Sunday, 29 January 2017

German King, Frederick III

FREDERICK III
Frederick III (21 September 1415 – 19 August 1493), called the Peaceful or the Fat, was Holy Roman Emperor from 1452 until his death, the first emperor of the House of Habsburg. He was the penultimate emperor to be crowned by the Pope, and the last to be crowned in Rome. Prior to his imperial coronation, he was duke of the Inner Austrian lands of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola from 1424, and also acted as regent over the Duchy of Austria (as Frederick V) from 1439. He was elected and crowned King of Germany (as Frederick IV) in 1440. He was the longest-reigning German monarch when in 1493, after ruling his domains for more than 53 years, he was succeeded by his son Maximilian I.

During his reign, Frederick concentrated on re-uniting the Habsburg "hereditary lands" of Austria and took a lesser interest in Imperial affairs. Nevertheless, by his dynastic entitlement to Hungary as well as by the Burgundian inheritance, he laid the foundations for the later Habsburg Empire. Mocked as "Arch-Sleepyhead of the Holy Roman Empire" (German: Erzschlafmütze) during his lifetime, he is today increasingly seen as an efficient ruler.

Frederick's style of rulership was marked by hesitation and a sluggish pace of decision making. The Italian humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II, who at one time worked at Frederick's court, described the Emperor as a person who wanted to conquer the world while remaining seated.

Although this was regarded as a character flaw in older academic research, his delaying tactics are now viewed as a means of coping with political challenges in far-flung territorial possessions. Frederick is credited with having the ability to sit out difficult political situations patiently. According to contemporary accounts, Frederick had difficulties developing emotional closeness to other persons, including his children and wife Eleanor. In general, Frederick kept himself away from women, the reasons for which are not known. As Frederick was rather distant to his family, Eleanor had a great influence on the raising and education of Frederick's children, and she therefore played an important role in the House of Habsburg's rise to prominence.

Born at the Tyrolean residence of Innsbruck in 1415, Frederick was the eldest son of the Inner Austrian duke Ernest the Iron, a member of the Leopoldian line of the Habsburg dynasty, and his second wife Cymburgis of Masovia. According to the 1379 Treaty of Neuberg, the Leopoldinian branch ruled over the duchies of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola, or what was referred to as Inner Austria. Only three of Frederick's eight siblings survived childhood: his younger brother Albert (later to be Albert VI, archduke of Austria), and his sisters Margaret (later the electress of Saxony) and Catherine. In 1424, nine-year-old Frederick's father died, making Frederick the duke of Inner Austria, as Frederick V, with his uncle, Duke Frederick IV of Tyrol, acting as regent.
Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III in Ceremonial Armour
From 1431, Frederick tried to obtain majority (to be declared "of age", and thus allowed to rule) but for several years was denied by his relatives. Finally, in 1435, Albert V, duke of Austria (later Albert II, the king of Germany), awarded him the rule over his Inner Austrian heritage. Almost from the beginning, Frederick's younger brother Albert asserted his rights as a co-ruler, as the beginning of a long rivalry. Already in these years, Frederick had begun to use the symbolic A.E.I.O.U. signature as a kind of motto with various meanings. In 1436 he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, accompanied by numerous nobles knighted by the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which earned him great reputation.

Frederick's political initiatives were hardly bold, but they were still successful. His first major opponent was his brother Albert VI, who challenged his rule. He did not manage to win a single conflict on the battlefield against him, and thus resorted to more subtle means. He held his second cousin once removed Ladislaus the Posthumous, the ruler of the Archduchy of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia, (born in 1440) as a prisoner and attempted to extend his guardianship over him in perpetuity to maintain his control over Lower Austria. Ladislaus was freed in 1452 by the Lower Austrian estates.

He acted similarly towards his first cousin Sigismund of the Tyrolian line of the Habsburg family. Despite those efforts, he failed to gain control over Hungary and Bohemia in the Bohemian–Hungarian War (1468–78) and was even defeated in the Austrian–Hungarian War (1477–88) by the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus in 1485, who managed to maintain residence in Vienna until his death five years later in the Siege of Vienna. Ultimately, Frederick prevailed in all those conflicts by outliving his opponents and sometimes inheriting their lands, as was the case with Ladislaus, from whom he gained Lower Austria in 1457, and with his brother Albert VI, whom he succeeded in Upper Austria.
Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III in Ceremonial Armour
These conflicts forced him into an anachronistic itinerant existence, as he had to move his court between various places through the years, residing in Graz, Linz and Wiener Neustadt. Wiener Neustadt owes him its castle and the "New Monastery". Still, in some ways his policies were astonishingly successful. In the Siege of Neuss (1474–75), he forced Charles the Bold of Burgundy to give up his daughter Mary of Burgundy as wife to Frederick's son Maximilian. With the inheritance of Burgundy, the House of Habsburg began to rise to predominance in Europe. This gave rise to the saying "Let others wage wars, but you, happy Austria, shall marry", which became a motto of the dynasty.

The marriage of his daughter Kunigunde to Albert IV, Duke of Bavaria, was another result of intrigues and deception, but must be counted as a defeat for Frederick. Albert illegally took control of some imperial fiefs and then asked to marry Kunigunde (who lived in Innsbruck, far from her father), offering to give her the fiefs as a dower. Frederick agreed at first, but after Albert took over yet another fief, Regensburg, Frederick withdrew his consent. On 2 January 1487, however, before Frederick's change of heart could be communicated to his daughter, Kunigunde married Albert. A war was prevented only through the mediation of the Emperor's son, Maximilian.

In some smaller matters, Frederick was quite successful: in 1469 he managed to establish bishoprics in Vienna and Wiener Neustadt, a step that no previous Duke of Austria had been able to achieve. Frederick's personal motto was the mysterious string A.E.I.O.U., which he imprinted on all his belongings. He never explained its meaning, leading to many different interpretations being presented, although it has been claimed that shortly before his death he said it stands for Austriae Est Imperare Orbi Universali" or Alles Erdreich ist Österreich untertan ("All the world is subject to Austria"). It may well symbolise his own understanding of the historical importance and meaning of his rule and of the early gaining of the Imperial title.



Friday, 27 January 2017

German King, Otto IV

OTTO IV
Otto IV (1175 – May 19, 1218) was one of two rival kings of Germany from 1198 on, sole king from 1208 on, and Holy Roman Emperor from 1209 until he was forced to abdicate in 1215.
Otto IV
 The only German king of the Welf dynasty, he incurred the wrath of Pope Innocent III and was excommunicated in 1210. Otto was the third son of Henry the Lion, Duke of Bavaria and Saxony, and Matilda of England.

His exact birthplace is not given by any original source. He grew up in England in the care of his grandfather King Henry II. Otto was fluent in French as well as German.

He became the foster son of his maternal uncle, Richard I of England. In 1190, after he left England to join the Third Crusade, Richard appointed Otto Earl of York.

The authenticity (or authority) of this grant was doubted by the vassals of Yorkshire, who prevented Otto taking possession of his earldom. Still, he probably visited Yorkshire in 1191, and he continued to claim the revenues of the earldom after becoming king of Germany, although he never secured them. Neither did he succeed in getting the 25,000 silver marks willed to him by his uncle in 1199.

