Tag Archives: Richard III

On this day in 1485 – Battle of Bosworth

Henry Tudor had spent most of his life living in exile in France with his uncle, Jasper. Henry became a figurehead for the Lancastrians cause in the Wars of the Roses. Henry and Jasper set sail from Harfleur on 1st August 1485 and landed on at Mill Bay, Dale in Wales on 7th August 1485.

Henry and his army set up camp at the newly captured Dale Castle upon their landing few Welsh joined Tudor’s army as it set off on its march inland. The army set off towards Haverfordwest and Pembrokeshire. As the army moved King Richard III lieutenant in South Wales, Sir Walter Herbert failed to move the King’s army against Henry and eventually two of Herbert’s men, Richard Griffith and Evan Morgan defected to Henry’s army. As the army progressed another Welsh figure, Rhys Fawr ap Maredudd also joined Henry.

Henry began his march towards Aberystwyth but before he did he was able to persuade Rhys ap Thomas, King Richard’s Lieutenant in West Wales to join his side and set him on a southerly route to gather more Welshmen to the army. They would later reunite at Welshpool. By the 16th August Henry’s army crossed into England at Shrewsbury.

News of Henry’s arrival on Welsh soil reached King Richard on 11th August but there was a delay in messengers notifying of the King’s plans but finally on 16th August the Yorkist army began to gather with armies setting off for a meeting point at Leicester.

Henrys route to bosworthHenry’s route from Dale to Bosworth

With Henry Tudor taking the town of Shrewsbury and the army rested they set out once again eastwards picking up more and more followers and deserters from Richard’s army. Henry’s army slowly moved towards Staffordshire, Henry was delaying the inevitable meeting with Richard and his army. Henry’s decision to slow his army down was a tactical one as he wanted to gain more supporters; in particularly he was hoping to recruit his step father Lord Stanley to his cause.

Henry had two secret meetings with Stanley as he continued marching his army towards London. The second of these meetings was at Atherstone, Warwickshire. The Stanley’s would not commit either way as was typical of the Stanley family, they always assured that they had a member of the family on the winning side.

On 20th August Richard arrived in Leicester and was informed that Henry and his army were nearby. Richard instructed his army to march west and to cut the Tudor army off before they reached London. Richard’s army moved past Sutton Cheney towards Ambion Hill where they camped for the night. Meanwhile the following night Lord Stanley’s army camped on a hill nearby north of Dadlington and Henry and his army camped at White Moors.

On the morning of 22nd August Richard’s Yorkist army, which stood at approximately 10,000 men, left Ambion Hill. The army309 were separated into three clear groups; Norfolk led the first to the right protecting the 1,200 archers and cannons, Richard was in the middle that comprised of 3,000 infantry and finally on the left was Northumberland with 4,000 men. From Ambion Hill Richard could see the Stanleys and their army of 6,000 men, a concern for Richard as no one knew who Stanley or his brother would fight for.

Meanwhile, at White Moors Henry was readying his army. The Tudor army consisted of approximately 5,000 men Henry’s army consisted of less than 1,000 Englishmen and many of those had deserted Richard’s army. The rest of the army consisted of approximately 1,800 Frenchmen and some Scottish; the remainder were recruits that were picked up along their route in Wales include a vast amount of troops courtesy of Rhys ap Thomas.

As Henry’s troops began their march towards Ambion Hill it is believed that they passed a marsh at the southwestern part of the hill, meanwhile Richard sent a messenger to Lord Stanley ordering him to send his army to attack Henry and if he did not Richard would have Stanley’son, Lord Strange, executed. Stanley simply replied that he had more sons and with that Richard ordered the execution but the officers delayed. At the same time Stanley was being asked to declare for Henry but still Stanley delayed.

Henry handed control of the army over to the Earl of Oxford and retired with his body guards to the rear of the army, Henry had little military action and so relied on someone who was experienced in battle. Oxford decided to keep the army together instead of following Richard’s example of splitting the army into three. Oxford ordered the troops to go no further than 10 feet from the banners. The large army was flanked by horsemen on either side of the line.

Henry’s army were fired at by Richard’s cannons as they made their way around the marsh once they were clear Norfolk and the right flank began to advance and began firing arrows at the advancing Tudor army. Norfolk was at a disadvantage so Richard ordered Northumberland to send his troops in to assist but Northumberland failed to move.

