Medieval Winter Sports

For centuries, countless children and adults have found joy in our dark winter days by participating in pastimes like snowballing, tobogganing, and skating. Though the snow hasn’t quite reached us yet, here are a few seasonally inspired images of winters past to brighten the short December days…

medieval-snowball-fight-maestro-venceslao

Fresco depicting January at Castello Buonconsiglio, Trento, Italy, c. 1405-1410.

Fresco depicting January at Castello Buonconsiglio, Trento, Italy, c. 1405-1410.

Fresco depicting January at Castello Buonconsiglio, Trento, Italy, c. 1405-1410.

snowballs Oxford Bodleian Douce 135

Snowball fight in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 135. Book of Hours, Use of Rome.

Snowball fight in Walters Art Museum, W42512R. Flemish, c. 1510.

snow fight in Tacuinum Sanitatis (c. 1390-1400)

Snowball fight in Tacuinum Sanitatis (BnF NAL 1673), c. 1390-1400.

December the Book of Hours of Adélaïde de Savoie (Musée Condé 78, fol. 12v), c. 1460-1465

December the Book of Hours of Adélaïde de Savoie (Musée Condé 78), c. 1460-1465.

Tobogganing in 'The Golf Book', British Library MS Addition 24098.

Tobogganing in the margins of ‘The Golf Book’, British Library MS Addition 24098.

Tobogganing in the margins of ‘The Golf Book’, British Library MS Addition 24098.

Tobogganing in the margins of ‘The Golf Book’, British Library MS Addition 24098.

Skating and tobogganing in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 5.

Skating (?) and tobogganing in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 5.

Allegory of Winter by Ambrogio Lorenzetti fresco in the Palazzo Publico of Siena, c. 1338-1340.

Allegory of Winter by Ambrogio Lorenzetti fresco in the Palazzo Publico of Siena, c. 1338-1340.

Medieval Christmas

This is an illustrated transcript of Medieval Christmas, a feature I wrote for BBC Radio 3 Nightwaves. Downloadable as a BBC podcast here or here.

It’s cold outside. Inside a large fire burns brightly filling the room with intense warmth. The occupants inhale the scent of decorative evergreens, drink sweet wine, and tuck into a hearty meal. Later they play games, listen to music, dance, sing carols, and exchange seasonal gifts and greetings. For many of us, this scene feels like a snapshot of the celebrations to come on the 25th, but it’s not. It’s Christmas in the Middle Ages.

Calendar page for February in British Library MS Additional 24098 'The Golf Book'.

Calendar page for February in British Library MS Additional 24098 ‘The Golf Book (Sixteenth Century)’.

If we could go back in time just over six hundred years, the festive season would be both familiar and strange. Then, just like now, Christmas preparations began weeks in advance, but what people busied themselves with before celebrating the birth of Christ was very different. Advent was a time for fasting, slaughtering and salting animals that wouldn’t survive winter, and participating in irreverent customs like the Boy Bishop ceremonies held on the Feast of St Nicholas, when children would be elected to preside over all the tasks assigned to real bishops, except mass. Effectively in control of the bishopric, the boy bishop and his attendants would travel throughout the diocese offering blessings, declaring holidays, singing, and dispensing treats. In return they’d receive gifts, hospitality and entertainments.

Christmas preparations on a calendar page for December in 'The Golf Book'. British Library MS Additional 24098.

Christmas preparations on a calendar page for December in ‘The Golf Book’. British Library MS Additional 24098.

Preparing for Christmas. 'The Golf Book', British Library MS Addition 24098.

The Winter Season. ‘The Golf Book’, British Library MS Addition 24098.

Rituals like this, and the election of Lords of Misrule to oversee the festivities in noble households, were part of the popular carnival entertainments associated with the season. Temporarily letting the underdog have his day, by throwing aside the normal order of things in a controlled period of misrule, was incredibly popular and made the peasants more accepting of the feudal system that restrained them for the rest of the year.

Feasting in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 264.

Feasting in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 264.

Mummers from Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 264.

Mummers from Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 264.

Christmas Day marked the start of an indulgent period of at least 12 days of feasting, though truly extravagant festivities in royal and noble households might extend for 40 days beyond Christmas to Candlemas in early February. The lengthy nature of the celebrations was due to several factors, the most practical being the difficulty of travelling in the winter season, the abundance of fresh meat, and the fact that there was little agricultural work in the dark winter days.

And it wasn’t just the length of the celebrations that were staggering by modern standards, but the volume of guests that were catered for by the wealthy. In the 1390s Richard II hosted the most lavish banquets, employing 300 cooks and servants to feed 10,000 people with 28 oxen, 300 sheep and innumerable fowl served up each day.

The romance of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, vividly evokes the spectacle of a royal banquet, telling us that each course was brought out to ‘the blaring of trumpets’, ‘kettledrums’, and ‘pipes’, as each couple shared ‘twelve dishes, good beer and bright wine’. Food would include wild boar, fowl, pies, stews, bread, cheeses, puddings, and large rectangular shaped pastries filled with minced meats like pork, eggs, fruit, spices, and fat, the precursor of our mince pies. Before and after the hubbub and splendour of the banquet, raucous revels like tournaments, dancing, and playing games, would occupy guests.

Feasting at King Arthur's Court in British Library MS Royal 20 D iv.

Feasting at King Arthur’s Court in British Library MS Royal 20 D iv.

Celebrations in noble and gentry households were much smaller in scale, but just as impressive. A letter from Margaret Paston to her husband John, written on 24 December 1459, outlines festive activities that their neighbour Lady Morley had banned the previous year when mourning the loss of her husband: ‘there were no disguisings [masques],’ she said, ‘ nor harping, nor luting, nor singing, nor no loud pastimes’ only ‘playing at the tables, and chess, and cards’ was allowed.

Dice games in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 264.

A dice game in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 264.

At the lowest end of the social spectrum, peasants celebrated with dancing, singing, dice games, and mummings, where participants would don masks and visit local households singing and asking for Christmas charity. Christmas day was a quarter day, which, rather miserably, meant that peasants had to pay rent to their lord, but they received gifts of food, ale, clothing, and firewood in return, and this was one of the rare times that they would get to eat meat. They too celebrated for the duration of the twelve days of Christmas, returning to work after the feast of the Epiphany on 6 January.

tres riche feb

February as depicted in the Tres Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry.

