When I was a young child I asked so many questions that it was thought I would learn more and better without a school environment and even without a teacher. Distant relatives of ours were the Royal Breeders and in charge of the queen's horses. I was given the job of teaching all the children of Europe that came to England (mainly the son's of ambassadors) how to ride England's little ponies like the Shetland Pony which a young Princess Elizabeth is on to the left. Since those children were the best educated in Europe they gave me an even better education than any one of them had and they had the best educations available.
I used the name Anne* and sometimes Stallion.
My adopted family were always servants to the Royal Family. They were actually distant relatives. As a family we took care of the horses for the Royal Family. We lived at or adjacent to the 'downs' and almost in the shadow of the Tower of London. I recall it was about a city block away and pretty much behind it. I just looked on this old map and found it in 20 seconds by recalling the view of the tower from the stables. I think I recognize the buildings. It was one block behind and to the right of the Tower which is located on the right of the map on the river.
Nobody would tell me who my parents were related to because I could have ended end up becoming the queen and they did not want me to get spoiled or assassinated.
People never understood me as a child (or later when I became the bard) so the horses were my aunts and uncles. Maybe the horses didn't understand me either but they never told me that. However, real people often made comments about it. I do think two of the horses understood me far better than any of the people could. Later, I sometimes made horses into people and then made them talk in the plays like in 'The Merry Wives of Windsor".
The horses became as if they were my aunts and uncles to me and I liked them so much that I had tea parties with my aunt horses often. Of course they were elegant tea parties because my aunts were the very elegant and aristocratic mares that pull the Queens Carriage's (right).
People would pass by and see a little three or four year old girl in the field feeding straw to the queens horses from tea cups. Then they would go tell my uncle.
Our family had worked in the kings stables since the 1300's and as the primary breeders since the 1400's (in charge of the stables if I am not mistaken from about 1450 on) so after two hundred years raising men to understand horses they all had become half horse. What we now call a 'horse whisperer'.
So when someone would talk with him and warn him about me it would fall on deaf ears. He would look at the person and say 'So? She can have tea with the mares, that is not a problem. She is not in with one of the stallions is she?' They would reply 'no, just with the mares'. Then he would ask them. 'What's the matter with you?' as if in his domain any one who doesn't have tea with the queens mares is insane. We all knew that everyone outside the family was 'touched'.
Our family knew everybody was insane anyway except for other people who based their livelihood on horses. Horses are incredibly happy and are the most practical of all the animals in God's known kingdom (Although I could be slightly prejudiced about this known fact).
We had a different mentality about dealing with horses for the queen and other royals than most people do in today's world. We had to be completely at one with the horses as if we were mares or geldings and not stallions. So gentle persuasion (with a little trickery) was how we managed horses.
There was a rule that those that took care of horses for royalty could never 'break' a horse or place undue demands on them. It would create an adversarial relationship with the horse. If we had done that then nearly every person who worked with that horse from then on would find the horse challenging their authority. Those horses had to be dominated from then on by nearly every person that came in contact with them. Not just that one horse but all the other horses around would sense it and learn to have that same adversarial relationship with humans. So we were all horses inside.
If a new owner wanted to treat their horse with abuse, then it was up to them but that could only happen later on when they took the horse away from the stables forever. Though in practice it almost never happened. The stakes were very high. If I recall correctly when a knight fell from his horse in battle the horse would come back on it's own and even defend his owner by biting and kicking the enemy. They could only do that if the horse really liked him to begin with.
So for those who took care of horses it was essential to remain friends with all of them and that was nearly impossible to do without being a genius and taking lots of time! Hence from morning till dark and often later than that the men in my family were walking around being 100% horses. They often seem to appear to others as though they were missing parts upstairs. They were all really geniuses though.
One thing for sure, I earned my keep. From a very early age I took care of many of the little ponies . The exmoor ponies had a lot of problems giving birth and the mares often died. So I had to hand feed and raise many 'four legged children' while I was still learning to walk on my own two legs. I had to sleep in the stables when a mother died. In the summers it was to be able to feed them when they needed feeding. In the winters it was so I could keep them warm by sleeping next to them. When it was the coldest of the nights they came into our house and slept by the fire if they were not too frightened of it.
