England’s Commonwealth: Richard Cromwell

Richard Cromwell

Richard Cromwell

On the 4th October 1626, Richard Cromwell was born in Huntingdon to parents Oliver and Elizabeth Cromwell.

He served in the Parliamentary army during the First Civil War, but with the death of his older brother; Oliver in 1644, his military career ended.  Richard was now the eldest son and heir of Oliver Cromwell.

In May of 1649, Richard married Dorothy, the daughter of Richard Mayor of Hursley in Hampshire.  Richard and Dorothy lived on the Mayor’s estate, where his wife bore him nine children, of which only four survived to reach adulthood.  Richard enjoyed his new life, amongst the local gentry, and devoted himself to hunting.  He became the local magistrate, and played a minor role in local government.

His new lifestyle came at a price, his love of good living, led to him falling into debt, as he exceeded his allowance, again and again.

In 1653, when Richard was 27, his father Oliver Cromwell became the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth.  Richard’s status changed, as he was addressed as “Lord Richard,” son of the protector.

In September of 1654, Richard was elected as MP for Hampshire in the First Protectorate Parliament, and in November of 1655 appointed to the Committee for Trade and Navigation.

In the Second Protectorate Parliament (1656-1658) was elected as MP for Cambridge University, and in July of 1657 succeeded his father as Chancellor of Oxford University.

The “Humble Petition and Advice” constitution of 1657, required Oliver Cromwell to name his successor as Lord Protector.

Oliver brought his son; Richard into the public eye, as his duly selected successor, and so it was father and son were often seen together at many public ceremonies and meetings.

Richard was appointed to the Upper House of Parliament in 1657, and Council of State.  In January of 1658, appointed to the post of honorary colonel in the cavalry, and in the May, a warship was named in his honour; “Richard.”

On the 3rd September 1658, Oliver Cromwell dies, and his position as Lord Protector passes to his son Richard Cromwell.

A group of military officers petitioned that the new commander who replaces Oliver Cromwell, should be a military man, one who had, won the trust of his army, riding side by side in battle.

Richard had inherited a 13-man Council of State, consisting of Charles Fleetwood John Disbrowe’s group representing the army and John Thurloe for the civilian group.

Without Oliver Cromwell, the head of England’s Republic, England’s Commonwealth, the country gradually slipped into chaos, with his son Richard Cromwell as Lord Protector.

Richard was unpopular, he was no Oliver, and the regime was heavily in debt, and a gulf had opened between Army and Parliament.

Richard appointed Charles Fleetwood to Lieutenant-general, whilst he retained the position of Supreme Commander.  He appointed his brother, Henry Cromwell as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, giving him full authority over the army.

In January of 1659, Richard summoned Parliament, to vote on higher taxation to support the army at its current size.  Parliament rejected the request, and put forward a counter proposal, to reduce the size of the army, and they would have tighter control on it.  Charles Fleetwood and John Disbrowe called upon Richard to firmly reject the suggestion.

Richard refused, and soon found out who the army obeyed, for when he summoned the army in London, to rally round him at Whitehall, they unanimously followed their officer’s, amassing at St.James’s.

On the 21st April, Major-general Disbrowe confronted Richard at Whitehall and insisted he dissolve Parliament.  Richard’s hands were tied, he had no alternative, and so it was in the early hours of the 22nd April that Parliament was dissolved, and the Council of Officer’s controlled the government.

Richard was placed under house arrest at Whitehall Palace.  The remaining members of the old Rump Parliament were recalled, and on the 14th May the House of Commons formally destroyed Richards seal, as Lord Protector.

Parliament treated him with honour, paying off his debts, granting him a pension, upon his resignation as Lord Protector in 1659.

In the summer of 1660, Richard left his family and fled into exile on the continent until 1680, when he returned, living in Cheshunt, Herfordshire under the assumed name of John Clarke until his death in 1712.

