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Band of Brothers

godfather 2When Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo began to write their classic Godfather movies, based on Mario Puzo’s pop novel, did they have the Plantagenet Brothers, Edward, George and Richard in mind as the prototypes of Sonny, Fredo and Michael Corleone?  Whether they did or not, the parallels among the characters and their historical counterparts are quite interesting and in several instances, astonishing.

In Godfather 2, considered the masterwork of the trilogy, we meet the handsome, elegant Vito Corleone (Robert DeNiro), father of the trio, as a young Italian immigrant who learns to survive the mean streets of Manhattan in the early 20th Century.  After many trials and error, he succeeds by eventually seizing authority from the corrupt, wealthy power-brokers and extortionists of the poor, exemplified by Don Fanucci (Gastone Muschin), and proceeds to build a power base of his own from which he can exercise both justice and punishment as well as accumulate land and riches.  That this land is in the Borough of Queens, New York and not Lincolnshire or Yorkshire does not lessen the fact that it bears some similarity to the life of Richard of York in his ongoing quest to seize power from the naïve Henry the Sixth and his corrupt court.  Where they differ, aside from location and time, is that Don Corleone did not have to contend with the scary Margaret of Anjou.  In almost all cases in these movies, with perhaps the exception of Kay played by Diane Keaton, the women take a backseat to the men of the Costa Nostra.

godfather 6

Where the parallels get much stronger is the introduction of the three brothers in the first Godfather film.  The youngest, the quiet, scholarly Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is back from fighting in the Pacific and hopes to graduate from college and go into politics.  A bit of an outsider within his family (“That’s my family, Kay, not me”), he is nonetheless keeping a silent watch on the frenzied actions of his landsman.  In this, we see an inkling of the young Duke of Gloucester, a soldier who may originally have been slated to become a priest, who had an active interest in law, literature and music but one who had no logical chance of rising within the royal family.  But through twists of amazing fate and fortune’s ever-spinning wheel, as most Ricardians know:  just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in!

godfather 4Brother Sonny Corleone (James Caan), the oldest of the clan, is the golden boy of the family, the apple of his father’s eye (Marlon Brando) and the successor to his father’s dynasty.  But Sonny has a problem not unlike his Plantagenet model, King Edward IV:  he’s a slothful womanizer with several mistresses, one of whom, Lucy, is so tempting that Don Corleone scolds his son for becoming soft and decadent and not looking after business.  Sonny’s insistence on bringing narcotics into his crime syndicate – a quick way to make a buck – surely has a parallel to Edward’s Treaty of Picquigny, which easily brought thousands upon thousands of crowns into the English treasury and was much disdained by the straight-laced Richard.  We also know that Edward came to value Richard’s loyalty and work ethic in carrying out his orders as Constable of England, head of the Admiralty and Lord of the North and so, too, does Sonny esteem his youngest brother when Michael volunteers to kill his father’s would-be murderers after Corleone Pére becomes the victim of an assassination attempt.  While we cannot compare Richard’s actions to that of the murderous Michael, we do know that Richard remained a loyal family man and admirer of his brother Edward – perhaps until he was set upon by a brace of Woodvilles.

Was there ever a character more like George, Duke of Clarence than Fredo played by the late, great John Casale?

godfather 5This is the weak middle brother who drunkenly screams “I’m your older brother, Mike, and I was stepped over!” when confronted about his bad behavior.  He’s the overlooked, jealous and distrusted son and sibling, constantly protected by Michael but continually betraying his family in wrong-headed alliances with Las Vegas and Havana mobsters culminating in a plot to assassinate his younger brother who is now head of the family.  How similar to the unstable and drunken Clarence joining with the Earl of Warwick in rebellion and again implicated in various plots to overthrow the king and seize the crown.  Just as Clarence was hauled off to the Tower by Edward IV, Fredo is consigned to purdah at Michael’s Lake Tahoe secluded retreat.  At this point, the parallel diverges in that we know that Richard was adamantly opposed to his brother being executed while Michael Corleone delivers Fredo’s death warrant with a kiss.  (“It was you, Fredo, it was you.”)  Yet both brothers, historical and fictional, deeply regret the loss of a childhood playmate and blood relative.

