Here at Books We Love, we love books. We love writing them, we love talking about them, and most of all we love sharing them with our readers. Welcome book lovers, here you will find original content written by the member authors of the Books We Love publishing community. Visit us at www.bookswelove.net and enter our latest contest
Saturday, June 4, 2016
The Up & Down Again British Crown Jewels by Katherine Pym
For some reason, to-be monarchs
expect to be surrounded by gold, silver and jewels when crowned and when they attend
state ceremonies. In the old days—really old like ancient times—it is said
those who wore crowns were set a part. They were different than the everyday
guy who walked the dusty paths of the planet.
Over the years, the British crown
jewels piled up, including gold thread, silver and gold plate, embedded with
precious metals and stones. Their worth cannot be calculated. Well, I suppose
it can but my sources won’t do it, and who am I to argue? I could easily say
their worth is in the millions and millions or more.
British Imperial State Crown
The British Imperial State Crown
is mounted with more than 3000 precious jewels. It must be very heavy after a
few hours. Whoever wears this crown will have a sore neck and shoulders for
several days afterward.
Tower of London
The Maltese cross at the top of
this crown has a great sapphire. Legend says it came from Edward the
Confessor’s ring. It was removed from his finger after his death and before his
coffin was sealed. The Stuart sapphire at the back of the crown may have come
from Scotland in 1214.
King Charles I had a hard time of
it almost from the get-go. He married a Roman Catholic girl, which was hugely
frowned upon. He allowed her to remain Catholic. He trussed up the Church of
England to be more papist.
He annoyed a lot of people who wanted
the church services less papist. They wanted music during services to cease,
and they were tired of statues, gold and jewels shining from the altar, the
stained glass windows.
The man in charge of the crown
jewels at this time was Sir Henry Mildmay, a royalist who jumped over to the Parliamentary
side soon after Charles I left London to fight in the civil wars. Two years
into the fighting, Parliament ordered the royal plate be melted down. Some
argued the plate was ancient, the decorations worth more than the plate, but
they were shouted down.
Historical treasures of
banqueting plate and coronets worth in today’s market of almost £388,000 were melted and minted. After the fighting was over, the
king lost his head and most royalists fled or fell under the Commonwealth rule.
It didn’t take long for Parliament to sell the king’s personal estate and the
Mildmay was summoned to make an inventory. Once a royalist who changed sides,
now he was royalist again. He locked the Jewel House door and wouldn’t come
out. It was a standoff of 6 weeks. Finally, Parliament grew frustrated and stormed
the building. Henry Mildmay was flung into Fleet prison.
All the gold
and silver was melted down and the jewels sold off. They had destroyed the holy
relics of a monarchical system that had lasted for centuries.
Charles II returned from exile in 1660, Sir Henry Milmay was again summoned to
the palace. He feared for his life and tried to run away but was caught. He was sentenced to be dragged through the streets each year on the
anniversary of King Charles I’s death (end of January per the Julian calendar).
remained of the original crown jewels or coronation regalia. A local goldsmith
was called in where, for a mere £1.6 (modern costs), he made duplicates of the
Charles II’s coronation all the jewels and regalia were stored in the White
Tower in the Tower of London. It was where William the Conqueror had stored his
treasure but moved again after the great fire of 1666 to the Martin Tower.
Colonel Thomas Blood
successful person to steal the crown jewels was Colonel Blood (yes, a real
name, and he wasn’t a pirate). Blood was an unhappy man who had done well under
Cromwell. It annoyed him when his government failed and he lost all his lands
The way he
did it was interesting:
1671 Blood, disguised as an old, grizzly clergyman, went to view the crown
jewels with his supposed ‘wife’. The caretaker and his family lived on the
floor above. Happy to oblige, the caretaker showed them the jewels.
clergyman’s wife bent over, groaning of a terrible stomachache. The caretaker
took the poor, sad lady to his apartments, where his wife took care of her. The
next day, the old couple returned, this time with a pair of gloves for the
caretaker’s wife, in thanks for her care of the old woman.
became friends. The clergyman and his wife visited often. It gave Blood plenty
of time to study the layout of the protected jewels.
friends, Blood said he had a nephew who would be a perfect suitor for the
caretaker’s daughter. They should meet. The caretaker and his wife agreed.
men waiting nearby, Blood and his ‘nephew’ arrived early at Martin’s Tower.
While the caretaker’s wife and daughter were still getting ready, Blood asked
if they could show the nephew the crown jewels.
the nephew surprised the caretaker, bound and gagged him; then Blood’s gang
went to work. They removed selected items, stashed them in overly baggy clothes
or beat them with mallet until they were flattened and easily hidden.
they were caught when the caretaker’s son surprised them. The gang was
overpowered and their robbery foiled.
King Charles II
taken into custody and housed in the Tower which was a dark place in the 17th
century. When taken for interrogation, Blood refused to talk to anyone but the
king. Everyone was surprised when he agreed. After quite a long discussion
between Charles II and Blood, the king, humored by Blood’s daring, pardoned him
and restored his lost lands in Ireland to him.
Many thanks to:
Harnrahan, David C. Colonel Blood, The man who Stole the Crown
Jewels. Sutton Publishing, Ltd., UK, 2003
Tales from the Tower, Secrets and Stories from a Gory and Glorious
Past. Think Books,