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Oliver Cromwell: England’s Lord Protector

Oliver Cromwell by History Heroes

England’s Lord Protector: Oliver Cromwell

English history was to change; for it was on the 25th April 1599, born to a minor gentry family in Huntingdon, was Oliver Cromwell who would grow up to be, the Lord Protector of all England.

Little did he know that when he attended Cambridge in 1616, these would be his first steps in his rise to fame, in the corridors of Parliament.  Well known for his radical ideas on religion, led him to being elected as MP for Huntingdon in the Parliament of 1628.  During the 1630’s, underwent a religious conversion, leaving him with deep Puritan beliefs.  In 1640 elected to the Long Parliament as MP for Cambridge.

Cromwell was a much outspoken Member of Parliament, calling for a reform of the church.  Later to head the campaign calling for the King to introduce annual sessions of Parliament; and forcefully demanding the army be transferred from the King’s control to that of Parliament.

In 1642, England thrust into a Civil War; Cromwell was commissioned into the army.  He fought at the battle of Edgehill.  Under the Earl of Manchester, he quickly rose to prominence, attaining the rank of Lieutenant-General in January 1644, playing a major role in Parliament’s victory at Marston Moor.

Cromwell retained his seat in Parliament, and his commission in the army.  By the time of the parliamentary victory at Naseby in June 1645, he had been appointed to the post of Lieutenant-General of Horse in Fairfax’s New Model Army.

In 1647-8, Cromwell still had beliefs in his King, and argued for settlement with him, requiring him to accept Cromwell’s allies as his ministers, rather than replace the Church of England with a Presbyterian Church.  This caused much conflict within Parliament.

Charles I rejected the proposal, of being restored to power, in return for religious toleration.  Escaping his captors in 1648.  Charles I, had suffered a defeat in the First Civil War, made a new alliance with the Scots, and called upon former Royalists and disillusioned Parliamentarians to rise up, and so in desperation the second Civil War was launched.

1648 saw Cromwell crush the Royalist uprising in South Wales, then joined Major-General Lambert, and defeated the Scots at the battle of Preston in august of that year.

Cromwell was so outraged by the Kings actions, that he was hunted down and hounded to death.  Charles I was executed on January 30th 1649.

1649, Cromwell went on to crush the Royalists and Irish Catholics at Drogheda and Wexford in Ireland, and place the country under English control, confiscating rebel lands.  Land belonging to Catholics born in Ireland passed to Protestants born in Britain.

Recently appointed Lord-General Cromwell, defeated Charles II who proclaimed himself King in Edinburgh, at the battle of Dunbar in September 1650.  A year of negotiations followed to no avail, until Charles II was lured south of the border and met Cromwell’s army on the Northern English Plains on the 3rd September 1651 at the Battle of Worcester.  Charles II’s army was defeated, and he fled to France for safety.

England was ruled by a Rump Parliament, following Charles I execution in 1649, consisting of Independent MP’s.  Cromwell backed by other disillusioned army leaders backed the changes required; and on April 20th 1653 Cromwell took troops into Westminster, expelled the Rump Parliament, power passing to himself and his Council Officers.

On 16th December 1653, Cromwell was formerly installed as Lord Protector at Westminster Hall.

Cromwell initiated the first Protectorate Parliament in September 1654 with MP’s from Scotland and Ireland.  By January 1655 it had been dissolved, following much distrust between politicians and army leaders.

March 1655 saw the Royalist insurrection in Wiltshire known as ‘Penruddock’s Rising’.  Cromwell imposed direct military dictatorship.  England and Wales were divided into eleven districts.  A second Protectorate Parliament was instigated in September 1656, following civilian pressure and finance required for military operations against Spain in the West Indies.

February 1657, Cromwell was formally offered the English Crown by MP’s, but following strong opposition from army leaders, rejected the offer.  Following a revised offer, with reference to the royal title having been removed, Cromwell was re-installed as Lord Protector on 26th June 1657.

Cromwell wore a purple robe, lined in velvet and carried a golden sceptre at the ceremony.  Similarities to a Coronation were there, but the oath changed from to ‘Save the Lord Protector’.  In the eyes of his people, Cromwell was now King, in all but name.

