23 December, 2008

Hampton Court on Ice

The seasonal ice rink is in place at Hampton Court Palace. A very happy and peaceful Christmas to all readers!

photo: Wikipedia

19 November, 2008

The Devil's Whore....Our Friends in the Civil War

I am going to jump in to the debate on whether the current Channel 4 English Civil War drama, The Devil's Whore is any good. It seems to be picking up some award nominations, but that doesn't mean a lot.

The series is the work of Peter Flannery, who brought us the landmark drama Our Friends in the North . This followed the fortunes of four friends from Newcastle-on-Tyne between 1964 and 1995, so had a much longer span than Devil's Whore, with the characters' lives changing in reaction to the events around them.

In an interview on the current show's website he compares the two dramas: "There's a sense of friends bonding near the beginning of this, and then you watch how their lives play out through a time of political upheaval. So there's a great similarity. For a long time we called it Our Friends in the Civil War". Flannery hopes that Andrea Riseborough will win a BAFTA as Gina McKee did for "Our Friends". We'll see.

After the first three episodes I am still watching. This is in the face of one or two flaws that various reviewers have already spotted:

Many Civil War characters do not get a look-in. "Where are John Pym, the Earl of Bedford, Sir Thomas Fairfax, Denzil Holles and Edward Hyde?", asks Ronan Bennett in his review. And those characters that do feature are not properly introduced in terms of background and motivation; - oh look, there's Cromwell.

- The New Model Army seems to have shrunk to about 20 men and a couple of cannon. The Cape Town branch of the Sealed Knot must be short on members. So the battle scenes suffer from what Wacht Am Tyne calls "The Sharpe Effect".

- Some of the scenes look too much like South Africa, because they are. I didn't know the Drakensberg had moved to Ireland.

- The CGI devil looks like he has wandered in from another set

- In spite of the presence of a dedicated sex scene coordinator, Ted Vallance says in his New Statesman review that "This a series caught in two-minds as to whether to be a faithful, serious historical drama or merely an entertainment for those who get off on men wearing hose and doublets"

- It all seems rushed, and squeezed into too few episodes. The Civil War is too important (and long) to rush through in 4 episodes - compare Band of Brothers, which took us through the Normandy campaign almost as if in real time, so you feel involved. Michael Fassbender (Thomas Rainsborough) was in BoB by the way. I think Chronologi Cogitationes may be thinking on similar lines in suggesting that if we had followed one or two characters through the events it might work better, " but then they threw in Cromwell, Lilburne and Rainsboroughe" .

And Yet..
The committed acting keeps you watching, especially John Simm as the mercenary Sexby. He is as good in this as in Life on Mars. All the main players are good, and the small-group scenes have a lot of chemistry and are shot in authentic-looking interiors.

I also like the brooding and lawless atmosphere. Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone might seem unlikely influences, but in a background piece in Broadcast Now, director Mark Munden says: "I wanted to bring in elements of the modern revisionist western. In terms of its landscape, the piece was very much about isolated areas of civilisation, such as Oxford and London, within a wild lawless country. Sexby is like a mercenary gunslinger, [Leone's] 'man with no name'.

In the end, I agree with Julie Myerson on The Newsnight Review panel : Our Friends in the North was iconic; but The Devil's Whore ain't. In four episodes, it never could be, but if it gets people wanting to know more about this turbulent period it will have done some good.

more on The Devil's Whore:
Lady Byron at Factual Imagining has some useful links .
Another good review at The Story and the Truth .

05 November, 2008

I'm Henry the Eighth I am - Are You?

2009 is a big anniversary for Tudor history - the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII.

It will be a busy year for Past Pleasures Ltd, "the UK's leading costumed interpretation company". They hold the re-enactments contract with the UK's Historic Royal Palaces, who run Hampton Court amongst other addresses.

According to their ad in the October BBC History Magazine, PP wish to recruit "a man" to play Henry VIII at Hampton Court during the celebrations next year

Candidates need to be:

* Over 6 foot tall with "a large frame"
* Playing age 40-50.
* Able to grow a beard.
* Live within an easy commute of Hampton Court (they don't specify by river or horse).
* Have an interest in and knowledge of history, especially the Tudor period.

Good to see the old Henry we know and love is back - JRM need not apply!.

29 October, 2008

Errours, Heresies, Blasphemies

A fresh early modern edition of the Carnivalesque blog carnival is up.

Mercurius Politicus, masquerading as the Rev. Thomas Edwards, presents Gangraena, a Catalogue, or Black Bill of the Errours, Heresies, Blasphemies and Practices of the early modern Bloggers of this time, and an excellent edition it is.

This blog even scrapes a mention, for which thanks.

08 October, 2008

So you want to be a re-enactor?

If you are into, or think you might get into, the strange business of historical re-enactment, then travel writer Tim Moore's new book I Believe in Yesterday is for you.

Moore time-travelled through 2000 years in the company of re-enactors, from the Iron Age to the American Civil War, and I can't do better than quote the Random House publicity blurb:

"I Believe in Yesterday is an odyssey through 2,000 years of filth and fury, where men were men, the nights were black, the world was your outside toilet and everything tasted faintly of leeks."

Telegraph.co.uk has an extended extract covering his visit to the Great Annual Recreation at Kentwell Hall, Suffolk, the UK's leading Tudor re-enactment site.

Moore is unexpectedly appointed to the role of Chamberlain (newbies normally get lowly duties), which includes greeting the feared school visit parties.

He soon learns his lines: "And how many summers have you, childer of Romford, in the county of Essex?", as the brats snigger at his codpiece. Great stuff.

Kentwell Hall has posted two DVD extracts on Youtube on Tudor Clothes and Food. There are also plenty of other Youtube uploads on events at Kentwell.

