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Richard I, King of England
Richard I, born at Oxford, 6 Sept, 1157 died at Chaluz, France, 6 April, 1199 was known to the minstrels of a later age, rather than to his contemporaries, as "Coeur-de-Lion". He was only the second son of Henry II, but it was part of his father's policy, holding, as he did, continental dominions of great extent and little mutual cohesion, to assign them to his children during his own lifetime and even to have his sons brought up among the people they were destined to govern. To Richard were allotted the territories in the South of France belonging to his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine, and before he was sixteen he was inducted as Duke of that province. It was a weak point in the old King's management of his sons, that, while dazzling them with brilliant prospects, he invested them with very little of the substance of power. In 1173 the young Henry, who, following a German usage, had already been crowned king in the lifetime of his father, broke out into open revolt, being instigated thereto by his father-in-law, Louis VII, King of France. Under the influence of their mother Eleanor, who bitterly resented her husband's infidelities, Geoffrey and Richard in 1173 also threw in their lot with the rebel and took up arms against their father. Allies gathered round them and the situation grew so threatening, that Henry II thought it well to propitiate heaven by doing penance at the tomb of the martyred Archbishop St. Thomas (11 July, 1174). By a remarkable coincidence, on the very next day, a victory in Northumberland over William, King of Scotland, disposed of Henry's most formidable opponent. Returning with a large force to France, the King swept all before him, and though Richard for a while held out alone he was compelled by 21 Sept. to sue for forgiveness at his father's feet.
The King dealt leniently with his rebellious children, but this first outbreak was only the harbinger of an almost uninterrupted series of disloyal intrigues, fomented by Louis VII and by his son and successor, Philip Augustus, in which Richard, who lived almost entirely in Guienne and Poitou, was engaged down to the time of his father's death. He acquired for himself a great and deserved reputation for knightly prowess, and he was often concerned in chivalrous exploits, showing much energy in particular in protecting the pilgrims who passed through his own and adjacent territories on their way to the shrine of St. James of Compostella. His elder brother Henry grew jealous of him and insisted that Richard should do him homage. On the latter's resistance war broke out between the brothers. Bertrand de Born, Count of Hautefort, who was Richard's rival in minstrelsy as well as in feats of arms, lent such powerful support to the younger Henry, that the old King had to intervene on Richard's side. The death of the younger Henry, 11 June, 1183, once more restored peace and made Richard heir to the throne. But other quarrels followed between Richard and his father, and it was in the heat of the most desperate of these, in which the astuteness of Philip Augustus had contrived to implicate Henry's favourite son John, that the old King died broken-hearted, 6 July, 1189. Despite the constant hostilities of the last few years, Richard secured the succession without difficulty. He came quickly to England and was crowned at Westminster on 3 Sept. But his object in visiting his native land was less to provide for the government of the kingdom than to collect resources for the projected Crusade which now appealed to the strongest, if not the best, instincts of his adventurous nature, and by the success of which he hoped to startle the world. Already, towards the end of 1187, when the news had reached him of Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem, Richard had taken the cross. Philip Augustus and Henry II had subsequently followed his example, but the quarrels which had supervened had so far prevented the realization of this pious design. Now that he was more free the young King seems to have been conscientiously in earnest in putting the recovery of the Holy Land before everything else. Though the expedients by which he set to work to gather every penny of ready money upon which he could lay hands were alike unscrupulous and impolitic, there is something which commands respect in the energy which he threw into the task. He sold sheriffdoms, justiceships, church lands, and appointments of all kinds, both lay and secular, practically to the highest bidder. He was not ungenerous in providing for his brothers John and Geoffrey, and he showed a certain prudence in exacting a promise from them to remain out of England for three years, in order to leave a free hand to the new Chancellor William of Longehamp, who was to govern England in his absence. Unfortunately he took with him many of the men, e.g. Archbishop Baldwin, Hubert Walter, and Ranulf Glanvill, whose statesmanship and experience would have been most useful in governing England and left behind many restless spirits like John himself and Longehamp, whose energy might have been serviceable against the infidel.
Already on 11 Dec., 1189, Richard was ready to cross to Calais. He met Philip Augustus, who was also to start on the Crusade, and the two Kings swore to defend each other's dominions as they would their own. The story of the Third Crusade has already been told in some detail (see CRUSADES). It was September, 1190, before Richard reached Marseilles he pushed on to Messina and waited for the spring. There miserable quarrels occurred with Philip, whose sister he now refused to marry, and this trouble was complicated by an interference in the affairs of Sicily, which the Emperor Henry VI watched with a jealous eye, and which later on was to cost Richard dear. Setting sail in March, he was driven to Cyprus, where he quarrelled with Isaac Comnenus, seized the island, and married Berengaria of Navarre. He at last reached Acre in June and after prodigies of valour captured it. Philip then returned to France but Richard made two desperate efforts to reach Jerusalem, the first of which might have succeeded had he known the panic and weakness of the foe. Saladin was a worthy opponent, but terrible acts of cruelty as well as of chivalry took place, notably when Richard slew his Saracen prisoners in a fit of passion. In July, 1192, further effort seemed hopeless, and the King of England's presence was badly needed at home to secure his own dominions from the treacherous intrigues of John. Hastening back Richard was wrecked in the Adriatic, and falling eventually into the hands of Leopold of Austria, he was sold to the Emperor Henry VI, who kept him prisoner for over a year and extorted a portentous ransom which England was racked to pay. Recent investigation has shown that the motives of Henry's conduct were less vindictive than political. Richard was induced to surrender England to the Emperor (as John a few years later was to make over England to the Holy See), and then Henry conferred the kingdom upon his captive as a fief at the Diet of Mainz, in Feb., 1194 (see Bloch, "Forschungen", Appendix IV). Despite the intrigues of King Philip and John, Richard had loyal friends in England. Hubert Walter had now reached home and worked energetically with the Justices to raise the ransom, while Eleanor the Queen Mother obtained from the Holy See an excommunication against his captors. England responded nobly to the appeal for money and Richard reached home in March, 1194.
Photo, Print, Drawing [Tomb of Bishop Richard Allen (1780-1831), founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]
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From Duke to King Richard
In the early 1180s, Richard faced baronial revolts in his own lands. He displayed considerable military skill and earned a reputation for courage (the quality that led to his nickname of Richard the Lionheart), but he dealt so harshly with the rebels that they called on his brothers to help drive him from Aquitaine. Now his father interceded on his behalf, fearing the fragmentation of the empire he had built (the "Angevin" Empire, after Henry's lands of Anjou). However, no sooner had King Henry gathered his continental armies together than the younger Henry unexpectedly died, and the rebellion crumpled.
As the oldest surviving son, Richard the Lionheart was now heir to England, Normandy, and Anjou. In light of his extensive holdings, his father wanted him to cede Aquitaine to his brother John, who had never had any territory to govern and was known as "Lackland." But Richard had a deep attachment to the duchy. Rather than give it up, he turned to the king of France, Louis's son Philip II, with whom Richard had developed a firm political and personal friendship. In November of 1188 Richard paid homage to Philip for all his holdings in France, then joined forces with him to drive his father into submission. They forced Henry—who had indicated a willingness to name John his heir—to acknowledge Richard as heir to the English throne before he died in July 1189.
English Historical Fiction Authors
Unfortunately for many in the realm, Rich was long-lived, spreading his venom throughout the reigns of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI and Queen Mary I, amazingly remaining unscathed. With the varying political and religious agendas of these monarchs, ranging from staunch Roman Catholicism to near Calvinist Protestantism and everything in between, just how did he pull this off? Well let us count the ways through this admittedly incomplete list.
