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Archive for the tag “Penny Lawne”

Was the Black Prince a control freak where his wife was concerned….?

by Henry Justice Ford (1860–1941) from The Book of the Happy Warrior published in 1917

Before I start, I must apologise for the decidedly uncontemporary illustrations. They are an indulgence, I fear. The one above, of the Prince of Wales (known to posterity as the Black Prince) in armour at an army camp, his hands clasped behind his back, seems to me to probably capture him exactly as he was…all the time! Not a man to argue with.

For aeons beyond recollection, men have been the top dogs. What they said, went. And if they were princes, boy did it went! I think it’s safe to say that Edward of Woodstock was just such a man. He decided everything, as Joan of Kent discovered when she became his Princess of Wales.

Joan of Kent by Cheryl Crawford of Crawford Manor Dolls

Joan was reputedly the most beautiful, charming, seductive and enticing woman in England, and had already proved herself in her first marriage by producing two strong sons and two daughters who lived to adulthood. There was something about her that got men going, as the phrase has it, and Edward of Woodstock was no exception. She was his cousin, he called her Jeanette and he was clearly head over heels in love with her…perhaps he always had been, which was why he’d left it so long to get married. He wouldn’t have any other woman but his Jeanette. He was thirty-one and she was thirty-three, and they were married at Windsor on 10th October 1361,

However, although Edward of Woodstock was notably extravagant with gifts to others, he wasn’t with Joan. His mother, Queen Philippa {pingback to 24/6} , wasn’t particularly lavish toward her either, giving her a corset that had to be mended at a cost of £6 13s 4d! That was a lot of dosh back then, so either it was a corset studded with jewels (not comfortable!) or it was practically beyond redemption and required picking apart and rebuilding from scratch! Literally.

Edward had decided views on everything, including his wife’s appearance. It began even before their marriage, with him making suitable changes in how she and her children by her first marriage presented in public. In Penny Lawne’s excellent biography Joan of Kent, starting on page 140, the list of materials, embroideries, furs and so on involved may seem impressive, but are actually modest by the royal standards of the day. And there’s no record at all of any jewellery being given to Joan. He gave far more to his sisters.

The prince even seems to have had a hand in Joan’s wedding dress. Well, not literally, I imagine…although you never know. Maybe not in public! His hand was in the design. The material was red cloth-of-gold, with threads of gold woven on a web of silk. Beautiful, yes, but not as lavish with jewels as the churching gown the queen had worn. Everything for Joan appears to have been low key. Why?

Was Queen Philippa perhaps disapproving of the match? Hence the damaged corset and modest wedding gown?

Philippa of Hainault – from Mary Evans Picture Library

Joan had a chequered marital history and there was always a question over whether or not she was actually free to marry the Prince. She’d been married to Thomas Holand, who started off as seneschal to the Earl of Salisbury but became Earl of Kent. Unfortunately she was also married to the Earl of Salisbury, at the same time perhaps, but that’s another story. The Salisbury match was set aside by the Pope, so that should have been that. Now, with the Prince of Wales’s marriage, Thomas was definitely dead, but Salisbury was still very much alive and kicking, so was he her real husband after all? This must have plagued many a mind at the time, including the king and queen. And the prince’s next surviving brother, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who had an eye on the succession for himself. Now, if he could prove Joan committed bigamy with Edward…

Was the Prince of Wales only too conscious of this stumbling block? Did he want the marriage to be low key because of it? Or was he just an over-assertive man who thought he knew it all…and got away with it every time because he was a prince? I don’t think there’s any doubt that he loved her, but he just couldn’t help interfering and pushing her around.

I’d like to say it couldn’t happen today, but unfortunately bullying know-alls are still thick on the ground…. All right, all right, I know some of them are women, but the vast majority are men!

 

How and why the House of York laid claim to the throne….

Richard, 3rd Duke of York

Here is an article from English Historical Review, 1st June 1998, telling of how and why Richard, 3rd Duke of York, laid claim to the throne of England. The root cause was an entail to the will of Edward III, who was admittedly in his dotage at the time. The entail, which excluded a female line from ascending the throne, spoils that otherwise excellent king’s legacy as far as I’m concerned. But then, I’m a modern woman who doesn’t hold with the denying of rights simply because the ones being denied are the female of the species! Or the denial of anyone’s true and honest rights, come to that. True and honest being the operative words.

The mastermind behind this entail was Edward’s 3rd son, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who sought to eliminate any claim from the descendants of his 2nd eldest brother, Lionel. Those descendants were, of course, through the female line, which line happened to be the one from whom Richard, 3rd Duke of York, was descended. Gaunt’s purpose was to see that his own line took precedence. It did in the end, but not in a way old Edward III could have foreseen, and not through the entail. Instead it took the form of Gaunt’s son and heir usurping and murdering his first cousin and rightful king, Richard II, heir of the great Black Prince. Gaunt’s son took the throne and became Henry IV, the first Lancastrian monarch.

John of Gaunt

So it seems that gallant Gaunt leaned on his dying father to achieve his own ambitious ends. But that’s the House of Lancaster for you! And it was Gaunt’s double-dealing chicanery that eventually led to Richard, 3rd Duke of York, claiming the throne that was his by right. And it all led to what we know as the Wars of the Roses.

However, there just might be some doubt about the entail’s existence. According to Penny Lawne’s biography of Joan of Kent: “…In preparation for his [Edward III’s] death he drew up his will, one of the witnesses being Sir Richard Stury, and in an entail specifically designated Richard (II) as his successor…” There is no mention of excluding any female line, but then, Lawne is very pro-Gaunt throughout, so I suppose the nitty-gritty of such an entail was better omitted. Unless, of course, all the entail ever really did was designate Richard of Bordeaux as the old king’s successor. In which case, where did the story of Gaunt’s pressure and interference come from? Ah, well, later in her book, Lawne lays the blame at the feet of Walsingham, who “held Gaunt in particular contempt, convinced he wanted the throne for himself, and repeated virulent gossip and rumours current about the duke…” Walsingham, it seems, even went so far as to portray Gaunt trying to persuade the Commons to discuss the succession, and was so intent upon removing opposition that he requested a law be passed to forbid a woman from inheriting the throne, “which would obviate the claim of Lionel’s daughter Philippa, who arguably held the most legitimate claim to the throne after the prince’s son”. So, this business of excluding females’ claims was due to Gaunt browbeating the Commons, not to Edward III’s entail?

Well, not being a fan of John of Gaunt, I am quite prepared to believe he put the screws on his dying father, in order to ensure the House of Lancaster becoming heir to Richard II’s throne, in the event of Richard childless demise. But I can also believe he’d go to work on Parliament. Gaunt was ruthless when it came to furthering his own family, and how better to achieve this than paving the path to the throne? Either way, he tried to see the succession go to the House of Lancaster.

Richard, 3rd Duke of York, quite rightly, did not think the House of Lancaster had any business wearing the crown. He was descended from Lionel, Duke of Clarence, and truly believed his (senior) line had precedence. I believe so too. Maybe it was through the female line, but it was perfectly legitimate, and until the demise of Edward III and that pesky entail (or Gaunt’s other forceful activities), there had not been a bar on women taking the throne. Yes, they had to stand back while their brothers took precedence, but if those brothers died, then they themselves had every right to be crowned. Lionel of Clarence only had one child, a daughter. His right passed to her, not to his conniving next brother, Gaunt.

Richard of York WAS the rightful king.

Now, of course, it has all been changed, and women can take precedence even if they have a younger brother(s). The line goes through age, not gender. And about time too!

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