It’s through the poorest people that we see the true essence of Christmas in the Middle Ages: a spirit that speaks to our own age of austerity. For them, Christmas was about simple inexpensive pleasures, spiritual contemplation, and spending time with family and friends free from the obligations of work and rank.

***

Another post on Medieval Christmas, including a fourteenth-century recipe for the precursors of our mince pies, is available here.

View more of ‘The Golf Book’, one of the books used to illustrate this post, here. Technically it’s not ‘medieval’ as it was produced in the sixteenth century, but it gives a nice sense of the Christmas season.

For more images from Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 264, a medieval copy of The Romance of Alexander, click here.

The Real Game Of Thrones – Power In 15th-Century England

On 26 October 2013 I had the honour of presenting a paper at BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival. The theme of the festival was ‘Who’s in Control?’. Below is a transcript of the paper that I gave. It can be listened to, or downloaded as podcast, here.

The TV series Game of Thrones, based on George R. R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice novels has taken the world by storm. Following the political intrigues and battles of several noble families wrestling for control of the kingdom of Westeros, the series’ heady mix of sex, violence, betrayal, and chivalry, has captured the hearts of all who love a good old yarn about politically astute dwarves, bearded men brandishing swords, and women in floaty dresses riding dragons.

Game-of-Thrones-game-of-thrones-20131987-1680-1050

Quite incredibly, the inspiration for Martin’s epic fantasy is a real medieval civil war known as The Wars of the Roses; even the dragons of Daenerys Targaryen, draw upon the heraldic devices of Henry VII, the first Tudor king, with whom she’s partially aligned. Just as Martin looked to the past and reshaped the events he found there to appeal to a twenty-first-century audience, so people living through the fifteenth-century war used the stories of the past to discuss power and promote peace among their contemporaries.

In November 1457, John Hardyng, a 79 year-old veteran of Agincourt, made his way from Lincolnshire to London to deliver a unique account of British history to King Henry VI. The huge book that Hardyng carried provided details of every monarch that had ruled Britain, real and mythical. Opening with a gripping account of ancient queens attempting to rule independently of their kings, and aggressive giants dominating a land racked with civil war, Hardyng composed the text in response to the weak governance, increased lawlessness, and aristocratic factionalism that triggered the Wars. Using the lens of historical narrative to focus on Henry VI’s lack of control, Hardyng hoped that the good and bad examples of kingship in his book, and the historic desolation caused by civil unrest, would inspire the king to reassert his authority and restore peace.

The unique manuscript of the Chronicle Hardyng wrote for Henry VI. British Library MS Lansdowne 204, f. 168v.

The unique manuscript of the Chronicle Hardyng wrote for Henry VI. British Library MS Lansdowne 204, f. 168v.

Composed in the twilight years of Henry’s reign before Yorkist propaganda rewrote history to legitimise Edward IV’s seizure of the throne, Hardyng’s text offers a unique snapshot of how men of middling rank like him, perceived kingship and the exercise of sovereign power on the cusp of wars. Though the end of this real-life Game of Thrones with the death of Richard III and the accession of Henry Tudor has traditionally dominated the popular imagination, it’s the origins of the wars that reveal the most about how late medieval people understood power and who was in control.

Hardyng, like other Englishmen, believed that kings were divinely-appointed to protect the interests of their people and kingdom. Ordinarily kings could only be judged by God, but in exceptional circumstances, when a monarch neglected the common good, the voice of the people could be viewed as the voice of God and a king could be ‘unkinged’ by his subjects, as Richard II had been in 1399. Traditionally the nobility provided wise counsel to the king and he made judgements based on that advice and his own personal will. However, the unique circumstances of Henry VI’s reign forced the Lancastrian government to redefine how royal power worked on more than one occasion.

The trouble with Henry VI’s reign started before he was born. His father, Henry V, was a strong ruler, who governed effectively and pleased his people with great military victories during the Hundred Years War. When he died prematurely at 35, the dual monarchy of England and France passed to the nine-month old son that he had never seen. A council made up of family members and other nobles, similar to the small council set up to advise Joffrey Baratheon in the Game of Thrones, governed for the baby king until he was able to rule independently.

Henry V (National Portrait Gallery)

Henry V (National Portrait Gallery)

The council took great care to uphold the notion that true power resided in the king alone, despite the fact that he couldn’t articulate his own wishes. Little Henry’s presence was required for all formal acts and public ceremonies to legitimise decisions made in his name.

Unfortunately, the length of Henry’s minority meant that some of the king’s relatives grew rather too accustomed to the power that came from managing Henry’s sovereignty and, like Tyrion and Cersei Lannister in Martin’s fantasy, found themselves vying for control of the young king. Henry too grew so dependent on others that when conciliar rule ended he frequently failed to assert his own will and was easily manipulated by those closest to him. This led to factionalism between those who had the king’s favour and those who didn’t.

By 1450, losses in France, financial difficulties at home, corruption in local courts, and unchecked violence between noblemen, culminated in a public uprising. The protestors issued bills criticising the ‘evil’ councillors that encroached on royal authority, and called for the king to empower ‘honourable knights and honest judges’ to remove those who had acted for personal gain instead of the common good.

Similar bills would be issued throughout the decade, most strikingly by Richard, duke of York, the father of Edward IV and Richard III, who used the theme of bad counsel to increase his own political role and disempower his rivals. By aligning his own grievances with those of the common English men, York eventually found himself elected Chief Councillor and Protector of the Realm when Henry VI suffered a mental breakdown was unfit to rule.

Though York held things together while the king was incapacitated, providing the strong and arguably fair leadership that the country had lacked for so long, the new arrangements for administering royal power only served to undermine the king’s authority in the longer term. York’s protectorship alienated Henry’s queen, Margaret of Anjou, who gave birth to Henry’s heir, Prince Edward, in October 1453 and sought to act as regent while her husband was compromised.

Richard, duke of York, and his son Edward IV. Ludlow Church.

Richard, duke of York, and his son Edward IV. St Laurence Church, Ludlow.

Even when the king recovered his wits, he continued to be an uninspiring figurehead doing little to control the problems afflicting his realm. While the duke of York quietly seethed as many of his decisions as Protector were overturned, Queen Margaret and others continued to mitigate Henry’s inadequacies by redefining sovereign power as a tripartite entity encompassing king, queen and prince. This was especially important after the battle of St Albans, when the duke of York and his supporters took control of the king from their political rivals.

