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  • John Morton: Adversary of Richard III, Power Behind the Tudors by Stuart Bradley

    What makes a sparkling and successful career? What makes for a life that history will record? How about the brilliant lawyer who becomes Lord Chancellor of England? What about the outstanding academic who become Chancellor of Oxford University? What about the committed cleric who becomes Archbishop of Canterbury? What about the able politician who becomes the adviser of kings? Each one of these would be a highly creditable achievement in anyone’s lifetime but in John Morton they are combined in the lifetime of one man. It is an outstanding achievement. And this is not all, Morton also managed to oversee building and construction projects on a remarkable scale, and finance the publication of a book which contained the first printed music in England.

    The Bell Harry Tower of Canterbury Catherdral, funded by John Morton. (c. Tony Bates under Creative Commons, John Morton: Adversary of Richard III, Power Behind the Tudors, Amberley Publishing)

    However, life did not always go his own way. Morton was accused of treason twice – and imprisoned in the Tower of London – from whence he escaped. He lived in penurious exile twice – once for a period of ten years. However, in his mid-sixties he became the chief and most trusted counsellor of a new king – a king with a tenuous claim to the throne but who through Morton’s advice, survived and established a new dynasty.

    Yet this man is unknown to most, and even to students of the period he only gets a cursory glance or an incidental mention. His contribution of over fifty years to his country’s service is barely recognised. His career began at Oxford where his brilliance was rapidly noticed and led to him becoming a member of the court of the Lancastrian king, Henry VI. However, in the political turmoil of what is known as ‘The Wars of the Roses’, he lost all when the Yorkists gained power and was forced into exile abroad. Following the death of Henry VI he was summoned back by Edward IV and became one of his most trusted councillors. After his death, Morton was implacably opposed to the usurpation of Richard III and conspired against him throughout his short reign. Called back to England again, he then served Henry VII until his death in 1500. It was through his advice, in his roles as Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbury, that Henry safely navigated the challenges of his reign. This is a man who deserves to be retrieved from the shadows and credited for his singular role in the politics of the fifteenth century.

    Stuart Bradley's new book John Morton: Adversary of Richard III, Power Behind the Tudors is available for purchase now.

  • Henry VII: The Maligned Tudor King by Terry Breverton

    Henry VII by C. E. Kempe (1909) at the church of St Mary the Virgin, inside the town walls near Pembroke Castle. (Henry VII, Amberley Publishing)

    With the exhumed Richard III being given a cathedral service and burial, he seems to have assumed heroic status in the eyes of many, a modern myth, or should I now say ‘fake news’ for those with a knowledge of history. However, the newly aroused interest in one of our most devious and cruel monarchs threw the spotlight upon the man who usurped his throne. In fact, only three major lords supported Richard at his demise, two of them created by him. Over thirty other great barons, who had always followed Richard’s brother Edward IV into battle, stayed away from Bosworth or supported Henry. Edward IV’s bodyguard and closest allies came to Henry’s assistance, along with Edward IV’s widow as her brother-in-law Richard had killed her sons. The people who disagree with this sentence are members of the Richard III Society or readers of modern historical fiction.

    As for usurpation, a glance through all English kings from Athelstan onwards will show a history or violence, revolt of fathers against sons, and no obvious royal bloodline or rightful kings. After a series of Germanic then French kings marrying Germanic then French wives, Henry Tudor was the first king with any British blood in him, via his grandfather Owen Tudor. Owen was descended in direct line from Ednyfed Fychan (1170-1246), Seneschal to Llywelyn the Great, via the Tudors of Anglesey who initiated the Owain Glyndwr war of 1400-1415. Much of his success in succeeding against seemingly overwhelming odds was owing to his march through Wales to meet Richard. The whole nation rose in support, believing that Henry was the mab darogan – the son of prophecy – who had come to take England back from the German and French invaders. Indeed, there had been almost continuous rebellion by the British (i.e. Welsh) and in particular the Tudor family, against the English from the time of the defeat of Llywelyn II in 1282. The fight ended with the coronation of the first king of England with British blood.

    Terry Breverton's new paperback edition of Henry VII: The Maligned Tudor King is available for purchase now.

  • The Tudor Dynasty by Terry Breverton

    Non-fiction writing is all about fascination – learning intriguing facts and delving to find what is true, misguided or simply wrong. It’s a voyage of discovery but where you have to divest preconceived notions and query everything as you go along. The problem with historical non-fiction is that much material has been hidden, or hijacked with a predictable slant to sell historical fiction books. As a former management consultant I was almost always called in when there were major problems, and then faced the board with unpalatable facts about how they had been running their companies. What I’m trying to say is that you had to go into a company with no preconceived notions, and come up with something acceptable in order to be paid. The way to achieve that was to feed board members with one’s findings as the research progressed, and they could individually say at the final presentation that they agreed with you, as that was what they had been thinking all along. The process saved their faces and ensured full payment for the consultancy was a foregone conclusion.

