Do you know that there are people out there who are absolutely convinced that Edward IV did not marry Eleanor Talbot? I don’t mean that they doubt the marriage, but that they know it didn’t happen. I can only think they were alive in the 15th Century and in constant attendance on Edward as this is the only way one could be certain of the facts. I really don’t know what more they need to change their minds, given that the marriage was er – secret, and that an actual Act of Parliament stated that it took place. There are a distinct shortage of marriage certificates or wedding DVDs for the period in question, so I don’t know what sort of proof they would find convincing. It would be nice if just once in a while they would admit the possibility that something might not have happened as they have decided it did.
Hastings, who practically lived in Edward’s pocket, was not immediately aware of his marriage to Elizabeth, as shown by the fact that he was giving her grief in some land dispute at the approximate time of her marriage to the king. That was how close Edward could keep a secret if he wanted to. But people in 2014 think they know that Edward couldn’t possibly have married Eleanor Talbot.
It’s apparently easier to believe was all made up by wicked Richard, a man so hard that he sprang his long-planned seizure of the throne by riding south with a massive 300 men, clearly a force easily capable of tackling the meagre Woodville escort of 2000 effete Marchers. Richard, the hardest man ever to usurp a throne, then waited for weeks before sending for reinforcements. Of course, it was all a carefully planned ploy. Presumably the northern thugs had secretly been hiding in wardrobes in Plaistow all along, just ready to spring out when required.
And then Richard had Hastings killed for no reason at all, just to show how hard he was. Of course he had a complete card index of all the English noblewomen who were unattached at the relevant time, just in case he had to invent a marriage for his brother. And Lady Eleanor’s brother and sister (still very much alive in 1483 and long afterwards) were so scared of Richard that they didn’t dare to denounce the lie even after he was dead. In fact Duchess Elizabeth (a woman apparently forced to attend Richard’s coronation at knifepoint) was so scared of his ghost that she ran off and hid in the Minories instead of telling Henry VII the truth, while Sir Humphrey Talbot was careful to go off and die abroad just in case someone asked him about Eleanor. The thought that Henry might reward them for telling the truth, or that they had some sort of duty to repair the damage to their beloved sister’s honour never seems to have crossed their minds.