Friday, December 31, 2010

My Favorite Reads of 2010

OK, everyone else is doing this today, so why shouldn't I? 2010 wasn't a great reading year for me in terms of quantity, but in quality there were some high points. (Most, but not all, of these books were published in 2010.)

My Favorite Novels of 2010:

Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler (contemporary fiction). Like all of Tyler's novels, this is a deceptively simple story with characters who linger with the reader.

Secrets of the Tudor Court by D. L. Bogdan. A first novel about Mary Fitzroy, Duchess of Richmond, and her relationship with her father, Thomas Howard, the third Duke of Norfolk. I found this novel to be a haunting one, and I especially liked the character of Norfolk, a figure who could have easily been treated as a cardboard villain but came across as complex and even somewhat sympathetic. I'm looking forward to Bogdan's upcoming novel about Mary's parents.

Mary the Queen and Bloody Mary by Hilda Lewis. The second and the third novels in a trilogy about Mary I, these books are an excellent and insightful psychological portrait of England's first queen regnant.

My Favorite Nonfiction of 2010

Becoming Queen Victoria by Kate Williams.

We Two by Gillian Gill.

Mary Tudor by Anna Whitelock.

Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman.

Catherine of Aragon by Giles Tremlett.

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen.

All of these were exceptionally well written and engrossing--proof that nonfiction can be as page-turning as fiction in the right hands.

Books I Didn't Read Straight Through but Enjoyed Dipping Into:

She-Wolves by Helen Castor

The Wars of the Roses by Michael Hicks

Richard III by David Hipshon

Edward II by Seymour Phillips

Favorite New Toy of 2010:

Hands down, Mr. Kindle!

As for my plans for 2011, I'm going to be chugging away on my Tudor novel (it's slow going at the moment, but I take comfort in the fact that The Queen of Last Hopes was slow going at this time last year too, and it's due to be published tomorrow!). I've got some blog posts planned on a variety of subjects, including Guildford Dudley, Elizabeth Woodville's son the Marquis of Dorset, the will of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and more, so keep stopping by!

I hope all of you have a great 2011, and that the New Year is especially good for those of you who have had a rough time during 2010. I've never been the best at offering comfort and advice, but my thoughts have been with you.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Word About Wakefield

I'm feeling very guilty because this is the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Wakefield, fought on December 30, 1460, and I haven't prepared a proper post. All I can really do today, then, is ramble a bit.

My own belief is that Henry VI--isolated from his supporters and probably fragile mentally--was bullied into accepting the Act of Accord under which it was agreed that Richard, Duke of York, would reign after Henry's death, thereby disinheriting his own son. The chronicler Gregory writes that after York arrived at Westminster, "he kepte Kynge Harry there by fors and strengythe, tylle at the laste the kynge for fere of dethe grauntyd hym [t]e crowne, for a man that hathe by lytylle wytte wylle sone be a feryd of dethe, and yet I truste and bee-leve there was no man that wolde doo hym bodely harme." The Crowland Chronicler tells of York compelling Henry "to remove to the queen's apartments," while Whethamstede writes that York "went to the principal chamber of the palace (the king being in the queen's apartments), smashed the locks and threw open the doors, in a regal rather than a ducal manner." If such (literally) strong-arm tactics were being employed publicly, what type of pressure might have been applied to the king in private?

Once Henry VI entered into the Act of Accord, his supporters could hardly have believed that the future boded well for him. York and his ally Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, had shown no hesitation in ridding themselves of their political enemies at the first battle of St. Albans and at Northampton. The Duke of York was older than Henry VI and faced the prospect that if nature were allowed to take its course, the king might outlive him, thereby cheating him of the crown. Under these circumstances, I think it highly likely that Henry VI's days were numbered once he agreed to make York his heir. (If this was the period during which Henry VI went to Westminster to search out his final resting place, he may have thought so too.) Some convenient accident could have been arranged to befall the king. Even if he were persuaded to abdicate instead of waiting for death to claim him, his prospects as an ex-king would have seemed bleak, given the examples of Edward II and Richard II.

Henry VI's queen and his son--who under the Act of Accord had been left with nothing of his patrimony as Prince of Wales, though it may be that it was intended that the Duchy of Lancaster would be allowed to pass to him upon his father's death --had equal cause to worry about the future. Gregory tells of the "counterfeit tokens" purporting to be from the king that were sent to Margaret (then in Wales) in an attempt to lure her to London; it seems unlikely that the Duke of York was planning a banquet in her honor. Already the Yorkists had circulated rumors about the legitimacy of her son: could York had been planning to start formal proceedings declaring Edward of Lancaster to be a bastard? Or might York have intended to attack the validity of Margaret's marriage to Henry VI? Perhaps York was planning a simpler, more brutal solution. The older he grew, the more of a threat Edward of Lancaster would pose to York and his progeny, even if he were to be officially declared a bastard. Had Margaret of Anjou been foolish enough to let him fall into Yorkist hands, the boy might well have become the first Prince in the Tower, disappearing like the sons of Edward IV did during Richard III's reign. Or perhaps he might have been imprisoned and eventually executed, as young Edward, Earl of Warwick, would be during Henry VII's reign.

All of this is speculation, of course. But such thoughts likely occurred to Margaret of Anjou and her followers as they raised troops to oppose the Duke of York. Under those circumstances, the duke and those who fought alongside him could hardly expect mercy from the Lancastrians, and it's no surprise that they didn't receive it at Wakefield.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Get It While It's Free!

I wanted to let you know that my publisher, Sourcebooks, is offering several e-books free, including my first novel, The Traitor's Wife! I'm not sure how long the promotion lasts, so now's the time to get over and download your copy! You can go to the publisher's website or to various other e-book vendor sites.

While I'm here, I must say that I'm looking forward to Christmas, but even more so to New Year's Day, because that's when The Queen of Last Hopes will be published! After seeing so many novels where Margaret of Anjou is reduced to a cackling caricature (and one recent one where it's even hinted that she and her son have an incestuous relationship), I'm hoping that my novel will make some readers see Margaret in a sympathetic light and to appreciate the complexity of the situation with which she was faced.

I may not stop by again until after Christmas, so Merry Christmas! Hope it's a great one for you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Christmas Scene at Barnes and Noble

While buying a gift card at Barnes and Noble today, I overheard the following exchange:

Clueless customer: "Do you sell Kindle gift cards?"

Clerk: "No, we have Nooks here."

Clueless customer: "I need a gift card for my friend."

Clerk: "Well, the Nook gift cards are right here."

Clueless customer: "But where are the Kindle gift cards?"

Clerk: (steadfastly refusing to mention the "A" word): "All we sell here are Nook gift cards."

This (with inspiration from my husband and apologies to Dr. Seuss) led to the following poem:

You say you wish to buy a Kindle in our store,
But that is a thing we most abhor!
If you shop here you must buy a Nook,
Or go without reading an electronic book.
No Kindle can be found in our aisles,
To mention the name is so very vile!
Our shelves are lined with pretty Nooks,
We think the Kindle is for kooks.
If you must buy the Amazon devil device,
(And we really wish you would think twice),
You must not think to buy it here,
For its name dampens our Christmas cheer.
So buy your Kindle, if you really must,
But don’t ask for any help from us.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010 Virtual Advent Tour: In the Pink, and Some Tudor Presents

Welcome to my blog! I'm delighted to be participating in the 2010 Virtual Advent Tour, as I have over the past couple years.

First, my family and I got a little goofy this year. Not only did we decide to buy an artificial Christmas tree (a very popular decision with my husband, who didn't have to wrestle it into a stand or water it), we decided to get a PINK artificial Christmas tree. And boy, is it pink! Next year, we hope to have more color-coordinated trimmings on it, the better to revel in its sheer pinkness.

Second, as you might not know if you're stopping by here for the first time, I write historical fiction, and the novel I'm working on presently is set in Tudor England. So for this year's Advent tour, I thought it would be fun to imagine what self-help books some of the Tudor gang might be hoping to get this year for Christmas. (All the books are real and can be found on Amazon.)

Margaret Beaufort: The Single Mother's Guide to Raising Remarkable Boys.

Henry Tudor: What's Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job.

Elizabeth of York: When He's Married to Mom: How to Help Mother-Enmeshed Men Open Their Hearts to True Love and Commitment.

Henry VIII: Winning Your Divorce: A Man's Survival Guide.

Catherine of Aragon: What to Do When He Says I Don't Love You Anymore.

Anne Boleyn: Mr. Right, Right Now! How a Smart Woman Can Land Her Dream Man in 6 Weeks.

Jane Seymour: Dating The Divorced Man: Sort Through the Baggage to Decide If He's Right for You.

Anne of Cleves: Still Friends: Living Happily Ever After...Even If Your Marriage Falls Apart.

Catherine Howard: Are You Keeping a Secret?: Finding Freedom from Hidden Issues That Can Ravage Your Life.

Katherine Parr: Liberating Losses: When Death Brings Relief.

Anne Stanhope: You Say I'm a Bitch Like It's a Bad Thing.

Edward VI: The Teenager's Guide to the Awesome God.

Jane Grey: A Smart Girl's Guide to Sticky Situations: How to Tackle Tricky, Icky Problems and Tough Times.

Guildford Dudley: Teenage Survival Manual: How to Reach 20 in One Piece.

Mary I: He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys.

Elizabeth I: A Passion for Purity: Protecting God's Precious Gift of Virginity.

Mary, Queen of Scots: Smart Women/Foolish Choices: Finding the Right Men Avoiding the Wrong Ones.

I'll probably get in a couple of more posts before the year ends, but just in case you don't get another chance to stop in before 2011, I'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas (if you celebrate it) and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Edward of Lancaster and Anne Neville!

On December 13, 1470, Edward of Lancaster and Anne Neville were married. Their marriage was due to one of the more unlikely alliances of the Wars of the Roses, that between Margaret of Anjou, Edward's mother, and Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, Anne's father. Anne, born on June 11, 1456, was fourteen; her groom, born on October 13, 1453, was seventeen.

