Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Napoleonic Reenactors

Royal Saxon Army (1810-1815)

King Arthur, General of the Britons

King Arthur
Pic: John Hamer

A discussion by David Nash Ford

Though Arthur is quite firmly established as an historical figure, there appears to be little evidence that he was the King of tradition. To quote Nennius,
Arthur fought...together with the Kings of the British; but he was Dux Bellorum.
This would seem to confirm the popular view today that Arthur was a professional soldier: a brilliant military leader employed in an official capacity by an alliance of British Kings to carry out their warfare against all coming enemies.

"Dux Bellorum" translates literally as Duke of Battles. This might be comparable to the Roman "Dux Britannorum" in charge of the Northern British defences. Though many think the Roman "Comes British History Clubrum" a better fit, for he led mobile cavalry forces across the country, as perhaps indicated by Arthur's supposed widespread battles.

None of this, however, precludes Arthur from also being a King. Nennius may have intended his phrase to imply that Arthur was one of the Kings alongside whom he fought, yet he was the greatest warrior among them. If the more formal title of Dux or Comes was meant, then perhaps a High-Kingship is implied as tradition would suggest. Early sources, no doubt, assumed that everyone already knew Arthur was a King, as with most Royal entries in the Annales Cambriae. There was no need to announce it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Timeline of the Wars of the Roses

war of the roses, richard ii, lancaster, york, plantagenet, english civil war, tudor, bolingbroke

6 December 1421Henry VI born
  1429Margaret of Anjou born
28 April 1442Edward IV born
 August 1450Return of Richard, Duke of York from Ireland
 December 1453Henry VI first bout with mental illness
 April 1454Start of York's first protectorate
 February 1455End of York's first protectorate
22 May 1455Wars of the Roses begins
22 May 1455Battle of First St. Albans
23 September 1459Battle of Blore Heath
12 October 1459Battle of Ludford Bridge
10 July 1460Battle of Northampton
30 December 1460Battle of Wakefield
2 February 1461Battle of Mortimor's Cross
17 February 1461Battle of Second St. Albans
28 March 1461Battle of Ferrybridge
29 March 1461Battle of Towton
25 April 1464Battle of Hedgeley Moor
15 May 1464Battle of Hexham
26 July 1469Battle of Edgecote Moor
12 March 1470Battle of Losecote Field
4 November 1470Edward V born
14 April 1471Battle of Barnet
4 May 1471Battle of Tewkesbury
21 May 1471Henry VI dies
9 April 1483Edward IV dies
22 August 1485Richard III is killed at the battle of Bosworth
22 August 1485Battle of Bosworth
16 June 1487Battle of Stoke
16 June 1487Wars of the Roses ends
war of the rosesRichard IIIRichard III

Coalitions Against France


The 1st Coalition1792-1797

Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, Spain, Piedmont.

Campaign History:
Revolutionary Wars

The 2nd Coalition1798-1801 
Russia, Britain, Austria, Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Naples, Vatican.

Campaign History:
Trial in Egypt 

The 3rd Coalition1805

Austria, Great Britain, Russia, Sweden.

Campaign History:

The 4th Coalition1806-1807

Prussia, Saxony, Russia.

Campaign History:
Conquest of Prussia

The 5th Coalition1809

Great Britain and Austria.

Campaign History:
War Along the Danube
The Peninsular War

The 6th Coalition1812-1814

Great Britain and Russia, joined by Prussia, Sweden, Austria, German States.

Campaign History:
Invasion of Russia
1813 Liberation of GermanyDefence of France

The 7th Coalition1815

Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, Sweden, Austria, German States.

Campaign History:
The 100 Days and Waterloo.

