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Why did Henry I imprison his older brother and rival Robert for almost 30 years instead of having him killed?

Why did Henry I imprison his older brother and rival Robert for almost 30 years instead of having him killed?


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Keeping relatives who were rivals locked up was often seen as too risky - even if these relatives didn't manage to escape, they could easily become focal points for rebellion. The English Kings John, Henry IV and Richard III (probably) all disposed of relatives who had a better claim to the throne. Herod the Great, Cleopatra VII, John the Fearless, Atahualpa (Incan emperor) and numerous others seemed to have had few qualms about dispatching close relatives, including siblings and their own children.

Henry I, on the other hand, kept his brother prisoner in a succession of castles even as he was dealing with rebellions supporting Robert and / or his son William Clito. Although Henry could be merciful to those who opposed him, he was a stern ruler who meted out some brutal punishments at times. Given the obvious risks of keeping his brother alive (and, it seems, treating him rather well as Robert lived to be about 83), why did Henry take the risk of letting him live?


The brother Robert was not only "older" than Henry I, but also "old" (by the standards of the time, aged 55 or so when imprisoned). Killing "weak" people (such as oldsters) went against the code of chivalry. (Although "chivalry" wasn't codified in its final form until the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries, it was "coming together" by the 1100s.) And after a few years' imprisonment, Robert would be physically incapable of leading a rebellion. Much better for Henry to have him alive (under the circumstances), than have him to be a dead martyr and a rallying point. The fact that Robert was still alive might somewhat deter rebels.

Henry probably calculated that Robert would die a natural death before he did. His calculation was correct but just barely; Robert lived till 83 and died a year before the much-younger Henry.


King Henry I

Henry, the son of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders, was born in England, possibly at Selby, in about 1068. His mother gave birth to nine children. Seven of these survived: Robert Curthose, William Rufus, Richard (killed in a hunting accident in about 1074), Cecily, Agatha and Adela. (1)

Henry was reared in England, where his father was king, and remained there, apart from occasional trips to Normandy. William of Malmesbury and Ordericus Vitalis "testify independently that Henry was literate and, indeed, well educated in the liberal arts" and probably better educated than any previous English king except Alfred the Great. (2) He was better educated than his brothers and felt at ease in the company of learned men and was given the nickname Beauclerk (the learned). (3)

In 1083 his mother died leaving him lands worth something in excess of £300 a year. However, the records show that this was stolen from him by his older brothers. (4)

Henry was only a teenager when his father became ill. While fighting in Normandy he fell from his horse and suffered internal injuries. Ordericus Vitalis said that as he was "very corpulent" he "fell sick from the excessive heat and his great fatigues". (5)

William was taken to the priory of St. Gervase. Close to death, he directed that Robert Curthose should succeed him in Normandy and William Rufus should become king of England. The decision was an acknowledgement that unlike Robert, Rufus had always remained loyal to his father. From his father's will he received no land, but was given instead £5,000 in silver. It was said that at once he "hurried to the Treasury to supervise the weighing out of the money." (6)

Henry Beauclerk and Robert Curthose

William Rufus was not a popular ruler. It was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: "He (William Rufus) was very harsh and severe over his land and his men, and with all his neighbours and very formidable and through the counsels of evil men, that to him were always agreeable, and through his own avarice, he was ever tiring this nation with an army, and with unjust contributions. For in his days all right fell to the ground, and every wrong rose up before God and before the world. God's church he humbled and all the bishoprics and abbacies, whose elders fell in his days, he either sold in fee, or held in his own hands, and let for a certain sum because he would be the heir of every man, both of the clergy and laity." (7)

The division of the Conqueror's lands created political difficulties as most Norman lords held estates on both sides of the Channel. Odo of Bayeux commented: "How can we give proper service to two mutually hostile and distant lords? If we serve Duke Robert well we shall offend his brother William, and he will deprive us of our revenues and honours in England. On the other hand if we obey King William, Duke Robert will deprive us of our patrimonies in Normandy." (8)

In 1088 some Normans, including Odo of Bayeux, Robert of Mortain, Richard Fitz Gilbert, William Fitz Osbern and Geoffrey of Coutances, led a rebellion against the rule of William Rufus in order to place his brother, Robert Curthose on the throne. However most Normans in England remained loyal and Rufus and his army successfully attacked the rebel strongholds at Tonbridge, Pevensey and Rochester. The leaders of the revolt were exiled to Normandy. (9)

Robert's defeat left him in a difficult financial position. He therefore decided to sell most of western Normandy to Henry for the sum of £3,000. Along with these territories, which included at least the Cotentin and Avranchin with the abbey of Mont-St Michel, Henry acquired the title "Count of the Cotentin". His rule there earned him a number of powerful friends among the barons of western Normandy. (10)

In February 1091, William Rufus led an army into north-eastern Normandy against his brother Robert Curthose. Robert accepted defeat and negotiated a peace on terms highly favourable to Rufus. In essence, their treaty provided for the division of Normandy between them, to the total exclusion and disinheritance of Henry. Rufus and Curthose then marched westward against their brother, forcing Henry to withdraw to the mountain-top abbey of Mont-St Michel. Curthose and Rufus besieged their younger brother until April 1091, with water running short, Henry agreed to relinquish the abbey and departed Normandy. (11)

Robert accompanied William Rufus to England in autumn 1091. He returned to Normandy in December but had difficulty controlling his territory. He renounced the treaty with his brother William, who in February 1094 returned to Normandy and throughout 1094 and 1095 the conflict between the brothers was evenly matched. Orderic Vitalis indicates that Rufus controlled more than twenty castles in Normandy. (12)

Death of William Rufus

On 2nd August 1100, King William Rufus went hunting at Brockenhurst in the New Forest. Gilbert de Clare and his younger brother, Roger of Clare, were with the king. Another man in the hunting party was Walter Tirel, who was married to Richard de Clare's daughter, Adelize. Henry was also present at the hunt. (13)

William of Malmesbury later described what happened during the hunt: "The sun was now declining, when the king, drawing his bow and letting fly an arrow, slightly wounded a stag which passed before him. The stag was still running. The king, followed it a long time with his eyes, holding up his hand to keep off the power of the sun's rays. At this instant Walter decided to kill another stag. Oh, gracious God! the arrow pierced the king's breast. On receiving the wound the king uttered not a word but breaking off the shaft of the arrow where it projected from his body. This accelerated his death. Walter immediately ran up, but as he found him senseless, he leapt upon his horse, and escaped with the utmost speed. Indeed there were none to pursue him: some helped his flight others felt sorry for him." (14)

Tirel escaped to France and never returned again to England. Most people expected Robert Curthose to become king. However, Henry decided to take quick action to gain the throne. As soon as he realised William Rufus was dead, Henry rushed to Winchester where the government's money was kept. After gaining control of the treasury, Henry declared he was the new king. (15)

Supported by Gilbert de Clare and Roger of Clare, Henry was crowned king on 5th August. Although Robert threatened to invade England, he eventually agreed to do a deal with Henry. In return for an annual payment of £2,000, Robert accepted Henry as king of England. (16)

Defeat of Robert Curthose

Christopher Brooke, the author of The Saxon and Norman Kings (1963), has suggested that it is possible that Walter Tirel was involved in some kind of conspiracy that involved Henry and the Clare family. "Tirel's wife Alice was a Clare. The leading figures of the great house of Clare, his brothers-in-law and overlords, were well patronised by Henry one of them was made abbot of Ely this same year. Tirel himself immediately fled - even if not guilty, he was clearly suspected by Rufus's devoted knights. He did not suffer in the long run, and his family clearly benefited from the change of king." (17)

King Henry I generously rewarded the Clare family for their loyalty. Although Walter Tirel never returned to England, his son was allowed to keep his father's estates. Some people suspected that Henry and the Clare family had planned the murder of William Rufus. Others accepted that William Rufus' death was an accident. Whatever the truth of the matter, the Clare family obtained considerable benefit from the death of William Rufus. (18)

After the death of William Rufus, Henry married Matilda of Scotland. He acknowledged being the father of more than twenty bastards but was determined to have an legitimate heir. According to William of Malmesbury, Henry was very much in love with his new wife. Matilda gave birth to a daughter, Matilda, in 1102 and a son, William, in 1103. (19)

King Henry I

In 1105 King Henry invaded Normandy and took Bayeux and Caen. He returned the following year and besieged Tinchebray Castle, that was held by William of Mortain, who was one of the few important Norman barons still loyal to Robert. After a few days Duke Robert arrived and tried to break the siege. The battle only lasted an hour. Most of Robert's army was captured or killed. (20) It has been called the most important battle since Hastings. (21)

Henry decided to imprisoned his brother in the Tower of London. He spent the next 28 years in prison. Christopher Brooke, the author of The Saxon and Norman Kings, has argued that "to imprison a great noble for life was rarely done to imprison an elder brother almost never." (22)

Matilda of Scotland was a devout Christian. According to her biographer, Lois L. Huneycutt, "Matilda was particularly interested in the care of lepers, and on one occasion washed and kissed the feet of a group of sufferers who had been invited into her chamber. She built a leper's hospital outside London and patronized several other institutions dedicated to their care. Her good works included the construction of several bridges in Surrey and Essex and a public bathhouse at London's Queenhithe. Matilda is also known for her literary and musical interests." Matilda died in 1118. (23)

King of England

Henry was someone who was capable of extremely cruel acts. One of the worse cases involved the children of his illegitimate daughter, Juliane. Her husband, Eustace de Pacy came into conflict with Ralph Harnec, one of Henry's officials. In 1119, exchanged their children as hostages. Ralph claimed that one of his children lost their sight while in captivity. Harnec demanded vengeance and Henry agreed that he could take out the eyes of his own two granddaughters. Ordericus Vitalis, the only source of this story, commented, "innocent childhood, who had to suffer for their fathers' sins." When she heard the news about her children, Juliane used a crossbow in an attempt to assassinate her father. (24)

Henry only legitimate son, William, was granted the title the Duke of Normandy and was groomed to become the next king of England. When he was ten years old, he began to attest royal documents and became the instrument of his father's diplomacy. According to William of Malmesbury, he was "trained for the succession with fond hope and immense care". (25)

In November 1120 Henry and William returned from Normandy by boat. "Henry sailed first, having turned down the offer of a new ship - the White Ship - from Thomas Fitzstephen. followed in the new vessel. But the inebriated crew and passengers were in no fit condition for a night voyage, and the ship was rowed onto a rock outside the harbour of Barfleur. William was put into a small boat and would have escaped had he not turned back on hearing an appeal for help from his bastard sister, whereupon the boat was overloaded by others seeking safety, and sank." (26)

Henry now married Adeliza of Louvain in the hope of obtaining another male heir. Adeliza, was 18 years-old and was considered to be very beautiful, but Henry was now in his fifties and no children were born. After four years of marriage he called all his leading barons to court and forced them to swear that they would accept his daughter, Matilda, as their ruler in the event of his dying without a male heir. (27)

William the Conqueror had abolished capital punishment in preference for blinding and mutilation and other less fatal forms of punishment. Henry rejected this idea and brought back the death penalty for certain crimes. For example, in 1124, he had 44 thieves hanged on the same day. The following year he ordered that "moneyers who issued false coins" were to be mutilated without having the right to a trial. (28)

In 1128 his brother Robert Curthose was transferred to Devizes Castle and during his last couple of years was held in Cardiff Castle. It is claimed that he attempted to escape but his horse was bogged down in a swamp and he was recaptured. To prevent further escapes, Henry had Robert Curthose's eyes burnt out. (29)

During his rule of 35 years Henry had little difficulty holding on to power. One biographer has commented: "Henry was a hard man who knew how to keep men loyal he may not have won their hearts but they looked forward to the rewards he had to offer and they certainly feared his wrath. Careful, sober, harsh and methodical he chose his servants from men of a similar stamp. But from 1102 until the end of his reign there was no revolt in England. A king who could keep the peace for over thirty years was a master of the art of government." (30)

King Henry I died on 1st December 1135. William of Malmesbury claims that a seizure was brought on by a surfeit of lampreys, his body "much weakened by strenuous labours and family anxieties". (31)


Marilyn Monroe is found dead

On August 5, 1962, movie actress Marilyn Monroe is found dead in her home in Los Angeles. She was discovered lying nude on her bed, face down, with a telephone in one hand. Empty bottles of pills, prescribed to treat her depression, were littered around the room. After a brief investigation, Los Angeles police concluded that her death was �used by a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs and that the mode of death is probable suicide.”

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles on June 1, 1926. Her mother was emotionally unstable and frequently confined to an asylum, so Norma Jeane was reared by a succession of foster parents and in an orphanage. At the age of 16, she married a fellow worker in an aircraft factory, but they divorced a few years later. She took up modeling in 1944 and in 1946 signed a short-term contract with 20th Century Fox, taking as her screen name Marilyn Monroe. She had a few bit parts and then returned to modeling, famously posing nude for a calendar in 1949.

She began to attract attention as an actress in 1950 after appearing in minor roles in the The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve. Although she was onscreen only briefly playing a mistress in both films, audiences took note of the blonde bombshell, and she won a new contract from Fox. Her acting career took off in the early 1950s with performances in Love Nest (1951), Monkey Business (1952), and Niagara (1953). Celebrated for her voluptuousness and wide-eyed charm, she won international fame for her sex-symbol roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954). The Seven-Year Itch (1955) showcased her comedic talents and features the classic scene where she stands over a subway grating and has her white skirt billowed up by the wind from a passing train. In 1954, she married baseball great Joe DiMaggio, attracting further publicity, but they divorced eight months later.


Spouses

Mary was married three times, with the last union eventually leading to her downfall.

Francis II, King of France

In 1558, Mary married Francis, the eldest son of French King Henry II and Catherine de Medicis. In 1559, Mary&aposs husband was crowned Francis II, making Mary both the queen of Scotland and France&aposs queen consort. Unfortunately, Francis died from an ear infection the year after he ascended to the throne, leaving Mary a widow at age 18.

Henry Stewart, Earl of Darnley

In 1565 Mary gave into infatuation and married her cousin, Henry Stewart, Earl of Darnley. Mary&aposs new husband was a grandson of Margaret Tudor Mary uniting with a Tudor infuriated Elizabeth Tudor. Her marriage to Darnley also turned Mary&aposs half-brother against her.

Shortly after their marriage, Darnley’s ruthless ambition caused problems. In 1566 Darnley and a group of Protestant nobles viciously murdered David Rizzio, Mary&aposs Italian secretary, stabbing him 56 times as a pregnant Mary looked on. Though she gave birth to their son a few months later, she no longer wished to be married to Darnley.

When Darnley was mysteriously killed following an explosion at Kirk o&apos Field, outside Edinburgh, in February 1567, foul play was suspected. Mary&aposs involvement is unclear.

James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell

In May 1567 Mary consented to marry James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell — the main suspect in her previous husband Darnley’s murder. Over the years, Bothwell had become a close confidant of Mary and was said to exert great influence over her. He also had his own ambitions to become king, and he had abducted Mary and held her captive in Dunbar Castle.

Mary’s scandalous marriage with Bothwell, just three months after Darnley’s murder, made the Scottish nobility rise against her. Bothwell went into exile, where he was ultimately arrested and held captive until his death. Meanwhile, in July 1567, Mary was compelled to abdicate the throne in Scotland in favor of her infant son. She was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle.


Da Gama’s Later Life and Last Voyage to India

Da Gama had married a well-born woman sometime after returning from his first voyage to India the couple would have six sons. For the next 20 years, da Gama continued to advise the Portuguese ruler on Indian affairs, but he was not sent back to the region until 1524, when King John III appointed him as Portuguese viceroy in India.

