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A simple statement of fact …

… as shown at Sudeley Castle.Sudeley

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Give this Knight Errant a miss….!

knight errant - wilkins

If you support Richard III and believe history has “done him wrong”, for heaven’s sake do not read The Last Knight Errant: Sir Edward Woodville and the Age of Chivalry by Christopher Wilkins.

I made the mistake, and it soon struck me that the author had learned by rote every single myth about Richard, and then served them up as fact. Although, to be fair, he does dispense with the “two years in the womb, long hair and full set of teeth at birth” yarn. We don’t have the withered arm either. I suppose even Wilkins sensed these things would be going too far. After all, he’s aiming at a modern audience, not the Tudors. I will assume that the murder of Edward of Lancaster at Tewkesbury was a crime of Richard’s that Wilkins somehow overlooked.

So, let me see. Here are some of Richard’s crimes:-

  • He murdered Henry VI.
  • He poisoned Anne in order to marry his niece.
  • Joanna of Portugal declined to marry Richard and preferred her nunnery.
  • Richard intended from the outset to be rid of his nephews.
  • His marriage was “between brother and sister-in-law” and therefore invalid. There was no dispensation applied for anyway. Thus Edward of Middleham was illegitimate.
  • Elizabeth Woodville wasn’t plotting against Richard, she was merely afraid of him.
  • Elizabeth Woodville had a nervous breakdown, which explains her agreement to let her daughters go into Richard’s care.
  • Richard bullied the old Duchess of Oxford into giving him her estates.
  • There is no evidence that Edward IV ever wanted Richard to be Protector.
  • Stillington only revealed the untrue yarn of the pre-contract because Richard promised him his bastard son could marry Elizabeth of York.
  • History has “demonstrated” Richard’s ruthlessness.

That’s enough! Too much even. A load of old tosh, I fear, and so untrue in these important areas that I doubt the author’s portrayal of that thieving traitor Sir Edward Woodville is much better, except that it will be the other swing of the pendulum, halo and all. Can’t be bothered to finish the book to find out.

By the way, the back cover blurb even refers to Richard as ‘that genius of propaganda’! Richard? Has Wilkins never noticed the suffocating blanket coverage by the Tudors? Bah! I don’t mind honest debate, and accept that not everyone believes Richard was a good man, but I do object to this tommyrot. Trotting out the Tudor fairy tales of Thomas More, Shakespeare and the like is not good scholarship!

Even more evidence of Richard III’s innocence….?

edward-v-angel-coinc

I confess to not knowing that Edward V coins had ever been minted. There doesn’t really seem to have been time to have reached that point. However, as it’s clear they were coined and distributed, I have cause to consider the implication.

We have the old, old story that Richard was a dastardly, murderous uncle who intended all along to snatch his nephew’s throne. Well, if that were so, would he really authorise the preparation and issue of coins bearing said nephew’s name? Surely he would regard it as a pointless waste of money? Cut the Edward V and go straight from Edward IV to Richard III. (Cue cunning snigger and rubbing together of evil, clawed hands.)

But no, Edward V coins were issued, and promptly. To my mind this is yet more evidence that Richard was innocent of any wickedness. He had every intention of seeing his nephew crowned, and was as shocked as everyone else when the truth about Edward IV’s dealings with Lady Eleanor Talbot came to light.

To read about the recently discovered coin, go here.

Since I originally found the newspaper article about the discovery in Tolpuddle of the Edward V Angel, I have been in touch with Susan Troxell who, in December 2015, delved into the very same point about the unlikelihood of Richard ordering the minting of such coins if he had designs upon stealing the throne. She has written a detailed and considered blog about it (being much more knowledgeable and erudite than me!) and I cannot encourage you enough to take a look. While it deepens the mystery in some ways, with boar’s head symbols appearing on some coins, in others it flings the curtains aside and lets a lot of light in!

