Archive for April, 2011

This was going to be a more general post about John Nevill, until Susan Higginbotham reminded me of a sentence in Warkworth’s Chronicle that seems to have been oddly (and quite definitively) interpreted in one particular way, which has spread through the pages of historical fiction like a meme (or a virus?). Thinking about this last night got me to thinking about what other interpretations could be made of it, how it fit in with what else we know (or at least, what else is in the sources), and how the current widespread interpretation is used to reinforce the seemingly entrenched view of the three surviving Nevill brothers as literary archetypes. Which they weren’t – they were Actual People Who Actually Lived.

Most of us who write about the Wars of the Roses have a bias. Even serious historians, who can claim to be more neutral than most, probably aren’t entirely neutral. So, given that there are recognised to be two sides – York and Lancaster – and as the Nevills worked for both, it’s not difficult to see how they often end up caught in a cleft stick, so to speak. Yorkists don’t like them because they changed sides, Lancastrians don’t like them because they inflicted great harm on their cause – before changing sides. When I say “them”, I really should correct myself – they don’t like Warwick or the archbishop of York. Everyone just loves John! It’s almost as if the countess of Salisbury had two sons only: Thomas, the tragic young warrior who died at Wakefield, and a fully rounded, three dimensional son who was, tragically, at a very young age hit with some kind of alien raygun and split into three: Richard, who was All Things Bad; John, who was All Things Good; and poor George who kind of got the leftover weaselly bits*. No-one’s shocked when Richard changes sides, whatever George does is slotted nicely into his ‘self-seeking’ ‘cowardly’ persona, but great efforts must be made to explain John’s actions. Torn Between Loyalties is a favourite, Montagu wearing the ‘colours of York’ under his armour a meme that just refuses to die, and that brings us very nicely back to Warkworth.

And on Ester day in the mornynge, the xiij day of Apryl, ryght erly, eche of them came uppone the othere; and ther was suche a grete myste, that nether of them myght see othere perfitely; ther thei faught from iiij of the clokke in the mornynge unto x of the clokke the fore-none. And dyverse tymes the Erle of Warwyke party hade the victory, and supposede that they hade wonne the felde. But it happened so, that the Erle of Oxenfordes men hade uppon them ther lordes lyvery, bothe before and behynde, which was a sterre with stremys, wiche [was] myche lyke the Kynge Edwardes lyvery, the sunne with stremys; and the myste was so thycke, that a manne myghte not porfytely juge one thynge from anothere; so the Erle of Warwikes menne shott and faught ayens the Erle of Oxenfordes and his menne cryed “treasoune! treasoune!” and fledde awaye from the felde withe viij c menne. The Lorde Markes Montagu was agreyde and apoyntede with Kynge Edwarde, and put uppone hym Kinge Edwardes lyvery; and a manne of the Erles of Warwyke sawe that, and felle upponne hyme, and kyllede him.  And whenne the Erle of Warwyke saw his brother dede, and the Erle of Oxenford fledde, he lepte upon horse-backe, and flede to a wode by the felde of Barnett…

And it goes on to then describe the manner and means of the death of the earl of Warwick. (italics mine)

Just to get a fuller picture of who was writing what at (or around) the time: Croyland doesn’t mention any of this in his very brief description of the battle.

In the morning a dreadful engagement took place, in which there fell various nobles of either party. Of the side of those who were of King Henry’s party, there fell those two most famous nobles, the brothers, Richard earl of Warwick, and John, marquis of Montagu.

The Arrivall has this to say:

In this battayle was slayne the Erle of Warwyke, somewhat fleinge … There was also slayne the Marques Montagwe, in playne battayle…

So, just assuming for a moment that the author of Warkworth’s Chronicle had some snippet of information that the other two lacked, that being: At some point during the battle, where he was seen by only one man, John Nevill replaced his own livery with that of the king he was fighting against. If he had put it on under his armour, that would necessitate removing his armour to expose it to the eyes of his brother’s man. Who promptly killed him. As a strategy – either for (as I discuss below) an attempted escape or a change of sides, it failed miserably. Not, one would have thought, quite in keeping with the much vaunted (and likely true) military genius of John Nevill. That this change of clothes somehow happened in the thick of battle is quite clear – according to Warkworth, Warwick saw his brother fall (or at least his colours). I know it was misty, and maybe he ducked behind a hedge while people’s attention was directed elsewhere, but… Of course, he might have withdrawn temporarily, told his officers what was up, changed clothes and headed back to the fight.

So, maybe he was wearing Edward’s livery under his own, and just whipped the top layer off at the (as it happens) most inopportune moment. There are a number of things wrong with this suggestion. Firstly, if the distrust between the brothers was so great that Warwick had salted his men in Montagu’s army, this would have been noticed long before the reveal moment. Secondly, assuming that Montagu had agreed and appointed with Edward to change sides, it seems awfully odd (and woefully unprepared) to be doing this single handed. And thirdly, given the possibility that a large enough number of his men were going to follow him to make it work, and given that they too would have been disguised – ready to whip off their top layer and slay their oh so temporary allies – none of them did. And there’s no mention of any similarly dressed corpses. One way of surviving this battle might have been for these double-dressed men to discard the top layer as they ran for their lives in the rout. It had been done before**… There’s no mention of abandoned livery at Barnet.

But perhaps this wasn’t about torn loyalties at all. Maybe this was about self-seeking, weaselly, looking out for himself… Oh, sorry, that’s George! But to give it some serious consideration, just for a moment – Warkworth reports this change of clothes happening at the moment when it should be clear to Montagu, experienced soldier that he is, that all is not well. He has an escape plan, attempts to put it into action and is thwarted at the last moment by that pesky spy his brother has slipped into his army. This is quite definitely not the John that so many people have come to know and love through the pages of historical fiction. Whatever that John Nevill may do, it doesn’t include attempting to disguise himself in order to save his own arse at the expense of others. If Warkworth is correct, it must be considered at least a possibility.

But it’s what happens after Barnet that calls Warkworth into question for me. John is not hailed as a great hero by the king he supposedly agreed and appointed with, whose livery he was wearing when he died. His body is taken to London and exposed for view, along with that of Warwick. He is given a more than honourable funeral and his widow is left in peace (unlike Warwick’s), but this says more to me about Edward than about John. Montagu didn’t have enough property worth stealing and maybe the king was simply more charmed by Isobel than by Anne. The king needed to reward his brothers, Gloucester more than Clarence, and impoverishing Isobel and disinheriting her children would have reaped but a small reward. John’s widow was given no additional honours, property or other reward (except a half decent second husband), which would surely accrue to the widow of a Great Hero who Stayed Loyal to His King and Died Wearing His Colours.

