Tag Archives: Elizabeth Woodville

The Bald Truth Behind the Execution of Clarence

George, Duke of Clarence, trying a bit too hard to compensate
George, Duke of Clarence, still alive at this point.

I have spent several years, now, musing on the reasons for the execution of George, Duke of Clarence. What that final act made Edward IV take the drastic, permanent action of executing his own brother?

He was convicted of treason.

Yes.

What did he do? What was the piece of straw that finally broke the camel’s back? What was that final, totally unforgivable crime that George committed? What was that one step too far?

  • Was it the fact George took the law into his own hands with the execution of Ankarette Twynho?
  • Was it the murder and witchcraft accusations that he levelled against Edward’s queen, Elizabeth Wydevile, following the death of his wife, Isabel?
  • Was it the rumours of Edward’s illegitimacy?
  • Was it George’s discovery of Edward’s previous secret marriages – to Eleanor Butler and Eleanor Talbot?

Or was it a deeper, more dangerous secret? Something that, if discovered, could have toppled the monarchy itself – nay England, even?

Sitting in a cafe this morning, quietly drinking my cappuccino, eating a toasted tea cake and playing an addictive, well-known game (involving sweets) on my phone, I overheard a little boy having a joke with his dad.

candle
15th Century light bulb

And I had a light bulb moment.

Once the waitress had changed the bulb – and I was no longer in the dark – I started writing, fleshing out my theory.

And I now know – beyond any unreasonable doubt – why George, Duke of Clarence, brother of the king and Richard, Duke of Gloucester (perfection personified), was executed.

We all know Edward was the golden child of the York family. He was the most courageous and dashing personification of manhood that ever walked the earth. He was the most glorious of the ‘3 Sons of York’ (forget Edmund, for the moment – otherwise the argument doesn’t work and Mortimer’s Cross was fought for all the wrong reasons).

And Edward’s wife, Elizabeth Wydevile, was the most beautiful woman in the realm – nay, Europe – nay, the known world.

4550226
The Perfect Princes

Their family was full of golden children; blonde-haired, blue-eyed angels who would not have looked out of place among the Gods of Olympus.

In short, the family was perfect.

Except.

As Edward grew older, one fatal, irreversible flaw appeared. No, it wasn’t his weight – that could have been easily solved with a sensible diet and exercise. And besides, kings had been overweight in the past – take Louis the Fat, for instance.

No, this was something that had never happened to a king – to God’s anointed – ever before.

It was at this point, on Facebook (the fount of all knowledge) that I saw a picture which totally convinced me of my theory.

11059657_1554665671470436_4651097333560421926_n
Richard, the true Golden Son of York

It was a sign that I was on the right track.

Edward wasn’t York’s Golden Boy.

He didn’t have the luscious locks.

And this is what Clarence had discovered.

One morning, walking in on Edward early and surprising him at his toilette, George was taken aback by what he saw.

A reflection of the sun shining from Edward’s head.

And George couldn’t resist the same joke I had heard the child say to his father this very morning:

‘Oh look! There’s a hair on your head. Fooled you!’

Edward’s Groom of the Stool was combing over the bald spot – and George’s fate was sealed.

Edward called the guard and George’s feet didn’t touch the ground – until he was safely locked in his prison cell.

This also explains an obscure comment I once found whilst perusing ‘The Children’s Guide to the Croydon Chronicle’. This stated that Edward’s residences were ‘sparsely thatched’. I have spent many a year trying to decipher the exact meaning of this phrase, but now I know.

comb
Edward’s comb-over would have looked something like this.

Edward was going bald and George discovering that truth was the final straw.

What else could Edward do? No king in history had ever gone bald.

Think on it. Name one – you can’t can you?

That’s because it has NEVER happened. It’s unheard of – and Edward had to protect his secret at all costs.

For England!

 

.

Sources:

Ellison Weird, The Children’s Guide to the Croydon Chronicle; Steve Cole, Cows in Action – the Pirate Mootiny; HP Spicy BBQ Sauce; Ivy Hair Issues, Washing Instructions for Wigs.

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia and Google Images.

After writing this post, Jeff R Sun has realised how grateful he is for his full head of luscious locks.

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10 Ways to Identify a Saint or a Sinner in the 15th Century

Religion was very important to people of the 15th Century. In many ways, it controlled their lives; told them what to eat and when they could eat it, who they could marry and when, who could get into heaven and who couldn’t.

Okay, perhaps religion should have a big say on that last one, at least.

Religious piety was given great prominence as a way of deciding who was ‘good’ and who was ‘bad’, especially on the stage that was the Wars of the Roses. So here are 10 ways to identify which is which.

220px-Cecily_neville1. You may have been involved in the highest level of politics in your younger years; such as being married to the country’s Lord Protector, being mother of 2 kings, and related to most of the protagonists in the Wars of the Roses, but following strict religious observance in your later years, will make you saintly. Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, springs to mind.