 

 

Eleanor again

John Ashdown-Hill’s Eleanor, the Secret Queen was first published in 2009, detailing Lady Eleanor Talbot’s family and early life, the circumstances in which she married Edward IV, her similarities to his mistress Elizabeth Woodville (they were dark haired, older and widows of Lancastrian-inclined men), canon law and how it affected Edward’s relationships and children together with the Clarence attainder, Stillington’s translation to Bath and Wells in 1461, his imprisonment and Titulus Regius 1484. Then it described the attempted cover-up of Titulus Regius (before a copy emerged through Buck), Catesby’s execution, More’s attempt to write another lady into the story, Chapuys’ knowledge of the case and the emergence of remains that may be Lady Eleanor in Norwich, judged by her age, status and the dental evidence. It proved the marriage almost completely to the satisfaction of most open minds.Eleanor

Seven years later, it has been reissued in paperback with even more evidence. We can now know, with confidence, exactly where and when Edward married Lady Eleanor. Our attention is additionally drawn to the circumstances of her death and the arrest of two of her sister’s servants a few weeks later, such that there are reports of their executions, whilst the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton leads to further deductions about the dental evidence in Norwich. The case for the 1461 marriage is now proven, even if her corpse cannot yet be conclusively identified.

The lady whose existence led Richard to the throne…

Lady Eleanor...maybe

This is all so exciting! Wouldn’t it be marvellous if the remains did indeed turn out to be Lady Eleanor? The woman whose status and existence made a king of  Richard of Gloucester. And to think, it’s not that long ago that we didn’t even know her name for certain. Now John Ashdown-Hill knows even more than he did ten years ago and has a reconstruction of her face:
http://tinyurl.com/j6oy32c

JFK Parallels

Photo of John F Kennedy

A Ricardian author, C J Lock, has long been interested in John F Kennedy and has kindly given permission to reproduce her post about the parallels between JFK and Richard III.

“On the anniversary of the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy , it struck me that there are many similarities between two of my personal fallen heroes – both of whom were brutally killed before being able to realise their full potential as leaders.

Both leaders were of the Catholic faith.

Both suffered the death of a young son whilst in power.

Both were accused of treason by those who killed them (Dallas press editorial accused Kennedy at the time of his visit to Texas – Richard laughably attainted by Henry Tudor after he dated his own reign from the day before he actually became king by usurpation).

Both had health problems which affected their spines. JKF suffered from a persistent problem after rupturing a disc in his spine and also had Addison’s Disease. He wore a protective corset which led to him remaining upright after the first shot in Dallas – making him a prime target for further shots where others may have crumpled forwards). Richard suffered from idiopathic scoliosis which we now know would have been barely discernible at the time he lived – both his clothes and armour being tailored to cover this condition. Very few knew of JKF’s health issues during his lifetime, either.

Both lost an elder brother before assuming power. (JFK’s elder brother, Joe Jnr, was originally the one groomed for Presidential power and lost his life in an aviation accident during WW2 – Richard’s elder brother was King Edward IV and was the heir of the York family after the death of the Duke of York at Wakefield in 1460).

Both came to power under a cloud of controversy – JFK’s father was seen to have “bought” votes which swung the result in his son’s favour. Richard assumed power after declaring his nephew (Edward’s son – Edward V should he have been anointed) illegitimate on the basis that Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was bigamous after he had already entered into a former clandestine marriage with Eleanor Butler.

Portrait of Richard III

In pictures, JFK can be seen fiddling with his small finger – portraits show Richard doing the same.

JFK did military service for his country and was wounded whilst rescuing the crew of PT109 – Richard also served in military service for his country and was wounded at Barnet.

Both suffered a major crisis early in their short reign – the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the Buckingham Rebellion in 1483

JFK picked the Texan LBJ as his Vice President which seemed an odd choice – Richard kept Lord Thomas Stanley on his council, despite knowing the man had shifting loyalties.

JFK was famously unhappy at the failed “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba for which planning was underway before he became President – Richard was famously unhappy at the failed invasion of France during his brother’s reign.

Both suffered a scandal towards the end of their reigns involving beautiful blondes. (JFK was involved with Marilyn Monroe – there were rumours that Richard was designing to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York).

Both were killed in the heartland of their enemies. JFK had never been popular in Texas – Richard died in Leicestershire, the Lancastrian heart of the country (and he’s still there!)

Both were in power for less than three years.

Both killed by treachery.

Both killed on the 22nd day of the month.

Both killed by fatal trauma to the head.