The marriage had been in the works for some time. Edward and Anne had been betrothed at Angers on July 25, 1470. A proxy may have stood in for Anne, for she might not have even been present: Sforza de Bettini, the Milanese ambassador in France, wrote from Angers on July 24, 1470, that Warwick, Margaret of Anjou, and Edward were at Angers, but he did not mention Anne's presence. On July 28, 1470, he wrote that Anne had been "sent for" to Amboise, where the marriage would be consummated. In fact, between the need for a papal dispensation and the need of Warwick to take England for his new Lancastrian allies, the marriage itself would not take place for months.

A papal dispensation was issued on August 17, 1470, but Michael Hicks suggests that this was found wanting in some respect, as another dispensation was issued on November 28, 1470. In the meantime, Warwick had restored Edward's father, Henry VI, to the throne. With the dispensation granted and Warwick's mission accomplished, the last obstacles to the couple's marriage had been removed.

Thanks to historical fiction, with considerable help from nonfiction like Paul Murray Kendall's biography of Richard III, two myths surrounding the marriage of Anne and Edward have become firmly entrenched: the first, that Anne was aghast at the thought of marrying Edward because she had long been in love with her childhood sweetheart, Richard, Duke of Gloucester; the second, that Edward of Lancaster was a cruel youth who mistreated his young bride. Neither myth has any basis in fact. Anne and Richard did know each other in their youth, but what each thought about the other is unrecorded. As for Edward's personality, I've posted about this before, but it's worth mentioning again that the famous comment that he talked of "nothing but of cutting off heads or making war, as if he had everything in his hands or was the god of battle or the peaceful occupant of that throne," should not be taken as the sum total of his character, as it too often is. The comment was made when Edward was only thirteen, and the source was an ambassador who was hostile to the House of Anjou and who may have never met Edward in person. In any case, there is no historical evidence that Edward mistreated Anne. Indeed, we have no idea of what either spouse felt about the other or about their marriage. No one recorded the private interactions of the two teenagers or was inclined to speculate upon their thoughts; all eyes were on their parents.

While the dispensation was being sought and while Warwick was re-establishing Lancastrian rule in England, Edward, Anne, and their mothers were at the Chateau of Amboise (pictured above), where King Louis XI himself was in residence. There they were married on December 13, 1470, by the Grand Vicar of Bayeux. Kendall with his usual bias describes the marriage as "something of a hole-and-corner affair," though it is hard to understand how a marriage performed by the Grand Vicar of Bayeux at a royal palace where the French king himself was present can merit such a description. (In fact, we know far more about this "hole-and-corner" marriage than we do about Anne's second marriage to the Duke of Gloucester, for which we don't know the date, the location, the identity of the person who officiated, or the identity of any of the guests.)

Whether the marriage was consummated is unknown. I've blogged about this elsewhere and won't repeat myself at length, but I'm inclined to think that it was, as it would have been foolish of Margaret to alienate Warwick by preventing its consummation. Louis XI, who had worked hard to promote the marriage and who had been supporting the pair and their mothers at his court, would have also been furious had Margaret refused to allow the young couple to bed together.

The day after their marriage, the newlyweds and their mothers went to Paris, where Louis had arranged for them to be greeted by city and university officials. They entered the city through the Porte Saint-Jacques, passing through streets that in their honor were lavishly decorated with tapestries and other hangings, before arriving at their lodgings at the Palais (on the site of the present Palais de Justice complex, if I'm not mistaken, and I hope someone will correct me if I am). From Paris, the couple went to Normandy. They at last returned to England in April, where they were confronted with the disastrous news of Warwick's defeat and death at Barnet.

Happy or unhappy, the couple's marriage ended on May 4, 1471, when Edward of Lancaster was killed at Tewkesbury. The pair had been married for less than six months.


Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts in the Archives and Collections of Milan: 1385-1618

J. Calmette and G. Perinelle, Louis XI et L'Angleterre. Paris: Editions Auguste Picard, 1930.

Peter Clarke, "English Royal Marriages and the Papal Penetentiary in the Fifteenth Century." English Historical Review, 2005.

Michael Hicks, Anne Neville, Queen to Richard III. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus, 2006.

Michael Hicks, Warwick the Kingmaker. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002 (paperback edition).

Margaret Kekewich, The Good King: René of Anjou and Fifteenth Century Europe. Palgrave Macmillan: 2008.

Jean de Roye, Chronique Scandaleuse, 1460-1483, ed. B. de Mandrot, volume I. Paris: 1894.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Dressed to Be Killed: Some Tudor Execution Wear

Those of high estate who ran afoul of the government in Tudor England had a final decision to make: what to wear for their last day on the public stage--that is, at the scaffold. While the final speeches of the condemned were often recorded, observers were generally less inclined to note the deceased's final fashion choice. Nonetheless, here are a few of the descriptions that have come down to us (when and if I find more, I'll post a sequel):

Anne Boleyn: The various accounts mention either a gray or black gown, over which Anne wore a mantle of ermine, and a gable hood. The Spanish Chronicle adds the detail that Anne wore a red damask skirt and a netted coif over her hair, though another account states that one of Anne's ladies handed her a linen cap into which she bundled her hair after she removed her hood. See Eric Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn and Alison Weir, The Lady in the Tower, both of which list the various sources for Anne's execution. Weir's book quotes from a number of these sources. (For more on the red skirt, see here.)

John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland: The Chronicle of Queen Jane reports that he wore a gown of "crane-colored" damask, which he removed after mounting the scaffold and before making his speech to the crowd. (One report states that Northumberland's executioner wore a white apron.)

Lady Jane Grey: According to The Chronicle of Queen Jane, she wore the same gown that she had worn to her arraignment: a black gown of cloth, turned down, with a velvet-lined cape. If she also wore the same headdress to her execution that she had worn to her arraignment, it was an all-black French hood. No red skirts here!

Mary, Queen of Scots: John Guy in his biography Queen of Scots describes her attire in great detail: a white linen veil; a gown of thick black satin. "Trimmed with gold embroidery and sable, it was peppered with acorn buttons and of jet, set with pearl." Mary also wore slashed sleeves, over inner sleeves of purple velvet, suede shoes, and "sky-blue stockings embroidered with silver thread and held up by green silk garters." She carried an ivory crucifix and a Latin prayer book. On her girdle was a string of rosary beads with a golden cross. She wore a medallion "bearing the image of Christ as the Lamb of God." Underneath she wore a petticoat of tawny velvet and an inner bodice of tawny satin, which Guy describes as the color of "dried blood; the liturgical color of martyrdom in the Roman Catholic Church." Famously, she was also wearing an auburn wig.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Was Elizabeth Woodville one of Margaret of Anjou's Ladies?

It’s stated as fact in the Wikipedia article on Margaret of Anjou, and elsewhere, that Elizabeth Woodville served as a lady-in-waiting to Margaret of Anjou. Fact or fiction? Unfortunately, the answer is uncertain.

The assertion that Elizabeth was one of Margaret’s ladies comes from Tudor sources. Sir Thomas More in his History of King Richard III writes in passing that Elizabeth was “in service with Queen Margaret,” and Hall’s Chronicle makes the same claim. At first glance, this is confirmed by Margaret of Anjou’s records. As A. R. Myers and George Smith each note, an Isabel, Lady Grey, was among the English ladies sent in 1445 to escort Margaret to England. Myers notes as well that an Elizabeth Grey, a lady in waiting to Margaret, received jewels from the queen in 1445-46, 1446-47, 1448-49, 1451-52, and 1452-53. “Isabel” and “Elizabeth” were often used interchangeably during this period, and Elizabeth’s first husband was John Grey.

As Myers, Smith, and other historians have noted, however, there are problems with assuming that the lady in the records is Elizabeth Woodville. Her birth date is generally estimated as being around 1437, which means that for Elizabeth to be the Isabel or Elizabeth Grey of the records, she would have been married and serving as Margaret’s attendant beginning at age eight. Girls did marry as children, but would an eight-year-old girl be assigned to travel to France to escort Margaret to England and to serve in her household? If she was there at all, it seems more likely that she would have been merely tagging along with her mother, Jacquetta, the Duchess of Bedford, and would not have been important enough to the queen to be the recipient of gifts in her own right.

Moreover, as Myers and Smith point out, there were other Elizabeth Greys around, including Elizabeth Woodville’s own mother-in-law. The most likely candidate for the Elizabeth Grey of Margaret’s records, however, is “Elizabeth, late the wife of Ralph Gray, knight, daily attendant on the queen’s person” who received a protection on June 27, 1445 (Calendar of Patent Rolls). This Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, Lord Fitzhugh, was a widow, whose husband Ralph died in 1443. (The couple have a splendid tomb at Chillingham, you can see some lovely photographs of it here.) Incidentally, Elizabeth and Ralph had a son, another Ralph, who after a brief accommodation with the Yorkists returned to his former allegiance and was besieged at Bamburgh in 1464. Badly injured when gunfire brought down part of a wall upon him, he survived long enough to be taken to Doncaster and beheaded.

So where does that leave Elizabeth Woodville? Even if the Elizabeth referred to in the records is another woman, it’s certainly not impossible that Elizabeth Woodville served Margaret of Anjou in the 1450’s, especially as her mother, the Duchess of Bedford, would have given her a natural entrée at court. Elizabeth’s parents were in Margaret’s company at Coventry in 1457, and her brother Anthony jousted before the king and queen in 1458. Still, the lack of any unambiguous contemporary reference to Elizabeth as a lady of Margaret’s leads me to think that while Elizabeth Woodville might have visited court from time to time in the company of her family, she was never one of her predecessor’s ladies.


David Baldwin, Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower. Gloucestershire: Sutton, 2004 (paperback edition).

A. R. Myers, Crown, Household and Parliament in Fifteenth-Century England. London and Ronceverte: Hambledon Press, 1985.

Arlene Okerlund, Elizabeth: England’s Slandered Queen. Gloucestershire: Tempus, 2006 (paperback edition).

Proceedings, Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1888.