I grew up in an upside down world where people were horses and horses were royalty. My very unusual attitude about the world is one reason why the plays are so strange and unusual yet also very earthy and spiritual.
From an early age the world looked to me as if it was a stage. Generally speaking, after I got married there was nobody else that could understand me in the least. So if you feel out of place in this world then welcome to the bard's land.
We had the best ponies in all of England (and Europe) since they belonged to the Royal Family. They were sold all over Europe, to the Spanish in the New World, in Africa and even in Asia. They were often sent as a gift to Princes and other Royalty around the world. Since they were small and very tame they could go on any part of a ship and after a few hours they would often end up with the freedom of the ship. They would quickly end up walking around it like a puppy. They made friends easily and the crew often offered to buy them when they got to their new homes.
These were the best and most pure of the breeds so I could not let a single one ever die and not one did except one that caught an infection that killed many other horses throughout England. From the age of four I felt like the entire weight of England rested on my shoulders.
Children received the same treatment as adults. We were expected to act and react like small adults.
There were visiting royalty from all over Europe at the downs. Many Europeans waited until they came to England to have their children learn to ride on England's famous ponies. Others sent their children in the summers to England with servants to learn to ride much as today's parents send their children to summer camp.
I taught nearly 400 children to ride ponies starting when I was about four years old. It was very serious business. If a child fell off a horse and got hurt and especially if it was one of about four countries that hated England and wanted to invade us then they might use it as an excuse to declare war. It was the Hapsburg group of countries like Spain, Austria, Germany and France that were the problems I think. Again, I felt like the entire weight of England rested on my shoulders and this time it really did.
If you think that I just taught the child and ignored the person then you are wrong. I made friends with most everybody and so I learned about every aspect of each part of every ones personality. I was an excellent psychologist.
Then I pumped every one of those children for all the information I could get from them about everything from nature to the geography of their country and how they spelled words in their language and how they pronounced things and if their coins were divided by ten or by eight like the Spanish and how tall their buildings were and the art in them, etc.
The children were sharp as tacks because their parents were the most clever people in their country. Since the best scholars in Europe taught these children and since they went to the finest of schools I became about the best educated person in Europe. Where do you think the bard learned so much about all those European facts and all those customs that were never wrong and from nearly every European country? The Bard could speak fluently to the children in any of nine languages and in five without an accent. The result of this learning was fascinating.
I learned everything I could about tide pools because I liked them more than anything else. It was part the English seafaring blood because even an Englishman who never sails still thinks he is a seafarer. But it was also the romantic dance of the water's ebb and flow with the moon. Then scientifically it was fascinating to me how the tides varied from just inches to a dozen or more feet. It was also the strange and remarkable gifts from the sea and the variety that entranced me. Then there was that irresistible question of what other mysteries lay undiscovered just beyond the tide in the deep waters of the oceans.
So when I found a student that lived by a seashore my questions often centered on the tides. I was so insistent on knowing everything that this one child told his father and I actually got a decree issued against me! Seems this boys father was a member of the legation of the Spanish Netherlands and he never amounted to much so he decided to make a name for himself by destroying a six year old girl. Not a big accomplishment but my aunt said it was the biggest thing he had ever attempted in his entire life. Anyway it backfired and before long I was famous.
My uncle didn't know what to make of it. Horse men are very straight. The government sent me a copy of the decree and my aunt studied it for a long time. She told me I couldn't go see the tide pools in the Spanish Netherlands and left it at that. (This incident could take 20 pages of writing to do it justice. It went on for years.)
The decree was about how I was accused of helping England prepare for an invasion of the Netherlands by finding out the tides but it was all information any English fisherman could find out in about in an hour from a Netherlands fisherman or anyone else could if they went to the shore and rented a house on the beach.
So the Queen sent out the information that the diplomat was paranoid or making an issue over nothing. The strange thing is that it was picked up on by the Spanish court too quickly and without question before it ran it's course so it acted as an alert to the Queen to be wary of Spanish intentions from then on. The Spanish had been waiting for any excuse to get upset at the English and they were almost diplomatically bound to go to war.