In 1658, the Upper House of Parliament was convened, and Cromwell’s nominees sat as his peer’s.  On the 4th February 1658, Cromwell dissolved the second Protectorate Parliament, to quell fierce bombardment of rights and legitimacy, with regards to the ‘Other House’, as put forward by MP’s.

A disillusioned Oliver Cromwell – Lord Protector died on 3rd September 1658.

Cromwell had transformed the social and political establishment of his times.  Parliament owed him much, for victory in the Civil War.  One who played a major part in the execution of Charles I, who went on and defeated the Royalists in Scotland and Ireland.  As Lord Protector of this country; ruled it as a military dictatorship, ruled by fear!

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Eleanor: Neglected Queen and Prisoner

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine was born in France of 1122, to parents William X, the Duke of Aquitaine and Aenor de Chatellerault.  In 1130, Eleanor’s mother, brother and sister died, and on Good Friday 1137, her father died at Compostela.

Eleanor became the sole heir to the duchy of Aquitaine, considered at the time, to be the largest and richest province in France.

In June 1137, Eleanor of Aquitaine married Louis VII, and upon the death of King Louis VI on the 1st August 1137, Eleanor and Louis VII, became King and Queen of France.

Eleanor had influenced her husband Louis, in letting her accompany him on the Second Crusade to the Holy Land, to free Jerusalem for Christianity in 1141, aged nineteen.

It is said, the church was pleased to receive many warriors through Eleanor, but they had not bargained on the three-hundred ladies, who would tend to the wounded.

Their relationship, and lack of male heirs, saw the annulment of their marriage, approved by the Pope on the 21st March 1152.  Eleanor had only given Louis two children; Marie 1145-1198 who married Henry I, the Count of Champagne, and Alix 1151-1198 who married Theobald V, the Count of Blois.

On the 18th May 1152 Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henry of Anjou, and on the 25th October 1154 King Stephen dies, leading to the coronation of King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of England in December 1154.

On the 28th February 1155, their first child and son was born; Henry, followed by Matilda in 1156, Richard the Lionheart in 1157, Geoffrey the Duke of Brittany in 1158, Eleanor in 1162, Joanna in 1165 and finally John in 1166.

Eleanor suffered much neglect, from her husband, as he paraded his mistresses, like Rosamund Clifford, believed to be the mother of two of his many illegitimate children.

Neglect, drove Eleanor to return to Aquitaine, along with her son; Richard the Lionheart in 1173.  Eleanor even went to the point of encouraging her sons to rebel against their father.

In 1174, Henry exiles Eleanor and her royal women back to England, and she spent the next fifteen years as Henry’s prisoner.

King Henry II died on the 6th July 1189, and she witnessed her favourite son Richard the Lionheart ascend to the English throne.  His first order of business as the English King, was the release of his mother.

Richard was taken prisoner, whilst returning from the Holy Land, and on the 3rd February 1194, she delivers the ransom, which set her son free.

Eleanor saw her youngest son John, become King of England, and she worked as his envoy in France.  Eventually she retired, living the life of a nun, at Fontevrault Abbey where she was buried upon her death in 1204.

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Charles Dickens


Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on the 7th February 1812 at Landport in Portsea.  His father was John Dickens, worked in the Navy Pay Office, and his mother Elizabeth Dickens.

In the first ten years of his life, the family had moved three times, and aged just twelve witnessed his father being imprisoned in the Marshalsea debtor’s prison, and his mother, and his young brothers and sisters joined him there.

With his family rotting in the debtor’s prison, Charles had no alternative but to leave school to work in Warren’s Blacking Warehouse, where he earned six shillings a week pasting labels on pots of boot blacking.

A few months past, and John Dickens his father received an inheritance, and was released from prison, paying off his creditors.  The family boarded with family friend; Elizabeth Roylance in Camden Town.

