Will Kempe – Shakespeare´s clown

When William Shakespeare wrote his plays, he didn´t do it for any random actors, but 800px-Will_Kemp_Elizabethan_Clown_Jigspecifically for his own company – first called The Lord Chamberlain´s Men and after the accession of James I The King´s Men – and most likely with the different actors in mind for specific parts in each plays.

In the company there was also a “clown”, the one to get the particularly comical parts, and the first one of these was William – or Will – Kempe.

It isn´t known for certain where Will Kempe was born, or who his parents were, but there are theories that he may have belonged to the Kempe family of the manor Olantigh in Kent.

Will Kempe started his career as an actor in Leicester´s Men, the company receiving its patronage from the Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley, and he is first mentioned performing at Leicester House in May 1585 together with the company and he toured with them in the Netherlands and Denmark.

Already in 1583 Leicester´s Men had begun to be slightly depleted when several of it´s members jumped ship to instead join the newly formed Queen Elizabeth´s Men, which had been created on the direct order of the Queen herself. In 1588 the Earl of Leicester died, and the theatre company, which he had endorsed, ceased to exist all together. In 1593 Will Kempe resurfaced in Lord Strange´s Men which consisted of retainers of the household of Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Strange. It the very same year the company changed its name to Lord Derby´s Men, as Ferdinando Stanley came into his father´s title.

By this time Will Kempe had started to become known, both to the audience and his fellow actors as a great comical talent, and he stayed with Lord Stange´s/Lord Derby´s Men for only a year, and joined The Lord Chamberlain´s Men in 1594 where just that talent was put to good use in roles such as Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, Peter in Romeo and Juliet and, as already mentioned, Falstaff and most likely Lancelot Gobbo in the Merchant of Venice as well as Bottom in A Midsummer Night´s Dream.

He may also have been the original Falstaff, but this is less certain. In the introduction to the 19th century print of Kempe´s own book, “Kemps Nine Daies Wonder Performed in a Daunce from London to Norwich”, which there will be more about later in his post, the Reverend Alexander Dyce also states that he most likely played the parts of Launce in “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”, Touchstone in “As you like it”, one of the grave-diggers in “Hamlet”, Justice Shallow in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and he supposedly also had a part in “Every Man in his Humour” by Ben Jonson, written in 1598 and performed by The Lord Chamberlain´s Men.

Will Kempe stayed with Shakespeare and The Lord Chamberlain´s only until 1599, and while the reason for him leaving isn´t documented, scholars have suggested that it was a result that William had had enough of his improvising on stage, and it has been said that Shakespeare made a reference to this conflict in Hamlet, where the following lines can be found in act 3, scene 2;

“And let those that play  your clowns speak no more than is set down for them; for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh  too.”

Others suggest that he left because he had been denied a role in Hamlet.

Kemp's_Men,_Chapelfield_Gardens_-_geograph.org.uk_-_167501After the departure of Will Kempe from the company, Shakespear´s comical roles are said to have changed, and there are indications that Will Kempe had a physical way of acting which may have been hard for his successor to follow.

His ambition was to find another outlet for his comical talent, and one way of doing so was to, in 1599, embark on a Morris dance from London to Norwich, a distance of almost 100 miles which took nine days spread over several weeks (23 days all in all) from start to finish, and resulted in a book penned by Kempe himself; Kempe´s Nine Daies of Wonder.

If searching for information of Kempe´s Morris Dance, it should be noted that the year varies between 1599 and 1600, which allegedly has to do with differences between the Julian and Gregorian calendar, and that notes may have been changed after the fact.

In 1599 Ben Jonson wrote a sequel to his Every Man in his Humour, called “Every Man out of his Humour”. This too was played by The Lord Chamberlain´s Men, the irony being that while Will Kempe was missing from the cast, he was very much present through a line in the play, alluding to his Morris dancing that very same year;

“Would I had one of Kemp’s shoes to throw after you!”

A year later he supposedly left England to tour Europe, returning in 1602, when he joined the acting company Worcester´s Men, but at the same time, he is said to during 1601 have borrowed money from the theatrical entrepreneur Philip Henslowe.

Just as only assumptions can be made when it comes Will Kempe´s background, this is also the case for when and where he died. He is mentioned one last time in Philip Henslow´s diary from 1602, and after that there is “silence”.

