Archive for August, 2011

On this day: 31 August

Posted: August 31, 2011 in Henry VI, On this day...


Death of Henry V of England. His nine month old son succeeds him as Henry VI.


Death of Louis XI, king of France.


Death of Maud Stanhope, lady Cromwell, widow of 1. Robert lord Willoughby, 2. Thomas Nevill, 3. Gervase Clifton. Maud had no children.

This was originally posted on the Nevill Guide to the Wars of the Roses.

(from The Politics of Fifteenth Century England: John Vales Book, Kekewich, Richmond, Sutton, Visser-Fuchs, Watts (eds), Alan Sutton, 1995, pp 262-4))

Challenges exchanged by Lord Bonville and the earl of Devon, 1455

All due salutacions of frendlihod laide aparte forasmuche that it is openly knowen unto God and alle the worlde, and namely to the kingis highnesse, his lordis and communes of this his lande, that thow by divers tymes and oftyn falsly, cowardly and traiturously haste arraied and laide in awaite to muscheve and murdre me and my servauntes being the kinges trewe liegemen, had not be the greate and especial grace and righwusnesse of God, and by the colour of the same aswele ayeinste the lawe of God and of man, as that shulde preteigne to thine estate, in trowthe hast made divers and many assemblees of suche as shulde be the kinges trewe liege people being arraunt thieves, housbrenners and murderers be thyne abbettement procuring, receyving and mayntenaunce. And theruppon takin, robbed, murdered and also biseged, assauted and put at raunson the kinges trewe liege people, by the same entending the destrucion of the commune wele, like as I shal my selfe in propre person upon thi body in that quarrell fighte and make it good. Requiring the uppon suche worship as can be thoughte in the, that thou in salvacion not all oonly of the kinges citie and his trewe liege people withinne the same dwelling, but also of all suche as bene faithefully and trewely disposed unto the and me belonging, be to morow at viij of the clokke in the felde and envaunce thi selfe tabide and fighte in thi proper personne in opteigning suche worship as thou holdist thi selfe of. Promytting the as I am the kinges trewe liegeman and knight that I shall in my diffenc uppon the premisses as for the commune wele of all the kinges trewe liege people, and namely dwellers of this shire, ful redy to recounter the and toptene or dye therfore yif God will yif thou to be oon tyme of the day apperalle. And uppon this request and present writing sende me answer. Letting the wete yif thou do not I shal put me in Goddes rightfulnesse in this trewe and just querell tassayle the and all suche as be of thy fals oppynyon and assent ther as I may have knowledge whersoever that you bee.

And the response:

Wretin at Bisshippis Clisse etc,

William lord of Bonevill

All frendly greting stonde for nought, and where as thou in thy writing falsely pretendest that I by divers tymes and ofte falsly, cowardly and traitourously have araied and laide in awaite to mischeve and murthre the and thy servauntes, ayenst the lawe of God and of man and be divers tymes and mane assembliesse of suche as shulde be the kinges liege people, being as thou rehersest arrant theves, howsbrenners and murderers be abbettment, procuring, receytting and mayntenaunce, takin, brenned, robbed, murderid and also biseged, assawted and put at raunson the kinges trewe liege people, and bi the same intending the destruction of the commune wele. I saye that thou in thi saying in all suche premisses arte fals and untrewe and all othre of thy oppynion being in thy companye. And that wol I, in my prove, at tyme and place by me and the appoynted the kinges highenesse not displeased, in avoiding of sheding of blood of all odur the kinges trewe liege people. Wretin under my signet at the citie of Excestre.

Thomas erle of Devonshire.

The two men did meet and fight, Bonville getting the worst of it – I know little of the detail of this as yet. The outcome, however, did not come down in Devon’s favour, as this prompted the duke of York (then Protector & Defender of England for the second time) to sort the whole mess out, largely in Bonville’s favour.

Bonville had been instrumental in aiding York in quelling the disturbances in the north of England in 1454, when the Nevill-Percy feud got out of hand and the young duke of Exeter attempted his coup. Bonville’s son, William lord Harrington (or grandson – I can’t quite work out the generations here) married Salisbury’s daughter, Katheryn, in 1458. Harrington and his father were killed at Wakefield, the grandfather was executed after second St Albans.

I’m going to be getting my head properly around the Bonville-Courtenay feud soon, and will blog it in more detail.


Death of Margaret of Anjou, queen of England.


Execution of William Catesby, supporter and close associate of Richard III.

This is what is known about Margaret Nevill, illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Warwick:

Her place of birth was somewhere in the north of England.

She was born not after 1450.

She married Richard Huddleston on 12 June 1464 (though Pollard says 1465). I’ve found one genealogy that says she later married Lancelot Threlkeld, but I have yet to confirm this. (Other sources say it was her daughter, Margaret, who married Threlkeld.)

On her marriage, Warwick settled on her lands in Coverdale worth £6 pa.

She served her half sister at court after she became queen.

She had at least one child, a son, John.

Not a great deal to go on!

