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MARY PLANTAGENET – DAUGHTER OF EDWARD IV & ELIZABETH WYDEVILLE – A LIFE CUT SHORT

Reblogged from Sparkypus.com: A Medieval Potpourri 

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Mary of York  Royal Window, Northwest Transept, Canterbury Cathedral

Mary Plantagenet or Mary of York was the second daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydville.  She was born at Windsor Castle in August 1467 and died at her mother’s favourite palace of Greenwich 23 May 1482 aged just 14 years.   Strangely enough another royal child, even younger than Mary, Anne Mowbray Duchess of Norfolk, her sister in law –  being  the child bride of her brother Richard of Shrewsbury – had also died at Greenwich just six months earlier  on 9th November 1481.  Even at a time when child mortality was high it must have been heart rending to have 2 deaths so close together for the royal household and by horrible coincidence in the same royal apartments.     Elizabeth Wydeville’s  whereabouts at that time are unknown so its impossible to say if she was at Greenwich at the time of Mary’s death although  it is known that her father had visited Canterbury on the 17th  May and was back  in London on the 23rd and thus it is possible he may, perhaps  accompanied by the queen,  have seen his daughter as she lay dying (1).

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A print by an unknown artist now in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich depicting the Palace c 1487.

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A view of Greenwich Palace from a print published by the Society of Antiquaries 1767

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The Royal Window, Canterbury Cathedral.  Elizabeth Wydeville and her daughters.  Mary is shown as the last figure on the right hand side.  

The cause of death of neither of the girls is known.   While Anne’s body had been taken by barge to her burial place in Westminster Abbey Mary’s was taken by stages to St Georges Chapel,  Windsor, where she was interred next to her 2 year old brother George who had died in March 1479 possibly of the plague.     Several Wydeville ladies were  among the mourners including Jane, Lady Grey of Ruthin, sister to the queen and Jacquetta, another sister’s daughter,  Joan Lady Strange, wife of George Stanley.   Another niece, Lady ‘Dame’ Katherine Grey, possibly the daughter of Jane Wydeville was also present.  Dinner for the funeral group was at the palace after which Mary’s body was taken from Greenwich parish church where it had been taken and begun its last sad journey to Windsor (2).

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Over time the exact location of the graves became forgotten and lost but in 1810 during the course of building work their coffins were discovered in the area known then as  Wolsey’s Chapel and now as the Albert Memorial Chapel.   These were easily identifiable because George’s lead coffin was inscribed with   “serenissimus princeps Georgius filius tercius Christianissimi principis Edvardi iiij” and it was known that Mary had been laid to rest alongside her little brother – her funeral accounts tell us that she was “buried by my Lorde George, her brother”.   When Mary’s coffin was examined she was found wrapped in numerous folds of strong cerecloth (waxed cloth used for wrapping a corpse) closely packed with cords ( 3)

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Mary and George were then reburied in the small vault  close to  their father’s.   Their mother’s remains, a  skull and pile of bones found  lying on top of Edward’s coffin along with the remains of her cheap wooden coffin had  disappeared between the time of Edward’s vault being discovered and resealed in 1789 (4).    Edward’s remains had  been thoroughly poked about and  no doubt Elizabeth’s were appropriated by the dreaded Georgian souvenir collector along with numerous locks of Edward’s hair.      A slab was already in place with their names on it as mistakenly it was believed they had already been buried close to  their father  in the small vault adjoining his.

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St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Yorkist Mauseoleum photo @Roger Simon

Its not surprising that little is known about Mary of York a child of 14  who was hardly here ere she was gone.    She was mentioned along with her sister Elizabeth in the will her father made prior to leaving for France in 1475 – ‘Item we wil that oure doughtre Elizabeth have x ml marc towards her marriage and that oure doughtre Marie have also to her mariage  x ml marc , soo that they bee gouverned and rieuled in thair mariages by oure derrest wiff the Quene and by oure said son the Prince if God fortune him to comme to age of discrecion’ but ‘if either of oure said doughtres doo marie thaim silf without such advys and assent soo as they bee therby disparaged, as God forbede, that then she soo marieing her silf have noo paiement of her said x ml marc, but that it bee emploied by oure Executours towards the hasty paiement of oure debtes and restitucions as is expressed in this oure last Will’ (5).   Ah man makes plans while the gods laugh as they say for we all know how differently things panned out.  However its rather gratifying to know, at a time when so many ancient and royal remains have been lost that at least Edward has two of his children with him.

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Mary of York ‘Royal Window’ Canterbury Cathedral

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If you enjoyed this post you might be interested in my post on Mary’s parents at

https://sparkypus.com/2020/07/01/bermondsey-abbey-and-elizabeth-wydevilles-retirement-there/ 

https://sparkypus.com/2020/06/08/elizabeth-wydeville-serial-killer/

https://sparkypus.com/2020/05/27/the-mysterious-death-of-edward-iv/

https://sparkypus.com/2020/07/09/margaret-gaynesford-gentlewoman-to-elizabeth-wydeville/

  1. The Royal Funerals of the House of York at Windsor p58 Anne E Sutton & Livia Visser-Fuchs
  2. Ibid p60
  3. D. & S. Lysons, Magna Britannia, vol. I, pt. I, Berkshire (reprint of an 1806 publication), p. 471
  4. Elizabeth had requested a modest funeral and that is exactly what she got.  Even the herald reporting on the funeral was shocked   The Royal Funerals of the House of York at Windsor p68 Anne E Sutton & Livia Visser-Fuchs
  5. Excerpta Historica : Illustrations of English History p369 edited Samuel Bentley

Bah! Henry “Tudor” was not Earl of Richmond, and certainly not DUKE….!

private lives of the tudorsI have just made the mistake of watching The Private Lives of the Tudors, which is based on the book of the same name by Tracy Borman. It’s bad enough that Henry Tudor is first referred to as the Earl of Richmond, but then Dr Susan Doran INSISTS upon referring to him as the DUKE of Richmond! The what? He was denied that earldom when Edward IV took it into Royal hands*, and at that time there was no such thing as a Duke of Richmond. Yet the odious and presumptuous Tudor fellow is elevated twice in about one minute! One day they’ll get it right…erm, and the Titanic will make it safely to New York, of course.

* by an attainder passed in 1471 (Complete Peerage)

 

 

PS Thanks to EM:

It was tomorrow, August 22nd, in 1485, that Richard III was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth, but Henry Tudor, in his first parliament as King Henry VII, in an early example of “fake news,” made the claim that he was really already king on August 21st. This meant that he could declare anyone who fought with King Richard to be a traitor, execute them, and seize their lands. English documents, however, are often dated by regnal year (i.e, “the sixth day of May in the tenth year of the reign of Edward the Fourth”), where each regnal year begins on what everyone agrees is the anniversary of the first day of the king’s reign. For 500 years, record keepers and historians have maintained that the regnal years of Henry VII all started on August 22nd, the day of the battle. But here Sir Laurence Reynforth dates his last will and testament on August 21st, giving the year as both Anno Domini 1490, and as the sixth year of the reign of Henry VII, in what I think may be the only example showing that Henry Tudor’s fake news of 1485 was imposed year after year on that most pedestrian of matters, the date.

Cecily Neville

As we mentioned here, Ashdown-Hill’s biography of Richard’s mother was published in April. Whilst his latest, to which we shall return later, was released today, we shall concentrate on Cecily here.

This is the book that summarises Cecily’s life by delineating her full and half-siblings, demonstrating that portraits (right) previously assumed to be of her and Richard, Duke of York, are of other people. Ashdown-Hill then lists her pregnancies and shows where each of her children were probably born – there is no mention of a Joan but there is further evidence about the birth date of the future Edward IV and Cecily’s ordeals during the first peak of the Roses battles. He deduces how much she knew and how she probably felt about Edward’s bigamy and the Wydevilles, together with the part she played, as a Dowager Duchess, in Richard III’s coronation, but also her years living under Henry VII and a “between the lines” interpretation of her will.

In all, the eighty years of Cecily’s life, survived only by two of her daughters are described in great detail in a book that demonstrates further painstaking research by an author who clearly knows even more about the fifteenth century than he did two years ago.

Now on to this one (right) …

 

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!

A well-connected Archdeacon?

As we said last year, late mediaeval prelates were often well-connected. Indeed, as this ODNB article shows, William Pykenham, Archdeacon of Suffolk, died some time in spring 1497, approximately sixty years after his father. His mother was Katherine Barrington, of the prominent Hatfield Broadoak family, which explains some of his appointments through her Bourchier and Stafford social connections, including that of Rector of Hadleigh in 1470. He served as an executor for his patron, Thomas Bourchier Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1486 and then for Cecily Duchess of York in 1495.

In his role as Archdeacon, Pykenham is associated with two great buildings, of which only these Gatehouses remain: one in Hadleigh and one in Ipswich. He also had dealings with two maternal cousins: Thomas and Thomasine Barrington, the latter being the wife of Sir John Hopton of Blythburgh.

