Archive for the ‘William the Bastard/Conqueror’ Category


Pope Francis with the Bones of St. Peter

Pope Francis with the Bones of St. Peter


I’m not Catholic, but Pope Francis is such a blessing in our times. He marked the end of the Year of Faith by making (what are believed to be) the bones of St. Peter available for public display.

“The relics, normally kept in the private chapel of the Pope’s Vatican apartments, were presented to tens of thousands of pilgrims who gathered to catch a glimpse of the relics. The eight fragments of bone between two and three centimetres (around one inch) long were displayed on an ivory bed within a bronze chest on a pedestal in St. Peter’s Square.”


I was surprised to see saints’ bones continue to have such power in modern times.

From the article – “The bones were discovered in 1939 in an excavation of the Vatican Necropolis below the main altar at Saint Peter’s Basilica, which has been the consistent traditional burial place of the first Pope since antiquity. The excavation, ordered by Pope Pius XII, found the bones in a first century funerary wall creche, with a Greek inscription of ‘Petros eni’, or ‘Peter is here’. The bones were found wrapped in purple and gold threaded cloth.”

It made me think of our ancestor William the Bastard’s treachery with Harold Godwinson, his contender for Edward the Confessor’s throne. (Later Saint Edward the Confessor.)

William the conqueror from Beayeux Tapestry
There was no oath more binding than one on saints’ bones and William played it.

Simon Schama’s video on Edward the Confessor and William the Bastard – later Conqueror – tells the story better than I can.

If you have time, I urge you to enjoy the whole video. If not, start at 14:24


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Saint Edward the Confessor

I’m finally able to work on the book again and happy to share a few tidbits on saints in our line through Lady Elizabeth Brooke.

They come to us through Henry I’s wife, Queen Matilda of Scotland. (I may have mentioned this connection before.)

Henry I married Edith (later “Matilda”) Aetheling, a Scottish princess on November 11, 1100 in Westminster Abbey.  She was the daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland and Saint Margaret of Scotland, a.k.a. Queen Margaret of Scotland, Margaret of Wessex.

Sister M. Juliana of Maryknoll, author of the book “Margaret” (Neuman Press) states that Saint Margaret “… had eight children and she brought in priests for her people, had churches built, and started schools and hospitals she brought up nine orphans with her own children and somehow she found time every morning to serve breakfast to twenty-four very poor people!”

Wikipedia states “Margaret attended to charitable works, and personally served orphans and the poor every day before she ate. She rose at midnight to attend church services every night. She was known for her work for religious reform. She was considered to be an exemplar of the ‘just ruler’, and also influenced her husband and children to be just and holy rulers.”

Years later another ancestor embraced a “family” saint.

In the 1230s Henry III attached himself to the Cult of Edward the Confessor; in 1245 he began rebuilding Westminster Abbey for his patron saint. Why? According to the book Four Gothic Kings – “The Plantagenets could claim descent from Edward’s family (through Henry I’s queen, Matilda, the niece of Edgar Aetheling); and Henry seems to have conceived a deep personal attachment to the only saint the family could call their own.”

To learn about Edward I, a.k.a. Edward the Confessor, please see my post on William the Bastard.

Who knows, there may be more saints in the branches of our tree. We shall see.

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King Edward I of England, a.k.a. St. Edward the Confessor

King Edward I of England, a.k.a. St. Edward the Confessor

This is an informal update.
I just got back from the library. I have a shiny new library card and enough reading material to keep me out of trouble for a few days.


I am so hooked on working on this book. Every door I open opens three more. I was going to “head of the line” in Wyatt ancestry and damned if our first DOCUMENTED ancestor wasn’t Captain Guyot – who ran the fleet for William the Conqueror – who also was an ancestor through Sir Thomas Wyatt’s wife Elizabeth Brooke – whose pedigree goes further back than that.

Then I innocently lost focus due to overlap, wandered off into the world of what was and what if. Like our times, history is not black and white. Writers always had an agenda and you hope to find the truth somewhere in the middle. 

William the Conqueror was William the Bastard before he got to conquering. While researching him I discovered his father’s cousin (?) was then king of England – Edward I who would later be known as “Saint Edward the Confessor.”

What opposites.

Then I read some of Ed’s stuff. I don’t think he wanted that job, it sounds like he just wanted to go off and join a monastery.  Historians make him sound like the wimp king who gave up England to the Normans, while the Catholic church  pegs him as saint.

Did Ed have an arrangement with his wife that they would be celibate due to extreme piousness – or did he hate her because her family killed members of his family?? For most couples, that would be a dealbreaker.

And somewhere along the line Ed promised William he would succeed him to the throne if he (Ed) didn’t have heirs. ?? It didn’t sound like he had PLANS to have heirs. 

And I wondered why the saint was trying to help the bastard when I discovered that William spent his childhood dodging assassins. In one case, as a child, another boy he was sleeping with was stabbed in a case of mistaken identity. Poor kid – talk about post-traumatic stress syndrome.

I would have had a soft spot for him – or at least cut him some slack. Plus the young man was a relative on Ed’s mom’s side. Plus William grew up being called the bastard. (I kept thinking Johnny Cash’s “Boy Named Sue” – I grew up quick and I grew up mean, my fists got hard and my wits got keen ….”)

History has an account of him cutting off the hands and feet of some burghers who made the mistake of mocking. 

And poor Ed – he’s got various sides breathing down his neck and all he wants to do is realize his life’s dream – construction of Westminster Abbey.  Then he goes and has a stroke or hemorrhage in November of 1065. He misses consecration of his beloved edifice.   

Turns out by Christmas Ed was alternately delirious/comatose and was “said” to have given his throne to Harold of Somethingorever just before he died on January 4. 

King Harold was crowned (at Westminster no less) on January 6.

Who gives their throne to Harold? Bill and two other guys were furious and all hell broke loose. 

After requesting directions to books on William the Conqueror and St. Edward the Confessor, I asked the librarians where I could find books on Westminster Abbey; they looked at me like I must have been out in the parking area smoking weed. 

It is just amazing. It’s SO much fun, completely addictive.

I apologize for feeding this blog in bits and pieces, but that’s just how it’s going at this point. My next few posts will be about Bill and Ed.

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