The 1472 Parliamentary Roll doesn’t mention any incipient heroism on John’s part. In fact, it quite clearly states the opposite:

 The kyng oure sovereigne lord, consideryng the grete and horible treasons and < other offenses > doon to his highnes by John Nevile, late Marquys Mountague, entended by the auctorite of this present parlement to have atteynted and disabled the said late marquys and his heires for ever, accordyng to his demerites, which to doo the same, oure sovereigne lord, at the humble request and prayer, aswell of his right dere brother Richard, duc of Gloucestr’, and other lordes of his blode, as of other of his lordes, spareth and will no ferther in that behalf procede…

If John had been about to turn, there’s no earthly reason for Edward to have kept it a secret.

What seems odder still to me is that John is lionised and sentimentalised for behaviour (disloyalty to his brother Warwick) that earns the archbishop of York eternal scorn and opprobrium. It seems that the lesson is clear: If John does it, it’s Heroic, if George does it, it’s Weaselly.

There’s a good deal more to John Nevill than many books of historical fiction would have us believe. He wasn’t a Sensitive New Age Guy somehow transported back to the middle ages. He wasn’t the lighter half of Warwick’s soul. He chose his moment to declare for his brother very carefully. Warwick knew what was going on in England amongst his followers while he was in exile in France. He kept up correspondence with them and I don’t doubt for a moment that one of them was John. The prevailing view seems to be that he woke up one morning, months after accepting the marquis for earl deal, and all that came with it, and suddenly had a change of heart. “This just isn’t good enough! I think I’ll have a chat with my men and change sides.” His defection, I submit, was well in train long before this. And once his decision was made, he stuck to it and he died for it. To believe otherwise is to believe that John Nevill was no better than his brother George who changed his loyalty almost on whim, or when the going got tough, leaving Warwick alone and hung out to dry.

* Even Hicks buys into this (and, until I ferret out the page reference and update, I’m paraphrasing) when he says that John represented all that was noble in Warwick and George all that was not.

** I apologise for linking to a wikipedia entry, especially before checking it, but it was there, so…

I want to look in some depth at a letter written by Anne Beauchamp, countess of Warwick, to the Commons after the Battle of Barnet. She wrote other letters, to several of the ‘ladies noble of this realm’. I haven’t been able to find any of them, but they probably don’t say much that isn’t said in the one I do have. What would be interesting to see would be any difference in tone. This is a formal letter, written to a formal government body. Anne had, by this stage, reached the end of the list of people (or bodies) she could appeal to. I get a strong sense of the woman herself from this letter. Anne knows her rights and knows they’re being violated. The decision taken by parliament to disinherit (impoverish) her, must have been extremely hard for her to take, especially as it was her daughters and sons-in-law who benefitted from it. I can’t help but think she felt betrayed by them.

Some background. The Countess of Warwick (Anne) remained in France as the guest of Louis XI when her husband launched his final invasion of England in 1470. She remained there during the Readeption of Henry VI, returning in April 1471. She landed in Portsmouth to the news of her husband’s death. Immediately, she took sanctuary at Beaulieu Abbey. She was to remain there for the next two years. When she emerged, it was into the custody of her daughter, Anne, and son-in-law, Richard duke of Gloucester. The duke had conspired with Edward IV (and competed with his brother George duke of Clarence, husband of the countess’s daughter, Isobel) for control over her fortune and that of her late husband. While in sanctuary, she wrote several letters seeking both her release and control of her wealth.

The letter

To the right worshipfull & discrete comyns of this present parlement,

Shewith vnto your wisdomes and discrecions the kynges true liege woman Anne Countesse of Warrewyk whiche neuer offended his most redoghted highnes

Like her husband and brother-in-law, the marquis Montagu, Anne wasn’t attainted for anything she might have done during Warwick’s rebellions or the Readeption, and she makes no confession in this letter. This doesn’t suffice to clear her of any direct involvement, however. As stated in the Introduction to the parliamentary roll Edward IV 1472, “If Warwick had to remain unattainted, to allow his lands to pass by inheritance to his daughters, it would hardly be appropriate to attaint his followers”. As the bulk of their shared wealth was hers, Anne couldn’t have been attainted either.

for she immediately after the dethe of hir lord And husbond on whos soule God haue mercy for noon’ offence by her doon but dredyng only trouble beyng that tyme [whiche] within this realme entred into the Seintuare of Beaulieu for suertie of hir persone to dispose for the weel and helthe of the soule of hir seid lord and husbond as right And conscience required her so to doo

In this passage, are the first two of four references to Anne’s late ‘lord and husband’. She doesn’t qualify this with any of the usual words of affection, such as “well-beloved”, “right worshipful” &c. In this she’s probably being cautious and politic, though not quite trying to distance herself. She gives two reasons for being in sanctuary: 1. for surety of her person – to hold off any unnamed and unexplained ‘trouble’ that might be coming her way; and 2. to pray for her husband’s soul, ‘as right and conscience required’. This is a very interesting passage to me, as it suggests two things. Firstly, that she expected very real ‘trouble’. Given the 1459 attainder of her mother-in-law, her daughter’s marriage to the Prince of Wale and her constant geographical closeness to Warwick, it suggests that Anne was very closely associated with him and had genuine fears for the repercussions. Perhaps her months as guest of Louis XI weren’t spent in relative idleness. We have no surviving evidence, but Anne might have been a little more actively involved than we know. Just in what capacity is hard to even speculate from this distance. The second thing is that she is trying to disassociate herself from him a little – explaining away her prayers for his soul in formulaic terms. “I loved him dearly, wept for days after I got the news and spent so long in prayer that I bruised my knees” would hardly have won anyone over to her side. That she indeed did ‘dispose of the weal and health of [his] soul’ can hardly have been in dispute – there would have been many in the Abbey to witness it, and assist her, and none, surely, to condemn her for it.

