musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Battle of Tewkesbury

The Battle of Tewkesbury 1471

Having seen the re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury I feel that the time has come to try lay it to bed. I have seen enough now to finally make some sort of sense of it, although I probably still don’t know enough. You can read about the actual battle on the relevant page on Wikipedia 

To really understand the whole shebang you need to know where it happened and there are a number of maps out there to show the area. I picked up this one in a shop window although I do not know when it dates from, but it does show the outline of the cemetery which means it was created after 1857 as the cemetery was opened in that year. There is a reason why the cemetery position is important, but that comes later. 

(Lancastrian forces are the darker rectangles, Yorkists are the lightly shaded forces)

What you should know is that the Lancastrians are descendants or supporters of John (of Gaunt) Duke of Lancaster, second son of Edward III, younger brother of Edward the Black Prince. Their badge was a red rose and in the context of the Battle of Tewkesbury and the Wars of the Roses they were the army fielded by Queen Margaret of Anjou, 

The Yorkists were descendants or supporters of Edmund of Langley, fifth son of Edward III and, from 1385 1st Duke of York, and they adopted the white rose as their badge. In the context of the Battle of Tewkesbury and the Wars of the Roses they were the army fielded by King Edward IV.

Having landed at Weymouth the Lancastrians were seeking to cross the River Severn into Wales to meet up with Jasper Tudor and the men he was gathering, then march into Lancashire and Cheshire, and raise the men of the north to overturn the Yorkist throne. The nearest crossing point was at Gloucester and forewarned King Edward sent urgent messages to the Governor, Sir Richard Beauchamp, ordering him to bar the gates to Margaret and to man the city’s defences. When Margaret arrived at Gloucester on the morning of 3 May, Beauchamp refused to let her army pass, and she realized that there was insufficient time to storm the city before Edward’s army arrived. 

Her army made another 16 km forced march to Tewkesbury, hoping to reach the next bridge at Upton-upon-Severn 11 km further on.  The Lancastrians halted for the night at Tewkesbury, while Edward drove his army to make another march of 9.7 km from Cheltenham, finally halting 4.8 km from the Lancastrians who knew they could retreat no further before Edward attacked their rear, and that they would be forced to give battle.

As day broke on 4 May 1471, the Lancastrians took up a defensive position a mile south of Tewkesbury. To their rear were the Rivers Avon and Severn. Tewkesbury Abbey was just behind the Lancastrian centre.  A farmhouse then known as Gobes Hall (Modern day Gupshill Manor) marked the centre of the Lancastrian position. 

Gupshill Manor

The Lancastrian army was approximately 6000 strong, and as was customary was organised into three “battles”. The right battle was commanded by the Duke of Somerset, the  centre was commanded by Lord Wenlock, while 17 year old Prince Edward was present with the centre. The left battle was commanded by the John Courtenay, 15th Earl of Devon. The River Swilgate, protected Devon’s left flank, before curving behind the Lancastrian position to join the Avon. The main strength of the Lancastrians’ position was provided by the ground in front, which was broken up by hedges, woods, embankments and “evil lanes”. This was especially true on their right. On the map below the Swilgate starts at the upper right and cross through the map in front of the abbey. 

The Yorkists numbering roughly 5000, were slightly outnumbered and they too were organised into three battles. King Edward commanded the main battle and his vanguard was commanded by his youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester while Lord Hastings commanded the rear. 

To the left of Edward’s army was a thickly wooded area and he ordered 200 mounted spearmen to occupy part of the woods and prevent the Lancastrians making use of them, or act on their own initiative if they were not themselves attacked. These men really played an important role in the defeat of the the Lancastrians.

Edward then “displayed his bannars: dyd blowe up the trompets: commytted his caws and qwarell to Almyghty God, to owr most blessyd lady his mother: Vyrgyn Mary, the glorious Seint George, and all the saynts: and advaunced, directly upon his enemyes.”