Introducing Geoffrey Ashe
Geoffrey Ashe is an internationally known historian, author and lecturer who writes extensively in the areas of British history and mythology. In his career, he has written more than 20 books and has contributed numerous articles to scholarly publications. He has held visiting professorships at seven American universities and has been involved with television projects related to King Arthur and British mythology in the capacity of advisor, interviewee and commentator.
He was the co-founder and secretary of the Camelot Research Committee, the group responsible for the 1966-70 excavation of Cadbury Castle, a strong candidate for the site of King Arthur's Camelot. Mr. Ashe enjoys wide public recognition and acceptance of his works and is arguably the pre-eminent popularizer of the history and legends of King Arthur in the world, today.
We met with Geoffrey Ashe for the first time in Glastonbury, Somerset, in early April, 1995. Our meeting took place in the sitting room of the George and Pilgrims Hotel, a medieval hostelry which had been constructed to accommodate pilgrims to the famous abbey, there. We spent a fascinating day talking about King Arthur and touring some of the Arthurian sites in and around Glastonbury.
Mr. Ashe had been a favorite of ours, for years. We had read a number of his books and were impressed with what he said and the way he said it. He presented his material in an engaging, conversational way. His writing made the legends and the locales come alive in a way that the more "scholarly" books don't. In recent years, there have been many new theories about the "true identity" of King Arthur and, quite frankly, some of them are pretty off-the-wall. Ashe's ideas, on the other hand, are derived from a careful evaluation of existing historical material combined with a willingness to think unconventionally, when conventional thinking leads to a dead end. Unravelling the mystery of King Arthur at a distance of 1,500 years is uncertain and difficult work, at best, and one should not be too dogmatic about the conclusions one reaches. To us and to many others who have read his books, though, Geoffrey Ashe provides a solution to the problem that makes alot of sense.
Our association has continued and we are pleased to present Mr. Ashe to you. He was interviewed by Britannia publisher, Rod Hampton. Click below to read the interview.
Interview with Geoffrey Ashe
A Quest for Arthur
Part one in a series of articles by Geoffrey Ashe, providing the foundation for a proper understanding of the legend of King Arthur.
Magical Glastonbury
There are certain special places, where you get a feeling that is different from any other place you've ever been. Glastonbury is one of those places. Ashe explains what it is about this town that makes us feel that way.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sir Thomas Malory, (c. 1416–1471)

by Mitch on July 21, 2012
The life and career of Sir Thomas Malory, the author of Le Morte d’Arthur (The Death of Arthur), one of the greatest literary works of medieval England, illustrates how the quarrel between the houses of LANCASTER and YORK forced even politically insignificant members of the English GENTRY to choose sides.

Because little is known about the writer of Le Morte d’Arthur, historians have debated which of several fifteenth-century Thomas Malorys was the author. The most likely candidate is Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel, a Warwickshire knight whose sketchily preserved life best fits the few facts definitely known about the Arthurian writer. In the concluding paragraphs of Le Morte d’Arthur, the author stated that the book was completed in the ninth year of EDWARD IV by “Sir Thomas Malory, knight,” and also requested his readers to pray “that God will send me good deliverance” (Malory, p. 750). The writer was thus an imprisoned knight who finished his work between 4 March 1469 and 3 March 1470.

Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel was knighted about 1441, and served in PARLIAMENT in 1445 and again in 1449. Malory’s life in the 1440s was unexceptional, but he spent most of the 1450s in various LONDON jails. His imprisonment was the result of a crime spree that began in January 1450 when Malory reportedly lay in ambush, with armed men, to murder Humphrey STAFFORD, duke of Buckingham. In May and again in August, Malory was charged with rape and extortion. In June 1451, Malory and a band of accomplices were accused of stealing livestock, and, in July, Malory and his confederates threatened a house of Warwickshire monks, an action that led to the issuance of orders for his arrest. On 20 July, while Buckingham and a party of sixty men searched for him, Malory and his accomplices vandalized the duke’s deer park at Caludon.

