King Henry VII and the Mystery of Lady Catherine Gordon (Guest Post)

Guest article by Tony Riches

While researching about Henry Tudor becoming King Henry VII, I came across an account by the blind chronicler Bernard Andre, a French Augustinian Friar who describes the first meeting between Henry and Lady Catherine Gordon. Henry is cast in the role of hero, rescuing poor Catherine from a scheming pretender to the throne of England. The problem is that Bernard Andre was commissioned by Henry to write an account of his time as king.

So who was Lady Catherine? Born in Scotland in 1474, Catherine’s father was George Gordon, Earl of Huntly, and her mother Princess Annabella, daughter of King James I of Scotland. In July 1495, a man arrived in Scotland from Ireland, claiming to be the Richard, Duke of York, the second son of King Edward IV of England (who was thought to have been murdered in the Tower of London.) King James might not have believed him but saw an opportunity to undermine the English King Henry, and married the pretender to his cousin, Lady Catherine.

Henry VII receives Lady Katherine Gordon

After several poorly planned attempts to ‘claim his rightful kingdom’ the pretender, known as Perkin Warbeck, sought sanctuary in Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire before surrendering to Henry’s men. Lady Catherine ended up stranded on St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall and Henry sent for her when he arrived in Taunton to hear the pretender’s full confession.

This is where the mystery begins. Any other king would have had had Warbeck executed for treason. Instead Henry kept him under house arrest – in his own lodgings and Lady Catherine was made a lady-in-waiting to the queen. It is recorded that Henry ‘treated Catherine like a sister’ and allowed Warbeck to see her – but banned them from sleeping together.

In 1499, Warbeck was locked up in the Tower of London for attempting to escape from his house arrest – then hanged at Tyburn for conspiring to escape from the Tower. Catherine, a widow at twenty-five, might have been devastated at the death of her husband but became close to Queen Elizabeth. She even travelled with Henry as one of Elizabeth’s ladies to Guines Castle near Calais for a meeting with Archduke Philip of Castile.

King Henry VII by Unknown Netherlandish artist; NPG 416  National Portrait Gallery, London 2017

Henry kept detailed accounts which show he bought her horses and fine new gowns. For example, in November 1501 this included cloth-of-gold furred with ermine, a purple velvet gown and a black hood in the French style. In April 1502, Henry paid for black and crimson velvet for a gown and black kersey for Catherine’s stockings. In November 1502 he paid for black satin trimmed with mink for Lady Catherine. There are records of him losing money to her at cards, although oddly there don’t seem to be any suggestions she was his mistress.

When Queen Elizabeth died in 1503, Catherine was a chief mourner at her funeral. She might have been expected to return to Scotland or remarry but surprisingly chose to stay with Henry for the rest of his life. After Henry’s death, Lady Catherine became one of Katherine of Aragon’s ladies-in-waiting and eventually married James Strangeways, a gentleman of the King’s Chamber.

The known facts about Henry’s relationship with Lady Catherine Gordon raise more questions than answers. Even the blind friar Bernard Andre says she was beautiful and clever. In a surviving letter from Perkin Warbeck to Catherine he wrote:

All look at your face so bright and serene that it gives splendour to the cloudy sky; all look at your eyes so brilliant as stars which make all pain to be forgotten, and turn despair into delight; all look at your neck which outshines pearls; all look at your fine forehead. Your purple light of youth, your fair hair; in one word at the splendid perfection of your person?and looking at they cannot choose but admire you; admiring they cannot choose love but you; loving they cannot choose but obey you.

So did Henry fall for her? Or did he think of Catherine as the sister he never had? Catherine seems unimpressed by Perkin Warbeck (despite his compliments), so did she see her chance for an easy life at Henry?s court? Did Henry plan to use her in his negotiations with the Scots, then grew to like her? Did Catherine take advantage of the aging king, old enough to be her father? Did Elizabeth of York not think it odd that her husband spent so generously on one of her ladies? Did they discuss Perkin Warbeck, Catherine?s husband who claimed to be Elizabeth?s brother?

I believe all these are possibilities and decided to explored the complex relationship between Henry and Catherine in my book, HENRY ? Book Three of the Tudor Trilogy.

Henry Book Three of The Tudor Trilogy

?

Tony Riches

For information about Tony?s books please visit his website www.tonyriches.com
and his popular blog, The Writing Desk at www.tonyriches.co.uk. You can also find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tonyriches.author
and Twitter @tonyriches.

The Life and Love of the Pretender

the-life-and-love-of-the-pretender

During the reign of King Henry VII, the “Pretender,” Perkin Warbeck claimed to be Richard, Duke of York, the second son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. At the time it was very significant for Warbeck to come forward as the Duke of York because there were still many Yorkist supporters — Henry VII had only reigned for a short time and some noblemen and subjects alike had hoped for a York resurrection. If he were indeed the son of the late King Edward IV the throne of England should, in many people’s eyes, be his for the taking – regardless of the fact that Henry Tudor won the crown in battle.

When Edward IV died in 1483, his eldest son Edward, Prince of Wales became Edward V. Edward was only a child of twelve at the time and could not rule England outright. His uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester was the only surviving brother of the late King and was named Lord Protector of the realm until Edward came of age.

Unfortunately this would not be enough for Richard. He had placed both Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York in the Tower. Richard, Duke of Gloucester claimed it was in preparation of the coronation of Edward V, but the boys would never leave the Tower. That we know of.

The Duke of Gloucester declared the marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville invalid and therefore their children illegitimate – this meant that Richard, Duke of Gloucester was now the rightful heir to the throne. He became King Richard III (1483-1485) and the boys were never seen or heard from again.

Flash forward to 1490 at the court in Burgundy — Perkin Warbeck claimed to be Richard, Duke of York. At court he was recognized by Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy. Margaret was the sister of the late Edward IV and Richard III. She would surely recognize her nephew, right? That question is one that we will never truly know the answer to.