It has been suggested that one of the reasons Anne was kept so long in sanctuary was to prevent her remarrying. This only makes sense if it was an attempt to prevent her from acquiring a strong (and self-interested) ally before the king and his brothers could finalise their plans for her wealth. There’s never any accompanying suggestion as to who might have been able, or willing, to provide that alliance. Anne herself may have feared, before the awful truth hit home, that she might be persuaded to marry someone of the king’s choosing. But if her remarriage was the king’s biggest fear, she could have been released the moment that danger passed. She wasn’t. Her daughters at the time were not in a strong position to support her. They may have tried to enlist their husbands’ aid in gaining her freedom and, given that she was eventually released into the duke of Gloucester’s custody, maybe his duchess finally succeeded in that, but once her money was gone, there really was no-one of any influence who need care about her. As it turns out, she never did remarry. This might have been because she just wasn’t an attractive prospect anymore – there was no-one to rescue her as Edward IV rescued his queen, or as Gloucester rescued her daughter. It may, of course, have been Anne’s choice not to remarry. Not all widows remarried. The duchess of York didn’t. Lady Alice Fitzhugh remained a widow for thirty years. After her second husband’s execution, Katheryn Hastings chose to stay single. Maud Stanhope, married and widowed three times, didn’t try it for a fourth. Whatever the nature of her relationship with Warwick, at the time of his death they’d been husband and wife for thirty six years, actively and independently husband and wife for around twenty five. He may simply have been a hard act to follow.

makyng within v dayes or ner’ ther’ abowtes after her entre into the seid seyntuare her labores suytes and meanes to the Kynges Highnes for her safe garde to be had as diligently and effectuelly as her power wold extend she not saisyng but after her power contynuyng in such labores suytes and meanes in so moche that in absence of clerkes she hathe wretyn lettres in that behalfe to the kynges highness with her owne hand

Here’s where it starts to get really interesting. Five days after entering sanctuary, six days after her husband’s death, the woman who is so often portrayed as overwhelmed, outshone and dominated by her husband, picks herself up, dusts herself off and sets about (without the help and advice of ‘experts’) throwing herself on the king’s mercy, rehabilitating herself and getting her hands on the property she was entitled to. Her success in this was not spectacular. The speed with which she begins this quest suggests two things to me. Firstly, that she was aware of a potential threat to either herself, her freedom or her wealth and title. Secondly, that she was a woman used to having money, status and influence. She didn’t break down and decide that, with Warwick gone, her life was over. At forty five, she could still see a future for herself. She’d enjoyed the things that money and position had brought her and, grieving or not, she wasn’t about to give them up.

And not only makyng suche labores suytes and meanes to the Kynges Highnes sothely also to the Quenes good grace to my ryght redoghted lady the kynges moder to my lady the kynges eldest doughter to my lordes the kynges brethren to my ladyes the kynges Susters to my lady of Bedford moder to the Quene and to other ladyes noble of this realme

I would love to get my hands on some of these letters! Particularly those to the king’s brothers. Perhaps, if nothing else, all this letter writing took her mind off the loss of her lord and husband. (I’d also love to see any responses she might have received.)

This list of recipients of the countess’s letters is heartbreaking. Six of those listed (including the king) are cousins-by-marriage, one is her husband’s aunt and two are (also) sons-in-law (one definitely, the other at least contractually). Though his York kin clearly meant little to the earl of Warwick during his years of rebellion, his widow might have expected better treatment from them than she got. Mind you, I have no idea whether the queen, the duchesses of York, Exeter, Suffolk and Burgundy made any approach to the king on her behalf. The king’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth of York, was five years old and an unlikely ally. Jacquetta of Bedford, whose husband and son died on Warwick’s orders, was hardly likely to stir herself too energetically on his widow’s behalf. Elizabeth Wydeville, despite similar feelings to her mother, might have taken up Anne’s cause in her traditional queenly role of intercessor, but perhaps not too doggedly. And ‘self interest’ is almost too neutral a term to describe the actions of the dukes of Clarence and Gloucester. Anne really was on her own.

In whiche labores suytes and meanes she hathe contynued hyderto and so wyll contynue as she owes to doo tyl it may please the kynge of his most good and noble grace to haue consideracion that duryng the lyfe of her seid lord and husbond she was couert Baron’ whiche poynt she remyttes to your grete wisdomes And that after his deceasse all the tyme of her beyng in the seid seyntuare she hath duly kept her fidelite and ligeaunce and obeied the kynges commaundementz

There’s more than a little bit of steel in this girl’s backbone! She’s going to dig her heels in and keep writing letters until she gets what she wants – what she’s entitled to, as countess of Warwick by right of inheritance, and loyal subject of the king by justice. What might be a telling point here is that she stresses her ‘fidelite and ligeaunce’, and her obedience, as of her husband’s death and her entry into sanctuary. She makes no attempt to claim that for herself before this time. Whatever her involvement in her husband’s rebellions and treasons, it’s hard to see how she could have been anything other than faithful, loyal and obedient subsequently, shut up as she was under the watchful eye of the abbot. Still, it’s worth stressing this to the commons. They were, after all, overtly one of her husband’s great concerns throughout his political career. While she could expect them to have no residual loyalty or affection for him, maybe – just maybe – they’d remember their champion and cut his widow some slack. There’s also a reminder that as ‘couert Baron’ she was subject to her husband’s will. Was it fair and reasonable to hold that against her now? This isn’t quite ‘I was only following orders’ but, as a defence, it as well worth the attempt.

how be it hit hath pleased the Kynges Highnes by some synester informacion to his seid Highness made to directe his most drad letters to the Abbot of the monastere of Beaulieu [which] with right sharpe commaundement that suche persones as his highness sent to the seid monastere shuld haue garde and strayte kepyng of her persone whiche was and is to her grete hertys grevaunce she specially feryng that the priuileges & libertees of the churche by suche kepyng of her persone moght be interrupt and violate where the priuileges of the seid seyntuare were neuer so largly attempted in to this tyme as is seid

‘Sinister information’… There was either something real that Edward IV was using, or something entirely made up – either way, the whole thing stinks of ‘pretext’. There’s no hint here Anne knows what this information is, nor, indeed, that she doesn’t! Either way, sanctuary was not designed to be a prison and this, Anne declares, is how it’s being used in her case. And she further fears that it could be violated at any time in order to remove her by force. Being removed isn’t what she wants – being able to walk out the door is.

yet the seid Anne & Countesse vnder protestacion by her made hath suffred strayte kepyng of her persone and yet doth that her fidelite and ligeaunce to the Kynges Highnes the better moght be vnderstand hopyng [th] she myght the rather haue had larges to make suytes to the Kynges Highnes in her owne persone for her lyuelode and suche full inheritaunce whiche lyuelode and inheritaunce with all revenous and prouentus therto perteynyng with her Joyntour also and dower of the Erldome of Salesbury fully and holy hath be restrayned fro her from the tyme of the dethe of her seid lord and husbond in to this day

Anne knows just what’s hers, and just what she’s entitled to. From the time of her niece’s death, her husband fought hard on her behalf (and his own) to secure everything that was hers (and some which, strictly speaking, wasn’t). I have no doubt that Anne knew as much about their joint wealth as he did. And she’s not going to let something as trifling as being ignored and kept a prisoner stop her from getting it! I suspect Edward knew he wouldn’t be able to steal it all away from her to give to his brothers if she had been able to ‘make suits … in her own person’, hence the ‘strait keeping’.