Ten Dastardly Deeds of Sir Richard Rich
|Saint John Fisher|
In Thomas More's case, Rich flat out lied to the same. Thomas More reportedly told him at trial, "In faith, Mr. Rich, I am sorrier for your perjury than for my own peril, and you shall understand that neither I, nor no man else to my knowledge, ever took you to be a man of such credit as in any matter of importance I or any other would at any time vouchsafe to communicate with you."
Though the source of the quote is actually from More's son-in-law William Roper, truer words were never spoken. Both Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More were executed by decapitation for high treason based on Rich's dubious testimony.
|Ruins of Holywell Priory, Middlesex|
2. In 1536, along with his other titles, Sir Richard Rich was appointed Chancellor of the newly created Court of Augmentations. In this role, he worked in partnership with the Vice-gerant and King's Principal Secretary Thomas Cromwell to dissolve all abbeys, monasteries and nunneries in England and Wales, displacing thousands and completely upending a way of life going back centuries.
What did Sir Richard Rich have to gain by this? Well, he acquired wealth and territories, of course. At bargain basement prices, he procured the monastery at St. Bartholomew, the priory of Leez, the manors of Lighes Parva, Magna Lighes, Folsetd and Fyfield in Essex. Not satisfied, he added to his land gains by procuring the nunnery of St. Bride at Syon, several manors in Essex once belonging to Christ Church, Canterbury and several more manors once owned by St. Osth's at Chic and the Holywell Priory, Middlesex.
Our Baron Rich of Leez was on his way.
|Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex |
(Hans Holbein the Younger)
Thomas Cromwell made his opinions of Rich known to King Henry VIII in a letter after his arrest. From prison he wrote, "What master chancellor has been to me, God and he knows best what I have been to him your Majesty knows."
The Baron of Leez was "off the hook" for perjuring himself in court this time, though. Cromwell was condemned on attainder, thus Rich's lies were solely to Parliament, the Privy Council and the King.
4. Sir Richard Rich was an incredibly resourceful villain. As King Henry VIII's religious views swayed from evangelical to conservative and back again, Rich went along for the ride, playing the role of henchman brilliantly. In July 1540, on the heels of Cromwell's execution, three men were burned at the stake, declared heretics for preaching doctrines opposed to King Henry's Six Articles of Faith.
On the same day -- that's right, the same day -- three more men were hanged, drawn and quartered for denying the Royal Supremacy. Think about that for a minute. Three Evangelicals and three Roman Catholics were put to death at the hands of Sir Richard Rich on the same day. Was there anyone more expert in riding the waves of King Henry VIII's ever changing religious doctrine? I think not.
|Perhaps Queen Catherine Howard |
(Hans Holbein the Younger)
If you are shaking your head disbelievingly, I don't blame you.
6. In 1546, the Baron of Leez was a busy guy. Along with Lord Chancellor Thomas Wriothesley and Bishop Stephen Gardiner, Rich engaged in a witch hunt, working to discredit and upend minor evangelicals in the hopes of snagging the major players, most notably Katherine Parr, Queen of England Catherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk and Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury.
|Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton |
(Hans Holbein the Younger)
With arms, legs, elbows and knees dislocated from the rack, Anne Askew was burned at the stake on July 16, 1546.
|William Paulet, |
1st Marquess of Winchester
Things did not work out quite as planned. William Paulet was appointed in Wriothesley's place. No problem -- Baron Rich of Leez quickly convinced Lord Protector Edward Seymour and the Privy Council of Paulet's "incompetence", securing the Lord Chancellorship for himself.
8. Throughout the reign of King Edward VI, Lord Chancellor Rich was a "staunch Protestant". Thus, along with Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, he insured the destruction of all "images and idols" in the realm's churches. Throughout the realm great roods and stained glass were destroyed. All church and abbey walls were white washed, covering priceless works of art replaced with the Ten Commandments -- in English, of course.
|Stephen Gardiner |
Bishop of Winchester
Sir Richard Rich dutifully delivered a letter to the King's Roman Catholic sister from Edward VI himself commanding her to cease and desist. The Lady Mary's response? She commanded that Rich keep his lecturing short. Her celebration of the Eucharist continued.
|Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk |
(Hans Holbein the Younger)
Why? Like those in modern times who carelessly hit the "send button" before insuring they are emailing or private messaging the correct person, a befriending letter of manipulative warning intended to be sent to the imprisoned Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset was delivered instead to the also imprisoned Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk.
I suppose addressing the wax sealed parchment "The Duke" was not quite specific enough for a missive sent to the Tower of London. After all, throughout Tudor history, there always seemed to be a few Dukes, Earls or Barons in the pokey.
What a great opportunity for Norfolk to gain potential release! Though ultimately unsuccessful (for now), the Duke sent the missive along to John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. Rich's days as Lord Chancellor were over.
Phew! Finally we are done with him. Or are we?
10. Upon the death of King Edward VI in 1553, both Mary Tudor and Elizabeth Tudor were usurped in favor of the King's cousin, Jane Dudley. Sir Richard Rich was solicited for support of the new queen. Knowing this was his chance to regain power within the realm, the Baron of Leez did what he is now infamous for. Rich flipped his support to whom he gauged would ultimately reign and proclaimed his loyalty to the woman he previously persecuted, Mary Tudor.
|Queen Mary Tudor |
(Hans Holbein the Younger)
What was Sir Richard Rich's most noteworthy service to the realm in Queen Mary's reign? This should come as no surprise. Baron Rich, loyal subject that he was, became one of Queen Mary's most active persecutors, orchestrating the arrest and execution by burning of all convicted Protestant "heretics" in his home county of Essex.
Perhaps to make amends for his previous work as Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations, the Baron of Leez worked towards the large and unfinished task of restoring the monasteries. He granted the Queen what remained of the monastery at St. Bartholomew, where she established Black Friars.
|Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich of Leez |
Felsted Church, Essex
Author Unidentified, Chapter X: Sir Richard Rich, British History Online
Author Unidentified, Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich, Luminarium Encyclopedia Project, England Under the Tudors. The article notes that it was excerpted from the following: 1. Pollard, A. F. "Richard Rich, first Baron Rich." 2. Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. XVI. Sidney Lee, ed. and 3. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1909. 1009-1012.
Jaffee History Trail
The Chicago History Museum is excited to embark on a multifaceted park beautification project including renovations to our plaza and construction of the Richard M. and Shirley H. Jaffee History Trail. With a ground breaking in March 2021, the History Trail, an interpretive path through the park space around the Museum, will incorporate features such as a fire relic from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the Couch Tomb, a reminder that the area once housed a Chicago city cemetery.
Each stop on the Jaffee History Trail will explore aspects of Chicago’s personality, highlighting the city’s resilience, innovation, and complexity. Additional elements will include a native species garden where students can identify native plants and trace plant shapes etched into the garden’s boulders, a collection of community-designed kinetic sculptures, and an open pedestal where visitors can consider what leadership means and for what they stand. The new landscaping plan includes approximately 150 new trees and large beds of native plants, which will attract birds and other pollinators.
This project will also include renovation to our underground storage facility which sits directly below the plaza. The storage facility houses the Museum’s 23,000 linear feet of archives and manuscripts. Renovations will upgrade the structural integrity of the space and modernize the interior.
