The black widow that bit herself

Since John Ashdown-Hill’s iconic Eleanor was published eleven years ago, we have seen some desperate attempts to contradict his proven conclusion that Lady Eleanor Talbot contracted a valid marriage to Edward IV before his contract to Elizabeth Widville and many such attempts have rebounded on the denialist in question.

Now a troll naming herself Latrodecta claims that mediaeval canon law was different to that researched by Dr. Ashdown-Hill over several years – the image is the paperback cover from 2016 – and that Maud Neville, Lord Talbot’s other wife, was Lady Eleanor’s stepmother and shared grandparents with Cecily Neville, necessitating a dispensation for his daughter and Cecily’s son to marry. This suggestion clearly wasn’t thought through because:
1) Maud Neville died some time in 1421-3 whilst Lady Eleanor was not born until 1435-6. I have never heard of a deceased previous wife becoming the stepmother of a new child, even when an annulment or (in a later era) divorce has actually taken place. It is a description of a later wife who lives with the child and its father.
2) If this applied then Jacquette‘s first marriage to John Duke of Bedford (d.1435) would make him the stepfather of Elizabeth Widville (b.1437) and EW would be the great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, whilst Edward IV was his great-grandson. This would also necessitate a dispensation for the 1464 “marriage”, which also didn’t happen.

Once again, Edward’s second marriage ceremony would be invalid independently of the validity of the first. He would remain either a bigamist or a bachelor. Latrodecta, on the other hand, simply doesn’t come up to proof when asked to find a common blood ancestor more recent than Edward I for the 1461 couple. Yet another own goal.

By super blue

Grandson of a Town player.


  1. Being sure of one’s facts is essential. If I’m not sure, I say so. And if I get something wrong, I apologise and correct the error. Latrodecta needs to do one or the other, not sit there in her web as if it will never need a repair.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Unfortunately, I think any type of retraction is unlikely to happen. I’ve seen comments from the person in question on another blog and they seemed to feel that any questioning of their argument represented a personal attack on their intellectual ability and prowess as a researcher.

    Being wrong doesn’t make any of us less intelligent or less worthy, it just makes us human. A mea culpa in this instance would be admirable but pride is a powerful thing.

    The real tragedy is that once misinformation of this sort makes it way onto the internet, it often becomes fact over time. If the author themselves never corrects or retracts the faulty information, then eventually it gets recycled elsewhere on other forums and the validity of it becomes indisputable to people who don’t do their own research.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I understand partisanship and its manifestations, I’m rather partisan myself. But I don’t think characterizing someone as a “troll” contributes to a useful discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a fair point. The word “troll” does get thrown around a lot and it certainly isn’t a complementary term or one that is always warranted. People on opposite sides of the debate are often unkind to each other and it’s definitely counter-productive to the discussion, I agree.

      Partisanship, however, should be besides the point when it comes to a statement of facts. Whether you are a Ricardian, pro-Tudor (a “Tudorist”?), or consider yourself to be neither, something that is demonstrably untrue should be acknowledged as such. If the word “troll” was removed from super blue’s post, would it change the content?

      We have precious little information from this time period that can’t be disputed so when something actually can be proven (or disproven as the case may be), we should all endeavor to embrace the correct information. Part of this involves acknowledging our mistakes, humbling and unpleasant as that may be.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. To Richard, I’ll put it this way, if I suspect bias, or I discover misinformation intentionally used (let’s assume this information is not retracted, corrected, etc) then it goes into my “curious, but get corroboration” file and from that point on I read their work with a jaundiced eye. This is true about everyone I use for research, be it Horrox, Hicks, Lewis, Ross, or Ashdown-Hill. Until I have corroboration a comment or observation may remain in my “get better info” file for years!

    Research should be (in a perfect world) neutral, but among an informal group, such as this, the occasional ‘troll’ may be used – if I was addressing this person in a public forum that I hoped they would engage a conversation with me I would not use it – and I doubt anyone in here would either, much as you might kid around within your own family or friends but behave with more decorum once you are all out in a public place. I think of us as friends, who feel under attack from a thousands invisible arrows, maybe we’re paranoid, maybe not. Troll, just lets off steam, much as you would when your brother or sister does something to needlessly annoy you and you say under your breath (hopefully), “thanks for nothing!”


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