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A guest post by Iris

Re: “Richard the Mourner”:

I tend to agree with layers of unsubstantiated myth building century after century, including Richard’s butchering his way to the crown (4 executions against over 20.000 dead on the field only at Towton to put his brother Edward on the throne, indeed a pale imitation of a larger than life example of real Plantagenet ambition.) As for the issue you are addressing here, as you well remind us all the Crowland continuator, writing some 2 years after Richard’s own “funeral” and under Tudor’s regime, while amply (and I may add with no shred of a contemporary record to substantiate his statements) disserting on Richard’s incestous marriage plans only mentioned Anne was buried at Westminster with no less honors than befitted the interment of a queen.

However, just ONE DAY after Richard’s public refutal of the rumours he had poisoned his wife to marry his niece, the Court minutes of the Mercers’ Company report his speech at St John’s Hospital on 30 March with these words: “Addressing them ‘in a loud and distinct voice’, “he ‘showed his grief and displeasure aforesaid and said it never came into his thought or mind to marry in such manner wise, nor willing nor glad of the death of his queen but as sorry and in heart as heavy as man might be.” Now “‘showed his grief and displeasure” refers to body language, not words and speculations that it might refer to tears over the death of his wife do not seem to be so extraordinary to me. So at least in this occasion there is evidence suggesting some sort of phisical display of sorrow was caught by the audience attending this very unusual official speech. I do not know what others do when they are sad about the death of a close relative, I usually cry, I cannot see why another human being whatever his status should not do the same.

As far as Richard is concerned, this public display would not even have been the first one. The Crowland Chronicler, despite his evident dislike of the man and almost rejoicing on the divine punishment God had sent by taking Richard’s only legitimate son and heir away, also reports how, “on hearing the news of this, at Nottingham, where they were then residing, you might have seen his father and mother in a state almost bordering on madness, by reason of their sudden grief”. Now, again I do not luckily know what losing my only child means, I tend to say it’s generally considered a tragedy and Richard and Anne seem to have reacted accordingly as human beings. Did that involve tears? Possibly. So, is there any record literally using the words “tears” when describing Richard mourning over his departed beloved? No? Do contemporary records make it a far fetched fantasy to speculate on Richard’s tears in such occasions? Again no. Does that fit with the monster image of Tudor’s historians? Hardly. Is this why debunking the tears myth is so important?

If some in turn at this point want to speculate that Richard was a wimp crying at the first difficulty instead of a human being with basic human feelings and corresponding body language and was a good riddance when he was killed at Bosworth field, everyone is entitled to their opinion, I just know for some he can’t seem to win one way or the other


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?

We like to answer our readers’ queries …

On Thursday, someone enquired: “Who had a better claim to the throne than Henry VII”?

The short answer (excluding the right by conquest): almost anyone.
Conventionally, his mother was descended from Edward III through the Beaufort line, but they were only legitimised “excepta dignitate regali”. However, the balance of evidence suggests that his parents were undispensed first cousins, making Henry personally illegitimate. Then again, his great-grandfather, the first Beaufort, may have been a legitimate Swynford, giving him no royal descent at all. According to the latest DNA evidence, this latter conclusion is at least 5% probable.

The long answer: In summer 1485, apart from the reigning King Richard III, his Suffolk nephews all had claims and there were a few of those. Even if we discount women from reigning in their own right, many of his nieces later had sons. His father’s sister, Isobel, was married to an Earl of Essex and had Bourchier issue. His grandmother Anne Mortimer was the last of her line but Richard of Cambridge had a sister, Constance, through whom Anne Neville and the Barons Bergavenny descend. After Anne Mortimer but before Cambridge’s cousins would come the legitimate, unattainted Lancastrians in Portugal. Then there was an Earl of Kent and, as soon as attainders could be reversed, there was an Earl of Warwick and a Stafford heir.

Have we forgotten anyone?

“There was I, waiting at the church …….”

“There was I, waiting at the church,
Waiting at the church, waiting at the church;
When I found he’d left me in the lurch.
Lor, how it did upset me!
All at once, he sent me round a note
Here’s the very note, this is what he wrote:
“Can’t get away to marry you today,
My wife, won’t let me!”
{Vesta Victoria}

Have a look at this schedule of events. Elizabeth of York wasn’t exactly “left in the lurch”, in fact Obadiah Binks’ note is one that her father should have sent her mother:

25 December 1483:        Henry “Tudor” promises to marry Elizabeth of York or one of her sisters
22 August 1485:              Battle of Bosworth
30 October 1485:            Henry VII’s coronation
7 November 1485:         Richard III’s Titulus Regius is repealed, legitimising Elizabeth
14 January 1486:            Marriage to Elizabeth of York
20 September 1486:      Birth of Arthur “Tudor”, their first child
November 1486:             Elizabeth Woodville is arrested and confined to Bermondsey Abbey
16 June 1487:                   Battle of Stoke
25 November 1487:      Elizabeth’s coronation as Queen Consort

Henry VII, as he had become, certainly wasn’t in a hurry either to marry or to crown his bride, was he? Note the conditional promise – that he would try one of her sisters if she were already married (and we now know from the Portuguese records that Manoel of Beja was her likely husband whilst Buck recorded her joy at this prospect) – which scarcely marks him down as the romantic sort. Sending his mother-in-law to an Abbey (a male one at that) would have delighted a whole generation of comedians.

Now it seems likely that he sought to continue, in the immediate aftermath of Bosworth, the negotiations to substitute himself as a husband for Joao II’s sister Juana.

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