03 October, 2008

Google Reader Meanderings

Bardolph at Blogging the Renaissance has started a Early-Modern vs. Modern lookalike competition. ....which deserves some responses!.

Kennedy Hickman has posted a useful Military History Timeline 1600-1800 , with hyperlinks .

Executed Today marks the execution of James Hind, Royalist Highwayman, in 1652.

Janice Liedl goes "Gah!" when The Tudors wins an Emmy for Best Costumes

Finally, a hat tip to Mercurius Politicus for pointing out some interesting early-modern blogs including the rather good Airs, Waters, Places

Better stop before the carnival police come knocking.......

01 October, 2008

History Carnivals....

Two selections of history blogging to have a look at:

Carnivalesque XLIII, (ancient/medieval edition) , is up at Archaeoporn

History Carnival LXXIX (all periods) is up at American Presidents Blog

23 September, 2008

Alarm!...The French have sent a Virus

Cardinal Wolsey's computer has been under siege from some rather annoying "Malware". French involvement is suspected (mal = bad) in this plot, which involves unwanted trojans and other nasties that download themselves, interfere with the web browsing, display unseemly images, and generally interfere with the King's business. Worse, they are often hard to be rid of.

However they seem to have been repelled for now, thanks to the Malwarebytes tool. I recommend readers to download it and run the quick scan (free) - you may be surprised at what it turns up. For a small fee you can register to get a realtime scanner to keep an eye on things.

15 September, 2008

Saint-Malo and the Infernal Machine

Photo: Sunset from the ramparts of Saint-Malo.

I have resolved to blog with renewed zeal to reward the interest of all my new readers. So we travel to north-western France, destination for Cardinal Wolsey's last holiday in late August, for the first in a series of vacation posts.

The overnight ferry from Her Majesty's Dockyard in Portsmouth to Saint-Malo is a good choice - you get to review the British fleet on the way out (at least the ships not yet sold to Chile) and arrive in the morning at the gateway to Brittany. Very civilised, even with the children intoning "are we there yet?" as we steamed past the Isle of Wight.

Most Brits will drive off the ramp and head west or south without looking at Saint-Malo, but this is a mistake, as this historic town has lots to offer. The impressive walled citadel was once home to pirates and privateers, although most of the buildings are reconstructions. Unfortunately Gen.Patton had a little trouble dislodging the Germans in 1944, and 80% of the original citadel was flattened.

What of the "Infernal Machine?". Until WW2, Saint-Malo was never captured, in spite of many attempts by the Brits to do so (we didn't like towns that hosted privateers and corsairs). In 1673, during William of Orange's conflict with Louis XIV, the Royal Navy tried using an old warship as a powerkeg and set it loose towards Saint-Malo.

There is a good description what happened next in this piece on Admiral Benbow, who was in command.

"The vessel took the form of a barque crammed with upwards of a hundred barrels of gunpowder, roofed over with a ceiling of planks and covered with thatch, faggots of wood, pitch, tar, resin; in short, anything that burned. On top of all that came the missiles. Canon-balls of iron and stone, bombs, iron chains and shells were wrapped in tarpaulin".

The ploy failed when the wind changed, and it blew up against some rocks with an almighty bang. The citadel was rocked and damaged, but the English did not attempt to take it (lack of enough marines).

More English bombardments in 1695 also failed to defeat the defences, which were later strengthened further by the great military architect Vauban.

Anyway, here's an earlier unsuccesful attempt to take a French castle!

12 September, 2008

Welcome new readers!

Thanks to Jessica Merrit at BestCollegesOnline.Com for including this blog in her list of 100 Awesome Blogs for History Junkies.

Cardinal Wolsey's blog stats have jumped up by around 40-50 new visits per day since the link was posted, so a warm welcome to all new readers. You can subscribe to RSS feed to follow new posts.

Also check out the Carnivalesque blog carnival which always has a great selection of posts , alternating between Early Modern and Ancient/Medieval topics.

08 September, 2008

More Olympics....

Continuing the Olympics theme, Blogging the Renaissance has a post on the Cotswold Games of 1636, featuring "the lost sport of erecting castles on little plinthes"...also some witty comments beneath the post.

19 August, 2008

What news from the Olympiad, Wolsey?

The scene: The Clock Court, Hampton Court Palace (above).

King Henry and Cardinal Wolsey are in conversation.

H: What news from the Olympic Games, Wolsey?

CW (nervous): I am pleased to say we are in third place behind the Holy Roman Empire and France, Majesty....

H (angry): What are you pleased about? This is an insult to the English crown . Why have you not delivered the crushing victory you promised? (Henry throws the book he is carrying in Wolsey's general direction)

CW: Our contestants toiled mightily, but we were unable to secure the expected victory in a number of key disciplines, Majesty.

H: (slightly calmer) How so?

CW: In the Torture team event, we were ahead of the Spanish after the Thumbscrews, but they have trained hard on the Rack, and extracted their confession several minutes ahead of us.

H: We must practice more; see to it. What of the Joust?

CW: Our man was bribed by the French and fell off his horse.

H: And the Rowing?

CW: The cannon that you specified only served to slow down our craft, Majesty.

H: THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE!. You must raise fresh benevolences from the nobility in order to build the finest training facilities in Europe. Find Thomas More and tell him to provide fresh heretics for Torture practice . Tell the contestants that I will double French bribes, and provide a barrel of ale for any winners. (He smiles) And losers will be drowned in the same barrel, ha ha!

CW: Yes of course, Majesty. Will you be attending the closing ceremony?

H: Are the maidens fair?

CW: Allegedly, Majesty.

H: Good. I must to prayers. But how is the design for the arms for the 1512 Games progressing, Wolsey?

