Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Hannah Lightfoot, “The Fair Quakeress”- Historical Hoax?

by Lauren Gilbert

Portrait of A Lady-Attributed to Sir Joshua Reynolds,
this may be a portrait of Hannah Lightfoot.

Historical hoaxes crop up from time to time. Examples ranging from the Piltdown Man in England (here) to Francis Drake’s Plate (here) in the US and others abound. Some are found to be pranks, some deliberate hoaxes. Then there are stories about people and personal relationships. They start with whispers, then printed hints and finally, hey presto! We now have full blown “history”. Gossip? Undoubtedly. True? No one really knows. Sometimes there simply aren’t enough known facts to determine the answer. A case in point is the story of Hannah Lightfoot and the very young Prince of Wales who became George III.


Young George, Prince of Wales, saw Hannah Lightfoot’s beautiful, unblemished face through a window (or maybe at a masquerade) and fell immediately in love with her sometime in 1753, and she with him. At some point, they began a passionate affair. She married Isaac Axford in December of 1753, and was snatched from the doors of the church (or maybe 6 weeks later) by the prince (or by the prince’s mother’s orders), who took her to live in one of the royal residences or another residence connected with the royal family. One particularly lurid account has the prince and Hannah in a coach pursued up the turnpike by Mr. Axford. George cleared the tolls by shouting “Royal Family”(1) at the tollkeepers, while poor Mr. Axford had to stop and pay each toll, ultimately losing the couple.

There is also an account that George was married to Hannah in the spring of 1759 by James Wilmot. They had at least one child (some accounts list 3, and the story has grown to a point where there seems to have been many children). When King George II died in October of 1760, Prince George’s mother and Lord Bute convinced him of the need to make a marriage of state to a royal princess, and he bigamously married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Hannah and her child(ren) left. Some accounts place her in South Africa, others in America. Some sources indicate that Charlotte found out about this previous marriage; she insisted on being married again to George III in 1765 (again by James Wilmot), supposedly after the death of Hannah in 1764.



George III as Prince of Wales by Jean-Etienne Liotard, painted 1754

George was born June 4, 1738, the second child and oldest son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his wife Augusta, Princess of Saxe-Gotha. He was the grandson of King George II and Queen Caroline. He was born two months prematurely and tended carefully so that he became a healthy child. Prince Frederick was interested in the arts, sciences, writing and sports, and was quite involved with his children’s education. George and his younger brother Edward studied with Rev. Ayscough, learning to read and write both English and German well. It is likely that, thanks to Prince Frederick’s interests, they had exposure to literature, including Jonathon Swift and Alexander Pope, music, including the work of Bononcini and Handel, and fine art, thanks to Frederick’s personal collection, which included works by Van Dyck, Rubens and Breughel. Frederick also played with his children when he was available.

When he was age 11, a new tutor, George Lewis Scott, was assigned to George. He and his brother also were appointed a governor, Lord North. Their schedule expanded to include Latin and Greek, with a work day that started at 8:00 in the morning and continued until bedtime (between 9:00 and 10:00 at night), 6 days per week. On Sundays, they attended church multiple times and studied religion with Dr. Ayscough in the time available. (This schedule is outlined in Christopher Hibbert’s biography of George III.) This schedule was maintained, wherever they were in residence, until Prince Frederick died suddenly on March 31, 1751. George became the heir apparent at age 12.

Because of the antipathy George II had felt for Frederick, changes were made in the children’s household to get rid of those appointed by Frederick. Lord Harcourt replaced Lord North and Dr. Thomas Haytor. George’s studies continued, including Latin, mathematics, trigonometry, algebra, history, sciences, etc. He had a music master, drawing master, dancing master, fencing master, riding master, and went to outside lectures as well. He was shy, reserved and somewhat melancholy. Still living with his mother Princess Augusta, George came under the influence of Lord Bute, who had many political enemies. When George turned 18 in 1756, George II offered George his own household, but George refused, choosing to stay with his mother. His education continued, with interests expanding into agriculture, architecture and international trade. He received input from conflicting sources regarding current affairs and politics, but placed a lot of trust in Lord Bute.

Prince George turned 21 in June of 1759, at which point (according to Stella Tilyard in Aristocrats), he was still a virgin(2). In November 1759, Prince George took his seat in the House of Lords. Also in November of 1759, Sarah Lennox (one of the famous Lennox sisters) arrived at Holland House in London. She was almost 15 years old. She was presented at court in late November and met Prince George again. Sarah was known to the King and the royal family. She had participated in Protestant Irish society, so was more socially sophisticated than the Prince. Prince George apparently fell in love with Sarah immediately. Sarah was much admired at court. In addition to coping with his passion for Sarah, Prince George was also trying to convince his grandfather George II to give him something more to do politically. Somewhere around this time, he confessed to Lord Bute that he was interested in girls, Sarah in particular. Since Prince George was expected to marry for state reasons, his interest in Sarah was not encouraged.

Although Prince George yearned for Sarah, and it appears he asked her to marry him at least once, nothing came of this romance. On October 25, 1760, King George II died, making George king. Meetings with Lord Bute, William Pitt, Cabinet ministers and government business dominated the new king’s time. George III ultimately married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz on September 8, 1761. They were crowned king and queen together on September 22, 1761. In spite of his passion for Sarah Lennox, George III was devoted to his wife almost from the beginning, and to their family (they had 15 children.)


Hannah Lightfoot was the daughter of Matthew Lightfoot, a shoemaker by some accounts, and Mary Wheeler his wife, and was born in approximately 1730. Matthew died in 1732 or 1733. The Lightfoots and Wheelers were members of the Society of Friends. Mary’s brother Henry Wheeler, a linendraper, took Hannah and her mother into his home at some point. Accounts indicate he had a shop in St. James’s Market that was apparently not far from the Opera House and Pall Mall. Most accounts indicate Hannah was expected to work for or with her uncle in the family business. On December 11, 1753, Hannah married Isaac Axford, a grocer, in Dr. Keith’s marriage chapel in Mayfair. Isaac’s parents were Baptists (although other family members may have been members of the Society of Friends). The records of the Westminster Society of Friends indicate Hannah was expelled from the society in 1756 for being married by a priest to a non-member. Data indicates she had left and could not be contacted.