Once Fredo is executed and Sonny and Vito are long dead, an embittered Michael stands alone as the head of his family.  He is left with fractured friendships and interests which must somehow be glued together in order to keep “the business” going.  Michael becomes involved with shady Italian politicians and Vatican financiers as Richard welcomed the overtures of the dicey Duke of Buckingham.   Both have unhappy outcomes that do not bode well for the future of either man.  Lastly, there is an eerie similarity between Richard and Michael when his daughter, Mary, played by Sofia Coppola in Godfather 3, is brutally murdered on the steps of the Palermo Opera House by a bullet meant for her father.  In his guilt and frenzy, we see Michael silently scream in what must surely echo Richard’s own agony when confronted with his own son’s unexpected death.  Michael cannot be comforted by his ex-wife and I suspect Queen Anne also could not help her grieving husband.

godfather 7

Truly, a medieval bloodfest filmed by Gordon Willis in somber, handsome shades of ruby red, cobalt blue and black that might easily hint at a touch of Yorkist murrey and blue.

Oh, and could this be Richard and his lawyer William Catsby?  Played by Robert Duvall.

godfather 1

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41 thoughts on “Band of Brothers

  1. It may have been more of the case of Richard not being able to help Anne. No doubt Edward’s death was a terrible blow to both of them, but I suspect Anne took it worse, because Edward was her only child – Richard had two other children, even if they couldn’t be his heirs, and one of the things he was devoting his energies to in 1484 was ensuring the futures of John and Katherine. She may have also had a feeling of failure in the role expected of women of her time, not having been able to produce any more children/heirs in 12 years of marriage. Psychological state can have effects on physical health of the person; it may not have been a coincidence she got mortally ill so soon after Edward’s death.

    One thing though – it’s been questioned (by John Ashdown-Hill, for instance) whether George was really an alcoholic, or if that is just a myth that arose out of the story about his death. It’s hard to say without hard contemporary evidence. But even if he wasn’t, it’s not hard to see why people believed he was, since he was really unstable, especially after Isabel’s death.

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  2. Kalina on said:

    Usually women are suspected to be sterile. Why? Anne could be so but Richard could be unproductive too. He became a father last time many years ago and his grudge against his wife in 1484 were unfair

    Liked by 1 person

    • What makes you think Richard had any “grudge” against Anne?

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    • This is just hearsay Kalina. He was known to be very upset when she died as his demeanour showed when he publicly denied poisoning her and seeking to marry Elizabeth.

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      • Kalina on said:

        As Clemenceau used to say: I do not believe as long as I do not hear official dementi:)))

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      • He didn’t deny poisoning Anne, he denied wanting her death or being glad because of her death. There’s no evidence that the rumors went as far as to suggest he poisoned or otherwise murdered her. The Croyland chronicler also never says it explicitly. I believe that the first mention of poison appears in Polydore Vergil’s History.

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      • Kalina on said:

        I think we can distinguish informations in Croyland Chronicle that are (probably) true and rumours that are or not true. Rumours are: Richard,s plans to marry his niece, poisoning his wife and the action of Catsby&Ratcliff. Historical fact is public denying these rumours by Richard. So we know from it that such rumours were. We know also that no smoke without fire. Richard,s denying is no proof for his version of events – he needed a peace in North and in South in the face of Henry,s invasion. North of course was very friendly but he had not to be sure about this friendship and he was right as the later events let see partly. His denying shows however that these rumours were important for him. It is strange that the king excused publicly for his private matters. He never denied the rumours about desappearance of his nephews. My conclusion is: we know nothing about late relations between Richard and Anne as well as we know nothing about the fate of children in Tower.

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      • You are right about the poisoning – sorry , I was bit too eager to reply – my point was he was seen to be showing his distress!

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      • Quite. There was evidently no “grudge”. As one who has followed Richard’s life and career for a quarter of a century, I have only seen the “divorce” (annulment) idea mentioned in the past year or two. It seems to be of Cairo origin, subliminally comparing him to their hero Henry VIII.

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  3. Kalina on said:

    Croyland Chronicle:

    [Already by Christmas 1484] it was said by many that the king was applying his mind in every way to contracting a marriage with [his niece] Elizabeth, either after the death of the queen or by means of a divorce for which he believed he had sufficient grounds.