John Hardyng’s unusual dedication of his book to, as he puts it, the ‘thre rials in unite’, demonstrates that he understood and absorbed this new association of Henry’s royal authority with the young prince and queen, but, like the duke of York, and other contemporaries, Hardyng saw imminent danger in the king’s inability to assert his will and take control of the kingdom’s governance. For all the emphasis on the sovereign trinity of Henry, Margaret and Edward, nothing could alter the simple fact that true power lay solely in the person of the king and it was the king that needed to end the aristocratic feuds that were damaging the stability of the realm.

Hardyng’s repeated use of historical exempla in his book to encourage the king to chastise lawbreakers and imitate strong leaders like Henry V makes for an interesting comparison with the less tactful observations of his contemporary Robert Burnet. As Hardyng arrived in London with his history, Burnet was being indicted for treason for saying he wished the king had died at the Battle of St Albans. Burnet complained that the king slept too much, while the queen was organising men to fight overseas, a manly activity that was Henry’s task, not hers. While Hardyng gave similar advice in his chronicle, suggesting that lawbreakers in England could be sent to fight for the king’s rights in France, he differed from Burnet in believing that Henry could still exercise royal power effectively and restore order.

As Hardyng arrived in London and prepared to submit his book, things had reached a critical juncture. The king’s Great Council convened at Westminster ‘to tackle the pressing political problems of the kingdom,’ particularly, it seems, to tackle the threat of foreign invasion, and the on-going hostilities between the Yorkist lords and the heirs of those killed at the Battle of St Albans in 1455. When discussions could not be “fully concluded,” Henry VI arranged for the meeting to reconvene in January because the ‘wele’, or good, of the land and people remained ‘in great jeopardy.’

We cannot know for certain how Henry VI reacted to Hardyng’s Chronicle; the fact that Hardyng was rewarded with an annuity several days after meeting with the king’s treasurer, Sir John Talbot, does not, unfortunately, prove that the king was delighted with the work, or that he even read it. Nevertheless, the timing of Hardyng’s presentation is crucial to our understanding of how topical the text was and how it might have represented popular opinion. According to the Abbot of St Albans, John Whethamstede, the king was inspired to seek peace between his magnates after reading several books of advice and Scripture. The theme of his address to the lords when the council assembled once again was based on the gospels’ warning that “Every kingdom divided amongst itself shall be made desolate.” In his speech Henry aligned his own desire for order with that of God, citing examples of historic and recent kingdoms ruined through civil division, and emphasising the susceptibility of war-torn realms to invasion. It wasn’t easy, but Henry obtained a settlement between the lords in March 1458, and on the Feast of the Annunciation (traditionally marking the start of the medieval new year), the citizens of London witnessed one of the most incredible spectacles of the fifteenth-century. York’s supporters and the heirs of the Lancastrians slain at St Albans processed hand in hand around London in a public display of unity. Led by the king, who walked in front wearing his crown and ceremonial robes, the queen and the duke of York walked together, symbolically showing their subservience to sovereign power.

Henry VI (National Portrait Gallery)

Henry VI (National Portrait Gallery)

Though Whethamstede may have been indulging his poetic licence by claiming that the king was inspired to take control by books of advice, the events in November 1457 and the following four months highlight the social and political currency of Hardyng’s Chronicle and the hope, however remote, entertained by men like him that the king could restore stability.

Embodying all of the topics touched upon in Henry’s speech to his council, Hardyng’s perception of royal power and the difficulties associated with others acting in the king’s name could only have been borne out of the crises that troubled Henry’s reign. Hardyng’s history is precisely the sort of book that Whetehamstede had in mind when he imagined Henry contemplating the troubles of the kingdom, and it’s precisely the sort of book that Henry might have drawn examples from in his speech to reiterate the perils of civil war and assert his own will.

Sadly, Henry’s action was too little too late. York made a move for the throne the next year and this time, he didn’t attempt to define or locate the root of the king’s impotence: he simply put forward his own superior claim to sovereignty as a descendent of Edward III through the Mortimer and Clarence line. As Prince Edward was disinherited and the succession was settled on York and his heirs, Hardyng began rewriting his history again for the king-to-be, redefining what it meant to have control of the kingdom. Though he was now writing for a strong leader, his narrative was essentially the same: there were lessons to be learnt from the past and knowledge of how previous kings had protected or failed their kingdoms was power.

In this too, the real-life Game of Thrones parallels Martin’s series. Just before civil war breaks out in Westeros, Tyrion Lannister, is asked why he reads so much. He replies: ‘I have a realistic grasp of my own strengths and weaknesses. My mind is my weapon. My brother has his sword… and I have my mind… and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge. That is why I read so much!’  Tyrion, like Hardyng, understands that true power comes from a sharp mind using shrewd politics to control the men with swords. Henry VI lost his throne because his mind was weak and his will was too easily controlled by others.

Medieval Babies

To celebrate the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s new royal prince, here are a few images of medieval babies being born and cared for. I tweeted many of them last year in the #MedievalBabies series, but they give such a touching insight into the world of the medieval family that they are worth presenting again.

Some of the most common images of childbirth depict the unusual circumstances of Caesar’s arrival, as he is cut from his mother’s womb:

Birth of Caesar, British Library Royal 17 F II, f. 9r.

Birth of Caesar, British Library Royal 17 F II.

Caesarean Section, British Library, Royal 16 G VII

Caesarean Section, British Library, Royal 16 G VII.

Birth of Caesar, British Library, Royal 16 G VIII, f. 32.

Birth of Caesar, British Library, Royal 16 G VIII.

Others poignantly capture, and even graphically depict, the suffering of the mother struggling with a natural birth.

Birth of Jacob and Esau in Hague MMW 10 A 11.

Birth of Jacob and Esau in Hague MS MMW 10 A 11.

Unusually graphic depiction of childbirth in Codex Series Nova 2641, Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna

Childbirth, Codex Nova 2641, Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna.

In contrast to the pain and suffering of the birthing process, the aftermath of childbirth is often shown as tranquil. Mother relaxes exhausted in her birthing chamber as her maidens and midwives attend to baby with clean sheets and a freshly prepared bath.