Hailed as the rightful heir to the throne of England, Richard (aka Warbeck) set out to reclaim his fathers throne. But England already had a king: the first of the Tudors, Henry VII. Henry proclaimed the young man an imposter and nicknamed him Perkin Warbeck, but he behavednot as if the young man was an upstartbut as if he faced the clash of another legitimate claimant. –On the Tudor Trail

A Tale of True Adventure: The Boy Who Pretended He Was King. Original artwork from Look and Learn no. 180 (26 June 1965).
A Tale of True Adventure: The Boy Who Pretended He Was King. Original artwork from Look and Learn no. 180 (26 June 1965).

Warbeck wrote to Isabella of Castile (mother to Katherine of Aragon) in 1493:

“I myself, then nearly nine years of age, was also delivered to a certain Lord to be killed, [but] it pleased Divine Clemency, that lord, having compassion on my innocence, preserved me alive in safety: first, however, causing me to swear on the holy sacrament that to no one should I disclose my name, origin, or family, until a certain number of years had passed. He then sent me therefore abroad, with two persons, who should watch over and take charge of me; and thus I, an orphan, bereaved of my royal father and brother, an exile from my kingdom, and deprived of my country, inheritance and fortune, a fugitive in the midst of extreme perils, led my miserable life, in fear, and weeping, and grief, and for the space of nearly eight years lay hid…scarcely had I emerged from childhood alone and without means, I remained for a time in the kingdom of Portugal, and thence sailed to Ireland, where being recognised by illustrious lords, the earl of Desmond and Kildare, my cousins, as also by other noblemen of the island, I was received with great joy and honour. -Richard” -British Library MS Egerton 616), as quoted by I. Arthurson in The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy, P. 49-50

Soon Warbeck would gain support from others including King James IV of Scotland. The Scottish King was not exactly on the friendliest of terms with the English King (Henry VII) and would take this opportunity in an attempt to dethrone him and have the presumptive English King (Warbeck) as an ally. In order for James IV to seal the friendship and alliance with Warbeck he betrothed his cousin Lady Katherine Gordon to the young man.

In December 1495, Perkin Warbeck wrote this letter to Lady Katherine Gordon:

scottish womanMost noble lady, it is not without reason that all turn their eyes to you; that all admire, love, and obey you. For they see your two-fold virtues by which you are so much distinguished above all other mortals. Whilst, on the one hand, they admire your riches and immutable prosperity, which secure to you the nobility of your lineage and the loftiness of your rank, they are, on the other hand, struck by your rather divine than human beauty, and believe that you are not born in our days, but descended from Heaven.

All look at your face, so bright and serene that it gives splendour to the cloudy sky ; all look at your eyes as brilliant as stars, which make all pain to be forgotten, and turn despair into delight ; all look at your neck, which outshines pearls ; all look at your fine forehead, your purple light of youth, your fair hair ; in one word, at the splendid perfection of your person ;and looking at, they cannot choose but admire you ; admiring, they cannot choose but love you ; loving, they cannot choose but obey you.

I shall, perhaps, be the happiest of all your admirers, and the happiest man on earth, since I have reason to hope you will think me worthy of your love. If I represent to my mind all your perfections, I am not only compelled to love, to adore, and to worship you, but love makes me your slave. Whether waking or sleeping, I cannot find rest or happiness except in your affection. All my hopes rest in you, and in you alone.
Most noble lady, my soul, look mercifully down upon me your slave, who has ever been devoted to you from the first hour he saw you. Love is not an earthly thing, it is heaven born. Do not think it below yourself to obey love’s dictates. Not only kings, but also gods and goddesses have bent their necks beneath its yoke.

I beseech you, most noble lady, to accept for ever one who in all things will cheerfully do your will as long as his days shall last. Farewell, my soul and my consolation. You, the brightest ornament of Scotland, farewell, farewell.-‘Spain: December 1495’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, ed. G A Bergenroth (London, 1862), pp. 72-79

In 1497 Warbeck traveled again with two or three small vessels – he was accompanied by his wife, Katherine. After departing Scotland Warbeck crossed to Ireland. When he arrived he found no allies and was being pursued by the Earl of Kildare. In a country that had supported the House of York Warbeck was sadly not welcomed, so he sailed to Devon. On 7 September, he was joined by a crowd of people who had recently revolted against excessive taxation. He continued to Exeter, but was unable to master the town. As Henry VII’s troops approached Warbeck deserted his followers and ran for refuge to the sanctuary of Beaulieu in Hampshire where he surrendered.

Henry VII receives Lady Katherine Gordon
Henry VII receives Lady Katherine Gordon

After Warbeck’s capture his wife Katherine was treated kindly and placed in the household of Queen Elizabeth of York – the queen of Henry VII. Who, if Warbeck was indeed the Duke of York, was her sister-in-law. I often wonder what Elizabeth of York thought of all of this.

“Henry allowed Warbeck to remain at court where he could be watched. However, he foolishly tried to run away which seemed to emphasise his treachery. Warbeck was put in the stocks, humiliated and sent to the Tower. Clearly after being generous to the pretender, Henrys patience had run out. In 1499, Warbeck was charged with trying to escape for a second time, found guilty and hanged on November 23rd 1499″.– The History Learning Site

hanging of perkin warbeck
The hanging of Perkin Warbeck, the “Pretender”

The ultimate fate of Perkin Warbeck came about because of his own choice to try to escape. I often wonder what would have happened to him if he had not done so. I tend to romanticizethings, and in doing so I honestly believe that Warbeck was indeed Richard, Duke of York. I like to believe that he was who he said he was. That he was sent away from court (and replaced with a local boy) by his mother Elizabeth Woodville so that she could make sure at least one of her sons were safe. We can all understand why Elizabeth wouldn’t trust Richard III after he claimed her marriage to his brother was invalid – oh, and the part where he had her son Sir Richard Grey and brother Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers executed on25 June 1483.

It’s possible that we may never know who Perkin Warbeck truly was, and until then we can only speculate. Were the skeletal remains of the two young boys found in the Tower of London indeed the Princes in the Tower? Was Perkin Warbeck really Richard, Duke of York? Did Elizabeth of York recognize her younger brother, and was she unable to do everything in her power to save him from certain death?

