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June 25, 2009
March 23, 2009
June 8, 2008
This post has been moved to: How to Lay Floor Tile Part 2: Mortar
June 1, 2008
February 11, 2008
This post has been moved to: What is eaten in one week around the world….
January 23, 2008
This post has been moved to: TT #12: Pros and Cons of Bifocals
It seems when Prince George gets tired of pretending to be bucolic and makes a run for the money he isn’t the only one cruising for a bruising. We return to Mr. Al’s weekly take on the life of George IV.
The Prince did find someone to bring the matter up before Parliament. This gentleman, Nathanial Newnham, did raise the subject of the Prince’s financial distress, but made no mention of his marital status. Prime Minister William Pitt tried to kill the subject by stating that only the King could ask Parliament for such a subsidy. His Majesty had not done so. End of discussion. Time to move on.
Mister Newnham let the matter drop for the time being. But he made it clear that he intended to bring the matter forward again, this time as a formal motion, during the May 4th session. Pitt tried to do an end run around Newnham by asking what, exactly, he intended to say? Newnham, realizing he was far out on a limb, stated that his only concern was for the Prince’s “embarrassed situation.” He would formally request that someone go to the King and ask that he place before Parliament a motion to vote money for his kid. That’s all!
Before the Prime Minster could breath a sigh of relief, up from the Tory benches rose one John Rolle, a solid Church of England squire from Devon. Mister Rolle said that the question of money for the Prince had serious implications. This was because it was “a question which went immediately to affect our constitution in Church and State.”
Uh-oh. The only question that he could possibly be referring to was, of course, the question of wither or not the Prince had married a Catholic. After a bit of hemming and hawing, throat clearing and pretending not to know what the speaker was referring to, Pitt tried to get Newnham to drop the whole matter. If Newnham did not, Pitt threatened, he might be forced to bring up the issue, “though with infinite reluctance, to the disclosure of circumstances which he should otherwise think it his duty to conceal.”
At this point, one of the Prince’s supporters, one who was “out of the loop” so to speak, rose to defend the Prince’s honor. Base accusations had been made! Ugly rumors were being circulated! This had to end! No, by God, they would not let the matter drop! The Prince’s own people had called Pitt’s bluff. Pitt had no more interest than the Whigs in exposing the Royal Family to such a scandal. The Tories, with more venom than foresight, were glad to help the Prince’s “supporters.”
It was Fox who would handle the matter for the Prince. What are friends for? Although Mrs Fitzherbert did not like Fox, and consequently the Prince had cooled noticeably toward him, Fox believed that a flat out declaration that the Prince had not, nor would he ever, marry Mrs Fitzherbert would best serve everyone. What could be simpler? After all, Fox believed it was the truth.
So that’s exactly what he did. On April 30 1787, Fox spoke to the House denouncing those who had spread vile rumors about his friend There was no truth, none at all, concerning a marriage between the Prince and Mrs Fitzherbert. The opposition was not convinced, but it had no proof. Fox left Parliament convinced he had done his best by his friend, his party, and his country.
Some time later, while having drinks at one of his clubs, he was approached by a gentleman who had some interesting news. “Mister Fox, I hear that you have denied in the House the Prince’s marriage to Mrs Fitzherbert. You have been misinformed. I was at the marriage.” Oh dear. Fox had been placed in a very difficult position. True, he placed himself there but that was only because his good friend the Prince had sworn on his dead granny’s Bible that he was not, and never had been married.
Fox was not the only one seeing red.
September 11, 2007
Mr. Al is back!! He kept me on tenterhooks long enough. I had to pry this out of his fingers last night. I’m so glad I did.
Early one morning in the year of our Lord 1760, George Augustus, King George the Second of England, went to the bathroom. Nature was not kind to him on this fateful morning. Exerting himself above and beyond, he suffered a stroke and died on a rather different type of throne.
Waiting in the wings was his grandson, George William Frederick, Now King George the Third. The reason his grandson inherited the title rather than the son is because the son was already dead The son, Frederick, had survived into adulthood and had become Prince of Wales, for a while. As Hanover boys were wont to do, he had become a royal millstone around his father’s neck. The focal point of political opposition to his majesty, Frederick reveled in anything that made his father miserable. .