In 1757, a man named Robert Pearne of Isleworth left a will leaving Hannah (Mrs. Hannah Axford, formerly Miss Hannah Lightfoot) an annuity of 40 pounds per year. Mr. Pearne was reportedly a wealthy, single man with property in England and Antigua.  He may, or may not, have been known to Hannah's family.  No one really knows why he left her the annuity.  (I saw nothing to indicate anyone has discovered if it were claimed.)  Isaac Axford, claiming to be a widower, remarried in December of 1759. Hannah’s mother, Mary Wheeler Lightfoot, made a will in January of 1760 leaving her property to Hannah, stating she had not heard from her daughter in 2 years and did not know if she were alive or dead. Mary died in May of 1760. By all accounts that I have read indicate Hannah disappeared shortly after her marriage in December of 1753. To date, there is no indication that a date, place or cause of death has been established for her.


In 1753, George, Prince of Wales, was 15 years old and engaged with studies 6 days a week under the supervision of a governor, tutors and multiple masters, as well as his mother and Lord Bute, with Sundays equally occupied with multiple church attendances and religious studies. In 1753, Hannah would have been somewhere between approximately 23 years old, a member of a conservative and devout religious sect, and probably working in her uncle’s shop. There is no indication of any contemporary gossip of the prince being involved with any girl at this time in his life. Frankly, I don’t know when he would have had the time or the opportunity. It also does not seem likely that a young woman working for her keep in her uncle’s shop would have had much spare time to carry on a flirtation with passing royalty.

There is no contemporary record indicating a meeting between George and Hannah or of Hannah’s presence in any of the royal residences or of any gossip concerning the prince’s romance with Hannah. (One would think that someone would have noticed, given the intense supervision to which the prince was subjected.) I think that a mad flight up the turnpike would have been noted somewhere. The idea that a 15-year old Prince of Wales could organize such an event without getting caught by one or more of his many minders also seems wildly improbable.

We do know that by the end of 1759, George was madly in love with and wanted to marry Sarah Lennox. This seems completely out of character if he were in fact happily ensconced in a family relationship with Hannah and a child or children. After his grandfather’s death October 25, 1760, he was occupied with matters of state and forming a government as king, working closely with Lord Bute and his mother. He was married to Charlotte September 22, 1761. A letter was written by Lady Sophia Egerton to her uncle William Bentinck (who became the Duke of Portland) in December of 1759 that indicated that George had kept a beautiful Quaker, had a child by her, and she was dead. The Quaker in question was not named. There is nothing to indicate where she got the story, and there is no indication of similar stories in other sources. The timing is certainly odd, given the then-Prince’s known feelings for Sarah Lennox. I have not been able to find the full text of this letter, and I’ve seen no discussion regarding the existence and the validity or otherwise of this letter.

Subsequently, no rumors concerning a romance between Hannah and the Prince of Wales surfaced until the 1770’s, when an account was published that the prince had had this relationship, after which they popped up occasionally. By this time, George had been king and a contented family man for at several years. While it has been noted that George III was aware of and respected the Society of Friends, no evidence indicates this viewpoint on a personal relationship with an affair with a young woman. From 1779 until 1820, the story did not appear to be in circulation. In 1817, a woman named Olive Wilmot Serres contacted the Prince of Wales, claiming to be the daughter of the Duke of Cumberland.  After the death of George III, she revised her story to say she was the legitimate daughter of the Duke of Cumberland.  Such documentation of the relationship between George and Hannah that has been located include marriage certificates indicating that a marriage was performed between George and Hannah by James Wilmot in Curzon Street Chapel in either April or May of 1759 (apparently there are 2 certificates, each with a different date) and a will signed in 1762 by Hannah Regina appeared in a case filed by the illegitimate daughter of Olive Serres in a last attempt to establish that her mother was Princess Olive, daughter of the Duke of Cumberland and petitioned King George III for a pension. (For Princess Olive’s story go HERE and HERE  and in THE GREAT PRETENDERS shown in Sources below). The royal family contested Olive's allegations and, after Olive's death, her daughter Lavinia took the case to court in 1866. The documents (including those related to Hannah Lightfoot and George III) were finally pronounced at best suspicious, probably forgeries. (There are indications that George III’s oldest son, George IV, spread the story, using it to tease Queen Charlotte about the legitimacy of her marriage to his father.(3))  It is worth noting that the chapel where the wedding of George and Hannah allegedly occurred in 1759 was closed in 1754.(4)   The story grew throughout the Victorian era. There is also no evidence linking the portrait shown, attributed to  Joshua Reynolds, to Hannah Lightfoot Axford.  It is a portrait of a woman in an elegant gown, not in Quaker attire.  (There is a similar portrait, painted in 1756 by Joshua Reynolds, hanging at Knole, titled "Miss Axford, "The Fair Quakeress", also in fashionable garb.)  Either or both portraits could be portraits of Miss Ann Axford, who was not a Quaker but a member of a well-to-do family of grocers in Ludgate Hill. 

While Hannah Lightfoot Axford did exist, and did disappear sometime after her marriage to Isaac Axford on December 11, 1753, there is nothing linking her disappearance to the then-Prince of Wales. The inheritance of an annuity in 1757 from Robert Pearne would indicate other possibilities. Is it completely impossible that, at some point, she may have met George? No. I do however, feel a relationship of any kind between the two would not have gone unnoticed and undocumented, and a passionate romance that included living together and producing a child (or several) without any contemporary record does seem impossible to me.


(1) Bondeson, Jan. THE GREAT PRETENDERS The True Stories behind Famous Historical Mysteries. P. 175.

(2) Tilyard, Stella. ARISTOCRATS. P. 112

(3) Hampden, John Jr. THE ARISTOCRACY OF ENGLAND A History for the People. P. 204.

(4) Bondeson, Jan.  Op. Cit. P. 181


Bondeson, Jan. THE GREAT PRETENDERS The True Stories behind Famous Historical Mysteries. 2004: W. W. Norton & Co., New York.

Hibbert, Christopher. GEORGE III A Personal History. 1998: Viking of Penguin Books. Reprinted by Basic Books, a Member of the Perseus Books Group, New York.

Pendered, Mary Lucy. THE FAIR QUAKER Hannah Lightfoot and Her Relations with George III. 1911: D. Appleton and Co., New York. Kessenger Legacy Reprint.  (historical book reprint including imperfections) in my possession.

Tilyard, Stella. ARISTOCRATS. 1994: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.

