I’m not sure I kept track of everyone in this intriguing link but it makes interesting reading. Discussing it here would be complicated, the link has to be read in full.
If the possibility is actually fact, it makes me wonder if Edward IV married someone else – as well as Eleanor Talbot and Elizabeth Woodville! Anything’s possible with him. Perhaps he was as liberal with his promises of marriage as he was with his physical favours!
i know the topic on the face of it appears frivolous, how many worthless promises did Edward make to how many gullible court (or hopeful) ladies but it isn’t, it cost his children their legitimacy and everything that went with it, and very possibly it was enough to push Edward to commit fratricide IF Edward believed that George knew too much and IF Edward believed his brother would do something with that information. As Annette C has noted, George was executed for all the things he had been pardoned for, and not just in private, but in the public sphere as well. So I do not consider the question idle gossip or an exercise in hopeless speculation.
If we cannot know exactly the acts of Edward then we have the reactions of those around him and that in itself can describe the events we are investigating – just as we may not see Edward but only his shadow on the wall. I use this tactic with Richard all the time (because as we all know everything seems to be missing! I recently read that we have some 20 letters from de Vere to the younger Paston alone; good grief, 20? I would give my left arm to have 20 letters from Richard to anyone about anything!)
So, here we go, I ignore the likes of More (and even Mancini here, who had his info from god’s know where, maybe Argentyne, maybe bored law clerks, who knows?) but it is significant that both Commynes and Louis XI considered Edward lascivious in the extreme, not just intemporate but unable to control himself. For Commines it was first hand knowledge and observation, and while he undoubtedly passed his observations on to LXI the French king had no lack of spies (and they came in all manner: clerics, diplomats, soldiers, women at court, servants, basically anyone could be put into such service) and LXI also knew something about sensual excess as he was himself at one time prone to sexual promiscuity.
Much as we know the austerity manner and opinion of the newly chaste (or now non-smoker lol! I have a couple i my family) LXI knew far more about Edward’s habits and nature than I think the King knew about himself, and he considered it a weakness he could exploit and certainly feel superior about. Just consider his letters to his counselors during the 1475 Picquigny mess, LXI did NOT have the funds for that kind of ‘tribute’ payoff to Edward. But LXI was never a one prong offensive tactician, he used multiple strategies, and in this case, having the English troops, bored already, get drunk at Amiens on his overflowing wine, not to mention the available ladies, was sufficient distraction for Edward, who should have felt shamed by his men’s complete lack of conduct and self-control. Suddenly, it was more important to get the troops out of Amiens, out of France, and Louis would just send the tribute funds. (After he figured out how to raise the money)
I have come to trust the judgement of a LXI, as odious as he was, because while he purported to be pious (he had been tediously dying for years and years) alone of the political leaders of his age Louis was brilliant, I can not take that from him, and he was transparent. His sole goal was reunifying France to the borders it had once had, before the utter disaster that was the Hundred Years War, and if he had to murder, cheat, steal , poison, defraud or lose his soul he was willing to do it. When you have a single minded adversary like that Edward should have run rings around Louis, instead, LXI ran rings around E4, because E4 could not see past the ledger sheet (the chronic lack of funds was not all his fault, H6’s government left him with ghastly debts) and the ladies.
As to E4 promising marriage – well, before 1464 that was entirely plausible, in his “youth” his parents may have considered someone of the social status of a Eleanor Talbot, his equal (and her parents made a hash of her marriage, just saying, her sister made the sort of marriage Eleanor SHOULD have had, and why is one question I would pursue if I had time) but York and his duchess, but the 1450’s, either were no longer in a position to consider a prime marriage for him or felt that they could wait. Their daughter Anne’s marriage cost them dearly, but it got them was the likely heir to the throne as H6 had none of his own body- that Anne and Exeter despised each other was irrelevant.
Isabella of Castile was insulted to be passed over, and the duchess York nearly manic at the news about Elizabeth Woodville, and no doubt most of the Continent snickered but Edward may well have HAD to marry someone like EW, and I see the hand of her mother in the entire arrangement. Jacquetta was herself a veteran of an illicit, socially unacceptable affair with her husband’s chamberlain, and while I myself believe it was also a genuine attraction on their part and maybe even love, she handled the entire transfer from one social sphere to another one with such assured poise that it wouldn’t have taken much before she caught wind of the rumours of Edwards’ many alliances and knew just how to exploit him and them. – I’ll put it this way: Edward could never have married Isabella or any other ‘high status’ bride, they have too many devoted investigators who would find any shred of scandal – if he had a dozen bastards, no problem, if he has ONE mistress who tells them yes I married him with a priest it is OVER. And I am saying Jacquetta had better intel than we do.
She also knew not one of these women, and some may have been just playing happy bride with Edward and knew it mean nothing, but not one would ever question Edward and Elizabeth when she was presented, no one would come forward, why would anyone? And look like an idiot, when behind you are three more all claiming the same thing?
Where Jacquettta may have gotten a surprise was the one who wasn’t “to type” – the one who also didn’t fit the mold of who she expected to find – the Eleanor Talbot type. Someone socially far above her own daughter and someone who was willing or wanted to keep quiet.
For myself I find it impossible to believe that Edward’s immediate family did not know about most of these meaningless excesses – and even about Eleanor Talbot, or Boteler as they would have known her. Certainly Warwick knew, and George, and if they knew so did Louis XI. Very probably so too did Margaret and Richard and without wanting to, so too would the duchess Cecily have known something like an Eleanor had happened. Edward had one glaring weakness, not food, not gambling or a mania for war (like Charles the Bold/Rash) but excess with women. It could have been just a need to be adored, and if he chose women who were naturally affectionate and good natured (I’m thinking of ‘Jane Shore’) the amateur psychologist in me is saying it wasn’t about sex with Edward but a craving for attention and tenderness that a sybaritic personality can have.
well, I could go on but I won’t! sorry it took so long to say I put it all on Jacquetta Woodville, she outfoxed her family from sticking her with another old codger for a husband and he definitely outfoxed a 22 year old stud into believing he was damaged goods with his “past” and found a way to marry off a small army of children in the process!
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Well said, Amma. I cannot argue with your reasoning or think of anything to add! Excellent.