Said his mum, “If I was to see him in hell, I should feel no more for him than I should any other rogue that ever went there.”
Dad felt the need to reprimand her for being too soft on the lad. Fortunately, Fred went out to play tennis one day in disagreeable weather. He caught a chill and died. His title passed to his son. Sayth one historian, “When George was thirteen, his absurd father died.” Things didn’t really improve from there.
Two years into his new job, on August 12, 1762, George the Third’s incredibly fecund wife, Charlotte, gave birth to their first child. The Earl of Huntington, exceeding his authority, he was only the Groom of the Stole, not the Queen’s Chamberlain, ran off to be the first to tell the King that he was the father of a bouncing baby girl. The king, anxious for his Queen’s health, raced to the scene to discover that she was doing just fine. He also discovered that he was the father of a bouncing baby boy. The Earl was sacked, but the die was cast. Misunderstandings and miscommunication would be the rule rather than the exception between father and son henceforward.
It didn’t help that the two were as different as night and day. Although this did not come to fore until the Prince was a teenager. George the Third, perhaps feeling the sting of his own lack of a proper education, decided the Prince would not be found wanting in this department. The Prince’s early tutors were able enough, if somewhat obscure and unimaginative. “A formal piece of dullness.” Was Horace Walpole’s verdict on one of them, Robert D’Arcy, Fourth Earl of Holderness. Fortunately, the Earl became ill and traveled to the continent to take the waters.
He kept up a steady stream of letters filled with advice, but left the day to day job of educating the Prince and his brother, Frederick, to one Leonard Smelt and the Prince’s Preceptor, Doctor William Markham. Smelt, an army engineer, was a talented artist and a great lover of literature. Markham, who would one day become Bishop of Chester, was a somewhat pompous fellow who enjoyed hob-nobbing with the rich and powerful. But for all that, he knew what to teach.
Alas, as he would discover when his boss, D’Arcy, returned from the continent, he didn’t seem to have a grasp on HOW to teach the Prince and his brother. D’Arcy had definite ideas in that department. Rather medieval ideas, as we shall see. But before I can tell you about that, You’ll need to know a bit more about Mum and Dad and the way they saw the world.
Thank you, Mr. Al . I love it already.
August 28, 2007
Just when we thought Katherine was bound for execution, she stop screaming and got smart. Lets see if Wriothesley faired as well. Take it away, Mr. Al. ****Henry, Katherine and assorted hangers-on were gambolling in the royal gardens when Wriothesley showed up with forty Tower guards in tow. Most likely Katherine and the ladies were gambolling. Henry’s gambolling days were a very distant memory by then. Henry took the Lord Chancellor aside and read him the riot act. Trick me into believing my loving wife was a heretic, eh? Bamboozle me into burning my Queen at the stake, huh? You never did like her; you and Gardiner. Get the hell out of my garden and take these goons with you or I’ll give ‘em a new set of orders!
Wriothesley dropped to his knees and begged Henry’s forgiveness. Fat chance! Lord Chancellor Wriothesley scurried away with his tail between his legs. Katherine was the picture of innocent astonishment when Henry returned. “Golly Snookems, what was THAT all about? How come the Lord Chancellor had all those Tower guys with him?” As angry as Henry was, the warrant DID have his signature on it. Tricked or not, it was kinda hard to explain. Henry decided the best explanation was none at all. He said nothing about the warrant. He told her it was all a misunderstanding. It was a guy thing and as the Head Guy, he’d deal with it. Katherine and the ladies could go back to gambolling. Which they did with joyous hearts.
In the end, no action was taken by Henry against either Wriothesley or Gardiner. And these gentlemen never bothered the Queen again either. More importantly, the Queen never argued with Henry again. Her ladies were forbidden to own, disseminate, acknowledge, discuss or even whisper about ANYTHING even vaguely heretical. Upon pain of instant dismissal. Everyone conformed, with a capital “C” to Henry’s church. She was still a closet Lutheran, of course. But she was so far back in the closet that no one would openly suspect her. Till the day Henry died, she was the Dutiful Wife Extraordinaire.
