Saturday, August 31, 2013

The leaders of the allied army against Napoleon

The Education of Noble Women in Middle Ages

Eleanor of Aquitaine education of Noble women in the Middle Ages concentrated on the practical as opposed to academic. Young noble women as  young as seven girls would be sent away from their home to live with another noble family. There she would be taught a range of subjects and skills. Manners and etiquette were of prime importance, including how to curtsey and how to mix with the greatest nobles in the land. Time would be spent learning how to dance and ride. Archery were also taught to young noble women. These young girls were expected to act as servants to the older ladies of the castle. The duties of the young noble women would be to look after clothes and the assist ladies with their dressing and coiffure. Some housewifely duties such as preserving fruits and household management would be taught, to prepare them for their duties as a married woman. High ranking young women would take on the role of ladies-in-waiting and were taught French. Young noble women would also be taught the principles of the Medieval Code of Chivalry and Courtly Love and would join the spectators at jousting tournaments.
The Age of Consent in the Middle AgesThe romance of Courtly love was completely opposite to the practicalities of Medieval marriage. The Age of Consent - With parental permission it was legal for boys to marry at fourteen and girls at twelve. A betrothal often took place when the prospective bride and groom were as young as 7 years old and in the case of Higher nobility many were betrothed as babies. But a marriage was only legal once the marriage had been consummated.Noble Women Women and Marriage
Noble women had very little, if any, choice in who her husband might be. Marriages were frequently arranged so that both families involved would benefit. Marriages would be arranged to bring prestige or wealth to the family of noble women. Marriage for love was a rare occurrence. Noble women of the Middle Ages were expected to bring a dowry to the marriage. A dowry was an amount of money, goods, and property that the bride would bring to the marriage. The law gave a husband full rights over his wife, whether she was a Noble woman or a commoner. She effectively became his property. A wealthy marriage of a Noble woman was celebrated by nine days of feasting and jousting.
Married Noble Women of the Middle Ages
After marriage Noble women of the Middle Ages were expected to run the households but their main duty was to provide children. Large families were the norm in the Middle Ages as the mortality rate for children and babies was so high. Many Noble woman made arrangements for the care of their children in case they themselves died during childbirth. The life expectancy of a woman in the Middle Ages was just forty years. Most Medieval woman would become pregnant between 4 and 8 times. A woman during the Middle Ages would expect to lose at least one child.
Appearance of Noble Women of the Middle Ages
The appearance of a noble woman during the Middle Ages was important. A woman aged quickly during this era due to constant child bearing. Numerous pregnancies took their toll on a woman's body. The diet of noble women during the Middle Ages lacked Vitamin C which resulted in bad teeth and bleeding gums. To retain the appearance of youth a Noble woman of the middle Ages might even dye her hair yellow with a mixture of saffron, cumin seed, celandine and oil. Face make-up was applied to acquire a pale look. A pale complexion was so desirable that women were bled to achieve the desired look. Face paint made from plant roots and leaves was also applied.

Friday, August 30, 2013

King Arthur

King Arthur - Fact or Fiction?
question that everyone asks - was King Arthur Fact or Fiction? Did the legendary King Arthur actually exist or were the stories surrounding King Arthur a figment of a writer's imagination? There is no real historical evidence about King Arthur. The Arthurian legends were based on the books written by the clerics of the Medieval era or the Middles Ages. The stories of many Welsh Celtic legends and Myths surrounding King Arthur provide the Welsh with a claim to the sovereignty of the whole kingdom of Britain. These legends and myths about "the one, true King of the Britons" were used by Kings of England to authenticate their claims to the both the Welsh and English thrones! King Edward I used these Arthurian legends and myths when he conquered Wales. Connections between Caernarvon, King Arthur, Merlin, Prophecies and even Stonehenge were made. The Tudors used the same ploy! These Kings of England used the legends of King Arthur to give them credibility. It was convenient for them to turn the legends and myths about King Arthur into hard facts!
The Sources of the Legend and Myths of King Arthur The main source of information about King Arthur was written by a Welsh cleric called Geoffrey of Monmouth. In 1136 Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote a book called Historia Regum Britanniae - the History of the King's of Britain. Further credence was given to the stories about King Arthur by the 'Black Book of Caernarvon' (Welsh: Llyfr du Caerfyrddin). This book was written, in Welsh, in 1250 and contained stories and poems relating to the heroes of Britain in the Dark Ages including those connected with the legend of Arthur and Merlin. The Historia Brittonum by Nennius, the Annales Cambriae, the Chronicon Anglicanum and the Welsh Mabinogion also make references to the myths and legends of King Arthur. The later Kings of England turned these myths and legends to their advantage and Fiction was turned into Fact for political purposes!
Geoffrey of Monmouth and the legend of King Arthur
The Historia Regum Britanniae - the History of the King's of Britain detailed the old Kings and history dating from the Roman era and climaxing with the reign of King Arthur. The story of King Arthur was based on a prophecy - it was foretold that Arthur would become the 'one, true King' of the Britons. King Arthur was believed to have united all the people of Britannia under his leadership. The elements of the story included Magic, Prophecy, Druids, Merlin, Gallant Knights, Fair ladies, the Age of Chivalry and even the search for the Holy Grail. And this story had been written in the book by Geoffrey of Monmouth, the Historia Regum Britanniae - the History of the King's of Britain. The information detailed in the book was believed to have been an accurate record - Fact not Fiction!
Who was the real King Arthur?
The story of King Arthur was documented by Geoffrey of Monmouth. The story of the mythical King Arthur could, however, have been based on some factual elements. One candidate was Magnus Maximus, Prince Macsen, the Macsen Wledig of Welsh legend who was one of the greatest figures in Britain towards the end of the Roman Empire.  General Magnus Clemens Maximus was a Celt. He was the uncle of the Welsh King, Coel Godhebog "the Magnificent" (Old King Cole of the Nursery Rhyme) by marriage. Coel Godhebog's daughter married Emperor Constantius Chlorus. The capital of the Roman Empire transferred from Rome to Constantinople in 330AD. We now have a connection between the Imperial Roman Emperors, the great city of Constantine and the Welsh Royal family. The base of Magnus Maximus, the Macsen Wledig of Welsh legend was Carmarthen see Caernarvon Castle and Welsh Mythology for more details .
Another candidate for the basis of the King Arthur myth may have been a supreme Roman Commander of Britain (the Dux Bellorum) in the late fifth century. This great military leader was called Ambrosius Aurelianus who was the second son of the Emperor Constantine. This Roman name could have been changed over the course of time to Artorius and then Arthur. Was this Roman commander the real King Arthur?
The Story of King Arthur and the Medieval 'Spin Doctors'
The story of King Arthur was clearly used by the Medieval 'Spin Doctors' to strengthen the claims of Medieval Kings to both the English and Welsh thrones. It is easy to see how much advantage and credibility could be gained by these Kings to connect their lineage to this magnificent hero of the past - the Great King Arthur - "the one, true King of the Britons"! These Medieval 'Spin Doctors' were absolute masters at this political game! The connections with these legends and myths provided the people with:
  • Ancient Prophecies (fulfilled by the King of the moment!)
  • Connections to the old Religions - Druids, magicians and wizards
  • A link to the enigmatic Stonehenge
  • Connections to the Roman Emperors
  • A King whose rule was based on Honour, Honesty, Loyalty, Chivalry and Valour
  • The one, true King of the Britons
  • A romantic story of love, fair ladies, brave knights and triumphant battles
  • Christianity, the crusades and the search for the Holy Grail
  • And of course lineage to King Arthur and justification for their reign
The Legend of King ArthurThe legend of King Arthur lives on. We are just as enthralled by the stories of King Arthur, Magic, Prophecy, Merlin, Gallant Knights, Fair ladies, the Age of Chivalry and Camelot as were the people of the Medieval era, the Middle Ages. The Myth and Legend of King Arthur is so strong that we look in vain for reference to him in our list of Medieval Kings and Queens of England. Our knowledge of history has become confused because, despite the lack of historical evidence, we still want to believe that King Arthur actually existed.