Archive.org. Doran, Dr. LIVES OF THE QUEENS OF ENGLAND. Second Edition in Two Volumes. Vol. II. . 1855: Richard Bentley, London. HERE

Chest of Books. “True Love Stories of Famous People-29. King George III and Hannah Lightfoot” from EveryWoman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-1912.  HERE

GoogleBooks. Ashdown-Hill, John. ROYAL MARRIAGE SECRETS: Consorts & Concubines, Bigamists and Bastards. 2013: History Press. (Preview)  HERE

GoogleBooks. Hampden, John Junior (annotated William Howiitt). THE ARISTOCRACY OF ENGLAND A History for the People. 1856: Chapman Brothers, London.   HERE
Wikipedia.  "Olive Serres"(last edited 30 June 2017). No author or date provided. HERE
Joshua Reynolds' Portrait of Hannah: HERE
Liotard's portrait of George: HERE
Imaginary portrait of Hannah is the frontispiece from Mary Lucy Pendered's THE FAIR QUAKER Hannah Lightfoot, and Her Relations with George III (1911) as reprinted by Kessinger Legacy Reprints, p. vii. in my possession.  (THE MYSTERIES OF THE COURT OF LONDON by G. W. M. Reynolds, from which she obtained this portrait, was a "penny dreadful" published in 1849 by J. Dicks.)


Lauren Gilbert lives in Florida and is a long-time member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. An obsessive reader, she has been writing since childhood, and achieved her dream of publishing a book with HEYERWOOD: A Novel in 2011. She is working on her second novel A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT. Visit her website HERE for more information.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Editors Weekly Round-up, February 25, 2018

by the EHFA Editors

Join us on the blog every week for wonderful posts on various aspects of British history. Enjoy our weekly round-up:

by Kim Rendfeld

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Queen Ælfflæd: A Bride Worth Killing Over

By Kim Rendfeld

Today we know little about Ælfflæd, except that kings wanted to her to marry their sons.

She was the daughter of deposed Mercian King Ceolwulf, who claimed to descend from the legendary Penda’s brother. Apparently, that pedigree made her a desirable bride.

Ælfflæd’s birth and death dates are unknown. Not a surprise consider the dearth of information about 9th century Mercia. She lived in turbulent times. In a span of 54 years, there were 10 kings. The realm faced danger from Viking raids and power struggles within.

Her uncle Cenwulf succeeded Offa’s son, Ecgfrith, who died in December 796, maybe not of natural causes. Offa had a reputation for ruthlessness, but Cenwulf was no Mr. Nice Guy. Early in his reign, he suppressed a rebellion in Kent and had its leader blinded and his hands chopped off. He released his crippled rival to Winchcombe, an abbey and center of power. His daughter, Cwenthryth, was abbess of Winchcombe and Minster in Thanet in Kent. (Rumors of Cwenthryth ordering the murder of her brother, later revered as a martyr, are likely apocryphal.)

Cenwulf died without male heirs in 821, passing the throne to Ælfflæd’s father, Ceolwulf. If she was at court as a child, it was not for long. Although anointed in 822, Ceolwulf was deposed only a year later, and we don’t know why.

Coins from Ceolwulf's reign (The Portable
Antiquities Scheme/The Trustees of
the British Museum, CC BY-SA 2.0,
via Wikimedia Commons}

His successors fared no better. Beornwulf, perhaps a descendant of rival family to Offa, died in 826, at the hands of East Angles. Then Ludeca died the next year, also in battle against the East Angles.

Wiglaf ascended to the throne in 827. He was deposed by Wessex King Ecgberht in 829 but resumed his reign in 830. After that scare, Wiglaf might have realized he needed some help if he didn’t want to wind up like the last two rulers. Beornwulf, Ludeca, and Wiglaf might have been regional rulers—they could seize the throne but couldn’t secure the support of all Mercian factions. Wiglaf needed an alliance, and marriage between noble families was one way to forge that. His son Wigmund was the eligible bachelor and the father looked to Ælfflæd.

Why Ælfflæd, the daughter of a deposed king? For one thing, she might have been wealthy and controlled a lot of land. She was the sole heiress for her father and, after Cwenthryth passed, her uncle. Perhaps, Mercians still held a high regard for her ancestors, and she had friends through the kingdom.

History is silent on whether Ælfflæd immediately supported the union and her family’s return of power or required persuasion. It’s not too much of a stretch to think she welcomed the offer. Medieval women were expected to manage assets and wield influence in Church and secular politics. I suspect Ælfflæd, much like another woman with the same name, was quite capable.

We don’t know how well Wigmund and Ælfflæd got along. They had a son, Wigstan. Whether they had another son, Ceolwulf, is uncertain. If there was a second child named after his maternal grandfather, that says a lot about Ælfflæd and her importance.

You might have noticed part of the father’s name often appears in the names of his children, both sons and daughters. Ælfflæd seems to be an exception. There’s no way to know for certain, but it is possible she had been named for Saint Ælfflæd, an influential abbess of Whitby who had died in the previous century. Ceolwulf’s parents might have wanted to remind the people of another king, either Ælfflæd’s father or an 8th century saint who was king of Northumbria.

Wiglaf ruled for another 10 years, a long time in this period. Exactly who succeed him and when is in dispute, but here’s what I suspect. The crown passed to Wigmund, who ruled another nine years until his death.

Crypt at Repton (public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

According to legend, Wigmund’s son Wigstan preferred the religious life to ruling the kingdom and appointed his mother regent. If Ceolwulf was his brother, why didn’t the crown pass to him? Was Ceolwulf too young?

Wigstan’s kinsman Beorhtfrith wanted to wed the widowed Ælfflæd. Politically, this would have made sense. The marriage would reconcile two noble families who had been at odds. (Given the similarity of names Beorhtwulf and Beornwulf, it is likely the two were related.) It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Ælfflæd still young enough to bear children.

But Wigstan forbid the marriage—or persuaded his mom to refuse the offer—because of consanguinity. Beorhtfrith and a servant murdered Wigstan on June 1, 849. Interred with his father at Repton, Wigstan would later be canonized as a martyr.

We know Beornwulf, Beorhtfrith’s father, was the next king. What happened to Ælfflæd is unclear. She might have retired to Winchcombe and become its abbess. History is silent on Ælfflæd’s grief. Nor does it tell us if she prayed for Beorhtwulf’s downfall.

