Alice’s Restaurant

September 11, 2007

A Case of the Georges

Filed under: Guest Blogs, History, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:02 pm

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.



March 25, 2007

Mr. Al’s first Tudor Thingy

Filed under: Guest Blogs, Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 11:20 am

It occurs to me that some of you may not have seen Mr. Al’s first post, which he put in FanLit Forever instead of sending to me, his dear wife who specifically asked for it.  So here it is:


I don’t know what happened, I’ve been possessed by an imp or something. No one is willing to talk movies so now you all are gonna get a history lesson! You brought it on yourselves. Grin

The Henry story went like this. Henry was married to Catherine of Aragon. From Henrys viewpoint, things just weren’t working out. He sought an annulment on the grounds that the marriage wasn’t legal from the get -go because Catherine was the widow of his older brother. The Bible, Henry pointed out, forbade such a union. The fact that this was pointed out to Henry, repeatedly, by influential persons, before he married her only convinced Henry that he was onto a winning strategy.

But there was a hitch.

His problem with Catherine was that she had not, and apparently could not, produce a male heir. This was a pet project of Henry’s that he was, perhaps, a bit more attached too than was wise. They did have a child, a girl, Mary. But that wasn’t good enough for Henry. He wanted a son.
He wanted to put Catherine aside in favor of a woman who could give what he wanted.
Henry was so fixated on a male heir that he had apparently forgotten that girls could become supreme monarchs. There had never before been an English queen as sole monarch, but there was no law against it. As there was in France. A lot of people seemed to have overlooked that legal tidbit. But there was one fellow who hadn’t.

Charles the V had ascended the throne of Holy Roman Emperor. Charles was also Catherine’s nephew. While he bore his aunt no great affection, he WAS rather attached to the idea of her remaining queen. Should Henry choke on his roast beef during one of his legendary food orgies, his cousin Mary would become Supreme Monarch of England. There was a first time for everything, Charles reasoned. And he had English law on his side. Even if the English didn’t realize it. Charles was opposed to a divorce. In a perfect world this would not have mattered because Charles was only an emperor, not the Pope. And the Pope was the fellow Henry had to win over.

But there was a hitch.

Pope Clement the VII was a reasonable man on the issue of royal divorces. Henry also had a legal precedent on his side in the form of the divorce of Louis the XII of France and Margaret of Scotland. With the other issues, Cardinal Wolsey assured Henry, that the whole matter was a done deal. And not a moment too soon for Henry, because he had his eye on a Sweet Young Thing he had met in France.

Anne Boleyn has been portrayed by historians as everything from a complete naïf who got in over her head, to an arch-schemer who seduced Henry and manipulated him to her own ends. Neither is true. She met Henry while serving as a lady in waiting to the queen of France The occasion was the meeting of Henry and King Francis on the Field of Cloth of Gold. The meeting was held in the hope that it would reduce tensions between England and France, so they could concentrate on that pushy emperor, Charles.

She must have had something special to have caught Henry’s attention. Perhaps her witty repartee,
“Oh Henry, you scoundrel, is that a cod in your codpiece, or are you just happy to see me?”
(She didn’t really say that.)
But catch his attention she did! And Henry convinced himself that she was the ticket to the boy babies he wanted so badly. All he had to do was get rid of Cathy. And that’s where the hitch developed. Pope Clement was ready to fix things, but before he could, King Francis and Charles got into a spat. Clement backed Francis, Francis lost. Charles invaded Italy and made his army at home outside the Vatican. OOPS. At this point, Cardinal Wolsey sends a friendly letter to Clement reminding him to take care of the little matter they had discussed earlier. This put Clement in a very uncomfortable position. I imagine the conversation went something like this;

I know you object to Henry divorcing your aunt. I understand completely! Believe me, no one hates divorce like I do! But in this one instance, perhaps you could see your way clear too…


The thing is, we’re all adults here. Let’s be reasonable and admit to certain realities…

(At this point one of Cement’s servants plummets past his office window, screaming the whole way. There is a dull thud. The screaming stops.)

Who knew the Vatican could be such a dangerous place? What were you saying, Pope?


Henry didn’t get what he wanted from the Vatican. This was an unpleasant surprise for Henry. It was even more unpleasant for Cardinal Wolsey, who had staked everything, and I do mean everything, on securing the divorce for Henry. With the divorce off, Wolsey was not only out of a job, he was living on borrowed time. And with Wolsey out of the way, the anti-ecclesiastical party suddenly found itself coming in from the cold. They had a plan, a rather bold plan, that would not only secure Henry the divorce he wanted, but destroy the influence of the Catholic Church in England forever.
These gentlemen were Protestants. What Henry gave them underlines the adage; “Be careful what you wish for.”

I hope you enjoyed this little history lesson. I left rather a lot of detail out, couldn’t be helped. Had I gone into detail it would have taken up more space than anyone would be comfortable with. As a postscript, let me just add, Henry married Anne, She did not produce the boy he wanted, they had a girl, Elizabeth. Henry was not pleased and chopped Anne’s head off so he could try again with another hapless female. And the rest is history.

Thank you Mr. Al


March 24, 2007

Guest Blog with Mr. Al: The Tudors

Filed under: Guest Blogs, Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al — aliceaudrey @ 2:56 pm

Some time ago I asked Mr. Al to provide me with a guest blog- something having to do with marriage in history, his choice.  He came up with a wonderful bit about Henry the VIII which he promptly posted over in FanLit Forever!  Harumph.  This is his sequiel to it. 