2. Being a Yorkist, of course, makes it easier to be saintly.  You could be mistaken for thinking that this is because, for the majority of the Wars of the Roses, they were on the winning side. However they were, eventually, the losers and yet still are considered highly pious, which highlights how incredibly remarkable a family they must have been.

3. You would have thought that being young and ‘disappeared’ may automatically make you saintly. However, Edward V and Richard Duke of York have a lot to overcome in order to make the saintly list. Yes, they were only children, imprisoned in the Tower of London and declared bastards by their uncle. However, they were a threat to that wonderful Uncle, who they would have had killed as soon as they reached adulthood. I have also heard say that they were ‘snivelling brprincessats’. And the fact we don’t actually know, for certain, that they are, as yet, in fact, well, DEAD makes it difficult to conclusively declare them saints. Plus, they were part of the despicable Woodville – or Wydeville – clan, which, unfortunately, is an instant disbarment from sainthood.

4. A way to become saintly is to die young in battle. Edmund Earl of Rutland was only 17 and killed by Clifford at – or after – the Battle of Wakefield and his head put on a spike above Micklegate Bar in York. Apparently Clifford justified this ‘murder’ as Edmund’s father – the Duke of York – had, apparently, killed Clifford’s father at the 1st Battle of St Albans. Of course it helps if you’re also a member of the York family as

5. Dying young is no defence against you being a sinner. Edward, Prince of Wales was only 17 when he was killed in battle at Tewkesbury. Of course, it doesn’t help that he was a Lancastrian, that his father was catatonic when he was born, that – at 7 years old – he ordered the beheadings of 2 of Warwick’s men after the 2nd Battle of St Albans, that he was married to Anne Neville first, nor that he fought to reclaim his father’s crown from the Yorkists.

III6. Founding religious houses and colleges almost automatically make you a saint. Richard III funded religious colleges at Middleham, and was in the process of setting one up at York Minster on his death. He was noted for his piety, so much so that his usurping of his nephew’s throne, the execution-without-trial of his brother’s friend, William Hastings, the subsequent disappearance – and possible murder – of his 2 nephews and the summary executions of his brother’s stepson and brother-in-law after a sham trial, doesn’t even put a dent in his piety. Of course, it does help if you are killed in an all-or-nothing battle for your life and crown.

DH17. Founding religious houses and colleges is not nearly enough to make you a saint if you are the Lancastrian mother of Henry VII. Margaret Beaufort had the gall to call herself ‘My Lady the King’s Mother’ when she was in fact – well – the king’s mother. She founded Christ’s College Cambridge and funded the restoration of churches. However, she helped to organise the royal household, supported her daughter-in-law’s sister when she fell out of favour with the king and supported her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth of York, in arguing against sending her granddaughter to a marriage in Scotland whilst still a child. Of course, it doesn’t help that Margaret Beaufort was a woman, a Lancastrian, adored by her son, the miserly Henry VII and loved by her grandson – the monstrous Henry VIII.

8. Of course, being a Lancastrian who married into the Yorkist, or a Yorkist who joined the Lancastrians, automatically prevents you from ever becoming a saint. To betray the Yorkists and fight for the Lancastrians in the last battle makes you the greatest traitor in history and a sinner beyond redemption – just ask the Stanleys. Conversely, having being married to a Lancastrian – who was killed in battle against the Yorkists – and then marrying the Yorkist king, and providing a male heir, automatically makes you the greatest traitor in history and a sinner beyond redemption – just ask Elizabeth Wydeville or Elizabeth Woodville (either should be able to confirm my point).

henry7bust9. Being an adult king murdered by your ‘replacement’ king automatically makes you saintly. Henry VI, alone, defies the rules. He failed at everything except being highly religious. His piety was so impressive that calls for his canonisation were made as soon as he was dead. And yet he was a Lancastrian.

10.  The final, most irredeemable example of a sinner in the 15th Century is, of course, Henry VII. That he was exiled from your home, and separated from his mother, from an early age. That he was Lancastrian heir following the deaths of – well – everyone else. That he was an able king who brought stability to a war-ravaged country. That he was a family man who loved his wife dearly and grieved for her deeply. All this is nothing compared to the fact he defeated Richard III and won the Wars of the Roses for the Lancastrians. What bigger sinner could there be in the 15th Century?

Jeff R Sun is continuously attempting to give clarity to the confusing parts of the Wars of the Roses. If you are still in doubt, please follow this basic premise: York, good; Lancaster, bad. Sticking with this simple rule, you won’t go far wrong, nor get shouted at, or be accused of trolling, on Facebook.

