Hilary Mantel and Henry III’s Elephant: A Contribution by Dr Richard Cassidy

Henry III’s elephant keeps cropping up. I have just started reading Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel (her sequel to Wolf Hall). And Thomas Cromwell is thinking about monasteries, and relics:

‘In the year 1257, an elephant died in the Tower menagerie and was buried in a pit near the chapel. But the following year he was dug up and his remains sent to Westminster Abbey. Now, what did they want at Westminster Abbey, with the remains of an elephant? If not to carve a ton of relics out of him, and make his animal bones into the bones of saints?’

She has evidently done her homework. If only she had written earlier, we would have had a great intro for the Fine of the Month.

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