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Another one (denialists’ myth) bites the dust

Another subject that Cairo dwellers frequently pontificate about is Henry “Tudor”‘s marriage to Elizabeth of York. We do know that he promised, on Christmas Day in 1483 at Rennes Cathedral, to wed her and we know that he obtained a dispensation for the purpose. The denialists claim that this shows her and her mother’s knowledge and consent to the eventual union but the evidence for this is wafer-thin.

Ashdown-Hill’s The Pink Queen, ch.18, pp.169-173, as a biography of Elizabeth Wydeville, fully investigates this subject. Firstly, under the 1475 treaty of Picquigny, Edward IV had agreed with Louis XI that his eldest daughter marry the Dauphin Charles (VIII). Louis abrogated this, by negotiating Charles’ alternative marriage to Margaret of Austria, only in 1482-3. Ironically, Charles actually married a third princess.

Photo of a parrotThe source that suggests cooperation between the families of Elizabeth of York and of Henry “Tudor” is Thomas, Lord Stanley and now Earl of Derby, who was Henry’s stepfather and made this claim in 1486, some months after Bosworth. Ashdown-Hill quotes Derby’s testimony, which noted the couple’s close relationship, verbatim on p.169. Polydore Vergil (left) also quotes this and implies consent from the lady in question. These witness claims, to James, Bishop of Imola, were probably about countering accusations that Elizabeth and her family weren’t able to demonstrate their consent because Elizabeth was being kept in MB’s household. Note that Elizabeth was only able to give evidence to the tribunal via proctors, and they may well have been chosen for her. There were no Wydevilles amongst the witnesses called.

Griffith and Thomas’ The Making of the Tudor Dynasty, pp.91-3, make a similar assertion, involving Margaret Beaufort’s physician, Dr. Lewis Caerleon, but the evidence is notable, once again, only by its absence as Vergil is their only source. Only Vergil suggests that Caerleon was also Elizabeth Woodville’s physician and she was known to employ a different one.

Vergil’s statement continues that the plan was to marry Henry to Elizabeth or Cecily if Elizabeth was already married, as Barrie Williams reminds us was that she was to be to Joao II’s cousin. Whatever the truth of the this matter, she wasn’t crowned until today in 1485 or married until 18th January. Both of these events post-date the repeal of Titulus Regius, which arguably legitimised those born to Edward IV’s bigamous “marriage”.

Henry, before and after his coronation, obviously saw Edward’s daughters as pawns, one of whom he would promote to a queen, with or without her consent or that of her mother. This was only possible by relegitimising Elizabeth and her sisters, after which their mother was disposable.

A highlight from the quincentenary …

… of Richard’s accession was Channel Four’s 1984 “The Trial Of King Richard The Third”, presided over by Lord Elwyn-Jones. A YouTube poster has sliced it into 22 segments so enjoy the show, particularly part ten, in which a young Starkey implodes. Pollard and Lady Wedgwood (Pamela Tudor-Craig) also feature, as do Anne Sutton and Jeremy Potter.

The prosecution seemed to have a few obsessions:
1) Those bones just had to be the “Princes”. Never mind that Tanner and Wright couldn’t gender them and that science had moved on since 1933. Dr. Jean Ross conceded that point, whilst suggesting that Anne Mowbray was a close relative of her young widower, despite their nearest common royal ancestor being Edward I. She added that the teeth of the three corpses pointed towards the “Princes”‘ identity, although Anne Mowbray’s teeth are very similar to those of her grandfather “Old Talbot”, as John Ashdown-Hill went on to show.
2) The pre-contract, which is surely a matter of simple fact, just had to be contrived, despite Edward IV’s record with the Wydeville secret “marriage” to another older widow of a Lancastrian soldier. Starkey asserted that Edward V’s proclamation would trump any chance of illegitimacy or other weaker claim – that worked so well for Jane, his mother’s other descendant, didn’t it?
3) Even though Mancini described the Wydevilles and their allies “foregathering in each other’s houses”, there just couldn’t have been a plot, could there?

The jury unanimously returned, even on the balance of probabilities, a “not guilty verdict”. Given the work of Ashdown-Hill, Carson, Barrie Williams et al since 1984, we are able to assert that the bones can be analysed more scientifically (against Elizabeth Roberts’ mtDNA) and that the pre-contract, which explains so much, is even more likely, with a second likely witness identified.

