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Elephant of Henry III

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Elephant of Henry III
CottonMSNeroD.I. f.169v DetailElephant.jpg
Drawing by Matthew Paris in Liber Additamentorum
SpeciesElephant
Bornc. 1245
Ayyubid Egypt
Died14 February 1257(1257-02-14) (aged 11–12)
Tower of London, England
Known forFirst elephant in England since the Roman conquest of Britain
OwnerHenry III of England

The elephant of Henry III (c. 1245 – 14 February 1257) was an animal of the king's Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London. The elephant is thought to be one given by Egypt to Louis IX of France as a diplomatic gift during the Seventh Crusade. The animal was given to Henry III as he was travelling through France in late 1254. It was kept for a while at Wissant on the northern French coast, whilst transport was arranged to England.

The elephant arrived in England in early 1255 and a special house for it was constructed at the Lion's Tower of the Tower of London. It was the first elephant to be seen in the country since the Roman invasion of 43 AD. The animal attracted crowds of onlookers including the chronicler Matthew Paris who produced two drawings of it. The elephant survived in the Tower until 14 February 1257. It was buried in the Tower's bailey, but exhumed for unknown reasons by Henry in 1258.

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Tower of London

Tower of London

The Tower of London, officially His Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which is separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new Norman ruling class. The castle was also used as a prison from 1100 until 1952, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under kings Richard I, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.

Louis IX of France

Louis IX of France

Louis IX, commonly known as Saint Louis or Louis the Saint, was King of France from 1226 to 1270, and the most illustrious of the Direct Capetians. He was crowned in Reims at the age of 12, following the death of his father Louis VIII. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled the kingdom as regent until he reached maturity, and then remained his valued adviser until her death. During Louis' childhood, Blanche dealt with the opposition of rebellious vassals and secured Capetian success in the Albigensian Crusade, which had started 20 years earlier.

Seventh Crusade

Seventh Crusade

The Seventh Crusade (1248–1254) was the first of the two Crusades led by Louis IX of France. Also known as the Crusade of Louis IX to the Holy Land, it aimed to reclaim the Holy Land by attacking Egypt, the main seat of Muslim power in the Near East. The Crusade initially met with success but ended in defeat, with most of the army – including the king – captured by the Muslims.

Henry III of England

Henry III of England

Henry III, also known as Henry of Winchester, was King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine from 1216 until his death in 1272. The son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême, Henry assumed the throne when he was only nine in the middle of the First Barons' War. Cardinal Guala Bicchieri declared the war against the rebel barons to be a religious crusade and Henry's forces, led by William Marshal, defeated the rebels at the battles of Lincoln and Sandwich in 1217. Henry promised to abide by the Great Charter of 1225, a later version of the 1215 Magna Carta, which limited royal power and protected the rights of the major barons. His early rule was dominated first by Hubert de Burgh and then Peter des Roches, who re-established royal authority after the war. In 1230, the King attempted to reconquer the provinces of France that had once belonged to his father, but the invasion was a debacle. A revolt led by William Marshal's son Richard broke out in 1232, ending in a peace settlement negotiated by the Church.

Wissant

Wissant

Wissant is a seaside commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Hauts-de-France region of France.

Roman conquest of Britain

Roman conquest of Britain

The Roman conquest of Britain refers to the conquest of the island of Britain by occupying Roman forces. It began in earnest in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, and was largely completed in the southern half of Britain by 87 when the Stanegate was established. Conquest of the far north and Scotland took longer with fluctuating success.

Matthew Paris

Matthew Paris

Matthew Paris, also known as Matthew of Paris, was an English Benedictine monk, chronicler, artist in illuminated manuscripts and cartographer, based at St Albans Abbey in Hertfordshire. He wrote a number of works, mostly historical, which he scribed and illuminated himself, typically in drawings partly coloured with watercolour washes, sometimes called "tinted drawings". Some were written in Latin, others in Anglo-Norman or French verse.

Bailey (castle)

Bailey (castle)

A bailey or ward in a fortification is a courtyard enclosed by a curtain wall. In particular, an early type of European castle was known as a motte-and-bailey. Castles can have more than one bailey. Their layout depends both on the local topography and the level of fortification technology employed, ranging from simple enclosures to elaborate concentric defences. In addition to the gradual evolution of more complex castle plans, there are also significant differences in regional traditions of military architecture regarding the subdivision into baileys.