John Nevill’s widow, Isobel, wasn’t treated anywhere near as badly as this. In fact, it can hardly be said she was treated badly at all. She was allowed to keep her own property as well as wardship of her son, George. Further – and this, I must stress, is my own speculation – given his position in Edward IV’s household, I strongly suspect that her second marriage, to William Norreys, was brokered by the king himself. He was fond of her, it would seem, and didn’t want to see her disadvantaged. That might reflect some regret at Montagu’s ultimate defection and death. I think Edward felt some regret over Warwick as well – he allowed George Nevill, archbishop of York, to bury both his brothers at Bisham – but it seems to have been somewhat less than that felt for the loss of Montagu. To indulge for a moment in the murky world of cliche, maybe Isobel was just a more delectable morsel than Anne, one whose moistened eyelashes the king could not resist.  Either way, Anne clearly wasn’t to benefit from any sentiment in the king’s heart.

And for as moche as our souerayn lord the Kynge of his grete grace hath sette and assembled his high[t] Court of parlement for reformacions right and equite to all his subjettys and liege people duly to be mynystred The said Anne and Countesse humbly besechith your grete wisdomes to pondre and waye in your consciences her right and true title of her inheritaunce as the Erldom of Warrewyk and Spencers londes to whiche she is rightfully born by lyneal succession And also her iointour and dower of the Erldom of Salesbury forseid And to [shewe] her youre benyvolence that by the kyngis good grace and auctorite of this his noble parlement she may to her forsaid lyuelode and rightfull inheritaunce Duly be restored and it enioye as the lawes of all myghty God and of this noble realme right also and conscience doth require

I’m not sure what she thought the Commons could do for her. Perhaps she wasn’t aware (for she doesn’t mention it, even obliquely) of the machinations of the York brothers. Whatever is going on, Edward IV was never in a stronger position than he was just after Barnet and Tewkesbury – he could pretty much do as he liked, whatever the Commons thought about it. And, in the end, all of her appeals came to nothing.

Besechyng hertely your grete goodnesses in the reuerence of allmyghty God and of his most blessed moder well of grace to consider the pore estate she standes in how in her owne persone she may not sollicite the premissez as she wold and she moght ner is of power any sufficient sollicitour in this byhalf to make and thogh she moght as may not ther is noon that dar take it vpon hym To haue also this pore bylle in your tendre remembraunce that your parfyte charite and good will may sollicite theffecte of the same whiche to doo her power at this tyme may not extend And shal pray and do pray to God for you”

Anne is on her own. Whether she exaggerates the lack of help in either writing or drafting her letters, she certainly doesn’t have the resources at her fingertips that she’s used to. The thought of being left with none of the vast fortune she has enjoyed since 1449, vaster still since 1461, must have been hard to bear. The loss of her title, the one enjoyed so thoroughly by her husband, her greatest gift to him, must have been difficult in the extreme. It was hers and no-one had the right to take it from her! Yet they did. Much has been made of the restoration of her estates by Henry VII – it’s often expressed as a belated righting of a Yorkist wrong (and there’s no doubt it was a wrong). But she immediately handed most of it over to the crown. There was to be no last minute justice for the countess of Warwick.

The Anne in this letter is not a sudden creation. She didn’t spring into being on or about 20 April 1471 – she was there all the time. The wife of Richard Nevill could only be one of two things: a non-entity who remained utterly in the background; or a strong woman who stood (as much as was possible at the time) shoulder to shoulder with her husband. This letter points me much more to the latter than the former. There are, in my view, too many historical novels that choose Weak Pale Anne, blown hither and yon by Cyclone Warwick. There is precious little about her in the more serious works, and maybe that’s why so many writers have chosen the Anne that they have. There are clues, however, that this is the Wrong Anne entirely.

Here are some bits I’ve managed to glean:

First, Paul Murray Kendall, Warwick the Kingmaker, 1987. Just, coz.

(1457) The Earl of Warwick, taking his wife and two small daughters with him, at last went over the sea to his town of Calais. p 34

(1460) The Earl and Countess [of Warwick] went on to visit their estates, which had been plundered by the Lancastrians. p 77

(1461) He was now in his thirty-third year. He had fathered only two frail daughters, Isabel, aged nine, and Anne, four years younger; and it was apparent that his wife, Anne, would bear him no more children. p 105

(1469) Richard Neville was now forty years old. His daughter Isabel was seventeen and Anne, four years younger. His Countess would never give him a son to carry on his name and hold whatever he might achieve. p 266

(1470) Warwick and Clarence made their way safely to Warwick Castle, where their ladies were anxiously awaiting news of them. p 295

(1471) Even as his army began to break before his eyes, a ship carrying the Countess of Warwick was standing in to Portsmouth harbour…
p 367

(1471) When the news of Warwick’s end reached the south coast, his Countess took sanctuary in Beaulieu Abbey.
p 370

(epilogue) Warwick’s Countess lived in obscurity until about 1490. p 371

There are two other, very minor, references.

Kendall’s countess is a passive wife and a broken widow. The clues (her going with him to Calais in 1457 and just about every other time he was in residence; their shared journey to inspect their estates in 1460; her sharing of his flight and exile in 1470) are not picked up. Her daughters are ‘frail’ and she failed to ‘give him’  a son. That he failed to give her a son to carry on her Beauchamp and Despenser legacy isn’t even considered.

Kendall’s countess disappears when she enters sanctuary. She has one short line in the epilogue. Just why she might have sought sanctuary isn’t explored. She was a woman, dependent on her husband in every way, arrived in England to crushing news and fled. Though by no means its primary function, during the Wars of the Roses many nobles used sanctuary to try to avoid charges of treason. (In fact, I believe that this was, officially at least, not a function of sanctuary.) If Anne feared a charge of treason laid against her, if she expected to be attainted, I find myself asking: Why? What had she done? Kendall doesn’t.

