History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

11 November 2009

Richard III & Anne Neville: a love story ??

I never noticed that this portrait does show one shoulder slightly higher than the other ... but I believe it's the wrong shoulder!

I don't know about you, but my introduction to Richard III and the Wars of the Roses, perpetuated for decades by the feuding dynasties of Lancaster and York, was through William Shakespeare. I was in high school at the time, and it would be years before I learned that the man rarely let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Now that historical research is part of my bailiwick, I'm having great fun re-reading Shakespeare's history plays and separating the factual details from the fanciful ones.

As I've been delving into Richard's life for my third work of historical nonfiction, currently titled ROYAL PAINS: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Bastards, and Bad Seeds, I thought it would be fun to revisit Shakespeare's text after having a "eureka!" moment during my research into Richard's actual, factual, life.

Richard had a happy marriage.

Who knew?

Consequently, Richard and Anne Neville didn't make it into my post some months ago about happy marriages in Shakespeare; but today they get their due.

And by the way, Richard was also not born with a crookback, or a withered arm. Or a full set of teeth, or shoulder-length hair. Nor did he gestate in his mother's womb for two years. These physical descriptions are the products of Tudor-era propaganda, most of which no rational person, at least in our day, would credit. And yet -- the humpback, and even the useless arm, have stuck with us, providing the image of a Yorkist Bob Dole (yes, I know Dole isn't hunchbacked). The truth appears to be that Richard had one shoulder (the left one) that was slightly higher than the other, and that he was frail and slight as a boy, in stark contrast to his handsome brother George, Duke of Clarence, who was a charismatic jock-type, or his 6' 4" oldest brother, Edward IV, a ladykiller, bon vivant and fashionisto until job security after 1471 turned him into a louche and lascivious gourmand and womanizer.

Richard did indeed have to push himself to overcome his frailness as a boy in order to excel in the usual manly pursuits of the era from martial skills to horsemanship, falconry, riding, and dancing. He did in fact know how to "caper nimbly in a lady's chamber to the lascivious pleasing of a lute."

But back to Richard's marriage.

In Act I sc. ii of Shakespeare's Richard III, our protagonist, then Richard Duke of Gloucester, woos the widowed Anne Neville in exceedingly reptilian fashion. The encounter takes place on a London street in the middle of a funeral cortege. Anne was the younger daughter of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known as "the kingmaker" for his Karl Rove-like strategic (and martial) talents in securing England's throne for the Yorkist usurper Edward IV, then backing the man Edward had deposed, the Lancastrian Henry VI. Anne's older sister Isabel had, against the wishes of King Edward IV, married George, Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV and Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

Anne Neville's father, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known as "the kingmaker" -- hardly a St. Francis-type. This drawing is from a chronicle of the time known as the Rous Roll.

In Shakespeare's wooing scene, Anne has recently lost her husband, Prince Edward (the former Prince of Wales), son of the deposed (and subsequently assassinated) Henry VI. Edward fell in the battle of Tewksbury on May 14, 1471, which decimated the Lancastrian forces, ushering in years of Yorkist supremacy.

Anne Neville: note her long red hair

Throughout Richard III, the late Prince Edward is described as noble and virtuous. The real Edward of Lancaster was an arrogant 16-year-old jerk. He and Anne (b. June 11, 1456), who married him on December 13 1470 at the age of 14, had a purely dynastic marriage. And, contrary to Shakespeare's text, Richard (b. Oct. 2, 1452) did not personally stab him to death; During the battle Edward was in fact set upon in a melee. The identity of the man who delivered the fatal thrust remains unknown .

In their famous scene in Richard III, Anne is not lost for epithets to sling at her pursuer: "fiend," "dreadful minister of hell," "foul devil," "defused infection of a man," "devilish slave," "hedgehog," and "homicide." I think "defused infection of a man" is my personal favorite, though "hedgehog" comes in a close second. Richard's heraldic device was the boar, so maybe this is one of the ultimate inside jokes, a deliberately bitchy twisting that reduces a noble, if overbearing, creature to a woodland nuisance.

Here's a sample of Shakespeare's version of this highly unusual -- and exceedingly swift -- courtship:

GLOUCESTER: He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband,
Did it to help thee to a better husband.

LADY ANNE: His better doth not breathe upon the earth.