As they moved towards the Lancastrian position the Yorkist army found that the ground was so broken up by woods, ditches and embankments that it was difficult to attack in any sort of order. Yorkist archers and artillery showered the Lancastrians with arrows and shot.  The Duke of Somerset led at least part of his men via some of the “evil lanes” to attack Edward’s left flank.  Edward’s men resisted stoutly, beating back Somerset’s attack,  the 200 spearmen Edward had earlier posted in the woods attacked Somerset from his own right flank and rear.  Somerset’s battle was routed, and his surviving army tried to escape across the Severn. Most were cut down as they fled. The long meadow astride the Colnbrook leading down to the river is known to this day as “Bloody Meadow”.

As its morale collapsed, the rest of the Lancastrian army tried to flee, but the River Swilgate became a deadly barrier. Many who succeeded in crossing it converged on a mill south of the town of Tewkesbury and a weir in the town itself, where there were crossings over the Avon. Here, too, many drowned or were killed by their pursuers.

Two weeks ago I found a memorial that I did not know about before and it was situated in an area known as “The Vineyards” and is on the edge of the cemetery. (position can be seen on the map below)

The Vineyards formed part of the battlefield and the memorial is sited on what was then Holme Castle, and the Abbey is visible in the distance. I was standing with the cemetery behind me when I took this image. The memorial  marks where the defeated Lancastrians routed and fled towards the “safety” of the town and presumably to seek refuge in the Abbey. Fortunately the Abbey played no part in the battle, but was caught up in the aftermath

Wars of the Roses Reference

Holme Castle Reference

Margaret of Anjou was taken captive by William Stanley at the end of the battle,  while her only son, Edward of Westminster was killed, although the manner of his death is not clearly known, some sources state he was executed in the market place of Tewkesbury. The Queen was completely broken in spirit and ended her days in France as a poor relation of the king. She died in the castle of Francis de Vignolleshis in Dampierre-sur-Loire, on 25 August 1482 at the age of 52 

The grave of  Edward, Prince of Wales, the last legitimate descendant of the House of Lancaster may be found in Tewkesbury Abbey. 

“Here lies Edward, Prince of Wales, cruelly slain whilst but a youth, Anno Domine 1471, May fourth. Alas the savagery of men. Thou art the soul light of thy Mother, and the last hope of thy race.”

A number of others from the battle are also buried in the Abbey, and it is likely many of the foot soldiers were buried where they fell. History is not altogether clear as to their fate, after all, in this struggle for power they were really just pawns in a larger power game between kings and queens.  

The Arrivall

Just past Gupshill Manner on the Stonehills roundabout on the A38. there are two large wooden statues collectively known as The Arrivall.  The two 5 metre works, feature a victorious knight on horseback and a defeated horse. They took 15 years to plan and two years to make and they were created by Sculptor Phil Bews from the Forest of Dean and were unveiled in May 2014. They pretty much sum up the battle in two images. Unfortunately  I have never been able to see them up close and personal but only managed images from the bus.

More reading:  

Matt’s History Blog

Wikipedia page on the Wars of the Roses

UK Battlefield Resource Centre

Tewkesbury Battlefield Society

There is a lot written about the battle and the consequences thereof, who wrote the story? probably the winners. Personally I really deal with aftermaths, as my collection of references above shows. I do not know the whole story, but one of these days I will do the tour and hear another version and hopefully I will be able to add even more to this page afterwards. 

DRW © 2018. Created 17/07/2018

Updated: 25/07/2018 — 05:38

Ye Olde Medieval Festivale 2018

It is difficult to comprehend that a small town like Tewkesbury played such a pivotal role in the history of England so many years ago, and we are reminded of it because we hold the famous Medieval Festival around about this time of year. I do not really enjoy it because it is crowded and slightly crazy and there is a lot to see, but nothing to see. Its that kind of festival. I have attended all of them since I arrived in Tewkesbury in 2015 but did not hang round for the much vaunted “Battle”.  Last  year’s may be view on the relevant page:  2017 Medieval Festival

The build up started a few weeks back when the banners started to appear in Town, and then the posters and finally on a gloriously hot summers day it all came together and the population of Tewkesbury tripled. Make no mistake, this festival is famous amongst re-enactors, history buffs, curious onlookers, young and old. People come from far and wide to trade, drink, fight and wear cool clothing.  Part of the attraction for me has always been people watching although I do not do crowds too well.