What this does is leave Margaret as a blank canvas – the perfect vehicle for carrying the story of Anne Nevill. (There is one novel, at least, that purports to tell the story of her life – Isolde Martyn’s The Maiden and the Unicorn – but as it has Margaret meeting her (first?) husband, sir Richard Huddleston, in 1470 while on a secret mission (for her father) to France, I have to admit to slight doubts about its historicity.

I’m assuming there must have been a fair amount of contact between Margaret and her father and sisters. I can’t imagine queen Anne Nevill saying, “Oh, and send for the half sister I’ve never met and offer her this highly prestigious job.”

There are a lot of blanks to fill in and I want to do it sensitively and intelligently… which may well be a first!

Margaret’s mother is not known to us. If Margaret was married at 14, then 1450 is the likely date of her birth. Warwick was 22 in 1450, and by then his marriage to Anne Beauchamp would have been well and truly ‘active’. If Margaret was around 18 in 1464, (and I have no idea how old she was) that would push her birth year back to 1446 and make Warwick around 17, which makes more sense to me. As there are no other recorded illegitimate children for Warwick, and as the Nevills tended to acknowledge their bastards, it is plausible to put Margaret’s existence down to that perennial favourite – youthful indiscretion.

Margaret’s mother is (sadly) unimportant in the great scheme of things. We’ll probably never know who she was, or what was her station in life. Given that her daughter was acknowledged by her father, one suspects she was, at the very least, ‘respectable’. Beyond that we can’t go.

Warwick probably sent money for Margaret’s upkeep and no doubt looked after her in other ways. She may have lived with or close to him from time to time. I think she must have known her half sisters, Isobel and Anne.

Her marriage to Richard Huddleston was a good one for her, and brought her husband closer to Warwick.

My main interest in Margaret focusses on her time in queen Anne Nevill’s household. If all goes to plan, that will be part of the third book. But I don’t want to just produce her, like a rabbit out of a hat, at the last minute. I need to establish her existence, and her place in the family, right from the start.

I have to sift out what’s plausible and what’s likely. If she was known to the family, and spent at least some of her time with them, in what capacity? What was her relationship with the countess of Warwick? With her sisters? Clearly, she was of some value and worth to her father – he negotiated a good marriage for her. £6 per annum, set against the Warwick wealth, was just a drop in the ocean, but it wasn’t exactly chicken feed. (I’ve tried to find a currency comparison site on the web, but the only one I can see goes no further back than 1900 – not a lot of help!)

If Margaret was born c1446 (which is what I think I’ll go with), that makes her just five years older than Isobel and ten years older than Anne. This hardly allows for the concept of ‘growing up together’. Maybe Margaret had some responsibilities in the nursery. The countess, if Robert Rous’s depiction of her is correct, would hardly have banished her husband’s daughter to the cowshed!

So, I’m going to send Margaret off to live with the Warwicks when she’s 9 or 10… and then just sit back for a while to see what happens.


Martin found a currency converter that goes way way back.

In 1460, the Coverdale rents (£6 pa) were worth £2,186.10 in 2005, which in turn, using a different site, works out to be worth £2,492.15 today.

In 1470, the rents were worth £3,003.48, which equates to £3,423.97 today.

The National Archives also gives the equivalent buying power of money. In 1460, £6 could get you:

200 days of a craftsman’s wages; or

42 stone of wool; or

16 quarters of wheat; or

15 cows; or

7 horses.

According to a rootsweb discussion Philippa linked me to (and thanks!), Warwick also gave the young couple manors at Blennerhasset and lands at Penrith.

This discussion also gives two possible names for Margaret’s mother  – Tilliol and Moresby.


Will Glover ‘s great guest post on Margaret Huddleston. I thought I had this link here already, but I didn’t!

On this day: 24 August

Posted: August 24, 2011 in Uncategorised


The Nevills (definitely the countess and earl of Salisbury, John Nevill, Thomas Nevill and his bride, Maud Stanhope, possibly also Alice, Alianor, Katheryn and Margaret), along with Salisbury’s son-in-law, Henry Fitzhugh and a sizeable group of retainers, were attacked by a band of men led by Thomas Percy, lord Egremont, at Heworth, outside York. The party were travelling from York to Sheriff Hutton, having recently returned from Tattershall Castle, where Thomas and Maud, a niece of Ralph, lord Cromwell, had been married. While this was by no means the beginning of the Nevill-Percy feud, it signalled an escalation in hostilities by the younger sons of both families.


Skirmish on Heworth Moor between the Thomas Percy lord Egremont and the Nevills.

The Nevills were returning from the wedding of Thomas Nevill to Maud Stanhope at Tattershall castle in Lincolnshire when the Percies attempted an ambush. Accounts of this skirmish wildly vary, with some saying there were many casualties and others that there were none. Judging by the charges laid against the principle (Percy) movers and shakers, I tend to think there were very few, if any.


Battle of Bosworth. King Richard III is killed.

It’s understandable in a way. You love a certain period of history, become engrossed in it and want to put yourself into the story. For a lot of readers, it works and they enjoy the results. For me, it doesn’t. Or, at least, hasn’t so far.