GLOUCESTER: He lives that loves thee better than he could.

LADY ANNE: Name him.

GLOUCESTER: Plantagenet.

LADY ANNE: Why, that was he.

GLOUCESTER: The selfsame name, but one of better nature.

LADY ANNE: Where is he?


[She spitteth at him]

Why dost thou spit at me?

LADY ANNE: Would it were mortal poison, for thy sake!

GLOUCESTER: Never came poison from so sweet a place.

LADY ANNE: Never hung poison on a fouler toad.Out of my sight! thou dost infect my eyes.

GLOUCESTER: Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.

LADY ANNE: Would they were basilisks, to strike thee dead!

This spirited sparring comes from one of the finest, and most famous, scenes in Shakespeare's canon, and I can attest that it is also one of most fun to perform -- but it is pure fantasy.

England was more or less embroiled in civil war when Richard was a boy, thanks to the perpetually warring factions of Lancaster and York. He was sent out of harm's way to lodge with Warwick's family at Middleham, the earl's Yorkshire estate. Richard and Anne were childhood playmates, and as such, were always fond of each other.

In 1470, the reign of Richard's older brother Edward IV was being challenged by a conspiracy to reinstate Henry VI, fomented by none other than their own brother the Duke of Clarence (who had the dim and addlepated notion that he would eventually be crowned) and the Earl of Warwick, Clarence's father-in-law, and the pestilence in his ear.

Richard, still in his late teens, headed to command and secure the north for his brother Edward, but before departing he requested, and was granted, permission to wed Lady Anne Neville. When he returned from the north to claim his bride, he discovered that Clarence, husband of Anne's sister Isabel Neville had decided that Anne was his ward (Warwick having been killed at the Battle of Barnet on Easter Sunday). Clarence intended to claim Anne's portion of her inheritance for himself and Isabel and therefore had no desire to see her wed, even to his own kid brother.

In fact, it is Clarence who is the villain of this particular portion of the story. He disingenuously insisted to a confused and angry Richard that Anne was not in his household. After an exhaustive search, Richard found his betrothed in London disguised as a kitchen maid in the home of one of Clarence's friends. Like a true romantic hero, he rescued her and brought her to sanctuary at St. Martin le Grand, thereby shielding her from any efforts by Clarence and his adherents to nab or harm her. He assured Anne that there were no strings attached to his chivalry; his action in no way obligated her to go ahead with their marriage.

Insisting that he was the girl's guardian following the death of her father, Clarence ultimately consented to permit Richard to wed Anne on the condition that Richard inherit none of her estates.

Anne and Richard were cousins; in order to legally wed they required a papal dispensation overlooking their consanguinity. But having finally secured permission from his family to marry Anne, Richard was too impatient to wait for the Pope's paperwork to arrive. Instead, on May 14, 1472, political expedience being as pressing as passion, he claimed his beloved from St. Martin le Grand and they were wed on the spot. The bride was one month shy of her 16th birthday. The groom was 19 (and he'd already fathered two children by then; I don't know the mother[s]' name[s].)

When was the last time you saw a production of Richard III where the characters were played by actors young enough to look like teenagers?! I'm betting never.

The couple --who were genuinely in love, at least according to Richard's eminent twentieth-century biographer Paul Murray Kendall -- immediately set off for Wensleydale castle, far from any of their grasping relatives. They had only one child, a son named Edward born in 1473, whose health was always delicate and often prevented him from traveling with his parents. He was invested as Prince of Wales on September 8, 1483, but he died during the spring of 1484 at the age of 11. Richard and Anne were inconsolable, and it was said that the boy's death hastened her own demise.

Unlike Shakespeare's plot, in which Richard is ultimately suspected of poisoning Anne in order to wed his niece, Elizabeth of York, Anne developed consumption, the same disease that killed her older sister Isabel. Wasting away from grief and illness, she died on March 16, 1485, a little more than five months before Richard met the sharp end of a sword at Bosworth Field on August 22.