Sources: Wikipedia; Facebook groups galore; the Nile, which I live near; The Sunne in Splendour; The White Queen; The Red Queen; Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody; the Queen of Hearts; The Daughter of Time; Kind Hearts and Coronets.

Jacquetta, The White Queen and a look at Witchcraft

Much has been said in popular fiction about the claims that Jacquetta of Luxembourg was a witch and did witchy things, engendering a whole generation of believers in the magical power of this feisty woman. A TV series exploited these claims and took her spell making to a whole new level. Was Jacquetta capable of ‘blowing up a storm’ or ‘ensnaring Edward IV’’ for her daughter Elizabeth? Who was Jacquetta and why were these claims taken so seriously – claims still believed in some quarters and discussed today?

Jacquetta of Luxembourg was born in 1415 or 1416 and was the eldest daughter of Peter I of Luxembourg and his wife Margaret of Baux. The Luxembourgs claimed to be descended from the water deity Melusine through their ancestor Siegfried of Luxembourg (922-998).

Raymond rides off on a slope backed camel-horse cross breed when he finds Melusine  in magic water that does not pour out when the door is opened. Illustration from the Jean d'Arras work, Le livre de Mélusine (The Book of Melusine), 1478
Raymond rides off on a slope backed camel-horse cross breed when he finds Melusine in magic water that does not pour out when the door is opened. Illustration from the Jean d’Arras work, Le livre de Mélusine (The Book of Melusine), 1478

At the age of 17, Jacquetta was married to the much older John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, at Therouenne. The Duke, died in 1435, worn out after only two or three years of marriage to his beautiful young wife. He was the third son of King Henry IV of England.

Sir Richard Wydeville was commissioned by Henry VI of England to bring Bedford’s young widow to England. During the journey, the couple married in secret without seeking the king’s permission. Despite the king’s ire and the large fine they were made to pay, the marriage was long and very fruitful. Jacquetta and Richard had fourteen children, including the future wife of Edward IV, Elizabeth Wydeville. Richard was so exhausted by begetting children that in 1469 that he voluntarily threw his neck against the blade of one of the Kingmaker’s men severing his own head, ensuring that Warwick would get the blame for his decapitation.

Through her daughter Elizabeth, Jacquetta was the maternal grandmother of Elizabeth of York, wife and queen of Henry VII. She is, consequently, an ancestress of all subsequent English and British monarchs, including Elizabeth II, and seven other present-day European monarchs. It is unknown whether the present day descendants have inherited Jacquetta’s insatiable desire to ‘procreate children’ although the more tawdry of tabloids do speculate on the subject frequently. Shortly after her husband’s aforementioned suicide, Thomas Wake, a follower of Warwick’s, accused Jacquetta of witchcraft. Wake brought to Warwick Castle a lead image “made like a man of arms . . . broken in the middle and made fast with a wire,“ and alleged that Jacquetta had made it to use for witchy things and sourcery (sic). He claimed that John Daunger, a parish clerk in Northampton, could attest that Jacquetta had made two other images, one for the king and one for the queen. The case fell apart when Warwick released Edward IV from custody, and Jacquetta was cleared by the king’s great council of the charges on February 21, 1470.

In 1484, Richard III in the act known as Titulus Regius, brought the allegations of witchcraft against Jacquetta up again and claimed that she and Elizabeth had procured Elizabeth’s marriage to Edward IV through witchcraft. No proof or evidence was ever supplied by Richard to support these claims. The methods for them so doing were explored at length in a novel and popular TV series, which also claimed the witchy pair were able to blow up winds and storms.

''It was a dark and stormy night..."
”It was a dark and stormy night…”

Witchcraft in the Middle Ages was a controversial crime that in the eyes of the law was bad as poisoning, though given the choice of a belly full of arsenic or a few herbs and mystic words, I would go with the herbs and spells any day but that may be because I live in the 21st century.  If one was accused of witchcraft, the charges could be dropped by a relative’s defence in a trial by combat or by twelve people swearing an oath of the innocence of the accused .

With the rise of Christianity witchcraft became a superstition, and persecution of witches persisted through the Middle Ages. In the 5th century AD, Christian theologian St. Augustine of Hippo (that is Hippo the place; he was not a saint of hippopotamuses) had

No comment.
No comment.

said that all pagan magic and religion were invented by the devil and that the devil’s purpose in inventing magic was to lure humanity away from the truths of Christianity, a view still adhered to in the time of Jacquetta. Witchcraft was feared and was a part of every day life and the every day beliefs of most people.

If Jacquetta did embrace witchcraft, is this the type of practice she enjoyed?
If Jacquetta did embrace witchcraft, is this the type of practice she enjoyed?