Charles was to stay at the factory for some time to come, at his mother’s request.  It gave him ideas for stories he was going to write.

Although he had little formal education, he did attend Wellington House Academy in North London, it was his early impoverishment that drove him to succeed.

From May 1827 to November 1828 he worked as a junior clerk for a firm of attorney’s, Ellis and Blackmore, and afterwards became a freelance reporter at Doctor’s Commons for four years.

In 1830, Dickens fell in love with Maria Beadwell, but he was not good enough for their daughter, and she was packed off to a school in Paris.

Aged just 20, Dickens was drawn to the theatre and got an audition at Covent Garden, but due to health problems, missed his early aspirations of being an actor.

Aged 21, Dickens submitted his first story “A Dinner at Poplar Walk” to the London periodical monthly magazine.  Along with writing stories he continued being a political journalist, and went on to produce a collection; Sketches by Boz, a pseudonym he used for some years.

Publishers Chapman and Hall commissioned Dickens to produce the words to accompany, Robert Seymour’s illustrations in a monthly letterpress.  Two months in Seymour died.  Dickens was a determined man, which resulted in the creation of; The Pickwick Papers.

In 1836 Dickens became editor of Benltey’s Miscellany a post he held until 1839.  Along with his day job as an editor, Oliver found the time to write Oliver Twist in instalments which was published in 1838, along with four plays.  Oliver Twist was the first Victorian novel featuring a child protagonist.

On 2nd April 1836, he married Catherine Thomson Hogarth, daughter of George Hogarth and editor of the Evening Chronicle, and they went on to have ten children.

His success as a novelist grew, and caught the attention of the young Queen Victoria who read both Oliver Twist and Pickwick Papers, staying up late to discuss the works.

Nicholas Nickleby – The Old Curiosity Shop – Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of Eighty, were all published in instalments form before being made up into books.

In 1842, Dickens and his wife Catherine travelled to the United States of America and Canada, and Georgina Hogarth his wife’s sister joined their household to care for their family while they were away.

In the early 1840’s the Unitarian Christianity caught his attention, but not enough to pull him away from his one true faith; Anglicanism.  Upon his return to England he wrote: A Christmas Carol (1843) – The Chimes (1844) – The Cricket on the Hearth (1845).

Dombey and Son (1846-48) and David Copperfield (1849-50) marked a change in his style of writing.  His works had become more serious, and the theme of each story had been carefully planned, in comparison with his early works.

In May 1846 Angelo Coutts, heir of Coutts Banking approached Dickens about setting up a home for the redemption of fallen women of the working class.  Dickens went on to found such a home; Urania Cottage.  Between 1847 and 1859, it is said 100 women graduated, giving them a better future in life.

It was in 1851, when the Dickens household moved into Tavistock House, he wrote Bleak House (1852-53) – Hard times (1854) – Little Dorrit (1857).

As a child Charles dickens had often walked past Gad’s Hill Place in Higham, Kent, and dreamed of being rich enough to own it.  In 1856 it came on the market, and his income from writing allowed him to follow a childhood dream; so he bought it.

In 1857, Dickens wrote a play with his protégé; Wilkie Collins, entitled; The Frozen Deep.  This was going to change his life forever, and that of his family, for he fell head over heels in love with the professional actor hired to play the star role in the play; Ellen Ternan.

He separated from his wife of twenty-one years, and she took one child with her, leaving the remainder of her children to be raised by her sister Georgina, who chose to stay at Gad’s Hill.

Dickens reputation had spread, for helping those in troubled situations.  It was Great Ormond Street Hospital which needed his help.  On 9th February 1858 he alone raised £3,000 in a public reading putting the hospital on a sound financial footing.

Two major works were written between 1859-1861 and both were resounding successes: A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations.

During the early part of the 1860’s he became a member of The Ghost Club, for those interested in the paranormal.

In June 1865, Dickens was involved in the Staplehurst Rail Crash … miraculously he was unhurt.  The events of that day were used in his ghost story – The Signal Man in which the central character had a premonition he was going to die.

