Wednesday, 11 February 2015

An extract from Kristie Dean’s new book “The World of Richard III,” published by Amberley.

“My favourite part of researching this section was actually walking the coronation route. Somehow while tracing Richard’s steps, I stopped seeing the modern city and found myself focusing on the history.  At times, I almost expected to see the procession pass me by as it winded its way through the streets”
Kristie Dean

Once Richard decided to accept the citizens’ petition and take the crown for himself, he set events in motion that ultimately led to the Battle of Bosworth. From his grand coronation to his death at Bosworth, Richard had a short reign, but he is one of England’s best-known kings.

London: The Coronation

A grand and majestic exhibition, a coronation was an elaborate affair and had been for centuries. Richard has been maligned for his extravagance, but it is fair to state that he was only following in his predecessors’ footsteps. The procession was one stage of the coronation. It allowed the citizens of London to see the king leaving from the Tower. At the head of the coronation train were lords and knights, then the alderman of the city, dressed in vivid scarlet. The newly created Knights of the Bath would follow, along with other members of the train. Directly in front of the king would be the ‘king’s sword’, along with the Earl Marshal of England and the Lord Great Chamberlain.

                                  Tower of London, London. The White Tower rises in the distance in this view across the Thames.

According to Anne Sutton and P. W. Hammond in The Coronation of Richard III: The Extant Documents, the king wore blue cloth of gold with nets under his purple velvet gown, furred with ermine. Four knights carried a silk brocade canopy of red and green above his head. Behind the king rode more lords and knights. The queen, her hair streaming down her back, wore a circlet of gold and pearls on her head and rested on cushions of cloth of gold. She was carried on her litter by two palfreys covered in white damask, with saddles also covered in cloth of gold. Anne, her jewels glistening in the sun, was clothed in damask cloth of gold furred with miniver and garnished with annulets of silver and gold, and was carried under a canopy similar to Richard’s. Following behind the queen’s henchmen and horse of estate came the noble ladies. The women were carried in four-wheeled carts, pulled by horses covered in crimson cloth of gold, crimson velvet and crimson damask, fringed with gold.

Houses along the way would have hung rich tapestries outside their windows. The citizens of London would have lined the procession route, standing on streets that had been cleaned and covered with gravel. The procession was slow as it stopped in Cheapside, at the Standard, the Eleanor Cross and the Little Conduit, along with other stops where stations were set up for speeches and performances in honour of the king and queen. The procession route would have
followed those of previous coronations and would go through Cheapside, St Paul’s, Ludgate Hill, Fleet Street and then the Strand, ending at Westminster Hall. Here, the king and queen would have been served ‘of the voyde’, which meant they partook of wine and spices beneath the cloths of estate in the Great Hall. Afterwards, the monarchs would have retired to chambers to change clothes and then take an evening meal.

Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London. Richard’s coronation was held within the walls of the great abbey.

In preparation for the joint coronation, a stage would have been set up between the choir and altar at Westminster Abbey. Steps would have led up to the stage on both the west and east sides. St Edward’s Chair, with Scotland’s Stone of Scone underneath, would have sat here for the king, and a richly decorated chair would have been set up on a lower part of the stage for the queen. At the presbytery another pair of chairs would have been set up for the royal couple upon their entry into the abbey.

Early on 6 July 1483, Richard would have arisen, bathed, and then been clothed by his Great Chamberlain, the Duke of Buckingham. Dressed in his white silk shirt, a coat of red sarcenet
and silk breeches and stockings, covered by a red floor-length robe of silk and ermines, Richard must have appeared regal. He would have gone to the hall to be raised by nobles into the marble chair of the King’s Bench. Anne would have joined him here. She was dressed in a robe of crimson velvet with a train, kept in place with silk and gold mantle laces, covering her crimson kirtle, which was laced down the front with silver and gilt. Together, they must have looked an imposing pair.


… A lavish feast would conclude the coronation ceremonies for the day. The first course was served on dishes of gold and silver. Beef, mutton, roast, capons, custard, peacocks, and roe deer, along with many other dishes, made up the first course. Richard and Anne entered the hall dressed in fresh robes of crimson velvet embroidered with gold and made their way to the dais.

