Thursday, February 24, 2011

Question from Abbs - Tudor horseriding injuries

You hear about horseriders injuring themselves badly all the time. Were any Tudor courtiers paralysed or killed by horseriding?


Foose said...

Horseriding was certainly a general hazard. Henry VIII, of course, was knocked off his horse in 1536 during a joust. Among his courtiers there was the Earl of Essex, killed by a fall from his horse in 1540 (he was a nephew of Elizabeth Woodville and the father-in-law of William Parr) and John Dudley (later Duke of Northumberland), who fell off a horse in plain view of everyone during the May Day festivities the same year (but was apparently not seriously hurt).

Richmond Herald fell off his horse near Brussels in 1522 (so hurt "that he cannot exert himself in safety," Letters & Papers) and had to hand off his despatches to Sir Richard Pace; William Paget, later the grey eminence of the Marian Council, fell off his horse and "hurt his leg coming out of Calais" in 1545, when he was on a mission to negotiate with the French.

William Latimer, one of Anne Boleyn's preferred bishops who burned under Queen Mary, may have suffered brain damage from a horseriding accident; according to Carlos Logario, Wolsey's Spanish doctor, "when a boy he was thrown from a horse, and fell on his head; and that in after years he felt the effects of it, as he became excited over things that could not trouble any one to a large degree." "He was," writes Logario, "most singular in his mode of doing all things; apparently out of his wits; yet he was not so." (Historical Portraits of the Tudor Dynasty and the Reformation Period, Volume 3 by S. Hubert Burke)

The redoubtable Maria de Salinas, Lady Willoughby, was thrown by her horse into the mud on her desperate ride to see the dying Catherine of Aragon, but she was able to remount and continue.

Somewhat later Matthew Parker, the future Archbishop of Canterbury under Elizabeth, apparently suffered a severe accident while fleeing on horseback from Marian persecution - one account said a lifelong strangulated hernia resulted. Sir Thomas Gresham, her financial adviser, fell from his horse in 1560 and was "lamed for life," according to several sources I looked at.

Horse-related accidents had a major political impact on the world of Henry's contemporaries. In 1526 King Louis of Hungary fell off his horse at the Field of Mohacs and drowned in the mud, leaving Hungary to be divided between the Turks and his brother-in-law, Ferdinand of Habsburg. Henry's brother-in-law, James IV, came to the throne after his father fell from a horse (fleeing his rebellious subjects) and was stabbed to death.

Henry's own fall had its parallels at other courts. Francis I of France fell off his horse in 1516, "leaving him speechless for an hour." Sir Thomas Elyot wrote from Ratisbon in 1532, where he was on a mission to round up William Tyndale, that he had not yet been able to see the Emperor, who had fallen from his horse.

Foose said...

Hugh Latimer, not William Latimer, as Sarah correctly reminds me in her question above.