Beorhtwulf’s reign lasted only three years. Burgred succeeded him after a Mercian defeat at the hands of the Vikings. Then Burgred himself was ousted by Vikings in late 873 or early 874.

Ceolwulf II succeeded him. Perhaps an older man when he became king, he’s been called a puppet of Vikings, but because of his royal descent, he was acceptable to Mercians. The Vikings and the people of Wessex accepted him as the ruler of Mercia. We don’t know if Ælfflæd was alive to witness this. But if she were around, and if this Ceolwulf was his son, perhaps she felt some triumph to see royal power back in her family’s hands.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, including:
“Cenwulf” by M.K. Lawson
“Cwenthryth” by S.E. Kelly
"Beornwulf" by S.E. Kelly
"Wiglaf" by S.E. Kelly
"Wigstan [St Wigstan]" by David Rollason
"Berhtwulf [Beorhtwulf]" by S.E. Kelly
"Burgred [Burhred]" by S.E. Kelly

A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Ages Britain: England, Scotland, and Wales, C. 500-c. 1050 by Ann Williams, Alfred P. Smyth, D.P. Kirby

The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens by Mike Ashley

Kim Rendfeld has written two novels set in 8th century Europe. In The Cross and the Dragon, a Frankish noblewoman must contend with a jilted suitor and the fear of losing her husband (available on Amazon). In The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar, a Saxon peasant will fight for her children after losing everything else (available on Amazon). Her short story “Betrothed to the Red Dragon,” about Guinevere’s decision to marry Arthur, is set in early medieval Britain and available on Amazon.

Connect with Kim at on her website kimrendfeld.com, her blog, Outtakes of a Historical Novelist at kimrendfeld.wordpress.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/authorkimrendfeld, or follow her on Twitter at @kimrendfeld.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Editors Weekly Round-up, February 18, 2018

by the EHFA Editors

Never miss a post - British history across the centuries, with our round up for the week ending February 17 featuring:

Friday, February 16, 2018

In Search of Bannockburn

By Annie Whitehead

On a recent trip to Scotland I had, as is my wont, attempted to see as many historical sites as possible, and, looking at the map as we left Doune Castle (filming location for Outlander, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail) it seemed to me that a short drive would take us to Bannockburn, and since the place was marked clearly on the map, we'd be there in a matter of minutes.

I'll say no more about that, except that the words lost, minor roads, and divorce were uttered.

But, a roadside sign showed how close we were, for we had inadvertently found ourselves at the very edge of the battle site.

We had arrived on the eastern slope of Gillies Hill, where the servants, cooks, smiths - essentially the non-combatants - of Robert Bruce's army were placed for safety before the battle. It is assumed that at some point they went down the hill, nearer the fighting, but perhaps only to loot, sensing that the battle was all but won.

Bannockburn was a major engagement between the forces of King Edward II of England and Robert Bruce, thenceforth Robert I of Scotland. A short distance from Gillies Hill we could see the monument to Bruce, and we set off. Eventually we found the Visitors' Centre, down in the valley but not, necessarily, on the site of the battle.

For, although it is known that the battle commenced on 23rd and continued into 24th June, 1314, it has never been established exactly where the main fighting took place.

On 22nd June, Bruce had moved his men to the New Park, two miles south of Stirling Castle. There were trees beside the road to the castle which would make it hard for Edward II's cavalry to be deployed, while to the southwest, a place named Halbert's Bog, and rolling hills, would be protection from attack.

Stirling Castle, seen from Bannockburn
On the morning of 23rd, Edward's troops marched from Falkirk towards Stirling (a matter of some fourteen miles). Edward received word that Robert had blocked the road through the Park. Edward commanded his army to stop for a break, but, either through disobedience or confusion, the vanguard pressed on, only to be pushed back by the Scots.

Later in the day, two of Edward's knights attempted to take 300 cavalry to higher ground, but they were met by a schiltron*, which pushed them back.

Mindful of a possible night-time attack by the Scots, that night Edward decided to cross the Bannock Burn and set up camp on the far side, on the 'Carse', an area of lower ground.

This was no easy feat. They needed to erect makeshift bridges to get the horses across the water. It took a long time, with some having to wait until nearly dawn to cross.

Meanwhile, at dawn, Robert Bruce ordered an advance, as close to Edward's line as possible. First to engage were the archers, but it was the Scots who were forced to pull back first. The English cavalry lined up, as best they could in the unfavourable terrain.

The English cavalry could not get past the schiltron, led by the Earl of Moray. Unable to present more than a limited front, they could not take advantage of their superior numbers, and were further hindered by those who began to retreat, pushing them back. Sir Robert Keith successfully led the Scottish cavalry against the English archers, depriving Edward of his deadliest resources.

Hand-to-hand combat ensued, with many English soldiers being pushed back to drown in the Bannock Burn.

After the battle, Edward fled to Dunbar, and thence to Berwick. The fighting did not end there, with Scots harrying into England and Robert Bruce facing opposition still from the Balliols, in the form of John Balliol's son, Edward, but a plot against Robert in 1320 failed.

Edward II meanwhile, refused to accept Robert as king of Scotland, but in 1320 the Declaration of Arbroath , a letter (sealed by the nobles of Scotland) to Pope John XXII, asserted Robert's right to rule Scotland.

So, that's a potted history of the battle itself. But while the Visitors' Centre has a wealth of information about it, it cannot provide the answer to the question: where was the battle?

There is hardly any archaeological evidence for the battle. No human remains, no pieces of military or personal equipment, and no mass graves have been found. The fighting took place over a huge area, and this was subject to wholesale looting. The sources refer vaguely to 'the wood', the 'kirk', 'the great ditch' and even a 'dry field', hard to identify now without specific place-names.

It seems to have been agreed that the first day's fighting occurred round New Park, which roughly equates to the site of the Visitors' Centre, but argument continues about the second day, with many topographical features, such as the 'great ditch' still unidentified. Up to eight potential sites have been identified from written sources. These sources include: 
The Lancercost Chronicle, The Chronicle of Andrew of Wynton, Liber Pluscardensis, Chronica gentis Scotorum, Vita Edwardi Secundi, The Brut, or Chronicle of England, and The Anonimalle Chronicle
This is not even a complete list, yet still the site cannot be pinpointed with precision. One theory contends that the battlefield was specifically on the Carse, between the Pelstream Burn and the Bannock Burn. Another potential site is under a school and a modern housing estate. The Visitors' Centre was set up to preserve the general area, rather than commemorate a specific site, and there is a magnificent monument to Robert Bruce there.