In November 1867, Dickens travelled to America a second time on a tour of reading his works.

His health affected him during his England, Scotland and Ireland reading tour.  He suffered from giddiness, and paralysis, and the tour was cancelled part way through.  On 11th January and 15th March 1870, although still in poor health, he gave readings at St.James Hall in London, to make up for cancelled readings from the previous tour.

On 2nd May 1870 Dickens appeared at the Royal academy in the presence of the Prince and Princess of Wales.  This was his last performance, for he died on the 9th June 1870 at Gad’s Hill Place, and five years to the day after the Staplehurst Rail Crash, and was laid to rest in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.

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Spencer Perceval: P.M. Assassinated

Spencer Perceval PM

Spencer Perceval

A date that will always be remembered, in the corridors of Parliament.  For it was on the 11th May 1812, when the then English Prime Minister, one Spencer Perceval was assassinated in the Palace of Westminster…

Spencer Perceval was born on the 1st November 1762, to the aristocratic family of the Earl of Egmont.  The young Perceval attended Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge.

In 1786, aged twenty-four, Perceval was called to the bar.  Come the early years of the 1790’s his success and publications against the French Revolution, led to him being appointed junior counsel in the prosecution of political radicals; Thomas Paine and John Horne Tooke.  Then in 1796 became King’s Counsel and bencher at Lincoln’s Inn.

Perceval as an evangelical Anglican, was true to his beliefs, and saw Sunday as a day devoted to religious thoughts.  In 1790, he married Jane Wilson, and the pair were blessed with twelve children.

In 1796, Perceval made his mark in the world of politics, first being elected as MP for Northampton, and his speech of 1798, making himself a contender for a position in William Pitt’s administration.  In August of 1798, appointed Solicitor to the Ordinance and in 1799 Solicitor General to the Queen.  Serving Prime Minister Henry Addington from 1801 as Solicitor General and later Attorney General, becoming William Pitt’s chief law officer in the Commons for political trials.

Spencer Perceval prosecuted the revolutionary Colonel Edward Despard, for plotting the seizure of the Tower of London, Bank of England and assassination of King George III.  He was found guilty and executed for high treason in 1803.

Reluctantly he gave up his lucrative legal practice, becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the Commons in March of 1807, during the Duke of Portland’s leadership.  On the 30th September 1809, his name was put forward to the King, as the Cabinet’s choice of Prime Minister.

Spencer Perceval, England’s Prime Minister, started out on rocky ground, with the Walcheren military expedition to the Netherlands, where some 4,000 soldiers died, a high proportion of those being attributed to disease.

John Bellingham Plaque

John Bellingham an export trader from Liverpool had been charged and found guilty of owing money in Russia of 1804.  He pleaded with British Authorities for assistance in fighting his case for injustice.  His pleas went unanswered.

In 1809, Bellingham a very bitter man was released and returned to England, after serving a five-year prison sentence.  He resented the British Authorities, and sought compensation…  No one was willing to hear his claim.  Insanity had taken hold of him, and believed he would get his day in court, if he shot the Prime Minister.

On Monday the 11th May 1812, John Bellingham entered the lobby leading to the House of Commons, and sat close to a fireplace.  Concealed about him, was two loaded pistols.

Around 5.15pm Spencer Perceval, Prime Minister entered the lobby entrance, to the House of Commons.

Spencer Perceval Assassination

Spencer Perceval Assassinated

John Bellingham rose to his feet, removed one of the pistols, walked towards the Prime Minister, fired without uttering a word.  The Prime Minister called out; “I am murdered.  I am murdered,” collapsing to the ground with a fatal bullet wound to the heart.

The thirty-five year old John Bellingham returned to his seat, waiting to be arrested.

On the 15th May Bellingham’s trial took place at the Old Bailey, where he pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, telling the jury, his actions should be a lesson for future Prime Ministers.  He believed by shooting the Prime Minister, the court would listen to him, and understand why he did it. The court was not prepared to listen to his claims, having committed an act of murder against the Prime Minister.