With Henry’s army having the advantage Henry rode to muster Stanley into battle, Richard seeing this led a charge into Henry’s group where Richard killed Henry’s standard bearer, Sir William Brandon and even unhorsed John Cheyne, the former standard bearer of King Edward IV. The remainder of Henry’s bodyguards surrounded Henry and kept him out of the way of Richard’s group. Seeing Henry and his men engaged in battle with Richard caused Stanley to lead his men into battle to support Henry. The new development meant that Richard’s army was now outnumbered and slowly began being pushed back towards the marsh, during this Richard’s standard bearer Sir Percival Thirwell was cut down but kept holding the Yorkist banner until he was killed.

389The Battle of Bosworth recreation

It was reported by Polydore Vergil, who was the official historian of Henry VII, wrote;

Richard had come within a sword’s length of Henry Tudor before being surrounded by Sir William Stanley’s men and killed. The Burgundian chronicler Jean Molinet says that a Welshman struck the deathm blow with a halberd while Richard’s horse was stuck in the marshy ground. It was said that the blows were so violent that the King’s helmet was driven into his skull. The contemporary Welsh poet Guto’r Glyn implies the leading Welsh Lancastrian Rhys ap Thomas, or one of his men, killed the king, writing that he ‘killed the boar, shaved his head.”

With the news of Richard’s death spreading around the battle the Yorkist army fled with Northumberland escaping the battle alive but Norfolk was captured and killed.

228The site of the Battle of Bosworth

With Henry Tudor victorious and the battle over it is believed that Lord Stanley found Richard’s circlet in a hawthorn bush (this has never been proven nor disproven) and crowned Henry on Crown Hill near Stoke Golding. Around 100 of Henry’s men lost their lives compared to 1,000 of Richard’s men, the dead were taken to St James Church in Dadlington for burial, whilst Richard was stripped naked and thrown over the back of a horse and carried towards Leicester where he was put on display for the public to see that the old King was dead. Richard was then taken to the church of the Greyfriars where he was buried in an unmarked small grave where he would lie until he was discovered in 2012 and reinterred at Leicester Cathedral in 2015.

121King Richard’s grave

Back in 1485 Henry was proclaimed King Henry VII and dismissed his army only retaining a small group that he called the ‘Yeomen of his Garde’. He instantly called on Parliament to reverse the attainder that had been passed in his name and had the reign of Richard declared as illegal, this decision also reversed Richard’s decision to declare the children of King Edward IV as illegitimate therefore restoring Elizabeth to the title of Princess and making their forthcoming marriage easier. Henry also dated his reign from the day before the battle making anybody that fought for Richard traitors.

With the death of Richard saw the end of the Plantagenet dynasty and the beginning of the Tudors.

016The standards of Richard and Henry at the Bosworth visitor centre

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On this day in 1541 – Lady Margaret Pole was executed

Margaret Pole was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and Lady Isabel Neville making Margaret niece to both King Edward IV and King Richard III. Margaret would have had a claim to the English throne had it not have been for the attainder passed against her father after he was executed for treason.

During King Richard III’s reign Margaret and her brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, were kept at Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire until Richard was defeated by the hands of Henry Tudor’s army at the Battle of Bosworth. After this Margaret’s brother was taken into the Tower of London only to be seen once in 1487 before he was eventually killed as he was considered a rival to the throne and the focus of the rebels cause. Margaret, however, was married of to Henry’s cousin Sir Richard Pole in an attempt to make her forgotten by marrying her to a lowly courtier.

Sir Richard Pole was created Chamberlain for Arthur Tudor, Henry’s eldest son and when Arthur married Katherine of Aragon Margaret was one of her ladies in waiting. The Pole’s would be at Ludlow Castle until Arthur died in 1502 and Richard was put in charge of the Welsh Marches.

Sir Richard and Margaret Pole had five children when Richard died in 1504 and with the death of her husband Margaret was left with limited land and no income and so Henry VII paid for Sir Richard’s funeral to help ease the financial burden. Also to help her family Margaret arranged for one of her sons, Reginald, to enter the Church. Reginald’s relationship with his mother was to be strained after this and he had a career that eventually led him to be Archbishop of Canterbury during Mary I reign.

