Stephen and Matilda

Following the deaths by drowning of his two legitimate sons, William and Richard, plus their half brother Outtel, Henry I did all he could to ensure that his daughter Matilda would succeed him to the throne and forced his nobles to swear to this on more than one occasion, the last being at Oxford when all present, including Stephen of Blois, son of the Conqueror’s sister Adela gave his word. Stephen was a pleasant, affable and likeable man and a favourite of Henry who gave him so much land and property both sides of the channel that he became one of the richest and most powerful of noblemen. He lacked the moral strength and ruthlessness however to be a firm leader which ultimately proved to be the cause of his failure to secure his line through the accession of his son. He was one of the party intended to travel to England in 1120 on the White Ship, but declined due to diarrhea, an attack which probably saved his life.


Losing Our Heads (Online) – Mary Queen of Scots and 16th Century Surveillance

The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots "The executioner then picked up the severed head and, showing it to those present, cried out: 'God save Queen Elizabeth! May all the enemies of the true Evangel thus perish!'"

Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots was beheaded about 8am on Wednesday, 8 February 1587 for plotting the assassination of her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England (and Ireland).

Mary had not confessed to any crime. The evidence that led to her death came from her intercepted letters. Other letters implicating Mary in the murder of her second husband had led to a cold reception when she first arrived in England. Both cases give an insight into how insecure communication is by no means a modern worry - even if, hopefully, having your emails and Facebook posts read today doesn't lead to an executioner's axe.


Five Days on San Carlos Water

San Carlos Water was the site of a major battle between aircraft and ships that lasted for five days in 1982 as a British amphibious force landed to recapture the Falkland Islands from the Argentine invaders.

For the first time in history, a modern surface fleet armed with surface to air missiles and with air cover backed up by STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) carrier based aircraft, defended against full scale air strikes. The British fleet sustained severe losses and damage, but were able to land and consolidate the beachhead.


King Henry V and the French Throne

Henry’s remarkable success against the French in battle is well known, but it is not generally realised how close he came to uniting the kingdoms of England and France. His victories had given him control of two thirds of France, plus the guarantee of him succeeding to the French throne on the death of the mad King Charles. If Henry could have lived a few short weeks longer he would have achieved this grand ambition.

Those interested in Medieval history will know of Henry’s great victory at Agincourt (or Azincourt to give it its proper name), but this was not the end of his ambition in France.