Richard still remains an enigma to us, a product of the violence of his times; a loyal brother and talented administrator, but unquestionably he had blood on his hands. In Shakespeare's "defense," he based his history play on the Tudor-era writing of chroniclers Edward Hall, Raphael Holinshed, and Thomas More. The Bard of Avon was in fact incorporating the history of Richard's life, as he (and his audiences) knew it. It would be centuries before much of the 16th c. propaganda would be exploded. And yet there were enough eyewitnesses to Richard's conduct to confirm that he was indeed a ruthless man. The fifteenth and sixteenth-century accounts of his life, while they may be somewhat agendist, do contain many truthful details about his actions. And numerous record rolls still exist that, when analyzed, point to the fact that he was just as ambitious and grasping as any of his adversaries, or for that matter, as any of his relations and in-laws.

Still ... a happy marriage. Richard III. Who'd-a-thunk it?

Have you ever discovered that the truth about a specific event thoroughly contradicted what you [thought you] knew about it? Would you let the truth get in the way of a good story? How far would you go, as a writer? And as a reader, how much tinkering with the truth will you accept in your historical fiction if the plot, action, and characters are complex and compelling?


Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Wonderful post, Leslie! I've always loved the story of Richard and Anne's marriage. Her running away and disguising herself as a kitchen maid and his coming to her rescue is so romantic. I first got intrigued by Richard III when I was twelve and at a conference with my parents at a resort in upstate NY. For some reason, the gift shop had a copy of Richard III. I bought it and read it, but my mom had already read "The Daughter of Time" and suggested I read it as well, so I quickly got that Shakespeare's Richard was far from the elusive truth. Interestingly, I find Richard and Anne fascinating both in the play and in real life, as you brought out so well in your post, but in very different ways.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Thanks, Tracy! I keep thinking what it would be like to play Shakespeare's Anne again -- now that I know what really happened (or what scholars think really happened). You have to play the text that's on the page, but I think knowing the real story might get in the way of playing Shakespeare's characters. Because his version and what may be closer to the truth can't be reconciled. Still, Richard was a usurper, not an avuncular, nice guy. He could have contented himself to remain Protector for a while (although the Woodvilles were evidently keen on ignoring the provisions in the Last Will and Testament of Edward IV that named his brother Protector of the realm until such time as Edward V was crowned.

The play is a little parable about how absolute power can corrupt absolutely.

And ... I wonder what the real Anne thought about what really happened. Did she think her husband was in some way responsible for the disappearance (at the time their deaths were only rumored, because all that was known was that they were no longer seen in the Tower) of his nephews

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! Anne Neville and I share the same birthday! (Well, except I wasn't born in the 15th century.)

I wonder if the subsequent portrayals of Richard as hunch-backed with withered extremities were sort of the Tudor version of political cartooning? In other words, intended to make a point, but not to be taken literally. Just a thought. I'm not overly familiar with this period of history, so I appreciate the post as a good learning experience!

8:26 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Christine, I just may credit you in ROYAL PAINS with this "what-if"! I think you've stumbled on (or directly hit, deliberately, with your keen analytical eye) something quite intriguing -- that I have not seen any biographer posit: that the Tudor-era portrait of Richard was a caricature that was the metaphor for what lay within; in other words, the outer, physical "corruption" and "deformity" stood in for and served to emphasize his character as a human being.

I'm still hunting for any credence on the withered arm issue. After Edward IV's death, when he was getting all kinds of grief for having usurped the throne, he was said to have displayed his withered arm and charged Elizabeth Woodville (Edward IV's queen) and Jane Shore (Edward's favorite mistress) with using witchcraft to destroy his limb. All those present who saw him pull that stunt derided it as ridiculous because they all knew he was born with the deformity.

And yet, why am I not finding proof positive of the deformity (I've found all the mentions of the withcraft stunt) in the purportedly respectable, and lengthy bios I've been reading?

And next time your birthday rolls around, I'll be sure to eat a cupcake for Anne Neville, too! :)

11:21 AM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

I very much enjoyed Daughter of Time when I read it -- a very long time ago. Good for you, Leslie, for bringing in the marriage angle.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Joansz said...

Thank you for this post about Richard and Anne. It reminded me of an unproduced play by Maxwell Anderson of the same title.

I first became interested in Richard III after reading Sharon Kay Penman's "The Sunne in Splendour", which turned my Shakespearean perception of Richard on its head. The next book I read was Paul Murray Kendall's "Richard the Third" and from there on I was hooked.