The jury took only fourteen minutes to reach a verdict, upon which all members agreed; Guilty as charged.

The Lord Chief Justice told the accused: You have been convicted by the court, of wilful and premeditated murder!

John Bellingham was hanged on Monday 18th May in front of Newgate Prison.

Spencer Perceval will be remembered as the only English Prime Minister to have been assassinated!

(Image) Spencer Perceval: London Historians
(Image) Spencer Perceval Assassination: Wikipedia
(Image) John Bellingham Plaque: Wikipedia

Duke of Wellington

Duke of Wellington

Duke of Wellington

If you follow the timeline of the Wesley name, we find his ancestors to be English not Irish, as we were led to believe.  Early spellings of the family name started out as “Welles-Lieghs” and through time changed to Wesley.

His ancestors are believed to have been granted lands, to the south of Wells in Somerset, for acceptance to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

Then in 1171 a family member in the employ of King Henry II as a Standard Bearer, moved to Ireland.

Arthur Wellesley – Ist Duke of Wellington’s family formerly from Rutland in England, moved to Ireland in 1500.  Robert Cowley became master of the Rolls in Ireland and died in 1546, leaving one son; Walter Cowley, who became Principal Solicitor to Ireland.

Henry Colley son of Walter Cowley married Catherine Cusack, daughter of Sir Thomas Cusack, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and son of Alison de Wellesley = Colley-Wellesley connection.

In 1728 Wellington’s grandfather Richard Colley (Colley is a surname of English origin) changed his name to Wesley.

Arthur Wesley was born on the 1st May 1769 in Dublin.  His father Garret Wesley 1st Earl of Mornington, and his mother Anne, Countess of Mornington.

In 1781, aged twelve his father died, and his eldest brother Richard inherited his father’s Earldom.

He attended Eton from 1781-1784 and his lack of success and limited funds following his father’s death, the young Arthur moved to Brussels with his mother in 1785.  Then in 1786 enrolled in the French Royal Academy of Equitation in Angers, becoming an experienced horseman, with a good command of the French language.

1787 was the beginning of his military life, and his name would go down in history and be remembered for his prowess on the battle field.  It is said, he became one of Britain’s greatest military commanders.  When we needed victories, he was there to do his part for his country, for he never lost a battle.

In 1789 he dabbled a bit into politics, speaking out against the proposal of granting the title of “Freeman of Dublin” to Henry Grattan, Parliamentary leader of the Irish Patriot Party, and he was rewarded for his success, being nominated as a Member of Parliament for Trim.

In 1793 he asked for the hand of Kitty Pakenham daughter of Edward Pakenham, 2nd Baron of Longford.  His offer was rejected by Kitty’s brother, Thomas earl of Longford, saying he had poor prospects.

A devastated Arthur Wellesley and an aspiring musician burnt his violins, to concentrate all his efforts on his military career.  For the next time he asks, he expects the answer to be yes!

Arthur Wellesley started his military career at Dublin Castle as aide-de-camp to Lord Lieutenant’s of Ireland.  In March 1787, he joined the 73rd Regiment of foot and over the next few years, rose through the ranks to Lieutenant-Colonel in the 33rd Regiment aged 26.

In 1794 Arthur Wellesley was to experience his first taste of battle, east of Breda, and at the Battle of Boxtel, in the Flanders Campaign, with the Duke of York.

Arthur Wellesley was promoted to a full Colonel and in 1796 set sail for Calcutta, India with his regiment.

In  1798 the Fourth Anglo-Mysore war broke out against the Sultan of Mysore, Tipu, Sultan.  Then he was victorious in the 1799 Battle of Serpingapalam, these led to promotions in the field for his actions.  In July 1801 was promoted to Brigadier-General, and September promoted to Major-General.

In 1802 was dispatched to command an army in the Second Anglo-Maratha war.

