Did George Clarence poison Isobel Nevill?

Posted: July 30, 2013 in Uncategorised

It’s come up a few times in my search list since episode 7 of The White Queen aired.

Did George, duke of Clarence, poison Isobel, duchess of Clarence?

George certainly thought someone poisoned her and reacted swiftly, to his ultimate detriment. He accused one of the duchess’s serving women, Ankarette Twynho, essentially abducted her and took her to Warwick, where she was tried and, not surprisingly, found guilty. She was immediately hanged. So far as I’m aware, the Queen, Elizabeth Wydeville, wasn’t implicated in this plot, nor did George hire a ‘sorcerer’ to determine the date of Edward IV’s death. George did a couple of other things that weren’t particularly helpful and was arrested and charged, initially, with bringing the law of England into disrepute. This was later changed to treason. In TWQ, the document that implicates him is a horoscope of Edward IV. Casting the king’s horoscope was certainly treason, as it ‘imagined the king’s death’. However, in reality, no such document was found. It’s likely that George kept a document left over from the Readeption which named him in the Lancastrian succession and this was deemed to be treason. (There’s more on their marriage, Isobel’s death and George’s subsequent behaviour here.)

So, in answer to the question “Did George Clarence poison Isobel Nevill?” I say very clearly and firmly: No.

Don’t forget to check out my reinterpretation of episode 7 here.

  1. carolynmcash says:

    I’m reading “The Kingmaker’s Daughter” by Philippa Gregory where Isabel believed Elizabeth Woodville wanted to poison her and George hiring a sorcerer to determine Edward’s death. Not surprising this theme crops up in “The White Queen” too.

    • anevillfeast says:

      Hi Carolyn. I just don’t understand writers who feel they can ‘improve’ on what we know. There’s also some kind of ‘no smoke without fire’ thing going on. George believed someone poisoned his wife, ergo someone must have poisoned his wife – so lets go looking for the culprit. In this instance, the strong inference that George himself did it in order to implicate the queen is unfortunate. From what we know, George went off the rails after Isobel’s death, searching for a reason and finding it. This sounds less like a man prepared to commit murder in order to spite his enemies than a man left grieving and baffled by the death of someone close to him. And the *real* story is always better than made up crap because it’s real. ‘Why would someone be charged with treason for keeping a document that named them in the Lancastrian succession? That doesn’t sound very sexy!” Well, too bad, it’s what happened. A good writer should be able to take that and make something of it.

  2. tudorqueen6 says:

    Reblogged this on tudorqueen6 and commented:
    Ugh.. people.. enough with Clarence poisoning Isabel.

  3. Esther says:

    Great article … thanks, also, for the link to the other article. Curious though, how the belief that Isobel was poisoned developed; I thought that it was fairly well recognized when a death would be connected to childbirth. Was it possible that her tuberculosis (or other underlying weakness) was not recognized at the time?

  4. sonetka says:

    Maybe it’s because it’s too late at night but I’m trying to come up with any member of nobility or royalty between about the 14th and 16th centuries who actually WAS legitimately poisoned, or where at least the predominant evidence is that he or she was. The only people I can come up with are the unfortunates at Bishop Fisher’s house and of course James Butler (although that one may not have been intentional). That’s … not a lot. Of course, we don’t have a lot of information about how Edward II or Richard II died, but since poisoning rumours seem to crop up around anyone who died before the age of fifty, you’d think there’d be a little more fire behind that smoke.

  5. chris y says:

    My understanding was that by 1483 Edward IV was a morbidly obese alcoholic who might have fallen off his perch at any point, and just happened to go when he did. Is this wrong?

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