Anticipated Project Timeline
- March 2021 | Construction Begins! Perimeter fencing will be one of the first noticeable elements neighbors will see
- March—April 2021 | Tree and plaza removal will be underway. Learn moreabout the trees selected for removal, trees that will be added to the space, and what species will be included in our native plant garden
- Summer 2021 | Work will continue through the summer
- Fall 2021 | Most of the outdoor work will be completed, normal activity on the renovated grounds and plaza should resume by September 2021
This page will be updated as information becomes available.
We have coordinated with experts on the black crowned night herons and have scheduled the most potentially disruptive work to occur prior to nesting season.
Yes! We have been working on this project with the Chicago Park District and several community partners and are looking forward to making the park a more beautiful, educational, and welcoming space for all to enjoy.
We’re working with an archaeologist who specializes in urban cemeteries to monitor deep digging on the portion of the grounds that have not previously been significantly disturbed.
The Research Center remains open, and published material, prints, and photographs are still available. Archives, manuscripts, and maps, with the exception of some small collections, will not available to researchers through early 2022 (estimated timeframe). If you have specific questions, please email [email protected] .
We are grateful for the support Ald. Michele Smith and Sheila Pacione, Director of Constituent Services and Infrastructure, and our supportive community partners who have provided guidance and letters of support for this important project:
- Amy Lemar, Wintrust Old Town
- Dorothy DeCarlo, Old Town Triangle Association
- Ellen Isaacson, Lincoln Park Advisory Council
- Kim Schilf, Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce
- Kevin Bell, Lincoln Park Zoo
- Michael Pitts, Moody Bible Church
- Randall Dunn, Latin School of Chicago
The Chicago History Museum gratefully acknowledges the generosity of the following donors to capital improvements in 2021:
Research Collection Facility
- The Abakanowicz Arts and Culture Charitable Foundation
- Bon & Holly French
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources
- Robert R. McCormick Foundation
Richard M. and Shirley H. Jaffee History Trail
Trailblazers (lead gifts of $100,000 and above):
- BMO Harris Bank, N.A.
- Bon & Holly French
- David W. Grainger
- The Guild of the Chicago History Museum
- The Jaffee Family
- Oil-Dri Corporation of America
- Larry & Mary Selander
- Allan H. & Suzanne Selig
- The Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation
In the Media
Please direct all media inquiries to [email protected] .
Interested in contributing?
Fundraising for the Richard M. and Shirley H. Jaffee History Trail is still underway! Donate today to help bring this community project to life.
Richard III reinterment in Leicester: 'I'm sick to death of the humiliation that is being heaped upon this anointed king'
Some 527 years after Richard III was put in his grave at the end of a bitter battle in the English Midlands, the discovery of his remains underneath a Leicester car park and their removal started a new, bitter conflict drenched in the sectarian rhetoric of old.
On one side, the city of Leicester's institutions: its university, city council and cathedral. On the other, a loyal band of Yorkists, the Ricardians who will not let half a millennia of history stand in the way of what they say was Richard III's wish – and right – to be buried in the ancient city of York.
Echoes of the War of the Roses were heard again as these latter day Yorkists fought to have their last king reburied in the city from which he hailed, in a special tomb at the magnificent gothic cathedral, York Minster. But no longer were they battling the Lancastrians. It was the Leicesterians instead. Like Richard III, they lost. He will be buried once again in Leicester.
Lisa Ward, a Yorkist campaigner who runs the Petition to bring Richard III back to Yorkshire Facebook page, tells IBTimes UK:
I look at it like this, Richard's interment in Leicester is only temporary.
We can say with absolute certainty that Richard himself never planned or intended to be buried in Leicester, and I believe that one day documents will turn up providing the truth of his real wishes: burial in York Minster.
When this happens there will be a public campaign to move Richard's remains to their rightful resting place.
The decisive Battle of Bosworth in 1485 as good as ended over three decades of war between two noble houses, those of the white rose, the Plantagenets of York, and those of the red rose, the Tudors of Lancaster.
Richard III, the last Plantagenet king, was killed in battle and hastily buried in the Greyfriars monastery in the centre of Leicester. After the dissolution of the monasteries under the Tudor reign of Henry VIII, Richard III's tomb was lost when the Greyfriars building was destroyed.
The memory of his final resting place was carried through history by a couple of contemporaneous accounts of Bosworth, which gave tantalising clues to its location. All it would take is the unwavering enthusiasm of Ricardian eccentrics and several centuries before these clues to find the old king's old bones were pursued.
After painstaking research by committed Ricardians at the Richard III Society and the Looking for Richard Project, which established that his remains might be underneath a central Leicester car park, and another period of time securing the backing and permission to dig it up, the layers of tarmac came off in 2012 in an excavation led by University of Leicester archaeologists. They found him.
Now Richard's bones will rest again when they are reinterred after nearly three years of analysis by University of Leicester scientists. The Catholic Richard III will be formally laid to rest on 26 March at Leicester Cathedral, an Anglican temple since the original St Martin's Church from which it was built was converted during Henry VIII's reformation, in a special tomb.
Not even the tomb has been immune from criticism. Its deep-etched cross in the stone was accused of being a crass evocation of Richard III's gruesome battlefield wounds - he was poleaxed in the head - though Leicester Cathedral say this is to let in the light and remind people that there is life even after death.
The King Richard III statue stands in the gardens of Leicester Cathedral Reuters
Humiliation of an anointed king
That several hundred years have passed has not quenched the fires of passion among the Yorkists. As a tribute to the discovery of Richard III's bones, a special cake was commissioned depicting the king's original burial site as it was discovered by archaeologists.
That it was commissioned by Oak Furniture Land to mark the opening of a new branch in Leicester added to the fury at Richard's "humiliation". Trivialisation is not befitting an "anointed king", as Yorkists are keen to remind people.
Sue Crane wrote on the Facebook page of one of several petitions to have Richard buried in York:
I'm sick to death of the humiliation that is being heaped upon this anointed king time and time again. It is disgraceful and disrespectful. They should be ashamed of themselves.
Bev Archer, whose post accrued over 20 likes from other users, wrote:
This man was an anointed King of England. This 'event' is a funeral to all intents [and] purposes, a time to express our thoughts and show the respect we feel for someone who was and still is important to many.
A funeral marks the significance and magnitude of the deceased. How we value our dead says a lot about how we value the living. Apparently, according to these crass individuals, it is also a commercial opportunity not to be missed.
I'm beginning to wish he was never found and slumbered still in the car park rather than have the indignities that have been heaped on his poor remains. Loyaulté me lie.
Another bitter user says they "wouldn't consider that parish church a cathedral". One man, Darren Moore, attacks the palace for not intervening:
The Windsors have left themselves wide open to ridicule and uncompromising criticism due to their inaction. Richard III should never be buried in Leicester, it is wrong, wrong, wrong. History shall witness and remember for all days.
If anything they have empowered Richard III all the more, as King Richard III was a good man and king, a brave man and we will never see the likes of him again as head of monarchy.
We are well [past] the stage now whereby people actually swallow the Tudor one lie fits all hand me down falsification. Popularised by extremist Tudor fanaticism that exists to this day and within Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, their counterparts and offcuts.
Archaeologist Mathew Morris points to where he found skeleton remains during an archaeological dig to find the remains of King Richard III in Leicester, central England, September 12, 2012 Reuters
When Richard III's remains were found, the University of Leicester secured the licence from the Ministry of Justice to exhume the body they believed to be his, among other skeletons nearby. That licence was granted after the university said it would quickly and respectfully rebury Richard III at Leicester Cathedral, the nearest church of significance, an agreement that had been present throughout the process to locate and exhume the remains.
