Are the 1507 John Blanke (sic) Trumpeter and 1488 John Blank (sic) Footman one and the same person ?
History is always moving forward.
Our knowledge of previous events, people and places is only deepened and refreshed by the work of historians, researchers and interpreters when they add new layers of knowledge to the material of history which we inherit. We should embrace this process. By looking back in more focussed ways at an increasing range of evidence, we get a fuller picture of what happened in the past. What might be key facts would otherwise remain annoyingly out of reach until new work reveals how they fit into the familiar narrative. The past then glides into sharper focus through the drawing forward of small details and isolated fragments from often obscure areas.
This is the case with John Blanke. After he was first identified as the black trumpeter paid wages in 1507, seen in in the Westminster tournament roll picture from 1511 and the records of the cloth given out at the funeral of King Henry VII in 1509, it became easier to look for him elsewhere in the historical record. Knowing his job as a royal musician meant that it should only have been a matter of time until more documents appeared. Some were soon found, including John’s petition for increased wages in 1512, Henry VIII’s gift of cloth for his wedding around the same time, and his appearance at state events, like the king’s coronation in June 1509.
More unexpected was a new reference to John Blank (sic) as a footman in Henry VII’s personal service in 1488. An earlier date and a different job calls for some re-evaluation of John’s life story. It proves that our understanding can never stand still and that we have to be ready to accept accurate new information when it appears. This is how we achieve a more reliable impression of what the past was truly like for all our ancestors.