Da Gama arrived in Goa with the task of combating the growing corruption that had tainted the Portuguese government in India. He soon fell ill, and in December 1524 he died in Cochin. His body was later taken back to Portugal for burial there.


Contents

Plantagenet Edit

Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, adopted Plantagenet as his family name in the 15th century. Plantegenest (or Plante Genest) had been a 12th-century nickname for his ancestor Geoffrey, Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy. One of many popular theories suggests the blossom of common broom, a bright yellow ("gold") flowering plant, genista in medieval Latin, as the source of the nickname. [1]

It is uncertain why Richard chose this specific name, although during the Wars of the Roses it emphasised Richard's status as Geoffrey's patrilineal descendant. The retrospective usage of the name for all of Geoffrey's male-line descendants was popular during the subsequent Tudor dynasty, perhaps encouraged by the further legitimacy it gave to Richard's great-grandson, Henry VIII. [2] It was only in the late 17th century that it passed into common usage among historians. [3]

Angevins Edit

Angevin is French for "from Anjou". The three Angevin kings were Henry II, Richard I and John. "Angevin" can also refer to the period of history in which they reigned. Many historians identify the Angevins as a distinct English royal house. "Angevin" is also used in reference to any sovereign or government derived from Anjou. As a noun, it refers to any native of Anjou or an Angevin ruler, and specifically to other counts and dukes of Anjou, including the ancestors of the three kings who formed the English royal house their cousins, who held the crown of Jerusalem and to unrelated members of the French royal family who were later granted the titles and formed different dynasties, such as the Capetian House of Anjou and the Valois House of Anjou. [4] Consequently, there is disagreement between those who consider Henry III to be the first Plantagenet monarch, and those who do not distinguish between Angevins and Plantagenets and therefore consider the first Plantagenet to be Henry II. [5] [6] [7] [8]

The term "Angevin Empire" was coined by Kate Norgate in 1887. There was no known contemporary collective name for all of the territories under the rule of the Angevin Kings of England. This led to circumlocutions such as "our kingdom and everything subject to our rule whatever it may be" or "the whole of the kingdom which had belonged to his father". The "Empire" portion of "Angevin Empire" has been controversial, especially as these territories were not subject to any unified laws or systems of governance, and each retained its own laws, traditions, and feudal relationships. In 1986 a convention of historians concluded that there had not been an Angevin state, and therefore no "Angevin Empire", but that the term espace Plantagenet (French for "Plantagenet area") was acceptable. [9] Nonetheless, historians have continued to use "Angevin Empire". [nb 2]

The later counts of Anjou, including the Plantagenets, descended from Geoffrey II, Count of Gâtinais, and his wife Ermengarde of Anjou. In 1060 the couple inherited the title via cognatic kinship from an Angevin family that was descended from a noble named Ingelger, whose recorded history dates from 870. [10]

During the 10th and 11th centuries, power struggles occurred between rulers in northern and western France including those of Anjou, Normandy, Brittany, Poitou, Blois, Maine, and the kings of France. In the early 12th century Geoffrey of Anjou married Empress Matilda, King Henry I's only surviving legitimate child and heir to the English throne. As a result of this marriage, Geoffrey's son Henry II inherited the English throne as well as Norman and Angevin titles, thus marking the beginning of the Angevin and Plantagenet dynasties. [11]

The marriage was the third attempt of Geoffrey's father, Fulk V, Count of Anjou, to build a political alliance with Normandy. He first espoused his daughter, Alice, to William Adelin, Henry I's heir. After William drowned in the wreck of the White Ship Fulk married another of his daughters, Sibylla, to William Clito, son of Henry I's older brother, Robert Curthose. Henry I had the marriage annulled to avoid strengthening William's rival claim to Normandy. Finally Fulk achieved his goal through the marriage of Geoffrey and Matilda. Fulk then passed his titles to Geoffrey and became King of Jerusalem. [12]

Arrival in England Edit

When Henry II was born in 1133, his grandfather, Henry I, was reportedly delighted, saying that the boy was "the heir to the kingdom". [13] The birth reduced the risk that the King's realm would pass to his son-in-law's family, which might have occurred if the marriage of Matilda and Geoffrey had proved childless. The birth of a second son, also named Geoffrey, increased the likelihood that, in accordance with French custom, Henry would receive the English maternal inheritance and Geoffrey the Angevin paternal inheritance. This would separate the realms of England and Anjou. [13]

In order to secure an orderly succession, Geoffrey and Matilda sought more power from Henry I, but quarrelled with him after the king refused to give them power that might be used against him. When he died in December 1135, the couple were in Anjou, allowing Matilda's cousin Stephen to seize the crown of England. Stephen's contested accession initiated the widespread civil unrest later called the Anarchy. [14]

Count Geoffrey had little interest in England. Instead he commenced a ten-year war for the duchy of Normandy, but it became clear that to bring this conflict to a successful conclusion Stephen would need to be challenged in England. In 1139 Matilda and her half-brother, Robert, invaded England. [15] From the age of nine, Henry was repeatedly sent to England to be the male figurehead of the campaigns, since it became apparent that he would become king if England were conquered. In 1141 Stephen was captured at the Battle of Lincoln and later exchanged for Robert, who had also been captured. Geoffrey continued the conquest of Normandy and in 1150 transferred the duchy to Henry while retaining the primary role in the duchy's government. [16]

Three events allowed the Angevins' successful termination of the conflict:

  • Count Geoffrey died in 1151 before finalizing the division of his realm between Henry and Henry's younger brother Geoffrey, who would have inherited Anjou. According to William of Newburgh, who wrote in the 1190s, Count Geoffrey decided that Henry would receive England and Anjou for as long as he needed the resources for the conflict against Stephen. Count Geoffrey instructed that his body should not be buried until Henry swore an oath that the young Geoffrey would receive Anjou when England and Normandy were secured. [17]W. L. Warren cast doubt on this account on the grounds that it was written later based on a single contemporary source, it would be questionable that either Geoffrey or Henry would consider such an oath binding and it would break the inheritance practice of the time. [18] The young Geoffrey died in 1158, before receiving Anjou, but he had become count of Nantes when the citizens of Nantes rebelled against their ruler. Henry had supported the rebellion. [19] was granted an annulment of his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine on 18 March 1152, and she married Henry (who would become Henry II) on 18 May 1152. Consequently, the Angevins acquired the Duchy of Aquitaine. [20]
  • Stephen's wife and elder son, Eustace, died in 1153 leading to the Treaty of Wallingford. The treaty agreed the peace offer that Matilda had rejected in 1142, recognised Henry as Stephen's heir, guaranteed Stephen's second son William his father's estates and allowed Stephen to be king for life. Stephen died soon afterwards, and Henry acceded to the throne in late 1154. [21]

Angevin zenith Edit

Of Henry's siblings, William and Geoffrey died unmarried and childless, but the tempestuous marriage of Henry and Eleanor, who already had two daughters (Marie and Alix) through her first marriage to King Louis, produced eight children in thirteen years: [22]

    (1153–1156) (1155–1183) (1156–1189)—married Henry the Lion, Duke of Bavaria. The eldest amongst the couple's children, Richenza, is probably the daughter English chroniclers call Matilda, who was left in Normandy with her grandparents in 1185 and married firstly to Geoffrey, count of Perche, and secondly to Enguerrand de Coucy. The eldest son, Henry, became duke of Saxony and count palatine of the Rhine. His brother Otto was nominated by his uncle Richard I as earl of York and count of Poitiers before being elected emperor in opposition to the Hohenstaufen candidate. Otto was crowned in Rome but he was later excommunicated and declared deposed. Childless, Otto lost power following the defeat of the Welf and Angevin forces at the Battle of Bouvines. The youngest child, William of Winchester married Helena daughter of Valdemar I of Denmark. Their only son, also called Otto, was the sole male heir of his uncle Henry. The ducal house of Brunswick-Lüneburg and the British royal house of Windsor both descend from him. [23] (1157–1199). He had no legitimate offspring, but is thought to have had two illegitimate sons, of whom little is known, called Fulk and Phillip, Lord of Cognac. [24] (1158–1186)—married Constance daughter of Duke Conan of Brittany and became duke of Brittany by right of his wife. The couple's son Arthur was a competitor to John for the Angevin succession. [25] (1161–1214)—married King Alfonso VIII of Castile. The couple's children included King Henry of Castile and four queen consorts, Berengaria, Queen of Leon, Urraca, Queen of Portugal, Blanche, Queen of France and Eleanor, Queen of Aragon. [26] (1165–1199)—married firstly King William II of Sicily and secondly Count Raymond VI of Toulouse. Her children included Raymond VII of Toulouse. [27] (1166–1216)

Henry also had illegitimate children with several mistresses, possibly as many as twelve. These children included Geoffrey, William, Peter and four children who died young by Alys, the daughter of Louis VII, while she was betrothed to his son Richard. [27] William's many competencies and importance as a royal bastard led to a long and illustrious career. [28]

Henry reasserted and extended previous suzerainties to secure possession of his inherited realm. [29] In 1162 he attempted to re-establish what he saw as his authority over the English Church by appointing his friend Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury upon the death of the incumbent archbishop, Theobald. Becket's defiance as Archbishop alienated the king and his counsellors. Henry and Becket had repeated disputes over issues such as church tenures, the marriage of Henry's brother, and taxation. [30]

Henry reacted by getting Becket and other English bishops to recognise sixteen ancient customs in writing for the first time in the Constitutions of Clarendon, governing relations between the king, his courts and the church. When Becket tried to leave the country without permission, Henry tried to ruin him by filing legal cases relating to Becket's previous tenure as chancellor. Becket fled and remained in exile for five years. Relations later improved, and Becket returned, but they declined again when Henry's son was crowned as coregent by the Archbishop of York, which Becket perceived as a challenge to his authority. [31]

Becket later excommunicated those who had offended him. When he received this news, Henry said: "What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born clerk." Four of Henry's knights killed Becket in Canterbury Cathedral after Becket resisted a failed arrest attempt. Henry was widely considered complicit in Becket's death throughout Christian Europe. This made Henry a pariah in penance, he walked barefoot into Canterbury Cathedral, where he was severely whipped by monks. [32]

From 1155 Henry claimed that Pope Adrian IV had given him authorisation to reform the Irish church by assuming control of Ireland, but Professor Anne Duggan's research indicates that the Laudabiliter is a falsification of an existing letter and that was not in fact Adrian's intention. [33] It originally allowed Henry's brother William some territory. Henry did not personally act on this until 1171 by which time William was already dead. He invaded Ireland to assert his authority over knights who had accrued autonomous power after they recruited soldiers in England and Wales and colonised Ireland with his permission. Henry later gave Ireland to his youngest son, John. [34]

In 1172 Henry gave John the castles of Chinon, Loudun and Mirebeau as a wedding gift. This angered Henry's eighteen-year-old son, Henry the Young King, who believed these were his. A rebellion by Henry II's wife and three eldest sons ensued. Louis VII of France supported the rebellion. William the Lion, king of the Scots, and others joined the revolt. After eighteen months, Henry subdued the rebels. [35]

In Le Mans in 1182, Henry II gathered his children to plan a partible inheritance: his eldest surviving son, Henry, would inherit England, Normandy and Anjou Richard (his mother's favourite) would inherit the Duchy of Aquitaine Geoffrey would inherit Brittany and John would inherit Ireland. This resulted in further conflict. The younger Henry rebelled again, but died of dysentery. Geoffrey died in 1186 after an accident in a tournament. In 1189, Richard and Philip II of France reasserted their various claims exploiting the aging Henry's failing health. Henry was forced to accept humiliating peace terms, including naming Richard his sole heir. The old King died two days later, defeated and miserable. French and English contemporary moralists viewed this fate as retribution for the murder of Becket [36] even his favourite legitimate son, John, had rebelled although the constantly loyal illegitimate son Geoffrey remained with Henry until the end. [37]

Following Richard's coronation he quickly put the kingdom's affairs in order and departed on a Crusade for the Middle East. Opinion of Richard has fluctuated. He was respected for his military leadership and courtly manners. He rejected and humiliated the sister of the king of France. He deposed the king of Cyprus and later sold the island. On the Third Crusade, he made an enemy of Leopold V, Duke of Austria, by showing disrespect to his banners as well as refusing to share the spoils of war. He was rumoured to have arranged the assassination of Conrad of Montferrat. His ruthlessness was demonstrated by his massacre of 2,600 prisoners in Acre. [38] He obtained victories during the Third Crusade, but failed to capture Jerusalem. According to Steven Runciman Richard was "a bad son, a bad husband and a bad king". [39] Jonathan Riley-Smith described him as "vain . devious and self-centred". [40] In an alternate view John Gillingham points out that for centuries Richard was considered a model king. [41]

Returning from the crusade with a small band of followers, Richard was captured by Leopold and was passed to Emperor Henry VI. Henry held Richard captive for eighteen months (1192–1194) while his mother raised the ransom, valued at 100,000 marks. In Richard's absence, Philip II overran large portions of Normandy and John acquired control of Richard's English lands. After returning to England, Richard forgave John and re-established his authority in England. He left again in 1194 and battled Philip for five years, attempting to regain the lands seized during his captivity. When close to complete victory, he was injured by an arrow during a siege and died ten days later. [42]

Decline and the loss of Anjou Edit

Richard's failure to provide an heir caused a succession crisis and conflict between supporters of the claim of his nephew, Arthur, and John. Guillaume des Roches led the magnates of Anjou, Maine, and Touraine declaring for Arthur. [43] Once again Philip II of France attempted to disturb the Plantagenet territories on the European mainland by supporting his vassal Arthur's claim to the English crown. John won a significant victory while preventing Arthur's forces from capturing his mother, seizing the entire rebel leadership at the Battle of Mirebeau and his sister Eleanor, Fair Maid of Brittany. [44]

John disregarded his allies' opinions on the fate of the prisoners, many of them their neighbours and kinsmen. Instead he kept his prisoners so vilely and in such evil distress that it seemed shameful and ugly to all those who were with him and who saw this cruelty' according to the L'Histoire de Guillaume le Marechal. [43] As a result of John's behaviour the powerful Thouars, Lusignan, and des Roches families rebelled and John lost control of Anjou, Maine, Touraine, and northern Poitou. His son, King Henry III, maintained the claim to the Angevin territories until December 1259 when he formally surrendered them and in return was granted Gascony as duke of Aquitaine and a vassal of the king of France. [45]

John's reputation was further damaged by the rumour, described in the Margam annals, that while drunk he himself had murdered Arthur and if not true it is almost certain John ordered the killing. [43] There are two contrasting schools of thought explaining the sudden collapse of John's position. Sir James Holt suggests this was the inevitable result of superior French resources. John Gillingham identifies diplomatic and military mismanagement and points out that Richard managed to hold the Angevin territory with comparable finances. [46] Nick Barratt has calculated that Angevin resources available for use in the war were 22 per cent less than those of Phillip, putting the Angevins at a disadvantage. [47]

By 1214 John had re-established his authority in England and planned what Gillingham has called a grand strategy to recapture Normandy and Anjou. [48] The plan was that John would draw the French from Paris, while another army, under his nephew Otto IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, and his half-brother William attacked from the north. He also brought his niece Eleanor of Brittany, aiming to establish her as Duchess of Brittany. The plan failed when John's allies were defeated at the Battle of Bouvines. Otto retreated and was soon overthrown, William was captured by the French and John agreed to a five-year truce. [28] [43]

From then on John also gave up the claim to Brittany of Eleanor and had her confined for life. [49] John's defeat weakened his authority in England, and his barons forced him to agree to the Magna Carta, which limited royal power. Both sides failed to abide by the terms of the Magna Carta, leading to the First Barons' War, in which rebellious barons invited Prince Louis, the husband of Blanche, Henry II's granddaughter, to invade England. [43] Louis did so but in October 1216, before the conflict was conclusively ended, John died. [50] The official website of the British Monarchy presents John's death as the end of the Angevin dynasty and the beginning of the Plantagenet dynasty. [51]

Baronial conflict and the establishment of Parliament Edit

All subsequent English monarchs were descendants of the Angevin line via John, who had five legitimate children with Isabella: [52]

    – king of England for most of the 13th-century – king of the Romans in the Holy Roman Empire[53] – queen consort of Alexander II of Scotland[54] – wife of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II[55] – wife of William Marshal's son (also named William), and later the English rebel Simon de Montfort. [56]

John also had illegitimate children with several mistresses. These children probably included nine sons called Richard, Oliver, Henry, Osbert Gifford, Geoffrey, John FitzJohn or Courcy, Odo or Eudes FitzRoy, Ivo, Henry, Richard the constable of Wallingford Castle and three daughters called Joan, Matilda the abbess of Barking and Isabella la Blanche. [57] Joan was the best known of these, since she married Prince Llewelyn the Great of Wales. [58]

William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, was appointed regent for the nine-year-old King Henry on King John's death. Thereafter, support for Louis declined, and he renounced his claims in the Treaty of Lambeth after Marshal's victories at the battles of Lincoln and Sandwich in 1217. [45] The Marshal regime issued an amended Magna Carta as a basis for future government. [45] Despite the Treaty of Lambeth, hostilities continued and Henry was forced to compromise with the newly crowned Louis VIII of France and Henry's stepfather, Hugh X of Lusignan. They both overran much of Henry's remaining continental lands, further eroding the Angevins' power on the continent. In his political struggles, Henry perceived many similarities between himself and England's patron saint, Edward the Confessor. [59] Consequently, he named his first son Edward and built the existing magnificent shrine for the Confessor. [60]

In early 1225 a great council approved a tax of £40,000 to dispatch an army, which quickly retook Gascony. During an assembly feudal prerogatives of the king were challenged by the barons, bishops and magnates who demanded that the king reissue Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest in exchange for support. Henry declared that the charters were issued of his own "spontaneous and free will" and confirmed them with the royal seal, giving the new Great Charter and the Charter of the Forest of 1225 much more authority than any previous versions. [45]

Henry III had nine children: [61]

    (1239–1307) (1240–1275). Her three children predeceased her husband, Alexander III of Scotland consequently, the crown of Scotland became vacant on the death of their only grandchild, Margaret, Maid of Norway in 1290. [62] (1242–1275). She initially married John de Montfort of Dreux, and later married John II, Duke of Brittany. (1245–1296), who was granted the titles and estates of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester and the earldom of Leicester after Henry defeated Montfort in the Second Barons' War. Henry later granted Edmund the earldoms of Lancaster and Ferrers. From 1276, through his wife, Edmund was Count of Champagne and Brie. [63] Later Lancastrians would attempt to use Henry IV's maternal descent from Edmund to legitimise his claim to the throne, spuriously claiming that Edmund was the eldest son of Henry III but had not become king due to deformity. [64] Through his second marriage to Blanche, the widow of Henry I of Navarre, Edmund was at the centre of European aristocracy. Blanche's daughter, Joan, was queen regnant of Navarre and queen consort of France through her marriage to Philip IV. Edmund's son Thomas became the most powerful nobleman in England, adding to his inheritance the earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury through his marriage to the heiress of Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln. [65]
  • Four others who died as children: Richard (1247–1256), John (1250–1256), William (c. 1251/1252–1256), Katherine (c. 1252/3–1257) and Henry (no recorded dates).

Henry was bankrupted by his military expenditure and general extravagance. The pope offered Henry's brother Richard the Kingdom of Sicily, but the military cost of displacing the incumbent Emperor Frederick was prohibitive. Matthew Paris wrote that Richard stated: "You might as well say, 'I make you a present of the moon – step up to the sky and take it down'." Instead, Henry purchased the kingdom for his son Edmund, which angered many powerful barons. The barons led by Henry's brother-in-law Simon de Montfort forced him to agree to the Provisions of Oxford, under which his debts were paid in exchange for substantial reforms. In France, with the Treaty of Paris, Henry formally surrendered the territory of his Angevin ancestors to Louis IX of France, receiving in return the title duke of Aquitaine and the territory of Gascony as a vassal of the French king. [45]

Disagreements between the barons and the king intensified. The barons, under Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, captured most of southeast England in the Second Barons' War. At the Battle of Lewes in 1264, Henry and Prince Edward were defeated and taken prisoner. De Montfort assembled the Great Parliament, recognized as the first Parliament because it was the first time the cities and boroughs had sent representatives. [66] Edward escaped, raised an army and defeated and killed de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. [67]

Savage retribution was inflicted upon the rebels, and authority restored to Henry. With the realm now peaceful, Edward left England to join Louis IX on the Ninth Crusade he was one of the last crusaders. Louis died before Edward's arrival, but Edward decided to continue. The result was disappointing Edward's small force only enabled him to capture Acre and launch a handful of raids. After surviving an assassination attempt, Edward left for Sicily later in the year, never to participate in a crusade again. When Henry III died, Edward acceded to the throne the barons swore allegiance to him even though he did not return for two years. [67]

Constitutional change and the reform of feudalism Edit

Edward I married Eleanor of Castile, daughter of King Ferdinand of Castile, a great grandson of Henry II through his second daughter Eleanor in 1254. Edward and Eleanor had sixteen children five daughters survived to adulthood, but only one son survived Edward: [68]

    (1264/69−1298)
  • Three daughters (Joan, Alice, and Juliana/Katherine) and two sons (John and Henry) born between 1265 and 1271. They died between 1265 and 1274 with little historical trace. (1272–1307) (1273–1284) (1275–1333) (1278–1332), who became a nun
  • Isabella (1279–1279) (1282–1316). Among her eleven children were the earls of Hereford, Essex, and Northampton, and the countesses of Ormond and Devon.
  • Two other daughters (Beatrice and Blanche), who died as children.

Following Eleanor's death in 1290, Edward married Margaret of France, daughter of Philip III of France, in 1299. Edward and Margaret had two sons, who both lived to adulthood, and a daughter who died as a child: [69]

    (1300–1338), whose daughter Margaret inherited his estates. Margaret's grandson, Thomas Mowbray, was the first duke of Norfolk, but Richard II exiled him and stripped him of his titles. (1301 to 1330). Edmund's loyalty to his half-brother, Edward II, resulted in his execution by order of the rebel Mortimer and his lover, Edward's queen, Isabella. His daughter, Joan, inherited his estates and married her own cousin, Edward the Black Prince together, they had Richard, who later became the English king.
  • Eleanor (1306–1311).

Evidence for Edward's involvement in legal reform is hard to find but his reign saw a major programme of legal change. Much of the drive and determination is likely to have come from the king and his experience of the baronial reform movement of the late 1250s and early 1260s. With the Statutes of Mortmain, Edward imposed his authority over the Church the statutes prohibited land donation to the Church, asserted the rights of the Crown at the expense of traditional feudal privileges, promoted the uniform administration of justice, raised income and codified the legal system. His military campaigns left him in heavy debt and when Philip IV of France confiscated the Duchy of Gascony in 1294, Edward needed funds to wage war in France. When Edward summoned a precedent-setting assembly in order to raise more taxes for military finance, he included lesser landowners and merchants. The resulting parliament included barons, clergy, knights, and burgesses for the first time. [67]

Expansion in Britain Edit

On his accession, Edward I sought to organise his realm, enforcing his claims to primacy in the British Isles. Llywelyn ap Gruffudd claimed to rule North Wales "entirely separate from" England but Edward viewed him to be "a rebel and disturber of the peace". Edward's determination, military experience and skilful naval manoeuvres ended what was to him rebellion. The invasion was executed by one of the largest armies ever assembled by an English king, comprising Anglo-Norman cavalry and Welsh archers and laying the foundation for future victories in France. Llywelyn was driven into the mountains, later dying in battle. The Statute of Rhuddlan established England's authority over Wales, and Edward's son was proclaimed the first English Prince of Wales upon his birth. Edward spent vast sums on his two Welsh campaigns with a large portion of it spent on a network of castles. [67]

Edward asserted that the king of Scotland owed him feudal allegiance, and intended to unite the two nations by marrying his son Edward to Margaret, the sole heir of King Alexander III. [67] When Margaret died in 1290, competition for the Scottish crown ensued. By invitation of Scottish magnates, Edward I resolved the dispute, ruling in favour of John Balliol, who duly swore loyalty to him and became king. Edward insisted that he was Scotland's sovereign and possessed the right to hear appeals against Balliol's judgements, undermining Balliol's authority. Balliol allied with France in 1295 Edward invaded Scotland the following year, deposing and exiling Balliol. [67]

Edward was less successful in Gascony, which was overrun by the French. With his resources depleting, Edward was forced to reconfirm the Charters, including Magna Carta, to obtain the necessary funds. In 1303 the French king restored Gascony to Edward by signing the Treaty of Paris. Meanwhile, William Wallace rose in Balliol's name and recovered most of Scotland. Wallace was defeated at the Battle of Falkirk, after which Robert the Bruce rebelled and was crowned king of Scotland. Edward died while travelling to Scotland for another campaign. [67]

King Edward II's coronation oath on his succession in 1307 was the first to reflect the king's responsibility to maintain the laws that the community "shall have chosen" (aura eslu in French). [70] He was not unpopular initially but faced three challenges: discontent over the financing of wars his household spending and the role of his favourite Piers Gaveston. [71] When Parliament decided that Gaveston should be exiled the king was left with no choice but to comply. [72] Edward engineered Gaveston's return, but was forced to agree to the appointment of Ordainers, led by his cousin Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, to reform the royal household with Piers Gaveston exiled again. [71]

When Gaveston returned again to England, he was abducted and executed after a mock trial. [72] The ramifications of this drove Thomas and his adherents from power. Edward's humiliating defeat by Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn, confirming Bruce's position as an independent king of Scots, leading to Lancaster being appointed head of the king's council. [71] Edward finally repealed the Ordinances after defeating and executing Lancaster at the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322. [71]

The French monarchy asserted its rights to encroach on Edward's legal rights in Gascony. Resistance to one judgement in Saint-Sardos resulted in Charles IV declaring the duchy forfeit. Charles's sister, Queen Isabella, was sent to negotiate and agreed a treaty that required Edward to pay homage in France to Charles. Edward resigned Aquitaine and Ponthieu to his son Edward, who travelled to France to give homage in his stead. With the English heir in her power, Isabella refused to return to England unless Edward II dismissed his favourites, and she became the mistress of Roger Mortimer. [71]

The couple invaded England and, with Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, captured the king. [73] Edward II abdicated on condition that his son would inherit the throne rather than Mortimer. Although there is no historical record of the cause of death, he is popularly believed to have been murdered at Berkeley Castle by having a red-hot poker thrust into his bowels. [74] [75] A coup by Edward III ended four years of control by Isabella and Mortimer. Mortimer was executed. Though removed from power, Isabella was treated well, and lived in luxury for the next 27 years. [71]

Conflict with the House of Valois Edit

In 1328 Charles IV of France died without a male heir. Queen Isabella made a claim to the throne of France on behalf of her son Edward on the grounds that he was a matrilineal grandson of Philip IV of France. However, the precedents set by Philip V's succession over his niece Joan II of Navarre and Charles IV's succession over his nieces meant that the senior grandson of Philip III in the male line, Phillip of Valois, became king. Not yet in power, Edward paid homage to Phillip as Duke of Aquitaine.

In 1337 Phillip confiscated Aquitaine and Ponthieu from Edward alleging he was harbouring Phillip's fugitive cousin and enemy, Robert of Artois. [76] In response, Edward proclaimed himself king of France to encourage the Flemish to rise in open rebellion against the French king. The conflict, later known as the Hundred Years' War, included a significant English naval victory at the Battle of Sluys, [76] and a victory on land at Crécy, leaving Edward free to capture the important port of Calais. A subsequent victory against Scotland at the Battle of Neville's Cross resulted in the capture of David II and reduced the threat from Scotland. [76] The Black Death brought a halt to Edward's campaigns by killing perhaps a third of his subjects. [76] The only Plantagenet known to have died from the Black Death was Edward III's daughter Joan in Bordeaux. [76]

Edward, the Black Prince resumed the war with destructive chevauchées starting from Bordeaux. His army was caught by a much larger French force at Poitiers, but the ensuing battle was a decisive English victory resulting in the capture of John II of France. John agreed a treaty promising the French would pay a four million écus ransom. The subsequent Treaty of Brétigny was demonstrably popular in England, where it was both ratified in parliament and celebrated with great ceremony. [76]

To reach agreement, clauses were removed that would have had Edward renounce his claim to the French crown in return for territory in Aquitaine and the town of Calais. These were entered in another agreement to be effected only after the transfer of territory by November 1361 but both sides prevaricated over their commitments for the following nine years. Hostages from the Valois family were held in London while John returned to France to raise his ransom. Edward had restored the lands of the former Angevin Empire holding Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, Maine and the coastline from Flanders to Spain. When the hostages escaped back to France, John was horrified that his word had been broken and returned to England, where he eventually died. [76]

Fighting in the Hundred Years' War spilled from the French and Plantagenet lands into surrounding realms, including the dynastic conflict in Castile between Peter of Castile and Henry II of Castile. The Black Prince allied himself with Peter, defeating Henry at the Battle of Nájera. Edward and Peter fell out when Peter was unable to reimburse Edward's military expenses leaving him bankrupt. [77] The Plantagenets continued to interfere, and John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, the Black Prince's brother, married Peter's daughter Constance, claiming the Crown of Castile in her name. He invaded with an army of 5000 men. Fighting was inconclusive before Gaunt agreed a treaty with King Juan of Castile. [78] Terms of the treaty included the marriage of John of Gaunt's daughter Katherine to Juan's son, Enrique. [79]

Charles V of France maintained the terms of the treaty of Brétigny but encouraged others in Aquitaine to challenge the authority of the Plantagenets in Aquitaine. [77] The prince, who had suffered a debilitating illness for nearly a decade which often restricted his movement to being carried in a litter, [77] returned to England, where he soon died. [80] John of Gaunt assumed leadership in France with limited success, and peace negotiations over several years were inconclusive. [78]

Descendants of Edward III Edit

The marriage of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault produced thirteen children and thirty-two grandchildren: [81]

    (1330–1376)—married his cousin Joan of Kent, a granddaughter of Edward I, with whom he had two sons:
  • Edward (1365–1371/2) (1367–1400)
    (1332–1382)—married Enguerrand VII, Lord of Coucy, and had two daughters:
    (1335–1348)
  • William (1334/6–1337) (1338–1368)—had one daughter with Elizabeth de Burgh:
    (1355–1378/81)—through Philippa, the House of York, by cognatic kinship, asserted that its claim to the throne was superior to the House of Lancaster's. Philippa's granddaughter and heir, Anne Mortimer, married Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, the Duke of York's heir. The earls of Northumberland and Clifford, significant supporters of the Lancasters during the Wars of the Roses, were descendants of Philippa through her other daughter, Elizabeth Mortimer.
    (1340–1399)—married Blanche of Lancaster, the heiress to the duchy of Lancaster and a direct descendant of Henry III, and had six children with her:
    (1360–1415)—married John I of Portugal.
  • John (c. 1362/1364)—died as an infant. (1364–1426)—married John Hastings, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, John Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter, and John Cornwall, 1st Baron Fanhope, respectively.
  • Edward of Lancaster (1365–1365)
  • John of Lancaster (1366)—died as an infant. (1367–1413)
  • Isabella of Lancaster (b. 1368)—died as a child.
    (1372–1418)—married Henry III of Castile, with whom she was a great-grandmother of Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII of England.
  • John (1374–1375)
    (c. 1371/1372–1410)—grandfather of Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII's mother. (1375–1447) (1377–1427) (1379–1440)—Joan's son, Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, and her grandson, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, were leading supporters of the House of York.
    (1341–1402)—founder of the House of York. He had three children with Isabella of Castile:
    (1373–1415)—killed at the Battle of Agincourt. (1374–1416) —(1375–1415)
  • Blanche (1342)—died as a child. (1344–1362)—married John V, Duke of Brittany. No issue. (1346–1361)—married John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. No issue.
  • Joan (b. 1351) (1355–1397)—murdered or executed for treason by order of Richard II his daughter, Anne, married Edmund Stafford.

