The modern state pension is one of the greatest Ponzi schemes ever inflicted on the British people, yet our government continues to offer their unwavering support to it. Why? The answer is simple: moronic and selfish baby boomers (the largest and most active voter demographic in the UK) who still believe that it is working just fine.
Now, a lot of our nation’s issues stem from the boomer problem but for the time being, I would like to focus solely on the disgusting nature of the state pension and how it saps the life and well-being of young and working-age people.
Firstly, to circle back to my initial point, pensions are indeed a Ponzi scheme. Baby boomers will endlessly harp on about how they ‘paid their fair share all their working life’, but this is simply not the case. When the boomer was working, they were not putting money into an investment pot (like private pensions); they were, in fact, paying someone else’s pension. The flaw in this system immediately becomes obvious – it relies entirely on never-ending steady population growth. It requires the nation to always have a normal population pyramid with many young people and few old people. Unfortunately for the system, boomers were some of the first generations to have access to free healthcare and cheap prophylactics and abortions. Indeed, many boomers have had one or fewer children and are living considerably longer. Meaning they haven’t even replaced themselves. After the release of the 2021 census, we now know that we no longer have a population pyramid, but instead a population rectangle.
This is bad news and I don’t know how to put this nicely, so I’ll just say it plainly; unless something changes soon, we (along with many other economically advanced nations) are facing a complete demographic catastrophe. There are nowhere near enough children being born to pay the pensions of current working-age people now.
This is the final form of any Ponzi scheme. The initial investors have already been paid back by the newer ones, and soon enough the rug will be pulled and all those people at the bottom will have nothing to show for it.
Let us also not forget that most people over the age of 70 in this country have been recipients of the most glamorous state-subsidised lifestyles ever to exist. The baby boomers are the wealthiest generation in history and it is hard to grasp just how good they have had it. They grew up in a country eager to build a functioning welfare state and a booming population and experienced consistent economic growth for the first 55 years of their lives. Their children and grandchildren, on the other hand, are the first generations in decades to be poorer on average than those who came before them. They have been forced to suffer through stagnant wages and terrible interest rates for most of their lives.
Why do we not fix this problem? Well, for a start, baby boomers vote en masse. Due to the abnormally large amount of them, they were effectively able to establish a voting block which has existed in British politics since they started to turn of voting age (the 1960s/70s). Due to their size, politicians know that they have to pander to them if they hope to win any election. So the government is forced to do their bidding until such a time as there are no longer enough of them to make an impact on elections.
This means that young people (who have remarkably low voter turnout nationally) stand no chance of influencing government policy in comparison to them. The state will, therefore, continue to suck the wealth away from young people to fund the ponzi pensions of boomers.
The important question that young people need to be asking themselves now is, what happens in the future when we run out of new young people? We are already importing about a million people a year via mass immigration to try and plug the gap. But this cannot go on forever. Immigrants also have a habit of getting old, and importing more immigrants to plug the ever-increasing gap is insanity. It would require an unlimited supply of immigrants and levels of housebuilding that have never been seen in this country, it’s hard enough as it is to get permission to build a house let alone a couple million.Eventually, the state pension will cease to exist. I sincerely believe that I, and other 20-somethings, will never have a state pension. This would not be a problem for me (I can afford to buy into a private one) but I, and all other workers, are forced to pay into a scheme that we will never see the benefit of. There is no opt-out, there is no escape from it.
Young people are not stupid; a lot of them realise that this is the case. They fully understand the fact that they are unlikely to ever see a penny from the state after they turn 67 and it’s absolutely soul-destroying. We are the main cash cow for the subsidised boomer lifestyle, and we will not see a penny or even a word of thanks.
It would be extremely difficult to fix the situation we are in now, but here are some potential solutions:
1. Force the wealthiest amongst the elderly to sell their assets to pay for their own care.
Boomers are the largest asset controlling class in the country. 1 in 4 are millionaires and, as a group, are extremely asset rich. They own vast amounts of stocks, property, and other assets.
2. Reform the state pension system.
It is unfair to abolish the state pension immediately. Many people have handed over considerable sums of money towards it over their lifetimes. If a state pension must exist, it should operate on an investment model like other pension schemes, and not the current Ponzi scheme model.
3. Make the state pension optional.
Give young people the choice to join the state pension, save up their money, join private pension schemes, or just use it when they receive it.
These are just some ideas of ways that we could at least marginally improve the situation for young people, and make our state’s welfare system fairer and less focussed on the elderly. Young people are the future of Great Britain, and our treatment of them is beyond disgusting. Give them some hope and support schemes and policies that actually seek to invest in them. We should not just be transferring their money to old people.
