Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria - Coronation

Queen Victoria’s Coronation

19th century England was to see a new Monarch on the English Throne, one who would rule her empire for sixty-three years, and the last of the House of Hanover.

Alexandrina Victoria was born on the 24th May 1819 at Kensington Palace in London, making her first sounds as she entered this world.  Her father was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strasthearn, and he was the fourth son of King George III who reigned from (1760-1820), and her German mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Victoria was christened on the 24th June 1819 in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury; Charles Manners-Sutton in a private ceremony.  She was baptised Alexandrina after Emperor Alexander I of Russia, one of her godparents and Victoria after her mother.

Her early years were met with tragedy when her father Prince Edward the Duke of Kent died on the 23rd January 1820, and six days later her grandfather, King George III died on the 29th January 1820.

At the time of her birth Victoria was fifth in succession to the English throne.  Her father Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent died in 1820, having three older brothers who themselves were in line to the throne.

After the Death of Edward, Duke of Kent, the Duchess of Kent, and her daughter resided at apartments in Kensington Palace.

Victoria showed she had a flare for drawing and painting, and was educated at home by her governess Louise Lehzen, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor.

Her mother the Duchess hired the services of John Conroy to run the household, and it has been suggested he may have been her lover, but there is no official evidence to the fact, and the two of them ran Victoria’s life for her.  They chose who she could meet with, making her highly dependent upon them.

In the year 1811, King George III’s mental illness made him unfit to rule in the latter years of his life, and his eldest son became Prince Regent, and in 1820 he became King George IV upon his father’s death.

He married the Princess Caroline of Brunswick in 1795, and she only gave him one child which died at birth.  He tried unsuccessfully to divorce her on the grounds of adultery, but shortly after his appointment to King of England, she died in 1821, leaving no heirs to the English throne.

Technically he was a bigamist at the time, for he had secretly married Mrs Fitzherbert a Roman Catholic in 1785.

He had actually broken the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, which still stands to this day.  Any member of the Royal Family under the age of 25 requires the reigning monarch’s approval, and over 25 approvals by the Privy Council.

On the 15th July 1830, King George IV died, and William IV became the new king aged 64.  He made no secret of the fact, that he distrusted the Duchess of Kent.  He knew she and John Conroy had designs on creating a “Regency” and the Duchess would act as a Regent, much like the situation between George III and his son George IV.  This could only happen if King William IV died before Victoria reached the age of 18.

Frederick, the Duke of York and Albany died in 1827, one of King George III’s other sons, with King George dying in 1830, made William IV our next King, with Victoria being his successor.

William IV received the title; “Duke of Clarence” and from 1791-1811 set up home with his mistress Dorothy Bland an Irish actress, and they had ten children, all who bore the surname “Fitzclarence.”

With the death of his brother, ascended to the English Throne: King William IV of England, aged 64 and was crowned on 8th September 1831 at Westminster Abbey.

In 1811 William IV had married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, eager to produce legitimate heirs to the English Throne, but that was not to be, they had four children of which none lived past infancy.

Alexandrina Victoria was 18 on the 24th May 1837 and King William IV died on the 20th June 1837, and went to his grave, knowing Victoria would become Queen and foiled the Duchess from creating a Regency.

Even though Victoria was Queen, law stated she had to live within her mother’s household.  The young Queen had her moved to remote apartments within Kensington Palace, and banned John Conroy from her presence.  Yet, he still remained part of her mother’s household.

Victoria was tormented by her presence, and marriage was the only way she could be free of her mother.  So on the 10th February 1840, she married Prince Albert in the Chapel Royal of St.James Palace in London.

Within days the Duchess of Kent was moved from the palace to Ingestre House in Belgrave Square, and later was given Clarence and Frogmore House.

Victoria’s important political adviser in her early years was Lord Melbourne, as well as her companion, a position which was taken over by Prince Albert her husband.

Aged just eighteen when the young Victoria came to the throne, it must have seemed a daunting thought to her, she being the new ruler of England.  This was what she had been prepared for…

Alexandrina Victoria ascended to the English throne on the 20th June 1837, and was crowned Queen Victoria of England on the 28th June 1838 at Westminster Abbey.

On the 10th February 1840, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were to have nine children, and most were married into other Royal Families across Europe, creating descendants all the way back to Queen Victoria herself.