Edward's long reign had forged a new national identity, reinforced by Middle English beginning to establish itself as the spoken and written language of government. As a result, he is considered by many historians in cultural respects the first 'English' post-conquest ruler. [76]

Demise of the main line Edit

The Black Prince's ten-year-old son succeeded as Richard II of England on the death of his grandfather, nominally exercising all the powers of kingship supported by various councils. His government levied poll taxes to finance military campaigns and combined with the poor state of the economy resulted in the Peasants' Revolt in 1381, followed by brutal reprisals against the rebels. [82]

The king's uncle Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, Richard FitzAlan, 11th Earl of Arundel, and Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick, became known as the Lords Appellant when they sought to impeach five of the king's favourites and restrain what was increasingly seen as tyrannical and capricious rule. Later they were joined by Henry Bolingbroke, the son and heir of John of Gaunt, and Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk. Initially, they were successful in establishing a commission to govern England for one year, but they were forced to rebel against Richard, defeating an army under Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, at the skirmish of Radcot Bridge. [82]

Richard was reduced to a figurehead with little power. As a result of the Merciless Parliament, de Vere and Michael de la Pole, 1st Earl of Suffolk, who had fled abroad, were sentenced to death in their absence. Alexander Neville, Archbishop of York, had all his possessions confiscated. Several of Richard's council were executed. On John of Gaunt's return from Spain, Richard was able to re-establish his power, having Gloucester murdered in captivity in Calais. Warwick was stripped of his title. Bolingbroke and Mowbray were exiled. [82]

When John of Gaunt died in 1399, Richard disinherited John's son, Henry, who invaded England in response with a small force that quickly grew in numbers. Meeting little resistance, Henry deposed Richard to have himself crowned Henry IV of England. Richard died in captivity early the next year, probably murdered, bringing an end to the main Plantagenet line. None of Henry's heirs were free from challenge on the grounds of not being the true heir of Richard II and that the Lancastrian dynasty had gained the throne by an act of usurpation. [82]

Henry IV Edit

Henry married his Plantagenet cousin Mary de Bohun, who was paternally descended from Edward I and maternally from Edmund Crouchback. [83] They had seven children: [84]

  • Edward (b. 1382 died as a child)—buried at Monmouth Castle, Monmouth. (1386–1422)—had one son:
    (1421–1471)—also had one son:
    (1453–1471)
    (1387–1421)—killed at the Battle of Baugé. His marriage to Margaret Holland proved childless he had an illegitimate son named John, also known as the Bastard of Clarence. (1389–1435)—had two childless marriages: to Anne of Burgundy, daughter of John the Fearless, and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. John had an illegitimate son and daughter, named Richard and Mary, respectively. (1390–1447)—died under suspicious circumstances while imprisoned for treason against Henry VI his death may have been the result of a stroke. (1392–1409)—married Louis III, Count Palatine of the Rhine, in 1402. (1394–1430)—married Eric of Pomerania, king of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, in 1406.

Henry went to convoluted legal means to justify his succession. Many Lancastrians asserted that his mother had had legitimate rights through her descent from Edmund Crouchback, who it was claimed was the elder son of Henry III of England, set aside due to deformity. [85] As the great-grandson of Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, was the heir presumptive to Richard II and Henry used multiple rationales stressing his Plantagenet descent, divine grace, powerful friends, and Richard's misgovernment. [86]

In fact Mortimer never showed interest in the throne. The later marriage of his sister Anne to Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge consolidated this claim to the throne with that of the more junior House of York. Henry planned to resume war with France, but was plagued with financial problems, declining health and frequent rebellions. [87] He defeated a Scottish invasion, a serious rebellion by Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland in the North and Owain Glyndŵr's rebellion in Wales. [87] Many saw it as a punishment from God when Henry was later struck down with unknown but chronic illnesses. [86]

Henry V Edit

Henry IV died in 1413. His son and successor, Henry V of England, aware that Charles VI of France's mental illness had caused instability in France, invaded to assert the Plantagenet claims and won a near total victory over the French at the Battle of Agincourt. [88] In subsequent years Henry recaptured much of Normandy and secured marriage to Catherine of Valois. The resulting Treaty of Troyes stated that Henry's heirs would inherit the throne of France, but conflict continued with the Dauphin.

Henry VI Edit

When Henry died in 1422, his nine-month-old son succeeded him as Henry VI of England. During the minority of Henry VI the war caused political division among his Plantagenet uncles, Bedford, Humphrey of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester, and Cardinal Beaufort. Humphrey's wife was accused of treasonable necromancy after two astrologers in her employ unwisely, if honestly, predicted a serious illness would endanger Henry VI's life, and Humphrey was later arrested and died in prison. [89]

Depopulation stemming from the Black Death led to increased wages, static food costs and a resulting improvement in the standard of living for the peasantry. However, under Henry misgovernment and harvest failures depressed the English economy to a pitiful state known as the Great Slump. The economy was in ruins by 1450, a consequence of the loss of France, piracy in the channel and poor trading relations with the Hanseatic League. [90] The economic slowdown began in the 1430s in the north of the country, spreading south in the 1440s, with the economy not recovering until the 1480s. [91]

It was also driven by multiple harvest failures in the 1430s and disease amongst livestock, which drove up the price of food and damaged the wider economy. [92] Certain groups were particularly badly affected: cloth exports fell by 35 per cent in just four years at the end of the 1440s, collapsing by up to 90 per cent in some parts of the South-West. [93] The Crown's debts reached £372,000, Henry's deficit was £20,000 per annum, and tax revenues were half those of his father. [94]

Pre-regnal history Edit

Edward III made his fourth son Edmund the first duke of York in 1362. Edmund was married to Isabella, a daughter of King Peter of Castile and María de Padilla and the sister of Constance of Castile, who was the second wife of Edmund's brother John of Gaunt. Both of Edmund's sons were killed in 1415. The younger, Richard, became involved in the Southampton Plot, a conspiracy to depose Henry V in favour of Richard's brother-in-law Edmund Mortimer. When Mortimer revealed the plot to the king, Richard was executed for treason. Richard's childless older brother Edward was killed at the Battle of Agincourt later the same year.

Constance of York was Edmund's only daughter and was an ancestor of Queen Anne Neville. The increasingly interwoven Plantagenet relationships were demonstrated by Edmund's second marriage to Joan Holland. Her sister Alianore Holland was mother to Richard's wife, Anne Mortimer. Margaret Holland, another of Joan's sisters, married John of Gaunt's son. She later married Thomas of Lancaster, John of Gaunt's grandson by King Henry IV. A third sister, Eleanor Holland, was mother-in-law to Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury—John's grandson by his daughter Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. These sisters were all granddaughters of Joan of Kent, the mother of Richard II, and therefore Plantagenet descendants of Edward I. [95]

Edmund's son Richard was married to Anne Mortimer, the daughter of Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March and Eleanor Holland and great-granddaughter of Edward III's second surviving son Lionel. Anne died giving birth to their only son in September 1411. [96] Richard's execution four years later left two orphans: Isabel, who married into the Bourchier family, and a son who was also called Richard.

Although his earldom was forfeited, Richard (the father) was not attainted, and the four-year-old orphan Richard was his heir. Within months of his father's death, Richard's childless uncle, Edward Duke of York, was killed at Agincourt. Richard was allowed to inherit the title of Duke of York in 1426. In 1432 he acquired the earldoms of March and Ulster on the death of his maternal uncle Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, who had died campaigning with Henry V in France, and the earldom of Cambridge which had belonged to his father.

Being descended from Edward III in both the maternal and the paternal line gave Richard a significant claim to the throne if the Lancastrian line should fail, and by cognatic primogeniture arguably a superior claim. [97] He emphasised the point by being the first to assume the Plantagenet surname in 1448. Having inherited the March and Ulster titles, he became the wealthiest and most powerful noble in England, second only to the king himself. Richard married Cecily Neville, a granddaughter of John of Gaunt, and had thirteen or possibly fifteen children: [98]

  • Joan (b. 1438 died as a child) (1439–1476)—(Mitochondrial DNA taken from a descendant of her second daughter, Anne St Leger, Baroness de Ros, was used in the identification of the remains of Richard III, which were found in 2012. [99] )
  • Henry (b. 1441 died as a child) (1442–1483) (1443–1460) (1444–1503)—married John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk she was the mother of several claimants to the throne. (1446–1503)—married Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy.
  • William (b. 1447 died as a child)
  • John (b. 1448 died as a child) (1449–1478)
  • Thomas (b. 1450/51 died as a child) (1452–1485)
  • Ursula (b. 1455 died as a child)
  • In her will, Cecily stated that Katherine and Humphrey were her children, but they may have been her grandchildren through de la Pole.

Conflict over the crown Edit

When Henry VI had a mental breakdown, Richard was named regent, but the birth of a male heir resolved the question of succession. [97] When Henry's sanity returned, the court party reasserted its authority, but Richard of York and the Nevilles defeated them at a skirmish called the First Battle of St Albans. The ruling class was deeply shocked and reconciliation was attempted. [97] York and the Nevilles fled abroad, but the Nevilles returned to win the Battle of Northampton, where they captured Henry. [97]

When Richard of York joined them he surprised Parliament by claiming the throne and forcing through the Act of Accord, which stated that Henry would remain as king for his lifetime, but would be succeeded by York. Margaret found this disregard for her son's claims unacceptable, and so the conflict continued. York was killed at the Battle of Wakefield and his head set on display at Micklegate Bar along with those of Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, who had been captured and beheaded. [97] The Scottish queen Mary of Guelders provided Margaret with support but London welcomed York's son Edward, Earl of March and Parliament confirmed that Edward should be made king. He was crowned after consolidating his position with victory at the Battle of Towton. [100]

Edward's preferment of the former Lancastrian-supporting Woodville family, following his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, led Warwick and Clarence to help Margaret depose Edward and return Henry to the throne. Edward and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, fled, but on their return, Clarence switched sides at the Battle of Barnet, leading to the death of the Neville brothers. The subsequent Battle of Tewkesbury brought the demise of the last of the male line of the Beauforts. The battlefield execution of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, and the later probable murder of Henry VI extinguished the House of Lancaster. [101]

Edward IV Edit

By the mid-1470s, the victorious House of York looked safely established, with seven living male princes: Edward IV, his two sons, his brother George and George's son, his brother Richard and Richard's son. Edward and Elizabeth Woodville themselves had ten children, seven of whom survived him: [102]

    (1466–1503)—queen consort to Henry VII of England (1467–1482) (1469–1507)—initially married John Welles, 1st Viscount Welles, and later married Thomas Kyme (or Keme) following John's death. (1470–c. 1483)—briefly succeeded his father as King Edward V. (1472 died that year) (1473–c. 1483) (1475–1511)—married Thomas Howard (1477–1479) (1479–1527)—married William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon. (1480–1517)—became a nun — possibly had an illegitimate daughter called Agnes of Eltham

Princes in the Tower and Richard III Edit

Dynastic infighting and misfortune quickly brought about the demise of the House of York. George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, plotted against his brother and was executed. Following Edward's premature death in 1483, his brother Richard had Parliament declare Edward's two sons illegitimate on the pretext of an alleged prior pre-contract to Lady Eleanor Talbot, leaving Edward's marriage invalid. [103]

Richard seized the throne, and the Princes in the Tower were never seen again. Richard's son predeceased him and Richard was killed in 1485 [104] after an invasion of foreign mercenaries led by Henry Tudor, who claimed the throne through his mother Margaret Beaufort. [105] Tudor assumed the throne as Henry VII, founding the Tudor dynasty and bringing the Plantagenet line of kings to an end. [106]

Tudor Edit

When Henry Tudor seized the throne there were eighteen Plantagenet descendants who might today be thought to have a stronger hereditary claim, and by 1510 this number had been increased further by the birth of sixteen Yorkist children. [107] Henry mitigated this situation with his marriage to Elizabeth of York. She was the eldest daughter of Edward IV, and all their children were his cognatic heirs. Indeed, Polydore Vergil noted Henry VIII's pronounced resemblance to his grandfather Edward: "For just as Edward was the most warmly thought of by the English people amongst all English kings, so this successor of his, Henry, was very much like him in general appearance, in greatness of mind and generosity and for that reason was the most acclaimed and approved of all." [108]

This did not deter Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy—Edward's sister and Elizabeth's aunt—and members of the de la Pole family—children of Edward's sister and John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk— from frequent attempts to destabilise Henry's regime. [109] Henry imprisoned Margaret's nephew Edward, Earl of Warwick, the son of her brother George, in the Tower of London, but in 1487 Margaret financed a rebellion led by Lambert Simnel pretending to be Edward. John de la Pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln, joined the revolt, probably anticipating that it would further his own ambitions to the throne, but he was killed in the suppression of the uprising at the Battle of Stoke Field in 1487. [110] Warwick was implicated by two further failed invasions supported by Margaret using Perkin Warbeck pretending to be Edward IV's son Richard of Shrewsbury, and Warbeck's later planned escape for them both Warwick was executed in 1499. Edward's execution may simply have been a precondition for the marriage of Arthur, Prince of Wales to Katherine of Aragon in 1501. [111]

De La Pole Edit

John de la Pole's attainder meant that his brother Edmund inherited their father's titles, but much of the wealth of the duchy of Suffolk was forfeit. Edmund did not possess sufficient finances to maintain his status as a duke, so as a compromise he accepted the title of earl of Suffolk. Financial difficulties led to frequent legal conflicts and Edmund's indictment for murder in 1501. He fled with his brother Richard, while their remaining brother, William, was imprisoned in the Tower—where he would remain until his death 37 years later—as part of a general suppression of Edmund's associates. Philip the Fair had been holding Edmund and in 1506 he returned him to Henry. Edmund was imprisoned in the Tower. In 1513, he was executed after Richard de la Pole, whom Louis XII of France had recognised as king of England the previous year, claimed the kingship in his own right. [112] Richard, known as the White Rose, plotted an invasion of England for years but was killed in 1525 at the Battle of Pavia while fighting as the captain of the French landsknechts during François I of France's invasion of Italy. [113]

Pole Edit

Warwick's sister, and therefore Edward IV's niece, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was executed by Henry VIII in 1541. By then, the cause was more religious and political rather than dynastic. The attainder of her father, Clarence, was a legal bar to any claims to the throne by his children. Additionally her marriage, arranged by Henry VII, to Sir Richard Pole, his half-cousin and trusted supporter, was not auspicious. Nevertheless, it did allow the couple to be closely involved in court affairs. Margaret's fortunes improved under Henry VIII and in February 1512 she was restored to the earldom of Salisbury and all the Warwicks' lands. This made her the first and, apart from Anne Boleyn, the only woman in 16th-century England to hold a peerage title in her own right. [114]