Some scholars believe him to have died in the plague in 1603, when one of the biggest outbreaks occurred, but no sources exist to really substantiate this. In parish records for St. Saviour in Southwark, there is a mentioning of “A man, Kempe” which died in late 1603. There is however no way of knowing that this is the right Kempe, but facts remain that he was never heard of again after this year.

 

Sources:

 

William Kempe – Amanda Mabillard, Shakespeare Online, May 31, 2016.

http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/willkempe.html

 

A Shakespeare Companion 1564-1964 – F.E. Halliday

 

The Elizabethan Stage – E.K. Chambers

 

Shakespeare A to Z – Charles Boyce

 

The Shakespearan Stage 1574-1642 – Andrew Gurr

 

literarynorfolk.co.uk

Will Kempes Nine Daies of Wonder : Performed in Daunce from London to Norwich – Will Kempe/Camden Society/Gutenberg Project

Images;

Wood carving of Will Kempe in Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich – Graham Hardy/Wikimedia Commons

Will Kempe. Nine Daies of Wonder – Wikimedia Commons

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

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,

The Oxford Martyrs

While “Bloody Mary” is a name that didn´t come about until after the death of the woman it´s said to describe, Mary I, and it maybe was an unfair epitaph, there is no avoiding the fact that there were substantial religious persecutions during her reign, much more so than during the brother that preceded her or the sister that succeeded her.

Of all the martyrs she created during her reign, the maybe most notable were Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer, together known as the Oxford Martyrs.

Born in 1487 Hugh Latimer managed to “cover” three Tudor monarchs, and even if he hadHugh_Latimer_from_NPG seen both up´s and downs during the reign of Henry VIII, whom he managed to provoke in the 1520´s by advocating an English translation of the Bible in a time when Tyndale´s translation of the New Testament had just been banned this resulted in a summons before Thomas Wolsey in 1528 who gave him an admonition and a warning. But the tables would soon turn, and as Wolsey fell from grace, the star of Latimer began to rise as he became one of the leading reformers at Cambridge.

In 1535 he was appointed Bishop at Worchester cathedral where he continued to advocate both reformed teachings as well as the destruction of religious icons. In May 1538, he gave the held the last sermon for the Franciscan friar John Forest before the latter was burned at the stake, the downfall of whom had partially, and ironically, been brought about by Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer at the behest of Thomas Cromwell.

But in a fickle world it was only a year later that Latimer himself was sent to the Tower for opposing Henry´s six articles, something which also resulted in Latimer losing his bishopric. In 1546 he was sent back to the Tower for his ideas on reforms, to be released only when Edward VI ascended to the throne. He was restored to favor and was appointed to a position as a court preacher.

Hugh Latimer´s time in the sun was however as short as the reign of Edward, once Mary became Queen and embarked on her mission to restore the catholic faith, his faith was sealed, and he was arrested together with bishop Nicholas Ridley – the only one to be called bishop of London and Westminster – who was a thorn in Mary´s side no only due to his teachings, but also for his support of Lady Jane Grey. He had also been highly involved in the Vestments controversy with John Hooper in the early 1550´s and a written debate between them represent the first written documentation of a split within British Protestantism.

800px-Nicholas_Ridley_from_NPGWhen it became obvious that Edward VI wouldn´t survive his illness, Nicholas Ridley was highly involved in bringing Jane Grey to the throne instead of Edward´s older sister Mary, and on July 9th 1553 he was at St Paul’s Cross, giving a sermon in which he stressed the fact that both daughters of Henry VIII were indeed bastards.

As we all know, support for Jane faded as Mary was advancing towards London, and on the day Mary was proclaimed queen, Nicholas Ridley was arrested and brought to the Tower together with other supporters’ of Lady Jane. The month of February 1554 was spent dealing with the immediate circle around Jane, and several executions took place, including that of Jane herself. When this was over, time had come to deal with the leaders of the English reformation, something Mary obviously wanted nothing to do with. Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley was sent to the Bocardo prison in Oxford together with Thomas Cranmer.