In 2012 and 2013 an archaeological survey of the Carse was undertaken, yielding some medieval pottery which was of roughly the date of the battle, which suggests human settlement and thus reduces the weight of one argument which contends that the area was too boggy to be a battle site.

The best hope for identification lies in a technique known as LiDAR, a system of recording the landscape using lasers to create a computer model of the landscape, and then studying the possible routes taken by Edward's army.

Ironic, then, that we had initially been unable to find Bannockburn, for it transpires that there is nothing really to find.

As an Anglo-Saxonist, I am used to relying on written and archaeological evidence. Rarely am I able to visit a known battle site, or see a building which dates from the period. So it still surprises me that such a major battle as Bannockburn, one which marks, to all intents and purposes, Scottish independence from the Plantagenet kings, should have left so little trace of itself. A huge impact on history, yes, and a wealth of written material, too. But for the visitor to Bannockburn, all that awaits is - an admittedly impressive - 3D visual 'experience', a chance to view the monument, but no insight at all into where the fighting actually took place.

*Schiltron - a formation of tightly-packed spearmen (around 500-1000)

[all illustrations are photographs taken by and copyright of the author, except the Declaration of Arbroath, which is a Public Domain image via Wikipdedia]


Annie Whitehead is an author and historian, and a member of the Royal Historical Society. Her first two novels are set in tenth-century Mercia, chronicling the lives of Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, who ruled a country in all but name, and Earl Alvar who served King Edgar and his son Æthelred the Unready who were both embroiled in murderous scandals. Her third novel, also set in Mercia, tells the story of seventh-century King Penda and his feud with the Northumbrian kings. She is currently working on a history of Mercia for Amberley Publishing, to be released in 2018.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Common Myths of the Wars of the Roses: Richard III: Victim of Tudor Propaganda? Part 1

by Derek Birks

In the past year, while writing my sixth novel set during the Wars of the Roses, I’ve had to confront directly in my research the legend that is Richard III. So much has been written about this king that it is in danger of simply deteriorating into ‘white noise’. Over a period of decades of examining the sources and reading the historians, I am still astonished not only by what is said but also the vehemence with which many assertions are made.

There are so many myths about Richard that it’s difficult to know where to start, but one view which endures is that Richard’s reputation was destroyed by Tudor propaganda.

The fragmentary evidence we have about Richard is often seriously flawed. So when we talk glibly about Richard, or Henry Tudor for that matter, being ‘popular’ or ‘unpopular’ we are basing our assessment on tiny shards of evidence. That alone is reason enough to question our conclusions.

In this post, I am focusing on how Richard’s actions were perceived by others in 1483.

Richard III [Wikimedia Commons]
Before 1483, even most of the political classes would never have met Richard, Duke of Gloucester – or any other important lord. Their world was their manor, or perhaps at most, their county. They would know the leading men of the land only by reputation – by stories of what they were said to have done. It was wholly subjective and unreliable, but it was pretty much all they had.

There were no newspapers or social media, so they must glean snippets out of personal letters from friends at court, or others they knew. Everything was hearsay – informed hearsay - from the tiny few who witnessed any events of importance. News was spread by word of mouth and opinion filtered downwards since every lord in each stratum of society would have his own clients – his political, social and economic dependents.

You can imagine how the information received – and passed on - by these clients, changed with the telling and retelling. What started out as: “did Richard have a hand in the death of the ‘Princes’?” might well end up as: “Richard murdered them!”

But surely this is a case of a man whose reputation was tarnished after his fall by a vengeful victor?

There is no question that before the summer of 1483, Richard was generally held in high regard as: the loyal brother of the late king, a brave soldier, the successful general of the recent Scottish war, the good lord and supporter of his clients and tenants.

That Richard was still revered even at the end of his reign by many in the north is suggested by an entry in the York Records for 23rd August 1485 – the day after Bosworth: “King Richard, late lawfully reigning over us, was… piteously slain and murdered to the great heaviness of this city.”

Nevertheless, the battle over Richard III’s reputation began well before 1485. 

Richard’s image with some folk was pretty tarnished long before Bosworth. In a matter of months during summer 1483, the good opinion of Richard changed drastically. By October 1483 there was an unsuccessful rebellion against Richard which alone is evidence of discontent among at least some the ruling classes of the southern counties. Since it also involved the betrayal of Richard by his closest ally, the Duke of Buckingham, it could not have given people much confidence.

More striking still is that those who supported Henry Tudor’s first bid for the throne formed a rather unholy alliance of die-hard Lancastrian exiles and loyal servants of the Yorkist Edward IV. In fact most came from the latter group who should have been Richard’s natural supporters.

Such a significant shift in opinion could not have been caused by Henry Tudor alone – or his mother, Lady Margaret Stanley, née Beaufort. Indeed few men in England were in direct contact with Henry when the first rebellion occurred.

So, why did some Yorkists choose to support Henry Tudor rather than Richard III? The answer lies not in Tudor propaganda, but in the events between April and July 1483.

In April 1483, en route to the coronation in London, Richard arrested Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, and several other members of Edward V’s household. This caused some political shockwaves and did not promote an atmosphere of calm. Though the Woodvilles are usually presented, rightly or wrongly, as unpopular, Anthony Woodville, the queen’s brother, might be seen as among the best of them.

I have seen it written countless times that Rivers “hated” Gloucester, so let me be clear on this point: there is no evidence whatsoever that Rivers and Gloucester resented, or disagreed with, or were hostile to - each other before the moment of Rivers’ arrest.

Nor is there any credible evidence that Rivers was plotting against Gloucester, who expected to be confirmed as Protector by the King’s Council when he arrived in London. As the maternal uncle and governor of the Prince of Wales, Rivers was closer to the new boy king than any other leading nobleman. Rivers was not arrested because of what he had done, but because of what he might do. It was a pre-emptive strike and pre-emptive strikes unsettle people.

Gloucester might, in part at least, have been responding to letters from Lord Hastings – the close ally of young Edward’s father – urging him to weaken the power of the queen’s family lest they should dominate the new reign. Hastings, though rightly viewed by many - both then and since - as a ‘reliable pair of hands’, panicked in April 1483. Why? Because he, unlike Gloucester, was wary of the queen and especially hostile to her eldest son, Thomas, Marquis of Dorset.

