Historical People

Rise, wash, convert – 25 of July 1593 was an unusual day in the life of Henri IV

I am presently taking part in the Historical Writer’s Forum Blog Hop. This year’s theme is “Momentuous events”, and as history is choc-full of momentuous events, it wasn’t exactly easy to whittle things down. But when restricting myself to momentuous events in July, today’s subject leapt out and grabbed me by the throat. Well, figuratively …

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Mr Anonymous – the life of a medieval hero

Sometimes, my brain snags on the little things. Like when I am reading up on the Aragonese Crusade—an attempt by French king Philip III to claim Aragon for his younger son—and end up stuck on the fact that one of the protagonists in that ancient medieval mess is a nameless man. Obviously, our hero wasn’t …

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Princess, wife, prisoner and would-be hostage

Renaissance princesses usually had one purpose in life: to wed as arranged by their male family members and, preferably, present their husbands with an heir or two. It didn’t really matter how powerful or rich your dynasty was—a woman was an asset to create new alliances, full stop. Naturally, little princesses were fully aware of …

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The intolerant earl – from loyal servant to Tower prisoner

A week or so ago, I posted about the honourable Arthur Capell , a gentleman whose loyalty to his king, Charles I, ultimately lead to his execution. In that post I hinted  at the fate of his son and namesake, Arthur Jr. So, today I think we should spend some time with the younger Capell, …

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Dying for his king – or how a would-be Parliamentarian ended up a dead Royalist

There is a picture in the National Portrait Gallery that I have always been particularly fond of. Originally, I was drawn to it more because of the formal garden in the background than the sitters in the foreground (this was when I was thinking BIG when it came to garden design), but every time I’ve …

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The mouse that squeaked – or the story of a VERY short siege

There’s something about sieges, isn’t there? An encircled fortress—or city—and it is all one long waiting game as the cat outside wonders just how long the mouse will stay in its hole before lack of food and water forces it to venture beyond the safety of its walled haven. Mind you, I don’t think the …

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A surfeit of brothers doth a spicy soup make

Back in the good old days, men wanted sons. Well, OK: back in the really, really old good old days, mothers wanted daughters as most early societies seem to have been matrilineal—but that all changed when our nomadic ancestors settled down and started amassing belongings. Once you have things that belong to you, it becomes …

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A lost language, a lost identity, a lost people

The single biggest tragedy to befall the native people of the Americas was the arrival of Columbus upon their shores. Over the course of a couple of centuries, a deadly cocktail consisting of slavery, disease and warfare was to reduce the native population with 40-80% (it varies substantially from area to area) and what had …

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A boring man begat a boring man who begat a dragon

Very many years ago, I read Edith Pargeter’s excellent quartet, The Brothers of Gwynedd. A sad and tragic story, featuring Llywellyn ap Gruffyd, the Last Prince of Wales and his baby brother, Dafydd (also the Last Prince of Wales – actually the Last Prince of Wales, seeing as he took over after Llywellyn was killed). …

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When the Welsh underdog bites

In 1283, the last true Prince of Wales, Dafydd ap Gruffud, was hauled up the gallows in Shrewsbury and subjected to the horrifying ordeal of being hanged, drawn and quartered. Whether he died bravely or not we do not know. Personally, I think it is unlikely any human being can be subjected to such cruelty …

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