It’s time for February’s post and I thought it would be only fitting to write a post regarding the theme of love. As I was beginning my research and narrowing down different topics I came across a most amusing book, The Art of Courtly Love, written between 1174-1184 (dates are not precise) by a clergyman by the name of Andreas Capelanus (also known as Andreas the Chaplain). Requested by his patron, Countess Marie of Champagne (daughter of the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine and her first husband, Louis VII of France), this book outlines the rules of courtly love in the guise of a lesson to Andreas’ fictional friend, Walter (who it seems has just been rejected by his beloved). Yet, there is more to it than just Capelanus’s rules. This was an important part of social life in noble circles, at least so much so that Countess Marie requested a written work on it. The work of Andreas Capelanus spread far through courts across Europe and began to be printed in the 1400s. There is debate whether courtly love was actually practiced or if it was just a literary device, but, either way, it seems to have been important to society. In this post, I wanted to dive into some of the details regarding this tradition. One of the most surprising discovers is the appeal that courtly love may have held for women of this period which is supported through the patronage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her daughter Marie of Champagne. Continue reading “The Tradition of Courtly Love”
Could the mystery of the Princes in the Tower finally be solved?
In 1674, workers (while remodeling the Tower of London) came upon two child skeletons that were hidden in box under a staircase. Instantly, to the 17th century contemporaries, these bones were assumed to have been the lost Plantagenet princes (Edward V and Prince Richard). Sir Thomas More, in his histories, wrote specifically that the princes were buried “at a stair-foot” (possibly this information came from interviews with those who lived during the time of Richard III or maybe More was just making assumptions). This was enough for Charles II who had the bones buried at Westminster Abbey where they have remained to this day.
But, these bones have never been tested. There is no proof that these were the Princes except that they were found in the last location that the Princes had lived and were bones of children. Now, there might be a chance to solve this mystery once and for all. A direct descendant of Jacquetta of Luxembourg (the prince’s maternal grandmother) has been found and has allowed a sample of her DNA to be used to test against the bones found in the tower. From what I have read, it has been very difficult search to find a direct descendant (which makes sense due to the over 500 year time gap). The only hurdle now is to get permission from Westminster to exhume the bones once again in order to complete this test. Again, from what I have read, it seems that Westminster has been unwilling in the past to allow this, but maybe with having this solid DNA sample they may be more accepting.
Today I wanted to spotlight a really awesome (yet, forgotten) woman from history. She was the great-great granddaughter of Genghis Khan, one of the most famous conquerors in history. Her father was Kaidu Khan and was descended from the third son of Genghis. She was born in 1260 and had fourteen male siblings. Her name was Khutulun meaning light of the moon.
Khutulun was a unique woman in the scope of world history. Her father raised her alongside her brothers where she became an expert horsewoman, learned the art of battle, and became a proficient wrestler. Mongol women in general lead a different lifestyle than Western woman. Mongol women were taught from a young age how to ride a horse proficiently (very important in a nomadic society) and taught to fight with a bow and arrow. The main weapon in a Mongol army was the bow and often women did fight alongside their men as cavalry archers. Most importantly, their fighting ability would be able to protect their homestead. Continue reading “The Undefeated Khutulun”
What was William of Normandy’s reasoning to invade England? And did he really need one?
Technically, William’s claim was the strongest being a cousin of Edward the Confessor (at least stronger than both Hardrada and Harold). In William’s youth, he apparently met Edward the Confessor while Edward was in exile (due to the Viking takeover of England), they became friends, and Edward allegedly told William that he would name him his successor when the time came. It seems young William took that to heart, which is understandable. Once he became such a successful Duke and proved to everyone he was not just a bastard; he would want to expand his territory. Continue reading “The Mysterious Oath of 1064”
Since the Battle of Hastings falls on October 14th this week I was interested in doing a week study of 1066; one of the most important years in English History. In this year the Anglo-Saxon era ends and the England we recognize begins. Often times many studies of English history do not even start until the rule of the Normans. The Norman Conquest in 1066 was the last time (even to the present day!) that England was conquered by a foreign power. To me, that is incredible. William the Conqueror certainly earned his name due to the others who followed in history failed to achieve this even with modern weaponry and advancements.
Due to the Norman conquest, the development of England went into a completely different direction. Continue reading “The Epic Week of 1066!”