As the summer of 1546 moved into autumn, Henry’s health began to seriously deteriorate. Between the pustular ulcer on his leg and his great weight, Henry couldn’t move without the use of a specially designed chair with a built in crane, Henry knew he was dying. He wasn’t afraid to face it. He made out a detailed will and set up Edward’s Regency Council. Henry had always been a realist when it came to politics. He saw how England was changing, how it was moving in an undeniably Protestant direction. The Protestants would change his church, but the Catholics would destroy it utterly. Accordingly, he appointed men to the Council who held Protestant sympathies. He also took care to appoint Protestant tutors for Edward.
Wriothesley and Gardiner were appointed. Henry knew them well enough to know what they wanted above all else was power. They would amend their religious beliefs once they realized they might loose their jobs if they didn’t. This would also protect Katherine. Henry knew what she really believed, even though everyone had to pretend otherwise. In as much as Henry was capable of loving anyone, he seemed to have truly loved Katherine. For her part, Henry’s approaching demise genuinely upset Katherine.
He left Katherine something to remember him by. Jewels, plate and household goods for the rest of her life. He also left her his entire wardrobe. While this might seem odd to the modern reader, it should be remembered that fancy clothing in those days often had jewels sewn into them. They also had much embroidery work with gold and silver thread. The satin and silk fabrics were worth a considerable sum by themselves. She also received 1,000 pounds cash, the return of her dowry and whatever properties Parliament saw fit to bestow upon her. They were very generous.
Henry had done about all he could do to be prepared. The fact that the Regency Council would ignore some of Henry’s wishes before his body was cold should not be surprising. With Wriothesley and Gardiner on the Council, Katherine was banished from the court. She received her due, but they did not want her around Edward. They didn’t seem to care if Mary and Elizabeth hung out with her. They should have.
Eventually Elizabeth would enter Katherine’s household. She was thirteen. Elizabeth and Katherine would both live to regret this, but Katherine’s new hubby, Lord High Admiral Sir Thomas Seymour, would not. It is still a matter of debate how much Sir Thomas’s “attentions” toward Elizabeth affected her as concerns men and marriage; But that’s another story altogether. Suffice it to say that the Tudor follies continued. Edward was king and the Protestant reformation, begun in secret, was now moving into the open. Unfortunately for the Protestant cause, Edward would not be long on the throne.
With his death, his half-sister Mary would become Supreme Monarch. Mary moved with an implacable will to restore the Catholic Church. It would be a very dark period in England’s history. Much else in Henry’s will was ignored by the Council in the power struggle that followed his death. They fought over who would have the most access to nine year old Edward. More importantly, they fought over who would give orders in the King’s name. It became an unholy mess.
One thing was clear however; the people of London were grief stricken at Henry’s passing. As displeased as they were with Henry from time to time, they loved him all the same. Henry was a Londoner, one of them. He spent much of his time there and was proud to call it his city. When Henry died, quietly and in bed, on January 28, 1547, the city was plunged into mourning. It most certainly was not the end of the Tudor follies, but it was the end of the man. And with his passing, the end of an age.
Le Roi Est Mort! Vive Le Roi!
And thus ends Mr. Al’s take on the wives of Henry the Eighth.
Mr. Al assures me he will be ready to start up his take on the Georges very soon. I’d like to start them in September, but that’s only a few days away. If I can, I’ll be posting them in Wednesdays.
August 23, 2007
Forget Rednecks, here is what Jeff Foxworthy has to say about folks from
If someone in a Lowe’s store offers you assistance and they don’t work
there, you may live in Texas
If you’ve worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you may live in Texas .
If you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a
wrong number, you may live in Texas .
If “Vacation” means going anywhere south of Dallas for the weekend, you may
live in Texas .
If you measure distance in hours, you may live in Texas .
If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you may live
in Texas .
If you install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both
unlocked, you may live in Texas .
If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them,
you may live in Texas .
If the speed limit on the highway is 55 mph — you’re going 80 and
everybody s passing you, you may live in Texas .
If you find 60 degrees “a little chilly”, you may live in Texas .
If you actually understand these jokes, and forward them to all your Texas
friends & others, you definitely live in Texas .