Archive for April, 2010

Books books books

Posted: April 29, 2010 in Books

But not the one I wanted!

Of the several editions of the Paston Letters at the ANU library, guess which one’s missing? That’s right, the one that contains the Fastolf Relation. I have no idea where I’m going to get hold of it now and it’s make me a teensy bit irritated. The place is lousy with books that contain the Stow Relation, but I’ve already got that. (Fenn is available through Google Books, but guess which pages are missing? There have been some heavy sighs.)

However, I did get:  Richard Duke of York, PA Johnson (just to make sure I haven’t missed/forgotten something important); The Paston Family in the Fifteenth Century, C Richmond (because I just couldn’t resist it); The Great Household in Late Mediaeval England, CM Woolgar (so I can stop making up crap and actually give the impression I know what I’m talking about); The Plumpton Letters & Papers, J Kirby (because it was there); The Last Medieval Queens, JL Laynesmith (because Michael Hicks recommended it); Margaret of Anjou, H E Maurer (just in case Laynesmith missed something) and Dear Sister: Medieval Women & the Epistolary Genre, K Cherewatuk & U Wiethaus (because it looked interesting).

And I don’t have to return them until October!

Despite the missing Fenn, the ANU library has quite a solid collection of relevant texts, down in the basement, housed in slitheringly dangerous compactuses. I nearly squished someone first time I went there, but I’ve learned how not to do that. Next time I go, I’ll get myself a copy card and bury myself in the stacks.

Sadly the second hand stall had nothing. The woman who runs it scoured her shop for anything I might be interested in and came up empty. Still, I have enough reading to keep me busy for a little while.

And my R3S contact was unavailable for lunch, so all in all a fairly mixed day. (Had to have lunch with my husband instead.)

My real business in town, a brief meeting with the guy whose PhD I’m editing, was wholly successful, and that must count for something, seeing as I’m getting paid for it.

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So, back to reality…

In searching for Cecily Nevill’s letter to Margaret of Anjou, I also found this. I’m assuming that the confusion about its intended recipient is well and truly cleared up. Rawcliffe* thought it was a letter to Edward, earl of March, though it would have been extraordinary if it was. But as she also is prepared to believe that Edward threatened to march on London at the head of an army at the age of ten, her confusion is perhaps not quite so surprising. Bearing in mind that around this time Edward and his brother Edmund sent their father a letter asking for help against the bullying Crofts, I think that if he’d had an army powerful enough to threaten London he’d have been able to sort this out himself! Pugh** (correctly) links it with Henry Holland, duke of Exeter, who was, at the time it was written, fomenting rebellion (or trying to) in the north of England alongside those two well known rapscallions, Thomas and Richard Percy.  (below is the version as found in Rawcliffe.)

The letter is dated 8 May 1454.

Right and myghti prince, right worshipfull and with all my hert enterely welbelovyd cosyn and sone, I recommaunde me un to you. And how be it your beyng late with me at London, I, havyng consideracon in the nyghness where yn we be knet to gedir in nature and alyaunce – which of reson must dryve and stere and so dryveth and stereth me to will and to desire of the good zele and tender affection that God knowyth y have bornne and bere to you and your honour, worship and prosperite – advertisid, moved and exhortid you to ley apart and fore bere the insolent rule and mysgovernaunce which hath been by you usid; and to dryve from youre felship such persons aproved of riottes and unrestfull conversacion as of there condicions and importunes mocions and provocacons have been and been, as it is demed, causers and occasioners of youre insolence. Whereof it is to blasfemously spokyn right largely in greet obliquie of your astate of the people, right hevely aggruggyng, complaynyng and lamentyng youre mysgovernaunce to my greete sorowe to here therof as y doo – to sorowfull and to peteous to be herd or reportid of such a prince of greete astate as blissid be god ye be. Sith that in princes of high and noble blode honour, prowesse, renown, noble and vertu hath be and owe to be by them stabelisship and exercisid, of whom persons of lower astate and degree have takyn, and shull take, ensample of their worshipfull and lawfull rule; and alway to eschire and drede to doo or attempte the contrarie, which settith against rest and felicite. Yat, nathless, y am enformed here that, not oonly by the drawght of people toward you from ferre parts of the land, but also by proviaunce of ordynaunce, defensable araie and habilements of werre in greete substaunce, ye do resort to greete and strong enforcementes, to what entent it is no knowen but mervayled, wherof rennyth a greete rumour and noise thorow this land in every partie. I therfor for myn aquitaille and devoir of faderly and cosynly affection especially exhorte, counseill and avise you to aplie and conforme you to my said advertisements; and to that that mowe sounde to the pollitique and restfull rule of this noble realme, obeyng you in all wise as ye owe to doo the kyng owr soverayne lord and the lawe of this land, which must and owe to be obeied of every his liegeman of what astate, degre or condicion so ever he be; trustyng for certayn that ye so doyng shull do god and to owr soverayn lord greete plesur, deserve of all his subiectes of good duite greete laude and thanke, do to youre self greete honour and prosperite and to me and all your kyn greete ioy and consulacion; and do revers to your greete geoperde and perill. And, for asmoch as y tryst verely that your cosynly favour and affection is such toward me as god knoweth myn is toward you, undre the consideracon abovesaid it will like you if ye be not disposid to drawe you to … of my said advertisements as y have greete hope and trust that ye woll. And therfor, on goddis bihalf, y require you not to take wounder or straungenes if that y put me in devour that y am bounden and owe to put me in to god of the assurence that y have made uppon the holy evaungeles among other lordes of this lande, and also to owre said soverayn lord and to his people of the chargis that y have admittid and taken uppon me by his high and noble commaundement; and thow y be not reymsse nor negligent in thexecucon of the same assuraunce and charge, wheryn y must oonly preferre the drede of god and of oure saverayn lord and refuse the favour and affection of ony other persone erthely, nether takyng regard there of of any persone undre the high astate of our said soverayn lord, the quene oure soverayn lady and my lord the prince, nor the nyghnesse to me of any createur alyve; desiryng and praying you to certifie me in wrytyng bithe bearer of this to what entent that ye enforce you of the said people, ordinaunce and habilementes of werre, and how ye playnly be disposid in the premises, wher un to y may yefe trust; notifieng un to you that my faderly and cosynly devoir in the same, not hid to god, y will open and shew un to the kyng and his counseill, and make to be open and shewid un to all this land to thentent that, what so ever hap here after ward thorow the contynuaunce of the said mysrule, it shall be verely be knowen what diligence y have doon and in what maner to reconsile it to such worshipfull, substantiall and lawfull governaunce that ye owe to use as a prince of this land, and to put your humble obeissaunce to wore said soverayn lord and his lawes. And y beseche oure lord evermore to have you in his kepyng. Wretend undre my sugnet at thabbey of Waltham the viij May
by Richard, duke of York and defensor of England.