In 1195, Richard began negotiations to marry Otto to Margaret, daughter and heir presumptive of King William the Lion of Scotland. Lothian, as Margaret's dowry, would be handed over to Richard for safekeeping and the counties of Northumberland and Cumberland (Carlisle) would be granted to Otto and turned over to the king of Scotland. The negotiations dragged on until August 1198, when the birth of a son to William rendered them unnecessary. Having failed in his efforts to secure Otto an English earldom or else a Scottish kingdom, in September 1196 Richard, as duke of Aquitaine, offered Otto with the county of Poitou. There is some disagreement over whether Otto received Poitou in exchange for or in addition to the earldom of York.
Detail from the memorial table of Henry the Lion, Otto IV and their consorts. 
Otto was in Poitou from September 1196 until mid-1197, when he joined Richard in Normandy to confer over the appointment of bishops to the vacant sees of Poitiers, Limoges and Périgueux. He then participated in the war against Philip II of France on the side of Richard. In October he returned to Poitou. The German historian Jens Ahlers, taking into account Otto's life prior to 1198, considers that he might have been the first foreign king of Germany. After the death of Emperor Henry VI, the majority of the princes of the Empire, situated in the south, elected Henry’s brother, Philip, Duke of Swabia, king in March 1198, after receiving money and promises from Philip in exchange for their support.

Those princes opposed to the Staufen dynasty also decided, on the initiative of Richard of England, to elect instead a member of the House of Welf. Otto's elder brother, Henry, was on a crusade at the time, and so the choice fell to Otto. Otto, soon recognised throughout the northwest and the lower Rhine region, was elected king by his partisans in Cologne on June 9, 1198.
Otto IV coin
Otto took control of Aachen, the place of coronation, and was crowned by Adolf, Archbishop of Cologne, on July 12, 1198.

This was of great symbolic importance, since the Archbishop of Cologne alone could crown the King of the Romans. Nevertheless, the coronation was done with fake regalia, because the actual materials were in the hands of the Staufen.

Otto returned to Germany to deal with the situation, hopeful to salvage something from the looming disaster. He found most of the German princes and bishops had turned against him, and that Frederick, who had made his way up the Italian peninsula, had avoided Otto’s men who were guarding the passes through the Alps and had arrived at Constance.

Otto soon discovered that after Beatrix died in the summer of 1212, and Frederick arrived in Germany with his army in September 1212, most of the former Staufen supporters deserted Otto for Frederick, forcing Otto to withdraw to Cologne. On December 5, 1212, Frederick was elected king for a second time by a majority of the princes.

The support that Philip II of France was giving to Frederick forced King John of England to throw his weight behind his nephew Otto.
Otto IV coin
The destruction of the French fleet in 1213 by the English saw John begin preparations for an invasion of France, and Otto saw a way of both destroying Frederick’s French support as well as bolstering his own prestige.

He agreed to join John in the invasion, and in February 1214, as John advanced from the Loire, Otto was supposed to make a simultaneous attack from Flanders, together with the Count of Flanders. Unfortunately, the three armies could not coordinate their efforts effectively. It was not until John, who had been disappointed in his hope for an easy victory after being driven from Roche-au-Moine and had retreated to his transports that the Imperial Army, with Otto at its head, assembled in the Low Countries.

On 27 July 1214, the opposing armies suddenly discovered they were in close proximity to each other, on the banks of the little river Marque (a tributary of the river Deûle), near the Bridge of Bouvines. Philip's army numbered some 15,000, while the allied forces possessed around 25,000 troops, and the armies clashed at the Battle of Bouvines.
Otto IV and Pope Innocent III shake hands
 It was a tight battle, but it was lost when Otto was carried off the field by his wounded and terrified horse, causing his forces to abandon the field. It is said that Philip II had sent to Frederick the imperial eagle which Otto had left lying on the battlefield.

This defeat allowed Frederick to take Aachen and Cologne, as Otto was forced again to withdraw to his private possessions around Brunswick, and he was forced to abdicate the imperial throne in 1215. He died of disease, at Harzburg castle on May 19, 1218, requesting that he be mortally expiated in atonement of his sins. Historian Kantorowicz described the death as gruesome: "deposed, dethroned, he was flung full length on the ground by the Abbot, confessing his sins, while the reluctant priests beat him bloodily to death. Such was the end of the first and last Welf Emperor." He is entombed in Brunswick Cathedral.


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II

FREDERICK II
Frederick II (26 December 1194 – 13 December 1250) was a Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily in the Middle Ages, a member of the House of Hohenstaufen.
Frederick II coin
 His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous.

However, his enemies, especially the popes, prevailed, and his dynasty collapsed soon after his death. Viewing himself as a direct successor to the Roman emperors of antiquity, he was Emperor of the Romans from his papal coronation in 1220 until his death; he was also a claimant to the title of King of the Romans from 1212 and unopposed holder of that monarchy from 1215.

As such, he was King of Germany, of Italy, and of Burgundy. At the age of three, he was crowned King of Sicily as a co-ruler with his mother, Constance of Hauteville, the daughter of Roger II of Sicily. His other royal title was King of Jerusalem by virtue of marriage and his connection with the Sixth Crusade. He was frequently at war with the papacy, hemmed in between Frederick's lands in northern Italy and his Kingdom of Sicily (the Regno) to the south, and thus he was excommunicated four times and often vilified in pro-papal chronicles of the time and since. Pope Gregory IX went so far as to call him an Antichrist.

Speaking six languages (Latin, Sicilian, German, French, Greek and Arabic), Frederick was an avid patron of science and the arts. He played a major role in promoting literature through the Sicilian School of poetry. His Sicilian royal court in Palermo, from around 1220 to his death, saw the first use of a literary form of an Italo-Romance language, Sicilian. The poetry that emanated from the school had a significant influence on literature and on what was to become the modern Italian language. He was also the first king who explicitly outlawed trials by ordeal as they were considered irrational. After his death, his line quickly died out and the House of Hohenstaufen came to an end.
Frederick II coin
Frederick was crowned as king on 9 December 1212 in Mainz. Frederick's authority in Germany remained tenuous, however, and he was recognised only in southern Germany; in the region of northern Germany, the centre of Guelph power, Otto continued to hold the reins of royal and imperial power despite his excommunication. But Otto's decisive military defeat at the Bouvines forced him to withdraw to the Guelph hereditary lands where, virtually without supporters, he died in 1218. The German princes, supported by Innocent III, again elected Frederick king of Germany in 1215, and he was crowned king in Aachen on 23 July 1215 by one of the three German archbishops.

It was not until another five years had passed, and only after further negotiations between Frederick, Innocent III, and Honorius III – who succeeded to the papacy after Innocent's death in 1216 – that Frederick was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in Rome by Honorius III, on 22 November 1220. At the same time, Frederick's oldest son Henry took the title of King of the Romans.
Frederick II
 Unlike most Holy Roman emperors, Frederick spent few years in Germany.

 In 1218, he helped Philip II of France and Eudes III, Duke of Burgundy to bring an end to the War of Succession in Champagne (France) by invading Lorraine, capturing and burning Nancy, capturing Theobald I, Duke of Lorraine and forcing him to withdraw his support from Erard of Brienne. After his coronation in 1220, Frederick remained either in the Kingdom of Sicily or on Crusade until 1236, when he made his last journey to Germany. He returned to Italy in 1237 and stayed there for the remaining thirteen years of his life, represented in Germany by his son Conrad.

In the Kingdom of Sicily, he built on the reform of the laws begun at the Assizes of Ariano in 1140 by his grandfather Roger II. His initiative in this direction was visible as early as the Assizes of Capua (1220, issued soon after his coronation in Rome) but came to fruition in his promulgation of the Constitutions of Melfi (1231, also known as Liber Augustalis), a collection of laws for his realm that was remarkable for its time and was a source of inspiration for a long time after. It made the Kingdom of Sicily an absolutist monarchy; it also set a precedent for the primacy of written law. With relatively small modifications, the Liber Augustalis remained the basis of Sicilian law until 1819.

