Saturday, 18 April 2015

Dan Jones 'Secrets of British Castles'

Channel 5 is currently showing another Dan Jones series, this time called 'Secrets of British Castles', and this week's was about Warwick Castle.  I just KNEW it would feature the fate of Piers.  And of course, with Dan Jones' usual colloquialisms.  I was right on both counts.  OK, it's wonderful to have a series on castles, especially ones you've been to, and the scenery was fantastic.  Unfortunately, you have to put up with 'potted' history, with mere snippets of what actually happened.  So, we have an 'idle, naive' Edward as king, and a 'rude and obnoxious' Piers.   We were 'treated' to actors playing the parts of them, and they didn't speak a word but walked around in silence looking terribly serious.  Edward looked about 50 years old, thoroughly miserable, and dressed in black, and Piers looked less than half his age with a pudding bowl haircut, which made them seem like 'the odd couple'.  They didn't look in the least like a hedonistic couple, which would perhaps have explained the attraction.

Dan Jones says Edward liked nothing more than hanging around with his 'best mate' when he should have been running the country.  He doesn't say they were 'making out' all the time though, which is something.  He speculates on the relationship - were they lovers, friends, a brotherhood, or 'something else' - hmmm, how about father and son, judging by the actors playing them!   There's no mention of Queen Isabella, Piers wife and his previous exiles.

We hear of Piers being exiled, and how Guy of Warwick captured him when he returned 'on the road to Deddington' - as if Piers had been out for a stroll.  No mention of the siege of Scarborough Castle and Pembroke's promise whilst he was in custody.   Jones does say that Piers was subjected to a 'kangaroo' court with no chance of justice.  But then we're told Piers was 'dragged kicking and screaming, begging for mercy' to Blacklow Hill.  All presented as truth.  And Jones adds that Edward would have his revenge - which he did with his cousin Thomas of Lancaster, and also attributes Guy of Warwick's demise to Edward.  Undoubtedly Edward would have taken his revenge, but there's no evidence he was connected with the death of Warwick.

If it's any consolation, other stories connected with Warwick Castle didn't fair any better, particularly those of Warwick the Kingmaker, and Daisy, Countess of Warwick.  Still, it was great to see that fabulous castle.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


Bit of a 'random' post today.  Hence the title digging.  It's well known that Edward II liked nothing better than thatching a roof or digging ditches - although I rather think Piers would do anything to avoid digging a ditch if he could:)    Of course, recently, digging has been in the news due to the discovery of the bones of Richard III in a car park in Leicester.   TV in Britain was bombarded with coverage of his final journey from Bosworth to Leicester cathedral - hours, and hours of it, plus endless debates on Richard's character.  All this coverage has led some to ask about the cost of the excavation and re-burial, and who paid what.  According to the British newspaper, here is the break down of the costs.

For the search and excavation, the costs was £142,663, of which Leicester University paid £114,050 and the Richard III society paid £18,083.

Leicester Cathedral paid an eye-watering £2.5 million on the coffin and the tomb, and apparently this was matched by fund-raising and donations.  The Express does not know who paid for the policing, road works and local authority time.  Leicester Cathedral think that it will be money well-spent, as with all the publicity it will increase tourism and they will make a profit.  So you can now buy Richard III t-shirts - several varieties - mugs, key rings, mouse mats, shopping bags, baseball hats, posters, greetings cards, aprons - you name, you can buy it.   For me, the best part of the coverage was David Starkey's views and and my favourite Ricardian, John Ashdown-Hill.

Of course, the discovery of Richard's remains has led to coverage of requests to either search or dig up other royal or famous remains.  An academic has says he knows where King Stephen is buried, the search is in for King Alfred, there's a petition for a rather bizarre request to have Anne Boleyn pardoned and re-buried in Westminster Abbey and another academic would like the remains of Shakespeare dug up and examined so we can find out what his lifestyle was like!  Maybe Shakespeare knew he would be regarded as a genius and this may well happen to him, hence the 'curse' placed on his grave.

  Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

No doubt there will follow a campaign to have the bones buried in Innocents Corner in an urn in Westminster Abbey re-examined - something the Queen has refused many times.  She is satisfied the bones are those of the 'Little Princes in the Tower'  and sees no reason for them to be re-examined.  There's no doubt in my mind they are the bones of the princes - who else would be secretly buried in a chest under a staircase in the White Tower?  Of course, what everyone would like to know is the age of the bones and any clues as to how the princes died.

Of course, from an Edward II point of view, an examination of his tomb and bones might help us find out his fate - is it really him buried in the tomb?  and if so, what actual age was he when he died?  Now there's a mystery worth solving!