Manuscripts and Special Collections

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Historical Literature

Publications in the Briggs Collection of pre-1850 Educational Literature show how history used to be taught. They focus on the lives of monarchs and memorable events which had symbolic significance for the nation.

The description of Richard II in 'Portraits and Characters of the Kings of England' (John Harris, 1825) illustrates how rhyming couplets assisted children to remember their kings and queens:

"King Richard the Second, as we have been told,
Ascended the throne when eleven years old.
Wat Tyler's rebellion he soon overthrew,
Yet he prov'd himself weak and impolitic too.
His barons took arms and resisted his power,
And forced him to seek a retreat in the Tower.
His crown he resign'd, but resign'd it in vain,
For at Pontefract Castle poor Richard was slain."

Maria Elizabeth Budden uses verses from the same source to introduce chapters in her 1828 book, 'True Stories from English History'. Her account of the death of the sons of Edward IV is a variant of the story, made popular by Shakespeare, that they were murdered by their wicked uncle, Richard III.

The entry of James II into Dublin in 1689, before his memorable defeat by William of Orange, inspired one of only three images in Miss Julia Corner's 'History of Ireland' [1840]. The illustration by John Gilbert was engraved by Samuel Davenport.

Further sources relating to this subject area are held by Manuscripts and Special Collections at King's Meadow Campus. See our website for information about our collections and catalogues.

Richard II Zoom in

Richard II

Murder of the princes in the Tower Zoom in

Murder of the princes in the Tower

Entry of James II into Dublin Zoom in

Entry of James II into Dublin

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