Preparing a bath for baby, Saint Jean-Baptiste Heures d'Étienne Chevalier.

Preparing a bath for baby, Saint Jean-Baptiste Heures d’Étienne Chevalier.

Birth scene in a Book of Hours, Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 112.

Birth scene in a Book of Hours, Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 112.

Birth of Alexander the Great, British Library Royal 20 C III.

Birth of Alexander the Great, British Library MS Royal 20 C III.

Birth of Alexander the Great, Oxford Bodleian Laud Misc. 751.

Birth of Alexander the Great, Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Laud Misc. 751.

My favourite images are those that show little children learning to walk with baby walkers or parents carrying their children around in ingenious carriers, not unlike modern baby equipment.

Christ learns to walk in the Hour of Catherine of Cleeves

Christ learns to walk in the Hour of Catherine of Cleeves.

Baby Walker in BnF NAL 392

Baby Walker in BnF NAL 392.

Baby Walker and crib in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce 276.

Baby Walker in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 276.

Baby walker in Oxford, Bodleian Library Douce 353

Baby walker in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 353.

The Ages of Man, BNF, département des Manuscrits, Français 134, fol. 92v.

The Ages of Man, BNF, Français 134.

Seven Ages of Man, BnF Fr. 218, fol. 95.

Seven Ages of Man, BnF Fr. 218.

Carrying twins in the margins of the Romance of Alexander, Oxford, Bodleian Library Bodley 264.

Carrying twins in the margins of the Romance of Alexander, Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 264.

And finally… what happens to baby when the parents have to work? It goes with them!

New York Pierpont Morgan Library, MS G.24 fol. 10r.

New York Pierpont Morgan Library, MS G.24.

Multitasking mum breastfeeds, walks on stilts and balances pot. British Library Royal 10 E iv.

Multitasking mum breastfeeds, walks on stilts and balances pot. British Library Royal 10 E iv.

Working parents in July. Jean Colombe, Heures de Louis de Laval, BnF, Latin 920, fol. 11.

Working Parents. Jean Colombe, Heures de Louis de Laval, BnF, Latin 920.

'Smale Stufe and Goodes': Elizabeth Woodville's Signature and Will

On Friday I posted about contemporary depictions of Elizabeth Woodville. Today, I’d like to share four other documents relating to her.

The first, British Library MS Royal 14 E iii, is a fourteenth-century book of Arthurian Romances. Originally owned by Charles V and VI of France, the book passed to John, duke of Bedford (the first husband of Elizabeth’s mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg) in the early fifteenth century.

British Library Royal 14 E iii, King Arthur's Court.

British Library Royal 14 E iii, miniature of King Arthur’s Court.

It was later owned by Sir Richard Roos of Gedney and his niece, Eleanor Haute, who inscribed ‘Thys boke ys myne dame Alyanor Haute’ on folio 162. However, it’s another name, ‘E. Wydevyll’, inscribed just above Eleanor’s that makes this manuscript so interesting. It may refer to Elizabeth’s brother, Edward Woodville, but it could equally be a reference to Elizabeth, perhaps even her autograph, from a time before she was queen.

'E. Wydvyll' in British Library MS Royal 14 E iii, fol. 162r.
‘E. Wydevyll’ and Eleanor Haute’s inscription in British Library MS Royal 14 E iii, fol. 162r.
The first folio of the book also contains the names of two of Elizabeth’s daughters, ‘Elysbathe the kyngys dowter and Cecyl the kyngys dowter’, providing a clearer connection between the book, the royal household, and the queen.
The names of Elizabeth's daughters in British Library MS Royal 14 E iii, fol. 1.
The names of Elizabeth’s daughters ‘Elysbathe and Cecyl’ in British Library MS Royal 14 E iii, fol. 1.

Another document that leaves us in no doubt what Elizabeth’s royal signature looked like is a letter from the queen to the Bishop of Lincoln dated 1477. A professional scribe copied the actual letter, but ‘Elysabeth’ signs it at the bottom.

Letter from Elizabeth, with her signature, to the Bishop of Lincoln.
Letter from ‘Elysabeth’ to the Bishop of Lincoln, 1477.
This autograph is almost identical to the one she signs in 1491, confirming receipt of her annuity from Henry VII.
Elizabeth's signature from 1491.

Elizabeth’s signature from 1491.

The following year, on 10 April 1492, Elizabeth made her will at Bermondsey Abbey, where she was residing. She had nothing of consequence to bequeath to her surviving children, so she left her blessings and instructions for her ‘smale stufe and goodes’ to be used to settle any debts ‘as farre as they will extende’:

‘In Dei nomine, Amen. The xth daie of Aprill, the yere of our Lord Gode MCCCCLXXXXII. I Elisabeth, by the grace of God Quene of England, late wif to the most victoroiuse Prince of blessed memorie, Edward the Fourth, being of hole mynde, seying the worlde so traunsitorie, and no creature certayne whanne they shall departe frome hence, havyng Almyghty Gode fressh in mynde, in whome is all mercy and grace, bequeath my sowle into his handes, beseechyng him, of the same mercy, to accept it graciously, and oure blessed Lady Quene of comforte, and all the holy company of hevyn, to be good meanes for me. Item, I bequeith my body to be buried with the bodie of my Lord at Windessore, according to the will of my saide Lorde and myne, without pompes entreing or costlie expensis donne thereabought. Item, where I have no wordely goodes to do the Quene’s Grace, my derest doughter, a pleaser with, nether to reward any of my children, according to my hart and mynde, I besech Almyghty Gode to blisse here Grace, with all her noble issue, and with as good hart and mynde as is to me possible, I geve her Grace my blessing, and all the forsaide my children. Item, I will that suche smale stufe and goodes that I have be disposed truly in the contentacion of my dettes and for the helth of my sowle, as farre as they will extende. Item, yf any of my bloode wille any of my saide stufe or goodes to me perteyning, I will that they have the prefermente before any other. And of this my present testament I make and ordeyne myne Executores, that is to sey, John Ingilby, Priour of the Chartourhouse of Shene, William Sutton and Thomas Brente, Doctors. And I besech my said derest doughter, the Queue’s grace, and my sone Thomas, Marques Dorsett, to putte there good willes and help for the performans of this my testamente. In witnesse wherof, to this my present testament I have sett my seale, these witnesses, John Abbot of the monastry of Sainte Saviour of Bermondefley, and Benedictus Cun, Doctor of Fysyk. Yeven the day and yere abovesaid’ [from J. Nichols, A Collection of all the Wills, now known to be extant, of the Kings and Queens of England, pp. 350-51].