For anyone who is interested in learning more about Richard III, I highly recommend looking into The Richard III Society (American branch website: http://www.r3.org/welcome.html and/or the parent site: http://www.richardiii.net/ ).

BTW, new research has revealed that Richard did in fact get dispensation before marrying Anne. And X-rays of his portraits show that they were painted over to make it look like he had a deformity. There is no contemporary evidence that he had any deformities, nor that he was a sickly child--the "Richard liveth yet" quote can have other interpretations and it is now thought that it had to do with his status rather than some medical miracle.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous RfP said...

Reading this took me back a few years. I'd forgotten how The Daughter of Time sparked my imagination. I actually appreciated Richard III much more after reading the Tey, but I hadn't pursued the train of thought to wonder about Richard's marriage.

I do wonder, now that you've pointed out the dichotomies in Richard's character, whether he might make a fabulously complicated romance protagonist. The rescue, especially, is ridiculously swashbuckling. But that doesn't necessarily indicate a particularly admirable character; just a great deal of determination :)

7:43 PM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Pam, I read "Daughter of Time" years ago and confess that I enjoyed it very much at the time, but can't remember much about the details.

Joansz, welcome! I just finished Paul Murray Kendall's bio of Richard III and found it quite intriguing, if not a little apologist. Is there a manuscript of Maxwell Anderson's unproduced drama floating about? How do you know of it?

Can you shed some light on where the new research came from that refers to Richard acquiring the papal dispensation to marry Anne? I'd love to know the source so that I can check it out.

I have to admit I am no Ricardian; nothing the man did can paint him in a saintly light, other than the fact that he was an exceptionally well liked and capable administrator in the north, and an excellent military strategist -- until Bosworth Field -- and those are not necessarily the resume credits of a kind man.

I see his character as a man and his violent actions as being very much a product of his time, where factions were continually shifting, alliances and allegiances were tenuous and fragile, and might made right. His predecessor and successor (I'm not counting little Edward V) were both usurpers who murdered their rivals as acts of political expedience with nary a tear shed. And there's no getting around the bodies of the 2 boys found in the Tower. Attempts to point the finger at either Buckingham or Henry Tudor fall short of the mark. Only 1 person stood to gain most from their demise, however it may have occurred. And if the bones found in 1674 were the bones of two OTHER boys who perished in the Tower around the late 15th century then why have we never heard of any other boys who were imprisoned and died there? It was not usual to send children to the Tower. If they were not Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, who were they?

And welcome to you, RfP! You make an excellent point about the complexity of Richard's character. And I still wonder if the rescue isn't a little too swashbucking for credibility!

8:52 PM  
Blogger Joansz said...

Oh, I will dispute the tower bones, but that's a topic too long for a reply. However, I'll point you to "Royal Blood" by Bertram Fields and "Richard III: The Maligned King" by Annette Carson. One hugely major problem with the tower bones is the jaw bone of one of the skulls shows the child had a life threatening infection where the bone was eroded enough that the disease had to have been suffered for months if not years before death. There is no contemporary mention of Edward or Richard having been ill. Rather the putative illness was only mentioned after the bones were found in 1674. The bones were found buried under the White tower stairs at a depth of about ten feet. Consider that the Tower was a busy place and housed Royalty, it stretches credulity that two or three people would have been able to dig a grave that was 8 to 10 feet under a stone staircase in a single night without someone noticing it. Many scholars now think that the latest the bones were interred was around the tenth or eleventh century and that they were put in a shallow grave. Given the rate of sedimentation, an eight or ten foot depth was about right for the seventeenth century.

From my research I concluded that the princes most likely out lived Richard. In order to marry Elizabeth of York, Henry VII had to remove the impediment of illegitimacy, and to do that he destroyed all copies of Titulus Regius (or so he thought, but one survived). His first challenge was the Battle of Stoke in 1487. Henry's troops soundly defeated the rebels and took a ten year old boy into custody who first claimed he was Edward V and then the Earl of Warwick (Clarence's son) who Henry had safely tucked away. Nine or ten years later there was a much more serious challenge from a young man claiming to be Richard of York. Henry extracted a confession from him that he was an imposter--by name of Perkin Warbec. However, much of Europe's royalty thought Perkin was the real deal, including the King of Scotland who married him to Katherine Gordon (a niece, I think). In "The Perfect Prince" Ann Wroe was unable to conclude if Perkin was Richard of York or if he was an impostor, but I understand that privately she thinks he probably was Richard of York.

