Daily Update: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

05-09 - Thomas Blood Steals The Crown Jewels of England

On this Day without a Saint to Honor, we will be turning to the events of this day in London in 1671, when Thomas Blood boldly stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London.

Born in 1618 in Ireland, Colonel Thomas Blood was described by contemporaries as a “noted bravo and desperado”; during the Civil War he had been a Royalist with King Charles I before he switched sides and became one of Oliver Cromwell’s lieutenants, becoming rich. At the Restoration Blood’s fortune was ruined, and he conspired to storm Dublin Castle, usurp the government, and kidnap James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, for ransom. The plot was discovered, and Blood fled to Ireland; he came back to England, ingratiated himself with the wealthy George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, and kidnapped Ormonde with the intention of hanging him. Ormonde, however, escaped his bonds, and Blood was not suspected. Blood then decided upon a bold plan to steal the Crown Jewels of England. (During the Protectorate the Crown Jewels of England were sold  to the highest bidder, or melted down for their gold content. At the Restoration in 1661 after Cromwell’s death, and in preparation for the coronation of King Charles II, new  Crown Jewels were made based on records and memory of the lost items. The new regalia were supplied by Sir Robert Vyner at a cost of £12,184, costing as much as three new warships.) In May of 1671 Blood ingratiated himself with the family of 77-year-old Talbot Edwards, the newly appointed Custodian of the Crown Jewels in the Jewel House of the Tower of London. At that time, anyone could see the Crown Jewels behind a grill by paying a fee to the custodian. Blood, posing as a parson, then talked Edwards into showing him and his “friends” the Crown Jewels on May 9th. The door was then closed and a cloak thrown over Edwards, who was then struck with a mallet, knocked to the floor, bound, gagged, and stabbed. Blood then used the mallet (which he had brought with him) to flatten out St. Edward’s Crown so that he could hide it beneath his clerical coat. Another conspirator, Blood’s brother-in-law Hunt, filed the Sceptre with the Cross in two (since it did not fit in their bag), while the third man, Parrot, stuffed the Sovereign’s Orb down his trousers. Meanwhile Edwards refused to stay subdued and fought against his bindings. Popular reports describe Edwards’ son, Wythe, returning from military service in Flanders and happening upon the attempted theft just as the elder Edwards managed to free the gag and raise the alarm shouting, “Treason! Murder! The crown is stolen!” As Blood and his gang fled to their horses waiting at St. Catherine’s Gate, they dropped the sceptre and fired on the warders who attempted to stop them, wounding one. Having fallen from his cloak, the crown was found while Blood refused to give up, struggling with his captors and declaring, “It was a gallant attempt, however unsuccessful! It was for a crown!” The globe and orb were recovered although several stones were missing and others were loose. Not only was the audacious Blood not punished for the crime, he was pardoned by King Charles II and given land in Ireland worth £500 a year. The reasons for the king’s pardon are unknown. Some historians have speculated that the king may have feared an uprising in revenge by followers of Blood, who were thought to have taken an oath to their leader. Others speculate that the king had a fondness for audacious scoundrels such as Blood, and that he was amused by the Irishman’s claim that the jewels were worth only £6,000 as opposed to the £100,000 at which the Crown had valued them. There is also a suggestion that the king was flattered and amused by Blood’s revelation that he had previously intended to kill him while he was bathing in the Thames but had been swayed otherwise, having found himself in “awe of majesty.”  It has also been suggested that his actions may have had the connivance of the king, because the king was very short of money at the time. At any rate, following his pardon Blood became a familiar figure around London and made frequent appearances at Court, where he was employed to advocate in the claims of suitors to the Crown. In 1679 Blood fell into dispute with the Duke of Buckingham, his former patron, and Buckingham sued Blood for £10,000, for insulting remarks Blood had made about his character. In the proceedings that followed, Blood was convicted by the King’s Bench in 1680 and granted bail, although he never paid the damages. Upon his death and burial in August 1680 his body was exhumed by the authorities for confirmation; such was his reputation for trickery, it was suspected he might have faked his death and funeral to avoid paying his debt to Buckingham. (Today, the Crown Jewels, which contain many pieces made for specific coronations, are permanently set with 23,578 diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires, and they are seen in the Jewel House by around 2.5 million visitors from across the world every year, in a part of the Tower known as Jewel House, where armed guards watch over the Jewels.)

Last night before going to bed I continued reading The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot
by Jonathan Witt and Jay W. Richards.

When I woke up to get ready for work today I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once at ADR we decided to sign the Early Out list, and did so. Richard was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and a Blackjack Table, and I was on Mini Baccarat. When I was tapped out, I was told to relieve the Three Card Blackjack table, which I did. Richard got out at 4:45 am, and I got out at 5:00 am (after relieving Three Card Blackjack). We arrived home at 6:00 am, and I went back to bed.