With Henry VIII coming to the throne after the death of his father Margaret was again appointed a lady in waiting to his new wife and Margaret’s former lady, Katherine of Aragon. Henry was very favourable to Margaret and restored some of her brother’s lands to her at the cost of 5000 marks. She was restored the lands of the Earl of Salisbury making her one of only two ladies in England to be a peer in her own right and by 1538 Margaret was the fifth richest peer in England.

Margaret’s other children became favoured by the new King, her eldest son Henry was created Baron Montagu and her second son Arthur was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. Margaret’s daughter, Ursula, married Henry Stafford and her youngest son, Geoffrey, married the daughter of Sir Edmund Pakenham.

Margaret’s favour continued when she was made Princess Mary’s Governess and she remained loyal to Mary. When Mary was declared illegitimate and her household was broken apart Margaret asked to remain with Mary at her own cost, a request that was turned down. Even the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, suggested to the King that Mary was kept with Margaret again Henry refused calling Margaret ‘a fool, of no experience’.

The Plantagenet name remained a strong name in England and when Henry began to turn away from Rome the north began to rise and the Pole name, in particular Reginald, was a name that the rebels would march behind. Henry began investigating the rebels and Sir Geoffrey was arrested after being found communicating with Reginald. Under interrogation Geoffrey admitted that Lord Montagu and his mother as well as Henry Courtenay had all corresponded with Reginald as well. They were all arrested in Novemnber 1538.

January 1539 saw Geoffrey pardoned and released but Lord Montagu and Henry Courtenay were executed on the charge of treason. All those arrested were attainted this included Montagu and Courtenay who were already dead. As part of the evidence for the attainders Thomas Cromwell had produced a tunic worn by the Pilgrimage of the Grace that bore the symbol of the Five Wounds of Christ. This was enough for Henry to condemn his mother’s cousin to death.

Margaret Pole and her grandson, Henry and Courtenay’s son were held in the Tower of London where they would remain for the next two and a half years. On the morning of 27th May 1541 Margaret was informed that she was to executed within the hour and prepare herself. Her execution is remembered as being one of the most horrific. A block was prepared and 150 witnesses were there to see the former Countess of Salisbury die. Margaret was dragged and forced to place her head on the block and the executioner took his first swing, missing Margaret’s neck completely and hitting her shoulder. It allegedly took a further 10 blows before Margaret died. She was later laid to rest in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London.Margaret Pole

Book reviews – Loyalty and Honour by Matthew Lewis

Loyalty and Honour are two books by Matthew Lewis that very cleverly spans across two reigning families, the Plantagenets and the Tudors. Both books alternate between eras effortlessly with Hans Holbein linking the two eras.

Loyalty

Loyalty opens with the painter Hans Holbein receiving a mystery summons by Sir Thomas More where they meet and More begins to tell a story that will change Holbein’s perception to history and the rise of the Tudors. It certainly had me gripped to learn what Sir Thomas More had to say.

The story then jumps back 56 years to when King Edward IV was on the throne. The King and his younger brother Richard are approaching the Battle of Barnet and their return to England. The story focuses on Richard and his thoughts and feelings to the events. The story is fast paced and covers all the key aspects of Richard and his rise to taking the throne.

We continue to come back to Sir Thomas More and Hans Holbein who recap the story and move through any parts that have not been covered. Like Holbein I found myself wanting to get back to hearing more about Richard and the story that was being told.

Loyalty sticks with Richard through Edward’s reign and tells a different story to the one we know, we see Richard’s reaction to his brother negotiating with France and why he left the country early, Lewis also puts forward a touching relationship between Richard and his soon to be executed brother, George. Seeing a different interpretation on these events and relationships really puts forward a more sympathetic view on Richard.

The most interesting point for me was Lewis’ take on what happened to the Princes in the Tower. Many theories have flown around over the years, did Richard kill them? Was it the Tudors to help secure Henry’s claim? Or as Lewis puts forward did they simply go into hiding after it was discovered that they were illegitimate. Loyalty goes on to explore Richard’s reign and how he ruled when he was one of the only people who knew the fate of the princes.

For me personally, the backbone of Loyalty was the story of Richard and Anne and their marriage. How Richard rescued her, their married life, the birth of Edward and how they suddenly found themselves King and Queen of England. It was so beautifully written that I found myself so emotionally involved that when Richard and Anne said their final goodbyes I found a tear or two falling at their loss.

