Weir(d) babies (3): “Philippa of Gloucester”

We have written twice before about non-existent historical children somehow finding their way into works by a certain modern writer, who is often cited on Wikipedia and repeated by others. In these posts, we referred to “Joan of York”, ostensibly a sister of Richard III, together with those attributed to Henry IV and Mary de Bohun, Edward III and Phillipa of Hainault, Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.

Another mysterious child who appears in certain histories is a ‘Philippa’, daughter of Thomas of Woodstock  and Eleanor de Bohun. Unfortunately, it would seem she actually never existed, just like Joan of York, and is found in a only misleading reference in a manuscript written many years after her supposed birth.

The same author, who seems to have invented many an extra child on both sides of the blanket, even using old novels and genealogies as ‘sources’ also made some grave errors about  the life of the  non-existent Philippa’s very real ‘sister’, Isabel of Gloucester, the youngest child of Thomas and Eleanor. Isabel became a nun at the convent of the Minoresses in London on her 16th birthday and rose to become the abbess in 1421. Apparently, our intrepid popular history writer has mysteriously changed her birth month, for reasons unknown, as it is clearly documented-as well as the year she became a nun, and then claimed that she died in 1402, which was the  year Isabel actually took her vows, although there is evidence she lived  for at least  20 years after that date…

With all these extra children and strange histories that do not seem to match the children being written about, the writer in question is in danger at this point of becoming a time-travelling serial surrogate mother!

Now here’s some more Ugly Medieval Babies showing their clear disgust…

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2 comments

  1. In this author’s most recent novel about Anne Boleyn, there are two brothers of Anne Boleyn who live to their teens. There is no reference to these siblings living this long in Professor Eric Ives’s book on Anne Boleyn. Like most couples in the 16th century, the Boleyn parents would have had numerous children who died young – perhaps the author picked up this info from a secondary source and ran with it.
    As to the “fake” children inserted into some family trees, perhaps these are the genealogists version of the “fake streets” inserted into Ordnance Survey maps in order to detect plagiarism.

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    1. I don’t see what the problem is in having historical figures lead different lives in a novel, tbh. It is a work of fiction, after all.

      Weir’s genealogies book is a total embarrassment, though. I’ll never get over “Edward of Lancaster,” son of Bolingbroke and the _11-year-old_ Mary de Bohun — a figure whose existence was already debunked before the book’s publication and whose name Weir invents without any source whatsoever.

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