    However the reasons of the rumours about Richard,s plans to marry Elizabeth could be banal (Richard and Elizabeth were seen dancing together or walking around a garden – people love sensations), the news about a possibility of “divorce” and “sufficient grounds” are more serious. It seems that some public talks were about it and these “sufficient grounds” were: sterility of Queen

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    • Actually, as far as I know, sterility was not sufficient grounds for an annulment (which is what “divorce” means in medieval context, divorce in modern sense did not exist). The inability of one of the spouses to have sex was sufficient grounds. It’s easy to imagine the physicians advising the king not to have sex with the queen while she is so ill, whether for reasons of his or her health or both. The Croyland chronicler says that Richard started avoiding Anne’s bed, which seems reasonable. But we’re supposed to believe that he wanted to annul his marriage to Anne while she was dying of an illness, on the grounds that she couldn’t have sex while she was ill and dying? Uh, let’s just say I find that extremely unlikely.

      And then there’s also the fact that Croyland chronicler writes a lot of other gossip that are complete nonsense, or can’t even keep his story straight. One moment Anne falls ill out of misery because Richard is ignoring her, then the next moment Richard is ignoring Anne because she’s ill. So which one is it? The story of his intention to marry his niece is ridiculous and proven wrong. Some historians, like David Baldwin, are ready to believe anything the Croyland chronicler says because they believe he was someone who was in a position of importance and really well-informed. Well, it doesn’t seem so, since he had no idea about the actual marriage plans and negotiations for the double marriage with Portugal! In fact, it seems more likely that it was some disgruntled Southern monk who merely reported various bits of gossip.

      The story about Catesby and Ratcliffe supposedly intervening with Richard so he wouldn’t marry Elizabeth of York (at about the same time when he was actually days away from sending people to negotiate the double marriage to Portugal) contains so many elements that don’t make sense, from the fact that no one supposedly mentioned the very obvious reason why that match wouldn’t make sense for Richard: Elizabeth’s illegitimacy, which was established by the very act that made Richard king (but that doesn’t stop the chronicler from claiming that he wanted to marry her because it was the only way to ensure his power (well, that’s exactly what a Richard opponent who thinks of him as a usurper and wants others to think Richard is so much a usurper that he doesn’t even believe himself that he has a legitimate claim to the throne and doesn’t even want to pretend anymore), to the story about how Catesby and Ratcliffe found no less than ten experts in canon law (!) to tell Richard that the church would forbid an uncle-niece marriage as it’s against the Bible… which is not true, since the Bible does not forbid uncle-niece marriages (and members of royalty from the continent used that to get papal dispensations and marry their uncles/aunts/nieces/nephews for political reasons, multiple times). It would be a stupid thing to do in England, but because it would be really unpopular. At least we can be sure that the chronicler was no expert in canon law!

      I’d say the whole story was made up by people who wanted to believe Richard was lying when he angrily denied the rumors, and had to come up with a reason why he would even publicly talk about that at all. He was no modern politician in a democratic society and did not need to monitor public opinion for the next election! (And of course they had to involve Ratfliffe and Catesby in the story, two men who were really unpopular with southern gentry, and claim that Richard “couldn’t do anything without them”. Funny how someone more respectable and of higher station was not involvd, for instance, the Duke of Norfolk!)

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      • Kalina on said:

        Duke of Norfolk was pleased by Elizabeth for help her to divorce King and we do not know what he answered:))) It is a joke of course, sorry…But the reason of Richard,s denying rumours was clear: he feared to loose a support of North. It is funny to be advocatus diaboli for me, but I am deeply sure that the best for Richard is true and honest interpretation of the sources.

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      • This did not concern a “divorce” (ie annulment) at all. Buck seemed to remember seeing a letter from Elizabeth to Norfolk, hoping that her marriage to Manoel could be expedited. This would be contingent upon Richard marrying Juana and was probably written in the later, visibly terminal, stages of Anne’s illness.

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      • There’s absolutely no indication that Richard was ever in danger of losing support in the North. They loved him there because of his governance for many years as Lord of the North, not because he was Anne Neville’s husband. He was always very popular there, just as he was unpopular with the gentry from the South (maybe exactly because he was popular in the North) and remained so after his death as well.

        Even the Croyland chronicler must have realized that explanation sounded weak, so he added the part saying that the real reason Catesby and Ratcliffe were concerned was the return of Woodvilles to the power.

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      • Besides, why would he be talking to the mayor and citizens of London, if he were concerned about the Northerners?

        Did the rumor even spread in the North? I doubt it.