Elizabeth died on 8 June 1492. Four days later, she was buried beside Edward IV at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

St George's Chapel, Windsor

St George’s Chapel, Windsor

 

‘Smale Stufe and Goodes’: Elizabeth Woodville’s Signature and Will

On Friday I posted about contemporary depictions of Elizabeth Woodville. Today, I’d like to share four other documents relating to her.

The first, British Library MS Royal 14 E iii, is a fourteenth-century book of Arthurian Romances. Originally owned by Charles V and VI of France, the book passed to John, duke of Bedford (the first husband of Elizabeth’s mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg) in the early fifteenth century.

British Library Royal 14 E iii, King Arthur's Court.

British Library Royal 14 E iii, miniature of King Arthur’s Court.

It was later owned by Sir Richard Roos of Gedney and his niece, Eleanor Haute, who inscribed ‘Thys boke ys myne dame Alyanor Haute’ on folio 162. However, it’s another name, ‘E. Wydevyll’, inscribed just above Eleanor’s that makes this manuscript so interesting. It may refer to Elizabeth’s brother, Edward Woodville, but it could equally be a reference to Elizabeth, perhaps even her autograph, from a time before she was queen.

'E. Wydvyll' in British Library MS Royal 14 E iii, fol. 162r.
‘E. Wydevyll’ and Eleanor Haute’s inscription in British Library MS Royal 14 E iii, fol. 162r.
The first folio of the book also contains the names of two of Elizabeth’s daughters, ‘Elysbathe the kyngys dowter and Cecyl the kyngys dowter’, providing a clearer connection between the book, the royal household, and the queen.
The names of Elizabeth's daughters in British Library MS Royal 14 E iii, fol. 1.
The names of Elizabeth’s daughters ‘Elysbathe and Cecyl’ in British Library MS Royal 14 E iii, fol. 1.

Another document that leaves us in no doubt what Elizabeth’s royal signature looked like is a letter from the queen to the Bishop of Lincoln dated 1477. A professional scribe copied the actual letter, but ‘Elysabeth’ signs it at the bottom.

Letter from Elizabeth, with her signature, to the Bishop of Lincoln.
Letter from ‘Elysabeth’ to the Bishop of Lincoln, 1477.
This autograph is almost identical to the one she signs in 1491, confirming receipt of her annuity from Henry VII.
Elizabeth's signature from 1491.

Elizabeth’s signature from 1491.

The following year, on 10 April 1492, Elizabeth made her will at Bermondsey Abbey, where she was residing. She had nothing of consequence to bequeath to her surviving children, so she left her blessings and instructions for her ‘smale stufe and goodes’ to be used to settle any debts ‘as farre as they will extende’:

‘In Dei nomine, Amen. The xth daie of Aprill, the yere of our Lord Gode MCCCCLXXXXII. I Elisabeth, by the grace of God Quene of England, late wif to the most victoroiuse Prince of blessed memorie, Edward the Fourth, being of hole mynde, seying the worlde so traunsitorie, and no creature certayne whanne they shall departe frome hence, havyng Almyghty Gode fressh in mynde, in whome is all mercy and grace, bequeath my sowle into his handes, beseechyng him, of the same mercy, to accept it graciously, and oure blessed Lady Quene of comforte, and all the holy company of hevyn, to be good meanes for me. Item, I bequeith my body to be buried with the bodie of my Lord at Windessore, according to the will of my saide Lorde and myne, without pompes entreing or costlie expensis donne thereabought. Item, where I have no wordely goodes to do the Quene’s Grace, my derest doughter, a pleaser with, nether to reward any of my children, according to my hart and mynde, I besech Almyghty Gode to blisse here Grace, with all her noble issue, and with as good hart and mynde as is to me possible, I geve her Grace my blessing, and all the forsaide my children. Item, I will that suche smale stufe and goodes that I have be disposed truly in the contentacion of my dettes and for the helth of my sowle, as farre as they will extende. Item, yf any of my bloode wille any of my saide stufe or goodes to me perteyning, I will that they have the prefermente before any other. And of this my present testament I make and ordeyne myne Executores, that is to sey, John Ingilby, Priour of the Chartourhouse of Shene, William Sutton and Thomas Brente, Doctors. And I besech my said derest doughter, the Queue’s grace, and my sone Thomas, Marques Dorsett, to putte there good willes and help for the performans of this my testamente. In witnesse wherof, to this my present testament I have sett my seale, these witnesses, John Abbot of the monastry of Sainte Saviour of Bermondefley, and Benedictus Cun, Doctor of Fysyk. Yeven the day and yere abovesaid’ [from J. Nichols, A Collection of all the Wills, now known to be extant, of the Kings and Queens of England, pp. 350-51].

Elizabeth died on 8 June 1492. Four days later, she was buried beside Edward IV at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

St George's Chapel, Windsor

St George’s Chapel, Windsor

 

Picturing The White Queen: Medieval Depictions of Elizabeth Woodville

The BBC’s new drama series The White Queen began on Sunday. Based on the Cousins’ War novels by Philippa Gregory, the series focuses on Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV’s queen, who rose to power during a turbulent period of civil war in England known as The Wars of the Roses.

The coronation of Elizabeth, played by Rebecca Ferguson, in the BBC's The White Queen.

The coronation of Elizabeth (Rebecca Ferguson) in the BBC’s The White Queen.

White Queen Coronation

As a medievalist who specialises in this period, I’m delighted that the real life ‘Game of Thrones’ is finally taking attention away from the ever-popular Tudors. Sure, the TV series takes liberties with characterisation and plot – it isn’t for purists who want to learn the facts of the period, see historically accurate clothing, or discover how real medieval people spoke and thought – but it’s a way into some of the complex power relations, family ties and events that typified late fifteenth-century England.

This post is for those wanting to know more about what the real White Queen might have looked like and what she wore in contemporary, or near contemporary, images.

Portrait of Elizabeth at Queen's College Cambridge.

Portrait of Elizabeth at Queen’s College Cambridge.

