Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Guest post from Gillian Bagwell, author of VENUS IN WINTER

I'm delighted to welcome Gillian Bagwell, author of Darling Strumpet, The September Queen, and her latest release, VENUS IN WINTER, which tells the extraordinary story of Bess of Hardwick, one of the Elizabethan era's most formidable women. As a young woman at the glamorous court of King Henry VIII, Bess finds a treacherous world she must quickly learn to navigate. The fates of Henry’s wives convince Bess that marrying is a dangerous business yet she finds the courage to wed not once, but four times. Outliving two husbands and securing her status, when she is widowed a third time she is left with a large fortune and even larger decisions—discovering that, for a woman of substance, power and possibilities are endless.

Please join me in welcoming Gillian Bagwell, who offers us this post on Tudor jousting.

Tudor Jousting Tournaments: Pageantry, Excitement. and Danger by Gillian Bagwell

There may be few things more blood-poundingly exciting to watch than two armored men on horseback thundering toward each other, lances leveled with the intention of sending each other sprawling into the sawdust before a cheering crowd.Tournaments developed as training for war, when close fighting between mounted knights was the way battles were fought, and the original medieval tournaments were often melees involving opposing groups of men who clashed on open ground, frequently resulting in real battlefield injuries.

By the Tudor era, jousting tournaments were purely sporting events, and the participants and spectators were royalty and nobles, the only people who could afford the expensive and highly-trained horses, spendid armor, and backup personnel that were necessary. But though by the sixteenth century jousters weren't trying to kill each other, the tiltyard was still a very dangerous place. On June 30, 1559, King Henri II of France was severely injured during a tournament when his opponent's lance splintered and penetrated his visor, piercing his skull.  Despite the efforts of his surgeons, he died on July 10.
Jousting in the 16th century

The following day, probably before news of Henri's death had reached England, Queen Elizabetjh and her court were enjoying a tournament at Greenwich, one of eight held during the first seven years of her reign, including a two-day extravaganza held shortly after her coronation. The competitions provided an opportunity for her courtiers to impress her and win the queen's favor. Her favorite Robert Dudley and his brother Ambrose were prominent participants.

Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII, was renowned for his love of jousting,  which enabled him to display his athletic prowess. The tournaments held during the Field of the Cloth of Gold, the famous eighteeen-day meeting of the English and French courts, required wagons of lumber and acres of satin, damask, and sarcenet to build a tiltyard. The numerous and elaborate costumes for Henry and his knights and their attendants, armorers, saddlers, stablemen, and heralds cost 3000 pounds, at a time when a maidservant earned about three pounds a year and ten pounds could buy two coaches and two coach horses.
IIronically, it was a jousting injury that was partly responsible for Henry becoming the obese and ill-tempered tyrant of his later years. In 1524, he escaped a fatal injury similar to the one that killed the French king, when he forgot to put down his visor and the Duke of Suffolk, who couldn't hear the cries of "Hold!" struck Henry above his right eye with his lance. The lance didn't break his skull, but it did bring on migraines .

Gillian Bagwell
A more serious accident occurred on January 24, 1536, when Henry was thrown from his  horse during a tournament at Greenwich, and the heavily armored horse rolled over him. He was unconscious for two hours, during which it seemed likely that he would die. The fall aggravated a varicose ulcer on his leg, and for the rest of his life he was crippled and tortured by the pain of an ulcer that never healed. It's also thought that the fall may have caused an injury to the frontal lobe of his brain, resulting in personality changes including paranoia and depression.
Henry never jousted again. The shock of the event may also have contributed to Anne Boleyn's miscarriage of a baby boy, who might have been her salvation. Instead, only three months later, Henry had her arrested, tried for treason, and executed.

Thank you, Gillian! VENUS IN WINTER is in stores now. To find out more about Gillian and her work, please visit her at her website.

1 comment:

Gillian Bagwell said...

Thanks so much for hosting me, Christopher!