Victoria, Princess Royal (1840-1901) married Frederick III Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia.

Edward VII (1841-1910) married Princess Alexandra, daughter of Christian IX King of Denmark.

Alice (1843-1878) married Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse.

Alfred Duke of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha(1844-1900) married Grand Duchess Marie daughter of Alexander II, Emperor of Russia.

Helena (1846-1923) married Christian of Schleswig-Holstein.

Louise (1848-1939) married John Campbell the 9th Duke of Argyll.

Arthur, Duke of Connaught (1850-1942) married Princess Louise of Prussia.

Leopold, Duke of Albany (1853-1884) married Helen of Waldeck – Pyrmont.

Princess Beatrice (1857-1944) married Henry of Battenburg.

When Europe was split apart by the First World War (1914-1918), it would see descendants of Victoria and Albert take up arms against each other.

Personal tragedy was to strike Queen Victoria down in 1861, when Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince consort and her devoted partner for 21 years died, ripping her heart out, and sending her into mourning for many years.

If we look at the history timeline through the ages:

Queen Victoria’s son Edward VII (1841-1910) married Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925).

One of their five children, became George V (1865-1936) married Mary of Tech (1867-1953).

One of their six children, became Edward VIII King of England in 1936, as the eldest child, a time honoured custom, and chose to abdicate to marry Wallis Simpson.

So the next in line stepped forward, George VI (1895-1952) and married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900-2002).

One of their two children, became Queen Elizabeth II our current Queen.

Queen Victoria’s daughter Alice (1843-1878) married Louis IV of Hesse (1837-1892)

One of their two children Victoria of Hesse (1863-1950) marries Louis of Battenburg, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven (1854-1921).

One of their three children, Alice of Battenburg (1885-1967) marries Andrew of Greece (1882-1944).

Their only child is Philip Duke of Edinburgh who married Elizabeth II our current Queen.

As we can see both are descendants of Queen Victoria, and the timeline ever expands with each new birth.

In the early years, she learnt to rely on two men for guidance; Lord Melbourne, who was more like a father figure to her, like the father she never had, and her husband Prince Albert whom she married in 1840.  These two men taught her how to rule the country, what powers she had and what was controlled by Parliament.  This would help her understand her people, and create an Empire to be proud of, one for future generations.

One of her first acts that took place a few years after her marriage was to be the first reigning monarch, to ride upon the train as used by the public.  Newspapers covered the journey with pictures, spread across the papers pages.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, between them had nine children.  In 1845 they purchased Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, which was given to the nation by Edward VII, her son, and Prince Albert purchased Balmoral upon which was built a neo-Gothic styled castle for the family.

Victoria’s life fell apart in 1861, when her husband Albert died aged 42.  She lost a devoted partner and friend, one she could trust with state affairs.  She was never seen wearing anything but black, during the rest of her reign, she was in a permanent state of mourning.

From the 1860’s to the mid-1870’s, Victoria carried her state duties from behind closed doors.  It was with the help of Benjamin Disraeli, she gradually resumed her public duties, many of which had been undertaken on her behalf by her son; Edward VII.

During her reign Queen Victoria became the target of seven unsuccessful assassinations attempts on her life. One of those took place in 1840, when Edward Oxford fired two shots at the young Queen, whilst riding in her open carriage with Prince Albert, near Buckingham Palace.  Stunned onlookers seized the gunman, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity.  Victoria just brushed herself down, and continued her ride amongst her people, which increased her popularity.

The Victoria Cross was introduced in 1857 to honour acts of bravery during the Crimean War.

In 1864, Queen Victoria stepped in to avert a second Franco-German war, with a letter to the German Emperor, whose son had married her daughter.  What it is to have family connections in the right place.

The Indian Mutiny of 1857 saw the Indian Government transferred to that of the Crown, with the Governor General becoming the Viceroy of India.  Then in 1877, Victoria became Empress of India under the Royal Titles Act by Disraeli’s government.

With the Sovereign power slowly reclining, she proved if one could master political understanding of politics, one could exert influence, as she demonstrated in her mediation between the Lords and Commons.  In the Irish Church Disestablishment Act of 1869 and Reform Act of 1884.  Often she was forced to pass her opinions in private only.