George Smith, The Coronation of Elizabeth Wydeville. Gloucester: Gloucester Reprints, 1975 (originally published 1935).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Edward II in Love, and a Special Appearance by Robert the Bruce: Search Terms!

susan higginbotham download ebook

You heard the man. Do it.

edward second in love


6 articles of faults drawn up against edward ii

That's no way to treat a man in love.

edward ii ending

All good things must . . .

king william 147? married to elizabeth woodville

If only someone had thought to tell Richard III. It might have saved a lot of trouble for everyone.

elusive woodville

Until King William came along.

did edmund beaufort lose france

Yes, but the Duke of York kept trying to tell him where to find it.

fun photography susan higginbotham

My prom picture, in which I am depicted with my eyes shut, is considered quite amusing by some.

leeds castle child out of wedlock

Someone really needs to address the growing immorality of medieval castles before it gets out of hand.

anglo saxon law cats divorce

Until William the Conqueror came along and ruined everything, of course, by restricting the right of divorce to dogs.

robert the bruce rapes queen isabella

He leered at Isabella, his haggis-laden breath heavy on her neck. "It's time, lass," he whispered, "that ye larned what a real man was like."

Isabella made a pretense of struggling under the mighty Scotman's embrace. At least, she thought to herself, I shall finally see what they keep under those sexy little kilts of theirs.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Henry VIII Washington Weekend

I took advantage of the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend to travel to Washington, D.C., where I was lucky enough to catch "Vivat Rex! An Exhibition Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Accession of Henry VIII." The exhibition was mounted at the Grolier Club in New York in 2009 and traveled to the Folger Shakespeare Library this fall. (You can still see it in Washington through December 31.) The exhibit contains a number of objects associated with Henry VIII, his family, and his contemporaries. I particularly enjoyed seeing Elizabeth of York's inscribed prayer book, a New Year's gift roll from 1539, and a book of instructions given by the widowed Henry VII to his ambassadors, who had been sent to scout out the Queen of Naples as a possible bride. ("To marke hir brestes and pappes whether they be bigge or smale.")

I'm the sort of exhibition-goer who always leaves wishing I'd looked at certain exhibits more closely, so naturally I couldn't resist purchasing the exhibition guide, which is worth purchasing on its own if you can't get to the exhibit. It contains pictures of the items on display and short commentaries on them, along with essays by John Guy, Dale Hoak, and Susan Wabuda.

To coincide with the exhibit, the Folger has been staging William Shakespeare's Henry VIII, which has the distinction of having caused the Globe Theatre to burn down when it was produced in 1613. It's a rather odd play, which focuses on the downfall of Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, the schemes and fall of Cardinal Wolsey, and Henry's infatuation with and marriage to Anne Boleyn, to the cost of Catherine of Aragon. It ends with the christening of the future Elizabeth I, whose glorious reign is predicted by Thomas Cranmer. In this production, a number of the roles are taken by Henry's Fool, Will Sommers. I found the acting and staging excellent and was delighted that I had a chance to see this little-performed play!

My Henry VIII weekend continued in my reading matter for the trip: Giles Tremlett's new biography of Catherine of Aragon. I found it well written and insightful, especially as to Catherine's years in Spain. My one quibble is that the edition of the book published in the United Kingdom has no end notes; a set taken from the American edition, however, can be viewed at the website of the British publisher, Faber and Faber. This is one instance where I wish I had been a little more patient and waited for the American edition, but at least I can print out the notes.

So there you have it, my Henry VIII weekend! I only wish I could have stayed until Monday, when author Margaret George will be doing a reading, but at least I have her upcoming novel on Elizabeth I to anticipate.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mary Dudley Sidney Writes in a Book

One of the things I enjoy most is finding things that the people in my novels wrote themselves--letters, wills, and, in some cases, poetry.

Mary Dudley, the oldest surviving daughter of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, married Henry Sidney in March 1551 at Esher in Surrey, in a private ceremony; in May, a public wedding was held at Ely Place, Northumberland's London mansion. (At that time, Northumberland was the Earl of Warwick, having not yet become a duke.) Sidney, eight years older than Edward VI, was a companion to the young prince and became a gentleman of his privy chamber after the young Edward VI became king. Why the young couple had two wedding ceremonies is unexplained: had the pair made a runaway match? Henry Sidney was a few months shy of his twenty-second birthday; Simon Adams has estimated Mary Dudley's birthdate as being anywhere from 1530 to 1535. After Northumberland's ill-fated attempt to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne in 1553, Henry Sidney was soon reconciled to the new queen, Mary I, but he remained loyal to his wife's family and was among those who helped the surviving Dudley brothers regain their freedom following their lengthy imprisonment in the Tower. Mary Sidney became a favored lady of Elizabeth I, a decidedly mixed blessing, for she nursed Elizabeth through an attack of smallpox, caught the infection, and was badly scarred. Mary is shown here in a portrait by Hans Eworth, dated between 1550 and 1555.

Henry Sidney and Mary Dudley are most notable, perhaps, for being the parents of Philip Sidney, the celebrated poet-courtier. Their daughter Mary, Countess of Pembroke, was herself a writer and a literary patroness.

Mary Dudley also tried her hand at writing, as did her husband. On two blank pages of Hall's Union of the Two Noble and Illustrate Famelies of Lancastre and Yorke, now in the hands of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., the spouses traded verses, Henry in Latin, Mary mostly in English, with a bit of French and Latin mixed in. I've obtained photographs of the pages and would love to post them here, but I haven't yet obtained permission to do so. I hope to get permission, because the couple's handwriting is lovely and quite legible. The first two verses have been transcribed by Alfred Bill in Astrophel, or the Life and Death of the Renowned Sir Philip Sidney; the last two are my own maiden attempts at transcription (if anyone more accustomed to reading sixteenth-century English than I am wants to have a stab at a transcription, I'd be happy to pass the photograph on to you!)

To whyshe the best and fere the worst
are to points of the wyese.
To suffer then whatt happen shall
that man is happy thryese.

Mary Sidney
fere God

Of all thinges the newest is the best,
save love and frinship, which
the elder it waxeth is ever the better

Escript par la maine d'un
femme heuruse assavoir

If not for to spede thou think again
Will not the thing that thou moveth not attain
for thou and none other art cause of thy [lett? loss?]
if that which thou mowest not thou [?]
to express scriptini manire felix

Upon thy good daye
have thou in mind the [unware?]
woe that may come behind

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Dukes That Were Left Behind

Karen over at A Nevill Feast has been posting some scenes she left out of her work-in-progress, and if the outtakes are any indication, I'm looking forward to the completed product! Anyway, that inspired me to post two of the snippets that didn't make it into the The Queen of Last Hopes, one involving Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (Henry VI's uncle) and the other involving Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter. (This novel went through several false starts, some in first person and some in third person, before I finally got swinging--it ended up being told in first person through the eyes of Margaret and several male characters.) I was rather sad at leaving the Humphrey snippets behind, mainly for the loss of Humphrey's daughter, Antigone, who did indeed exist and who did indeed bear that name in a world of Margarets, Elizabeths, and Annes.

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester:
“My fool nephew is in quite the coil,” said Humphrey that December at Powis Castle in Welshpool, the home of his bastard daughter, Antigone, and her husband, Henry Grey. “He fully intends to surrender Maine, but he’s in the minor difficulty that no one who’s actually in Maine wants to surrender it, including Edmund Beaufort.” Edmund Beaufort was the Earl of Somerset and the governor of Maine. “It’s causing Henry and Wooly Will no end of headaches.”

“Papa, how do you manage to learn all of these things?”

“I may not be welcome at court, my dear, but I have my ways of finding out things. I have some very obliging men at court who provide me with information. For a fee, of course, but it’s well worth it to keep apprised of happenings. The entertainment value in itself justifies the expense.”

“So what do they plan to do about it?” asked Henry.

“Oh, this is splendid. They’ve made Beaufort lieutenant general of France and Normandy, in order to keep him sweet. Of course, the Duke of York has been expecting to be reappointed to that position, so they’ve cultivated themselves other enemy in the process. Wooly Will must have nothing but that substance between his ears.” He leaned back in his chair—the family was dining privately—contentedly. “I predict absolute disaster. Do they really think that Somerset’s going to be bought that cheaply? And what are they going to give York in return? Ireland would be my best guess, but face it, given the choice, what man would prefer life among the savages in Ireland to the civilization of France? But my nephew and his merchant better hope that Somerset and York aren’t pleased, because if they do give in and cooperate in ceding Maine, the people will never forgive Henry and Suffolk. And it’ll be even worse for the French Wench. What did she bring to England? Nothing. What will she cost England? Maine, at the very least. How has she proven her worth? Not at all. The girl’s of prime child-bearing age, almost seventeen. And not a hint of a child to come. The people won’t stand for that state of affairs forever. God knows, I’m having a hard enough time doing so. My poor brother, the noble king Henry. That his England should have come to this!”

“Father, you are upsetting yourself too much over these things.”

“No, my girl. You would be upset too if you were old enough to remember a different time. England was not always ruled thus.”

“But it seems so futile, for you to waste your life brooding over what you cannot change.”

Humphrey’s hand tightened on his wine cup. “Who says I cannot change things?”


“Antigone, I must make you promise me something.”

The Greys were alone, Humphrey having taken his leave several hours before. “Goodness, you sound grim.”

“I am. I know you love your father. I am fond of him too. But you must promise not to involve yourself in any schemes of his.”

“Schemes? What on earth are you speaking of?”

“I believe he is plotting treason.”

Antigone said confidently, “That is nonsense, Henry, and you know it.”

“Do I? Listen to the man, Antigone. During his stay, he did nothing but rail against the king and the queen and Suffolk and how good it was in his late brother’s time. From one of our shepherds, that might be nostalgia. From the heir to the throne—and it looks as if that’s not going to change any time soon, if this French girl is indeed barren—that’s alarming talk. What do you think would happen if King Henry got wind of it?”

“He is just blustering, my dear.”

“Is he? Your father's popular here in Wales, and you know how the people here can be. Wild. If there is a place he could raise support for an insane scheme to steal the throne from his nephew, it’s here. Mind you, I’m not saying that he’s tried. Yet.”

Antigone sighed. “Very well. I assure you, if he were to do anything so stupid and foolhardy, I would not become involved or give him aid. But I am quite sure that all of your fears are for naught. Men! How suspicious they always are.”

“Someone has to be.”

Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter (after the Battle of Barnet):

As the afternoon wore on, a man limped slowly about the dead, kneeling from time to time to turn a face in his direction or to stare into a pair of glazed-over eyes, only to rise and continue his search. As he was clearly not competing for the spoils of the battle, the Yorkist soldiers left him to his grim task in peace.

Presently, the man stooped and lifted yet another face. What he saw when he brushed off the mud and blood that all but obscured the features before him made him cry out: this was the man he had grown up beside and served for nearly three decades, the man he’d followed in and out of prison, in and out of exile. He lifted his fallen master to a sitting position and hugged him against his chest, weeping.

Then his face changed. He put his hand to the man's chest, then to his wrist. He had not been wrong; the Duke of Exeter was drawing breaths, faint but regular. “My lord?” he whispered. “My lord! Do you know me?”

Henry Holland opened his eyes a slit, then groaned and shut them without any sign of recognizing his servant. But it was enough. Lifting his master in his arms, and paying no mind to the pain that shot through his own injured leg with every step, the duke's man began his slow trek to the town in search of a surgeon. With the gold he’d secreted on his person for just such an exigency, there would be no difficulty in finding one.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Guest Post by Lila Rhodes: Going, in Armor, for the Gold

I'm pleased to be hosting a guest post by Lila Rhodes, with whom I've been chatting back and forth for some time about one of my favorite families, the Woodvilles (or Wydevilles, if you please). Without further ado, here's Lila!


Hi, I'm Lila Rhodes.

Back in '83 I met (through fiction) my knight in shining armor: Anthony Wydeville (1440-1483). Yup, I fell for this guy 500 years to the month after he was beheaded by order of (soon to be) Richard III. In Shakespeare's Richard III, he appears as Earl rivers. Before long, I was mainlining history, drafting scripts about Anthony, and playing with the Society for Creative Anachronism. There, my persona is Agatha Whitney—who subsequently appears in my fiction. [Did you ever write yourself into a novel?]

Going, in Armor, for the Gold

by Lila Rhodes

A Ceremony

After mass on the Wednesday before Easter 1465, Anthony Wydeville strode through Shene Palace to visit his sister. At twenty-five, he was Lord Scales, a baron. It had been only seven months since he had the surprise of his life: King Edward had married his sister. Without warning, he was the king’s brother-in-law.

Anthony found Queen Elizabeth, a young beauty with the delicate features of a china doll, seated on a carved chair and flanked by her ladies in waiting. One of her ladies-in-waiting was Anthony’s wife. Another was their sister Anne, another of the thirteen Wydevilles.

“Lord Scales,” the queen acknowledged him.

Anthony Wydeville, an athlete, stepped forward and sank to his knee. He doffed his velvet hat and let it fall upside down beside him on the richly colored carpet. “Your grace?”

“Are you practicing handling a pitcher and goblets on horseback?”

“Yes, your grace. I will be ready to serve spiced grape juice at your coronation feast.”

The queen nodded. The ladies moved forward and surrounded Anthony. Something glittered in Lady Scales’s hand. She and Anne Wydeville settled on either side of him. Lady Scales reached under her husband’s extended leg and handed one end of a band to Anne and they fastened it above his knee. It was a series of golden links shapes like 8’s, set with precious gems, and adorned with a flower of enameling on gold—for remembrance.

Another lady dropped something in Lord Scales’s hat before they all returned to their places.

Recognizing the honor, Anthony responded, “This comes nearer my heart than my knee.” In his hat, he found a scroll of parchment tied with a gold thread.

The Challenge

Anthony, Lord Scales, recognized at once that the flower was an emprise to be won by meeting the challenge described in this scroll. Eager as he must have been to read it, Anthony was a wise courtier. He took the scroll to King Edward and explained. “Her grace’s ladies have honored me with this emprise.”

Edward IV—who was twenty-three, huge, and handsome—broke the seal and read the message. “You are instructed to joust with a champion of your choice. The first day’s encounter will be on horseback and the second on foot.” He grinned at his brother-in-law. “Who might you challenge?”

That was a question. It had only been four years since Edward seized the throne, and civil war sputtered on. People from either side could easily be offended.

Lord Scales wrote at once to Comte de la Roche, an illegitimate son of the Duke of Burgundy and a famous jouster.

King Edward sent his Chester Herald with the jeweled emprise, to deliver the challenge. This called for a ceremony in the elegant court of the Duke of Burgundy in Brussels. The Chester Herald displayed the sparkling band of gems on gold and spoke to Count de la Roche. “You have the opportunity to meet Lord Scales in London to win this emprise for yourself.”

Count de la Roche, whose name was Antoine, asked about Anthony.

The herald answered, “He showed himself an able jouster at King Edward’s tournament last spring. Like yourself, he has also seen battle.”

A great deal of negotiation followed on the rules of this tournament. At one point the articles considered, with horror, the possibility that one of them could be hurt.


It was two years before Comte de la Roche, and four hundreds of followers, made it to London. On May 30, 1467, seven barges of key lords and Londoners escorted him to his landing place.

The count was the houseguest of a bishop. Lord Scales and the royal court paraded through the city. Some­thing, maybe the elegance of his entourage, tipped Anthony off when he came to the count along the parade route. He turned his horse, and, for the first time, the opponents saw each other.

Comte de la Roche visited the opening of parliament and attended many feasts and dances. Meanwhile, the stockyard at Smithfield turned into their venue. The lists and three-story stands were built for the event.

The tournament began on June 11. The queen wore a very high-waisted houpland that obscured the fact that she would be having a child in July. The king’s purple robe spread out behind him over the sand, but the garter of the order on his leg was plain to see. He climbed two flights past knights and squires to join his counselors on the podium. Hundreds of important and wealthy Londoners entered, knelt before the king, and took their places in the opposite stands.

There was a knock on the wooden door at the end of the lists. The marshal of the tournament called out, “Who would enter?”

Lord Scales answered, “My name is Escallis. I am come to accomplish a deed of arms with the Bastard of Burgundy...” Lord Scales and his horse entered wearing cloth of gold. The horse trappings had gold fringe half a foot long. Behind him, came eight more horses ridden by his pages. The boys all wore green velvet, but the horses were all dressed differently in trappings clear to the ground. Three wore damask of different colors and patterns. Two wore velvet, and two fur. The last horse glittered in cloth-of-gold.

Next Count de la Roche received permission to enter. Some in his parade of horses wore fur, cloth of silver, and gold and silver bells.

The Marshal delivered a warning. “Viewers must not approach the lists, wave, or make any noise. Anyone doing so will be imprisoned until he pays whatever ransom the king demands.”


At the king’s signal, the jousters lowered their lances, rushed together, and missed each other completely. Tossing the lances away, they began fighting with their swords. Steel rung on steel and the horses churned up the sand.

Suddenly the count’s horse reared. The count clung to him as he rose higher and higher. The weight of the armed knight toppled the stallion over on top of him.

Lord Scales rode slowly around his opponent as the marshal crossed to the fallen count and thrashing horse.

There are many conflicting accounts of what happened. Some Burgundians even said that Lord Scales rammed his sword down the horse’s throat. Another version has Scales’s horse wearing an illegal spike on its faceplate. Some said there was blood around the horse’s mouth, other its nose. One version says it was pierced through the eye and killed instantly.

The day’s combat was over. Lord Scales was stripped in front of everyone as officials searched him for hidden weapons.

Miraculously, Count de la Roche walked away. When he was asked if he could fight, the count said, “Today I fought a beast. Tomorrow I will fight a man.”

And he did. They fought on foot with pole axes (a knight­’s version of a Swiss army knife equipped with spear point, blade, hammer, and hook.)

The two champions pried pieces off each other’s armor. Each fought to put his opponent in a position where he could make no further moves. The baron brought his spear point up and wedged the tip in the count’s visor. Thrusting with this advantage, Lord Scales forced his opponent onto his knees. “Whoa” cried a lone voice in the stands. His command was picked up and repeated by the king’s marshals and heralds.

Anthony and Antoine removed their helmets. The count told the king and the marshal that he wished to continue.

The Marshal replied, “If you resume, it will be from the same position. You were on your knees with a spear point in your visor.” The count conceded.

King Edward called on them to shake hands and never fight each other again. There is no evidence of hard feelings between them.

It was probably clear to all the spectators who won the day. However, King Edward wanted an alliance with Burgundy and declared it a draw. Let us hope that Lord Scales, as well as the count, was given a jeweled band with a flower of gold for remembrance. In any case, this tournament is one way Anthony Wydeville is still remembered.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Sack of Ludlow: The Margaret/Cecily Face-Off

As I mentioned on Margaret of Anjou's Facebook page, a number of novels set during the Wars of the Roses have a scene where Margaret of Anjou's troops sack the town of Ludlow, usually resulting in carnage that makes the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre look like a minor street brawl. To top things off, few novelists can resist having the courageous Cecily, Duchess of York, bravely taking her stand at the town's market cross, come face-to-face with the vengeance-crazed, merciless Margaret of Anjou. After all, it's a perfect opportunity for an encounter between Good (Cecily, need you ask?) and Evil (Margaret, natch). Throw in a callow young George, Duke of Clarence and a saintly, frail little Richard, Duke of Gloucester, trembling at Cecily's side, and the chapter practically writes itself.

There's no doubt that Henry VI's troops did loot and pillage, and probably rape as well, after the Yorkist leaders fled from Ludford Bridge in 1459. Gregory's Chronicle reports:

The mysrewle of the kyngys galentys at Ludlowe, whenn they hadde drokyn i-nowe of wyne that was in tavernys and in othyr placys, they fulle ungoodely smote owte the heddys of the pypys and hoggys hedys of wyne, that men wente wete-schode in wyne, and thenn they robbyd the towne, and bare a-waye beddynge, clothe, and othyr stuffe, and defoulyd many wymmen.

[It's interesting that the poor women are mentioned here almost as an afterthought to the bedding and clothes. But I digress.]

Hearne's Fragment tells us:

And in the year of our Lord 1459, and then being the 38th year of King Harry the 6th, the Duke of York fled from Ludlow into Ireland. And this Edward, with the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, departed into Devonshire, and from thence into Guernsey, and so to Calais, &c. After the which departing King Harry rode into Ludlow, and spoiled the Town and Castle, where-at he found the Duchess of York with her two young sons (then) children, the one of thirteen years old, and the other of ten years old: the which Duchess King Harry sent to her sister Anne Duchess of Buckingham.