Because such violent crimes conflict with the chivalric values enunciated in Le Morte d’Arthur, the authorship of the Newbold Revel Malory has been disputed. However, the charges against him may have had more to do with local political rivalries than with outright criminality. Malory’s transgressions, which probably originated in a private quarrel with Buckingham, soon entangled Malory in the national political struggle. After Malory’s capture in July 1451, the Lancastrian government imprisoned him without trial through the mid-1450s. Because the Lancastrians seemed intent on keeping him confined, and because he had shown himself capable of raising and leading large numbers of men, Malory probably attracted the attention of the Yorkists, who in the late 1450s were seeking any possible supporters. In 1457, after being temporarily released on bail through the good offices of the Yorkist lord, William NEVILLE, Lord Fauconberg, Malory likely became an adherent of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, Fauconberg’s nephew and Buckingham’s chief rival in Warwickshire. In early 1462, Malory used Edward IV’s general pardon to win his release and wipe out all charges against him. In late 1462, Malory participated in Edward’s campaign against the Lancastrian-held castles in northern England.

Although no legal records confirm the statement in Le Morte d’Arthur that he wrote while a prisoner, Malory was one of only fifteen people excluded by name from a general pardon issued by Edward IV in July 1468. This exclusion raises the likelihood that Malory was arrested by the Yorkist government some time in 1468 and remained in confinement until the restoration of HENRY VI in October 1470, over six months after the stated completion of Le Morte d’Arthur. Although the reasons for Malory’s imprisonment are unclear, the probability is that he was somehow involved in a shadowy Lancastrian conspiracy known as the CORNELIUS PLOT, which came to light in June 1468. Many of the men excluded from the pardon with Malory were Lancastrians implicated in the plot. According to his tombstone in Greyfriars Church in London, Malory died on 14 March 1471, only a month before the restoration of Edward IV would likely have again jeopardized his freedom.

Further Reading: Field, P. J.C., The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory (Cambridge:D. S. Brewer, 1993); Malory, Sir Thomas, Le Morte d’Arthur, edited by R. M. Lumiansky (London: Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1982).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Arthur, King of the Britons

File:Boys King Arthur - N. C. Wyeth - p38.jpg
image: From A Boy's King Arthur pg. 38 
A biography by David Nash Ford

Arthur, it seems, is claimed as the King of nearly every Celtic Kingdom known. The 6th century certainly saw many men named Arthur born into the Celtic Royal families of Britain but, despite attempts to identify the great man himself amongst them, there can be little doubt that most of these people were only named in his honour. Princes with other names are also sometimes identified with "Arthwyr" which is thought by some to be a title similar to "Vortigern".

Breton King
Geoffrey of Monmouth recorded Arthur as a High-King of Britain. He was the son of his predecessor, Uther Pendragon and nephew of King Ambrosius. As a descendant of High-King Eudaf Hen's nephew, Conan Meriadoc, Arthur's grandfather, had crossed the Channel from Brittany and established the dynasty at the beginning of the 5th century. The Breton King Aldrien had been asked to rescue Britain from the turmoil in which it found itself after the Roman administration had departed. He sent his brother, Constantine, to help. Constantine appears to have been the historical self-proclaimed British Emperor who took the last Roman troops from Britain in a vain attempt to assert his claims on the Continent in 407. Chronologically speaking, it is just possible he was King Arthur's grandfather. Arthur's Breton Ancestry was recorded by Gallet.

Riothamus the King
Geoffrey Ashe argues that King Arthur was an historical King in Brittany known to history asRiothamus, a title meaning "Greatest-King". His army is recorded as having crossed the channel to fight the Visigoths in the Loire Valley in 468. Betrayed by the Prefect of Gaul, he later disappeared from history. Ashe does not discuss Riothamus' ancestry. He, in fact, appears quite prominently in the pedigree of the Kings of DomnonŽe, dispite attempts to equate him with a Prince of Cornouaille named Iaun Reith. Riothamus was probably exiled to Britain during one of the many civil wars that plagued Brittany. He later returned in triumph to reclaim his inheritance, but was later killed in an attempt to expel Germanic invaders. The main trouble with this Arthurian identification is that it pushes King Arthur back fifty years from his traditional period at the beginning of the sixth century (See Ashe 1985).