She favoured ways to improve the way of life for the poor; housing, education, hospitals, a subject close to her late husband’s heart.

On the 22nd January 1901, after a reign of almost 64 years, Queen Victoria died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.  She was buried at Windsor Castle alongside her husband Prince Albert in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum, built for their final resting place.

“Farewell best beloved, here at last I shall rest with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise again.”  These words were inscribed above the Mausoleums door.

Queen Victoria Memorial

Queen Victoria Memorial

After her death, a memorial statue was placed in front of Buckingham Palace, depicting a great Queen; Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who reigned from (1837-1901).

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French Martyr: Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) was born on the 6th January 1412, during the “100 Years War” between England and France, in Doremy in north-eastern France, to parents Jacques and Isabelle.

Joan had no formal education; she could not read or write, yet her upbringing instilled a love of the Catholic Church and its teachings.

Aged just thirteen, she claimed she heard voices from God; her mission in life was to save France by expelling their enemies … the English.

The events taking place in France; an internal was had broken out between two factions of the French Royal Family.  The Armagnac’s led by Count Bernard VII of Armagnac and Duke Charles of Orleans against Duke John-the-Fearless of Burgundy.  With them at war, the door was open for England to invade.

King Henry V of England claimed his right to the French throne and following their rejection, invaded France in August 1415 and went on to defeat Armagnac’s army at the “Battle of Agincourt” on the 25th October 1415.

Henry V conquered much of northern France in 1417, gaining support from Duke Philip III of Burgundy, for he agreed Henry V had a legal claim to the French throne.

In 1428 Joan of Arc met with Duke Charles after many rejections at his palace in Chinon.  She promised him, if he gave her an army she would turn round the war in his favour, and she would see him take his rightful place and crowned King of France at Reims.  There was much opposition to such an idea from loyal supporters of Charles, but he gave her a chance … one wonders what he saw in her.

In March of 1429, Joan of Arc led her army against the English as they were attacking Orlean’s.  She was dressed in white armour upon a white horse carrying a banner with the picture of “Our Saviour” holding the world with two angels at the sides on a white background covered with gold fleurs-de-lis.

Joan was to lead several assaults against the Anglo-Burgundian forces expelling them from their fortress, and forcing their retreat across the Loire River.  As her victories mounted, so did her fame, spread across France.

Joan kept her promise as Duke Charles was crowned King Charles VII of France in July 1429 at Reims.

In the spring of 1430, Joan led her forces against the Burgundian’s at Compiegne, where she was thrown from her horse, and captured.  She was brought before the English commander at the Castle of Bouvreuil at Rouen.  She was put on trial for witchcraft, heresy and dressing as a man.

joan-of-arc

Joan of Arc

On the 30th May aged 19, she was taken to Rouen’s market place, and burned at the stake.  At her execution according to witness statements, it is said she listened calmly to the words being read to her.  She wept as she forgave her accusers, asking that they pray for her.

With the English driven from Rouen in November of 1449 so the process of initiating an appeal case against Joan started as ordered by Charles VII to clear her name.  It was so ruled by Jean Brehal she had been illegally convicted by a corrupt court and finally described as a Martyr … She was a saint in her own right.

In 1920, Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc)  having attained mythical stature was canonised by Pope Benedict XV.

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Queen Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

Queen Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette was born a princess to Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria and Francis I, the Holy Roman Emperor on the 2nd November 1755 in Vienna, Austria.  It was Maria Theresa’s aim to position her children in places of power through marriage, much like Queen Victoria had done through her children.

On the 16th May 1770, Louis-Auguste (16) the crown prince of France, marries Marie Antoinette (15) in a royal marriage, cementing an alliance between Austria and France.

In 1774, Louis XV died and Louis-Auguste ascended to the French throne as King Louis XVI (20) with his wife Marie Antoinette becoming Queen of France (19).

Some seven years had passed since their marriage, and no off-spring had been born continuing the family line.  Emperor Joseph of Austria, the Queen’s brother had to step in and offer advice.  His intervention saw the birth of Marie Therese Charlotte, less than a year later.

Marie became bored with the court rituals of being a Queen, and constantly being on display.  She sought escape from this life, surrounding herself with questionable friends like; Yolande de Polignac and Therese de Lamballe.  Often lavishing them with expensive gifts and creating positions for them within her household.

