Extraordinary Life of Lambert Simnel
1487 The ten-year-old Lambert Simnel was crowned in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, with the name of Edward VI in a bid to threaten King Henry VII’s reign.
Lambert Simnel (ca. 1477 – ca. 1525) was a pretender to the throne of England. His claim to be the Earl of Warwick in 1487 threatened the newly established reign of King Henry VII (reigned 1485–1509).
Simnel was born around 1477. His real name is not known – contemporary records call him John, not Lambert, and even his surname is suspect. Different sources have different claims of his parentage, from a baker and tradesman to organ builder. Most definitely, he was of humble origin. At the age of about ten, he was taken as a pupil by an Oxford-trained priest named Richard Simon (or Richard Symonds / Richard Simons / William Symonds) who apparently decided to become a kingmaker. He tutored the boy in courtly manners and contemporaries described the boy as handsome. He was taught the necessary etiquettes and was educated well by Symonds. One contemporary described him as “a boy so learned, that, had he ruled, he would have as a learned man.”
Simon noticed a striking resemblance between Lambert and the supposedly murdered sons of Edward IV, so he initially intended to present Simnel as Richard, Duke of York, son of King Edward IV, the younger of the vanished Princes in the Tower. However, when he heard rumours that the Earl of Warwick had died during his imprisonment in the Tower of London, he changed his mind. The real Warwick was a boy of about the same age and had a claim to the throne as the son of the Duke of Clarence, King Edward IV’s brother.
Simon spread a rumour that Warwick had actually escaped from the Tower and was under his guardianship. He gained some support fromYorkists. He took Simnel to Ireland where there was still support for the Yorkist cause, and presented him to the head of the Irish government, the Earl of Kildare. Kildare was willing to support the story and invade England to overthrow King Henry. On 24 May 1487, Simnel was crowned in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin as “King Edward VI”. He was about ten years old. Lord Kildare collected an army of Irish soldiers under the command of Thomas Geraldine.
The Earl of Lincoln, formerly the designated successor of the late King Richard III, joined the conspiracy against Henry VII. He fled toBurgundy, where Warwick’s aunt Margaret of York, the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy, kept her court. Lincoln claimed that he had taken part in young Warwick’s supposed escape. He also met Viscount Lovell, who had supported a failed Yorkist uprising in 1486. Margaret collected 2,000 Flemish mercenaries and shipped them to Ireland under the command of Martin Schwartz, a noted military leader of the time. They arrived in Ireland on 5 May. King Henry was informed of this and began to gather troops.
Simnel’s army — mainly Flemish and Irish troops — landed on Piel Island in the Furness area of Lancashire on 5 June 1487 and were joined by some English supporters. However, most local nobles, with the exception of Sir Thomas Broughton, did not join them. They clashed with the King’s army on 16 June at the Battle of Stoke Field and were defeated. Kildare was captured, and Lincoln and Sir Thomas Broughton were killed. Lovell went missing; there were rumours that he had escaped and hidden to avoid retribution. Simons avoided execution due to his priestly status, but was imprisoned for life.
King Henry pardoned young Simnel (probably because he had mostly been a puppet in the hands of adults) and gave him a job in the royal kitchen as a spit-turner. When he grew older, he became a falconer. He died around 1525.
Burning of the Bible
1530 A list of heretical books was drawn up in London. Tyndale’s Bible was burnt.
Conversion of a Methodist
1738 John Wesley first attended evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, then went on to a meeting at Aldersgate where he experienced his conversion. This was the start of Wesley’s Methodism, and over 250 years later there are 54 million Methodists in 60 countries.
1809 Dartmoor Prison was opened to accommodate French prisoners of war. From 1850 it becomes a prison for convicts.
Happy Birthday, Alexandrina Victoria
1819 Princess Alexandrina Victoria was born at Kensington Palace in London, the only daughter of the Duke of Kent. As Queen Victoria, she reigned for 63 years, from 1837 until her death in 1901. She married Prince Albert in 1840 and had four sons and five daughters. After Albert’s death in 1861, she went into virtual retirement.
The Knight of the Limelight
1895 The actor Henry Irving became the first person from the theatre to be knighted. On his death he was cremated and his ashes buried in Westminster Abbey, thereby becoming the first person ever to be cremated prior to interment at Westminster.
1930 Amy Johnson landed at Darwin, Australia and became the first woman to fly from England to Australia.
Black and White Minstrels
1969 The Black and White Minstrel Show, at London’s Victoria Palace, closed after completing 4,354 performances over a period of seven years.
Meeting of the Concordes
1976 British Airways and Air France Concordes arrived at Dulles International Airport, Washington D.C. having made their first commercial crossing of the North Atlantic.
Homophobia in High Places
1988 Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was enacted; a controversial amendment stating that a local authority could not intentionally promote homosexuality.
Private Eye and Sonia Sutcliffe
1989 A jury at the High Court in London awarded £600,000 damages to Sonia Sutcliffe, wife of the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, against the satirical magazine Private Eye.
Good Bye, Harold Wilson
1995 The death of Harold Wilson, Labour politician and Prime MInister from 1964-1970 and again from 1974-1976.