Author Archives: Brunlees

The future

I mentioned on social media a few days ago that their was exciting (well to me) news surrounding the blog regarding it’s future.  I am currently in the process of transferring some of the articles I have written to a new site which I will share once it goes live within the next couple of weeks.   In the mean time some pieces will disappear from here but don’t worry it is not all going forever.

Bare with me, I am learning new skills, but as mentioned enough am excited about the future.

Mayors of the Palace

The mayors of the palace were like a manager of the household of the Merovingian kings during the sixth and up to the eighth century AD. During this time they raised so much in power at some points that really the mayor ruled and the king was but a puppet and a title. This happened so much so that Pepin the Short managed to deposed the current king in Austrasia and be crowned in his place.

Below is a list of the different mayors for each of the Frankish kingdoms that used the title.

Mayors of the Palace of Austrasia

  • Parthemius – until 548
  • Gogo – c.567-581, during the minority of Childebert II
  • Wandalenus – from 581, during the minority of Childebert II
  • Gundulf – from 600, under Theudebert II
  • Landric – until 612, probably also in Neustria
  • Warnachar – 612-617, also in Burgundy
  • Hugh – 617-623, successor of Warnachar
  • Pepin the Elder – 623-629 under Dagobert I
  • Adalgisel – 633-639
  • Pepin the Eder – 639-640
  • Otto – 640-642/3
  • Grimoald I – 642/3-645, died 662
  • Wulfoald – 656-680, also in Neustria 673-675
  • Pepin the Middle – 680-714, took the title Duke and Prince of the Franks (dux et princeps Francorum) after his conquest of Neustria in 687.
  • Theudoald – 714-715, also in Neustria. Illegitimate son of Grimoald II, designated heir of his grandfather Pepin, opposed by the nobility who acclaimed Charles Martel.
  • Charles Martel – 715-741, illegitimate son of Pepin the Middle, also in Neustria 718-741
  • Carloman – 741-747, died in 754 or 755
  • Drogo – 747-751, son of Carloman
The statue of Charles Martel at the Palace of Versailles

The statue of Charles Martel at the Palace of Versailles


Mayors of the Palace of Neustria

  • Landric – under Clotaire II possibly also in Austrasia
  • Gundoland – 613/16-639
  • Aega – 639-641, also in Burgundy
  • Erchinoald – 641-658
  • Ebroin – 658-673, deposed
  • Wulfoald – 673-675, also in Austrasia 656-680
  • Leudesius – 675, chosen after previous then deposed
  • Ebroin – 675-658
  • Waratton – 680-681/82 deposed by his son Gistemar
  • Gistemar – 682, son of previous , died 683-84
  • Waratton – 682-684/86
  • Berthar – 686-688/89, son-in-law of the previous, lost the Battle of Terty to Pepin the Middle in 687, then murdered in either 688 or 689
  • Grimoald II – 695-714, son of Pepin the Middle
  • Theudoald – 714-715, also in Austrasia. Illegitimate son of Grimoald II, driven out of Neustria by the nobility, surrendered claim in 716.
  • Ragenfrid – 715-718, took power in Neustria in 714 or 715, but defeated by Charles Martel in 717 and definitively in 718 and fled, died 731.
  • Charles Martel – 718-741, illegitimate son of Pepin the Middle, also in Austrasia 715-741
  • Pepin the Younger 741/42-751, became king of the Franks in 751, died 768.
A statue of Pepin the Younger in Wurzburg

A statue of Pepin the Younger in Wurzburg

Mayors of the Palace of Burgundy

  • Warmachar – 596-599
  • Berthoald – before 603-604
  • Protadius – 605-606
  • Claudius
  • Rado – 613-617
  • Warmachar II – 617-626, also in Austrasia
  • Godinus – 626-627
  • Brodulf – 627-628
  • Aega – 639-641, also in Neustria
  • Flaochad – 642
  • Radobertus – 642-662

After this the office was united with Neustria. Burgundy though remained a separate kingdom under the King of Neustria and Burgundy.