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The Last Plantagenet

Guest article written by: Alan Freer

Possibly Margaret Pole
Margaret (Plantagenet) Pole

On the morning of 27th May 1541 an elderly, stately woman walked with dignity, as befitted her birth, from her cell in the Tower of London, in to the yard, and to East Smithfield Green, within the precinct of the brooding castle walls. She had been informed earlier that day that she was to die. Her reply had been to say that no crime had been proved against her. In an effort to play down the event, no wooden scaffold had been built, no large crowd of onlookers was to be present; only the Mayor of London and a few dignitaries were to witness her death. She knelt at the simple, low block of wood, which was to be her final pillow, and commended her soul to God. Turning to the thin line of bystanders she asked them to pray for the King and Queen, for young Edward, Prince of Wales, and for Princess Mary, of whom she was Godmother. She asked that she be particularly commended to the Princess. With a final prayer she placed her delicate, royal neck on the block. The executioner, a clumsy novice, hideously hacked at her neck and shoulders before the final decapitation was accomplished. So died the last of the great and mighty Plantagenet family.

Margaret Plantagenet was born at Castle Farley, near Bath, in August 1473. She was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, and Isabel Neville, daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker. From both her father and mother she received a generous helping of royal blood and could call two of her uncles King (Edward IV and Richard III). Little is known of her early years but it can be assumed that they were passed as any child close to the throne of England. When she was five years of age her father met his death in somewhat confusing circumstances for plotting against his brother, Edward IV. Her sickly mother had died the year before so Margaret and her little three-year-old brother, Edward, were left orphaned.

Edward, Earl of Warwick
Edward, Earl of Warwick

Young Edward, inheriting the earldom of Warwick from his grandfather, Richard Neville, via his mother, had a particularly tragic, short and star-crossed life. Richard III, realizing that the boy had a stronger claim to the throne than himself, had him shut up in closer confinement in Sheriff Hutton Castle. With Richards defeat and death at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, Edward was brought to London on the orders of the new king, Henry VII. Unfortunately young Warwicks position remained precarious. He still had the best claim to the crown and Henry kept him imprisoned in the Tower for the rest of his life purely for no other crime than being the son of George, Duke of Clarence.

This injustice was resented by many and there were still supporters of the Yorkist cause in England. Rumours were riff concerning his condition and whereabouts. Some believed he had escaped while others said he had died in the Tower. It was probably the latter that brought about the rising centred on Lambert Simnel. Sir Richard Symonds, a Yorkist, used this innocent, gentle natured, scholar as a substitute for Warwick. Although Simnel was a non-entity, the threat to the House of Tudor was real. One of the supporters was probably Elizabeth Woodville, the Dowager Queen her rapid confinement in a nunnery by her son-in-law speaks volumes for her complicity. More dangerous was the adherence of Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, the late King Edwards sister. She raised two thousand German troops and sent them to Ireland. The puppet imposter Earl of Warwick was crowned King Edward VI in Dublin on 24th May 1487. After a meeting of the Royal Council at Charterhouse, Richmond, it was decided that the real Edward, Earl of Warwick be taken from the Tower, paraded through the streets of London and attend Mass at St. Pauls Cathedral. This did not stop the forces of the counterfeit Earl, swelled by Irish soldiers, from landing in Lancashire and marching south. Henry met and defeated the rising at Stoke, killing most of the leaders and taking the hapless Lambert prisoner. He quickly realized that Simnel was an innocent dupe and set him to work in the royal kitchens. There is a tale that he ended up the Kings falconer. The affair did, however, give young Edward one day of freedom it was to be his last. He was returned to the Tower where he was denied all contact with the outside world. It is even said that he could not discern a goose from a capon. Nevertheless, the mere fact that he was alive must have been a cause of anxiety for Henry.

Perkins Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck

The Tudor Dynasty still sat on an unsteady throne. The advent of Perkin Warbeck, claiming to be the younger of the Princes in the Tower, Richard Duke of York, posed a real danger to Henrys power. Warbeck was taken prisoner and lodged in the Tower with Warwick.

In late 1498 or early 1499 a young man by the name of Ralph Wilford, together with his Austin Canon tutor, claimed to be the Earl of Warwick. Both Wilford and his tutor were arrested and executed on Shrove Tuesday, 12th February 1499. This relatively minor incident must have brought home to the King that while Warwick lived he would ever be a thorn in his side.

Warbeck chose this time to make a bid for freedom and take Warwick with him. The plot failed and Perkin, together with his confederates, was tried and condemned at Westminster on 16th November and executed at Tyburn on the 23rd. Henry obviously decided to rid himself of all his dynastic problems. On the 21st November Warwick was arraigned before the Earl of Oxford, the High Constable of England, not for attempting to escape from prison, as many historians would have you believe, but on the manufactured charge of conspiracy, with others, to depose the King. In his naivety, the young man pleaded guilty and was condemned to death. He was beheaded on the 28th November on Tower Hill. Thus, within a week, Henry had freed himself of the two most dangerous threats to his throne.

There is firm evidence that Edwards death was encouraged by Ferdinand, King of Spain, who refused to allow his daughter, Catherine of Aragon, to marry Prince Arthur while there was any doubt over the succession. The Spanish Ambassadors dispatches show that he attached great importance to the execution. Many years later, when Catherine of Aragon was so bitter over Henry VIIIs efforts to divorce her, she confirmed to Lord Bacon that it was a judgment of God, for that her former marriage was made in blood, meaning that of the Earl of Warwick.

Meanwhile Margaret had married Sir Richard Pole in about 1494, son of Sir Geoffrey Pole, whose wife, Edith St. John, was half-sister to King Henrys mother, Margaret Beaufort. The Poles were in high favour and the match, made at the instigation of the King, was a sure way of keeping Margaret close and safely within the royal control. Richard was a landed gentleman of Buckinghamshire and Henry made him a squire of his bodyguard and a knight of the Garter. He was granted various offices in Wales including the constableships of Harlech and Montgomery Castles and was appointed Sheriff of the county of Merioneth. In addition he held the controllership of the port of Bristol, Englands second largest port and a position of trust and authority.

