Category Archives: English Language

A seventeenth century diarist – Samuel Pepys

/ en.wikipedia.org

/ en.wikipedia.org

History too is re-cycled, like glass, water, paper and other essenials. A history book is nothing more than a re-thinking, in some cases revising as well, of what an earlier historian wrote in another book. What happened in the world ten thousand years ago on a certain day is History, but then what happened in our world yesterday is History too. Historians have always relied on contempories who were there, in a great battle for instance, survived injured or whole, and wrote about that battle as soon as they could. This particular piece of history might be heard in the form of a ballad, or published as writing, or become a yarn told in taverns. In a recent very serious case, England discovered that their teachers, and their teachers’ teachers, and their teachers’ teachers, relying on published history texts, have been stating untruths for nearly five hundred years. This is the case of King Richard III, last of the Plantagenets, who died on a battlefield. He was everybody’s wicked uncle, a serial murderer, poisoner of his own wife, assassin of his own brother etc. etc since 1485 because the contemporary historians said so. Though it was mostly mythical, it was taught as fact in schools and colleges. Luckily, the very finest texts that can be used by historians, if they have been preserved well, are diaries. Obviously they were written by first-hand witnesses, though many have been embellished, as a diarist’s wont. It was a diarist, a foreigner whose English was questionable, called Polydore Vergil, who wrote most of the lies about Richard. Another contemporary diarist was Thomas More, an official and well paid Tudor historian, who wrote distatefully about Richard because it suited his book to do so. It was pure propaganda, but it kept More’s head on his shoulders – even if only for a while.

Samuel Pepys (1633 – 1703) is probably the most famous and quoted (and misquoted) diarist in world history. He was nothing more than an Admiralty clerk, who rose after the Restoration of Charles II in the ever-growing British Navy. He became Admiralty Secretary in 1672 when he was thirty-nine. Then he lost his job because some imp accused him of involvement in The Popish Plot (1679). It was nonsense, and he was re-instated in 1684. Meanwhile however, he was keeping a diary which became internationally celebrated, running from January, 1660 to May, 1669. It is fascinating because it provides an intimate picture of everyday personal life (Pepys was exceptionately fond of buxom, pretty, large women), court intrigue (the merriest of melancholic monarchs, Charles II, was on the throne), and naval administration. His account of three national disasters, The Great Plague of 1665/66, the Great Fire of London (1666) that followed, and the impertinent but courageous sailing up the Thames Estuary and river itself of the Dutch war fleet and the damage it did – have been quoted and used by historians ever since. It should be noted that these diaries were written in code which was not de-coded until 1825, one hundred and twenty-two years after Pepys’ death at the age of seventy. Continue reading

Further thoughts on John of Gaunt & his son Henry Bolingbroke

The old Palace of the Savoy / freegaes.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com

The old Palace of the Savoy / freegaes.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com

In early February, 1399, John of Gaunt died in Leicester. He was fifty-eight years old – not a bad age-scale for the fourteenth century. His body was brought for burial at the old St. Paul’s church in London, the mourners dressed in black. King Richard II had been to see his old councillor on his deathbed, who warned him against lechery.

John was the third son of the great Plantagenet King Edward III. The son and heir was Edward the Black Prince, black armour, black humours, fabulous in battle. The second son was Lionel of Clarence, who had died in 1368. John had first married Blanche, only daughter of the Earl, then first Duke of Lancaster, Henry Grosmont. Grosmont was extremely rich, and Blanche had inherited land, farms and castles spread across medieval England. Through marriage, John became the first (Plantagenet) Duke of Lancaster and whatever was Blanche’s became his. Blanche died in the same year as brother Lionel of Clarence, providing the opportunity for John to marry Constance (Constanza) of Castile in Spain. John, who was son of kings and father of them too, had no kingdom, and thought that he might, through diplomacy or warfare or both become King of Castile (Castilla) too. But Constance died in 1394, so John married his mistress of many years – Catherine Swynford – with a quiverful of illegitimate children whom he intended to make legitimate. When this was done the children became John, Henry, Thomas and John Beaufort. They were all of the House of Lancaster, and from them descend the ducal line of Beaufort, still very much in existence now. The first, John Earl of Somerset, was great-grandfather to the horrible first Tudor, Henry VII, through his mother Margaret Beaufort. Continue reading

How did the Tudors do it?

Imaginative re-construction of the marriage of Catherine and Own Tudor / womenshistory.about.com

Imaginative re-construction of the marriage of Catherine and Own Tudor / womenshistory.about.com

The ‘gentry’ in English history were and are middle to upper class folk, untitled except for the odd baronet or hastily-dubbed knight, owning land, serving as magistrates, being ‘squires’ of villages. They were the backbone of English rustic life, fighting and often giving up their lives for their king; on the reverse side they frequently plotted against their king, and were usually axed for their pains.

The Tudors, obscure and nearly penniless squires from North Wales, would have remained obscure were it not for the fact that one of them, a handsome young man called Owen, had got himself into service in the royal household. He was about twenty-six years old when it is said he ‘caught the eye’ of a widow only a year or two younger; but she was the widow of Henry V – that gallant royal winner of the battle at Agincourt, the third great victory for England in the Hundred Years War against the French after Creçy and Poitiers. Henry had died young and left his wife, Catherine of Valois, herself a French princess as well as ex-Queen of England, at the London court. Just how young Owen managed to ‘catch her eye’ is not noted, but it is said that he fell drunk into her bed (a likely story!), or that she saw the good-looking youth bathing without the benefit of clothes in the River Thames. An historian of the time, who apparently knew Catherine well, wrote that she was ‘unable fully to curb her carnal passions’ when confronted with the superb sight of young Owen disporting himself in the water. Continue reading

The 12 basic verb English tenses (with examples)

Present:

I work = I work hard all day

Past:

I worked = I worked hard all last year.

Future:

I will work = I will work hard after I have finished my exams.

Present Continuous or Present Progressive: (made with the verb TO BE)

I am working = I am working at the moment on a nuclear project.

Present Perfect: (made by using the verb TO HAVE; this tense indicates a mixture of the past and the present)

I have worked = I have worked hard all my life.

Past Perfect: (a sense of something that is now in the past, but that no longer exists)

I had worked = I had worked hard all my life until I retired.

Future Perfect: (a sense of something that lies in the future, but that also has roots in the past and present, always used with the main verb in the past participle – worked)

I will have worked = I will have worked hard all my life even when I am too old to work . . . because I love work! Continue reading

1811: W.M. Thackeray is born

/ sk.wikipedia.org

/ sk.wikipedia.org

One year before the birth of Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray was born in Calcutta. It was 1811, and William was the son of a prosperous official on the Board of Revenue, who died when the boy was five years old. When he was six he and his mother sailed back to England, where his mother married again. In 1822 when he was eleven, the future novelist found himself at the Charterhouse School, a ‘Carthusian’ in embryo. To quote Thackeray himself, he was ‘licked (beaten) into indolence’, ‘abused into sulkiness’ and ‘bullied into despair’, from which we can deduce that the teenaged author was unhappy at boarding school where others were comparatively happy, despite the fagging, birching, caning and bullying. These were considered normal and necessary in the nineteenth century for those lucky enough to be born into the potential ‘ruling’ class. Thackeray did not have to go to work in a boot-blacking factory, as did Dickens. Continue reading

1572: Ben Jonson is born

/ etc.usf.edu

/ etc.usf.edu

Jonson was born, a Londoner, a month after his father died, and nine years after the birth of Shakespeare. His mother re-married, to a bricklayer, for whom Ben became an apprentice after education at Westminster School. Very much the man of action, he grew bored with bricks and joined the English army in Flanders, where he promptly challenged one of the enemy to single combat in view of both armies, and killed him. He was not yet twenty.

Soon he was back in London and married to a difficult young woman, so he became an actor. Despite his first killing he was still young enough to play girl’s parts, and he may well have been one of the King’s Men theatre group, whose dramaturge was William Shakespeare. Continue reading

1564: Shakespeare and Marlowe are born

Rupèrt Everett as Kit Marlowe in the film 'Shakespeare in Love' / moviestarspicture.com

Rupèrt Everett as Kit Marlowe in the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’ / moviestarspicture.com

If Christopher Marlowe had not been killed in a tavern brawl at the age of twenty-nine, he might have equalled his exact contemporary William Shakespeare as poet and playwright. This commonly held view makes for a lively debate.

‘Kit’ Marlowe, as he mostly called, was cut off in his prime in a sixteenth century London pub – a dagger was thrust into his brain through an eye – but he had already had time to influence Shakespeare. The writing and production of plays was copious in this century and the next, but Marlowe rose easily above the other authors, partly because he developed earlier than Shakespeare. He was the son of a successful shoe and boot maker in Canterbury, Kent, educated at the fearsome King’s School in that town, and later at Corpus Christi in Cambridge. Continue reading

Latest news on the books

/thehealthjunction.wordpress.com

/thehealthjunction.wordpress.com

Oyez! Oyez! Latest news on the books!

All three volumes of Jeremy Taylor’s brief chapters on world history, written under the name of Dean Swift for the website www.general-history.com and now in cheap paperback form, are available on Amazon.co.uk and also Amazon. com in America. The price plus p. & p. is extremely reasonable. The reading matter is colossal. The three volumes offer nearly one thousand pages of easily read history covering up to twenty-one different nations on this planet. Wars, treaties, personalities, politics, religions and philosophy plus many other categories abound. Order your copy/copies now, in this first month of the year 2015. Enjoy the wry humour and keen observation. Just go to Amazon and under books key in the words ‘General History Dean Swift’ and then choose – all three books, two or just one. ‘He (or she) who hesitates is lost!’

Sales of General History in book form – news!

Jeremy Taylor alias Dean Swift

Jeremy Taylor alias Dean Swift

Sales of Volume I and II of General History in book form are advancing sedately on line. Wherever you live in the world you can contact www.amazon.com or www.amazon.co.uk or www.amazon.es etcetera and if you are a member simply click on ‘All’, then ‘books’, then key these words = General History Dean Swift and both volumes will appear on your screen with details of cost and so on. If you are not a member of Amazon join them by opening your account, which requires only your address, your electronic mail address, certain financial details and a short personal codename. Volume III should appear on Amazon after Christmas.

Best wishes, Jeremy Taylor (Dean Swift is a pen-name). The seventeenth century Bishop Jeremy Taylor is an ancestor, and I did not write Holy Living and Holy Dying, though I would not have minded doing so . . .

More about THE BOOK

The first (and second) volume of General History in print – some news

With a book presentation on September 13 at midday, held in the famous Orchid Gardens of Sitio Litre, a beautiful old house in Puerto de la Cruz on the island of Tenerife, the first volume of articles taken from the General-History website is launched. Copies can be bought directly online by going to www.amazon.co.uk , opening ‘All’, clicking on ‘Books’, keying General History Dean Swift, and up will come details of how to order it. Becoming a subscriber with Amazon is easy and does not require a computer wizard. Even I could do it! The second volume is already up with Volume I on Amazon. The third volume will have to wait for publishing until Christmas this year, or maybe a little later. Don’t forget that ‘Dean Swift’ is one of Jeremy Taylor’s pen-names. Happy learning! Happy reading!