I will not even attempt to explain the battle in this post as it’s beyond my stock of knowledge, but the whole shebang takes place in areas where the actual battle occurred. There may even be long forgotten burials in the area where we were today, but I won’t put my head on a block and say that there are.  I have tried to create some sort of semi-coherent account of the battle in another post

Where to begin?

The site is divided into 3 areas, and the image above is where the stores are set up and the playpark and food and concession vendors are laid out. It can get chaotic but there is a wide variety of bits and bobs available so it is very popular. Although at times it is strange to bump into a knight or ye ladye browsing the edged weapons or waffling away on their cellphone.  Actually the best time to explore this area is when the battle is occurring. It is much quieter. 

It is also a popular time when many alternative lifestylers come out of the woodwork and don their finest, and there were a number of really amazing costumes out there. 

This is just a small selection, and everyone of those who I photographed were amazing. Thank you. Incidentally, “The Green Man” is a regular at these events and seems to have an aura all of his own.

This is the same area at roughly 16H45 and the battle was raging in the field close by.

The field where the battle was happening is literally just over Upper Lode Lane (which connects to the Lower Lode Inn and Upper Lode Locks)

The battlefield is a large space surrounded on 3 sides by the Living History display, which is where you can see “how the other half lived” I could be wrong but many of the re-enactors were camped out in this area with their attendant followers and baggage. It is a fascinating glimpse into the past, and most of those camped here were in period clothing and lived it rough (no broadband?).  

I will say one thing about the people who were living in those tents, they made an excellent job of portraying what a campsite may have looked like, and they put their heart into creating the ambience for the event. This is part of what makes the festival so popular. 

According to my information the battle was due to start at 3pm, but as usual that was incorrect, and while the soldiers suited up there was a demonstration of falconry. It is however not really the sort of thing that works well in a large space because from where I was standing you could barely see the stage although I did manage one image of these amazing birds.

And while the falconry was going on the crowd just got larger and the seating area around the arena got steadily more packed with people in various states of undress. It was a scorcher of a day and the sun was not being merciful at all. I did not envy those who were going to participate in the fighting because that steel armour was going to get very very hot (especially if left outside in the sun).  I fear the knight below melted, leaving his armour behind.

Then there was movement as small squads of knights and followers started to head to the opposite end of the field. They were a ragtag mob, and I suspect many would already be wishing they were at home with a cold one watching the telly.

Do not make the assumption that all of these armour clad foot soldiers were men either. There were a number of girls and women in those squads, and they were not in the traditional camp follower role either.  We were also visited by the two snake oil salesmen with their cart of body parts and assorted bottles of green stuff. They too are regulars and bring some light relief to the waiting crowd. Their cry of “bring out yer dead!” causing many a smile and scared small children from near and far. 

Things were reaching a climax on the other side of the arena too as more men gathered while Sir Gallop-around-alot tried to impress the crowd with his equestrian prowess. Actually he was “scouting”, but the reality is that he was probably showing off. Archers were gathering on both sides too…

And then the archers let fly… the longbow used by the English was a fearsome weapon by all counts, and storms of arrows would reign down on combatants from rows of men especially trained in the use of the bow. Unfortunately if your opponent had similar trained men the advantage was moot. 

Then the armies arrived after a long march, and the Lancastrian forces of Queen Margaret of Anjou  passed within earshot of the audience.  

Things were hotting up as the two parties got together to parley. You can see Queen Margaret in her veil and the King facing the armoured man with the feathers in his helmet. The guy ruining the shot is not checking his email, he is busy reading the instructions on how to use his “gonne” 

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By all accounts the parley did not go well, she slapped him and stomped off, the die had been cast and battle would commence. Firearms were in use by then, although by all accounts they were relatively simple weapons, more liable to explode and kill the user than to kill the opposition. The Yorkists certainly had more guns than their enemies, and they were apparently better served.

Ye loude bange!!

Then battle did commence…

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It was also time for me to leave the festival. It was obvious that while the fighting was ebbing and flowing in the area I could not see very much. I was also tired and hot and bothered and really ready to call it a day. The real Lancastrians and Yorkists way back in May 1471 were probably equally tired and some were probably wounded and hoping to find sanctuary in the church and town.  