Given all these advances in another 36 years, we wouldn’t have heard from Pamela Tudor-Craig, Jeremy Potter and Anne Sutton. Leading counsel for the defence would have stood up after the prosecution conclusion and submitted that there was no case to answer. Lord Elwyn-Jones could only have agreed.

They don’t like it up ’em?

It seems that some of the denialists are becoming even more sensitive than before and dislike being called Cairo dwellers. One Michael Hicks acolyte went to the point of giving Matthew Lewis well-researched biography of Richard III a one-star review. Sadly for “Alex Brondarbit”, the introduction to his own latest book (below) by the Professor has also appeared. Although the length and phraseology differs, few will believe that Hicks didn’t “inspire” the secondary effort.

In his review, Hicks cites his own mentor, Charles Ross, describing his work as the definitive biography – and herein lies the problem. Ross wrote nearly forty years ago, reciting all of the old discredited sources, ending by stating that Richard’s body was dumped in the Soar after the Reformation. Hicks has written at least a dozen books about Richard III in that time, still based on Ross’ research, but the history and the science have moved on.

In fact, we at Murrey and Blue have drawn attention to this stasis on several occasions, pointing to:
Barrie Williams‘ painstaking research in the Portuguese archives that proved Richard’s remarriage plans soon after Anne Neville’s death, thereby contradicting the hoary old myth about Richard and Elizabeth of York,
Marie Barnfield‘s proof that “affinity does not beget affinity” and that Richard and Anne had all the dispensations they required,
The conclusive identification of Richard’s remains, which were still under the former Greyfriars and nowhere near the river Soar, through research initiated by John Ashdown-Hill and others,
Ashdown-Hill’s work on the pre-contract, restoring Lady Eleanor to her rightful place in history as Edward IV’s legal wife.
The evidence adduced by Wroe, Carson, Fields and Lewis, inter alia, suggesting that either or both “Princes” survived beyond 1485 together with Ashdown-Hill’s discovery of their mtDNA.

As one who has read both Kendall and Ross on several occasions, it is surely the case that the former captures Richard III’s essence far better, notwithstanding the fact that it was the earlier book. We have a whole series of posts based on the book Kendall could have written today and we can be confident that he would take account of this new learning were he still alive. Ross both wrote and died more recently but I doubt that he would have changed a word, just as Hicks’ mind is unchanged in that interval, even as the evidence points in a different direction. He evidently has a lesser opinion of amateurs, as many of the above are, but it is they who have made the great discoveries since 1980. It is the amateurs who have conducted original research here and not relied on the flaws inherent in Mancini, Vergil and More.

As the Arabs, including those in Cairo, say: The dog barks, but the caravan moves on.

Loyalty Binds Me reviewed

See Sarah Bryson’s review of this biography here .richard-iii-by-matthew-lewis

Or, if you would prefer to judge it by our criteria for a post-Kendall biography of Richard, read here. Lewis is already the author of a volume on the “Princes” but approaches the pre-contract and Portuguese marriage negotiations well, thereby scoring highly on the three most important points.

More than one target for the Cairo dwellers?

21 September 1327 is the traditional date of death for Edward II at Berkeley Castle and various myths about it and his life have passed through these 690 years almost unquestioned. They are repeated by quite a few notable people without real evidence as well. If this sounds familiar, it is because certain individuals have made statements about Richard III over the years that either wasn’t based on any reliable source or contradicts the evidence that has gradually come to light thanks to the likes of Barrie Williams and John Ashdown-Hill. For some years, they have been referred to as “Cairo (or even Alexandria) dwellers”, because they are so far up the Nile.

Edward II has evidently attracted similar such posthumous adversaries – of which Channel Four’s series “Monarchy” referred to the most grisly myth of all. That this was presented by David Starkey demonstrates that both kings, and possibly several others, attract the same drastically over-simplifying detractors, whose followers appear to have closed

their minds at the age of about seven.