Short Biography profile and facts about the life of King Henry VI of England

Picture of King Henry VI

The following biography information provides basic facts and information about the life of King Henry VI King of England:
  • Nationality: English
  • Also Known as: Henry of Windsor
  • Lifespan: 1421 – 1471
  • Reigned as King of England: Aug 31,1422 - March 4, 1461 and October 31,1470 - April 14, 1471. His coronation was on November 6, 1429
  • He was proclaimed King of France at Notre Dame in Paris on December 16, 1431
  • Date of Birth: King Henry VI was born on December 6, 1421 at Windsor Castle
  • Family connections / Genealogy: He was the son of King Henry V (1387-1422) and Catherine of Valois (1401-1437)
  • Married: Margaret of Anjou (1429-1482)
  • Children: Edward, Prince of Wales (1453-1471)
  • Date when King Henry VI died: May 22, 1471 at the Tower of London. He was buried at Windsor Castle
  • Cause of the Death of King Henry VI: King Henry was imprisoned in the Tower. The cause of his death is unknown
  • Character of King Henry VI: Gentle, pious, meek and obedient - given to fits of madness
  • Accomplishments or why King Henry VI was famous: The end of the Hundred Years War between England and France and the influence of Joan of Arc. The rising led by Jack Cade. The start of the Wars of the Roses (1455 - 1485)
King Henry VI
The story and biography of King Henry VI which contains interesting information, facts & the history about the life of King Henry VI
The story of King Henry VI ( AKA : Henry of Windsor ) 
Henry VI., was only nine months old when he was proclaimed King of France and England. The crown of England was held over his head, and his lords made their oaths to him: and when he was nine years old he was sent to Paris, and there crowned King of France. The war in France went on. The English were besieging Orleans, when a young village girl, named Joan of Arc, came to King Charles and told him that she had had a commission from Heaven to save Orleans, and to lead him to Rheims, where French kings were always crowned. When brought into the presence of Charles, whom she had never before seen, she recognized him, although he was dressed plainly, and one of the courtiers had on the royal apparel. She never let anything wrong be done in her sight--no bad words spoken, no savage deeds done; and she never fought herself, only led the French soldiers. The English thought her a witch, but the French common men were always brave with her to lead them. Joan of Arc saved Orleans, and brought the king to be crowned at Rheims. Joan of Arc was captured by the English who sentenced her to be burnt to death in the market place at Rouen as a witch, and her own king never tried to save her. The French went on winning back more and more; and there were so many quarrels among the English that they had little chance of keeping anything.
King Henry V  married Margaret of Anjou, the daughter of a French prince, who had a right to a great part of the lands the English held. All these were given back to her father, infuriating the Duke of Gloucester. The English hated the young queen. She was as bold and high-spirited as the king was gentle and meek. He loved nothing so well as praying, praising God, and reading; and he did one great thing for the country--which did more for it than all the fighting kings had done, he founded Eton College, close to Windsor Castle; and there many of our best clergymen, and soldiers, and statesmen, have had their education.
The queen, Margaret of Anjou,  was eagerly taking part in plots and quarrels, and the nation hated her the more for interfering. Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, was, at the meeting of Parliament, accused of high treason and sent to prison, where, in a few days, he was found dead in his bed. These were very bad times. There was a rising  under a man named Jack Cade, who held London for two or three days before he was put down; and, almost at the same time, the queen's first English friend, Suffolk, was exiled by her enemies, and taken at sea and murdered by some sailors.
The last of the brave old friends of Henry V. was killed in France, while trying to save the remains of the old duchy of Aquitaine, which had belonged to the English kings ever since Henry II. married Queen Eleanor. That was the end of the hundred years' war, for peace was made at last, and England kept nothing in France but the one city of Calais.
Still things were growing worse. Duke Humfrey left no children, and as time went on and the king had none, the question was who should reign. If the Beauforts were to be counted as princes, they came next; but everyone hated them, so that people recollected that Henry IV. had thrust aside the young Edmund Mortimer, grandson to Lionel, who had been next eldest to the Black Prince. Edmund was dead, but his sister Anne had married a son of the Duke of York, youngest son of Edward III.; and her son Richard, Duke of York, could not help feeling that he had a much better right to be king than any Beaufort. There was a great English noble named Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who liked to manage everything--just the sort of baron that was always mischievous at home, if not fighting in France--and he took up York's cause hotly. York's friends used to wear white roses, Beaufort's friends red roses, and the two parties kept on getting more bitter; but as no one wished any ill to gentle King Henry, who, to make matters worse, sometimes had fits of madness, like his poor grandfather in France, they would hardly have fought it in his lifetime, if he had not at last had a little son, who was born while he was so mad that he did not know of it.
Then, when York found it was of no use to wait, he began to make war, backed up by Warwick, and, after much fighting, they made the king prisoner, and forced him to make an agreement that he should reign as long as he lived, but that after that Richard of York should be king, and his son Edward be only Duke of Lancaster.
This made the queen, Margaret of Anjou, furiously angry. She would not give up her son's rights, and she gathered a great army, with which she came suddenly on the Duke of York near Wakefield, and destroyed nearly his whole army. He was killed in the battle; and his second son, Edmund, was met on Wakefield bridge and stabbed by Lord Clifford; and Margaret had their heads set up over the gates of York, while she went on to London to free her husband.
Edward, York's eldest son, was a better captain than he, and far fiercer and more cruel. He made the war much more savage than it had been before; and after beating the queen's friends at Mortimer's Cross, he hurried on to London, where the people, who had always been very fond of his father, and hated Queen Margaret, greeted him gladly. He was handsome and stately looking; and though he was really cruel when offended, had easy, good-natured manners, and everyone in London was delighted to receive him and own him as king. He became King Edward IV of England.
But Henry and Margaret were in the north with many friends, and he followed them to Towton Moor, where, in a snow storm, began the most cruel and savage battle of all the war. Edward gained the victory, and nobody was spared, or made prisoner - all were killed who could not flee. Poor Henry was hidden among his friends, and Margaret went to seek help in Scotland and abroad, taking her son with her. Once she brought another army and fought at Hexham, but she was beaten again; and before long King Henry was discovered by his enemies, carried to London, and shut up a prisoner in the Tower. His reign is reckoned to have ended in 1461.
Henry VI was briefly restored to power in 1470. King Henry VI was again imprisoned in the Tower of London where he died. The cause of his death is unknown. His son, Edward,  was taken prisoner by Richard, Duke of Gloucester and brought before King Edward IV. When the young Edward insulted the Yorkist king, Edward IV ordered his immediate murder. He is buried at Tewkesbury Abbey.

Lord Wellington

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hortense de Beauharnais

Medieval Knights

MEDIEVAL KNIGHTS - THE LIFE OF THE PAGEThe life of a castle Page would start at a very young age - seven years old. A Page was junior to a Squire. It was the duty of a Page to wait at table, care for the Lord's clothes and assist them in dressing. The Page was provided with a uniform of the colours and livery of the Lord. These young boys received an education and were taught religion, manners, riding, hunting, hawking and strategic games such as backgammon and chess. A Page would start to acquire the skills required of a Knight by practising the skills of tilting a lance. A target was erected and the Page would mount a wooden 'horse' on wheels holding a lance. The wooden horse would be pulled along by two other pages towards the target and the page would aim the lance. Sword play was practised using wooden swords and shields. Fighting on piggyback introduced the young knights to the balance and skills required in mounted combat.
MEDIEVAL KNIGHTS - LIFE OF THE SQUIREThe life of a Squire (also called Esquire) would start as a teenager, usually fourteen years of age. A Squire was junior to a Knight. It was the duty of a Squire to learn about Chivalry, the rules of Heraldry, horsemanship and practise the use of weapons and the skills required of a Knight. It was also their duty to enter into the social life of the castle and learn courtly etiquette, jousting, music and dancing. The Squire served in this role for seven years and became a Knight at the age of twenty-one. Sometimes knighthood was conferred earlier as the reward for bravery on the battlefield. In time of war Squires accompanied Knights on the battlefield, leading and tending the horses and dressing them in the Medieval Knights Armor. They came under fire from arrows and many were killed doing their duty.
MEDIEVAL KNIGHTS - KNIGHTHOODAfter serving as a Squire for seven years a young warrior would make a formal entry into Knighthood. The entry into Knighthood was highly ritualised which started with a Night Vigil in the Chapel of the Castle:
  • The Squire prepared for the vigil by ritual bathing - his body was thoroughly cleansed as a symbol of purification
  • Medieval Knights wore a white vesture to symbolise purity covered by a red robe which symbolised nobility
  • The shoes and hose of Medieval Knights were black which symbolised death
  • A sword and shield was placed on the altar
  • Medieval Knights knelt or stood at the Chapel altar, in silent prayer, for ten hours
  • In the morning he was joined by others to hear Mass and a lengthy sermon on the duties of a knight
  • A sponsor took possession of the sword and shield which had been blessed by the priest
  • The sword and shield was passed to the lord who was to conduct the knighthood ceremony
  • The Medieval Knights were presented to the lord by two sponsors in a Public ceremony
  • The Medieval Knights swore an oath of allegiance to the lord and swore the following oaths:
    • Never traffic with traitors
    • Never give evil counsel to a lady, whether married or not; he must treat her with great respect and defend her against all
    • To observe fasts and abstinences, and every day hear Mass and make an offering in Church
  • The lord presented the sword & shield and 'Dubbed' the squire who was pronounced a Knight
  • 'Dubbing' was a blow struck with the flat of the hand or the side of the sword and was regarded as an essential act of the knighting ceremony
  • The sponsors then put spurs on the Medieval Knights and his sword was girded on
  • Music and a Fanfare would accompany and celebrate the Knighthood
  • The celebrations would continue with a feast and tournament in honour of the Medieval Knights
MEDIEVAL KNIGHTS - THE LIFE OF THE KNIGHTIt was the duty of a Knight to learn how to fight and so serve their Lord according to the Code of Chivalry. The Code of Chivalry dictated that a Knight should be brave and fearless in battle but would also exhibit cultured Knightly qualities showing themselves to be devout, courteous and generous. Weapon practise included enhancing skills in the two-handed sword, battle axe, mace, dagger and lance. A Knight would be expected to guard the Castle and support his liege lord in Medieval warfare.