In 1225, after agreeing with Pope Honorius to launch a Crusade not after 1227, Frederick summoned an imperial Diet at Cremona, the main pro-imperial city in Lombardy: the main arguments would be the struggle against heresy, the organisation of the crusade and, above all, the restoration of the imperial power in northern Italy, which had been long usurped by the numerous communes located there.
Frederick II's troops paid with leather coins during the sieges of Brescia and Faenza,
Chigi Codex - Vatican Library
 These responded with the reformation of the Lombard League, which had already defeated his grandfather Frederick Barbarossa in the 12th century, and again Milan was chosen as the league's leader. The diet was cancelled, and the situation was set only through a compromise found by Honorius between Frederick and the League. During his sojourn in northern Italy, Frederick also invested the Teutonic Order with the territories in what would become East Prussia, starting what was later called the Northern Crusade.

Problems of stability within the empire delayed Frederick's departure on crusade. It was not until 1225, when, by proxy, Frederick had married Yolande of Jerusalem, heiress to the Kingdom of Jerusalem, that his departure seemed assured. Frederick immediately saw to it that his new father-in-law John of Brienne, the current king of Jerusalem, was dispossessed and his rights transferred to the emperor. In August 1227, Frederick set out for the Holy Land from Brindisi but was forced to return when he was struck down by an epidemic that had broken out.
Battle of Fossalta vs 2nd Lombard League (1249)
 Even the master of the Teutonic Knights, Hermann of Salza, recommended that he return to the mainland to recuperate. On 29 September 1227, Frederick was excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX for failing to honour his crusading pledge.

During Frederick's stay in the Holy Land, his regent, Rainald of Spoleto, had attacked the Marche and the Duchy of Spoleto. Gregory IX recruited an army under John of Brienne and, in 1229, invaded southern Italy.

His troops overcame an initial resistance at Montecassino and reached Apulia. Frederick arrived at Brindisi in June 1229. He quickly recovered the lost territories and trialled the rebel barons, but avoided crossing the boundaries with the Papal States. The war came to an end with the Treaty of Ceprano in the summer of 1230; the emperor personally met Gregory IX at Anagni, making some concessions to the church in Sicily. He also issued the Constitutions of Melfi (August 1231), as an attempt to solve the political and administrative problems of the country, which had dramatically been shown by the recent war.

With peace north of the Alps, Frederick raised an army from the German princes to suppress the rebel cities in Lombardy.
Frederick I also known as Frederick Barbarossa
Gregory tried to stop the invasion with diplomatic moves, but in vain. During his descent to Italy, Frederick had to divert his troops to quell a rebellion of Frederick II, Duke of Austria.

At Vienna, in February 1237, he obtained the title of King of the Romans for his 9-year-old son Conrad. After the failure of the negotiations between the Lombard cities, the pope and the imperial diplomats, Frederick invaded Lombardy from Verona. In November 1237 he won the decisive battle in Cortenuova over the Lombard League.

Frederick celebrated it with a triumph in Cremona in the manner of an ancient Roman emperor, with the captured carroccio (later sent to the commune of Rome) and an elephant. He rejected any suit for peace, even from Milan, which had sent a great sum of money.

This demand of total surrender spurred further resistance from Milan, Brescia, Bologna, and Piacenza, and in October 1238 he was forced to raise the siege of Brescia, in the course of which his enemies had tried unsuccessfully to capture him. His sarcophagus (made of red porphyry) lies in the cathedral of Palermo beside those of his parents (Henry VI and Constance) as well as his grandfather, the Norman king Roger II of Sicily. A bust of Frederick sits in the Walhalla temple built by Ludwig I of Bavaria.



Monday, 23 January 2017

German King, Otto III

OTTO III:
Otto III (June/July 980 – 23 January 1002) was Holy Roman Emperor from 996 until his early death in 1002. A member of the Ottonian dynasty, Otto III was the only son of the Emperor Otto II and his wife Theophanu.
ivory vessel used at the consecration of Otto III
 Otto III was crowned as King of Germany in 983 at the age of three, shortly after his father's death in southern Italy while campaigning against the Byzantine Empire and the Emirate of Sicily. Though the nominal ruler of Germany, Otto III's minor status ensured his various regents held power over the Empire.

His cousin Henry II, Duke of Bavaria, initially claimed regency over the young king and attempted to seize the throne for himself in 984.

When his rebellion failed to gain the support of Germany's aristocracy, Henry II was forced to abandon his claims to the throne and to allow Otto III's mother Theophanu to serve as regent until her death in 991. Otto III was then still a child, so his grandmother, the Dowager Empress Adelaide of Italy, served as regent until 994.

In 996, Otto III marched to Italy to claim the titles King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor, which had been left unclaimed since the death of Otto II in 983.

Otto III also sought to reestablish Imperial control over the city of Rome, which had revolted under the leadership of Crescentius II, and through it the papacy. Crowned as Emperor, Otto III put down the Roman rebellion and installed his cousin as Pope Gregory V, the first Pope of German descent. After the Emperor had pardoned him and left the city, Crescentius II again rebelled, deposing Gregory V and installing John XVI as Pope.

Otto III returned to the city in 998, reinstalled Gregory V, and executed both Crescentius II and John XVI. When Gregory V died in 999, Otto III installed Sylvester II as the new Pope. Otto III's actions throughout his life further strengthened imperial control over the Catholic Church. From the beginning of his reign, Otto III faced opposition from the Slavs along the eastern frontier. Following the death of his father in 983, the Slavs rebelled against imperial control, forcing the Empire to abandon its territories east of the Elbe river. Otto III would fight to regain the Empire's lost territories throughout his reign with only limited success.
Emperor Otto III enthroned (fol. 16r)
While in the east, Otto III strengthened the Empire's relations with Poland, Bohemia, and Hungary. Through his affairs in Eastern Europe in 1000, he was able to extend the influence of Christianity by supporting mission work in Poland and through the crowning of Stephen I as the first Christian king of Hungary. Returning to Rome in 1001, Otto III faced a rebellion by the Roman aristocracy, which forced him to flee the city. While marching to reclaim the city in 1002, however, Otto III suffered a sudden fever and died in a castle near Civita Castellana at the age of 21. With no clear heir to succeed him, his early death threw the Empire into political crisis.

Otto III was crowned as king on Christmas Day 983, three weeks after his father's death, by Willigis, the Archbishop of Mainz, and by John, the Archbishop of Ravenna. News of Otto II's death first reached Germany shortly after his son's coronation. The unresolved problems in southern Italy and the Slavic uprising on the Empire's eastern border made the Empire's political situation extremely unstable. With a minor on the throne, the Empire was thrown into confusion and Otto III's mother Theophanu assumed the role of regent for her young son.
Emperor Otto III enthroned 

As Otto III grew in age, the authority of his grandmother gradually waned until 994 when Otto III reached the age of 14. At an assembly of the Imperial Diet held in Solingen in September 994, Otto III was granted the ability to fully govern the kingdom without the need of a regent. With her grandson no longer in need of a regent, Adelaide retired to a nunnery she had founded at Selz in Alsace. Although she never became a nun, she spent the rest of her days there in the service of the Church and in acts of charity. As Otto III was still unmarried, from 995 until 997 his older sister Sophia accompanied him and acted as his consort.
From 10 Gospel of Otto III Empty Tomb
One of Otto III's first actions as an independent ruler was to appoint Heribert of Cologne as his chancellor over Italy, a position he would hold until Otto's death in 1002. In the summer of 995, Otto sent the Archbishop of Piacenza, John Philagathos, to Constantinople as his representative to arrange a marriage between himself and a Byzantine princess. The Lutici federation of West Slavic Polabian tribes had remained quiet during the early years of Otto III's reign, even during Henry II's failed rebellion. In 983, following Otto II's defeat at the battle of Stilo, the Slavs revolted against Imperial control, forcing the Empire to abandon its territories east of the Elbe Rivier in the Northern March and the Billung March.