Benet's Chronicle, as translated in Elizabeth Hallam's The Wars of the Roses, simply reports that after the Duke of York and his companions fled, "The king ransacked all of their property between Worcester and Ludlow."

The English Chronicle mentions Ludlow only after discussing the Parliament that followed the battle:

Thanne was a parlement holden at Couentre, and they that were chosenne knyghtes of the shyres, and other that had interessc in the parlement, were nat dyfferent but chosen a denominacione of thaym that were enemyes to the forseyde lordes so beyng oute of the reame. In the whiche parlement, the sayde duk of York and the iij. erles and other, whos names shalle be rehersed afterward, withoute any answere, as traytours and rebelles to the kyng were atteynt of treson, and theyre goodes, lordshyppys and possessyons escheted in to the kynges hande, and they and theyre heyres dysheryted vn to the ixthe degre. And by the kynges commissione in euery cyte, burghe, and toune cryed opynly and proclamed as for rebelles and traytoures; and theyre tenauntes and there men spoyled of theyre goodes, maymed, bete, and slayne withoute cny pyte; the toune of Ludlow, longyng thanne to the duk of York, was robbed to the bare walles, and the noble duches of York vnmanly and cruelly was entreted and spoyled.

Abbot Whethamstede, with uncharacteristic brevity, simply reports that the town and the surrounding area was sacked. (If anyone's up for some Latin translation, I'll be happy to send you the relevant paragraph.)

It's plain from all of these accounts, as I said, that Ludlow did suffer at the hands of the Lancastrians after the rout at Ludford Bridge. (It wasn't the first town to suffer in this manner during the Wars of the Roses, however. According to Whehamstede and other sources, St. Albans was looted by the victorious Duke of York's men after the first battle there in 1455, but the same novelists and historians who wax horrific about the sack of Ludlow breezily pass by the Yorkist misdeeds at St. Albans.) What's also plain, however, is that not a single source states that Margaret of Anjou was present at Ludlow, much less has her cackling with glee at the Duchess of York and her terrified youngsters. As none of these sources were friendly to Margaret, it's hard to believe that they would have failed to mention her malevolent presence at Ludlow. Most likely she had stayed behind at a safe place with her son while her husband and his army made their way to Ludford Bridge.

As for Cecily, Duchess of York, it does seem from Hearne's Fragment, quoted above, that she and her two younger sons (whose ages the chronicler gets wrong) were at Ludlow. The English Chronicle also speaks of her being "entreated and spoiled," though whether this refers to the duchess's person or her property is unclear. It seems more likely that it refers to her property, as a physical attack on the duchess and her young children would have surely provoked the fury of the pro-Yorkist chroniclers.

But was she taking a stance at the market cross? This is where Paul Murray Kendall departs into one of his historical flights of fancy. In the text of Richard the Third, he writes, "When the troops of the King stormed triumphantly into the undefended town the next morning, they found Cicely, Duchess of York, and her sons Richard and George courageously awaiting them on the steps of the market cross." Only when one reads to the end of the paragraph in which this sentence appears does one find an end note, in which Kendall cites the passage from Hearne's Fragment quoted above and explains, "It is reported that Cecily and her two boys were found in the village. Since she was a woman of spirit and was apparently trying to protect her villagers, I have conjectured that she took her stance at the market cross" [italics mine]. Kendall may not have intended to mislead his readers, but it is nonetheless the fact that many, not bothering to flip to the end note, have come away with the conviction that it is established historical fact that Cecily outfaced the Lancastrians at the market cross. In fact, pace Kendall, one can't be sure from the wording of the fragment ("spoiled the Town and Castle, where-at he found the Duchess of York") that she was even in the village; it appears more likely that Cecily was within the castle walls.

So to sum up, while there was certainly looting and pillage at Ludlow, there's no evidence that Margaret was there, and none except for a twentieth-century historian's admitted conjecture that Cecily was defiantly standing at the market cross. As Stacey Schiff so aptly says in her new biography of Cleopatra, however, "For well over two thousand years, a myth has been able to outrun and outlive a fact." Thanks to the power of fiction and fictionalized history, there may be a lot of life left in the story of Cecily and Margaret facing off at the market cross.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Guest Post by Jeri Westerson: Richard II

I'm pleased today to feature a guest post by Jeri Westerson, author of The Demon's Parchment. Without further ado, here's Jeri!

Richard II, like his great grandfather Edward II, came to his throne with great promise, and like his famous predecessor, experienced a great fall at the end of his unfortunate reign.

Born on the feast of Epiphany in Bordeaux, France, and in the presence of three kings (Jaime IV, King of Majorca; Richard, King of Armenia; and Pedro, the deposed King of Castile [deposed by Richard’s uncle John of Gaunt]), Richard’s birth seemed particularly charmed. It was not expected that he would be king so soon. But his father, Edward of Woodstock, whom we know today as the Black Prince, died untimely, leaving the ten-year-old Richard bound for a throne he, nor his country, was ready for him to take. Perhaps this childhood on the throne is responsible for the man doing what always seems to be the downfall of any monarch, and that was to bestow unwarranted favoritism on undeserving men, insulting the powerful men of court who felt their opinions and authority were being usurped.

But in the beginning, all was well. At Richard’s coronation banquet on 16 July 1377, the tradition of the Champion of England was re-introduced. This is an office thought created by William the Conqueror and held for a long time by the Marmion family. This title came to their descendant, Sir John Dymoke for Richard’s coronation and has continued as a hereditary right for the family ever since. At William the Conqueror’s coronation, the Champion would ride into Westminster Abbey, fully armed and challenge all comers for the duke’s right to take the throne. But in Richard’s case, Sir John was persuaded to wait until the banquet and rode into Westminster Hall and publicly challenged to combat anyone who dared dispute the king’s title to the throne. (This ceremony has not been conducted since George IV’s day. A pity.)

As exciting as this surely was and though no one challenged the young king, it was nevertheless a portent of things to come.

His reign was much overwhelmed by many events: it followed on the great plague where his countrymen were still recovering from great economic losses. Parliament passed laws limiting wages but failed to regulate runaway prices, and so in 1381, Wat Tyler led the famous Peasant’s Revolt, protesting the restriction of wages. The rabble cornered the Archbishop of Canterbury (in charge of the king’s treasury) in the Tower of London, yanked him out, and brutally murdered him. The king agreed to meet with Tyler and when he did, Tyler was killed, thus ending the revolt. This was considered a shrewd move on Richard’s part at the time, but this did not help later when Richard’s relationship with his favorites—Michael de la Pole, Robert de Vere and others—angered Parliament. It was Richard’s contention that he, the crown, could make all the decisions of his reign himself without the recommendations or mandates of Parliament. After all, it was he who was anointed at his coronation. Special powers were bestowed upon him by virtue of this singular ritual. In fact, he began to insist on being called “Majesty” and be treated with all the proper deference. He could dissolve Parliament at his will as a royal prerogative. So anyone who opposed Richard and his choice of minister would be considered a traitor to the crown. As one can imagine, Parliament wasn’t pleased by this, and they formed the Lords Appellant in 1386. The Appellants represented the noble families that Richard in his naiveté had scorned and they declared his favorites to be traitors. Battles broke out and the Lords Appellant took over, even removing Richard from the throne for a few days, and then executed four of his knights. The Appellants now controlled the government, and Richard—who had moved to reinstate the divine right of kings with ultimate and overarching power—saw himself little more than a figurehead.

If only he saw the writing on the wall.

But ego has a lot to do with how kings reigned and their subsequent decisions. And remember how young Richard was at this time. By 1389, Richard was twenty-two and declared his own majority, that is, he didn’t need any more handlers. He was fully king now and the Appellants were abolished just as his uncle John of Gaunt returned to England after his campaigns abroad.

Yes, think of it. All this happened before he was twenty-two. Remember when you were twenty-two? Think of all your wonderful decisions. What if an entire country had to live with the consequences?

So in this fertile environment, I have placed my fiction. My protagonist Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight turned detective, has crossed Richard since day one and finds himself constantly at war with the one who wears the crown, skirting the edges of acceptability. The history is my quilt and my fictional detective becomes some of the fancier stitching. It’s outrageously fun to be able to do this. If I am allowed to continue to publish these novels, they will continue on until the year 1400, intimately following the historical timeline while my characters get to play on that set stage.

For now, we are still in 1384 with my newest novel in the series, THE DEMON’S PARCHMENT, exploring medieval Jews and medieval attitudes about them. And murder. Don’t forget the murder.

You are invited to explore it with Jeri by reading the first chapter of THE DEMON’S PARCHMENT on Jeri’s website

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Death of Edward of Lancaster

As I'm feeling not so rushed today, by popular demand (or at least, by one person's polite request), here are some of the various accounts of Edward of Lancaster's death. As I said earlier, a detailed discussion of the various accounts can be found in P. W. Hammond's very thorough The Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury.

Anonymous, History of the Arrival of Edward IV in England and the Final Recovery of His Kingdoms from Henry VI (online at the Richard III Society's American Branch site):

In the wynnynge of the fielde such as abode hand-stroks were slayne incontinent; Edward, called Prince, was taken, fleinge to the towne wards, and slayne in the fielde.

The Croyland Chronicler (online at the Richard III Society's American Branch site):

Upon this occasion, there were slain on the queen's side, either in the field or after the battle, by the avenging hands of certain persons, prince Edward, the only son of king Henry, the duke of Somerset, the earl of Devon, and all and every the other lords above-mentioned.

Sforza di Bettini Of Florence, Milanese Ambassador in France to Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan. June 2, 1471 (In Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts in the Archives and Collections of Milan - 1385-1618--online here):

Yesterday his Majesty here heard with extreme sorrow, by clear and manifest news from England, so it appears, that king Edward has recently fought a battle with the Prince of Wales, towards Wales, whither he had gone to meet him. He has not only routed the prince but taken and slain him, together with all the leading men with him.