Background and gifting

Although earlier monarchs had kept exotic animals at the Tower of London it was Henry III that established the Royal Menagerie on a permanent footing, with animals being kept continuously from 1235 until 1834. Henry had received three leopards from Emperor Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire in 1235, upon his marriage to Henry's sister Isabella of England. He later received a "white bear", presumed to be a polar bear, from Haakon IV of Norway.[1]

The elephant seems to have arrived in Europe as a result of Louis IX of France's Seventh Crusade, which began in 1248 with an expedition to Egypt. This failed and Louis was captured and ransomed. He chose to remain in the region to continue the crusade, attempting to defend the crusader states in the Holy Land. Egypt proposed an alliance with Louis against Syria and gave him an elephant to this end in 1252–1253.[2]: 2  The elephant was brought from Cairo to Acre, along with many freed prisoners, by John of Valenciennes.[3]: 276  Louis sent the animal back to France and returned there himself in July 1254.[2]: 2 

In November and December 1254 Henry III, travelling through France on his return from Gascony to England, met Louis at Orleans and Paris. During their meetings Henry demanded the return of the French provinces lost by his father, John, though the meetings were generally amicable and the men were brothers-in-law, Henry's wife Eleanor being a sister of Louis' wife Margaret. Louis is thought to have given the elephant to Henry around the time of these meetings.[2]: 2 

The elephant first appears in English records of 13 December 1254 when Henry, who was then travelling from Paris to England, appointed his clerk, Peter of Gannoc, as the animal's keeper. Peter was dispatched to meet with the keeper of the Royal Menagerie, John Gouche, to arrange the transport of the elephant to England.[2]: 2 

In February 1255 Henry, by then at the Palace of Westminster, ordered the Sheriff of Kent to assist the keepers. The sheriff went to Dover with Gouche and arranged transport for the elephant, which was then being kept at Wissant, near Calais. The Exchequer reimbursed the sheriff £6 17s 5d for the transport of the elephant, with additional funds for the transport of Henry's treasure and messengers from Louis, coming to £9 6d total.[2]: 3 

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Henry III of England

Henry III of England

Henry III, also known as Henry of Winchester, was King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine from 1216 until his death in 1272. The son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême, Henry assumed the throne when he was only nine in the middle of the First Barons' War. Cardinal Guala Bicchieri declared the war against the rebel barons to be a religious crusade and Henry's forces, led by William Marshal, defeated the rebels at the battles of Lincoln and Sandwich in 1217. Henry promised to abide by the Great Charter of 1225, a later version of the 1215 Magna Carta, which limited royal power and protected the rights of the major barons. His early rule was dominated first by Hubert de Burgh and then Peter des Roches, who re-established royal authority after the war. In 1230, the King attempted to reconquer the provinces of France that had once belonged to his father, but the invasion was a debacle. A revolt led by William Marshal's son Richard broke out in 1232, ending in a peace settlement negotiated by the Church.

Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor

Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor

Frederick II was King of Sicily from 1198, King of Germany from 1212, King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor from 1220 and King of Jerusalem from 1225. He was the son of emperor Henry VI of the Hohenstaufen dynasty and Queen Constance of Sicily of the Hauteville dynasty.

Isabella of England

Isabella of England

Isabella of England was an English princess of the House of Plantagenet. She became Holy Roman Empress, Queen of Sicily, Italy and Germany from 1235 until her death as the third wife of Emperor Frederick II.

Haakon IV

Haakon IV

Haakon IV Haakonsson, sometimes called Haakon the Old in contrast to his namesake son, was King of Norway from 1217 to 1263. His reign lasted for 46 years, longer than any Norwegian king since Harald Fairhair. Haakon was born into the troubled civil war era in Norway, but his reign eventually managed to put an end to the internal conflicts. At the start of his reign, during his minority, Earl Skule Bårdsson served as regent. As a king of the birkebeiner faction, Haakon defeated the uprising of the final bagler royal pretender, Sigurd Ribbung, in 1227. He put a definitive end to the civil war era when he had Skule Bårdsson killed in 1240, a year after he had himself proclaimed king in opposition to Haakon. Haakon thereafter formally appointed his own son as his co-regent.

Louis IX of France

Louis IX of France

Louis IX, commonly known as Saint Louis or Louis the Saint, was King of France from 1226 to 1270, and the most illustrious of the Direct Capetians. He was crowned in Reims at the age of 12, following the death of his father Louis VIII. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled the kingdom as regent until he reached maturity, and then remained his valued adviser until her death. During Louis' childhood, Blanche dealt with the opposition of rebellious vassals and secured Capetian success in the Albigensian Crusade, which had started 20 years earlier.

Crusader states

Crusader states

The Crusader States, also known as Outremer, were four Catholic realms in the Middle East that lasted from 1098 to 1291. These feudal polities were created by the Latin Catholic leaders of the First Crusade through conquest and political intrigue. The four states were the County of Edessa (1098–1150), the Principality of Antioch (1098–1287), the County of Tripoli (1102–1289), and the Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099–1291). The Kingdom of Jerusalem covered what is now Israel and Palestine, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and adjacent areas. The other northern states covered what are now Syria, south-eastern Turkey, and Lebanon. The description "Crusader states" can be misleading, as from 1130 very few of the Frankish population were crusaders. The term Outremer, used by medieval and modern writers as a synonym, is derived from the French for overseas.

Holy Land

Holy Land

The Holy Land is an area roughly located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River, traditionally synonymous both with the biblical Land of Israel and with the region of Palestine. The term "Holy Land" usually refers to a territory roughly corresponding to the modern State of Israel and the modern State of Palestine. Jews, Christians, and Muslims regard it as holy.

Cairo

Cairo

Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest urban agglomeration in Africa, the Arab world and the Middle East. The Greater Cairo metropolitan area, with a population of 21.9 million, is the 12th-largest in the world by population. Cairo is associated with ancient Egypt, as the Giza pyramid complex and the ancient cities of Memphis and Heliopolis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta, the city first developed as Fustat, a settlement founded after the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 640 next to an existing ancient Roman fortress, Babylon. Under the Fatimid dynasty a new city, al-Qāhirah, was founded nearby in 969. It later superseded Fustat as the main urban centre during the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life, and is titled "the city of a thousand minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture. Cairo's historic center was awarded World Heritage Site-status in 1979. Cairo is considered a World City with a "Beta +" classification according to GaWC.

John of Valenciennes

John of Valenciennes

John of Valenciennes was a baron and diplomat of the kingdom of Jerusalem. He began in the service of the Latin emperor Baldwin II, before joining Louis IX of France on the Seventh Crusade. He was the lord of Haifa by marriage from 1257 until 1265. On behalf of the kingdom of Jerusalem, he led a major fundraising effort in Europe in 1261–1264. He served Louis IX as a diplomat to Mamluk Egypt (1250–1251), England (1264), the Papacy (1266) and Sicily (1267).

Gascony

Gascony

Gascony was a province of the southwestern Kingdom of France that succeeded the Duchy of Gascony (602–1453). From the 17th century until the French Revolution (1789–1799), it was part of the combined Province of Guyenne and Gascony. The region is vaguely defined, and the distinction between Guyenne and Gascony is unclear; by some they are seen to overlap, while others consider Gascony a part of Guyenne. Most definitions put Gascony east and south of Bordeaux.

John, King of England

John, King of England

John was King of England from 1199 until his death in 1216. He lost the Duchy of Normandy and most of his other French lands to King Philip II of France, resulting in the collapse of the Angevin Empire and contributing to the subsequent growth in power of the French Capetian dynasty during the 13th century. The baronial revolt at the end of John's reign led to the sealing of Magna Carta, a document considered an early step in the evolution of the constitution of the United Kingdom.

Eleanor of Provence

Eleanor of Provence

Eleanor of Provence was a French noblewoman who became Queen of England as the wife of King Henry III from 1236 until his death in 1272. She served as regent of England during the absence of her spouse in 1253.

Arrival at the Tower

The second drawing made by Paris, in Chronica Majora
The second drawing made by Paris, in Chronica Majora

The elephant was brought to London and handed to the sheriffs of that city. They were ordered to construct a house for the animal within the Lion's Tower of the Tower of London, home to the Royal Menagerie.[2]: 3  A 40 by 20 feet (12.2 m × 6.1 m) wooden structure was built, which was adaptable for other uses.[2]: 3 [1] The sheriffs claimed £22 20d in expenses for the project.[2]: 3 

The animal was the first elephant in England since those brought by Claudius in 43 AD for the Roman conquest of Britain and its arrival caused a sensation.[1] Chronicler Matthew Paris recorded the event in his Chronica Majora and noted that "people flocked together to see the novel sight".[1][4] Paris travelled from St Albans Abbey to view the elephant for himself. He noted that it was "a beast most strange and wonderful to the English people". He states its age as ten years, noted that it was "ponderous and robust" and measured 10 feet (3.0 m) in height.[1][2]: 4 

Paris is known to have drawn the animal from life, an unusual practice at a time when depictions of animals were based primarily on convention or by copying from bestiaries.[1] It is believed that his first drawing was the one contained in his Liber Additamentorum (Book of Additional Things). It depicts the animal in colour and with a separate study of a different positioning of the trunk.[4] The second drawing appears in Chronica Majora and is less detailed. It may have been based on the first drawing or from sketches, no longer extant, made during Paris' visit.[4] The second drawing shows a more realistic trunk and depicts the animal's keeper, Henry de Flor, to provide an indication of scale.[5] Paris' drawings show prominent knee joints. This is contrary to the prevailing belief, introduced by the 4th-century AD Hexameron of Ambrose, that the animals had no knees and could not rise from the ground if they fell.[1]

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Sheriffs of the City of London

Sheriffs of the City of London

Two sheriffs are elected annually for the City of London by the Liverymen of the City livery companies. Today's sheriffs have only nominal duties, but the historical officeholders had important judicial responsibilities. They have attended the justices at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, since its original role as the court for the City and Middlesex.