On the last day of JFK’s life – Jackie Kennedy was handed red roses at Love Field airport – where the symbol of Texas is the yellow rose. The red rose is recognised as the symbol of the House of Lancaster before Henry Tudor usurped the throne.

The man arrested for the murder of JFK – Lee Harvey Oswald, was killed by Jack Ruby, on the basis that he wanted to save Jackie Kennedy the distress of having to sit through a trial. The Duke of Northumberland, who famously did nothing at Bosworth, was killed whilst collecting taxes in Yorkshire for Henry Tudor. It is rumoured he was killed by those loyal to Richard’s memory because he did not engage in the battle. There is now speculation that he did not join battle because he could not – and not because he had previously been unhappy with Richard’s dominance in the north. (But this is only very recent thinking).

After JFK’s autopsy, samples taken went missing, including his brain. When Richard was discovered in 2012, his feet were missing.

Mystery and speculation have followed these two men through history as debate after debate rages on who actually killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy – and what actually happened to the Princes in the Tower whose final resting place, at whatever time they may have died, has never been discovered (unless of course you count the unidentified remains currently contained in an urn in Westminster Abbey).”

C J Lock is the author of ‘The Gloucester Chronicles‘ and ‘Desmond’s Daughter‘.

Image credits (JFK): By Cecil Stoughton, White House [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

RIII:See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A GREENWOOD WEDDING ?

May 1 has just gone past–a date known in ancient Britain as the Feast of Beltaine, the ‘Fires of Bel (the Shining One)’. Of  all the old important pre-Christian dates, this is the one that the Church was never able to Christianise in any obvious way, retainings its traditions of merriment, dancing and bawdiness right down to the present. Even Halloween (All Hallows) had a vague Christian veneer placed over its supernatural and ancestral elements, and Midsummer’s Eve was associated with St John as well as with the summer Solstice several days earlier and the burning hilltop  bonfires.

It was of course on May 1 that Edward IV was supposed to have married Elizabeth Woodville, in a secret ceremony attended by her mother, a priest and child. The date is interesting, as May marriages were at one time considered to be unlucky. An old rhyme goes ‘Marry in the month of May and you will surely rue the day.’ The reason for this was that the time of the year was considered to be a frivolous one, connected with faithlessness and a lack of constancy.

May 1 in particular was the time for ‘greenwood weddings’–temporary ‘marriages’ that were of dubious legality. Often these, if they lasted longer than a few  nights, went on no longer than the traditional ‘year and a day’ of old-time fairy stories. The couple would then part, if they wished, and go on their seperate ways, no harm done.

Unless you were a king of England, of course, who may well have already pre-contracted a marriage in a similar style and who was expected to marry a foreign princess…

The fact that several sources quote May 1 as the date of Edward’s wedding is interesting. It may quite literally be the case…or it could well be that the writers (or those from whom they had gleaned the information from) were aware of the traditional significance of May 1 in regards to impermanent, irregular marriages.

Indeed, far be it from the idea some traditionalists seem to take, that Edward’s marriage was perfectly acceptable to all before Richard ‘invented’ the idea of a pre-contract, it seems that that many already had doubts of its legality. Mancini, for instance says that Elizabeth Woodville,  years before the events of 1483,  was  reproached with calumnies ‘namely that according to established usage she was not the legitimate wife of the king.’ He seemed to believe  this was because she had been married before and hence was not a virgin, but there was no such impediment to marriage within the English royal house–Eleanor of Aquitaine,for instance, had been married and had several children before espousing Henry II. So it had to be something else. Later Mancini mentions Edward being legally contracted to another woman. He mistakes this for Bona of Savoy, who Warwick sought as a bride for Edward, and he does not seem to doubt the veracity of  this ‘proxy marriage’, although he has the wrong woman.

Certainly, it seems that many people in late medieval England believed *something* was irregular about Edward and Elizabeth’s marriage, and giving it the traditional May 1st day may well be affirming that fact.

A recent article from History Today on Edward’s marriage and those of his infamous grandson Henry VIII:

http://www.historytoday.com/eric-ives/marrying-love-experience-edward-iv-and-henry-viiiedliz

 

 

“Henry VIII and his six wives” – Channel Five

Henry VIII and His Six Wives

This has been presented by two of Five’s favourite history presenters: Dan Jones and Suzannah Lipscomb. Perhaps the title isn’t the best of starts, as Ashdown-Hill (Royal Marriage Secrets, ch.10, pp.95-113) has shown that Henry may have contracted as few as two valid marriages, the third and sixth ceremonies.

Jones begins every episode by reciting the familiar mnemonic, although the fact that four of the marriages were annulled and none really ended in “divorce” is not mentioned. It is clear, from Jones’ description of Henry as “England’s most notorious King”, a “monster” and a “tyrant”, that he likes the “Tudors” no more than he does their Plantagenet predecessors.

The series starts well with a detailed discussion of Catherine of Aragon’s relationships with Arthur and Henry, including her years as a virtual prisoner from 1502-9 and her subsequent fertility, although Arthur’s boasts are not mentioned. Then the annulment campaign begins and Anne Boleyn is introduced. Here, the pace of the series moves on a little to her end and Wolsey is scarcely mentioned. Torture is shown being applied to one of her lovers but they are executed off camera. Jane Seymour’s time is used to illustrate Henry’s positive emotions although Anne of Cleves is portrayed like a badly-designed doll as Henry once again strives for a legal loophole and Cromwell is despatched for not finding one. As late as 1541, Henry is shown doing the sign of the cross.

Catherine Howard then flits across the screen, raising Henry’s blood pressure further, writing silly letters and having a block delivered to her Tower cell for “practice”, although her relationship with Dereham is not fully explored. Catherine Parr, Catherine of Aragon’s goddaughter, is then shown as restoring Henry’s equilibrium and giving the Reformation a further boost, as Bishop Gardiner tries to persuade him to complete a hat-trick of executed “wives”. Henry resists and dies peacefully.

This subject was covered in 2001 on Channel Four by Jones’ mentor David Starkey who, despite his misconceptions of the previous years , knows the reign of Henry VIII inside out.

Sherlock: The Mystery of the Princes

Giaconda's Blog

sherlock head

Sherlock and Watson are looking for a killer. There has to be a killer or killers because Dan Jones said that ‘The Princes Must Die’ (episode three of Britain’s Bloodiest Crown) and after the Christmas special they are able to time travel which is just as well as they need to whizz back to late C15th England in order to solve the case.

The Game is On!

The list of suspects is fairly normal – people who needed to remove them in order to get closer to the throne, the newly crowned king who feared they would remain figureheads, disgruntled nobles, people who didn’t want the ‘old royal blood’ diluted by ‘chav-bloods’ (thanks Dan – it’s just a touch of Harry Potter for the kids yet also relevant to TOWIE fans) and then there are hired killers who might have done it for the money, to get out of the…

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Song for the Denialists

He can rule the North well, and give justice to all,

Win over Lancastrians,

The great and the small,

Folk claim he was good, but I just do not see,

Though saintly in novels,  he’s always a villain to me.

They can talk all they like of his wonderful laws,

He murdered the Princes, without any cause,

And Eleanor Talbot, she didn’t exist,

The tale of her marriage is clearly a twist

Though saintly in novels,  he’s always a villain to me.

(Chorus)

Oh, I believe Thomas More,

He was always so right,

Never told a tall tale.

Oh, so is Alison Weir.

The Ricardians can’t win,

They can’t change my closed mind.

 

They can talk all they like of his wonderful laws,

He murdered the Princes, without any cause,

And Eleanor Talbot, she didn’t exist,

The tale of her marriage is clearly a twist

Though saintly in novels,  he’s always a villain to me.

(Chorus)

I love all the Tudors, they help pay the rent,

But when we discuss them I’ll brook no dissent,

For freedom of speech applies only to me,

And not to Ricardians unless they agree,

Though saintly in novels, he’s always a villain to me.

(Chorus)

If I could be with them, there back in the day,

I’d be Lady Rivers if I had my way,

Maybe I was her in a previous life,

Would help to explain why I give Richard strife,

Though saintly in novels,  he’s always a villain to me.

(Chorus)

Some say that the bones in the Abbey are toys,

That you can’t even tell if they’re girls or they’re boys,

But the truth of matter stands plainly to see,

Dick buried them deep with a big JCB,

Though saintly in novels,  he’s always a villain to me.

 

 

 

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