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)

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Book Covers Part II. If it was easy, where would the fun be?

And so to the Book Cover creation processes, thus far…..

In this my intention is three-fold:

  1. A narrative about someone creating a cover, not for self-aggrandisement but addressing those in a similar position to give them ideas such as ‘Hmm. That gives me an idea’ or ‘Well, if he can try it I think I can’ or ‘OK, maybe I can get make my own cover’ or even ‘Oh yeh! I am definitely going to back to those professional sites!’ and especially ’I need to read another blog or six on this subject’ All these reactions and any permutations of them are valid, and you go for it! I’m with you all the way !!

2. Since I now embrace the idea that telling folk about your book before you publish it is important, this is in part giving Of Patchwork Warriors another airing.

3. The case for the defence when the evidence comes under the dispassionate gazed for those better versed in the skill.

Laying Down The Strategy

As previously acknowledged since my skills in this subject are minimal it was essential to include any scrap, sliver or mote of imagery which bore relevance to a central aspect of the narrative while at the same time being very basic. In sticking to simplicity this production would be shorn of any figures or faces, which would place emphasis on the props and the atmosphere. This at one gave a certain freedom of movement while concentrating the mind on the type of items to be placed.

Narrative and Imaging Working In Harmony (Sort of)

Central to ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ are the actions and relationships of three young women set with a task they were not expecting. It is never made truly clear if they were ‘Thrown Together By Chance’ or ‘Manoeuvred By Forces’. What is clear they do not act as others or each other expect them to. This lends an air of the ragged and improvisation which suited my Cover-Work just fine! To reflect this I was relying on these three characters and their backgrounds:

Arketre Beritt– Soldier. Medician in The LifeGuard (medic in an elite regiment). Southern drawl when being intense. Used to roughing it on active duty. Adept at making her own potions.

Karlyn Nahtinee– Mysterious. Self-appointed hunter of evil (aka Whychery). Acrobatic. Uncanny sense of smell and empathy with Nature. Adept killer. Skewed and whimsical. Vulnerable (And a heck of a struggle to stop her being read as a Harley Quinn ‘knock-off’- Frustration was ….I thought of her prototype before I started reading Batman again).

Trelli– Housemaid by profession. Thanks to the incautious effects of the household son’ Infected’ with the ‘power’ aka ‘The Ethereal’. Tracked and rescued/abducted by Arketre and Karlyn (long story). Trying to maintain her composure, control this intrusive power and not be overwhelmed by Arketre and particularly Karlyn.

The dynamics of the trio’s journeying, overcoming tribulations and growing relationships comes to dominate the narrative as they become the effective opposition to destructive powers. Therefore, a cover which illustrated their collective and individual passages upon a landscape would be a valid and importantly an attainable image.

On Taking Holes and Adjusting Them To Fit Pegs Into

So three folk travelling. Campsite. Ideal to scatter items around which should also figure as signatures of the circumstances and maybe the characters. This actually turned into a two-way street, when it struck me that if I bought a cheap, plastic prop sword it would look like a cheap…plastic….prop..sword?  And what was with those cheap fancy dress pirate boots?, They shone like something….cheap. Some thought was required. Back to the Campsite:

Small Fire?-Of course. And naturally some battered mugs-easy we have a surfeit of old mugs, just paint them dingy. These were folk travelling a long road in an uncertain situation so it was all in the rough. Trelli being practical would have the others reasonably clean, so socks and shirt/top drying after a sort of wash. Arketre making potions, one discarded pot would not come amiss. Trelli being bothered by the Ethereal which manifests in Red and Blue, so scatter some red and blue bits. Karlyn what about her? No sword, well I have a wooden stave in the house from the time my son was practicing some martial art stuff. Yes that would fit. Just do a bit of a re-write to include a stave, in her weaponry, which made sense since she liked to sit up trees and a big sword while balanced on a branch does not seem a good idea. And I can build in Trelli’s slippers (my wife discarded a pair recently, I smeared them with some goldish paint). Yeh, that all fits.

Best of all it hopefully it will look odd and make folk wonder…..I hope(d).

That’s All Very Well But Does It Fly?

Well, let’s look shall we……….

And my back garden/yard in its ‘wild’ theme (gardening is not our strong suite)

Cover 4

(This is one of the 30+ shots taken on a damp early autumnal morn…..problem one the events are taking place in the spring. Can’t wait. Karlyn is given the statement that some trees are confused, which is useful, underlines her unearthliness. But green and brown. Does it look interesting enough for Fantasy? My wife said ‘No’ and I trust her implicitly with colour sense. (I kept Karlyn’s lines in anyhow)……..)

Since Reds and Blues figure in the theme I took what was available in the editing process in Word and tried a blue.

