John Hurt plays Richard Rich in the film ‘A man for all Seasons’ / aveleyman.com
Not only did Henry VIII spend (and mostly waste) the vast fortunes accumulated by his father the first Tudor, in his youthful desire to be the king of kings in Europe; he also wasted the experience and talent of his best courtiers and advisers. They were men of varied skills, educated in a time when many could not read, ambitious yes, cruel and unjust yes, but they lived and died in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, when men’s lives could easily expire, as Shakespeare says, before the flowers in their caps. Henry VIII killed Thomas More, The Earl of Surrey, Edmund Dudley, Bishop Fisher, Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey, though the last-named died of natural causes on his way to execution.
One such able-minded and gifted courtier who survived the tyrant king was a young man, son of a wealthy London draper, some twenty years younger than Thomas More. He was Richard Rich; the very talented Mr. Rich. His family were neighbours of the Mores, and the future saint knew Richard from his babyhood: he had no illusions about him. Continue reading
John Locke / es.wikipedia.org
There can be found marked differences between westernized philosophy and the Indian, Chinese, Arabic and African versions. These speculate more about the nature of the world, human existence, offering a solution to the tormenting ills of the day, investigating the scope of rational questioning and super-naturalism.
Western philosophy is calculated to have started six or seven centuries before the birth of Christ, in the Greek-speaking area around the Aegean Sea, also southern Italy. These first western philosophers concerned themselves with enquiring into the nature and origin of all things. They were naturalistic, and managed without recourse to myth or legend. Best remembered are Plato (died in or around 348 BC) and Aristotle (died circa 322 BC). They have proved the most influential, because they delved into every known area of knowledge. Continue reading
Miss Julie & a couple of 12th century footballers
In the first twenty minutes or so of a foolish movie called First Knight, cinemagoers were treated to the Hollywood spectacle of a young and beautiful Lady of the Manor playing football with the burly hoi-polloi of her village. The scene was set in the twelfth century. It would not occur to the American writers and the director of this film that no 12th century castle-dweller would get within smelling distance of the peasantry, let alone play football with them.
The game itself, however, is another thing. I am not sure why the name ‘soccer’ was imposed on football, and I am sure I will be told – but a distinction had to be made when American Football, a variety of rugby, became popular in the United States. English-style football was replaced by soccer. Continue reading
There will be fewer posts during the next few weeks as we are assembling and compiling etc. a book. It is a selection taken from the six hundred or so posts we have published in the last three years. Please have patience. And here is a Gollum-like trick question for our bloggers:-
Who says this? ‘Je ne suis pas ce que je suis’ Continue reading
Ireland, in the form of the Republic of Eire, or that still-British bit at the top around Belfast, has never been a safe place. Throughout the Middle Ages blood was spilled every day there, for one reason or another. The English, under Kings or a Lord Protector, were particularly prone to killing Irish people. Even in the more ‘civilized’ nineteenth century English politicians swore they could do nothing with the Irish, whose potato famine was killing them off in thousands. Death by starvation is no better than a bullet in the brain, but that is precisely what two placid Englishmen got when out for a bracing walk in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, on a blustery 6th May in 1882. Continue reading
It is now an independent socialist/communist state bordered to the east by the South China Sea, and to the west by Laos and Cambodia. Dominated by China for many centuries, it was ‘visited’ by the Portuguese in 1535. By the 17th century visits had also been made by Dutch, French and English traders accompanied by missionaries.
In 1802 the north and south were combined as The Vietnamese Empire, which in turn was conquered by French forces towards the end of the century. The French Indo-Chinese Union with Cambodia and Laos was formed in 1887.
Inevitably, during the Second World War the country was invaded successfully by the Japanese, and there followed an occupation during which a certain amount of industrialization took place, but agriculture remained the basic staple by which the people of Vietnam were fed. Continue reading
Elizabeth I encouraging the citizens as the Armada approaches / 1st.art-gallery.com
I do not refer to the hideous filmed television series of the same name, designed more as pornography for sexually deprived viewers than students of England’s history. I refer to a family of minor Welsh gentry, smallholders in the North of that sad country, one of whose male members managed to marry a French girl, the widow of a Plantagenet king.
The King, Henry V, died young after winning the crucial battle against the French at Agincourt. He had defeated and routed the Dauphin, whose father Charles VI gave the victor his daughter Catherine of Valois in marriage. When she was widowed, this Catherine fell in with one Owen Tudor – and married him. He had his head cut off in 1461 but not before siring Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond. He in turn took as his second wife Margaret Beaufort. This is where the trouble started. Continue reading
If he had not been assassinated, this 19th century Spanish soldier and politician would probably have been forgotten, but as his death added to the unattractive list of conspiracy theories, the neglect historians usually apply to failed politicians has not been forthcoming. Continue reading
Ferdy Mayne, Richard Burton, Anton Diffring and An Other in Where Eagles Dare / whereeaglesdare.com
It is possible that these tales of fubs and fumblings are apocryphal, but as they have been repeated numberless times in the comparatively closed world of the film studios, they are obviously based on true incidents. In his autobiography, David Niven doubtless added things to his tale. Continue reading
At the end of the sixteenth century English prisons were showing signs of collapse. Thanks to absolute monarchs like Henry VIII, plus the warring sections of the Church, plus the sheer volume of petty crime in rural and urban districts, not enough gaols could be found to ‘house’ the criminal element, at least half of which was not criminal at all, but had crossed the wrong person.
Transportation was introduced as a means of banishing from Britain convicted felons guilty of most ‘petty’ offences, which could mean anything from stealing a loaf of bread or tearing down a fence put up by a landowner. The new colonies in America were considered ideal and a suitably long way from the motherland, and organised transportation to America started in 1597 and continued through the 17th and 18th century, until stopped by the American Revolution or War of Independence. Naturally the established and prospering settlers in the thirteen colonies did not wish to see convicted criminals (who could be of any age or sex) in their settlements. Continue reading