With the process of Christianisation halted, the Slavs left the Empire in peace, and with Henry II's rebellion put down, Theophanu launched multiple campaigns to re-conquer the lost eastern territories, beginning in 985. Even though he was only six at the time, Otto III personally participated in these campaigns. During the expedition of 986 against the Slavs, Otto III received the homage of Duke Mieszko I of Poland, who provided the Imperial army with military assistance and gave Otto III a camel. Although the Lutici were subdued for a time in 987, they continued to occupy the young king’s attention.
From Book of Otto III 
In September 991, when Otto III was eleven, Slavonic raiders captured the city of Brandenburg. In 992 this invasion, as well as an incursion of Viking raiders, forced Otto III to lead his army against the invaders, and he suffered a crushing defeat in this campaign. The next year, Germany suffered an outbreak of famine and pestilence. In 994 and 995, Otto III led fruitless campaigns against the northern Slavs and the Vikings, but he did successfully re-conquer Brandenburg in 993, and in 995 he subdued the Obotrite Slavs.

In the fall of 995, after Otto III reached his majority, he again took to the field against the Lutici, this time aided by the Polish Duke Bolesław I Chrobry. Then in 997 he had to deal with a new Lutician attack on Arneburg on the Elbe, which they managed to retake for a short while. After summoning his army in late 1001, Otto III headed south to Rome to ensure his rule over the city. During the travel south, however, Otto III suffered a sudden and severe fever. He died in a castle near Civita Castellana on 24 January 1002. He was 21 years old and had reigned as an independent ruler for just under six years, having nominally reigned for nearly 19 years.
Otto III coin
The Byzantine princess Zoe, second daughter of the Emperor Constantine VIII, had just disembarked in Apulia on her way to marry him. Otto III's death has been attributed to various causes. Medieval sources speak of malaria, which he had caught in the unhealthy marshes that surrounded Ravenna. Following his death, the Roman people suggested that Stefania, the widow of Crescentius II, had made Otto III fall in love with her and then poisoned him. The Emperor's body was carried back to Germany by his soldiers, as his route was lined with Italians who hurled abuses at his remains. He was buried in Aachen Cathedral alongside the body of Charlemagne.



Sunday, 22 January 2017

Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand I

FERDINAND I
Ferdinand I (Spanish: Fernando I) (10 March 1503 – 25 July 1564) was Holy Roman Emperor from 1558, king of Bohemia and Hungary from 1526, and king of Croatia from 1527 until his death.
Ferdinand I  coin
Before his accession, he ruled the Austrian hereditary lands of the Habsburgs in the name of his elder brother, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Also, he often served as Charles' representative in Germany and developed useful relationships with German princes.

The key events during his reign were the contest with the Ottoman Empire, whose great advance into Central Europe began in the 1520s, and the Protestant Reformation, which resulted in several wars of religion. Ferdinand was able to defend his realm and make it somewhat more cohesive, but he could not conquer the major part of Hungary. His flexible approach to Imperial problems, mainly religious, finally brought more result than the more confrontational attitude of his brother. Ferdinand's motto was Fiat iustitia, et pereat mundus: "Let justice be done, though the world perish".

According to the terms set at the First Congress of Vienna in 1515, Ferdinand married Anne Jagiellonica, daughter of King Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary on 22 July 1515. Therefore, after the death of his brother-in-law Louis II, King of Bohemia and of Hungary, at the battle of Mohács on 29 August 1526, Ferdinand inherited both kingdoms.
Ferdinand I
On 24 October 1526 the Bohemian Diet, acting under the influence of chancellor Adam of Hradce, elected Ferdinand King of Bohemia under conditions of confirming traditional privileges of the estates and also moving the Habsburg court to Prague.

The success was only partial, as the Diet refused to recognise Ferdinand as hereditary lord of the Kingdom.

The Croatian nobles unanimously elected Ferdinand I as their king in the 1527 election in Cetin, and confirmed the succession to him and his heirs. In return for the throne, Archduke Ferdinand promised to respect the historic rights, freedoms, laws and customs of the Croats when they united with the Hungarian kingdom and to defend Croatia from Ottoman invasion. When he took control of the Bohemian land in the 1520s, their religious situation was complex. Its German population was composed of Catholics and Lutherans.

Some Czechs were receptive to Lutheranism, but most of them adhered to Utraquism. A significant number of utraquists favoured an alliance with the Protestants. At first, Ferdinand accepted this situation and he gave considerable freedom to the Bohemian estates. In the 1540s, the situation changed. In Germany, while most Protestant princes had hitherto favored negotiation with the Emperor and while many had supported him in his wars, they became increasingly confrontational during this decade. Some of them even went to war against the Empire, and many Bohemian (German or Czech) Protestants or utraquists sympathized with them.

Ferdinand and his son Maximilian participated in the victorious campaign of Charles V against the German Protestants in 1547. The same year, he also defeated a Protestant revolt in Bohemia, where the estates and a large part of the nobility had denied him support in the German campaign. This allowed him to increase his power in this realm. He centralized his administration, revoked many urban privileges and confiscated properties. Ferdinand also sought to strengthen the position of the Catholic church in the Bohemian lands, and favoured the installation of the Jesuits there.

Ferdinand's legacy ultimately proved enduring. Though lacking resources, he managed to defend his land against the Ottomans with limited support from his brother, and even secured a part of Hungary that would later provide the basis for the conquest of the whole kingdom by the Habsburgs. In his own possessions, he built a tax system that, though imperfect, would continue to be used by his successors. His handling of the Protestant reformation proved more flexible and more effective than that of his brother and he played a key part in the settlement of 1555, which started an era of peace in Germany.
Ferdinand I
His statesmanship, overall, was cautious and effective, well-suited to a medium-sized collection of territories facing dangerous threats. On the other hand, when he engaged in more audacious endeavours, like his offensives against Buda and Pest, it often ended in failure. Ferdinand was also a patron of the arts. He embellished Vienna and Prague, and invited Italian architects to his realm. He also gathered some humanists, many of whom had a big influence on his son Maximilian. He was particularly fond of music and hunting. While not a supremely gifted commander, he was interested in military matters and participated in several campaigns during his reign.

After the Ottoman invasion of Hungary the traditional Hungarian coronation city, Székesfehérvár came under Turkish occupation. Thus, in 1536 the Hungarian Diet decided that a new place for coronation of the king as well as a meeting place for the Diet itself would be set in Pressburg. Ferdinand proposed that the Hungarian and Bohemian diets should convene and hold debates together with the Austrian estates, but all parties refused such an innovation. In 1547 the Bohemian Estates rebelled against Ferdinand after he had ordered the Bohemian army to move against the German Protestants.

