The book Kendall could write today (4) – Two Little Boys

On page 29, Kendall wrote: “ … {George} was everything that Richard was not – strong, big for his age, handsome, charming and spoiled”.
The Third Plantagenet (Ashdown-Hill, p.61) quotes Jehan de Wavrin, in early 1461, guessing their ages as 9 and 8, which is two years too young for George but just right for Richard. At the time, George was under-sized!

Once again, the known evidence has moved on in fifty years.


By super blue

Grandson of a Town player.


  1. Funny how many things even about the appearance of the York brothers are simply myths made up decades or centuries after their deaths – George being tall, Richard being not handsome/less handsome than his brothers, Edward being blond, Richard being darker than Edward/the rest of the family, etc.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It just goes to show that we don’t actually KNOW anything about George. We do know that Edward IV was a big, strong, handsome, engaging sort of chap. At least, I think that’s a known fact? Wasn’t his skeleton measured? Aren’t there several descriptions that tally? And we know how big Richard was/would have been but for his scoliosis, because his skeleton has been examined to the nth degree. But George….?

    Kendall is surely guessing, and in claiming George to be the smallest of the brothers, John Ashdown-Hill uses the facts that an observer at the time misjudged George’s age, and that he is shown to be shorter in an illustration. But do either of these things really indicate anything for certain? I think if George had been a big, tall man like Edward, it would have been mentioned, because Edward was unusually tall for the time. The same if George had been inordinately small. So my guess is that he was somewhere in between his brothers, but not of Richard’s delicate build.

    Richard was described as being the one who took after his father, the Duke of York, which leads me to conclude (without being emphatic) that the other brothers took after their tall Neville mother. At least, she WAS tall, wasn’t she? Or is that another belief rather than a fact?

    If George’s remains had not been tampered with in Tewkesbury, we would know the answer for certain. As it is, George, Duke of Clarence, remains a fascinating puzzle.

    Thank you super blue for raising an intriguing point.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think anyone described Cecily Neville as tall? And I think George and Edward definitely looked more like her facially based in the portraits of the three of them, they both have her mouth and George has a small chin like her, while Edward has a similar nose as his mother. On the other hand, if the stained glass portrait of Richard, Duke of York at the Ludlow church is accurate, Richard certainly had his features – prominent chin, slightly arched nose, thin lips…

      I don’t believe there is any contemporary account describing George or comparing him with Edward or Richard? I don’t think we can conclude anything about George’s height or build based on the lack of mention of him being noticeably big or noticeably shorter/smaller than Edward, if there are no surviving descriptions comparing the two. We probably wouldn’t have any contemporary descriptions of Richard either if he hadn’t become king. Height in pre-adolescence is, on the other hand, related to height as an adult. Richard would have been medium height pre-scoliosis, so Wavrin getting his age right makes sense.

      Yes, Edward’s skeleton was measured in the late 18th century when his tomb was opened, and found to be 6′ 3 1/5″ tall. That’s when they also took a lock of his brown hair (now kept in a museum) and a vial of liquid from his tomb, but the latter has been lost.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is hard to know for certain, as George did not even have a portrait left that is of the same date as his brothers…his is much later. Edward certainly was a big man, he measured closed to 6ft 4 when his tomb was opened. We know Richard would have been 5ft 8 without his scoliosis; an inch taller than average for the day. I imagine, and this is just my guess, that Richard ended up around 5ft 5-6 with the curvature, while George as an adult probably was about 5f7-9, a fairly average height. Although we don’t know if any of the Tewkesbury bones are in fact George’s, the one fragment of skull that JAH thinks is ‘suspect’ looks quite gracile, though it is so fragmentary it’s hard to tell, but maybe he was more of a wiry, small build than big and sturdy looking, perhaps resembling Richard more than Edward.


  4. The mythic ‘blond god’ Edward always makes me laugh; this is standard in most fiction but his surviving hair is definitely brown. I expect the York bros all had some shade of brown hair, probably not terribly different from each other…though in regards to eye colour, Edward’s eyes do appear to be brown/hazel in his portraits while the earliest ones of Richard show definite blue/grey eyes ( regardless of comments by certain argumentative ‘historians’ about him having brown eyes, ahem. )

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Which “historians” are these?