The image of Elizabeth most commonly seen in books and online is that above, one of the three painted panels of her at Queen’s College Cambridge. In the painting, Elizabeth wears a black gown with patterned gold collar and cuffs. The style of her gown is typical of English dresses circa 1475-85. Commonly referred to as a ‘transitional’ dress, it bridges the gap between the V neck Burgundian gowns of the mid to late fifteenth-century and the square-necked early Tudor gowns. The shape of the wide collar is rounded, and it fits over a tight bodice. Her sleeves are tight-fitting with turned back cuffs. Elizabeth has a fashionably high forehead (thought to be beautiful in the Middle Ages) and her hair is pulled back and covered by a truncated henin and cointoise (veil). What looks like an extension of the veil beyond the back of the henin perhaps suggests that it is a butterfly henin, which had structured wires extending from either side to lift the veil higher.

Portrait of Elizabeth. Queen's College, Cambridge.

Portrait of Elizabeth. Queen’s College, Cambridge.

Portrait of Elizabeth from the Royal Collection, Windsor.

Portrait of Elizabeth from the Royal Collection, Windsor.

Portrait of Elizabeth in the Ashmolean Museum, c. 1500.

Portrait of Elizabeth in the Ashmolean Museum, c. 1500.

Almost all of the other oil panel paintings of Elizabeth are based on the same image and derive from the sixteenth century, but there are some beautiful contemporary images of the queen in late fifteenth-century manuscripts and stained glass.

In the window of Little Malvern Priory, Elizabeth is shown kneeling in prayer with her family. She wears a blue, fur-collared Burgundian gown with a deep V neck, revealing a golden kirtle and white partlet; accompanying the gown she has a red, ermine trimmed cloak, and a heart-shaped, or horned, headdress, with a padded roll and decorative jewel, matching the decoration on the lectern.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth and three of her daughters in the stained glass at Little Malvern Priory

A similar image occurs in Canterbury Cathedral (below). The pious Elizabeth is shown praying opposite her husband, Edward IV, with their children behind them. Her attire is different to that in Little Malvern Priory: here she is crowned and wearing a white and gold patterned gown symbolising purity beneath her purple cloak. A rosary and cross hang down from her belt.

Edward IV and Elizabeth in the Royal Window, Canterbury Cathedral.

Edward IV and Elizabeth in the Royal Window, Canterbury Cathedral.

The Luton Guild Book contains another pious image of the royal family, kneeling before Bishop Thomas Rotherham and the Trinity. Elizabeth wears a blue and gold Burgundian gown, with a brown fur collar, partlet, deep green girdle (belt), a purple and ermine trimmed cloak, and a black hood. The women behind her sport butterfly henins.

The Luton Guild Book. Frontspiece, circa 1475.

The Luton Guild Book. Frontspiece, circa 1475.

The purple cloaks in the last two images seem to nod to Elizabeth’s coronation attire, which William Ballard, a fifteenth-century herald, describes as ‘a mantyll of purpull’, that she later exchanges for a ‘surcote of purpull’. She is also shown wearing purple in a miniature in Lambeth Palace MS 265, which shows her brother Anthony Woodville, second earl Rivers, presenting a book to the royal family.

Anthony Woodville presents a book to Edward IV, Elizabeth and Prince Edward. Lambeth Palace MS 265.

Anthony Woodville presents a book to Edward IV, Elizabeth and Prince Edward. Lambeth Palace MS 265.

One of the most striking images of Elizabeth is in the Worshipful Company of Skinners’ Fraternity of Our Lady’s Assumption Book, which shows her in a stunning red and ermine trimmed surcoat, and a blue cloak trimmed with gold. As Joanne Laynesmith (née Chamberlayne) has discussed in her work on Elizabeth, medieval queens were traditionally virgins, so Elizabeth’s status as a mother and widow was deeply problematic. Whoever commissioned the image was clearly trying to address her unconventional status and align her with representations of the Virgin Mary: the ideal mother. Elizabeth’s hair is loose (a common way of depicting virgins, especially Mary), she wears a blue cloak associated with purity, and holds an orb and sceptre, just as Mary does in images presenting her as the Queen of Heaven. By constructing Elizabeth’s motherhood in ‘strikingly Marian terms’, the artist distances her ‘from ordinary women’.

Elizabeth in her coronation robes (Worshipful Company of Skinners Fraternity Book)

Elizabeth in her coronation robes (Worshipful Company of Skinners’ Fraternity Book)

Assumption of the Virgin Mary. London, Skinners' Company.

Coronation of the Virgin (loose hair and gown similar to Queen Elizabeth’s). Worshipful Company of Skinners’ Book.

Elizabeth wears the same outfit, minus the gold trim on the cloak, and has the same loose hair in one of my favourite manuscripts: Liverpool Cathedral Manuscript Radcliffe 6. Containing the Hours of the Guardian Angel, and still in its original textile binding, this incredible little book has an extremely rare miniature of a presentation scene between two women. The woman presenting the book, almost certainly Joan Luyt, presents the golden Guardian Hours to the queen ‘with euerlastyng ioy’.

Liverpool Cathedral MS Radcliffe 6, Hours of the Guardian Angel. Joan Luyt presents the book to Elizabeth Woodville

Liverpool Cathedral MS Radcliffe 6, Hours of the Guardian Angel. Joan Luyt presents the book to Elizabeth Woodville.

Though Elizabeth’s secret marriage to Edward IV caused great controversy in the 1460s because she fell short of the traditional standard of being an unmarried virgin of considerable status, we would not know this from contemporary depictions of her. The legacy left by the artists that immortalised her in painted glass, parchment and panels, is of a beautiful, powerful and pious individual, who could fulfil the role of mother to all Englishmen. While these images clearly convey an ideal, it’s worth remembering how medieval artists pictured Edward’s bride the next time The White Queen distracts us with inaccurate necklines and zips!

Outfitting A Medieval Noble Woman: The Burgundian Dress

A few months ago I commissioned a replica late fifteenth-century Burgundian gown to wear for my medieval storytelling session at Lancashire Archive’s ‘Medieval Day’. Popular throughout Northern Europe for roughly five decades, the Burgundian gown is a layered outfit (an ‘A-line’ shaped gown worn over the top of a tight-fitting kirtle and chemise), which evolved from its loose-fitting predecessor the houppelande.