Cover 5 

Ok, so everything I wanted to appear is appearing and the atmosphere looks somewhat unusual, and you can’t see anyone., not seeing anyone leaves the appearance up to the reader’s imagination. There’s a bit of a pathway showing; one important chapter does take place in ruins, but is this ruined enough? So I tried to edge it out with some paintbrushing, lines of red and blue (Ethereal or officially titled ‘Stommigheid’)

Cover 2

Yes, so there are these two pronounced patches of red and blue. Question is. Are they too cartoony? Do they look unreal enough?  If I put my author’s name in that corner would that distract? Should I leave the red and blue out and use the previous picture? I’m something of a believer of ‘Leave it settle. Come back in a few days and look at it again with fresh eyes’ Thus the project is left for those few days. I have to admit to a certain degree of satisfaction. Let’s hope to the Good Lord God (that’s a phrase you’ll find in the book, or variations thereupon) this will translate onto an Amazon Kindle format and the title will fit. Anyhow some more tinkering maybe required, that’s assuming this Windows 10 format can handle it 

At least I know how my characters feel, having to make things up as they go along.

Book Covers- Part I The Journey Begins

Of Patchwork Warriors Part 1

“Of Patchwork Warriors” – Let The Book Be Launched

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Covers- Part I The Journey Begins

 

Book Covers

51vnj7ZqupL__SY346_ (actually this image has nothing much to do with the post, it’s just a shameless plug…..on sale on Kindle, the first volume in a peerless work of history of the Isles of Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland- yeh!…. and also how to use a stock photo and almost get away with it)

This is a post of two parts.

For ease of navigation and convention you are reading the first part.

This part serves several functions:245px-1271754717_william-e.-gladstone

It is a useful read for those who have not yet considered book covers, as it is a frank account of the dilemmas you will encounter.

Me

For folk who take the production of book covers seriously it is an insight into a mind of someone who would take the production of book covers to a respectable level if someone thwacked him about the head.Gunner Sargeant Hartman

Fans of whimsical posts which skirt with Reality are invited to My World.manners

Students of Human Nature are allowed to reach their own conclusions.imagesKUX2E4NS

Facing the Unavoidable

Once upon time, I resided in a frame of mind which abjured the harsh realities of making a book known to the public. When a narrative had been framed into chapters and reached a conclusion that was that. The book cover was something to be chosen from a limited supply of publishers’ free covers; the notion being the irony of my choice would be so obvious to the public they would clamber to purchase my volume(s).

NNQP Vol 1(No kidding folks, that’s the cover of Vol I of the Nearly Not Quite Paladins trilogy…..a comic fantasy work)

Sad, isn’t it? (don’t go there, one day it will turn up on Kindle…free)

Anyways, having signed up to WordPress and read a number of intelligent, informative and helpful blogs the truth finally sunk in.

Take the cover as seriously as the writing yo-yo!

Thus, ever lurking in the middle of my mind was the inescapable finality; I would have to have a unique cover to my book otherwise the best part of two years would wither or worse go perrffft!!

Oh What To Do??

The Professional Approach

A few posts went into practicalities of paying for a design. Now this made irrefutably good sense, after all established and successful writers aren’t renowned for designing their own covers? There was a problem there- the budget did not extend to cover such a cost. It could be argued the capital spent would be an investment. A fair enough argument for many and I would not stand in their way; but Ah me……the paradox and the conflict of not being able to justify my expenditure on my work.

The Skilled and Artistic Approach

Much to my surprise and fascination there were indeed numerous folk out their designing covers for their own books, and the skill I could only admire. One example; Rachael Ritchley whose YA series of book glow with imaginative and beautiful covers.

I concluded, therefore this was for me, I shall design my own. All I need is to find the write….sorry….right format/programme/something-or-other.

The…Uh?….What Do I Do Next?…..Where Do I Save This?…Where’s the Other Half of The Cover Gone? Approach

When faced with the process of choosing the right format/programme…etc, there was my usual problem. In studying these formats etc I have the attention and perception span of an adolescent male attending a history class dealing with the politics of choosing a 14th Century Holy Roman Emperor while said male has just witnessed the school cheerleaders in practice.  In short I…am…very…..annoying. (If it is any consolation to those who have the maturity to handle the serious production of book covers I am equally annoying to myself).

Once more…’Thus’ did follow the usual internal debate as to how to circumvent this.

I desire a book cover which reflects the content.

But, like hey man, all this procedure….Like man, it’s too heavy for me, y’know. Like too intense man; too far out.

Usual answer, Do It On The Hoof and See What Happens.

Here We Go Then….