CW: Most fair Majesty, does this design please you? The ladies in waiting finished sewing it this morning.

H: Not bad. But something a little more dynamic perhaps?

CW: I will see to it Majesty.

They leave...

Picture of Clock Court: Wikipedia Commons

18 August, 2008

Carnival time

Two history carnivals well worth checking out:

Sharon Howard at Early Modern Notes hosts an Early Modern edition of Carnivalesque, the 42nd in the series.

Meanwhile over at Osprey Publishing, Mike has put up an Olympics-themed Military History Carnival , and uses some obscure demonstration sports you didn't think were in the Olympics to provide the links (eg Golf...bunker...nuclear bunker). Clever.

16 August, 2008

Pastime with Good Company

Pastime with Good Company is the theme of the daily program presented by the entertaining Tudor re-enactors at Hampton Court Palace during August.

Set in 1544, the program begins with the arrival of Queen Kateryn Parr at 11:00, or will it be Henry himself returing early from the French campaign??

The activities for all the family include the Royal Arrival, Entertaining the Monarch, Bowls, Jousting, Dancing and Courtly Manners, Songs and Stories, and Gambling (Dads only) all included in normal entrance price...bargain.

Also, it's the last chance to see the Costumes from The Other Boleyn Girl (or OBG as fans refer to it) , which ends on 26th August.

06 August, 2008

Remains of the 'Wooden O' found

Archaeologists in London have found what looks like part of Shakespeare's original playhouse, known simply as The Theatre", in Shoreditch. The playhouse opened in 1576 and The Bard acted here with the Chamberlain's Men.

The theatre is mentioned in the prologue to Henry V:

"Can this cock-pit hold the vast fields of France? Or may we cram within this wooden O the very casques That did affright the air at Agincourt?"

The timbers were later moved to the South Bank and used to build The Globe in 1599.

A new theatre is to be built on the site at Shoreditch.

More on the history of The Theatre here.

29 July, 2008

They're Back....

Friday sees the return of "The Tooders" to UK television, with the start of Series II eagerly awaited by all serious history fans. The BBC have cleverly scheduled it in middle of the summer holiday, when there isn't much opposition - Poirot and Big Brother will be no match for the great Peter "retired Christian" O'Toole as the Pope (the wrong one, but never mind..).

No doubt we can expect more liberties with the facts for dramatic effect . As the Radio Times has it, "...even if some of the history is shoddy they make sure the costumes are based on fact - and they look a million ducats!" Fol de rol!

JRM reassures us that "We're not making a documentary for universities"....Oh yes you are. (Look out for the new distance learning M.A. in Media Studies with Tudor Option offered by the prestigious University of Hampton Court).

Alas no Wolsey, as he topped himself at the end of Series I . I predict a comeback in Series VI when it is revealed he faked his own death. Series III is already in production, with rumours that all 6 wives will be covered. Is anyone lining up to play Anne of Cleves? Will Jane Seymour play herself?

Should be fun.

Image: Anita Briem as Jane Seymour, The Tudors, source Wikipedia Commons

16 July, 2008

We Are Not Worthy!

The scene: the Great House of Easement, Hampton Court.
Henry VIII is reading correspondence whilst the Groom of the Stool busies himself.
There is a knock at the door.
Henry: "Enter".
Enter Cardinal Wolsey, obviously in a state of high excitement.
Wolsey: "Majesty, I bring you great news!"
Henry: "Catherine has agreed a divorce?"
W: "Not yet, Majesty. The news concerns my Blog"
H: "Oh that waste of the Lord's day. What of it?"
W: "It has been recognised by Professor Luker and is in His List"
H (suspicious): "Did you say Luther?"
W:"No Sire, Professor Luker of the house of Cliopatria in the New World"
H: "What of this List?"
W: "It contains a choice selection of eighty Historical Blogs, and can only bring further esteem for your reign and reputation".
H:"Are the French represented?"
W: "I do not think so".
H (looking pleased):"Hmm. And Spain?"
W:"Again they seem absent. I am sure you will not object to the presence of the Classics, and the East?
Henry:"I suppose not. But make sure all your posts, from now on, mention myself and are written in courtly style. Now go and sort out my Great Matter. "
Wolsey (withdrawing):"Of course, Sire."
Henry: "And ensure that this List is proclaimed throughout the Land"
Wolsey: "I'm right on it".

Here it is, subjects:

11 July, 2008

"Tudor Village" with WiFi

Hever Castle
Originally uploaded by youngie42

Hever Castle in Kent is best known as the home of Anne Boleyn. Next to the castle is what looks like a well-preserved Tudor village, but appearances can be deceptive.

The "Village" was in fact built in the early 1900's by William Waldorf Astor after he bought the castle in 1903. He asked architect Frank Loughborough Pearson to create a fine country house extension, and Pearson designed it as a collection of Tudor cottages.

Now the Tudor Village hosts corporate events and weddings, so you can have WiFi and Broadband with your Tudor atmosphere, without the damp and dodgy sanitation.

05 July, 2008

Recent YouTube uploads

Some recent YouTube uploads with Early Modern focus:

Anna Keay, assistant curator at the Tower of London, discusses the arrival of Elizabeth I at the Tower in 1554, suspected of treason against Mary.

Also uploaded (in 4 parts) is is David Starkey on Oliver Cromwell and the Civil War, from his history of the British monarchy

Ghosts of the English Civil War relates spooky encounters on the site of the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644.

Dylan Winter tells the story of "possibly our greatest naval humiliation": the Dutch raid on the Medway in 1667.

22 June, 2008

Wanted: historian to rent 17th Century council house

Is this the perfect abode for an Early Modern blogger?

The BBC, Daily Telegraph and Times report on the search for a new tenant for Dutch Cottage, a cute octagonal thatch in Rayleigh, Essex.