Houppelandes in British Library MS Harley 4431, f. 3.

Isabeau of Bavaria and her ladies in waiting wearing wide-sleeved houppelandes in British Library MS Harley 4431.

The houppelande was a sumptuously weighty gown, lined with fur, worn over a slim fitting cotehardie and chemise. By the early fifteenth century it had developed a long train, large turned-back collar and lavishly long sleeves. In the 1440s the sleeves started to become tighter again and, as the century moved on, they became the slim-fitted sleeves of the burgundian gown, with fur or fabric bell-shaped cuffs that could be turned back. The collar of the houppelande similarly evolved, dropping down further and wider, until it became the V-neck shape of the burgundian gown. Other changes included the gradual introduction of a deeper belt, or girdle, to draw in the loose-fitting skirt, creating a more slender waist line. By the end of the century the top of the dress had become so fitted that such a large belt was no longer needed and ladies (by this time Tudor ladies) wore thinner, decorative belts.

For late fifteenth-century inspiration, I turned to my favourite images of the gowns from medieval art and manuscripts: a depiction of Saint Ursula in the Master of Lucy Legend’s painting of the Virgin surrounded by female saints (circa 1488); two images of Mary of Burgundy in Mary of Burgundy’s Book of Hours (circa 1477); a painted panel circa 1480 depicting Saint Catherine converting the scholars (Walters Art Museum 37.2487); and The Whore of Babylon in Pierpont Morgan MS M. 68.

St Ursula's black and gold Burgundian gown (bottom left). Master of Lucy Legend. Virgin and Saints.

St Ursula’s black and gold Burgundian gown (bottom left). Master of Lucy Legend. Virgin and Saints.

Mary of Burgundy (in foreground and background praying to the Virgin). Mary of Burgundy's Hours.

Mary of Burgundy (in foreground and background praying to the Virgin). Mary of Burgundy’s Hours.

Saint Catherine converting the Scholars. Walters Art Museum 37.2487.

Saint Catherine converting the Scholars. Walters Art Museum 37.2487.

The Whore of Babylon by Loyset Liédet. Apocalypse of Charles the Bold; Belgium, Bruges, ca. 1470. Pierpont Morgan MS M.68, f. 217r.

The Whore of Babylon. Apocalypse of Charles the Bold; Belgium, Bruges, circa 1470. Pierpont Morgan MS M.68.

After much deliberation, I opted for the black and gold gown worn by Saint Ursula, with a red kirtle, like those worn beneath Ursula’s and Catherine’s gowns. The neckline of Mary of Burgundy’s gown is deeply cut and her kirtle (assuming she has one) can’t be seen, instead she has a transparent partlet, that can just be made out above the neckline of the dress. Made out of wool or linen (or both), late medieval kirtles are most commonly seen in red, blue, green or (for the very wealthy) cloth of gold.

To complete the outfit, I needed a headdress of some kind. The steeple henin worn by Mary of Burgundy is probably the most commonly known medieval headdress (think – somewhat incorrectly – pointy princess hat), but henins depicted in English sources of the late fifteenth century tend to be the truncated or butterfly designs.

Truncated henin in A Portrait of a Lady by Van der Weyden

Truncated henin with an elegantly pinned cointoise (note the red girdle too) in A Portrait of a Lady by Van der Weyden

Memorial brass for William Yelverton and his wife, who wears a butterfly henin. St Mary's Church, Rougham, Norfolk, 1472.

Memorial brass for William Yelverton and his wife, who wears a butterfly henin. St Mary’s Church, Rougham, Norfolk, 1472.

Covered by a veil or cointoise, that often continued down over the woman’s face or forehead, the henin was designed to show off a high forehead (considered so attractive that women plucked or shaved their hair back to exaggerate it). Most depictions of henins and other headdresses show a short loop that appears to have been attached to a headband that helped to keep the headdress in place or adjust it.

Panel of a triptych showing the Moreel Family by Hans Memling (1484). Barbara Moreel wears a truncated henin and cointoise (and red girdle), while the girls behind her wear headbands with loops.

Panel of a triptych showing the Moreel Family by Hans Memling (1484). Barbara Moreel wears a truncated henin and cointoise (and red girdle), while the girls behind her wear headbands with loops.

In the end, I opted for a reticulated headdress similar to the one worn by Saint Ursula and by Margaret of Denmark, Queen of Scotland, in an altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes (circa 1482).

Margaret of Denmark, Queen of Scotland, Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes

The reticulated and crowned headdress of Margaret of Denmark, Queen of Scotland. Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes

A deep red belt, with an elaborate brass D-Shaped buckle, like those worn by Barbara Moreel and Van der Weyden’s ‘Lady’, completed the gown.

The finished gown and headdress, expertly crafted by Alexis at Decosa Design, and the beautiful belt by Bayley Heritage Castings are pictured below.

My late fifteenth-century Burgundian gown, with red kirtle and reticulated headdress.

My late fifteenth-century Burgundian gown, with red kirtle and reticulated headdress.

photo-34

One of the King’s Men and I at Lancashire Archive ‘Medieval Day’.

 

The Chester Noah Play: Directing Silence and Rain

This month I directed The Chester Noah Play with The Liverpool University Players for the Moby Dick on the Mersey festival at The Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Noah and his Family n the 'Ark' (lent to us by Spike Theatre)

Noah and his Family in the ‘Ark’ (lent to us by Spike Theatre)

Part of a larger ‘cycle’ of medieval plays telling the story of Christian history from Creation to Doomsday, The Chester Noah Play was originally performed in the fifteenth century by the Waterleaders and Drawers of Dee, a professional guild responsible for bringing water to the citizens of Chester from the River Dee. The connection between the subject matter of the play and the guild’s work with water is deliberate, and helps to underscore the symbolic connotations of water as a salvific element with the power to destroy and redeem. By producing and performing the play, the Waterleaders and Drawers demonstrated their own piety and desire to be saved and helped spectators acknowledge the importance of redemption in their lives. While the actors adopt the role of God’s chosen few, those watching unwittingly become representatives of sinful mankind; they stand outside the ark in the space occupied by the flood, symbolically drowning as they watch God cleanse the world of sin.