And that is what has infuriated the Yorkists. While the diplomatically minded City of York Council and York Minster stayed neutral, insisting they would work closely with Leicester as partners in the Richard III project, there is a profound sense of cultural loss among many people in Yorkshire.
In fact, not just cultural loss – cultural theft. They view the process of deciding where to reinter Richard III as a backroom deal behind closed doors between Leicester's colluding authorities, who looked lustfully at the potential tourism revenue: Richard III was less a king, more a cash cow.
So in 2014, a group called the Plantagenet Alliance – formed of very, very distant relatives of Richard III – mounted a legal bid to overturn the terms of the exhumation licence and force, at the very least, a public consultation on the reburial.
It reached the High Court with a judicial review and argued its familial connections gave it the right to a formal say in where the old king should be reinterred, something it had been denied up until then with the dealings between Leicester authorities, the government and the palace, which was largely indifferent to the whole affair.
The court disagreed that it had any role to play in this dispute and threw out the review. The exhumation licence granted to the University of Leicester was upheld. So it still had the say on where Richard III should be reburied in the city. And it stuck to the original plan: the cathedral.
Vanessa Maria Roe, a York city dweller, member of the Plantagenet Alliance and the 16th great niece of Richard III, no less, tells IBTimes UK:
Obviously we're all very disappointed because we know that's the wrong decision.
It's been a whitewash from start to finish really by the powers that be down there, the Ministry of Justice etc, nobody wants to end up with egg on their face do they, that they've made the wrong decision. It should have been a public consultation, at the end of the day, once they'd found out it was Richard. It's for everyone to have a judgment on really, where he's buried.
Roe said Richard's wishes during his lifetime should also have been taken into account. And some evidence suggests that he would have wanted to be buried in York.
In June 2014, Conservative MP and historian Chris Skidmore uncovered a letter from Richard III just months before his death at Bosworth in which he established a new religious foundation at York and asked for the 100 priests to pray to God on his behalf.
Skidmore argues this shows Richard III planned to be buried at York because other European royals and nobles were doing a similar thing in the 15th century – creating a religious foundation which is later converted into a mausoleum.
"The connection between Richard's establishment of the foundation at York and the salvation of his own soul could hardly be any clearer," Skidmore wrote in the BBC's history magazine.
What's the point?
"For the most part, I'm glad Richard has been found, but then I ask myself: what's the point in finding him to just reinter him in the place synonymous with his death and betrayal?" Lisa Ward says. "If the authorities in Leicester had done the right thing and allowed Richard to return home to Yorkshire, then I think it would've been worth it."
She says once the remains were identified as being those of Richard III, then a public consultation should have taken place on the burial location.
"Richard III is an anointed king of England and a former head of state. The place of his reinterment should have been treated as a national issue. The decision was not Leicester's to make," she says.
Dr Jo Appleby, a lecturer human bioarchaeology at the University of Leicester, worked on the Richard III excavation. She was one of the scientists analysing his bones after they were discovered, helping to formally identify him when John Ashdown-Hill of the Richard III Society traced the living descendants of the dead king's mother so they could use their DNA.
Appleby tells IBTimes UK:
There were clearly going to be some people who were unhappy wherever he ended up. And I'm sorry that they're unhappy. But overall I think that Leicester is an appropriate place for him to be. It's where he's been for a very long time. Leicester has always been very keen on their connection with Richard III and I think it's nice to mark that. So overall I think he'll be at the right place.
It feels really nice actually to see everything coming to a close in such a good way. That we can really give Richard a bit more of the burial he would have wanted and that we get a chance to bring the project to a close in such a satisfying way.
It's very rare. We would never do something like this. So it's great. We've been able to carry out a lot of analysis and we're pleased with that. But now we're finished and it's right that he should be reburied.
Dr Jo Appleby, a lecturer in bioarchaeology at Leicester University, addresses a press conference in front of an image showing the abnormal curvature of the spine of Britain's King Richard III Getty
Throughout the week leading up to Richard III's reinterment in his new tomb on 26 March, there will be events taking place across Leicester. One of those will be a memorial service at Bosworth Field, where he was killed with a poleaxe by a Welsh knight. There will even be a 21 gun salute.
Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society, the lady who led the fight to find the king's body, will be there and taking part. She has been asked to carry soil from places of Richard III's birth, life and death during the ceremony.
Langley tells IBTimes UK:
At the moment I'm so exhausted. It's more a feeling of relief that we're getting to the reburial because it's been ten years for me, almost to the day. So it's been a long time.
I think once I get to Leicester on Saturday, I'm sure there'll be a great sense of anticipation there. And I must admit, I'm really looking forward to Bosworth. That's going to be a big one for me.
It was Langley's efforts to drive forward the search for Richard III that culminated in the University of Leicester's archaeological dig. She had gone along with the idea that, should he be found, the body would be reinterred at the city's cathedral as it would be the nearest consecrated ground, the same position as the Church of England. But for her, where he was buried was not the biggest issue:
There's been a lot of battles, in every sense. There was four years of research. Then three-and-a-half years to get the tarmac cut. And then, once you've found him, the scientists had to identify him. Then how do you rebury him? And where do you rebury him? Does he get a tomb, doesn't he get a tomb? Is he laid out anatomically, or just put in as a box of bones?
I suppose because it's unprecedented, it's been a huge learning curve for everyone involved. Lots of decisions were obviously never in my hands. As to where he would be reburied and how he would be reburied, what the tomb design would look like and that sort of thing. Because then, once we found him, others get involved and they take over.
There's a strong case for all and, actually, for Westminster Abbey as well. And I know a lot of people wanted him there. But I never had an issue with where Richard was buried. I was always sure that that decision would fall to others to make that decision.
I did think there would be some sort of consultation process though, I really did. I thought that you can't rebury a king without consulting on it. But my issue was how Richard was going to be reburied. We've worked through that behind the scenes to make sure some of the things we wanted happened.
A painting of Richard III hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London Getty
York is holding its own series of events. As Richard III is formally reinterred in Leicester, defiant Yorkists will be in their city's glorious Minster for communion then evensong, before local dignitaries parade through the streets in memory of the king they loved and lost. There is a special Richard III exhibition at the city's museum and, in the old English tradition, much of the festivities involve going to the pub.
While some regard the fight for Richard III's bones as very much still on, and continue to look for documentary evidence of his wish to be buried in York so they might one day move him from Leicester, others have turned their attention on a battle they are starting to win: to restore his rotten reputation.
Richard III is probably best known as a cunning, devious child murderer who dispatched of his brother's two children, his own nephews, in the infamous Princes in the Tower plot, so he could become king of England. But this is dismissed by Ricardians as Tudor propaganda, helped along by Shakespeare's notoriously unfavourable depiction of Richard III as an evil and devious hunch-backed little creep.
But Roe, who descends from Richard III's brother George, who was executed for treason by their eldest brother Edward IV, wants to correct the record on her 16 times great uncle.
You don't have a present if you don't have a history, do you? Your history defines you. The history of England defines what we are now.
I think what it was with Richard especially was [. ] there was a lot of bad news about him rather than what he actually did. The good things. For example, for the normal working man he set up the bail system. He abolished gifts people had to give to monarchs, bribes and stuff like that. When he was living in York and North Yorkshire, he used to sit on all the little committees, like Judge Rinder, doing all the little cases. He was very much a person you could talk to.