The Tudor elements of Sir Thomas More and Hans Holbein are great as you really feel as if Holbein is being told this story and you are also sat listening and being transported back in time.

Loyalty ends with the Battle of Bosworth and the fall of Richard III. However, Honour begins immediately after the battle is lost with Francis Lovell escaping the battlefield. We again meet Hans Holbein but this time he is summoned by King Henry VIII himself who tells the Tudors side of what happened to the princes during the reign of his father.

In Honour we see Lovell and the remaining followers of Richard flee from the Tudors and plot their revenge. When they learn of the fate of the two princes, who everybody believed were dead and Richard was to blame, we see a focus for the rebellions that also brings in the children of the Duke of Clarence, Edward and Margaret. Edward is also smuggled out of the tower and hidden, later to be another force for Henry VII to contend with.

Honour

Hans Holbein has a wider role in this book; he has been tasked by Henry VIII to create a portrait that contains many hidden meanings as a test for a wider position. Holbein interacts with Henry and Thomas Cromwell as well as Sir Thomas More and you really get a sense that Holbein is caught between two powerful men who are both telling him stories.

With the addition of Henry VII a new danger has been included as now Lovell and his men are the underdogs and I found myself willing them on in their quest, despite knowing the outcome.

Both books are so well written that you will find yourself turning each page wanting to know what happened next. Lewis has offered a fresh pair of eyes on history that is well known and although it is a work of fiction you can’t help but wonder what if?

Honour leaves the story open for more and I for one can’t wait to read it.

On this day in 1497 – Catherine Woodville died

Catherine Woodville was born in 1458 to Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Making Catherine the sister to Elizabeth Woodville and sister-in-law to King Edward IV. Many of Elizabeth’s family were elevated into high ranks and Catherine was no different she was married to Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham.

The Duke of Buckingham resented his marriage to Catherine and considered her to be of inferior birth; however, this did not stop the couple having four children together.

In 1469 with King Edward VI captured by the Earl of Warwick and imprisoned at Warwick Castle the Woodville family were targeted and Catherine along with her mother, Jacquetta and her sister were accused of using sorcery. Catherine denied all charges and was acquitted early in 1470 by a committee.

After the death of Edward VI, Buckingham aligned himself with Richard, Duke of Gloucester and helped him gain the throne to become King Richard III. Buckingham though was unhappy with Richard’s reign and he became turncoat to help Henry Tudor’s cause. Buckingham led an unsuccessful rebellion in 1483 and was executed as a traitor, leaving Catherine to raise four children with little money due to Buckingham being subject to attainder.

With Buckingham’s death, Catherine was left a widow and after the victory of Henry Tudor at Bosworth in 1485 she was married to the new King’s uncle, Jasper Tudor on 7th November 1485. With her marriage to Jasper Tudor, Catherine’s life turned around, her wealth and lands restored to her with Buckingham’s attainder reversed. The newlyweds began the Duke and Duchess of Bedford.

Catherine began helping with preparations for her niece’s coronation and the morning after the coronation Catherine was sat to the left of the Queen, with Margaret Beaufort on the right. This showed just how highly regarded Catherine was in the new royal court.

Jasper Tudor died in 1495, after ten years of marriage and Catherine was then married to Richard Wingfield. The marriage was in secret and without the King’s permission. King Henry VII fined the couple £2,000 which would have been paid by Catherine’s son, Edward, the new Duke of Buckingham.

Catherine died on 18th May 1497 and it is unknown where she was buried.

Woodville_Tudor Cardiff Castle                               Catherine Woodville and Jasper Tudor stain glass window at Cardiff Castle

On this day in 1513 – Edmund de la Pole was buried

Edmund de la Pole was the son of John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk and his wife Elizabeth of York, younger sister of King Edward IV and older sister of King Richard III. The De La Pole’s were some of the last legitimate Plantagenet’s in England during the Tudor reign.

Edmund’s older brother, John, had been named heir apparent by King Richard III after the death of his own son making his the focus of the Yorkists and those loyal to the Plantagenet’s after the death of Richard at Bosworth in 1485.

John de la Pole swore allegiance to the new King Henry VII but in 1487 joined the rebellion of Lambert Simnel, who claimed to be the imprisoned Edward, Earl of Warwick and a claimant to the throne. John de la Pole fought and died at the Battle of Stoke which was considered the last battle of the Wars of the Roses.