It was a life of sheer pleasure; Masked Balls, Gambling, the Theatre, yet she was supposed to be a French Queen, present in Court and part of the French nobility … but she was often absent.

This young Queen, with blonde hair and astounding beauty, set fashion trends across France.  She enjoyed showing off her beauty and style, and spent outrageous amounts on her clothing.

Some envied, other’s hated Marie Antoinette for her contempt of handed down traditions of court etiquette, often interceding on Austrian causes.

Fabricated stories circulated, accusing her of affairs and sexual acts with members of the court … thus muddying her name across Paris.  One act grabbed the nation’s attention: The Diamond Necklace Affair, which would question her moral beliefs.  For it was, one Madame Lamotte, who sought a position in court.  The eligible Prince de Rohan; Cardinal of France was excluded from the Queen’s selected group of loyal friends.

A plot was orchestrated, where Lamotte posed as the Lesbian lover of Marie Antoinette, and she convinced Rohan that the Queen wanted the necklace made by Boehmer for Louis XV’s lover; Madame du Barry.  Rohan obtained the diamond necklace from Boehmer, and then passed it on to Lamotte.  The charade was exposed when Boehmer asked the Queen for payment.

Both King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were outraged at the charade.  Prince de Rohan was arrested, and the trial saw the Monarchy paraded before the nation.

In the late 1780’s France had a series of poor harvests, and those most affected were the country’s poor, peasants’ starved.

France a country with huge debts, found itself unable to repay those inherited from Louis XV.

Tragedy would strike at the heart of the French Monarchy. For it was in 1789; “The Dauphin” son of Louis and Marie died in June from a crippling and agonizing disease.

Louis called upon the Estates in May 1789, a way of gaining support from the common people, to force through much needed reforms.

The Queen wanted to preserve the right of the Monarchy, and opposed any reforms which would give the common people, more say in how France was ruled.

In July 1789 the Bastille was seized by the people.  The King could see a revolution was coming and desired not to provoke the situation.  So on the 15th July, military troops concentrated around Paris were dispersed.

In October of 1789, tales spread through the down trodden Paris slums, of banquets at Versailles Palace whilst their loyal subjects starved.

On the 4th October Parisians demanded bread from the King, and he met with some to hear their grievances.  A number of women gained entrance to the palace, and ripped the Queen’s bed to shreds, as she escaped half-naked.

Situations forced upon them, they moved to Tuileries Palace in Paris, and they would come under the close scrutiny of Parisians, making them vulnerable to possible attack.

It became obvious as to who ruled France; Marie Antoinette … For she sought out assistance from abroad, to step in and restore royal authority in France.

In July of 1792, Prussian armies invaded France, and the people of Paris were warned, if any harm came to King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the invading armies would exact revenge upon them.

In August 1792, Tuileries palace was attacked by the people, and some 900 Swiss guards who protected the monarchy lost their lives.

The monarchy was abolished in 1792, which led to the imprisonment of hundreds of aristocrats, of which many lost their lives in prison.  One of these was Madame Lamballe who had returned to Paris to aid Marie Antoinette, and was hacked to death for failing to swear an oath against the Queen.

King Louis XVI and his Queen; Marie Antoinette were held at the Temple Fortress to await their fate.  In December of 1792, Louis was brought before the National Convention on the charge of treason and found guilty.  On the 21st January 1793, he was executed on the guillotine.

Over the next two years, hundreds of aristocrats and people of France would face tribunals and be executed on the guillotine.  In September of 1793, Marie Antoinette was moved to the Conciergerie Prison, where she was under constant guard in solitary confinement.

Exécution of Marie Antoinette

Execution of Marie Antoinette

On the 14th October, she faced the Revolutionary Tribunal, and found guilty and executed by guillotine on the 16th October.

The bodily remains of Marie Antoinette were buried in an unmarked grave, and so ended the life of the Queen of France, the former Princess of Austria aged 38.

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Mary of Guise

Mary of Guise

Mary of Guise ( Queen Regent of Scotland)

Mary of Lorraine, better known as Mary of Guise, Queen to James V, and regent of Scotland was born at Bar on the 22nd November 1515, to parents Claude of Guise and Antoinette of Bourbon.