In 1495 Richard Pole raised troops against Perkin Warbeck and in 1497 he served in the Kings army against the Scots with five demi-lances and 200 archers and again 600 men-at-arms, 60 demi-lances and 540 bows and bills. In about 1500 he was appointed Chief Gentleman of the Bedchamber to Prince Arthur and took control of the Welsh Marches on behalf of the King. In 1505 he died leaving Margaret a widow with five children Henry, Arthur, Reginald, Geoffrey and a daughter Ursula.

Henry Vlll
Henry VIII around 1513

Margarets relationship with Prince Henry, later Henry VIII, must have been good. On his accession he granted her an annuity of 100 a year and on 14th October 1513 he created her Countess of Salisbury and gave her the family lands of the earldom of Salisbury. Her brothers attainder was reversed and the Parliament of 1513-14, on the instructions of the new King, made full restitution of all the right of her family. She therefore became an extremely rich lady with lands in Hampshire, Wiltshire, the West Country and Essex. However, Henry did nothing without a price he had learnt that from his father. There was a heavy charge of redemption money claimed by the King. There is a record that she paid Cardinal Wolsey, the Chancellor, 1000 as first payment of a benevolence of five thousand marks for the Kings wars and, in 1528, she was sued for a further instalment of 2,333, 6 shillings and 8 pence a vast amount of money.

In 1516 Margaret took on a role that was to influence the rest of her life. On the 18th February the Queen, Catherine of Aragon, was delivered of a healthy child, a girl. Two days later the royal daughter was borne in pomp and solemnity to the Church of the Observant Friars at Greenwich and baptized with the name of Mary. The Lord Cardinal was her Godfather, the Lady Catherine and the Duchess of Norfolk were her Godmothers at the font, and the Countess of Salisbury was her Godmother at the bishop.

By May 1520 Margaret was head of Princess Marys household. As it was probably dawning on Henry that Catherine would never produce a male heir, this was recognition that Mary was most likely to become Queen of England and that only a person of the highest rank could have charge of his daughters welfare.

Other members of Margarets family benefited from the Kings favour. Her eldest son, Henry, was created Baron Montague and much of the lands originally held by the Neville family were conferred on him (for a fee of course). He was referred to as Lord Montague in official documents and was a witness to the great peace Treaty of London in 1518. Young Henry became a member of the royal household and accompanied the King in 1520 to the Field of the Cloth of Gold and also to his meeting with Charles V of Spain. The family seemed to prosper under the Tudors but what occurred in 1521 was to sow the seeds of disaster and bring the Countess to that morning on East Smithfield Green.

Ursula Pole Stafford
Ursula Pole Stafford

Margarets daughter, Ursula, had married Henry, Lord Stafford in 1518/19. Henrys father was Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. Like Margaret, the Duke could claim royal blood on both the male and female line. His grandmother was Margaret Beaufort (not the mother of Henry VII) descended from John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his grandfather was Humphrey, Earl of Stafford, descended from Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, youngest son of Edward III. Both Margaret Pole and Edward Stafford had more royalty in them than any Tudor King. With Henry VIII having only a female child the Duke of Buckingham saw himself as heir to the kingdom. Never a prudent man, the Duke freely voiced his intention to of seizing the throne should Henry die. The King patiently had him watched and early in 1521 he pounced. The Duke was arrested. The House of Lords pronounced him guilty of treason and condemned him as a traitor. On Friday 17th May at about eleven oclock the Duke was delivered by the Sheriffs of London, John Kyeme and John Skevyngton, to the scaffold at Tower Hill where he was beheaded. In July the court moved from Windsor to Easthampstead and Margaret was not allowed to accompany her charge, Princess Mary. She had fallen under suspicion due to her close association with the Duke of Buckingham. It would be four years before Margaret was reunited with Mary.

In 1525 Margaret went with Mary to Wales and in the summer of 1526 the King visited her great house at Warblington in Hampshire (a single tower of the house still stands). Unfortunately the reconciliation between the King and the Countess was short-lived.

Henry, desperate for a male heir, broke with Rome, divorced his Queen and married Anne Boleyn. The divorce proclaimed Mary a bastard but Margaret stayed loyal to her Princess. A lady was sent from the court to retrieve Marys jewellery but Margaret refused to hand them over. When she was dismissed from her post she declared that she would follow the Princess at her own expense. Her fidelity was much appreciated by Catherine of Aragon but the King was careful to separate his daughter from a woman she regarded as a second mother.

Cardinal_Reginald_Pole
Cardinal Reginald Pole

Margaret briefly returned to favour in 1536 at the fall of Anne Boleyn but then two things happened concerning her son, Reginald, which was to change everything. Reginald had been a great favourite of the King. Henry had paid for his education even to the extent of financing a years study in Padua, Italy. The King sent him as an emissary into Europe to seek approval for his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and, when he returned, offered Reginald the archbishopric of York or the wealthy bishopric of Winchester, even though he was not yet ordained a priest. The young man realized that with Henry, royal favour came at a price. With the final break with Rome he chose exile. The bombshell came when Reginald published De Unitate Ecclesiae. It castigated everything that Henry had done relating to the Church and the King was never a man to take opposition. In recognition of his work for the Catholic faith Pope Paul created Reginald Cardinal, even though he was still not a priest, and made him papal legate to England.

Henry went through the roof. Margaret could see the danger if her son could not. In desperation she and Henry, Lord Montague, wrote to Reginald a strongly worded reproof (all for the consumption of Henrys spies). She denounced him as a traitor and even expressed her regret that she had given birth to him. Margaret was fighting for her life and those of her family. The previous year such respected men as John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and Sir Thomas More, once Chancellor of England and a close royal friend, had both met their Maker on Tower Hill for offending this King. The years of 1535 and 36 saw the emergence of that monster of absolute power, tyranny.