After suppressing the revolt, he retaliated by limiting the privileges of Bohemian cities and inserting a new bureaucracy of royal officials to control urban authorities. Ferdinand was a supporter of the Counter-Reformation and helped lead the Catholic response against what he saw as the heretical tide of Protestantism. For example, in 1551 he invited the Jesuits to Vienna and in 1556 to Prague. Finally, in 1561 Ferdinand revived the Archdiocese of Prague, which had been previously liquidated due to the success of the Protestants. Ferdinand died in Vienna and is buried in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.


Saturday, 21 January 2017

French King, Francis I

FRANCIS I
Francis I (French: François Ier) (12 September 1494 – 31 March 1547) was the first King of France from the Angoulême branch of the House of Valois, reigning from 1515 until his death. He was the son of Charles, Count of Angoulême, and Louise of Savoy. He succeeded his cousin and father-in-law Louis XII, who died without a male heir. A prodigious patron of the arts, he initiated the French Renaissance by attracting many Italian artists to work on the Château de Chambord, including Leonardo da Vinci, who brought the Mona Lisa with him, which Francis had acquired.

Francis' reign saw important cultural changes with the rise of absolute monarchy in France, the spread of humanism and Protestantism, and the beginning of French exploration of the New World. Jacques Cartier and others claimed lands in the Americas for France and paved the way for the expansion of the first French colonial empire. For his role in the development and promotion of a standardized French language, he became known as le Père et Restaurateur des Lettres (the "Father and Restorer of Letters").
Francis I
He was also known as François au Grand Nez ("Francis of the Large Nose"), the Grand Colas, and the Roi-Chevalier (the "Knight-King") for his personal involvement in the wars against his great rival the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V. Following the policy of his predecessors, Francis continued the Italian Wars. The succession of Charles V to the Burgundian Netherlands, the throne of Spain, and his subsequent election as Holy Roman Emperor, meant that France was geographically encircled by the Habsburg monarchy.  In his struggle against Imperial hegemony, he sought the support of Henry VIII of England at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

When this was unsuccessful, he formed a Franco-Ottoman alliance with the Muslim sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, a controversial move for a Christian king at the time. As Francis was receiving his education, ideas emerging from the Italian Renaissance were influential in France. Some of his tutors, such as François Desmoulins de Rochefort (his Latin instructor, who later during the reign of Francis was named Grand Aumônier de France) and Christophe de Longueil (a Brabantian humanist), were attracted by these new ways of thinking and attempted to influence Francis. His academic education had been in arithmetic, geography, grammar, history, reading, spelling, and writing and he became proficient in Hebrew, Italian, Latin and Spanish.
Claude of France, Francis I wife

Francis came to learn chivalry, dancing, and music and he loved archery, falconry, horseback riding, hunting, jousting, real tennis and wrestling. He ended up reading philosophy and theology and he was fascinated with art, literature, poetry and science. His mother, who had a high admiration for Italian Renaissance art, passed this interest on to her son. Although Francis did not receive a humanist education, he was more influenced by humanism than any previous French king. Although the Italian Wars (1494-1559) came to dominate the reign of Francis I, the wars were not the sole product of his policies.

Francis merely continued the incessant wars that his predecessors had started and that his successors on the throne of France would drag on after Francis' death. Indeed, the Italian Wars had begun when Milan sent a plea to King Charles VIII of France for protection against the aggressive actions of the King of Naples. Militarily and diplomatically, Francis' reign was a mixed bag of success and failure. Francis tried and failed to become Holy Roman Emperor at the Imperial election of 1519.

However, there were also temporary victories, such as in the portion of the Italian Wars called the War of the League of Cambrai (1508-1516) and, more specifically, to the final stage of that war, which history refers to simply as "Francis' First Italian War" (1515-1516), when Francis routed the combined forces of the Papal States and the Old Swiss Confederacy at Marignano on 13–15 September 1515. This victory at Marignano allowed Francis to capture the Italian city-state of Milan. Later, in November 1521, during the Four Years' War (1521-1526) and facing the advancing Imperial forces of the Holy Roman Empire and open revolt within Milan, Francis was forced to abandon Milan, thus, cancelling the triumph at Marignano.
Claude of France, Duchess of Brittany

Much of the military activity of Francis's reign was focused on his sworn enemy, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Francis and Charles maintained an intense personal rivalry. Charles, in fact, brashly challenged Francis to single combat multiple times. In addition to the Holy Roman Empire, Charles personally ruled Spain, Austria, and a number of smaller possessions neighboring France. He was thus a constant threat to Francis' kingdom. In order to counterbalance the power of the Habsburg Empire under Charles V, especially its control of large parts of the New World through the Crown of Spain, Francis I endeavoured to develop contacts with the New World and Asia.

Fleets were sent to the Americas and the Far East, and close contacts were developed with the Ottoman Empire permitting the development of French Mediterranean trade as well as the establishment of a strategic military alliance. The port city now known as Le Havre was founded in 1517 during the early years of Francis' reign. The construction of a new port was urgently needed in order to replace the ancient harbours of Honfleur and Harfleur, whose utility had decreased due to silting. Le Havre was originally named Franciscopolis after the King who founded it, but this name did not survive into later reigns.

Francis died at the Château de Rambouillet on 31 March 1547, on his son and successor's 28th birthday. It is said that "he died complaining about the weight of a crown that he had first perceived as a gift from God". He was interred with his first wife, Claude, Duchess of Brittany, in Saint Denis Basilica. He was succeeded by his son, Henry II.



Saturday, 14 January 2017

English King, Edward VI

EDWARD VI
Edward VI (12 October 1537 – 6 July 1553) was King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was England's first monarch to be raised as a Protestant.
Edward VI coin side-view
 During his reign, the realm was governed by a Regency Council because he never reached his majority. The Council was first led by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1547–1549), and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick, from 1551 Duke of Northumberland.

Edward's reign was marked by economic problems and social unrest that, in 1549, erupted into riot and rebellion. An expensive war with Scotland, at first successful, ended with military withdrawal from Scotland as well as Boulogne-sur-Mer in exchange for peace. The transformation of the Church into a recognisably Protestant body also occurred under Edward, who took great interest in religious matters. Although his father, Henry VIII, had severed the link between the Church of England and Rome, Henry VIII had never permitted the renunciation of Catholic doctrine or ceremony.

It was during Edward's reign that Protestantism was established for the first time in England with reforms that included the abolition of clerical celibacy and the Mass and the imposition of compulsory services in English. The architect of these reforms was Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose Book of Common Prayer is still used.

In February 1553, at age 15, Edward fell ill. When his sickness was discovered to be terminal, he and his Council drew up a "Devise for the Succession", attempting to prevent the country's return to Catholicism. Edward named his first cousin once removed, Lady Jane Grey, as his heir and excluded his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth. This decision was disputed following Edward's death, and Jane was deposed by Mary nine days after becoming queen. During her reign, Mary reversed Edward's Protestant reforms, which nonetheless became the basis of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement of 1559.
Shilling with portrait of Edward VI, struck 1551-1553
The nine-year-old Edward wrote to his father and stepmother on 10 January 1547 from Hertford thanking them for his new year's gift of their portraits from life. By 28 January 1547, Henry VIII was dead. Those close to the throne, led by Edward Seymour and William Paget, agreed to delay the announcement of the king's death until arrangements had been made for a smooth succession. Seymour and Sir Anthony Browne, the Master of the Horse, rode to collect Edward from Hertford and brought him to Enfield, where Lady Elizabeth was living. He and Elizabeth were then told of the death of their father and heard a reading of the will.

The Lord Chancellor, Thomas Wriothesley, announced Henry's death to parliament on 31 January, and general proclamations of Edward's succession were ordered. The new king was taken to the Tower of London, where he was welcomed with "great shot of ordnance in all places there about, as well out of the Tower as out of the ships".
Edward VI the Boy King
 The following day, the nobles of the realm made their obeisance to Edward at the Tower, and Seymour was announced as Protector. Henry VIII was buried at Windsor on 16 February, in the same tomb as Jane Seymour, as he had wished. Edward VI was crowned at

Westminster Abbey four days later on Sunday 20 February. The ceremonies were shortened, because of the "tedious length of the same which should weary and be hurtsome peradventure to the King's majesty, being yet of tender age", and also because the Reformation had rendered some of them inappropriate.

On the eve of the coronation, Edward progressed on horseback from the Tower to the Palace of Westminster through thronging crowds and pageants, many based on the pageants for a previous boy king, Henry VI. He laughed at a Spanish tightrope walker who "tumbled and played many pretty toys" outside St Paul's Cathedral. At the coronation service, Cranmer affirmed the royal supremacy and called Edward a second Josiah, urging him to continue the reformation of the Church of England, "the tyranny of the Bishops of Rome banished from your subjects, and images removed". After the service, Edward presided at a banquet in Westminster Hall, where, he recalled in his Chronicle, he dined with his crown on his head.

Edward became ill during January 1553 with a fever and cough that gradually worsened. The imperial ambassador, Jean Scheyfve, reported that "he suffers a good deal when the fever is upon him, especially from a difficulty in drawing his breath, which is due to the compression of the organs on the right side". Edward felt well enough in early April to take the air in the park at Westminster and to move to Greenwich, but by the end of the month he had weakened again. By 7 May he was "much amended", and the royal doctors had no doubt of his recovery. A few days later the king was watching the ships on the Thames, sitting at his window.

However, he relapsed, and on 11 June Scheyfve, who had an informant in the king's household, reported that "the matter he ejects from his mouth is sometimes coloured a greenish yellow and black, sometimes pink, like the colour of blood".
Edward VI
 Now his doctors believed he was suffering from "a suppurating tumour" of the lung and admitted that Edward's life was beyond recovery. Soon, his legs became so swollen that he had to lie on his back, and he lost the strength to resist the disease. To his tutor John Cheke he whispered, "I am glad to die".

Edward made his final appearance in public on 1 July, when he showed himself at his window in Greenwich Palace, horrifying those who saw him by his "thin and wasted" condition. During the next two days, large crowds arrived hoping to see the king again, but on 3 July, they were told that the weather was too chilly for him to appear. Edward died at the age of 15 at Greenwich Palace at 8pm on 6 July 1553.

According to John Foxe's legendary account of his death, his last words were: "I am faint; Lord have mercy upon me, and take my spirit". He was buried in the Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey on 8 August 1553, with reformed rites performed by Thomas Cranmer.

The procession was led by "a grett company of chylderyn in ther surples" and watched by Londoners "wepyng and lamenting"; the funeral chariot, draped in cloth of gold, was topped by an effigy of Edward, with crown, sceptre, and garter. Edward's burial place was unmarked until as late as 1966, when an inscribed stone was laid in the chapel floor by Christ's Hospital school to commemorate their founder. The inscription reads as follows: "In Memory Of King Edward VI Buried In This Chapel This Stone Was Placed Here By Christ's Hospital In Thanksgiving For Their Founder 7 October 1966".

The cause of Edward VI's death is not certain. As with many royal deaths in the 16th century, rumours of poisoning abounded, but no evidence has been found to support these. The Duke of Northumberland, whose unpopularity was underlined by the events that followed Edward's death, was widely believed to have ordered the imagined poisoning. Another theory held that Edward had been poisoned by Catholics seeking to bring Mary to the throne. The surgeon who opened Edward's chest after his death found that "the disease whereof his majesty died was the disease of the lungs".

The Venetian ambassador reported that Edward had died of consumption—in other words, tuberculosis—a diagnosis accepted by many historians. Skidmore believes that Edward contracted the tuberculosis after a bout of measles and smallpox in 1552 that suppressed his natural immunity to the disease. Loach suggests instead that his symptoms were typical of acute broncho-pneumonia, leading to a "suppurating pulmonary infection" or lung abscess, septicaemia, and kidney failure.


Friday, 13 January 2017

English King, Henry VIII

HENRY VIII
Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages and, in particular, his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled.
A portrait of Henry VIII as a young boy, around 12 years old.
 His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority and appointing himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Despite his resulting excommunication, Henry remained a believer in core Catholic theological teachings.

Domestically, Henry is known for his radical changes to the English Constitution, ushering in the theory of the divine right of kings to England. Besides asserting the sovereign's supremacy over the Church of England, he greatly expanded royal power during his reign. Charges of treason and heresy were commonly used to quash dissent, and those accused were often executed without a formal trial, by means of bills of attainder. He achieved many of his political aims through the work of his chief ministers, some of whom were banished or executed when they fell out of his favour. Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Richard Rich, and Thomas Cranmer all figured prominently in Henry's administration.

He was an extravagant spender and used the proceeds from the Dissolution of the Monasteries and acts of the Reformation Parliament to convert into royal revenue the money that was formerly paid to Rome. Despite the influx of money from these sources, Henry was continually on the verge of financial ruin due to his personal extravagance as well as his numerous costly continental wars, particularly with Francis I of France and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, as he sought to enforce his claim to the Kingdom of France. At home, he oversaw the legal union of England and Wales with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 and following the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 he was the first English Monarch to rule as King of Ireland.
A portrait of the young Henry VIII found at the National Library of Wales
His contemporaries considered Henry in his prime to be an attractive, educated, and accomplished king, and he has been described as "one of the most charismatic rulers to sit on the English throne". He was an author and composer. As he aged, Henry became severely obese and his health suffered, contributing to his death in 1547. He is frequently characterised in his later life as a lustful, egotistical, harsh, and insecure king. He was succeeded by his son Edward VI. Two days after Henry's coronation, he arrested his father's two most unpopular ministers, Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. They were charged with high treason and were executed in 1510.

Historian Ian Crofton has maintained that such executions would become Henry's primary tactic for dealing with those who stood in his way; the two executions were certainly not the last. Henry also returned to the public some of the money supposedly extorted by the two ministers. By contrast, Henry's view of the House of York – potential rival claimants for the throne – was more moderate than his father's had been. Several who had been imprisoned by his father, including the Marquess of Dorset, were pardoned. Others (most notably Edmund de la Pole) went un-reconciled; de la Pole was eventually beheaded in 1513, an execution prompted by his brother Richard siding against the king.
Henry VIII was dressed in silver damask, decorated with cloth of gold, and riding on a horse also trapped in gold.
Soon after, Catherine conceived, but the child, a girl, was stillborn on 31 January 1510. About four months later, Catherine again became pregnant. On New Year's Day 1511, the child – Henry – was born. After the grief of losing their first child, the couple were pleased to have a boy and there were festivities to celebrate, including a jousting tournament. However, the child died seven weeks later. Catherine had two stillborn sons in 1514 and 1515, but gave birth in February 1516 to a girl, Mary. Relations between Henry and Catherine had been strained, but they eased slightly after Mary's birth. Although Henry's marriage to Catherine has since been described as "unusually good", it is known that Henry took mistresses.

It was revealed in 1510 that Henry had been conducting an affair with one of the sisters of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, either Elizabeth or Anne Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon. The most significant mistress for about three years, starting in 1516, was Elizabeth Blount. Blount is one of only two completely undisputed mistresses, few for a virile young king. Exactly how many Henry had is disputed: David Loades believes Henry had mistresses "only to a very limited extent", whilst Alison Weir believes there were numerous other affairs. Catherine did not protest, and in 1518 fell pregnant again with another girl, who was also stillborn. Blount gave birth in June 1519 to Henry's illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy.

The young boy was made Duke of Richmond in June 1525 in what some thought was one step on the path to his eventual legitimisation. In 1533, FitzRoy married Mary Howard, but died childless three years later.
Henry VIII
At the time of Richmond's death in June 1536, Parliament was enacting the Second Succession Act, which could have allowed him to become king.

Henry's obesity hastened his death at the age of 55, which occurred on 28 January 1547 in the Palace of Whitehall, on what would have been his father's 90th birthday. He allegedly uttered his last words: "Monks! Monks! Monks!" perhaps in reference to the monks he caused to be evicted during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. On 14 February 1547 Henry's coffin lay overnight at Syon Monastery, en route for burial in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Twelve years before in 1535 a Franciscan friar named William Peyto (or Peto, Petow) (died 1558 or 1559), had preached before the King at Greenwich Palace "that God's judgements were ready to fall upon his head and that dogs would lick his blood, as they had done to Ahab", whose infamy rests upon 1 Kings 16:33: "And Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him".

The prophecy was said to have been fulfilled during this night at Syon, when some "corrupted matter of a bloody colour" fell from the coffin to the floor. Henry VIII was interred in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, next to Jane Seymour. Over a hundred years later, King Charles I (1625–1649) was buried in the same vault.


Thursday, 12 January 2017

English King, Henry VII

HENRY VII
Henry VII (Welsh: Harri Tudur; 28 January 1457 – 21 April 1509) was King of England after seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death, the first monarch of the House of Tudor. He ruled the Principality of Wales until 29 November 1489 and was Lord of Ireland.
Henry VII
Henry won the throne when his forces defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the culmination of the Wars of the Roses. Henry was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle.

He cemented his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and niece of Richard III. Henry was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the civil war, and after a reign of nearly 24 years, he was peacefully succeeded by his son, Henry VIII.

Henry can also be credited with a number of commendable administrative, economic and diplomatic initiatives, though the latter part of his reign was characterised by financial greed stretching the bounds of legality. Perhaps most impactful to posterity was his establishment of the Pound Avoirdupois as a weights and measures standard—with several adjustments this became part of the Imperial System and today's International pound units.

His supportive stance of the islands' wool industry and stand-off with the Low Countries had long lasting benefits to all the British Isles economy. However, the capriciousness and lack of due process that indebted many would tarnish his legacy and fortunately, were soon ended upon Henry VII's death, after a commission revealed widespread abuses. According to the contemporary historian Polydore Vergil, simple "greed" underscored the means by which royal control was over-asserted in Henry's final years.
A medallion struck to commemorate the marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York in January 1496
The first concern for Henry was to secure his hold on the throne. He declared himself king "by right of conquest" retroactively from 21 August 1485, the day before Bosworth Field. Thus anyone who had fought for Richard against him would be guilty of treason, and Henry could legally confiscate his lands and property of Richard III while restoring his own. However, he spared Richard's nephew and designated heir, the Earl of Lincoln, and he made Margaret Plantagenet, a Yorkist heiress, Countess of Salisbury sui juris.
Henry VII
 He took great care not to address the baronage, or summon Parliament, until after his coronation, which took place in Westminster Abbey on 30 October 1485. Almost immediately afterwards, he issued an edict that any gentleman who swore fealty to him would, notwithstanding any previous attainder, be secure in his property and person.

Henry then honoured his pledge of December 1483 to marry Elizabeth of York. They were third cousins, as both were great-great-grandchildren of John of Gaunt. The marriage took place on 18 January 1486 at Westminster. The marriage unified the warring houses and gave his children a strong claim to the throne.

The unification of the houses of York and Lancaster by this marriage is symbolised by the heraldic emblem of the Tudor rose, a combination of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster. It also ended future discussion as to whether the descendants of the fourth son of Edward III, Edmund, Duke of York, through marriage to Philippa, heiress of the second son, Lionel, Duke of Clarence, had a superior or inferior claim to those of the third son John of Gaunt, who had held the throne for three generations.

In addition, Henry had Parliament repeal Titulus Regius, the statute that declared Edward IV's marriage invalid and his children illegitimate, thus legitimising his wife.
 Henry VII 
 Amateur historians Bertram Fields and Sir Clements Markham have claimed that he may have been involved in the murder of the Princes in the Tower, as the repeal of Titulus Regius gave the Princes a stronger claim to the throne than his own.

Alison Weir, however, points out that the Rennes ceremony, two years earlier, was possible only if Henry and his supporters were certain that the Princes were already dead. In 1502, Henry VII's first son and heir-apparent, Arthur, Prince of Wales, died suddenly at Ludlow Castle, very likely from a viral respiratory illness known, at the time, as the "English sweating sickness". This made Henry, Duke of York (Henry VIII) heir-apparent to the throne. The King, normally a reserved man who rarely showed much emotion in public unless angry, surprised his courtiers by his intense grief and sobbing at his son's death, while his concern for the Queen is evidence that the marriage was a happy one, as is his reaction to the Queen's death the following year, when he shut himself away for several days, refusing to speak to anyone.

Henry VII wanted to maintain the Spanish alliance. He therefore arranged a papal dispensation from Pope Julius II for Prince Henry to marry his brother's widow Catherine, a relationship that would have otherwise precluded marriage in the Roman Catholic Church.
Henry VII 
 In 1503, Queen Elizabeth died in childbirth, so King Henry had the dispensation also permit him to marry Catherine himself. After obtaining the dispensation, Henry had second thoughts about the marriage of his son and Catherine. Catherine's mother Isabella I of Castile had died and Catherine's sister Joanna had succeeded her; Catherine was therefore daughter of only one reigning monarch and so less desirable as a spouse for Henry VII's heir-apparent. The marriage did not take place during his lifetime. Otherwise, at the time of his father's arranging of the marriage to Catherine of Aragon, the future Henry VIII was too young to contract the marriage according to Canon Law, and would be ineligible until age fourteen.

Henry made half-hearted plans to remarry and beget more heirs, but these never came to anything. In 1505 he was sufficiently interested in a potential marriage to Joan, the recently widowed Queen of Naples, that he sent ambassadors to Naples to report on the 27-year-old's physical suitability. The wedding never took place, and curiously the physical description Henry sent with his ambassadors describing what he desired in a new wife matched the description of Elizabeth. After 1503, records show the Tower of London was never again used as a royal residence by Henry Tudor, and all royal births under Henry VIII took place in palaces. Henry VII was shattered by the loss of Elizabeth, and her death broke his heart.

During his lifetime he was often jeered by the nobility for his re-centralising of power in London, and later the 16th-century historian Francis Bacon was ruthlessly critical of the methods by which he enforced tax law, but equally true is the fact that Henry Tudor was hellbent on keeping detailed bookkeeping records of his personal finances, down to the last halfpenny; these and one account book detailing the expenses of his queen survive in the British National Archives. Until the death of his wife Elizabeth, the evidence is clear from these accounting books that Henry Tudor was a more doting father and husband than was widely known. Many of the entries in his account books show a man who loosened his purse strings generously for his wife and children, and not just on necessities: in spring 1491 he spent a great amount of gold on his daughter Mary for a lute; the following year he spent money on a lion for Queen Elizabeth's menagerie.

