11 February 2018

History

This northern city - Sheffield - was just a large village until the mid-eighteenth century. However, it had strategic importance. This was recognised by the Norman invaders of the eleventh century and it is the reason they built a castle here - on rising ground overlooking the confluence of the River Don and the River Sheaf.

As centuries passed the castle was developed, becoming a mighty stone fortress that survived up to the time of The English Civil War. Previously it was passed into the hands of the various Earls of Shrewsbury - one of the most noble, wealthy and influential families in the entire kingdom.

George Talbot, the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury (1528-1590), was a close confidante of Queen Elizabeth I. When she was faced with the political crisis that surrounded Mary Queen of Scots, she called upon him for special support. It was his responsibility to oversee Mary's detention - a duty that he successfully fulfilled for fifteen years.

Much of this time Mary was held in Sheffield - in the castle and at Manor Lodge which was in the middle of Talbot's hunting grounds east of the town. There were vindictive rumours that his relationship with Mary was more intimate that that of a jailer and prisoner but Queen Elizabeth dismissed them. Besides, by this time he was married to Bess of Hardwick, the second most powerful woman in England during the Elizabethan era.
George Talbot, circled, at the execution of Mary Queen of Scots
When Mary was executed at Fortheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire in February 1587, George Talbot was the first witness of the crown and, according to a contemporary sketch,  sat in a prime position on the execution platform that was specially erected in that castle's great hall.

Afterwards, he entered his dotage and died three years later in Sheffield. It is said that there were 20,000 people at his funeral which is astonishing given the fact that at that time the population of Sheffield and surrounding villages and townships was less than twenty thousand. 

He was interred in a lavish tomb in the corner of Sheffield Parish Church - now Sheffield Cathedral - which is where, yesterday afternoon,  I took the two photographs that top and tail this post.  
The lengthy inscription is in Latin. It refers to George Talbot's achievements, the
esteem in which he was held and to the rumours that surrounded his relationship
with Mary Queen of Scots.

20 comments:

  1. I do love a bit of history, especially this era. I wouldn't like to have lived then though. I'm patiently waiting for Hilary Mantels 3rd and final book in the Thomas Cromwell series. I fear she may have fallen in love with him and cannot bear to finish him off, as the book launch is already a couple of years behind schedule.

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    1. She does seem to get fully immersed in the periods she fictionalises - almost as if she believes she was really there.

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  2. History was not one of my better subjects at school: probably because I had no interest in it. Oddly I developed a considerable interest in the Nelson era at one stage of my life and it's never really left me. However I have never managed to become very interested in anything that happened before the Industrial Revolution. I'm sure that my life is the poorer for it. Certainly my cross-word ability is impacted upon.

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    1. I like history that is somehow connected with the things I see and the places I have been. So often at school it was dry and lifeless - names and dates not really connected with real life.

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  3. This was very interesting I like English history and just recently read, The Autobiography of Henry VIII.
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. Of course George Talbot was mostly operating in the years after Henry VIII's death but it would be surprising if he or his father the 5th Earl of Shrewsbury did not have a close relationship with the famous king. He was eighteen when Henry died.

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  4. Like you say in your answer to Graham's comment, I like history that is related to something, someone or someplace in my life.
    At school, I found some history lessons did not enter into enough detail to satisfy my thirst for knowledge. Good job then that we had a really good school library at hand, where I would often go after class to read more on the subject our teacher would only touch superficially due to lack of time.

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    1. Given your thirst for knowledge and your obvious intelligence, it is surprising that you did not go to university Meike.

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    2. Laziness is the reason, Neil.

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  5. Did you know her sister Regina Elizabeth I passed the charities act in about 1600 AD. She had to as her dad had robbed the church, not enough in my opinion as the buggers are still here.
    Perhaps her namesake could now repeal the act so that charities are not allowed to go abusing folk in distress.

    Save The Children for Oxfam..... Well they could now St Jo's husband has left.

    Why do Oxfam only work in nice warm places? They soon got sick of the Balkans.

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    1. You raise some interesting questions sir.

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  6. "Afterwards he entered his dotage...". Such a funny expression isn't it? I think I might enter my dotage soon. I quite fancy having afternoon naps.

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    1. To enter one's dotage one must be slightly doolally. In contrast, you ooze common sense Sue!

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  7. They were very nasty people at that time.

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    1. Not all of them. There must have been some nice people too.

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  8. I can see why some folk might have jumped to the conclusion that George Talbot was situated next to the R. Don where Mary was concerned.

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    1. Eh? You have lost me Rhodesia. Please explain.

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  9. My maternal ancestors include Stuart, MacDonald, Hay and Hose...Scottish Highlanders. And, on the paternal side...from Armagh, Country Armagh, Northern Ireland...Nicholson.

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    1. No wonder you have a fiery, independent character!

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