The letters and protestations from Margaret and her family were all for the benefit of King and Council and Henry was well aware of this. The King, speaking to the French ambassador, stated openly that he would destroy all of those of the white rose referring to the Pole connection to the Yorkist, Plantagenet monarchy.

Geoffrey Pole
Geoffrey Pole

In the summer of 1538 the blow fell. Geoffrey Pole, Margarets youngest son, was arrested and committed to the Tower on 29th August. He lay for two months in prison and, in late October, began his interrogation. He was questioned about private conversations and letters sent to and received from Reginald by himself and other members of the family. Geoffrey was faced with the rack and, knowing that he would inevitably implicate his mother and elder brother, he attempted suicide and seriously injured himself. After long periods of interrogation he broke and supplied the evidence the King required not only against Margaret and Henry but also against Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, Sir Edward Neville and others. Henry had Montague and Exeter arrested and committed to the Tower on 4th November.

It was now Margarets turn. A spy within her household, Gervase Tyndall, was called before Chancellor Cromwell at Lewes and reported circumstances concerning the escape abroad of the Countess chaplain, John Helyar, Rector of Warblington. He also spoke of clandestine letters, sent via a Hugh Holland, to Cardinal Pole. The Earl of Southampton and the Bishop of Ely were sent to Warblington to examine the Countess. They questioned her all day but could not extract and admission. Nonetheless they seized all her possessions and moved her to the Earls house at Cowdry.

Late in November Montague and the Marquis of Exeter were tried before Lord Chancellor Audeley, the Lord High Steward, and a jury of peers found them guilty of treason. A week later, on the 9th December, both lords met their deaths on Tower Hill. Geoffrey, tried with his brother and Exeter, entered a plea of guilty and was condemned to death but was spared. Cromwell informed the French ambassador that he was hopeful of learning more from him. On representation from his wife, Geoffrey received a pardon for reason that he was so ill that he was already as good as dead. A few weeks after his mothers death he went in to a haunted exile.

In the spring of 1539 Margaret was moved from Cowdry to the Tower of London and in May a sweeping Act of Attainder was brought against the dead Montague and Exeter and the Countess. Her house at Warblington was searched and letters and papal bulls found. At the third reading of the attainder bill in the House of Lords Cromwell produced a tunic of white silk, embroidered with the arms of England three lions surrounded by a wreath of pansies and marigolds which the Earl of Southampton stated was found at her house. On the back of the garment was the badge of the five wounds of Christ, the emblem of a recent northern rebellion. Without a trial, the Act was passed on 12th May 1539.

Because of the popularity of the Countess, Henry stayed the inevitable penalty. By April the following year there was hope that Margaret would soon be released. Now 67 years of age, she had suffered through the winter from cold and a lack of adequate clothing. What sealed her fate was another rising in the north, led by Sir John Neville in April 1541. The King was resolved to be rid of her and so, the following month, she died.

Mary l
Queen Mary I of England

Her eldest son, Lord Montague, left a son and two daughters. The son must have died soon after his father for there is no mention of him in official documents. His daughter, Catherine, married Francis, Lord Hastings, later Earl of Huntingdon, and her sister, Winifred, married a bother of Catherines husband. The girls were restored to full honours and property at the accession of Queen Mary. Reginald prospered in the Church and became a chief adviser to Mary. In one of those strange coincidences of history, on 17th November 1558, at 7 oclock in the morning, Queen Mary passed away. On the same day at 7 oclock in the evening Cardinal Reginald Pole died. That tortured soul, Geoffrey, had travelled to Rome when he left England and thrown himself at the feet of his brother, the Cardinal. He proclaimed himself unworthy to be considered his brother as he had caused another brothers death. Reginald obtained his absolution from the Pope and sent him to the Bishop of Liege in Flanders. There he stayed until the accession of Mary. He then returned to England and died a few days before Reginald and was buried at Stoughton. His widow, Constance, died in 1570 and was buried beside him. Geoffrey left five sons and six daughters of whom two married and one daughter became a nun.

Queen Mary killed for religion; her sister, Elizabeth, killed because of political need; but their father committed judicial murder for revenge, pride and in the name of tyranny. Henry died in 1547 having sent so many innocent men and women to their deaths. There was no sadder victim of his vengeful character than that of Margaret Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury.

NOTE:

Many years ago in my youth, I attended a school in the village of Warblington, on the Hampshire coast between Portsmouth and Chichester. One of the sports in which the school excelled was cross-country running. The usual route was out the school gate, down the road, across the A27, down a potholes country lane, through a field and down, on to the shoreline. In this field stood a crumbling, almost gothic tower of brick and stone. It was surrounded by a few fallen walls and debris all over run with brambles and weeds. The lower entrance to the tower was block and a notice stated Danger Keep Out.

Even at that tender age I was fascinated by historical mysteries and I began to dig. I wanted to know who had built this strange, haunted folly known locally as Warblington Castle. The eventually result was a piece I wrote several years ago for a US history heritage website.

About the Author:

CaptureI am Alan Freer and live in the small village of Byfleet, Surrey, England. Edward, the Black Prince, spent much of his final years in Byfleet. I have been an amateur historian since the age of seven, when I purchased my first history book in 1955. Indeed, it was anticipated that I would become a history teacher, but a brief conversation just before I was due to go to university directed me to the banking industry more lucrative but, perhaps, not so satisfying! History lead me into genealogy and I have my own website detailing the Descendents of William the Conqueror (www.william1.co.uk ). A never-ending project! When I retired from the bank in 1999 I started to write and have had a number of articles published in US history magazines or on magazine websites. Primarily I wrote for the amusement of my colleagues in my second occupation as a civil servant. I count myself most fortunate to have been born in England and would not wish it otherwise except, possibly, Italy!!