Here Kathryn Warner, who has gone some way towards showing Edward may well have survived his visit to Berkeley and died later elsewhere, demonstrates that a forty year-old footnote referred to a fictional part of a mis-dated document and was cited to fuel a new myth by someone either monumentally stupid OR … worse.

Similarly, here, Jacqueline Reiter shows that a book supposedly owned by John 2nd Earl of Chatham could not have been written until after his death.

A 19th century British reference to the Portuguese marriage

The facts of the proposed marriages of Richard III to Joana of Portugal and of Manoel of Beja to Elizabeth of York had, of course, been known in Portugal for a long time, before being published by Domingos Mauricio Gomes dos Santos in 1963.

Arthur Kincaid picked up on this and mentioned the marriages in his 1979 publication of his edition of Buck. Barrie Williams then wrote about the matter at length in the Ricardian in the 1980s and Jeremy Potter mentioned the marriages also in his 1983 book Good King Richard? And it was Williams, of course, who inspired Annette Carson to look into the matter more deeply, and write at length about it in The Maligned King.

Yet, there has been no evidence that earlier Ricardians (ie before 1963) knew anything about the matter. Paul Murray Kendall did not know about the marriages, and bemoaned the “fact” that Richard had made no effort to marry off his nieces to get them out of Henry Tudor’s reach (he did not know about Cecily and Ralph Scrope, either). It does not feature in The Daughter of Time; nor in Philip Lindsay’s glowing biography in 1933, nor in Sir Clements Markham’s 1906 book, nor any of the earlier authors, such as Halsted and Buck. Yet, at least one near-contemporary of Markham did know, and mentioned it in one of his books. Unfortunately, he was not a Ricardian…..

Henry (H) Morse Stephens was born in 1857 in Edinburgh and attended Balliol College, Oxford where he obtained a BA in 1880 and an MA in 1892. He was a staff lecturer there until 1894. He also lectured at Cambridge University on Indian history, while writing articles for a number of magazines and papers.

Stephens also wrote a number of books including works about Sir Robert Peel, the French revolution, Indian history … and a history of Portugal, which appears to have been written in the early 1890s. In discussing the reign of Joana’s brother, King (Dom) João II (still popular in Portugal today, by the way, with at least one Algarve hotel named after him!), Stephens talks about João’s relationship with Edward IV and Richard III, in particular relating to the renewals of the Treaty of Windsor by both Kings. He then has this to say:

“In 1485 the King of Portugal proposed in a Cortes held at Alcobaça, that his only sister, Joanna (sic), should be given in marriage to Richard III, but the princess, who … wished to become a nun … refused the alliance”.

Interestingly, it was at that Cortes that the Portuguese discovered, to their dismay, that Richard was exploring the possibility of marrying Isabel of Aragon if Joana would not have him. This, of course, pretty much ensured a favourable reply from the Portuguese, and led to Annette Carson’s interesting and very plausible interpretation of Buck’s Elizabeth of York letter: that she was asking Norfolk to speak to Richard to ensue he pursued the Portuguese marriage (which offered marriage with Manoel of Beja), rather than the Spanish one, which offered her nothing.

So…… there were indeed people before the 20th Century in this country, and not just in Portugal, who knew perfectly well that Richard was not trying to marry his niece and yet none of the people who would have benefited from the information – like Markham – knew anything about it. In the case of Stephens’s book, it was a specialised subject that a Ricardian author would have no reason to read, unless he also happened, by chance, to be interested in Portugal. Another problem in this particular case was that Stephens emigrated to America in 1894, becoming Professor of History at Berkeley, in California. Following the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, he spent the rest of his life (he died in 1919) collecting as much information as possible about that tragedy.

The cynic in me, though, does wonder whether others (ie those not well disposed towards Richard) might have known – and chosen to keep the information to themselves.

One final point about Markham, he visited Portugal at least once (and was actually staying in Estoril when he heard of the death of his friend Robert Scott (of the Antarctic)). If only he had known……


Wikipedia – Henry Morse Stephens

Arthur Kincaid – edition of George Buck’s original work

Jeremy Potter – Good King Richard?