Thomas Cranmer had assisted Wolsey in the work to have Henry´s marriage to Katherine of Aragon annulled and was allegedly also the one who came up with the idea to gather the opinion on the marital situation from the universities, something that took him on journeysThomas_Cranmer_by_Gerlach_Flicke through a Europe in which some countries had already moved closer to Protestantism, and he got in contact with important figure heads of the reformation, both on this trip and during travels as a resident ambassador to the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, nephew of Kathrine of Aragon. In Cranmer´s mission it was included that he should convince Charles to give his acceptance to the divorce, something which never happened.

 

In 1532 Cranmer was appointed archbishop of Canterbury, and as such he denounced the marriage between Henry and Katherine, going as far as threatening Henry with excommunication if he didn´t stay away from his wife of more than 20 years as well as mother of his only surviving child at this point. This makes it more than credible that when Mary I struck against Cranmer, there was more than accusations of heresy behind her wrath.

The_Martyrs_Memorial_against_the_west_side_of_BalliolDuring the following years, Cranmer would become closer and closer to Henry, and was involved in the downfall of both Thomas Cromwell and Katherine Howard. He led Edward´s funeral on August 8, and just over a month later he was sent to the Tower, and sentenced to death in November that same year, meaning that Cranmer spent longer time than Ridley and Latimer, who were sentenced in April 1555 and burned at the stake in Oxford on October 16th 1555. Thomas Gardiner had been brought there to watch Latimer andMartyrs'_execution_location,_Broad_Street,_Oxford,_Mar_2015 Ridley burn, but he himself wasn´t burned at the stake until six months later on March 21st 1556.

He was however burned in the same spot, and for the three Martyrs a memorial has been erected in Oxford, as well as a cross on Broad Street where the stake is assumed to have been standing.

 

 

 

 

 

Encyclopedia.com

 

Thomas Cranmer – Jasper Ridley

 

Thomas Cranmer, A Life – Diarmaid MacCulloch

 

Hugh Latimer – Harold S. Darby

 

 

Photo: Martyrs Memorial – Ozeye

Barking Abbey – a glimpse

Of all the abbey´s to be found in England pre-reformation, one of the wealthiest over time was Barking Abbey, located in what is now greater London as the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.Barking_abbey_curfew_tower_london

Already from the start it was an abbey that housed the daughters of both nobility and royalty, and the position as an abbess there was more than once used as a kind of compensation for acts committed on royal authority.

Even if Henry II refused to admit, or rather strongly denied, that he had wished for the death of Thomas Becket he gave the position as abbess to Beckets sister, Mary Becket, after the murder. The Abbess of Barking Abbey would take precedence over all other Abbess´ in England.

Chertsey_Breviary_-_St._ErkenwaldThe abbey itself was founded in the 7th century, around 666 (which to me feels like an ominous number/year in this context) by Erkenwald from the kingdom of Lindsey, who would later become both the bishop of London as well as, after his death, a saint with a patronage against gout. The first abbess of Barking would come to be Erkenwald´s sister Æthelburh (also Ethelburga). At the time of the foundation there were no nunneries in England, and Erkenwald founded Barking precisely for this purpose.

It was firstly dedicated to Saint Mary, but would later be dedicated to Saint Æthelburh as well.

From the beginning Barking was a joint monastery with both monks and nuns, even if they lived separated. Eventually it would emerge as a nunnery which grew in importance. In his Historia Ecclesiastica, the Venerable Bede recounts a number of miracles that were supposed to have taken place at Barking Abbey.

For some reason, activity at the abbey seems to have ceased in the mid-9th century, and there is no proper evidence to say why, but on theory which is lifted by Teresa L. Barnes is that the abbey was attacked by Danish Vikings, something which was a common fate of abbeys during the era.

This, if it was in deed the case, was followed by about a century of silence from the abbey, after which is was re-founded by King Edgar the Peaceful who appointed as Abbess Wulfhilda, after a series of events that deserve, and will get, a post of its own.

This post is just the beginning of a subject that I during the upcoming months will spend a lot more time with.

 

Sources;

A nun´s life; Barking Abbey in late medieval and early modern times – Teresa L. Barnes

A dictionary of saintly women – Agnes Dunbar

 

Images;

Drawing of what Barking Abbey may have looked like in 1500 – Tudor place

Barking Abbey curfew tower – MRSC

The life and death of Thomas More

Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger_-_Sir_Thomas_More_-_Google_Art_ProjectIf there somewhere exist a kind of Utopia, it was very far away on this day in 1535 when Thomas More lost his life on the scaffold due to his resistance to acknowledge Henry VIII as Supreme Head over the Church of England.