Mary of Guise married Louis II of Orleans, Duke of Longueville in 1534, and bore him a son Francis in 1535.  In the June of 1537, her husband, the Duke of Longueville died.

Mary was in her early twenties, and sought in marriage by James V, whose wife had died in the July and Henry VIII after the death of his beloved wife; Jane Seymour.

Mary accepted the offer of marriage from James V.  Mary an adopted daughter of France received papal dispensation for her upcoming marriage.  Her marriage to James V was celebrated first by Proxy in the May of 1538 in Paris, then at St.Andrews upon her arrival in Scotland.

She bore James two sons; James in the May of 1540 and Robert in the April of 1541, both sons died in the April of 1541.  In December of 1542; Mary, Queen of Scots was born and within a week James had died.

Cardinal David Breton, head of the French and Catholic party, and friend and ally to Mary, produced a will of the late king, which stated primacy in regency was assigned to Breton, himself.  John Knox made accusations of unfounded intimacy between Mary and Breton.  A similar report was revived in 1543, by Sir Ralph Sadler, English envoy.

Cardinal David Breton was arrested, and the regency fell to heir presumptive James, Earl of Arran, who hoped to secure the hand of the infant princess for his own son.

Mary of Guise was asked by the English commissioner, Sir Ralph Sadler to push her daughter, to further her contract of marriage with Edward VI.

A marriage treaty was signed on the 1st July at Greenwich, and Mary, Queen of Scots was barely a year old, was betrothed to Edward VI.  The terms stated that Mary would be placed in Henry’s custody when she was ten years old.  The Queen dowager and her daughter were under constant scrutiny at Linlithgow, and on the 23rd July 1543, escaped to the safety of Stirling Castle, aided by Cardinal Breton.

Following the Queen’s coronation in the September, Mary of Guise, played a prominent part in the affairs of the kingdom… Queen Regent of Scotland.

Mary of Guise kept in contact with her French kinsmen, for she sought a French alliance for her daughter.  This meant going out on a limb, against her advisers, who opposed such an idea.

The English invasion of 1547 was to enforce the English marriage, which gave Mary the reason for a French alliance.  In the June of 1548 a French fleet and 5,000 soldiers landed at Leith under the command of Andre de Montalembert, seigneur d’Esse, to booster Scottish forces, laying siege to English held Haddington.

NPG 1766,Mary, Queen of Scots,by Unknown artist

Mary Queen of Scots

The Scottish Parliament approved the marriage of Mary, the young Queen of Scotland with the Dauphin of France.  In the August of 1548, she set sail from Dumbarton to complete her education in the French court.

In the September of 1550, Mary of Guise visited France, seeking assurances from Henry II, over the confirmation of the dukedom and revenues of Chatelherault for the Earl of Arran, inducing him to resign the regency.

On route from France to Scotland, landed at Portsmouth due to heavy storms, and she visited Edward VI.  Arran refused to relinquish regency until the April of 1554, with assurances to his right of succession.

The new Regent faced an empty exchequer and opposition to Mary’s marriage to the dauphin.

The granting of high positions of state to Frenchmen caused outcry, fearing foreign domination.

Hostility from Arran and Archbishop Hamilton, forced her to undertake talks with the Lords of the Congregation, who favoured a protestant party.

Miners arrived from Lorraine, to dig for gold at Crawford Moor, to meet the high expenses of her government.

Mary of Guise appointed William Maitland of Lethington in 1554 as Secretary of State, and made a dangerous enemy of John Knox in the process.

On matters of religion, she tried to hold a balance between Catholic and Protestant factions, by allowing Presbyterian preachers to practice their religion, but no preaching in Edinburgh and Leith.

With the marriage of Francis II and her daughter Mary in 1558, she strengthened her position.  In 1559, she submitted to the religious policy of her relatives; the Guises.

She was forced to take up arms against the Protestants of Perth, who had been incited by John Knox to destroy the Charterhouse, the place where Scottish kings were buried.  The reformers were forced into submission on condition no foreign garrison was positioned in Perth.

Mary broke the agreement, by garrisoning Scottish troops, paid for by the French.

On the 21st October 1559, reformers who had been welcomed into Edinburgh, forcing Mary to flee to Dunbar, called for her to be deposed.