Within these strictures I set to work, solidifying ideas swilling about my head for months

I had a notion on the nature of a cover which would represent one central facet of the narrative. I had worked out an image, which was possible to replicate onto a photo.

I had a location.

I had a thematic to work with.

And I had Windows Gallery, which I could work with.

All on the proverbial Hoof fitting in with:

My intention to produce a book cover

A workable format

A system

In the next post will be a narrative of the progress, so far.

 

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 7 – The Church and Its Plaice in the Currents of Society

 

It is a fashion in these days for some folk to assume The Church of the Middle Ages was there to keep the Common Folk in check with ignorance and superstition built of deliberate falsehoods.

This is quite inaccurate.

In the era under study the overwhelming majority of the clergy were quite as ignorant and superstitious as the Common Folk (and Nobility), the only difference being the Clergy could be so in a Literate and Latin way, thus appearing to be learned.

Structure

The Clergy– This was quite simple(ish). In Rome was the Pope who surrounded himself with an aura of mystique by claiming he was inflatable and so could be as big as he wanted to be. After him came cardinals who had special hats, even if they weren’t in fashion. Most common were the bishops who found ways to rule towns, or cities and so didn’t have to follow the teachings of The Bible and were thus quite particular. Anyone who was noble and rich enough could be a bishop or a cardinal. Below this were a whole lot of priests. The ones who were best at Latin worked for the bishops; the rest were expected to deal with the Common Folk, unless they managed to get a job with the nobility or royalty, in which case it was hoped they did as they were told.

Asceticism­– Many folk, became so other-worldly with their religion they became monks or nuns and lived in Monasteries or Convents devoted to a life of prayer and meditation. Quite a few folk seeing little in the way of career options in the secular world, did likewise opting for a steady job with board and lodge, even if it did mean getting up at ungodly hours to be godly. If monks and they got fed up of their fellow monks or the walls of the monastery they could become friars and live in the community helping the common people and annoying the priests. If that didn’t suit, the option of being a hermit was available. In these times they were normally known as Anchorites or Anchoresses, lived in small locked or bricked up rooms and were considered so holy that Common Folk paid more attention to them than anyone else and no one was allowed to knock down the doors on the walls if offended by them. Nobles never liked having one in their domain.

The Church and its Place in Society

Within the structure of the nation things where supposed to go like this:

The King ruled the realm because God had said he should.

The Nobles did all the ruling stuff for him because he, The King, said God had told him they should.

The Church would make sure that everyone including The King and The Nobles remembered that it was God who had the final say in matters.

However, because The Nobles were won’t to finalise arguments with sharp bits of steel, therefore many of the higher officers (Bishops etc) of The Church didn’t feel that secure unless they had folk about them who could also use sharp bits of steel. In addition, because kings often didn’t trust nobles particularly if they found them trying out The Throne, kings would often appoint Bishops, etc to help them govern because Bishops etc didn’t want to be kings as that spoilt their chances of being a Pope, Cardinal or at least an Arch. Some kings also would get annoyed if The Church (in the guise of Bishops etc) made public statements to the effect that the king, by God’s standard was doing a rotten job, particularly if nobles began to agree with them.

Small wonder that from time to time everything got quite mixed up.

Religious Requirements

People were expected, of course, to be Christian. If you were Muslim you could only live in Spain, North Africa or the Holy Land, none of which were, apparently yours, even if you had been born in any of them and could trace your ancestors back several generations. That this status because it been written down in Latin by a pope was all your average Christian needed to know. Due to Idiocy and a failure to understand The Bible everything that went wrong was said to be the fault of The Jews and they were expected to put up with this; unless of course the King wanted to right off debts and seize their property in which case they were expelled.

The European Problem  

One of the difficulties shared by royalty, nobility and The Church were the ripples caused by all the hoo-hah debates and arguments over the duties, obligations and authorities of Popes and Kings in France, Germany, etc.  This was similar to those carried on in these Isles but even more ill-tempered with armies and sieges involved.

The principal two issues being;

French kings, with some, albeit arguable, justification thought they (and their bishops) knew everything better than anyone else. The pope in Rome tried to deal with this by excommunicating whatever French King was around. But the French King just went ahead and found a pope of his own.

The German kings who believed were so many Germans that a German King should be an Emperor if he wanted to be and so have bits of Italy and thus become Holy. As this meant German kings were closer to The Pope than he would have cared for, popes tended to try and get involved in who was the emperor; this sometimes worked. Other times emperors got involved in deciding who should be pope. They also argued over who had the bigger authority from God and who could tell who to do what.

What with the French and Germans announcing they were kings and who was or wasn’t pope, and The Pope excommunicating everyone, small wonder things became so confusing that on occasions even a pope’s auntie was put in charge.