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      • Beautifully argued post timetravellingbunny! Makes perfect sense. And I believe Annette Carson says that the author(s) of the Croyland Chronicle must have been no longer up close with court and parliamentary proceedings during Richard’s reign as they seem less well informed than before

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      • Kalina on said:

        What the letter of Elizabeth to Norfolk was exactly about we do not know. It could be like Kincaid completed or like Annette Carson considers. If the theme of the letter was the marriage with Manuel the situation was like that: Richard promised her to propose her as a wife for the prince of Portugal after Queens death because he was going to declare himself to Joanna in the same moment. Queen was stil alive unhappily so what Elizabeth pleased Richard for?

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      • Buck had it that she was pleased because Richard had found her a husband – Joao II’s cousin and successor.

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      • Kalina on said:

        Yes, of course, but in what way the ill but still alive queen interfered Elizabeth with her marriage with Manuel?:))

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  4. mairemartello on said:

    Reblogged this on murreyandblue.

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  5. This is great – I never watched any of the godfather series as I don’t like Mafia/mob films but it’s made me think I might in the future. Thank you! Very entertaining and thought-provoking!

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    • The first two Godfather films are fantastic. They’re not typical mafia films, more like a family drama/tragedy. The third one, not so much – you can skip it. I think that Al Pacino’s role as Michael in the first two films is one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema – that he didn’t get an Oscar for either (he was nominated both times, first for Best Supporting Actor and then for Best Actor in a Leading Role) just shows what a joke the Academy Awards are. Although The Godfather and The Godfather II did get a fair share of Oscars, including Marlon Brando (old Vito in Godfather I) and Robert De Niro (young Vito in Godfather II), who were both great, as were James Caan, Robert Duvall, John Casale, Lee Strasberg and others. The only thing I dislike about them is that there are few strong and fleshed out female roles.

      Mario Puzo did write one historical novel, but it was about the Borgias; I don’t know if he’s interested in English history or whether this is just a coincidence. But in any case, the comparison makes a lot more sense than someone’s statement on Wikipedia that the family corresponds to the family from “Brothers Karamazov”. Puzo may have been influenced by Dostoyevski, but apart from there being three brothers, the Corleone family is absolutely nothing like the Karamazov family.

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      • mairemartello on said:

        In actuality, I could perhaps rewrite this from the angle of King Lear – the 3 brothers now cast as 3 battling sisters!

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    • mairemartello on said:

      The Godfather films are absolute classic dramas of the history of immigration in America – a subject quite hot here at the moment. While the first one is very good, Godfather 2 is absolutely wonderful – especially a very young Robert DeNiro as Don Corleone and a handsome Al Pacino as Michael Corleone. Beautifully photographed, acted and directed, it is a must for anyone who loves cinema. And Godfather 3, for me, is wildly entertaining especially during the Vatican sequences. Really a fun movie. Take chance and rent it!

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  6. Reblogged this on Jo's Historic Collection and commented:

    Fascinating!

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    • halfwit36 on said:

      Re: the Buck letter again. Nobody knew at the time that Manuel was going to wind up as king of Portugal. But more to the point – when Richard disavowed all intention of marrying Elizabeth, why did he not add, “In fact, she is betrothed to Prince Manuel.” He did not have to announce his own planned marriage with Joanna at the same time, in case it seemed a bit too soon after the death of the Queen. Why did he not do that?
      Several possibilities occur: The arrangement was by no means a done deal yet. Were the Portugese getting cold feet? Was Richard not ready to commit himself yet? Or did Elizabeth object? Did she not want to marry Manuel? Not want to marry out of the realm? Or not want to marry anyone just yet? After all, she had spent almost a year of her life in Sanctuary; it would hardly be surprising if she wanted a bit more of freedom & fun.
      We will never, perhaps,know for sure, but this hypothesis would explain why Elizabeth of York found it necessary to appeal to John Howard for help.

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      • Kalina on said:

        Richard,s emissary Brampton had been sent to Portugal on 22 March, Richard,s denying was on 30 March. Neither Elizabeth was already bethroted to Prince Manuel, nor Joanna was Richard,s bride. It seems that the main reason of denying was to keep hold of support of North: Richard,s letter was send on 19 April to his friends in York with explanation once more that he did not need the death of Anne. Anne was the main reason of the support of the lords of North. They felt theirselves the vassals of Richard as well as they were vassals of Anne,s father. This is the point of view of Annette Carson in her “Richard III: Maligned King”.