With the death of John the focus moved to Edmund as the claimant of the throne for the Yorkists and in 1491 Edmund inherited his father’s title of Duke of Suffolk although two years later this was demoted to Earl.

In 1498 Edmund was indicted in the King’s Bench for allegedly killing a man in a fury. He received the King’s pardon but in summer 1499 Edmund fled to Calais but was persuaded to return to England and returned into the King’s favour. Edmund went on to witness the confirmation of the treaty for Prince Arthur’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon.

After a brief trip to Calais with the King, Edmund began hearing that the Holy Roman Emperor would be willing to help anyone that carried the blood of King Edward IV back to the throne so Edmund began to approach the Emperor and after six weeks received word that the Emperor would help him with up to five thousand men for three months. However, the Emperor would not be able to gather these men for his support so instead agreed to lend money to Edmund.

On 28th July 1502 Maximillian signed an agreement with the English that in return for £10,000 he would not aid any English rebels regardless of their rank and so Edmund was on his own. On 12th February 1503 with Edmund still staying within Maximillian’s borders, Maximillian was requested to take an oath to swear that he would observe the treaty that he signed and that Edmund would be expelled from his lands.

January 1504 saw an attainder passed against the de la Pole’s including Edmund. He eventually left Maximillian’s land during Easter by leaving his brother, Richard, behind as hostage. Edmund headed to Gelderland to the Duke of Saxony where instead of being greeted and supported he was imprisoned. The Duke of Saxony was believed to have received money from King Henry VII to secure Edmund but for some reason he was never handed over to England.

Philip, King of Castile, eventually gained possession of Edmund and in January 1506 Edmund sent his servants to communicate with Henry and to negotiate a way to leave Philip’s possession. During January Philip was travelling to Castile when he was blown off course and landed in England. He visited Henry at Windsor where they discussed the surrender of Edmund into Henry’s custody. In March 1506 Edmund was paraded through London and placed into the Tower.

King Henry had promised Philip that he would not kill or harm Edmund but instead keep him imprisoned for the remainder of his life. Henry VII kept his word and Edmund was still alive when Henry VIII took the throne. In 1513 King Henry VIII ordered Edmund’s execution and on 30th March 1513 he was taken from his cell in the Tower and beheaded.

Edmund was buried on 4th May 1513 in the Church of the Minories, Aldgate.

Edmund de la Pole coat of arms

Richard III in repose and the King Richard III visitor centre

A visit to Leicester to see a King who died 530 years ago and is being re-interred on Thursday 26th March 2015.

When a skeleton was found in a car park 2 ½ years ago in September 2012 just six hours into the start of an archaeological dig that was funded on the feeling, no one knew just how much attention they would receive. After countless scientific tests and DNA matching it was confirmed the skeleton in a Leicester council car park was that of the lost King, Richard III. The last English monarch to die in battle in 1485 at Bosworth.

After 2 ½ years of testing, planning and even the odd argument about the treatment of Richard’s mortal remains it is finally time to put the last Plantagenet King to rest. A stunning final journey began on Sunday 22nd March where a coffin made from Richard’s descendant left the University of Leicester for the last time and placed in a hearse where his journey began. Travelling to Bosworth and the location of Richard’s death he was given a private ceremony before beginning his final journey. A more dignified journey than the last time he was taken from the battlefield, slung naked over a horse where he was attack and abused from the army escorting him to his grave. The cortège travelled through all the local villages whilst heading back towards its final destination of Leicester Cathedral. What started in a car park would end in a Cathedral.

When it was announced that King Richard III would lie in repose until he was re-interred and the public could visit the Cathedral to pay their respects, I was in no doubt, I had to go. So on Tuesday 24th March at 9am I set off for the hour’s drive towards Leicester. I was hoping more than anything that the weather would stay nice and the rain would hold off.

I parked up and consulted the map of how to find my way to the Cathedral, I really didn’t need to do that though as I only had to cross the street to find myself with the end of the vast queue in front of me in Jubilee Gardens. After reading reports from the previous day’s queues I prepared myself for a long wait. However, the queue was moving quite quickly and before I knew it we were the other side of Jubilee Gardens. Whilst here Phillippa Langley joined the queue to talk to a group of Richardians, it was quite strange seeing the lady ultimately responsible for all these events just standing casually chatting to others.

