A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 14 – Henry V A Good Play but a Questionable king?

Overview and Introduction 

Born 9th August 1386 son of Henry (to be a IV), grandson of John (Gaunt) and great-grandson of Edward (The III and ‘Who Can I Invade next?’). Although a sort of cousin of Richard II, because Richard didn’t trust anyone Henry was once removed but once Henry’s father (Henry of the broken bollens) was exiled and Henry (the son) was only a boy and not in line to the throne Richard (the II), treated him kindly. He was indulged by being allowed try his hand at intimidating the Irish, being but a lad it didn’t work. He gained more experience when his father was king and he spent time fighting the Welsh until 1408, when because of his father’s various interesting ailments he was obliged to take part in government and argue with his father.

Eventually he became king 9th April 1413 when it snowed a lot which may or may not have had any relevance

Controversy over his Youth and Also Some Rebellions   

Some folk said Henry (now The V) had led a riotous and dissolute youth in common company. This would have been difficult when he was fighting the Welsh, then being in government and arguing with his father. This was probably a rumour spread about by folk because of his friendship with Sir John known for his Odd Castle, probably having a counterfeit flag and being a Bollard, whose beliefs asserted that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church were useless. In those days this notion was heretical.

Sir John’s Rebellion of 1414

Despite this Henry (V), was very fond of John (Sir) and it was only when Sir John organised a rebellion in 1414 which was to take place on the 12th night of Christmas when people would be so full of food and drink they would be mumbling and so Henry and his brothers would be easy to capture. Sir John would then proclaim himself in charge while everyone found Edmund Mortimer.  Most of Sir John’s supporters had assembled at St. Giles’ field, since he wasn’t using it. Others foolishly gathered at an inn at Smithfield, thus rather scattered and somewhat merrie they were scattered even more since Henry had found out about the plot arrived with his own army. Most rebels were massacred, beheaded etc, but Sir John fled and when he tried to organise another rebellion in Southampton Henry felt the friendship might be lacking something.

Sir John and Some Others’ Rebellion of 1415

Rather than planning slaughter lots of Churchmen and hide Henry, this plot was to properly slaughter Henry and, since he had been found put Edmund Mortimer on the throne whether he wanted it or not. Because Richard II had said Edmund should be king. As a Lord Scrope was involved Henry’s suspicions were raised (see previous Chapter Scrope- a bishop). Everyone was arrested and executed before they got a chance to say anything noble. Sir John fled once more but was captured in Wales in 1417, hung, burnt and thus reckoned to no longer be a threat. Edmund Mortimer was quite relieved.

Domestic Policy 

Because of an excess of rebellions in the reign of his father and now his own, Henry (The V) was very severe and stern, but in a fayre way. He said everyone who did not rebel was welcome to help him as long as they realised that at the end of the day he was The King. Everyone still surviving got the message.

The Return of The Hundred Years War

Henry’s Claim to The French Crown

Although Henry (the V) carried on with his father (Henry IV)’s policy of speaking English officially, this did not stop him from saying he should be King of France. He based his claim on the following legal points:

The Kings of England had ancestors who were related to French Kings and now the French royal line were beginning to run out of sons, so much so one was Posthumous and for a while France had to be ruled by the whoever was the tallest noble in the realm. Although this crisis had passed the current King of France, Charles VI said he was made of glass and claimed his son was a dolphin. Henry V being serious thought it therefore his solemn duty to take over.

A subsidiary point was The French were supporting Owain Glyndwr in his rebellions and The Scots in their invasions. As the King of England was the most important king of the Isles (Or so claimed by kings of England) it was also his solemn duty to invade France to stop this.

Henry thus wrote a very long letter to the French explaining this. Someone in the French Court who was generally legible told him he couldn’t be king because his ancestors were women and only men were allowed to be ancestors of french kings. One of Henry’s lawyers (naturally a bishop) pointed out the French were using Gallic law, which didn’t really count as it had been invented in a part of France which had been German for a very long time now. And in addition it was pointed out (quite forcefully) to the French that it was a stupid law as everyone had to have male and female ancestor. Henry naturally wrote back and told the French this.

Probably because Henry was now using English in all his correspondence and this was a very complex matter, something went very wrong in translation and the French sent him a box of tennis balls as a reply. By now Henry was so extremely serious (and stern) he decided the only recourse was to invade France.

The Invasion. Harfleur and Agincourt

In August 1415 Henry and a large fleet arrived at the friendly French port of  Have a Flower, but sadly for the citizens Henry was still being stern (and serious) and after besieging it for a while he adopted the tactic of having his army pretend they were all tigers, thus frightening the inhabitants into surrendering. The English then bravely caught all sorts of diseases, so they would be outnumbered by any French army. In the meantime they slaughtered, ravaged and were generally unpleasant. Henry hung a few men but only when they invaded churches. Eventually a large French Army found the small English army at Agincourt on 25th October. Henry cleverly made his army stand still behind a very muddy field, then roused their spirits by telling them that because it was St Crispin’s Day everyone could say Henry was their brother. He then scorned English gentlemen at home saying they were doing naught but holding their manhoods in bed; this sort of comment much humoured the soldiers . Thus, rallied and inspired the English bravely slaughtered the heavily armoured French cavalry who were being very chivalrous by moving slowly through the muddy field.

As a result, the French surrendered and told Charles VI’s daughter Catherine she would have to marry Henry. Because her father had invented a hobby of running around his castles, her mother Isabeau (of Bavaria) was trying her hand at ruling France and the nobles arguing so much they would cram into separate houses to avoid each other, Catherine understandably agreed.

There was much celebration in England.

Political Ramifications

Everyone was so in awe of Henry that the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund said he didn’t think the French having a french King was a good idea and Henry should be in charge. Also, religion was very chaotic as there were three popes; they were so scared by Henry that they agreed there should only be one of them and they resolved to stay in Rome. To celebrate this accomplishment the English gallantly sunk a Genoese fleet which was trying to seize Have a Flower, and then made life miserable for lots of French people who had no opinion on things one way or the other.    

Henry’s Continued Campaigns

After a brief honeymoon, Henry between 1417 & 1420 invaded the parts of France he previously missed and so was not sure if they had surrendered. There are no records of noble speeches;, at this stage he appears to have concentrated on killing people irrespective of station in life and seizing their towns. He must have returned to England at some stage because his son was born Henry (to be VI) was born on 6th December 1421. At this time he was in France retrieving lands lost by his brother Thomas. Thomas had been feeling somewhat low having found out that although he was a duke he was only allowed to rule men who were called Clarence; he’d died as a result of victorious Frenchmen at Bauge in 1421. In consequence Henry rode this way and that in a very stern (and of course serious) manner slaughtering folk and besieging places. Not paying proper attention he did not washing his hands properly and died on 31st August 1422.

Conclusion

Although famous for Agincourt and generally defeating French armies, Henry did not become King of France, was rotten to ordinary French folk and to be honest did not die in a very exceptional manner, thus if it were not for having a play by Shakespeare he might not have been considered a famous king.

And dying so early he left things in England in a questionable state.

A True History of The Isles Vol. II Chapter 13. Henry IV a king of II parts.

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A True History of The Isles Vol. II Chapter 13. Henry IV a king of II parts.

Introduction and overview.

Although Henry IV is famous for deposing Richard II, not much else happened apart from folk who said Henry IV should not be king.

One of the good things about Henry (The IV) was because his reign was so busy and turbulent he thoughtfully divided himself into Parts I (1399 to defeat of rebels at Shrewsbury 1403) & II (the rest to 14the March 1413) thus making the task easier for historians.

As it will be recalled from Chap 8 Richard (the II) Henry (to be the IV) became king because;

Richard had killed off some of Henry’s relatives

Richard had had Henry’s bollins broke

Richard had exiled Henry.

Richard was doing similar things to lots of other nobles.

Because Henry was sturdy, handsome, good at jousting, not had the chance to do mean things to nobles they thought he would be a better king than Richard, who Henry eventually captured and imprisoned. At this stage it is not sure whether Henry had Richard starve or Richard being just plain awkward didn’t eat anything, anyway he died horribly, but because Henry was sturdy, handsome etc most folk let him get away with it.

During this turbulent time, he let himself be convinced he would be a Good King.

To make sure everyone did not confuse Henry with any previous Henry, he said he was from a house in Lancaster which had belonged to his mother Blanche and also he was the first King of England to not properly understand French and so would be a Good English King.

This might have been a promising start but several folk, who had either done well for themselves in Richard’s reign or didn’t like Henry as a IV were wont to plot and scheme.

Henry a Part I- A Successful  Succession and A Coronation (and Some Plots)  

Henry and his new friends said his claim to the throne was right because his father was John Gaunt. Although John (Gaunt) was but the 4th son of Edward III, all the others had died off, and only Edward (oldest and of black armour, who died of campaigns and not washing hands) had had a son Richard II (fancy clothes, washed his hands, died of Henry IV), but Richard didn’t have a son, only a behest which was not the same thing.

Henry now quite the IV went to be coronated, but because he had lice the crown kept falling off, since Henry had an army the clergy decided to overlook The Lice. This only served to cause discontent and rebellions, as listed below

The Epiphany Rebellion (1399) Some of those lords who’d done quite well out of Richard II and might not have had lice, planned to slaughter Henry at a joust, and free Richard (who was still alive and thus II). Henry didn’t turn up. They fled west, were not much supported and were beheaded both officially and unofficially. Richard II died.

Owain Glyndwr-A Welsh Rebellion- This started out in the usual way with an argument over land. Owain defeated his English neighbour and one thing led to another. He decided the welsh declines of the previous century should be stopped and learning that lots of English didn’t like Henry for being a IV turned this into a proper rebellion. The revolt was so successful and Owain so inspirational a leader even folk from South Wales joined him, thus forcing Henry IV Part II to take part. In 1405 the French thought he was a safe bet, but didn’t do anything much. Unfortunately, the English started being unfair by not fighting but blockading, as there were more English than Welsh this resulted in large well-fed (and fattish) armies defeating small and hungry gallant armies. Although Wales was finally defeated Owain slipped away, vanished and thus became a legend. As some of his supporters who were from the Tudor family History had not however seen the last of The Welsh….

Scots Wars (1400 – 14something or other)

Although Richard II had tried to be sort of reasonable with Scotland, Henry IV was not inclined upon this and adopted  New king, New rules policy thus both started raiding each other. English won at Homildon Hill in 1402, but both sides kept on invading each other some for some. The English captured a scots king James I but Henry IV wouldn’t give him back. Whether James caught lice has not be recorded.

The Rebellious Percys

The Percy family owned a lot of the north, the rest being owned by The Nevilles, when they weren’t fighting each other, they fought those Scots who weren’t fighting each other. One Percy also called Henry felt Henry IV owed him gold or land for helping defeat some Scots, Henry IV felt Henry Percy should have fought for him as King. Henry (The Percy) got quite angry and hot about his spurs and since Owain (in Wales) was rebelling thought it a good time to join in. Some Percys and of course some of those (surviving) nobles who had done well out of Richard II, got as far as Shrewsbury where they were defeated in 1403. This was a confusing battle as both leaders were called Henry and both were thought to be killed. Henry IV had more men and so won. Many rebel leaders were killed in battle, others captured and beheaded or fled to Scotland (with or without lice). Henry IV at this stage decided to solidify his rule by being Part 2.

Henry Now a Part 2 (more rebellions and health issues)

Henry apart from the lice continued to have other problems, such as

Richard Scrope

who was a Percy and a Bishop thought Henry IV was not a good king, and helped a few lords who had managed to survive to rebel in 1405. Although they assembled an army Henry (IV) tricked them into thinking he would forget the whole thing. He then captured and beheaded them, including Scrope (it was a rule of the 15th Century that any king who captured a Scrope could to have him beheaded). As bishops were not supposed to be executed, only exiled or imprisoned Henry was excommunicated by a pope, but another pope said due to a printing error it didn’t count and unexcommunicated Henry (and his lice) in 1407.

In 1408 Henry Percy’s father,

also Henry who was Earl of Northumberland who had previously fled came back and confusingly invaded his own land of Northumberland, though since he had scots allies it probably counted. He marched as far as Bramham in Yorkshire however unlike his son he was not nobly confronted by Henry (IV) but by local men led by a sheriff (and no doubt some lice), as he was armed with Scotsmen who were used to be gallantly slaughtered by English archers, he lost and died in battle.

Health

Probably because of having to put down rebellions (and lice) Henry (still a IV) accumulated lots of diseases which would be of interest to medicine in this era, but wasn’t much fun for him. What made things worse was lots of sanctimonious clergy were saying it was because he had beheaded a bishop. He spent his declining years arguing with his son Henry (eventually to be a V) and dying.

In March 1413 he said he was going on a crusade to Jerusalem and having made a pious statement promptly died, leaving no room for a Part 3.

Although there were other folk who reckoned they could be king, no one was going to argue with Henry IV’s son Henry V.

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 8 – The End of the 14th Century and Richard II (well also his beginning too)

A True History of The Isles Vol II. Chap 12. Wales Declining With Artistic Dignity

Introduction

The era we are dealing 1216(ish)-1400(even more ish) marked something of a decline in Welsh fortunes, whereas both the Scots and Irish were getting more difficult for The English Throne; the former with the help of laments and the latter with legends, stories etc The Welsh due an inherent traditional excess of intrigues were unable to turn this round of defeats, errors and squabbles into glorious tragedies and English betrayals. To understand this, it is necessary to briefly look back at the long association The Welsh had with these Isles.

Brief Scamper Through The Past

Going back a couple of thousand years or so everyone who came to these Isles were Celts, after they had supressed, massacred or bred with the original natives they separated into various tribes in various parts. Initially those the Romans first met were The Britons who they conquered after a few massacres and gradually assimilated into the Empire. When the Romans left and various Saxons arrived there was an adjustment and the Britons became either Welsh, Cornish or since they were quite far away Strathclyde, Britons Of. The latter were invaded, slaughtered, massacred etc by someone who were obviously not The Scots as they were far too noble and fiercely independent etc to wipe out another nation. The Cornish suffered from Alfred The Grate who had become so enthusiastic at slaughtering Vikings that he quite forgot himself. In the previous volume we learnt how The Welsh had been the only folk to scare off the Vikings and thus had had the time to set up their own kingdoms and fight amongst themselves and any Anglo-Saxons on the borders. When the 1066 Normans arrived to stay there was something of a change in dynamics.

Welsh Social Structure of The Nobility and the Nation.

 Nobility

On the face of it, it might have seemed quite a sensible and fondly paternal idea that when a king died his land would be divided amongst his sons. However, this system had an inherent flaw in that if a king had, say five sons and each of those sons had four sons that within two generations there would be twenty very small kingdoms and eventually this would have led to a state of there being even more kingdoms than in Ireland. By good fortune for Wales the bonds of fraternal love were very much the same as on other parts of Europe, ie non-existent. So, when a king died surviving sons were quick to go to war with each, marry off sisters who had not been married already and in general try to get their hands on Dad’s throne. This was an accepted way of doing things and previously no great harm had been done done, except by brother upon brother. On the borders with England, for the losing brother there were always the options of (A) He could go and raid English lands (B) He could seek sanctuary in English lands, plot or just show the English the best bits of his brother’s lands to raid. This instability very much concerned the English nobility who were still Normans and thus felt they were obliged to invade all over the Welsh/English border lands, so much so they became known as The Marching Lords.

Geo-Political

One of the little known facts about Wales, unless you are Welsh is that for a very small nation it has an amazing capacity for dividing itself up, this is probably a left-over from the parcelling out of lands to kings’ sons (see above). The most important divide is between NORTH Wales and SOUTH Wales, who over the centuries have not only managed to speak different types of welsh but also enlgish.

At this stage of history there was basically Gwynedd in THE NORTH, there had been Powys in THE MIDDLE, but thanks to Gwynedd was in bits and in THE SOUTH had been, or still might be Deheubarth. The latter had caused much curiosity to the Norman kings William I (ie Conqueror) and William II (ie The Rufus) but they had left it alone. This had not applied to their fellow Normans who said the Welsh were troublesome and invaded in a small way. In doing so they got so confused by Welsh Politics they ended up becoming Cambro-Normans, who eventually wandered off to Ireland.

By the 13th Century Wales had organised itself along a north south divide with a big bit in the middle with very few people. This caused a rift in which the Welsh in The SOUTH pretended to know who the King was in England in order to fight barons he didn’t like, each other and anyone from THE NORTH who came close enough. The Welsh in The NORTH said they were quite independent and reserved the right to fight everybody, including each other.

This all changed with Edward I of England invaded everyone he could think of and after Llewellyn ap Gruffurdd, easily the most important welsh king of the time was slain the welsh nobility were obliged to just be princes. This caused a lot of dismay and disillusionment as noted by one Tomas ap Rhodri who was the descent of Llewellyn. He who could have claimed to be a prince, but lived in England and didn’t. His son Owain Lawgoch however was quite legendary and romantic by being a tall warrior, fighting alongside the French against the now officially English. He returned to Wales to claim to be THE Prince of Wales but was assassinated in July 1378 by a sneaky English spy. Whereas this might have made realpolitik sense from an English perspective, it was not the noble or chivalrous way of doing things, which would have correctly entailed a battle and chopping Owain into little bits. This act is therefore considered as ‘Bad Form’, never mind the fact that welsh kings had been doing that sort of thing in the previous centuries.

During this era, some fool had taught the Welsh how to use bows and arrows and they became such adept archers they hired themselves out as mercenaries, all over the place and were thus able to shoot English nobles without being called rebels. This reached an apogee under Richard II who didn’t trust anyone and so Welsh Archers had a splendid time.

Church in Wales

This had been mostly Celtic and produced a large number of saints (David, Patrick etc) until the Normans arrived. Afterwards Welsh Clergy squabbled with English Clergy over being independent but wisely didn’t try and bother various welsh nobles. Eventually however they had to submit to Canterbury. As everything was in Latin but everyone spoke Welsh no one paid that much attention to the change, and a lot of monasteries were built which was a correct cultural response (see below)

Culture

Going back to the Early Middle Ages 500 (or thereabouts) while everyone else on The Isles was slaughtering each other, except for hired bards who were making the whole business out to be heroic, the Welsh being culturally advanced were inventing literature. This started with some very old poets who invented a Guild or Order of Bards. Under this system anyone who thought they could write and then in verse had to spend nine years proving it. After this they were allowed to become hired by courts or contributing to the easily most important book The Mabinogion.

This enabled Welsh to survive the Anglo-Saxons. By the 12th Century this art had become so advanced and lyrical that every court of nobly, prince king etc needed to have a poet. When Edward I ruined the political system welsh poets did go in for a period of Celtic style lamentations but then settled down to writing for any nobles who could pay, and cleverly converting some Normans into Welsh. Dafydd ap Gwilym in fact was so gifted and lyrical at his work it was known throughout Europe, whereas no one in, say Germany sung Scottish Laments, told Irish Sagas, or cared what a bunch of folk on their way to Canterbury did or said.

Because of this organised and spirited approach, Welsh Literature of those times has outshone and outlasted everything but a few selected works, and it required Shakespeare to put English on the scene.

Conclusion

Thus as Wales had been the first really civilised Celtic nation it was only correct that by the end of the 14th Century she should have been the first to go into a sad, but very romantically memorable decline.

A True History of the Isles Vol II Chap 9 – The Celts A Necessary(Socialist) Overview

A True History of the Isles Vol II Chapter 10. Ireland- One Way of Being Independent In

The Middle Ages.

A True History of The Isles Vol.II Chap 11- The Scottish Way of Managing Things

Martin Luther, The Reformation and Why Not?

The common and popular media would have you believe that 500 hundred years ago today Martin Luther invented the Reformation. Naturally being the common and popular media this is somewhat inaccurate. As a dedicated and serious historian (See “A True History of These Isles Vol. 1 (Prehistory to 1216 CE-ish)”, available on Amazon Kindle $0.99/£0.99- terms and conditions apply) it therefore falls upon myself to ensure the correct application of facts and a fair interpretation of both Luther and the events.

Luther’s Early Life

Martin Luther was born 10th Nov 1483in Saxony into an industrious family; he had several siblings. His father insisted he become a lawyer. He seems to have had a typical education as he referred to his time in school as being both ‘purgatory and hell’, while his university (at Erfurt) was a ‘beer and whorehouse’. Despite this he received a Master’s Degree in 1505. As his father was still stuck on the idea of his son being a lawyer Martin Luther was sent back to Erfurt to study just the law. He didn’t like it and felt there was more to Life, so took to philosophy, but on encountering Reason and Logic felt he might be slipping back into Law. He concluded the only way to be worthwhile and content was to encounter God

A Dramatic Event

On the 2nd Jul 1505, or so the records state, while walking in a field or riding on a road, he was struck by lightning, but survived. Not wishing to have that such a close encounter with God, as yet, weary of people inferring there were many other reasons why a student would be lying confused in a field and also not wishing to risk a repeat experience he became a monk.

How Things Were Done

At this time a large portion of Central Europe was supposed to be ruled by The Holy Roman Emperor. As was the custom of the time he divided his time between fighting the French while arguing with any pope as to who had the final say in things. In the meantime various princes, dukes, counts etc fought or sued each other, while suppressing peasants who rebelled or worse took the nobles to the courts. It was a good time for mercenaries and lawyers (Be fair, you can see Luther Snr’s point of view).

Luther in Conflict with The Church  

At this time the Church had become very indulgent by making a rule which said you could do what you liked as long as you said you were sorry and paid a large amount of money to the Church. Luther thought this unfair upon the poor people and showed his displeasure by writing a version of the Bible in a very common language called The Vernacular while in 1517 (31st Oct) also by nailing to the door of a church a work of nine-five reasons why he was right. The Church authorities acted swiftly.

In 1521 he was summoned to a church court. Here, he defended his case with great eloquence for three or five days and then confused everyone by saying he had nothing to say and was going to stand there. Despite this clever and dramatic move The Church authorities said Luther was incorrect and thus an hysteric. They then condemned him to the terrible punishment of a Diet of Worms.

The Peasant’s Official Revolt

Because Luther had been saying the Church was too wealthy and not Religious enough he had gathered a following. On hearing the news of the cruel sentence passed on him The Poor People were so outraged by this vile treatment that they rose in official rebellion (instead of their normal rowdy behavior). This started in 1524, a peasants’ council was formed and in was agreed to upgrade the rebellion into a war. This ended in 1525, because the authorities could massacre better than peasants could massacre large armies.

The peasants however were good at wrecking churches, monasteries, and being not educated also libraries. Luther was disgusted with this and told them they should concentrate on praying, being rude to bishops and but listen to their rulers.

This was well-received by many of the nobility.

Luther’s Private Life

During this turbulent time people were daring to think the unthinkable. This can be typified by the case of twelve nuns at a convent in Brehna, Saxony who were fed up of being nuns. On hearing of this Luther in a spirit of gallant manliness smuggled them out in herring barrels on the 4th April 1523. The Church authorities may have thought something fishy was going on but possibly shrewdly deduced he’d end up in a pickle. He and one nun Katharina von Bora did however fall in love and marry, thus allowing all clergy to marry. When Katharina found out he’d been living on hard bread and sleeping in a mildewed bed (or maybe the other way around) she soon sorted him out, Luther learning the great value of the phrase ‘Yes Dear’

Luther and The Reformation    

Several bishops and affiliated lesser nobility had tried to have Luther massacred but more sympathetic nobles kept hiding him. When the authorities realised he wasn’t arguing with them, but only the bishops and rowdy peasants it became safe for him to come out of hiding. The first thing he had to do was to tell people to stop listening to people who were not reading The Bible but just having visions as you never knew where they’d got those visons from. He wisely then set up his own church to ensure more Bible reading and singing of hymns.

In Later Years

Luther had a family, his own church and a reformation, however in later years he also suffered with many types of ill-health which made him short-tempered, and sadly not amusingly irascible but down right unpleasantly rude. Being a typical man when admonished by his wife on this score he blamed someone else. This included in particular The Jews, which was very unfair because he was supposed to have read the Bible and it didn’t need much of an excuse for the population to pick on Jews. This outlook of his may have led to a case of Terminal Stupidity as he died in 1546. Normal and balanced people do not subscribe to these later views and wish he’d just to stuck more wholesome pastimes in his retirement such as tending to a garden or annoying bishops.

Luther’s Legacy

It can be argued that because of Luther there are a lot more ways of being Christian than there used to be. As long as people don’t hurl insults or objects at each other over the matter then this is no bad thing.

Foot-Note

The author wishes it to be known this article is originally based on a post of some two years ago (Whimsicalities Anyone?) which is so full of inaccuracies and incorrect assumptions that is has been fully overhauled.

For more interesting views on matters historical readers may (or may not) wish to consider investing in a copy of  51vnj7ZqupL__SY346_

 

 

Available on Kindle (normal terms and conditions apply)

 

 

A True History of The Isles Vol.II Chap 11- The Scottish Way of Managing Things

Forewarned

As previous chapters have covered much of the activities of the Scots and how they upset or distracted the kings and northern nobility of England, there will be some brevity hereabouts

Initial Overview

In the previous volume it was annotated, recorded and generally written about, over the long history of these Isles the folk who lived in the part we call Scotland were wont to march south to raid, enslave, loot or conquer folk in places we now call Northern England. If we go even farther back to about half way through Volume I they did the same to those who were what we would call Welsh, only they were Britons and lived in a place called Strathclyde. Being a fair-minded folk The Scots of the lowlands of Scotland did the same to those who lived in the Highlands or the Islands (as opposed to Ireland, which is another matter). Thus, the Scots in general were a busy and industrious folk who when they had no particularly serious issue with outsides (or Highlanders or Islanders) fought amongst themselves for land, heritage and if they were ambitious enough the Scots throne.

The Perceived Wisdom of the Scots of the Middle Ages

It was an acknowledged fact of Scottish politics that no matter what had been done by whom and when, if the fighting involved the English (or to be precise the Norman Kings and nobles), at least one side was fighting for Scottish Independence, even if they had started it by invading England. As we will see this was used to good effect.

The problem facing those who survived long enough to be a king of Scotland was the number of other folk who wanted to be king and kept on asking some of those Norman lords (aka English) to the south if they could lend them a retinue to bolster the campaign. This became very irritating and Alexander III last of the Dunkeld had some very strong words with Edward I but did not invade, preferring to visit nuns, widows, virgins and in fact any women and as recorded previously died 1286 in a hurry to meet his new bride.

The Rise of The Bruces

Not happy with the other twelve or fifty candidates for the throne or people asking what an English king thought about it, The Bruce family acted. The Bruces from 1306 started by killing John III of Comyn who was Scots but might have wanted to be English

As John had been killed in a church Robert Bruce was quick to say this was only done to protect Scotland from being taken over by the English. In the confusion he then said that all his wars were against the Kings of England and various rouges bought by English Gold and so everything was a war of Independence which gave him the rite to invade not just England but Ireland as well. This worked quite well in Scotland but as noted previously did not do so well for Robert’s brother Edward who died of unconvinced Irish. Robert however defeated the English and their Norman kings, nobles etc at Bannockburn in 1324 on the 23rd June. A peace treaty was signed in which it was clearly stated that only scots nobles could massacre other scots nobles but that Robert could not be held responsible for cattle raiders. He then ruled Scotland but made a hobby of acquiring various ailments and so died in 1329, but the pope at the time said Robert could be buried, so all ended well.

A Time of Turbulence and Then Stability and then Not So Much

Because there was no Son The Bruce, matters were somewhat tempestuous between 1329 & 1356 when David (The II and a Bruce) and Edward (Not a Norman one but a Balliol) disputed who should be king. A lot of time was wasted with small battles, one king escaping from or imprisoning the other until Edward noticed no one was supporting him anymore and he retired.

With all this practice David (The II and no one arguing about it) set to massacring or just punishing disagreeable nobles and inventing a Treasury by which means he was able to prove that Scotland was very wealthy. Thus ahead of the game he cannily died in 1371.

Regrettably there was no David to be the III, so a nephew named Robert but who was really A Stewart was crowned The II. England and France at the time were having peace talks and Robert (The II) wanted to join in. This did not go well with his sons or other nobles and he spent the rest of his life losing his throne to various claimants until 1390 when he expired of coups.

In this unhappy situation Robert (the II)’s son, John said it was in order that he should now be king, because he had had experience at trying to depose David II and/or Edward and also rebel against his father. Although he convinced the Scots parliament to allow him to be called Robert and thus be The III, the nobles were not convinced. Considering some of these had splendid names such as Black Douglas, Red Douglas (possibly an early socialist) or Archibald The Grim it is easy to see why. He was also blamed for failing the pacify the west and north of Scotland where folk were wont Gaelic and opposed to Scots. It is likely he would have been deposed or slewed but for the king of England being Richard The II, The Hopeless and The Deposed. This allowed the nobles in the south of Scotland to raid, pillage, slaughter etc the north of England and not really care who might call themselves King of Scotland. He was to eventually die in 1406 0f ill-health possibly bought on by a series of Douglases.