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By Calvin Robinson — 2 weeks ago
Boris Johnson has been effectively removed from office under the guise of moral outrage, but there is far more to this picture than righteousness.
Let’s not forget the primary reason Boris Johnson assumed office after Theresa May and was voted in with a landslide majority in the General Election that followed, was because he was considered the man who could ‘Get Brexit Done’. There was never any pretence about his morality, we knew what we were getting. A man who would make jokes seen as politically incorrect by some and casually racist by others; a man who is known for adultery and promiscuity, despite being married – several times; a man with an unconfirmed number of children by different mothers. By no standards is Boris Johnson a morally upright man.
The last time I saw Boris Johnson, he was joking in his apartment above No. 10 about not knowing how the Roman Catholic Church had even managed to marry him and Carrie, in consideration of his previous two marriages.
If the Conservative Party wanted moral leadership, they would have stuck with Theresa May. There are very few in politics with a stronger moral compass than Mrs May. The vicar’s daughter whose most rebellious act as a youngster was to run through fields of wheat. Compared to Boris Johnson and his time as a member of the Bullingdon Club – famous for burning wads of cash in front of homeless people – she was an outright angel. However, she didn’t have the strength of leadership to get Brexit over the line, and that was the national issue that mattered most at the time.
So, to hear parliamentarians arguing about Boris Johnson’s lack of moral fibre, as if to suggest they’ve only just been made aware of it, is laughable. Chris Pincher groped a couple of men in a gentlemen’s club in central London and it wasn’t dealt with appropriately, but that is not the reason Boris Johnson was dethroned. Nor was the fact that he ate some cake and received a fine for breaching COVID regulations. He has previously done far worse, and his colleagues have turned a blind eye.
What we have here is the culmination of multiple fronts of attack. The mainstream media has sustained a continuous attack against the Prime Minister for a number of months now. Sky and the BBC in particular have taken every opportunity to undermine the Prime Minister and paint him as a criminal – not for taking away peoples’ civil liberties, but for briefly attending the most boring party to ever grace the premises of Downing Street. Of course, their real agenda is probably more in line with the second group who has been attacking the PM incessantly, the Remainers and Rejoiners – or Remoaners for the sake of convenience. People who cannot get behind the democratic will of the British people to support one of the largest mandates in our nation’s history; people who, for their own selfish purposes, want to undermine and undo the EU referendum.
The third camp targetting the Prime Minister, is the most devious of all. The political genius Dominic Cummings. Cummings is arguable our country’s greatest campaign strategist, but is not exactly known for his empathy or compassion. Cummings was absolutely the right guy for the Vote Leave campaign, and the 2019 General Election, but he is a campaigner, not a governor. He should have been kept well away from the levers of power during the pandemic. Cummings held far too much influence for a man who was not democratically elected and therefore practically unaccountable. When Cummings was unceremoniously deposed, promised revenge on the Prime Minister and Cummings is a man who cashes in his cheques.
The Remoaners and Cummings are not natural allies, but together – perhaps uncoordinated – along with the mainstream media, they have succeeded in toppling the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and painting themselves as the good guys in the process.
None of this was about morality. The entire situation was both political and personal. A joint venture of vendettas that we may very well yet come to regret, depending on what happens next.
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By Otis Griffin — 2 weeks ago
In the same way my last article ended, this first paragraph is being written on a Saturday, a day on which I often go to my Anglican parish church for the 9:30am Eucharist. After a week of exams, even a modern Common Worship service can warm my traditional soul. After the service, I turned to our good Rector and talked about a few things, namely about Calvin Robinson’s lack of ordination – our Rector thankfully sees the value conservatives bring to the Church of England – and asked “Just what are these Christian values people talk about, Reverend?”. Being a strong believer in the personal relationship between believer and the Almighty, he said to follow the guidelines of faith, hope and charity, and see where God guides us from there. While that may be enough to satisfy many Christians in a church environment, how do political conservatives, many of whom are not Christian, translate that into ideas and policies when we often cite our appreciation for ‘Christian values’?