This was all very unsettling for the folk of these Isles as they never knew when they might be excommunicated. Various attempts were made to settle matters by sending Englishmen over to be pope or emperor, but this was only a temporary measure on account of the large numbers of French, German and Italians already there.

Religious Beliefs and Heresies (Part I) – The Usual Business

As was stated earlier everybody had to be Christian, which was observed in these Isles. People who didn’t either were locked up, burnt, or hung in order to save them. Whereas there were interesting heresies and schisms in other countries, the early decades of this era in these Isles the whole business was very much left up to the individual and so not many folk noticed.

This was annoying for the nobility who were unable to take advantage of the resulting social discord and so seize others’ lands or settle scores under the guise of protecting The Word of God.

The principal problem for The Church was having to deal with serious priests and insufferable Common Folk who wanted to know just what was in the Bible in English and even worse suggesting that too many of the Bishops’ etc were far too worldly with lands, wealth and possibly more than one person in their bedroom.

Another problem faced by The Church was the King who although always believed in God often told Bishops, (and so forth) that since God had placed him (ie The King) on the Throne, who did the Church think it was telling him (ie The King) how to behave?

Religious Beliefs and Heresies (Part II) – A Big  One.

A scholarly person John Wycliffe who had been born in the orderly year of 1320 spent many years around Oxford. He seems to have been a fussy sort of fellow as he was never happy with the chairs which the University or Church were at pains to give him. This dyspeptic streak may have been the reason why he said The Church was not doing a particularly good job. Wycliffe felt The Church was too wealthy, too much involved in the government of the country and some of the clergy were having too much fun in life.

Initially this made him popular with much of The Nobility.

By 1377 Wycliffe was effectively reasoning the Bible should be very much in English and had gathered a following who were so obstructive to the daily work of The Church they became known as The Bollards. In this year he wrote De incarcerandis fedelibus which excited a lot of people when he finally translated it into English and explained that a King should rule over a Church and A Pope, and more importantly people didn’t have to listen to the clergy unless the king said they could. The Church would have moved against him but the then current pope the XI th Gregory died in 1378 and several French bishops said they were the next pope which put everything on hold.

This enabled several nobles to encourage Wycliffe who, naturally not being that worldly took the nobles at their word. This might have gone quite well for him but for 1381.

Revolts by Common Folk

Because of The Black Death, Wars with France and other stuff to make the king’s accounts add up, much stress was set upon the Common People to pay lots more taxes. They were already roused by an itinerant preacher John Ball who when not in prison was rolling about the countryside saying Wycliffe was right and coming up with inspired ditties such as

‘When Adam and Eve sat about chattin’

                                                Who had any use of speaking Latin?

So when a self-important government official John Bumptious, upset the folk of Essex by demanding the back taxes at once, a revolt broke out and led by several men called Tyler The Common Folk advanced on London chanting:

‘When Eve picked flowers and Adam sat in a tree

                                                There was no need of an aristocracy’

This change in subject and lack of improvement in verse concerned the nobles. When the commoners reached London and started to loot, burn, pillage and execute, which were exclusive privileges of the nobility, there was a confrontation in which the most important Tyler was killed. The Young King Richard II announced he was now the leader of the Revolt. He listened attentively to the rebels and with great sympathy had them all executed.

Although Wycliffe was not directly involved, he was blamed as being the cause for having a Bible written in English and died in 1384, probably of arguments.

None of this stopped him having followers who kept on turning up years afterwards even when the nobility were trying to concentrate on the best way of having a war over whether Richard II was dead and if so who should be king.

This would be so complex that they quite forgot about religion as an excuse for quite a while, except when it came to massacring Wycliffe’s followers.

Thus it can be clearly concluded The Nobility of The Realm were only ready to listen to bishops, etc when it suited them.

In the next chapter, we shall look at the main reasons for all those woes in the forms of Richard (a II) and Henry (a Bolingbroke).

 

 

Advice on Publishing, Markets etc- Look Somewhere Else

There is nothing of value I, personally, have to offer on the practicalities. There are probably intelligent, dedicated and astute writers and bloggers out there in WP who despair of, who are irritated by or have given up on my approach, or lack of when it comes to:

Firstly- The very art and determination in ensuring that their work is as polished as they could humanly manage.

Secondly- The associated effort in spreading news of the forthcoming conclusion to a work they have embarked on; particularly in the correct and effective use of the opportunities afforded by Social Media

Thirdly – The professionalism required either to market by oneself or by contacting professional folk who can assist in this way.