George, Duke of Clarence, to Henry Vernon, May 6, 1471 (in The Manuscripts of the Duke of Rutland Preserved at Rutland Castle, Vol. 1: Historical Manuscripts Commission, Twelfth Report, Appendix, Part IV).

Right trusti and welbeloved we grate you wele, lating you wite that my lord hath had goode spede nowe in his late journey to the subduyng of his enemyes, traitours and rebelles, of the which Edward late called Prince, the late Erl of Devon with other estates, knightes, squiers, and gentilmen, were slayn in playn bataill, Edmund late Duc of Somerset taken and put to execucion, and other diversee estates, knightss, squiers, and genlihnen taken.

Yorkist Notes: 1471 (From Charles Kingsford, English Historical Literature in the Fifteenth Century):

Eodem anno mensis Maii die iiijo Bellum iuxta Tewkysbury, vbi occisi fuerunt Edwardus, dictus princeps, filius Henrici sexti

Warkworth's Chronicle (online at the Richard III Society's American Branch site):

And ther was slayne in the felde, Prynce Edward, whiche cryede for socoure to his brother-in-lawe, the Duke of Clarence.

Chronicle of Tewkesbury Abbey (From Charles Kingsford, English Historical Literature in the Fifteenth Century)

Lord Edwarde, prince of Kynge Henry, in the felde of Gastum besyde Tewkesbery, slayne and buryed in ye mydste of y covent quiere in y e monastery ther : for whom god worketh.

Letter from the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London to the Bastard of Fauconberg, May 9, 1471 (R. R. Sharpe, London and the Kingdom, Vol. 3):

Also Sir the saide Edward late called Prince Therle of Devynshire lord John of Somerset lord Wenlok Sir Edmund Hampden Sir Robert Whityngham, Sir John Lewkenore, John Delves w1 other moo were sleyne upon Saturday last passed at Tewkesbury.

A handwritten addition by Robert Cole in manuscript entitled Rental of all the houses in Gloucester (Robert Cole, Rental of all the Houses in Gloucester). Hammond suggests that the addition was made in 1472, hence the incorrect year of the battle:

This Kyng tooke to his wyfe Margarete, the Kyngus doujtur of Cicile,whit wham he had his sone Edward, Pryns of Wales, bat aftur bat he come from Fraunce with his modur with a gret ost was sley at be Batel by syde Tewkesbur[y], be yere of Oure Lord M1 CCCC. LXXII. [sic]

An entry in the Norwich register for 1470/71, cited by James E. Thorold Rogers in A History of Agriculture and Prices in England. As Rogers pointed out there and on a couple of occasions in Notes and Queries in the 1880's, the wording suggests that the prince did not fall in battle, but was tried before a military tribunal:

Ad guerram Tewkesbury, ubi adjudicatus fuit Edvardus filius Henrici nuper regis Anglix, et mater ejus capta.

Except for the Norwich account, which suggests that Edward of Lancaster was executed after a trial, all of these contemporary and near-contemporary sources (as well as Benet's Chronicle, which is in Latin and which I don't have access to at the moment) simply report that Prince Edward was slain; none implicates a particular person. (Even Warkworth simply says that Edward cried out for succor to the Duke of Clarence; it doesn't say that Clarence did the deed, and Clarence himself did not take credit for it in his letter.)

As Hammond points out, though, not long after the battle, another tradition began to develop: one where the prince, taken alive, is haled into the presence of Edward IV and killed. In 1473 in the "Histoire de Charles, dernier du de Bourgogne," for instance, the victorious Edward IV orders that the prince be disarmed, demands his sword, and strikes him across the face with it, after which everyone present joins in murdering the unfortunate prince. According to Hammond, other continental sources, long predating the Tudors, have Edward IV questioning the prince, who replies defiantly and is promptly killed by those present.

In the sixteenth century, the story of Edward of Lancaster being killed in the presence of Edward IV infiltrated the English accounts. As rendered in modernized English by Keith Dockray in Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou, and the Wars of the Roses: A Source Book, The Great Chronicle of London reports that both the prince and his mother, Margaret of Anjou, were taken to the king: "after the king had questioned a few words of the cause of his so landing within his realm, and he gave unto the king an answer contrary to his pleasure, the king struck him on the face with the back of his gauntlet, after which stroke so received by him, the king's servants rid him of his life forthwith."

With Polydore Vergil (whose account is available here), the Dukes of Gloucester and Clarence, as well as William Hastings, do the deed:

Two days later all these, save for Margaret and her son, paid with their heads in that same village. A little later Prince Edward, a very excellent young man, was taken to meet Edward, and was asked why he had dared invade his kingdom and trouble it with arms. He had the presence of mind to reply he had come to claim his ancestral realm. Edward made no response this, he only waved the lad away, and immediately those who stood around him (these were Dukes George of Clarence, Richard of Gloucester, and William Hastings) cruelly butchered him.

Edward Hall in Union of the Two Noble and Illustrious Families of Lancaster nd York adds Dorset, who was Elizabeth Woodville's eldest son, to the murderers:

After the felde ended, kyng Edward made a Proclamutio, that who so euer could bring prince Edward to him alyue or dead, shoulde haue an annuitie of an. C. 1. duryng his lyfe, and the Princes life to be saued. Syr Richard Croftes, a wyse and a valyaut knyght, nothing mistrusting the kynges former promyse, brought furth his prisoner prince Edward, beynge a goodly femenine & a well feautered yonge gentelman, whome when kynge Edward had well aduised, he demaunded of him, how he durst so presumptuously enter in to his Realme with banner displayed. The prince, beyng bold of stomacke & of a good courage, answered sayinge, to recouer my fathers kyngdome & enheritage. from his father & grandfather to him, and from him, after him, to me lyneally diuoluted. At which wordes kyng Edward sayd nothyng, but with his [hand] thrust hyin from hym (or as some say, stroke him with his gauntlet) whom incontinent, they that stode about, whiche were George duke of Clarence, Rychard duke of Gloucester, Thomas Marques Dorset, and Willia lord Hastynges, sodaynly murthered, & pitiously manquelled. The bitternesse of which murder, some of the actors after in their latter dayes tasted and assayed by the very rod of Justice
and punishment of God.

Ralphael Holinshed's version is similar to Hall's. It's interesting to note that none of the Tudor histories has Gloucester alone murdering Edward of Lancaster, but implicate Hastings (executed by Richard in 1483) and Dorset (a Woodville) as well, so while these accounts may be fanciful, they cannot be dismissed simply as Tudor attempts to blacken Richard III's name.

According to a Mr. Marshall who commented in Notes and Queries in 1882, Samuel Rudder in his 1779 New History of Gloucestershire writes, "The Prince of Wales is supposed to have been murdered in the house belonging to, an in the possession of, Mr. Webb, an ironmonger." I will have to take a look for that next time I am in the library.

The most peculiar version of the death of Edward of Lancaster, however, appears in a Flemish chronicle cited by Sir George Buck in his History of King Richard the Third. After recounting the scene where the prince mouths off to Edward IV, and Clarence, Dorset, and Hastings move in for the kill, Buck (per the edition edited by Arthur Noel Kincaid) adds,

And whereas it is said by the adversaries of the Duke of Gloucester that only he slew this prince with his sword, the contrary hereof is true. For I have read in a faithful manuscript chronicle written of those times that the Duke of Gloucester only, of all of those great persons, stood still and drew not his sword. And for this his forbearance there my divers good reasons be given. And first that it grew out of the mere conscience of honour and out of this heroical and truly noble detestation of base murders. And secondly because there was no need of any more swords, there being too many already drawn. For where there was need of his sword to defend the king his brother, there was no man's sword more ready. And chiefly, he abstained to be a fellow homicide in this act in regard of this prince's wife, who (as Johannes Meyerus saith) was in the room with him and was near akin to the Duchess of York, his mother, and whom he loved very affectionately, though secretly.

This account seems highly unlikely, as the contemporary sources that mention the matter are agreed that Edward of Lancaster's wife, Anne Neville, and his mother, Margaret of Anjou, were not found until several days after the battle and were brought to Edward IV at Coventry. It also seems rather implausible that Edward IV would allow Edward of Lancaster to be murdered in the presence of the 14-year-old Anne.

So how did Edward of Lancaster die? I'm inclined to believe the overwhelming majority of contemporary or near-contemporary accounts, which state that he met his death in battle, though it's rather a pity to sacrifice the story of the prince defiantly responding to the king before meeting what was certainly an inevitable death (had he not been killed in battle or while standing before Edward IV, he certainly would have been among the Lancastrian leaders beheaded on May 6, 1471). The stories of the prince being murdered in the king's presence, even if apocryphal, do, however, supply a useful moral to take through our lives: Don't Sass the King, or, alternatively, If You're Going to Die, at Least Speak Your Mind First.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Search Terms!

I was going to do a post about the different accounts of the death of Edward of Lancaster, but then I realized that there was a very comprehensive account of them in Appendix 2 of P. W. Hammond's The Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury. So I'll refer you to that and, instead, turn to the more frivolous subject of search terms. Here's how people have been reaching my website and Historical Fiction Online lately:

edawrd ii long term causes

It's strongly believed that Edward II was caused by his parents, Edward I and Eleanor of Castile.

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You read it here first (and possibly last): Shakespeare was actually one of Richard III's nephews in disguise.

susan higginbotham clear

Well, I can only hope so.


Keep on typing . . . You can do it . . .

how to become a royal minstrel in edward ii

Practice, my dear boy. Practice.

historians admit to inventing ancient greeks

We knew it all along, didn't we?

kathleen kent traitor s wife


did elizabeth woodville have hair

No. Her shame about being bald, not anything to do with Richard III, is why she fled to sanctuary in 1483.

long hair gets wrapped around vacuums

Well, at least Elizabeth Woodville was spared that.

william de forz i ve always worrried about him

He's a big boy. He can take care of himself.

list funny analogies

Anything to take one's mind off Wiliam de Forz.

how can i marry royalty?

Get away from your computer and mingle.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Duke of Northumberland's Seized Goods

First, sorry for the long absence! I went on a short trip with the family to San Francisco and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Didn't get much work done at all, which was probably a good thing! I'll try to put some pictures up on Facebook soon.