Michael HicksWarwick the Kingmaker, 1998

The first twelve references to Anne are to do with her inheritance, and I haven’t listed them here.

(1456) Warwick attended [great council], apparently commuting from nearby Warwick, where he was on 30 October and 16 November, and where he received the king, who joined him and his countess in making offerings at St Mary’s. Perhaps they visited the temporary tomb of the king’s late governor the countess’s father and must certainly have witnessed the progress of the Beauchamp Chapel. p 130

(1457) Probably it was not until May 1457, after John’s marriage, accompanied by a ‘fayre ffellaushipp’ that he, his countess and Fauconberg took up residence [in Calais], which none of his predecessors had done. p 141

(1459) There [Warwick, Salisbury and March] were well-received by Fauconberg and by the Countess Anne, who had heard of their flight and feared the worst. p 169

(1460) Warwick was able to continue to Calais, where he was received joyously, not least by his countess. p 176

Warwick returned to Calais, where he was reunited with his countess and mother and was nobly received by the town’s patricians, bourgeois and soldiers, whom he thanks for guarding the colony so well against his enemies. p 181

(1461) Warwick sped to Calais, sealing his agreement with Somerset on the 8th, feasted those who loved him both there and at Sandwich. His wife, mother and Wydeville prisoners accompanied him. p 184

(1462) [On the funeral of Warwick’s father, brother and mother.] … where [were] … Warwick’s own countess and daughters?

[On Warwick’s embassy to Scotland.] Failing to secure the co-operation that he sought, he retired to York, where he left his countess, and thence to Middleham… p 241

(1464) Presumably it was now that he, his countess and the king made offerings at St Mary’s Warwick. p 245

(1469) [Warwick and Clarence’s] flight was not precipitate, but deliberate. Warwick was accompanied by his artillery as far as Bristol. He picked up his countess and daughter on the way. Flight was not his sole thought. p 286

(1471) Barnet was admittedly a disaster for Warwick’s countess, who lost her husband, her inheritance and her independence. p 312

We get more of a glimpse of Anne here. Though the references to do with her inheritance were all about Warwick (and, after all, he was the one doing the legwork), there’s no suggestion that she was utterly passive. She attended various inquests, along with her husband. We see a woman who accompanied her husband just about everywhere he went. In another work (and I’ll dig out the reference if I have the strength), Hicks suggests that one of the reasons they were so much together was that he didn’t want to ‘waste her childbearing years’. Again, this makes it all sound terribly one sided. Warwick no doubt didn’t want to waste those years, but I hardly think she did! Children would have been as important to her, and their lack of a son as devastating, as they were to him. We also get a small sense, through the Waurin quote, of at least some affection between husband and wife, or, if not affection, relief at Warwick’s safe return to Calais. The choice of whatever word translates best to joy is a telling one (I haven’t seen Waurin in any detail, even in translation) – Anne expressed ‘joy’ that could be seen and witnessed when her husband came home after a difficult voyage during a difficult time. It’s a slender twig on which to hang a thesis of a happy marriage (or at the very least, a happier than otherwise marriage), but it’s there.

Again, Anne’s reason for entering sanctuary isn’t explored.

AJ Pollard Warwick the Kingmaker, 2007 (come on guys! come up with a new title, already)

Pollard has a good deal more to speculate about Anne than either Hicks or Kendall (though there are fewer references). Again, in the early chapters, there is a good deal of discussion about the securing of her title and inheritance after the death of her niece.

(on her marriage) The marriage of his son to [Beauchamp] Warwick’s daughter at the same time was possibly a further part of the bargain [made regarding the marriage of his son, Henry, to Salisbury’s daughter, Cecily] required by Beauchamp, for Salisbury might have preferred to find a bride who was an heiress. p 12

It was also, quite clearly, not a love match; although the law did allow for them to terminate the contract before consummation if both parties agreed. However, as they grew up, they clearly accepted each other and their parents’ decisions. p 12

(1457) Shortly afterwards, the earl [of Warwick], his countess and Lord Fauconberg crossed to Calais where he took up residence for an extended stay. p 34

(1470) Passing through the midlands, where they were joined by Warwick’s countess, his daughter the duchess of Clarence and his daughter Anne, they continued south to Devon. p 68

(general observations – I think it’s worth quoting this in full, mainly because it’s difficult to tweeze out the soundbites.)

His widow lived until 1492. Having landed at Weymouth in the train of Margaret of Anjou on the day of his death, she hastened into sanctuary at Beaulieu Abbey. There she was kept for two years under guard, pleading to whoever would listen for their support in securing her release and restoration of her rights. At length, in 1473, she was taken into the care of Richard of Gloucester, who had married her daughter Anne, and was removed to Middleham Castle, where she was probably able to live a more normal life, but still denied her rights. She was disinherited by Edward IV so that his brothers could share the spoils of the Warwick inheritance. Only after the succession of Henry VII did she receive any kind of justice, and that on the condition that she ‘voluntarily’ made over her inheritance to the crown. Little is otherwise known of her. She seems to have been close to her husband, although this did not prevent him from fathering at least one illegitimate child. She shared his exiles with him in 1459-60 and 1470, though it appears she did not enjoy living in Calais. In the summer of 1460, it was reported that ‘my lady of Warwick comes but little abroad but keeps her always in the castle’. [letter from Calais to a Thomas Thorpe – not *the* Thomas Thorpe – my note] She was a great promoter of her father’s name and reputation, commissioning the Beauchamp Pageant later in her life, and may well have encouraged her husband to identify with the Beauchamp traditions in the early years of his earldom, although after 1460 he balanced this with his inherited Neville interests. She was much admired by John Rous, who was of the same age. He stressed in his note on her that she was by true inheritance countess of Warwick and that she had suffered great tribulation for her lord’s sake (as she had). He picked out that she was ‘free of her speech to every person familiar [ie of her household, and presumably especially him] according to her and their degree’. He recorded too that she was glad to be with women that ‘travailed of child’ and was ‘full comfortable and plenteous there of all things that should be helping to them’.