He was born in 1478 as the son of Sir John More, a successful lawyer and judge who passed away only five years ahead off his son at the age of 79. He had sent his son to what was considered one of the finest schools in London at the time. Between the age of 12 and 14, he was in service as a page for the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Morton, who – when he saw the intellectual potential in Thomas More – nominated him to the University of Oxford where he studied for only stayed for two years before moving on to legal training at New Inn in London.

John Morton has been suggested to have another role in the life of Thomas More, and that is as the actual brain behind the writing The History of Richard III which should then have been re-written by Thomas More. The fact is that while one faction put the blame on Thomas More for the blackening of Richard III:s reputation, More in his “History…” does not really assert anything. While he was writing stating that the story of the princes is such that he has heard it told, he at the end, the historian David Baldwin points out, round it off in such a way that can be interpreted  that he will not personally vouch for the stories accuracy.

Thomas More was deeply religious, which may not separate him from many others of his time, other than in the senseMore_famB_1280x-g0 that he according to his friend, the theologian and renaissance humanist Erasmus, contemplated giving up his legal career for the life as a monk. He didn´t however, Thomas More would come to be a devoted family father who had four children by his first wife, Jane Colt. Jane however died quite young and he remarried the rich widow Alice Harpur Middleton. While there was no children in this marriage, Thomas More raised Alice daughter Margaret as if she was his own. As I mentioned Thomas More´s book with the account of the fate of the princes, I have to avoid how this fate has been further intertwined with Thomas More through his adoptive daughter Margaret.

More gave made sure his daughters received the same education as his sons, something which was far from common at the time, and through this managed to convince his friend Erasmus that the education of women wasn´t a complete waste of time after all.

In 1504 More was elected to the parliament, and held from 1510 the seat for London and from 1514 he was a member of the Privy Council. In 1516 he wrote his legendary book Utopia about a far away island republic where men were free from oppression and even the animals were considered sentient beings with the right to life and freedom. The lack of private property in Utopia, whit the goods being kept in warehouses where the people request what they need – and get it, gave Thomas More and his book high esteem in the former Soviet Union, more than 400 years after it was written.

In 1523 More was elected a knight of the Shire for Middlesex, and on the recommendation of Cardinal Wolsey, speaker of the House of Commons. When Wolsey ultimately fell from grace in 1529, Thomas More became the Lord Chancellor. He was loyal to Henry VIII, supporting the idea that the marriage to Katherine of Aragon was unlawful. But the beginning of the end came when Henry challenged the authority of Rome.

Isola_di_Utopia_MoroAs the reformation started to take root among the public and some people started protestant sympathies, Thomas More was to be found at the forefront in the battle against heresy. He was accused of personally torturing people during interrogation, something he himself strongly denied, but the fact remains that six people were burned at the stake for heresy during More´s time as chancellor.

Thomas More continued to be steadfast in his support of the Pope, something that oddly enough did not cost him his position as a chancellor, but after refusing to sign a letter urging the pope to dissolve Henry´s marriage, he soon found himself isolated. This in combination with his decline to be present at the coronation of Anne Boleyn as well as his refusal to acknowledge Henry as Supreme Head would become the undoing of Thomas More.

He was brought to trial on Juli 1st  1535 for treason under the Treason act of 1534, where he defended his stand on the supremacy issue by quoting the Magna Carta clause that protected the privileges of the church. It took the jury 15 minutes to find him guilty, much due to the diligence of Thomas Cromwell, and he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, a punishment which was commuted to beheading.

He was executed on this day, July 6th 1535. When he came to mount the steps to the scaffold, he is widely quoted asChelsea_Old_Church_14 saying (to the officials): “I pray you, I pray you, Mr Lieutenant, see me safe up and for my coming down, I can shift for myself”; while on the scaffold he declared that he died “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.

His head was left on a pike on London Bridge for a month and his body laid to rest in an unmarked grave St Peter ad Vincula.