Arthur: The Man Who Would Be King

Arthur- The Man Who Would Be King

Parents of Arthur

When we examine the date of marriage for Henry and Elizabeth of York, along with the birth of their first child, it’s evident that Arthur was either premature one month, or Henry and Elizabeth consummated their relationship prior to marriage. While looking through my own family history I have discovered how common it was for the wife to be pregnant prior to marriage but not to announce the pregnancy until some time after the marriage. Let’s be honest, it was 1486, a premature birth was very dangerous, and could explain Arthur’s poor health throughout his life.

It was common for royals to marry for political reasons and not for love. Such was the case with the king and queen, however, they grew to sharea great affection for one another and became great friends. There is no evidence of Henry taking any mistresses, and that alone speaks volumes.

Prince of Wales

Arthur was the pride of his parents, and of England. How fortunate for their first child to be a prince, and heir to the throne. King Henry had a fascination with the legendary King Arthur of Camelot and even believed he had a genealogical connection with him — the reason he named his first son Arthur. Henry, so confident that his wife was pregnant with his heir, sent her to Winchester to give birth. At the time it was believed that Winchester was built on the ancient ruins of Camelot. Winchester was where Elizabeth was to give birth to their son, and heir.John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby (step-father to Henry VII), William FitzAlan, 16th Earl of Arundel, Queen Elizabeth Woodville (mother of the Queen) and Cecily of York (sister to the Queen) served as godparents to the prince.

Betrothal

By the age of three there were discussions on who Arthur should wed. The decision was a political one. It wasn’t until the Prince of Wales was eleven that he was betrothed to the Infanta, Katherine of Aragon. Katherine was the daughter of the powerful Catholic monarchs, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. The betrothal was aneffort to forge an alliance with Spain against France.

Michel_Sittow_002
Katherine of Aragon

When Perkin Warbeck came into the picture, it hindered the alliance because of the uncertainty surrounding the throne of England. If Warbeck was indeed the son of Edward IV, then the right to the throne of England was his for the taking. Warbeck wrote a letter to Isabella I of Castile to convince her of his lineage, but he was not convincing enough — she did not believe him. It wasn’t until Henry VII had Warbeck executed that plans for the wedding progressed. Young Katherine of Aragon could finally leave Spain and sail to England to prepare for her wedding.

The wedding came to fruition on14 November 1501, when Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Katherine of Aragon were wed at Old St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Following the wedding the happy couple were sent to live at Ludlow Castle where Arthur was to perform his duties as Prince of Wales. However, after only five months of marriage, on2 April 1502, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, died of an unknown illness. Arthur would never be king.

Death of the Future King

The heir of England was now dead and his parents and the kingdom were devastated. Henry and Elizabeth took the death of their son gravely. An account of what happened:

“When his Grace [Henry VII] understood that sorrowful heavy tydings, he sent for the Queene [Elizabeth of York], saying that he and his Queene would take the painful sorrows together. After that she was come and saw the Kyng her Lord, and that naturall and paineful sorrowe, as I have heard saye, she with full great and constant comfortable words besought his Grace that he would first after God remember the weale of his own noble person, the comfort of his realme and of her. She then saied that my Lady his mother had never no more children but him only, and that God by his Grace had ever preserved him, and brought him where he was. Over that, howe that God had left him yet a fayre Prince, two fayre Princesses and that God is where he was, and we are both young ynoughe.”

“.Then his Grace of true gentle and faithful love, in good hast came and relieved her, and showed her howe wise counsell she had given him before, and he for his parte would thanke God for his sonn, and would she should doe in like wise.”

“With great funeral obsequies he was buried in the cathedral church of Worcester. After his death the name of prince belonged to his brother the duke of York, since his brother died without his issue, and so without being thus created he ought to be called, unless some apparent cause was a let or obstacle to it. But the duke, suspecting that his brothers wife was with child, as was thought possible by the expert and wise men of the princes council, was by a month or more delayed from his title, name and pre-eminence, in which time the truth might easily appear to women.”

We often consider the ‘what-ifs’ had Arthur lived, had he and Katherine of Aragon had children and built their own dynasty. While that’s completely normal and human of us to do, I cannot imagine a world now without the stories of his infamous brother and his many wives. I fear the Tudor Dynasty would not have the attraction of the masses it does now.

Statement Source:

Hanson, Marilee. “The Death Of Prince Arthur, Prince Of Wales, 1502” http://englishhistory.net/tudor/the-death-of-prince-arthur/, February 9, 2015

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The Tower of London – the Most Haunted Castle in England

The Tower of London could be called the most haunted place in London as it has seen hundred of executions. Some justified, some not.

Many of the prisoners who entered the Tower only left to go to their execution. Most executions were public events and were well attended. Seems a little morbid now. Traitors could expect to be hung, drawn and quartered – the most inhumane of executions – the prisoner was hung and cut down still alive, their heart and entrails removed and burnt – then their body was divided into four parts and displayed publicly to warn others of what happens when you commit treason.

Yet, when we think of the Tower and executions, the most well-known execution is by beheading…with an axe. This was generally reserved for more important and distinguished prisoners. It was considered a more merciful death.

Public executions took place on Tower Hill, however more important figures like Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Jane Grey were executed within the Tower in a more private execution. This was done to avoid public attention and outcries for mercy.

 

The following people were imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed (or vanished):

George Plantagenet
George Plantagenet
702px-King_Edward_V_from_NPG
Edward V
Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick
Edward Plantagenet
Perkin Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck
1 Hans Eworth (Dutch artist, c.1525-a 1578) An Unknown Lady, called Anne Ayscough or Askew, Mrs Thomas Kyme (1521-1546) National Trust Collections Tatton Park, Cheshire 1560
Anne Askew
Thomas More
Thomas More
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Jane Boleyn
Jane Boleyn
Katherine Howard
Katherine Howard
Thomas Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell
Jane Grey
Jane Grey
Margaret Pole
Margaret Pole

George, Duke of Clarence – Arrested for plotting against his brother Edward IV, he was found guilty of treason and executed in secret at Bowyer Tower in 1477. Rumors spread that he had been drown in a butt of malmsey.