I’m not talking about original characters as a whole. There are many books featuring OCs that work extremely well. Hawley Jarman’s We Speak No Treason comes to mind here. The book has its critics, and its flaws, but I have a very large soft spot for it. Hawley Jarman was (along with Margaret Campbell Barnes) my way into the Wars of the Roses and, more particularly, my way to Warwick and the rest of the Nevills. The three OCs in WSNT carry the story, are nameless (two have nicknames) and aren’t disguised avatars of the author. (Or, if they are, the disguise is better than most.)

** [I have a confession to make here. When I was very much younger, my first attempt at WoR fiction was through the agency of a wish fulfilment OC. It was clear from almost the start that this wasn’t going to work. However, I liked the character and the set up so much that I changed it quite dramatically, and now it forms the core of an SF wip that has taken itself in a whole new direction. I feel this qualifies me a little to have an opinion here.] **

As soon as I spot one of the following in a blurb, little red flags are raised:

1. An historical character travels through time. The set up might be brilliant, and the consequences of that journey intriguing, but I know it’s to get the character into the author’s world so that he (usually) can fall in love with her (usually), whatever his marital status might be in his own time.

2. A modern character travels through time. She (usually) can then stun the HC, so that he (usually) is amazed at how feisty (so one of my least favourite words!) she is. She can insert herself into the story as a kind of deus ex machina, and there are no problems about anachronistic real, actual wives or lovers.

3. An OC becomes the secret lover of a well known HC. If he (usually) is known to have had a mistress or two, she (usually) is the One He Loves Best in All the World, despite the fact that her name never comes up in the sources. (Hawley Jarman does do this in WSNT, but puts the relationship between Gloucester and the Maiden on hold during his marriage to Anne Nevill. And while she loves him  best in all the world, there’s no suggestion that she is the Love of His Life. And there is a tenuous connection to reality here, the Maiden turns out to be the mother of Richard’s natural daughter, Katherine.)

If the HC is either not known for playing away, or if he is credited with loving his wife, that doesn’t seem to cause too many problems. She is his secret guilty pleasure, the one he can Be Himself with, who can warn him of all sorts of dangers and get him out of trouble, preferably without anyone knowing anything about the part she plays in his rescue.

4. A woman/girl dresses in her dead brother’s clothes to take his place in whatever venture he was about to begin. Often it has something to do with family honour. “Good Lord!” the HC can say. “You’re a woman! And… and… I love you!” That way, she gets to be in the thick of things without all of that tricky reality stuff getting in the way. In her ‘boy’ persona, she can become so valuable to the HC that he would never consider outing her. In her ‘girl’ persona, of course, he can’t do without her.

There’s nothing wrong with lying in your bed at night, or looking out of the train window, dreaming about Being There and Loving Him. The trick is then to find a way to translate that into a form that doesn’t involve any of the sleight of hand mentioned above. Unless it’s the Duke of Exeter that’s your secret fancy, you might try and find a way to identify with the man’s wife, to put yourself in her shoes and write the story from her point of view. (Actually, in Exeter’s case, you probably could make up a mistress if you wanted to. I can’t imagine that he was any more celibate after the break down of his marriage than his wife was!)

I understand the limitations of doing this, writing from the pov of a real wife, and that’s another set of hurdles that can be difficult to get over. (And a whole nother kettle of fish.) But it helps keep the historical in Historical Fiction. Anything else is Alternate History or Fantasy – and there’s nothing wrong with either of these. If an author makes it clear that that’s what they’re writing, then my little red flags stay down. It still might not be a book I want to read, but my reasons will be different.

I’m getting to the end of the initial draft of the selkie story and should be returning to the 15th century in the next couple of weeks or so. And that’s started me thinking about what I should be blogging next. Things will come up as I’m reading and researching, but there are significant holes in the narrative so far.

For a start, there are a couple of marriages I haven’t got around to yet – the Stanleys and the Hastings …es. As, in my chronology at least, they haven’t happened yet (Alianor and Thomas Stanley marry in late 1454, Kathryn and William Hastings not till 1462), I’ve been using that as an excuse. The truth is, I don’t know a great deal about them and will need to do some serious digging.

I have a slightly better handle on the Courtenay-Bonville feud now, and that is definitely on my list.

The other day, someone searched for ‘papal dispensation Clarence and Isobel Neville’, hoping to find something relevant at the Feast. They’d have been sorely disappointed! Though I’ve blogged about the marriage, I haven’t written anything about the wedding itself or the events leading up to it. So that’s on my list, too, now.

I also have to roll up my sleeves and get stuck into the life of George Nevill, archbishop of York (he’s been nagging me constantly about this).

Stuff about wardening the marches, Warwick’s tenure as Captain of Calais, his natural daughter, Margaret, and what relationship she might have had with him, his countess and her half sisters…

So, there’s quite a bit to be getting on with. But the google search for the papal dispensation got me thinking – is there something else I need to be tackling that I haven’t thought of yet? If you have any requests, anything you’d like to know more about, anything interesting you think I might enjoy researching, please let me know. Leave a comment. Be as vague or as detailed as you like. I won’t be making any promises, but you never know… it might help me get my arse into gear.