Even More Cornish History

Discussion in 'South West' started by breakwake_, Apr 6, 2019.

  1. breakwake_

    breakwake_ UKChat Familiar

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    Time for the battles.

    On the land of Clyst Heath, Exeter, on the date of August 5th 1549, Clyst Heath was the site of one of the worst atrocities in British history during the Prayer Book Rebellion when troops loyal to the King under the command of John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford murdered nine hundred Cornish prisoners. Previously that evening Russell had pitched camp on Clyst Heath and was concerned about the burden of the large number of prisoners he had captured from previous encounters at Fenny Bridges, Woodbury Common and Clyst St Mary. Russell discussed the situation with Lord William Grey who was in charge of a thousand German mercenary landsknechts and it was Grey who gave the order for the lanzknechts to carry out the massacre. It took them just ten minutes to slit the throats of all nine hundred bound and gagged prisoners, a number that derives from John Hayward, Edward VI's own chronicler.

    When news of the massacre broke on 6 August 1549 some 2,000 Cornishmen made for Clyst Heath, some getting there before dawn. Others soon arrived and surrounded the heath where Russell and Grey's army was camped. The Battle of Clyst Heath was the bloodiest and the fiercest battle yet of the Anglo-Cornish war, lasting all of the following day with the enraged Cornish refusing to give in against superior numbers. The viciousness of the battle, and the death toll on both sides, were truly horrendous. Lord Russell's troops were finally victorious but Lord Grey was later to comment that he had "never seen the like, nor taken part in such a murderous fray". As he had led the charge against the Scots in the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, this was a telling statement.

    As is usual custom in these parts if you set out to find Clyst Heath, you will be disappointed, because it no longer exists, having been completely obliterated by the Sandylane roundabout and junction 30 of the M5, right next to Exeter Services and the Exeter Chiefs rugby ground at Sandy Park. This motorway route was allowed despite Ordnance Survey maps clearly marking it as a battlefield site, not only in 1549, but also another battle relating to the Wars of the Roses in 1455. In the 1990s English Heritage also followed the same tradition by refusing requests for an archaeological excavation to be carried out at the site of the 1549 battle prior to the construction of the Tesco Exeter Vale supermarket.
     
  2. breakwake_

    breakwake_ UKChat Familiar

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    Completely cut and pasted from a book.


    Prelude to War

    Make no mistake. 1549, the blackest year in Cornish history, should not be minimized as merely a “Prayer Book Rebellion”, as is the trend of mainstream histories. It was nothing less than all-out war, instigated by injustice and fuelled by outrage, but most books say little about it and, sadly, our schoolchildren are told even less.

    Only 41 years earlier, King Henry VI’s Charter of Pardon restored the Cornish Stannary Parliament he had suspended in 1497 and granted it powerful rights that remain law to this day. The most significant of these was the right of veto over any Act or Statute of the London-based Parliament. It took just four decades for London to trample all over these rights by forcibly imposing its new State Religion and the English language upon the Cornish people by way of the Act of Uniformity sculpted by the real powers in the realm – Thomas Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector to a sickly 10-year old king; and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. After marching upon England twice in 1497, there was only one way that the Cornish were going to react to this.

    It is often stated that the Uprising started in the Devon village of Sampford Courtney, but its true origins lay somewhat earlier when, before any Act had been passed, Cranmer sent in the odious William Body to destroy all Catholic idolatry in Cornish churches. Body had got away with this in Ireland – the Cornish were not to be so lenient. On April 5th 1549, Body was enjoying himself by despoiling Helston church when a furious mob dragged him out into the street and knifed him to death. For this, William Kilter and Pasco Trevian, along with St Keverne priest Martin Geoffrey, were hung, drawn and quartered. Others were hung, one on Plymouth Hoe to act as a warning to Devonians against dissention.
     
  3. U_N_Owen

    U_N_Owen UKChat Initiate

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    A very interesting read, Henry V dd a similar thing massacring several thousand prisoners after the battle of Agincourt for the same reason - he considered them a burden.
    I can't say much about Cornish history and not wanting to go too far off-topic (hijacking!) so I apologise but I saw on the news the other day Cornwall tourism chiefs are complaining that the county is regularly obscured by BBC weather presenters as they deliver the forecast, they stand directly in front of western Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, But is that just Cornwall’s fault for being where it is?
     
  4. breakwake_

    breakwake_ UKChat Familiar

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    Its no recent thing for the weather readers to block Cornwall but the VisitCornwall group have been speaking up about things recently. Coming up to holiday time and they think Brexit and the weak pound might attract British visitors here so I suppose any publicity is a good thing.
     

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