She and Richard Neville had but two daughters: Isabel, born in 1451, who married Clarence, and Anne, born in 1456, who was married to Edward Prince of Wales. It is perhaps because after 1465 Warwick despaired of producing a male heir that he became obsessed with making first one and then the other of his daughters queen of England, an ambition he was to achieve posthumously when the younger became queen consort of the third Yorkist king, Richard III. pp 190-1

and finally:

What lived on was Warwick’s reputation, initially sustained by his widow and her chaplain John Rous. p 191

Anne Beauchamp may have been swept along by the force of nature that was her husband, but she was no rudderless waif caught in the wind. From the scant details of her life, a picture can be built up of a loyal, and perhaps loving, wife. She benefitted enormously from the ambitions of her husband, from the energy, persistence and intimidatory force he was able to bring, along with that of his father, to secure her inheritance. It says something about the 15th century worldview that, within a fortnight of his granddaughter’s death, Salisbury had secured the Warwick title for his daughter-in-law and son. Young Anne was in the hands of God and her grandfather could do nothing to change that. He could, however, do a good deal to change the fortunes of his son, then sir Richard Nevill. The young couple went from relative obscurity to the immense wealth, power and prestige that had never been intended for them. For the next twenty odd years they were to make good use of all three.

On the other hand, Anne suffered greatly in the end from her association with Warwick. In 1471, she had no-one to come to her rescue, to sweep her out of sanctuary and into his arms. Whatever residual fondness Edward IV might have sneakingly felt for Warwick, it wasn’t enough to save her. Perhaps if she had had the opportunity to speak with him in person, things would have gone very differently. Perhaps the king was well aware of this – that it might be impossible for him to do face to face what he managed at a distance.

Though she lived in her daughter Anne and son-in-law Gloucester’s care, we don’t know how she lived – whether she had a separate residence or apartments at Middleham. The nature of her relationship with the duchess of Gloucester is also unknown to us. It might well have been strained from the very start. After all, the Warwicks had worked hard to achieve stupendously good matches for their daughters and put each of them in a position where they might be queen – Anne might have been bitter at what she saw as ingratitude and disloyalty. She might have been stiff with resentment – her daughter the duchess weighed down by guilt, or light of heart and uncaring about her mother’s suffering – who knows? Or maybe things mended and they enjoyed a warm and close relationship. The duchess may have had to work hard on her husband to gain her mother’s release and been dreadfully sorry that things had worked out the way they did. There doesn’t seem to be any suggestion that, once she was queen, she tried to convince her husband to restore her mother to her title and estates.

Anne didn’t attend their coronation when Gloucester became king. Perhaps she wasn’t invited, though that seems rather odd. It might have been her choice not to be there for her daughter’s big day, either to make a point or save herself embarrassment. Whatever was going on in those years, I can’t imagine that she didn’t grieve first for Isobel then for Anne when they died before her. Add to this the death of Richard III’s only son, and (however she felt about him) Richard’s at Bosworth, and you end up with a woman with no-one left in all the world.

How much Anne had to do with her grandson is something else we don’t know much (or anything?) about. No doubt she was proud of him and greatly sorrowed by his death. Her husband’s great ambition – to see his daughter a queen – had been achieved, though not by him. Though she might not have expected to live to see the day, the thought of her grandson as king of England must have meant a great deal to Anne. Maybe that was partly why she commissioned the Beauchamp Pageant – so that, in the grand scheme of things, when Edward of Middleham succeeded his father to the throne, the earl of Warwick’s place in his heritage would not be forgotten. Perhaps that was her fervent hope – that, one day, her husband would be rehabilitated, turned from defeated traitor into an ancestor of kings by this small boy, the slender thread that would carry Warwick’s blood and legacy into the future. However, it wasn’t to be.

Warwick became a byway in history, for some the Last of the Barons, an overmighty subject, Kingmaker. For Anne he was husband, father of her children, the man she gave her title to, whose wealth, power, triumphs and tragedies she shared. One day he was there, the next he was gone.

After Warwick’s death, Anne had no champion, no-one who cared enough (even out of partial self interest) to help her fight to keep what was hers. I see her as a lonely figure after Barnet, though not a tragic one. It might have been better for her not to have taken to sanctuary, but to have submitted to the king – and what she feared was coming – with her head held high. But to try and put myself in her shoes for a moment, landing in England to the most horrific news possible, her part (whatever that may have been) in her husband’s treason known, or at least suspected, by everyone, perhaps for a moment truly lost… Sanctuary had sheltered Elizabeth Wydeville during Edward IV’s brief exile. In the end, it was to prove no shelter for Anne Beauchamp.

Between the battles of Blore Heath (23 November 1459) and Towton (29 March 1461), Lord Henry Fitzhugh, son-in-law of the earl of Salisbury and, until then, staunchly loyal retainer, remained in the army of Margaret of Anjou. He was present at the Parliament of Devils in December 1459, where he took the oath of loyalty along with the other lords. He listened as his wife’s father, brothers and mother were attained for treason and he benefited financially from the forfeitures that followed.

While family loyalty wasn’t always the most pressing concern during the Wars of the Roses, especially given the convoluted connections by both blood and marriage amongst the nobility, the major families did tend to take their retainers and supporters with them. Fitzhugh might not have been unique in this regard, but as a prominent northern lord connected to the most prominent northern dynasty, he does rather stand out. His marriage to Salisbury’s daughter, Alice, wasn’t an alliance between strangers (like those of her sisters Alianor and Katheryn – both of whom married young men their father was keen to attach to his affinity), but a marriage between two young people who’d known each other all their lives. Fitzhugh was of an age with her brothers Thomas and John, and more than likely received a good deal of his knightly training at Middleham. Even if my speculation about their early relationship is wrong (and it probably is), Fitzhugh’s attachment to the Nevills was much stronger than either Thomas Stanley’s or William Bonville’s. Yet Bonville was the one who stayed loyal to his father-in-law – at the cost of his life.

It isn’t really possible to look at Fizhugh’s actions (or lack thereof) during those years without also looking at those of Ralph lord Greystoke, also a Nevill retainer and also during this time, at least ostensibly, loyal to Henry VI. According to Pollard, after Towton, Greystoke was swiftly rehabilitated. Fitzhugh had to work at it.