Dumnonian King
Welsh tradition also sees Arthur as High-King of Britain but tends to follow the genealogies laid down in the Mostyn MS117 and the Bonedd yr Arwr. These show Arthur as grandson of Constantine but, this time, he is Constantine Corneu, the King of Dumnonia. Traditional Arthurian legend records three Kings of Dumnonia during Arthur's reign: Constantine's son, Erbin; grandson, Gereint and great grandson, Cado. Nowhere is there any indication that these three were closely related to Arthur, nor that he had any claim on the Dumnonian Kingdom. Nor is their any explanation as to why a Dumnonian prince would have been raised to the High-Kingship of Britain. Arthur's connection with this area of Britain is purely due to his supposedly being conceived at Tintagel, the residence of his mother's first husband, and buried atGlastonbury, the most ancient Christian site in the country.

Cumbrian King
The Clan Campbell trace their tribal pedigree back to one Arthur ic Uibar: the Arthur son of Uther of tradition. Norma Lorre Goodrich uses this fact to argue that Arthur was a "Man of the North". This idea was first proposed by the Victorian Antiquary, W.F.Skene, and there is some evidence to recommend it, especially the possible northern location of Nennius' twelve battles. Goodrich places Arthur's Court at Carlisle. As the capital of the Northern British Kingdom of Rheged, this seems an unlikely home for Arthur, who was not of this dynasty. Prof. Goodrich relies heavily on late medieval literary sources and draws imaginative conclusions. (See Goodrich 1986 & Skene 1868).

Pennine King
There was a Northern British King named Arthwys who lived in the previous generation to the traditional Arthur. He was of the line of Coel Hen (the Old) and probably ruled over a large Kingdom in the Pennines. Many of Nennius' Arthurian Battles are often said to have taken place in the Northern Britain. These and other northern stories associated with the King Arthur may, in reality, have been relating the achievements of this near contemporary monarch.

King of Elmet
Another Northern British Arthwys was the son of Masgwid Gloff, probably a King of the Elmet region of modern West Yorkshire. Nothing is known of this Prince who was exactly contemporary with the real King's traditional period. Though it is unlikely that he held his own kingdom, his exploits may have contributed to King Arthur's story.

Scottish King
The Scots, though fresh from Ireland, also used the name Arthur for a Royal Prince. Artur, the son of King Aidan of Dalriada, was probably born in the 550s. David F. Carroll has recently argued that this man was the real Arthur, ruling Manau Gododdin from Camelon (alias Camelot) in Stirlingshire. Details can be found on the author's web site(Carroll 1996)

Powysian King
Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman identify Arthur as Owain Ddantwyn (White-Tooth), a late 5th century Prince of the House of Cunedda (more specifically of Gwynedd). Their arguments, however, are wholly unconvincing, and contain many unresolved discrepancies. Owain's son, Cuneglasus (known from Welsh pedigrees as Cynlas) was among the five Celtic Kings condemned in the writings of Gildas.

Through a misinterpretation of this account, Keatman & Phillips imply that Cuneglasus was the son of one Arth, ie. Arthur. They further claim that he, and therefore his father, Owain, before him, must have ruled Powys, as this is the only Kingdom un-reconciled with Gildas' Kings. However, Cynlas lived at Din Arth in Rhos. He was not the son of Arth. In traditional Welsh manner the Kingdom of Gwynedd had been divided between his father, Owain, who received Eastern Gwynedd (ie. Rhos) and his uncle, Cadwallon Lawhir (Long-Hand) who took the major Western portion. During this period, Cyngen Glodrydd (the Renowned) was ruling Powys. He was probably the Aurelius Caninus mentioned by Gildas. (See Phillips & Keatman 1992).

Rhos King
A much simpler and thoroughly more convincing thesis from Mark Devere Davies suggests that Arthur may have been Cuneglasus himself. I can do no better than recommend you to the author's website.

Dyfed King
A King Arthwyr ruled in Dyfed in the late 6th century. He was the son of King Pedr ap Cyngar, but little else is known of him. Though he was probably merely named after the great man, it is possible that some of his accomplishments may have become attached to the traditional legend.