It was built in 1621 by Dutch settlers,who were helping to drain nearby marshes.

The council rent is good value at £75 per week, but you also have to show tours around on Wednesdays. I guess these must be quite short..

19 June, 2008

Turmoil and Tranquility

The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich is putting its collection of Dutch and Flemish sea scenes on display. Turmoil and Tranquility runs until January 2009, and showcases one of the best collections of 17th maritime painting in Europe.
See reviews here, here and here.

16 June, 2008

Carnivalesque Extra Large

Carnivalesque XL (Early Modern Edition) is up at jliedl.ca . Janice Liedl is a Prof at the Laurentian University in Canada, and has put together a great selection of posts.

14 June, 2008

Welcome to the 15th Military History Carnival!

Welcome to the 15th Military History Carnival!
This is the first time I have hosted the MHC, and I would like to thank those who have made submissions; thanks also to Gavin for advice on putting the thing together.
Most of the posts included below are my own choice, but I know that I am bound to have missed some great posts out there....

I previously issued some theme ideas for the carnival:
- forgotten (or little known) engagements
- good and bad tactics
- collateral (civilian impact)
- eyewitness accounts
- (lowish rank) individuals who made an impact
- interesting weapons
- book reviews
- contributions to "big debates" (eg is the Civil War over yet)

Many of the posts below support these categories, but have stuck with a basic chronological organisation for the carnival so that readers can zoom in on their favourite era.

OK, off we go.


For the Ancient History era, Mark at the Skwib presents another quality edition of The Lost PowerPoint Slides: Trojans and Triremes? It?s All Greek to Everyone! (Part 6.1)

Milica at SCAtoday reports on the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council project The Soldier in Later Medieval England which started in 2006 and is producing regular output, including the Soldier of the Month .

Lafayette C. Curtis at I, Clausewitz busts the myth about clerics and bludgeoning weapons in medieval Europe.


Lafayette Curtis submitted Actions of Lowe countries, Gordon Frye's History Ramblings' report of a detailed reenactment of a late 16th-century military camp in California.

By way of contrast, Mrs Drudge at The Drudgeries reports on an unimpressive reenactment of the Battle of Maidstone in the English Civil War: "a mixture of fat old men and gal troops halfheartedly struggling up Gabriels Hill . More on this important battle here .

In a post entitled Of Seas and Ships and Spanish Sailors, the eery Dragon History blog of Stromness notes the legacy of the Spanish Armada in the Orkney Islands.

Gavin at Investigations of a Dog reviews War and Gender by Joshua Goldstein

Inspired by early memories of watching the Last of the Mohicans, Alex at Military History and Warfare sets out to discover the real story of the "massacre" at Fort William Henry during the French and Indian Wars in 1757

Konrad at Froginawell presents a Chinese Description of C17th Dutch Suicide Tactics using contemporary accounts (submitted by fellow amphibian Alan).

I was given the OK by MHC high command to include some posts or reviews from the H-Net Discussion network. In H-War , Oliver Walton reviews a biography of a Forgotten Star of the Royal Navy.


David Woodbury at of Battlefields and Bibliophiles revisits a favourite book on the Civil War, and interviews the author. Hat tip to Dimitri Rotov at Civil War Bookshelf

Paul Taylor at With Sword and Pen recommends The Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation by Prof. Timothy Smith, which tells the story of how dedicated veterans set out to preserve the battle sites of Chickamauga, Antietam, Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Gettysburg in the 1890's.

Maggie at Civil War Women tells the story of Fanny Lawrence Ricketts, who after tracking down her wounded husband James in a makeshift field hospital, writes in her diary: "As I look from the window I see a severed leg under a tree. It has been there all day, and I intend asking to have it removed."

T J Linzy at Battlefield Biker tells the story of the Battle of New Hope Church complete with his customary motorbike ride suggestion.

In H-CivWar, Paul Quigley commends Jason Philips' 2007 book on Diehard Rebels.

Meanwhile, Harry Smeltzer at Bull Runnings has the rug pulled from under his digital history project by the demise of Microsoft Live Search.


In Because our Fathers Lied , Francis Beckett of the Guardian reviews four new books about soldiers' experiences in the First World War, which he compares to the death of his own grandfather - hat tip to Ralph E Luker at Cliopatria .

Stories of wartime relatives are posted on many family history blogs: Bob Lord (WW2 USAF) at LordandLady tells the story of relative Martin Cumming of the 48 Highland Regiment , 1st Canadian Division; his post reminds us of the scarcely believable daily casualty figures in the Great War.

Ross Mahoney at Thoughts on Military History discusses Gallipoli, Combined Operations and Air Power.

John Quiggin at Crooked Timber has a great post on The Great and Unremembered War, which has an impressive set of comments attached. In particular I draw your attention to comment #2 is from Stuart, on leadership failure as explained by Blackadder. Magic.

This post was also featured in History Carnival LXV at Progressive Historians. Jeremy Young included a number of other good posts on Military History in this broad-ranging carnival which is cleverly built around the idea of a US Presidential Debate: most of the Mil Hist recommendations of course come from vet John McCain!

A couple of dead Germans: Christofer Eger at Suite101 marks the passing of the Kaiser's Last Soldier, while Executed Today remembers the death by French firing squad in 1923 of early Nazi cum freedom fighter Albert Leo Schlageter, who tried to sabotage the French occupation of the Ruhr in 1923 by blowing up railway lines, and inevitably became a martyr figure for the Nazis.


Several important WW2 anniversaries have just passed. For D-Day (6th June, 1944), Zenpundit gives us Ronald Reagan's heartfelt speech from the 40th anniversary in 1984. In part of his speech Reagan bemones the fact that Eastern Europe was still under Soviet occupation - not for long.

Aussie Navy veteran Mackenzie J Gregory at Ahoy has a copy of an important signal which officers on HMAS Nizam drew lots to keep. A huge amount of dedication clearly goes into this blog, which has over 1600 articles.

Raul Colon at The Sub Report tells us what happened to the U-Boat bases and pens after the war - the unlucky ones were used for bombing practice, but others are still in use today.

The carrier pilots of the Battle of Midway (4th-7th June, 1942) are remembered by El Jefe Maximo at Kingdom of Chaos.

Brett Holman at Airminded has a fascinating post on how much time British air defences had to intercept air attacks during both WW1 and WW2. Brett estimates that The Chain Home radar system increased the time available to get Hurricanes and Spitfires into position from 5 minutes to around 40 minutes...without it, we would clearly have been in a spot of bother.

Let's also include a post to recognise the place that Wargamers have in the military history blogosphere. I was impressed with the D-Day landscape created by the Bedford Gladiators Wargame and Role Play Club.

English Russia has some great photos of the moment when a Red Army veteran is re-united with his tank. You may need to scroll down past the ads for "beautiful Russian girls"[you can always scroll back up]. The same blog also has an interesting item on the Sevastopol Defense Panorama.


Mark Grimsley at Blog Them out of the Stone Age asks Will the Munich analogy ever outlive its usefulness?. Comments are worth reading as well.

Charles J Hanley reports on Mass Killings in S.Korea in 1950 killings of suspected leftists at start of Korean War (hat tip - RE Luker, again)

Mark Walker, "A 20th-Century Faust," American Scientist, May/June, reviews Michael J. Neufeld's Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War . (hat tip: guess who).

Kennedy Hickman's About.Com Military History blog makes a contribution to the obscure weapons strand with the story of how a prototype Cold War bomber met its end on a photo shoot


I came across a number of thoughtful posts prompted by Memorial Day in the USA.
From Vermont, Andrew Barton at Meeyauw remembers Charles Devereux, a casualty at Cedar Creek in 1864.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub has tips on correct flag protocol

Also, Bob Waters at Watersblogged on why The Poppies Still Grow


Here are a few things I came across whilst researching the carnival , although outside the blogosphere:

I received a carnival submission for this Free Wordpress Theme: WP Special Tactics - should be a hit with the paintballing brigade....

RadicalCartography has a map of nuclear tests since 1945, atmospheric, underground and underwater. Still going on of course in Pakistan and N.Korea.

bestpicsaround has shots of a German tank being pulled out of a lake - can anyone identify it?

FDR's fireside chats are available at OldRadioWorld


I hope you enjoy reading these posts. The next edition of the Military History Carnival will be on 18th August (no host for July so we're skipping it) at Osprey Publishing blog.
Submissions can be e-mailed to blog at ospreypublishing dot com

By way of a postscript, Pushkin at WebUrbanist shows us 12 Compelling Monuments Dedicated to Peace

MHC15 update

Military History Carnival 15 should be up at around 23:00 UK time today...watch this space

07 June, 2008

Military History Carnival 15: Reminder for Submissions

The next edition of the Military History Carnival will be right here on 14th June. Please email submissions to me at alunadler at yahoo dot co dot uk, or use the submission form.

Thank you to those who have already sent submissions!

20 May, 2008

Theme ideas for MHC15

I am hosting the 15th edition of the Military History Carnival, which should be up on 14th June if all goes according to plan.
So far I have been adding large numbers of mil hist blogs to my Google Reader. I am basing this on previous carnivals and on blog rolls such as HNN's Cliopatria blogroll. I am impressed by the number of American Civil War blogs that are out there; this reminds me of a comment I saw in the visitors' book at Appomattox: "It's not over". Right.

If anyone needs some ideas for a post for possible inclusion, here are a few themes or sections I am thinking of using to structure the carnival:

- forgotten (or little known) engagements
- good and bad tactics
- collateral (civilian impact)
- eyewitness accounts
- (lowish rank) individuals who made an impact
- interesting weapons
- book reviews
- contributions to "big debates" (eg is the Civil War over yet)

Submissions sent so far: 1 (early days yet!) .

15 May, 2008

The 14th Military History Carnival is up

The 14th Military History Blog Carnival is up at Investigations of a Dog.
The theme is "Contested Boundaries" and Gavin Robinson has assembled lots of interesting posts not just on disputed borders, but also other boundaries (when is a 'terrorist' a 'freedom fighter', what constitutes a 'war crime', the roles of men and women in conflicts, etc).

The next edition of the Military History Carnival will be right here on 14th June. Please email submissions to me at alunadler at yahoo dot co dot uk, or use the submission form. I am thinking of some potential themes such as "eyewitness history" - feel free to make a suggestion for a theme...

01 May, 2008

Cardinal Wolsey's Blogstats for April

Cardinal Wolsey's blog stats for April in case you are interested:

Visits: 821
Pageloads: 1292
New visits: 87%

Of the 821 unique visits,
337 were from the USA (Hi to all readers in the former colonies),
247 from UK,
63 from Canada,
49 from Australia,
14 from France,
13 from Sweden,
and 98 from other countries.

Interestingly, no visits from China. I recall that last year, or maybe 2006, there was a burst of activity from China, including a tractor factory, but then the hits mysteriously dried up. Could this be related to someone taking a dim view on any blogs featuring rebellions I wonder???

In the US, New York State just beat California in numbers of visits to this blog. Cardinal Wolsey will be sending an educational mission to a number of the flat windy States where the people have not yet seen the light.

Apart from the home page, the most popular page in April was the post on the BBC's Purple Haze Medieval Mix.