Mary, assisted by French forces, fortified Leith.  She had been betrayed, Chatelherault and his son defected, and William Maitland, her secretary of state, betrayed her plans to the Lords of the Congregation.

In October of 1559, Mary’s forces took on Leith, and attempted to seize an English convoy, was a failure leading to increased difficulties.  Mary entered Edinburgh, and conducted a bloody campaign in Fife.

In January of 1560, William Winter commanded an English fleet, which was sent to force Elbeuf’s French fleet, back to France.  Elbeuf had been commissioned by Francis II and Mary to seize Mary’s regency, on account of her failing health.

An English army led by Lord Grey, crossed the border into Scotland on the 29th March 1560, and granted Mary of Guise, the Regent asylum in Edinburgh Castle.

As Mary lay there, she felt her life slowly draining from her, she knew her end was close at hand.  She sent for the Lords of the Congregation, and pleaded they maintain a French Alliance.

On the 11th June 1560 Mary of Guise, also known as Mary of Lorraine, the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots died.  She was buried in St.Peter’s Church within the nunnery at Reims, France, where her sister was the Abbess.

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Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale-wikipedia

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was born on 12th May 1820 in Florence, Italy.  Her parents William Edward Nightingale born William Edward Shore, and Mother Frances Nightingale.

William’s mother was the niece of Peter Nightingale, and upon his death, he left his entire estate at Lea Hurst in Derbyshire to William Shore as it was then.  Under the terms of the will he assumed the name and arms of Nightingale.

In February 1837 while staying at Embley Park, one of the family homes, Florence believed she had received a calling from God, to devote her life to the service of others.  This was to cause much distress for her mother and Francis her sister.  For it was expected of her to become a wife and mother … not a servant.  For it was not the expected thing at that time for affluent English women to do.

Against her family wishes she educated herself in the science of nursing, her family may not have approved, but nothing was going to stand in her way.  She believed it had been a calling from God who had set her on this path, and she was doing his will.  Nothing nor anybody was going to stand in her way.

In 1847 she contacted the former Secretary at War; Sidney Herbert and they were to become lifelong friends.  When he became the new Secretary at War at the time of the Crimean War, he and his wife assisted Florence in undertaking nursing in the Crimea.

Nightingale travelled to Greece and Egypt in 1850 and in her writings referred to the beauty of the Nile.  She was overcome by the sheer beauty, and what buildings and temples stood for, and how they related to the common man.

Upon her visit to Thebes, she wrote in her diary of being called to God, to undertake his work.  Later that year, she visited the Lutheran religious community at Kaiserswerth – am – Rhine in Germany.  Whilst there had the opportunity of seeing Pastor Theodor Fliedner, and his deaconesses tending the sick and deprived.

From that time forth her life changed dramatically.  She was to receive four months of medical training, whilst at the institute.  She also went on and published a work: The Institution of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine for the Practical Training of Deaconesses.

For it was Florence Nightingale took up the post of Superintendent at the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Upper Harley Street on 22nd August 1853.  A post which she would hold until October 1854, for it was no more than a stepping stone of grander things to come.

Florence Nightingale was destined to make a name for herself during the Crimean War; her name would go down in history.

When news reached Britain of the poor conditions, she knew her time had come, and stepped forward accordingly.  On 21st October 1854, she took 38 nurses, 15 Catholic Nuns to the Crimea.

Florence Nightingale

Nightingale’s team of helpers, arrived at Selimiye Barracks in November 1854, and found soldiers suffering, limited medical supplies, hygiene if any.  Then coming face to face, with military officials, who saw her as nothing more than an interference.

Nightingale made a plea to The Times, asking the government to provide a solution to these poor conditions.  This led to the construction of pre-fabricated hospitals designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  The final result was Renkioi Civilian Hospital, under Dr.Edmund Alexander Parkes.  Nightingale intervention saw the death rate drop from 42% to 2% by improving hygiene standards.

The Times nicknamed her; The Lady with the Lamp, and it stuck.  When the medical staff had retired for the night, and silence and darkness hovered across the wards.  Soldiers remembered Florence Nightingale offering comfort, by visiting each and every patient.

On the 29th November 1855, the Nightingale Fund was established, its aim to train nurses, for war work and beyond.  Thousands of pounds were donated to the fund.

