April 23rd – On this day, St George’s Day, in 1390, English pride was dented by the defeat of the Englishman Lord Welles by the Scotsman Sir David Lindsay in a friendly joust in front of King Richard (II) – on London Bridge! As Gordon Home put it in his Medieval London, citing the primary source of Hector Boece:
“At the sound of the trumpets the two champions hurled themselves at each other, and either splintered his lance without effect in dismounting his adversary. Welles had directed his spear at his opponent’s head and hit him fairly on the visor, but the Scottish champion kept his seat so steadily that some of the spectators … shouted out that Lindsay had strapped himself to his saddle. Thereupon the gallant Scot proved his honesty by vaulting to the ground and on to his horse’s back again in his heavy armour. A second course followed with equal fortune, but at the third Welles was fairly overthrown. The victor at once dismounted, and in the best spirit went to assist his fallen opponent … [and] … never failed to call daily upon him during such time as he was confined to bed by the bruises and the severe shock of the fall”.
Shakespeare was born on or around this day 450 years ago in 1564, and died on this day 52 years later in 1616.
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