      I agree about the York brothers hair color and eye color. IMO the myth about Edward being blond is probably pure stereotyping – his persona fits the cliche of a blond guy so he has to be blond, just like Richard had to be dark. I don’t know when it came about, but the first portrait of Edward where he is shown as blond is, I think, from the 18th century.


    2. If I recall correctly if someone in the MA was called “fair” or “fair complexioned” it usually meant that they had no smallpox scars on their faces. Today, of course, to be “fair” usually means blond. Maybe the idiom/language shift is to blame?


  5. Jehan de Wavrin (1398-c.1474) was Burgundian and wrote his “Recueil des croniques et anchiennes istories de la Grant Bretaigne” by 1471.
    He wrote, having seen them: “Le roy Edouard avoit deux jeunes freres, lun eagie de neuf ans et lautre de huit ans” (p.357, cit. Ashdown-Hill n.26 p.64)

    It seems that certain foreign sources such as these are the least likely to have been doctored by “Tudor” influence.


  6. Sounds gross to say, but can’t hair change color after death? depending on the kind of atmosphere in which it is found? Any forensic pathologists out there who can tell us?


    1. I’m no forensic pathologist, but our friend Wikipedia has this link that says that hair of mummies, bog bodies etc. sometimes does change – but they only mention changing into a reddish color. There’s no mention of hair becoming darker.

      Anyway, the hair from Edward’s tomb is consistent with all his near contemporary portraits, up to a century or so after his death, which all show him with brown hair. The images drawn during his lifetime (see links below) show him with dark hair, actually darker than most other figures portrayed in the same images. I haven’t heard of any descriptions of him during his lifetime that mention him being blond, either.

      Edward IV and the royal family, frontpiece of the Luton Guild Book (around 1475):
      Edward IV receiving the manuscript from de Wavrin (from de Wavrin’s illustrated history of England):
      Edward IV receiving the book from Anthony Rivers:


  7. How reliable is the theory that pre-adolescent height is an accurate prediction of adult height? I ask because when I first met my husband he was about fifteen and quite a bit shorter than I was (5ft 8in), then I didn’t see him for about a year and when I did he had shot up to 5ft 10in. Don’t people grow at different rates, some more steadily and some in spurts?

    BTW Richard would have been around 5 ft 5 in – according to Dominic Smee and his orthopaedic consultant, his scoliosis cost him 3 inches.


    1. Girls enter puberty a couple of years earlier than boys and have their growth spurts earlier, on average between the ages of 10 and 14. (I reached my full adult height at about 14.) Boys have their adolescent growth spurts later and continue growing up until around 16. That’s why girls are taller than boys their age at one point, until boys overtake them.


      1. Yes, I do know about the differences between boys’ and girls’ growth – I was just wondering about individual differences.


    1. Oh god, quality journalism…

      Turi King, after analyzing the DNA results, concluded that Richard most likely looked… just like in the earliest portraits of him that we have, such as the Society of Antiquaries one, which show him with medium brown hair and grey-blue eyes. The hair colour chart gave four different possibilities, the two latter ones firmly in the brown spectrum.

      But the media somehow kept missing the part where she said “77% probability of blond chair AS A CHILD, which can darken with age”. Which happens with many, many people – I had dark blonde hair when I was 4 years old, now I have very dark brown hair. Some 2/3 of my class in elementary school started off blond bu overt half of them were brown-haired by the fourth grade.

      The info about paternity was also widely misinterpreted because the media enjoyed hyping it with silly headlines.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Even eye color can – not ‘change’ perhaps, but be modified – over time. My husband had deep brown eyes when we were married, mumble-mumble years ago. They have now faded to a sort of muckley-dun hazel, like mine. (I was a blue-eyed, blond baby, but had brown hair by 4th grade – until it started going grey.)


      2. Sorry just thought the genetics was interesting given the speculations here, since it’s some solid data. Of course genotype does not always dictate phenotype, as you have noted. CNN was just a convenient link.


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