Medieval Weapons

Medieval Weapons used by the KnightsThe Medieval weapons which were used by the Knights included the following:
  • Weapons - The Medieval Swords - The different types of Medieval swords ranged from the smallest Broadsword measuring from 30 inches to the Greatswords which measured up to 72 inches
    • Weapons - The Broadsword
    • The Falchion
    • Weapons - The Bastardsword
    • The Cutting sword
    • Weapons - The Greatsword
  • Weapons - The Battle Axe - A variety single and double-handed axe were in use throughout the Medieval period
  • Weapons - The Mace - The Medieval mace was an armor-fighting weapon. The Mace developed from a steel ball on a wooden handle, to an elaborately spiked steel war club
  • Weapons - The Dagger including the Basilard, a two-edged, long bladed dagger of the late Middle Ages
  • Weapons - The Medieval Lance - A long, strong, spear-like weapon. Designed for use on horseback
The Medieval Knights attended the equivalent of a 'Knight School' serving seven years as a Page and a further seven years as a Squire in which he acquired the necessary strength and skills in the weapons of a Medieval Knight. These weapons were difficult to master and required continuous practise and training.
Medieval Weapons used by the Foot soldiers and ArchersThe range Weapons used in the Middle Ages by the foot soldiers and archers in the Middle Ages was considerable:
  • Arbalest - This is the correct term for a Medieval Crossbow
  • Axe - Single and double-handed battle axes
  • Basilard - A two-edged, long bladed dagger
  • Bill - A polearm with a wide cutting blade occasionally with spikes and hooks
  • Billhook - Capable of killing Knights and their horses
  • Medieval Bow and Arrow - the most common of all weapons
  • Caltrop: Sharp spikes on 12 - 18 feet poles used, in formation, to maim a horse
  • Crossbow - The crossbow range was 350 – 400 yards but could only be shot at a rate of 2 bolts per minute
  • Dagger - A short pointed knife coonly used as weapons
  • Flail - A jointed weapon consisting of a spiked or knobbed steel head joined by a chain to a short wood handle
  • Glaive - A broad-bladed, single-edged polearm similar to a long butchers knife on a 6 foot pole
  • Hache - An axe shaped cutting blade on one side and a small hammer head on the other on a 6 foot pole
  • Halberd - A broad, short axe blade on a 6 foot pole with a spear point at the top with a back spike
  • Hammer - Side-arm for combating armor pointed head
  • Longbow - The Longbow could pierce armour at ranges of more than 250 yards - a longbowman could release between 10 - 12 arrows per minute
  • Mace - The Medieval mace was an armor-fighting weapon. The Mace developed from a steel ball on a wooden handle, to an elaborately spiked steel war club
  • Pike - A long spear measuring 18 feet
  • Poleaxe - Polearm - Polehammer - Bec de Corbin - Bec de Faucon -  A group of pole-mounted weapons. Were all variations of poles measuring 6 feet long with different 'heads' - spikes, hammers, axe etc
  • Quarterstaff - A long, thick pole measuring between 6 - 9 feet
  • Spear - Used for thrusting
  • Warhammer - A hammer head on one side and a spike on the other
The weapons of the Middle Ages listed above were usually provided by a lord or noble. However many peasants were also called to the battlefield who were just armed with tools that were used when working on the land.
Medieval Weapons - Siege Warfare and Siege Weapons!The Medieval era saw the construction of hundreds of castles. A totally new form of warfare and weapons were introduced to England with the castles - Medieval Siege Warfare. Siege warfare tactics and weapons varied according to the role of Castle Defender or Castle Attacker. Siege weapons were made to order! The most famous Medieval Siege Weapons were the Ballista, Mangonel, Battering ram and the awesome Trebuchet. Siege warfare was extremely expensive! Any siege had to be carefully planned. Engineers identified the weakest parts of the Castle. A workforce including carpenters and blacksmiths were sent to the site. The surrounding area was checked out for materials and supplies. Armed men were expected to help prepare for the siege! The whole area outside the castle became a noisy hive of activity. The siege weapons would be built! During this siege preparation time the attackers would seek terms of surrender. Failure to 'Come to Terms' resulted in siege warfare and the use of the following siege weapons:
  • Weapons - Battering Ram - The Battering Ram and the Bore were used to literally 'batter' down, pound, punch and shake and drill into castle gates, doors and walls
  • Weapons - Ballista - The Ballista was similar to a Giant Crossbow and worked by using tension.
  • Weapons - Mangonel - Missiles were launched from a bowl-shaped bucket at the end of the one giant arm of the Mangonel
  • Weapons - Trebuchet - The massive Trebuchet consisted of a lever and a sling and was capable of hurling stones weighing 200 pounds with a range of up to about 300 yards
Medieval WeaponsThe facts and information about Weapons used during the period of the Middle Ages provide an overview of these weapons of Mass Medieval Destruction. For detailed facts and information click one of the following links. A glance at these pages will transport you into the terrifying world of Medieval weapons!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013



   Gawain, or Gwalchmai (Hawk of May) was chief among Arthur's nephews and eldest of the "Orkney Clan". Gawain is usually said to be the son of Arthur's half-sister Morgause (or Anna). When Uther became king, he marries Morgause off to Lot of Orkney and Gawain was their eldest offspring. Tradition has it that Gawain was educated at Rome in the papal household and later became a leading member of the Round Table. Reminiscent of the ancient Celtic sun-heroes, his strength used to increase till noon and decline afterwards. As with Kay, later legend condemned him as a womanizer and cheater, but he was full of courage and, at his best, a model of chivalry.
   Of all of Arthur's warriors, Gawain has been the greatest. He appears in more of the stories than any of the other companions. In most, he provides a counter to the main hero, the human side of chivalry. Gwalchmai ap Gwyar becomes in the French Romances Gawain, having first been Latinized into Walwanus and Walweyn. In the Triads, he is mentioned in the following manner:-
   "There were three golden-tongued Knights in the Court of Arthur: Gwalchmai the son of Gwyar; Drudwas the son of Tryffin, and Eliwlod the son of Madog ap Uthur. For there was neither King, nor Earl, nor Lord, to whom these came, but would listen to them before all others; and whatever request they made, it would be granted them, whether willingly or unwillingly; and thence were they called the Golden Tongued."
   A similar case for his persuasive capabilities is also provided when he convinces Peredur to return with him to Arthur's camp after Peredur unseats several knights including Sir Kay.
   In one Triad, we find Gwalchmai extolled as one of the three most courteous men towards guests and strangers; and from another we learn that he added scientific attainments to his other remarkable qualities.
   The three learned ones of the island of Britain, Gwalchmai ab Gwyar, and Llecheu ab Arthur, and Rhiwallon with the broom-bush hair; and there was nothing of which they did not know the elements and the material essence."
   Perhaps the most enduring of the Arthur's legends is Gawain and the Green Knight. When the gigantic Green Knight challenged any of Arthur's company to strike a blow at him on condition that the blow should he returned a year hence, it was Gawain who took up the challenge for the honor of Camelot. He severed the Green Knight's head, excusably supposing that the return blow would never be struck, but the challenger picked it up and rode away. Gawain kept the tryst and was spared because of his correct conduct when a married lady tried to seduce him. The story has a parallel in Irish Red Branch stories of Cuchulain and the beheading game of Cu Roi, King of Munster.
   His most destructive failing in Malory was vengefulness. He pursued a ruinous vendetta against Lancelot, who had accidentally killed two of Gawain's brothers when rescuing Guinevere from the stake. When his madness is cooled and he realizes too late his error, he helps to reconcile Arthur and dies at the landing site when Arthur returns to Britain to confront Mordred. He later appears as a ghost to confront Arthur before the final battle.
   William of Malmsbury says, that during the reign of William the Conqueror the tomb of Gwalchmai, or Walwen, as he calls him, was discovered on the sea-shore, in a certain province of Wales called Rhos, which is understood to be that still known by the same name, in the county of Pembroke, where there is a district called in Welsh Castell Gwalchmai, and in English Walwyn's Castle.
   In the Stanzas of the Graves a similar locality is indicated

"The grave of Gwalchmai is in Pyton,
Where the ninth wave flows."
Gawain Poems and Stories
   "Golagros and Gawane" is a late alliterative poem, probably of Scottish origins. It's found in numerous collections but perhaps most conveniently in A. J. Amours' *Scottish Alliterative Poems in Riming Stanzas*. "Sir Gawan and Sir Galeron" is an alternate title for the "Awntyrs of Arthure". This title has fallen into disuse since the 19th century.
   As a proof of the high estimation in which Gwalchmai's powers of persuasion were held, Lady Guest provided the following translation from the Myvyrian Archaiology (I. 178):

Between Trystan the son of Tallwch, and Gwalchmai the son of Gwyar, after Trystan had been absent three years from Arthur's Court, in displeasure, and Arthur had sent eight-and-twenty warriors to seize him, and bring him to Arthur, and Trystan smote them all down, one after another, and came not for any one, but for Gwalchmai with the Golden Tongue.
   Tumultuous is the nature of the wave,
When the sea is at its height.-
Who art thou, mysterious warrior?
   Tumultuous are the waves and the thunder.
In their bursting forth let them be tumultuous.
In the day of conflict I am Trystan.
   Trystan of the faultless speech,
Who, in the day of battle, would not retreat,
A companion of thine was Gwalchmai.
   I would do for Gwalchmai in that day,
In the which the work of slaughter is let loose,
That which one brother would not do for another.
   Trystan, endowed with brilliant qualities,
Whose spear has oft been shivered in the toil of war,
I am Gwalchmai the nephew of Arthur.
   Gwalchmai, there swifter than Mydrin,
Shouldst thou be in danger,
I would cause blood to flow till it reached the knees.
   Trystan, for thy sake would I strive
Until my wrist should fail me;
Also for thee I would do my utmost.
   I ask it in defiance,
I ask it not through fear,-
Who are the warriors before me?
Trystan, of distinguished qualities,
Are they not known to thee?
It is the household of Arthur that comes.
   Arthur will I not shun,
To nine hundred combats will I dare him, -
If I am slain, I will also slay.
   Trystan, the friend of damsels,
Before commencing the work of strife,
The best of all things is peace.
   Let me but have my sword upon my thigh,
And my right hand to defend me,
And I myself will be more formidable than they all.
   Trystan of brilliant qualities,
Before exciting the tumult of conflict,
Reject not Arthur as a friend.
   Gwalchmai, for thy sake will I deliberate,
And with my mouth I utter it.-
As I am loved, so will I love.
   Trystan, of aspiring mind,
The shower wets a hundred oaks.
Come to an interview with thy kinsman.
   Gwalchmai, of persuasive answers,
The shower wets a hundred furrows.
I will go where'er thou wilt.
Then came Trystan with Gwalchmai to Arthur.
   Arthur, of courteous replies,
The shower wets a hundred heads.
Here is Trystan, be thou joyful.
   Gwalchmai, of faultless answers,
The shower wets a hundred dwellings.
A welcome to Trystan, my nephew.
Worthy Trystan, chief of the host,
Love thy race, remember the past;
Am I not the Chief of the Tribe?
Trystan, leader of onsets,
Take equal with the best,
But leave the sovereignty to me.
Trystan, wise and mighty chieftain,
Love thy kindred, none shall harm thee,
Let there be no coldness between friend and friend.
   Arthur, to thee will I attend,
To thy command will I submit,
And that thou wishest will I do.

History of the Tower of London

he History of the Tower of London
The History of the Tower of London dates back over one thousand years. Its bloody history is steeped in mystery and intrigue. The comprehensive Tower of London Timeline provides details of both the major building work and the major events in history which occurred in the Tower of London during the various rules of each of the Kings and Queens of England. 
The following links provide even more facts and information about the History of the Tower of London Prisoners, the  deeds of the various monarchs, the history of the imprisonments and the Executions and beheading which occurred in the Tower of London.
The History of the Tower of London
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London take you through a century by century guide to the key events in the History of the Tower, its Kings and Queens and those unfortunate men and women who suffered at the hands of the executioners, interrogators or torturers in the Tower of London.
The History of the Tower of London - 1000's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1000's. 
William the Conqueror and the Normans invade England in September 1066 and commence their strategy of building castles. A timber Motte and Bailey castle is first built on the site of the Tower of London. In 1078 a stone built, fortified, Tower was commissioned by William the Conqueror replacing the timber tower - it was called the Great Tower which was later re-named the White Tower. It was completed in 1097.
The History of the Tower of London - 1100's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1100's.  In 1100 
the first recorded state prisoner in the Tower of London was Ranulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham Tower of London Prisoners.Richard the Lionheart embarked on the Crusades. William Longchamp, the Bishop of Ely was appointed his regent - Justiciar of all England and Constable of the Tower of London. Residing in the fortress he seized land from the city and of St. Katharine's Hospital and expanded the Tower. 1191 saw the first siege at the Tower of London when Prince John opposed the powerful Bishop Longchamp and lay siege to the Tower of London. After only three days, lack of provisions forced Bishop Longchamp to surrender.