All the same, when Gloucester arrested Rivers and the others, many in the Council, and beyond, accepted his explanation that there was a Woodville plot against him, though they had no intention of allowing Gloucester to take complete control of the government. In the ensuing weeks councillors worked in two groups: one discussed arrangements for the coronation, while another met separately with Gloucester.

What little evidence we have hints that this division of the council caused mutterings. What, some wondered, was Gloucester discussing with his small group of councillors? Though such thoughts do not constitute opposition to the Protector, they do at least suggest some unease.

Few could have been aware that in mid- June Richard sent letters north calling urgently for troops.

If they had been, they might have been more concerned, because in London they would have seen little evidence of the continuing plot which Richard claimed as the justification for it. The queen was in sanctuary at Westminster, so hardly ‘on side’ but she had little opportunity and no resources to challenge Gloucester.

Then, on 13th June 1483, a singular event occurred: Lord Hastings, loyal stalwart of the previous regime, and apparent ally of the Protector, was dragged from the council chamber and brutally beheaded at Gloucester’s command.

Also, John Morton, Bishop of Ely and Lord Thomas Stanley, among others, were summarily arrested. Lord Stanley, like Hastings, was a key figure in the kingdom and not to be trifled with lightly.

It is often suggested that opinion hostile to Richard was confined to the southern counties where the October rebellion broke out, but the power base of Lord Thomas Stanley – released by Gloucester on good behaviour – was in the north-west. Whatever views Lord Stanley, or his many clients, held about Gloucester before 13th June, I doubt he was their best friend afterwards.

This is the pivotal event of the summer. Why? Because if William Hastings, staunch Yorkist and close supporter of Gloucester, could be treated thus, then no man could feel safe.

From that moment on, there was an atmosphere of suspicion and fear at court. When it did become known that Gloucester had sent for a northern army, that only accentuated the alarm. Since the death of Edward IV, Gloucester had imprisoned or executed three of the half dozen most influential magnates in the kingdom and a fourth, Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, appeared to be his most trusted ally. What conclusion would any experienced courtier draw from that?

This, remember, is before any suggestion of Gloucester taking the throne, let alone killing his nephews, but we can be pretty sure that the question on everyone’s mind at court was: what is Gloucester going to do next?

Then, as if by magic, several claims were made questioning the legitimacy of King Edward V. People at court were not stupid – influenced by rumour and self-interest, yes – but not stupid. The fact that these allegations surfaced only days after Hastings’ execution was not lost on anyone. Let us not forget that there were far more men of influence in London than usual because of the impending coronation. Such men wrote letters to their relatives, or to their clients in the country which support the conclusion that opinion of Gloucester was shifting. Where there had been confidence, now there was, at best, confusion and at worst, suspicion.

Then there was the coronation...
The royal arms of Richard III [Creative Commons license
in the Public Domain]
When Gloucester first postponed the king’s coronation, most would have agreed with him. Time was too short for the arrangements to be made and a delay until June 22nd seemed sensible. But when the coronation was postponed for the second time, it caused only consternation and confusion. The accusations that the new king was illegitimate might need to be investigated but that did not mean that Richard had to be crowned king at once in his nephew’s stead. But the momentum was with Gloucester and he pushed ahead regardless of opinion amongst the political classes.

Opinion was shifting amongst many who had served Edward IV.

Some wondered about the reason for Hastings’ death – few at court could have taken seriously the allegation that he was plotting with the queen against Richard. They watched Richard take the throne and they joined the dots. When the sons of the late king ceased to be seen in the Tower gardens, they joined the dots again.

It matters little now – as it mattered little then - whether Richard was guilty or not. Enough men of substance were incensed by the events of the summer of 1483 and the likelihood [unproven, of course] that the sons of Edward IV were dead.

Many did nothing, preferring – in the light of bitter past experience – to see where events took them - but others wanted action and very likely it was a distraught and embittered dowager queen, Elizabeth Woodville, who fanned the flames.

The strength of their opinion is shown by their willingness to support an exile about whom they knew nothing and whose claim to the throne could not have been weaker.

Their outrage was a lifeline for Henry Tudor languishing, penniless, in Brittany. His mother, Margaret Beaufort, was determined to engineer his return to England and lost no time in apprising him of the changed situation. Thus, even before his 1485 invasion, Henry was referring to Richard as an “unnatural tyrant” and an “enemy of nature”.

Were these phrases propaganda? Yes, for such words made the assumption that Richard was guilty of having the ‘Princes’ killed. But they were also the sort of remarks routinely flung out to rally potential supporters and Richard delivered comparable slurs about Henry as a would-be ‘usurper’.

The shift in opinion in the summer of 1483 did not ensure that Henry Tudor would be successful but it did mean that Richard’s regime, which depended on a small number of very powerful men, lacked a groundswell of support. Rumours circulated – not only in England, but abroad – which undermined Richard’s credibility.

Although many might not, in the end, take up arms against Richard III, they might not fight for him either.

In the next post on this theme, I shall address the issue of Tudor propaganda after 1483.


Derek Birks was born in Hampshire in England but spent his teenage years in Auckland, New Zealand, where he still has strong family ties.

For many years he taught history in a secondary school but took early retirement to concentrate on writing. Apart from his writing, he spends his time gardening, travelling, walking and taking part in archaeological digs at a Roman villa. Derek is interested in a wide range of historical themes but his particular favourite is the late medieval period. He writes action-packed fiction which is rooted in accurate history.
His debut historical novel was Feud, which is set in the period of the Wars of the Roses. Feud is the first of a now complete four-book series, entitled Rebels & Brothers, which follows the fortunes of the fictional Elder family from 1459 to 1471.
A new series, The Craft of Kings, picks up the story of the Elders in 1481 in its first book, Scars from the Past. In February 2018, the violent events of 1483 are played out in the sequel, The Blood of Princes.

Connect with Derek through his Website, Twitter (@Feud_writer), and his author sites through Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Editors Weekly Round-up, February 11, 2018

by the EHFA Editors

Every week, visit English Historical Fiction Authors for posts on various aspects of British history. Enjoy this week's round-up!

