We all know of Dr John Argentine, who attended Edward V, with such grave results for Richard III’s reputation. But was he from a family line of physicians/astrologers? I am reading The Rise of Alchemy in Fourteenth-Century England: Plantagenet Kings and the Search for the Philosopher’s Stone, by Jonathan Hughes, and in the Bibliography is mentioned: BL Sloane MS 964, which is titled John Argentine’s medical notes regarding Isabella.
I realise that Isabella is often used for Elizabeth, but am going to go with Isabella, if only because of the manuscript title.
There were various Isabellas during the reigns of Edward II, Edward III and Richard II, but only two Queens of England. The first is the “she-wolf” (to distinguish her – the second queen also being an Isabella of France). The first Isabella was the queen of Edward II, mother of Edward III and (arguably) the lover of Roger Mortimer. Or maybe he was her lover? Whatever, they may have been lovers.
Somehow I don’t think it’s it’s the “she-wolf”. Instinct tells me the Isabella in question has to be Richard II’s French child bride. (I may be wrong and am prepared to be corrected!) However, if it is Richard II’s little queen, and therefore from the latter years of the 14th century, might this John Argentine be a forebear of the Argentine who attended Edward V? Mind you, whichever of however many Isabellas, it could still be the same Argentine family, just a generation or so further back.
It has been suggested to me that Hughes’ reference to Argentine might well be an error for John Aderne (1307-1392), who was master surgeon to Edward of Woodstock, the “Black Prince”. The only trouble with this, is that Richard II didn’t marry Isabella until 1397, so I think that eliminates Dr Aderne. Unless, of course, I have the wrong Isabella in the first place.
So, whichever Isabella it was, might the earlier John Argentine be an ancestor of the one of exactly the same name who tended the boys in the Tower? It just seems to be too much of a coincidence that there should be two royal physicians called John Argentine. And yes, our medieval ancestors were almost rigid in passing on the same Christian names to their offspring, but even so….