The administration of Burgundy did separate briefly under;

  • Drogo – 695-708, son of Pepin the Middle, also duke of Champagne from 690 and duke of Burgundy from Nordebert’s death in 697

Fotheringhay Castle

King Richard III is a very interesting character that many people have lots of different opinions on.  His life seems to be full of intrigue and mystery with plenty of controversy.  Whether it is the story of the princes in the tower, war with Scotland, numerous rebellions, then his death at the Battle of Bosworth Field or the recent finding of his body under a car park, there is enough for everything to find something to peak their interest.

Recently I have been lucky enough to be able to look at an upcoming book regarding Richard. ‘The World of Richard III’, by Kristie Dean and published by Amberley Publishing and is due out later this year.9781445636344

The book is a historical tour guide of places that are associated with the king. It is broken down into seven different sections from Richard’s early life, through his brother’s reign, then his own kingship to his death.   I like that it includes a family tree of the York family and also a map giving you each location represented on the British Isles. A lot has been made in the media recently about Richard and his final resting place with the finding of his skeleton in the car park in Leicester.  So I have decided for this post I want to take a look at the places that shaped Richard’s early life.

The following is an extract from the book;

All that is left of the once impressive castle is a grassy mound by the river and a few fragments of masonry from the keep.  Standing here, it is hard to picture the busy, bustling place the fortress once was.  It is almost as if the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, held in the Great Hall of Fortheringhay in February 1587 left an indelible mark of sadness on the area.’


Richard III was born on 2nd October 1452 at Fotheringhay Castle.  The last son of Richard, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville no one would ever of expected him to reach the heights of king.  The castle that Richard was born in was roughly about 350 years old at his birth.  William I granted the area to Judith of Lens who was the wife of Walteof, Earl of Northumbria.  Their daughter Maud married Simon de Senlis who was made Earl of Huntingdon and around 1100 he founded Fotheringhay Castle.

The story of the castle takes a twist with the lords becoming Scottish.  de Senlis was dead by 1113 and King Henry II then arranged for Maud to marry the future king of Scotland David.  David then acquired Fotheringhay as well as other properties in Huntingdonshire.  The castle then followed through the Scottish royal family into the 13th Century. The first known documented evidence of the castle was when King John, who had hostages from many of his barons to ensure their loyalty acquired the castle.  John had David, Earl of Huntingdon’s son and wrote ‘You have given us your son as hostage, therefore we require you to yield to us your castle at Fotheringhay.’  Baron’s were not happy that the king was claiming all their castles and to try and appease them John started reversing his actions in 1215 and Fortheringhay was returned to David. Shortly after David rebelled against the king and the castle was awarded to William Marshall, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. There was disputes regarding the castle between Marshall and David.  David died and Alexander II of Scotland laid claim to the castle and eventually it was to form part of the dowry of Joan, Henry III of England’s sister who was to marry the Scottish king.  Marshall finally gave the castle over to the English king on 3rd December 1219.

During the rest of the 13th Century the castle changed hand many times.  Edmund Langley, son of Edward III of England obtained the castle in 1377 becoming his principle seat when he became Duke of York in 1385. Langley died in 1402 and the castle passed down to his eldest son Edward.  Edward died childless and after moving to his brother the castle went on to his son Richard.  Richard (father of Richard III) was Duke of York and husband of Cecily Neville.  They went on to become the parents of two kings, Edward IV and Richard III.  Richard the elder became ‘protector and defender of the realm’ on 27th March 1454 while Henry VI, suffered from mental illness.

Richard III

Richard III

During the War of the Roses, Richard died at the battle of Wakefield in 1460, but the castle didn’t come out of favour and his now widowed wife entertained greatly at the castle.  Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV’s queen resided at the castle in 1469. The castle was given by Henry VIII to his wife Katherine of Aragon who spent a lot of money on the castle restoring it and bringing it up to date.

Another famous chapter in the castle’s history was the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots.  Her trial took place in the Great Hall at Fotheringhay on the 14th and 15th of October 1586.  Found guilty on the 25th October and then told on the 7th February the following year that her execution would take place on the next day.