I woke up (again) at 11:00 am, started my laundry, and read the morning paper. Richard and I left the hose at 12:15 pm and ate lunch at D.C.’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse; I have been getting onion rings rather than french fries with my meals there, because the way they have been doing their fries lately makes me wonder if they are double-frying them. We then stopped at the auto garage, where Richard was able to have the mechanic in the truck to see the sound the truck is making. We then stopped at Super 1 Foods for some Ritz crackers (we were out, which I had not know until I was going to get some for lunch when I woke up), and at the Valero gas station for gas for the truck.

When we got home at 1:30 pm, I watched MST3K Episode 1007 Track of the Moon Beast, with a guy being hit in the rock with a meteorite and turning into a vicious person-killing lizard by night. Richard went to take a nap before the end of the movie, and I watched MST3K Episode 1005 Blood Waters of Dr. Z (Zaat), with a mad German Nazi scientist who uses his secret formula ZaAt, in conjunction with standard mad scientist equipment, to turn humans into murderous fishmen (he uses it on himself). Finally, I watched MST3K Episode 1008 Final Justice, which has Joe Don Baker as a Texas sheriff who overturns the Maltese city of Valletta to find the mobster who killed his partner. I then woke up Richard, and got on the computer to do today’s Daily Update, and when I finish this Daily Update I will take a bath and do some reading before going to bed. Our #11 LSU Tigers (32-16, 15-9) will be playing a Home College Baseball game with the South Alabama Jaguars.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint John of Ávila, Priest and Doctor (died 1569), and the Optional Memorial of Saint Damien Joseph de Veuster of Moloka’i, Priest (died 1889). Richard will be leaving early for Baton Rouge and Lafayette regarding Butch stuff. I will finish my laundry, iron my casino pants, apron, and shirts, and do the Weekly Computer Maintenance; I will then get my hair cut, then head for Lafayette to put in some comfy chair time at Barnes and Noble. Our #19 LSU Lady Tigers (38-17, 12-12) will play the Missouri Lady Tigers (29-24, 7-16) at the SEC College Softball Tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Our Parting Quote this Tuesday evening comes to us from Mary Stewart, English novelist. Born in 1916 as Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow in Sunderland, County Durham, her mother was from New Zealand and her father was a vicar. She graduated from Durham University in 1938 with first-class honours in English. Her original intention to become a professor was derailed by the scarcity of jobs during World War II; she earned a teaching certificate and taught primary school for a while. After the war she earned her master’s degree and became a lecturer in English Language and Literature at the university. It was in Durham that she met and married her husband, Frederick Stewart, a young Scot who lectured in Geology. They married in 1945, only three months after they met at a VE Day dance. At the age of 30 she suffered an ectopic pregnancy, undiagnosed for several weeks, and subsequently could not have children. In 1956 the couple moved to Edinburgh, where he became professor of geology and mineralogy, and later chairman of the Geology Department of Edinburgh University. She submitted a novel to the publishers Hodder & Stoughton. Madam, Will You Talk? was an immediate success. She followed up with Wildfire at Midnight (1956), Thunder on the Right(1957),  Nine Coaches Waiting (1958), My Brother Michael (1959), The Ivy Tree (1961), The Moon-Spinners (1962, made into the Disney film of the same name in 1964), This Rough Magic(1964), Airs Above the Ground (1965), The Gabriel Hounds (1967), and The Wind Off the Small Isles (1968). They were well received by critics, due especially to her skilful story-telling and enchanting prose. Her novels were also known for their well-crafted settings, many in England but also in such exotic locations as Damascus and the Greek islands, as well as Spain, France, and Austria. (They were also well received by me; I inhaled her books during the mid to late 1970s.) Stewart was one of the most prominent writers of the romantic suspense subgenre, blending romance novels and mystery. Critically, her works were considered superior to those of other acclaimed romantic suspense novelists, such as Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. She seamlessly combined the two genres, maintaining a full mystery while focusing on the courtship between two people, so that the process of solving the mystery “helps to illuminate” the hero’s personality, thereby helping the heroine to fall in love with him. Following the success of T. H. White’s The Once and Future King (1958), and the conscious connection of the Kennedy presidency with the 1960 musical Camelot, Arthurian legends regained popularity. Stewart added to this climate by publishing The Crystal Cave (1970), followed by The Hollow Hills (1973), The Last Enchantment (1979), and The Wicked Day (1983) in her Merlin series. (I loved this series, and have copies in my own library.) In the meantime, in 1974, her husband was knighted and she became Lady Stewart, although she never used the title. She also continued to write romances such as Touch Not the Cat (1976), Thornyhold (1988), Stormy Petrel (1991), and The Prince and the Pilgrim (1995). an Arthurian novel outside of the Merlin Series chronology. She also wrote books for children, including The Little Broomstick (1971), Ludo and the Star Horse (1974), and A Walk in Wolf Wood (1980). In 1990 she wrote a book of poetry, Frost on the Window: And other Poems. Her last novel, Rose Cottage, was written in 1997. In semi-retirement Stewart resided in Edinburgh, Scotland as well as in Loch Awe, Scotland. An avid gardener, she and her husband shared a keen love of nature. Her husband died in 2001, and she received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Durham University in 2009 (died 2014): “The best way of forgetting how you think you feel is to concentrate on what you know you know.”

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