Her daughter Ursula married the son of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham's fall after arguments with the king over property, and Margaret's open support for Catherine of Aragon and Princess Mary began the Poles' estrangement from the king. Hope of reconciliation was dashed by De unitate, the letter that Margaret's son Reginald Pole wrote to Henry VIII, in which Reginald declared his opposition to the royal supremacy. In 1538 evidence came to light that Pole family members in England had been in communication with Reginald. Margaret's sons Geoffrey and Henry were arrested for treason along with several friends and associates, including Henry's wife and brother-in-law—Edward Neville. Among those arrested was the king's cousin Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter, his wife and 11-year-old son. Courteney's wife was released two years later, but their son spent 15 years in the Tower until Queen Mary released him. Except for the surviving Geoffrey Pole, all the others implicated were beheaded. [115]

Margaret was attainted. The possibility of an invasion involving Reginald via her south coast estates and her embittered relationship with Henry VIII precluded any chance of pardon. However, the decision to execute her seems a spontaneous, rather than a premeditated, act. According to the Calendar of State Papers her execution was botched at the hands of "a wretched and blundering youth . who literally hacked her head and shoulders to pieces in the most pitiful manner". In 1886 she was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on the grounds she had laid down her life for the Holy See "and for the truth of the orthodox Faith". [114]

Stafford Edit

Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, combined multiple lines of Plantagenet descent: from Edward III by his son Thomas of Woodstock, from Edward III via two of his Beaufort grandchildren, and from Edward I from Joan of Kent and the Holland family. His father failed in his rebellion against Richard III in 1483 but was restored to his inheritance on the reversal of his father's attainder late in 1485. His mother married Henry VII's uncle Jasper Tudor, and his wardship was entrusted to the king's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort. In 1502, during Henry VII's illness, there was debate as to whether Buckingham or Edmund de la Pole should act as regent for Henry VIII. There is no evidence of continuous hostility between Buckingham and Henry VIII, but there is little doubt of the duke's dislike of Thomas Wolsey, whom he believed to be plotting to ruin the old nobility. Therefore, Henry VIII instructed Wolsey to watch Buckingham, his brother Henry Stafford, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and three other peers. Neither Henry VIII nor his father planned to destroy Buckingham because of his lineage and Henry VIII even allowed Buckingham's son and heir, Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford, to marry Ursula Pole, giving the Staffords a further line of royal blood descent. Buckingham himself was arrested in April 1521 he was found guilty on 16 May and executed the next day. Evidence was provided that the duke had been listening to prophecies that he would be king and that the Tudor family lay under God's curse for the execution of Warwick. This was said to explain Henry VIII's failure to produce a male heir. Much of this evidence consisted of ill-judged comments, speculation and bad temper, but it underlined the threat presented by Buckingham's descent. [116]

Tudor succession Edit

As late as 1600, with the Tudor succession in doubt, older Plantagenet lines remained as possible claimants to a disputed throne, and religious and dynastic factors gave rise to complications. Thomas Wilson wrote in his report The State of England, Anno Domini 1600 that there were 12 "competitors" for the succession. At the time of writing (about 1601), Wilson had been working on intelligence matters for Lord Buckhurst and Sir Robert Cecil. [117] The alleged competitors included five descendants of Henry VII and Elizabeth, including the eventual successor James I of England, but also seven from older Plantagenet lines: [118]

Ranulph Crewe, Chief Justice of the King's Bench, argued that by 1626 the House of Plantagenet could not be considered to remain in existence in a speech during the Oxford Peerage case, which was to rule on who should inherit the earldom of Oxford. It was referred by Charles I of England to the House of Lords, who called for judicial assistance. Crewe said:

I have labored to make a covenant with myself, that affection may not press upon judgement for I suppose there is no man that hath any apprehension of gentry or nobleness, but his affection stands to the continuance of a house so illustrious, and would take hold of a twig or twine-thread to support it. And yet time hath his revolutions there must be a period and an end to all temporal things – finis rerum – an end of names and dignities, and whatsoever is terrene and why not of de Vere? For where is Bohun? Where is Mowbray? Where is Mortimer? Nay, which is more, and most of all, where is Plantagenet? They are entombed in the urns and sepulchres of mortality! yet let the name of de Vere stand so long as it pleaseth God. [119]

Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou
1113–1151
Henry II, King of England
1133–1189
Geoffrey, Count of Nantes
1134–1158
William FitzEmpress
1136–1164
Henry the Young King
1155–1183
Richard I, King of England
1157–1199
Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany
1158–1186
John, King of England
1167–1216
Arthur I, Duke of Brittany
1187–1203
Henry III, King of England
1207–1272
Richard, King of Germany
1209–1272
Edward I, King of England
1239–1307
Edmund, 1st Earl of Lancaster
1245–1296
Henry of Almain
1235–1271
Edmund, 2nd Earl of Cornwall
1249–1300
Alphonso, Earl of Chester
1273–1284
Edward II, King of England
1284–1327
Thomas, 1st Earl of Norfolk
1300–1338
Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent
1301–1330
Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster
c. 1278–1322
Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster
c. 1281–1345
Edward III, King of England
1312–1377
John, Earl of Cornwall
1316–1336
Edmund, 2nd Earl of Kent
1326–1331
John, 3rd Earl of Kent
1330–1352
Henry, Duke of Lancaster
c. 1310–1361
Edward,
Prince of Wales
1330–1376
John, Duke of Lancaster
1340–1399
Edmund, 1st Duke of York
1341–1402
Lionel, Duke of Clarence
1338–1368
Thomas, Duke of Gloucester
1355–1397
House of
Beaufort
Two generations
skipped
Richard II, King of England
1367–1400
John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset
(legitimated)
Henry IV, King of England
1367–1413
Edward, 2nd Duke of York
c. 1373–1415
Richard, Earl of Cambridge
1385–1415
Anne Mortimer
1388–1411
Humphrey, Earl of Buckingham
1382–1399
Henry V, King of England
1386–1422
Thomas, Duke of Clarence
1387–1421
John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset
1404–1444
John, Duke of Bedford
1389–1435
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
1390–1447
Richard, 3rd Duke of York
1411–1460
Henry VI, King of England
1421–1471
Margaret Beaufort
1443–1509
Edward IV, King of England
1442–1483
Edmund, Earl of Rutland
1443–1460
George, Duke of Clarence
1449–1478
Richard III, King of England
1452–1485
Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk
1444–c.1503
House of Tudor
Edward,
Prince of Wales
1453–1471
Henry VII, King of England
1457–1509
Elizabeth of York
1466–1503
Edward V, King of England
1470–?
Richard of Shrewsbury
1473–?
Margaret Pole,
Countess of Salisbury
Edward, Earl of Warwick
1475–1499
Edward, Prince of Wales
1473–1484
House of
York-de la Pole
House of Pole

Angevins [121] Henry II of England, 1133–1189, had 5 sons

1. William IX, Count of Poitiers, 1153–1156, died in infancy 2. Henry the Young King, 1155–1183, died without issue 3. Richard I of England, 1157–1199, died without legitimate issue 4. Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany, 1158–1186, had 1 son A. Arthur I, Duke of Brittany, 1187–1203, died without issue 5. John of England, 1167–1216, had 2 sons

A. Henry III of England, 1207–1272, had 6 sons I. Edward I of England, 1239–1307, had 6 sons. a. John of England, 1266–1271, died young b. Henry of England, 1267–1274, died young c. Alphonso, Earl of Chester, 1273–1284, died young d. Edward II of England, 1284–1327, had 2 sons i. Edward III of England, 1312–1377, had 8 sons 1. Edward, the Black Prince, 1330–1376, had 2 sons A. Edward, 1365–1372, died young B. Richard II of England, 1367–1400, died without issue 2. William of Hatfield, 1337–1337, died in infancy 3. Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, 1338–1368, 1 daughter. [123] A. Philippa, 5th Countess of Ulster, 1355–1381, married Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March, 2 sons and 2 daughters I Elizabeth Mortimer, 1371–1417 married Henry Percy (Hotspur), 1 son, 2 daughter To the Earls of Northumberland [124] II Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, 1373–1398, married Eleanor daughter of Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent and Alice Holland, Countess of Kent granddaughter of Eleanor of Lancaster a. Anne de Mortimer, 1373–1399, married Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge (see below) and it is through her descent from Lionel that the House of York claimed precedence over the House of Lancaster. To the House of York [125] b. Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, 1391–1425, heir presumptive to Richard II, no descendants 6. Thomas of England, 1347–1348, died in infancy 7. William of Windsor, 1348–1348, died in infancy 8. Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, 1355–1397, had 1 son A. Humphrey Plantagenet, 2nd Earl of Buckingham, 1381–1399, died without issue ii. John of Eltham, Earl of Cornwall, 1316–1336, died without issue e. Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk, 1300–1338, had 2 sons i. Edward of Norfolk, 1320–1334, died young ii. John Plantagenet, 1328–1362, died without issue f. Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent, 1301–1330, had 2 sons i. Edmund Plantagenet, 2nd Earl of Kent, 1326–1331, died young ii. John Plantagenet, 3rd Earl of Kent, 1330–1352, died without issue II. Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster, 1245–1296, had 3 sons a. Thomas Plantagenet, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, 1278–1322, died without issue b. Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, 1281–1345, had 1 son i. Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, 1310–1361, died without male issue, 2 daughters Maud, Countess of Leicester, 1339–1362, died without issue Blanche of Lancaster, married John of Gaunt and had 1 son and two daughters To House of Lancaster c. John of Beaufort, Lord of Beaufort, 1286–1327, died without issue III. Richard of England, 1247–1256, died young IV. John of England, 1250–1256, died young V. William of England, 1251–1256, died young VI. Henry of England, 1256–1257, died young B. Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, 1209–1272, had 5 sons I. John of Cornwall, 1232–1233, died in infancy II. Henry of Almain, 1235–1271, died without issue III. Nicholas of Cornwall, 1240–1240, died in infancy IV. Richard of Cornwall, 1246–1246, died in infancy V. Edmund, 2nd Earl of Cornwall, 1249–1300, died without issue

4. John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, 1340–1399, had 4 sons A. John of Lancaster, 1362–1365, died in infancy B. Edward Plantagenet, 1365–1368, died in infancy C. John Plantagenet, 1366–1367, died in infancy D. Henry IV of England, 1366–1413, had 5 sons I. Edward Plantagenet, 1382–1382, died in infancy II. Henry V of England, 1386–1422, had 1 son a. Henry VI of England, 1421–1471, had 1 son i. Edward of Westminster, 1453–1471, died without issue III. Thomas, Duke of Clarence, 1387–1421, died without issue IV. John, Duke of Bedford, 1389–1435, died without issue V. Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, 1390–1447, died without male issue E. John, 1374–1375, died in infancy

House of Beaufort (illegitimate branch of House of Lancaster) [127]

F. John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, 1373–1410, illegitimate, had 4 sons I. Henry Beaufort, 2nd Earl of Somerset, 1401–1418, died without issue II. John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, 1403–1444, died without male issue a. Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby 1430–1509, married Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, 1 son i. Henry VII of England married Elizabeth of York To the House of Tudor III. Thomas Beaufort, Count of Perche, 1405–1431, died without issue IV. Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, 1406–1455, had 4 sons a. Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset, 1436–1464, had 1 son i. Charles Somerset, 1st Earl of Worcester, 1460–1526, illegitimate, had 1 son 1. Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester, 1496–1549, had 4 sons A. William Somerset, 3rd Earl of Worcester, 1526–1589, had 1 son I. Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, 1568– 1628, had 8 sons B. Francis Somerset C. Charles Somerset D. Thomas Somerset b. Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset, 1439–1471, died without issue c. John Beaufort, Marquess of Dorset, 1441–1471, died without issue g. Thomas Beaufort, 1455–1463, died young G. Cardinal Henry Beaufort Bishop of Winchester, 1375–1447, died without issue H. Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, 1377–1427, had 1 son I. Henry Beaufort, died young

5. Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, 1341–1402, had 2 sons A. Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York, 1373–1415, died without issue B. Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, 1375–1415, had 1 son I. Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, 1411–1460, had 8 sons a. Henry of York, 1441–1441, died in infancy b. Edward IV of England, 1442–1483, had 3 sons and 7 daughters i. Edward V of England, 1470–?, died without issue ii. Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, 1473–?, died without issue iii. George Plantagenet, Duke of Bedford, 1477–1479, died young iv. Elizabeth of York married Henry VII of England, 4 sons and 4 daughters To the House of Tudor c. Edmund, Earl of Rutland, 1443–1460, died without issue d. William of York, 1447–1447, died in infancy e. John of York, 1448–1448, died in infancy f. George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, 1449–1478, had 2 sons and 2 daughters i. Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick, 1475–1499, died without issue ii. Richard of York, 1476–1477, died in infancy iii. Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, 1473–1541, considered by some to be the last of the Plantagenets, had 4 sons and one daughter, considered the source of one of the Alternative successions of the English crown. A. Henry Pole, 1st Baron Montagu To the Earl of Huntingdon, Marquess of Hastings and Earl of Loudoun g. Thomas of York, 1451–1451, died in infancy h. Richard III of England, 1452–1485, had 1 son i. Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales, 1473–1484, died young


American Gangster (2007)

No. In the movie American Gangster, Denzel Washington's Frank Lucas states that he had been Bumpy Johnson's driver for 15 years. In an interview, Bumpy's widow, Mayme Johnson, said, "Bumpy never had nobody drive him for 15 years." She admitted that Frank may have driven her husband a few times, but she said that her husband never saw Frank as anything more than someone he might have allowed to carry his coat. Former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Karen E. Quinones, points out in her book Harlem Godfather that Bumpy was released from prison in 1963 and died in 1968, leaving only a possible window of five years that Frank Lucas could have been Bumpy's driver. Bumpy had never been out of prison for fifteen years. -Philadelphia Daily News

Did detective Richie Roberts really turn in $1,000,000 in drug money?

Yes. In an interview, the real Richie Roberts said that he did get some heat for turning in the money, but he didn't become a "pariah" around his fellow officers like he does in the movie. -HOT 97 FM

Did detective Richie Roberts' partner really become a junkie?

"One of my partners did, yeah," said the real life Richie Roberts. -HOT 97 FM

Did Frank Lucas' wife really buy him the fur coat and hat?

Did the fur coat really give him away?

"No," Richie Roberts said in an interview. "Law enforcement knew of him. Frank doesn't believe that, but law enforcement certainly knew of him and his people. But certainly it brought a lot more attention onto him, that coat. You don't go around showing that kind of money when the people who are trying to arrest you are making in those days $25,000 a year, and you're showing a coat that's like five years salaries. It gets these guys a little angry. So, it was a bad mistake" (HOT 97 FM). Specifically, Richie is speaking of the flamboyant mistake that Frank made when he wore the chinchilla coat and hat to the March 8, 1971 Frazier vs. Ali fight at Madison Square Garden. The above picture of Frank Lucas and his wife Julie was taken on the night of the fight. The detectives in attendance noticed Frank, whose seats were closer than those of the Italian Mafia (BET, American Gangster series).

Did Frank really prefer to stay out of the limelight?

In a documentary about rival gangster Nicky Barnes (Cuba Gooding Jr. in the movie), titled Mr. Untouchable, the real Nicky Barnes said that Frank was actually the more flamboyant of the two of them. The real Frank Lucas responded to Nicky's accusation in an MTV interview, "Nicky was a flamboyant guy, who was kind of live. He would jump out of cars and beat up junkies and all kinds of foolishness. I didn't like that. I tried to stay out of the limelight" (MTV.com). Nicky Barnes displayed his flamboyancy for everyone to see when he appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in his notorious goggle-like Gucci glasses, boasting that he was "Mr. Untouchable." Nicky's bold declaration got the attention of President Jimmy Carter, who insisted that something be done about the dope problem in Harlem (New York Magazine).