20150324_104724                             The back of the queue in Jubilee Gardens

As the queue began moving towards the Cathedral we soon approached the corner of Peacock Lane and was greeted with the ‘Waiting Time 2 Hours’ sign but we had been previously informed that the queue was moving at a quicker pace and it was be significantly less than the two hours. As we were moving along Peacock Lane many of the team who were involved with the dig for Richard were walking along the queue chatting to those waiting this included Richard Buckley (lead archaeologist), Dr Turi King (genetics analysis) and Jo Appleby (osteology expert).

012                             Richard Buckley talking to the crowds.

It was an honour to see them talking away to everyone and sharing in the experience of the day. Richard Buckley even said that about the interest and events’ surrounding Richard III was “anything beyond what anyone could have ever imagined”. I can understand what he meant, when it was predicting finding Richard was going to be a one in a million chance to then actually finding and identifying him, it’s so unbelievable they must constantly be pinching themselves.

The queue then began its approach towards the Cathedral, via the back of the Channel 4 temporary studio in the corner of the Cathedral Gardens. The queue was so well organised everyone was very patient with the wait and just got on and chatted to others. It was very well managed as well with clear signs as to where to go and how long was left. The Cathedral itself is magnificent and to see the approach adorned with Richard III’s banners and emblems really added to the spectacle of the event and brought medieval history into the present.

010                  Leicester Cathedral adorned by Richard III’s banners.

At 1pm we reached the front of the queue just as a Eucharist was about to begin. The Cathedral was staying open but photos were not allowed so I decided to move to the other queue and wait. So it was another hour but it was worth it. This is probably my only critism of the event we were moved to a smaller area where a queue began to form but as more joined it turned into chaos. It was clear it would be an undignified rush to get into the Cathedral but the security did handle it well even dealing with the few that were annoyed. But with that out my mind and not finding it much of a problem as we would all still get in I finally began my walk into the Cathedral at 2.15pm.

There were so many white roses walking into the Cathedral and walking in the coffin of the last Plantagenet King greeted us, a humbling moment to see history in front of my eyes. The black funeral pall embroidered with Richard’s life to his discovery. On top of the coffin lay a crown designed and commissioned by John Ashdown-Hill especially for the re-internment and also a 15th Century bible. Richard was a very pious man in a time when religion was everything. We were hurried through to keep the queue moving which meant I could not take a minute to think about the man, who controversial as he was, ruled England for just 777 days until I was back outside the Cathedral looking back into the coffin. The coffin was surrounded by a vigil of four retired veterans who did a fantastic job keeping the mortal remains of the King safe with honour.

038                                       King Richard III lying in repose

Leicester Cathedral did an amazing job. The tag line of ‘With dignity and honour’ has certainly been fulfilled by all of those involved.

After seeing Richard III I decided to go to the King Richard III visitor centre. It was also very busy with a small wait until an available slot. The centre itself is an impressive former school building overlooking the car park in which the King was found. To the left of the entrance the group was directed to a small room where a selection of art work was on display that depicted the events of the Wars of the Roses. With the instructions to return to the first room upon hearing the bells tolling we saw an introductory video that shows where the country was just before Richard’s reign began.

The start of the exhibition sees the death of Richard’s brother, Edward IV and the resulting chaos. It doesn’t focus much on the ins and outs of Richard taking the crown. There is a section of the Princes in the Tower, just enough to get you interested in the story so you can research it more when you leave. It swiftly moves onto what Richard achieved as King in his short reign before a good section on the Battle of Bosworth and the events that led to Richard’s death at the hands of the Tudor army.

077

The next part of the exhibition is via the cafe to warm up after spending so long queuing I needed a hot drink. Once refreshed I continued upstairs where we are to examine the many different interpretations of Richard over the years from Laurence Olivier’s Shakespearean Richard to Aneurin Barnard’s portray in Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen. It was an interesting and thought provoking section as to what we think of Richard. Was he evil? Did he kill the Princes? Or did he do a lot for his country in a short space of time?

Beyond this was the part many wanted to see how King Richard III was found. Many amazing artefacts from the dig accompanied the exhibition including documents that were filled in and the responses from parliament about the exhumation of the bones they found. This led into the science behind the discovery including a replica of the bones for all to see how he was found.

