Archive for the ‘Margaret of Anjou’ Category

1466

The Earl of Warwick travels to Boulogne for talks with Charles Count Charolais (later the Duke of Burgundy). The two men take an instant dislike to each other and talks quickly break down.

1471

Hearing news of her husband’s death at Barnet, Anne countess of Warwick enters sanctuary at Beaulieu Sanctuary.

Margaret of Anjou meets with her allies, the duke of Somerset, John Courtenay, John Beaufort, and hears the news of the defeat at Barnet.

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1430

Birth of Margaret of Anjou, queen of England. She married Henry VI on 23 April 1445. Their only child, a son Edward, was born 13 October 1453, She died on 25 August 1482.

Susan Higginbotham has written extensively about Margaret, including a novelĀ Queen of Last Hopes.

1454

A delegation of lords, Richard earl of Warwick among them, visit Henry VI at Windsor during his first illness. This is prompted by the sudden death of Cardinal Archbishop Kemp. The king is unresponsive and the delegation returns to Westminster where it is decided that, given the severity of the king’s incapacity, England is in need of a Protector.

1482

Death of Margaret of Anjou, queen of England.

1485

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

1470

Anne Nevill and Edward Prince of Wales are formally betrothed at Angers.

There is an oathtaking on a piece of the True Cross.

Anne’s father, the earl of Warwick, swears to uphold the party and quarrel of Henry VI.

Edward’s father, Margaret of Anjou, swears to treat Warwick as a true and faithful subject and never reproach him for past deeds.

1461

Death of Charles VII of France. He is succeeded by his son, Louis XI.

1470

The earl of Warwick and Margaret of Anjou are reconciled, courtesy of Louis XI of France.

Susan Higginbotham writes a good book.

Research, honesty and genuine historical accuracy – the hallmarks of her work – show through in Queen of Last Hopes as they did in The Stolen Crown. Any writerly liberties taken are not just listed in her author’s note, but explained and contextualised. Her books can be trusted, and this isn’t something that can be said about a good many authors of historical fiction.

When it comes to the Wars of the Roses, Susan and I line up on opposite sides, which makes the reading experience for me doubly interesting. My views and prejudices are challenged, and some might say not before time. But I take the challenge easily enough and, while I may not be prepared to develop a disliking for the Duke of York, I am more than happy to find that I have been given permission to like Margaret of Anjou. For that, I am very thankful. Margaret has long deserved her story to be written by a skilled and sympathetic hand, and in Susan Higginbotham she has found one.

Susan’s Margaret is a strong woman, reluctant at first to take up the role that history forces on her, full of regret and sorrow at her ultimate failure and the failure of the cause she devotes a good part of her life to. She is never portrayed as anything other than a woman, and one who has no wish to be anything else. She is a wife, a mother and a queen, and it is in that treble capacity that she fights – for her husband, her son and the crown that belongs to them.

When choosing a female first person narrator in historical fiction, the writer comes smack up against a fairly fierce limitation – women, even queens, were usually nowhere near the scenes of conflict and action that often defined the times. This is particularly true of the Wars of the Roses. While breathless reports from defeated or victorious survivors often have to suffice, there is an alternative device, and one that is utilised cleverly in Queen of Last Hopes – the alternative narrator. Apart from the voice of Katherine Vaux in the epilogue, all voices other than Margaret’s are male. Not only does this allow the reader to witness significant events that Margaret can’t, it also illustrates beautifully Margaret’s lone, and lonely, position amongst the other powerbrokers of her time.

The Margaret of Anjou of this book is not without her flaws. Susan is no apologist and Margaret’s mistakes, both personal and political, are allowed to stand and speak for themselves. And, as writers sympathetic to Richard III have been doing for the last few decades for their hero, she sweeps aside the stereotypes that have plagued Margaret and her son, Edward Prince of Wales. That she has been able to do this without throwing other, undeserving, characters into the role of incorrigible villain – with perhaps one notable and understandable exception – is very much to her credit.

Anyone who is impatient with certain of the current, much acclaimed, crop of women writers of historical fiction can turn to Susan Higginbotham in the knowledge that what they read can be trusted. And enjoyed.

There is some discussion about the correct dating of this letter in Maurer, Margaret of Anjou, as well as in Hicks, Warwick the Kingmaker. The latter attributes the letter to 1459 and the former to 1454. While I’m aware that this might just be interpreted as sedition at the best, and the repudiation of one of my favourite historians at worst, I think Maurer’s probably right.

Maurer states: “[Margaret] may have felt that [Salisbury] could provide a moderating influence upon York. Salisbury’s loyalty had never been questioned; he had stood reliably with Henry at Dartford in 1452 when York had demanded Somerset’s arrest. And there is some reason to believe that he had formerly been on comfortable terms with Margaret. In happier times she had gone huting in his park of Ware, Salisbury’s letter to the prior of Erdesbury may reflect some memory of an easier relationship between them, though it also seems to acknowledge a sense, new perhaps, of her own power. It is noteworthy that it does not seek her intercession of intermediation with the king, but is concerned with making assurances of Salisbury’s own faithfulness to her.” (p 219)

The meat of the letter is contained in a mere 145 word towards the end: someone has accused the duke of York and the earls of Salisbury and Warwick of making accusations against others of high estate. While this may be a reference to the rumours of the bastardy of prince Edward, Maurer thinks the defence a bit light for such a serious charge. Whatever it is, Salisbury states that he is certainly not guilty, nor York and Warwick so far as he knows, which they will say for themselves if required.