Needless to say, one does not have to believe in God or the divinity of Jesus Christ to realise He had a lot of good things to say on morality that are relevant to the reader as a person, and to British politics. Christianity and interpretations of the Bible are responsible for much of how Britain functions politically, and even progressive politics – and it goes without saying that Christianity influences conservative social values. The historians Robert Tombs and Nigel Scotland made good cases to say that the British Labour Party has deeper roots in Methodist Christianity than Marxism, especially historically speaking. Methodist Christianity is probably the best example of the political Gospel having profound influence that lasts to this day. Christianity in England generally contributed greatly to the establishment of the welfare state and educating the masses; likewise, the abolition of slavery in the British Empire was driven through by Evangelical Christian William Wilberforce. Even the renowned political scientist Francis Fukuyama attributed much of the West’s development into liberal democracies as down to the influence of the Christian religion on politics and society in his books The Origins of Political Order and Political Order and Political Decay, as well as Christianity being responsible for the Western notion of universal equality. Christianity has much symbolic influence on the development of nation-states as well: the name “England” was given to us by the Roman Catholic Church, believing the land that is England to have been primarily made up of Angles and not Saxons, and of course the British flag is an amalgamation of three crosses that represent Christian saints.
And even if you don’t believe in it, you probably like a lot of what Christianity gave you. Given all it has accomplished, it may even be worth looking to an interpretation of Christianity for a moral system.
With this, one returns to the subject at hand. Writing for UK-based Premier Christianity, Peter Lynas argues that Putin’s recent invasion of Ukraine is “an attack on Christian values”. His general argument is that equality and human rights are products of Christianity, thus making Russia’s invasion and subsequent alleged human rights violations an attack on Christian values. On the other side, American congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene called for a restoration of ‘Christian values’, stating that they built America. British conservatives, from David Cameron to Nigel Farage, spoke highly of Christian values. Cameron in particular accredited the Bible to being a great moral influence, while Farage had much more to say on specific policies, such as restricting abortion. Even recently, a conservative Member of Parliament – a 2019-intake one – praised Christian values. There is indeed a place for these ‘Christian values’ in British politics. The trouble is, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent argument as to what these values are from the conservative right. Few people are actually adequately describing, in sufficient detail for meaningful political goals, these Christian values.
It is sensible to make a distinction between ‘Christian values’ and following the Bible, not least because these values ought to be promotable to those of others faiths or no faith. Following the Bible and being a Christian is appropriate for the Church to promote as priests in the Church of Christ, as opposed to the job of ministers in the service of the state. Theocracy – rule by priests – is not an accountable form of government, and theonomy – rule by scripture – is simply impractical for the modern era; the Bible was made for regulating personal conduct and driving societal change, not to be a substitute for a good legal system. After all, Jesus himself told us to “render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”, meaning that there is some distinction – though not necessarily a separation – between the state and the Church. The Christian values I will attempt to identify will be principles and notions that are derived from the Bible and Christian thinking in broad terms that are specific enough to be applicable while not being vague enough to be detached from Christianity.
Christianity is about love; there is nothing more obvious than this. This type of Christian love brings us to the first value I can identify, and that is paternalism. The Bible portrays God’s love as not just passive and merely tolerant, but active and guiding. Like a father traditionally would, God the Father lays down rules to bring us closer to moral virtue and goodness, and God the Son, Jesus Christ, consistently showed his willingness to care for, support, and feed people. It is clear that moral and material paternalism is a Christian value, and that can be reflected in governance – material paternalism through welfare for the truly needy and moral paternalism through a state that legislates on moral issues. This acts as a good transition to the next identifiable value of a belief in a firm, universal system of morality. It may be stating the obvious to say Jesus Christ preached about morality, and that it is a virtue to follow God’s moral law. Likewise, both conservatives and liberals can see the importance in society of following common, universal morals that are not mere formalities, but a set of rules and customs that people subscribe to in order to become better people. Universal morality is key to a functioning society. Do we not already agree to a set of universal morals, such as the belief that murder is wrong? Does not the widespread belief that violence is wrong help keep individuals and society safe? Point being, take a moral stand on social issues. Having a legal system will always lead to morals being imposed on others, and it only makes sense to impose a good moral system than to be weak-willed and push for dangerous societal atomisation.
One problem within mainstream conservatism and Western society in general is the shift towards moral relativism. In my last article, I referenced Edmund Burke’s claim that social order rests on moral foundations. Putting this simply, society and your day-to-day interactions function and go well because we collectively agree to the ‘ground-rules’, otherwise known as morality. As silly as it may seem to mention, I wouldn’t punch someone in the nose in response to being greeted with “Hello”, because that would be rude. It is the distinction between what thing is ‘right’ to do, and what is ‘wrong’ to do. Scale up this very small rejection of morality to the widespread rejection of law, the rejection of dignity and self-restraint, the rejection of being orderly and rejecting responsibility and the place where you live becomes worse-off. Some of those things just mentioned are quite widespread, perhaps with some such as the rejection of law it isn’t quite as chaotic as widespread murder, but little respect for the law in regards to, say, drug dealing and drug usage – which anyone under 20 knows is common – is just the start of it. Why follow one law if you don’t follow another? Perhaps, moving forward with firm morality, and Christian values, is in your interests. Following Christian morality, according to some studies, indeed reduces criminal behaviour and encourages positive traits. The logical conclusion is that the Christian moral system should be the standard for behaviour in the future, and there is no better place to look to the future than the education of children, especially at home. Some teachers have expressed frustration at the lack of parents teaching their children to behave politely or morally, and the answer to this is the re-emergence of following Christian values being the norm.
