Tag Archives: Medieval history

Mail-order queen

Mail-order queen


Well aware of this increase in realism, Henry VIII decided to choose his fourth wife from her portrait. Traditionally, dynastic marriages were arranged between (often teenage or even pre-teen) parties who may never even have seen one another before the ceremony – they were pawns in power plays, and personal preference did not have much to do with it. Henry, however, in middle age, felt free to be choosy; he sent an artist to paint pictures of Europe’s most eligible young ladies.

The death of King Edward VI of England

The death of King Edward VI of England

On 6th February 1553, Mary rode to court to see Edward who was still ill. By March, some observers believed that he was dying. It was possibly about this time that he drafted his ‘device for the succession’, which proposed arrangements that ran counter to Henry VIII’s 1544 Act of Succession. On 11th April, he left London by barge for Greenwich.

Guelphs and Ghibellines

Guelphs and Ghibellines

Aristocratic factionalism, popular rebellions and the relationship between Italian and German culture all combined to ensure the long-term use of the terms ‘Guelph’ and ‘Ghibelline’. Welf, the family name of Bavaria’s dukes, and Waiblingen, the Staufer family’s castle in Swabia, may have been used as rallying cries during the Battle of Weinsberg (1140) fought during the German civil war that broke out when these two great dynasties competed for the imperial title.

King John of England and the French invasion

King John of England and the French invasion

When Richard the Lionheart was killed by a crossbow bolt in France in April 1199, a French chronicler, no friend of the English monarch, wrote: “God visited the kingdom of the French, for King Richard died.” Richard had been a feared and victorious enemy of France, and few believed that his younger brother and successor, John, would be a match for the formidable and experienced French king Philip II, known as Augustus.

Medieval sense of humour

Medieval sense of humour

The passions of a violent society spill over into the sense of humour you will encounter. Yes, there is humour, lots of it, amid the violence and sexism. But whether you will find it funny is a quite a different matter. For example, here is a medieval joke. One merchant asks another, ‘Are you married?’ ‘I had three wives,’ the second merchant responds, ‘but all three hanged themselves from a tree in my garden.’ The first merchant retorts, ‘Pray, give me a cutting from this miraculous tree.’