Two “types” of magic were said to be practised during the Middle Ages, white or good magic and black – the “bad” type of magic (maleficium).  Black Magic had more of an association with the devil and satanic worship.  If someone fell ill of unknown causes, someone’s cow stopped giving milk, a hen went off the lay, a woman could not conceive, this was all said to be caused by a witch who practiced black magic. Not the same witch necessarily. No one could do all that much before breakfast and still go to the market unless they were really magical and indeed a witch. Witches were often portrayed as old, warty and ugly women, often with gigantic hooked noses, because the church wanted them to be the targets of dislike and hatred.  Of course, those who allegedly practiced witchcraft had a wide range of appearances. Jacquetta was said to be very beautiful, though it is not known if she had a huge hooked nose, warts and wore a black pointy hat.

But was witchcraft possible and did ‘witches’ genuinely exist then? It is possible that the effect of having a spell cast on one was enough to trigger the desired result. The placebo effect is a universally acknowledged phenomenon. In essence, if you think something is going to make you better, it probably will. The term placebo, meaning “I will please,” dates back to the 18th century By contrast, the placebo’s darker cousin, the nocebo and is taken from Latin for “I will harm”. It was first formally recognised in the 1960s to mean something that rationally should have no effect but actually causes a deterioration in health. There are many anecdotal examples of the nocebo effect at work. For example, a nocebo response may explain the phenomenon of the voodoo curse in which a victim dies only because a belief in the power of the witch doctor has been so ingrained that, after he has been hexed, the target simply cannot believe that he will live. Other cases have been reported in which a patient has died after having been given a terminal prognosis; only for a post-mortem to reveal no such fatal disease was present. Although not thoroughly understood, physiological explanations of the nocebo effect have been proposed. It has been shown, for example, that a patient’s anticipation of worsening pain causes an increase in anxiety which triggers the activation of cholecystokinin that, in turn, facilitates pain transmission. This response generates a vicious circle of anxiety and pain which may be one explanation of the nocebo effect.

I, therefore, suggest that the belief in magic in the Mediaeval period was so engrained as to make spells actually appear  to work, but that Witches and Witchcraft existed no more then than they do today. To get a broad view I petitioned various experts on the subject to see what their answer was to the question ‘Could witches and witchcraft have existed in the Mediaeval period?’ The results are in the table below together with my comments.

Expert Opinion My comment
James Randi, stage magician and scientific skeptic, best known for his challenges to paranormal claims and pseudoscience  ¿Qué ? James Randi was unable to comment personally as he is still trying to decide exactly what his husband’s name is. This comment was left by his husband.
David Blaine, American magician, illusionist and endurance artist What the f*** do you want, ar*e w*pe. F*** off and quit bothering people. Regrettably I telephoned the wrong David Blaine.  I should have realised by his address being at a notorious traveller site.
Doris Stokes, medium There is someone with me who is looking for his brother.  Initial  letter J. I had to contact Ms Stokes through a medium.  I was not satisfied by the response.
Meg (of Meg, Mog and Owl) Of course witches exist. Although I am only a character in a book I am a witch so that proves it. Words fail me.
Miranda Aldouse-Green   The Goods of the Celts No Oh
Jason Kingsley, my next door neighbour Jeff, what are you on? Can you get some for me (Oh!)
The ‘Magic Circle’ Representative I think you misunderstand the difference between magic and witchcraft.  If you want a one word answer then that word must be no. I’m losing the will to go one here.
The White Witch: the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe I think, therefore I am. Witches will always be here. That’s a bit better, except she is also a character in a book.
The three witches of Baelmore No comment That may be because they were part of a dream one of the small people who hang around the house once had.
Witchsmeller Pursuivant – character: first series fifth episode of Blackadder I was incinerated at the end of the episode which proves that I am actually a witch to be able to still talk.The play writers didn’t think of that cunning plan, did they? Brilliant, Witchsmeller, just brilliant. Now everyone is confused.
Dumbledore, character in Harry Potter. Naturally all magic people exist. I am getting the message now.
The Wicked Witch of the West: character in Oz How much will you pay me? Nothing.
Paul Daniels: magician I will ask the lovely Debbie McGee. No comment, no comment at all.
Spokesperson for the Fortean Times No That is succinct
My own late Aunt Rose (via a sceance) Is that really you, Jeff? You’ve got fat. Thanks Aunt Rose

Summing up it seems that the only people who believe that witches and witchcraft actually existed in the Mediaeval period are characters in books, TV series and films  so therefore I conclude that Jacquetta and all other people accused of witchcraft are ‘not guilty’ as charged and are free to leave this pseudo courtroom. It remains only for us to judge whether Jacquetta was a nymphomaniac, had a degree of erotophilia or was just simply highly sexed. Next week I will be holding a séance to see if I can contact either of her husbands to comment on this matter.

