions he could tolerate but not when it came to avenging the deaths of those he held dear, and Edward struck, just like John Clifford had at Wakefield.
Extract from my blog on Sir Thomas Vaughan. You can read this blog on my website at
Photograph by Erik Axdahl

Monday, 1 February 2016

Thomas Vaughan: Knight and Treasurer to King Edward IV and Chamberlain to the Prince of Wales

Chapter Twelve 
A Death Deserved ?
On the Wrong Side at the Wrong Time
The low born Welsh man from Monmouth that was Thomas Vaughan has interested me for over twenty years, ever since the day I discovered that he belonged, albeit by marriage, in my maternal family tree. His marriage to Eleanor Browne affected the life of number of my ancestors including his step daughter Kathrine Browne and most certainly that of her brother George.

Vaughan's service within noble and royal households can be traced back to his teens, he forged relationships while serving under the Lancastrian regime, notably with Jasper Tudor. These connections did not survive the second half of 1459 when he headed for Calais with the Yorkists. From that point on Vaughan proved himself a faithful supporter of Edward as the Earl of March and as king of England. This loyalty brought him power and money and influence and this may be due in part as Edward seeing Vaughan as a father figure and the grandfather his baby son never had, I read somewhere that

“wherever King Edward went, so did Sir Thomas, carrying the infant prince in his arms.” 

Thomas Vaughan, Knight and Treasurer to King Edward IV and Chamberlain to the Prince of Wales
c1410 - 1483
Thomas's story, from his birth in Monmouth in Wales, to his death on the executioners block can be read on my website