where the writers are
Lost Kingdom
Butcher's daughter rocks and rescues English dynasty

Thos Keene


“The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch.”
William Shakespeare's Richard III


Two hundred and sixty years ago today, the English actor-manager, Thomas Kean (variously spelled Keene, it is uncertain whether he was of the same family as the more famous and tragic Edmund Kean), first staged in New York a production of Shakespeare's Richard III in which he played the title role.

I used to live not far from Bosworth Field and found the area quite eerie, more so than, for instance, Flodden and Waterloo. It was the haunt of curlews who cried an eternal lament for a dedicated victim. It still echoes down the ages, for can anything be more hopeless or self-confounding?

As a small child, I was taught by my father, a meticulous man, that the following verse tells of King Richard's fate at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. His mount stumbled and his crown was left hanging on a thorn bush when he is supposed to have delivered the anvil-ringing line summing up not only his plight, but his character:

“A horse! A horse! My Kingdom for a horse!”

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.


















Another line, quoted by monarchists of the past, which relates to the event is:
“Cleave to the Crown though it hang on a thorn bush.”

Does anyone know who coined this? I've yet to discover the answer and am  fairly sure it wasn't the Bard.


Hog.Garrick.Richard III














3 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

This is all I have been able to find:

"'Cleave to the crown, though it hang on a bush,' is an old English proverb referring to Henry VII’s accession to the throne in 1485. The crown of his predecessor, Richard III, slain in battle, had been found by a hawthorn bush and placed on Henry’s head.

Thereafter the hawthorn became one of Henry’s badges. The hawthorn flower, praised by poets from Chaucer to Swinburne, blooms in spring in England, and the tree has become synonymous with the month in which this occurs. In Normandy for years peasants put sprigs of hawthorn flowers in their caps to commemorate the belief that Christ’s crown of thorns was made from that tree. Hawthorn berries have long been used in folk medicine for heart-related problems, high blood pressure and over-rapid heartbeat. The fruit have also reportedly cured insomnia. The hard wood of hawthorn has been used in making such articles as walking sticks and boxes."

Dobelis, Inge N., et al, Eds. 1986. Magic and Medicine of Plants. The Reader’s Digest
Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY. p. 20

Comment Bubble Tip

Harrison, thanks for your reply

packed with interesting information and for taking such trouble.Truly appreciated!

I do actually use Crataegus Oxycantha myself, as it's compatible with the heart medication I'm prescribed and is edible in its original form. It would have been precious to our ancestors, as well as the feathered kingdom. When I was small, for some reason, we used to call the leaves 'bread and cheese'. Perhaps it was supposed to be the taste. It's such a pretty hedgerow plant for three-quarters of the year and tends to be one of the first to produce greenery in the spring in England. (You notice a lot of things walking an energetic Springador!)