Hugh O'Neill - The First Irish Nationalist
by Arthur Russell

Ælfgyva: The Mystery Woman of the Bayeux Tapestry
Part VI - Part VII
by Paula Lofting

by Maria Grace

Friday, February 9, 2018

Coffee, Tea and Chocolate: A cup for every purpose

by Maria Grace

During the regency era, there were three particular luxury drinks: tea, coffee and chocolate. They were in high demand, but expensive to acquire and, in the case of chocolate, difficult to make. Now of course luxury drinks needed accessories to go with them, just like our iphones need fancy cases—gotta show off the bling, right?  
Proper hostesses would do exactly that with specialized cups and pots for each beverage. The differences between the pieces were not random though, they were based on the way the drinks were created and enjoyed. Rather scientific, if you think about it. 

Drinking chocolate was often prepared in a large saucepan and then poured into special pots, known in France as a chocolatière, designed just for serving it. At first, when chocolate was a luxury limited to only the most elite, chocolate pots were made exclusively of silver with fine hardwoods or ivory used for the finials. In the early 1700’s, porcelain chocolate pots were made in China for export to Europe. Later, sturdier (and less expensive) pots were made of pewter or earthenware. Chocolate pots tended to be tall and relatively slender, looking a lot like coffee pots, but with a few significant differences in the lid, the spout and the handle. 

Drinking chocolate was very thick and tended to settle, so it was essential to continue whipping it with the molinet. To accommodate the molinet, a chocolate pot had a very distinct lid. The top of a chocolate pot had a hole for the molinet handle to extend from, allowing the hostess to stir the chocolate without splashing herself or her guests. The hole might remain uncovered, but in many cases a special hinged or swiveling finial would cap the hole and help preserve the heat in the chocolate. Sometimes the finial might be attached by a chain to the pot so it would not get lost.

Spouts on chocolate pots were wide and set high on the pot. Both qualities relate to the froth on the top of the chocolate. Since the froth floats on top of the chocolate, locating the spout high helps to capture the foam. Similarly, a wide spout facilitates getting it into a serving cup. A high spout also helps to keep the undesirable sediments that settled to the bottom out of the serving cups. 

The earliest chocolate pots had handles set at right angles to the pot. Usually these were made of wood, with a bit of a knob at the end. After the later part of the 1730’s, chocolate pots with looping handles in line with the pouring spout were produced. 

Drinking chocolate was thick, even syrupy, very different from tea or coffee. Its thickness, and the need to preserve the froth on top meant that special cups were required to properly enjoy sipping the chocolate through the milky froth. Here's where it gets particularly interesting--to me at least.

Chocolate cups were taller and narrower than coffee or tea cups. This would force the foam into a thick layer on the top and keep it from dispersing so quickly. Their unique shape also gave them a high center of gravity, which in English means it made them more likely to spill, especially if one's hands were less than steady.

That problem gave rise to a whole new style of china. 

The trembleuse or tasse trembleuse originated in Paris in the 1690's and was designed to allow those with trembling hands to drink with greater ease. It consisted of a cup, often with a lid and two handles, and a saucer with ether a deep well or a raised rim that steadied the cup and kept it from tipping. 
In contrast, teapots tend to be short and stout (remember the kids’ song?)  The round shape allows room for the tea to move in the pot, allowing it to steep more effectively. Their short spouts come from the center of the pot and sometimes have a grate behind to keep the tea leaves from clogging the spout.  The short length makes them easier to clean if leaves get trapped inside the spout. 

Because tea steeps near boiling, it must be slightly cooled before drinking. A tea cup has a wide open rim that tapers down to a smaller base and a handle designed to hook a single finger, all purposed to help cool the tea and prevent burns.

In many ways, coffee serving pieces do the opposite. Coffee pots are designed to help maintain the heat of the beverage, which preserves its flavor. The taller, narrow shape helps minimize heat loss. The longer, low-mounted spout helps keep cool air from circulating into the pot.

Coffee tastes best when served hot. Since it brews at around 180F, burns are not as much a concern as keeping the beverage hot. So coffee cups have a more vertical, cylindrical shape and bigger handles to accommodate two or three fingers which helps them conserve the beverage's temperature.

A proper regency hostess would have had all three sorts of china in her collection and been able to identify these pots at just a glance. In all likelihood, she would not have considered serving chocolate from anything but a chocolate pot. For the rest of us though, chocolate served from another sort of pot would still be chocolate, right? And that has to be a very good thing indeed.


Deitz, Paula. "Chocolate Pots Brewed Ingenuity." The New York Times. February 18, 1989. Accessed May 24, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/02/19/arts/antiques-chocolate-pots-brewed-ingenuity.html.
Kane, Kathryn. "Regency Chocolate:   The Correct Accoutrements." The Regency Redingote. August 02, 2011. Accessed May 24, 2017. https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/regency-chocolate-the-correct-accoutrements/. 
Righthand, Jess. "A Brief History of the Chocolate Pot." Smithsonian.com. February 13, 2015. Accessed May 24, 2017. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/brief-history-chocolate-pot-180954241/.


Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. 

After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

Click here to find her books on Amazon. For more on her writing and other Random Bits of Fascination, visit her website. You can also like her on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

Ælfgyva: The Mystery Woman of the Bayeux Tapestry – Part VII

By Paula Lofting

Wecome to the concluding part of Ælfgyva: The Mystery Lady of the Bayeux Tapestry.

Imagine someone wants to tell you some gossip about your neighbour Joe Bloggs, something quite scandalous and outrageous. Imagine that person has already heard it from someone else and perhaps that person has heard it from some other person. Imagine that somewhere along the line, facts have become distorted or left out. Perhaps someone has mistaken Joe for a different Joe – or for a John, who looked a lot like a Joe? Imagine that by the time the rumour reaches you, the whole episode has been scrambled into something  slightly different, but with a similar concept? Perhaps the story is entirely the same, but the it is the identities of those involved that are morphed. Well, this is what I believe has happened in the Bayeux Tapestry with the Aelfgyva tale.

After studying the tapestry, the possible candidates and the possible links to the story quite thoroughly, I can come up with no other explanation other than it is a case of mistaken identity where a certain lady’s story has been wrongly attributed to another. One can imagine it would not have been that difficult to mistake one person for another when there were so many women with the same name around at the same time. Especially if you were a Norman, hearing scandalous tales passed from one person to another like a Chinese whisper.