There’s a teensy bit of arse covering towards the end, but it’s a strong letter written from a position of authority that illustrates just how seriously York was taking his role.  I wonder if Exeter actually took the time to read it – it’s quite long and (despite the assurances of love, both as cousin and father-in-law) uncompromisingly harsh.

*Rawcliffe, Richard Duke of York, the King’s ‘obeisant liegeman’: a New Source for the Protectorates of 1454 and 1455 (my copy ud)
** Pugh, Richard Duke of York, and the Rebellion of Henry Holand, Duke of Exeter, in May 1454 (my copy nd)

I hope you’ll forgive this digression, but I’ve just finished watching the first post-apocalypse Storm game, and I’m just a tad emotional. 23,000 people at Docklands, a cascade of purple and a 40-6 win over the Warriors – this is a club with a lot of spirit and a hell of a lot of pride.

Whether the boys can keep going for the rest of a very empty season remains to be seen, but tonight a contract was written between the club and the fans. If any of us have anything to say about it, the Storm will not die.

I think I have chapter one of Nevill pretty much finished. It covers the time between Thomas and Maud’s wedding and the departure of Warwick and Salisbury to London to consolidate York’s support (and theirs for him). We get to know some of the Nevills quite well, though George, Alianor and Joan have yet to make an appearance. I’m not sure that Joan will feature greatly (or even at all), though her daughter does later on by virtue of her marriage to young John de la Pole, earl of Lincoln. Alianor is away in London, possibly getting stuff ready for her wedding the following year. Neither she nor George is listed with those who were to receive compensation from Egremont for the attack, so I’m going out on a limb and saying they weren’t there. I’m having a bit of difficulty getting a handle on George actually – the lives of modern clergymen are a mystery to me, let alone their 15th century counterparts! That is one bullet that I will have to bite.

The Nevill-Percy feud is a strong theme through the chapter, starting with the attack at Heworth. It continues to be important through the next few chapters. (2 – 4 exist in draft or partial form only at the moment.)

Warwick makes his appearance early in the chapter. He hasn’t been home for years and his brothers’ reaction to him is mixed. He seems to have grown a little apart from them, and there’s a teensy bit of resentment that he’s been called home to help deal with something that John and Thomas are managing very well on their own, thank you very much! But, whatever else might be going on, he’s their big brother and that’s all that matters in the end.

An important theme is the marriage of Maud and Thomas. While they seem quite happy at the start, dark clouds are looming (poor kids) and things are going to get worse before they get better.

Another important couple introduced in chapter one are Alice and Henry Fitzhugh – I have an enormous soft spot for these two. Maybe it’s the sad ruins of Ravensworth castle, or the fact that Alice outlives nearly everyone and the family’s eventual very mixed relationship with Henry Tudor. It might be the difficult position Henry found himself in (a few times) vis a vis his king and his in-laws. Perhaps it’s just that, of all of them, Alice was the one who married someone she had known all her life. (Ok, Richard married Anne Beauchamp when he was 6, so technically he knew her all his life as well, but that’s not what I mean.)

Hopefully I have managed to portray the Nevills as a closeknit, ambitious, powerful and above all interesting family.

Things I still need to do to remove the qualifiers from pretty much finished:
• find a realable map of the layout of Middleham castle (no use me saying so and so looks out of the window and sees x if they couldn’t);
• get a sense of the countryside between Middleham and Ravensworth (google maps and photos can only take me so far, but as I’m yet to win an all-expenses paid trip to the other side of the world, that may have to do);
• find out more about George.

I’m off to the city next week (not a huge trip, but I don’t tend to drive north very often) to visit the ANU library, troll the second hand bookshops and (hopefully) have lunch with some local R3S members who have made contact. I’m rather hoping that I’ll come back armed with enough information to finish ch 2-4.  Then it’s on to part 2 and another wedding – this time John and Isobel’s. Which, btw, took place at Canterbury and was officiated by the Archbishop thereof, just in case there’s any confusion. Oh, and they didn’t defy tradition and the queen and marry for love. And Henry VI wasn’t inspired by their deep devotion, love and cross-party marriage to organise Love Day. Just thought I’d share that with y’all.  🙂

As more information as come to light, this post has been quite seriously updated. (Though I have also updated it with the odd edit.)

My story of the Nevills begins with the attack at Heworth on the wedding party of Maud Stanhope and Thomas Nevill by the Percies in August 1453. It wasn’t the opening salvo in the Wars of the Roses as has been suggested, but that event, one of a number of examples of bad behaviour (both on the part of the younger Percies and John and Thomas Nevill), did help to establish the seeds of opposition on a wider, national stage. It also allows the reader’s first view of the family to be through the eyes of an incomer – weddings are very useful for that.

Maud was the neice and co-heir (with her sister Joan) of Ralph lord Cromwell. There is apparently an article about the Stanhope sisters in The Journal of Prosopography, rumoured to be available online, but hunt as I might, I have yet to track it down. As any other information about her is scant, I have a desperate burning need to find it! Thomas Nevill is almost as obscure as his wife. If it hadn’t been for that attack, and the subsequent fining of Thomas Percy lord Egremont, we’d know even less. (Update: I found this article!)

