The Tudor Brandons by Sarah-Beth Watkins – review

Mary_Tudor_and_Charles_BrandonChronos Books

Today is the anniversary of the marriage that originally didn´t go down very well with Henry VIII; that of his sister Mary and who must be called his best friend, Charles Brandon.

I thought this would be the appropriate day to review a book that will be out in a bookstore – or online shop – near you in June: The Tudor Brandons by Sarah-Beth Watkins

When I was first asked to review this book, I have to admit that the question “what more can there possibly be to know about Charles Brandon for anyone who has read a fair bit about Henry VIII and his relationship to this man.

A fair bit, it turns out.

Not least was I ignorant about Charles Brandon´s illustrious grandfather and father, I had no idea, for example that Henry Tudor´s standard bearer at the Battle of Bosworth, the man killed by Richard III himself, was in fact Charles Brandon´s father. But he was.

Truth be told, I would have liked to read more about the two older Brandon´s, but with any luck there will in time be books about them as well.

Another thing that I didn´t know that in spite of chivalric values, Charles Brandon was220px-Charles_Brandon,_1st_Duke_of_Suffolk a bit of an…. a-hole.

But short re-cap. Charles Brandon basically grew up with Henry VIII, raising to fame but not as much fortune as he most likely would have wanted after the ascension of Henry VIII in 1509.

Mary was Henry´s younger sister, for a short while queen of France through her marriage to the more than 30 year older and sickly king Louis XII. Lucky for her, probably, the marriage didn´t last long and her loving brother sent his best friend and trusted companion Charles Brandon to escort her back from France, which he did, but not before he and Mary was married.

There was a problem here, you didn´t just marry the king´s sister and French queen dowager on a whim, and you most certainly didn´t do it without the king´s consent.

The happy couple was however forgiven, and the book The Tudor Brandons for the most part deals with the years Mary and Charles spent together, through ups and downs and fallings out with the most royal of brothers/brothers-in-law.

Sarah-Beth Watkins give a good and well researched account of the couple´s life through births and deaths of their children, through triumphant moments like their participation in the Field of Cloth of Gold and troublesome times such as the brewing war with France only a few years after the grand display itself.

marytudor-smIt also makes perfectly clear, in the event someone thought so, that Charles Brandon had a much more important part to play than just being a side-kick to the king, and how he on a number of occasions got firmly on the nerves of Cardinal Wolsey by putting his nose in diplomatic affairs where it didn´t belong, as well as his role in the sentencing of both Thomas More and Anne Boleyn

It also gives insight to the dealings with belated papal dispensations, annulments and legitimacy of the Brandon children at the very some time Henry was working his way through his great matter, at which point Mary herself didn´t have many years left to live and we get to follow Charles through his fourth and last marriage after Mary.

For the reader who has taken a particular interest in the reign of Henry VIII, much of the book will be familiar, but now from the angle of people close to him, with their joys and grievances. It´s a book very much worth reading, and I highly recommend it.

 

 

Advertisements

Music and Richard III; Ian Churchward unites interests

Ian Churchward, who has a musical  background in groups such as Chapter 29, The Morrisons, Stone Reaction and The Psycho Daisies to mention but a few, has, as Theclock man legendary ten seconds Legendary Ten Seconds, found a way to incorporate not only his interest for history and Richard III into his music, but also to use it to support a scoliosis charity. 

When did your interest in Richard III start?

I  am not really sure. For almost as long as I can remember I have been interested in history. It was before the early 1990’s that I must have had an interest in Richard III because I remember visiting Middleham castle around about that time when I was on holiday in Yorkshire and it was one of the places I wanted to visit because of my interest in the period of the Wars of the Roses. Probably like most people it must have been whenever I first read about the mystery of the missing princes in the Tower of London. When I was a young boy one of my favourite books was a Ladybird children’s book about Warwick the Kingmaker. I didn’t really pursue my interest in English late 15th century history until I saw the documentary about the discovery of the grave of Richard III in the car park in Leicester a few years ago.

What gave you the idea to incorporate him and his times in your music?

It was after watching the documentary about the discovery of the grave of Richard III in the car park in Leicester a few years ago when it was first shown on English TV. I  was in the middle of composing a song with a friend. We had a good idea for a tune but no idea for the words and after watching the documentary I  decided to make the song idea into a song about Richard III. It started off as one song and then ended up with more songs than I could fit onto 3 albums.

GoldAngels paintingThe music you play, is it the same kind of music that would have been heard in the time of Richard himself?

I don’t think it is although it almost sounds like it could be. Some of the instrumentals sound like the kind of music that might have been heard during the Tudor period.  The songs on the Richard III albums are a bit like historical novels that have been written in the modern era. For instance the Sunne In Splendour novel by Sharon Penman takes you back in time so that you feel like you are in late 15th century England but the characters in the novel speak using modern English so that we can understand the story.  I have tried to make my music about Richard III sound like it is  taking you back in time by giving it a medieval flavour but to make it accessible I am using modern musical instruments.

How come you have dedicated yourself to supporting scoliosis issues?Loyualte final FRONT COVER

Because Richard III had scoliosis and so did a member of my family. I felt it was a good opportunity to help raise awareness of this medical condition and so I decided that I would donate a percentage of any profit to a scoliosis charity in the UK called S.A.U.K.

How has it been received?

The majority of the people who have purchased my music about Richard III appear to have enjoyed listening to the songs and the Richard III society have been supportive. I have been disappointed that the Leicester Richard III visitor centre, Bosworth Heritage Centre and the English Heritage shop in Middleham castle have not been prepared to sell my CDs in their shops.

Do you have plans for another album?

So far I have released 3 album about the life and times of Richard III. I  am currently in the middle of recording an album which will include songs about Richard III but will be less focused on his life and hopefully cover other aspects of the Wars of the Roses. I am hoping that the album will also include a song I have composed about a medieval re-enactment group and another one about the modern medieval fair that is held in Tewkesbury. I have so far composed 13 songs with lyrics and 6 instrumentals that could be used for the next album. I want to call the album Sunnes and Roses. A play on the famous band Guns and Roses. I got the idea from a website that is  called Sunnes and Roses.

The lyrics of one of the songs of Ians upcoming album;

TEWKESBURY MEDIEVAL FAIR

 

THE REENACTORS IN THEIR FINE CLOTHES

OF THE LATE FIFTEENTH CENTURY I DO SUPPOSE

GO BACK IN TIME YES YOU COULD BE THERE

ALL FOUND AT TEWKESBURY MEDIEVAL FAIR

 

A POT OF HERBS OR ARMOUR FOR SALE

IN THE MARKET MUSIC, DANCING AS WELL

A FABULOUS GOWN THAT YOUR LADY COULD WEAR

ALL FOUND AT TEWKESBURY MEDIEVAL FAIR

 

ENTERTAINMENT THROUGHOUT THE DAY

AND A DRAGON KEEPER DID I HEAR YOU SAY

DISPLAYS OF COMBAT I DO DECLARE

ALL FOUND AT TEWKESBURY MEDIEVAL FAIR

 

MANY COME FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD

ACROSS THE FIELD THE BANNERS UNFURLED

FAIR MAIDENS AND KNIGHTS YOU WILL FIND THERE

ALL FOUND AT TEWKESBURY MEDIEVAL FAIR

 

Gold coin painting – Graham Moore

Loyaulte me lie cover – Red Fox Illustrations

Lily´s Grammar

Latin was a fundamental part of the learning in any grammar school in the 16th century, and as the name of the school from the beginning indicate; Latin grammar in particular.

Any student who ever entered this kind of school would have encountered it; Lily´s Lily´s Grammar1Grammar, written by William Lily, the first headmaster of St. Paul´s school in London.

William Lily was born in or around 1468 in Odiham, Hampshire. No much is known about his childhood, and his parents remains, at least to me, anonymous, but at the age of 18 he entered the university of Oxford, allegedly Magdalen College, for studies of the arts. It has been suggested that he chose this college due to the fact that William Grocyn, scholar and supposedly godfather of William Lily, was the reader of divinity at Magdalen College at the time.

In 1488 Grocyn went to Italy to study Greek and Latin, and it may be that this too was an inspiration to William Lily, because after graduating for Oxford he went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and upon his travel back to England ended up in Rome, by way of Rhodos. In Rome he attended lectures by the Renaissance humanists Angelo Sabino, Giovanni Sulpizio da Veroli and the controversial, to say the least Guilio Pomponio Leto. From there he continued to Venice to attend further lectures, given by who is unclear.

Upon returning to England, he became one of the first scholars in Greek, together with William Grocyn and Thomas Linacre who founded the Department for Greek Studies at Oxford.

Among his friends, once back in England, could be found, apart from Grocyn and Linacre, Thomas More, Erasmus and John Colet.

William Lily is thought to have been the first to teach Greek in the city of London, first as a private teacher alongside the teaching of grammar. In 1510 John Colet, who was dean of St. Paul´s, founded St Paul´s School, and started searching for a headmaster of the school. His first choice for the position seems to have been Erasmus, who for some reason was not interested. The second choice was William Lily, who started at the school in 1512 and shaped the school into a model of classical studies.

Lily´s GrammarAt some point between his return to England and his acceptance of the position as the first headmaster of St Paul´s School, it is said that William Lily considered becoming a priest, but whether he decided against it because he met Agnes, or he had already chosen another career path when he met her, but marry Agnes he did, and during the 17 years their marriage lasted, they had 15 children together, of whom only two survived their father. Agnes herself died at the age of 37, probably in 1517.