One of Richard's first decrees as king was to reform bail and juror qualifications. He wrote, “The law shall cease to be an instrument of oppression and extortion.” While not at all saintly, this example makes me think he was a forward thinker.

Anderson's play: Do and AddAll search for Richard and Anne at http://used.addall.com/ Some of the listings are very pricey, but I saw some for under $40, but don't know how much the shipping will be.

Dispensation: from the English Historical Review Vol. CXX No. 488, 2005. 'English Royal Marriages and the Papal Penitentiary in the Fifteenth Century' article by Peter D. Clarke.


11:55 PM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Joan, thanks for your very cogent comments and for all the interesting links!

I'm still with the people who proved that both Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck were impostors. They weren't even the right age to have been Richard, Duke of York. But I love discussing and disputing all of this history with a passionate Ricardian. I hope that Richard's life will continue to endlessly fascinate people and that the endeavors to uncover what facts may remain will continue as well.

What is your opinion of Richard and Anne's marriage?

5:19 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I first became interested in Richard III after reading Sharon Kay Penman's "The Sunne in Splendour", which turned my Shakespearean perception of Richard on its head.

Ditto! Penman is such a brilliant historical author. Years ago, long before I started writing fiction, I was reading the one of her author’s notes where she revealed that the only couple to get a happy ending in the book were two of the made up characters. I was bummed, but it also made me realize that one of the reasons I like romance is that we get happy endings (clearly even Penman craves them, LOL!).

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

Do take a look at Josephine Tey's "Daughter of Time"; it was one of the books that began the rehabilitation of Richard's image, even though it was a contemporary detective novel. Still good reading after many, many decades.

I'm always interested to see how the relationship between Anne and Richard is portrayed in fiction. In Sharon Kay Penman's book, they are in love -- it is a warm, close and loving relationship. In Reay Tannahill's Seventh Son, it is more a marriage of convenience, although a happy enough one, particularly at first. I tend to incline to this view -- at the time, marriages were not expected to be 'romantic' in genesis (even that of Edward IV was more likely to have been a combination of lust and love and sheer bloody-mindedness than what we'd feel is love today.) Would Richard have married Anne without the Warwick inheritance, if she was a nameless and obscure young woman? My guess is that he would not. Would he have been as content as he seems to have been had the Warwick heiress not been someone he had known since childhood? Probably not. He was certainly relatively faithful; he kept himself aloof from the goings-on at Westminster, whether that was out of disgust for the debauchery (and despair over what it was doing to his brother) or out of love for Anne, it's impossible to tell.

The Tudors had to destroy Richard's reputation. Their own claim to the throne was very tenuous indeed, dating back to the sons of Edward III. While Tudor was descended (through his mother) from the second son of Edward III, it was through that son's daughter -- the female line took a back seat at the time to the male line. The line of descent through the third son (John of Gaunt) was through the latter's belated marriage to Katherine Swynford. Their children, the Beauforts, were legitimized on the marriage, but they and their descendants were barred from the right of succession. (Margaret Beaufort was a descendant of this family -- the Dukes of Somerset.) There was also a line of descent from the youngest son of Edward III. As for Tudor's father, he was quite possibly illegitimate -- the son of the widowed queen of Catherine de Valois and Owen Tudor, a Welsh squire/knight in her household. They may have married, but if so it was covertly. Henry VI recognized his Tudor half-brothers and gave them titles (the dukedom of Richmond), but insofar as heirs? There were lots of problems. One reason the Tudors spent the next few decades bumping off Plantagenets at a great rate.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Joansz said...

I agree that Simnel was an "impostor" or more likely a place holder for Richard of York. I suspect that the rebel leaders would not have gone into battle for an impostor and that Edward V was alive when the preparations were under way. And I doubt that Magaret, Duchess of Burgundy would have financed this uprising for an impostor. I'm on the fence about Warbec, mainly because of Anne Wroe's "The Perfect Prince". Why do you say he wasn't the right age to have been Richard of York (RoY)?