Sources: Barsky AJ, Saintfort R, Rogers MP, Borus JF. Nonspecific medication side effects and the nocebo phenomenon. JAMA. 2002;287:622-7. DOI: 10.1001/jama.287.5.622

My phenomenal memory

A comment on Facebook

Philippa Gregory (author): ”The White Queen”

The White Queen (author) : ”The life and times of Philippa Gregory”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malleus_Maleficarum (very interesting!)

©Jeff Jefferty Jeff February 2015

The Lost Love-Child of Richard III and Elizabeth of York.

Jeff book

 

As if there are not beguiling mysteries enough out there, I must press upon your patience once more to relate a little adventure of mine, which has uncovered yet another unexpected truth at the heart of Yorkist family politics. On awakening one morning, I decided to take a stroll and set out from Piccadilly after breakfast with little more than a potted-meat sandwich tucked away in my inside pocket. By teatime I found I had wandered across several county borders into Norfolk, and I came to my senses amid the bulrushes of the Fens with a pair of curlews engaged in some ritual mating dance at my feet. Seeking a bed for the night, I was fortunate enough to find the Biggerump Inn, standing alone in the falling darkness, where I was offered the corner of a stable. Dining on braised lamb in the Inn’s delightful parlour, my fancy was taken by a shelf of old-looking books, which I fell to perusing once my meal was finished. One of the smallest, and most battered, was a little book in a leather binding (see above); a funny little foible, but I have a taste for funny little foibles and, as I turned its pages, it was clear that the content pre-dated the cover by some centuries.

I flicked through the pages. It seemed to be some sort of prayer book, written in a fifteenth century secretary hand, with the occasional illuminated initial letter in red and gold. I have seen many similar books before. The first page bore many inscriptions, dating through from the 1400s to the seventeenth century, and one name in particular caught my eye. I had heard of Severus Larke on a previous occasion: the Larkes were a well-known Suffolk family, connected with Wolsey and the court of Henry VIII. Yet this individual’s hand was quite distinct; he had made a few notes in the margins beside prayers, initialling them with an elongated “S” and a small bird with distinctive stubby wings. And as I traced his comments, most of which were amendments to prayers or names of individuals to pray for, I recalled where I had heard his name before. Severus Larke had, for a brief period during the autumn of 1483, acted as confessor to Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV.

By this point, Elizabeth was a widow. She had fled into sanctuary with her children following the death of her husband. Her sons had been taken and Richard III had been crowned, so her future looked very uncertain. Larke was working in the service of one of the Pastons, I believe, which had taken him to London for a few months on legal business and, somehow, he ended up lodging in Westminster. As I yawned before the roaring fire, I passed the hours in trying to decipher something of his hand, and form an impression of his character. It was but fancy, and I met with little success, until I reached the end pages, which he had used to record his thoughts. Mostly they took the form of prayers and lists, payments owing and in one case, the number of his master’s dogs that needed feeding. And then, there was a strange line. Strange in that it was dated, very specifically to September 29, 1483. The line read “Prayers to be said for the Princess for the safe arrival of her child.” The word “Princess” was scored through in ink of a lighter colour.

This threw me into a state of bafflement. I could not recall a Princess that might have been pregnant in the autumn of 1483. Elizabeth Woodville was too old, having borne her last child three years earlier. Richard III’s Queen, Anne Neville, had borne a single son, who was then somewhere between the ages of seven and ten and there were never any reports of a second pregnancy. Equally, she would have been referred to in the text as “Queen” or “widow” or “dowager,” but not Princess. The only Princesses I could think of were the daughters of Edward IV, then in sanctuary with their mother. The eldest, Elizabeth of York would have been seventeen. Within months, Richard would pass an act of Parliament, Titulus Regis, declaring them illegitimate. This might account for the word being scored through, as Elizabeth’s royal status was retracted. Could it have been possible that it was she to whom Larke’s prayers referred?

So I twiddled with my pipe and thought about the dates. Elizabeth and her daughters had entered sanctuary in June 1483 and left it on March 1, 1484. This was a period of nine months but it couldn’t have corresponded exactly with a pregnancy, as Elizabeth of York must have been well enough, recovered and churched, to emerge on March 1. Nor is it likely that she conceived in the cramped confines of sanctuary, under the watchful eye of her mother. Therefore, she must have been pregnant when she entered sanctuary and given birth late in 1483 or early in 1484. And I began to wonder who the father of this child might be, this hypothetical child, whose absence from the records suggests it did not survive. The only man in London to whom Elizabeth’s name was attached prior to her marriage to Henry VII was her uncle Richard, the future Richard III. Tracing back his movements, I discovered that Richard was present in the city early in 1483 to attend a session of Parliament, leaving for the north in February. If he had impregnated Elizabeth of York that month, he would then have departed without being aware of her condition. We know that he had two acknowledged bastards; the scarcity of records about them suggests there may have been more, about whom we do not know. Yet perhaps not even Richard ever knew about this other child.