    The same process applies to writing historical non-fiction – you have to take the reader along with you – following the same research path as yourself. In my book ‘Richard III – the King in the Car Park’, it was pointless decrying his recent cathedral burial until the end of the book, where hopefully all those who are not convinced Ricardians would agree with myself, and with just about every current history academic and writer. I sometimes wonder why people write historical novels – the facts are far, far more interesting and even entertaining.  The Tudors for instance – WOW! What a story. An unknown Welshman, later known as Owen Tudor, impoverished because his father and uncles fought in the Owain Glyndŵr war of 1400-1415, secretly married Henry V’s young widow. He was imprisoned, but one son, Edmond, Earl of Richmond, died fighting for his step-brother Richard II in the so-called Wars of the Roses. Another son, Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, rescued Henry, the son of Edmond, born after his father’s death.  Jasper then was the only peer to fight throughout the civil wars, from the First Battle of St Albans in 1455 to Stoke Field in 1487.

    Jasper’s life was spent fighting and escaping, and his father Owen Tudor was executed after being captured at Jasper’s defeat at Mortimer’s Cross in 1461. Jasper managed to secure his nephew Henry from captivity and they escaped to Brittany and then France, but their lives in exile were at constant threat from Edward IV and then Richard III trying to have them killed. The Tudors’ choice was to either die or try and take the throne of England. With massive unrest against Richard III, their small army landed in Pembroke and swelled in numbers, supported by nearly all of Edward IV’s closest followers. They knew that Richard III had killed his brother’s sons and Edward’s closest friend Hastings, and hardly any lords now followed Richard into battle at Bosworth Field in 1485. Henry’s victory led to general peace across the land and a period of prosperity for the nation. I wrote ‘Everything You Wanted to Know about the Tudors but were Afraid to Ask’, detailing interesting facts about the new dynasty, England’s greatest. My trilogy of books upon the Tudors includes the first biographies of ‘Jasper Tudor – Dynasty Maker’ and ‘Owen Tudor – Founding Father of the Tudor Dynasty’. In between them I wrote ‘Henry VII – the Maligned Tudor King.’ They were enjoyable to research and write, and I hope that readers will be informed as well as entertained by them.

      

    Terry Breverton's books Richard III: The King in the Car Park, Owen Tudor: Founding Father of the Tudor Dynasty, Jasper Tudor: Dynasty Maker, Henry VII: The Maligned Tudor King and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Tudors But Were Afraid to Ask are all available for purchase now.

  • Kaleidoscopic Concertina: The Dysfunctional Family of Richard III by Michael Hicks

     

    All of us were born into families that consist of 2 parents and 4 grandparents, plus many of us have siblings, uncles and aunts and cousins and in-laws. Some of us count a lot of people in these categories. Richard III had six siblings, whereas his enemy Henry Tudor was a posthumous child and an only child. In those days it was unusual for three generations of a family to be alive simultaneously. All Richard’s grandparents had died before he was born and one sister was already married. In the absence of contraception, fertility was high. Also high, however, was mortality at all ages. Life expectancy was low and marriages took place early (often being childhood matches). Taken together, these factors caused the personnel of the family to constantly change. The caste flickered past kaleidoscopically. Complex households abounded of full, half and stepchildren, the flotsam of vanished unions. Death rather than divorce broke up homes, many of which contained the half and stepchildren of vanished unions. We are all aware, of course, of how our families today evolve like concertinas – as the nest is filled, and emptied as offspring leave home, pair off and people their own nests which in turn become their priorities. Brothers and sisters head successor households. Such progression was and is eternal and inevitable. This concertina effect is charted in my latest book, The Family of Richard III.

    His father Richard, Duke of York and brother Edward IV His father Richard, Duke of York and brother Edward IV

    Richard III was the fourth son and seventh child of Richard Duke of York and Cecily Neville to achieve maturity. He had sixteen uncles and aunts and scores of cousins, most of whom surely were unaware of him. Their shared kinship clashed with other obligations – allegiance to the king, other blood relationships, landed interests, personal charm and incompatibilities. Brother Nevilles notoriously contested their inheritances from common ancestors in court and with force. Even the brothers and brothers-in-law of the child Richard fought on different political sides. The Wars of the Roses sharpened the lines of division. Not all of Richard’s kinsmen ended on the same side. His father and brother were killed by his uncles and his cousins in vengeance for the killing of their own fathers.