And that was The Medieval Festival.  I am glad I saw part of the Battle, it probably raged long after I had left, and I am sure much quaffing of ale was done afterwards. On Sunday the parade will wobble erratically down the High Street, I covered the parade last year, so all that is left are those random images that I enjoy so much. 

Acknowledgements:

Everybody!! especially those who were involved in the battles and in the supporting role, and of course the organisers and those who manned the stalls and gates and made sure it all went well.  

See ye nexte time.

DRW © 2018. Created 15/07/2018.

Updated: 25/07/2018 — 05:38

The Banners of Tewkesbury

With the much vaunted Medieval Festival just around the corner the town is being festooned with banners. I have very rarely taken notice of it because frankly I know nothing about this period and a lot of the War of the Roses goes over my head. However, seeing as I was in town I thought I would have squizz and see what I could find out. I do not know how many there should be, or what half of them mean, but maybe I will learn more along the way.​ (My post about the 2018 Medieval Festival has now been completed)

I managed to photograph 45 different banners, and I am sure there were quite a few more. Unfortunately I have not been as good with the information sheets that are usually  stuck to the windows of the shops involved.  The “key” to each banner is after the table of images. 

Out of curiosity,  the forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV.

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1. Sir William Hawte (Yorkish) of Hawland and Waltham, Kent

2. Sir Richard Culpepper (Yorkist) of Oxen Hoath, Kent

4. Sir Thomas Stratham (Yorkist) of Morley, Derbyshire

7. Sir George Neville, (Yorkist) 2nd Lord Abergavenny, of Birling, Kent

10. Sir John Fortesque, (Lancastrian) of Wymston and Shepham, Devonshire

13. Sir John Skrene (Yorkist) of Olmstead, Essex

14. Sir Thomas Tresham (Lanastrian) of Rushton and Sywell, Northamptonshire

15. Sir John Throckmorton, (Lancastrian) of Fladbury and Haresfield, Worcesterhire

20. Sir Nicholas Hervey, (Lancastrian) of Thurleigh and Eastbury, Godalming, Surrey 

22. Sir William Boteler (Butler) (Lancastrian) of Bewsey, Lord of Warrington

28. Sir Edmund Grey (Yorkist) of Ruthin, Denbighshire, 4th Earl of Ruthvin, 1st Earl of Kent

31. Sir Humphrey Touchet (Lancastrian) of Swaffham, Norfolk

40. Sir William Allington (Yorkist) of Bottisham, Cambridgeshire

43. Sir Ralph Hastings (Yorkist) of Harrowden, Northants

44. John Walleys Esq. of Devon (Lancastrian)

45. Sir John Done of Uktinkon, Cheshire (Yorkist)

46. Sir William Norreys of Bray and Yattendon, Berkshire (Yorkist)

47. Sir Seintclere Pomeroy of Berry Pomeroy, Devonshire (Lancastrian)

48. Sir John Dwnn (Done) of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire (Yorkist).

 

DRW © 2018, Created 09/07/2019

Updated: 25/07/2018 — 05:38

Tewkesbury Abbey

Tewkesbury does not have a lot going for it, however, there is one thing that stands out and that is Tewkesbury Abbey.  
 
It dominates the skyline and like so many other cathedrals and abbeys is really worth seeing. I have been fortunate that I have seen other similar buildings in Salisbury, Lichfield and, Bath, and each has been different, but each has common aspects that make them similar.
 
 
And of course, the size of the buildings really makes them difficult to photograph in their entirety because you can never really get the angles and distances right. Salisbury was probably the exception to this rule because the Cathedral Close is a large space. Tewkesbury does not have that luxury.
  
Unless you go outside the grounds into what is known as Priory Park.

I will not expound on the history of the building, there are others much more qualified than I am, suffice to say that the abbey has it’s own website
  
I did a quick walk around of the building, and it still has a large graveyard, although parts of it seem to have been ploughed under, but I did get to see my first carved stone coffin in a long time and there were more than one!
  