I can evoke, lyrically I might add, the reasons why someone should write. I pride myself on being able to ignite a spark or breath life back in the fading embers of a lonely and uncertain soul wishing to write. I can, allegorically, stand on a podium and thunder with all the passion of a wrathful preacher; railing against badly strung critical reviews; professional critics; the snobbish sorts who look down their noses at self-publishing and anyone else who tries to stifle a new writer. I would sit on the edge of the nest of the nervous person about to start upon those excruciatingly difficult first words and gently ease them into spreading their wings to take flight amongst the breezes and breaths of Creativity. All those come rushing into my mind and my spirit, they are clarion summonings to bear aloft the banner emblazoned with those inviolable words ‘You Can Write’.

But I cannot give practical advice. I know not why, and sometimes do confess wretched sluggard that I am, not to caring to either. For me, the thrill is the creating, the crafting and the completion and then as some person caught up in the joy of a festival or event, once those final words, as chords in a musical event are done, away go I with fond memories. Ah, dear harmless fool; jester for the more focused, sensible and ultimately successful. You have your day amongst the words, the posts and the comments to posts, but the rest will always be vague stumblings……………………..

Errrrr, not too sure where all that introspection came from, but since I spent a good few minutes of my time crafting it, here it is and here it stays. Take it or leave it folks. Be warned. It could happen to you.

Anyway……

To the most important part of the post.

There are many energetic, inventive and determined folk in the WP Community who are kind enough to share their thoughts and suggestions on the matters of actually getting your words out there to the public. These come in all shapes and sizes, differing approaches, particular details, varying personalities; in fact across the myriad of the positive sort of Human Effort. They all have one thing in common though. They are taking very, very, seriously the business of getting their work known to the public. At times, it seems as if once the book is completed then their Hard Work begins. I salute them, I marvel at their adroitness in navigating all the pathways.

Thus, for all the new and uncertain writers there is a treasury of guidance and advice here in WP, without you buying a suspiciously self-aggrandising book by some ‘name’.

I cite you a few examples from posts on this subject which just had to be reblogged

So You Want To Be A Writer

3 Rejection Letters Indie Authors Receive

The Thing About Writer’s Block

When Your Writing Issue Is…

Newsletter BlitzNew Feature: Writer Rants (with host Dan Alatorre)

Useful Tips for Self-Editing a Manuscript

Let’s Talk: Grit as a Writer

Now some of these links might not actually cover a point in your journey as a writer, but they will guide you to folk who have a wealth of experience, talent and drive and are some of the people you should be reading. I apologise to those who I have left out, ragged that I am.

There we are folks, as the old saying goes

‘Get Weaving’

All the very best in your endeavours, now go and read someone else’s blog for pity’s sake.smile

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!

 

The Absence of a Wandering Writer

I do like Word Press! There is so much going on socially, culturally, creatively, politically, and other-ones- I-can’t-bring-to-mindly. There are days when I spend hours+ reading through other bloggers posts and some would say to me

‘You are following 130 blogs. This is unwise. You cannot read everyone,’puritan-christmas-color

And I would reply

‘Yes, but looking at all the interesting contributions.’ (Unless I am listening to 1960s music, in which I would say ‘Yeh man. But dig all the out cool vibes going down. I mean like Out of Sight man! I mean like ..Heavy man!!… I mean I just got to be There Man!…..I mean…..like….Man!!!’…Those were the circumstances when you could say that to a lady and they would not be offended by having their gender changed; they would simply reply ‘Oh. Far out! I dig what you’re saying Man!’..and so forth)en_greekphilosophers

Ah. Sorry about that I seem to have wandered off topic.

Anyway having stated the obvious that there is so much of value and interest to read, somewhere in the back of my mind a little voice wouldst say.

‘But what about those Three Posts, one of which you specifically said to someone you would do (and it’s a doozy to work into words too!). What about that political site you said you would contact? What about the seriously serious editing you were going to do on the book? How about that notion of producing your own cover which for once is actually relevant to the book? What about the History of the Isles Project, it’s three chapters behind schedule?’trilby

While a more strident, naggy voice spoils by mid-morning coffee ritual, its allegorical arms folded, fingers tapping on the opposing arm, eyebrows narrowed, mouth a thin line.

‘AND,’ it booms (don’t you hate it when that happens inside your head? I don’t know about you, but that echo really disorientates me) ‘When are you going to get around to making your Blog Site look like a worthy site and not some room which has just received its first undercoat of paint? You have a WordPress Guidebook. Why are you not reading it? Why are you not following its advice? You have had this blog for two years now. People are following you- personally I am at a loss to know why- so you had better make the whole thing look presentable!’  (I don’t know where this character came from I’m sure they’re not really part of me; like I’ve been possessed by a spirit of Serious Diligence and Work Ethic).rant

I try and tell the two of them that it is productive to reply to other folk and chat back and forth, and then they gang up on me and tell me that is all well and good, but I, personally, do not have the energy or mental capacity much less creative powers to do the two simultaneously. The inference that I am somehow deficient is somewhat hurting, however they are a persistent pair.