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      • Kalina on said:

        The most interesting for me is still the question: why Elizabeth feared that Anne never died? May be the lacking text has to be completed in the different way: The better part of February is past and I fear the queen never [be in good health]:))))
        And seriously: If Elizabeth wrote about the marriage with Manuel, it seems that it would be related with the marriage of Richard and Joanna. On February Richard was not a widower yet. So…Elizabeth was impatient:)))

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      • Probably because ongoing alliance/marriage negotiations with foreign powers were a top secret matter of the state – only a small circle of people seemed to have known about it – and not something you announce to citizens of London. Especially since it was not a done deal at all – but not because of Elizabeth of York, but because Joanna of Portugal agreeing to it was far from certain, knowing her attitude to marriage. And there was an alternative plan in case the Portuguese double marriage negotiations were not successful – a marriage to the young Spanish infanta Isabella of Aragon. We know that from the Portuguese records, and that the England’s emissaries were scaring the Portuguese with the possibility of the England/Spain marriage alliance if the deal does not go through. Announcing a Portuguese marriage that was only being negotiated at the time would have been a big political blunder.

        As to what Elizabeth of York was asking from John Howard, that’s difficult to say for sure from the little that remains of Buck’s account of having read the letter. All we can know for sure is that it had to do with a marriage for her. Whether she was, like Annette Carson speculates, asking Howard to use his influence to promote the Portuguese marriage instead of the Spanish one, since the latter would not ensure a marriage for Elizabeth, or if she was worried that the Portuguese royal marriage may never happen (after all, it would happen only when Anne died – and mortally ill people can live much longer than the physicians anticipate – and the Portuguese agreed) and wanted to have an alternative, or if it was something different… we can only speculate.

        The possibility that Elizabeth may not have been as thrilled about it as some historians now assume and that her agreeing to it wasn’t entirely sure has crossed my mind, but not because of Buck’s letter, but because in the double marriage proposal to Portugal, she was referenced just as “the daughter of Edward IV”; this was also a way to avoid addressing her status, but they could have worded it as “Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV”, and they left room for one of her sisters to take her place if needed. Even though that would have probably meant that the Duke of Beja would have to wait for years for his intended child bride to grow up, since Cecily was already married, and even little Anne was betrothed to Howard’s grandson, which just left the two little ones.

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      • @Kalina: Anne was NOT the main reason of the support of the lords of the North. The main reason for the support in the North was that Richard was really respected and loved in the North for his many years as administrator in the North, and the Northmen were very loyal to him. And he remained loved in York after his death.

        Where does the idea that Anne was the reason for the support even come from? I’m sure that there were Neville supporters who liked him more for marrying a Neville – but the same was only likely to alienate the Percys and their supporters. But no, Richard was definitely not some guy who didn’t accomplish anything and had no supporters and that people liked only because of his wife.

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  7. halfwit36 on said:

    Bunny & Kalina: Are we to think that Elizabeth wrote to John Howard for help because, in effect: “My uncle wants me to marry Manuel of Portugal and I want to marry Manuel. Can you do something to speed this up?” and “I wish the queen would hurry up and die so we could get the mourning over with and have a big splashy wedding,” when in any case the big splashy wedding would no doubt have been in Portugal, not England. As JAH says, she comes across as a bit “insensitive” here – putting it mildly!
    My opinion, as I have stated, is that she and Richard wanted two different things, which was why she asked John Howard to arbitrate. Howard would have no influence with the Portugese Royals. And the “queen would never die” comment may have been in the spirit of “Queen Anne is still clinging to life. No one thought she would live this long, poor lady.”
    Proof? None. But logical, I think.

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    • No, I don’t think she was writing that. It’s not easy to figure out from the little that remains of the second hand account of the letter. We don’t know that there was a “the queen would never die” comment; we only know that Buck’s damaged manuscript contains the part “The queen would never…” which was later interpreted by his great-nephew as “she feared the queen would never die”

      Howard did not have an influence over the Portuguese royalty, but he did over Richard, which is why she was writing to him. Like I said, we don’t know if it had already been decided, in February 1485, months before the negotiators went to Portugal, that he would make the proposal to the Portuguese for the double marriage, or if it the possibility of the Spanish marriage of Richard to Isabella of Aragon was being seriously considered (as the English negotiators later claimed to scare the Portuguese) and if it was still being decided which one to choose. In that case, Annette Carson’s idea that Elizabeth was asking Howard to influence the outcome on the Portuguese side is as good as any other so far.