Entering the cool dimness of the building is like entering another world. These churches seem to overwhelm with their presence and Tewkesbury is no different. I think part of the magic is that they are really buildings that make you feel small, by their nature they are big, and their interiors can overwhelm you with the sense of age and that strange feeling of being somewhere special. I suspect they overwhelmed their congregation too, making them feel humble in this most sacred place.

 
In the image above, the font and war memorial are on the right, and the war memorial is especially beautiful. Although I do not know how many people are actually aware of it. 
 
Moving forward towards the crossing, the pulpit is on the right and lectern on the left. Both face the congregation.

 

At the crossing is the Quire (or Choir) and the screen, as well as the north and south Transepts. The Tower sits above the crossing.

The area just past the screen is beautiful, with a stunning floor and beautiful ceiling, photographs do not do this area justice. If you had to cross the screen and pass the Quire the and look towards the congregation the view would be something like this.

Set inside the tiles of the floor in front of the altar are a number of brass plaques. The town has gone down in history as being where one of the decisive battles fought during the War of the Roses was fought, and eighteen year old Edward, Prince of Wales, the last legitimate descendant of the House of Lancaster, was killed either in the battle or during its aftermath and is buried in the Abbey.

The Abbey as it exists today is a mere shade of its former self as can be seen from the plan below. Which leads me to wonder what it must have looked like before the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The altar area is beautiful, and may just be the most impressive I have seen in a church so far, although that is not saying too much because I have not seen them all yet.

and the altar  is surrounded by really magnificent stained glass windows.
It is a beautiful space, and no amount of photographs will do it justice.

And, as is usual there are a large number of floor memorials and effigies in the aisles and around the abbey, and the crypt houses the remains of George, Duke of Clarence (brother of Edward IV and Richard III), and his wife Isabelle (daughter of “Warwick, the Kingmaker”). These are housed behind a glass window in a wall of their inaccessible burial vault behind the high altar.

 
This is the Robeson Cenotaph. Archdeacon Robeson was vicar from 1877-92 during the great Victorian restoration of the abbey. He is in fact, buried in Bristol Cathedral.
 
There are a number of small chapels with in the abbey, and each is unique, these are just two of them. The chapel on the left is St Catherine’s and the one of the right is the Lady Chapel
 
There are three organs in the abbey, and the biggest is probably the Milton Organ dating from the 17th Century.
 
There is a lot that is beautiful in the abbey, it is a breathtaking building and worthy of multiple visits, I cannot however explain it all, or even begin to understand it or the significance of what I saw. It really has to be viewed in the context of the congregation who called this their parish church. The abbey is the second largest parish church in the country, and you I expect they may be very protective of their spiritual home. They have every right to be.

Random Images
It was time for me to move on and continue my explorations elsewhere. I will probably be back one day, it is that sort of place. You do find something new to see each time you go there, and I know of at least three things that I have missed, and that is a good enough reason to return.

Climbing the Tower


I had the opportunity to go up to the spire on the 11th of July, and it was one of those experiences that always leaves one impressed (and somewhat breathless).

The spiral staircase leading upwards has been retreaded so it does not bear the worn treads of generations of tower climbers. Our first stop was on a level that goes across the top of the inner roof and into the bell ringing chamber.

 

The bell ringing chamber is a beautiful space, it left me breathless,  It is hard to believe that this space was completed like this, you would think that it would have been just a plain room, but it is nothing like that at all.

 
and then we climbed more stairs and came out on the roof.

 

The view of Tewkesbury is interesting because the town would still be recognisable to somebody who climbed this spire 2 centuries ago. Time does not pass quickly in this town, and many of the buildings are almost as old as the Abbey is.
 
The view is spectacular, and it was a really enjoyable exploration that happened purely by accident.
© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 01/05/2016
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:37

Tottering around Tewkesbury

On Monday the 15th I did my first bit of tottering around in Tewkesbury. I had to take in the sights before I started work just in case the job went phut and so did I. 
It is not a large town, it is smaller than Salisbury, but like that town it is rich in history and tradition. If you approach it from the railway station (Which is not called Tewkesbury) the town really is more of a cursive Y shape, with the Abbey being the best feature of the place.