Langley is optimistic about Richard III's changing image and says that since the discovery of his body fired up massive interest in his story, we have "come an awful long way".
It's an enormous sea change that has happened. I think a of lot of the rhetoric about Richard and the perception of him as being Shakespeare's Richard III and the Tudors' of being a Machiavellian, evil, monstrous tyrant - that's gone. That's totally gone. And that's been enormous because now we're talking about Richard III as a mediaeval king, as the last warrior king.
But I think the final thing is the mystery of the princes in the Tower, the sons of Edward IV. I think we now need to really look at the other aspects of this. Did they survive? Were they sent to safety on the continent by Richard? Could they have been murdered by others who had more to gain by their deaths? And I think there are a lot of questions now that we're looking into.
It's time to get searching new archives and finding new material. Because I think this mystery can be solved. I think it's out there. It's just a case of finding it.
English Historical Fiction Authors
Shakespeare portrayed Richard II as a cruel, vindictive and irresponsible king with a preponderance to madness. Hero or a tyrant, Richard was a cultured man who loved beauty and he was apparently a devoted husband. Born the second son of Joan, the ‘Fair Maid of Kent’ and Edward, The Black Prince, at the Abbey of St. Andrew at Bordeaux on 6th January 1367.
"King Richard was of the comon stature, his hair yellowish, his face fair and rosy, rather round than long, and sometimes flushed..He was prodigal in his gifts, extravagantly splendid in his entertainment and dress, timid as to war, very passionate toward his domestics, haughty and too much devoted to voluptousness. yet there were many laudable features in his character: he loved religion and the clergy, he encouraged architecture, he built the church of Westminster almost entirely, and left much property by his will to finish what he had begun."
Richard was not entirely without kingly principal, for he did not condone Christians killing Christians and sought a way to end the Hundred Years War with France, not least because it was turning against the English.
One of Richard’s favourites, Michael de la Pole, and thus resented by the ‘council’, arranged a marriage for Richard with Anne of Bohemia, [Czechoslovakia] the eldest daughter of the Emperor Charles IV by his fourth wife, Elizabeth of Pomerainia. The union was unpopular, for not only did Anne bring no dowry, her brother, Wenceslas, demanded 20,000 florins (around ٢,000,000 in today's value) for her.
Her arrival in England was postponed when, under the leadership of Wat Tyler, John Ball and Jack Straw, the populace gathered at Blackheath to air their grievances and demand the end of serfdom. The Tower of London was sacked, the archbishop of Canterbury murdered and John of Gaunt's Savoy Palace burned to the ground.
The fourteen-year-old King Richard, rode out to meet the rebels at Mile End and his apparent courage in facing the mobs contributed to the failure of ‘The Peasants’ Revolt, though he was later forced by his Council to rescind the clemency he had granted the rebels.
|A Romantic Portrait of Anne of Bohemia|
In Brussels, Anne was received by the Duke and Duchess of Brabant, Anne’s aunt and uncle, and from there she was to proceed to Calais by water, to avoid an overland route through French held lands. Here they heard that twelve armed vessels, full of Normans, were sent by the King of France to intercept her. After a month’s delay and some negotiations in Paris, the King of France sent word that he yielded to the Duke of Saxony's request out of kindness to his cousin Anne, but not out of regard to the King of England.
Anne was described as a Godly, intelligent young girl with an inquiring mind, renowned for her love of reading and for her possession of the Scriptures in three languages. Her favourite books of the Bible were the four Gospels, which she constantly studied.
Anne resumed her journey by road, accompanied by the Duke of Brabant with an escort of a hundred spearmen. They were received at Gravelines outside Calais by the English ambassador, the Earl of Salisbury and his suite, attended by five hundred spearmen and five hundred archers. Along with a cavalcade of knights and nobles, all clad in full armor, the princess and her ladies made a magnificent entry into Calais, through a vast concourse of cheering spectators, trumpets and flags.
|Ladies in Horned Headresses|
A Westminster Chronicler called her ‘a tiny scrap of humanity’, and Thomas Walsingham related that the destruction of her fleet was a disastrous omen.
In Canterbury, Anne was received by Richard's uncle, Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, with a large retinue, then at Blackheath by the lord-mayor of London , the scene of 'The Peasants’ Revolt the previous year.
In London, the bride was welcomed by young girls at the top of a castle and tower throwing a shower of golden snow, with fountains at the sides flowing with wine and pages offering the princess wine from golden cups.
The marriage ceremony was performed in Westminster chapel on 22nd January 1382. King Richard appeared delighted with his bride, and after a week spent with her and the court in festivities and celebrations, they left for Windsor by barge, accompanied by Richard’s mother, Joan of Kent.
The aftermath of the Peasant’s Revolt were still evident and the culprits still being sought out for punishment. Their conditions distressed the young queen, who begged the king to grant a general pardon on the occasion of her coronation – a request he granted.
Anne became a peace-maker, interceding for those who offended the king as she travelled all over the country with him. In this age, women rode astride, or pillion, i.e. seated sideways on a cushion behind the male rider's saddle. Anne was said to have introduced sidesaddles seats made of wood strapped to the horse’s back with a pommel for a hand grip, and a wooden plank, wide enough to accommodate both feet, hung along the left side of the animal.
This method of riding was considered necessary for high-born women to preserve their hymen, and thus ensure her purity. The young queen introduced new fashions into England, including the long-pointed shoes called Cracows. Cracow, in Poland was within the dominions of Anne's father, and it is supposed that the fashion of wearing these shoes may have arrived in England through her attendants. She was also credited with introducing a head-dress for ladies, called the horned cap.
These horns were often two feet high, and equally as wide, arranged on a frame of wire and pasteboard, covered with gold-speckled muslin or gauze. Anne was apparently responsible for the introduction of pins into England. Up to that date, gowns were fastened by tiny skewers made of wood or ivory. Pins had been made for some time in Germany, and the use of them soon spread through England.
When Richard reached his majority, he asked his uncle Gloucester at the council table to tell him how old he was and when the duke replied that he was twenty-two, declared: 'Then I must be able to manage my own affairs as every heir in my kingdom can do at twenty-one.'
|King Richard II and Queen Anne|
He took possession of the great seal and the keys of the exchequer. In celebration, he arranged a round of celebrations which rivalled his coronation. At a tournament at Smithfield, Anne presented the prizes, which consisted of a rich jewelled clasp and a crown of gold. Then came a banquet at the palace of the Bishop of London, with music and dancing, jugglers and acrobats which continued into the night.
Richard liked to live in style, and kept many establishments in palaces round the country – another annoyance to his impoverished people. His entertainments and banquets were magnificent, while he employed three hundred scullions in his kitchens.
In 1394, when Richard was preparing for an expedition into Ireland to quell a rebellion, the queen fell ill at Shene Manor, purportedly of the plague. The king rushed to her side and was with her when she died. Inconsolable at the loss of his wife, Richard ordered Shene to be partially dismantled, but he never occupied it again.
Richard summoned all the nobles and barons of England to a funeral that took two months to prepare another expensive pageant. They and their wives were expected to arrive the day before and escort the body for Shene to Westminster Abbey.
A long procession escorted the body from Shene to Westminster, accompanied by a large number of torch-bearers so many, the wax had to be imported from Flanders expressly for the purpose. Anne was buried in the Confessor's chapel behind the high altar in Westminster Abbey, where Richard had ordered a double tomb made for them both.
The Earl of Arundel absented himself from the procession and then, arriving late at the abbey, asked permission to leave early on urgent business. Richard was deeply offended and appears to have drawn his sword upon the earl. 'The king himself,' says the contemporary writer from whom our only knowledge of the incident is derived, 'polluted the place with the blood of the Earl of Arundel at the commencement of the funeral office.' He ordered the – presumably injured - earl to the Tower, releasing him a week later.
Richard’s biographer, Nigel Saul, states that for a year after Anne’s death, he refused to go into any room she'd been in.
Coppersmiths crafted effigies of gilded copper and latten in a canopy above the crowned figures of Richard and Anne, their right hands joined, and holding sceptres in their left hands.
Anne’s epitaph mentions her as having been kind to 'pregnant women'. The Evesham chronicler said, ‘this queen, although she did not bear children, was still held to have contributed to the glory and wealth of the realm, as far as she was able’. She was referred to as ‘Good Queen Anne’. Her tomb bears this inscription in Latin.
SIR RICHARD RICH
The last chapter closed the chronological history of the priory, but as Sir Richard Rich had so much to do with its suppression and resuscitation, and was the purchaser of the whole of the monastic site and buildings, a short account of him may not be considered out of place here before describing the fair and the other possessions of the prior and convent.
Richard Rich was born in London about the year 1496, and as a boy he was intimate with Sir Thomas More, who, when he was on trial through Rich's treachery, said, 'Of no small while I have been acquainted with you and your conversation, who have known you from your youth hitherto. For we long dwelled both in one parish together, where, as yourself can tell, you were esteemed very light of your tongue, a great dicer and not of commendable fame. And so at your house in the Temple (where hath been your chief bringing up) were you likewise accounted.' (fn. 1) He was brought up to the Bar and entered at the Middle Temple, where, from what More said, he did not reform his character. He does not seem to have been a deeply read lawyer, but such knowledge as he had, added to great astuteness, carried him a long way.
In 1526 he competed, but unsuccessfully, for the post of Common Serjeant of the City of London against William Walsingham, the father of Sir Francis, Queen Elizabeth's Secretary. He was early associated with the county of Essex, and in 1530 he was, with others, appointed to make a return of Wolsey's possessions in that county. He then began to rise somewhat rapidly, and in 1532 he was made Attorney-General for Wales, a post he held until 1558. In 1533 he became Solicitor-General and was knighted, when he took a leading part with Thomas Cromwell in the persecution of those accused of violating the Act of Succession of 1534, which declared Elizabeth to be heir to the throne and Katharine's marriage unlawful. For denying the latter, Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher were committed to the Tower and many friaries suppressed. Rich was also especially active in prosecuting those who could not subscribe to the Act of Supremacy passed in the same year: thus he assisted at the examination of the Carthusian monks of the Charterhouse, who were brutally executed at Tyburn in 1535 and by the basest treachery he obtained Bishop Fisher's views on supremacy, which, in violation of his promise, he used as the evidence on which Fisher was condemned and executed. In the same way he brought Sir Thomas More to the block, who at his trial said, 'If this oath of yours, Mr. Rich, be true, then pray I that I may never see God in the face . . . . In faith, Mr. Rich, I am sorrier for your perjury than for my own peril, and you shall understand that neither I, nor no man else to my knowledge, ever took you to be a man of such credit as in any matter of importance I or any other would at any time vouchsafe to communicate with you.' At the same time Rich was persecuting the Lutherans for not conforming to the Six Articles.
In 1536 he was made the first chancellor of the newly-created Court of Augmentations. In this capacity he had to deal with the revenues, at first of the smaller, and later of the greater, monasteries. In this same year he was elected Speaker of the House of Commons, and as such he did much to reconcile the Commons to the suppression of the greater monasteries.
In the country he was greatly detested. The first of the articles addressed to the king by the leaders of the Northern Rebellion, or Pilgrimage of Grace, was: 'By the suppression of so many religious houses the service of God is not well performed and the people unrelieved.' The fourth was: 'The king takes for his council and has about him persons of low birth and small reputation, who have procured these times to their own advantage, whom we suspect to be Lord Cromwell and Sir Richard Rich, chancellor of the Augmentations.' (fn. 2) His name was also associated with those of Cromwell (Crim) and Cranmer (Crame) in the verses written for the rebels on the occasion of the rebellion. (fn. 3) It was stated by Philip Trotter, one of the Lincolnshire rebels, at his examination in the Tower, that if they had prospered in their journey they had intended to have slain, among others, the Lord Cromwell and the Chancellor of the Augmentations, whom they called two false pen clerks and considered were the devisers of all the false laws. (fn. 4)
On the suppression of the monasteries Rich acquired large possessions by purchase from the king on most favourable terms, in addition to his purchase of St. Bartholomew's. In this way, in the year 1536, he secured a grant of the priory of Lighes or Leez, with the manors of Lighes Parva, Magna Lighes, Folsted (Felsted), Fyfield in Essex, (fn. 5) and other property there, (fn. 6) from which he later took his title of Lord Rich of Leez. At Felsted he added to his estate by purchases from the nunnery of St. Bride at Syon, Middlesex. (fn. 7) After the suppression of the greater monasteries in 1539 he made application to purchase many manors in Essex, some of which had belonged to Christ Church, Canterbury, others to St. Osyth's at Chic, and some to the monastery of Holywell, Middlesex. (fn. 8)
When Thomas Cromwell was accused of treason and executed in 1540 (the same year as he was created Earl of Essex) Rich was one of the chief witnesses against his friend and benefactor. On the 12th June Cromwell wrote to the king: 'What master chancellor has been to me, God and he knows best what I have been to him your Majesty knows.' After Cromwell's death, Rich took an active part in the persecution of the reformers, and of those who would not subscribe to the king's supremacy thus in July 1540 Robert Barnes, William Hierome, vicar of Stepney, and Thomas Garret were burnt in front of the church of St. Bartholomew in Smithfield for preaching doctrines contrary to the Six Articles (fn. 9) and on the same day three others, Powel, Fetherstone, and Abel, were hanged, drawn, and quartered for denying the royal supremacy. (fn. 10) In 1546 it was Sir Richard Rich who sent Anne Askew to the Tower, and there, because she would confess no ladies or gentlewomen to be of her opinion, Fox says that Lord Chancellor Wriothesley and Rich racked her with their own hands, Sir Edmund Walsingham, the Lieutenant of the Tower, having refused to do so. (fn. 11)
We have already shown (fn. 12) how, at the end of 1539, or early in 1540, Rich made the prior's house at St. Bartholomew's his town residence, and was granted the suppressed monastery by the king in 1544. At that time he was always at the Privy Council meetings, signed many of the dispatches, and was actively engaged in the examination of those concerned in the accusations against Katharine Howard and in that connexion he was on the special Commission for the trial of Culpeper and Derham in the Guildhall in December 1541. (fn. 13)
Henry VIII, who died on the 28th January, 1547, arranged in his will for a barony for Sir Richard Rich, and on the 15th February following, the Privy Council (fn. 14) decided that he should be so created, whereupon he took the title of Baron Rich of Leez, Essex. The king also by his will appointed him an assistant councillor and one of the assistants to the executors, (fn. 15) and bequeathed to him £200. In January 1547 he was amongst those deputed to have special charge of the coronation (fn. 16) of Edward VI.