The Battle of the Assaye, was considered one of his finest victories.  “The General was in the thick of the action the whole time… I never saw a man so cool and collected as he was,” according to an eyewitness report.

It is said, his experiences in India, taught him much about military tactics and matters for the future.

In June 1805, returned home to England having amassed a fortune of some £42,000 mainly in prize money, and was made a Knight of the Bath.

Arthur Wellesley and Kitty Pakenham were married in Dublin on 10th April 1806, and had two children Arthur and Charles.  However, their marriage was doomed to disaster, for they spent many years apart.

In January 1806, was elected Tory Parliament member in Rye.  In 1807 MP for Newport, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and made a Privy Counsellor.

He stood down from his political appointments as the lure of war beckoned him in the Second Battle of Copenhagen in August 1807, and took 1500 prisoners.

Now a Lieutenant General, participated in the Peninsular War against the French forces; defeating them at the battle of Rolica and Vimeiro.

Arthur Wellesley arrived in Lisbon in April 1809 onboard the HMS Surveillanto and took up an offensive stance in the Second Battle of Porto, crossing the Duoro River.  Once Portugal was secured, he led his army into Spain with General Cuesta’s forces.

By 1810, the French had invaded Portugal, but Wellesley outwitted them on one or more occasion during the numerous battles that took place.

On 31st July 1811, Wellesley was promoted to a full General for his services, and the Portuguese conferred on him the title of; “Count of Vimeiro.”

By 1812, Wellesley’s army was now a veteran British force, with Portuguese army units, all under his command.

At the Battle of Salamanca he liberated Madrid the Spanish capital from the French, and was rewarded for his services.  Firstly becoming an “Earl” and then a “Marquess.”

He was rewarded time and time again, for in 1812 was granted the titles of “Marquis of Torres Vedras” and “Duke of Vitoria,” both in Portuguese nobility.  These were conferred on him by Queen Maria I of Portugal, and for his continuing actions in the name of Portugal.

In 1813, Wellesley led a new offensive, against the French lines of communications, continuing to outflank then wherever they went.  Eventually catching up and destroying King Joseph Bonaparte’s army in the Battle of Vitoria, which saw him promoted to Field Marshal on 21st June.

Wesley was hailed as the conquering hero by the British, and so “Duke of Wellington,” was his new title.  He spent six years driving the French out of Spain, and removed Joseph Bonaparte from the Spanish throne.

The Duke of Wellington, was appointed Ambassador to France, then plenipotentiary to the Congress of Vienna.  On the 2nd January 1815 his Knighthood of Bath was converted to Knight Grand Cross.

Napoleon escaped Elba on 26th February 1815, and returned to France, and regained control by May of that year.  Wellington, upon hearing the news left Vienna, to what would be known as the battle of Waterloo, where both men would meet on the battlefield.

On the 18th June the Battle of Waterloo was fought; Wellington and Napoleon had never met each other in battle.  Wellington will always go down as he who conquered Napoleon.

The Treaty of Paris was signed on 20th November 1815.

The Duke of Wellington was now covered in honours by Britain and European powers for his actions on the battlefields.

He chose to enter politics, instead of retiring, by entering the British cabinet in 1818, and retaining his position; Master – General of Ordinance until 1827.

In 1829 he became Prime Minister, and assisted in passing the “Catholic Relief Act,” then in 1830 resigned his post, when it came clear to him, he could do nothing to block the Parliamentary Reform Act.

When the Tory party returned to power in 1834, he declined the post of Prime Minister and Robert Peel stood in his place.

Wellington remained in politics until 1846, fighting for his beliefs from within the Tory party, which evolved into the Conservative Party as we now know it.

On the 14th September 1852, aged 83 Wellington died of a stroke, following a series of epileptic seizures.

The Duke of Wellington’s body was given a state funeral on the 18th November 1852 at St.Paul’s Cathedral.  He was buried in a sarcophagus made of luxulyanite, and placed next to Lord Nelson.

Tennyson’s “Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington,” was read in finale tribute to such a man.