Some persons have made it known that they enjoyed my previous post on the Tudor follies. I was and am tickled pink that so many, all six or seven of you, found the reading worthwhile. As a result, I have decided to continue on the subject. I would have posted something earlier had I not fallen into a very old, yet still effective, procrastination trap. I had to do more research.

Let me say at the outset that I take a back seat to no one in my admiration for research. Not only is it entertaining in it’s own right, it is also necessary. But…(There’s always a “but”) it can often become a seductive trap. It works, as all good seductions do, because the writer wants to be seduced. Nothing like a little “research” to justify staying away from the keyboard. And you are learning sooooo much!

Enough. Back to the subject. Henry had a number of problems that cropped up as a result of his solution to his marital difficulties. One was that Catherine was not going to be put aside without a fight. She had powerful friends, both in England and on the continent. She intended to use them. Henry’s biblical fig leaf justifying his actions, that the Bible forbade a man marrying his brothers widow suffered a setback when Catherine made it known that that particular injunction didn’t apply to her since Arthur, Henry’s brother, never consummated the marriage. It would seem that Arthur wasn’t…er…into girls. Alas, for Catherine, that wasn’t the only card Henry had to play.

That line was rendered moot when he decided he didn’t need the Pope’s permission after all! Not if he broke with the Catholic Church and had himself declared the supreme head of a brand spank’n new Church of England! Since he would be the sole authority on church doctrine. Royal divorces would be A-Okay! It was a win/win situation for Henry.

But there was a hitch.

Many of the men who backed Henry in his plan to break with Rome did so because they were Protestants. It was still very illegal to be Protestant in England. While Henry may have had his differences with Rome, he was NOT ready to embrace the reformation. In his heart of hearts, Henry was Catholic. These men had to proceed carefully. They envisioned a full-blown reformation in England…eventually. For the time being they had to hide their Protestant beliefs and play up the other benefits of the deal, English autonomy in matters of faith, money, Henry as pontiff, money, all that Catholic property that would belong to the king, money, Henry getting to marry Anne, money, ecclesiastic courts brought under the jurisdiction of the crown, money, So on and so forth. The fact that Henry and his councilors had VERY different ideas as to what the final product of Henry’s ambition would look like meant serious trouble for the English people after Henrys death.

What made any of this possible was that England was ready for a reformation. While most Englishmen were Catholic, the Church had been abusing its authority in England as badly as it had been on the continent. People were getting fed up with the corruption that was not only sending their money to Rome, but more importantly, was endangering their souls! How could illiterate priests offer salvation when they could not even read the Bible to their largely illiterate congregations on Sunday? Badly trained priests who muddled through the sacraments, who couldn’t even perform last rites properly were worse than useless. They were dangerous!

The fact that progressive Catholics in England and elsewhere were trying, desperately, to reform the Church from within was not cutting any ice with the men and women who had discovered a new way to be Christian. The idea behind the reformation was very simple. Direct communion with God through the reading of scripture. Each man and woman is responsible for his/ her OWN salvation. Salvation would come through accepting Christ into one’s life and through living a Christian life as directed by Gods revealed word. No priests, no cardinals, no masses or images of saints. Indeed, so virulent was the iconoclasm that an enormous amount of ecclesiastic art was lost forever to the bonfires of the “reformers”

It wasn’t only the Catholic Church that had a problem with this. Henry wasn’t real thrilled with it either. If the king was to be head of a new Church of England he couldn’t have his subjects running around thinking they didn’t need any church at all! Where’s the percentage in that? Henry wanted the members of HIS church to tow the line! But that would come later. What he wanted most at the moment, he got. Catherine was no longer his wife. And not a moment too soon because Henry was in no mood to wait around for the ink to dry on the divorce decree. Anne was very pregnant before the lovebirds were officially married at the end of January 1533.

If Henry’s actions were giving Pope Clement ulcers, and he had a full dance card as it was, they were giving Emperor Charles reason to think an invasion of England might be pleasing unto the Lord. But not right away. France was still a problem for Charles, which made gallivanting off to England problematic. Besides, Catherine had not been deprived of her property. Mary was still head of the line of succession, for the time being. As long as Mary’s position was unchanged, Charles felt a bit of saber rattling and strongly worded letters to Henry regarding his aunts, and Mary’s, well being would suffice. He was also keeping a very close watch on the situation through his ambassadors/spies in Henrys court. Any guy who would break with Rome and set up his OWN church was capable of ANYTHING! Who knew what he might do next?

I hope to have the next installment done before we have to leave for Belize. Thanks again for being loyal readers and you can drop change into the coffee can next to the door on your way out.


Thank you Mr. Al. 


January 27, 2007

Post Cards From the Better Half

Filed under: Guest Blogs — aliceaudrey @ 3:10 pm

My dh, also known as Mr. Al, has been making his own post cards for years.  He has an unusual sense of humor, which comes out in his cards.  For years now I have been the only one privileged enough to see these cards.  Now, in the spirit of a guest blog, I’d like to share them with you.

Warning.  He tends to be a bit irreverent.

One for Anastasia

Been there, done that.   

 Ah, California

Oh Gawd, not again

Mr. Al by way of Alice

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