In 1448/9, Maud married Robert lord Willoughby, who was somewhere in his sixties. She was in her early 20s, which makes her a few years older than her second husband. The Willoughbys had no children. Maud was a member of the household of the duchess of Gloucester (Eleanor Cobham) before her arrest. During her years with the duchess, she enjoyed a friendship with Thomas Nevill’s uncle, William lord Fauconberg, and may have known her eventual second husband, Gervase Clyfton, who was the duke of Gloucester’s Treasurer.

Cromwell was the instigator of the match, needing the support of the Nevills in his ongoing dispute with the duke of Exeter over property at Ampthill in Bedfordshire. The wedding took place at Tattershall Castle and, stoutly escorted by well-armed and well-trained retainers, the newlyweds set off north to York and Sheriff Hutton. (In order to not terminally confuse my reader, I have shifted some action to Middleham Castle. I do it here principally because they’re not at SH long before heading for MC, which was the family’s main base in the north.)

This attack, though there were no reports of serious casualties, seems to have shaken the earl of Salisbury into taking action. He sent for his oldest son, who was on his way back from Wales where he was himself involved in a bitter property dispute with the duke of Somerset. Diverted north by his father’s urgent summons, Warwick was at Middleham in record time. The Nevill men, along with retainers and close family connections Fitzhugh and Scrope of Bolton, then headed out to the village of Sandhutton where there was some kind of standoff with the earl of Northumberland (nearby in Topcliffe House), which resulted in a temporary truce between the two families and Thomas returning safely home to his bride.

A hell of an introduction to her new family!

We have no idea, of course, whether Maud and her first husband had a full and satisfying sex life, but I like to think of the young and virile Thomas as somewhat of a revelation. With only a sister of her own, the at least five half and fully grown Nevills in her new home might have overwhelmed her.  With a sister-in-law and her growing brood just up the road, Maud’s time at Middleham would have been full of noise and warmth, and not a little drama.  Having four years of married life behind her, and the responsibilities that went with that, the redoubtable and energetic countess of Salisbury might not have overawed her as perhaps she later did young Isobel Ingoldisthorpe.

From what I can work out, Thomas and Maud lived for a time at one of Cromwell’s estates in Nottinghamshire, though during his time as Salisbury and Warwick’s lieutenant in the Marches, she might have based herself further north, at Carlisle Castle. As they were childless, we don’t have the birthdates/places of children to help us track their movements. Gervase Clyfton, Maud’s eventual third husband, lived not far away in Clifton Hall. It might have been a house Maud brought to the marriage, or part of their jointure.  At some point before 1459, Maud secured her dower property at Eresby.

In the first year of their marriage, Thomas, along with his brother John, spent a great deal of his time chasing Egremont and his brother Richard around Yorkshire, eventually catching up with them near Stamford. John, who seems to have been the driving force in the troubles, was with him when the Percy brothers were captured, taken to Middleham then later to York for judgement. Egremont was given an extortionate fine for his attack on the Nevills and, because there was no way he could afford to pay it, sent to Newgate prison in London from where he later escaped. The seeds of the quarrel would seem to have been sown in the Marches, where the earl of Northumberland (Egremont’s father and Salisbury’s brother-in-law) rode into the west March without giving Salisbury notice. The younger sons quickly took up and escalated the conflict, with various Nevill supporters being harrassed, captured and assaulted by the Percies, and both Catton House and Topcliffe being attacked by John Nevill, who at one point threatened to hang every tenant he could get his hands on unless they handed Egremont over to him. Sounds to me a bit like four young men with way too much energy and far more time on their hands than was good for them.

After first St Albans, Thomas was given a number of lucrative posts, including joint Chamberlain of the Exchequor and joint Keeper of the Royal Mews (with his father).

Whether their childlessness put a strain on the marriage, I don’t know, but it must have been difficult for them. As unsuccessful pregnancies, stillbirths and even, in many cases, the birth of children who didn’t survive to be christened often went unrecorded, it’s impossible to say whether their infertility was absolute or not. Maud’s third marriage was also childless.

In 1459, after the battle of Blore Heath, Thomas and John Nevill were captured and imprisoned in Chester Castle. Some reports suggest they got carried away in the rout and stumbled into the enemy; others that one of them was wounded and they were captured while seeking help. They remained in captivity until the return to England of the Calais earls the following year.  Everyone knows where Cecily duchess of York was during this time, the countess of Warwick was in Calais and the countess of Salisbury was first in Ireland then in Calais, but where Maud was (or for that matter Isobel Ingoldisthorpe) isn’t recorded. She was probably at home in Rolleston worried sick about her husband, her own future and the rest of the family. The news of Alice Montacute’s attainder must have been a shock for all the Nevill women, suddenly their gender no longer gave them immunity from the consequences of political action. Maud’s activities in this area, as in just about all others, are unknown. Her choice of third husband doesn’t seem to have been predicated on political grounds and her very absence from the story at this point would seem to suggest she kept well out of things.

Thomas and John were released after the battle of Northampton in July 1460. York and the Nevills immediately took up the reins of government once again. There would have been time and opportunity for Maud to reunite with her husband, either in London or Nottinghamshire, but their remaining time together was brief.

On 30 December 1460, Thomas was killed, along with his father, uncle, cousin and brother-in-law, near Sandal Castle. Maud was possibly in London with the rest of the family for Christmas. She would have returned to Rolleston at some point, losing not only her husband but the family that she’d been part of for seven years.  In August 1461, she married for a third time. It is likely that she already knew Gervase Clyfton. He had been married twice before and had at least one child. Maud would have been not quite thirty when they married.  She didn’t attend the Nevill funeral at Bisham.

Clyfton was a Lancastrian who was several times exposed to charges of treason. In an attempt to keep him safe from threats of forfeiture, and under some considerable pressure, Maud surrendered her inheritance to the crown. Clyfton fought at the battle of Tewkesbury, after which he was captured and executed.  I have yet to find any record of Maud receiving an annuity. (Since writing this, I have found out quite a lot about the Stanhope/Clifton marriage.)