A word I used in the previous paragraph was “dignity”, and inalienable human dignity is absolutely a Christian value. As it is Christian to hold up God highly, so too does it make sense to hold up other humans, who are made in the image of God, as having inherent dignity that should not be taken away, especially not because of race. The Golden Rule – do unto others what you would have them do to you – on how to treat others with dignity comes from Jesus’ teachings. In particular, the dignity of children is especially important, and this includes those who are yet to be born. Naturally, the Christian principle of human dignity extending to all humans leads to the controversial position that humans that have not been born yet have equal dignity too, and so ending life before birth is not a matter to take lightly. But human dignity is more than the love of unborn children. Human dignity extends to all people, both progressives and traditional conservatives. Many conservatives likely feel that many pro-censorship progressives could use a lesson in this, and that freedom of belief – an extension of dignity – extends to those who disagree.
Perhaps less popular among the conservative right, this human dignity extends to all people in prison and economic migrants. If we are to subscribe to the Christian principle of paternalism, the government has a duty to truly rehabilitate prisoners. Indeed, many cases of good Christians being made out of some of the most violent criminals exist, as anyone who has attended the Alpha Course can tell you. Likewise, while conservatives such as myself object to mass immigration and illegal migrants coming over the English Channel, policies to address these issues – especially the latter – must recognise their inalienable human dignity. How this is done is of course open to interpretation, and that is a good thing – these values must be broad enough to allow for healthy debate, but conservatives who wish to advocate for these principles must remember that the inalienable and universal qualities matter, especially in our image towards both opponents and potential voters. For the record and to reiterate, this doesn’t mean conservatives should not stop channel crossings or facilitate them; it means to stop it humanely.
Inalienable human dignity applies to all individuals, and this brings the reader to the principle of individual responsibility. This may be my Evangelical Protestant/Anglican bias showing, but recognising the uniqueness and individuality of each person is evident in the Bible. Each of us has a certain gift, and so each of us are responsible in different ways. From this, conservatives should draw on the idea of individual responsibility, tempered by some collective duty, which too is Biblical. In one sense, the principle of individual responsibility is tied in a complementary manner to valuing morality, as there is an emphasis on personal accountability as to how well you follow Christian morals. In other words, it’s holding yourself to certain standards. Practising self-restraint with behaviour, to act according to what is right and wrong, is an act of taking individual responsibility. This value in particular is hard to encourage politically because of how it is about influencing people’s mindset. People have to be convinced that the moral system they are holding themselves to account to is worth following, and this will bring about individual responsibility in regards to morality. This may come about naturally as a hypothetical government that has read this article and agreed wholeheartedly tries to implement these values, and people recognise the virtue in them. Individual responsibility is not very controversial among conservatives, so I’ll move on to the more controversial topic; collective responsibility to altruism and charity, and whether this means we ought to be socialists.
My initial plan was to list out every argument, every talking point and each verse for why Jesus would have voted for Jeremy Corbyn or endorsed Steve Baker as leader of the Conservative Party. Having read articles by Huffpost, various smaller magazines and academics, Forbes, the Christian Socialism Institute and a video from Novara Media I will attempt to summarise what each side said, in short, and what the truth likely is. The articles in favour of portraying Jesus as favouring left-leaning economics surprised me by quoting scripture far more often than those arguing the contrary. Their arguments rested on scripture criticising wealth, the pursuit of wealth and greed, praising giving up private property and of course, the comparison of a camel going through a haystack to a rich man entering the Kingdom of God.
From those against the idea Jesus was a socialist or economic progressive, almost every article started by saying socialism did not exist at the time of Jesus Christ, and most mentioned that Jesus was against coercive force. As taxes and government intervention is ultimately supported by coercive force, Jesus would have disapproved. Notably, it was said that helping the poor in a Biblical context has to be voluntary, and an act of charity, not an act of state-sponsored wealth redistribution. Talks of giving up private property were stated to be not an act of collectivisation, but strictly voluntary acts of altruism.
Forbes writer Bill Flax, his biases aside, reflect the view I concluded with very well by saying “I’m a capitalist and you might be socialists. Christians can be both, but Christ was neither. He was the Author and Finisher of faith”. As stated earlier on in this article, I am attempting to take religious texts and apply them to politics in the form of values/principles, so naturally there is friction between trying to translate commands over personal conduct into government policy. What leftists trying to say Jesus was a socialist get wrong is that Jesus did not call for mass wealth redistribution, but rather called for altruism and to reject the idea that wealth was important. He called for prioritising your spiritual self; to say He was calling for socialism would be to forget that Jesus is a religious figure with spiritual concerns. Likewise, what many capitalists get wrong is that Jesus had a strong concern for the poor, and strongly criticised the accumulation of wealth for wealth’s sake, and of course he encouraged giving to the poor. So, what Christian principle can one develop from this?
The final principle that one can infer from Biblical teaching is that the government must foster a community-orientated society that encourages individuals to believe strongly in charity and altruism, and care for their needy neighbours; the Christian principle of community-centred altruism. Government policy must not put GDP first. I am aware this talking point is almost painfully repeated among conservative internet personalities, but it is still an important truth. Economic growth is good when it leads to economic development; when economic growth leads to a higher quality of life. Further still, in balance, the government should respect private property as a means to generate wealth for society to benefit from, and so that private citizens can indeed be altruistic with their own wealth.
I often read calls for separation of church and state from people replying to GBNews tweets about how the Archbishop of Canterbury says this and that, and how religion should stay out of politics. I am reminded of how many Americans complain of inefficient government, and how their state should be reduced and further constrained, with powers further separated and devolved to make government less powerful. Except the reason why America’s political system is so inefficient is largely due to the separation of powers, the overbearing constraints on the executive and the culture that has come out of it. America needs a less restrained executive and civil service in order to produce better government. See Political Order and Political Decay for further details.
Similarly, conservatives in Britain should not call for the destruction of another ancient state institution, which would likely not return should we tear it off, such as the Church of England from its established role, on the grounds that it is too liberal. That would be exactly what progressive liberals want, as religion is often the best source of conservative, traditional morals and values. Rather, if the Archbishop of Canterbury focused more on the Gospel and Christianity, he would receive far much more praise from conservatives. Conservatives should seek to promote social conservatism within the Church of England, and make use of a fantastic vehicle for morality. It was only recently that the Prime Minister no longer had powers over appointing bishops in the Church of England, and the Prime Minister still has an influential say on who is picked to be Archbishop of Canterbury. If we in Britain are going to get our moral teachings from anywhere, would we want it from an institution that has existed in one form or another for over a thousand of years, or from the musings of self-appointed philosophers? Christianity guided Europe for over a millenia; rocking the foundations of our society, as we are right now, is not working out.
Numerous Members of Parliament have resigned from their seats or other parliamentary positions as of the date this article has been published, from Neil Parish to Christopher Pincher. One could argue that too many politicians no longer really believe in absolute morality, and certainly do not hold themselves responsible to a moral system. If politicians were more like Christ, espousing Christian values, surely this problem would be far less pronounced. We would have far less lies being told (lying is something that Jesus is not fond of) and greater dedication to serving the people; paternalistic love. Politicians holding themselves to account to a system of morality is something worth agitating for. If you are a member of a political party, you may want to only support candidates that discuss and hold themselves accountable to morality. Perhaps you can act as an example for others to follow, as Jesus Christ did, and follow Christian values. Maybe you could stand for elected office, or find work in government departments, and see the spread of Christian values in politics by your own work. The emphasis in all of this is that you should do something, big or small.
If we had the aforementioned Christian values put at the centre of public policy, with community, human dignity and paternalistic love in mind, Britain may well be better off, and the British people far more content with government. Such change will not happen without people being vocal or active about their concerns; A politician will not answer a question that he isn’t asked. People may sneer at you for defending Christian values publicly, but these people, and others, will sneer at you for almost anything. If there is no good answer to ‘Why not?’, then consider giving it a go.
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By Sarah Stook — 2 weeks ago
Not every monarch has been an upstanding spouse. Many of the men ruling our kingdom have had a bit on the side whilst remaining married. Some had quick flings whilst others had longstanding partnerships.
It was a different era- royal men were expected and allowed to have mistresses. Their marriages were rarely ever for love. Those who were lucky enough to love their spouses only did after they’d married. Their wives were expected to be naive virgins who would only be there to have children. Kings might have insatiable appetites and want something more. So long as they weren’t too open about it, they could have as many women as they wanted.