23 April, 2008

St. George's Day Kebab and The Bard's Birthday

April 23 is not only St.George's Day (complete with themed websites and merchandising), but also the date that Shakespeare's birthday in 1564 is celebrated.

We don't actually know his exact birth date, but he did expire on 23rd April 1616, so there is a neat symmetry.

Listen to two excellent new poems commissioned for St.George's Day on BBC Radio 4 site.

Finally, the Daily Telegraph tries to stir up patriotic feeling with a cheeky map showing an alleged EU plot to merge the south coast of England with northern France into a new "Manche" region. About time Calais was back in English hands if you ask me.

21 April, 2008

Carnivalesque XXXVIII is up...

Carnivalesque XXXVIII is up at Walking the Berkshires. Lots of interesting Early-Modern posts from last 2 months or so.

Oh yes, and today is the day that Henry VIII became King of England in 1509, aged 17. The painting by an unknown artist shows Henry in his coronation year (courtesy Wikipedia Commons/Denver Art Museum).

Do not be fooled by his pale and sensitive countenance. Two days after his coronation in June 1509, Henry had Empson and Dudley arrested. These two former ministers under his father Henry VII were tried for treason and executed in 1510. A sign of things to come...

15 April, 2008

Purple Haze: Medieval Mix

The trailer for BBC4's current Medieval Season features a nifty folk remix of Hendrix's Purple Haze, with accompanying psychedelic graphics. "Take a trip into the medieval mind" with the emphasis on trip, man.

09 April, 2008

Tudor Bloopers!

Although some felt that Season 1 of "The Tudors" was one long out-take, see Cardinal Wolsey's Vodpod for a selection of sometimes hilarious forgotten lines, corpsing and general banter by the cast, courtesy of the great historical research tool "YeTube".

08 April, 2008

Tudor Music from the BBC - but hurry!

Good news for fans of Tudor Music:

For another 5 days, a 60-minute BBC4 program on Tallis, Byrd and the Tudors is available to everyone (in the UK at least) via the BBC iPlayer streamer.

To quote the blurb: "Simon Russell Beale explores Western sacred music. He looks at the works of Thomas Tallis (pictured) and William Byrd, part of the Renaissance in Tudor England."

The program includes some stunning shots of London.

(Available for 5 more days - 30 days if you download the 600mb file)

07 April, 2008

Holiday Notes Easter 2008

Cardinal Wolsey was on holiday in France last week, and was pleased to pass a sign on the autoroute pointing out the Champ du Drap d'Or (Field of the Cloth of Gold), near to Calais.

This was the extravagant meeting in 1520 between Henry VIII and Francis I, suggested by myself. Each monarch tried to outdo the other in pomp and display of riches.

It was rather expensive for taxpayers on both sides, and failed to result in an Anglo-French alliance, which was the original idea.

In the relevant episode in TV's The Tudors, Henry wrestles Francis in a manly way, loses, and throws some chairs around. Grr!

25 March, 2008

The King's Cardinal

The King's Cardinal is the title of Peter Gwyn's massive biography of Wolsey that I am currently embarking on. This is not History-lite: 639 pages, 14 pages of bibliography, no pictures. Chance of finishing it before it is due back at library: nil.

The book, subtitled The Rise and Fall of Thomas Wolsey was generally well received when published in 1990 in hardback ("Magisterial", according to Lady Antonia Fraser), and the paperback edition was re-issued in 2002.

Gwyn is essentially pro-Wolsey, and sets his stall out in the introduction to challenge the "conventional wisdom" of Wolsey as a bloated anachronism standing in the way of Reformation, i.e. it is a "revisionist" account.

In his Introduction, Gwyn quotes an early "Wolsey-Basher", John Skelton. Skelton was Henry VII's poet laureate, and his son Henry VIII's tutor, and later King's Orator. Here is his poem

"Why Come ye nat to Courte?"

To whyche court?
To the kynges courte?
Or to Hampton Court?
Nay, to the kynges court!

The kynges courte
Shulde have the excellence;
But Hampton Court
Hath the preemynence!

To be continued....

17 March, 2008

Carnivalesque XXXVII is up...

Fed up with the Tudors? Then take a look at the latest Ancient/Medieval edition of the Carnivalesque blog carnival over at In the Middle. Interestingly, this edition is hosted by a Tiny Shriner, a small but perfectly formed member of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. A lot of interesting posts, including What made the Romans laugh.

Anyway, the Shriners' headware of choice is the red fez, so that's an excuse for a Tommy Cooper sketch is it not?

16 March, 2008

Medieval Helpdesk

This gem is exactly at the point where the Norwegian sense of humour intersects with ours....

13 March, 2008

The Sad Demise of Admiral John Byng, 14th March, 1757

Admiral John Byng of the Royal Navy, like Marshal Ney , gave the signal to fire to his own firing squad, in his case by dropping a white handkerchief onto the deck of his flagship "Monarch", on which he was shot at Portsmouth in March 1757.

Byng had been found guilty by court-martial of "failing to do his utmost" in preventing the French capture of Minorca in 1756, at the start of the Seven Years War.

Many thought Byng had been made a scapegoat, and Voltaire wrote about his death in Candide, recording that in England 'it is thought good to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others' (pour encourager les autres)

Byng's end is recorded in typically terse naval style in the Master of the 'Monarch's' log recording the execution: 'at 12 Mr Byng was shot dead by 6 Marines and put into his coffin'.

Links: the National Maritime Museum , Peter Davis' site (where you can also download a Windows simulator for a square-rigged frigate) , Dudley Pope's book At 12 Mr Byng was Shot, which makes the case for Byng's defence.

07 March, 2008

FoodFight - recent conflicts as you have not seen them before!