She died on 30 August 1497 having lived in the reigns of four kings. Maud spent the last twenty six years of her life in or around Tattershall. A widow for the third time before she was forty, she didn’t remarry after Clifton’s death. Her future must have looked so promising on that day in August 1453, riding behind her young second husband, surrounded by the might of the Nevills. She outlived just about all of them, only Katheryn Hastings, Margaret countess of Oxford and Alice Fitzhugh remained. If she had a good relationship with her stepchild, there might have been grandchildren to comfort her, but apart from that, all that would have remained were the memories of a turbulent life.

Here are the most popular (hence most problematic) names amongst the more prominent characters* in Nevill:
5 Alices; 8 Annes; 3 Edmunds; 5 Edwards; 3 Eleanors; 3 Elizabeths; 5 Georges; 6 Henrys; 4 Isobels; 10 Johns; 3 Margarets; 9 Richards; 10 Thomases; 5 Williams.
So, what to do with them? 
There are three strategies that I’m using: diminutives, titles and context.
One solution is to use diminutives: Dickon for Gloucester, Nan for an Anne, Ned for Edward IV, Bess for one of the Elizabeths, Meg for a Margaret etc. I’ve seen all these used and intend to use some myself, though I’m not going to tie myself in knots trying to come up with something unique for everyone. There is one novel I read recently (about which I have little positive to say), where the author made a valiant attempt to differentiate all the same-name characters. As there weren’t quite as many as mine, it was probably successful for many readers. I couldn’t quite come at Isobel Nevill being called Bella, however. It was this example more than anything else that made me think long and hard about the whole issue of names.
Elizabeth of York (the older, Richard and Cecily’s daughter) I’m calling Bess as it seems to suit her; her sister Margaret is Meg. That (with a couple of exceptions) is about the extent of the diminutives, apart from TomWill and the like.
Apart from Dickon (which I haven’t decided to use yet), I’m leaving the major Richards alone, referring to them by their titles, except when someone’s talking to them or thinking about them. Hopefully the context will keep them sorted. (I’ve thought very long and hard about this, about why I don’t want to follow at least one example and call York Dick. I think the answer lies in the fact that my son’s name is Richard (which should really surprise no-one) and he has very emphatically decided that he’s not a Rick, not a Richie or a Dick – he’s Richard and that’s that.) There could occasionally be some confusion when these three are talking together – I’ll just need to be vigilant.  (Such as when Salisbury says, “Richard and I are to manage with a hundred and sixty” it should be clear that he’s talking to York about Warwick.)
Jumping between Annes isn’t such a problem in the early stages of the story, as there are only two prominent ones – the countess of Warwick and the duchess of Exeter. Later on, with the addition of Anne Nevill, it gets more difficult.  I don’t like seeing the countess of Warwick called Nan – why I don’t know. I don’t object to the name per se, it just doesn’t seem right to me for her. Nor is it right for the duchess of Exeter or Anne Nevill. In the end, I’ve decided to let context and title (where applicable) do the job, ie if the Anne in question is wandering around Warwick Castle, she’s more than likely to be Anne Beauchamp; I’ll use the duchess of Exeter’s title somewhere early in a section including her so that people know who I’m talking about. I have no idea if she was ever called this, but as Anne Nevill spent a lot of her childhood in Calais, I am toying with the idea of having someone dub her Anouk, a Norman diminutive of Anne. This could do double duty of allowing Isobel Nevill to have in her armoury a nice little dig at Anne as they grow older. It isn’t something that can carry her beyond childhood, so again context will have to take a lot of the burden.  Later on, Anne Fitzhugh will start to become more prominent, and I’ll have to deal with her as well.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been guided by the signatures of two of the Nevill sisters, Eleanor and Katherine, who signed themselves Alianor and Katheryn respectively. Margaret Nevill (countess of Oxford) spelled her name with two t’s, but that might be mistaken for a typo, so I’m leaving her in the modern spelling. For Margaret of Anjou there is, of course, the option of calling her Marguerite, which I considered for a while. I decided in the end that this emphasises her Frenchness too much, which is not my intention. She is queen of England and should therefore have an English name.
A lot of the men I can differentiate by using their titles or last names (eg, Northumberland for Henry Percy, and Fitzhugh for Henry Fitzhugh.) This could cause me some difficulties later, when lord Henry Fitzhugh is succeeded by his son, Richard – whatever I call him, there’s going to be a potential clash. I could use Harry, I suppose, but that is too closely associated with the king. That the Fitzhughs called their four older sons after Alice’s brothers and the youngest Edward might demonstrate their closeness to family (or reflect on who their godfathers were), but it is of no help to me whatsoever! If they’d had a sixth son, he would probably have been name for his father, thus compounding the problem even more.
There are four Isobels – two Nevills, Ingoldisthorpe and Bourchier (York’s sister). I’ve decided on Isabel for the viscountess and Isabelle for John Nevill’s daughter, but the other two are definitely Isobel (as is one of my cats).  Again, context will have to do.
The Thomases are by far my biggest headache, mainly because three of them have the same last name – Nevill. One is the Bastard of Fauconberg, another the Bastard of Salisbury and, of course, there’s the legitimate one. I’ve got over this partly by calling the Bastard of Salisbury Tam. Fauconberg I haven’t sorted out yet. It can’t be assumed that the three were called slightly different names by their family; the two Paston Johns were both addressed and signed their names the same. They knew who they were talking to and about, so it must be assumed that the Nevill Thomases managed it as well. The last Thomas to appear is St Leger and by the time he comes on the scene, most of the others are dead and gone.  Thomas Stanley will simply be Stanley.  In the early part of the book, both father and son are at least referenced, so I’ll have to make it clear, once he marries Alianor Nevill, that the Stanley I’m talking about is the younger one.  And then, in the beginning at least, there’s Thomas Percy (but perhaps the least said about him the better!)
The Alices are another headache. Alice Chaucer’s not so bad, as I can call her by her title. The main problem with the Alices is that three of them are in one family – Alice Montacute, Alice Fitzhugh and her oldest daughter. The countess of Salisbury is definitely Alice. I’m calling Alice Fitzhugh Ailie, which is a less well known diminutive and not as modern sounding as the more common Ally. I could call her Alison, which is a proper Yorkshire diminutive, but it is a separate name nowadays and so the connection with Alice is lost. For the baby, I’m using Lissa for the moment, but I’m not entirely happy with it. Fauconberg’s daughter Alice Conyers will rear her head sooner or later, so I’ll have another one to worry about.
The third of the potential headaches are the Edwards. For a time, and for some people maybe most of the time, Edward IV can be Ned. That seems to be fairly well accepted practice. As Edward of Lancaster is the only one connected with his family, and as he spends most of his life in exile, Edward is fine for him.  The two younger princes, Edward V and Gloucester’s son, I will have to give some more thought to, except I don’t believe they co-exist in the same place for any length of time, so it may turn out to be not a problem at all. If we’re in London, Edward is Edward IV’s son; if we’re at Middleham, he’s Gloucester’s.  That leaves only Edward Fitzhugh, and he’s in the I’m not thinking about him much at the moment category.
At the moment, most of the Johns can be called by their titles, but there are two who aren’t (John Nevill and John de la Pole) and for the most part they can be differentiated by context. Later, I can call John Nevill by his title, Montagu.  It will be more difficult when the Suffolk’s son John and John of Gloucester make their appearances. But I will think about that later.  John Say is always John Say and John Conyers is always John Conyers, unless they’re being addressed. I don’t know why this should be, but it is.

