On 2 October – tomorrow – it will be the 565th anniversary of the birth of King Richard III and also publication day of The Order of the White Boar. To celebrate (a day early) we’ll recall with Matthew the festivities that marked Richard’s 30th birthday, way back in October 1482.
‘The day began with a special Mass and sermon from Sir William in the village church, giving thanks for preserving the Duke through this his thirtieth year. It was attended by local noble families, the mayor of York, and other dignitaries from the city and surrounding towns.
All at the castle were given another holiday to celebrate along with the villagers. This time it involved sports and competitions, in archery and feats of arms, followed by feasting and entertainments. A dancing bear was brought from York especially for the evening. Then the ladies and gentlemen also danced, and music continued late into the night.
As the torches began to splutter out, but before we were left with just the dark red glow of the fire to cast shadows into the rafters of the great hall, the Duke rose.
After a few words of thanks to those who were still awake, he bowed deeply. Then, taking the hand of his wife, he led her from the hall into their private chambers. Edward, blinking rapidly and almost tripping over his feet in his tiredness, followed them. The dying light of the torches glinted off the brand new cloth-of-gold tunic he had been given by his father to mark the occasion.
Before long the rest of the company also retired. Within seconds of us reaching our mattresses, Roger’s gentle snores began to break the darkness and the deep breathing of our fellow pages slowed as one by one they too fell asleep. But I lay awake a little longer, turning over in my fingers the gold coin the Duke had presented to each of us in celebration of his special day. I offered up silent thanks for having been a part of it – and also for our being excused Mass and morning lessons the next day.’