Annette Carson – The Maligned King

H Morse Stephens – The Story of Portugal (described in the Kindle version as a Short History of Portugal)

On the preservation of sources beyond our shores

Our post on Thursday ( showed that Jehan de Wavrin’s comments on the relative sizes of George and Richard in 1461 are available to us because Wavrin’s “Recueil des croniques et anchiennes istories de la Grant Bretaigne” (p.357) was composed in Burgundy. It was, therefore, beyond the reach of the “Tudor” agent known as the Human Shredder, whether he was Polydore Vergil or Robert Morton.

Similarly Dr. Anne Sutton (in the June 1977 Ricardian) has rediscovered Richard’s 28 June 1483 letter to Lord Mountjoy in Calais, enclosed a copy of the Three Estates’ petition to Richard – and perhaps the evidence Stillington gave to them is available?. The record of Richard’s remarriage plan surfaced in Portugal, thanks to Barrie Williams. Evidence relating to the “Simnel” coronation remained in Ireland.

Is a pattern emerging here? I wonder what else the archives of the rest of Europe have to tell us that England’s own could but can no longer?

More Cairo fun

It seems as if those denialists, rather than give up and concede that the evidence*since Kendall is favourable to Richard, are descending into self-parody.

Apart from someone, with a name that is quite valuable at Scrabble, resurfacing after five years, we have had some new claims. The Calais garrison were suggested to have defected to “Tudor” when Edward IV’s bigamy revealed, except that we know that they were loyal throughout Richard’s reign as John of Gloucester was still their Captain at the end. Catherine de Valois apparently attended and addressed Parliament when her “wedding” to Owen Tudor was attested to, a considerable feat for a dead lady.

Still, these new falsehoods make a change from their old ones, disproven so often.

* Barrie Williams, Ashdown-Hill, Carson etc

The book Kendall could write today (3) – the “pre-contract” and

Or, more correctly, the “previous contract of marriage”. This is the other topic that has really moved on over the past sixty years. From a situation in which Lady Eleanor’s very existence was denied as late as twenty years ago, anyone who understands the subject and lays the evidence, including that of the cover-up, in a straight line reaches the conclusion that her marriage to Edward IV is a matter of fact, recognised by a quasi-Parliament that knew Edward well and with more evidence than other “marriages” have. We mostly have Dr. Ashdown-Hill to thank for this.
Now it is time for some non-Cairo historian to write a new full biography of Richard III, to take account of Barrie Williams’ 1983 discovery in Portugal of the re-marriage plans, a new scientific interpretation of the random bones ten feet under the stairs, the ex-Princes’ survival evidence as well as JA-H’s revelations.
Only a few have the ability, time and inclination for such a project but the life of this significant King cannot be left to those who misunderstand the important points, whether by accident or design.

The book Kendall could write today (1) – Elizabeth of York

Paul Murray Kendall (1911-73) was a Professor of English, famous for writing three landmark historical biographies. Apart from “Warwick the Kingmaker” and “Louis XI”, his “Richard III” was published in 1955. Scientific and historical records are always developing and thus Kendall had the advantage of knowing things that Markham could not, just as Markham knew more than Halstead, Halstead more than Walpole, Walpole more than Buck and Buck more than Stow.
In nearly sixty years since Kendall’s first great tome arrived, things are even more clear. Were he writing towards a 2015 deadline instead, there are things he would know now.

Thanks to Barrie Williams in two issues of the 1983 Ricardian (, the Portuguese records have proven Richard’s plans,  being negotiated by proxy just two weeks after his Queen’s death, to marry Juana of Portugal, whilst her cousin Manuel of Beja was to become the husband of Elizabeth of York – a plan only scotched by the French invasion. Kendall (pp.393-5), faced with the ridiculous myth that Richard wished to marry his own niece, had no evidence save his own logic – that the case he was combating, written by “Tudor”‘s paid liars, had no evidence shows the degree to which the Cairo dwellers themselves to have inverted the burden of proof. We can be quite sure that copies of these documents were available in Richard’s own records during spring and summer 1485, before the Human Shredder could lay his hands on them.

Not least among the Cairo dwellers on this point is Hicks, whose biographies of, inter alia, Richard (2000) and Anne (2006) repeat the discredited myth despite post-dating Williams by two decades, freely using terms like “incest” and “paedophilia” although contrary evidence is once again available.

The publication years of Hicks’ opi – almost all after 1983:

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