So to shut them up I have to resolve to writing and not reading for a while. This is odd, feels like driving down the wrong way in a one-way street

And while this existentialist threat is being sorted out along comes…….

The Choremaster who reminds me there’s pile of ‘stuff’ to go on e-bay, the trees really need cutting back, and don’t forget the attic needs clearing out, then there’s the ‘clerical’ work…ONLINE PHOTO ENHANCE VILLAN

So what’s this Putting Your Feet up thing when you retire?

Anyway, I suppose all this will have to be attended to. Although to be accurate, some because I want to and some because I have to.

Which will be why if you are used to seeing me replying to your posts and am not over the next few days, sorry about this, sort of cleaning out the back yard, or garden, or attic, or spare room, literally and allegorically.

Now if I could only think of a succinct way to conclude this post………….imagesC0U7V2ED

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

Edward is not recorded as being a very good king and thus gives much opportunity for folk to right about his reign.

Had Life and Fate been kinder to him, Edward who became Edward II would have been a merely eccentric minor scion of the Plantagenets noted for his propensity to keep hunting dogs and indulge in rural management and maintenance, however as his three elder brothers died in infancy he was stuck with the job of being King of England.

The Early Years

Born on the 25th April 1284, starting off as being sickly he grew into a handsome, tallish lad. Initially the nobility were not worried; he liked to ride, hunt and care for hunting dogs, these were harmless pursuits, for those not at the business end of the hunt. The nobility and his father Edward (for purposes of clarification The I) did, however, worry when he started take part in the creation and maintenance of hedges and ditches, particularly as he liked to discuss the subject with The Very Common People. Even though he was left as regent in 1296-97 while his father fought in Aquitaine, Anjou, Maine, etc, he could still be found slipping out of meetings carrying his favourite shovel

The Court and The King (Edward the Elder), in the hopes of curing him of these unnatural tendencies had him accompany his father (Edward the I, that is) in 1300 to invade Scotland. The records are not clear if he indulged in any massacring or simply lectured the Scots on the benefits of strong hedge systems and efficient drainage; though it was recorded that he besieged (probably by digging a large ditch around it) and captured the singularly named Strawberry Castle in 1301. The same year he was officially made Prince of Wales and allowed to have the welsh give money to him. By now all the indigenous welsh princes had betrayed or killed each other into legend and their survivors were reinventing themselves as Descendants. Because Edward (to be the II) liked welsh music the population accepted him.

In 1305 Edward (still a prince) and Bishop Long Tom who was also in charge of royal finances argued over how much money he (The Kid) could have; Edward (The King one) sided with the bishop and sort of banished Edward (The ‘Kids! What can you do with them?’), but not so that it mattered. What had truly annoyed Edward (The Old Man) was his son’s relationship with an overly inquisitive young fellow, one Peering Gaveston who Edward (the boy) gifted with airs and graces which Gaveston flaunted. So angry did Edward (king and knew it) get that he pulled the hair from his son’s nose, varnished Gaveston and in 1306 invaded Scotland with an army and his son.

And later died.

Edward (Prince of Wales; II of England, Duke of Aquitaine, and other bits)’s Proclivities

Much has been and will continue to be written about this aspect of Edward (let’s call him the II at this stage)’s private life. Some lament upon the persecution he suffered, others say he was a useless king because of it, and some make a goodly income writing questionable fiction. In actual fact everyone is quite off the mark and missing the fundamental dynamics of the Middle Ages way of doing things.

When not persecuting heretics, other religions or failing to read the Bible properly, The Church disapproved of most things; particularly anything the nobility were doing. The nobility didn’t see it that way. The nobility couldn’t have cared less if their king borrowed his wife’s dress, hired two local young men and played at ‘The Innocent Maid and the Two Cruel, Lustful Robbers’ every Saturday night as long he obeyed the following rules:

1.To ensure there was at least one male heir to the throne and more if possible so there could be a decent power struggle, which all The Barons would benefit from.

2.To listen to and take the advice of The Barons, or at least most of them

3.Not to tax The Barons as a group.

4.To annoy The Church to the benefit of The Barons.

5.Not to execute a baron unless all the other barons said he had it coming.

6.If a war with France was necessary the King had to pay for it himself but if he won he should to pass out lands to The Barons.

7.If The King insisted on fighting The Scots he would have to pay for it, though Northern Barons could take part if they wanted to. But the King must make sure he always won.

  1. The King could have and was encouraged to have Supporters and Factions but not Favourites (See Vol I King John)

As it will be seen Edward (II and no options) was not very good at keeping many of these rules.

As regards the question of ‘Unnatural Proclivities’ it should also be noted this was a favoured means of accusing and hopefully disposing of your rival if you couldn’t afford a big enough army to defeat him and was a common feature of politics of the era.

In conclusion it should be noted, as regards proclivities, that Edward (the Not-The I) sired an illegitimate son, Adam, to whom he gave £13 and some spare change and told him to fight the Scots. Adam died in 1322 somewhere in Scotland, whether it was of Scots, not washing his hands or falling down an improperly constructed ditch it is not known, Edward (father of Adam) to his credit had him buried.            

Kingship The Early Years and Constitutional Crisis

Edward officially became The II on the 25th February 1308. From early on tensions with The Barons were high, but happily for the Isles these were formalised into a game known as ‘Where’s Peers?’. The rules were quite simple; Edward (now King) would elevate Peers Gaveston, The Barons would object and find a way to have him banished; Edward (II and why not?) would then find a way to bring Gaveston back and the whole thing would start again. Gaveston’s role was to flaunt and be rude to The Barons and Bishops. Eventually and unusually The Barons and The Bishops agreed on something and organised themselves and set up a very solid group known as The Ordinary Council who then formularised the rules (see above) but changing Rule 4 to ‘No Gaveston’. This document was known as The Encumbrance and to increase its stature a year was added to it, in this case 1311.

Initially Edward challenged it on the basis that as a king he could use Roman Civil Law which was very classical and thus proper. It was so complex it had to be laid on twelve tables and Edward was fond of picking the bits which suited him. The Council, with the aid of some judges pointed out everything being argued over was taking place in England, which was not classical and so English Common Law applied; being based on what everyone had done before, in England that is.

Edward and Gaveston in breach of Rule 7 went to Scotland where Robert or Bruce refused to help out and didn’t fight, thus Gaveston was obliged in 1312 to flee overseas. This time he did not wait for Edward to think of a reason why he could return and came back by himself. This allowed several barons led by Thomas of Lancaster to capture him. He was then killed by two Welshmen, they being nostalgic for the good old days in Wales when no one took treachery and killing of nobles personally.

Edward was understandably furious. Because Lancaster had gone about saying it was for the good of the realm a few barons were worried in case he might do the same to them ‘for the good of the realm’, thus they sort of shuffled over to the Edward’s side. All might have led to civil war but for France and Scotland.

Edward (II still), The French and The Scots (in that order)

France (and other bits)

Civil war was avoided when it was discovered that because everyone had been fussing about Aquitaine, Anjou, Normandy, Maine, etc  no one was ruling Gascony. Edward at once travelled to France to meet with Philip (IV, King of France, Father-in-Law etc). The problem was solved in June 1213 by the kings sharing a sailing trip up and down the River Sane, agreeing to which bits of Gascony each would rule and promising to reverently massacre non-Christians in The Holy Land, sometime in the future. Philip who quite understood about nobles said he would help Edward (son-in-law) massacre his if it would help. With spirits and consequently taxes raised, 1313 ended quite well for Edward.

The Scottish Question

In 1314 Robert, An Important Bruce began to cause trouble, again. In 1306 he had colourfully slain John Comyn (The Red & The III by the way) in a church; normally this would have been serious. Robert, however, said that John had changed sides and was ready to hand over Wallace (ie The Loyal) to The English, if he’d got the chance; thus John (The Red and now The Dead) had been bought by English gold and should be parcelled up as a rogue. By this argument Robert was able to prove the act to be one of politics and not murder so he was only slightly excommunicated and allowed to be king. This break gave him the opportunity to teach the Scots that actually they had not been invading England for the past a thousand years, but simply fighting off anyone who was on the border who might invade them first, including those devious Britons of Strathclyde who had been speaking welsh in quite the wrong place. Thus he was able to initiate a war of independence and started capturing castles in Scotland. At once (by Medieval terms) Edward (II of course) marched northwards.

The armies met either at Bannock Burn or Bannockburn; the English not sure whether they were fighting Robert, Bruce or Loyal Wallace or all three advanced backwards towards fearsome ranks of Scottish spearmen who were so cleverly organised that the English knights thought them to be hedgehogs. The Scots took advantage of this unsatisfactory state of affairs .and charged, firstly defeating, then slaughtering and finally scattering the English. Edward nobly wished to make a heroic stand but was bundled off by those of his barons who were still nervous of Lancaster.  This left Robert to say he thought he was The I of Scotland and entitled to bother the Pope on the matter. Robert then attempted to free the Irish by invading them and saying he should be their king. As was the custom of those times some Irish agreed, some did not.

Grim Times for Edward (II and so forth)     

All the barons felt the defeat at Burnt Banknock was Edward’s fault, and Lancaster said Edward should listen to him and drew up a treaty to prove it; Edward said it had Leakes in it, but being in a weak position because of famines which he was unfairly blamed for signed it in 1318, not realising in the small print was a clause which said Lancaster had not been involved in the murder of Gaveston. To compound his problems a one-eared man Powdered John, inspired by his cat (and probably Dick Whittington) appeared claiming he was actually Edward, and as a child had had his ear bitten off, making it impossible for him to wear a crown properly and that Edward (The Apparently II) was peasant which explained his fascination with ditches and hedges. Although John and (quite unfairly) his cat were hung this did not stop folk from saying Edward whether he was a II or not was turning out to be a bad king.

It was during these turbulent times that Edward fell under the influence of a family of apothecaries; The Dispensers. These were a devious father and son team who to confuse their foes were both named Hugh. Hugh The Elder took to persecuting nobles and stealing their lands while Hugh The Younger became Edward’s favourite (and so breaking Rule 8). Naturally in 1321 a war broke out, which in typical grasping fashion the father and son titled The Dispensers’ War. Although the barons forced the Dispensers to flee, Edward manage to capture Lancaster, but in an act of clemency only had his head chopped off. The Dispensers came back and with Edward exacted fearful retribution by saying all who had rebelled would know be known as The Contrary and made to wear corsets because Edward ruled they had big bellies, some chose to be executed to avoid the humiliation.

Feeling secure Edward in 1322 tried to invade Scotland but couldn’t find Robert anywhere. He was obliged to go home, only to find that in 1324 his brother-in-law Charles had become king of France and had claimed he could rule all of Gascony, and invaded Aquitaine to prove it; he left Anjou, Maine etc out of it to concentrate his forces. Although Edward gathered a smallish army together he was only able to arrange embassies and truces and eventually had to rely on his wife Isabella to sort it out. Thus, humiliated he returned to England to brood.

The Downfall

In a fit of petulance Edward blamed his wife Isabella, because she was French and while she was trying to sort out the mess he gave all her property to Hugh The Younger and said Hugh could be as rude to her as he liked. In addition, Edward said Hugh’s wife could look after his children. During this interlude Isabella met Roger Mortimer and found they had two things in common, get rid of both Edward and Hugh The Younger. Firstly, to make the business look genuine they indulged in a romantic affair, then gathered an army together and in 1326 sailed for England. Edward promptly made an impassioned speech to all English to gather about him. As folk were still getting used to being English and didn’t much understand each other’s accent, only 55 men turned up and they probably had been expecting to dig ditches and set up hedges. Edward had expected the Dispensers to protect him, but as they were only good at grasping failed dismally. Hugh the Younger being captured and horribly executed (or entertainingly if you didn’t like him), while his father in view of his advanced age was simply hung.

Edward was also captured but since this was not in a battle where anything could happen he could not be killed, as yet. Eventually everyone had to go and ask a Bishop what to do, naturally being of The Church he said that Edward (II,stillish) had been guilty of  ‘unnatural appetites’ and so not a strong king. In consequence, he should stay out of the way in a large house. In the meantime, while his son Edward (The III-in-waiting) was growing up Isabella and Roger Mortimer could sort of take executive decisions. During this period, several nobles used to visit Edward and say what a good, noble and generous thing it would be if he was to stop saying he was king. While Edward was pondering over this several traditionalists who disliked the idea of a woman being involved in government tried to rescue him. It was therefore decided there could be no more Edward II or otherwise.

The Fate of Edward (II)

The salacious and thus preferred version was that in 1237 he was murdered in a horrifying way, which is best not discussed here. This seems most unlikely as horribly killing a king was, as stated earlier, only permissible on a battlefield. This author after many minutes of research favours the idea that not knowing what to do with him Isabella and Mortimer allowed him to traditionally flee the country on the understanding he would pretend he was someone else, while they buried some hapless peasant in his place, claiming Edward had died of remorse because he had finally realised he had been a useless king.

It is therefore nearly, almost certain Edward either hid as a hermit in the Holy Roman Empire which was very big and thus accommodating, or feeling nostalgic for earlier times said he was Welsh and lived in Antwerp which was a very busy city and also easy to hide in. Either solution allowed him to live out his days in a romantic fashion with the option for being decently and enigmatically memorable.

Conclusion

Not suited for kingship but a source of endless literature factual, fictional or dreadful. However, as he was not that good as being a king, he enabled the growth of Parliament and for Robert (or Bruce) to be so incredibly famous that he is even liked in England.  

 

The next chapter will consider the role and station of women during this era. What was expected of them; what they actually did and what men thought about it all

 

The Era of a Pushy King (and some more laws)