    The House of York proved particularly dysfunctional. It flouted contemporary standards of sexual morality. Adulterous liaisons, dubious marriages and breaches of promise, mistresses, bastards and incest litter the York family tree and cast doubt on the royal succession. Although united by blood, upbringing and common interests in the crown, the three York brothers – Edward IV, Clarence and Richard III – were rivals for their inheritances and ultimately all aspired to the crown. No holds were barred. Edward IV had no more

    Anne Neville, queen consort of Richard III Anne Neville, queen consort of Richard III

    insubordinate subjects than his brothers. There were a succession of public scandals. What was more shocking than Clarence’s defiant marriage, rebellion and subsequent deposition of his brother King Edward IV? What was more shocking than the struggle of the two younger brothers for the Warwick inheritance, in defiance of the rights of other heirs? It was a national issue from 1471 to 1475. What was more shocking than Edward’s fratricidal elimination of his brother Clarence? Surely even worse was Richard III’s bastardisation of the children of his brother Edward IV and probably the killing of his nephews the Princes in the Tower. That was the verdict of posterity. And what of Richard’s plan to divorce his queen and to marry his niece?

    The Elizabethan tomb of his parents at Fotheringhay The Elizabethan tomb of his parents at Fotheringhay

    For some years it appears that Richard headed a small but normal family of three – two parents bound by affection to Edward of Middleham, their hope for the future. Richard apparently had a stable relationship with a mistress who bore him the bastard son (and daughter) whom, unusually, he acknowledged and endowed as king. That family expired, however, as Prince Edward and Queen Anne died off. Replacements were planned. Although wifeless and childless, Richard III possessed a mother and mother-in-law, sisters, nephews, nieces and in-laws, less often sources of strength and service than impelled by blood to his destruction. But once he was dead, he had several nephews who aimed for his crown for another fifty years. And now, 540 years later, a host of distant relatives – the Plantagenet Alliance – claim to be the devoted heirs that Richard lacked in life.

    The Family of Richard III shows how families were expected to operate – very like how we expect them to today.

    The Family of Richard III

  • Richard III: Reinterment week

    3. Richard III slider with anti-alias on

    EARLY HISTORY CATEGORY DISCOUNT CODE OFFER

    From 24th to 30th March you can get 25% discount off the RRP of any title in the Early History: c.500 to c.1450/1500 category on our website. All you need to do is enter the code Richard III in the Discount Codes coupon code box when you click on your shopping basket before proceeding to pay. Make sure the discount has been taken off before proceeding.

    Richard III’s reburial is almost here. The last Plantagenet king will be interred in Leicester Cathedral on Thursday 26 March, and the service will be broadcast live on Channel 4. It will be the first ceremonial burial of a British monarch since 1952.

    Watch the dramatic trailer from link below:

    King Richard III: The Reburial | Begins Sunday, 5.10pm | Channel 4 - YouTube.

    The mortal remains of Richard III will be received into the care of Leicester Cathedral on the evening of 22 March, will lie in repose for 3 days and will be reburied on the morning of Thursday 26 March. The following days, Friday 27 and Saturday 28 March, will mark the end of the journey with the reveal of the tomb and a service to mark the completion of the reinterment.

    The University of Leicester is organising a week of free events to celebrate the reinterment. Hear from the experts who made the historical discoveries, experiment with DNA extraction, meet a 14th century friar, examine real skeletal remains, sample a medieval banquet and much more: http://www2.le.ac.uk/institution/kr3events

    As part of these events David Baldwin will discuss ‘Leicester’s Lost King’, featuring an analysis of King Richard's reign and character. Baldwin is the historian who first identified the likely location of the grave. His 1986 paper for Leicester Archaeological and Historical Society (which can be found here) was the first serious suggestion that the King’s remains could still lie undisturbed beneath the Greyfriars car park. A former University of Leicester lecturer, he is the author of several books including the bestselling biography Richard III.

    Baldwin-Richard III PBK.indd

    A new edition of Richard III, updated with information on the reinterment will be available from 1 April 2015.

    9781445648453

    This Saturday 21 March also sees the first of a series of programmes commemorating Richard’s life, death and discovery. A new Channel 4 drama-documentary made for the event, Richard III: The Princes in the Tower, will be broadcast at 9pm: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/richard-iii-the-princes-in-the-tower

    Then on Sunday 22 March, the king’s remains will be processed through Leicestershire parading through the towns and villages Richard visited when he was alive. The King in the Car Park, on Channel 4 at 5.10pm, will show Richard III’s remains arriving at Leicester Cathedral with experts discussing his place in history: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/richard-iii-the-reburial 

    Then on Thursday, in a show hosted by Jon Snow, the reinterment will be broadcast live at 10am with a second show in the evening (8pm) replaying highlights from the day.

    Remember the life and death of the only monarch of England without a marked grave. Be a witness to history and tune in!

    Relive the excitement of the investigating team who found Richard III's skeleton under a Leicester car park in this fascinating programme:

    Discovering Richard III, the King in the car park: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/richard-iii-the-king-in-the-car-park/

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