Despite the castle size and previous importance it was left to ruin and within 50 years of Mary’s execution it was reported to be in a ruinous state and completely demolished soon afterwards.

‘A moat surrounded the castle and the entrance would have been through a gatehouse.  The great stone keep would have sat atop the mound surrounded by a wall and would have been accessible through steps leading from the inner bailey to the top.  During the time of Marie de St Pol, the castle was said to have a large hall, two chambers, two chapels, a kitchen, a bake house and a porter’s lodge.  When Richard lived there, the windows might have been ornamented by a falcon enclosed in a fetterlock, which was an emblem of the House of York.’ Another extract from the book foth 2 Today the castle is a scheduled monument of national importance, historical building and archaeological site.  There is little today except for the earthworks and some masonry remains.  Fotheringhay is open to the public during daylight hours and provides views along the Nene valley demonstrating it’s excellent defensive position.

The World of Richard III by Kristie Dean is published by Amberley Publishing, 2015. The book is available to buy at all good bookstores, as well as online at the Amberley website, Amazon and The Book Depository.

Children of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany and Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont

Prince Leopold was the eighth child and fourth son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  He was born on 7th April Buckingham Palace.  He suffered from the royal curse of haemophilia which led him to an early death at the age of thirty.  He married Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont (1861-1922) the daughter of George Victor, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont  and Princess Helena of Nassau.

Prince Leopold

Prince Leopold

Helena, Duchess of Albany on her wedding day

Helena, Duchess of Albany on her wedding day

Together they had two children one boy and one girl.

First to be born was Princess Alice.  She was born on 25th February 1883 at Windsor Castle.  She married her second cousin once-removed Prince Alexander of Teck. whom she had three children with.  Due to the First World War and the relinquishing of German titles by British royals the family adopted the surname Cambridge.  Alexander was then made Earl of Athlone.

The first of the couples three children was Lady May Cambridge (1906-1994) who married Henry Abel Smith.  The second was Rupert Cambridge, Viscount Trematon (1907-1928) , died in a car crash.  The third child, Prince Maurice of Teck died within six months of his birth in 1910.

Princess Alice with her children May and Rupert

Princess Alice with her children May and Rupert

The Earl was made Governor-General of the Union of South Africa from 1924-1931.  At the beginning of the Second World War the Earl was appointed Governor General of Canada.  During the war many of Europe’s royal families sought refuge in Canada.  Among the royal quests were Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Martha of Norway, Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix of Luxembourg, King Peter of Yugoslavia, King George of Greece, Empress Zita of Bourbon-Parma (Austria) and her daughters as well as Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and her daughter Princess Juliana.

Princess Alice of Albany

Princess Alice of Albany


Alexander Cambridge, Earl of Athlone

Alexander Cambridge, Earl of Athlone

The Earl died in 1957 at Kensington Palace in London.  Princess Alice lived on until 1981.  She was the last surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria.  The funeral took place at St Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The second child of Leopold and Helena was Prince Charles Edward who was born at Claremont House near Esher, Surrey in England.  The young Prince never met his father.  Leopold died on the 24th March 1884 in Cannes, France while Charles Edward was born 19th July in the same year.  Due to the death of his father he inherited his titles on birth and was styled His Royal Highness Duke of Albany.

He also inherited the ducal throne of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from his uncle Alfred in 1900 at the age of 16.  He made the Veste Coburg castle his main royal residence.  For the next five years he reigned through the regency of the Hereditary Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.  The regent acted under the strict guidance of Emperor Wilhelm II until the Duke came of age in 1905 assuming full constitutional powers.


Also in 1905 Charles Edward married Princess Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein and they had five children; Johann Leopold, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1906-1972), Princess Sibylla (1908-1972), Prince Hubertus (1909-1943), Princess Caroline Mathilde (1912-1983), Prince Friedrich Josias (1918-1998).