Elizabeth’s pregnancy would have become apparent by late March or early April. In the light of this, Edward’s early death can be interpreted in a different way entirely. I never accepted the theories that the robust Edward, even with all his feasting and whoring, had succumbed to a chill caught whilst out fishing. The possibility now arises that Edward was informed by his wife of his favourite daughter’s condition and the shock broke his health. Such a scandal was unprecedented and must be covered up. After Edward’s death, Richard began to travel south. Aware that he was the father of the child, Elizabeth Woodville could not allow him to know about the pregnancy, so before he was even half way, she fled to sanctuary, which she knew would offer the cover she needed until the child was born. If it was conceived in February, the delivery date would have been in November 1483. If it had been a boy, the child would have been an important Yorkist heir, a replacement for the lost Princes in the Tower. It also meant that the potential match being proposed between the Princess and the exiled Tudor was not anticipated to become a reality in the immediate future, suggesting that Elizabeth Woodville had no faith in Henry’s planned invasion of the autumn of 1483. Either that, or Henry had been informed of her condition and was coming to avenge her honour, in the style of his favourite French Romances. But he failed to live up to these legends. The weather drove his ships back and the next thing we know is that Elizabeth Woodville and her daughters emerged at the start of March. If Elizabeth of York carried her child to term, in this world where still births, miscarriages and infant mortality, were common, it seems most likely that it did not survive. Only one or two servants would have known of its existence, including confessor Severus Larke.

This theory also makes sense of the oath Elizabeth Woodville required Richard to swear in 1484. Before she set foot outside the safety of Westminster, she required him to make a public promise to protect her daughters and arrange suitable marriages for them. Of course she did, given that she knew Richard had already seduced her eldest girl. Richard was probably unaware of the pregnancy but had his deflowering of his niece on his conscience. This also makes sense of the rumours that date from Christmas 1484 about a potential flirtation between Richard and his niece. Except this was not a new flirtation, it was the tail end of a dangerous affair from early 1483, which the oath had firmly put an end to. To Richard, Elizabeth of York was but a conquest from his days as the Duke of Gloucester. Now that he was King, he had his own reign and wife to concern him, and Elizabeth was relegated to the status of an old flame, whose future he must arrange, to a Prince of Portugal. No doubt Elizabeth felt used and rejected. It is no surprise then, that she was eager to go along with her mother’s plan to wed her to Henry Tudor. She had borne her uncle’s child in secrecy and, but for the prayer of the royal confessor, jotted indiscreetly into his book, the matter would never have come to light.

It was that very indiscretion that led to the dismissal of Severus Larke from the royal profession. The emergence of the women in March 1484 coincided with Larke’s return home; first to Ipswich, then on to a position of confessor in a noble Norfolk household. No efforts were made by the royal family to retain his services and, ten years later, he appears in the Assize court records as living a profligate life, keeping a mistress who bore him a bastard. He was in danger of losing his position, in addition to the payment of a large fine but the case was never concluded. Only two weeks later, in October 1495, he was granted a royal pension by none other than the new Queen, Elizabeth of York, and retired to Bungay in Norfolk, just two miles east of the Biggerump Inn. He retained this pension and the queen’s favour until his death in 1498.  Perhaps it was in recognition of his services in the past, or perhaps it was made to ensure his silence. With this thought, I strolled out into the deep Norfolk night and smoked a particularly good pipe of woody tobacco, musing on the inconsistencies of history and the eternal frailties of woman.

 

Sources

Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Arthur Conan Doyle, Geoffrey Willans, Shakespeare, Tobias Smollett, Jonathan Swift, George Orwell.

 

Jeff R Vescent is now accepting marriage proposals.

Henry Tudor’s Forgotten Bride

There have been many debates about the legitimacy of the Beauforts, and their claim to the throne. However slim his claim undoubtedly was, Henry VII took the throne of England through conquest. His marriage to Elizabeth of York added weight to the Tudor’s right to rule, and their children indeed had royal blood. Henry VII repealed Titulus Regius, and all was well,  the Tudor claim upright and solid. However, recent discoveries prove that all of the children of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York were, themselves, illegitimate.

henry7bust

Henry Tudor lived in exile with his uncle Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke from 1471 to 1485. A strong young man, with a young man’s appetites, he was not idle in these years. While his mother, the redoubtable Margaret Beaufort, worked tirelessly to return Henry to England, bargaining and negotiating with Edward IV to guarantee the safety of her son, Henry was pursuing interests of his own.

Thought to have fathered at least one illegitimate child in Brittany, Roland De Veleville, it has been long accepted that Henry Tudor was of loose morals while living in exile, taking pleasure where he found it, and moving on.  One young woman, Louise Boulonga , captured Henry’s heart. From a letter recently discovered from Jasper Tudor to Margaret Beaufort, we now know that Henry was married to Louise in February, 1483.

When Edward IV died unexpectedly in April, 1483, things changed dramatically. The young prince Edward was declared illegitimate by his uncle, the morally upright Richard III. Many Yorkists fled to Brittany to join Jasper Tudor and his wayward nephew, while Elizabeth Woodville took her daughters, and the royal treasury, to sanctuary. One who joined the Tudor camp was Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset. Dorset was Elizabeth Woodville’s son, and carried with him a plan that had been schemed up between his mother and Margaret Beaufort. The women decided, in a hag’s agreement, that Henry Tudor would invade Richard’s peaceful England, and steal the throne. A marriage between Henry and Elizabeth of York was plotted, to ensure support from Yorkists who could be bought with promises of reward. But Henry was married already. What to do?

EoY portrait

As Jasper and Margaret plotted, schemed, bribed, and possibly even killed to ensure this plan would succeed, Dorset was finding out about Mrs. Tudor. Despite Jasper forcing Henry to announce a betrothal to Elizabeth of York  at Rennes Cathedral on Christmas morning, 1483, Dorset could not help but learn that Louise and Henry were man and wife. Horrified at the duplicity and lax morals of the man, Dorset notified his mother. Elizabeth Woodville came to an agreement with Richard, whom she knew was far too honest a man to have ever killed her son, and exited sanctuary. Her daughters became beautiful white roses to adorn Richard’s court, and Dorset attempted to leave Tudor’s camp. Jasper intercepted him before he could return to England and go running off at the mouth about all he had learned.

Margaret Beaufort was not to be deterred. Convinced that her son was destined by God to be king of the world, she continued nonplussed, as if all was still as had been agreed upon. No letters between Margaret and Elizabeth Woodville have ever been found, so it can be assumed that they simply did not discuss it. Her son was forced by Jasper to leave his beloved Louise, who was heavy with child, and  invaded England on Margaret’s orders in 1485. Despite a lackluster performance on the field of battle, Henry defied all odds, and emerged victorious at Bosworth Field, August 22, 1485. Treachery prearranged by Margaret, and Richard’s unflinching valor, led to the end of the true Plantagenet kings of England. It also sealed the fate of poor Louise.

margaret-beaufort-hever-castle

Margaret Beaufort knew that a foreign  queen would never do. The memory of Margaret of Anjou was still too fresh in the mind of England, and grief for their righteous king too strong.  She knew Elizabeth Woodville to be a grasping and greedy woman, and Dorset was still held in exile. So the hags once again struck a deal. Elizabeth of York would indeed marry Henry VII. Neither party was happy about it, and a more miserable match is hard to imagine. Although Henry Tudor applied for papal dispensation twice, careful examination of these papers shows no process for the annulment of Henry’s first marriage! On January 18, 1486 Elizabeth of York entered into a bigamous and invalid marriage, much as her mother had done years before, and Louise Tudor drifted into historical obscurity.

We do not know what happened to Louise, nor the child she carried. Although Professor S.B. Chrimes of Cardiff University asserted in a 1967 article that De Veleville was not Henry Tudor’s natural child, he and other biographers are silent about Louise and the child she carried. Dorset eventually returned to England, but Henry Tudor was too distrustful of his mother in law to believe she would keep the secret. She was imprisoned in Bermondsey Abbey in March of 1487, pronounced dead, and was never seen again. Margaret Beaufort accomplished her goal to be one of the most maligned women in history, and Henry Tudor’s son, Henry VIII, was a bastard.

henry portrait

Sources:

Chrimes S.B

Weir, Alison “Elizabeth of York”

Gregory, Phillipa “The Red Queen”, “The White Princess”

Some guy named Jeff

Wikipedia

2 historians who prefer not to have their names attached to this article

Thomas More, who came to me in a dream.

About the Author- My name is Jeff “the wiz” Berlin. I am an active agent in an international spy agency , and a pinball enthusiast. My family is directly descended from Anne Boleyn, and has had to change our name several times to avoid Tudor vengeance. We have long worked behind the scenes to dispel Tudor propaganda, but the program “The Tudors” has undone all of our good work. My cousin Jeff failed to kidnap Jonathan Rhys Meyers and force him into exile in 2006, so that is pretty much all his fault.

Was the Elder Prince in the Tower actually a Princess?

 

princess

A day or three ago, I found myself wafting through the Tower of London, as you do, with my feet shuffling along the cordoned off path of the twenty-first century, in the hope of catching the echo of voices from the past. I was musing over the story of the Princes, as they’re never far from my thoughts, especially when all the other modern visitors fade away and, just for a moment, I’m left alone in one of the thick-stone-walled rooms. And that’s when I like to put out my hand, and touch the stone with my fingertips and imagine I’m back then, in those barbaric days. It fair sends a shiver through my spine, I assure you; I’m back there, then, with the footsteps of the Tower guard rushing up the staircase and the cannon booming, and then someone’s mobile goes off in the next room and the spell is broken.

But this time, something quite different happened: something extraordinary, that I can hardly believe, which I really must report upon, as it seems to me of such significance. I leaned slightly against the stone wall, catching my breath as I climbed the staircase, looking out of the window at the tourists below. And there, on the stone ledge, etched in deep, at least three millimetres, were two small stone carvings. I’d passed this way before and never seen them, so I was surprised now to notice they appeared to represent two children in late medieval dress: one, a girl of about twelve and another, a boy of perhaps nine, maybe ten. Beside them were inscribed the initials E and R.

Now straightaway those initials meant something to me. Having studied medieval history avidly forever since the discovery of Richard III, and the magnificent series of the White Queen, I know that E and R can be nothing else but the Princes in the Tower, who have been occupying my thoughts so much of late. And yet those images bothered me; the boy was the right age to be Richard of York, who had been born in 1473, but why was the elder one portrayed as a girl? I walked out into the daylight, to try and shake off the confusion. No, the images must refer to two other children entirely. Perhaps, I told myself, to the surviving children of George, Duke of Clarence, who I believe were a boy and girl with a similar age gap between them. I walked through the grounds, my mind turning to the coffee served in a small Italian Deli nearby, when I passed the foot of a staircase in the White Tower. Quite unexpectedly, in a way that I simply cannot explain, a sudden chill went through me. And that was when the idea struck me. Strange and fabulous it seemed at first, but the more I considered it, the more marvellous and incredible it seemed. It had been staring me in the face all these years and here it was, fully formed and real. Of course Edward V had to die, because he had been born a girl.

Bear with me now. I know it sounds strange, but think of the circumstances of his birth. His father, Edward IV, had been forced to flee the country and there was no certainty that he would return. His queen, Elizabeth Woodville, gave birth in sanctuary, in absolute secrecy, with only her mother and probably a doctor and priest present. She had already given birth to three girls, and while there was no male heir to the throne, the Lancastrian Henry VI had stepped back into the role. But what if, at that crucial time, there suddenly had been a male heir born: the hope of the York dynasty in the potentially permanent absence of his father?  Let’s imagine for a moment that the child was a girl but that Elizabeth gave out the report that it was a boy, in order to provide a figurehead for her family? She names “her” Edward, dresses her in the unisex frocks of the period and treats her like a boy. Without a male heir, there was nothing to strive for, when King Edward might easily have been lost at sea, or killed in battle. It was the act of a desperate woman in an era that only valued men as leaders. When Edward finally returned, he was let in on the secret, but the young heir continued to be raised as a boy, until such point as a real son was born. Children did not always survive and they must have discussed the possibilities of the girl’s future and come up with some plan, some story they’d use in the future. Except they ran out of time.

Now fast forward to 1483. The girl Edward and her brother, the real male heir Richard, are awaiting the coronation in the Tower. The Woodvilles are in a panic and have fled into sanctuary because their secret is about to be discovered; no doubt they will be concocting some sort of story that the boy King has been bewitched, once the facts inevitably leak out. Because here’s the deciding factor: the she-Edward, now approaching thirteen, has hit puberty. She started to grow and, in the Tower, her menstruation began. This is where the evidence comes in. Among the accounts for the Tower during the summer of 1483, specifically from June to July, are listed a supply of “ragges,” for supply to the White Tower, the traditional location where the Princes were held. These were commonly used by women, worn between the legs, in order to stop the menstrual flow. Yet which women were resident in the White Tower at this time? The changes the young she-Edward was undergoing meant that her cover was blown. Once this news got back to Richard, it must have been overwhelming. After the shock, there was the realisation that he, and the rest of the world, had been lied to. Either that, or he believed that some strange witchcraft had transformed the boy. The secret had the potential to shame the family, to cast aspersions on their reproductive abilities and sanity, or Edward might be considered to be some sort of changeling child, indicating that the family were cursed. He couldn’t risk the scandal of it becoming news. So Edward had to go, and Richard, Duke of York, also had to go, because he knew the secret and, well, he was also the rightful King. Richard must have felt that the York dynasty would not have survived if the truth got out. I believe the little carvings on the window ledge, of E and R, are in fact the Princes in the Tower, except that one of them is a Princess, the rightful Queen of England, smothered in her bed before she had a chance to claim her inheritance. It may sounds strange, but the truth is often stranger than fiction.

Sources: Alison Weir, Wikipedia entries, Desmond Seward, Terry Deary, ketchup.

Jeff. R. Vescent can usually be found lying silently at the bottom of a fish bowl. Sometimes he comes out to drink lemonade, knit socks and ride non-stop round London on the tube. He is the reincarnation of a prune that was diced and served to Edward IV in a banquet on Christmas Day 1468.