On the 9th July, the Fund had set up the Nightingale Training School at St.Thomas Hospital, and the first batch of fully trained nurses, started work on 16th May 1865 at the Liverpool Workhouse infirmary.

One of Nightingale’s achievements had been the introduction of qualified nurses into England’s workhouses, thus the sick were treated by trained nurses.  Her work served as an inspiration for nurses, her name would never be forgotten.

During the American Civil War, the Union Army asked for her advice, nursing in the field.  They rebuked her suggestions, but a volunteer body; United States Sanitary Commission was formed.

In the 1870’s, Nightingale mentored Linda Richards; she became America’s first fully trained nurse, and went on to become a nursing pioneer in the USA.

In 1882 several Nightingale nurses had become matrons at St.Mary’s Hospital, Westminster Hospital, Royal Victoria Hospital, and it had become a growing trend across the country.

Florence Nightingale was to receive awards for her work at home and in the field:

1883 Royal Red Cross

1904 Lady of Grace of the Order of St.John

1907 Order of Merit

1908 Honary Freedom of the City of London

She did have several important friendships, which meant a lot to her.  An Irish Nun, Sister Mary Clare Moore, with whom she worked in the Crimea.  Mary Clarke an English woman she met in 1837.  In both cases it is said, she kept up a prolonged correspondence which lasted till her end.

On 13th August 1910, aged 90, Florence Nightingale died peacefully in her sleep.  Her grave can be found at St.Margaret’s Church, East Well, Hampshire.

She had never wanted popularity; she just fought for better medical standards.  She became a pioneer in the world of nursing, and offered better hygiene standards for all, in our hospitals.

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My Life: Catherine Parr

Katherine ParrCatherine Parr was born in 1512, at Blackfriars in London.  In 1529 she marries Sir Edward Borough and is widowed in 1533, then in 1534 marries John Neville, Lord Latimer, and is widowed in 1543.

She starts a relationship with Thomas Seymour in 1543, but this was put on hold, as Henry VIII caught her eye.  On the 12th July 1543, Henry VIII and Catherine Parr were duly married.

From July to December of 1544, Queen Catherine acted as Regent whilst Henry waged war with France.

In 1545, Queen Catherine publishes her book; “Prayers and Meditations.”

On the 24th May 1546, Catherine’s friend, Anne Askew is arrested, tortured and executed for her beliefs.

On the 28th January 1547, after a short marriage, King Henry VIII dies.

In the May of 1547, Catherine Parr and Thomas Seymour marry, and in the September she publishes her book; “Lamentations of a Sinner.”

From 1547 to 1548 Catherine and Thomas have Lady Elizabeth, the Future Queen of England, and Lady Jane Grey residing at Sudeley Castle.

On the 30th August 1548, the Dowager Queen Catherine gives birth to a daughter; Lady Mary Seymour.

On the 5th September 1548, the Dowager, Queen Catherine Parr died, and was buried in the chapel of Sudeley Castle.

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My Life: Katherine Howard

Kathryn HowardKatherine Howard was born in 1521 to parents Edmund Howard and Jocasta Culpepper.  This young and flirtatious woman, attracted men, and in 1553 had an affair with her music teacher, Henry Mannox, then again in 1536 with Francis Dereham.

In 1539, she became lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves, and soon after became the mistress of Henry VIII.

Following Henry’s and Anne’s divorce on the 9th July 1540, Henry VIII and Katherine Howard, daughter of Edmund Howard and cousin of Anne Boleyn, were married on the 28th July 1540.

It didn’t take long for Katherine to get bored; she had married an old man, which led to her seeking out younger friends at court.  Rumours of adultery circulated around court, and in the summer of 1541, Thomas Cranmer investigates.

In November of 1541, Thomas Cranmer informs his King of his findings, that his Queen had other relationships before their marriage, and since becoming Queen, had taken into her service, one Francis Dereham a former lover.

On the 22nd November 1541, Katherine was stripped of her position as Queen of England, arrested and interrogated, then sent to Syon Abbey.

On the 10th December 1541, her lover Francis Dereham was hung, drawn and quartered.

On the 10th February 1542, Charles Brandon the 1st Duke of Suffolk escorts Katherine Howard former Queen of England to the Tower of London, along the river thames, flanked by armed guards.  On Monday 13th February, she is beheaded on Tower Green, Tower of London.

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