I suppose I first got interested in all things medieval, when in my first history lesson my history teacher Mr Jenkins did a "good will hunting" impression and threw everyone's books in the bin! From that day I was hooked on history, particularly the medieval period. As a youngster, my parents and I would always be in and out of castles and abbeys whilst away on holiday. I loved it. But it took me another twenty or so years to realise that this hobby existed and I could be part of it. I was lucky to have taken up the hobby around the same time as many of my fellow knights in this group. Building a character I was to be happy with, interesting for me and the public took me nearly 4 years what with a young family and other distractions. But now I am happy with Sir Richard de Whalley, a mixture of fact and fiction but retaining the strong family ties on my mothers side of over 500 years of history of the Whalley family and the village that shares the name.
Whether I portray a knight, monk, peasant or archer, I am most happy when my tent is set-up and sat round the campfire with friends and can immerse myself into medieval life. This hobby is so addictive you even end up going to events or the shops dressed up.
I hope that whoever reads this introduction and profile whether it is mine or anyone else's that they get an insight into characters from medieval times and would recommend you try out this excellent hobby.
The Fictional Richard Whalley
Born in the year of our lord 1367, the same year as the future Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke, the future Henry IV, Richards life was to take a road equally as eventful as both of the future kings. He was the second born son to Richard de Coldcoats, a powerful and influential knight of Lancashire and staunch supporter of John of Gaunt the Duke of Lancaster.
After many years of contesting the grants of part of his manor to Robert, the dean of Whalley Abbey, and his spoilt brat of a son Geoffrey, also a future dean, Richard senior finally had to reluctantly yield his manor to help fund his extensive military activities in Europe. As part of this agreement Richard the younger was to be taken into the Church and to "take holy orders". Richards father had great plans for his youngest son to use his family influence to move up the church hierarchy as quickly as possible, regain his lands, even to possibly take a roll in the countries politics. This would be one in the eye for the Dean at Whalley.
As soon as he came of age, Richard was taken into the Abbey as a novice priest to commence his laity and religious training.
After the Publication of John Wyclif's de Civili Dominio (On Civil Authority) in 1376, which proposed disendowment of the property of the Church and the exclusion of the clergy from civil government, Richards father saw any chance for his youngest son being able to make a name for himself disappearing. In 1379 he used his influences and dragged the 12 year old out of the church and threw him into the military life, as a squire in John of Gaunts army during his campaigns into France. During the next few years Richard was introduced to the harsh reality of war, fighting and pillaging his way throughout France alongside his Father.
In 1380 Richard and his father joined Sir John Arundel and his men during their raids through Brittany. After helping them storm a convent, with great savagery, and carry off the women for their amusement, Richard feared for his and his fathers souls. In what may have been divine justice, their ships sank on the way home. Nearly all were drowned including Sir Richard de Coldcoats.
Once again taking the cross in 1383, the morally torn Richard joined Henry Despencer, Bishop of Norwich, along with Sir Hugh Calveley on a 'crusade' against the Clementist French. Whilst storming through Flanders, Richard was to meet a young squire, Gerard de Rodes who had also recently lost his father, an ambassador from England.
While accompanying John of Gaunt to claim his crown in Castille, in 1386,Richard met Marianne, the daughter of Senor Alfonso Raim?ndez, a Galician knight who became the captain of Pontevedra, in the retinue of Queen Constance. But to marry into nobility Richard had to be knighted. Richard was unusually knighted by Constance "Sir Richard of Whalley" .
Richard, and his new wife Marianne, returned to England to join the court of John of Gaunt where he was again to meet Gerard de Rodes. The Baron Gerard de Rodes, offered him an opportunity to make a reasonable living in his retinue.