Did Frank really smuggle heroin from Vietnam in the coffins of dead servicemen?

Did Lucas really visit the poppy fields and meet with his Southeast Asian supplier directly?

Former heroin dealer Frank Lucas said that this is true. He met with a Chinese man who went by the alias 007. The man took Lucas upcountry to the Golden Triangle, a poppy-growing region where Thailand, Burma, and Laos merge together (New York Magazine). Frank saw endless fields of opium poppies. See poppy fields and opium poppies close-up. These poppies are used to make heroin, a semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from morphine.

Did Frank Lucas really dress in a U.S. Army uniform to blend in when he was overseas?

In the movie, Denzel Washington's Frank Lucas is seen dressed in an Army uniform when he is in Southeast Asia. According to the real Frank Lucas, he would dress up as a lieutenant colonel. "You should have seen me -- I could really salute." -New York Magazine

Did Frank really recruit the help of his brothers and cousins from North Carolina?

Yes. This part of the movie is true. Emerging drug kingpin Frank Lucas recruited the help of family members, and he moved them to New York from rural North Carolina. Frank's five younger brothers who worked with him became known as the Country Boys. In an interview, Frank Lucas explained his strategy of recruiting his rural relatives into his business, "A country boy, you can give him any amount of money. His wife and kids might be hungry, and he'll never touch your stuff until he checks with you. City boys ain't like that. A city boy will take your last dime, look you in the face, and swear he ain't got it. . You don't want a city boy -- the sonofabitch is just no good." -New York Magazine

Did Frank really witness the police murder his cousin when he was a boy?

At the end of the movie American Gangster, Denzel Washington's character tells Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) about how when he was a 6-year-old boy, he watched his 12-year-old cousin get shot in the mouth by the police, who had tied him to a pole. The true story behind this incident involved members of the Ku Klux Klan, not the police. Frank said that the Klan came to his house, which was located in the back woods near La Grange, North Carolina. They accused his brother of eyeballing a white girl, who was walking down the street. "They took ropes on each hand, pulled them tight in opposite directions. Then they shoved a shotgun in Obadiah's mouth and pulled the trigger." Frank said that this moment caused him to begin his life of crime (New York Magazine). "They crossed the line. Now everything is a fair game now" (BET, American Gangster). Ron Chepesiuk, author of Superfly: The True, Untold Story of Frank Lucas, American Gangster, said that he has found no evidence that Frank had a cousin murdered by the Ku Klux Klan (The Chicago Syndicate).

Was Frank Lucas' wife Julie really a former Miss Puerto Rico?

No. Frank admits that the filmmakers were wrong about his wife, Julie Lucas, being a former Miss Puerto Rico, "She was some kind of homecoming queen, but I don't know about [being Miss Puerto Rico]. No doubt about it, she was a pretty girl" (MTV.com). Further research confirmed that Frank's wife's maiden name, Julie Farrait, does not appear on the Miss Puerto Rico winners list. Frank met Julie while on a trip to Puerto Rico, where he would isolate himself to brainstorm his "business" ideas (New York Magazine).

Did Frank really shoot a rival drug dealer on a crowded sidewalk?

Yes, although Frank has since retracted his account of the incident, which first appeared in Mark Jacobson's 2000 New York Magazine article "The Return of Superfly." In a powerful scene in the movie American Gangster, Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) shoots a rival drug dealer in the head in broad daylight on a crowded sidewalk. Frank's original account of the incident was similar, except that his brothers weren't watching like they are in the movie, and he didn't return to eat with them within a stones throw of the murder scene.

In real life, the gangster's name was Tango, a 270-pound bald-headed character who was quick on his feet. "Everyone was scared of him," Frank told Jacobson in 2000. "So I figured, Tango, you're my man." Frank confronted Tango and asked him for money that Tango owed him. Tango cursed at Frank. Unlike in the movie, Tango "broke" for Frank, prompting Frank to shoot him four times. ". bam, bam, bam, bam," Frank recounted. "The boy didn't have no head. The whole [email protected] blowed out back there . That was my real initiation fee into taking over completely down here. Because I killed the badest motherf*@ker. Not just in Harlem but in the world." Lucas has since denied the murder. He was never charged (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Was Frank's Blue Magic "brand" of dope really 100% pure?

Not exactly. The movie asserts that Frank Lucas' heroin, Blue Magic, was 100 percent pure. In reality, it was 98 percent pure when it arrived from Southeast Asia. Frank then cut it with "60 percent mannite and 40 percent quinine." This resulted in a product that was only 10 percent pure when it hit the streets. However, this was much better than the rival "brands," which were lucky to be at 5 percent purity (New York Magazine). Addicts who were used to heroin that was only 1 to 3 percent pure often wound up dead after using Frank Lucas' Blue Magic, which was much stronger. Frank had to cut down a little bit on the quality in order to keep his customers alive (BET, American Gangster series).

Did Frank really use naked women to cut his dope?

Yes. According to heroin dealer Frank Lucas, he employed 10 to 12 women who were naked, except for surgical masks. A petite, ruby-haired woman nicknamed Red Top was in charge. -New York Magazine

How much money was Frank Lucas earning at the height of his dope operation?

In the 2000 interview with New York Magazine, Frank claimed that he cleared $1 million a day selling drugs on 116th street. He claims that he once had "something like $52 million," which was mostly in Cayman Islands banks. In addition, he had "maybe 1,000 keys of dope on hand," which was worth no less than $300,000 per kilo. -New York Magazine

Was Frank Lucas a family man as shown in the movie?

The real detective Richie Roberts (now an attorney) told the New York Post, "The parts in the movie that depict Frank as a family man are ludicrous. They did it for dramatic purposes, you know, to make him look good and me look bad." Roberts called the American Gangster scene that shows drug kingpin Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) holding hands with his family during a Thanksgiving prayer "sickening." View a photo of Frank Lucas sharing a meal with his family.

Did Frank and his wife have a child not shown in the movie?

Yes. Although she is not included in the movie, Frank and his wife Julie Lucas had a daughter, Francine, who was 3-years-old at the time of the raid on her family's Teaneck, New Jersey home. The raid ended with both of her parents being arrested. Her mother spent six months in jail for throwing suitcases filled with tens of thousands of dollars out the bathroom window during the raid. She also stuffed money into her daughter Francine's pants in an attempt to hide it. Francine was raised by her mother and her mother's parents in Puerto Rico until the age of nine. It was then that her father was released from prison and the family returned to New Jersey to live with Frank's parents. Frank started dealing again.

Several months after her father was released, Francine found herself on a trip to Las Vegas with her mother. Unbeknownst to Francine, her mother Julie was there to help with a drug deal. The FBI busted Julie and she served four and a half years in prison. Frank was sentenced to seven years (Glamour). Francine returned to Puerto Rico to live with Julie's parents, where she eventually graduated college after attending the University of Puerto Rico. She returned to the United States in 1996 as an Olympics volunteer in Atlanta. After visiting the set of the movie American Gangster, Francine decided to create a web-based organization that she named YellowBrickRoads.org. The organization is dedicated to offering support and advice to kids with incarcerated parents (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Frank has a total of seven children (Charlie Rose).

Did Frank Lucas' wife really ask him to come clean and leave the dope business?

Yes. In the movie, drug kingpin Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is asked by his wife Eva (Lymari Nadal) to give up his heroin operation. When asked if his wife requested this of him in real life, Frank Lucas said, "Very much so. . That was true." -HOT 97 FM

Was Detective Richie Roberts really in a custody battle with his first wife?

No. The movie American Gangster shows Richie Roberts and his first wife in a custody battle that ends with Richie admitting that he is a failure as a father. In reality, Richie Roberts and his first wife did not have a child together. Richie told the New York Post that the movie's depiction of his relationship with his first wife is offensive.

Did Richie Roberts really sleep with as many women as the movie implies?

"During that period of time I was not always married," Richie said. "I was divorced and single. And there was still a lot of leftover from the crazy sixties. You know, sexual freedom. And I didn't do anything differently than anybody else did at that time." -HOT 97 FM

Was Frank really connected to famous people?

Yes. In the movie, we see American gangster Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) connecting with celebrities at a boxing match. In real life, Frank was especially good friends with the heavyweight champ Joe Louis. Frank once paid off a $50,000 tax lien for the champ, who would later appear almost every day at Frank's various trials. -New York Magazine

I heard that Frank was friends with Puff Daddy's father. Is that true?

Was Puff Daddy's father a gangster like Frank?

Did corrupt cops really try to extort Frank?

Yes. In an interview, Frank Lucas said that he was extorted by corrupt cops who took over $200,000 a week (HOT 97 FM). These officers were part of the NYPD's Special Investigations Unit. By 1977, 52 out of the 70 officers who had been assigned to the unit were either in jail or under indictment (New York Magazine).

Did Frank Lucas really blow up a dirty cop's car?

Frank responded to this question by saying, "I'm gonna tell you right now. Yes the hell I did blow it up." -HOT 97 FM

Did a corrupt cop really find several keys of dope in Lucas' trunk?

In an interview, Frank said that this really happened, but that he did not pay the cop off in the street as shown in the movie American Gangster. Instead, the detective took Lucas to the station house, where Lucas agreed to pay the detective "30 grand and two keys." -New York Magazine

Did a crooked cop really find money that Frank buried under his pet's doghouse?

No. "I never buried no money at my house," Frank explained when asked about the scene in American Gangster. In the movie, a crooked cop finds money that is buried under a doghouse at Denzel Washington's character's home. -HOT 97 FM

Did Frank's cousin really turn informant on him?

Yes. The movie American Gangster shows a family member of Frank's turning on him and working with the police to bring him down. In an interview, Richie Roberts said that this is true. "It was a cousin. We had three detectives who really spearheaded our investigation: Jones, Spearman, and Abruzzo. . We helped them flip a cousin who was an informant. . He testified during the trial." -HOT 97 FM

Did Richie Roberts really arrest Frank Lucas as he walked out of church?

No. The real Richie Roberts called it a "wonderful scene," but admitted that it didn't go down that way (HOT 97 FM). Both Frank and his wife Julie were arrested during the raid on their Teaneck, NJ home. Julie Lucas served time in prison for throwing suitcases full of money out of their bathroom window.

Was Richie Roberts really responsible for bringing down Frank Lucas?

Ron Chepesiuk, author of Superfly: The True, Untold Story of Frank Lucas, American Gangster, said that Detective Richie Roberts, "was a minor figure in the Lucas investigation the idea that Roberts was the key official in bringing Lucas down is Hollywood's imagination" (The Chicago Syndicate). During a Charlie Rose interview, Roberts himself said, "The people who put Frank down. I'm more like a composite. We had a squad of guys that worked on him." On a radio show, Roberts admitted that some of the other detectives were upset over the lack of screen time that their counterparts received in the movie (HOT 97 FM).

These detectives included ex-New Jersey cops Ed Jones, Al Spearman and Ben Abruzzo. "We spent nearly two years risking our lives on that case, and then we see a guy who had no interest before we made the arrests take the credit. We're angry," said Jones. -United Press International

Where exactly was Frank Lucas' home in Teaneck, New Jersey?

Heroin dealer Frank Lucas' early 1970s home was located at 933 Sheffield Road in Teaneck, New Jersey. It is believed to be the house that is slightly southeast of the pointer on this map ( See Google Map).

Did the dirty cop really blow his brains out like in the movie?

Did the government really confiscate everything that Frank Lucas owned?

Yes. Following the 1975 raid on Frank's home in Teaneck, New Jersey, the government seized all of Frank's assets and properties. When Frank was released from prison in 1991, he didn't even have enough money to buy a pack of cigarettes. "The properties in Chicago, Detroit, Miami, North Carolina, Puerto Rico — they took everything," Frank said. Despite being told otherwise by his lawyer, the government was even able to seize the money in his offshore Cayman Island accounts. "Take my word for it. If you got something, hide it, 'cause they can go to any bank and take it" (MTV.com). The real Richie Roberts said that they (the government) confiscated $35 million initially after the arrest, and three or four times that much in property (HOT 97 FM).

How could the government take the money in Frank's offshore Cayman Islands accounts?

In an interview, former detective Richie Roberts explained, "There are agreements between the United States and all of these places that if the government can show them probable cause that the money comes from illegal conspiracies, then we can confiscate them." -HOT 97 FM

Did Richie really confront Frank like he does at the end of the movie American Gangster?

No. At the end of the movie, Hollywood heavyweights Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe have a memorable exchange after Frank (Washington) is in custody. During a Charlie Rose interview, Richie was asked if the scene happened that way in real life. He responded, "No. not quite that way." He agreed that it is a great scene.

Did Frank put a hit out on Richie Roberts?

Did Frank only snitch on crooked cops and not fellow dope dealers?

Frank denies snitching on anyone but dirty cops, but Richie Roberts said that is "simply not true." Roberts explained in an interview, "If Frank did not do what he did, talk about people that he talked about, there would have been a lot more people out there OD'ing on dope and a lot more people having their lives and families destroyed because of it. He should be commended for that in my opinion." Richie said that Frank snitched on dirty cops, fellow drug dealers, and even more so the mob. -HOT 97 FM

Ron Chepesiuk, author of Superfly: The True, Untold Story of Frank Lucas, American Gangster, said the idea that "Lucas turned in only corrupt cops is an effort by Tinsel Town to soften Lucas' image as a snitch. Deep down, nobody really likes or respects a snitch he was not a snitch out of any altruistic motive. He did it to save his skin, facing 70 years in prison" (The Chicago Syndicate). Frank's original sentence was reduced and changed to parole. Upon being released from prison, Frank was placed into the Federal Witness Protection Program (HOT 97 FM). His testimony has netted more than 100 convictions (BET, American Gangster series).

Did Frank's wife really go back to Puerto Rico after the trial?

Did Richie Roberts pay for one of Frank's sons to go to school?

Yes. Richie Roberts, now a New Jersey defense attorney, paid for Frank's son Ray (pictured above) to go to a private Catholic school. Frank praised his former adversary in an interview, "When I come out and everything and didn't have no money, he sent my kid to school for a long time, an expensive Catholic school too. He did that for me. He was paying like $600 a month" (HOT 97 FM). Richie is also Ray Lucas' godfather (Charlie Rose).

Did actor Benicio Del Toro really receive $5 million in 2004 after Universal executives abandoned the American Gangster project?

Yes. In the fall of 2004, just before production was about to start on the movie, Universal executives abandoned the project due to an escalating budget that had swelled to over $100 million. As a result of the terms of his pay-or-play contract, actor Benicio Del Toro, who had signed on to play Richie Roberts, received $5 million. Denzel Washington's similar pay-or-play guarantee left him with $20 million (EW.com). Antoine Fuqua had been set to direct the project, originally titled Tru Blu (Variety). The title refers to one of the many "brands" of dope circulating in Harlem during the 1970s (New York Magazine).

Did rapper Jay-Z release an album inspired by the movie?

What is Frank Lucas doing today?

At age 77 (2007), Frank is working with his daughter Francine, and together they're trying to get some finances lined up to build what Frank describes as "a facility where kids can go play ball or whatever. I want to be remembered for helping these kids," Frank told MTV.

I heard that Denzel Washington bought Frank Lucas a house and a Rolls Royce. Is that true?

"He [Denzel Washington] did give me the money for a Rolls Royce," Frank said, "and my wife wanted a house. She said don't get no Rolls. " -HOT 97 FM

Learn more about the American Gangster true story by watching the interview and biography listed below featuring Frank Lucas and former detective Richie Roberts. The interview was conducted on HOT 97 FM's morning show, Miss Jones in the Morning.