The History of the Tower of London - 1200's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1200's. In 
1210 King John took up residence in the Tower. A moat was dug outside the City of London wall. In 1216 legend has it that King John lost the Crown Jewels, which were kept in Westminster Abbey, in quicksand. Work continued on the additional Tower of London defences. 1216 to 1272 saw the reign of King Henry III. He immediately started on a strategy to reinforce all of the royal castles, including the Tower of London. At first the fortifications were strengthened and Royal accommodation was extended in the White Tower which was substantially rebuilt with a new Great Hall and kitchens. In 1236 further building plans were initiated with his chief architect Henry de Reyns together with John of Gloucester and Robert of Beverley. Ten new towers, gateways and drawbridges were added. The moat was extended and successfully flooded with water from the River Thames.
The Welsh Prince Gruffydd was imprisoned between 1241 - 1244 and he fell to his death in a bid to escape.
King Edward I continued the castle building initiated by his father Henry III and, with his chief architect and builder Master James of St George,  building massive Concentric Castles in England, Scotland and Wales. Several new towers were built and the Crown Jewels were moved from Westminster Abbey to the Tower which served as a treasury.
The History of the Tower of London - 1300's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1300's. The Tower of London played a crucial role during the dangerous reign of King Edward II between 1307 - 1327 and was used a royal refuge and to maintain royal authority. In 1324 Roger Mortimer, the first Earl of March, lead the barons in a rebellion against the King . He was incarcerated in the Tower but managed to escape to France, followed by his lover, Isabella of France, wife of Edward II and Queen of England! Roger Mortimer was eventually condemned without trial and hanged at Tyburn. During 1348 - 1349 the terrible Black Death ravaged England killing nearly one third of the population - in London it was much worse and the population almost halved to 30,000. More fortifications, towers and a new gatehouse were added. The upper parts of the Bloody Tower were also re-built. The 'Great Tower' began to assume its modern name, as "La Blanche Tour" - the White Tower after yet another coating of whitewash. In 1381 the Tower under Siege by English peasants. The fourteen year old King Richard pacified the peasants in Blackheath. The peasant leaders Wat Tyler and John Ball were killed. King Richard II was condemned as a tyrant in 1399 and Henry IV was proclaimed King the next day.
The History of the Tower of London - 1400's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1400's.  The mentally unstable and pious Lancastrian King Henry VI and his headstrong and ambitious wife Margaret of Anjou were imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1465 until 1470. Henry was briefly restored to power in 1470 and returned to reside in the Tower on the 21st May. The last Lancastrian king was murdered in the Wakefield Tower, whilst he was at prayer, the following day. He was probably murdered on the orders of Edward IV. England entered the period of civil disorder and political instability known as the Wars of the Roses.
Edward IV was a notorious womaniser - his affairs led to claims of illegitimacy and ultimately led to the murder of his sons - The Princes in the Tower. Richard III seized the throne in 1483. A Lancastrian rebellion rose against the Yorkist Richard and on  he fell in the Battle of Bosworth Field to Henry Tudor in 1485. Henry VII cemented his succession and settled the friction between the Yorkists and Lancastrians by marrying the Yorkist heir, Elizabeth of York. Henry VII built the last permanent royal residential buildings at the Tower of London.
The History of the Tower of London - 1500's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1500's. King Henry VIII marries Katherine of Aragon. In 1512 the original chapel of St Peter Ad Vincula was burned down and re-built. Gun emplacements were improvised and the roof of the White Tower needed to be strengthened to take the weight of cannon. Extensive building and repair work to the Royal Lodgings were undertaken. The White Tower's most famous features, the onion-shaped domes on the turrets, were added complete with weather vanes. The reign of the notorious King Henry VIII saw the Tower of London enter its most bloody period of history. In 1533 Henry divorced his first wife, Katherine of Aragon and broke with the Church in Rome. The Tower expands the role of prison for a large number of religious and political prisoners. Sir Thomas Moore and Bishop Fisher of Rochester were executed for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII as head of the English Church. On January 25th 1533 Henry married Anne Boleyn and on May 23rd 1533 Anne lead a procession from the Tower of London to Westminster Abbey for her coronation. By 1536 Anne Boleyn was arrested and tried for treason, adultery and incest in the Great Hall of the Tower of London. She was then executed on Tower Hill. Anne's body and head were buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula. Within 24 hours of Anne Boleyn's execution, Jane Seymour and Henry VIII were formally betrothed. On the 30th of May, they were married but Jane dies a premature death after giving birth to Henry's son. In 1540 Henry VIII marries Anne of Cleves but the marriage is annulled. Thomas Cromwell is blamed, imprisoned in the Tower, then executed on Tower Hill. Just a few months later 49 year old Henry married 19 year old Catherine Howard but by February 1542 Catherine Howard executed for adultery. On 12th July 1543 Henry marries Katherine Parr, his sixth wife, who had a near brush with death she was linked with 'heretical' religious reformers including the tragic Anne Askew who was tortured on the rack in the tower.
Henry VIII dies in 1547 and his young son, Edward V takes the throne. Thomas Seymour is imprisoned in the Tower, then beheaded on Tower Hill then the young King's protector, the Duke of Somerset, and his confederates met their death at the Tower. Edward dies of tuberculosis and he leaves the throne to 'the Lady Jane and her heirs male.'
Lady Jane Grey becomes Queen for just Nine Days, is quickly deposed and executed at the Tower of London. Bloody Mary takes the throne and many Protestants are imprisoned and executed. Princess Elizabeth is imprisoned in the Tower for eight weeks and Archbishop Cranmer, Bishops Ridley and Latimer, are condemned to death for heresy, imprisoned in the Tower before being burned at the stake at Oxford in 1556.
Queen Elizabeth I takes the throne and Robert Devereux (1566-1601), Earl of Essex is executed on Tower Green
The History of the Tower of London - 1600's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1600's. 
In 1603 James I arrived at the Tower on the day of his arrival in London from Edinburgh and stayed there for several nights. In 1613 Sir Thomas Overbury, poet and courtier, was poisoned in the Tower. Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded in Old Palace Yard in 1618. In 1625 Charles I takes the throne but in 1642 Civil war broke out between King and parliament. In 1643 the Tower was seized from the King by parliamentarians and it remained in their hands throughout the Civil War (1642-49) during which time a permanent garrison was installed at the Tower of London. On 30th January 1649 Charles was beheaded on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall, London. The Crown Jewels were ordered to be broken up as being symbolic of the 'detestable rule of kings'. In 1660 Charles II and the Royal House of Stuart Restored and replacements for the lost Crown Jewels were purchased at a cost of nearly £13,000. Major improvements to the Tower's defences were made and batteries of guns were set in place along the walls and the arsenal was expanded. The function of the Tower declined as a state prison declined and the Office of Ordnance took over responsibility for most of the castle. In 1671 Colonel Thomas Blood and his men tried to steal the Crown Jewels from the Martin Tower. 1688 The Catholic James was deposed and replaced by by his Protestant daughter and son-in-law, Mary II and William III, who became joint Sovereigns. In 1689 Hanging Judge Jeffreys died in the Tower - he had sentenced 320 at the 'Bloody Assizes' to be executed or transported to the Penal colonies
The History of the Tower of London - 1700's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1700's. The Monarchy no longer used the Tower as State apartments so showed little interest in the castle but in 1780 the Tower held its only American prisoner, former President of the Continental Congress, Henry Laurens.
The History of the Tower of London - 1800's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1800's. 
The Royal Menagerie left the Lion Tower in 1834 to become the London Zoo. Most of the Lion Tower was demolished soon after, although the Lion Gate still remains. The first official guidebook to the Tower was published. The Grand Storehouse burned down during a great fire at the Tower and many weapons were destroyed. In 1848
Revolution swept across Europe and in London the Chartist movement delivered a petition to Parliament asserting the rights of ordinary people. Fear that a revolutionary mob might storm the Tower prompted a final refortification of the Tower. Anthony Salvin, a Victorian architect, was appointed in 1851 to 'restore' the Tower to a pseudo-medieval form so it could be opened to the public.
The History of the Tower of London - 1900's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1900's. 1914 - 1918 heralded the First World War and a bomb fell in the moat of the tower. 11 German spies were shot in the tower. Army officer, and Traitor, Norman Baillie-Stewart was the last British citizen held for any length of time in the Tower of London. The Second World War and bomb damage to the Tower severely damaged or destroyed many buildings. On 14 Aug 1941 the last prisoner of the Tower of London, Corporal Josef Jakobs, a German spy, is executed. In 1942 Hitler's Deputy Fuhrer of Nazi Germany, Rudolf Hess, was imprisoned in the Kings's House for 4 days. In 1952 the Kray twins were held in the Tower for 4 days for failing to report for national service, making them amongst the last prisoners of the Tower of London.