Edward V – Son of Edward IV, only 12 years old when he was brought to the Tower for his coronation. His uncle, Duke of Gloucester declared he and his brother illegitimate and crowned himself Richard III. The young princes vanished at the Tower and were never seen alive again. Last seen at the Bloody Tower.

Richard, Duke of York- Brother to Edward V, one of the Princes in the Tower. Vanished from the Tower along with his brother, never to be seen again.

The story of the little princes is still to this day a heartbreaking story that brings tears to ones eyes. They are “among the most poignant ghosts” in the Tower. Their disappearance in 1483 is very suspicious of wrong doing, but by whom? The ghost of the twelve-year-old, King Edward V, and his nine-year old brother, Richard, Duke of York, can been seen in the Bloody Tower, they are still wearing the white night shirts they had on the night they disappeared. They stand silently, hand in hand, before fading back into the stones of the Bloody Tower. – Source

Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick -On 28 November 1499, Edward Plantagenet, earl of Warwick, was executed by beheading on Tower Hill for treason. The son of George, Duke of Clarence, and the nephew of both Edward IV and Richard III.

Perkin Warbeck -On November 23rd, 1499, Perkin Warbeck was drawn on a hurdle from the Tower to Tyburn to be hanged.He died, not for his imitation of a Yorkist prince, but because of a plot to overthrow Henry VII. A plot which also cost the life of the last Plantagenet, Edward, Earl of Warwick.

Anne Askew – Persecuted for her religious beliefs under Henry VIII’s rule, Anne was sent to the Tower and tortured on the rack. Women had never been racked before Anne. She refused to give up her faith and was burned at the stake at Cradle Tower as a heretic.

Thomas More– Refused to accept his friend, Henry VIII as the head of the Church of England.He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, but the King commuted his sentence to execution by beheading. The execution took place on 6 July 1535. When he came to the scaffold, he is widely quoted as 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.”

Anne Boleyn -The second wife of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn was arrested and accused of adultery and incest by a king anxious to remarry and produce an heir. On 19 May 1536 she was beheaded by sword within the walls of the Tower.

The most persistent ghost in the Tower of London is the ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn, and rightly so. Witnesses describe a female figure identified only by her dress. Queen Anne appears near the Queen’s House, close to the site where her execution was carried out. She can be seen leading a ghostly procession of Lords and Ladies down the aisle of the Chapel Royal of St. Peter and Vincula. She floats down the aisle to her final resting place. Queen Anne is buried under the Chapel’s altar. Her headless body has also been seen walking the corridors of the Tower.Source

George Boleyn -the brother of Queen Anne Boleyn who had been executed on the trumped-up charge of incest with his sister.

Jane Boleyn – Wife of George Boleyn, the brother of Queen Anne Boleyn. Her marriage to George Boleyn was an arranged and a very unhappy one. She was instrumental in the arrest of her sister-in-law, Anne and her husband George. Jane provided damning evidence against them to Thomas Cromwell. She later became a Lady of the Privy Chamber to Katherine Howard. Jane Rochford encouraged the young queen in her affair with Thomas Culpeper with whom she helped organize secret meetings. Her part as a go-between was discovered and Jane Rochford was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. She was interrogated and lost her sanity. A new law which allowed the execution of the insane was passed in order to have her condemned to death. She confessed before her death, “God has permitted me to suffer this shameful doom as punishment for having contributed to my husband’s death. I falsely accused him of loving in an incestuous manner, his sister, Queen Anne Boleyn. For this I deserve to die.” She was executed immediately after Katherine Howard.

Katherine Howard – The fifth wife of King Henry VIII and the cousin of Anne Boleyn. Katherine was arrested at Hampton Court for adultery and tried in vain to reach the King. She was dragged screaming back to her apartments. Her lovers were executed and she passed their gruesome, impaled heads on London Bridge on her way to Traitor’s gate, the entry to the Tower of London. Katherine asked William Kingston for a block so that she could practice her execution. Legend has it that herlast words were: “I die a queen, but would rather die the wife of Culpeper.”

Katherine Howard escaped from her room in the Tower. “She ran down the hallway screaming for help and mercy. She was caught and returned to her room.” The next day she was beheaded. Her ghost has been seen sill running down the hallway screaming for help.Source

Thomas Cromwell -Cromwell was arrested on 10 June 1540 and imprisoned in the Tower. He was imprisoned for not pleasing the king – to be so blunt.The king deferred the execution until his marriage to Anne of Cleves could be annulled. Hoping for clemency, Cromwell wrote in support of the annulment, in his last personal address to the King.He ended it with the plea “Most gracious Prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy.” Mercy did not come andCromwell was condemned to death without trial and beheaded on Tower Hill on 28 July 1540, the day of the King’s marriage to Catherine Howard.

Jane Grey -Queen for just nine days, Lady Jane Grey was found guilty of high treason and sent to the Tower. On 12 February 1554 she watched her husband go to his death before she too was beheaded on Tower Green, aged 16.

Lady Jane watched as her husband was taken to Tower Hill where he was beheaded. She saw his body being carried back to the chapel, after which she was taken to Tower Green where she was beheaded. Lady Jane Grey’s ghost was last seen by two Guardsmen on February 12, 1957, the 403rd anniversary of her execution. She was described as a “white shape forming itself on the battlements”. Her husband, Guildford Dudley, has been seen in Beauchamp Tower weeping.Source

Margaret Pole -The Countess of Salisbury was the last direct descendant of the Plantagenet line – her father was George, Duke of Clarence who was drowned for treason in 1477 and her brother Edward, Earl of Warwick was beheaded in 1499. She was arrested two years before her execution and treated poorly – neglected as a prisoner in the Tower of London. She was not given a trial. She was small, frail and ill. But she was a proud noble. She was dragged to the block, but refused to lay her head on the block. She was forced down and struggled. The inexperienced executioner made a gash in her shoulder rather than her neck. She leapt from the block and was chased by the executioner, with his axe. She was struck eleven times before she died. There were 150 witnesses to her execution. She was the oldest woman executed at 68 years of age.