The Georges could also be a problem. I’ve seen young George Nevill (John’s son) being called Georgie, but as he would have spent a good deal of his young life in the far north, I think Geordie is a better choice, at least for immediate family. As to Clarence and the Archbishop – context will have to do until they become Clarence and the Archbishop.  Lord Strange might just have to be called by his title.

The Williams will probably be fine as they can either be called by their last names (ie Hastings, Catesby) or their titles (Fauconberg). William lord Harrington is really only there for the blink of an eye (poor kid), so I’m just calling him Will.  William Stanley will be William Stanley.

There are some people I’ve left out of the tally, partly because they are not so prominent and can be dealt with as and when needed, or they aren’t even a twinkle in their parents’ eyes when the story starts, so I’ve not taken them into account yet at all.  Richard Wydeville (the elder) will probably be called by his title – but then I’ll need to make it clear when his son succeeds him just who lord Rivers is now. I haven’t given much thought to either Richard or Thomas Grey just yet.
Thank heavens for Cecily Nevill, Gervase Clifton, Marmaduke Constable, Jaquetta Wydeville, Maud Stanhope, Anthony Wydeville, Margery Fitzhugh, Robert Holland and Francis Lovell!
*This makes it sound as though I have a cast of thousands, which of course I do, only many of them are short-term problems (such as Egremont and young lord Harrington).  I still have to think about them, though, because it sounds a little odd to my ears for, say, Thomas and John Nevill to refer to their bothersome cousin by his title all the time.  What doesn’t help at all is that Egremont is handfast with his brother Richard Percy, who doesn’t have a title!  v frustrating
Ok, the BBC aren’t filming it; the BBC aren’t aware of its existence; it’s not published yet; it’s not finished yet, but…  Who else on God’s green earth could do the earl of Warwick justice?

images from:  http://www.fanpix.net/picture-gallery/894/541894-rufus-sewell-picture.htm

Here was fought the famous battle between Edward IV and the Earl of Warwick April 14th Anno 1471 in which the Earl was Defeated and Slain.


The earl of Warwick was born a hundred years too late, I keep reading, but I don’t agree.  He wasn’t the Last of the Barons so much as a  template for a new kind of politician.  His main problem was that he was born in an age of kings, with just enough royal blood in his veins to make it impossible for him to be contented with his lot. Which, by any means of measurement, was a lot.  In a meritocracy, he might have achieved his lofty ambitions.  In a democracy, his masterful self-publicity, energy and very real abilities might have taken him to the top.  His major flaws, and there were many, would have led him to the same sorts of mistakes he made in his life and, as he never did things by halves, that could have been as disastrous in any century as it was in the fifteenth.

I have a great deal of affection, regard and admiration for the man, but doing him any favours, cutting him some slack, is not on my agenda.  I am extremely ambivalent about his death at Barnet – as a Yorkist, it comes as something of a relief; as a Nevillist it’s pure tragedy.

In the early hours of 14 April 1471, he stood in the mist, facing his cousin and king.  With him were three men about whom he had contrasting feelings:  his estranged brother-in-law, the earl of Oxford, eternal optimist as he was, didn’t inspire much confidence; the duke of Exeter, about to be divorced and dispossessed, had never been his favourite person.  The only one of his allies that he loved and trusted, and even that was under some strain, was his brother John, marquess of Montagu.  With Edward IV was William Hastings, another brother-in-law, and Richard, duke of Gloucester, the young cousin who had grown up in Warwick’s household.  Ten years ago, when he’d helped Edward take the throne, this was not how it was supposed to end.  Wind-changing Warwick, Shakespeare calls him, which is a bit harsh – it wasn’t a stiff breeze that sent him to the exiled court of Margaret of Anjou, it was more like a typhoon.

His belief that he could be forgiven anything, that in the end people would realise that he was right, started very early.  After the first Battle of St Albans, all it had taken was bent knees and a few heartfelt words to the king and all had been well, at least for a time. Margaret of Anjou had managed it, albeit out of desperation to restore herself, her husband and her son to what she knew was their rightful place.  Edward IV had forgiven him twice already and had been prepared to one last time just days earlier.  Join me, he’d said in a letter to his cousin and his brother.  I will pardon you with your lives and we can talk.  When he was captured after Barnet, the possibility of throwing himself once more at someone’s mercy must have crossed his mind.  Maybe he was rehearsing his words when the assassin’s blade struck.  But he’d done the one thing Edward couldn’t set aside – he’d got his brother Montagu killed.  Had both the Nevill brothers fronted the king, they might have had a chance.  A tiny slim sliver of a chance.  Without John, Warwick had none.

He didn’t die fleeing, entangled in a wood, just strides away from freedom. Not that fleeing wasn’t an option, he’d done it after second St Albans and lived to fight another day; he’d done it during the confusion at Ferrybridge and went on to win the decisive and bloody victory that was Towton.  Flight would have been a sensible course of action, capture – as it turned out – wasn’t.

When it came to what to do about his recalcitrant cousin, Edward had three choices:  execute him, forgive him or have him quietly despatched. Someone chose the third option, whether Edward actually ordered it himself we can’t be sure.  Executing someone who had once been so close, who had been instrumental in setting the young king on the throne and who was related by blood was unthinkable.  When faced with what to do about brother George, Edward had been absent from the room when the sentence was pronounced and the deed itself was done far away from his eyes (more likely in a bathtub than a butt of wine – I’ve always thought the malmsey reference was a metaphor for George’s reported drunkenness.)  The second option was far too dangerous, no matter how useful a rapidly rehabilitated Warwick might have been in the mopping up operations.  The third was the only one that saved Edward unnecessary pain.  He wasn’t a man who enjoyed pain.

In those last days before Barnet, Warwick was deserted by just about everyone who mattered to him, except John, and his reasons for being there weren’t predicated on family loyalty.  Clarence had left him, with the connivance and agency of his wife, Warwick’s older daughter; Louis XI had abandoned him; and he couldn’t have been sure of the continuing loyalty of his younger daughter Anne, now that she was married to a prince and looking towards queenship.

Was that what he was thinking about during those wolf hours before the battle began?  Was he imagining himself the grandfather of a king?  I wonder what he’d have done with Clarence; if he’d have spared Edward’s life and Gloucester’s.  And George Nevill, Archbishop of York, who’d thrown the gates of London open for the king, when he’d been charged by his brother with holding him out – would he have been rewarded with another term as chancellor?  There were embittered Lancastrians, exile channelling their thoughts and emotions as it would anyone’s, who would need to be taken into consideration.  Whether Wariwck could have worked with them is doubtful.  He wasn’t particularly adept at working well with others – in a modern bureaucratic setting he’d have been roundly accused of not being a team player.  Hard to be, when the rest of the team are incompetent fools.

The new-old king would need him, at least in the short term, at least until things settled down and England once more accepted a change in rulers.  England was getting good at that.  The people didn’t care much who was king as long as someone was and they didn’t suffer from misgovernment.  It was the times when there was no visible king, or two concurrent, present rivals that were difficult.

Margaret would never trust him and he’d never trust her.  Even the marriage of their respective children wasn’t a strong enough cement to hold the alliance together for long, but it was the key, the only way Warwick could get close to what he wanted.  If Anne had done what she needed to do, despite Margaret’s watchful eye, then all would be well.  She understood the importance of it.

Speculating is pointless, unless you need to see the world through his eyes for a time.  Warwick was impulsive and driven by emotion.  The long view wasn’t his preference.  A great deal of what he did satisfied what he wanted now and now was so often equated with forever.


Edward’s secret marriage and the subsequent elevation of the Wydevilles is often credited with being the catalyst for Warwick’s later difficulties (rebellion, treason, bloody minded pig-headedness, call it what you will.)  It clearly upset him, seeing as how he was in the middle of negotiating a match for Edward with a French princess. Edward didn’t wilfully let Warwick go off and make a fool of himself. I’ve no doubt that until he was called on it by Elizabeth’s family, the political marriage would have gone ahead and that would have precipitated a crisis long before the one that cost his sons their freedom, if not their lives. That Edward did acknowledge the marriage and that he and Elizabeth had an inordinate number of children together does suggest that his love for her was genuine. That he failed to remain faithful suggests that it wasn’t able to sustain him for long. Warwick acknowledged one illegitimate daughter and, doing some quick and dirty maths based on the year of her marriage, it would seem she was born when he was quite young. Fidelity to his countess did not pose him any difficulties after that. I can see how he might have viewed Edward’s rich and varied love life, and how that would have irked him somewhat.

In an angry outburst to Louis XI, he supposedly harshly criticised Edward and claimed that he would have made a far better king than any of the other candidates. He was probably right, except a king should make (and break) alliances and treaties based on what’s best for his kingdom, not on personal preference, affinity or dislike. Warwick wasn’t clearheaded enough to negotiate that particular minefield, though he was a dab hand at negotiations once the decisions were made. It was foreign policy that proved to be the deal breaker. Warwick couldn’t understand why Edward insisted on supporting Burgundy, and Edward didn’t trust France.

Once the chasm widened between king and earl, everything piled up; every slight, every doubt, every post given to someone with a name other than Nevill. That Edward continued to trust him long after he should have stopped points either to his naivete, his dependence on Warwick or an ability to separate the personal from the professional – not a trait Warwick shared. In the end, Montagu didn’t either. Edward should never have given him the earldom of Northumberland. Of all the rewards handed out, it was the one that caused the most distress amongst the nobility, of all the rewards he could have given John, it was the one that meant the most.  Giving him the title Marquess was a bit like taking away a child’s favourite toy and replacing it with an ornate but useless ornament. That this pushed John to join his brother shouldn’t have surprised anyone. It surprised Edward.

The myths of the battle concentrate on John. His story is seen as the more tragic. He wore, according to legend, the colours of York beneath his own. That was one way to make sure he was murdered before the battle even started. Mediaeval army camps had no locked doors.  John was as angry with Edward as Warwick was, though his reasons were different. That he had doubts is not in dispute but they were about who they were fighting for not against. There is a persistent undercurrent of the hopelessly romantic sort that John was either considering or actually did (just before the end) change sides. He didn’t, again for the reasons stated above. There would have been men close to him specially charged with keeping an eye on him, ready to turn on him the moment there was even the slightest hint of treachery. There were no doubt some close to Warwick as well.

The one myth that may have some credibility is the white rose. Though I’m not a sucker for the whole roses thing in the first place, this one could well be true, mainly because it’s about someone else, not Montagu himself. After their deaths, the brothers were transported to London, laid out in front of St Paul’s (some say naked, some say wrapped only in loin clothes, I say wearing what they wore when they died, minus their armour), and someone slipped a white rose between John’s fingers. Again not so much a comment on John’s feelings but those of someone who thought of him with some regard and regret. This is the way it ought to be, that gesture says. There are a lot of people who would agree.

