Sunday, November 30, 2008

In Which This Blog Descends Even Lower Into Silliness

I should be working, but it's still Thanksgiving weekend and I'm not inclined to be industrious. Fortunately, I came across this site some time ago (I think it was via someone's blog, but I can't remember the culprit) and decided finally that it was time to maximize its full potential. So here, without further ado, are previews from my upcoming "History Made Easy" series. Naturally, my first few books will be on Edward II, the Despenser family, the Wars of the Roses, and Richard III. If they do well, I may start a series called "Writing Made Easy," with the first volume, of course, covering historical fiction.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've been swamped the last few days, and will probably be for some time, but I couldn't let Thanksgiving pass without some sort of post before I go and chow down with the family.

A while back, I read Brenda Honeyman's Good Duke Humphrey, which is more about the early days of the Wars of the Roses generally than Humphrey, who dies halfway through the novel. It takes a while to get into it and to get acquainted with the large cast of characters (for a short novel), but it's well worth reading. It was especially interesting to see Humphrey's two bastard children, including the oddly named Antigone, in a novel. Cecily Neville and Jacquetta Woodville also play prominent parts.

Off the topic of historical fiction, I read P. D. James The Private Patient, about the murder of an investigative journalist following her plastic surgery, a couple of days ago. As usual with James, I enjoyed the read, but it wasn't quite up to the standard of her usual work, I thought. The characters didn't seem as vivid as in previous books, and the victim's own personality and motivations seemed to get lost along the way. I also found it irritating that a very minor character was almost raped, solely, it appeared, to have Adam Dalgleish demonstrate his sensitivity and his new love, Emma, to demonstrate her perfection by their reactions. But even though I can't say this was among James's best, it was still pretty good.

Historical fiction and history books I'm looking forward to: Anne Easter Smith's The King's Grace, about Edward IV's illegitimate daughter, Grace; Alison Weir's biography of Katherine Swynford (finally coming here to the US); Emma Darwin's A Secret Alchemy (featuring Elizabeth and Anthony Woodville), which I'm hoping will be under my Christmas tree; Susan James's Catherine Parr: Henry VIII's Last Love; and a novel by Emma Campion (aka Candace Robb) about Edward III's mistress, Alice Perrers, called aptly, The King's Mistress. With so many books to look forward to in the months to come, what's not to be thankful for?

And it's even more fun (and thanks-inspiring, from my point of view, anyway) to look at this catalog! Check out page 41.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In Search of History

OK, I'm feeling cranky today. So rather than blog about the subject that's making me cranky, I'll share with you some recent search phrases that have brought people to my website:

buckingham beheaded by jenry v111

That Jenry! Probably meant to behead someone named Huckingham instead.

midievil divorce

No doubt from an evil woman.

edward i lovers

Maybe they'll feature in the prequel to Braveheart.

=edward iv s possible illegitimate birth out of consideration

Cecily of York taking politeness a bit too far?

queen isabella overweight

So that explains why things went sour between her and Edward II.

what was edward ii credited for
Feeding overweight Isabella lots of snacks?

what mistake did the earl of oxford make

Sending his son to Cambridge?

loyalty and devotion of king arthur chunks

Ah, Guinevere might have been faithless. But at least the chunks stood by him.

Monday, November 17, 2008

In Which I Indulge My Greatest Weakness, and Call it Volunteer Work

November has become one of my favorite months, because it's then that I volunteer for the county public library's annual book sale. My job? I unpack boxes of books and set them on tables. My reward? Getting to pick out books before they go on sale to the public. Here's what I got today for less than $30:

Sir Francis Walsingham by Derek Wilson (NF)
Madame de Pompadour by Evelynne Lever (NF)
Devil's Brood by Sharon Penman (I had a ARC, but this was a spanking new hardback)
George III by Christopher Hibbert (NF)
Charles II: His Life and Times by Antonia Fraser (big coffee table size book)
Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams by Lynne Withey
Lincoln's Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (I didn't like it much, but I wanted a copy anyway)
The Life of Sir Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd (NF)
Too Great a Lady by Amanda Elyot
Branwell [Bronte] by Douglas Martin
Thomas Becket by Richard Winston (NF)
Henry V by Desmond Seward (NF)
The Private Life of Henry VIII by N. Brysson Morrison (NF)
Henry II by W. L. Warren (NF)
The Last Wife of Henry VII by Caroly Erickson (I did like parts of it)
A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith (I liked her second novel better, but I wanted it for my Wars of the Roses library)
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
The Child from the Sea by Elizabeth Goudge
The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George
Bastard Prince: Henry VIII's Lost Son by Beverley A. Murphy

Plus five other books for my family. And believe it or not, I actually put some back without buying them.