There’s an implication that Greystoke was playing a double game. Both he and Fitzhugh were certainly under suspicion from time to time. If Greystoke was secretly working for the Yorkists, he must have been a cool customer indeed not to have blown his cover after Wakefield, and I can’t imagine Fitzhugh dealt with the death of his brother-in-law, Thomas, and the murder of his father-in-law, Salisbury, without so much as blinking. Only one source puts them at Wakefield (Benet’s Chronicle). If they were there, they were either kept or kept themselves out of the fighting. Someone in Margaret of Anjou’s camp doubted their trustworthiness at least. At the council of war in York in January 1461, “they suffered much trouble, and they swore an oath to be loyal to the queen and her son”. (This is taken from a source that I’m having difficulties accessing – Letters and Papers illustrative of the wars of the English in France during the reign of Henry VI. All the online copies I can find are a) not in text format and b) in French. Added to this, the table of contents isn’t detailed. This makes it difficult for this very unfluent and slow reader of French to find what she’s looking for!) Just what ‘trouble’ is being referred to can only be guessed. Given the closeness of both men to the late earl of Salisbury, it might have been assumed that they’d either change sides at the first opportunity or somehow work to undermine the Lancastrian cause. There’s no evidence that either men did either thing. However, for the remainder of their time in Margaret’s army, neither man took the field.

Whether Greystoke was actively working on Fitzhugh, or it was just his family connections to the Nevills that placed him under suspicion, I can’t even guess. As the program of childbirth Fitzhugh and his wife had embarked on was uninterrupted during these years, it would seem he managed to make several visits to his home in Ravensworth. I’ve mused before this on the possible tensions in the Fitzhugh household at this time and, though her primary loyalty would now be to her husband, I can’t imagine Alice would have let his ‘disloyalty’ to her late father pass unremarked.

Another thing that needs to be factored in to any speculation regarding Fitzhugh is his behaviour during Warwick’s period of rebellion (1468-71). At that time, he was four square behind his brother-in-law. As Warwick’s initial plans didn’t include restoring Henry VI, it’s unlikely that Fitzhugh was a ‘secret’ Lancastrian for the ten years of Edward IV’s first reign. When Nevill next went up against a king of England, Fitzhugh’s choice was swift, irrevocable and, ultimately, disastrous. He may have learned his lesson about local and family loyalty, but his ability to pick the winning side hadn’t improved. His entire family under a cloud of treason, his rebellion in disarray, he fled to Scotland in 1470.

Assuming for a moment that it wasn’t in Greystoke’s plans to somehow slip away from the royal army and join Warwick at either St Albans or Towton, the question that arises is: why didn’t Fitzhugh? He was certainly there or thereabouts for both battles, making his peace with Edward IV after Towton. Both men may have been kept under close watch, their value as non-combatants greater than their potential contribution in the field, given the chance that that might have been for them switching sides. (And, incidentally, if Greystoke was working for the Yorkists, he didn’t do Warwick’s cause much good at the second battle of St Albans, though he might conceivably have been trying to get word to him of the army’s movements.) I’ve not come across any reference, even vague or veiled, that Fitzhugh was under any overt threat, or that his family were in some way being held hostage to his continued loyalty. That doesn’t mean that these aren’t possibilities. I’ve been trying to find details of either (or preferably both) of Fitzhugh’s pardons, but so far with no success.

It seems to me that Fitzhugh’s first order of business after Towton was achieving his restoration and rehabilitation in the eyes of the earl of Warwick. He was much nearer to him than was the king – both physically and familially. Once Warwick and Montagu had finalised their grip on the north of England, they were far more important allies, masters and patrons to someone in Fitzhugh’s position than the king.

So, there are several questions that I need to answer:

1. Why did Fitzhugh stay so long with the royal army?

2. Just how were he and Greystoke viewed by their Lancastrian allies?

3. Why did neither of them engage in any of the battles from Wakefield to Towton?

4. Was Greystoke acting as a fifth columnist? If so, was he working on Fitzhugh?

5. What effect did any of this have on Fitzhugh’s wife?

6. Just how were Fitzhugh’s initial approaches to Warwick after Towton received?

I don’t know the actual answers to any of these questions… But I’m fairly sure I’m starting to get a handle on my interpretation of events – and the answers that I want to give.

I stumbled on this while I was on the hunt for information for an upcoming post.

I feel that it needs a response, something to balance the books a little. I know, it’s an uphill battle – the view that poor Isobel and Anne were mere pawns (oh, and Doomed) is so entrenched that it’s going to take a miracle to shift it by so much as a millimetre.

Just to set the tone, here are some of the words used to described Warwick and/or his actions:

”political conniving”; “charismatic”; “self-centered”; “arrogant”; “man of moderate military skill”; “merciless”; “exploit”; “had no need to hold [his daughters] in esteem”; “hankering for supremacy and clout”; the only loyalty he held was to himself”; “enmesh in his pursuit for power”; “ego”; “narcissism”; “heedless”; “used his youngest daughter”; “spider web of intrigue”; “hopeless machinations”; “fanaticism for prestige and importance”.


Now for the girls:

“submissive political pawns”; “overshadowed and beleaguered their short lives”; “use Isobel and Anne to his best advantage”; “dutiful daughter”; “not having a voice in the matter”; “uneasy”; “anxiety and adversity”; “used his youngest daughter”; “tossed likes sheaves of parchment in the wind”; “no longer of urgent necessity”; “surely ailing from childbirth”; “her future unclear”; “displace[d] in her father’s strategy”; “did [George] transfer this resentment to Isobel?”; “rook” – well, a promotion of sorts, I guess; “emotions must have spun like a tornado on a top”; “instruments”; “puppets”; “card to be gambled”; “a roll of the dice”; “practically imprisoned”; “[abandoned] to an unknown providence”; “intimidated by his unbalanced personality”; “defying her husband’s ambitions”.

And Clarence? Acoholic Wifebeater Clarence is At Home and receiving visitors.

Ok, this is an opinion piece and we’re all entitled to our opinions. That’s why I’m giving mine.