At the beginning of the second course, Robert Dymoke, as the King’s Champion, came into the hall on a horse trapped in white and red silk. He came riding up before the king and made his
obeisance. The herald asked the assembly, ‘If there be any man who will say against King Richard III why he should not pretend and have the crown’. Everyone was silent, and then in one voice cried, ‘King Richard!’ The King’s Champion threw down his gauntlet three times and then again made his obeisance to the king. After being offered wine, he turned the horse and rode out of the hall with the cup in his right hand as payment for his service. Afterwards, the
heralds and four kings of arms came from their stage. The senior herald announced Richard as the King of England and France and Lord of Ireland. The ceremony ended so late that the third course could not be served. Hippocras and wafers were served to the king and queen, and they departed from the hall.

                                                          The Author, Kristie Dean.

“The World of Richard III” is available to buy now on Amazon:

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Six Wives fly on the Wall: Six Key Moments from Tudor History.

To conclude my blog tour for my new book, “The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII,” I have been thinking about the key moments in the life of each of the six wives. If I were somehow able to travel through time and witness just one moment from the lives of each, these are the events I would choose. All you have to do to be in with a final chance to win a copy of the book is tell me which of these six you would like to have seen, as a fly on the wall. Enter your comment at the bottom of the blog and I’ll announce a winner on Monday November 3. Good Luck.

1. Catherine of Aragon. The Blackfriars Trial, 1529

I would have loved to see Catherine’s performance in 1529, when Henry summoned her to defend her marriage. She knelt on the floor before him, argued her case, then swept out of the hall, refusing to return. I think she would have mustered all her strength and experience as a Queen that day and it would have been almost her finest hour, although not her happiest one. It would have been wonderful to have seen the expression on Henry’s face as she spoke.


2. Anne Boleyn. The King’s Hall, Tower of London, 15 May 1536.

With all the different moments I could have selected for Anne, again I’ve gone for a sad one, but it is one that would allow me to listen to the evidence that was presented against her and witness her response. I wouldn’t just be watching her though, I’d be looking at all the faces in the room that day, as this process of condemning a Queen was unprecedented and it would be fascinating to see the reactions as her peers and friends lined up against her. We know that her former lover Henry Percy had to leave through “illness”; how many of those men were troubled by their consciences?

3. Jane Seymour. Greenwich, 4 June 1537.

Jane made her public debut as Queen less than a week after her marriage, which took place on May 30, 1536. Accompanied by a great train of ladies, she heard mass and dined in public at Greenwich Palace. It was on this occasion that Chapuys reported that she had to be “rescued” by Henry, whilst in discussion with the Ambassador, implying that she was overwhelmed or out of her depth. I would find it interesting to see just how Jane carried herself on this occasion, when she had the standards of Henry’s previous Queens to follow, and what stuff she was really made of.


4. Anne of Cleves. Rochester, 1 January 1540.

For Anne of Cleves, it would have to be that fateful moment when she was staying at Rochester overnight on the way to London. Henry arrived in her room unannounced, in disguise, and proceeded to embrace and kiss her. For Anne, it was a breach of dignity, from a large, uncouth man she did not know. Her reaction set Henry against her; it would be amusing to see exactly how she brushed him off, and the resulting embarrassment of the court. This was one dent to Henry’s ego he didn’t recover from.

5. Catherine Howard. Bishop’s Palace, Lincoln, August 1541.

At the risk of sounding like a peeping Tom, I would like to have witnessed the illicit meeting between Catherine Howard and Thomas Culpeper that took place on the royal progress of 1541. At the Bishop’s Palace, Lincoln, Lady Rochford helped smuggle Culpeper into Catherine’s chambers late at night via a set of stairs that led to an outside door. They both later claimed that they just talked for hours, and although they desired to consummate their love, had not actually done so. I would really like to know the truth of this secretive relationship.

6. Catherine Parr. The Proposal, 1543.

We don’t know exactly where or when Henry proposed to his sixth wife, but it certainly took place in the late spring or early summer of 1543. Catherine, recently widowed, had fallen in love with Thomas Seymour and was hoping to become his wife, when the King intervened, sent Seymour abroad and made his intentions plain. It would have been an incredible moment to witness, as Catherine struggled to reconcile her duty to the loss of her personal happiness. I wonder if she ever really considered the possibility of refusing the King. What exactly did she say to him? I would love to know.

Which of these six moments would you most like to have witnessed? Tell me below.