So what are the implications of such a suggestion? This is what I believe, could be… what the Bayeux Tapestry is trying to convey. It is not a hypothesis that can be proven, but merely a suggestion and an interpretation of what this scene might signify. I am not in any way stating that I have cracked the mystery, or that I have finally found the answer. I am however presenting you with a possibility, having been unable to discover any other indisputable explanation for the woman’s role embroidered into the legend with the hints of scandal that have been attributed to a particular woman of that name.

So, here is the story, as I imagine it:

Harold embarks from his home in Bosham to Normandy with his personal guard.

The woman in the scene with the cleric, is Ælfgifu of Northampton, and the priest touching her face is doing so to signify some sort of collaboration with her.  In the scene before, Harold and William are discussing the earl’s reasons for coming to Normandy.  The scene in which Ælfgyva and the priest are portrayed is part of their conversation also. Harold is explaining to William that he has come to negotiate the release of his brother and nephew, hence the man that Harold appears to be almost touching with his finger, is presented with a beard in the English style of facial fashion, and not the Norman clean-shaven manner, as all the others in the scene are – apart from Harold, of course. It seems quite reasonable to me that this bearded fellow is Wulfnoth, Harold’s brother who was one of the hostages he has come to negotiate the release of. 

But William, overwhelmed by the earl’s presence and its implication for him, understands some other reason for Harold’s visit. He is convinced that Harold has come to declare his fealty to him and assure him that when Edward dies, he will support him as his successor. Why else would he come with such gifts of wonder to offer him? Could William’s mindset have been so focused on the crown of England that he cannot not hear the words Harold is trying to say to him? 

Harold mentions, carefully – very carefully – because Edward, the king, has told him to be so,  that King Edward has declared his great nephew, Edgar, grandson of the courageous Edmund Ironside, as the atheling, which means that the boy is someone who is throne-worthy, therefore a future candidate to the throne. Harold knows that William has never been named atheling, but he is very careful how he presents his case. William listens, shows interest in what the Englishman has to say, after all he is going to need him when Edward dies. Nonetheless, he is undaunted by what Harold is telling him.  He has already dismissed Edgar, having heard the scandal of Edmund Ironsides’ mother Aelfgyva, who it was said, had tricked her husband into believing her sons were his when they were really the sons of a priest and a workman. He laughs at Harold’s suggestion that the Witan should prefer a boy over a man such as him, a boy descended from dubious lineage. Is he not (the duke) a man who has cheated death many times and earned the respect of his enemies?

Harold tries to put him straight about Ælfgyva, desperately trying to make him understand that he is mistaken and that the woman in the scandal he was referring to was not Edmund Ironside’s mother, but Harold Harefoot’s mother, wife of Cnut. Yes, Aethelred’s wife was also called Ælfgifu, but there was no such scandal about her and Edgar’s lineage is indisputably of the true line of Wessex. 

Still William does not listen. He interrupts, rebuffs and insists – all in the best nature and good spirits, of course. Harold is having problems pressing home his point because William has made his mind up. It is a game that only William can win. Harold, William declares, will support him in his quest for the English throne, and consider allying himself closely to him by marrying a daughter of his. William suggests this proposition in such a way that if Harold should refuse, he may inflict great insult upon his most congenial host, who has saved him from the humiliation and torment of being held as the Count of Ponthieu’s prisoner... and in Harold’s mind, he is thinking that if he wants to leave there alive, he will have to play the game that William has already won. Perhaps it is then that Harold realises what a terrible mistake he has made. Why, oh why, did he not listen to his king when he warned him that “no good will come of it”?

William knights Harold and makes him his vassal

So any attempt that Harold might make to put right the error that William has made in identifying the correct scandal with the incorrect Ælfgifu, is from then on thwarted. Wiliam will change the subject or offer a distraction. He does anything not to talk about the subject again. And by the time he gets home, with only one of the hostages being released, Harold is ridden with anxiety, having been made to swear an oath on holy relics, that he has basically handed the English crown on a plate, to the Norman duke. The first thing he does is seek out his relative, Ælfric, who was once a monk at Canterbury, and in earnest, divulge to him what he has done. It is then that Harold learns that according to canon law, a man who gives oath under severe duress, can later recant without detriment to his soul. With this knowledge, Harold can later go on to forgo the oath he made to William, to take the crown for himself. Which he does, indeed, later in 1066.

Did the artist who designed the tapestry know the secret of the conversation that happened between Harold and William? Were they trying to convey the story that led to the mis identity of Ælfgifu and coerced oathtaking that meant the end of Anglo-Saxon rule? We shall never know, but this is the possibility that I have come to believe. How I wish I had a time machine, so that I could take you back with me to that year, 951 years ago when it all happened. 


I believe that this is the basis for the artist’s insertion of the scene with Aelfgyva and the priest. Whether or not my theory is right, the creator wanted to convey to the viewer that this particular scandal had some link to the conversation that William and Harold are having. The small, crude images in the border further enforces the story of Aelfgifu of Northampton’s scandal leaving me with no doubt that they represent the labourer and priest who were supposed to have fathered the children said to be Cnut’s sons. I cannot, although I have tried to, locate any other evidence that would identify a believable rationale for this scandal to have been placed in the tapestry.  

If I were a contemporary of it, I may have been privy to the tittle-tattle and also that perhaps William had wrongly identified the woman and would not have had to use my imagination to work out the innuendo of the illustration. But this is my interpretation. Unfortunately I have no way of knowing I am right, however I do not think this has been a pointless study, for it has identified the woman and shed some light on some other mysteries of the tapestry also. I hope that you all have not been disappointed. 
I would love to know what you think.


Bridgeford A. (2004) 1066 The Hidden History of The Bayeux Tapestry, Harper Perennial, London.
Eadmer Eadmer’s History of Recent Events in England
Eadmer  Historia Novorium in Anglia 
Eric Freeman in his Annales de Normandie 
Harvey Wood H, (2008) The Battle of Hastings: The Fall of Anglo Saxon England, Atlantic Books, Chatham.
 McNulty J.B. (1980) The Lady Aelfgyva in the Bayeux Tapestry, Medieval Academy of America, vol 55 (4) pp 659-688.


Paula Lofting is an author and a member of the re-enactment society Regia Anglorum, where she regularly takes part in the Battle of Hastings. Her first novel, Sons of the Wolf, is set in eleventh-century England and tells the story of Wulfhere, a man torn between family and duty. The sequel, The Wolf Banner is available now. Paula is currently working on the third book in the series, Wolf's Bane

Read the rest of this blog series: