Monday, April 28, 2008

Edward Woodville

Of the five brothers of Elizabeth Woodville who survived to adulthood, Edward Woodville, after Anthony Woodville, had the most colorful career.

Edward was the youngest of the Woodville brothers and was likely born in the mid 1450’s (his youngest sister, Katherine, probably the baby of the family, was born around 1458). When his brothers Richard and John were made Knights of the Bath in 1465, he was not included; presumably it was thought that he was young enough to wait a bit.

I have found nothing that indicates that Edward Woodville fought at Barnet or Tewkesbury, though it may simply be that he was not sufficiently prominent to be recorded. It is quite possible that he served under his brother Anthony, who P.W. Hammond suggests in The Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury might have commanded the reserve at Barnet and who was wounded there. In April 1472, Edward accompanied Anthony to Brittany with 1,000 archers.

In 1475, Edward IV created a number of new Knights of the Bath, including his son the Prince of Wales. Edward Woodville was one of the newly made knights. In 1478, he appeared at a tournament held to celebrate the marriage of young Richard, Duke of York, to little Anne Mowbray; his horses were resplendent in cloth of gold. Later that year, Edward and the Bishop of Rochester negotiated a marriage contract between the widowed Anthony and Margaret of Scotland, although the marriage never took place. In 1480, Edward Woodville was sent to Burgundy to escort Edward IV’s sister Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, to England for a visit.

D. E. Lowe, in an article entitled, “Patronage and Politics: Edward IV, the Wydevilles, and the Council of the Prince of Wales, 1471-83,” indicates that Edward Woodville played a role on the council of his nephew, Edward, Prince of Wales, during the last years of Edward IV’s reign. Edward Woodville was also granted custody of the town and castle of Porchester.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, led an army against Scotland in 1482. Contrary to reports that Richard’s relations with the Woodvilles were hostile prior to 1483, Edward Woodville served as one of Richard’s lieutenants on that occasion. Richard made him a knight banneret on July 24, 1482.

In April 1483, Edward IV died. Edward Woodville took part in his funeral procession. In the succeeding days, of course, all hell broke loose. Philippe de Crevecoeur, known as Lord Cortes, had taken advantage of Edward IV’s death to raid English ships, and Edward Woodville had been appointed by Edward V’s council to deal with this French threat. On April 30, he took to sea with a fleet of ships. That same day, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Henry, Duke of Buckingham, took Anthony Woodville and others prisoner at Northampton, claiming on very dubious grounds that the Woodvilles had been plotting against Richard.

Edward Woodville has acquired a somewhat tarnished reputation from Mancini, who stated that “although [Edward IV] had many promoters and companions of his vices, the more important and espcial were three of the . . . relatives of the queen, her two sons and one of her brothers.” This brother has been assumed to refer to Edward Woodville (the hairshirt-wearing Anthony, the bishop Lionel, and the obscure Richard being each unlikely candidates), but Mancini’s description may have been heavily influenced by the propaganda being put forth in the summer of 1483 by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who later described Edward and associates of Henry Tudor in generic terms as "adulterers." Nothing else supports this picture of Edward Woodville as court playboy; as his career shows, he was a man of action. His life also undercuts the notion that his sister the queen heaped her relations with royal largesse: aside from Porchester, he seems to have received no grants other than a wardship. Like his brother Richard, Edward does not seem to have ever married, and there is no trace of a marriage having been sought for him.

At his departure in April, Edward Woodville is said by Mancini to have taken part of Edward IV’s treasure with him, in collusion with Elizabeth Woodville and her son the Marquis of Dorset. Rosemary Horrox in Richard III: A Study in Service, however, writes that Mancini’s story probably originates in the fact that Edward IV’s cash reserves were exhausted to pay for this military expenditure. (She also points out that there is no evidence that Elizabeth Woodville had any share of the treasure; if she did have any, Richard III would certainly have required her to disgorge it before she left sanctuary in 1484.) Edward Woodville, in fact, had probably put to sea before he learned of the events at Northampton.

Edward and his fleet gathered at Southampton, where Edward seized ₤ 10,250 in English gold coins from a vessel there, claiming that it was forfeit to the crown. Meanwhile, having gained control of the young king, Richard turned his attention to the fleet commanded by Edward Woodville. He sent letters to officials in Calais about the restitution of ships and goods between England and France and appointed men to seize Edward Woodville. According to Mancini, the Genoese captains of two of the ships, fearing reprisals against their countrymen in England if they disobeyed Gloucester’s orders, encouraged the English soldiers on board to drink heavily, then bound the befuddled men in with ropes and chains. With the Englishmen immobilized, the Genoese announced their intent to submit to Richard's authority, and all but two of the ships, those under the command of Edward Woodville himself, followed suit. Horrox, however, suggests more prosaically that the majority of Edward’s captains recognized Gloucester’s authority as protector and obeyed his orders accordingly.

Edward Woodville—perhaps with his gold coin seized at Southampton, unless he had had the misfortune to place it on one of the deserting ships—sailed on to Brittany, where he joined Henry Tudor. There, he received a pension from Duke Francis of Brittany.