Some queens, such as Queen Alexandra, tolerated affairs. Others, such as Isabella of France, did not. There wasn’t much they could do- some were forced to accept the mistresses as their ladies-in-waiting. The luckiest of them got to choose who their mistresses were.
It could be unfortunate. A king who spent more time with his mistresses wouldn’t give his wife a child. Catherine of Braganza suffered three miscarriages and never had any children due to her husband, Charles II, preferring other women. Charles had no legitimate heirs with poor Catherine, but had at least twelve illegitimate children.
Here are some of the most notable women who caught the eye of British kings:
Rosamund Clifford (c. 1150-1176)
Mistress to: Henry II
Time: Pre- 1174-1176
As with many women of the era, we know shockingly little about Rosamund Clifford. Ancient lore describes her as the most beautiful woman of all time, the Helen of Troy of her day. We know that she was not yet thirty when she died, yet her name lives on years later.
Rosamund was the daughter of Walter Clifford and the former Margaret de Toeni. Historians estimate her birth to have been between 1148 and 1150. The affair between Henry and Rosamund was publicly acknowledged by the King in 1174, but it’s believed that it has been going on a good deal longer.
Whilst Henry had initially had a happy marriage with his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. The pair had eight children, including five sons, so Eleanor had fulfilled her duty in medieval eyes. Still, his eyes wandered and Rosamund was one of the women who he noticed.
A common legend, one that is almost undoubtedly false, states that Henry built an elaborate maze so that he could rendezvous with Rosamund. Eleanor reportedly discovered her and forced her to either drink poison or take a dagger to her chest. Rosamund, according to legend, poisoned herself. It is more likely that Rosamund simply died of one of the many illnesses that occurred at the time.
Since so little is known about her, we cannot build an accurate picture of Rosamund. Contemporaries would often exaggerate the beauty of noble and famous women, as beauty was seen as goodliness, so Rosamund may not be the angel that we’ve been taught. That being said, as she was a mistress, society may have been harder upon her so they may be honest in their view.
Eleanor of Aquitaine was also widely reviled at the time as ‘unwomanly’ due to her strong character and political nature. It’s no wonder that it’s rumored Eleanor poisoned her love rival. Rosamund would possibly be described as so beautiful because she was comparatively good and feminine in society’s eyes.
Alice Perrers (1348-1400)
Mistress to: Edward III
Husbands: Janyn Perrers (1360-1364), William de Windsor (1376-1384)
Children: John, Jane, Joan (believed to be with Edward)
Whilst Rosamund Clifford was the picture of beauty, kindness and grace, our next mistress had quite the opposite reputation.
Alice Perrers was widely reviled as a conniving gold-digger who preyed upon an old, grieving king. The wife of Edward III, Philippa of Hainault, was an extremely beloved queen for her graciousness, charity and acts of mercy. Alice had started an affair with Edward towards the end of Philippa’s life but it was not open until after the Queen died.
She’d been first married at the age of 12, shocking for us but very normal for the time. Alice was only 18 when she arrived at court, whilst Edward was 55. We know nothing about when the affair started but they were discreet until after Philippa died. Edward did genuinely love his wife and whilst affairs were tolerated, a king couldn’t afford to be too open about it.
It was this openness that really angered society. Alice was showered with gifts and money from the older king, becoming one of the richest women of the time. Most controversially, Edward presented Alice with jewellery that had belonged to his late wife. If that wasn’t bad enough, he overrode her will, as Philippa had stated that those jewels should have been given to a friend.
Another shocking breach of protocol and etiquette occured when there was an event at Smithfield. Edward presented Alice as ‘The Lady of the Sun,’ and had her sit with him. The senior lady at the event should have either been the wife of his eldest son or one of his daughters. A mistress should never have such an honour.
When enemy powers decided that Alice needed to be out, the King was unable to stop them. Alice was banned from both court and her lover, but this lasted only three months or so. In order to protect herself, Alice had eloped with William de Windsor several months before. She knew that once Edward died, she’d have no protection so she needed to wed. Both strenuously denied it. Edward believed her.
Ultimately, Alice turned out to be right. Edward’s death afforded her nothing, and there were even rumours she’d stolen the ring from his finger as he died. Courtiers got the new boy king, Richard II, to sentence her to exile. Fortunately, Windsor came out and admitted the marriage. This loophole allowed Alice to stay in the country, but Windsor got all of her properties and fortune. Considering women had no legal recourse against their husband, it’s probably what Alice should have expected.
Alice was widowed in 1384. With no children, Windsor made his nephew his beneficiary. Windsor had left Alice a trust, but the nephew did not bother to provide for her. Alice fought it legally but never saw it resolved. Her acknowledged children with the king had been brought up separately from the court. John had already died, whilst the women were married. We do not know anything about their relationship.