He was canonized in 1935 and is celebrated on the same day as John Fisher, June 22nd by the Catholic Church and on July 6th by the Church of England.

 

 

Sources:

The Life of Thomas More – Peter Ackroyd

Henry VIII – Lucy Wooding

The Lost Prince – David Baldwin

The life and death of Anne Boleyn – Eric Ives

 

Images:

Thomas More – Hans Holbein the younger

The family of Thomas More – Hans Holbein the younger/Rowland Lockey

Photo of statue at Chelsea – Edwardx

 

 

 

 

 

The Field of Cloth of Gold

 

1491_Henry_VIIIToday marks the 495 year anniversary of the demonstration of glory known as the Field of Cloth of Gold taking place just outside of Calais between the 7th and 24th of June in 1520.

It was said to be an effort to strengthen the ties of friendship between Henry VIII and Francis I of France. Only two years earlier a non-aggression pact called the Treaty of London, with England, France and The Holy Roman Empire, the Papacy, Burgundy and Spain as signatories, where they undertook not only to not attack each other, but also to come to each other’s aid if one of them came under attack by another nation. But only a few years later, the treaty was at risk of falling apart, not least due to England siding with Spain in the latter’s conflict with France.

The meeting had originally been planned for 1519 but was at the time postponed, something that made Henry promise not to shave until he met the French king, a challenge that FrancisFrançois_1515 accepted, and which was interrupted only by the fact that Catherine of Aragon made it clear that she did not like her husband bearded. He succumbed to her demands to shave it off, and it was decided between the kings that their love for each other was to be found in their hearts and not in their beards.

There was someone who was deeply worried by this newfound “love”, and that was Charles V of Spain. In his anxious to have a meeting with Henry before Francis did, he met up with Henry in Dover just before Henry was to leave for France. There is an account of how the two kings embrace on the steps to Charles bedroom in the Dover Castle where he was staying during his visit, which maybe can be taken as a proof that Charles at least for the moment had little to fear from Henry´s meeting with the French king;

“the Emperor hearing the king to be come, came out of his chamber to meet with the king, and so met him on the stairs ere he could come up, where each embraced other right lovingly: then the king brought the Emperor to his chamber, whereas their communing was of gladness”.

The following the day Catherine of Aragon, Charles aunt, met up with the two in Canterbury.
After Charles had departed, the English court set sail for France in a logistic endeavour that in its planning was Thomas Wolsey´s doing. Henry VIII was accompanied by over 5 000 people on the journey. The party consisted of the highest nobility and a major part of the royal Court.

Basire_Embarkation_of_Henry_VIII

 

While the Field of Cloth of Gold aimed to achieve political results, there is no doubt the event itself was a big show off between the two monarchs, where they both hoped to outshine his counterpart.
A temporary palace was built just outside of Calais to house the English court, surrounded by tents for other the nobility and others in the retinue. Of course, these wasn´t any tents, they were made of cloth of gold, just like many of the other fabrics and clothes worn by the participants, and this is where the name of the meeting come from.

During the two week long meeting which consisted of jousting, dining, negotiations and socialising; one evening Catherine dined with the French king while Henry dined with the French queen Claude; even no proof exist to confirm it, it is very possible that one of queen Claude´s ladies-in-waiting served as interpreter by the English and the French on some occasions; Anne Boleyn.

British_-_Field_of_the_Cloth_of_Gold_-_Google_Art_Project

The meeting took place on neutral ground and when the two kings met for the very first time, they rode towards each other from opposite sides of an open field, only to embrace when they met in the middle.
In the jousting the two kings fought together as “brothers” instead of against each other, but it seems like Henry was the more gifted one in that field. There exist a story of a wrestling match where Francis allegedly won over Henry, but oddly enough it seems the only contemporary source that exist is that of king Francis´s best friend.

It turned out in the end that from a political point of view, the joviality between the two monarchs wasn´t worth much. Only two years later, when conflict ensued between Francis and Charles V, Henry took the side of his wife´s nephew, Charles, and the hereditary animosity of between the respective crowns continued for the time being.

 

Sources:

Henry VIII – Lucy Wooding

Hall´s Chronicle

Anglo-French Relations under Henry VIII/Tudor England and its Neighbours – Glenn Richardson