The Wedding of Charles Edward and Victoria Adelaide

The Wedding of Charles Edward and Victoria Adelaide

During the First World War Charles Edward chose the side of the Germans and his mentor Wilhelm II.  Due to this in 1919 his British titles of Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence and Baron of Arklow were now officially removed.

In 1918 the Workers and Soldiers Council of Gotha deposed him and on the 23rd November he signed a declaration relinquishing his rights to the throne.  In 1935 he joined the Nazi Party and became a member of the Sturmabteilung (Storm Detachment), which functioned as the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party.  In 1936 Adolf Hitler sent Charles Edward to Britain as president of the Anglo-German Friendship Society to try and improve Anglo-German sentiments.  During his time there he attended the funeral of his first cousin George V in the uniform of a General in the German Army.

Charles Edward with Adolf Hitler

Charles Edward with Adolf Hitler

At the end of the Second World War, he was put under house arrested by American soldiers under the command of General George S Paton.  He was later imprisoned with other Nazi sympathisers and at this point his sister Princess Alice hearing of his imprisonment travelled to Germany to plead for his release, she was unsuccessful.  He was later sentenced by a denazification court, heavily fined and almost bankrupted.

The last years of his life were spent in seclusion, dying in his flat in Elasser Strasse on 6th March 1954 in Coburg.  At the time he was the eldest of only two surviving grandsons of Queen Victoria



The early kings of Mercia

Imaginary depiction of Creoda from John Speed's 1611 "Saxon Heptarchy".

Imaginary depiction of Creoda from John Speed’s 1611 “Saxon Heptarchy”.

Name : Creoda (Cryda or Crida) of Mercia

House : Icelingas

Title : Kng of Mercia

Born :

Died : c. 593

Parents : Cynewald of Mercia

Married :

Children : Pybba 

Creoda was the great grandson of Icel, but nothing is really known of him except he gave name to the Icelingas line. Possibly he would have been a local warlord or minor noble who family rose in power to rule the whole region, or maybe he is the legendary starting point and fictional hero made up to give the name of the Icelingas a truth.

In the Anglo Saxon Chronicle the following line; Penda was the son of Wybba (Pybba), Wybba of Creoda, Creoda of Cynewald, Cynewald of Cnebba, Cnebba of Icel, Icel of Eomer, Eomer of Angelthew, Angelthew of Offa, Offa of Wearmund, Wearmund of Whitley, Whitley of Woden.

It was common at the time to prove your right to rule that you were descended of the Gods.

Mercia means ‘mark’ or ‘borderlands’ and it could be thought that due to the vast amount of settlement during the latter part of the 6th Century would of seen the strong Icelingas having a strong leader to co-ordinate and defend against any attacks from the native Britons. An ‘official’ date of Creoda’s accession to the leadership is given as c.589.

The ‘original’ lands of Mercia is given in the later 7th Century ‘Tribal Hideage’. Mercia was apparently based around Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and eastern Staffordshire, areas of Shropshire (the Wreocanseate), the Arrow valley in Warwickshire (the Arowsaete), northern and eastern Worcestershire (the Westerne), the Peaks area of Derbyshire (Pecsaete, northern Oxfordshire, (the Faerpingas), Hertfordshire (Hicce around Hitchin) and southern Lincolnshire (the Fenland Gyrwe).

Creoda is said to have died in c.593 and was succeeded by his son Pybba.

Name : Pybba (Pibba, Wibba, Wybba) of Mercia

House : Icelingas

Title : Kng of Mercia

Born : c.570

Died : 606/615

Parents : Creoda of Mercia

Married :

Children : Penda, Eowa, Coenwalh (possibly)

Pybba the presumed son of Credoa mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle as Wybba and only as the father of more famous king Penda. In the Historia Brittonum Pybba is mentioned twice;

Penda, son of Pybba, reigned ten years; he first separated the kingdom of Mercia from that of the North-men, and slew by treachery Anna, king of the East Anglians, and St. Oswald, king of the North-men. He fought the battle of Cocboy, in which fell Eawa, son of Pybba, his brother, king of the Mercians, and Oswald, king of the North-men, and he gained the victory by diabolical agency. He was not baptized, and never believed in God.