It’s believed that Alice died between 1400 and 1401. Historians view her better than her contemporaries, noting it was her business acumen that got her where she was, whilst also noting that Edward did spoil her somewhat.
The contemporary view of Alice probably stems from the deep popularity of Queen Philippa and the age discrepancy between the two lovers. This is somewhat strange, as there were many couples with large age gaps in this period. Perhaps it is because they believed Edward to be old and senile- 55 was a pretty good age back then. Whilst there is no doubt Alice was probably ambitious and cunning, she also probably isn’t the villain they’d like you to think.
Elizabeth ‘Jane’ Shore (c. 1445-c. 1527)
Mistress to: Edward IV
Husband: William Shore (?-1476), Thomas Lynom (1484-?)
Children: Julianne (with Lynom)
Born Elizabeth but known as Jane, Jane Shore was yet another mistress not treated kindly. From a wealthy family, Jane was afforded an education better than many girls of her era. Her intelligence and beauty made her a popular candidate for marriage. Eventually, Jane’s father had her married to a wealthy banker named William Shore. Whilst Shore seemed to care for his wife, Jane did not seem to reciprocate. She had the marriage annulled, ostensibly because of Shore’s apparent impotency:
‘She continued in her marriage to William Schore […] and cohabited with him for the lawful time, but that he is so frigid and impotent that she, desirous of being a mother and having offspring, requested over and over again the official of London to cite the said William before him to answer her concerning the foregoing and the nullity of the said marriage…’
It is believed Jane met Edward IV after he returned from France. Jane’s beauty and intelligence captivated Edward and she became the favourite out of his many lovers. Unlike the others, he did not discard her quickly and the relationship lasted. Other mistresses, however, had been given many gifts. Edward was married to Elizabeth Woodville but was known to have affairs.
Jane wielded a fairly large amount of power at the time, though did not initially receive the same level of hate. She was known to request the reprieve of allies who had been imprisoned. Jane was widely praised as a lively, intelligent and funny woman to be around. The power she wielded only increased after Edward’s death.
During the role of the Protector, the later Richard III, Jane was incriminated in a plot against the government. She’d been in romantic relationships with the men who cared for the boy king Edward V. Jane used those relationships to ensure alliances. Richard, the then-Duke of Gloucester accused her of conspiracy, sorcery and witchcraft.
Jane was imprisoned and required to do a public act of penance. Their had not been enough evidence to charge her with sorcery, so Jane was charged with prostitution. As penance, Jane was forced to walk the streets of London barefoot in a special garment and carrying a taper. The public sympathised with her quiet dignity throughout the ordeal.
Whilst she was imprisoned, Jane became close to Thomas Lynom, Solicitor General. Despite Richard’s misgivings, the romance blossomed and Lynom married Jane. Jane lived the rest of her life in relative comfort and prosperity. Sir Thomas More wrote that she remained somewhat beautiful in old age. Jane died at the impressive age of 82.
Unlike Alice Perrers, Jane’s political actions did not cause her to be disliked. Jane was perhaps more feminine and traditional when influencing the king, as it was expected wives and other powerful women ask for ‘soft’ favours. Her wit and humour also likely offset any issues; Alice Perrers was accused of being haughty and overly ambitious.
Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Blount (c.1498-c.1540)
Mistress to: Henry VIII
Time: Around 1519
Husbands: Gilbert Tailboys, 1st Baron Tailboys of Kyme (1522-1530), Edward Clinton, 1st Earl of Lincoln (1533/34-c.1540)
Children: Henry FitzRoy (with Henry), Elizabeth, George, Robert (with Tailboys), Bridget, Catherine and Margaret (with Clinton)
Bessie Blount may be one of the most impactful mistresses we’ve ever had and it’s not through politics.
Born to minor nobles, Bessie became an attendant to Catherine of Aragon. As with others, the only thing known of Bessie is that she was very beautiful. Henry VIII was known for being lustful and it’s unsurprising that he began an affair with Bessie. Bessie was smart enough to know she’d only ever be a mistress and not a wife and was seemingly content with her position. There is no evidence that Bessie was at all political.
Bessie’s greatest contribution was the birth of Henry’s illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy, on the 15th June 1519. Henry was thrilled with having a healthy son and bestowed many gifts upon the boy. The affair soon ended- probably because of Mary Boleyn- so Henry set Bessie up to be married. Bessie had three children with her second husband and three with her third. She died at about 42 years old.
Interestingly, Henry kept this affair discreet. Until his affair with Anne Boleyn, Henry was ‘respectful’ of wife Catherine and kept his liaisons quiet.
