I recently heard two separate historical stories. Each demonstrate a tremendous power we hold to change the future.
The first is the story of Owain Tudur, or Owen Tudor after he anglicised his name. He was a Welshman who made his way to London to try and make his way in the royal court under the infant King Henry VI. He bedded the King’s mother Queen Catherine and secretly married her. It was the scandal of the day! There are many theories and even mythology around Owen Tudor, his upbringing in Wales, and his scandalous love affair, but there seems to be truth in the bravery and boldness of this man who left the country side to make a better life for himself. I would even venture so far to say that I think he had a hand in naming his grandson a king’s name – Henry.
That very grandson did not win over the royal class, but the people. His mother, the Countess of Richmond and Derby, was promoting him as an alternative to the terrible Richard III who was known to be a monster. I believe she assisted in Henry marrying the eldest daughter of Edward IV, who was assumed to be the heir to the throne. With that marriage he had the support of the English, and with his grandfather’s lineage, he had the support Wales – who felt that with Henry all doors would be open to them. With an army behind him at the Battle of Bosworth against King Richard and his men, Henry fought with the Welsh and even the Scotts – and for a surprise twist, part of Richard’s army switched sides. The crown was found lying in a bush after the battle and was placed on the head of the new King Henry VII.
The Tudor dynasty began with a fear that they had just achieved the impossible and it could be taken from them at any moment. All records that did not indicate himself and his wife as the legitimate king and queen were burned and the pressure was on to maintain this royal line. After his first son passed away, his middle son was prepped to be the next on the throne. By the time King Henry VIII took power he had already had a lifetime of teachings on the importance of producing an heir. Failing to do so would result in another civil war and the end of their dynasty.
The second story is often told by author Andy Andrews. He talks about Moses Carver and his wife Susan. They lived in a slave state but did not believe in slavery. A group of raiders came through Moses’ farm and burned it to the ground, shot several people and dragged away a lady by the name of Mary Washington, Susan’s best friend, who refused to let go of her infant baby George. Moses sent word out looking for them and made arrangements to meet the raiders several miles away from his farm. He took the last horse he owned, rode it north and traded the horse for the baby boy who had been thrown in a burlap sack. He promised that boy he would raise him like his own and give him his name and teach him about his mother.
George Washington Carver went on to study at Iowa State Agricultural College where he was the first black student. His bachelor thesis was “Plants as Modified by Man”. His professor had a six year old son by the name of Henry Wallace who would go on botanical expeditions with George. He taught young Henry a great deal. George grew to become the great American botanist who persuaded poor farmers to grow alternative crows to cotton such as peanuts and sweet potatoes as a source of their own food and a source of other products to improve their quality of life. He spent a great deal of his life developing and promoting numerous products made from peanuts and was a leader in promoting environmentalism.
The young Henry Wallace went on to become the Secretary of Agriculture and later the second Vice President under Roosevelt. While in power Wallace worked to create a station in Mexico to Hybridizing corn for arid climates. He hired Norman Borlaug who went on to win the Nobel Peace prize for saving the lives of two billion people because of his corn research and implementation.
The question that Andy Andrews poses is who in that story was responsible for the hybrid corn? Mary? Moses? George? Henry? Norman? My question is who in the first story was responsible for the decapitations of two queens?
Owen Tudor was a fascinating character in English history that left the countryside to change his family tree. He didn’t know at the time that he would birth a royal dynasty, nor would he have known that the tension surrounding that throne would lead his great grandson’s marital dysfunction, but his determination and crass transcended through generations. Although little is known of his family I am willing to bet he came by that naturally.
Andy Andrews, in his new book, The Little Things, points out that the Mona Lisa was created with the smallest brush of the time. You cannot see a single stroke when you see that painting. It’s those small strokes that make up your life and your legacy.
I have been asking a lot lately “If I did everything I did today 500 more times what would the outcome be.” Because it’s our day to day choices that make all the difference the further and further you get away from it. One donut multiplied by 500, or one sit up multiplied. What about that one dollar you spend today? Invested for retirement that one dollar becomes thirty. Multiply that 500 times over. How about the kiss you gave your kids this morning, or maybe you walked out without kissing them. The book you read, or the TV show you watch. Maybe the connection you made today. You don’t know what kind of effect you are having in your workplace or your school.
I have met people in my life who have influenced me so deeply that it effects my believe system – and although some of these peoples name or faces have escaped me over the years, but their influence has not. Perhaps they will even affect my son through me.
How far into the future will your decisions today reach? Part of my goals for 2017, which I will blog about at a later date, is too live more intentionally. If my actions now are going to influence my family tree, than I would like to be part of the process consciously. Please tell me in the comments how you are choosing to live intentionally?