To get back into the blogging swing of things, here's some selected items from an inventory of goods seized from the residences of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, after his downfall and arrest in 1553. Some of the goods were turned over to Queen Mary; some were given to the young Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, and the old Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, who had been released from prison by Mary; others were sold or given to persons of various degrees; and some were given to the Duchess of Northumberland. The complete list, which can be found in the UK National Archives at E 154/2/39, gives a fascinating glimpse of the type of goods that could be found in the wealthiest Tudor households. Note the intrusion of a lone fork into the duke's stock of knives, the duchess's many sleeves (plus a special chest just to carry them in), the elaborate clocks, the lavish tapestries, and the intrusion of the humble moth into even the grandest of households.

Item an other stocke of knyves w[i]th Iron haftes wherin is a dosen and a forke

Item a stocke salte of golde w[i]th iiij pillers having a faire rocke Rubie upon the cover and garnisshed w[i]th viij diamondes vj and Rubies ij poiz. xxxj oz

Item oon dosen napkins of crosse diamondes

Item a quilte of yelowe seye mottheaten

Item [the duke's] Cloke of felte w[i]th a cape of blacke vellut w[i]th buttons and lace of silke and golde

Item a purse of grene bruges saten wherin is an hawkes glove garnisshed w[i]t[h] crimsen saten and a lure of purple vellut garnisshed w[i]th golde and perle

Item a Caparison of white vellut for an horse

Item a Cace of a perfumepan of Alablaster finelie wrought

Item an upright deske covered w[i]th grene vellut w[i]th a doble standisshe covered with the same standeng upon a frame

Item a writeng deske of Walnottre wherin ar diverse Instrumentes of silver an Inkehorne, a Staundisshe w[i]t[h] a dustboxe with divers oother Instrumentes of silver in the same

Item the dukes Robes for the Parliament of Scarlet [this went to the Duke of Norfolk]

Item his Robes of purple and crimsen vellut for the garter w[i]th the hood for the same [this also went to the Duke of Norfolk]

Item a Clocke of Cristall garnisshed w[i]th silver and gilte belonging to a great salte of cristall poiz. xij oz

Item a faire Clocke of copper and gilte w[i]th vj belles in a chyme the clocke being iij quarters high

Item an other Clocke standeng in a frame of wood gilte

Item a faire Astrolabie

Item iij olde hattes of crimsen silke fringe motheaten

Item a Table of the picture of King Henrie theight and another of Quene Jane Seymo[ur] solde to S[i]r Thom[a]s Pope

Item a lowe Chaier w[i]th the seate and backe of nedilworke w[i]th ij l[ett]res T. and D.

Item [the duchess's] loose gown of lozenges of the one side and ruffed vellut on thother side [most of the duchess's wearing apparel was delivered to her]

Item iiij paire of sleves of purple vellut wherof oon paire edged with luserdes

Item v paire of blacke vellut sleves of sondrie sortes edged w[i]t[h] luserdes

Item ij paire of sleves of blacke vellut edged w[i]th Sables

Item v paire of sleves of blacke vellut of sondrie sortes edged w[i]t[h] blacke Jennettes

Item a paire of blacke sleves of vellut edged w[i]th conye

Item a Partelet and a paire of sleves of blacke damaske edged w[i]th Swanne

Item xiij paire of blacke vellut sleves of sondrie sortes

Item a litell square Chest for cariage of the duches sleves

A Testo[ur] of a standeng bed of clothe of Tincell and purple Taphata w[i]th fringes of golde verie riche

Item a Cussheon of purple vellut embrodred richelie w[i]th golde w[i]th iiij Tassels w[i]th the kinge and the quenes Armes

Item a doblet of crane colored Taphata pinked solde to Mr White [the duke wore a "crane-colored" gown to his execution]

Item v nightcappes of velvet

Item ij shaving clothes garnisshed w[i]th golde solde to therle of Devonshire

Item ij large bookes faire written w[i]th armes covered with velvet garnisshed with silver conteyneng the Armes of Germanie

Item a Cace of combes gilte wherin ar v blacke combes a Glasse and certaine oother Instrumentes and a blacke cace of combes of Ibonie wherin ben two combes with certaine other Implementes solde to S[i]r Thomas Pope

The dukes Coronet of golde w[i]th a border of mynifer and the cap of crimsen vellut the Coronet wayeng xxiij oz [delivered to the Duke of Norfolk]

Item a close stoole with a bucket of pewter covered w[i]th black lether worne solde to Sir Robert Sothwell

Item a paire of playeng Tables paynted in a Cace

Furst a large Coller of the order of the garter with a George with the Armes of the George made of diamondes [delivered to the Duke of Norfolk]

w[i]th the duke at the Tower: Item a Gowne of blacke saten with a cape and face of sables with ij dosen paire of aglettes

Item a Gown of crimsen Capha and a kirtell of white damaske for a childe [Was this a garment that had belonged to one of duke's children who predeceased him?]

Furst a Tonne of beir spent

Item a booke w[i]th viij leaves of slate covered w[i]th vellut garnisshed w[i]th silver with claspes locke and keye of silver

Item ix pecis of countrefaict arras of the storie of Hester conteyning cclx elles at ijs thell solde to Mr George Tirrell

Item a counterpoincte of Tapestrie w[i]th burdes and flowers

Item a Turkie carpet for a Windowe solde to Michaell Plowman

Item a framed chaier of Walnottree the seate and backe of crimsen vellut paned with clothe of golde solde to Mr Peckeham

v peces of Imagerie of the storie of Diana single [delivered to the duchess]

Item v peces of Tapestrie of the storie of David and Salomon [delivered to the duchess]

Item vj peces of Tapestrie unlyned of the storie de filio prodigo [delivered to the duchess]

Item vj single peces of hanginges of Imagerie of the storie of David [delivered to Ambrose Dudley, who was imprisoned along with the rest of the Dudley sons in the Tower]

Item ij quiltes for the sides of the bed covered with purple vellut

Item oon Counterpoincte belonging to the same bed of purple and crimsen saten embrodred rounde aboute with golde and in the middes and oother places with the Rose and l[ett]res of H and R and lyned with white fustian

Item a barehide

Item a Celer and Testo[ur] of crimsen saten embrodred with white silver with the dukes armes in the middes of a Garlande richelie enbrodred with the Valaunce in vj peces belongeng to the same being embrodred with silver the Lion, the ragged staf and the fierbronde fringed with red silke and golde with iij peces for the bases of the same bed likewise embrodred with the ragged staffe and the fierbronde

Item ix hoggesheddes of Gascoign wine

Item ij hoggesheddes and a puncheon of Frenche wine

Item parte of a butte of Reynisshe wine

Item parte of a Butte of Muskadell

Item oon Cowe [delivered to the duchess]

Item certaine Remnauntes of spices, as Suger Peper Cloves and maces

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Birth of Edward of Lancaster

On October 13, 1453, Margaret of Anjou gave birth at Westminster Palace to the boy who would prove to be her only child: Edward. At age twenty-three, Margaret had been married to Henry VI for eight years and must have despaired of ever producing an heir to the throne.

The eight-year wait has been taken as proof by some that Margaret must have resorted to another man to father her child, but then and now, women have gone for years without conceiving only to finally find themselves pregnant. (To take a contemporary example, Cecily, Duchess of York, was born in 1415 and had married before October 1429, but did not give birth to her first child until ten years later.) It is also possible that Margaret had conceived at earlier periods during her marriage, but had miscarriages that occurred so early that she never knew she was pregnant in the first place.

Edward would have been conceived during the Christmas/New Year's season of 1452-53, when Henry VI is known to have resided at Margaret's palace of Greenwich. This holiday season appears to have been a particularly festive one for the royal couple. Margaret paid Richard Bulstrode more than 25 pounds for his expenses incurred in connection with a disguising made before the king and queen at Greenwich. The festivities continued on January 5, 1453, when Henry VI knighted his younger half-brothers, Edmund Tudor and Jasper Tudor, who had recently been made Earl of Richmond and Earl of Pembroke. Perhaps this relaxed atmosphere at the court, following on the heels of what had been a period of political recovery for the king, had a beneficial effect on the king and queen in the bedchamber.

Unfortunately, Henry VI lapsed into madness in August 1453, leaving Margaret to face her pregnancy by herself. In the midst of this crisis, Margaret observed the usual rituals associated with a royal pregnancy. On September 10, 1453, the Dukes of Somerset and Buckingham, along with the mayor and aldermen of London, conducted her by barge to Westminster for her lying-in. J. L. Laynesmith, citing an exchequer record, writes that the canopy for Margaret's bed was of crimson satin embroidered with gold crowns and that the room contained two cradles, the smaller of which bore an image of St. Edward.

Margaret gave birth on October 13, after which her butler, Giles St. Lo, brought the news to London. He received 10 marks from the common council for doing so. Bale's Chronicle reports the reaction to the birth: "Wherefor the belles rang in every chirch and Te Deum solempny song." The next day, the boy was christened by William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester. His godparents were John Kemp, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, and Anne Stafford (nee Neville), the Duchess of Buckingham. Margaret was later reimbursed for an embroidered cloth called "crisome" for the baptism, for 20 yards of russet cloth of gold, and for 540 brown sable backs. She, of course, would not have been at the christening, but kept her chamber until her churching, the ceremony marking a new mother's purification and return to society.

The cloth of gold and the sable backs probably were purchased for Margaret's use at her churching, which took place on November 18, 1453, at Westminster. The great ladies of the land were duly summoned to attend: the Duchesses of Bedford, York, Norfolk the elder, Norfolk the younger, Buckingham, Somerset the elder, Somerset the younger, Exeter the elder, Exeter the younger, and Suffolk; the Countesses of Warwick, Arundel, Northumberland, Salisbury, Wiltshire, Shrewsbury the elder, Shrewsbury the young, and Oxford; the Viscountess Bourchier; and the ladies Grey, Ruthin, Roos, Lovel, Cromwell, Berners, Ferrers of Groby, Hastings, Bergavenny, Fitz Waren, Willoughby the younger, Latimer, Fitz Walter, Roos the elder, Botrcaux, and Souch. Many of these ladies would lose husbands and sons to war in the years to come; some, like Margaret herself, would lose both.

