Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bottom's Up, George!

George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence (21 October 144918 February 1478) was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the brother of kings Edward IV and Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the Roses. He is also remembered as the character in William Shakespeare's play Richard III who was drowned in a vat of Malmsey wine ....

... The Neville sisters were heiresses to their mother's considerable estates, and their husbands vied with one another for pride of place, with Richard eventually winning out. Clarence, who had made the mistake of plotting against his brother Edward IV, was imprisoned in the Tower of London and put on trial for treason. Following his conviction, he was "privately executed" at the Tower on 18 February 1478, and the tradition grew up that he had been drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine. The tradition may have originated in a joke, based on his reputation as a heavy drinker. However, a butt was equal to three hogsheads — 105 imperial gallons (477.3 litres) — enough to easily drown in. A body, believed to be that of Clarence, which was later exhumed, showed no indications of beheading, the normal method of execution for those of noble birth at that time. Another possibility is that George's remains were sent to the abbey in a barrel of Malmsey, as Horatio Nelson's were sent home in a barrel of brandy.

No comments: