murreyandblue

A great WordPress.com site

Archive for the tag ““Eleanor””

An enquiry

Today in 1461, Lady Eleanor Talbot married Edward IV, either on her Warwickshire lands or in Norfolk. As Ashdown-Hill has shown, she was older than Edward, a widow, from a Lancastrian background and the ceremony took place in secret during the spring, five factors that also apply to Edward’s bigamous marriage almost three years later.

It has been suggested that the marriage may have required a dispensation because the bride’s father (John, Earl of Shrewsbury) was the godfather of the groom’s sister (Elizabeth of Suffolk), a relationship that might fall under the doctrine of affinity. This would not have been possible for a secret ceremony of which only Lady Eleanor, Edward and (possibly) Canon Stillington knew at the time.

However, Barnfield has conclusively shown that, although Shrewsbury became part of Elizabeth’s family through this connection and she of his, his family and hers did not merge as a whole. Their nearest common royal ancestor was still Edward I (p.21, Eleanor). In other words, affinity does not beget affinity.

Eleanor, as the Earl of Shrewsbury’s daughter, was a person of some distinction in fifteenth century, for Shrewsbury had been a famous and much-admired warrior, whose reputation was about as high as a reputation could be. Moreover, quite apart from any personal charms she may have had, she was a well-connected lady who was, among other things, first cousin to the Duke of Somerset, whom Edward was trying to conciliate. It is quite possible that Edward saw this as a “marriage of the roses”, intended to take the wind out of certain hostile sails.

It is equally possible that Edward simply could not resist this attractive widow and discovered – as she had a strong reputation for piety – that the only way to get into her bed was to go through a form of marriage with her.

Many people discount the possibility that Edward married Eleanor, and cling to the view that it was something Richard III dreamed up one afternoon in his spare time. The problem with secret marriages (and this is why the Church deplored them) was that by their very nature there was no certain proof. There might or might not be witnesses, but if there were they would certainly have been few in number. It must be appreciated that for even the most formal marriages, celebrated in church, no written record, no certificate was kept. The only “proof” was the word of the parties concerned and of those who witnessed the event.

However, sufficient proofs were submitted to persuade Parliament that the event took place. What proofs these were we can never know, but just because no written evidence is extant, we should not assume that it never existed.

 

Advertisements

To avoid any confusion:

When Edward IV married Lady Eleanor Talbot in spring 1461, they were not more closely related than fourth cousins, through her mother, Margaret Beauchamp (see Eleanor, fig.11). Under the rules of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 (p.112), such distant blood relations were permitted to marry without a dispensation. It no longer amounted to consanguinity.

Fig. 12 can be misread by those who see “Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick” at the top with Lady Eleanor as the first cousin of Isobel and Anne. Of course, this Richard was not Richard III’s father-in-law the “Kingmaker”, who was Richard NEVILLE Earl of Warwick in jure uxoris, but his grandfather-in-law. The Beauchamps and Nevilles were unrelated until Richard Beauchamp’s younger daughter, Anne, married Richard Neville, after which her elder brother, Henry Duke of Warwick, died without issue.

Richard Neville’s marriage would not, in the eyes of the Church, make his wife’s niece into his blood niece, any more than Anne Neville would be the Duke of Gloucester’s sister because their siblings had married each other. Barnfield’s article in the 2007 Ricardian (http://www.richardiii.net/downloads/Ricardian/2007_vol17_barnfield_impediments.pdf) conclusively demonstrates this point. “Affinity does not beget affinity”.

Of course, if it did, then Jacquetta’s first marriage to the Duke of Bedford would make Elizabeth Woodville an effective great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, thus Edward IV’s undispensed second cousin. So, whether you understand Barnfield’s point or not, the second “marriage” is scotched.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: