Monarchs are often remembered for just one or two events and this paints them as either good or bad for the rest of history. Why do we do this and how do perceptions change if you examine their reigns in their entirety?


Monarchs seem to be remembered for perhaps one or two events or actions that then define them in English history. This doesn’t seem fair, as people have both good and bad inside them, and our actions are often dictated by the circumstances in which we live, and the events that take place around us. Most of our actions have good intentions when we start out, but it doesn’t always end that way. Monarchs who are seen as good have made mistakes, and monarchs who are seen as bad have also done good things. Here I will examine Richard III, King John, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

Late 16th Century portrait of Richard III, housed in the National Portrait Gallery.
Late 16th Century portrait of Richard III, housed in the National Portrait Gallery.

The most eponymous “bad” monarch is Richard III, most remembered for the mysterious disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, presumed murdered by Richard himself. What people don’t always remember is that the Princes were in fact his nephews, and Richard never showed any previous inclination to take the throne, unlike his brother George Duke of Clarence.[1] The Princes’ mother, Elizabeth Woodville, didn’t seem to hold Richard accountable for their deaths and she emerged from sanctuary, putting her daughters under Richard’s protection. Either that, or she was so ambitious that she didn’t care that her brother-in-law killed her sons, and just wanted some power for herself.[2] However, if this was true, she would be sadly disappointed. Richard did a lot of positive things during his reign – he strengthened the economy and ended the wars with France.[3] He also strengthened ties with the north of England, due to his marriage to Anne Neville, daughter of a northern magnate. The bad is always remembered above the good where applicable, especially where there is so much mystery surrounding an event, like the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower. Continue reading “Monarchs are often remembered for just one or two events and this paints them as either good or bad for the rest of history. Why do we do this and how do perceptions change if you examine their reigns in their entirety?”

She Wolves – Episode 1 – Empress Matilda and Eleanor of Aquitaine 07.03.2012


Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda

England’s queens not always liked – problem with women and power
Matilda chased from the capital by an angry mob
First woman to claim the English crown in her own right
Men fought to win power and battled to keep it – handful of women did attempt to rule England, challenged male power
“She-wolves”
Just how far we’ve come and how little we’ve changed
24 June 1141 39 year old Matilda sat down at a banquet – first woman to rule England in her own right?
Daughter of Henry I and granddaughter of William the Conqueror.
Throws the country into 20 years of civil war
Seen as domineering and destructive – challenged the assumption that only a man could wear the crown Continue reading “She Wolves – Episode 1 – Empress Matilda and Eleanor of Aquitaine 07.03.2012”

My Notes from Episode 1 of ‘The Plantagenets’ Shown on BBC 17.03.2014


All 15 Plantagenet kings were supposedly descended from the Countess of Anjou.
Family politics and dynastic ambition.
War, justice, parliament and architecture.
Anjou (West France) 12th century. 1128 Matilda, daughter of Henry I of France ordered to marry Geoffrey of Anjou. After a year they separated but she eventually gave him 3 sons.
Fight for the throne – Matilda named heir but throne seized by Stephen = civil war ‘the Anarchy’.
1142 Stephen besieged Matilda for 3 months – she crept away.

Eleanor of Aquitaine from the Hulton Archive
Eleanor of Aquitaine from the Hulton Archive

Fighting stopped when Matilda’s son, Henry, came of age – married Eleanor of Aquitane, who had initially married Louis VII of France.
Henry and Eleanor had a lot of land in France and four sons.
Wanted to win the English crown.
Many joined the Plantagenets. Henry and Stephen met at Wallingford Castle, but the armies refused to fight.
Stephen recognised Henry as heir. In 1154 Henry became Henry II of England. Continue reading “My Notes from Episode 1 of ‘The Plantagenets’ Shown on BBC 17.03.2014”

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