Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A Giveaway Winner, and Some Splendidly Purple Prose

First, we have a winner for Brandy Purdy's novel! I've notified Terry, who won. Thanks to all who stopped by and entered.

Second, last night, I was trying to find some more information about Reculee, where the widowed Margaret of Anjou settled following her return to France. In doing so, I came across this 1912 biography by one Edgcumbe Staley, entitled King Rene d'Anjou and His Seven Queens, which contains a section on Rene's daughter Margaret. As this book kept me up for a good hour past my bedtime, forcing me to muffle my laughter in order not to disturb the slumbering family, I thought I'd share some highlights. (The whole thing is available on the Internet Archive if you're so inclined.)

Henry was as weak as water; he hated political questions, caring very much more, of course, for peaceful intercourse with his fascinating spouse . . .


The slaying of the Duke of York at the Battle of Wakefield (remember, Margaret was in Scotland at the time):

A troop of horse, headed by young Lord Clifford, and followed immediately by the Queen, mounted and armed, made an impetuous dash to where the Duke's standard hung heavy in the still, damp air. It they captured, and forthwith threw it over Margaret's knees, and with his sword Clifford struck the rebel leader down from his horse, and slew him as he lay at Margaret's feet. In a trice he had severed the head of her mortal enemy, and upon his knee he offered the ghastly trophy to his Queen. "Madam," he said, "the war is over; here is the King's ransom!" The Queen turned sick at the terrible sight, and hysterically sobbed and laughed alternately, and she screamed aloud when soldiers stuffed the blood-dripping head into a common chaff-sack.


In exile, Margaret loses none of her eloquence:

One more affecting speech of the heroic Queen must be recorded. "When on the day of my espousal," she said, "I gathered the rose of England, I was quite well aware that I should have to wear it whole with all its thorns!"


Sadly for Margaret, however, Edward soon avenges his father's death:

Edward, yielding to the base instincts of a cruel nature, very soon got news of Margaret's hiding-place, and with a demoniacal scowl, "Ah, ah !" he cried out, "we've settled the cub; now for the she-wolf!"

. . .

At Coventry, of all places for further outrage, a place so greatly agreeable to Henry and herself, ill-fated Margaret was subjected to personal insults from her vanquisher. In reply she reviled him, and thrust him with abhorrence from her. In revenge he ordered her to be fastened upon a common sumpter horse, and he ordered a placard to be placed on her breast, "This is Queen Margaret, good lieges," and her hands were tied behind her back. Thus was the most valiant, most unselfish, and most loyal Queen that England ever had led to grace the mock triumph of a royal murderer. She was thrust into the foulest dungeon of the grim Tower, and there remained, bereft of food, of service, and well-nigh of reason, too, for seven dreary, weary months.


At last, poor Margaret (still alive after having been deprived of food for seven months) returns to France:

Gently but firmly she had to be restrained, lest she should do herself some harm and injure others. Alas ! Margaret of Anjou came to her death, not in the halo of sanctity, but in the mist of mental obscurity, and thus she died alone perhaps unlamented, and certainly misjudged by posterity. Near her end languor and paralysis seized her, and she passed away unconsciously on August 25, 1482.


Incidentally, Mr. Staley's book was reviewed in the September 1, 1912, New York Times, which pronounced it "graphic and entertaining." I just hope I can match it.

6 comments:

Robinbird said...

"the most valiant, most unselfish, and most loyal Queen that England ever had"????

Oh my!!

Joansz said...

Now we see how myths are born. *OMG* Well deserving of a Bulwer-Lytton award. :p

Alianore said...

Oh, the purpleness of that prose is just wonderful. Great stuff!

For some reason, the placard saying "This is Queen Margaret, good lieges" made me laugh out loud.

Susan Higginbotham said...

My favorite was Edward IV's "demonical scowl."

Susan A said...

the most valiant, unselfish and loyal Queen of England would be - Isabella of France

Barbara Martin said...

Poor Margaret to have a severed head presented to her.