I have been inspired by The Margaret of Anjou Rules to make my own modest contribution. It’s not as complete and spirited as The Rules for Isabella and Edward II, nor as scholarly as Margaret’s, but I hope it’s helpful for aspiring WoR novelists nonetheless. (I’m just an aspiring WoR novelist myself, but I get to flout the rules if I want to and no-one can stop me!)
First an exercise. I call it the Nevill Choosa-Najective Game
Just fill in the gaps with any adjective you think is appropriate. If you’ve read enough WoR fiction, you’ll know when you’ve got it right.
The Earl of Warwick, his face twisted into a/n _________ sneer, turned to face his brother.
“You’re a fool, John!” he expostulated __________. “Blinded by your __________ love for a king who is little more than a __________ boy. Everything was __________ until he married that __________ Wydevlle woman! Now he lets her __________ family do whatever they please! You forget one thing: I am hailed the length and breadth of this land, they love me and fall __________ at my feet, for I am its Kingmaker!”
“I will not listen to you, Richard,” John murmured __________. “for you have become __________ and __________ these last few years. What would our __________ father – that __________ and __________northerner – think to see you striding across the stage of history like a __________ colossus? I am __________, for that is my nature. I fear it is yours to be __________.”
Her face __________ and __________, Warwick’s __________ daugther Anne shuddered __________ to hear these __________ words pass between the brothers. She loved her uncle John __________, for he was truly a __________ man. She was __________ of her father when he was like this: so __________ and __________. She wished she was back within the __________ walls of Middleham, her _________ friend Dickon, his __________ face as always wreathed in a __________, just __________ to be in her company. Though she tried to hide it, her father saw her and turned his __________ eye towards her.
“Anne!” he bellowed __________, making her jump like a __________ rabbit. “Go to your mother! You should not be here, listening to the conversation of your elders! You are nothing more than a __________ child! Begone, before you make me __________!”
In the corner, Isobel smirked __________ to hear her sister so chastised. She shot Anne a/n __________ look then turned with __________ towards their father. Anne knew that her bravado was little more than a/n __________ act. Greatly __________ by her recent marriage to the __________ but __________ Duke of Clarence, Isobel faced a lifetime of __________ disappointment and __________ regret. Dickon, Anne thought __________, was __________ where Clarence was __________; __________ and __________. She longed to feel his __________ arms around her, his __________ lips on hers.
“I said begone!” Warwick thundered __________.
__________, though not a little __________, Anne bolted from the room, letting fall away behind her the __________ strains of __________ fraternal conversation. She would find her mother, a ________ and __________ woman, who was as __________ of Warwick as Anne was herself. She had felt the _________ edge of his tongue more than a few times. With her, Anne would feel __________.
“Thomas would not have let you do this,” John whispered __________, a look of __________ crossing his __________ face. “He was a/n __________ man, and __________. My heart is __________ when I think of his, dying as he did, so very __________.”
“Well, at least I know George is on my side,” Warwick growled __________. “He might not be the most __________ of Archbishops, but he at least respects me as he should and __________ does as he’s told!”
“I have no wish to quarrel with you,” John sighed __________, thinking _________ of his __________ wife. “But my loyalties are __________. I cannot follow you, brother, and this makes me __________.”
He left the room __________, leaving Warwick behind to clench and unclench his fists __________ and grind his teeth __________.
“They will know my power!” he burbled __________. “I will show them just how __________ I am! I will not be ignored and set aside like a __________ dog!”
His face now __________, Warwick kicked over a table, venting his __________ rage and sending cups and platters crashing onto the floor. __________ at the carnage, he strode from the room __________, calling to his __________ servant Geoffrey to clean up the __________ mess.
If you’re stuck, here are some tips that might help.
1. Ignore the sisters. They aren’t important in any way – all they did was marry some guys (you don’t even have to name them, or establish their relationships with each other or the Nevills) and live in total obscurity. In fact, if you can manage it, don’t even let it slip that they existed.
2. Salisbury is from Yorkshire, therefore he’s a taciturn, hardbitten northerner. That’s all you need to know.
3. George, the archbishop of York, is a feckless, good living, cowardly, cynical man who is best summed up by the amount of food served at his enthronement feast. Obviously he’s far too worldly to have any kind of real vocation. You might have a suspicious number of young women traipsing through his house.
4. Don’t worry too much about Thomas – he dies pretty soon, anyway, so you can apply the ‘only the good die young’ principle to him. If you feel you really need to do something with him, make him jolly – always laughing, everyone’s friend. That way it will be so much sadder when he dies. Also make it clear that Warwick wouldn’t have done what he did if he’d survived, and that should be pointed out to him at some stage, preferably by John.
5. Speaking of John – he’s such a good man, so loyal and loving. Have him point out to Warwick every time he’s made or is about to make a mistake. And have Warwick refuse to listen.
6. Warwick, of course, is proud and arrogant, bad tempered, impulsive and his eventual change of sides needs to be flagged early on. Give him no redeeming qualities. Make his wife and daughters terrified of him. Have him bellow “I am the Kingmaker!” at someone – preferably John. Make the rift between him and Edward sharp and irreparable – he walks into council at Reading, beaming and proud of himself, he walks out vowing to destroy the king and that bitch he married. His motto “seulement une” refers of course to himself – he is the ONLY ONE! Never mind the fact that the gender’s feminine.
7. The countess of Warwick and her daughters should be pale, sickly and terrified of Warwick. Have the countess lay a trembling hand on his arm from time to time, only for it to be roughly shaken off. Have Anne beg him not to make her marry Edward of Lancaster. Conversely, have Isobel delighted at her marriage to Clarence, only to end up disappointed and embittered, though still loving him helplessly, due to his drunken cruelty. These three women are Helpless Pawns.
8. The only reason John switches sides at the end is because he knows that without him, Warwick will die. Remember this! It’s very important. John still loves the king and wears his colours to the bitter end.
9. The countess of Salisbury’s attainder and flight to Ireland needn’t be mentioned. It’s unimportant and trivial. She should slump to her knees at the news of her husband’s death, slip into a decline and die of a broken heart.
10. At Barnet, John dies bravely and Warwick dies trying to run away.
If you follow this advice, no matter who your major characters are, you should find it easy to slip the Nevills into your story without so much as a ripple.