Toussaint Louverture

Haitian revolutionary leader.  Fought for the French against the Spanish and English.
Imprisoned by Napoleon after Toussaint took control of the island.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sketches of Egyptian costume, Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign

Parts of a Castle

Medieval Castle

Identifying different Parts of Castles
This section provides a comprehensive description which will assist you in identifying different parts and architectural features of castles.
Parts of a Castle - The Norman Castles
The Normans introduced the wooden Motte and Bailey Castles to England following their victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The Norman timber Motte and Bailey castles were quickly replaced by permanent stone Norman castles. The names of many Castle parts therefore had a French origin. The great Norman Keep replaced the wooden tower - this is one of the main parts of a castle that are explained in this section. The Plantagenets followed the Normans and the great Medieval concentric castles were built and new castle parts were added to strengthen the defences of castles.
Parts of a Castle - The Medieval Castles
The most prolific of the Plantagenet castle builders was the Plantagenet English King Edward I. These old Edwardian Medieval Castles were a symbol of wealth and power and were often the centre of historic battles and Medieval sieges! These great old castles were built for Medieval warfare and defence and new parts of the castle were designed accordingly! The Medieval architect and engineer who designed many of the main parts of the Medieval castle was Master James of St George. These Medieval castles introduced many main parts of a castle including the Drawbridge, Portcullis, Barbican, Crenellations, Death Traps and Murder Holes! 
Parts of a Castle -  Moats!
One of the most familiar and main parts of Medieval castles is the moat. There are many legends and myths surrounding the Moats of Medieval Castles. Perhaps the most famous is the myth that there were dragons or alligators in the moats of the Medieval Castles!
  • What was the purpose of the moat?
  • How did moats help with the defences of Medieval Castles?
  • How deep were the moats?
Parts of a Castle - Dungeons!
The dungeon is another familiar and main part of the Castle. The very word 'dungeon' conjures up a dark vision of one of the most infamous parts of a castle:
  • What were dungeons like?
  • Who were thrown into dungeons?
  • Were Instruments of Torture used on prisoners?
  • The horror of the dungeon fascinates all of those interested in the different parts of the Medieval Castle
Parts of a Castle - Castle Moats, Dungeons and Parts & a Glossary of Terms!
This section covering the different parts of a Medieval Castle, including the moat and the dungeon, is fascinating. Can you name 20 different parts of a castle? This section will provide you with full details of the description, origin and purpose or function of different parts of a castle. The following links provide access to facts and information about the different main parts of the Castle:

Lamorak and the Queen Morgause of Orkney (Final)

The child lies unborn in the queen's womb;
unformed in his brain is the web of all our doom,
as unformed in the minds of all the great lords
lies the image of the split Table and of surreptitious swords.

I am the queen's servant; while I live
down my eyes the cliff, the carving, the winged things drive,
since the rock, in those fleet lids of rock's hue,
the sculpture, the living sculpture, rose and flew.