The queen's first response to finding out a spy was working independently for the English was to ask if I had a clear route of communication to the Admiralty and if I needed any gold to pay my spies with. Then she found out that I was seven years old and was 'that girl that spied on her when she practiced archery' at the downs. (That is another story.) And she laughed and she laughed and she laughed.
That foreign official was turning me into a female 007 and..
...not a little girl that just wanted to know what was in the tide pools of other countries.
He was a very manipulative politician because he got out of it later on when he told everybody his own son had failed to tell him my age. But his daughter had escorted the son to his riding lessons and she was in her late teens. He said she was never there so he was lying about not knowing everything.
He had inherited his high position, much wealth and even some investments in England. His family were all high achievers and yet he had done nothing in his life. So he decided to make his mark by destroying a little girl who lived far from his King. He thought his lies would not be uncovered and he thought the Queen would never make an issue of a stable girl. Queen Elizabeth felt that all of us were her children and if you want to see an angry woman then falsely accuse a woman's child of something bad. That was the end of him in England and they may have executed him in his own country for treason and for almost starting a war. (As I recall the Spanish arrested him for treason but I am not certain what happened to him.)
The queen sent over a huge amount of sweets to offer for bribes to the children of those I taught. But these children were aristocracy who ate sweets regularly and some whenever they wanted them. So not only were the sweets of no use, they looked just like the bribes they were.
The queen did not understand the power a pony holds on a small child who has never ridden one (and who perhaps has never even seen a horse that small). They were children of aristocrats and did what ever they wanted too.
However, like this little girl, these children were too small to ride large horses so for years they were envious of adults who could ride horses. Suddenly, on an English pony they had freedom. They felt superior to all other children and had equality with the adults...that is if I gave them the reins. As the teacher it was my duty to literally hold the reins of their horses until I felt they were responsible enough to be given them. This was mainly for safety but it was also a way that I could usurp their power if they didn't tell me all the things I wanted to know about. So I didn't need to bribe them with candy I just used blackmail.
Either they told me what I wanted to know or I would stick strictly to the lesson plan. I should not be so dramatic. It almost never got to the level of blatant blackmail, only a few stuffy boys from the Baltic's ever remained aloof around me. For them when the lesson was over we just went back to stables. There was no time keeping and no clocks so I just taught them until they learned what they needed to know.
There was usually an hour or two left before I taught the next child. Then it was up to me to decide what to do. If they wanted to run their pony or go west to the creek then they had better get me in an intense conversation really fast and be really great friends so that I would not want to go back to the stables so soon. All you had to do was get me interested in something and I became 'Anna of a thousand horse lessons'.
Children are happy to share what they know. When a child is happy they want to share and riding ponies made them all happy. Also, they almost always were grateful for any child who they could speak with in their native language. We talked about things we knew and I really gave as good as I got.
When the Polish representative arrived in England his daughters had no one to play with so I introduced them to the only other Polish child in London. His father sold musical instruments from Poland but not many so he was about to go back. Then the fathers got together and they made lots of money in a partnership shipping English products to Poland.
The pony lessons were free to the children of all official visitors. It was a policy started by King Henry VI and it was said to have been responsible for the survival of England. These children grew up to rule their countries and they couldn't think anything but nice thoughts about England because we supplied their most pleasurable childhood experiences like this picture..
.. of a young Princess Elizabeth with her favorite fjord horse Glen Tanar Hans.
England has survived because of the love the children of foreign rulers have felt for their English ponies. King Henry VI was really smart.
The rich of Europe could also order a pony and then they would send their child to both learn to ride the pony and then take it home with them like you might go to Stuttgart to pick up your 212 MPH modified Porsche and also learn how to drive it fast on the Nurburgring or Autobahn. Or you could simply send a servant to pick one up. These were very expensive ponies and when the distances that they were shipped suddenly expanded with exploration and European expansion we required that there be a human escort with each horse that was shipped.
No ship at that time could be trusted to do right by the ponies for more than about two weeks. They simply did not know how to treat them. They might leave them above deck in bad weather. Their fur would keep them warm until the salt water sprayed or splashed on them. Then they would freeze and sometimes the sailors would put them in the hold standing in several inches of bilge water and leave them there for a week and that would eat away at their legs until the skin died. Then the flesh fell off and the pony would die. If the sailors did treat them well then they would often fall in love with them and not want to let them go. They made up all kinds of stories until they found out the ponies really did cost a 'princely sum'.
So it became a requirement that people had to send someone to pick up the ponies and it was often the child who would also learn to ride the pony.
Of the 400 children that I taught about 250 took a pony home with them. And they paid top dollar too, as if they were regular size horses. People do not realize that ponies cost much less than big horses to raise. No tall fences, in fact they love people and they will follow you around like puppies. Since they eat grass they are cheaper to keep than a dog. Dogs have become more domesticated than they were 400 years ago but the small English ponies seem to have gone the other way.
Our ponies were breed for dog like affection and friendship as well as intelligence and they had been breed that way for hundreds of years. It takes continuous close observation to keep up those aspects of the breed line. It takes a lot of time to figure out which is the smartest and friendliest of a hundred ponies as all but the most dominate male and a few mares 'dummy up' or else get rebellious. The horses have to all be separated for a week from the other horses before you can test them to see how good they learn. And there is no IQ test for horses...yet. Then finally their personality can be determined. So it takes a whole lot of time to breed the very best ponies in the world.
I finally figured out what the candy was about but it only took me 400 years to do so! We could neither take or give gifts to those we taught. So I was placed in a dilemma by the queen. If a child offered a gift then we told them we would get beaten if we took it. We told them that the queen knew everything that happened (because she was the biggest witch on Earth, said the Vatican). Even if a girl left a hat and was going to return for another lesson in two days an uncle of mine would immediately take the hat to her and spend up to a half a day returning it.
Queen Elizabeth must have already ordered the Exchequer to actually give me the gold for my spies before she found out I was 7 years old. Then the Exchequer found out that I was 7 years old and that I got the 'secrets' from other children. He did not know that we couldn't give gifts to the children or else he never would have done the next part. On his own he must have changed the order for gold to an order for the equal value in candy. That was almost 400 pounds of rare candy. All we knew is that I got a huge amount of candy delivered to me. And that it was for us to eat.
So I ate and ate the candy myself and I got so sick. Then all my cousins and my aunt ate and ate until they got sick too.
We had never had sweets. Maybe a maple like syrup in porridge or oats occasionally and for about one week a year there were apples that were pretty sweet but that was all.
Suddenly I had a huge amount of sweets. Nearly 400 pounds of candy. These were small candies. Before the first day was over I was so sick that I never wanted to see, eat or think about another candy ever again. It's been 400 years that I have kept it from my mind so my memory is vague. Mainly it is distorted from the viewpoint of an upset six year old who has never put it in perspective as an adult.
Food was simple then, if it tasted bad you did not eat it or you could get sick. If it tasted good then you ate it. The more good it tasted, like fresh bread does, the more of it you would eat. It's just horse sense and we had lots of that. So we ate those candies for an hour and then were very sick for a day except for my aunt. She couldn't cook for three days but I think she might have stretched out her sickness a bit.
We knew nothing except that when you would put one in your mouth it tasted so great that you then put two in your mouth and that tasted even better so then you tried to fit three in your mouth but they wouldn't fit so you just ate two at time but you ate them as fast as you could.
Then the best Exmoor Pony stallion in England and hence the world got into the candy and he ate for about half an hour and since horses cannot vomit we thought he was going to die. I was horrified; he was on his side and crying and moaning. That was also the favorite of my cousin who raised it and he was angry at me for the candies. Then everyone else except my aunt got angry at me too. It was a real quandary. Since the queen gave us the sweets, if the little stallion died and we told the truth, it would be an act of insurrection to mention the queen (we thought). The real problem was that they were sure to question the men first and they were all half horse and they couldn't lie, they didn't even know how to lie. We were all going to die, I was certain of it.
Then we realized the candy was more like apples than we thought. Basically we all realized that the candies were like green apples. Horse's die if they ate more than a few green apples and the stallion had eaten about 5 pounds of candy so we knew that stallion was going to die and then we would die, and it was certain to be a slow and painful death by torture.
