Why Henry VI’s reign was such a disaster

In Westminster Abbey, the tomb of Henry V is hard to miss. Towering above the mosaic-encrusted tomb of St Edward the Confessor and his royal successors, for centuries Henry’s final resting place was topped by a shield, helm and warhorse’s saddle. All are symbols of the martial glory of a man many still consider to be the best English king of the Middle Ages.

Meanwhile, in the Lady Chapel behind, tucked away and noticed by almost no one, is a small wooden pew-end representing Henry V’s successor, and only child, Henry VI. Can anything more aptly demonstrate the reputations of this father and son? Henry V loomed over his offspring from the grave, and in his father’s shadow Henry VI grew up stunted, emotionally and politically. HistoryExtra.com

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Henry V and Henry VI

The Veterinary Magic of the Middle Ages

Medieval healers treated animals’ ailments with a mix of faith, tradition and science

The year is 1266, and your horse is acting strange. It started with a fever. But then weeping pustules appeared all over its body, and fluids poured forth from every orifice. Not long after, the horse stabled next to it came down with the same sickness. You’ve heard of this before. It’s the dreaded disease called farcy—and you’ll need more than medicine to make your animals well again. SmithsonianMag.com

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A workhorse in Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, 1412–1416 Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Amateur Treasure Hunter Unearths Missing Centerpiece of Henry VIII’s Crown

The gold figurine, valued at roughly £2 million, depicts 15th-century English king Henry VI

Standing just 2.5 inches tall, the statuette may have once formed the centerpiece of a dazzling Tudor crown. As historian Leanda de Lisle wrote on her website this past December, researchers had long thought that the diadem—worn by Henry VIII during processions marking the Feast of the Epiphany and by his five immediate successors during their respective coronations—was lost, its precious metals melted down to make coins and its jewels sold piecemeal following the fall of the British monarchy in 1649. Smithsonianmag.com

The gold figurine stands just 2.5 inches tall. Kevin Duckett via Facebook

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The Ancient Books of Wales

Welsh literary history is preserved in the delicate pages of these medieval manuscripts.  

There are over 6 million books to be found within the walls of the National Library of Wales, located in the city of Aberystwyth. Within the library’s vast collection, three well-leafed tomes stand out from the rest: the Black Book of Carmarthen, the Book of Taliesin, and the Book of Aneirin are three of what historian William Forbes Skene deemed “the four ancient books of Wales.” Written in Middle Welsh, these are some of the oldest and most important literary works to come out of Wales. AtlasObscura.com

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The Book of Aneirin