Taliessin through Logres (1938)
Charles Williams

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lamorak and the Queen Morgause of Orkney (IV)

The eyes of the queen Morgause were a dark cavern;
there a crowned man without eyes came to a carved tavern,
a wine-wide cell, an open grave, that stood
between Caerleon and Carbonek, in the skirts of the blind wood.

Through the rectangular door the crowned shape went its way
it lifted light feet: an eyeless woman lay
flat on the rock; her arm was stretched to embrace
his own stretched arm; she had his own face.

The shape of a blind woman under the shape of a blind man
over them, half-formed, the cipher of the Great Ban,
this, below them both, the shape of the blatant beast matched,
his mouth was open in a yelp; his feet scratched.

Beyond them a single figure was cut in the rock;
it was hewn in a gyration of mow and mock;
it had a weasel's head and claws on hand and feet;
it twirled under an arch that gave on the city's street.


Taliessin through Logres (1938)
Charles Williams

Sketched portraits of locals from Napoleon's Egypt campaign

Princes in the Tower

The Two Little Princes in the Tower
The sad mystery of the two little princes in the Tower have intrigued historians for hundreds of years. The two little princes were Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York.
Who Was Edward V?Edward V was the eldest son of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. He was born in 1470 and ascended the throne when his father died in 9th April 1483. But he reigned for only two months before disappearing from the Tower of London. Because he was only thirteen years old, and a minor, his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was entrusted as Protector of his young nephews. Richard had always been a loyal and trusted supporter of his brother King Edward IV, who was the boys father. The coronation of the young prince was set for 22nd June 1483. As tradition dictated the coronation procession would take place from the Tower of London, through the City of London to Westminster Abbey. The 12-year-old prince was staying at Ludlow Castle when the news came of his father's sudden death and the young prince became King Edward V. The young prince started the journey from Ludlow to the Tower of London for his coronation.Who was Richard, Duke of York?Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, was the second son of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. He was born in 1473 and the younger brother of Edward V. He also headed for the royal apartments in the Tower of London to prepare for the coronation ceremony of his brother.
Doubts about the Two Little Princes
Elizabeth Woodville, their mother, was an ambitious woman, disliked by many. After the death of King Edward IV strong doubts were cast on the legitimacy of the two little princes by Robert Stillington, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Lord Chancellor of England. Stillington presented evidence that King Edward IV had contracted a secret marriage to Lady Eleanor Talbot in 1461 who was still alive when he married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464. Lady Eleanor Talbot died in a convent in June 1468. The marriage between Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville was declared a clear case of bigamy, which invalidated their marriage, making their children illegitimate. Edward left seven living children - the two princes and five daughters.

The Affairs of King Edward IVKing Edward IV was a real womaniser, so the affair with Lady Eleanor Talbot was no doubt true. His most famous liaison was with a Goldsmith's wife, the great beauty Jane Shore. Jane Shore was first the mistress of Lord Hastings and then the King. After the death of King Edward IV Jane Shore was accused of Sorcery and imprisoned in the Tower of London on the orders of Richard III. She was forced to do penance as a harlot.
The Two Little Princes in the Tower
The two little princes had no idea that anything was wrong. They trusted their uncle and Protector Richard of Gloucester and were awaiting the coronation fixed for the 22nd June 1483. Their father had only recently died in April of the same year. Their world was collapsing around them. First with the death of their father and then their uncle Gloucester intercepted Edward’s entourage as it travelled to London. Many of the young king’s supporters were killed and William Hastings was arrested on a charge of treason and imprisoned in the Tower.  Edward was escorted to London and then to the Tower. On the 16th June 1483  he was joined by his brother Prince Richard. The coronation was cancelled.
The Two Little Princes are declared illegitimate 
On June 25 1483, Parliament declared the two little princes illegitimate and, as next in line to the throne, their uncle and Protector, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was declared the true King. The two little princes were never seen again.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester crowned King Richard III but loses the crown to the Tudors 
Richard, Duke of Gloucester was crowned King Richard III on 6 July 1483. A Lancastrian rebellion rose against the Yorkist Richard and on August 22nd 1485 he fell in the Battle of Bosworth Field to Henry Tudor. Henry Tudor later became King Henry VII. Henry Tudor cemented his succession and settled the friction between the Yorkists and Lancastrians by marrying the Yorkist heir, Elizabeth of York. They started the Tudor dynasty and were the parents of King Henry VIII. But the mystery of the two little princes in the Tower haunted the Tudors.
The Tudors are threatened by PretendersThe disappearance of the two little princes in the Tower led to many rumours that at least one of the princes had survived - the younger Prince Richard, Duke of York. Two 'Pretenders' emerged. Lambert Simnell and the more credible Perkin Warbeck both claimed to be one of the Plantagenet Princes threatening the Tudor claim to the throne. King Henry VII, King Henry VIII and even Queen Elizabeth I needed to tie up the loose ends left by the mysterious disappearance of the princes. Sir Thomas More was the first to claim, in The History of King Richard III, that the princes were smothered with the pillows on their beds by Sir James Tyrell, John Dighton and Miles Forest.  Tyrell is reported to have confessed to the crime whilst imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1502. But the confessed murderer of two royal princes was never executed for this crime! Sir James Tyrell was attainted in 1504 for the lesser crime of associating with Edmund de la Pole. William Shakespeare encouraged belief in the Thomas More story with his plays in which Richard III was branded a deformed evil monster.
Gruesome discovery in the White Tower - The Two Little Princes
In 1674 two skeletons were discovered in the White Tower under the stairs leading to the chapel. The skeletons were subsequently reburied in Westminster Abbey as ordered by King Charles II. The skeletons were believed to be the remains of the bodies of the two tragic Little Princes, Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York. The two little Princes were reputedly killed on the orders of their uncle the Duke of Gloucester, afterwards King Richard III.
Who Murdered the Princes in the Tower?No one knows who was behind the murder of the Two Little Princes whose bodies were discovered in the White Tower. The Tudors firmly pointed the finger at Richard III but  many scholars now name King Henry VII as the real culprit. In 1933 a forensic examination conducted by Mr. Tannery and Professor Wright was unable to confirm whether the bones discovered in the White Tower were those of the Princes in the Tower...