Richard, George, Edward and HENRY at the same wedding….?
Here is a strange identification. While seeking more information about the duel that had supposedly taken place at Richard and Anne’s wedding, I happened upon a source that made it clear the Richard and Anne in question were the little Duke of York, son of Edward IV, and Anne Mowbray, and the wedding date was 15th January 1478, at St Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster. (The source claims 1477, but it is shown that this is because the old calendar was used – the year, by our reckoning, was 1478.)
The source I refer to is Illustrations of ancient state and chivalry from manuscripts preserved in the Ashmolean museum [ed. by W.H. Black]. – Ashmolean Museum. January 1st, 1840. William Nicol, Shakespeare Press.
On page 31 it says:- “. . . . And then, at the first side table, satt the Marquis of Dorsett; the length of the same table accomplished [i.e. occupied] with ladyes and gentlewomen; and, at the other end, my Lord of Richmond [Footnote: Henry, Earl of Richmond, afterwards King Henry VII. He was twenty two years old at the time of this festival] . . . .”
And on page vi, the writer insists that among those present were the bridegroom’s “sister Elizabeth, and the young Earl of Richmond, who but nine years afterward (exactly almost to a day) were married and seated together on the throne of England”.
This whole account is very detailed indeed, naming everybody who was present at these celebrations (including Richard, Duke of Gloucester), but how could Henry Tudor be there as well? He had been in exile since 1471, and would remain so until 1485. So the reference cannot possibly be correct. Can it?
Bearing in mind that I am NOT a historian of any sort, let us consider the title, Earl of Richmond. Please forgive any bloopers. It had been Edmund Tudor’s, and would have gone to his son, Henry (future Henry VII) but the small matter treason and attainder got in the way, and the Yorkists confiscated it in 1461. Edward IV then gave the Honour of Richmond to his brother, George, Duke of Clarence, who became the new Earl of Richmond?
Anyway, naturally enough, Henry Tudor disputed all this from exile in Brittany. He wanted his father’s title, but Edward did not oblige. The Yorkist king actually tried to get the inconvenient Lancastrian back from exile (no doubt to shove him in jail, or worse) but Henry very wisely stayed where he was.
It is totally unlikely that there would have been a truce for the wedding, with Henry trotting along, present in hand, to enjoy all the entertainments. Then trotting back to Brittany to continue his defiance from afar. It is also unlikely that the table in question was so long that its other end was actually in Brittany, so Henry could sit down quite safely.
But by 1478, George had really annoyed Edward IV. One treason too many. He had been arrested in May 1477 and flung in the Tower. He was certainly out of the way on the date of the wedding, so could not be the Earl of Richmond referred to. Besides, he was still the Duke of Clarence, and would hardly be referred to by a lesser title. He was eventually attainted on 19th January 1478, the day after his execution on 18th January. The wedding had been on 15th January. A busy few days for Edward IV.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester was also present at the wedding, and is referred to throughout by this name and title, not a lesser one. Yet another reason to scratch George from the contenders for being this mysterious wedding guest. Richard succeeded to the earldom when he became king, which wasn’t—as we know!—until 1483.
So, who is this enigmatic guest? The editor of the source, W. H. Black, is definite about it being Henry Tudor. Can’t have been. Any suggestions . . .?