Whilst this seems like a rather more uninteresting mistress, Bessie did do one important thing. Illegitimate children were common in history, especially ones sired by kings, so Henry FitzRoy is definitely not special. Still, he was a healthy son. Henry hadn’t had any of those up to that point and wouldn’t for a while. He began to believe that if he could sire healthy sons, then the problem clearly lay with Catherine of Aragon. So began the seeds of discontent.
Bessie was widely lauded at the time for managing to show that Henry VIII could sire healthy sons. She was also uncommonly beautiful, graceful and musically talented.
Mary Boleyn (c.1499-1543)
Mistress to: Henry VIII
Time: Around 1520
Husbands: William Carey (1520-1528), Sir William Stafford (1534-1543)
Children: Catherine, Henry (with Carey), Edward and Anne (with Stafford)
Known as ‘The Other Boleyn Girl,’ Mary was on the scene earlier than her sister was.
It’s most likely that Mary was the eldest daughter and before Anne became Henry’s paramour, she was also the most infamous. She started life in comfort before being sent to France with Mary, Henry VIII’s sister, who was to become Queen of France. Mary Boleyn remained in France after the Queen was widowed quickly into the marriage. Whilst historians believe her promiscuity was exaggerated, Mary was definitely sleeping with King Francis.
Mary had quite the reputation when she returned to England. Francis had called her ‘his English mare.’ Again, whilst her promiscuity was exaggerated, society would have thought ill of her anyway. Francis did call her the greatest whore after all.
She married a man named William Carey in 1520. It was around this time that Henry and Mary began their affair. Carey was showered with gifts and positions, as was Mary’s father Thomas. Some believe Henry fathered Mary’s children but the King never acknowledged them. When Henry did move onto Anne, he requested dispensation for their marriage as he’d previously slept with her sister.
Mary was provided with a generous pension upon the death of her husband, but a secret marriage to a poor nobleman and soldier caused scandal. She had not asked for royal permission and the man in question, Sir William Stafford, was her social inferior. The new couple were sent away from court and cut off. Anne did send Mary some help after she was in dire straits.
There is little information on Mary after she left court. We know nearly nothing about Mary’s reaction to her siblings’ fall from grace and subsequent execution. It is likely that Mary’s marriage saved her from any problems, as she had been sent away before the scandal occurred. Some historians state that Mary tried to beg for her family but was turned down.
Mary lived a life of obscurity from then on. Her marriage was very happy but she died relatively young. Still, this is a much better deal than Anne or their cousin Catherine Howard got. Mary’s time as a mistress clearly influenced Anne, who refused to go down the mistress route straight away and become just another lover. Anne instead went for power and got it.
Lucy Walter (c.1630-1658)
Mistress to: Charles II
Children: James (with Charles), Mary (with Theobald Taaffe, 1st Earl of Carlingford)
Did Lucy Walter marry Charles II secretly? Well, historians are divided.
She isn’t as remembered as Barbara Villiers or Nell Gwyn, but is still important enough here. Charles first met Lucy when he was the King on the Continent, having fled from England upon the Civil War. Lucy’s family had similarly fled. The two soon met and began an affair. Charles would not be married for another two decades and Lucy was similarly unwed. Lucy would bear Charles’ son James in 1649. Charles recognised James as his.
When Charles was away fighting, Lucy had an affair with a married man and had a baby. Upon Charles’ return, the affair was ended. Lucy then lived a life of debauchery on the continent, causing scandal and problems wherever she went. She was lured back to England with her children, but was arrested as a spy and placed in the Tower of London. There was a huge outcry and Lucy managed her way to outfox her captors. Lucy returned to the continent and continued to cause embarrassment.
Lucy was only around 27 to 28 when she died, probably as a result of her lifestyle.
Their son, James, was made 1st Duke of Monmouth. Enemies of Catholicism and Queen Catherine of Brazanga proclaimed that Charles had secretly married Lucy and that James was thus air to the throne. They worried that Catherine would provide Charles with a Catholic heir or that his unpopular brother James would become King.
Upon his father’s death, James arrived back in the country. He attempted to mount a rebellion and used his claim as the king’s first son in hopes of gaining the crown. James was captured and given an audience by his uncle, the new King James II. Unfortunately, King James was not merciful and had his nephew executed.
Lucy lived a short but eventful life. She was described as very cunning, as evidenced by her ability to get out of sticky situations. Lucy lived a very different life to one expected of a 17th century woman- she was sexual, cunning and hedonistic when women were thought to be chaste, demure and modest.
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