Glamorgan King
Baram Blackett & Alan Wilson have theorised that the legendary King Arthur was an amalgam of two historical characters: Anwn (alias Arthun), the British King who conquered Greece and Athrwys (alias Arthwys) the King of Glywyssing and Gwent. Arthun was a son of the British Emperor Magnus Maximus, who lived in the late 4th century. He is better known as Anwn (alias Dynod) and his title of King of Greece is generally thought to be a misreading of his Latin name, Antonius Gregorius. He actually ruled much of South Wales. Arthwys of Glwyssing & Gwent is widely accepted as a seventh century King who lived in South-East Wales. His home in the traditional Arthurian region around Caerleon is part of this man's attraction. Blackett & Wilson argue, not unconvincingly, that he really lived in the early 6th century and that his father, King Meurig was called "Uther Pendragon", a title meaning Wonderful Commander. They also make the important assertion that Arthur lived, not in Cerniw (ie. Cornwall), but in Cernyw (ie. Glywyssing). (See Blackett & Wilson 1980).

St. Arthmael the King
Like Blackett & Wilson, Chris Barber & David Pykitt identify the King Arthur with King Athrwys of Glywyssing & Gwent. However, here the similarity stops, for there are important differences in the identification of people, places and events. Their major addition is the supposition that after Camlann, Arthur/Athrwys abdicated and retired to Brittany where he became an important evangeliser. He was known as St. Armel (or Arthmael) and his shrine can still be seen at St.Armel-des-Boschaux. Their ideas have much to commend them and make compelling reading. (See Barber & Pykitt 1993).

Roman King
It has been suggested, many times over the years, that King Arthur may have been a descendant of one Lucius Artorius Castus: a theme most recently taken up by P.J.F. Turner. Castus was an historical 2nd century Dalmatian general stationed in Britain who commanded the Roman auxiliary troops, known as Sarmations, on an expedition to crush an uprising in Armorica. It is highly unlikely that the two had any connection with each other. (See Turner 1993).

France's Leading Soldiers

While most of Napoleon Bonaparte's orders fell to his marshals, many other leading figures helped mould the shape of Revolutionary and then Napoleonic France.

First Battle at St. Albans

File:First Battle of St Albans assembly.jpg
Image: Assembly of re-enactors for the First Battle of St. Albans
OverviewFirst Saint Albans was the opening battle in the Wars of the Roses. Richard of York led a force of about 3,000 on a march toward London. Henry VI moved from London to intercept the Yorkist army. Henry halted his march in the town of Saint Albans and waited. Richard attacked and defeated Henry inflicting about 300 casualties. The Queen and her young son Edward fled into exile.
Key Points
Date of Battle:May 22, 1455
York Leadership:Richard of York
Richard Neville, earl of Warwick
Richard Neville, earl of Salisbury
Lancaster Leadership:King Henry VI
Queen Margaret
Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset
Humphrey Stafford, duke of Buckingham
Size of forces:Yorkists - 3,000
Lancastrians - 2,500
Notable deathsEdmund Beaufort,duke of Somerset; Thomas de Clifford; Henry Percy, 2nd earl of Northumberland