While I believe that Richard truly loved Anne and the contemporary accounts indicate he wept at her funeral, I'm not sure that they were childhood sweethearts. There were practical reasons for them to marry each other--Anne to recover her inheritance and get Richard's protection and Richard to gain lands and power in the north where he was seated. He couldn't easily back down once Clarence challenged him and he was forced to sign that prenup or concede the marriage. What I do believe was that soon after her rescue (which may well have occurred more or less as documented) Richard's feelings for her grew. We know very little about Anne and none of her writing survives. There is evidence that she was as much of an avid reader as her husband, so perhaps a better picture of her can be gleaned from her reading choices.


8:15 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Richard and Anne were childhood playmates -- too young to be childhood sweethearts. And her inheritance was shared with her older sister Isabel, who was married to Richard's older brother, George, Duke of Clarence. The Clarence/Isabel marriage took place in direct contravention of Edward IV's refusal to grant the loose cannon Clarence a Warwick bride.

From my reading (bios by PM Kendall and Charles Ross), Clarence, acting as Anne's guardian after Warwick's death at the Battle of Barnet, advised his younger brother that he would withhold his consent to permit Richard to marry Anne unless Richard agreed to forfeit all rights to Anne's share of the Warwick inheritance. This he did; and then Edward IV stepped in to try to even things out and redistributed a few estates so that both of his younger brothers would be happy.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography on Perkin Warbeck, he was born in 1474 (which would have made him 9 in 1483 -- close enough to the age of the real Richard, Duke of York), so Joan, I apologize for speaking too soon about the age issue.

I'd love to know what accent he used as an impostor, because he was born in Tournai, France, and spent much of his life on the Continent and in Ireland.

And why did people finance an army in his name? Because they wanted to topple the usurper Henry VII. There is always more than 1 side to a story. And multiple motivations. I think we can agree that Richard's life consists of several shades of gray. My beef with many of the Ricardians is that they are so desperate to sanitize his actions that they read into situations exactly what they want to, in order to achieve their result. Though he may be no better or worse than previous usurpers (and remember it was a violent and martial era where more decisions were made on battlefields than at Westminster), Richard will never wear a white hat. Nor, of course, is it entirely black. Yes he was a capable administrator, and yes, he was instrumental in tort reform.

However, no action exists in a vaccuum. How many contemporary politicians can you think of who have committed immoral acts (consorted with prostitutes or Senate pages, had unsavory dealings with local businessmen, cheated on their wives and income taxes -- I could go on, here) and yet brought home the bacon to their respective districts and consequently were beloved by their constituencies, regardless of what else they may have done?

Richard needed to win hearts and minds, as Duke of Gloucester, as Protector, and especially after the entire kingdom believed he'd murdered his own nephews (whether he did or not). He had overwhelmingly tremendous bad press to overcome and so he had to do some good to offset it.

"Hearts and Minds" then was money and soldiers. If he didn't have the backing of the landed nobles who could provide him with taxes and knights, he was out of luck.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Kalen, I've got Penman on my mental TBR pleasure-reading list. I've never read her writing and keep meaning to do so! Whenever I see a NY Times Book Review ad for one of her books I rip it out and put in on my desk where I'll be reminded that I mean to read it.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Joansz said...

Leslie Carroll said, "I'd love to know what accent he used as an impostor, because he was born in Tournai, France, and spent much of his life on the Continent and in Ireland."

According to what I've read (including "The Perfect Prince") Warbec spoke perfect court English and knew intimate details about Edward IV's court. Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy could have instructed him in English and about early court life, but she was already married to Charles the Bold by the time Richard was born, so she wouldn't have known many singular details. Of course she had the means to engage those who did know these details. So, either he was the real deal, or he had been so well schooled as to have fooled many people who would have been able to see through a less than "perfect" impostor.

What you may not be aware of is not only did Henry hold Perkin captive in his court from when he surrendered to Henry in 1497 to when he was executed in 1499, but Henry perversely held Perkin's wife, Katherine Gordon and made them attend functions to give the appearance they were together by Henry's grace, but they were unable to see each other in private. They also had a son. It's my belief that in order to protect his wife and son, that the pretender confessed to being an impostor. See, Henry was in a bind. Since he reversed Titulus, he couldn't execute Richard of York since by inheritance, he had stronger claim to the throne than did Henry and it would have been considered regicide.