This a clever stop-motion animation of WW2 and later conflicts (well at least those involving the USA). Each country is represented by a national dish - it took me a while to realise who the Russians are. The film is by Stefan Nadelman. He even includes 9-11. CLICK "READ MORE" TO VIEW FILM

read more | digg story

29 February, 2008

27 February, 2008

Henry VIII's Dockyards

Portcities is a useful site if you are interested in the role of ports in British history. It is a partnership of port heritage websites, providing a web gateway to their collections, and will grow as more museums, libraries and archives join up.

It currently has material on London, Bristol, Hartlepool, Liverpool and Southampton.

In the London section is an interesting section on Henry VIII's royal dockyards at Deptford and Woolwich . These docks and shipyards played an important role in the early development of the Royal Navy, and Elizabeth I further developed the facilities at Woolwich.

Later on, the reputation of the shipyards encouraged a visit in 1698 by Peter the Great of Russia. Apparently his drunken parties messed up the home of diarist John Evelyn, whose house he was staying at.

Both yards went into decline after the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, as new facilities were built closer to Europe (e.g. at Chatham), more suited to building larger ships. Both Deptford and Woolwich closed in 1869, having played a key role in the Royal Navy's formative years.

19 February, 2008

Carnivalesque 36

Mercurius Politicus has put together an interesting collection of recent Early Modern posts for Carnivalesque 36, including one from me!

13 February, 2008

Please Welcome on Stage: Lewis Garland and the Kett Rebellion

Hearing a Tenpole Tudor track the other day, I did a bit of digging around for other bands with Early Modern connections:

Kicking off, Lewis Garland and the Kett Rebellion, playing rather decent acoustic folk. Band is based in Coventry, although Lewis Garland, like Robert Kett himself who gave his name to an East Anglian uprising in 1549, hails from Norfolk. A racy woodcut decorates their Myspace site.

In 1558, nine years after Kett was hanged over the walls of Norwich Castle, Elizabeth I took the throne of England. Her finest hour occurred another thirty years later with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Indie band The Spanish Armada represent the USA here, and hail from Somerville, Massachusetts. One of the band members goes under the name of "L. Tiburon Pacifico", which must count for something. Not sure about the music, though....

Back to Blighty, Brighton-based folk/punk/rock band The Levellers are slightly more noisy, with a reputation for exciting fiddle-driven live sets including at Glastonbury . They share their name with the group of political radicals known as the Levellers during the English Civil War period. They asked questions such as "why should soldiers fight for Parliament when they are not allowed to vote for it?".

Oliver Cromwell approved of some of the Levellers' policies (eg abolition of the House of Lords), but his relationship with the movement was uneasy. In May 1649, Cromwell executed three soldiers in Burford who belonged to the Levellers, and this event is to be commemorated this year on Levellers Day.

Staying with the English Civil War theme, the Yorkshire band New Model Army name themselves after the full-time professional army set up Parliament to address the problems, found in the early part of the Civil War, of using part-time militias (they were reluctant to stray far from their home area) .

We could also include Shakespeare's Sister, but we absolutely have to mention Rick "Concept Album" Wakeman for his milestone Six Wives of Henry VIII. YouTube comes up trumps again: (how he gets away with a police siren I don't really know...) . If you are under 45 you might want to skip the video as you might not understand what is going on...

10 February, 2008

Half Term at Hampton Court

Between Saturday 16th and Sunday 24th Feb, Hampton Court Palace has a program on Children of the Tudor Court. What was it like for Henry VIII's children growing up at the Tudor Court? What lessons did they learn and who were their teachers?

The reenactors at Hampton Court are very good so this event is recommended if you are looking to keep your kids entertained at half-term.

Oddly, the Hampton Court Palace website does not yet seem to be advertising this event, so best to telephone first 0870 7527777 in case the reenactors have gone to the block..

Picture: the engraving by Francesco Bartolozzi shows Henry with his children Edward, Mary and Elizabeth. The slightly mysterious figure at the rear is Henry's jester Will Sommers.

29 January, 2008

Get BBC History Magazine with Tesco Clubcard

Here's a bargain. If you have a Tesco Clubcard, you can order a subscription to BBC History Magazine for only £10.80 in Clubcard vouchers . Normal price is £43.20, although you can get 25% off on BBC subscription site if you are not a Tesco person.

Or if you want to look into the future instead, how about the slightly strange Prediction magazine for only £8.85! Even better than that, they have free content on the web. Amongst the dodgy astrological stuff, I found a nice atmospheric article about things that go bump in the night in Supernatural Sussex:

"Later Nash used Tibetan and crystal bowls to tune into the wood's vibrations and for a while the night was full of lingering, stellar tones"

Good writing in my view. For more atmospheric trees, see this previous post

25 January, 2008

Mary Rose and Cutty Sark win Lottery

It's a "double rollover" for maritime history conservation!

Further to yesterday's post, the Mary Rose Trust at Portsmouth is today celebrating a £21m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This will enable the Trust to finish conservation of the hull and build the new exhibition centre to house it and display artifacts ; details here.

Also breathing a sigh of relief is the Cutty Sark Trust, awarded an extra £10m to help restore the iconic tea clipper in Greenwich. Amazingly, the ship survived the serious fire last May without too much damage.

24 January, 2008

Cardinal Wolsey and the Tudor Navy

You may have spotted via my Shelfari widget that I have been reading David Childs' excellent ship biography The Warship Mary Rose. The Mary Rose was Henry VIII's flagship until she sank in home waters in 1545, having taken part in three wars against France and one against Scotland.

The Mary Rose was famously salvaged in 1982 and her remains are now displayed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. A major project is under way by the Mary Rose Trust to build a fab new permanent exhibition to display the hull and exhibits, inevitably dependent on a large injection of dosh from Lottery funding. The decision on this is due TOMORROW Jan 25th, so fingers crossed!