Though the October 1483 uprising against Gloucester, now Richard III, failed, the new king could not rest comfortably. In May 1484, Richard was expecting an attack led by Edward Woodville at Dover or Sandwich. It never materialized, but less than a year and a half later, in 1485, Edward Woodville was among Henry Tudor’s forces when Richard III was defeated at Bosworth.

Edward Woodville’s career under Henry VII was brief but busy. He was made captain of the Isle of Wight in 1485. In 1486, he was one of those who bore a canopy at the christening of Prince Arthur. In 1488, he was made a Knight of the Garter. These ceremonies, however, were not where his interests lay. In 1486, calling himself “Lord Scales,” he went to fight the Moors in Granada, serving in the armies of Ferdinand and Isabella. At Loja, he and his forces were successful in putting the Moors to flight, but the encounter cost Edward his front teeth. He is said to have said to a sympathetic Queen Isabella, “Christ, who reared this whole fabric, has merely opened a window, in order more easily to discern what goes on within.” Edward was sent home to England with a rich array of gifts, including twelve horses, two couches, and fine linen.

The next year saw Edward in battle again, this time in England against forces led by John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, in support of Lambert Simnel, a young pretender to the throne. After three days of skirmishing near Doncaster, Edward’s troops were forced to retreat through Sherwood Forest to Nottingham. At the Battle of Stoke, however, where Edward Woodville commanded the right wing, victory went to Henry VII.

In May 1488, Edward “either abhorring ease and idleness or inflamed with ardent love and affection toward the Duke of Brittany,” as Hall’s chronicle has it, asked Henry VII to allow him to assist the duke in fighting the French. Henry VII, who hoped for peace with France, refused the request, but Edward ignored this and returned to the Isle of Wight, where he raised a “crew of tall and hardy personages” and sailed to Brittany. Henry then reconsidered and decided to send Woodville reinforcements, but the French arrived in Brittany before this could be done. At St. Aubin-du-Cormeier on July 27, 1488, Edward Woodville fought his last battle. He and almost all of his troops perished.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nonfiction Roundup

I've been reading (when I can) Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter by Susan Nagel. It's a fascinating, well written look at a child who at a young age went through horrors that would have overwhelmed many adults, much less a young girl. I've still a ways to go in it, but I heartily recommend it.

Also on the groaning to-be-read pile is the anniversary present I received yesterday: A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain by Marc Morris. It looks well done too (though I wish there were something about the Despensers in it--at least Hugh the elder).

Someone on the Richard III Society American Branch's Yahoo group noted that a new book about Richard III is coming out in June. It's called Richard the Third: The Maligned King by Annette Carson. According to the Amazon UK description, this book promises to "investigate areas where historians fear to tread," including whether Edward IV was poisoned and whether Elizabeth Woodville practiced witchcraft. I've my doubts about this book, because Carson co-wrote an article for The Ricardian on the execution of the Earl of Desmond, which she lays squarely at the feet of Elizabeth Woodville. I thought that in their determination to find Elizabeth responsible for the earl's execution at the hands of Edward IV's lieutenant John Tiptoft, the authors skimmed over contemporary events in Ireland that might have furnished an explanation (if not necessarily a justification) for the earl's execution. Nor did they explain satisfactorily why no source until the sixteenth century links Elizabeth to the execution or how the Earl of Desmond's survivors in Ireland knew of a conversation between Elizabeth and Edward IV and of Elizabeth's supposedly filching her husband's privy seal when no one in England seems to have overheard this conversation or witnessed Elizabeth's actions. So I'm expecting the usual Good Richard, Bad Woodvilles with this book, though I'll probably get a copy anyway.

Rather more to my enthusiasm, I see that there's a new book entitled Lancaster Against York: The Wars of the Roses and the Foundation of Modern Britain by Trevor Royle due out this July. Another one for the pile!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Medieval Tax Questions

In honor of income tax filing day here in the United States, here's some tax questions that some men and women in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries might have asked:

Can I deduct the cost of clothing I need to impress the nobles? Piers G.
In some cases, you may be able to deduct the cost of clothing you acquire to impress others, if this is essential to generating patronage. See Form 1040, Schedule P (PDF), Itemized Deductions for New Earls.

Are my expenses in acquiring added residences (attorney fees, costs of travel, time spent in persuasion) deductible? Hugh D.
Such expenses are generally deductible if they satisfy the same requirements for deductibility as interest on a primary residence and if the king says they are. For more information, refer to Publication F, Tax Information for Royal Favorites.

In my spare time, I enjoy diverse hobbies such as thatching, roofing, and digging ditches. If in the future I should make money off these activities, would they be considered a business or a hobby? Ed 2
If you are not sure whether you are running a business or simply enjoying a hobby, here are some of the factors you should consider:
• Do you have another occupation?
• Do others think you spend too much time on your hobby and too little time on your business?
• Do most other people in your position enjoy such hobbies?

My son is only seventeen but insists that he is capable of running his own business. Can I at least continue to claim him as a dependent? Isabella
As long as the following dependency exemption tests are met, you may claim him or her:
1. He has not fathered a child of his own;
2. He has not openly declared his intent to rule;
3. He has not executed any friends of yours.

I married a woman with very few assets of her own and a very large family. In the past tax year, I have provided jobs and marriages for these relations. Can I claim them as dependents? Ed 4.
There are four tests that must be met for a person to be your qualifying relative for an exemption. The four tests are:
1. Member of household or relationship test,
2. Gross income test,
3. Support test, and
4. Annoying the Kingmaker test.

I am an English citizen. If I move to France with the intention of returning to England at a convenient moment, do I pay both French and English income taxes? Henry T.
You must comply with both countries’ filing requirements. However, if you return to England and make yourself king, this advice may change. Consult your tax expert.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Search Terms

It's been a busy last few days, between the day job and it being tax time here, but I thought I'd post several recent search terms used to reach my website. (Most have been distressingly sensible and straightforward lately.)

susan higginbotham resigns
Wishful thinking from an unhappy blog reader?

elizabeth de burgoĆ¢€™ and cambridge black widow
I really don't like the sound of this one. Neither, I'm sure, did Mr. de BurgoĆ¢€

duchess of york legs photo
Now there's a person with a obsession.

lady marries hand her own
Surely a dating service could have saved this poor woman from this fate. And on which hand did she wear her wedding ring? Did the hand have its own wedding ring?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

New Message Board About the Wars of the Roses

This weekend, I woke up in a mood to start a message board about the Wars of the Roses. (Yes, I do have a very patient family--someone else might have woken up in a mood to cook the whole family breakfast.) So here it is! It's not the prettiest board in town (I need to figure out how to add some graphics), but it's ready for posting, so please mosey on over, and join a thread or better yet, start one!

Don't be put off by the stuffy-sounding rules at the top. I added those because in one group I used to belong to, a debate about Richard III degenerated into a name-calling fest, the chief offender being a person well into middle age. Debate that adheres to common rules of courtesy will never be discouraged on the board, however,

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

US, UK Publishers Declare Tudor Moratorium

Responding to increasing reader complaints about an oversaturated market, top publishers in the United States and the United Kingdom have entered into a ground-breaking agreement: not to publish any fiction about the Tudors until at least 2018.

A senior editor at Penguin, who preferred not to be identified, explained, “Readers—and editors—have simply had too much of Henry VIII and his wives. Why, the other night, I dreamed of Henry VIII, and my husband doesn’t even look the least bit like him. It’s unhealthy.”

Though some civil libertarians have expressed concern that the Tudor moratorium amounts to censorship, an editor at St. Martin’s, speaking on condition that his name not be mentioned, saw no cause for concern. “This is purely a voluntary program. If an author really insists on writing about the Tudors, there’s always small presses or self-publishing, though it’d be great they chose to go with the program as well. It’s really a healthy thing to do, sort of like giving up smoking. Once you do it, you realize how much better you feel, even though it’s hard at first.”

Only fiction is included in the moratorium, though some editors are hopeful that it will later expand to include nonfiction as well. “We wanted to sort of ease people into this,” explained the Penguin editor. “Besides, once the novels are gone, people won’t be looking for nonfiction to see if the novels got it right, so I think you might see the nonfiction dying a natural death—sort of like Anne of Cleves.”

Though many readers describe themselves as pleased by the publishers’ plan, not all are willing to kick the Tudor habit. “They need to let us down gradually—maybe one wife at a time,” said Gwen, a homemaker from Virginia. “Start with not publishing anything about Jane Seymour, maybe—I always thought she was kind of a wimp, anyway.”

Other readers, such as Jean, an attorney from Washington State, have vowed to boycott the publishers involved. Such a reaction, says the editor from St. Martin’s, is extreme. “Readers who are hopelessly addicted to the Tudors—and that’s just what it is, an addiction, if people will just admit it—just need to look for alternatives. For example, Henry VIII had a bad temper. So find some fiction about other kings with bad tempers, like King John. Or you might want to read about Catherine of Valois instead of Katherine Parr, since they both remarried after their king died. Why, they’ve even made it easy for you by having the same first name.”

The Penguin editor added, “We are concerned about the mental health of some readers who may have problems adjusting to not having any new Tudor novels. We’ll be setting up an 800 number they can call day or night, and there will be several operators concentrating on Anne Boleyn alone. And Barnes and Noble has agreed to host twelve-step groups for the Tudor addicts who need a bit more help to see this through. Ultimately, we know people are going to be all the stronger for this, though.”

The moratorium takes effect immediately as of April 1, 2008, meaning that novels currently in production with Tudor themes will not be released. Asked if this might cause a hardship for some authors, the Penguin editor replied, “Not really, if they’re creative. They can take the story they did and rework it. For instance, if an author did a novel about Henry VIII and his six wives, he or she can update it to modern Hollywood and have it be about a big-name producer and his many divorces. There’s still a lot of glitzy clothes and parties, after all. All the writer would really have to do is take out the beheadings. And maybe not even that. Some people in Hollywood are pretty whacked out, you know.”