I do have to say I earned my goodies, for unpacking those books is actually hard work; I was standing on my feet for most of the day, which is quite a change from my usual daily activity of plopping myself in front of the computer all day. And the boxes of books themselves can be quite heavy, even if one is only pushing them around instead of trying to lift them. I'm quite sore tonight, as a matter of fact. (I know; you don't feel the least bit sorry for me.)

The boxes of books have already been sorted by genre (loosely) when they arrive at the sale site, so on the first day, we unpackers pretty much go to whichever table we please--i.e., where our genre of choice resides. There's always a bit of a rush for General Fiction, which includes historical fiction. History and Biography are also popular, as is the Juvenile section, but my Juvenile days are past.

This year I arrived a little late, so I just got one long table done in the General Fiction section before the tables were completed. I should have moved right on to Biography, but instead I went to Romance, since there were rows and rows of romance tables and no one working at them. Now, I've no doubt there are some wonderful stories between all of those covers with barechested, hunky men and ravishingly beautiful women, but it sure makes for some bleak unpacking. That, and the only person nearby was blabbing away on her cell phone, so I couldn't even unpack and think my own thoughts in peace. Instead, I had to listen to this woman call her office and deal with some minor crisis in what was either (a) an attempt to remind everyone there how utterly indispensable she was or (b) an attempt to get called back to the office so she wouldn't have to unpack any more romance novels herself. Anyway, I must confess after about three boxloads of paperback romances and listening to Ms. Junior Executive, I bailed and took myself over to Biography, where I got much of the haul above.

Lots of volunteers bring their children to this event--some, I suppose, are home-schooled, while the teenagers must get some sort of service hours for volunteering for these type of events. Anyway, I was working across from a mother-daughter duo who, to put it mildly, did not seem to be getting into the spirit of things. The mother was doing most of the unpacking, while the teenage daughter was lounging around looking pretty and occasionally moving a trade paperback a fraction to the left or right. Anyway, as all of this bibliomania was making me slightly extroverted, I asked the duo if there was any particular topic they were looking for. They said, "No," with rather a puzzled air, as though the notion was an entirely strange one to them. Then, obviously purely out of politeness, they asked me if there was something I was looking for, and I naturally said that I was looking for anything to do with Great Britain before the nineteenth century. They looked disturbed by this, as if I'd expressed an interest in setting up a pornography table, and said that perhaps I could find what I was looking for over at English literature. I said, "No, um, I mean biographies having to do with that period." At which point this scintillating conversation came to an end. Geez. (I should have told them about my own novels and really scared them.)

As always, it was amusing to see that several copies of The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George had ended up in Biography, along with The Memoirs of Cleopatra. Bill Clinton's My Life was in abundance over in the Biography section (most of the books being deaccessioned library holdings), but none of President-elect Obama's books were in evidence. Since the library probably ordered scads of them after the election, they will probably turn up at next year's sale.

Once everything was unpacked (let me tell you, I can sling around those Thriller/Adventure hardbacks with the best of them), I indulged myself in the pleasant pastime of browsing the tables. Over in General Fiction, there was an abundance of Philippa Gregory (I had a choice between the original Other Boleyn Girl cover and the movie tie-in cover, and naturally chose the pre-movie cover) and Diana Gabaldon, especially her most recent novel, which the library had bought in abundance and was now selling the excess. The last sale, as I recall, was a good one for Bernard Cornwall fans, as there were a lot of his books there, but I didn't see many this time. There was quite a bit of Victoria Holt, but not much of Jean Plaidy. I was quite surprised to see an almost pristine copy of Devil's Brood by Sharon Penman. It had a dinged corner, so I suspect it was donated by a bookstore. I was toying with buying Margaret George's Helen of Troy, but from what I've read about it I'm not sure it would appeal to me. Maybe my resistance will be weaker tomorrow.

For I will be back tomorrow; the unpacking's over, but as books get bought, tables need to be consolidated and books moved around. Some more boxes of books might even have arrived overnight, who knows?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Dowager Duchess's Bequests: The Will of Anne, First Duchess of Buckingham

One of the grande dames of the fifteenth century was Anne, Duchess of Buckingham. She was a daughter of Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland, who by his two wives fathered a whopping twenty-two or twenty-three children. Through her eldest full brother, Richard Neville, Anne was an aunt to Warwick the Kingmaker; through her younger full sister, Cecily, she was an aunt to Edward IV and Richard III. (Incidentally, Despenser family afficiados may be interested to know that another sister of Anne’s, Eleanor, married Richard le Despenser, whose childless death at age 18 brought the male line of the Despenser family to an end.)

Anne, who died in 1480, married twice. Anne’s first husband, Humphrey Stafford, became the first Duke of Buckingham. He was killed at Northampton in 1460 while guarding Henry VI’s tent. Her second husband was Walter Blount, Lord Mountjoy. Anne and Humphrey’s oldest son, another Humphrey, predeceased his father, dying of plague in 1458. Thus, Anne and Humphrey’s grandson, Henry Stafford, became the second Duke of Buckingham.

I’ll probably be posting more about Anne later, but in the meantime, here are some highlights from her will. An abstract of it can be found in Testamenta Vetusta, available through Google Books, but the following is based a transcription I had made.

Anne bequeathed her soul to “almighty God,” and, more prosaically, asked that her body be buried in the collegiate church at Pleshey, which Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, Humphrey’s ancestor, had founded. She asked that her body be carried there “settying all pompe and pride of the world apart.” Anne arranged for masses to be said for the soul of her “moost dere and best beloved husband Humfrey” and for their children, most of whom she had outlived. Strangely, Anne’s second husband, who predeceased her in 1474, is not mentioned in Anne’s will, though he referred to her in his own will as “my dear and well beloved Lady and wife.”

Having arranged for the welfare of her and her family’s souls, Anne remembered the poor prisoners of Newgate, Ludgate, the Marshalsea, and the King’s Bench in her will. She then turned to a series of bequests to named individuals.

Heading the list of bequests was a pair of gilt basins to “my sonne of Bukkyngham,” i.e., Anne’s grandson, the second Duke of Buckingham. Henry also received a bed of the salutation of Our Lady with the hangings of the chamber of antelopes; the antelope was a badge associated with the house of Stafford. Uniquely among Anne’s bequests, the one to Harry contains a stern provision that if he interrupted or upset her will, the bequests would be void. One wonders whether Harry, a twenty-five-year-old who was to survive Anne by only three years due to his ill-fated rebellion against Richard III, had done anything to cause his grandmother concern.

Anne’s sons had all predeceased her. Her most personal bequests were to her surviving daughter, Joan, whose marriage to William, Viscount Beaumont, a Lancastrian diehard associated with the Earl of Oxford, had been annulled. Joan’s second marriage was to another William, William Knyvet, who eventually joined Buckingham’s rebellion in 1483. Joan received a pair of silver-covered, partly gilt basins that Duchess Anne used to wash in most commonly; a pair of silver pots; a silver-covered, partly gilt cup that the duchess used most commonly to drink out of; a bed of cloth of red aras; a counterpoint of scarlet; two pairs of the duchess’s best sheets; a pair of her best fustians; one of her best featherbeds; carpets; napkins; towels; and some revenues from the manor of Fakenham Aspes in Suffolk. Joan had a son, Edward Knyvet, who received a monetary bequest.

Another grandson, Edward Stafford, the son of Anne’s deceased son John, Earl of Wiltshire, received a bed of red velvet with a counterpoint of scarlet. Edward, called “my sonne of Wiltshire” by his grandmother, was a boy of eleven in 1480.

The most famous bequests of Anne’s are to the widow of her deceased son Henry Stafford: Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond. Margaret received a book in English, Legenda Sanctorum; a book in French called Lucun; another French book of the epistles and the Gospels; and a primer (a Book of Hours) with clasps of silver and gilt covered with purple velvet.

Anne’s “daughter Mountjoy” received silver pots, a basin and a ewer of silver, a standing cup covered with gilt, a bed, sheets, a pair of fustians, napkins and towels, and a spice plate. This seems to be another grandchild: the daughter of the duchess’s daughter deceased daughter Anne and her second husband, Thomas Cobham. Anne Cobham married Edward Blount while the two were still children; Edward died at age eight or nine.

Finally, Anne left monetary bequests to various servants and to a number of gentlemen and gentlewomen, including several women who received money for their marriages.

Anne’s nominated executors include a couple of well-known names: John Morton, Bishop of Ely (who was later linked with her grandson Henry Stafford in plotting to overthrow Richard III) and William, Lord Hastings. Anne also nominated Thomas Garth, William Drayton, John Cornyssh, Richard Harpur, and Ralph Tykhill, who ultimately served as her executors.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

When the blogging well goes dry for a spell, it's Booking Through Thursday to the rescue! Today's question:

I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?

If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?

I've always been a book buyer; even as a child I owned a lot of books. If I like a book, I want to own my own copy of it, to re-read anytime I please. As I'm getting older and busier, I tend to re-read fiction less than I used to, but still I like the feeling of knowing that if I want to look up a favorite passage, the book I want is just a few steps away.

Since I started writing historical fiction, it's become important that I have a good collection of nonfiction for research purposes. Though the university library I frequent is excellent, it's a 45-minute drive away, and there's always the risk that some professor might have the book I want checked out and hang on to it for months. So unless the cost is prohibitive, I like to own my research books as well. (And it saves gas!)

Another reason I'm a book buyer is that my tastes are somewhat arcane. I tend to focus more on certain eras and personages than on particular authors, and strangely enough, my local library has the idea that there's no reason for it to have every novel ever written, say, on Edward II. So to find what I'm looking for, I either have to go through inter-library loan or buy it, and if a book I'm interested in can be got for a few dollars, I'd as soon buy it and take a chance on hating it rather than go through the time-consuming process of inter-library loan.

Finally, there's just nothing that matches the sheer sex appeal of a shelf covered in luscious, lovely books. Unless, say, it's Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy standing next to a shelf covered in luscious, lovely books. But you still have to have the books.

Friday, November 07, 2008

What the Well-Dressed Little Duke Wore in 1485

Well, Obama got elected, and I'm still smiling. Weren't his daughters cute at his acceptance speech? It's nice to think of children that age in the White House again, particularly once they get the promised family dog.

Speaking of children, in 1485, one young boy must have been very happy to see Henry VII be crowned king. At age five, Edward Stafford lost his father, his title, and his lands when Henry Stafford, second Duke of Buckingham, was executed at Salisbury on November 2, 1483, for rebelling against Richard III. Edward and his brother and two sisters, along with their mother, were reduced to living on a pension from the king of 200 marks per year, with not an acre of land to call their own.

All this changed, of course, when Richard III was defeated at Bosworth. Seven-year-old Edward was restored to his dukedom and to his Stafford inheritance, although of course because he was a minor, he became a ward of the crown. He also acquired a stepfather, Jasper Tudor, Henry VII's uncle, and a guardian, Margaret Beaufort, the king's mother. To cap it all off, before the king's coronation, he was made a Knight of the Bath. Edward's world had turned on its axis once more.

And Edward also got quite a spectacular wardrobe.

Thanks to the grandeur of Google Books, a book called English Coronation Records by the splendidly named Leopold G. Wickham Legg is online, and it gives a list of items purchased by Henry VII in anticipation of the coronation. No description of the actual coronation survives, but the book also contains a copy of the "Little Device" for Henry VII's coronation, which gives an idea of how the ceremony was to proceed. (Don't ask me why it's called a "little device." To my knowledge, there's no "Big Device" out there.) The Little Device, which seems to have been cribbed off a similar document for Richard III's coronation ceremony, doesn't mention Edward as a participant in the crowning. Probably he was considered too young to have a position of responsibility in the affair, though it seems likely that he was included in the various processions, perhaps being carried around on a squire's shoulder as his parents had been in 1464, when they at ages seven and nine attended Elizabeth Woodville's coronation. Edward and his younger brother were provided with gear for their horses (and a horse in the duke's case), probably for the procession from the Tower to Westminster on the eve of the coronation

Whatever Edward did in the ceremony, he was handsomely outfitted for it. Legg's book includes a list of the items purchased for the duke and his brother, Henry, who was probably around six at the time:

Item payde for a horse for my lorde: xxjs
Item for a Sadelle for my lorde: xs
Item for a Swerde for hym: iiijs
Item a paire hosen called Chasembles: xijs
Item for making of ij gownez of blue veluet for my lorde and his
broder: iiijs
Item for making of a gowne and a hode lyke ermytes wede for my
lorde: xijd"
Item for making of a Surcote and a mantel 1 of sarsinete: xxd"
Item for making a blewe gowne and a hoode for my lorde: xvjcf
Item a paire of Spurres: price xS iiijct
Item for furring of ij gownes of blue veluet furred w' greye: iiijs
Item for ij furres of greye for the saide gownes at xviijs xxxvjs
Item for furring of a blue gowne and a hoode furred w' pured: xvjd"
Item for furring of a mantelle and a surcot of rede sarsinet: xijd"
Item a tymbre of pured for the said Garments price: ijs
Item a federbedd and a bolster: xs
Item a Pillowe of downe price: ijs
Item a celour and a testour: price iiijs
Item a paire blankettes: price vjs viijd"
Item a par of Shetes: price vjs
Item a Mantelle: price vs
Item vij yerdes rede worstedd: price the yerde xviijd xS vjd
Summa vij ti ijs xd

Other purchases for the duke include Flemish cloth and buttons. His saddle and harness and those of his younger brother were covered in crimson velvet.

"Sarsinet" is defined by Anne Sutton and Peter Hammond in The Coronation of Richard III as "a very fine and soft silk." A "tymbre of pured" appears to refer to fine furs. A tester was a bed canopy; a celour a fabric headboard.

Much of these expenses evidently pertain to Edward's being made a Knight of the Bath, such as the bedding and the "gowne and a hode lyke ermytes wede" (hermit's weeds), which a prospective knight was to change into after his ceremonial bath before beginning a vigil in the chapel. (The knight was also to be shaved, which in seven-year-old Edward's case must have been accomplished quite quickly.)

This was the start of what to be a grand sartorial career for the third Duke of Buckingham, whose life ended on the scaffold in 1521 after he made the exceedingly unwise mistake of irritating Henry VIII. In 1500, the 22-year-old duke accompanied Henry VII to Calais in a "large and rich" gown of cloth of gold, with the trapper of his courser covered in "littel prety belles" of silver and gilt. The following year, he cut a fine figure at the wedding of Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon in a gown that was valued at 1,500 pounds. In 1513, in the company of Henry VIII, he managed purple satin, covered with antelopes and swans of fine gold bullion and "full of Spangles, and little Belles of golde."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Pleasant Amazon Surprise, and an Advisory

As some of you may know, my first novel, The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II, has been bought by Sourcebooks and is being reissued next year. Anyway, I was surfing the Internet tonight and discovered that the new edition, scheduled for April 2009, is now available for pre-order! So duly admire it in the sidebar, puh-leeze.

As Election Day has dawned, I will be either in a very good mood this time tomorrow or a very bad one. If Obama wins, Wednesday might be a good time to post your comments telling me that Isabella was the nicest queen in the history of the English nation and that Richard III was a terribly misunderstood guy who would have been a great king if it weren't for Those Nasty Woodvilles. I'll just sit back and smile.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Edward V, Born November 2, 1470

On November 2, 1470, Elizabeth Woodville delivered her first royal son: Edward. Born in the sanctuary of Westminster Abbey while his father, Edward IV, was in exile abroad, Edward’s inauspicious birth was, sadly, a harbinger of his fate. Sometime in the late summer of 1483, Edward and his younger brother Richard, confined to the Tower, vanished from sight. Most likely, in my opinion, they were murdered at the orders of their uncle, Richard III. Even if Richard did not murder them, he can hardly be found guiltless. If his nephews died at someone else’s hands, Richard never named the culprit or expressed any public outrage at their deaths. If they died natural deaths, Richard never saw fit to announce the fact or to give them the sort of funeral a king’s sons should have received. If they survived Richard’s reign, their identities and whereabouts had been so thoroughly obliterated by the time of its end that their fate will probably never be known. In short, even if Richard did not kill the boys, he nonetheless succeeded in turning these two princes, once the pride and joy of their royal father, into nonpersons.

Unfortunately, just as some of Richard’s defenders have chosen to purify his name by blackening those of his enemies, notably the Woodvilles and William Hastings, others have chosen to minimize his acts by dismissing the lives of his nephews as being of little or no importance. Those Ricardians who tear up at the thought of little Richard of Gloucester and little Anne Neville gamboling together as children in Yorkshire, or at the thought of the untimely death of Richard’s own young son, can be remarkably cold-blooded when it comes to the sons of Edward IV.

