Undead kings and treasonous conspiracies

In 1399, Henry of Derby overthrew his cousin, King Richard II, to seize the English throne, having himself crowned as Henry IV. Though Richard was probably murdered soon after the coup at the orders of his cousin, his death was concealed and rumours circulated through Henry IV’s reign (1399-1413) and into that of his son,Continue reading “Undead kings and treasonous conspiracies”

Sanctuary men and Oldcastle’s Revolt

On 9-10 January 1414, Sir John Oldcastle led an ill-fated and probably poorly conceived uprising against Henry V, which may (or may not) have been inspired by Oldcastle’s adherence to ideas of an unorthodox religious group, the Lollards. Although the insurrection was suppressed, Oldcastle himself escaped and remained on the loose for the next severalContinue reading “Sanctuary men and Oldcastle’s Revolt”

Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester: Witchcraft, treason, and sanctuary denied

In 1441, Eleanor, duchess of Gloucester, wife of the king’s uncle and next heir Humphrey of Gloucester, was accused of employing astrology & necromancy to “imagine the king’s death.” If the young Henry VI died, her own husband Humphrey was the next heir, and she would become queen. Allegedly aided by scholars learned in theContinue reading “Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester: Witchcraft, treason, and sanctuary denied”

Treason on the eve of civil war

In 1448, on the eve of civil war, a sanctuary seeker at Westminster made strange allegations of a treasonous plot being hatched in the sanctuary precinct. Richard Spencer, “clerk, merchant, and gentleman” of London, took sanctuary in 1448 at Westminster Abbey. From within the sanctuary, he submitted a written accusation of treason against gentleman andContinue reading “Treason on the eve of civil war”

Jack Cade’s Revolt and Sanctuary: Beheading at the Tabard Inn

There were a couple of sanctuary incidents relating to a 1450 popular uprising known as Jack Cade’s revolt – including one relating to a famous Southwark tavern (you can see the second one here). An anonymous chronicle recounts that a certain Richard Haywarden was beheaded during the revolt at the Tabard Inn in Southwark, havingContinue reading “Jack Cade’s Revolt and Sanctuary: Beheading at the Tabard Inn”

Jack Cade’s Revolt and Sanctuary: Could traitors seek sanctuary?

Another Jack Cade’s Revolt story (see the first one here), this time a challenging one for Henry VI, as one of the rebels who sought to overthrow him sought shelter in a sanctuary. Over recent entries from the 1440s, we’ve seen Henry VI as protector of sanctuary, part of his exercise of royal mercy andContinue reading “Jack Cade’s Revolt and Sanctuary: Could traitors seek sanctuary?”

Sanctuary and coups d’état

The issue of traitors in the sanctuary arose again in 1451, when on 23 November of that year Sir William Oldhall, speaker of the House of Commons, took refuge in St Martin le Grand. He knew perfectly well what he was doing. Oldhall was not only speaker but also chamberlain to the duke of York;Continue reading “Sanctuary and coups d’état”

The Saga of Henry Holland: Sanctuary and the Wars of the Roses

A Game of Thrones-ready storyline for a seeker who went into sanctuary twice to escape his royal in-laws. (Casting: more Reek than Rob Stark…) In the crisis years of the mid-1450s and through the next half century of civil war, sanctuary served many times as a refuge for those fleeing opponents in the dynastic struggles.Continue reading “The Saga of Henry Holland: Sanctuary and the Wars of the Roses”

Failed insurrection in sanctuary

Although sometimes sanctuaries were portrayed as cradles of sedition, in a 1463 case it appears that sanctuary seekers themselves resisted (and reported) an attempt to stoke them into rising. A Middlesex jury charged with reporting local crime and disorder noted that a sanctuary man named John Coydon, resident in the Westminster Abbey precinct, had toldContinue reading “Failed insurrection in sanctuary”

Sanctuary and regime change in the Wars of the Roses: The Readeption, 1470 (pt. 2)

The War of the Roses was a major factor in the figuring of chartered sanctuaries as refuges from tyranny and arbitrary rule, because at each regime change the losing side ran to sanctuary. Many others joined Queen Elizabeth Woodville in the sanctuaries when Henry VI regained the throne (the “Readeption”). One was Yorkist supporter WilliamContinue reading “Sanctuary and regime change in the Wars of the Roses: The Readeption, 1470 (pt. 2)”