Though the fall of Lord Chancellor Wriothesley is supposed to have been brought about by the intrigues of Rich, Paulet succeeded to the post. His incompetence, however, Rich had no difficulty in demonstrating, and on the 23rd October, 1548, Lord Rich was made Lord Chancellor of England.
Rich was, no doubt, a papist at heart, but he always acted with the party that was uppermost thus in 1547 he concurred in the acts of the Council which commanded the destruction of images in churches. Those in St. Paul's were pulled down in September 1547, and the great rood, by night, in November 1548. In the latter year the Council laid down rules for the celebration of the Holy Communion in the Anglican form, which was to take place only at the high altar: the decree was signed by the Protector Somerset and Lord Rich, with four others. (fn. 17) All churches were ordered to be white-limed and the Commandments to be written on the walls. In the next year, 1549, the first Prayer Book of Edward VI was issued and written in English. Four years later, 1552, saw the issue of the second Prayer Book. In 1553 the 42 Articles of Faith (converted by Elizabeth to 39) were set forth so that Rich was in the active service of the Crown during the whole period of the Reformation.
As soon as Edward's first Parliament met it repealed the Six Articles and all laws against heresy, but still two executions took place in Smithfield, as has been seen, (fn. 18) the lawyers having discovered that heresy was punishable by the common law.
When in 1549 the disturbance occurred between Protector Somerset and his brother Lord Admiral Seymour, it was under the direction of Lord Chancellor Rich that the articles for treason were drawn up against Seymour, and it was Rich who announced to the young king the decision for the execution of his uncle, and who, with others, signed the warrant for the same. It was Rich who, in October 1549, led the agitation against Somerset and declared to the Lord Mayor and aldermen at Ely House, Holborn, the abuses of the Lord Protector. This led to the deprivation of Somerset in 1550, who was eventually, in 1552, executed on a charge of conspiracy.
Rich took part in the proceedings against Bonner and Gardiner in the year 1550, the eighth session of the court appointed to try the latter being held at Lord Rich's house at St. Bartholomew's (20th January, 1551). (fn. 19)
A positive order was at this time issued that mass should not be celebrated, and Rich had the chief conduct of the steps taken against the Princess Mary in the matter. He was present in March 1550 at the Council at which Sir Anthony Browne was committed to the Fleet for hearing mass when the Lady Mary was coming to New Hall and Romford. (fn. 20) He was again present in April 1551 when Dr. Mallet, chaplain to the princess, was committed to the Tower for saying mass, (fn. 21) and again in the following August, when the Council prohibited any divine service from being used in the Lady Mary's house other than that allowed by the law of the land. (fn. 22) Rochester and Walgrave, having declined to deliver this last instruction to the chaplain of the princess, it was decided that Lord Chancellor Rich, with Mr. Secretary Peter and Sir Anthony Wingfield, should themselves go to her and present a letter from the king, (fn. 23) and this they did. She received the letter graciously as coming from the king, but she declined to consent to the instructions regarding the masses or to allow the new services to be held in her house. As Rich began his speech she prayed him to be short, saying she was not well at ease and would make him a short answer.
An event, however, occurred on the 21st December following (1551) which relieved him of carrying forward this unpleasant business, for on that day he surrendered his chancellorship. The Duke of Somerset was at that time in the Tower, and it is said that, though he was there through Rich's instrumentality, Rich now wished to befriend the late Protector and wrote him a letter warning him of something designed against him by the Privy Council. Being in haste, he addressed the letter merely 'To the Duke'. His servant, fancying it was for the Duke of Norfolk, (fn. 24) carried it to that duke. He, to make Northumberland his friend, sent the letter to him. Rich, realizing the mistake, and to prevent the discovery, went immediately to the king, feigned illness, and desired to be discharged, and upon that took to his bed at St. Bartholomew's, whither Lord Winchester, the Duke of Northumberland, and Lord D'Arcy repaired, and there they took the surrender of the Great Seal. It is assumed that Rich took this measure to save his neck, and if so he was successful. He was subsequently made Lieutenant for the county of Essex. (fn. 25)
On the 6th July, 1553, King Edward died. Northumberland had persuaded him to leave the crown to Lady Jane Grey, but omitted to obtain the sanction of Parliament. Strype has preserved a letter, written by the Privy Council of Queen Jane to Lord Rich as Lieutenant of Essex, thanking him for a speedy notice of the fact that the Earl of Oxford had gone over to Mary, and exhorting him to remain steadfast in his promise to Queen Jane. (fn. 26) But this exhortation Rich did not heed, for he again went over to the winning side, and this time probably with real pleasure. On the 21st July, two days after Mary had secured the throne, instructions were sent to Lord Rich and the Earl of Oxford to retire with their companies and bands towards Ipswich until her pleasure should be further known. (fn. 27) The queen then stayed some days at Rich's house at Wanstead before her entry into London. We next hear of him as being present at the queen's Council on the 12th and 13th August, (fn. 28) and also on the 14th September (fn. 29) of that year (1553), when Archbishop Cranmer was sent to the Tower 'for treason committed by him against the Queen's Highness'.
Rich was now put to general use: he was sent to Syon, Middlesex, to secure the goods of the Duke of Northumberland, who had been executed (fn. 30) and he was a commissioner for hearing claims for offices at the coming coronation. (fn. 31)
After this Rich was very active in assisting in the burning of heretics in his own county of Essex. On the 18th March, 1554, letters were sent to him and the Earl of Oxford to be present at the burning 'of such obstinate persons' about to be sent down for burning in divers parts of the county of Essex. (fn. 32) On the 3rd June, 1555, a letter was sent to him 'to be present at Colchester, Manytree (Manningtree) and Hardwicke at such tyme as thoffenders that are already condempned for heresie shalbe there executed'. (fn. 33) On the 15th June a letter of thanks was sent to him in this connexion. (fn. 34) In February 1555 he was requested to stop a stage play at Hatfield Broad Oak, in Essex, and to examine who were to be the players and the effect of the play. (fn. 35) Five days later he was thanked for stopping the play, was requested to set the players at liberty and to prevent people assembling for such hereafter. (fn. 36) In the March following he was desired to call the farmers dwelling about Braintree (fn. 37) before him, to order them to furnish the market with grain, and to sell the same at reasonable prices.
When Mary declared war with France in 1557, because her husband Philip was at war with that country, Lord Rich raised forces for the purpose and for the defence of Essex.
He favoured the return to the Roman allegiance in religion, and assisted Queen Mary in resuscitating the monasteries, more especially by making her, in September 1555, a grant (as already stated (fn. 38) ) of what remained of the monastery of St. Bartholomew, in which she set up the Black Friars. Previous to that, in April 1554, he ordered the first deed of the Felsted foundation to be prepared, by which a chaplaincy was founded for singing masses and dirges for the dead in the parish church of Felsted (about five miles north from Little Leez). (fn. 39)
On the death of Queen Mary in November 1558 Rich, though retired from court, once more prepared to tack, and was appointed to accompany Elizabeth to London but he did not see his way to support her Act of Uniformity: in fact, in Elizabeth's first momentous Parliament of 1559 he voted, as a member of the House of Lords, with the Roman Catholic minority. (fn. 40)
The accession of Elizabeth led to the abolition of those observances which Rich had enjoined for his chaplain at Felsted accordingly in May 1564 he made provision for a stipend for a priest to be chaplain and schoolmaster with an usher under him. He was to teach four score male children born in Essex 'in lernyng of Grammer and other vertues and godly lernyng according to Christes religion'. (fn. 41) Rich and his descendants acted as the governing body until 1851, when a new one was established by the Court of Chancery. This scheme only lasted until 1876, when it was repealed by the Charity Commissioners, who formed a new governing body representative of the whole county of Essex, and Felsted school is now a flourishing institution.