Tower of London

Tower of London

The Tower of London, officially His Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which is separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new Norman ruling class. The castle was also used as a prison from 1100 until 1952, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under kings Richard I, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.

Claudius

Claudius

Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was the fourth Roman emperor, ruling from AD 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Claudius was born to Drusus and Antonia Minor at Lugdunum in Roman Gaul, where his father was stationed as a military legate. He was the first Roman emperor to be born outside Italy. Nonetheless, Claudius was an Italian of Sabine origins.

Roman conquest of Britain

Roman conquest of Britain

The Roman conquest of Britain refers to the conquest of the island of Britain by occupying Roman forces. It began in earnest in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, and was largely completed in the southern half of Britain by 87 when the Stanegate was established. Conquest of the far north and Scotland took longer with fluctuating success.

Matthew Paris

Matthew Paris

Matthew Paris, also known as Matthew of Paris, was an English Benedictine monk, chronicler, artist in illuminated manuscripts and cartographer, based at St Albans Abbey in Hertfordshire. He wrote a number of works, mostly historical, which he scribed and illuminated himself, typically in drawings partly coloured with watercolour washes, sometimes called "tinted drawings". Some were written in Latin, others in Anglo-Norman or French verse.

Chronica Majora

Chronica Majora

The Chronica Majora is the seminal work of Matthew Paris, a member of the English Benedictine community of St Albans and long-celebrated historian. The work begins with Creation and contains annals down to the year of Paris' death of 1259. The Chronica has long been considered a contemporary attempt to present a universal history of the world.

Hexameron

Hexameron

The term Hexameron refers either to the genre of theological treatise that describes God's work on the six days of creation or to the six days of creation themselves. Most often these theological works take the form of commentaries on Genesis. As a genre, hexameral literature was popular in the early church and medieval periods. The word derives its name from the Greek roots hexa-, meaning "six", and hemer-, meaning "day".

Ambrose

Ambrose

Ambrose of Milan, venerated as Saint Ambrose, was a theologian and statesman who served as Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397. He expressed himself prominently as a public figure, fiercely promoting the Christian faith against Arianism and paganism. He left a substantial collection of writings, of which the best known include the ethical commentary De officiis ministrorum (377–391), and the exegetical Exameron (386–390). His preachings, his actions and his literary works, in addition to his innovative musical hymnography, made him one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century.

Exhibition and death

A modern sculpture depicting the keeping of elephants at the Tower of London
A modern sculpture depicting the keeping of elephants at the Tower of London

De Flor had apparently succeeded Gouche to the role of keeper of the king's elephant when the latter left Henry's service in May 1255, apparently on good terms.[2]: 4  In late 1255 the new sheriffs of London (it was an annual office) were ordered by the king to provide for the maintenance of the elephant and its keeper. From December 1255 to September 1256 the costs were £24 14s 3.5d. At this time a labourer made around 2d a day and £15 was considered sufficient to support a knight for a year[2]: 3  The order was renewed for the following term and the sheriffs claimed £16 13s 1d from September 1256 to 14 February 1257, when the elephant died.[2]: 4  The animal had been a source of great pride for Henry.[1]

In August 1258 Henry ordered the Constable of the Tower to exhume the elephant's bones from the bailey of the Tower of London and provide them to the sacristan of Westminster Abbey to do what the king had instructed with them (this order has not been found). It is not known if the king was intent on recovering the valuable ivory from the animal, planned to exhibit the bones as a curiosity or intended to reinter them.[2]: 4  It is possible Henry's order was intended to provide a respectable resting place for the animal at the Abbey, which he had established as the burial place of future kings. Mediaeval bestiaries attributed faithful and gentle virtues to elephants and associated them with the Biblical paradise and the redemption of Christ.[2]: 5–6  Later monarchs kept other elephants at the tower. The elephant house survived until its abandonment and demolition in the mid 19th century.[1]

Source: "Elephant of Henry III", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_of_Henry_III.

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References
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Thomas, Phillip Drennon (1 January 1996). "The Tower of London's Royal Menagerie". History Today: 30.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Cassidy, Richard; Clasby, Michael. "Matthew Paris and Henry III's elephant" (PDF). Henry III FIne Rolls Project. King's College London.
  3. ^ Runciman, Steven (1954). A History of the Crusades. Vol. 3: The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades. Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ a b c "The Elephant at the Tower". Medieval manuscripts blog. British Library. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  5. ^ "Matthew Paris and the Elephant at the Tower". Parker Library. Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge. 8 May 2013.

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