They were buried at Bisham alongside their father, mother and brother. This says a great deal about how they were regarded by their cousin, the king. It’s quite a bit of trouble to go to when other, equally well born, well connected and important people who died in battle were buried where they fell. I’m sure their betrayals bewildered Edward. He’d rewarded them handsomely, taken them into his closest counsel and they turned on him.

They left behind between them nine children and two widows. The countess of Warwick panicked on hearing the news of her husband’s death and took to sanctuary. Anne Nevill, now the Princess of Wales, accompanied her husband and mother-in-law on the hellride to Tewkesbury where she endured a second loss. We don’t know what Isobel Ingoldisthorpe felt, but if John was half the man historians claim he was, her grief and devastation would have been real and profound. She remarried a year later, died three years after that and was buried with her first husband. The tomb was desecrated during the dissolution of the monasteries, if anyone knew or cared I hope they kept the Montagus together.

There’s something about the pathologically, wilfully wrong people of history that appeals to me enormously. For a lot of his career and life, Warwick’s actions, values and attitudes were right.  In the end, they weren’t. There are any number of nodes along the way, decision points, that would have led Warwick, John, Edward and Gloucester away from Barnet. But taking a deep breath and thinking Now, what did I just do wrong? What can I learn from this? wasn’t a strong suit of Warwick’s.  His focus was always on the wrongs of others.

Today, Warwick and Montagu are dead. Tomorrow, Edward, Gloucester and Hastings will be on their way to Tewkesbury and the strange schizophrenic bifurcation of my life can end. If only I knew where the bones of the Nevill brothers lie, I could wish them a peaceful rest.

A very good summary of Barnet can be found here.

This is a marriage about which a great deal has been said, written and speculated.  For the True Believer, there are some basic ‘facts’ that no-one wants to question.  It would be so easy just to go with the flow – the shared childhood, the cookshop, the bitter tears at the funeral – but quite apart from whether any of it’s even vaguely true, it’s not nearly so much fun as trying to work the angles, weasel out the probable from the improbable and coming up with something that’s real, believable and matches my own perceptions and perspective.

First, here are the things we don’t know:

•  how Anne felt about her first husband; how his death affected her;
•  when and where her marriage to Gloucester took place;
•  how and when the couple communicated before Anne’s complicit abduction (rescue?) to sanctuary;
•  which of them was the instigator of the plan;
•  just who might have been aware that not all the correct dispensations were acquired;
•  how they felt about each other;
•  whether Richard would have divorced her (he actually had fairly strong grounds for an annulment) and what (if any) relationship they might have had subsequently;
•  how much Anne was aware of any thoughts he might have had about divorce.

The things we do know:

•  at the time they married, it was a mutually beneficial plan and they both went into it with their eyes open;
•  at least until the death of their son, the marriage seems to have been successful;
•  their grief at their son’s death was profound, though how much of it was shared I’m not sure.

Looking at their respective ranks, Anne and Richard were a natural pairing. He was the king’s brother and she was the widow of the Prince of Wales, and Warwick’s daughter, with everything that came with that.  Richard might have eventually married a minor foreign noblewoman, but the Nevill wealth was far too tempting a prize to let slip.  The Nevill brothers weren’t attainted after Barnet, which was a lucky break for John’s widow and a bonanza for whoever got their hands on Warwick’s daughters.  George already had Isobel and I’m sure this was a factor in not only Richard’s decision making processes but also Anne’s.

The countess of Warwick was treated apallingly while she was in sanctuary after her husband’s death at Barnet. I don’t see her as an unwilling pawn of Warwick’s, dragged from pillar to post.  She was with her husband every step of the way, from good to bad to horrendous. She fought hard to retain her property, neither she nor her husband were attainted, there were no real legal grounds for her being dispossessed and, later, declared dead by Parliament. Her daughters’ complicity in her dispossession is clear.  To me that points to a couple of things:  the girls had shifted their loyalties entirely from their parents to their husbands; and they were a couple of opportunistic, status and wealth driven women – very much their father’s daughters!

Richard probably didn’t give much thought to Anne until she made first contact.  No doubt he was irritated that brother George had both the Nevill girls in his control, but I’m not sure that  I know, I’ll marry her! was his first thought.  Remarriage would very much have been on her mind and in her interests.  She needed a champion who could match George and Isobel; she needed someone of status and rank; she saw both of these things in Richard. Edward IV’s part in all this is intriguing.  Whatever might be said about the brothers’ relationship, Edward’s affection for George and Richard (at this point at least) can’t be denied.  He did some pretty shonky things in order to enrich them.  Despite his stated disapproval of George’s marriage to Isobel, he didn’t try too strenuously to stop it, and seems to have accepted it with fairly good grace in the end (but that’s a different post).

Despite claims from some that the difference in their ages would have meant they had very little to do with each other as children at Middleham, there can be no doubt that Anne and Richard were at least aware of each other’s existence. They were at the same table at Cawood for George Nevill’s enthronement feast, for instance. They might even have got on well, given the half-grown boy, little girl dynamic.  That doesn’t mean that they had any stronger feelings beyond a vague lopsided fondness.  He might have been the object of fluttery hero worship (I’ve been a young girl and I know how peculiarly their minds can work) but their future marriage doesn’t need to be foregrounded in any way.  They knew each other, they probably didn’t have any strong feelings of either affection or dislike. End of story.

Despite the strictures placed on the consummation of her first marriage, I think it’s possible that the hormones of the teenagers were hard to subdue. It makes it more interesting if Anne didn’t go to her second marriage a virgin.  It strengthens, for me, the likelihood that she had reasons other than I’ve already stated for wanting to be a wife once more.  I’m not sure how I see Edward PoW at this point. He’s as one dimensional in most fiction as a lot of the minor characters.  The whole “he likes to chop heads off” thing is usually quoted out of context and not in full.  There’s more to this boy than meets the eye.  I think her first marriage meant a lot to Anne, not least it being one in the eye for big sister. The relationship between the sisters isn’t known. They could well have loved each other dearly through thick and thin, or not been particularly good friends at all. It was probably somewhere in between these two, affected in some way by the conflict between their husbands.

