Chapter two sees the Yorks enter the picture for the first time. We meet all of them, the duke and duchess at Fotheringhay with their younger children and later in London; Edward and Edmund (briefly) at Ludlow then in London for Christmas and Anne at her new home (Coldharbour, I think). Even York’s sister Isabel makes an appearance.
I’ve had to make some changes from the first draft because of one tiny piece of information I got at the last minute. When York was summoned to London in October 1453, the duke of Norfolk met him along the way and they entered the city together. That hasn’t been too much of a problem and in one sense it’s quite useful, as I’ve been able to introduce Eleanor Bourchier a little earlier than originally planned and that’s been quite a blessing.
One of the frustrations is the lack of information about where the women were and what they were doing at particular times. As both the duchesses of York and Norfolk were in London for Margaret of Anjou’s churching, I’ve had them travel with their husbands. I also don’t know what the relationship might have been between the three sister-in-law: Cecily, the duchess of Norfolk and Isabel. I’m allowing them to be fairly close without being sickeningly so.
The churching was a difficult thing to deal with as I had virtually no information beyond a list of duchesses and a description of Margaret’s dress. Laynesmith (I found her thesis on the web and now have the book) was very useful in expanding on this. I have Cecily’s pov for some of it and the countess of Warwick’s for another bit. Hopefully I’ve managed to explain some of the alliances and enmities through their thoughts and their response (or lack of) to the women around them. As it was an essentially silent affair, that response has had to be silent. I’ve also put a female slant on the whole affair – men and the church might talk of cleansings etc, but the women know what it’s really all about.
I’m afraid I’ve toed the party line a bit when it comes to the Yorks. I see no reason to doubt the received view of their love for each other, nor Cecily’s piety. The ten year hiatus between their marriage and the birth of Anne is problematic, unless you maybe think that Ciss had some problems with the idea of consummation (which she overcame with a vengeance), coupled with Joan Beaufort making her son-in-law wait (which seems to have been her practice) and some possible miscarriages. I haven’t overdone it, I think.
As I want at least one marriage that’s happy from start to finish, I’ve allowed young Elizabeth and John de la Pole to be developing quite a close friendship that will morph into the quiet, happy marriage I think they had (until their son was named R3’s heir, at which point – goodbye quiet happiness.) That raised an interesting question for me about Alice Chaucer, John’s mother. She couldn’t have been happy that York held John’s wardship or that his betrothal to Margaret Beaufort was rescinded in favour of Elizabeth, but she doesn’t seem to have gone out of her way to influence his opinion of them. Maybe her husband was right when he told his son in a letter that his mother was a wise woman.
The other York marriage of the time – that of Anne and the duke of Exeter – was not a happy one. Exeter was, I think, resentful that his marriage had been sold to York so cheaply by his father, especially as his father died shortly thereafter and the full amount was never paid! I was a bit worried about setting Exeter up as an unpleasant character, thus falling into some kind of stereotype, but my daughter reassured me, telling me that not everyone has a redeeming quality and I shouldn’t tie myself in knots trying to find one. We meet Anne when her mother pays her a visit to find out if she knows what Exeter might be up to. Anne knows nothing and doesn’t hesitate to tell her mother exactly what she thinks of her husband.
Most of the chapter revolves around the wheeling and dealing to get York first the lieutenancy then the protectorship. Warwick and Salisbury make an appearance towards the end of the chapter, along with Fitzhugh and Scrope of Bolton (I do love that name!). I do slip up to Yorkshire briefly for the birth of Alice Fitzhugh’s second daughter, Anne. A message is sent to London, and when the various men are going their various ways for Christmas, there is a quiet conversation between Fitzhugh and his father-in-law about children. (“Nevill tends to run to girls,” Salisbury says, from the safe perspective of a father of sons.) We get a bit more of a glimpse into the Fitzhugh marriage, with Henry realising more and more that he’s beginning to care deeply for his wife. Despite an invitation to join the Salisburys at Bisham, he just wants to go home to his Ailie.
I’ve used Norfolk’s speech against Somerset almost uncut and almost unedited. It was way too good to either paraphrase or completely modernise. I’m hoping it doesn’t sound too odd to modern ears. As I’ve had a bit to do with Middle English over the years, I think I’ve managed to pull it off.
The chapter ends with York named protector by parliament. I haven’t gone into that in any great depth because I don’t think the details matter too much. His first act (though some sources tell me it happened a few days earlier) is to name Salisbury chancellor, which surprised the hell out of everyone (except Salisbury).
So, now it’s time to polish chapter 3, but I think paid work might get in the way a little bit.