It is thought that Pybba died young either in 606 or 615, this would then of left his sons to young to have ruled and a more experienced warlord.

Name : Cearl (Ceorl) of Mercia

House :

Title : Kng of Mercia

Born :

Died :

Parents :

Married :

Children : Cwenburh (Quenberga), who married King Edwin of Northumbria

Cearl is regarded as ruling after Pybba and before Penda and could have been an experienced Warlord who took control until Penda came of age following the death of Pybba. He is the first Mercian to be mentioned by Bede in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Angorum.


Cearl is not mentioned in any of the Mercian royal genealogies      Henry of Huntingon in the 12th Century places him ruling after Pybba and mentions that he is not Pybba’s son but his kinsman.

Bede also mentions him as father of Cwenburh who was the wife of King Edwin of Northumbria. This causes some controversy as at the time King Æthelfrith ruled Northumbria and was the arch rival to Edwin. It is thought that Cearl would not have been able to marry his daughter to Edwin if he was under the overlordship of Æthelfrith. As mentioned above Mercia is not meant to have split from Northumbria until Penda. It is possibly that the overlordship came after the marriage.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle has Penda becoming king in 626 and it is unknown whether Cearl ruled up to this point or not. It is thought that Penda and Creal were rivals. In 633 the Anglo Saxon Chronicle states that Penda defeated Edwin of Northumbria, Creal’s ally with the assistance of Cadwallon of Gwynedd.

Brychan Brycheiniog


Brychan Brycheiniog was born circa 419 AD and was the King of Brycheiniog. He was the son of King Anlach of Garthmadrun and Marchel. He was born in Ireland but soon after his birth moved with his parents to modern day Wales. At the age of four he was tutored by a holy man called Drichan by the River Ysgir

He was schooled for seven years and this is where a legend surrounding his future comes from. Just before the blind Drichan died he asked Brychan to bring with him his spear. With it he pointed to a nearby boar and stag that had come from the forest to stand with a fish by the river by a beech-tree dripping with honey and Drichan predicted a happy and abundant future for the young Brychan.

A few years later war broke out between Anlach and Banadl (the usurping Irish King of Powys). The fight didn’t go well for Anlach and Brychan was sent to Powys as hostage in order to protect their lands. Brychan was treated well at the Irish man’s court and fell madly in love with Banadl’s daughter Banhadlwedd. The match though was not a good one and not reciprocated. Brychan ended up taking Banhadlwedd by force. They had a son Cynog and Brychan gave the child a golden armilla as a sign of paternal recognition.

Back in Garthmadrun, Anlach had died and the Brychan was crowned the new king. His reign was a success just as Drichan had predicted and due to this success the people decided to rename the kingdom Brycheinog in Brychan’s honour. Brycahn married three times and it is said that he had 24 sons and 24 daughters. Together they are known as the ‘Holy Families of Britain. Brychan was known as a saintly king full of piety.

Despite his piety, Brychan was fierce warrior and known for defending his lands if the need arose. One of his eldest daughters Gwladys was abducted by King Gwynllyw of Gwynllwg. Brychan and his armies pursued them. A battle took place where it is said that many lives were lost. It is then said that the High-King Arthur intervened and acted as mediator between the two and they became reconciled.

On another occasion the King of Dyfed tried to raid Brycheiniog. When Brychen found out he raised his army and led them to victory expelling the raiding army from his lands. After the battle the dismembered limbs of the enemy were collected as trophies.

In old age Brychen is said to have abdicated the throne to become a hermit. He was succeeded in Brycheiniog by his eldest son Rhain Dremudd. Rhain’s line then ruled over the kingdom uninterrupted until the mid of the 7th Century.

So much of the stories of Brychen are shroud in legend and myth. It is hard to try and establish the fact from the fiction. An important note is that Brychen is important to the Arthurian story with him being mentioned as the reconciler in one of Brychen’s disputes.