Some pretty heavy negotiations between the brothers Clarence and Gloucester over control of their wives’ fortunes, led to an Act of Parliament in 1472  entrenching them as Isobel and Anne’s heirs. There was clearly some doubt as to the legality of the Gloucester’s marriage and the ‘divorce’ clause in Act is often interpreted as either giving Richard some wriggle room or as a compromise between him and Clarence.

And over that, it  is ordeyned by the seid auctorite that yf the seid duc of Gloucestr’ and Anne, hereafter be devorced, and after that he doo his effectuell diligence and contynuell devoir, by all convenient and laufull meanes, to be laufully maried to the seid Anne the doughter, and duryng the lyf of the same Anne be not wedded ne maried to any other woman: that yet the seid duke of Gloucestr’ shall have and enjoy asmoche of the premisses, as shall apperteigne to the seid Anne, duryng the lyf of the seid duke of Gloucestr’ (British History Online)

Reading this recently, I was left with the question: Who benefits? Clarence certainly doesn’t and neither, in isolation, does Gloucester. It strikes me that the person whose interests this best serves is Anne Nevill. If Clarence had succeeded in forcing an anulment, he couldn’t count on getting control of her share of the Warwick/Nevill estates, either by pressuring her to marry someone he could control or by seizing them himself. Richard couldn’t just sit on his hands and keep them, either. Nor could he remarry and keep them. I can’t see it being any kind of compromise between the brothers as it effectively renders pointless any attempt by Clarence to bring the Gloucesters’ marriage to an end. During the period between any potential divorce and remarriage, Anne’s property would be safely in the keeping of her ex-husband/husband-to-be. I’m left wondering just who came up with this.

Richard and Anne had one child, a son, Edward. His birth year isn’t known. He died suddenly shortly after Richard took the throne. Whatever their feelings for each other might have been, the death of their son was a watershed.  It blew the marriage out of the water (if I can be allowed the occasional mixed metaphor) however much they drew together at first.  This wasn’t just a much loved child who died, it was the sole hope that Richard had of a dynasty.  The countess and earl of Salisbury had ten surviving children; the duke and duchess of York had seven.  The granddaughter of one and the son of the other managed one between them. The sole male hope of the Nevills was John’s son George.  (That Alice, Alianor, Katheryn and Joan had sons meant nothing in this context; the existence of the young earl of Warwick hardly mattered; the duchess of Suffolk’s abundance of sons meant a little more, but had John de la Pole succeeded his uncle that would have been a whole nother kettle of fish.)

The marriage of the duke and duchess of Gloucester would seem, for the most part, to have been a successful one.  Whether they loved each other deeply or not, they suited each other in many ways.  Anne got the status and security she needed, Richard got the wealth and the reflected glory in the north of his late father-in-law.  Any thoughts he might have had about divorce (he was a childless king; he’d disinherited his brother’s children on the grounds of bastardy; his own marriage wasn’t quite as unchallengeable as he might have liked) need not imply that he didn’t care about her.  Business, as they say, is business.  Anne would have thought very differently about it, but her death overtook events and, in the end, that was one humiliation she didn’t have to face.

I think Richard did quietly grieve for his queen when she died – for lost opportunities; for the support she surely was to him in the turbulence of his reign; for their son, both her hope and his of immortality; and for the strength of mind and personality she must have had in order to instigate their marriage and pave the way for him to rule so successfully, as duke of Gloucester, in the Nevill heartland.

A marriage that evolves, changes from pragmatic considerations, to a strong sense of shared purpose, if not love, to grief and breakdown and almost to divorce is a far more interesting proposition than dewy eyed youngsters, adoring each other since childhood.  I’ll leave that for the Suffolks, they deserve it far more than anyone else.

I am much indebted to Michael Hicks and would recommend his biography of Anne Nevill, though with some caution. He occasionally sensationalises when he needn’t and the book is, of necessity, rather threadbare in places. We know so little about Anne’s life that much of the book is conjecture, extrapolated from the lives of women of similar rank. It does shine a little light into some dark corners, if it is read, as I say, with caution.

And so quickly.

Went to the local servo where we collect our mail and there it was – a slim parcel from Bedfordshire.

My book!

This is my favourite picture.  (That’s QM having a very French temper tantrum.)

Some choice quotes:

Unfortunately the Queen, Margaret of Anjou, a fierce and bitter woman, hated Warwick.  When she heard that Somerset had been killed and that York and Warwick were again in power, she determined on revenge. (p 10)

The king received Warwick with friendly courtesy, but the grim looks of the King’s Councillors and the scowling face of Queen Margaret, warned him that he was not among friends.  He was right. (p 20)

King Edward, who was twenty years old, was content to enjoy life and leave everything to Warwick.  As Warwick was both wise and honest, it was an excellent arrangement.  (p 38)

All the high offices of state were filled by relations of Elizabeth Woodville.  This was both foolish and ungrateful on Edward’s part… (p 40)

Warwick retired to his estates.  He was as honest and upright a man as ever lived in England, but he saw that only the same means that had rid Henry of his evil advisers, would serve in this case.  With deep sorrow he faced the need for further warfare in England.  (p 42)

Warwick could have made himself Dictator of England, as Cromwell did later, or even King if he had so wished.  But he was loyal to the throne, so long as whoever was on it ruled for the good of England.  (p 44)

This was Louis’ plan.  He wanted to keep England weak, so that she could never again invade France as Henry V had done.  To encourage civil war in England seemed to him the best way of doing it.  (p 46)

Not least of them was his brother Clarence, thus doubly a traitor, who deserted Warwick in his hour of need.  (p 48)

Don’t know why I’m bothering with my own book, really.  L du Garde Peach has said it all, and in 50 neat little pages.

The book is in excellent condition, and it’s a first edition.  Not bad for five pounds!