Some time before January 19, 1454, Margaret, accompanied by the Duke of Buckingham, brought Edward to his father in hopes of receiving the king's blessing. They met with only the slightest response: "but alle their labour was in veyne, for they departed thene without any answere or countenance savyng only that ones he loked on the Prince and caste doune his eyene ayne, without any more." A year later, however, Henry VI, restored to sanity, had a very different reaction to his son, as reported by Edmund Clere to John Paston on January 9, 1455:

Blessed be God, the King is wel amended, and hath ben syn Cristemesday, and on Seint Jones day comaunded his awmener to ride to Caunterbury with his offryng, and comaunded the secretarie to offre at Seint Edwards.

And on the Moneday after noon the Queen came to him, and brought my Lord Prynce with her. And then he askid what the Princes name was, and the Queen told him Edward; and then he hild up his hands and thankid God therof.


Bale's Chronicle (in Ralph Flenley, ed., Six Town Chronicles of England).

Frederick Devon, ed., Issues of the Exchequer (on Google Books).

James Gairdner, ed., The Paston Letters.

R. A. Griffiths, The Reign of King Henry VI.

Joseph Hunter, Three catalogues; describing the contents of the Red book of the Exchequer (on Google Books).

P. A. Johnson, Duke Richard of York: 1411 - 1460.

Ian Lancashire, Dramatic Texts and Records of Britain: A Chronological Topography to 1558.

J. L. Laynesmith, The Last Medieval Queens.

Helen Maurer, Margaret of Anjou: Queenship and Power in Late Medieval England.

Bertram Wolffe, Henry VI.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Letters from Koeur to Portugal: 1464

Here are two letters written from Margaret of Anjou's court in exile in December 1464: one by John Fortescue, the other by Edward of Lancaster. Fortescue, Henry VI's chancellor in exile, was about sixty-seven when he wrote his letter and was living in Margaret's household at Koeur Castle, near St Mihiel in the duchy of Bar. Edward of Lancaster, born on October 13, 1453, had recently turned eleven at the time he wrote his letter, and likely had some help in composing it. (Note the rather endearing boast at the end: "Writen at seynt mychacl, in bare, w' myn awn hand, that ye may se how gode a wrytare I ame.") The letters were addressed to John Butler, the sixth Earl of Ormond, the younger brother of James Butler, first Earl of Wiltshire and fifth Earl of Ormond. (James Butler had been captured and executed after the Battle of Towton.) John Butler was then in exile in Portugal, and Margaret was hoping to gain aid from its king, Alfonso V.

As Fortescue's letter notes, Margaret of Anjou and Edward of Lancaster each wrote letters to the King of Portugal, though no one in Margaret's court could remember the king's name! Edward's letter to the king, written in Latin, survives and can be found in Thomas, Lord Clermont's The Works of Sir John Fortescue (available on the Internet Archive).

Fortescue's letter to John Butler gives a poignant picture of the poverty of Margaret of Anjou's court in exile. 1464 had been a particularly bad year for Margaret's cause: in May, the Lancastrians had been defeated at the Battle of Hexham, after which Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, and thirty others had been executed. (The Duke of Somerset and his brother referred to in the letter below are Edmund Beaufort and John Beaufort, Henry Beaufort's younger brothers, who were to meet their own deaths at Tewkesbury in 1471). Henry VI himself was a fugitive, who would be captured the following year and imprisoned in the Tower.

Ironically, unlike young Edward of Lancaster and many of the other men named by Fortescue in his letter, both John Fortescue and John Butler were to survive the Lancastrian defeat in 1471. John Butler was pardoned by Edward IV and restored to his earldom; he is said to have died before June 15, 1477, on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Fortescue was put to work by Edward IV writing the Declaration upon certayn wrytinges sent oute of Scotteland ayenst the kynges title to the roialme of Englond, a refutation of his prior pro-Lancastrian works, and died in 1479, having reached his early eighties.

Probably none of the letters made it to Ormond in Portugal, but were intercepted on the way, as they ended up in the French archives, thereby justifying John Fortescue's worries about whether Butler could make it safety to Koeur. The letters can be found in Clermont's Works of John Fortescue, volume I, pp. 22-28, and in Mrs. Everett Green's "Original Documents Preserved in the National Library at Paris" in the Archaeological Journal, Volume 7 (1850), available on Google Books. I have taken the letters from the Archaeological Journal


Letter Of Sir John Fortescue, Addressed — To The Right Worshipfull And Singulerly Belovid Lord, The Erle Of Ormond. (Biblioth. Nationale, Paris, Baluze MS., 9047, 7, art. 175, Holograph.)

Right worshipfull and myne especially belovyd lord, I recommande me to you, and it is so that in feste of the conception of oure lady, I resceyved at Seyntc Mighel in Barroys frome you a lettre writyne at porto in portingale, on monday nexte before the feste of seynte Mighel, to my right singuler comfort, god knowith, of whiche lettere the quene, my lord prince and all theire servants were full gladde, and namely of your welfare and (?) escapynge the pouer of youre ennymies. And it is so that the quene nowe desireth you to do certayne message frome here to the Kynge of portingale, of whiche ye mowe clerely understande here entente by an instruction, and also by here letteres, whiche here highnesse nowe sendeth to you by the borer thereof. Wherefore I writhe nowe nothynge to you of tho (sic) maters. And as touchyngo the sauf-conducto whiche ye desire to have of the kynge of Fraunce, it were god that ye hadde it, and yet yf his highnesse do to us nothynge but right, the quenes certificat, whiche we sende to you herewith, shull be to you siwerte sufficiant. Northelesse I counseille you not to truste fermely thereuppone, and therby to aventure you to passe thorgh' his lande. For he has made many appoyntcmentes with oure rebelles, by whiche it semyth he hath not alway intended to kepe the peace and triwes, whiche he made with us, but yet I knawe no cause that he hathe to breke it, nor hetherto he hath not taken or inprisoned any man of oure partie by any soche occasion. And Thomas Scales hathe sente me worde that he hopithe to mowe gete by the meanes of my lord senycshall a sauf conducte for you, and elles my lord of Kendale canne fynde the meanes howe ye mowe passe soche parties of Gyawne, Langdok and other where, as most (in parte ?) is as ye shull be in no perille : my lord of Somerset that nowe is and his brother come frome Britayne by Parys through Fraunce unto the quene with xvj horses, and no man rescuyded (?) ham in there way. And so didde I frome Paris into Barroys, but yet this is no verrey surete to you. Wherefore youre aune wysdome most gyde you in this case, not trustinge myne advise that knawe not the manner of this countrey as ye do. But yet I wote welle that a bille, signed withe my lord senyschall is hand, shalle be sufficiant unto you to passe thorough oute alle Fraunce. My lord, here buthe withe the quene the dukes of Excestre and Somerset, and his brother, whiche and also sir Johne Courtenay buthe discended of the house of Lancastre. Also here buthe my lord prive seale, M(aster) John Morton, the bischop of Seynte asse [St. Asaph] Sire Edmond Mountford, Sir Henry Roos, Sir Edmond Hampdene, Sir William Vane [William Vaux], Sir Robert Whityngham and I, Knyghtes; my maistre, youre brother, William Grinmesby, William Josep', Squiers for the body, and many other worshipfull squiers, and also clercqs. We buth all in grete poverte, but yet the quene susteyneth us in mete and drinke, so as we buth not in extreme necessite. Wherfore I counsaill you to spende sparely soche money as ye have, for whanne ye come hether, ye shall have nede of hit. And also here buth maney that nede and woll desire to parte with you of youre awne money and in all this contrey is no man that woll or may lene you any money haue ye neuer so grete nede. We have here none other tithyngs but soche as buth in youre instruccion. Item, yf ye fynde the kyng of Portingale entretable in oure materes, sparith not to tarie longe with hym, and yf ye fynde hym all estraunge, dispendith not youre money in that contrey in idill, for after that ye come hither, hit is like that ye shull be putte to grete costes sone upon, and peradventure not longe tarie there. Item, my lord prince sendith to you nowe a letter writyn with his awne hande, and another letter directed to the king of Portingale, of whiche I sende nowe to you the double enclosed hereyn. I write at seynte Mighel in Barroys, the xiij. daye of Decembre. —Your servant, J. Fortescu. [Postscript.)

My lord, bycause we knewe not verrely the kynge of Portingale is name, the Quene is letter hath no superscripteon, nor the letter fro my lord prince, but ye mowe knawe ham also well by the seales as by this, that in the syde where the seale is sette of the Quene's lettre is writyn these words—pro regina, and in like weyse in my lord's lettre is writyn—pro principe. And I sende to you hereyn soche words of superscripsion as ye shall sette upon both lettres ; which wordes buth writyn w' the hande of the clerke that hath writyn both lettres.

Item, the berer hereof hadde of vs but iij. Scuts [French crowns] for all his costs towards you, by cause wee hadde no more money.

Letter From Edward, Prince Of Wales, Son Of Henry VI., To The Earl Of Ormond. (Baluze MS., 9037, 7, art. 173, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, Holograph.)

Cousin Ormond, I grete you hertly well, acerteynyng yow that I have horde the gode and honorable report of your sad, wise, and manly gyding ageynst my lordis rebellis and your aduersaries, in the witche ye have purcheascd unto yow perpetuall lawd and wosship. And I thank God, and so do ye allso, that ye at all tymes vndcr his proteccione haue escaped the cruell malise of your sayd aduersaries ; and for as motch as I vnderstand that ye ar nowe in portingale, I pray yow to put yow in the vttermost of your deuoir to labore vnto the kyng of the sayd royalme, for the forderance and setyng forthe of my lord, in the recuvering of his ryght, and subduing of his rebellis. Wherin, yf ye so do, as I haue for vndowted that ye wyll, I trust sume frute thall folue, w' godis mercy, witche spede yow well in all your workes. Writen at seynt mychacl, in bare, w' myn awn hand, that ye may se how gode a wrytare I ame.

Additiional Sources:

Steven G. Ellis, ‘Butler, John, sixth earl of Ormond (d. 1476/7)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 11 Oct 2010]

E. W. Ives, ‘Fortescue, Sir John (c.1397–1479)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2005 [, accessed 11 Oct 2010]