On the other hand, if Richard had had them killed, he could have and most likely would have displayed their bodies to quash any potential rebellion. And for him it would not have been regicide since they couldn't inherit the throne because they were now royal bastards. Interestingly, he also housed another nephew, Clarence's son Edward who without having been attainted because of his father's treason, was next in line for the throne. After Richard's son died, he removed Edward, Earl of Warwick's impediment and named him next in succession. Edward lived to 1499 only to be executed by Henry within a week of Warbec's execution.

As a side note, I originally thought that Warbec was an impostor, but the more I researched, the more I didn't know if he were a pretender or RoY. Suffice it to say, I think the princes outlived Richard. I do think that Richard probably would have had them killed if he thought he had no other choice.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Henry VII had no claims on his conscience about executing Warwick, the "retarded" (to use the biographers' un-PC word) son of George, Duke of Clarence, who, as he was developmentally disabled posed no actual threat to the throne other than that armies could be amassed in his name by people seeking to depose Henry VII and put Warwick on the throne as their own puppet monarch.

Warwick was eliminated as a condition of the marriage treaty between Katherine of Aragon and Henry's oldest son, Arthur, Prince of Wales. Whether someone was an imposter or claimant to the throne Henry couldn't afford to have them around.

Nor could any sitting king who had achieved the crown through any means other than strict primogeniture ... which brings us back to Richard and his nephews.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Would Richard have married Anne without the Warwick inheritance, if she was a nameless and obscure young woman? My guess is that he would not.

He wouldn’t have thought about her as a matrimonial option at all had she been some nameless, obscure woman. *shrug* So it’s highly doubtful that he’d have married or loved her. In fact, I doubt men at his level even noticed nameless, obscure women unless they were drop dead gorgeous (and a beauty with nothing else is, at best, mistress material for Royalty).

I've got Penman on my mental TBR pleasure-reading list. I've never read her writing and keep meaning to do so!

Everyone has their favorite. Mine is The Reckoning. Makes me cry every damn time. I doubt you’ll be sorry wherever you start though.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first major crush was on Richard III (I try to deny being a nerd but the truth keeps biting me on the proverbial). I first read The King's Grey Mare by Rosemary Hawley Jarman and then searched for anything related to the that era which lead me to 2 of my most fav books The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman (MAGNIFICENT BOOK) and Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

5:02 PM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Okay, if you don't my saying so, that's an incredibly intriguing and off-center subject for a first crush, and I'd love to know what it was about him that fascinated you so much. Was your favorite Beatle Ringo, too?

I'd love to know more about what drew you to Richard.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It surprised me that no one has mentioned Alison Weir's bio, "The Princes in the Tower". In her early work, Alison uses investigative sciences to answer, or at least re-question, history. The Princes in the Tower convincingly suggests that Richard did NOT murder his nephews, and that quite possibly, as some have mentioned, the princes were moved elsewhere and lived in relative obscurity.

Has anyone else read the Weir bio? As many of you have done more research on the topic, I'd be interested in your thoughts on it.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

I guess the princes in the tower didn't come up because the discussion was initially about Richard and Anne's marriage. I read the Weir book some years ago, but remember nothing about it. However, after extensive research on Richard I find it hard to believe that they were moved to some secret location because SOMEONE would have known about it and informed Elizabeth Woodville not to despair. As it was, she entered into an arrangement with Henry Tudor to give her oldest daughter Elizabeth of York to him in marriage and support his claim to the throne, which I (and several historians) doubt she would have done so easily (if at all) had she known her sons were alive and safe somewhere. And gee, isn't it odd that they wouldn't have emerged after Richard's death? The false claimants who said they were Richard, Duke of York (so where was Edward V??) were dismissed as such.

Nice try and a great (and still unsolved) mystery, but implausible to my mind.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous infogenium said...

First major crush - i think it might have been the portrait which I still find compelling. I think it has a lot of depth and actual emotion. It looks like he has a weight on his shoulders (or heck he might have just had a bad tummy what would I know). A lot of portraits from that era didn't really depict character as much as just showing an image of a person - sorry if I am not making sense it seems perfectly clear in my head...I then read everything, fiction and non-fiction I could and my weird crush happened.

8:48 PM  

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