Margaret Beaufort was born at Bletsoe Castle, Bedfordshire, on May 31st, 1443. Her father, John Beaufort, was a great-grandson of King Edward III, through his third surviving son, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. At the time of John’s death, Margaret was the heiress to his fortune, being his only child. In 1453, King Henry VI granted Margaret’s ward-ship to his own half brothers, Jasper and Edmund Tudor. On the 1st of November, 1455, when she was twelve, Margaret married the 24 year old Edmund Tudor. Edmund died of the plague while in captivity, leaving behind a 13-year old Margaret, who was 7 months pregnant.
Who was Margaret Beaufort? Upon Margaret’s birth, her wet nurses described her as voracious and feisty. By the age of one year, Margaret had uttered her first words….”throne” and “queen”. By the age of three, she could often be found at the window, staring longingly at the knights as they honed their skills of war. She could be heard asking her governess if she could take her sword to the battlefield one day. By the age of 5, Margaret was reciting 100 Hail Mary’s a day, and regularly wore a hairshirt under her gown. Margaret was very aware of her royal bloodline through her great, great-grandfather, but being a woman, also realized that the only way she would ever feel the power of the throne was by giving birth to a son.
So young at the time of her marriage, Edmund begged her to wait to consummate the match until her body was ready, but she would not hear of it. Plying Edmund with fine Burgundian wine, Margaret was determined to plant the seed of her future in her womb. With talk of war, there was no time to wait. Margaret led Edmund to her bedchamber, she prayed to the Virgin Mother to grant her a male child, while Edmund lay in a drunken stupor on her bed, now eagerly anticipating a night of passion with his young vixen. Six weeks later, Margaret found herself pregnant, and giving praise to the saints, she donated a large sum of money to her local priory in thanksgiving. Upon the death of Edmund, Margaret had no fear, as she knew her future was secured with the child growing in her womb.
After a long and strenuous birth, Margaret heard the words she had longed for: “It’s a boy!” The boy child was cleaned and swaddled and brought to Margaret, who was eagerly anticipating looking into the eyes of the future king. But what she saw was a scrawny little weasel. Margaret had no idea what she did wrong to deserve such a disappointing little twit. As time passed, the situation did not improve. The child, named Henry, was short and wimpy, slow to walk, slow to talk and just an all-around disappointment to his mother. Strangely, once he began his schooling, it was clear that he had a talent for numbers, budgeting and general financial acuity. Watching this tragedy unfold, Margaret had no choice but to take matters into her own hands. There was no way she would allow this weasel…son or not….get in the way of her dreams. Margaret would train. Margaret would fight. Margaret would rise. Nothing would stop her.
During this time, the War of the Roses was in full-swing. The throne passed back and forth between Edward IV and Henry VI. With the mysterious death of the Lancastrian King Henry VI and his heir Edward of Lancaster, Yorkist Edward IV finally regained the throne permanently in 1471. Those loyal to the Lancastrian cause fled to Brittany, where they lived in exile for the next 14 years. Being a threat to the Yorkist reign, young Henry accompanied his Uncle Jasper into exile. Margaret remained in England, by now married to her third husband, Thomas Stanley. She regularly received reports from Jasper, who complained vehemently of Henry’s refusal to train, preferring to do maths with the local schoolboys.
In 1483, Edward IV suddenly died after being poisoned by his up-start wife, Elizabeth Woodville, who longed to see her own son on the throne. But it would not be….there was another savior waiting in the wings – Richard of Gloucester, younger brother to Edward IV. Richard was renowned for his kindness, his piety, his loyalty, and his rugged good looks. Richard had known of the precontract of marriage between his brother Edward and Eleanor Butler. But loyal to the core, Richard would not reveal this secret while his brother was alive. But he could not, in good conscious, allow a bastard onto the throne. Seizing his nephews and sending them to Burgundy, and the disappearance of Vaughn, Hastings and Grey, cleared the way for the glorious Richard to take his rightful seat on the throne.
Margaret was shattered. In no way could her twerpy son compete with the now-Richard III, who could only be compared to an Adonis. After a short chit-chat with God, Margaret knew what she had to do. Plan B went into effect. Margaret, who spent her entire life planning for her future on the throne, could in no way send her useless son into battle, where he would surely meet his demise. Why would a woman who planned her whole life to be in power allow her only son take such a risk, you ask? She didn’t. She would train day and night to become a mighty warrior and win this battle herself. Margaret had no choice but to poison the minds of the English people against poor, innocent Richard III. Margaret implemented the Tudor Propaganda machine to great success. She sent letters both home and abroad, speaking of the evils of Richard III.
In 1484, Margaret commissioned two identical sets of armor. Trusting in her wishy-washy husband, Thomas Stanley, she revealed her plan. He would train her for the battle that lie ahead against the glorious King Richard III. When the time came, Henry, Jasper and a small army made up of French and Scottish forces, sailed to England. Landing at Mill Bay, Pembrokeshire, Henry reunited with his mother Margaret after a 14 year absence. Margaret scoffed at the sight of her pathetic son. Henry asked his mother how he could possibly defeat Richard in battle. “He’s a great warrior, Mama! Beautiful and strong! There is no way I could match his skill on the battlefield!” Margaret replied, “Shut up, Boy! Momma’s got this! I know he’s illustrious, but not as illustrious as me!” Dressing Henry in peasant’s clothes, Margaret donned her armor and mounted Henry’s horse. The chroniclers report that Henry sighed with great relief. He took his place in the back of the war party, happily keeping track of the finances and inventory of supplies.
The army marched to Bosworth, with Margaret leading the way, her true identity hidden by the magnificent armor that she wore. Upon reaching the sight of the upcoming battle, Henry was told to hide in the woods with the women and children accompanying the war party. Margaret, with Sir William Brandon and Rhys ap Thomas, at her side, marched to the front lines. Richard shone in all his glory on the opposite side of the field, and his cries of “TREASON!” could be heard all across the English countryside. Richard and his great white courser charged directly towards Margaret/Henry, hoping to end the battle decisively and quickly. Richard heroically cut down Sir William Brandon, and unhorsed the giant warrior, Sir John Cheyne. Before coming within reach of Margaret Beaufort, Richard jumped off his horse, challenging Margaret to a duel. Before Margaret could respond with a defiant, “Show me what you got!”, the wild Welshman Rhys ap Thomas came from behind and gave Richard a blow to the head that would be the beginning of the end of Yorkist rule. Richard’s crown was seen flying through the air and landed in a white rose bush. To ensure the future of her rule, Margaret hacked at Richard’s prone, lifeless body. She could be seen running and grabbing the crown and putting it on her head. Spotting Richard’s riderless white courser, Margaret leapt upon the beast’s back. Disappearing into the woods, all that could be heard was “A Horse! A Horse! My Kingdom and a Horse!”
-Jeff Fuel and Jeff Roe Tull
John Ashdown Hill
The dream I had last Tuesday night after eating spicy Buffalo wings
Beady Bob, descendant of Henry VII, 37 times removed, and current generator of Tudor Propaganda (I hate him)
Jeff Fuel is super excited to have received his ticket to the internment of Richard III. He hasn’t been this excited since 1982, when Pink Floyd released, “The Wall”.
Jeff RoeTull is currently recovering from food poisoning after finding and consuming a rare tin of caviar dating back to 1945. Not in a hurry to recover, he is convinced that his tummy troubles enhance his ability to speak to dead people.