Monday, November 18, 2013

Origins of the Wars of the Roses

The following short introduction to the origins of the Wars of the Roses is from Battle of Wakefield 1460 by Philip A. Haigh (published by Sutton (UK) 1996). Mr. Haigh can be contacted at this email address:
The Origins of the Wars of the Roses
Reprinted with the permission of the author Philip A. Haigh
It was in this year [1411], that Richard Plantagenet was born to Richard, fifth Earl of Cambridge and Anne Mortimer. His father was the son of Edmund, the first Duke of York, who was in turn the fourth son of Edward III. If Henry VI had died before 1453, the year of the birth of Edward, Prince of Wales, then Richard would have undoubtedly been crowned King of England, since there was no other noble (since the death of Henry VI's uncle and heir Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who had died in 1447) with such a strong claim to the throne at that time, other than Richard himself.
Being so highly placed in the royal household, Richard was destined to play a significant role in the Government and politics of England throughout his lifetime and in England's affairs in France during the later stages of the Hundred Years War. He was appointed Lieutenant of France in 1436. Throughout his service in Europe, he had to pay for the services of his men and finance the army in France from his own personal funds.
Although York was a wealthy man in his own right, (York was the sole benefactor of the childless Edmund Mortimer, who had died of plague in Ireland in 1425). It was his marriage to Cicely Neville in 1438 (who was known as 'The Rose of Raby'), daughter to Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland and sister of Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, which had brought him great wealth. Thus, he was able, albiet unhappily in doing so, to fund the English army overseas. By the time he left France, York had forwarded some £38,000 of his own money to maintain English interests in France. To add insult to injury, in 1445 he was replaced as Lieutenant of France by Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. It is not to be doubted that it was on Somerset's advice (who was Henry VI cousin, and someone Henry trusted more than the Duke of York) that Henry VI created York Lieutenant of Ireland, which was in reality, exile by office. Somerset was no doubt fearful of York, a fear enhanced by the fact that Somerset, a man whom York equally detested, and a favourite of Henry VI was forwarded funds to the sum of £25,000 to sustain the king's army in France.
Not only did York detest Somerset because of his favouritism with the king, but he also detested the fact that he had been given the office he had previously held in France and the funds to support it, despite his inability as a soldier. York's fears over the management of the campaign in France was soon realised, as the war began to go badly for the English. The Duke of Somerset was personally responsible for the surrender of the strategic town of Rouen which subsequently led to the fall of Normandy to Charles VII of France. Because of this, Somerset became distinctly unpopular at home. However, because he retained the king's favour, he maintained his prestigious position at court.
In June 1451, Bordeaux in France, and Gascony, were lost to the French. This was disastrous news for the English and the King, Henry VI, took the loss very badly. York in turn, was quick to blame Somerset for the disaster and, with support for the king and his adherents at such a low point (due mainly to English failings in France), York, decided to risk all and attempt to wrest control from the king by force of arms and arrest the Duke of Somerset, thus removing him from his position as the king's most senior advisor.
Doubtless this move was not only inspired by York's fear for the conduct of the war in France, but also because he was equally fearful that Somerset might take over the very position that York felt was his own, that of the most likely heir to Henry in the absence of the king having any children of his own. Thus York, believing that he had more popular support than he actually had, sailed from Ireland and landed in North Wales, gathered his forces and travelled straight for London and the encounter at Blackheath.
The Wars of the Roses Begin
After York's release from custody, there then followed several years of relative peace. However, by the year 1453, the political storm clouds were once again gathering over the country. By this year, England's possessions in France had been almost lost as the disastrous Hundred Years War had all but come to an end . It was this - it is said - that brought about the first bout of madness in Henry VI. What form this illness took is not recorded, but it seems that it manifested itself in a form of paralysis. York, with the king incapacitated, was made protector of England and took the opportunity to seek revenge on his earlier enemies, namely the Duke of Somerset, who was sent to the Tower on a revised charge of treason (for his poor management of the war in France) in September 1453. The Earl of Salisbury, Richard Neville and his eldest son Richard, Earl of Warwick, also took the opportunity afforded by the king's illness and, under the cover of their kinsman's protectorate began to seek their revenge against the Percy family, the Earls of Northumberland, with whom, they had held a long running feud, over the issue of ownership of property in Northumberland and Yorkshire .
Thus, England was plunged into a series of minor wars between the land's most powerful lords to which the Duke of York, as protector was able to use his authority to the advantage of his family and supporters. However, this all came to an end when the king recovered from his illness in January 1455. Somerset was released from the Tower, and immediately formed a natural alliance with Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland (and Percy's ally in the north Lord Clifford), against the Duke of York - who was stripped of his powers as protector - and his supporters, namely the Earl of Salisbury and the Earl of Warwick. With this the battle lines for the 'Wars of the Roses' were drawn. The pact between Somerset, Northumberland and Clifford, supported by the king would in later years go by the name of Lancastrians, taken from the family name of the House of Lancaster to which the lineage of Henry VI was derived. While the followers of the House of York, Warwick, Salisbury and the Duke of York himself became known as the Yorkists .

Napoleonic Personalities