Amongst the primary sources quoted by Childs are letters between Cardinal Wolsey and captains of the Mary Rose concerning the ships provisions (or lack of) and other matters. As the King's Master Almoner, Wolsey "...was able to demonstrate that the idea of a standing navy was a sustainable one." (Childs, ibid, p.89).

Childs also quotes Wolsey's biographer Francis Hacket:
"[Wolsey] personally signed contracts for everything from twenty-five thousand fat oxen for salting to the hire of fourteen mares to haul a culverin (cannon)" (ibid, p.90).

One of the problems that Wolsey seems to have encountered is that empty barrels were not returned by the navy to shore for re-filling with provisions - many were simply thrown overboard. Hence this extract from a letter to (Admiral) Thomas Howard in 1513:
"My lord, I assure you it is not possible to furnish your revictualling if Foists (barrels) be not

more plenteously brought from the navy to Hampton than they be....for ye cannot be provided elsewhere of any foists for money" (ibid, p.96).

Wolsey's rather statistical reaction to the loss of the warship Regent, blown up off Brittany in 1513 along with the French ship Cordeliere, is revealed in this extract from a letter to the Bishop of Worcester:
"And after innumerable shootings of guns and long chasing one another, at the last the Regent most valiantly boarded the [Cordeliere], wherein were 4 lords, 300 gentlemen, 800 soldiers and mariners, 400 crossbowmen, 100 gunners, 200 tunnes of wine, 100 pipes of beef, 60 barrles of gunpowder and 15 great brass cortains with so marvelous number of shot and guns of every sort" (ibid, p108).

After this bloody action in which up to 2000 men on both sides were killed, Henry decided to construct the Woolwich Dockyard to build more ships.

17 January, 2008

"The Tudors" is Annoying - Official

A quick post to wrap up the "Rate The Tudors" poll which ran on this blog before Christmas; this was during the first season run of the "bonking and plotting" series on the BBC.

The number of readers finding "The Tudors" to be Annoying just beat the votes for Gripping. Worryingly, 18% of the votes reckoned The Tudors is Accurate...maybe they voted before the episode when Wolsey commits suicide (the blog had a big spike of hits when this happened).

Anyway, all publicity is good publicity as they say, and the Tudors Season 2 preview has had a massive (for this blog!) 152 hits on Cardinal Wolsey's Vodpod.

Whilst on the subject of hits, I have now managed to get above the Cardinal Wolsey Biker Bar (in Hampton Court) website in the Google Search results for Cardinal Wolsey . This is success! Might even make 1000 unique visitors this month....

08 January, 2008

Fire in the Hole! Military History Carnival #10

The 10th edition of the Military History Carnival is up at Walking the Berkshires.

It is dedicated to the creator of the Flashman novels, George MacDonald Fraser, who died recently, with lots of neat Flashman references.

07 January, 2008

Christmas Quiz.... The Answers

Here are the answers to yesterday's quiz questions from the BBC...

1. What did Henry VII do with Yorkist imposter Lambert Simnel after capturing him in 1487?
Lambert Simnel was spared death and made to work as a turnspit in the royal kitchens (pictured).

2. 2008 is the 500th anniversary of the birth of one of history's most influential architects, born in Padua in 1508. Who was it?
Andrea Palladio, who influenced Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren.

3. Which Tudor queen had a pomegranate as a badge?
Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII and mother of Mary I.

4. Which English possession was captured by the French on 7th January, 1558? (clue: it's not far away)
Calais, which had been in English hands since 1347. On its recapture, Mary I is reported to have said "When I am dead and opened, you shall find Philip (her husband) and Calais lying in my heart"Holinshed's Chronicles, IV (1808).

5. February 13th, 1608 is the 400th anniversary of the death of one of Tudor England's richest and most influential women. Who?
Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, or Bess of Hardwick, builder of "Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall."

6. How is Rembrandt's 1642 painting, The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch better known?
The Night Watch, the most famous painting in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum.

7. Which English statesman died 350 years ago on 3rd September, 1658?
Oliver Cromwell, a somewhat controversial figure, especially in Ireland.

8. Which cuvee of champagne is named after a 17th century Benedicine monk?
Dom Perignon. nb. you have to be of legal drinking age to access the website!

9. July 11th 2008 is the 300th anniversary of Marlborough's third major victory over the French in 1708. Where?
The Battle of Oudenarde in Flanders. The future King George II of England took part in the battle as part of the "Hanover Horse" cavalry on the English side.

10. Which dish is said to have been first cooked by Napoleon's chef following the battle in 1800 it is named after.
Chicken Marengo. For the authentic recipe you should cut up the chicken with a sabre!

06 January, 2008

Christmas Quiz ..... slightly late

The December edition of the BBC History magazine has a Christmas Quiz....here is selection of questions with an Early Modern bias:

1. What did Henry VII do with Yorkist imposter Lambert Simnel after capturing him in 1487?

2. 2008 is the 500th anniversary of the birth of one of history's most influential architects, born in Padua in 1508. Who was it?

3. Which Tudor queen had a pomegranate as a badge?

4. Which English possession was captured by the French on 7th January, 1558? (clue: it's not far away)

5. February 13th, 1608 is the 400th anniversary of the death of one of Tudor England's richest and most influential women. Who?

6. How is Rembrandt's 1642 painting, The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch better known?

7. Which English statesman died 350 years ago on 3rd September, 1658?

8. Which cuvee of champagne is named after a 17th century Benedicine monk?

9. July 11th 2008 is the 300th anniversary of Marlborough's third major victory over the French in 1708. Where?

10. Which dish is said to have been first cooked by Napoleon's chef following the battle in 1800 it is named after.

Answers tomorrow, and a Happy New Year to all readers of this blog.