Sunday Short Takes

Some of these are a little stale since I should have posted them last Sunday…

* Bust previews Thomas Wolsey statue in Ipswich

* Medical imaging used to probe Tower of London mural

* Royal bed’s Rhyl hotel fireplace link

* Phone box to commemorate Battle of Flodden
Choice quote: “We will bash on, even if we end up with the world’s smallest visitor centre in Branxton telephone box.”

* Boy, 3, unearths £2.5m treasure trove on FIRST metal detecting expedition
(As an aside, I’m pretty sure the inscription “IASPAR” on the side is “Jaspar” and not a misspelled “Caspar” as the photo caption says.)


  1. Possible owner-of-the-royal-bed Pierce Griffith, described in the Rhyl hotel article as “Sergeant-at-Arms to Henry VIII and usher to Catherine of Aragon,” might be that same Griffith who accompanied the Queen to the 1529 court at Blackfriars, where she appealed fruitlessly to her husband and then swept out of the court, ignoring a formal recall: “Madam, ye be called again,” Griffith reminded her. “This is no indifferent court for me, therefore I will not tarry,” Catherine replied. Griffith made it into Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII as a character, too.

    Per “IASPAR” — it appears to be an alternate spelling of Caspar (of “we three kings” fame, one of the Epiphany visitors) that appears frequently in old documents. Caspar allegedly brought frankincense to the Christ child – perhaps it is a reference to the box’s original contents? Because the image on the top does not appear to be one of the Magi. (But wouldn’t it be cool if it had belonged to Jasper Tudor!)

  2. I was thinking the same thing! Jasper Tudor would be SO cool!

  3. First thing I thought of too. Jasper Tudor!

  4. You know, I don’t think anyone’s asked on the Q&A blog where Jasper Tudor’s name came from. It’s very odd, even for the child of a mesalliance, perhaps unfamiliar to a French mother (the French equivalent would be Gaspard), and I couldn’t find any “Jaspers” in the ap Tudor line. Perhaps he had a sponsor at his christening who gave the name, or it might have some other significance? (Epiphany is January 6, and perhaps he was born that day …?) The choice behind his brother Edmund’s name isn’t easily traced, either, but at least it’s a fairly common name of the period. Lara (the lady proprietor of this blog), did the thesis you have on Jasper Tudor suggest any likely origins for the name?

  5. I have long wondered where Jasper Tudor’s name came from since it wasn’t a common name. I don’t remember there being anything about it in Thomas’ dissertation but I’ll double-check. I still need to do my second “note taking” read through of it.

    There is the possibility the name was chosen because of the stone jasper, although I can’t think of an obvious reason why.

  6. Following up on the IASPAR appearing on the object, I’ve looked at some other photos on the find and apparently at least one other Magi’s name appears on it – Baltasar.

    I rooted around in Google Books on the significance of the Magi in the medieval period and came up with something interesting from the Folklore Society of Great Britain:

    “And as great magicians, [the Magi’s] intercession was sought for protection against all forms of sorcery and witchcraft, against the evil eye, and against epilepsy, ‘the falling sickness,’ which often magnifested itself in demoniacal possession.

    “Such beliefs in their virtues were spread over Europe by the pilgrims who flocked to the shrine at Cologne. The mere names of the Magi became invested with protective and curative powers, and are consequently to be found on numbers of mediaeval charm-rings, on brooches, on drinking-horns and cups of the same period (probably for protection against poisons, or to impart qualities to the liquids within, as in the well-known Arab bowls in use to-day, and even on garters.”

    The amulets often feature along with all three of the Magi’s names the word “Consummatum,” Christ’s dying words: “It is accomplished.”

    Caspar, the king/Wise Man whose name is IASPAR on the box and Jasper in ordinary English, seems to have started out as the youngest king, (a “ruddy unbearded youth … bearing frankincense,” according to the Venerable Bede). After Johannes von Hildesheim wrote up “The Three Kings of Cologne” in the late 14th century (translated into Middle English), Caspar became the black king of the trio (“he was blak Ethiop, whereof is no doute”), bearing myrrh as his gift, and later became associated with African communities as their patron saint. In some traditions Baltasar is the black king, though.

    But still no leads on Jasper Tudor’s name, although perhaps Catherine of Valois, who acquired a witch for a sister-in-law in 1431 (in the same year of Jasper’s birth, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester married his mistress Eleanor Cobham) at about the time the English authorities burned another witch in Rouen (Joan of Arc), was taking no chances. Then too, some sources suggest that the maladies of Catherine’s father and eldest son (Charles VI of France and Henry VI of England) may have been thought at the time to be related to the “falling sickness” – another reason for choosing Jasper as a name?

    But of course this is purely speculative, and I have no citations. But it’s fun!

  7. Ah, yes, it does appear that the engraving on the original object in question is a reference to the Magi, so at least that part of the mystery is solved. 🙂

    I do still have my hopes of someday writing a novel about Jasper and I have a few poetic license ideas of how he might have gotten his name, but I’d still love to find something more evidence-based (I blame the scientist part of my brain for that!). But if nothing concrete comes along, I guess that’s where the novelist’s imagination will get to take over.

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