The advice of Lord Rich in affairs of state was sought up to the last, for in 1566 he was summoned to discuss the question of Queen Elizabeth's marriage. He died at Rochford, in Essex, on the 12th June, 1567, and was buried in Felsted church, 'where', says Sargeaunt, (fn. 42) 'the recumbent figure of the Chancellor is most characteristic. The small head and keen features mark the skill of the lawyer and the wariness of the statesman'. Lloyd, in his Worthies, says of him: 'His decrees were just, his dispatches quick, his judgment, speedy, his sentences irrevocable.' (fn. 43)
His will, (fn. 44) dated the 12th May, with a codicil dated the 10th June, 1567, was proved the 6th June, 1568. He bequeathed his 'faire of greate Seint Bartholomewes with all the proffitts of the same' for a term of six years to pay his debts and legacies. He made provision for his base-born son Richard Rich. The will was witnessed, among others, by his wife, Elizabeth Lady Rich, who survived him. She was the sister of William Jenks, citizen and grocer. She died in her house at St. Bartholomew's and was buried at Rochford. Rich was succeeded in the peerage by his eldest son Robert, at that time thirty years old, who appears in effigy kneeling at a prayer desk (pl. XI) at the west end of his father's monument, a full description of which is given below. His descendants were patrons of the church of St. Bartholomew the Great until the nineteenth century, and are described further on. (fn. 45)
THE MONUMENT OF RICHARD LORD RICH OF LEEZ IN FELSTED CHURCH.
(The following is from two framed descriptions in the church.)
'Canopied tomb of Richard, 1st Baron Rich of Leez, Lord High Chancellor, 1547–1551 founder of Felsted School and of Felsted Almshouses. Died 1567.
The statue, originally coloured to the life, represents him in the robes, round cap and ornaments of a Lord Chancellor, with elbow resting on a cushion, holding a book of prayers.
Above the statue is a panel for inscription, but it was never carved. Over this is the coat of arms, with reindeer supporters and motto Garde Ta Foy (keep thy faith).
I. The carved panel at the east end of the tomb facing the figure shows Lord Rich as a youth holding a book with two seals in one hand and a long rod or pole with a short crosspiece in the other, and with a dog on his left. By his side stands a female figure with a mirror and a serpent for Truth, one of the cardinal virtues.
II. The carved panel on the spectator's left denotes his office as Speaker of the House of Commons carrying a mace and wearing a sword and a short robe. Behind him are two females: the one to the east carrying a column for Fortitude the other bearing the sword and scales for Justice.
III. The similar panel on the right has, in the centre, his figure as Lord Chancellor displaying the purse of the Great Seal Hope with anchor on the one hand, Charity carrying one child and holding the hand of another, on the other hand, balance Fortitude and Justice in the other panel.
Beneath, slightly incised on black marble (originally set out in vermilion), are two groups. That on the left shows him arriving at Westminster Hall in state in Lord Chancellor's robes, mounted on a horse with foot-cloths, attended by the bearer of the Great Seal and other officials. That on the right shows him lying in state, hands clasped in prayer, on a bed under a canopy. A female watcher kneels at each side, a male watcher stands at the head.
Above the monument a winged figure, gilded, with trumpet, represents Fame publishing abroad Lord Rich's high estate and noble charity.
THE MONUMENT OF ROBERT, 2nd BARON RICH OF LEEZ DIED 1581.
The statue, formerly coloured to the life, represents him kneeling at a prayer desk, which is dovetailed into his father's monument.
He wears the court dress of the period, consisting partly of rich embroidered padded clothes, partly of light ornamental armour. His right hand has been ungloved to turn over the leaves of the book of prayers which lies on the desk before him. The gloved left hand held the right-hand glove and rested on the buckle of the girdle. The left arm has been broken off, but the hand is preserved and is now laid on the pedestal.
On the wall beside the statue is the rest of the monument, including (in a grotto) a skull lying sideways in a shroud and watched by cherubs, as emblem of Mortality a black plate for inscription but never carved. Above a coat of arms with supporters and motto, implements of war (drum, target, shield, cuirass, arrows, musket, helmet, sword, etc.) the coat is hung by a strap from a tree trunk the crest (now missing) was on the top of the pediment.
These monuments were repaired in 1915 by the Governors of Felsted School of Lord Rich's foundation.'
The Final Years of Tyrannical Rule: Richard II and the Lords Appellant
In the final years of his reign, Richard ruled as a tyrant. It should be mentioned, however, that the strong will of the king was already evident, even during the 1380s. This put him at odds with the English Parliament . For instance, in 1386, Parliament sought the removal of de la Pole, who had been made Chancellor three years earlier. This was caused by de la Pole’s demand for a huge grant of taxation from Parliament, in order to organize coastal defenses against a planned French invasion.
When Parliament resisted this demand, and urged the king to remove the Chancellor, Richard refused to submit and said that he would not remove even a scullion from his kitchen at Parliament’s request. Ultimately, however, Richard had to let de la Pole go, as he was threatened with deposition. The former Chancellor was then impeached for embezzlement and negligence, and the group of nobles who launched the impeachment was known as the Lords Appellant.
Subsequently, Richard tried using military force against the Lords Appellant, but was humiliatingly defeated in 1387. Richard formally resumed responsibility for government in 1389, and the king ruled in moderation for the next few years. In 1397, Richard was finally able to exact his revenge on the Lords Appellant. Three of them, the Duke of Gloucester, the Earl of Arundel, and the Earl of Warwick were arrested by the king. The first two were subsequently imprisoned and executed, whilst the third exiled to the Isle of Man.
In the following year, a quarrel broke out between Henry Bolingbroke, the son of John of Gaunt, and Thomas Mowbray, one of the king’s former allies. Although he initially ordered the matter to be settled by a trial of combat, Richard was worried that Bolingbroke might win, and at the last moment, passed judgment himself. As a result, Bolingbroke was sentenced to exile for 10 years, and Mowbray for life. Bolingbroke was in fact Richard’s first cousin, and the complex relationship between the two is depicted by William Shakespeare.
In June 1399, Richard was on a campaign in Ireland, and Bolingbroke seized the opportunity to return from exile, quickly rallying the English to his cause, and in August, Richard had no choice but to surrender. At the end of September, Richard, who was held in the Tower of London , abdicated, and Bolingbroke became the new King of England as Henry IV, setting the stage for the future Wars of the Roses. Richard was then moved from London to Leeds, and thence to Pontefract.
In January the following year, a group of Richard’s supporters plotted to have him restored, but this did not succeed. Although Henry was content to let Richard live after his abdication, the plot made him aware that it was too dangerous to keep him alive. Therefore , Richard was put to death . It is widely believed that Richard died of starvation on the 14 th of February 1400. Richard’s body was taken to London, and after the requiem mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral, was buried at King’s Langley Priory. In 1413, Henry V, decided to give Richard an honorable burial. Therefore, the king’s remains were exhumed and brought to Westminster Abbey, where Richard was finally laid to rest beside his beloved wife, Anne, in the double royal tomb he had commissioned for the both of them in 1395.
Top image: Richard II, the tragic king. Source: Jakub Krechowicz / Adobe Stock