The most grisly execution and thus haunting is that of the old Countess of Salisbury, the last of the Plantagenets. Her ghost has been seen reliving this truly gruesome act. Also the shadow of a great axe has been seen falling across the scene of her murder.Source

Other notable executions:

  • John Fisher Bishop of Rochester (1534)
  • Implicated with Anne Boleyn (1536)
    • Mark Smeaton
    • Sir Henry Norris
    • Sir Francis Weston
    • William Brereton
  • Implicated with Catherine Howard (1542)
    • Thomas Culpepper
    • Henry Mannox
    • Francis Dereham
  • Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1546)
  • Thomas, Duke of Norfolk (1546)
  • Thomas Seymour, High Admiral of England (1549)
  • Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector (1552)
  • Guildford Dudley – husband of Lady Jane Grey (1554)

Katherine of Aragon: Princess of Wales

Infanta Katherine of Aragon
Birth: 15/16 December 1485, Palace of Bishop of Toledo
Parents: Ferdinand II of Aragon & Isabella l of Castile

Katherine of Aragon was named after her great-grandmother, Katherine of Lancaster – daughter of John of Gaunt and his second wife, Infanta Constance of Castile.

Henry VII also descended from John of Gaunt and his third wife.

John of Gaunt was son of Edward III. Technically speaking, Katherine of Aragon had a stronger claim to the throne of England than her future father in law, Henry VII.

Katherine of Lancaster
Katherine of Lancaster
constance of castile
Constance of Castile
John of Gaunt - son of Richard lll
John of Gaunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

During her upbringing Katherine was well educated. She was an avid reader and was trained in needlework, dancing, lacemaking and embroidery in the black-work style. This style of embroidery was made popular by Katherine in England.

example of blackword embroidery
Black-work style embroidery

Katherine loved and respected her mother Isabella. She grew up to be much like her – in looks and character. Isabella was able to turn a blind-eye to Ferdinand’s many infidelities, as did her daughter years later with her second husband, Henry VIII. Like her mother, Katherine also had a great sense for fashion.

Isabella l of Castile - attributed to Gerard David
Isabella l of Castile – attributed to Gerard David
Katherine - By Miguel Sittow - around age 15
Katherine – By Miguel Sittow – around age 15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henry VII, to stabilize his reign and cement himself as king of England, needed an alliance with a powerhouse…Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. Henry VII had issue with France as did the Spanish monarchs. An alliance would benefit both.

The wedding portrait of Ferdinand and Isabella, c. 1469
The wedding portrait of Ferdinand and Isabella, c. 1469

The instability of the recent kings of England’s reigns (Henry VII, Edward IV, Edward V & Richard III)made Ferdinand and Isabella reluctant to align themselves with Henry VII. With that being said, assistance against France (from England) was more important to Ferdinand than his own daughter’s future security.



Henry Vl
Henry VI
Edward_IV_Plantagenet
Edward IV

 

 

 

 

 

Edward V
Edward V
o-RICHARD-III-SKELETON-facebook
Richard III

 

 

 

 

 

In December 1487 Queen Elizabeth of York wrote to Isabella I of Castile asking her to be kept informed of the health and safety of Katherine – ‘whom we think of and esteem as our own daughter.’

On 27 March 1489 the Treaty of Medina del Campos was signed by the Spanish sovereigns. This treaty included a marriage contract between the Infanta Katherine of Aragon, and Arthur, Prince of Wales, with a dowry of 200,000 crowns. Today that would convert to 5M or $7.7M. Henry’s ratification to the treaty came in September 1490 by the Treaty of Woking when then the agreement was finally signed by the king.



The english subjects were very excited to see the girl who would one day be Arthur’s queen, however, her father was in no rush to move forward. The newest pretender, Perkin Warbeck, had emerged and threatened the throne along with the continuing existence of Edward, Earl of Warwick – who had a stronger claim to the throne than Henry VII. The Earl of Warwick’s uncle was Edward IV.

400px-Perkin_Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck – The Pretender
Edward, Earl of Warwick
Edward, Earl of Warwick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By 1499 the threat of Perkin Warbeck had subdued and a by proxy marriage for Arthur and Katherine had taken place of 19 May 1499 at Arthur’s manor house in Bewdley. At this point the only thing that was stopping the Spanish sovereigns from sending their daughter to England was the threat of the Earl of Warwick – last heir of York. Ferdinand insisted he would not send his daughter unless Edward, Earl of Warwick was eliminated. What a predicament, Edward was first cousin to the Queen, and she adored him – felt responsible for his well-being. Imagine having to tell her that the future of the Tudor dynasty was with the death of her beloved cousin.

Edward, Earl of Warwick was arraigned for conspiring with Perkin Warbeck. The simple-minded youth, whom had spent most of his life in the Tower of London alone, became confused and pleaded guilty to the charges against him. He was sentenced to death and beheaded in November 1499 on Tower Hill. His only guilt was being the son of George, Duke of Clarence (brother to Edward IV) and Isabel Neville.

Katherine of Aragon always felt responsible for the death of the young Earl of Warwick. I often wonder if Elizabeth of York held it against her daughter in law, or if she understood what had to be done for her son and the Tudor line.



Now that the Earl of Warwick was dead there was nothing stopping Katherine of Aragon’s wedding to Arthur, Prince of Wales. In 1500, with all threats to the English throne eliminated, Ferdinand and Isabella began preparationsto send their daughter to England for her wedding – Katherine was now 15 years old. (see portrait above)

In April 1501 Isabella announced that she was ready to send her daughter to England. On 21 May Katherine left the Alhambra in Granada for the port of Corunna. From there she would sail to England. She arrived in Corunna 20 July 1501 but could not embark due to winds until 17 August. The weather was so unfavorable that they were forced to return to Spain and dock in Laredo. On 27 September the weather calmed and Katherine was again on her way to England to meet her groom. In five days she arrived at Devon in Plymouth.

Katherine of Aragon
Katherine of Aragon

Reference: The Six Wives of Henry Vlll by Alison Weir