The four Southampton rebels….?

Well, this article starts off as follows:-

“….WHEN King Edward IV died in April 1483, his brother Richard of Gloucester was named Lord Protector of Edward’s son, the 12-year-old Edward V….

“….But before Edward could be crowned, Richard arranged for his parents’ marriage to be declared invalid, making the Princes illegitimate and ineligible for the throne, which Richard claimed for himself….”

Right. For Richard it was clearly a casual matter of picking up his phone and calling his lawyers! But no! Half a tick! The marriage was invalid! It was bigamous because naughty Edward had got himself another wife first. Tut, tut. Richard, of course, on learning of this, should have suppressed the information and let his illegitimate nephew take the throne. Why, pray? Richard was the legitimate heir after Edward, and after Richard was his own son, Edward of Middleham! Was Richard expected to throw away his child’s birthright? Well, if you listen to the usual old traditionalist tosh, you’ll know that that was precisely what he was supposed to do. More, he was supposed to hurl himself onto the blazing funeral pyre the Woodvilles had prepared.

Would you stand idly by while your brother’s bastard son stole what was rightfully yours? No, of course you wouldn’t! Especially when that brother had deliberately concealed the truth. The bigamy was no forgotten little indiscretion, it was an intentionally fake marriage because Edward wanted to get into Elizabeth Woodville‘s bed! Edward always knew his children by her were illegitimate and died fully intending one of them to take the throne. And by so doing he robbed the only brother who had remained staunchly faithful and could be relied upon in all circumstances. A monumental slap in the face if ever there was one. Poor Richard.

And one important thing. It has never been proved that Richard was responsible for the murders of his nephews. In fact, it’s never even been proved that they were murdered by anyone! What happened to them is a mystery, and if Richard knew their whereabouts, the secret died with him at Bosworth. But I certainly don’t think he did away with them. It doesn’t seem in keeping with what we know of his character, and they were illegitimate anyway and thus precluded from sitting on the throne.

Anyway, that tirade aside, the article is entitled The Four Rebels of Southampton. I confess I was curious to know the identities of the Southampton Four. They were William Overey, Roger Kelsale, John Fesaunt and Walter Watkin William. Well, actually, most of them don’t really matter in the great scheme of things, and their greatest achievements would seem to have by some miracle “survived” Richard’s reign. Richard actually punished very few – a few more and he might have survived Bosworth! These four men of Southampton managed to sit fences. Nothing particularly heroic.

Oh, and in 1483 it was a gale that prevented Henry Tudor from landing. Really? No! The weather had nothing to do with it, he just realised he was being lured ashore by Richard’s men, and off he scuttled! And the same terrible storm prevented Buckingham from crossing the Severn. No! It was a period of constant rain, not one particular storm. As for Buckingham’s reasons for turning on Richard…we’ll never know, so stating categorically that it was one thing or another is futile. Suffice it that although Richard befriended and rewarded him, he turned traitor and paid the price. But no, I was forgetting, it was Richard’s nasty, vindictive fault that the Judas earl ended up on a Salisbury scaffold. That Buckingham betrayed the true king is somehow brushed aside.

To read more about medieval Southampton, as distinct from the above rebels, go here, from which the illustration at the top of this page is taken.


  1. Sorry Countess, having read the above I didn’t feel the need to follow the link you provided! Thank you for bringing these things to our attention, but they makes me so cross.
    Lazy research that results in the same old drivel being constantly repeated.
    You don’t say who wrote this piece (although I’d probably have found out if I’d read the article!)
    If it’s an historian then shame on them, if a journalist, well we’re back to lazy research!
    How refreshing it would be to read something in the popular press where the author stuck his neck out and wrote the truth – I won’t be holding my breath!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glenis, the frustration part is understandable, but brush it off the way you would a gnat, such mediocre efforts (journalism via cut & paste) make their lives easier. There was a time when I fumed as well, but once you begin probing into the now vast material for Richard – not just the meager threads of his recorded life – but the full context of the England he lived in – it is breath taking. I now just skip over the routine slop (because this particular writer was an investigative journalist, nor even a competent commentator of the period itself, so I can pass over his drivel and look for any details that might be buried (almost by accident). An example would be his concluding biographies (if we can call them that) of the four Southampton rebels, of whom even I know scant information.

      About Roger Kelsale I know the most, (his connections with Richard as Protector are documented) and the author should have added that material to the overview – the others I did not have much in my notes (such as remarriage of the widow, etc) – and I always smile that while these journalists (and self-appointed historians!) are keen to pronounce Richard as a man capable of murdering small children they do not connect the facts they lay out about Henry of Richmond with his BRETON mercenaries, and his Breton ships (and French funding), which one could just as easily suggest was a foreign invasion, not dear old Henry, the darling of the English commons beating on their chests desperate to have him back.

      Usually the publication will tell you if it is a serious effort, and the first lines or even the headline will reveal what is coming – by all means read the material – always good photo’s are worth it and even a buried detail YOU may have missed elsewhere – Ricardian research is an almost limitless beach yet filled with flotsam from poorly written or intentionally misleading bits, you just have to learn to comb through this debris to find useful bits, which, surprisingly, can offer links to what you weren’t even looking for!

      Since Ricardian historiography was never conducted properly to begin with (ie. 500 years ago) we have to expect thesehaphazard efforts and results and setbacks now – but – once you get used to finding an intriguing piece that DOESN’T fit the ‘official’ narrative – when you have questions the official narratives and ‘sources’ never ask, BUT you can track down the answers to, then that beach becomes a fascinating and rewarding endeavor, as you would expect correcting the record about Richard to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always find it amusing how Henry V could behead Richard of Conisbrough and several others for ‘plotting’ despite it being the weakest plot ever, more like men grumbling in the pub, and that is ok and definitely necessary (although Conisbrough, being of royal blood, was expecting a pardon.) But Richard, omg, no Woodville could ever have been plotting against him, they were all innocent saints. As I’ve said before, if the Woodvilles weren’t plotting, they certainly MADE themselves look as if they were…

    Liked by 2 people

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