April 1st –and the start of another April A-Z Blog Challenge – with a special thank you to ARLEE BIRD, the founder of the Challenge – and also to all his hosts/helper. You can find Arlee’s blog at http://tossingitout.blogspot.
First an introduction to my A-Z posts this year: About 13 years ago, a friend and I decided to challenge ourselves to visit every battlefield of the Wars of the Roses, the thirty year struggle for power between the rival families of York and Lancaster. Our visits during the next two years actually extended far beyond the battlefields, to many different places connected with the people and events of the time. So I hope you’ll enjoy this tour of late 15th century England. Being alphabetical, of course, it won’t be chronological, but I’ll try to make the ‘history’ part as simple as I can, despite the complexities of the period.
All the photographs are my own ©Paula Martin
Starting with A then - Ashby-de-la-Zouche
This is a small market town in Leicestershire in the English Midlands with the ruins of a large castle.
Hastings, born about 1431, was a supporter of the Yorkist cause in the Wars of the Roses, and was knighted by Edward IV on the battlefield at Towton in 1461. He became an important figure in the Yorkist regime, holding the position of Lord Chamberlain, one of the most powerful roles in the kingdom. In 1462 he became a Knight of the Garter, and two years later was granted land in Leicestershire, including Ashby.
He evidently decided to build on a scale to befit his high position in the kingdom. At nearby Kirby Muxloe, he began to build a completely new castle, and at Ashby he added several new buildings, notably the Hastings Tower, and also a chapel. The Tower had store rooms on the ground floor, and above this was the kitchen, which had a vaulted ceiling. The next floor contained the Great Hall, with a large square window in the north wall, and the top floor contained a solar (or withdrawing room) for the lord and his lady.
When Edward IV died in 1483, Hastings played an important role in restraining the efforts of Edward’s widow, Elizabeth Woodville, to get her family members into political power so that they could manipulate the new king, twelve-year-old Edward V. He supported the installation of the boy’s uncle, Richard as Lord Protector. However, two months later, during a royal council meeting in the Tower of London in June 1483, Hastings was accused of having conspired with the Woodville family, and was summarily executed in the courtyard.
This execution proved controversial at the time, and has received different interpretations by historians. Some consider it as a ploy by Richard to remove Hastings who might have been an obstacle to Richard’s royal ambitions. Others concede the possibility of a conspiracy and think Richard reacted to secure his position.
Richard (now King Richard III) did not seize Hastings’ lands, and his wife and sons were allowed to retain them. Not surprisingly, Hastings’ son fought for the Lancastrians at the battle of Bosworth in 1485. Later descendants rose to power under the Tudors, and were created Earls of Huntingdon. Royal visitors to the castle included Henry VIII, James I and Charles I. A less willing visitor was Mary, Queen of Scots, who reputedly spent a couple of nights there, in 1569 and in 1586.
During the English Civil War in the 17th century, most of the castle was rendered inhabitable by the Parliamentary forces, but the Hastings family later worked to preserve the ruins, which were eventually placed in the care of English Heritage (the government body set up to maintain historic monuments)
|15th century fireplace in the solar|