The negative stuff about Warwick is delivered as if it’s Fact. Undisputed Fact. The writer knows, for instance, that Warwick was ‘heedless of Isobel’s advanced pregnancy’. There’s no room to speculate about his emotions “spinning like a tornado”. He could have left his wife and daughters in England while he and Clarence hightailed it to Calais. He didn’t. Why? Because he was ‘heedless’? Probably not. He was probably very mindful of the dangers of leaving them behind to be Edward’s hostages. And pregnancy, despite the dangers then and, to a lesser extent, now, is not an illness. It can’t have been fun for any of them, particularly Isobel, and the journey could possibly have hastened labour. But, given the time and the horrific infant mortality rate, had she been abandoned in Exeter (because that’s what her father and husband would have been accused of doing, had they taken to sea without her), she might still have delivered a dead or weak child. Which was a son, by the way, not a daughter called “Anne Plantagenet” or anything else. To imagine Warwick shrugging off the death of his first grandchild is to paint him as truly inhuman. To interpret his request of wine from John Wenlock as anything other than a desperate attempt to do the only thing he could to help his daughter (as some have done), shows a lack of understanding. To not even mention it…

Warwick must have hoped for a son, right up till the last possible moment. It was what men did then, and a lot of men still do now. Let’s speculate for a moment and say that he did have one. Let’s say the 1453 pregnancy hinted at resulted in the birth of a healthy boy. And, for the sake of argument, let’s assume his name was Richard. (Father, both grandfathers… the boy would have been on a hiding to nothing.) I don’t doubt for a second that, the moment Edward IV’s oldest daughter was born, Warwick would have had an eye on her as a suitable bride. And, had that come to pass, Richard junior would have had exactly the same amount of say in it as his sisters had in their marriages. He’d have had to give his consent. Now that might well have been lip service, but it was needed nonetheless. Even the six year old Richard senior would have had to consent to his marriage to Anne Beauchamp way back when.

As for Warwick not holding his daughters in esteem (“they were females”), there’s way too much of this kind of thinking, in my view. He may well have been bitterly disappointed that he had no son, but even his illegitimate daughter, Margaret, was acknowledged, found a husband and eventually went to court to work for her half-sister, Anne, when she became queen. (Ok, Warwick had nothing directly to do with that, but it suggests to me that she was as much a part of the family as, say, the Bastard of Fauconberg.) What it doesn’t suggest is that Warwick dismissed his daughters as unimportant ‘pawns’. (Margaret’s marriage was advantageous to Warwick, but *all* noble parents strove for this. All. Of. Them.)

I don’t for a moment doubt that both Isobel and Anne were loved by their father. Whatever ‘say’ they might have had in their respective marriages, they were bloody good ones! Their father didn’t ‘marry them off’ to swineherds and beggars. One got a Duke, the other a Prince. Anne may well have been the more trepidatious of the two – after all, her new husband’s future was hugely in doubt. There’s much made of the loophole supposedly left open at Margaret of Anjou’s insistence – that the marriage not be consummated until Warwick was in control in England. But, keeping in mind the flipside of his preferred future (father-in-law to the king of England) – his daughter tied to a failed regime and an impoverished court in exile – it may well have been a mutually beneficial loophole.

Isobel and Anne Nevill were the daughters of a powerful, ambitious and very able man. Their mother was a strong woman who went where he did, shared his triumphs and his difficulties. The countess is reported to have not much enjoyed living in Calais, yet she was there pretty much whenever her husband was. One reading of this is that she was weak willed and dominated – just as her daughters are often painted. Another, better in my opinion, is that she viewed her marriage as many noblewomen did. Apart from any feelings of affection she might have had – and on balance of evidence, it would appear that the marriage was at least affectionate – it was a partnership, a kind of corporation. And, given that particular combination of parents, marriages of their own that were designed to make them queens (that’s Queens, in case anyone missed it), would hardly have been looked on as hardships by the Warwick girls. (“I’m going to make you a queen, daughter.” “Well, daddy, that’s really no less than I would have expected!”) There was no time to do this for Anne, but the care Warwick took to cultivate Clarence suggests that he did, in fact, care that Isobel was happy in her marriage. He wanted them to be fond of each other. And there is nothing in the sources that I can find – nothing – that even hints that they were otherwise. When push came to shove, and the Clarence Plan was abandoned, Isobel stuck with him. In fact, as we shall see, she conspired with him and on his behalf against her father’s best interests.

There is much speculation in this article about the reactions, responses and emotions of the sisters during the uncertain time the family faced outside Calais harbour and in France. And this is just as it should be – speculative. We don’t know how they felt, all we can do is extrapolate from what we know of their lives, the influences on those lives, the kinds of women they were (noble, rich, accomplished). Yet Warwick is Bad and the writer knows exactly how he felt and thought – which was Bad.

If Commines is to be believed, a member of Isobel’s household, an unnamed woman, was operating between England and France, through Calais, under the nose of Wenlock (who Commines  believed at the time to be loyal to Edward IV). She was acting, it seems, as a go-between for the Clarences and Edward IV (or Clarence’s mother and sisters). This is not the behaviour of a women stranded and abandoned. Isobel was, on her husband’s behalf, using the resources she had available to her to effect a change in both his fortunes and hers. Her father’s daughter?

From here on, the article is mainly about Isobel’s marriage to George duke of Clarence and Anne’s to Richard duke of Gloucester. Needless to say, Gloucester is ‘good’ and Clarence is ‘bad’. Gloucester was gently guided by Anne, Isobel didn’t have ‘the commanding nature necessary to sway the mercurial Clarence”. She died, mercifully, before she witnessed his downfall and execution. There’s an alternate reading to this – Isobel had a stabilising effect on Clarence and her death grieved him so greatly that he spun out of control. Just an idea…

Both men had their eye on the main chance. Neither of them (so far as we know) made any attempt to go to their mother-in-law’s aid. Only when he’d secured his share of her fortune did Gloucester, perhaps at Anne’s request, make a move to get the countess out of sanctuary. Well, obviously! –  the writer of this article seems to know all about it. She states that while there is no evidence that either of them did, if the sisters tried to help their mother, Anne was the more supportive. Yes, I’m a little lost there, as well…

Oh, and the countess was kept in sanctuary to keep her from remarrying. (“She would surely have remarried”.) This is the post I’m working on, so I don’t want to go into it here, but I will say this: We don’t know if she would have remarried. As it turns out, she didn’t. Warwick had been her husband since she was 9 years old, she’d been to hell and back with him. She was now 45, and, had she kept her wealth and her husband’s, no doubt would have been seen as a good match. But there were going to be no more children. And Alice Fitzhugh didn’t remarry. Neither did Katheryn Hastings. Or Cecily Nevill… This is a hell of a leap. I think it more likely that part of the reason the countess removed herself was to prevent a hurried remarriage to the nearest available Wydeville. But Edward was thinking about his brothers at this time…

In summary… To anyone who has any interest in these two women: Please stop writing about  Isobel and Anne Nevill as if they were weak women who had no control over their lives. Please stop using their early deaths as a sign that they were Doomed From the Start. Please read something about their father. (Both Hicks and Pollard have done a bang up job here.) Oh, and can we consign the overused, tired and meaningless word pawn to the dustbin of history? Let’s stop the nonsense. It’s starting to get depressing.