086                  The digger that cleared the tarmac that led to the discovery

The exhibition then led towards the facial reconstruction of Richard, newly updated to incorporate the recent news that he had blue eyes and blonde hair as a child. I saw the replica at Sudeley Castle in 2014 with the dark hair so seeing it now did feel a bit strange with all the portraits and images we have of Richard with dark hair now to see him blonde just didn’t feel right to me.

111                 The updated facial reconstruction of Richard III

With the upstairs part of the exhibition done I headed back downstairs to the highlight of the exhibition, the exact spot where archaeologists found the remains of Richard III. After seeing Richard earlier in the Cathedral to see the place where he was originally laid to rest was special. Seeing the cramped location that Richard was hastily buried in really made me appreciate that he was found and now is being buried in a more dignified and royal way.

121                   The location where Richard was found in Leicester

Both Leicester Cathedral and King Richard III visitor centre did a fantastic job dealing with the crowds and attention that has been received over the last few days and tomorrow (Thursday 26th March) we will see Richard III re-interred with a service befitting a King.

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On this day in 1500 – Cardinal Reginald Pole born

It is widely accepted that Cardinal Reginald Pole was born on 3rd March 1500. He was born in Stourton Castle in Staffordshire to Sir Richard Pole and his wife Margaret. Margaret was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, which made Margaret the niece of King Edward IV and Richard III. Therefore Reginald would have had a strong Plantagenet claim to the throne had it not been for the Bill of Attainder that was passed against his grandfather when he was found guilty of treason.

Pole studied at Oxford from the age of 12 and completed his degree just after the age of 15. It looks like Pole was always destining for a life within the clergy.

Henry VIII bestowed many honours on Pole including the deanery of Wimborne Minister in Dorest, the Prebendary of Salisbury and the Dean of Exeter, despite never being ordained into the church. In 1521, with Henry’s blessing, Pole set off to the University of Padua where he quickly became popular and was highly regarded amongst scholars like Erasmus and Thomas More. Henry paid half of Pole’s fees whilst he was studying abroad.

Pole remained in Padua until 1527 when he returned home. Henry at this time was desperate for Pole’s support and his written opinion on ‘The Great Matter’, his divorce with Katherine of Aragon. In exchange for his support Henry offered Pole the role of Archbishop of York or the Diocese of Winchester in return for his loyalty. Pole wanted to avoid being dragged into the situation instead seeked permission to leave for France to further his studying. In effect he went into self imposed exile to avoid answering Henry’s demands. Despite this Henry was still covering Pole’s allowances abroad.

In May 1536, Pole eventually spoke out against Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn. Henry called Pole back to England to answer questions on his writings. Pole disobeyed Henry’s orders and instead headed to Rome after receiving a Papal invitation to stay at the Vatican from Pope Paul III. This was a blow to Henry as it was clear for all to see that the once close relationship that they shared was over as Pole sided with Rome against Henry and England.

Despite never being ordained Pole, in 1537, was created a Cardinal and was charged with organising a march on London to replace Henry’s current government with a Roman Catholic one to bring the country back in line with Rome.

In retaliation to Pole’s betrayal Henry arrested members of the Pole family including his brother, nephew and mother, the Countess of Salisbury and charged each of them with treason and aiding Reginald Pole and his cause. All but one was found guilty and Bills of Attainders were passed against them all stripping of their titles and land and eventually they were executed for Pole’s betrayal.

Pope Paul III died in 1549 and a conclave was held to find his successor, at one point Pole had nearly two – thirds of the votes required to become Pope, however, Pole didn’t want to campaign to become Pope and so support began to slip away from him.

Reginald Pole remained a Cardinal and was quietly dedicated to his work. That is until the death of Edward VI in 1553. With the Catholic Mary I taking the throne Pole’s life was once again an active one. He instantly wrote to the newly anointed Queen and successfully returned to England from exile as Papal Legate in 1554.

Under Mary I, Pole saw the attainder against his family reversed and was finally ordained as a Priest in 1556. Two days later on 22nd March Pole was consecrated as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Pole was the last Roman Catholic to hold this position. Alongside this he also acted as chief minister and advisor to the Queen.

Cardinal_Reginald_Pole

Reginald Pole died on 17th Nov 1558, most likely for the influenza which had gripped London in an epidemic. He died just a few short hours after Queen Mary I. He is buried at Canterbury Cathedral.