The station by the way is called Ashurch for Tewkesbury, and not too many trains stop here. It is closer to Cheltenham than to Worcester, but sadly trains are few. Once this was a thriving railway junction, with tracks heading in all 4 directions. Today it is empty.  Thank you Mr Beeching!

The map above shows how large the Ashchurch Junction was, Tewkesbury is on the left and the line heading to the left would run up to the town and then to Upton on Severn. Today parts of that line are the cycle path.

Back at the town I really only planned on looking at the Abbey, which is a magnificent structure and which I will be visiting again as I have two war graves inside of the church. Interestingly enough the Abbey is actually the parish church and is probably the most ornate parish church you could ever want for. I will be doing a proper blog post about it at a later stage.

 
Having visited the abbey, my next port of call was the local cemetery. And it was not a very impressive one as far as these things go, although it did have a really nice chapel building.

I had heard that there was also a small graveyard by the old disused Baptist Church and that was my next destination, although finding it in the veritable warren of alleys and courts was difficult, but eventually I found it and it was a gem.

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It has a surprisingly interesting burial in it too, that of Joan Shakespeare, who was William Shakespeare’s younger sister. She married into the Hart family, and one of the Hart descendants moved to Tewkesbury. John Hart was a chairmaker, and so was his son, and there are two Shakespeare Hart burials in this tiny plot. Unfortunately I was only able to find one (Thomas), but will keep it in mind for the future for a revisit.  I did a revisit in December 2017 as part of my “Cemetery in the Snow” mania,

The town has a lot of wood framed buildings in it and it is really a pretty place, although not too large and prone to flooding. There are more images from Tewkesbury at my Best of Tewkesbury gallery.
There are two rivers next to the town, the Severn and my old friend the Avon. They are the source of the flooding and I must bear that in mind if I decide to settle here. 
 
That glorious iron bridge may be Thomas Telford’s Mythe Bridge over the River Severn, although I was not able to get close to it to double check. (I did eventually find the Mythe Bridge and wrote about it later) In fact the whole marina area is almost impossible to access, although I did not go too far as I was starting to tire.

Methinks I should look at getting myself a narrowboat.

In case you wondered, there is a War Memorial in the town, although it sits in a very awkward place which is very difficult to photograph because of the traffic. In fact the traffic in this small town is terrible, there is really only one main street and everybody goes past or around this memorial. I believe this junction is called “The Cross”

Don’t blink now, that was Tewkesbury.  Actually there is much more to the town that these few images, but I did not go over the top imagewise and will add to this as I go along.

The Town Hall

 
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The White Bear

Ye Olde Black Bear. Supposedly the oldest pub around (est. 1308)

The former livestock auction house and The Albion pub

Former hospital, now flats

Former hospital, now flats 

 

The railway line used to run up this road to the mill

Bridge over the Avon

Bridge over the Avon

Churchwise there are a few, although the Abbey makes everything else look like nothing. The Holy Trinity Church has somewhat of a modern feel about it, although there is a graveyard so it may be older than it looks

 
Tewkesbury Methodist Church

Tewkesbury Methodist Church (aka “the Messy Church”)

From a shopping point of view there is a Morrisons, Aldi, Poundland, Tesco Metro, WH Smith and quite a few others that I don’t usually shop at. Unfortunately though the town is 45 minutes walk from where I lived at the time of writing, so any expedition I made to there had to be worth my while. A quick walk through really did not reveal too much, but I may have missed seeing a lot of what is under my nose.
 
The town has gone down in history as being where one of the decisive battles fought during the War of the Roses was fought, and in time I will go look that area up, but suffice to say, eighteen year old Edward, Prince of Wales, the last legitimate descendant of the House of Lancaster, was killed either in the battle or during its aftermath and is buried in the Abbey.

Next month is the Medieval Festival and hopefully I will pop along and have a look at it. Who knows, there may even be a blog post about it. (blogpost created 2017)

However, at the end of the day Tewekesbury is only famous for 3 things:

  1. It flooded in 2007
  2. It has a Medieval Festival
  3. Tewkesbury Abbey

and now I live there.

Actually you can now add: “The great snow of 2017” and “The water shortage of 2017” to that list

© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 01/05/2016

Updated: 15/07/2018 — 10:04
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