      But what do you think she was writing? “My uncle wants me to marry, but I don’t want yet, I want to have fun, so could you please intervene so I didn’t have to marry into the Portuguese royal family”? That sounds far more unlikely. Even if she had reasons not to want to go to Portugal, I don’t think she’d have said it like that. Even if this was really the mindset of a 15th century 18-year old noble girl. “Having some more freedom before marriage” didn’t mean the same for them as they do for some 21st century girl anyway, in our case it includes dating and having sex if one wants to, in their case, obviously not.

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      • halfwit36 on said:

        Of course she wouldn’t have expressed it like that, but that could have been her thought. And even now, wanting to date and have sex are not the only reason for wanting to remain unmarried for a while. Maybe she wanted to stay at court until her dancing shoes wore out. Maybe, like Joanna, she wanted to be free to say her beads, or read, or just do what she wanted to when she wanted to, which she wasn’t able to do when she was with her mother, and wouldn’t be able to do when she married.
        Alternatively, it could be that the Manuel match was about to fall through, as suggested. If it was not the Portugese getting cold feet, maybe it was Richard, for who knows what reason. That would explain Howard being called on. However, I expect this idea to go over like a lead balloon. JAH practically has Richard and Joanna buried in the same grave, at Windsor!
        Then again, maybe there was another man in the picture, a man, even a nobleman, who wasn’t considered of quite high enough status. It’s hard to pick a husband for a bastard princess. Was that why Richard had to sweeten the deal by including himself in the package?
        And of course, the letter might have been a forgery, not necessarily by Buck, or Lord Howard.

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      • Well, Cecily was married to a younger brother of a baron. That’s pretty low on the scale of nobility. So, it would have to literally be a commoner (not in the way that people call Elizabeth Woodville a “commoner”) to be of too low a status for her. On the other hand, her other even younger sister Anne was betrothed to Howard’s grandson and future heir, which may not quite be the Portuguese royal family but was the highest rank of nobility in England. And Richard also got his bastard daughter married to William Herbert, the Earl of Huntington, sweetening the deal with some lands taken from Margaret Beaufort. It doesn’t seem it was difficult to marry off an illegitimate daughter of a king, if you weren’t aiming as high as some country’s heir to the throne (which nobody expected Manuel to be). After all, wasn’t Richard’s great-grandmother Isabella of Castille (and her sister Constance, John of Gaunt’s second wife) officially illegitimate (though the issue of king Pedro’s marriage/nor marriage to Maria de Padilla seems to have been at least as complicated as Edward’s marriage shenanigans)?

        I think that comment was an example of JAH’s specific sense of humor. On the emotional level, I imagine that “your wife of 12 years that you’ve known from childhood is dying, and you now need to make a political marriage with a woman you don’t know as soon as you’re widowed and get to the business of making an heir ASAP” is not the easiest thing out there, but it was a matter of state, both because of the above and because of Joanna’s Lancastrian ancestry.

        The idea that it was a forgery seems least likely to me – I don’t see who would have bothered to create such a forgery, especially since it never saw the light of day, and wouldn’t even have been widely known about if Buck’s great-nephew didn’t publish his history from the damaged manuscripts, decades later.

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    • Also, if she was really making a remark about queen Anne (not) dying, which we don’t know, then that couldn’t have had anything to do with either yours or Carson’s interpretation of the letter. It’s really hard to see any link between the two. A third possibility, which has crossed my mind, that she wanted to have an alternative if the Portuguese deal never went through, is the only one I can think of that could somehow link the two (because, if the doctors are wrong and the Queen lives on, the Portuguese double marriage clearly can’t go through; but would that mean that Elizabeth’s marriage wouldn’t happen on its own? Again, that’s not clear). IF the line was even about the queen’s death at all.

      In any case, even if it’s about her dying or not dying, we don’ t have the actual text, so it doesn’t have to be tactless as it sounds in George Buck Junior’s reconstruction of his great-uncle’s account of the letter. It may have been more in the spirit of “the physician was wrong, the queen is still clinging to life contrary to the predictions” rather than “when will she die already?”.

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      • halfwit36 on said:

        bunny, we basically agree. We can opine, but we just don’t know anything for sure.

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      • halfwit36 on said:

        I agree that the odds are against the letter being a forgery, but not impossible.

        I was referring to JAH’s thinking that Richard would have been wanted to be buried at St. George’s, Windsor, together with Joanna. Wouldn’t it have been a grim joke if he had survived his 2nd wife also? (Joanna died in 1490.)
        And if Richard needed a heir ASAP , why pick a woman who was already in her mid-30’s?

        The fact that Joanna was in her 30s proves that a noblewoman would remain single for a time, or for her llifetime, if she were determined.

        There are a lot of unexplained features about these marriage deals. That’s what makes horse races….and historical novels.

        Didn’t know about the ‘scandal’ in the Spanish royal family.Must look it up. Thanks for the tip

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      • I don’t know how many unmarried, available European royal princesses of child-bearing age there were at the time, or if there were any other candidates apart from Joanna (33) and Isabella of Aragon (14).

        It’s not like Joanna was menopausal. The fact he picked a 33 year old woman (known for a distaste for marriage) merely suggests he wasn’t looking for a baby machine who would give him a bunch of children. It’s not like she wouldn’t be able to give birth to a couple of children, at least. Richard’s own mother had 5 of her 12 births at 33 or older, including George at 34 and Richard himself at 37. Elizabeth Woodville had 7 of her children when she was 33+, the last one when she was 43.

        Actually, I would rather say that, if he was looking to get an heir ASAP rather than lots of children over a long period, a 33-year old woman would be a better pick than the 14-year old Isabella of Aragon, since very young mothers are at a higher risk of dying at childbirth/suffering a stillbirth/both, which was well known in the Middle Ages as it is today.

        But while the need to get an heir was the obvious reason why he would need to look for a new wife, there were other important factors, too. Especially the fact than Joanna was the descendant of the senior legitimate Lancastrian line. She seems like she would have also made a great queen and would likely to popular with the people, with her personality and reputation as a good and pious woman. Since she wanted to be a nun when she was younger and didn’t want to get married, I’m guessing she wouldn’t be particularly into the wifely duties or very romantically inclined, but it seems like Richard was looking for a queen more than for a wife. And the double marriage, with EoY safely in Portugal married to a guy who was not going to be claiming the throne of England, in addition to Richard getting a great new queen with a much better Lancastrian claim than Henry Tudor, would have been a great political move, and dealt Henry a much bigger political blow than that silly rumor scenario of Richard marrying Elizabeth himself.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Kalina on said:

    We are thinking about why Elizabeth needed Queen,s death. Let,s think about why that lady declared so great attachment to Richard. She had not to do it if the object of her desire was Manuel.

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    • halfwit36 on said:

      Certainly J. was not menopausal. Women, such as those you mention, did bear children in their 30s and 40s. But a woman having a first child in her 30s was considered somewhat risky even in the 20th century. Yes, there was a risk to a teen-ager too, but did 15th century people realize that? And one heir was not enough. To be safe, there had to be a spare. And suppose the first child was a girl?

      If Richard wanted a Queen rather than a wife, did he deliberately choose one who was not interested in marriage & sex & all that, and, if so, was he prepared to commit marital rape, if necessary? Isabella was quite young (but everyone would have been at least a year older before the marriage could actually be celebrated) but she had never shown any disinclination for marriage.

      In any case, Richard did have an heir, his nephew John.

      I do enjoy sparring with you, t.t.bunny, & hope you take this in that spirit. Anyway, I’m a contrarian by nature!

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      • Yes, in fact they did know about the dangers to young mothers. That’s why, even though the canon law age of consent for girls was 12, it was normal to wait a few years before consummation. (Unless you’re Edmund Tudor and just focused on securing your wife’s inheritance for you.) There is some debate as to which the age most husbands deemed appropriate, some say 14, other 16. 14 is borderline, in any case. King John and Henry III both married 12-year old girls, but Isabella of Angouleme had her first child when she was around 19, and Eleanor of Provence when she was around 16.

        Anyway, I do think that Isabella would have been preferred if looking for a baby machine was the priority, but it doesn’t seem to have been.

        Joanna was not going to be forced into marriage. And if she said yes, which it appears she eventually did, she would presumably be aware that she was expected to bear and heir, or likely an heir and a spare.

        Liked by 1 person

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