Then the best Exmoor Stallion in the world recovered and we were allowed to live. One of my uncles said he ate a couple pieces from a special bag of candy and 'could not walk straight' but it did not have any alcohol in it. Back then candy was often combined with drugs like Coca Cola used to have cocaine added to it. Modern versions of mildly intoxicating candies are rum balls, licorice and even chocolate. Two of my cousins took one of the special bag of the candies which were different from the others and sold them to ships doctors at the docks. The main operation those doctors performed were amputations, usually when sailors got tangled in the lines. The candies made a persons legs and arms numb so they could be amputated without the patient even feeling the pain. Those cousins made a lot of money from about ten pounds of candy.
My uncle took action for once. He knew there was a rule against giving anything to the visitors so he reasoned that the candy was meant for us to do as I saw fit but I was vomiting and not fit at all. So he exchanged the candy for credit for food.
He doubled the amount of money we were spending on food by matching what we already spent. We had really good food for almost two years. It was shared like we always shared what we had but also he did buy me quite a bit of clothing material. I was blown away by the material. Both because of the material and that he picked it out by himself. It matched my eyes and my skin color and it was nice and soft, I was amazed he did a perfect job of picking out the most beautiful material that I had ever seen. His reason was that a horse only needs food to survive but girls need nice clothes so the food and my clothes were in the same category called basic necessities. Apparently the material was given to him as a free bonus, like interest, for allowing the buyer of the candies to hold the money as credit for two years.
I'll write more pages about my childhood when I have the time because I ended up before a committee of parliament members, being asked about the wages that masons and other tradesmen made in different countries. The children of aristocracy that I taught often had fathers that knew they needed to understand hard work to be able to rule fairly when they grew up. So these children often studied with and became good carpenters (like Jesus) or masons and knew all about wages and hours and they told me all about them.
My first questioning by parliament was in direct response to an uprising of workers near Prussia (there were at least a dozen fiefdoms) and these parliament members wanted to know if the cause was low wages and if so were they low wages relative to a neighboring fiefdom (where they could move) or if the wages were inadequate for a good life, etc. But their questions fell almost on deaf ears since all I could focus on was not peeing.
In the castle (or Parliament) there is no place for a woman to pee or at least no signs in the halls. Men pee anywhere and I had always done the same like the horses and just squatted behind a wall in the field whenever I needed to. I had never had to hold my pee and my freedom was threatened in the Parliament building by just not being able to pee. I had never been in a building for so long and I was a little girl and needed to pee often and we had to wait for a long time so they gave us something to drink and that made me have to pee more and they kept asking me very important questions but I was actually getting a headache trying to keep from peeing and I was only hearing about half the questions so it was all just confusion to me.
Now I remember better. England was being asked essentially to send rope to hang rebels and the Lords wanted to know if the rebellion had been just. If the rebels were starving then the rebellion was justified and our Queen would have probably officially remained 'neutral' but quietly smuggled ropes to the rebels so they could hang the rulers.
This wasn't the end of it by any means. At least every two weeks for years Parliament members and their associates visited me at the downs with lists of questions for me to answer. After two years a whole group of members visited to compare the laws of England with mainly those of Northern Europe such as Saxony. Later they asked about France. I fell kind of short in my knowledge of French law. (French laws were very stiff and arbitrary so I did not like to even hear about them.) Their questioning did inspire me to ask the children more about all their laws. As I kind of expected the Parliament members came back after about a year and asked the same questions for which I now had almost all the answers to their questions.
I later read the records and found out that I was not only the best source for information about other countries but actually the source for about half of it. It is amazing the state secrets that rulers entrusted to their own children especially when they were being trained to follow in their fathers footsteps. Even massive invasion plans. For these actions on behalf of England I was later made a Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen using the alias of Anne Vavasor Oops, it was also for managing the secret breeding of England's Super Horse. I think the law stated that the queen was only allowed to have 5 Ladies of the Bedchamber
and they had to have helped England significantly. It was kind of like
the Congressional Medal of Honor in the U.S. or today being made a lady in
the U. K.. However, it had to involve having been of much more benefit to England than
was needed to be made a lady.
In a 1500's duel when one man challenged another to a duel, as you may know, the other man got to 'choose his weapon' and they meant it. They could chose nearly any weapon. Sometimes it would be a joust. They would go immediately to the downs for the joust. Not days later, it was right then and whoever was there saw it.
The joust would end really fast, occasionally with one man horribly mangled. The lances were the heavy lances without the tip. **
Often they used only a breast plate and nothing else. They would charge and sometimes pull the lance up at the last half second so they would hit the other man in the face if they could. I was five years old when I saw the first one. Then I started to exist in a romantic mode of fantasy that little girls sometimes decide to live in. It can become an escape and so can become very dangerous. Later when I wrote the plays I tried to write to destroy that state in other women in order to bring them back from an unreal existence that is as bad as consuming your life with drugs. Hence Juliet's unrealistic fantastic way of resolving her problem caused her death. Hello Juliet, why didn't you come down to earth and just elope on a horse with Romeo?
Two men once arrived to prove their manhood with a joust. I was soon fantasizing that both these men were fighting over me. In my own mind I had become a fair princess that held men spellbound with my beauty. Such beauty as would make them fight to deserve my 8 year old hand in marriage. They had become princes in my mind so that my heart could be only be won by the one who would merit such a prize as myself. You see, in a joust it was not so much skill as justice according to God that determined the winner. Hence fate was going to determine which of these two men deserved me.
One man wanted to keep his weight light so he could he could move side to side or duck his head and avoid the lance of the other man. He thought three layers of heavy cow hide would be the same as armor. The lance went right through him and six feet out the back and broke off that way. He looked around and saw it sticking out his back and there was such a look of horror on his face. Then he looked around at the people that had gathered. Then he looked at me with a look of incredulousness like what he saw could not be happening to him. The blood was pouring out of him and I closed my eyes as it was too much for me to bear alone.
I knew that I was the princess he was fighting for and that I had caused his death.
Within seconds I looked again and he was dead.
However he had also managed to land a heavy blow to the other man's armor. That other man was in pain but it was from internal injuries. He was off his horse, I think he was knocked off by the powerful blow of the 25 pound lance at full gallop (which is about 27 mph times two). He got up, removed his helmet and coughed against his hand. There was blood on his hand when he removed it from his mouth. He coughed again, then he choked on blood and was getting white. Then he just bent forward with his hands on his hips as if to catch his breath with the full breastplate holding his body in place.
Oh no, it looked like I had killed both of the men who had been fighting for me. I watched my second prince but it looked like nothing had happened to him. He was just still with his hands on his hips. It seemed to me like maybe he was just catching his breath and was all right after all and then about 45 seconds passed and he just fell over sideways. He was dead too. They loaded both bodies in a wheel barrow together, one on top of another, and rolled them off the field.
God showed me that I deserved neither man. I was a witch and I was cursed, I was destined to live out my life as a whore.
I was told to say that it never happened. To be able to tell your friends you had dueled at the Royal downs was highly desirable but at the same time highly illegal.
I was once going to publish a book containing a universal language that I developed.
Here is how I developed my 16th century version of Esperanto. When there were nine words (from the nine main languages of Europe) that had a common root I used it. If there were not nine words with the same root I used the word whose common root was used by the most people that could also be pronounced in all the other languages (no rolling 'R's were allowed like the Spanish have). I had to alter a few words that could not be pronounced in one or another language. So I might change a rolling 'r' to a regular 'r' so it could then be pronounced by all.
It was a big inspired project that I took on for no reason except for the new dynamic personality I was developing for some unknown reason. I could not understand it but I just took on this huge project like there was no tomorrow at 50-100 words a day. I finished it at about 4,000 words and if I had another year I could have edited it, refined it, got the Queen to approve it and published my very easy to understand universal language. However my new dynamic personality culminated one fine summer afternoon when I looked around and saw a man exactly the same way the mares do when they like a stallion. So we got married the next year instead.
If you would like to read a few more paragraphs about my childhood then go here. It's kind of nutty. Here is when I first met Queen Elizabeth.
