In the 1690s the English army’s matchlock musket (slow to load, clumsy to operate at the mercy of the elements) was replaced by a lighter weapon with a more robust firing system known as the flintlock. At the same time the old plug bayonet gave way to a socket version that fitted around the muzzle and enabled the gun to be fired. When allied to the new tactic of fighting three ranks deep and firing rolling volleys by platoons (18 to a battalion), these innovations made the English (later British) infantrymen the dominant factor on the battlefield.
A large sum of money – £4,000 in gold, to be precise – is due to be transferred from London to the king at Leicester, a distance of ninety miles. How many men do you think will be guarding it? Fifty? A hundred? Two hundred? You might be surprised to hear that this massive treasure is to be guarded by just five archers. Your thoughts on this might not differ greatly from those of many criminals in England at the time.
The eight-year-old Alexander III had been king for only a few days when two factions began to struggle for control of his small person. One was led by Alan Durward, the Justiciar of Scotland, supported by the Bruces and the Earl of Dunbar; the other was led by Walter de Comyn, Earl of Menteith and head of an ambitious and much ramified baronial family.
Katherine of Aragon died on 7th January, at Kimbolton House, possibly as a result of coronary thrombosis. She was buried quietly at Peterborough Abbey. During her final illness she remained forbidden from personal contact with her daughter Mary.On 24th January, Henry fell heavily in the tiltyard at Greenwich and lay unconscious for about two hours. The shock caused Anne to miscarry five days later, reportedly male foetus.
Power was inherently and inescapably male in the Middle Ages. The images displayed on the Great Seal of England encapsulated expectations of a medieval monarch: on one side the king sat in state to administer justice to his people, a sceptre in his hand; on the other he rode a towering warhorse with his sword unsheathed, ready to defend his kingdom. But a woman couldn’t sit as a judge or lead an army into battle. A woman, therefore, could not rule.