GEORGE DUKE OF CLARENCE, ISOBEL NEVILLE AND THE CLARENCE VAULT
Reblogged from A Medieval Potpourri sparkpus.com GEORGE DUKE OF CLARENCE, ISOBEL NEVILLE AND THE CLARENCE VAULT
This is thought to be a portrait of Isobel from the Luton Guild Book. See The Dragonhound’s interesting post here
After the death of Isobel Duchess of Clarence on the 22 December 1476 aged 25, her coffin lay in repose on a hearse for 35 days in the midst of the choir of Tewkesbury Abbey while a vault was constructed, ‘artificialiter’, behind the high altar facing the entrance to the eastern Lady Chapel (1). Hicks, George‘s biographer wrote how the widower ‘… took great pains over her exequies’ and Isobel was finally laid to rest on the 8 February 1477. Just over a year later following his execution on the 18 February 1478, her husband, aged 28, was to join her in their tomb.
George Duke Clarence. Rous Roll. Motto ex Honore de Clare.
Could this be a portrait of George, in blue, and Richard the figure in green? Luton Guild Book. See here for the Dragonhounds interesting theory.
Much has been written on George and his life and death, not quite so much about Isobel. Isobel daughter of Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick who became known as the Kingmaker and Anne Beauchamp, sister to Anne, then Duchess of Gloucester, later Queen to Richard III, never recovered after giving birth to a son at the infirmary of Tewkesbury Abbey on the 5 October 1476. Puzzlingly its not known why Isobel would have given birth in the Abbey infirmary. Could this indicate that she was ill prior to going into labour? The next day the baby, a boy named Richard, was baptised in the nave of the Abbey. Whether or no Isobel was ill prior to giving birth, she never recovered fully afterwards and was taken home to Warwick Castle on November 12th where she died on the 22nd December, her baby son dying around the same time. It has been presumed that her death was brought about by childbirth and/or consumption. There are indications that George loved and mourned Isobel and Hicks suggests it may be taken as a ‘sign of his continuing sense of loss’ that six months later Isobel was enrolled posthumously when George and their two surviving children were admitted to the Guild of the Holy Cross at Stratford on Avon (2 ). Unusually for the times there is no evidence he was ever unfaithful to Isobel with no known mistresses or illegitimate children. This was rare for a man of the nobility in the 15th century. George was adamant that both she and their son had both died of poisoning. So convinced was George that he attempted to send his surviving son, Edward, out of the country to somewhere he would be safe. Whether he was successful or not is a moot point. Some theorise he did but it is generally accepted that it was his son who was placed in the Tower of London after Bosworth and stayed there until his execution on the 28 November 1499. The rest is history, and George was laid to rest beside his Isobel.
Isobel and George Duke and Duchess of Clarence. The Rous Roll. British Library.
Isobel Neville, Duchess of Clarence. Rous Roll. The British Library.
I will not go into the rows, accusations, counter accusations and shenanigans that led to the great falling out between the royal brothers. Its documented elsewhere and I would recommend Hicks’ False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence 1449-78 for anyone who would like to delve deeper into George’s story. The end came when George bravely but rashly had Thomas Burdett’s declaration of innocence, which had been made on the scaffold before his execution, read out to the royal council. John Stacey, Burdett’s co-defendant also proclaimed his innocence on the scaffold, his voice weaker probably because of the torture that he had endured. Is it likely that a medieval man in those pious times would have been prepared to go to meet his Maker with a lie upon his lips? I think not. Thomas Penn in his book The Brothers York notes a similar case in 1441 when two astrologers, Bolingbroke and Southwell had been arrested on much the same charges, that time predicting Henry VIs death. Pen suggests this case could have been the blue print for the Burdett and Stacey case. George’s goose was cooked and an enraged King Edward summoned George and before a parliament ‘stage-managed’ and thronged with sycophants and a trial ‘very carefully prepared apparently by the Wydevilles’ with witnesses doubling as prosecutors it was ensured George stood not a cat’s chance in Hell. His prediction that Edward ‘entended to consume hym in like wyse as a Candell consumeth in brennyng’ proved corect. The most reliable narrative, that of the Croyland Chronicler, who appears to have been an eyewitness at the trial and was clearly shocked, indicates that it was not ‘conducted in a manner conducive to justice’ and that George was offered inadequate opportunity for defence(3). Hick writes that the Act of Attainder ‘although long is insubstantial and imprecise and it is questionable whether many of the charges were treasonable, some were covered by earlier pardons, some seem improbable, none is substantiated and certainly no accomplishes were named or tried’. The sentence was of course that of death and a vacillating Edward was finally pushed into proceeding with his brother’s execution. After the deed was accomplished Edward ‘provided for an expensive funeral, monument, and Chantry foundation at Tewkesbury Abbey’ and ‘is alleged to have bewailed Clarences death’ … well it was the least he could do under the circumstances. There are indications that Edward regretted his brother’s death. As well as Sir Thomas More and Holinshed’s Chronicle remarking on it Virgil also wrote ‘yt ys very lykly that king Edward right soone repentyd that dede; for, as men say, whan so ever any sewyd for saving a mans lyfe, he was woont to cry owt in a rage ‘O infortunate broother, for whose lyfe no man in this world wold once make request’ (4). Edward, presumably filled with guilt floundered around blaming everyone else for what was the judicial murder of his brother except those truly responsible, himself and his Wydeville wife, One can only imagine the pain of their mother, Cicely Neville. The third brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III was said by Mancini to be so. ‘overcome with grief that he could not dissimulate so well, but that he was overheard to say that he would one day avenge his brother’s death’ (5).
To continue read click here
- The Abbey Church of Tewkesbury H J L J Massé
- False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence M A Hicks
- Ibid p141
- Virgil 168
- The Usurpation og Richard III p.63 Dominic Mancini
- The Third Plantagent John Ashdown-Hill
- The Abbey Church of Tewkesbury H J L J Massé
If you have enjoyed this post you might like