To go too the page with the next part of my life when I was a teenager and England begat all those great horse breeds.
*My name was spelled different ways but pronounced like "Annie" is now pronounced. Maybe in Scotland it was pronounced differently. It can be very confusing to allow myself to recall from 400 year old memory how names or words were pronounced. It lets down the barrier and words just flood my mind and overwhelm me completely. I have to see the word spelled out instead. Those I can control. However, sometimes it is the old English spelling and that can be really confusing. Seeing a picture or vision takes a minute to deal with but these mental 'pictures' do not create conflicts with my normal day to day thoughts. However hearing words is a different matter. Imagine hearing a word simultaneously in modern English, middle English, Old English, with a Cockney Accent, with an American and a southern accent all at the same time. Each accent is from a lifetime I spent in an English speaking country.
It has it's up side as well. My knowledge of English words are literally an accumulation of all the words that I learned in at least six lifetimes. In that lifetime, 400 years ago, I had already had four lifetimes in England. Hence the bards immense vocabulary of over 50,000 words and unrivalled command of the English language.
There is one other thing that confuses me about my name being Annie. It wasn't Annie all the time. I was born Ursula Stanley. Through the years I went by many different names. I had to or I would have been assassinated. It was mainly to protect me and hide me from Spanish agents. I sometimes hear two or three of the names at one time and that is kind of confusing.
**The lances they used were probably a practice lance for dummies that had no tip except a ball on the end. Lots of lances existed so don't draw a hasty conclusion based something you read in some book that say here are the exact 'specifications of a lance in Elizabethan times'.
There were lances for tournaments (they were weight restricted and without points), battle lances, practice lances for hitting dummies and others for practice on bales of straw or hay. They even had a heavy 4" thick log with a notch in the middle to hold it by while riding a horse. It was to acquire balance, strength in the muscles, and to learn to maneuver.
We had special long white and black poles with cloth draped from them that my uncles would hold while riding a knights horse so the horse would get used to lances which looked to the horse like a long branch over his head that followed them everywhere. Horses don't like to have branches waving around overhead or they might get hit. So if a battle is the first time a horse sees a lance his instinct is to get away really fast and that does not win battles. Neither do nervous horses but they usually were not nervous after a few hours of running around with my uncle on his back with that pole. But horses are a lot more tame now with another 400 years of domestication and these days it may take no time at all for them to get used to a lance. Back then I was a little girl so I never wanted to think about lances. Hence I don't know all the difference between them and what kind they used at the downs for these dueling jousts.
Each lance was different and the differences were critical. If it was a battle lance there were no restrictions so you wanted to hit the other man with as heavy a lance as possible, a tree trunk if you could hold it up. These were small trees that were carved into lances. They were from 25-40 pounds or more.
There were lots of restrictions on the tournament lances including weight. The weight limits got lower as the horses were breed to run faster. After the advent of the horses that you will read about on my 'Merry Wives of Windsor' pages the horses became so fast that the average speed of both horses increased over 7 mph and it suddenly became very dangerous to joust. About 1575 jousting started to become discouraged and it dropped way off until only fools participated. Tournaments in England became uncommon events.
The tournament and the battle lances were designed to break after maximum impact or else the owner could easily get their own arm torn off when they made a hit. However the lances could not be made from a tree that had been cut over a half a year earlier in a dry climate (a year in England if the wood was not kept in the warm indoors) or they would get brittle and splinter when they broke. The jousters could get up to 50 splinters, some sharp and as large as broom handles, back through the holes in their masks, their horses and even between the cracks in their armor like the neck. Either jouster could be easily killed by a splintered lance. King Henry II of France was killed while jousting by a splinter that went through his mask. I think there were laws against even possessing old jousting lances. I am certain there were laws in England against using them during jousts. What I am getting to is that there are probably no old jousting lances to be found even in museums.
Also, lances would lose up to half their weight as they dried so even if they existed they can't tell you as much as I am now telling you and this was not the field of expertise of little girls. Men involved in the making of the lances used secrecy and magic so like the duels at the downs don't even bother looking for this information in your history books.]
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