Noah's children enjoy an anachronistic moment in the ark

Noah’s children and their wives enjoy an anachronistic moment in the ark

Other notable features of the play include information about medieval shipbuilding, a comedic but moving portrayal of Mrs Noah, who refuses to get on the ark if her ‘gossips’ (friends) can’t be saved too, and detailed directions revealing how the medieval actors staged the boarding of the animals and created the illusion of Noah sending forth a raven and dove (a prop bird attached to a cord on the ark’s mast).

An angel returns the dove to Noah with an olive branch

An angel (Mary-Jayne Cooper) returns the dove to Noah with an olive branch. Japhet’s wife (Charlie Wilson) makes it ‘fly’

Featuring as part of a family-friendly event, our production was never intended to be an academic exercise to gain insights into early stagecraft, but using the original script and stage directions, and performing outdoors to an audience who were free to move around in close proximity to the actors, nevertheless taught us a great deal about the power and appeal of the medieval drama.

One of the greatest challenges in lifting the play off the page was deciding how to deal with having so many characters ‘on stage’ throughout the performance, when most hardly say a word. The play is dominated by speeches from God, Noah, and, to a lesser extent, Mrs Noah, yet Noah’s three sons and their wives are physically present throughout interacting with them.

The hardest section to direct in this respect was the opening ‘scene’ in which God justifies the deluge and instructs Noah how to build the ark. God addresses Noah after only a few lines, so the actor playing him – Alex Pardey – needed to be visible from the start; it was distracting to have Noah walk on as the speech had just begun. The family also needed to be ‘on stage’ from the start because Noah addresses them with ‘Have done you men and women all…’ immediately after thanking God for promising to save them; it seemed incongruous for them to not be in Noah’s presence until that point.

'Destroyed all the world shall be': God (Martin Poile) talks to Noah (Alex Pardey)

‘Destroyed all the world shall be’: God (Martin Poile) talks to Noah (Alex Pardey)

Having everyone on stage from the beginning prompted questions about how much of God’s speech the family is meant to hear. Do they hear the entire thing, the part addressed to Noah, or none of it? If they do hear, how do they react to the world’s impending destruction? Do they wail and cry, or remain silent and fearful?  If they don’t hear God, what are they doing on stage during his exchange with Noah? Are they silent statues, coming to life only when Noah addresses them? Are they miming activities from daily life, oblivious to the fate of the world? Though the play gives no indication, the latter seemed unlikely because Shem responds to Noah’s ‘Have done…’ by saying he is ready with the tools needed to build the ark; he does not require further explanation or encouragement. For me, this swung it. The family had to hear God’s speech.

What really surprised me was how dramatically the tone of the play changed when I experimented with different ways of directing the silent family in that crucial scene. Asking them to kneel down in prayer as God spoke, with only Noah rising to engage with Him created a very sombre tone. God and Noah became the focal point of the scene, the family were marginalised, and any human response to the flood that they might have conveyed by reacting to God’s news was lost. Though calmer, more reflective and probably more in keeping with the tone of medieval productions, I wanted the audience to connect with what was being said at a basic human level and consider how it would feel to be told that the world was going to end.

We still began with the family kneeling in prayer (demonstrating the piety that prompts God to save them in the first place), but I asked them to rise in shock and fear, gasping and consoling each other as they heard God declare ‘Man that I made will I destroy’. Aside from displaying raw emotion and prompting the audience to consider what they would do, having the actors console each other meant that Noah’s ‘Have done…’ became a way of telling his family to put their emotions aside and get on with fulfilling God’s command to build the ark.

Shem, his wife, and Mrs Noah learn of the coming flood (Madelaine Smart, Liam Hale and Rio Matchett)

Shem, his wife, and Mrs Noah learn of the coming flood (Madelaine Smart, Liam Hale and Rio Matchett)

In other ‘scenes’ directing the silent family was made easier by stage directions embedded in the dialogue and an instruction stating that the family should mime building the ark. When they help to bring the animals on board, the play states that images of the animals mentioned in their speeches should be painted on boards, so it made sense for the family to bring a series of boards on as they delivered their lines. We used a combination of boards and puppets to appeal to the children in our audience and add a little comedy as the actors mimed pushing and squeezing animals onto the prop boat that Spike Theatre had kindly lent us.

Bringing on the animals (Alex Ferguson and Geraint Williams as Ham and Japhet)

Bringing on the animals (Alex Ferguson and Geraint Williams as Ham and Japhet)

Staging the other silent star of the play – the flood itself – was another challenge. British weather being what it is, there was always a possibility that it would rain on our performance, but we didn’t want real water and the problems that it would bring: wet actors and costumes, fewer spectators, and a slippery boat! Despite the fact that medieval plays often involved interesting special effects (the fireworks coming out of the devil’s arse in The Castle of Perseverance or the withering of Salome’s hand in the N-Town Nativity spring to mind), the medieval guild may not have attempted to represent the flood. There is no way of knowing for sure. Yet I wanted to have something theatrical to bridge the two parts of the play: pre- and post- deluge.

The family celebrate as the flood ends

The family celebrate as the flood ends

I took inspiration from Mark Dornford-May’s 2001 production of The Mysteries – Yiimimangaliso, which represented the flood with an actor pouring water into a bucket. Our God – Martin Poile – brought on a large watering-can labelled ‘Act of God’ and poured water into a large pot labelled ‘Earth’, while counting out the days of the flood. This allowed the family to act out a long sea voyage that made them sick and weary, contrasting nicely with their jubilation when the flood began to subside. The audience seemed to like the symbolism of the watering-can and I was delighted with the way the scene showed that God was in control.

Act of God rains down on the earth

Act of God rains down on the earth (Mary-Jayne Cooper and Martin Poile)

And how did we stage God’s final act and gift to Noah’s family, the inaudible but visually stunning rainbow? Well this image will explain far better than words can…

Sunshine on a Rainy Day: Our Rainbow

Sunshine on a rainy day: our umbrella rainbow

You can watch the play here:

Cast Interviews here:

Images from our production are available here.
Information about the original medieval play is available in our Programme.

AHRC BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers 2013

608

AHRC BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers 2013: Here we are at the Press Shoot at BBC Broadcasting House

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve been selected as one of the AHRC-BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers for 2013! I’m wildly excited about working with the BBC to turn my research and ideas about the Middle Ages into exciting programmes. Keep an eye on the website for information about forthcoming broadcasts…