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Queen Anne’s 12 year love affair

Anne of Bohemia

Anne of Bohemia

Anne of Bohemia was born on the 11th May 1366 in Prague, to parents; Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, and Elizabeth of Pomerania, she being the daughter of Bogislaw V, Duke of Pomerania and Elisabeth of Poland.

Pope Urban VI approved the alliance, the marriange of Richard and Anne, noting that he might have a stronger hand to play in negotiations with the French.

Anne was the daughter, of Europe’s most powerful monarch at the time, ruler of half of Europe’s population and territory.  A useful father-in-law for Richard II, one might say.

Anne’s marriage to Richard came about when Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, and his former tutor proposed the said joining of hands.  It was at a time when Christendom had two rival popes.

Anne’s brother, King Wenceslas supported pope Urban VI in Rome, who also had England’s support, whilst the French preferred Pope Clement who lived in Avignon.

Anne had not been the first choice of bride chosen by English nobility or Parliamentary members, for she brought no dowry with her.  Richard had to pay her brother Wenceslas 20,000 florins, for her hand in marriage.

On the plus side, English merchants were permitted to trade with Bohemian lands and the Holy Roman Empire.

In the December of 1381, Anne of Bohemia landed at Dover and travelled to Canterbury, to be received by Thomas, Duke of Gloucester and Richard’s uncle.  She continued onto Blackheath, to be greeted by the Lord-mayor of London.

On the 20th January 1382, King Richard II of England married Anne of Bohemia at Westminster Abbey.  On the 22nd January Anne was crowned Queen.

In 1383, Anne of Bohemia, visited the city of Norwich, visiting the Great Hospital where 252 black eagles were displayed on the ceiling, in her honour.

Anne became a popular Queen in England, as the years passed by, described as intelligent with an inquiring mind, renowned for her love of reading.  Referred to as Good Queen Anne, she was liked by the poor for her acts of kindness and generosity.

Anne often interceded, begging on her knees to her husband, procuring pardons for those who had done wrong.

She became well known through the land, with her pleas of mercy, on behalf of the condemned.  She persuaded Richard to pardon many of the participants who took part in the Peasants Revolt.

Anne’s intercession saved the life of John Northampton, former Mayor of London in 1384, committed the offender to life in prison rather than the gallows.

In 1388, Anne confronted the barons of the Merciless Parliament.  Five of the King’s closest advisors were arrested, and Richard objected to a panel of judges.  The judges came out on the side of the King.  Parliament arrested the judges and sentenced them to death.  Anne’s pleas for their lives saw them exiled to Ireland.

Simon Burley, Richard’s tutor, mentor and friend was accused of treason.  He being a father figure to Richard and Anne.  Parliament decreed he should be hung, drawn and quartered, a barbaric death sentence.

Anne fell to her knees and wept.  Richard could not get the barons to commute the sentence to life in prison, but changed the means of death, to one of beheading.

Anne and Richard, from historical evidence, were truly in love.  Anne was an ideal consort, not stepping over the line, but generally complying with Richard’s decisions, and endeavouring to make him happy.

Of all the palaces and castles, Sheen Palace on the Thames, some seven miles from Westminster, was their favourite venue.

On the 7th June 1394, tragedy struck Richard, when his wife of twelve years; Anne of Bohemia died of the plague at Sheen Palace.  A twelve year love affair came to an end.

Richard was so distraught following Anne’s death, he had Sheen Palace torn down and destroyed.

Anne - Richard II Tomb

Richard commissioned a double tomb for the woman who had supported him… So they could be together in death.

King Richard II abdicated his throne in the September of 1399, on the condition his life be spared.  His cousin became Henry IV.

Richard lived out his remaining years at Pontefract Castle, until his death on the 14th February 1400.  King Henry V had Richard’s remains moved from King’s Langley in Buckinghamshire, and placed beside Anne in 1413, in the elaborate tomb Richard had prepared for them at Westminster Abbey.

Images: Plantagenet Chronicles