The Richard and Harry Show

Well, I’m chugging along in my work in progress, and the Duke of Gloucester, aided by his friend the Duke of Buckingham, is on the verge of usurping the throne, with grim consequences for everyone concerned. Since my characters are so busy, I am too, but I thought I’d stop by and pass along this interesting online book I came across a few months back, Devon–Records of Early English Drama by John M. Wasson. These records show (among other things) payments made to various nobles’ minstrels when they appeared in various towns. Interestingly, Buckingham and Gloucester’s minstrels appeared together on several occasions in Barnstaple:


Receivers’Accounts NDA: Roll 2010

Et de xvj d datis minstrall’ ducis Glawcestrie et de xij d datis minstrall” ducis Bokynham [others are named here too]


Receivers’Accounts NDA: Roll 2014

mb 1 (External expenses)

Et de viij d. minstrall’ ducis de Bokynham. Et de iiij d. minstrall’ ducis Gloucestrie [This must have been quite a show; the Dukes of Norfolk and Clarence, among others, also had minstrels there.]


Receivers’Accounts NDA: Roll 2015

mb 1 (External expenses)

Et de iiij d. minstrall’ducis de Bokyngham et de iiij d. Minstrall Henrici Botrugan Et de viij d. Custodi vrsorum domni Clarencij. Et de v s. solutis vj Ministrallis domni Regis. Et de xij d. duobus ministrallis ducis Gloucestrie

[Note the presence of the Duke of Clarence’s “bear ward” and the king’s minstrels here.]

With regard to the record for 1470-71, this must refer to a period after May 1471, since these accounts run from September to September and Gloucester was in exile with his brother Edward IV from September 1470 to April 1471, and fighting against forces of Lancaster in April and May 1471. It’s interesting to note that Buckingham (born in 1455) was still a minor in 1471, a ward of the king who had been put in the custody of Elizabeth Woodville in 1464. The fact that the teenage Buckingham had a minstrel who traveled about suggests that even if he was still under the queen’s care, he must have had something of a household at the time, contrary to Elizabeth’s detractors, who portray her as ruthlessly exploiting her ward and keeping him from living the normal life of a noble adolescent male.

Well, back to Harry and Richard!

4 thoughts on “The Richard and Harry Show”

  1. Hey what a great reference, Susan very interesting. BTW did you see all Warwick’s titles listed in there? Reminds me of when Warwick was in exile in France in 1470 – King Louis was so impressed with one of Warwick’s acrobats that he paid him twenty crowns!!! 🙂

  2. Does that indicate that Richard and Buckingham knew each other in summer 1471, and maybe were already friends/allies, or is that reading too much into it? I’m guessing that minstrels in a nobleman’s employ didn’t just go off and play gigs when and where they felt like it, I imagine their master had to at least approve.

  3. Susan Higginbotham

    Thanks, Lynn! My Richard won’t be a particularly good guy, but I think he does have some fine qualities and charisma.

    Su, didn’t know about Warwick’s acrobat! Interesting to think of him following his master into exile.

    Carla, don’t know if they were friends, but they definitely knew each other–after the Battle of Tewkesbury, they accompanied Edward IV on his triumphant return to London. They might have known each other since they were young children–Richard’s mother and her three youngest children (Margaret, George, and Richard) were put into the custody of Harry’s grandmother, the Duchess of Buckingham, in 1459. Harry might well have been living in her household then too, since his father had died in 1458, leaving him the heir to his grandfather’s dukedom. Harry was four at the time, Richard seven.

    Between 1471 and 1483 the two of them were together on several recorded occasions–Garter meetings (Richard nominated Harry to the Garter, though this was probably just a rubber stamp for the king’s choice), the wedding of the little Duke of York to Anne Mowbray, Parliament, and an occasion where they each paid homage to the Prince of Wales.

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