One can browse through the Internet and find a certain breed of Ricardian expressing open contempt and disdain for these boys, aged twelve and ten at the time of their last sighting. Others, however, demean the brothers in more subtle ways. One common means is to imply that because of his upbringing at Ludlow amongst his Woodville kin, Edward V was not a true Plantagenet, but a Woodville, and therefore apparently not worthy of his uncle Richard’s regard, or ours. As Paul Murray Kendall writes, in his chapter where he imagines Richard’s thoughts in deciding to take the throne, “When Richard tried to find a nephew, he met only a Woodville. The boy’s rearing had drained out of him the blood of his father.” Kendall’s statements have been most recently echoed by Annette Carson, who writes blithely, “Edward had been brought up as a Woodville, surrounded by Woodville handlers.” (The term “handlers” in itself neatly objectifies the boy, making him sound like a prize show dog or a package.) Historical novels that are sympathetic to Richard III generally take some variation on this tack, portraying the boys, or at least Edward, as having been so thoroughly brainwashed by their Woodville relations that they are unable to establish any rapport with their worthy uncle, or with the reader.

Another group is the pragmatic Ricardians, who point out that having been exposed as bastards, the boys therefore lost all importance, to which they were never entitled to in the first place, and were naturally destined to sink into obscurity. Those who have some sympathy for their plight are portrayed as bleeding hearts with a poor knowledge of the realities of fifteenth-century England. But assuming that the boys were in fact bastards, which is by no means proven, one is left with the fact that bastardy, at least royal bastardy, did not necessarily equate to low status or obscurity. Richard III made a countess of his bastard daughter Katherine, marrying her to the Earl of Huntingdon, and he created his bastard son, John, Captain of Calais, with more honors likely to have come had Richard reigned past 1485. If researcher Barrie Williams is correct, the supposed bastardy of Edward IV’s offspring by Elizabeth Woodville didn’t stop Richard III from trying to marry Elizabeth of York to Manuel, Duke of Beja, who eventually became King of Portugal. Richard might have even considered marrying Elizabeth himself; certainly, he had to deny such an intention publicly. In short, the boys didn’t have to be cast out into outer darkness once they were proclaimed to be bastards: Richard pushed them there.

Distasteful as it might be to some of Richard III’s defenders, the boys’ contemporaries do not seem to have regarded them as inconveniences to be casually tossed aside. Dominic Mancini wrote of young Edward:

He had such dignity in his whole person, and in his face such charm, that however much they might gaze he never wearied the eyes of beholders. I have seen many men burst forth into tears and lamentations when mention was made of him after his removal from men’s sight; and already there was a suspicion that he had been done away with.

Annette Carson, who is quite ready to give credence to Mancini when it suits her purpose, less so when it does not, pours scorn on this account. Accusing Mancini of “over-egg[ing] his pudding,” she writes, “Such outbursts are thoroughly unlikely on the part of sober medieval English townsfolk, of whom no more than a handful outside of Court circles could even have clapped eyes on the boy. Any tearful men observed by Mancini were perhaps not entirely sober.” It’s notable that while Carson is inclined to be flippant about Edward V (one explanation that she gives for Edward’s reported statement to John Argentine that he believed he was facing death is that he was “indulging in the dramatics of a typical twelve-year-old”), no such tendency occurs when she speaks of the fates of Richard III’s short-lived son or of the young Earl of Warwick, imprisoned and eventually executed by Henry VII.

Carson’s sallies at the expense of Edward V aside, at least four men showed their regard for Edward and his brother in the most convincing manner possible: they risked—and lost—their lives for them. Robert Russe, a sergeant of London, William Davy, pardoner of Hounslow, John Smith, a groom of Edward IV’s stirrup, and Stephen Ireland, wardrober of the Tower, “with many others” entered into a plot to set fires throughout London, with the intent of using the attendant distraction to free the princes from the Tower. According to the antiquary John Stow, the four were beheaded. The existence of such a plot (which was followed by others that would eventually grow into the uprising of October 1483 known as Buckingham’s Rebellion) is confirmed by a contemporary account of Thomas Basin, a Frenchman who reported, in the words of historian Michael Hicks, “a plot by fifty Londoners on the princes’ behalf which failed to attract support and led to the execution of four of them.” As both Hicks and Rosemary Horrox point out, this plot may be the unnamed “enterprise” to which Richard III alluded in a letter to his chancellor on July 29, 1483.

What did these four men have to gain from their plot? Royal favor, of course, if they succeeded in freeing the brothers and restoring Edward V to the throne, but the rewards these men could have hoped to receive seem far outweighed by the risks they ran: imprisonment at best, execution at worst. Had these men been motivated by selfish concerns, it would have been much easier, surely, and much less risky, simply to concentrate their energies on currying favor with Richard III and his cronies. Instead, they risked all, and lost all, for the cause of two young boys. They did not regard them as the mere collateral damage of Richard III’s ascent to the throne or as creatures of no worth. Neither should we.