Here too (top) is Barrington Hall, home of the family that included Sir Thomas, second husband of Winifred Pole: Barringtons. The descent of Katherine and Thomasine cannot yet be precisely traced.

Beads of gold with buckles….?

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Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, KG, from the Bruges Garter Book, 1430/1440, BL Stowe 594.

This started out as my first crie de coeur of 2017, and things did not bode well from the outset because I muddled my Thomas Beauchamps. Father and son, both Earls of Warwick, but it turns out to be the father I must refer to, not the son. As I now know thanks to the kind help of Susan Troxell.

Thomas Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick is perhaps most famous to the layman because of his portrait as a Knight of the Garter. It is not a true likeness, of course, because this renowned sequence of drawings dates from the 15th century. His real appearance is a mystery, but we do know he was very close to King Edward III, and served loyally during the Hundred Years War.

My quest concerning him arose because I was puzzled by a passage on page 1 of Goodman’s The Loyal Conspiracy: The Lords Appellant under Richard II:-

“…In 1369 Earl Thomas bequeathed ‘an ouche [clasp/brooch], called the eagle, which the Prince [Black Prince] gave me…” and then “…a set of beads of gold with buckles which the Queen [Philippa] gave me…”

The eagle clasp/brooch I can picture, but not the set of beads of gold with buckles. I sought help from my friends on Facebook, and among the many who replied (thank you to them all) was Susan, who (with her husband) not only realized I was chasing the wrong earl (that’s me all over, I just can’t leave earls alone!) but was of the opinion that the buckles would be the gold filigree around each bead, fastening it to the next.

The crux of it is, of course, what the beads actually were. Rosaries are referred to as beads, and the wills of both Thomas Beauchamps mention “rosaries with buckles”, the son being more specific with “a pair of paternosters of coral, with buckles of gold”. Might this be the answer?

Erik Michaelson has very kindly sent me Lambeth Palace Archive links to the wills of both Beauchamps:-

http://archives.lambethpalacelibrary.org.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=V%2FA%2F6Whittlesey%2F110

http://archives.lambethpalacelibrary.org.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=V%2FA%2F9Arundel1%2F179a

Maybe someone can read them? I cannot, I fear, but if the translation is at the heart of the matter, it might be very interesting to find out what, exactly, their wills specified.

Over to you, ladies and gentlemen…

 

Edward IV’s Will of 1475: “Bury Me Low in the Ground, with the Figure of Death”

In 1475, before embarking for his campaign to (re)conquer French lands for England, Edward IV wrote a will stating that, in the event of his death, he desired to be buried at the Royal Chapel of St. George’s at Windsor Castle. He wanted to be placed under the ground with an effigy of a corpse on top. The book by Anne Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs, “The Royal Funerals of the House of York at Windsor” (Richard III Society, 2005), provides the actual text from Edward IV’s will. After naming Richard Beauchamp, bishop of Salisbury (Sarum) his executor, the king goes on to address what to do with his body:

“… and oure body to bee buried in the Church of the Collage of Saint George within oure Castell of Wyndesore by us begonnne of newe to bee buylded, in the place of the same Church by us limited and appointed and declared to the Reverende Fader in God oure trusty and welbeloved the Bisshop of Sarum, where we will oure body be buried lowe in the grownde, and upon the same a stone to bee laied and wrought with the figure of Dethe with scochyne of oure Armer and writings convenient aboute the bordures of the same remembring the day and yere of oure decease, and that in the same place or nere to it an Autre bee made metely for the rome as herafter we shall devise and declare.”

Such tombs were common in the 15th century, and were called “memento mori” tombs: designed to remind the living that, no matter one’s station in life, we all become food for worms. Yes, a little morbid, but for a King to communicate this message was a profound spiritual statement. We are all equal in death.

The photo below is of John FitzAlan, 14th Earl of Arundel – showing a slightly different arrangement – with an effigy of the living man on top, with the effigy of his corpse below. Credit: “Arundel4” by Lampman – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arundel4.JPG…

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The effigy of the deceased “in death” could get rather visceral, showing rats gnawing at the flesh or the sad, but nonetheless, inevitability of the corruption of the body, as depicted in this gruesomely accurate depiction from 16th century Belgium:

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Credit: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT, photographer.

It does raise a question about why Richard III’s will has never been located, either as Duke of Gloucester or King. Would he have followed his brother’s example and have ordered a “momento mori” for his tomb?

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