The real Frank Lucas sits down in the studio with Miss Jones, who asks the former gangster about the movie and his life as a former drug kingpin. Near the end of the segment, Frank is asked if he has any regrets. He responds by saying that he'll regret what he did until the day he dies.

Through photos and archival footage, The Biography Channel tells the story of Frank Lucas' life in five minutes or less, from his childhood in North Carolina to his position as a Harlem drug lord and his eventual takedown.

American Gangster movie trailer - Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington, the movie tells the story of a drug lord's rise to power in Harlem during the 1970s, in part due to the innovative ways that he ran his business, which included smuggling heroin into the country by hiding the stash inside the coffins of American soldiers returning from Vietnam.


George “Speedy” Gaspard: A Special Forces legend

Posted On August 17, 2020 08:05:16

Featured Image: Green Beret in Vietnam (not Gaspard) Photos: SF Association Chapter XXI.

During America’s long war in Vietnam, many of the Green Berets who fought there became legends within the Special Forces Regiment. And among those warriors were the men of MACVSOG (Military Assistance Command Vietnam, Studies and Observations Group) the SOG warriors were among the finest the country has ever produced.

LTC George “Speedy” Gaspard was one of the most well-known and respected officers from that generation. After serving with the Marine Corps in World War II, Gaspard joined the Army. He was an original, volunteering for the newly formed 10th Special Forces Group and attending Special Forces Class #1. He would run cross border operations in the Korean War but really made his mark during the war in Vietnam, working in Special Forces A-Camps as well as running some of the most secret operations across the border into North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Gaspard became a “Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment” in December 2010.

Shortly after I moved to SW Florida I got into contact with Chapter XXI of the SF Association. I was checking out their excellent website, saw a large segment dedicated to LTC Gaspard, and remembered a brief meeting I had with him years ago. More to that soon.

George Wallace Gaspard Jr. was born at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Ala., on August 5, 1926. He was the son of the late George W. Gaspard of MN, and Annie Lou Bamberg of AL.

He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1944 to 1946 and fought in the final battle of World War II on the island of Okinawa with the 6th Marine Division. He first entered the U.S. Army on June 11, 1951.

In May 1952, Gaspard was a student in the first all-officer-class at the Ranger course. He then attended a special course at the Air Ground School located at Southern Pines, N.C. Afterward, he volunteered for the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), which had just been organized at Fort Bragg, N.C.

His first assignment was as a team leader of the 18th SF Operational Detachment. In November 1952, he attended Special Forces Class #1. The fledgling Special Forces unit, much of it comprised of World War II vets from the OSS, was anxious to get involved in the Korean War and conduct missions similar to those conducted in occupied areas of Europe and the Pacific during the war.

The SF troops were put in an active intelligence operation that utilized Tactical Liaison Offices (TLO). Although they were initially manned only by anti-communist Koreans, the TLO would eventually conduct “line-crossing operations” which included using Chinese agents to gather intelligence on the enemy.

However, the Far East Command (FEC), assigned the SF troops as individual replacements rather than as 15-man A-Teams that SF was employing at the time using the OSS WWII Operational Group model.

In March 1953, then 1Lt. Gaspard was assigned to FEC/LD 8240AU FECOM. He commanded four enlisted men and 80 South Korean agents, who were dispatched behind enemy lines to gather intelligence on the North Koreans. Obviously the threat of double agents, something that would later haunt SOG operations in Vietnam, loomed. An excellent piece on this facet of the Korean War, written by former SF Officer and USASOC Historian Eugene Piasecki, “TLO: Line Crossers, Special Forces, and ‘the Forgotten War'” can be found here.

Gaspard was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star for actions in combat during June 11-12, 1953.

In October 1954, Gaspard joined the 77th SF Group (A) as a guerrilla warfare instructor with the Psychological Warfare School’s Special Forces Department. He was subsequently transferred to the 187th ARCT and honorably discharged in September 1957.

From 1960 to 1962, he served as a civilian mobilization designee with the Special Warfare department in the Pentagon. In April 1962, he was recalled to active duty and assigned to the 5th SF Group (A) at Fort Bragg, commanding Det A-13. In September, he opened a new Special Forces Camp in Kontum Province at Dak Pek, Vietnam, which remained the longest continuously active SF/ARVN Ranger camp until it was overrun in 1972. That would be the first of seven tours of duty in Vietnam for Gaspard.

During the early days of Vietnam, there was a general lack of accurate reporting by the press on the fighting. However, there were a handful of reporters who were willing to walk in the field and endure combat with the troops. One of those was Pulitzer Prize-winning author and reporter David Halberstam. He was a special correspondent with the New York Times and not a wire reporter, so, he had the time to visit the troops and share a much closer look at what was truly transpiring on the ground.

One of the first people that Halberstam met in Vietnam was Speedy Gaspard. The two developed a friendship and Gaspard became a source of what was really happening in the outlying areas of Vietnam where SF was working by, with, and through the locals. Halberstam was so taken by Gaspard that he modeled the lead character of his war novel “One Very Hot Day” after him.

Captain Gaspard returned to Fort Bragg in 1963 as adjutant and HHC commander of the newly formed 6th SF Group (A). In July 1965, he reported to AID Washington, DC, and subsequently to AID Saigon, where we was assigned as a provincial adviser in Quang Duc Province. He was instrumental in the very tricky negotiations to peacefully transfer FULRO personnel (Front Uni de Lutte des Races Opprimées — United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races) to the Army of South Vietnam.

FULRO was comprised of the indigenous people of the Central Highlands of Vietnam (Montagnards). They were hated by the lowland Vietnamese, both in South and North Vietnam and referred to as “moi” (savages). At the time, Vietnamese books characterized Montagnards as having excessive body hair and long tails. The Vietnamese rarely ventured into Montagnard regions until after the French colonial rule. Then, they built several profitable plantations to grow crops in and extract natural resources from those bountiful areas.

The simple mountain people were excellent hunters and trackers. They immediately bonded with the Green Berets assigned to stop the communist infiltration of South Vietnam and the Green Berets responded in kind. SF set up the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG), which trained and led the Montagnards in Unconventional Warfare against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese.

But the South Vietnamese government never trusted and hated the CIDG program because it feared the Montagnard people would want independence. (Such was their hatred for the Vietnamese that the Montagnards would continue to fight a guerrilla war against unified Vietnam for 20 years after the war ended. There were reports of genocide against the mountain people and over 200,000 died during the fight.)

Gaspard was promoted to major in 1966, and after completing his tour, reported to 1st SF Group (A), Okinawa. In October 1967, he returned to Vietnam and directed the MACVSOG “STRATA” program until September 1968.

The commanders in Vietnam, especially among the SOG personnel, were never satisfied with the intelligence collection activities conducted in North Vietnam. STRATA was conceived to aid the intelligence situation by focusing on short-term intelligence-gathering operations close to the border. The all-Vietnamese Short Term Roadwatch and Target Acquisition teams would report on activities across the border and then be recovered to be used again. Gaspard and the SOG Commander, Col. Jack Singlaub, briefed Gen. Westmoreland and Gen. Abrams on STRATA operations.

Once, a STRATA team became surrounded and required emergency extraction. Gaspard, riding a hydraulic penetrator, twice descended to remove a wounded agent. He was subsequently awarded the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism and the Purple Heart Medal for his actions.

Moles inside South Vietnam’s government and military, even in SOG, were a constant source of leaks to the North, even in SOG. Some of these leaks came to light much later. However, Gaspard would remedy that. As written in a fantastic piece by SOG team member John Stryker Meyer, Gaspard moved the operations jump-off location out of South Vietnam and the intelligence leaks began to dry up.

It wasn’t until many years later that Gaspard realized the extent of the communist infiltration of the south, right into SOG headquarters. Meyer describes in his piece the horror felt when someone close to the Americans, someone who had been vetted, was in fact a spy for the enemy.

Gaspard returned to SOG in 1969 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1971. He reported to 1st SF Group, Okinawa as the group executive officer, and later assumed command of the 1st Battalion. He retired in August 1973 after having served in three wars.

His earned multiple awards and decorations including the Silver Star Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with V-device and five Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with V-device and three Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Combat Infantryman’s Badge with one Battle Star, Master Parachutist Badge, Pacific Theater Service Ribbon with one Campaign Star, Korea Service Ribbon with two campaign Stars, Vietnam Service Campaign Ribbon with 15 campaign Stars, 18 other service and foreign awards including the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Gold, Silver and Bronze stars, U.S. Navy Parachute Wings, Korea Master Parachutist Wings, Vietnamese Master Parachutist Wings, Thailand Master Parachutist Wings, and Cambodia Parachute Wings.

LTC Gaspard was a member of SFA, SOA, VFW, MOAA, American Legion, and the Sons of Confederacy.

From 2004 to 2017 Speedy served as president, vice president, or secretary of the Chapter XXI President of the Special Forces Association. (The Chapter provided a lot of Gaspard’s personal biography listed here.)

In 1985, Colonel Gaspard entered the South Carolina State Guard and in 1987 was appointed Chief of Staff with the rank of Brigadier General. In 1991, he was inducted into the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia.

In the early fall of 1989, when I was a student in the SF Officer’s course at Ft. Bragg, one of our fellow students was a young man named George Gaspard, the son of Speedy. Young George, whom we knew as “Buck” was an outstanding officer and an even better man who was very popular among the officers in the class.

We learned that General Speedy Gaspard was going to address our class. He first showed us an outstanding slideshow of pics he took while conducting some hair-raising missions with SOG. They were better than anything we had seen in any book or magazine. He then addressed the class in his self-effacing style and said: “standing before you is an old, fat man, but in Vietnam, I was an old, fat captain… but I relied on and surrounded myself with outstanding SF NCOs who made me look brilliant.”

He encouraged the future A-Team commanders to trust in their team sergeants and NCOs and they’d never be steered wrong. SF NCOs, he said, were the true leaders of Special Forces and officers need to realize it, work together, and take care of NCOs. Of course, sitting in the rear of the classroom was General David Baratto commander of the Special Warfare Center and School (SWC), who cringed a bit at those pointed comments.

Sitting in the back, my buddy Wade Chapple and I were stealing glances at General Baratto who looked pained… In a typical Chapple bit of sarcasm, he leaned over and said to me, “I think his (Baratto’s) head is about to f***ing explode.”

After the day was over, our entire class, including many of our instructors, joined Speedy Gaspard at the “O-Club” for a cocktail or three. He regaled us with some cool stories about the SF and SOG guys he served with. It was a memorable night. When we left that night, he made everyone feel that we knew him well. It was an honor to have met him.

LTC George “Speedy” Gaspard passed away on January 30, 2018.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.


Relationships [ edit | edit source ]

    : Father, deceased : Mother, deceased : Step-mother, aunt, deceased : Cousin, deceased
  • Heinz, Cousin, deceased (shot by his wife, "Brother's Keeper")
  • unnamed uncle (featured in story Raylan relates to Wade Messer, "Harlan Roulette"
  • Everett, mother's cousin (owner of an irritable boar, "Cut Ties") : Daughter
    : Former boss and Former Chief Deputy US Marshal of the Miami, Florida Field Office : Longtime friend, former boss, Chief Deputy US Marshal for Lexington, Kentucky Field Office : Former coworker, Deputy US Marshal : Former coworker, Deputy US Marshal : Current Chief Deputy US Marshal for Miami, Florida Field Office, Partner in Elvis Machado investigation : Kentucky State Police officer, deceased : Former coworker, Deputy US Marshal . Former coworker, Assistant Director of US Marshals Service
    : (Season 1) High school crush : (Season 1 to Season 3, Season 6 - ) Wife and mother of his child : (Season 3 to Season 4) Bartender of the bar above Raylan's former apartment : Bailbondsman and former lover of Raylan's from the past, deceased : (Season 5) Loretta McCready's Social Worker who first meets Raylan after her client gets arrested for selling drugs.
  • Unnamed meth head : Gun thug out of Miami : Kidnapper
  • Frank: Hitman sent to kill Roland Pike
  • Joe: Hitman sent to kill Roland Pike : Hitman sent to kill Raylan : Hitman sent to kill Raylan : Accomplice of Bo : Accomplice of Bo : Accomplice of Bo : Nephew of Gio Reyes
  • Reyes' Pilot: Shot with Boyd Crowder : Son of Mags Bennett
  • Gary's hitman 1: Hitman sent to kill Raylan and Winona
  • Gary's hitman 2: Hitman sent to kill Raylan and Winona : Nurse who is an accomplice and girlfriend of Lance : Prison medic, accomplice and boyfriend of Layla. : Accomplice of Tanner Dodd (Accidentally shot by both men during a struggle) : Bail jumper and murderer of Sharon Edmunds : Hitman working for Theo Tonin who impersonates a Harlan County Deputy : Henchman of Nick Augustine : Henchman of Nick Augustine : Henchman of Nick Augustine : Drug dealer and associate of Daryl Crowe Jr. : Theo Tonin's consigliere
  • Walker Henchman 1: Henchman working for Ty Walker : Accomplice of Ty Walker : Ex-Ranger and henchman of Avery Markham : Hired gun working for Markham
    : Childhood friend, Incarcerated : Petty criminal, deceased : Leader of the Miami Drug Cartel : Middleman for the Dixie Mafia, At Large : Winona's second husband, deceased : High school basebal rival, Incarcerated : Detroit crime boss, abductor, dismembered, deceased : Dirty FBI Agent, deceased : Lindsey's ex-husband, Incarcerated : Detroit crime boss, deceased : Head of the Crowe family based in Florida, deceased : Legendary Kentucky gangster and lover of Katherine Hale, deceased

9. She Was a Teenaged Widow

Bedridden and delirious, Catherine spent the next days fighting for her life. When she pulled through, it was an absolute miracle—yet the young princess didn’t come out unscathed. Though she survived, she awoke to find that her young husband had not. At 16 years old, Catherine was a widow…and this was dangerous in more ways than one.

The Spanish Princess (2019– ), All3 Media

A long, long time ago, I wrote that it would take too long to detail the very many historical inaccuracies present in Elizabeth (1998) and as I recently found my copy of it and have a mighty need to throw it away, that particular article just begged to be written.

Described by reviewers as an “extravagant history lesson,” a “thought-provoking history lesson,” while the screenwriter assures us in the ‘Making of…‘ that much of the plot is based on historical events (though embellished slightly for entertainment’s sake) we would assume then that Elizabeth is a largely accurate portrait with some exaggeration. Instead, we have a two-hour drama in which Elizabeth is the only Protestant in England and Robert Dudley a traitor in the pay of Spain (to say the least).
At the centre of the film is the question – why was Elizabeth the Virgin Queen? Why did she feel the need to invent herself as Gloriana and maintain that image so strictly? On one hand, it could be that the ravages of illness and age combined with her natural vanity served her to fall into presenting a pre-conceived image of ‘the virgin queen’ to the nation, in order to disguise her emerging physical flaws. On the other, it could be that she slept with Robert Dudley, regretted it and then endeavoured to “reclaim her lost virginity from a man who wasn’t worthy of it.” Yup, I’m not making that up – that’s a quote from the director.

Kathy Burke’s portrayal of Mary I is probably the best thing in the film

The Film: Mary I rules with an iron fist, comfortable in the loyalty of her subjects who see her as the true ruler for her efforts in restoring the Catholic faith, despite her evident mental instability. Her husband is obviously disinterested in her and everyone knows it. When she falls pregnant, everyone knows that this is impossible and they start preparing for her death. An increasingly unstable Mary believes that their description of her condition as ‘a tumour’ is a result of poisoning which has killed her baby in an attempt to make Elizabeth queen. She refers to Elizabeth as the bastard child of the whore, Anne Boleyn, holding considerable enmity against her half-sister for Boleyn’s actions. Mary’s condition worsens causing the Protestant exiles to return from abroad, Philip abandons her and makes a proposal to Elizabeth via the ambassador, de la Quadra and Norfolk attempts to get Mary to sign Elizabeth’s execution warrant on her deathbed.

In History: Mary’s marriage was an unhappy one, as her husband viewed it as a little more than a political arrangement. However, there was no reason to believe that Mary was not pregnant on the two occasions it appeared she was. Although these turned out to be phantom pregnancies, doctors did not diagnose either pregnancy as a tumour and Mary did not believe that her baby had been poisoned. Her second false pregnancy was later revealed to be a tumour of some kind but that was with the benefit of hindsight and contemporaries were not preparing for her imminent death. The exiles did not return until Elizabeth was safely on the throne and neither was Philip making overtures to Elizabeth, though he did offer his hand after she acceded to continue the alliance began in Mary’s reign.

Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk

[Insert Elizabeth I/Doctor Who joke here]

The Film: From the offset, Norfolk sets himself up as a rival claimant to Elizabeth’s throne. He is openly hostile towards her, yet remains the most powerful man at court simply because he is the Duke of Norfolk. He embroils himself in numerous plots against Elizabeth, aligning himself with every faction that has an interest in displacing her. He works with King Philip via de la Quadra to put himself on the throne with the support of the Pope. Unbeknownst to Philip (officially at least), the Pope has also approved of Norfolk’s secret arrangement with Mary, Queen of Scots, to marry her in order to further legitimise his claim to the throne. Although his schemes are relatively well known it is not until he signs a letter confirming his intentions that he is arrested for treason, which he welcomes as a Catholic martyr.

In History: As a natural claimant to the throne, the Duke of Norfolk was a potential rival to Elizabeth, but as her cousin and the premier Duke he held great public office. He did not set himself up as a rival king but did spend a stint in prison when Elizabeth discovered he had been planning to marry Mary, Queen of Scots. Upon his release, he was embroiled in another plot to dethrone the Queen and this time he was executed. Although his family was traditionally Catholic, Norfolk was a Protestant and was likely only involved in a Catholic conspiracy because of the power it would afford him rather than his conviction of religion.

William Cecil

Should be noted they don’t actually refer to him as William Cecil, so maybe it’s a different Sir William, Lord Burghley?

The Film: William Cecil is an elderly man who supports Elizabeth even under Mary’s reign. To this end, he meets with her in secret and works to arrange her marriage to King Philip, though Mary still lives. Elizabeth relies on his advice and guidance as she doesn’t quite understand court intrigue, but she ignores his advice on marriage – first to the Spanish and then to the French, eventually forcing him into retirement as Lord Burghley so that England may exist independently of foreign powers.

In History: William Cecil was not all that much older than Elizabeth, and certainly wasn’t an elderly man in her service. Although his support for her was kept in secret, he did not need to meet with her clandestinely as he had a legitimate reason to meet with her as the administrator of her lands. He was made Secretary of State upon Elizabeth’s accession, but though he proved to be one of her most faithful advisors Elizabeth was far from ignorant of the ways of court. His foreign policy favoured Protestant countries, and he remained at the Queen’s side for the rest of his life. His creation as Lord Burghley wasn’t for his retirement and the following year he was given more power at court as Lord Treasurer.

Francis Walsingham

S’alright Mary, you’re only human

The Film: Having gone into exile under Mary’s reign, Walsingham, an atheist, is feared by the Catholics at home and Norfolk goes as far as to send an assassin to kill him before he can return to England. Walsingham kills the assassin, returns and is appointed as Elizabeth’s personal bodyguard by Cecil. In this role, he eliminates her political opponents, imprisons those who would vote against her in Parliament to ensure her legislation passes and assassinates Mary of Guise. Unlike the rest of the Queen’s councillors who want to see Elizabeth married, Walsingham imagines a strong England united under Elizabeth as an unattached ruler emulating the divine on earth. This culminates in his advice to her to become Gloriana, replacing the Virgin Mary on earth and uniting England. He weeps when Elizabeth enters the court dressed as the iconic Virgin Queen.

In History: Walsingham had indeed gone into exile, as had many other Protestants, upon the accession of Mary I, however, he was staunchly Protestant rather than an atheist, (which was also punishable by death). Upon his return, he acted as a minor politician for many years before coming to the attention of William Cecil about ten years into Elizabeth’s reign. As a spymaster, he did dissolve numerous plots against the Queen, including one that saw the execution of Norfolk, but he was not her personal bodyguard, likely had little to do with the cult of Gloriana and certainly didn’t murder Mary of Guise while having sex with her.

Mary of Guise

Not pictured: a really angry Scotland

The Film: Mary of Guise is living in Scotland and has garrisoned the Scottish border with French troops to antagonise the English. She later increases the garrison by at least four thousand troops in preparation for a pre-emptive attack against England which has no standing army, navy, munitions and no buildings able to withstand an assault. When Elizabeth agrees to the Privy Council’s demands that they meet this declaration of war head-on, she orders the army North. The bishops subvert her order and instead of an army, children and boys are sent. Mary of Guise appears on the battlefield in person, wearing armour and apparently having engaged in the fighting herself. She sends an injured boy back with a message, “tell that bastard queen not to send children to fight Mary of Guise,” suggesting a long tradition of battle. Victorious in the war, she backs off while Elizabeth entertains the suit of her nephew, Henry of Anjou. When that falls through she arranges the delivery of a poisoned dress to Elizabeth, but her plot is uncovered when one of the Queen’s ladies wears it instead. After this Walsingham visits, seduces and assassinates her in plain sight, in front of her servants and Henry of Anjou.

In History: At the time of Elizabeth’s accession, Mary of Guise was regent in Scotland for her sixteen-year-old daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. Her Catholicism brought her into conflict with the heavily Protestant lords of Scotland, and eventually, there was open rebellion against her. Instead of a war between England and France fought in Scotland, Elizabeth sent military aid to the Protestant rebels, in accordance with a treaty she had drawn up with the Scottish lords. Mary herself was praised for her courage and conduct, and the rebels were successfully repelled from Leith Castle but after suffering heavy losses. Soon after however, Mary of Guise fell suddenly ill (without intervention from Francis Walsingham) and did not recover she died of dropsy after a brief illness.

Henry, Duke of Anjou

…I got nothing

The Film: Upon Elizabeth’s accession, the French ambassador offers her greetings from the King of France who offers his brother, Henry of Anjou as a potential husband. After Mary of Guise defeats the English army in Scotland, France offers to make peace with Elizabeth on the condition that she accepts Anjou as a suitor. Anjou arrives in England posing as a musician so that he may surprise Elizabeth. He is shown to be an exuberant prankster who publicly embarrasses the French ambassador and the Queen when he kisses her without permission and speaks lewdly to her in front of the court. Later, when Elizabeth seeks him out to decline his suit she finds him dressed as a woman, in bed with two gentlemen, presiding over a bisexual orgy. Instead of France, he returns to Scotland where it is insinuated he is having an affair with his aunt, Mary of Guise, and is distraught when Walsingham murders her.

In History: Henry, the Duke of Anjou was offered as a candidate for Elizabeth’s hand in the early years of her reign. However, he never came to England and was known for being openly critical of her. He was possibly bisexual, keeping a number of mistresses but having rumoured affairs with some of his male friends. Rumours of his sexuality and effeminate conduct may just have come from his political enemies, but either way, it is unlikely he had much interaction with his aunt, Mary of Guise.

The Plots and the Purge

Walsingham was always the subtle one…

The Film: Almost every major player in Europe is conspiring to have Elizabeth removed from the throne. Mary, Queen of Scots declares herself Queen of England after Mary I’s death and conspires with the Duke of Norfolk to remove Elizabeth. The French apparently support Mary of Guise’s military incursions into England from Scotland but also hope for Anjou’s success allowing France to control England through marriage. Likewise, The King of Spain proposes to Elizabeth before Mary I has even died and continues his pursuit, while also conspiring with Norfolk to see him as a Catholic king, seemingly unaware of Norfolk’s schemes with the Queen of Scotland. The Pope and all Catholics oppose Elizabeth with Jesuit priests arriving to assassinate her. The Pope issues a papal bull of excommunication inviting English Catholics to overthrow Elizabeth to assure their place in heaven. Meanwhile, the English bishops oppose and subvert Elizabeth’s rule at every opportunity, led by Bishop Gardiner who attained prominence under Mary I.
As the Queen’s bodyguard, Walsingham takes it upon himself to protect Elizabeth from these threats. This culminates in a purge of her political opponents where his men troop through the castle and kill all those implicated in the major plot against her. The Earl of Sussex is killed on the toilet, the Spanish ambassador dies while sitting at a table, Bishop Gardiner is run through while at prayer, the Earl of Arundel is discovered taking mass with a Jesuit priest and is arrested with his wife and the Duke of Norfolk is taken while having sex with his mistress, after his men are killed on watch.

In History: There were numerous plots against Elizabeth throughout her reign, which came from a number of parties abroad and at home, most of which were condensed in the film to make it seem as though they occurred around the same time. Mary, Queen of Scots had initially laid claim to the throne of England but then found herself in Elizabeth’s custody, during which time she became the focus of plans her on the throne in Elizabeth’s place, one of which did involve the Duke of Norfolk. The Pope issued a bull of excommunication calling for Elizabeth’s removal some years into her reign, while Spain and France were involved in the usual political intrigue against her.
As for the Night of the Long Knives-style purge…that didn’t happen. The Earl of Sussex was not involved in any plot and had a long, if not a particularly illustrious, political career. Bishop Gardiner died before Elizabeth came to the throne and the Spanish ambassador died after he had been recalled but before he reached Spain (likely of the plague). The Earl of Arundel was involved in numerous plots against the Queen, but only ever faced stints of house arrest for his trouble, while the Duke of Norfolk was implicated in the Ridolfi plot to marry Mary, Queen of Scots and assume the throne and was executed for his trouble.

Robert Dudley

Speaking of subtle…

The Film: Dudley and Elizabeth are having an affair from the offset. He is a regular visitor to Elizabeth’s home at Hatfield where they are openly affectionate. When Elizabeth is arrested nobody is surprised to see him emerge from the castle with her. He visits her again after she is released where he warns her to trust nobody but him as no one else has her best interests at heart. After Elizabeth becomes queen they become even less discreet. They dance a volta together after which he kisses her in front of the court and he later visits her in her chambers, consummating their relationship while her ladies watch. When Elizabeth invites Anjou to court she and Dudley have a public argument. The French ambassador voices his concern that Elizabeth is paying too much attention to Dudley, concerns which are proved justified when she snubs Anjou for Dudley at a pageant on the Thames. There Dudley proposes to her and Elizabeth accepts, making a joke of it with the Spanish ambassador as he passes. After the pageant Cecil berates the Queen for her affair and reveals to her that Dudley is already married, news which comes as a shock to everyone at court.
With Elizabeth angry and refusing to see him, Dudley embarks on affairs with her ladies, pretending they are the Queen. After one of the ladies dies during their assignations, succumbing to the poison lining Elizabeth’s gown, Robert joins with the Spanish ambassador in a plot to marry the King of Spain. Later he is implicated in the Catholic plot, having converted for Spanish support. When Walsingham and Elizabeth arrive during the purge, Dudley confesses that he has been waiting and begs the Queen to kill him. Elizabeth refuses to execute him, instead, she keeps him as a member of her court as a living reminder at how close treason is to her.

In History: Whether Robert Dudley and Elizabeth were lovers or not remains one of the more enduring questions in history. Although there were rumours that the two were having an affair, it was not accepted as a fact. The rumours themselves were damaging enough and almost cost Elizabeth her throne, had she actually conducted a public affair with Dudley she likely would have lost her position in the ensuing scandal. The two were friends in their youth, but this did not extend to him visiting her at Hatfield during Mary’s reign, mostly as he spent much of it locked up in the Tower. Elizabeth herself did not return to Hatfield after her arrest, instead, she remained isolated at Woodstock until she was summoned to attend Mary at court.
Dudley’s marriage was also not a secret as portrayed, and his wedding had been a fairly significant event given the power of his father, the Duke of Northumberland and the presence of King Edward VI.
But far from becoming a traitor who narrowly escapes death, Dudley remained faithful and loyal to the Queen, though his affairs and later marriage to her lady in waiting Lettice Knollys damaged their relationship, they reconciled and the two were close until his death.

Elizabeth’s Ladies

The Queen might have complained of a lack of privacy, but this is ridiculous.

The Film: Kat Ashley is Elizabeth’s chief lady in waiting, supervising the other ladies and helping Elizabeth conduct her affair with Dudley by hiding his presence in her chambers from Cecil. Kat and Isobel Knollys are with Elizabeth through her imprisonment, the latter taking a fancy to Dudley and later having an affair with him. When meeting Dudley one night, Isobel dresses in one of Elizabeth’s gowns which results in her death when it turns out to be poisoned. A third lady is Lettice Howard, who is one of Queen Mary’s chief ladies and remains at court under Elizabeth. The Duke of Norfolk keeps Lettice as a mistress and she keeps him supplied with information about the Queen. Later, Lettice betrays Norfolk by delivering written proof of his treason to Walsingham.

In History: Kat Ashley was Elizabeth’s chief lady, but she was much older than portrayed in the film she was a mother figure to the Queen rather than a younger friend. She did not cover up Elizabeth’s affair with Dudley and went as far as to beg the Queen to put him aside when rumours of an affair began to circulate.
Isobel Knollys and Lettice Howard didn’t exist per se, but there was a Lettice Knollys. Historically she was a lady in waiting to Elizabeth before leaving court to marry the Earl of Essex. Later, she married Robert Dudley in secret and earned the Queen’s enmity for the rest of her life. The character of Lettice Howard was invented for the film the Duke of Norfolk did not keep a mistress at court and prominent ladies at Mary’s court did not generally transfer into the same position under Elizabeth. Also, no one died of a poisoned dress.

The Other Bits

Elizabeth age 55 25

Bishop Gardiner says that Anne Boleyn was killed for her religion – in reality, she was charged (rightfully or wrongfully) with adultery and executed, her religion played no part in her downfall.

Elizabeth was crowned by Bishop Gardiner and Norfolk – As a layperson, Norfolk wouldn’t have had a presiding role in the coronation and Gardiner had been dead for three years at the time of Elizabeth’s coronation. The coronation would normally have been presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it’s most recent incumbent, Reginald Pole had died the same day as Queen Mary. Most of the bishops in the land declined to crown Elizabeth on account of their conflict in beliefs, those that remained were too ill to give an answer one way or the other. In the end, she was crowned by the Bishop of Carlisle who had already angered her by elevating the host at the Christmas mass. He accepted the invitation to preside at her coronation, but elevated the host again, causing the queen to walk out of her own coronation.

England and France went to war shortly after Elizabeth’s accession – they did not.

While on the Thames, Dudley proposes to Elizabeth through the poem, ‘my true love hath my heart’. – Although in the ‘making of Elizabeth’ the screenwriter attributes this poem to Thomas Wyatt, it was actually written by Dudley’s nephew Philip Sidney decade after Elizabeth came to the throne. At the time shown in the film, Sidney would have been an infant of four, and so probably not up to composing great works of poetry.

Elizabeth becomes ‘Gloriana’ shaving her head, pasting on white makeup and dressing as a virgin ruler to begin England’s golden age – Elizabeth’s use of heavy white makeup was more to disguise scarring after her bout of smallpox, four years into her reign. The same illness thinned her hair and so she started wearing wigs, initially to disguise the loss and later to hide her grey colouring. The Golden Age was also not something that came about until about thirty years into Elizabeth’s reign with the defeat of the Spanish Armada.