The Church in Scotland    

Whereas the Scots had been properly Christian, they had to put up with the Archbishop of York telling them what to do. What with Scottish nobles raiding across the border this was not always an effective means of religious leadership. The Papacy in 1192 attempted to sort this out by telling Scottish bishops they didn’t have to speak to the Archbishop of York anymore. Regrettably due to a clerical oversight no Scots’ Archbishop was appointed even though the Scots’ church was titled Ecclesia Scoticana which sounded very important. For some obscure reason they were known as The Special Daughter of Rome even though they were more than one and naturally men. Thus, somewhat confused and not a little depressed the church in Scotland generally restricted itself to religious matters.

The Scottish Parliamentary Experience  

As was fashionable in parts of Europe various knights, local important un-nobles and folk with money felt the nobles were having far too much say in the running of things and so grumbled together. Kings liking the idea of having folk who were not nobles around the place allowed them to form parliaments. The idea unravelled a bit when these folk stopped just talking and gained powers.

In Scotland to avoid the attentions of nobles disagreeable or otherwise, these used never to meet in the same place but in various towns, then tell the king what they thought of things. By deft manoeuvring they even managed to gain some powers of taxation and telling the king what his name should be (See Robert III).

Unlike later commoners (see Oliver Cromwell) they were never able to gain an army and so their role was often marginal.

Clans

In the not uncommon circumstance of the various Middle Ages there was no shortage of folk to fight, the Scots very cannily invented the Clan. This was based around the family of a chief. However not only his family, but followers etc could join and all use the same name. This made raids, squabbles and wars a much neater affair as everyone knew which side they were on. Something not always shared in England and Ireland (Wales being in a bit of a sulk). Because the ordinary person gave loyalty to the Clan they did not have to listen to The King. Whereas this seemed a smidge democratic it meant that kings of Scotland developed aggressive tendencies, or went into a sulk neither of which boded well for stable or healthy long-term government. However, as the Clans survive to this day, theirs, it must be argued, was the better arrangement.

France

Because English Kings felt obliged, for many reasons, to fight both Scotland and France it was understandable the latter two should form an alliance. In Scotland, this was called The Auld Alliance, and to ensure everyone Scottish knew who was who The English were titled The Auld Enemy. This arrangement allowed the French and Scots to be very sentimental about each other and when it suited kings of either nation they could join with the other in wars with England without footling about with new treaties.

Conclusion of The 14th Century.

Although far from united, The Scots were able to maintain the argument that whatever they did was to ensure they remained independent from England. This enabled Scottish History to be Romantic so more socially attractive than England’s which was deemed only to be Eventful and Turbulent.

A True History of the Isles Vol II Chap 9 – The Celts A Necessary(Socialist) Overview

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A True History of the Isles Vol II Chapter 10. Ireland- One Way of Being Independent In The Middle Ages.

 

Overview

The history of Ireland had been much affected by the circumstance in which they managed to fit one hundred and fifty kingdoms into such small place. What with a king, his family, his nobles and their families it must have been difficult at times to find enough servants and subjects to make the whole business worthwhile. However, the sheer number does suggest there must have been a certain level of equal opportunity around.

Vikings

All might have worked out reasonably well with everyone squabbling and marrying each other until there would have been just one sprawling royal family. This domestic process was interrupted however as were most things in those times by the arrival of the Vikings. As it was discussed in the previous volume this caused another layer of quarrelsomeness, marrying etc, until the Vikings were finally officially removed around about 1000 or 1100 if one is picky about who was Viking and who was not.

Normans

Matters were not allowed to settle down because of events which had taken place in England. The events being The Normans who were Vikings who had decided they preferred to be sort of French(ish) and in consequence were so successful at it they invaded England (and Scilly, which doesn’t come into this narrative, much). The England Venture proved to be another efficacious decision, and it is not surprising that sundered Normans or descendants of Normans having conquered everything English looked about a bit and noticed Ireland. At the same The Irish noticed them and some Irish invited some Normans over to help them (the Irish that is) fight other Irish. (The Celtic Mistake- See Previous Chapter)

This was a rather messy business for not only did Normans turn up, but so did Cambro-Normans (Normans who been so long in Wales they could appreciate the artistic). To make things even more confusing some Normans liked Ireland so much they became Hiberno-Normans and were renowned for being so Irish that other Normans attacked them out of preference

Who Ruled What and How

The Plantagenet Idea

Henry (The I) of England thought since he was there he could try and say Ireland was his and so have a place to send restless nobles and sons to as there was always someone to fight over something. This may (or may not) have been supported by Pope Adrian VI in 1155 because the Irish Church was going about the place appointing its own bishop without asking Rome Henry therefore appointed a Lord Lieutenant who was to tell the Irish what the king wanted them to do, or so he thought.

The Irish Reality

Whereas there was a Lord Lieutenant there were also Irish, Norman, Cambro-Norman and of course Hiberno-Norman lords as well as Irish Chiefs and Chieftains and fellows who insisted they were kings. If this was not confusing enough early on there was still The High King who claimed everyone should kneel to him and not someone across the sea. This was sorted out on 14th May 1260 when Brian mac Néill Ruaidh Ó Néill also known as Brian O’Neill by those of a lazy disposition was killed at the Battle of Durim Dearg by other Irish in the pay of various Normans who wisely stood about. He did get a lament for his troubles while his head was sent to Henry III who being pious was not sure what to do with it.

This did not solve the problem of everyone fighting everyone else nor that various Lords Lieutenants kept getting involved in the politics of who should be king of England or not and subsequently being replaced, in some cases due to losses of heads. The Normans (Cambro etc) didn’t help matters as they allowed poor folk to arrive who spoke welsh, english (sort of) or flemish and also confusing the cultural subject even more by calling the natives ‘Mere’ Irish which as far as the Normans (of all sorts) were concerned meant ‘Pure’, so what were the Natives complaining about? Not surprisingly nothing settled down and young irish lads often found employment as mercenaries.

Examples of the Business   

Kingdom of Connach had a very fractious ruling family who quarrelled amongst itself so much that quite exhausted it collapsed in 1230. This allowed a smaller bit named Ui Maine to be quite kingish and have the reasonably famous King Ruaidri Ó Cellaigh who ruled between 1332-1339. This sort of thing was going on all over Ireland.

The Normans Fail and Decline

The Normans of various shapes and sizes became so inept at ruling that they either became Irish (See Hiberno-Normans) or hid in Dublin where they fell into superstitious ways and believed they were protected by a Great Snail which kept all the Irish away and beyond it. It was only when The Church got involved and explained through theology that it was God who protecting every Norman and scaring the Irish off so much they became quite Beyond The Pale that this myth was dispelled.

The Scots Get Involved

Robert and various other Bruces in the endeavour to make Scotland independent invaded Ireland in 1315. Robert who was obliged to stay in Scotland defending it from The English and other scots who didn’t agree with him left the Irish Question with his brother Edward. Edward tried to rally the Irish lords, kings, chiefs etc by claiming he was now the High King. This upset many folk, so in his conceit he started the Irish Bruce Wars; which finished in 1318 when he was killed by either some Irish or Hiberno-Normans or both on 14th October at Faughart. Anyway, apparently there were a lot of them and they chopped his body into little bits so every town could see a piece. This was a silly scheme as naturally being king Edward (The II) got the head so no one could really tell if the other bits were genuine or not and understandably probably didn’t want to see them anyway.

The Kings of England and How What They Did With (or About) Ireland (if Anything)

In general, the various kings between Henry III & Richard The II (as advertised by Shakespeare) irrespective of whatever else they did or didn’t do had a patchy record when it came to Ireland as will be shown below:

Henry III – He received money from Ireland and a head (see Brian mac Néill Ruaidh Ó Néill). Both events allowed him to give lands to the barons who didn’t know what to do with it, so he gave everything Irish to his son Edward. Being young and faced with all that squabbling he didn’t know where to start, so made an early career of rescuing his father. Thus, everyone in Ireland carried on as before.

Edward I– Being a basically rational fellow Edward concentrated on slaughtering those scots and welsh who didn’t agree with him. This was a sensible move as they were on his borders. He then tried his hands at crusading which was fashionable at the time. He then slaughtered some more scots. He left the running of Ireland to various nobles, as he was an imposing man of fiery temper no one dared tell him they couldn’t keep the blessed place under control.

Edward II– He wanted to put his BFF Gaveston in charge, but the Barons said Gavetson couldn’t because of Parliament and their own personal armies, in fact Gaveston was not allowed to be in Ireland (or England or anywhere). The Barons to show Edward they meant well gave him the head of Edward (Bruce). Edward(II) was never too sure about things after that.

Edward III– Had settled on being king of both England and France, thus spent so much of his time fighting the latter to have much to do with Ireland. One of his sons Lionel travelled over from Antwerp and tried to redress by balance and making an imposing statement by having statues erected in Kilkenny in 1366. There must have been a goodly number as on them were inscribed thirty-five things the Hiberno-Normans couldn’t do without the king giving permission. This gave a loophole for the Cambro-Normans and the native Irish to do as they pleased so the whole scheme came to naught.

Richard II- (as dramatised by Shakespeare). Sometime during his reign Richard went slightly mad and became a tyrant, on finding out that no one in Ireland was paying attention to this he sailed there (with an army) to impose his authority. Because so many people were not listening to him he was obliged to ride and march all over the place, but not achieving much in the process. In the meantime, a Henry who had been born in Lincoln but came from Lancaster by way of France said he had a better claim to the throne by right of blood, primogenitor, Not Salic Law and a large army with lots of nobles. It can be argued thus, because of Ireland, Richard the II (See Shakespeare) lost the crown of England.

Conclusion

Nothing much changed in Ireland during the 13th & 14th centuries and the kings of England didn’t have a lot of say.

 

 

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 1 – Henry III (Part A. – The Major Minority)

A True History of the Isles Vol II Chap 9 – The Celts A Necessary(Socialist) Overview

 

 

Something of an Introduction

As the narrative has now reached the commencement of the 15th Century and has dealt mostly with the events and kings of England (with Scots’ interference) it is essential we now look back over the 14th Century and events in Ireland (with Scots’ interference), Scotland (with their own and English interference) and Wales (which, quite frankly went into a bit of a sulk).

In the spirit of fairness, equity (and mischief) a separate chapter will be given over to each nation. This is chapter is therefore simply an overview and background.

Of Disclaimers and Justifications

Whereas and hither to thereupon, any history of the Celtic races of these Isles is bound to cause offense to someone or other, in advance the author asserts the right to make harsh judgements and controversial statements on the grounds that he is:

Welsh and thus, apparently Celtic, so can’t be said to be English and therefore entitled to say anything he wants to about apparently fellow Celts

A socialist and thus has the predisposition to be critical of any royal or titled household of which there were a positive surfeit until the 20th Century; irrespective of what allegedly noble causes they claimed to have espoused while grabbing more land and power.

A dedicated misanthrope and thus entitled to be dismissive of any accounts or heritages which show the slightest hint of romance or alleged acts of the proto-democratic nature on the rather obvious grounds that we are discussing the 14th Century ( and earlier)  in Europe.

Catholic– which hasn’t got much to do with anything in this chapter but might irritate people who deserve to be irritated.

The Basic Histories

A Sad Fact of History

To look back upon the history of the Celts, one aspect which cannot be avoided is the Celts invaded someone else’s land, massacred, subjugated or drove out the native folk. Some historians of Celtic history are a bit queasy about this and prefer the term ‘Settled The Land’. Actually, they should not be so squeamish, as on a world-wide basis aside from a few aboriginal peoples on the very margins of lands discovered by humans, everyone did it. By all means one should complain about being massacred, pillaged and enslaved. However, they should not carry on so as if being conquered was personal and only happened to their people.

A Brief Overview of The History.

Once the Celts had spread out all over the Isles they set to fighting, betraying and subjugating each other; which in Human terms was the usual business. There was a brief interlude (in historical terms) when the Romans arrived and being very civilised took advantage of local rivalries conquered and subjugated a large portion in a very formal way, massacring being reserved for those who would not co-operate. Those living in the large portion generally liked this, until one day the Romans declined to subjugate them anymore, went away to fall and left the lands to deprivations of various peoples some Celtic, some not.

Eventually as narrated in the previous volume some Celtic kings invited Saxons over to help the Celtic kings with their attempts to be bigger kings. The Saxons stayed, did their own conquering and subjugating, until the Vikings and Normans turned up.

At this stage the Celtics had organised themselves in Welsh, Scots, Irish and Cornish, with no one paying any attention to those who lived on The Isle of Mann. Although the Vikings did some subjugating of anyone who had survived their conquering, they were far too restless and angst ridden to stay very long. This did not apply to their descendants The Normans.

The Normans had been Vikings but since they’d settled in France they felt sailing about and pillaging as a means of government was now beneath them. So, they stole lands and fought amongst themselves and the locals, in the meantime inventing Aquitaine, Anjou, Maine, Brittany, Normandy, etc. Thus, by the time and opportunity came to invade and seize the throne of England they were fairly well versed in the professions of conquering, subjugating etc, whereas the Anglo-Saxon and Celts were still steeped in the lesser arts of squabbling and betraying. With these advantages The Normans conquered England, Cornwall, parts of Wales and discovered there was also Scotland and Ireland.

It can be seen, therefore that conquering, subjugating etc were part of the Historical Process, which was of no comfort if you happened to be in the way of The Conquerors and Subjugators, particularly as their followers and hirelings were usually Pillagers, and Slaughters.

The Harsh Truths

There Were No English       

Unfortunately for Celtic folk in terms of accuracy concerning romantic ballads, legends, etc in the formative times of the Middle-Middle and Early-Late-Middle Ages, this was the case. There were indeed Folk and Communities, along with a few Tribes, but no nationalities as we would recognise them. To be accurate there were peoples who lived in places we now have clumped together as countries and that was that.

In these times Normans Who Followed William (The I or Conqueror) were given lands by William on the basis that he had won a battle and a crown and also that was that. Wherever they might be, the Common People were common and to be pushed around and thus again that was that. This trend was to continue until experiments by Henry (The V) who chose recently deceased folk to block up walls and granted them the posthumous title of English. This system quite fell apart when he died, and was buried not used to fill gaps in places.

In point of fact when one considers England, folk only looked as far as six villages in either direction, and anyone beyond spoke funny and was foreign. To suggest to someone living in Kent they were associated with someone who lived in York would get you at least dumped in a pond or at worse suffer farming implements/ tools of their trade.

All deprivations, privations, complications and implications were therefore the results of the actions of kings (remote/ couldn’t give a dead bishop’s socks about you/ So what? They’re common) or local lords (regrettably not remote/ grasping/ greedy/ couldn’t give a dead bishop’s socks about you, etc). A sensible commoner thus gave loyalty to their lord (opportunist/ conniving/ the one with the armed men, etc).

Under this system nationalities were therefore the preserve of kings who decided who was who, when and why.

Who Cares Who Your Grandparents Were (If you were common, that is)

As in general throughout History, for a leader the idea was to grab influence, authority and land. The rest was all useful stuff to get the Common Folk thinking you were worth following. For the Common Folk following a leader on a knobbly cause was a great opportunity to grab other people’s stuff without being punished, unless you got the tough break and were involved in a battle. It didn’t really matter who you were assailing or in which direction you were marching, that sort of stuff would be left up to later generations of chroniclers, balladeers and folk who wanted to start up their own cause.

Celts Didn’t Learn

We shouldn’t be too harsh on the leaders of those times (allegedly romantic), because various emperors of great civilisations (Roman, China, Persia, etc) had done the same thing.

“ie- We’re having trouble with Rebel Lords, Common People, Rivals etc, let’s get a few of those tough folk from over the border to help us out and pay them- no gold? No problem we’ll give them some of that scrubby land we don’t really need”

The flaw with this sort of plan was that the tough folk from over the border were led by people just as grasping, conniving and cunning as those issuing the invitations, and had lots of tough followers who knew what to do with swords, spears, bows, etc. So, once you got them in, you couldn’t get rid of them, and they would decide

“Hey. This is just what we were looking for. Move over loser we’re taking charge”

Naturally there would be some locals who having been honed on generations of in-fighting would object to this and so later generations of chroniclers, balladeers etc could dress it all up as a knobbly cause for freedom, justice, national identity (whatever that was) etc. Whichever way you looked at it, folk grabbed land, followers grabbed stuff and the poor folk in between got stamped on.

As we will see in later chapters successive waves of Celtic rulers really got their people a large amount of misery for this sort of business, although this part didn’t really trouble them too much, just so long as they got their land back (or better still, in the chaos, more of it)

The Celtic Identit(ies)

There were two great advantages the folk resident in what we term today as Wales, Ireland and Scotland had:

Romantic Nationhood

The first had foundations in strong leaders knocking (in most cases literally) into the heads of populous the notion that the bigger your tribe, the better chances you had. The Celts had been experimenting with and refining this since the Romans had turned up. Progress had been patchy due to arguments over whose tribe was the biggest, rebellious relatives, savage but indeterminate invaders etc.

When things had settled in Europe  Saxons, Angles, Jutes, Vikings Normans, etc came in by ship and like all invaders didn’t see why they should care two stabs of a sword why they should adopt local customs. Some of the more recalcitrant surviving local lords said these new folks were particularly foreign. This proved useful when the said lords wanted to stir up a land-grab, try for a throne or title or just fight back because the Saxons, Vikings, Normans etc ‘were who they were’. This excuse could be passed down from generation to generation of lord, noble etc and anyone who didn’t join in was a traitor to The Nation (whatever that was at the time).

The Arts

The second and more important being The Celtic Cultures.

Since the Celts had got rid of the locals very early on they had had a long time to utilise arts, crafts, writing, music, folk tales etc. This allowed whoever you were, whenever to record or have recorded in some shape of form yourself and your ancestors in the best light, and throw in a few villains for dramatic effect. It also allowed you to turn around some embarrassing defeat, betrayal, switching of sides or downright villainy into something heroic and even better tragic.

Because of the geographical separations of the three principal Celtic groupings this cultural significance diverted when it came to literature and music.

The Irish could turn individuals irrespective of their actual historical background into cheerful, irreverent fellows who if they were feeling a bit down just went out and slaughtered foes. In later ages, these sorts became more pernickety and only fought and or slew those they thought to be English. There was a divergence in this art form in that some subjects were wont to brood and stride the lands and slay supernatural creatures, or English. Either type of hero was possessed of wit, wisdom and a big sword.

The Scots developed that most fearsome of lyrical weapons, The Lament. Through this style Scots balladeers were to record any defeat or set back in such magnificently romantic and forlorn tones that even those who had bested the Scots loved the lament so much they sung it too. Thus in Scottish history there were only ever heroic defeats which wouldn’t have happened if there hadn’t been traitors and English gold. In later times the subjects became individuals who normally lived in the Highlands and had annoyed some lord (always English) so much that the hero was obliged to travel overseas and wander this way and that, singing about home.

The Welsh having laid claim to the assertions that they were the original Celts, had a language even older and more classical than Latin and allowed to lurk in mountainous regions of the western bumpy bit of the main island did utilise druids. These druids were the cultural and intellectual foundation of the culture and were such an encompassing influence within, the Welsh affinity with the arts reached a high level embracing poetry, music and song to an extent unsurpassed. In this milieu indivual heroes and defeats were not included unless there was enough material for two or three volumes or a song which could only be done justice to by a choir and a harp. Eventually religion was to a valuable source material.

Bottom of the League

The English being still uninvented were unable to cope with this. Luckily a fellow called Chaucer did record some tales, he was so unique they still survive to this day, even if unreadable in the original form. All was patchy though until Shakespeare turned up, and even then it was not until the arrival of The Romantic Poets, Jane Austin, Jerome K Jerome, Kipling and Turner that the English could truly say they had a grasp of The Arts.

Conclusion

Against this backdrop each people’s doings in the 14th Century will be examined in the next few chapters.

 

A True History of The Isles Part 10 – The Fall of The Britons

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 8 – The End of the 14th Century and Richard II (well also his beginning too)

 

 

As was the case of his great-grandfather Edward the II, had the fates been kinder to Richard( born in Bordeaux 3rd January 1367) and people hadn’t kept dying, he could have lived out his life in the said city and ruled all of Aquitaine or at least stopped the French from having it. However, his father an Edward, son of Edward III, had become so very famous and popular by defeating the French while wearing black armour campaigned too much in foreign climes and died of them in 1376.  His father own Edward the III, neatly expired the following year on 21st June 1377(of age and a pushy mistress). Thus, Richard was made The II on the 16th July 1377.

The Early Years

In these formative times Richard was advised (a polite term for ‘do as you’re told’) by his uncles the very stern and thin John of Gaunt and Thomas The Wooodcock who ruled Buckinghamshire. The first challenge being the Revolting Peasants of 1381(see Chapter 7) and whereas the nobility were unhappy that his uncles advised him, they took comfort that he lied to the rebels and had them massively executed afterwards, so there was hope for the lad.

Richard and his Court

Unfortunately, being a teenage king meant that Richard naturally disliked his uncles telling what to do and began to choose his own advisors in particular Simon de Burbblery, who was probably common and the haughty Robert de Sneer. Many of these preferred dressing in fashionable clothes and ‘indulging’ so were heartily disliked by the average noble for not wanting to fight either The French or Scots or even massacre peasants. Things became worse when it was found out that Richard was making some of his advisors favourites, especially Robert de Sneer who for some obscure reason wanted to rule Ireland disguised as a duck. John of Gaunt was so disgusted with the whole business that he left England to try and be a king of a bit of Spain. Further revelations that three of the favourites were named Bushy, Bagot and Green and thus sounded like a firm of untrustworthy lawyers raised matters to breaking point.

Parliaments and Lords

In 1386 there was some concern that France might invade England just to see how England liked it. Richard’ Chancellor Michael of the Maypole asked for money, the parliament said no, because the king had been spending too much on Robert, shoes, jewels and Soothsayers (who he should have sacked as they hadn’t warned him this was coming) and anyway the Parliament didn’t like the Chancellor so he could go too. Richard was furious not only with their temerity but that everyone was going around calling them Wonderful. In his temper, he spun around the country, installing Robert just in time to rule Chester which by the laws of those days enabled Richard to claim the Parliament was not wonderful, but in fact was treacherous, treasonous and probably onerous.

This was of little use, for inspired by the Wondrous Parliament several lords got together and told Richard why he was not being a good king. So eloquent and reasoned were their arguments they were known as The Lords Intelligent. One of Richard’s cronies tried to raise his spirits by referring to them as The Lords Repellent; Richard did not see the funny side of this because he knew these lords had large armed retinues and he didn’t. Even so he sent Robert (The Favourite) with whatever troops could be found. A great battle was fought in December 1387 at Radcot which was supposed to have a bridge but this was stolen by The Lords. The Royal army adopted the tactics of running away, standing still or if they were lost advancing. Robert (The Not Very Good General) lost his armour and trousers, so was obliged to flee to France where he died (probably still without trousers) in 1390(ish).

Thus, victorious the Lords Intelligent invited a Merciless Parliament to arrest all of Richard’s surviving favourites and have them executed on the grounds of treachery (ie being on the losing side) and wearing silly shoes (and thus offending God). Richard in order to remain The II was obliged not to get involved.

Fate and Richard

A reader could be forgiven at this stage for thinking Richard although still II was doomed to be insignificant, however at this stage Fate intervened in a not particularly kind but certainly advantageous ways; for historians that is.

The Scots (again)

In August 1388 The Scots, under the pretence of fighting for independence once more invaded northern England. The two armies met at the curiously named Otter’s Bum where the Scots won a famous victory which was made even more memorable by the glorious death of their leader James, Earl of Douglas (regrettably Douglas, Earl of James was not in attendance). The Scots at once celebrated by composing romantic ballads, going back home to seize each other’s lands and try to overthrow their own king Robert the II who was in his 70s and thanks to a papal dispensation had fourteen children.

The English did not see any cause to compose ballads, though missed the opportunity to compose a lament, instead they all rallied around Richard II who was now twenty-one and might grow out of his surliness and favourites. Although under the terms of Magna Carta Richard should have suffered for being king during a Scots’ Victory in this case he was exempt on the grounds of not being there at the time.

Queen Anne

Anne who despite being Bohemian and thus foreign was of such gentle, kind and generous nature that she managed the amazing status of being greatly loved by king, nobles and populace all at once, even convincing Richard not to chop off a few peasants’ heads. They had such a pure, goodly and caring marriage that no children arose. Sadly, she died of plague in 1394 and everyone mourned, particularly Richard.  Without having anyone of decent character and compassionate nature around him Richard, justifiably went mad but only slightly so he couldn’t really be deposed.

Uncle John

Despite being a great influence on Richard in the lad’s early years, because of trying to be Spanish, a mild delusion that he could be a castle and his third wife, also called Anne, but who was very common by now John of Gaunt wasn’t paying much attention to Richard. In fact, he did not notice that Richard had had John’s younger brother Thomas murdered and his own son Henry exiled. Both having been Lords Belligerent. Henry escaped execution on the technicality of having broken bollens. His father John, after years of public service, three wives, eight children and far too much Spain died in 1399.

As it can be seen without any restraining influences and with everyone scared of The Scots Richard now firmly ensconced as a II he had a free hand and decided to try out Tyranny.

The Very Interesting Era

The exact date when Richard decided to become a Tyrant is open to speculation, particularly as he never made a formal announcement on the subject. Conjecture suggests he would have started to dabble in it about 1388 on reaching the age of 21 and thus attaining his majority; ie he was the only king in England.

Richard felt that a lavish life style was befitting a king and so in addition to borrowing lots of money he also organised extravagant jousting tournaments, the prizes being so grand that knights from all over Europe attended. As there were any number of wars taking place in Europe these men were thus professionals and usually better than the home-grown completion who had to make do with the less challenging ‘disputes’ and ‘rivalries’. There was thus much grumbling from the English knights about professionalism ruining the game.

Richard was not concerned as he felt such a high profile would help him in his plan to become Holy Roman Emperor. This he believed would make him so important he would only have to worry about arguing with the Pope. Those who had been close to various Emperors and the dozens of princes, hundreds of lords and clutches of city states comprising the Empire would have said something in Latin which equivalented to ‘Good luck with that!’. Anyway, there had only just recently nearly been an English emperor called Richard, so no one continental wanted to risk another another one.

Short of money and not caring to be involved with the French militarily, Richard married the French King’s daughter. She being, six years old meant Richard had a large dowry and did not need to worry about her for another ten or so years. With the money, he was able to hire a large number of welsh archers on the understanding they could shoot at as many Englishmen as they liked, which ensured their loyalty.

Thus, feeling very secure when his uncle John died in January 1399 Richard said he was entitled to all of his uncle’s lands since John’s son Henry of the broken bollens was exiled and since he was traitor should be grateful for just being exiled.

Richard then noticed Ireland whose nobles and lords were so unruly that they were in rebellion against each other and simply not taking the king seriously, he therefore resolved to invade Ireland. This was a rather curious decision since it was supposed to be his and so he should be putting it down, not invading. His mistake was probably due to the large number of new Soothsayers he had hired to tell him The Sooth, The Whole Sooth and Nothing But The Sooth. They did not notice Henry son of John had landed in Yorkshire in April intent on getting back his lands and thus everything for Richard was suddenly going Sooth.

The Tragic Fall

Leaving the Irish to annoy each other Richard wisely landed in Wales in June or July (1399), but by then most of the nobles in in England had decided Henry should not just have his lands but also the throne. Henry decided they had a good point as he had male forebears whereas Richard’s were mixed up with female forebears, which proved by the laws of those days why he was a bad king and thus a traitor to himself. Richard had intended to discuss all this with Henry, but became so cross that he threw bonnets about the place and so was consigned to the Tower of London.

No one was quite sure to do with him, so they asked a bishop who gave thirty-three reasons why Richard had been a bad king; this naturally took a long time which only lawyers and other churchmen really appreciated and admired. Henry chaffed at the delay which had allowed some nobles who had profited from Richard’s reign to plot. In consequence Richard was moved from the Tower in a hurry and was misplaced, only to be discovered at Pontefract where either taking a very stubborn dislike to the cakes had starved to death, or preferably for Henry had expired of remorse at being a bad king. In either case Henry was obliged to place him sitting up in his coffin to prove he was dead.

This was such a tragic end people were able to write plays and novels about Richard II (who although weak supplied more interesting material than Richard the I) Also as he died so neatly in January 1400 he is only of the few kings to have memorable date of death and thus is of some benefit to folk who wish to appear to have some knowledge of history.

Legacy

Richard’s reign was so controversial and his fall so sudden, Henry was able to repair his bollens and the indulge in being two kings thus giving later generations barons a splendid excuse for a proper civil war.

All of which will be discussed in future chapters.

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 6 – An Era of Everyone Getting Involved With Everyone Else (more than usual)

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 6 – An Era of Everyone Getting Involved With Everyone Else (more than usual)

1325 to 1380 The Age of Interference?

Some histories will look at this period from the standpoint of Edward (the III) , what Edward (the III) did and what people thought about what Edward (always the III) had done. Actually, this requires viewing from a wider perspective as there was a lot of interference going on, enacted by a number of people on each other, which in these days we would call International Politics as if we had invented it.

For convenience sake, we shall start with Edward who started out as ‘of Windsor’ on account of being born there 13th Nov. 1312

Edward Comes of Age

With his father (ex-Edward II) deposed in 1327 and possibly killed but more likely to be allowed to flee, Edward (still of Windsor) realised his situation was delicate because his mother Isabella was in a delicate relationship with The Roger Mortimer. Even though he (now  Edward III) had been crowned in 1327,‘They’ were running the country and if her personal heath became delicate and she and Mortimer had a little delicatessen then, his position (Edward ie) would be so delicate as to be possibly fatal. This concern was not helped by Mortimer acting like Edward was his surly teenage son. Surly and teenage he might be, stupid he was not so in 1330 with the aid of the We-Hate-Mortimer group of Nobles he gently deposed his mother and not so gently disposed of Mortimer. Being chivalrous he imprisoned his mother in comfortable surroundings and used to visit her and later with grandchildren, so despite the efforts of Victorians she did not go mad, though was probably distraught about Mortimer (for a while)

Scotland- Successions, Pretenders, English folk and Davids Who Won’t Go Away

Robert (The I, The Bruce, The Famous etc) did not have a chance of being involved in all the fuss and drama as he was dying of an ‘unclean sickness’. Since everyone in those days was pretty grubby and generally dying through not washing their hands, why contemporaries should make such an issue of Robert in particular seems a bit unfair. Suffice it to say he expired in 1329.

He was succeeded by Daibhidh a Briuis (or as the English insisted David the II). As he was only aged 5 at the time and those charged with his regency died (probably of English or Pretenders) these were parlous times and he was often obliged to go into exile as well as be captured by the English.

David (for sake of clarity)’s main problem was the Balliol family who had been friends with the English or Anglo-Norman kings from the times of King Stephen and had even had a Matilda of their own (See Vol I). For this reason Balliols (or Belliols) had started to believe they could pretend to be Kings of Scotland, and the latest, Edward thought that kings of Scotland and England with the same name would be heavily advantageous to the Isles as no foes could be sure who was who or where so, in 1332 he said he was king(of Scotland, that is). Many Scots nobles didn’t see it that way kept deposing him no matter how many times the English kept undeposing him. With David (or Daibhidh) back in 1341 he (Edward, the Balliol) was obliged to flee to Galloway and raise a rebellion and in 1346 returned after David (the II or a Bruis) had made an English noble called Neville very cross, had been invaded for it and captured. Although Edward (the Pretender) thought he might profit no one really took him seriously and in 1356 he gave up and retired to a post office in Doncaster.

David would spend spent many years in England and Edward (the III) would insist the Scots paid to have him (ie David The Bruce-ish) back He would return to Scotland as we shall see.

The Hundred Years War

The French were led by Philip VI who was fortunate and had managed to seize the bits of France which English kings said were theirs and send pirates to raid the English coast This annoyed Edward The III so much that he said he could be a better King of France and intended to prove it by invading the afoementioned France. He firstly became friends with Louis VI which was a shrewd move. Louis was a very successful fellow having become King of the Germans in 1314, the Italians in 1327 and finally in Emperor of any Romans he could find in 1328, he rewarded Edward (III) by announcing he (Edward that is) could be a vicar in any parts of Germany he chose. Encouraged by this Edward formed an alliance with The Portuguese and was thus able to sluice the French off of the seas in 1340.

With all these advantages and control of the seas in plaice Edward invaded France in 1346 where his Gothically inclined son The Black Prince defeated the French at Crecy and Poitiers. This was also because Phillip VI had ceased and his son John (or Jean) was captured (or capture) with his own sons Phillip (or Philipe) and Louis (or Louis). All were held for ransom (or rancom), but in raising the gold (or d’or) the French nobility found difficulties (or tres excuses feeble). John gained the moral high ground when his son Louis cheated and escaped in1363 which was not allowed in Chivalry. In response John said he would now be a prisoner in England. He arrived in 1364 .Everyone greeted him with great celebration and feasting, and so three months later being of such good repute he died.       

Other Nations Kings And Ransoms

It was a perfectly respectable thing to do to capture other people’s nobles and kings and demand large amounts of gold and silver for their return, but not so funny if the said peoples weren’t keen on having them back. This was a problem for the English Government during this era.

The Scots had managed to wrangle a deal to make easy instalment payments and so David (The II don’t forget) returned to Scotland in 1363. Once safe in Scotland and with England tangled up with the French he suggested later that instead of paying gold etc, a son of Edward III could be king after him; he then cannily dragged out the negations until dying 1371 of infidelity. In the meantime, he had knocked nobles etc into line, gathered so much extra money (by not paying England) that Scotland was now so solid it was basically independent and great friends with France.

Edward (III) had not noticed this because he was trying to get the French to pay for their king; they having more capital and land than the Scots. This confused the French as they thought he had said he was going to be King anyway, so why would they want John (or Jean) back anyhow? Edward confused matters even more in 1360 by saying he didn’t have to be king (of France) just so long as he kept the lands he rightful taken (or stolen). And then Jean (or John) died (see above) which ruined everything.

So by 1371 Edward was quite disillusioned with whole ransoming of Captured Kings

The Black Death

This appeared to appear from Asia and was caused by fleas on rats, although no doubt washing the hands would have helped stop the spread. Medical Science at the time was not much advanced although various cures were experimented with such as poking holes in people, wrapping them in hot wet blankets, cold wet blankets or pushing pigeons into various infected areas; unsurprisingly the death toll was high. Because Edward I & II had driven out the Jewish community the local population had no one to foist the blame onto, except the Church, who countered by saying it was all down to Devine Judgement, which was a daft thing to claim seeing as how a large number priests, bishops etc died too. Eventually there were so few rats the plague went away, for a while. One of the results being that many peasants had died, leaving the nobles with a reduced workforce thus the surviving peasants could just go and work for whom these pleased at what wages they, the peasants thought reasonable. Although various parliaments tried to do something to keep the peasants in their place things were not the same anymore and so set the scene for the rise of Socialism, Non-Conformities, Rat Catchers and experiments with washing hands.

 The Continued Rise of Parliament.

Edward’s principal problem with the body was that so many people were getting into Parliament that it had enough representatives to have a House of Commons and a House Of Lords who when they weren’t arguing with each other would both tell the king (ie respectfully suggest and advise) he couldn’t have any money. They became so full of themselves they assembled in 1376 on April 28th and didn’t go away until the 10th July, during which time they made so many speeches they insisted they were The Good Parliament. Edward was therefore obliged to dismiss his current group of advisors and have men appointed by Parliament (The Good) even if one who was a son of Roger Mortimer, just to remind Edward the III what had happened to Edward the II. They also insisted he have two bishops and to really confuse him they were both named William.  Luckily for Edward his very thin and serious son John of Gaunt invented, in 1377 a Bad Parliament which said everything the Good Parliament had done was possibly illegal, heretical, or treasonous and empowered Gaunt to throw people in jail if he felt like.

This was of great comfort to his father Edward (III of course) who at the time was suffering from a large abyss resulting in his death 23rd June 1377.

The Legacy of the Era of Edward III  

Because Edward had been good at fighting the Scots and The French his nobles admired and trusted him, thus for some years both were on the same side. As there were so many parliaments the common people thought they were being listened to. Also by codifying the Laws of Treason and felonies, people now had the right to know what they were being arrested or thrown into a dungeon for.  Fighting the French was also popular with the people; in particular as due to French foreign policy there were more popes than usual (ie One). Edward circumvented this difficulty by only choosing to listen to the one which had not be chosen by The French. In conclusion, it must also be mentioned that Edward was secure enough to make the wearing women’s garters by men of noble birth an act of Chivalry. Thus, he died beloved.

The Isles

In general England felt strong and independent, Scotland felt wealthy and independent, Ireland wasn’t listening to anyone outside of Ireland and thus sort of Independent; Wales however was stuck with the king’s eldest son being its prince so was continuing to invest in a Cultural Identity.

 

In the next Chapter, we shall look at the Circumstance of The Church during this era and the confusion arising when the Assertions that The King was God’s Appointed Regent and the Church being God’s Appointed Servants got all mixed up by kings and bishops.

 

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 4 Edward II, And What Others Did About Him

 

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 5- The Status of Women in the Middle-High-Middle Ages.

In this chapter we shall take a break off from kings, conniving nobles, fussy church folk and those who liked to pretend they were any of the aforementioned and consider the status of Women in the Medieval era. The reasons for this lurch is that we have just left Edward II who may or may have not been killed by nobles, but there seems to be a common misconception even to this day at that at the bottom of his fall was his cold cruel wife Isabella of France who being a mere woman also fell under the spell of wicked Roger Mortimer.

At this stage, the author of this work would like to say ‘Oh! Grow up!’

So, let us look at the matter in more detail.

The Basic Details

Women suffered from a bad press. Men in general, irrespective of intelligence and education were not inclined to understand the poetical and allegorical nature of parts of the Old Testament of the Bible so blamed women for Eve, or vice versa (it was a source of great theological debate). Also, if they did get around to reading stuff from the Elderly Greeks and Roman which of course had to be classical, these works were all about men apart with a few devious or hysterical women thrown in for dramatic effect; these works being written by men. It was thus concluded women were weak, devious, incapable of thought, emotional and not to be trusted out of your sight.

The fact that this could be applied in equal measure to your average male, in particularly the nobility and the higher officers of The Church was of course blamed on outside influences, especially women.

Thus, women were allowed only to get married and have children, or failing that enter convents. For anything else they had to have the permission of their fathers, brothers or husbands. If they insisted on surviving all male relatives then they were expected to marry the nearest available male. If he was already married she would have to seek another male; the one exception being the nobility; they were allowed to ask a bishop to find out a reason why the current marriage was illegal, immoral or inconvenient.

The Social Structure

Peasant Women.

These had less rights than their male counterparts, which was a bit of a problem seeing as in practice the male peasant was quite devoid of any rights. The law could be very harsh; if it was found out a woman had a child out of marriage, some male peasant had to pay a large fine to the local lord, irrespective if the lord was the father of said child. In addition to having children, cooking and keeping the hovel free of rats, they were also expected to work in the fields, forest etc. Those who survived all this to the ripe old age of thirty-five might be suspected of witchcraft.

Something More Than Peasant Women, Women

Although their status was something similar to Peasant Women, due to legal loopholes some women could keep some of their own property and income. They could also organise their own businesses, as long as a man knew about it. Women could be brewers or butchers, until men started to get queasy about the concept of that the person who brewed their ale could also wield a large axe.

Women Whose Husbands Were Commoners But Wealthy.

Whereas these women were still expected to produce children, they could have servants to boss about. When The Old Man was away for some reason, The Wife was expected to run his business. Sometimes the community and business partners found out she could do a better job than he could and his return might be difficult. Sometimes robbers waylaid him and no questions were asked.

Women With Titles

Generally, a daughter was set up to marry someone by the age they were four. The whole business being to organise alliances between families and of course produce male children. If they survived this they might be chosen to be lesser lady to some higherborn noble woman and either be loyal or insufferable if they were older than the said higherborn. Having a title allowed them at any stage to say they wanted to be a nun and get out of the whole messy business. There were many convents in those days.

Noble Women

Noble women basically had to have male children. If they didn’t it was their fault. If the poor mite died it was their fault. If the kid grew up and became a disappointment it was his fault. The father always wriggled out of the deal.

Very noble women were allowed to rule while their husband was off making a nuisance of himself somewhere or other. This was known as a regency and was a status not a style of ornate fashion. They usually ruled quite well and this was very unsettling for their hubby when he came back. They were also allowed to accompany their husbands on a crusade, whether they wanted to or not. Some were even more noble about it than their husbands. Therefore, it can be seen why some nobles felt more comfortable with their fluffy young mistresses.

Despite every male telling every other male that this was the one time they should listen to the teaching of The Church, there was still the sneaking suspicion that some women were alarmingly capable.

In England whereas the nobility had recovered from the shock of the Age of Matlhildas & Matildas (See Vol I King Stephen), there was still the worrying evidence that The Eleanors were still prevalent. Everyone still remembered how Eleanor of Provence had been worryingly more capable than husband Henry (III and a bit weak and wet) no matter how rude they were about her. Then the Dynamic Edward the I (and very grim) was supported by and so fond of Eleanor of Castile that he didn’t bother with mistresses and mourned her when she died (the fact that she was a canny and ruthless property dealer suggests he, being an invader and subjugator found she was of a like mind and therefore the ideal wife and helpmate). Naturally as both women were intelligent, well read, and capable they were not popular with the nobility who told their peasants why they should think the same way, but neither woman came as close to vilifications as……

Isabella of France (some time in 1295 – 22 August 1358), Edward II’s wife. As it will have been noted in the previous chapter being married to an Edward The II could not have been easy. Isabella and Peers Gaveston (Favourite the I) did try to work together by being so complicated that the barons never knew whether they liked or didn’t like each other. In 1311 she went with Edward on his campaign against the Scots and thanks to Edward nearly was captured by the Scots which did cause some marital strain. After Gaveston was murdered by Lancaster (the noble not the city) or welshmen she did try to raise Edward’s spirits by giving birth to a son. But this didn’t work as he lost a little war to the Barons and then the Scots and Isabella was nearly captured by both. Even if she did give birth to another son, it must be assumed some of the glamour was fading from the marriage, particularly as she, like the rest of the country suffered from the Dispensers. And around this time thanks once more to Edward’s ineptitude was nearly captured by the Scots again!

By now understandably fed up of Dispensers, Scots, Barons and Edward she fled to France where in order to invade England she and Roger Mortimer became lovers, raised troops, invaded England, dispensed with the Despensers and probably enabled Edward to flee England as live and uncomplicated life. She then made a big mistake of trying to rule England with Mortimer without being Just, Fair and Noble and was duly removed justly, fairly and nobly by her son Edward (the soon to be III), though the same courtesy was not extended to Mortimer.

Although she’d been instrumental in getting rid of the hated Dispensers and shoving her hapless and inept husband off of the throne because she was a woman and not allowed to do such things she was thence vilified. Had she been a man she would have simply been a chapter. Of course Christopher Marlowe’s play ‘Edward II’ has not helped, as there are folk who will take plays as actually history. There again being a character in a Christopher Marlowe play is hardly helpful to anyone’s public image.     

Women Who Took Up A Religious Life

Some of course did this out of conviction, others having seen what happened to mothers, elder sisters, cousins and so forth were quick to hitch up their skirts and scamper off to the nearest convent. This was the one course of action a woman could take without men interfering, as to do this might incur the Attention of The Church, which no one really wanted. This is only mentioned to illustrate the option and will be looked into in more detail in a separate chapter of The Church and other religious aspects.

A medieval singlewoman

This was not a unit of counting the population for statistical purposes, but a woman who was not married without being a widow or religious. Usually without a family they were obliged to find their own dowry. This being a system whereby the family of the woman paid a large sum of money for someone to marry her; today there are many parents of teenage daughters who wished this was still common practice. The Singlewoman was obliged to save up for her own dowry, which in some cases could be a pretty good excuse for putting off the event. There were also women who didn’t bother with such trifling excuses, such as Cecilia Penifader of Brigstock (1295–1344) who made a announcement she would remain unwed, whether this was made as a statement with dignity or followed by a vulgar noise has not been recorded, but she has had a book written about her and lived beyond 30 years of age.

Women of Low Virtue

This only applied to women who did not have titles or of nobility. These lower class women were naturally called whores and other demeaning names, which didn’t stop brothels from making money. This class of women couldn’t have been that ill-considered as their testimony in court was valid, particularly if it was embarrassing to some fellow whose rivals were sharp operators.

To say a woman of high birth was as such, was simply asking for you to get to suffer pain in all sorts of manners, unless of course you were a noble yourself and she was involved with a rival. Normally women in such circumstances were known as mistresses and were generally approved of particularly by wives who hadn’t cared for their husbands in the first place. As long as they didn’t try and influence him politically mistresses of kings were very much accepted, particularly if you were lucky enough for your wife to be one; this opened all sorts of doors for you. Sometimes the children of such relationships muddied the accession circumstance, but some nobles found this a useful way of upsetting rivals or even creating a Pretender to the throne; otherwise they were called Fitz-something and given some land somewhere and told not to get involved in anything.

Education

Whether men liked it or not some measure of education was necessary so that wives could look after things when The Old Man was somewhere else. Some nobles insisted their daughters were very well educated not just to impress others, but so they could spy on their husbands for Dad. Some miserable types complained that if women could write they would spend their time sending passionate letters to lovers. These were just sour-pusses because they didn’t get any of that type of letter.

The Church was naturally suspicious, but grudgingly accepted nuns who could write, just so long as they wrote favorable comments about Christianity and more importantly The Church. Any women who started to speculate about questions of theology were looked upon with concern for the sin of Female Independent Thinking and would be made to submit their work to a Bishop who would then get picky about their use of Latin Grammar.

Religion

This will be looked at in more detail in that separate chapter on The Church. Suffice it to say The Church with its Eve fixation was very suspicious of Women as being weak, devious, lascivious and other words they could fit into Latin. Generally, there were two schools of thought:

Younger members of The Church having read Genesis feared that women would either leap at them and tear off their clothes to force their attentions upon them, or by seductive female means would achieve the same end. It was best therefore if women were not allowed to do anything outside of the house, and religious men should only go into the houses when other men were there. These men also kept their bedroom doors locked, just in case.

Elderly members of The Church had the same opinions, they were of a grumpy stony outlook because in all their years they had never been in such dangers and thought that ‘typical’ or whatever Latin word they cared to use. They had given up locking their bedroom doors      

Some members of The Church had more moderate outlooks. They also kept their bedroom doors locked, for quite different reasons.

Warfare

Noble women often gathered or led armies when The Old Man was either doing that somewhere else or the fool had got himself captured. A few women were quite good at it, though men did not care to see it that way (See Vol 1- The Matildas). The English had had a narrow squeak with a welsh princess Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd earlier on in 1100-1136 who used to go around with her husband sharing raids and chopping Anglo-Normans to bits, but generally in this era in these Isles women did not often get involved with handing out the business end of sharp bits of metal; unless of course they were legendary. Whether any independently minded young women disguised themselves as boys, went off to war and subsequently unsettled hardened leaders of men who found themselves strangely attracted to the new lad is a matter to writers of fiction.

Conclusion

These days, although some men won’t admit it, they yearn for these simpler times, and have to be more subtle and inventive; unless of course they are morons in which case they say they are exercising they right to free-speech (and presumably exercising something else, which is why they keep their bedroom doors locked).

 

In the next Chapter we shall consider the Vigorous Edward III, which will no doubt be of relief to those male readers who are insecure (work it out for yourself for pity’s sake man!)

Edward II, And What Others Did About Him 

A True History of the Isles Part 21- 1135-1154 Who Is Who and Who is in Charge of England Anyhow?

A True History of The Isles Part 27-Eleanor of Aquitaine-Yes Mam! No Mam! At Once Mam!