But it isn´t primarily for his position as a pioneer for Greek learning that William Lily has come to be remembered. It is for his work “A short introduction to Grammar”, a school book in Latin which came to be in use all the way into the 19th century. The book was instigated by Colet and edited by Erasmus. After William Lily´s death parts were added, and the final result didn´t appear until 1540. In 1542 Henry VIII proclaimed it to be the only book on the subject to be used in grammar schools, and over the decades to follow, it was so widely used that it has a part of its own in four of the plays by William Shakespeare; The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing, Titus Andronicus and Henry IV Part I. The book was divided into two parts, the second one being “Brevissima Institutio seu ratio grammaces cognoscendae”, which is believed to have given Shakespeare himself maybe his first contact with poetry, as the book partly consist of the poem “Carmen de Moribus.

He also wrote prose in both Latin and Greek.

William Lily died in 1522, around the age of 54 years. The reason for his death is in some sources suggested to have been the plague, which seems to have taken his wife and several of his children, but others suggest that he died from an operation having gone wrong when trying to remove an inflamed boil.

He was buried in the north churchyard of St Paul´s cathedral, destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666, and his name is among those of the memorial that can now be seen the cathedral.

Sources:

Luminarium Encyclopedia Project

 Repertorium Pomponianum

 Dictionary of National Biography – Joseph Hirst Lupton

 Linacre, Thomas – Dictionary of National Biography/Sidney Lee

 Shakespeare and his world/Lily´s Grammar – Prof Jonathan Bate, University of Warwick/Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Evil May Day 1517

As desperate people come to Europe in the hope of a life in peace, intolerant forces brew. Unfortunately the intolerance is nothing new, as the below text will show, even if the “foreigners” in 16th century London were mainly French, German and Dutch, but even during the 16th century there were voices raised against this intolerance, as the excerpt from Shakespeare´s play about Thomas More, that I have chosen to include in the spirit of the anniversary, as well as a sign that there will always be a voice of reason.

On this day in 1517 a riot, which has gone down in history as Evil May Day, broke out in London. Allegedly it was the reaction to an inflammatory speech held on Easter Tuesday by one Dr Bell at St. Paul´s cross where he had called for all Englishmen to “cherish and defend themselves and to “hurt and grieve aliens for the common weal”.

During the weeks following the hateful speech, there were several attacks on foreigners as well as a rumour saying that on May Day, the city would rebel and slay all aliens.

The rumours worried the mayor and aldermen and they announced a curfew on the night of April 30th. This did not help, or stop the riots, during the night towards May 1st around 1 000 men gathered in Cheapside, freeing prisoners already apprehended for having attacked foreigners in the previous weeks.

Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger_-_Sir_Thomas_More_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe mob proceeded to St. Martin Le Grand, an area north of St. Paul´s Cathedral where several foreign families lived. When arriving there they were confronted by the under-sheriff of London, Thomas More who attempted to calm them down and persuade them to return home, but his attempts to defuse the situation came to nothing when the frightened inhabitants of St. martin started throwing stones and hot water from their windows, something which led to an even more heated situation.

The mob started looting the homes of foreigners, but the riot was over by 3am that same day, and 300 men had been arrested. No one had been killed, and most of the rioters would eventually be pardoned, ironically after a plea to the king from Katherine of Aragon who herself was a foreigner.

However, 13 of the rioters were convicted of treason and executed on May 4th, and a few days later the broker John Lincoln – believed to have been the instigator of the hate speech held during Easter, in that he had persuaded Dr. Bell of “the dangers foreigners posed against those born in London – was executed as well.

Many years later, William Shakespeare would let Thomas More give a speech, partly written in Shakespeare´s own hand and as tragically current today as it would have been on that May Day 499 years ago.

 

Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise

Hath chid down all the majesty of England;

Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,

Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,

Plodding tooth ports and costs for transportation,

And that you sit as kings in your desires,

Authority quite silent by your brawl,

And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;

What had you got? I’ll tell you. You had taught

How insolence and strong hand should prevail,

How order should be quelled; and by this pattern

Not one of you should live an aged man,

For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,

With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,

Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes

Would feed on one another.

……You’ll put down strangers,

Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,

And lead the majesty of law in line,

To slip him like a hound. Say now the king

(As he is clement, if th’ offender mourn)

Should so much come to short of your great trespass

As but to banish you, whether would you go?

What country, by the nature of your error,

Should give you harbor? Go you to France or Flanders,

To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,

Nay, any where that not adheres to England,—

Why, you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased

To find a nation of such barbarous temper,

That, breaking out in hideous violence,

Would not afford you an abode on earth,

Whet their detested knives against your throats,

Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God

Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants

Were not all appropriate to your comforts,

But chartered unto them, what would you think

To be thus used? This is the strangers’ case;

And this your mountanish inhumanity.
Sources/copyright

Henry VIII – Lucy Wooding

Playshakespeare.com

Henry VIII – Jasper Ridley,