[Addressed on the dorse: To the reverent father in god and my right especiall and tendre frende the priour of Erdebury]

Revernd father in god and my right especial and tendre frende I recomaunde me to yow, and in my right hertie and feithfull wise thanke yow of al your true and grete diligences and undelaied devoire that ye have many tymes put yow in at my special request and prayer to that that myght serve to theobteinyng of y right fervent desire to knowe and fele the good ladyship of the Quene oure soverein lady to me hir humble true servaunt, and in especial your grete labour in that bihalve sith my last speche with yow, as by your lettres brought me by the berer of thies. I conceive at large wherin among othre thing is contenede your desire and exhortacion me nat to varye from that I have promitted hertofore right largely by yow openned to hire said highnesse and that (yet) I see ye be nat dishonorede of your reportes in that bihalve, wherunto will ye wit that of eny promysse that I have made unto yow at eny tyme for my declaracion unto the said highnesse, and to have and stand in the favoure (favours) of hire good grae for the whiche oon of my moost earthly desires I pray yow as tendrely as I can to contynue therin your good will and devoir for my singular consolacon, I shal at all tymes kepe yow or eny other that labourfor me to that entent undishonored and nat to varie from my said promisse (promises) with godes mercie. And as toward the the blessed disposicon of the said good grace [et?] (yet) unto that that myght serve to rest and unitee comprised in hire gracioux lettres late directed to my lordes of the counseill whereof to my grete joy I have herd and god shal I doubt nat bie pleased therwith and prospre hire hie estate and the said lordes nat oonly, bot also al thoo whome the matiers (matiere) of the said blessed lettres touchen owe humbly and lowly to yeve laude and thanke to hire said highnesse therfore, as that I doo in my moost humble wise as soo on my bihalve as hire true servaunt with al myn hert and service, in that that mowe bee to hir hie pleasure I pray yow to declare me unto hire said grace. And where in your said lettres it is expressed that ye have herd language of accusacions of right hie estates to bie made by my lord of Yorke, my sone of Warrwice and me in matteres that have nat bee disclosed herebifore to their grete rebuke and etc, truely it is to my grete mervail by whate coloure reason or grounde eny such language by eny personne erthly myght bie uttred or saied, for as for myn own partie as I wol aunswere to our lord I nevere ymagined, thought ne (or) saied eny suche matter or any thing like therunto in my dayes. And in like wise I dare well say for my said lord and son as ferre as ever I herd or in eny wise knowe (knewe) unto their honire (this houre) as I doubt nat thai wol at al tymes right largely declaire for theim silf. And therfore therin or in eny othere, concernyng my trough I pray yow alway to aunswere largely for me. And if there bee thing that I may doo fo (to) your wele cretifieth em, and ye shal to the performing therof fynde me right hertly dispoed as our lord knoweth, which have yow ever in his blessed keping,

Writen at London the vij day of Marche.

Your good frende Richard Erl of Salisbury

UPDATE 2-1-15

Pollard (Warwick the Kingmaker, 205) suggests a different date again for this letter. Reading it within the context of unspecified accusations against the duke of York and requirements that both York and Warwick swear their loyalty to the King (but not Salisbury), and within the context of Margaret of Anjou’s growing influence and power, he suggests 1457 as a more likely date. His argument is sound and I now find I lean more towards his view than I previously had towards Maurer’s 1454 date. Pollard further convinces me that 1459 (as Hicks has it) is too late.

And so quickly.

Went to the local servo where we collect our mail and there it was – a slim parcel from Bedfordshire.

My book!

This is my favourite picture.  (That’s QM having a very French temper tantrum.)

Some choice quotes:

Unfortunately the Queen, Margaret of Anjou, a fierce and bitter woman, hated Warwick.  When she heard that Somerset had been killed and that York and Warwick were again in power, she determined on revenge. (p 10)

The king received Warwick with friendly courtesy, but the grim looks of the King’s Councillors and the scowling face of Queen Margaret, warned him that he was not among friends.  He was right. (p 20)

King Edward, who was twenty years old, was content to enjoy life and leave everything to Warwick.  As Warwick was both wise and honest, it was an excellent arrangement.  (p 38)

All the high offices of state were filled by relations of Elizabeth Woodville.  This was both foolish and ungrateful on Edward’s part… (p 40)

Warwick retired to his estates.  He was as honest and upright a man as ever lived in England, but he saw that only the same means that had rid Henry of his evil advisers, would serve in this case.  With deep sorrow he faced the need for further warfare in England.  (p 42)

Warwick could have made himself Dictator of England, as Cromwell did later, or even King if he had so wished.  But he was loyal to the throne, so long as whoever was on it ruled for the good of England.  (p 44)

This was Louis’ plan.  He wanted to keep England weak, so that she could never again invade France as Henry V had done.  To encourage civil war in England seemed to him the best way of doing it.  (p 46)

Not least of them was his brother Clarence, thus doubly a traitor, who deserted Warwick in his hour of need.  (p 48)

Don’t know why I’m bothering with my own book, really.  L du Garde Peach has said it all, and in 50 neat little pages.

The book is in excellent condition, and it’s a first edition.  Not bad for five pounds!