With the death of Elizabeth, the possibility for such family indulgences greatly diminished. Immediately after Elizabeth's death, Henry became very sick and nearly died himself, and only allowed Margaret Beaufort, his mother, near him: "privily departed to a solitary place, and would that no man should resort unto him." Henry VII died at Richmond Palace on 21 April 1509 of tuberculosis and was buried at Westminster Abbey, next to his wife, Elizabeth, in the chapel he commissioned.[60] He was succeeded by his second son, Henry VIII (reign 1509–47). His mother survived him, dying two months later on 29 June 1509.


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

English King, Henry VI

HENRY VI
Henry VI (6 December 1421 – 21 May 1471) was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. The only child of Henry V, he succeeded to the English throne at the age of nine months upon his father's death, and succeeded to the French throne on the death of his grandfather Charles VI shortly afterwards.
 Margaret of Anjou, Queens' College Cambridge, Margaret of Anjou Schools Court.
Queens' College Cambridge, Margaret of Anjou Schools Court: In the Schools Court of the University Old Schools, an arched doorway at the south-west corner has two corbels reputed to be of King Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou.

Henry appears to hold a scroll (at bottom of  this picture, left); Margaret appears to hold a short sceptre. These stones are not in their original locations: they might have been part of the original buildings of King’s College (founded by Henry VI) before they were absorbed by the University Old Schools. Henry inherited the long-running Hundred Years War (1337–1453), where Charles VII contested his claim to the French throne.

Henry married Charles's niece, Margaret of Anjou, partially in the hope of achieving peace in 1445, but the policy failed, leading to the murder of William de la Pole, one of Henry's key advisors.
Henry VI, Queens' College Cambridge, Margaret of Anjou Schools Court:
The war recommenced, with France taking the upper hand; by 1453, Calais was Henry's only remaining territory on the continent. Henry experienced a mental breakdown after the failure of the war, with Richard of York taking control of the government as regent until his recovery the following year. Civil war broke out in 1460, leading to a long period of dynastic conflict known as the Wars of the Roses.

Henry was taken prisoner by Richard of York at Northampton on 10 July 1460 but was rescued that December by forces loyal to Margaret. He was deposed on 29 March 1461 following the victory at Towton by Richard's son, who took the throne as Edward IV. Henry suffered another breakdown and, despite Margaret continuing to lead a resistance to Edward, he was captured by Edward's forces in 1465 and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, restored Henry to the throne in 1470, but Edward defeated Neville and retook power in 1471, imprisoning Henry in the Tower once again.
Henry VI & Margaret of Anjou

Henry died in the Tower during the night of 21 May 1471, possibly killed on the orders of Edward. He was buried at Chertsey Abbey, before being moved to Windsor Castle in 1484.

Miracles were attributed to Henry after his death, and he was informally regarded as a saint and martyr until the 16th century.

He left a legacy of educational institutions, having founded Eton College, King's College (Cambridge) and All Souls College, Oxford. William Shakespeare wrote a trilogy of plays about his life, depicting him as weak-willed and easily influenced by his wife, Margaret.

Henry was declared of age in 1437, at the age of sixteen in the year in which his mother died, and he assumed the reins of government. Henry, shy and pious, averse to deceit and bloodshed, immediately allowed his court to be dominated by a few noble favourites who clashed on the matter of the French war.
Mid-15th-century depiction of Henry being crowned King of France
 After the death of King Henry V, England had lost momentum in the Hundred Years' War, while, beginning with Joan of Arc's military victories, the Valois gained ground. The young king came to favour a policy of peace in France, and thus favoured the faction around Cardinal Beaufort and William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, who thought likewise, while Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and Richard, Duke of York, who argued for a continuation of the war, were ignored.

Cardinal Beaufort and the Earl of Suffolk persuaded the king that the best way of pursuing peace with France was through a marriage with Margaret of Anjou, the niece of King Charles VII. Henry agreed, especially when he heard reports of Margaret's stunning beauty, and sent Suffolk to negotiate with Charles, who agreed to the marriage on condition that he would not have to provide the customary dowry and instead would receive the lands of Maine and Anjou from the English. These conditions were agreed to in the Treaty of Tours, but the cession of Maine and Anjou was kept secret from parliament, as it was known that this would be hugely unpopular with the English populace.
Silver groat of Henry VI, York Museums Trust

The marriage took place at Titchfield Abbey on 23 April 1445, one month after Margaret's 15th birthday. She had arrived with an established household, composed primarily, not of Angevins, but of members of Henry's royal servants; this increase in the size of the royal household, and a concomitant increase on the birth of their son, Edward of Westminster, in 1453 led to proportionately greater expense but also to greater patronage opportunities at Court.

Henry had wavered in yielding Maine and Anjou to Charles, knowing that the move was unpopular and would be opposed by the Dukes of Gloucester and York. However, Margaret was determined to make him see it through.

As the treaty became public knowledge in 1446, public anger focused on the Earl of Suffolk, but Henry and Margaret were determined to protect him. On Christmas Day 1454, King Henry regained his senses. Disaffected nobles who had grown in power during Henry's reign, most importantly the Earls of Warwick and Salisbury, took matters into their own hands. They backed the claims of the rival House of York, first to the Regency, and then to the throne itself, due to York's better descent from Edward III. It was agreed York would become Henry's successor, despite York being older.

There followed a violent struggle between the houses of Lancaster and York. Henry was defeated and captured at the Battle of Northampton on 10 July 1460. The Duke of York was killed by Margaret's forces at the Battle of Wakefield on 31 December 1460, and Henry was rescued from imprisonment following the Second Battle of St Albans on 17 February 1461. By this point, however, Henry was suffering such a bout of madness that he was apparently laughing and singing while the battle raged.

He was defeated at the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461 by the son of the Duke of York, Edward of York, who then became King Edward IV. Edward failed to capture Henry and his queen, who fled to Scotland. During the first period of Edward IV's reign, Lancastrian resistance continued mainly under the leadership of Queen Margaret and the few nobles still loyal to her in the northern counties of England and Wales. Henry, who had been safely hidden by Lancastrian allies in Scotland, Northumberland and Yorkshire, was captured by King Edward in 1465 and subsequently held captive in the Tower of London.
Henry VI, Golden Seal - 1435 to 1448 - 4.9"

Henry was imprisoned in the Tower of London again and when the royal party arrived into London, Henry VI was reported dead. Official chronicles and documents state that the deposed king died on the night of 21 May 1471. In all likelihood,

Henry's opponents had kept him alive up to this point rather than leave the Lancasters with a far more formidable leader in Henry's son Edward.

However, once the last of the most prominent Lancastrian supporters were either killed or exiled, it became clear that Henry VI would be a burden to Edward IV's reign. The common fear was the possibility of another noble utilizing the mentally unstable king to further their own agenda.

According to the Historie of the arrival of Edward IV, an official chronicle favorable to Edward IV, Henry died of melancholy on hearing news of the Battle of Tewkesbury and his son's death. It is widely suspected, however, that Edward IV, who was re-crowned the morning following Henry's death, had in fact ordered his murder. Sir Thomas More's History of Richard III explicitly states that Richard killed Henry, an opinion he might have derived from Commynes' Memoir. Another contemporary source, Wakefield's Chronicle, gives the date of Henry's death as 23 May, on which date Richard is known to have been away from London.

King Henry VI was originally buried in Chertsey Abbey; then, in 1484, his body was moved to St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, by Richard III. When the body of the king was found several centuries later, diggers found it to be five foot and nine inches. Light hair had been found to be covered in blood, with damage to the skull, showing that the king had indeed died due to violence.